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Reason by lust is sway'd. As in large troops
That she succeeded Ninus ler espoused ;3
Then follows Cleopatra, lustful queen.” 'As cranes.] This simile is imitated by Lorenzo de Medici, in his Ambra, a poem, first published by Mr. Roscoe, in the Appendix to his Life of Lorenzo:
Marking the tracts of air, the clamorous cranes
Roscoe, vol. i. c. v. p. 257, 4to edit. Compare Homer, II. iii. 3 ; Virgil, Æn. lib. 10. 264 ; Cppian, Halieut. lib. 1. 620; Ruccellai, Le Api, 942; and Dante's Purgatory, xxiv. 63. ? Liking.] His lustes were as law in his degree.
Chaucer, Monke's Tale. Nero. 3 That she succeeded Ninus her cspoused.]
Che succedette a Nino e fu sua sposa. M. Artaud, in his Histoire de Dante, p. 589, mentions a manuscript work called Attacanti's Quadragesimale de reditu pecca'oris ad Deum, in which the line is thus cited :
Che sugger dette a Nino e fu sua sposa.
“Who suckled Ninus, and was his wife.” This remarkable reading had been before noticed by Federici, Intorno ad, alcune varianti nel testo della Divina Commedia, cd. Milan, 1836. See the Biblioteca Ita’iana, toin. lxxxii. p. 282. It appears from the treatise De Monarchia (lib. 2.) that Dante derived his knowledge of Assyrian history from his favourite author Orosius lib. 1. c. iv.), who relates that Semiramis both succeeded Ninus through the artifice of personating her son, and that she committed incest with her son ; but as the name of her husband Ninus only is there recorded, and as other historians call the son Ninias, it is probable that the common reading is right.
There mark'd I Helen, for whose sake so long
When I had heard my sage instructor name
“O gracious creature and benign! who go'st
“Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt, 1 Element obscure.] “ L'aer perso." Much is said by the commentators concerning the exact sense of the word "perso.” It cannot be explained in clearer terms than those used by Dante himself in his Convito : "Il perso è un colore misto di purpureo e nero, ma vince il nero," p. 185. " It is a colour mixed of purple and black, but the black prevails.” The word recurs several times in this poem. Chaucer also uses it, in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Doctour of Phisike :
In sanguin and in perse he clad was alle. 2 The land.] Ravenna. 3 Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt.]
Amor, ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende. A line taken by Marino, Adone, c, cxli, st. 251.
Entangled him by that fair form, from me
have reach'd !”
And thus began : “Francesca ! 3 your sad fate That the reader of the original may not be misled as to the exact sense oi the word "s'apprende,” which I have rendered " is learnt,” it may be right to apprise him that it signifies “is caught,” and that it is a metaphor from a thing taking fire. Thus it is used by Guido Guinicelli, whom indeed our Poet seems here to have had in view :
Fuoco d'Amore in gentil cor s'apprende,
Come vertute in pietra preziosa.
The fire of love in gentle heart is caught,
As virtue in the precious stone. 1 Love, that denial takes from none belored.]
Amor, ch'a null'amato amar perdona. So Boccaccio, in his Filocopo, 1. 1.
Amore mai non perdonò l'amore a nullo amato. And Pulci, in the Morgante Maggiore, c. iv.
E perchè amor mal volontier perdona,
Che non sia al fin sempre amato chi ama. Indeed many of the Italian poets have repeated this verse.
2 Caïna.] The place to which murderers are doomed.
3 Francesca.] Francesca, daughter of Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna, was given by her father in marriage to Lanciotto, son of Malatesta, lord of Rimini, a man of extraordinary courage, but deformed in his person. His brother Paolo, who unhappily possessed those graces which the husband of Francesca wanted, engaged her affections; and being taken in adultery, they were both put to death by the enraged Lanciotto. See Notes to Canto xxvii. v. 38 and 43. Troya relates, that they were buried together; and that three centuries after, the bodies were found at Rimini, whither they had been removed from Pesaro, with the silken garments yet fresh. Veltro Allegorico di Dante, ediz. 1826, p. 33. The whole of this passage is alluded to by Petrarch, in his Triumph of Love, c. iii. :
Ecco quei che le carte empion di sogni
Vanno facendo dolorosi pianti.
Even to tears my grief and pity moves.
From death, and like a corse fell to the ground.5 1 No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy, when misery is at hand.] Imitated by Chaucer :
For of Fortunis sharp adversite A man to have been in prosperite, The worste kind of infortune is this, And it remembir when it passid is.
Troilus and Creseide, b. 3. Dy Marino :
Che non ha doglia il misero maggiore,
Che ricordar la gioia entro il dolore. Adone, c. xiv. st. 100. And by Fortiguerra :
- Rimembrare il ben perduto
Fa più meschino lo presente stato. Ricciardetto, c. xi. st. 83. The original, perhaps, was in Boëtius de Consol. Philosoph. “In omni adversitate fortunæ infelicissimum genus est infortunii fuisse felicem et non esse." Lib. 2. pr. 4. Boëtius, and Cicero de Amicitiâ, were the two first books that engaged the attention of Dante, as he himself tells us in the Convito, p. 68.
Lancelot.). One of the Knights of the Round Table, and the lover of Ginevra, or Guinever, celebrated in romance. The incident alluded to seems to have made a strong impression on the imagination of Dante, who introduces it again, in the Paradise, Canto xvi. 3 At one point.] Questo quel punto fù, che sol mi vinse. -In its leares that day
Tasso, N Torrismondo, act i. sc. 3. We re ul no more.] Nothing can exceed the delicacy with which Francesca in these words intimates her guilt. 5 And like a corse fell to the ground.]
E caddi, come corpo morto cade. So Pulci: E cadde come morto in terra cade. Morgante Maggiore, c. xxii. And Ariosto: E cada, come corpo morto cade. Örl. Fur. c. ii. st. 55. “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” Revelation, i. 17.
Argument. On his recovery, the Poet finds himself in the third circle, where the glut
tonous are punished. Their torment is, to lie in the mire, under a continual and heavy storm of hail, snow, and discoloured water ; Cerberus meanwhile barking over them with his threefold throat, and rending them piecemeal. One of these, who on earth was named Ciacco, foretells the divisions with which Florence is about to be distracted. Dante proposes a question to his guide, who solves it; and they proceed towards the fourth circle.
My sense reviving, that crewhile had droop'd
Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange,
A wretched, godless crew. When that great worm 1 My sense reviving.] Al tornar della mente, che si chiuse,
Dinanzi alla pietà de' duo cognati. Berni has made a sportive application of these lines, in his Orl. Inn. lib. 3. e. viii. st. 1.
? That great worm.] Juxta-infernum vermis erat infinitæ magnitudinis ligatus maxima catena. Alberici Visio, sec. I. In Canto xxxiv. Lucifer is called
The abhorred worm, that boreth through the world. This is imitated by Ariosto, Orl. Fur. c. xlvi. st. 76. Shakspeare, Milton, and Cowper, who well understood that the most common words are often the most impressive, have used the synonymous term in our language with the best effect ; as Pindar has done in Greek :
'Από Ταϋγέτου μεν Λάκαιναν
Heyne's Pindar. fragm. ipinic. ii. 2. Ir llieron.