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Was ware, when her, who sits upon the waves,
Ah, Constantine !1 to how much ill gave birth, fornicata cum regibus terre. Illa equidem ipsa es quam in spiritu sacer vidit Evangelista. Illa eadem, inquam, es, non alia, sedens super aquas multas, sive ad littora tribus cincta fluminibus sive rerum atque divitiarum turbá mortalium quibus lasciviens ac secura insides opum immemor wternarum sive ut idem qui vidit, exposuit. Populi et gentes et linguæ aquæ sunt, super quas meretrix sedes, recognosce habitum,” etc. Petrarchæ Opera, ed. fol. Basil. 1554. Epist. sine titulo Liber, ep. xvi. p. 729. The text is here probably corrupted. The construction certainly may be rendered easier by omitting the ad before littora, and substituting å comma for a full stop after exposuit. With all the respect that is due to a venerable prelate and truly learned critic, I cannot but point out a mistake he has fallen into, relating to this passage, when he observes, that “Numberless passages in the writings of Petrarch speak of Rome under the name of Babylon. But an equal stress is not to be laid on all these. It should be remembered, that the popes, in Petrarch's time, resided at Avignon, greatly to the disparagement of themselves, as he thought, and especially of Rome ; of which this singular man was little less than idolatrous. The situation of the place, surrounded by waters, and his splenetic concern for the exiled church (for under this idea he painted to himself the pope's migration to the banks of Avignon), brought to his mind the condition of the Jewish church in the Babylonian captivity. And this parallel was all, perhaps, that he meant to insinuate in most of those passages. But when he applies the prophecies to Rome, as to the Apocalyptic Babylon (as he clearly does in the epistle under consideration), his meaning is not equivocal, and we do him but justice to give him an honourable place among the TESTES VERITATIS.” An Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies, etc., by Richard Hurd, D.D., serm. vii. p. 239, note y, ed. 1772. Now, a reference to the words printed in italics, which the Bishop of Worcester has omitted in his quotation, will make it sufficiently evident, that Avignon, and not Rome, is here alluded to by Petrarch. The application that is made of these prophecies by two men so eminent for their learning and sagacity as Dante and Petrarch is, however, very remarkable, and must be satisfactory to those who have renounced the errors and corruptions of the papacy. Such applications were indeed frequent in the Middle Ages, as may be seen in the “Sermons" above referred to. Balbo observes, that it is not Rome, as most erroneously interpreted, but Avignon, and the court there, that is termed Babylon by Dante and Petrarch. Vita di Dante, vol. ii. p. 103.
1 Ah, Constantine !] He alludes to the pretended gift of the Lateran by Constantine to Sylvester, of which Dante himself seems to imply a doubt, in his treatise De Monarchia : “Ergo scindere Imperium, Imperatori non licet. Si ergo aliquæ dignitates per Constantinum essent alienatæ (ut dicunt) ab Imperio," etc., lib. 3. “ Therefore to make a rent in the empire exceeds the lawful power of the emperor himself. If, then, some dignities were by Constantine alienated (as they report) from the empire,” etc. In another part of the same treatise he speaks of the alienation with less doubt indeed, but not with less disapprobation : "O felicem populum ! O Ausoniam te gloriosam ! si vel numquam infirmator imperii tui extitisset ; vel numquam sua
pia intentio ipsum fefellisset.”_"O happy people! O glorious Italy ! if either he who
Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower,
Meanwhile, as thus i sung, he, whether wrath
Nor weary of his weight, he press'd me close,
Thence to my view another vale appear'd.
CANTO X X.
Argument. The Poet relates the punishment of such as presumed, while living, to predict
future events. It is to have their faces reversed and set the contrary way on their limbs, so that, being deprived of the power to see before them, they are constrained ever to walk backwards. Among these Virgil points out to him Amphiaraus, Tiresias, Aruns, and Manto (from the mention of whom he takes occasion to speak of the origin of Mantua), together with several others, who had practised the arts of divination and astrology.
And now the verse proceeds to torments new,
Of the first song, whose awful theme records thus weakened thine empire had never been born, or had never suffered his own pious intentions to mislead him.” Lib. 2. ad finem. The gift is by Ariosto very humorously placed in the moon, among the things lost or abused on earth :
Di varj fiori ad un gran monte passa,
Che Costantino al buon Silvestro fece. Orl. Fur. c. xxxiv, st. 80. Milton has translated both this passage and that in the text. Prose Works, vol. i. p. 11, ed. 1753.
Ah, Constantine ! of how much ill was cause
The spirits whelm'd in woe. Earnest I look'd
As on them more direct mine eye descends,
Now, reader ! think within thyself, so God
Before whose eyes 3 earth gaped in Thebes, when all ? Reversed.] But very uncouth sight was to behold
How he did fashion his untoward pace;
Spenser, Faery Queen, b. 1. c. viii. st. 31.
Sight so deform what heart of man could long
Milton, P. L. b. 11. 495.
And thus the devill, for his outrages,
Like his desert payed him his wages. A different reason for his being doomed thus to perish, is assigned by Pindar :
ο δ' 'Αμφιάρηϊ, etc. Nem. ix. For thee, Amphiaraus, earth, Or ever on thy back the spear By Jove's all-riving thunder cleft, Of Periclymenus impress'd Her mighty bosom open'd wide, A wound to shame thy warlike breast. Thee and thy plunging steeds to hide, For struck with panic fear
The gods' own children flee.
Cried out Amphiaraus, whither rushest?
“ Aruns, with rere his belly facing, comes.
“The next, whose loosen'd tresses overspread
A thousand springs, methinks, and more, between
Heaven ruining from heaven. 2 Tiresias.]
Duo magnorum viridi coëuntia sylvâ
Ovid, Met. lib. 3. 3 Aruns.] Aruns is said to have dwelt in the mountains of Luni (from whence that territory is still called Lunigiana), above Carrara, celebrated for its marble. Lucan, Phars. lib. 1. 575. So Boccaccio, in the Fiammetta, lib. 3: “Quale Arunte,” etc. “Like Aruns, who amidst the white marbles of Luni contemplated the celestial bodies and their motions.” Compare Fazio degli Uberti, Dittamondo, lib. 3. cap. vi.
4 Manto.) The daughter of Tiresias of Thebes, a city dedicated to Bacchus. From Manto, Mantua, the country of Virgil, derives its name. The Poet proceeds to describe the situation of that place. Ent see the note to Purgatory, Canto xxii. v. 112.
Camonica 1 and Garda, issuing forth,
1 Camonica.] Lombardi, instead of
Fra Garda, e val Camonica e Apennino, reads
Fra Garda e val Camonica Pennino, from the Nidobeatina edition (to which he might have added that of Vellutello in 1544), and two MSS., all of which omit the second conjunction, the only part of the alteration that affects the sense. I have re-translated the passage, which in the former editions stood thus:
which a thousand rills
Of Apennine remote. It should be added, that Vellutello reads “Valdimonica" for “ Val Camonica ;" but which of these is right remains to be determined by a collation of editions and MSS., and still more perhaps by a view of the country in the neighbourhood of the lake (now called the Lago di Garda), with a reference to this passage.
2 There is a spot.] Prato di Fame, where the dioceses of Trento, Verona, and Brescia meet. A garrison of goodly site and strong.]
Gaza, bello e forte arnese
Da fronteggiar i regni di Soria Tasso, Ger. Lib. c. i. st. 67. * 4 Peschiera.] A garrison situated to the south of the lake, where it empties itself and forms the Mincius,