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1308 The Emperor Albert I. murdered. Purg. vi.

98. and Par. xix. 114.
Corso Donati, Dante's political enemy, slain.

Purg. xxiv. 81.
He seeks an asylum at Verona, under the roof

of the Signori della Scala. Par. xvii. 69. He wanders, about this time, over various

parts of Italy. See his Convito. He is at Paris a second time; and, according to one

of the early commentators, visits Oxford. Robert, the patron of Petrarch, is crowned

king of Sicily. Par. ix. 2. Duns Scotus dies. He was born about the

same time as Dante. 1309 Charles II. king of Naples, dies. Par. xix.

125. 1310 The Order of the Templars abolished.

Purg. xx. 94.
Jean de Meun, the continuer of the Roman

de la Rose, dies about this time.
Pier Crescenzi of Bologna writes his book

on agriculture, in Latin. 1311 Fra Giordano da Rivalta, of Pisa, a Domi

nican, the author of sermons esteemed for the purity of the Tuscan language,

dies. 1312 Robert, king of Sicily, opposes the corona

tion of the Emperor Henry VII. Par.

viii. 59. Ferdinand IV. of Castile, dies, and is suc

ceeded by Alonzo XI. Dino Compagni, a distinguished Florentine,

concludes his history of his own time,

written in elegant Italian.

Gaddo Gaddi, the Florentine artist, dies. 1313 The Emperor Henry of Luxemburgh, by

whom he had hoped to be restored to Florence, dies. Par. xvii. 80. and xxx. 135.

Henry is succeeded by Lewis of Bararia.
Dante takes refuge at Ravenna, with Guido

Novello da Polenta.
Giovanni Boccaccio is born.
Pope Clement V. dies. H. xix. 86. and Par.

xxvii. 53. and xxx. 141. 1314 Philip IV. of France dies. Purg. vii. 108. and

Par. xix. 117.

1. D.
1314 Louis X. succeeds.

Ferdinand IV. of Spain, dies. Par. xix. 12.
Giacopo da Carrara defeated by Can Grande,

who makes himself master of Vicenza.

Par. ix. 45. 1315 Louis X. of France marries Clemenza, sister

to our Poet's friend, Charles Martel, king

of Hungary. Par. ix. 2. 1316 Louis X. of France dies, and is succeeded by

Philip V.
John XXII. elected Pope. Par. xxvii. 53.
Joinville, the French historian, dies about

this time. 1320 About this time John Gower is born, eight

years before his friend Chaucer. 1321 July. Dante dies at Ravenna, of a complaint

brought on by disappointment at his failure
in a negociation which he had been con-
ducting with the Venetians, for his patron

Guido Novello da Polenta.
His obsequies are sumptuously

rmed at Ravenna by Guido, who himself died in the ensuing year.




ARGUMENT. The writer, having lost his way in a gloomy forest, and being

hindered by certain wild beasts from ascending a mountain, is met by Virgil, who promises to show him the punishments of Hell, and afterwards of Purgatory; and that he shall then be conducted by Beatrice into Paradise. He follows the Roman poet.

In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct: and e’en to tell,
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
Which to remember? only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death.
Yet, to discourse of what there good befel,
All else will I elate discover'd there.

How first I enter'd it I scarce can say,
Such sleepy dulness in that instant weigh'd

| In the midway.] That the æra of the Poem is intended by these words to be fixed to the thirty-fifth year of the poet's age, A.D. 1300, will appear more plainly in Canto xxi. where that date is explicitly marked.

In his Convito, human life is compared to an arch or bow, the highest point of which is, in those well framed by nature, at their thirty-fifth year. Opere di Dante, ediz. Ven. 8vo, 1793. t. i. p. 195.

2 Which to remember.] “ Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.” Job xxi. 6.

My senses down, when the true path I left;
But when a mountain's foot I reach'd, where closed
The valley that had pierced my heart with dread,
I look'd aloft, and saw his shoulders broad
Already vested with that planet's beam',
Who leads all wanderers safe through every way.

