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Of that swist animal, the matin dawn,
While to the lower space with backward step
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.
1 A lion.] Pride or ambition.
2 A she-wolf.] Avarice. It cannot be doubted that the image of these threo 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 le supposed to have been frequently present to the mind of Dante throughout the composition of this poem. 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 I 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 Spiri'o Antipapale, the latter of which works is familiarized to the English reader in Miss Ward's faithful translation, 3 Where the sun in silence rests.]
The sun to me is dark, When she deserts the night,
Milto:, Sam. 1gon. The same metaphor will recur, Canto v. verse 20.
Into a place I came
“ Have mercy on me,” cried I out aloud,
He answer'd : "Now not man, man once I was,
That I was weeping, answer'd, “Thou must needs
That never sated is her ravenous will, i When the power of Julius.]
Nacqui sub Julio, ancorchè fosse tardi. This is explained by the commentators: “Although it were rather late with respect to my birth, before Julius Cæsar assumed the supreme anthority, and made himself perpetual dictator.” Virgil indeed was born twenty-five years before that event. 2 Ilium's hughty towers.]
Virgil, Æn, iii. 3. 3 My master thou, and guide.]
Tu se lo mio maestro, e'l mio autore,
Milton, P. L. ii. 864.
Still after food ? more craving than before.
1 Still after food.] So Frezzi :
La voglia sempre ha fame, e mai non s'empie,
Il Quadriregio, lib. 2. cap. xi. Venturi observes that the verse in the original is borrowed by Berni.
2 That greyhound.) This passage has been commonly understood as an eulogium on the liberal spirit of his
Veronese patron, Can Grande della Scala. 3 "Twist either Feltro.] Verona, the country of Can della Scala, is situated between Feltro, a city in the Marca Trivigiana, and Monte Feltro, a city in the territory of Urbino. But Dante perhaps does not merely point out the place of Can Grande's nativity, for he may allude further to a prophecy, ascribed to Michael Scot, which imported that the “Dog of Verona would be lord of Padua and of all the Marca Trivigiana.” It was fulfilled in the year 1329, a little before Can Grande's death. See G. Villani, Hist. lib. 10. cap. cv. and exli, and some lively criticism by Gasparo Gozzi, entitled Giudizio degli Antichi Poeti, etc., printed at the end of the Zatta edition of Dante, t. 4. part ii. p. 15. The prophecy, it is likely, was a forgery ; for Michael died before 1300, when Can Grande was only nine years old. See IIell, xx. 115, and Par. xvii. 75. Troya has given a new interpretation to Dante's prediction, which he applies to Uguccione della Faggiola, whose country also was situated between two Feltros. See the Veltro Allegorico di Danté, p. 110. But after all the pains he has taken, this very able writer fails to make it clear that Uguccione, though he acted a prominent part as a Ghibelline leader, is intended here or in Purgatory, c. xxxi. 38. The main proofs rest on an ambiguous report mentioned by Boccaccio of the Inferno being dedicated to him, and on a suspicious letter attributed to a certain friar Ilario, in which the friar describes Dante addressing him as a stranger, and desiring him to convey that portion of the poem to Uguccione. There is no direct allusion to him throughout the Divina Commedia, as there is to the other chief public protectors of our poct during his exile. 4 Italia's plains.] “Umilo Italia,” from Virgil, En. lib. 3. 522.
A second death ;? and those next view, who dwell
to lead me where thou said'st,
Onward he moved, I close his steps pursued.
Argument. After the invocation, which poets are used to prefix to their works, he shows,
that, on a consideration of his own strength, le doubted whether it sufficer for the journey proposed to him, but that, being comforted by Virgil, le at last took courage, and followed him as his guide and master.
Now was the day departing, and the air,
? A second death.]." And in these days men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” Rev. ix. 6.
2 Content in fire.] The spirits in Purgatory, : A spirit worthier.) Beatrice, who conducts the Poet through Paradise.
4 Saint Peter's gate.] The gate of Purgatory, which the Poet feigns to be guarded by an angel placed on that station by St. Peter.
5 Now was the day.) A compendium of Virgil's description, Æn. lib. 4. 522. Compare Apollonius Rhodius, lib. 3. 744, and lib. 4. 1058.
The day gan failin ; and the darke night,
O Muses ! O high genius! now rouchsafe
I thus began : “Bard ! thou who art my guide,
10 mind.] O thought ! that write all that I met, Of my braine, now shall men see And in the tresorie it set
If any virtue in thee be.
Chaucer, Temple of Fame, b. 2. v. 18. 2 Silvius' sire.] Æncas.
3 The chosen vessel.] Et. Paul. Acts ix. 15. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me.”
4 There. This refers to “the immortal tribes,” v. 15, St. Paul having Leen caught up to l:caven, 2.Cor. xii. 2.