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And were 't not for the nature of the place,
They, when we stopp'd, resumed their ancient wail,
“If woe of this unsound and dreary waste,"
. He, in whose track thou seest
Gualdrada,1 him they Guidoguerra call’d, Gualdrada.] Gualdrada was the daughter of Bellincione Berti, of whom mention is made in the Paradise, Canto xv. and xvi. He was of the family of Ravignani, a branch of the Adimari. The Emperor Otho IV., being at a festival in Florence, where Gualdrada was present, was struck with her beauty; and inquiring who she was, was answered by Bellincione, that she was the daughter of one who, if it was his Majesty's pleasure, would make her admit the honour of his salute. On overhearing this, she arose from her seat, and blushing, in an animated tone of voice, desired her father that he would not be so liberal in his offers, for that no man should ever be allowed that freedom except him who should be her lawful husband. The Emperor was not less delighted by her resolute modesty than he had before been by the loveliness of her person; and calling to him Guido, one of his barons, gave her to him in marriage ; at the same time raising him to the rank of a count, and bestowing on her the whole of Casentino, and a part of the territory of Romagna, as her portion. Two sons were 'the offspring of this union, Ġuglielmo and Ruggieri ; the latter of whom was father of Guidoguerra, a man of great military skill and prowess; who, at the head of four hundred Florentines of the Guelph party, was signally instrumental to the victory obtained at Benevento by Charles of Anjou, over Manfredi, King of Naples, in 1265. One of the consequences of this victory was the expulsion of the Ghibellini, and the re-establishment of the Guelfi at Florence. Borghini (Disc. dell''Orig. di Firenze, ediz. 1755, pag. 6), as cited by Lombardi, endeavours by a comparison of dates to throw discredit on the above relation of Gualdrada's answer to her father, which is found in G, Villani, lib. 5. cap. xxxvii. : and Lombardi adds, that if it had been true, Bellincione would have been worthy of a place in the eighteeenth Canto of Hell, rather than of being mentioned with praise in the Paradise : to which it may be answered, that the proposal of the father, however irreconcileable it may be to our notions of modern refinement, might possibly in those times have been considered rather as a sportive sally than as à serious exposure of his daughter's innocence. The incident is related, in a
Who in his lifetime many a noble act 1
I then began : "Not scorn, but grief much more,
"So may long space thy spirit guide thy limbs,"
“An upstart multitude and sudden gains, manner very unfavourable to Berti, by Francesco Sansovino, in one of his Novelle, inserted by Mr. Thomas Roscoe in his entertaining selection from the Italian Novelists, vol. iii. p. 137. | Many a noble act.]
Molto egli oprò col senno e con la mano. Tasso, G. L. c. i. st. 1. ? Aldobrandi.] Tegghiaio Aldobrandi was of the noble family of Adimari, and much esteemed for his military talents. He endeavoured to dissuade the Florentines from the attack which they meditated against the Siennese ; and the rejection of his counsel occasioned the memorable defeat which the former sustained at Montaperto, and the consequent banishment of the Guelfi from Florence.
3 Rusticucci.] Giacopo Rusticucci, a Florentine, remarkable for his opulence and the generosity of his spirit.
4 Borsiere.] Guglielmo Borsiere, another Florentine, whom Boccaccio, in a story which he relates of him, terms "a man of courteous and elegant manners, and of great readiness in conversation.” Dec. Giorn. i. Nov. 8.
Pride and excess, O Florence! have in thee
Thus cried I, with my face upraised, and they
This said, they broke the circle, and so swist
Not in so short a time might one have said
E'en as the river, that first holds its course
Thus downward from a craggy steep we found 1 At so little cost.] They intimate to our poet (as Lombardi well observes) the inconveniences to which his freedom of speech was about to expose him in the future course of his life. 2 When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past.]
Quando ti gioverà dicere io fui. So Tasso, G. L. c. xv. st. 38 :
Quando mi gioverà narrar altrui
Le novità vedute, e dire ; io fui. 3 E'en as the river.] He compares the fall of Phlegethon to that of the Montone (a river in Romagna) from the Apennine above the Abbey of St. Benedict. . All the other streams, that rise between the sources of the Po and the Montone, and fall from the left side of the Apennine, join the Po, and accompany it to the sea.
4 Al Förli.] Because there it loses the name of Acquacheta, and takes that of Montone.
5 Where space.] Either because the abbey was capable of containing more than those who occupied it, or because (says Landino) the lords of that territory, as Boccaccio related on the authority of the abbot, had intended to build a castle near the waterfall, and to collect within its walls the population of the neighbouring villages.
That this dark wave resounded, roaring loud,
I had a cord 1 that braced my girdle round,
“Quickly shall come,” he said, “what I expect ;
But silence here were vain ; and by these notes, ! A cord.] This passage, as it is confessed by Landino, involves a fiction sufficiently obscure. His own attempt to unravel it does not much lessen the difficulty. That which Lombardi has made is something better. It is believed that our Poet, in the earlier part of his life, had entered into the order of St. Francis. By observing the rules of that profession, he had designed to mortify his carnal appetites, or, as he expresses it, “to take the painted leopard” (that animal, which, as we have seen in a note to the first Canto, represented Pleasure) “ with this cord.” This part of the habit he is now desired by Virgil to take off; and it is thrown down the gulf, to allure Geryon to them with the expectation of carrying down one who had cloaked his iniquities under the garb of penitence and self-mortification; and thus (to apply to Dante on this occasion the words of Milton)
He, as Franciscan, thought to pass disguised. ? But spy into the thoughts with subtle skill.]
Sorrise Uranio, che per entro vede
Gli altrui pensier col senno. Menzini, Sonetto, Mentre io dormia. 3 Ever to that truth.] This memorable apophthegm is repeated by Luigi Pulci and Trissino:
Sempre a quel ver, ch' ha faccia di menzogna,
La verità che par mensogna,
Si dovrebbe tacer dall'uom ch'è saggio. Italia Lib. c. xvi. 4 By these notes.] So Frezzi :
Per queste rime mie, lettor, ti giuro. n Quadrir. lib. 3. cap. xvi. In like manner, Pindar confirms his veracity by an oath : Ναι μα γαρ "Ορκον, έμαν δόξαν.
Nem. xi, 30. which is imitated, as usual, by Chiabrera :
Ed io lungo il Permesso
Which now I sing, reader, I swear to thee,
Argument. The monster Geryon is described ; to whom while Virgil is speaking in order
that he may carry them both down to the next circle, Dante, by permission, goes a little farther along the edge of the void, to descry the third species of sinners contained in this compartment, namely, those who have done violence to Art; and then returning to his master, they both descend, seated on the back of Geryon.
“Lo! the fell monster with the deadly sting,
Forthwith that image vile of Fraud appeard,
1 The fell monster.] Fraud.