Then was a little respite to the fear,
That in my heart's recesses? deep had lain
All of that night, so pitifully past:
And as a man, with difficult short breath,
Forespent with toiling, 'scaped from sea to shore,
Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands
At gaze; e'en so my spirit, that yet fail'd,
Struggling with terror, turn’d to view the straits
That none hath past and lived. My weary frame
After short pause recomforted, again
I journey'd on over that lonely steep,
The hinder foot still firmer4. Scarce the ascent
Began, when, lo! a panther”, nimble, light,
And cover'd with a speckled skin, appear'd ;
Nor, when it saw me, vanish’d; rather strove
To check my onward going ; that oft-times,
With purpose to retrace my steps, I turn’d.

The hour was morning's prime, and on his way
Aloft the sun ascended with those stars6,
That with him rose when Love divine first moved
Those its fair works: so that with joyous hope
All things conspired to fill me, the gay skin?

| That planet's beam.] The sun.

2 My heart's recesses.] Nel lago del cuor. Lombardi cites an imitation of this by Redi in his Ditirambo:

I huon vini son quegli, che acquetano

Le procelle sì fosche e rubelle,

Che nel lago del cuor l'anime inquietano. 3 Turns.) So in our Poet's second psalm:

Come colui, che andando per lo bosco,

Da spino punto, a quel si volge e guarda.
Even as one, in passing through a wood,

Pierced by a thorn, at which he turns and looks.
4 The hinder foot.] It is to be remembered, that in as-
cending a hill the weight of the body rests on the hinder

5 A panther.] Pleasure or luxury.

6 With those stars.] The sun was in Aries, in which sign he supposes it to have begun its course at the creation.

7 The gay skin.] A late editor of the Divina Commedia, Signor Zotti, has spoken of the present translation as the

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Of that swift animal, the matin dawn,
And the sweet season. Soon that joy was chased,
And by new dread succeeded, when in view
A lion came, 'gainst me as it appear’d,
With his head held aloft and hunger-mad,
That e'en the air was fear-struck. A she-wolf?
Was at his heels, who in her leanness seem'd
Full of all wants, and many a land hath made
Disconsolate ere now.

She with such fear
O’erwhelm'd me, at the sight of her appallid,
That of the height all hope I lost. As one,
Who, with his gain elated, sees the time
When all unwares is gone, he inwardly

only one that has rendered this passage rightly: but Mr. Hayley had shown me the way, in his very skilful version of the first three Cantos of the Inferno, inserted in the notes to his Essay on Epic Poetry :

I now was raised to hope sublime
By these bright omens of my fate benign,

The beauteous beast and the sweet hour of prime. All the Commentators, whom I have seen, understand our Poet to say that the season of the year and the hour of the day induced him to hope for the gay skin of the panther; and there is something in the sixteenth Canto, verse 107, which countenances their interpretation, although that which I have followed still appears to me the more probable.

| A lion.] Pride or ambition. 2. A she-wolf.] Avarice.

It cannot be doubted that the image of these three beasts coming against him is taken by our author from the prophet Jeremiah, v.6: “Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities.” Rossetti, following Dionisi and other later Commentators, interprets Dante's leopard to denote Florence, his lion the king of France, and his wolf the Court of Rome. It is far from improbable that our author might have had a second allegory of this sort in his view; even as Spenser in the introductory letter to his poem, tells us that“ in the Faery Queen he meant Glory in his general intention, but in his particular he conceived the most excellent and glorious person of his sovereign the Queen." “ And yet” he adds “in some places else I do otherwise shadow her." Such involution of allegorical meanings may well be supposed to have been frequently present to the mind of Dante throughout the composition of

Whether his acute and eloquent interpreter, Rossetti, may not have been carried much too far in the pursuit of a favourite hypothesis, is another question; and

must avow my disbelief of the secret jargon imputed to our poet and the other writers of that time in the Comment on the Divina Commedia and in the Spirito Antipapale, the latter of which works is familiarized to the English reader in Miss Ward's faithful translation.

this poem.

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