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Title: Studies in the Poetry of Italy - Part II. Italian
Author: Kuhns, Oscar
Language: English
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Studies in the Poetry
of Italy




_Wesleyan University_


=Chautauqua Press=





Third Edition, 1913

=The Chautauqua Print Shop=

Chautauqua, New York


In writing this book the author has endeavored to give a connected story
of the development of Italian literature from its origin down to the
present. In so doing, however, he has laid chief stress on those writers
whose fame is world-wide, and thus, owing to lack of space, has been
obliged to treat in the briefest manner those writers who, although
famous in Italy itself, are not generally known to the world at large.
It is hoped that the reader may be led to study more in detail
this literature, which although ranking with the greatest of the
world-literatures, has been to a large degree neglected in England and
America. The translations from Dante's New Life and of the story from
Boccaccio have been made by the author, inasmuch as during the writing
of this book he could not obtain access to the standard translations.

It is to be noted also, that owing to unavoidable delay in the
transmission of the manuscript, the author has not been able to read the




  CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

  I. THE ORIGINS OF ITALIAN LITERATURE                     173

  II. DANTE: LIFE AND MINOR WORKS                          193

  III. THE DIVINE COMEDY                                   214

  IV. PETRARCH                                             263

  V. BOCCACCIO                                             283

  VI. THE RENAISSANCE AND ARIOSTO                          297

  VII. TASSO                                               316





The first thing that strikes the attention of the student of Italian
literature is its comparatively recent origin. In the north and south of
France the Old French and Provençal languages had begun to develop a
literature before the tenth century, which by the end of the twelfth had
risen to a high degree of cultivation; indeed, by that time the
Provençal had attained its highest point, and had already begun to
decline. In Italy, however, we cannot trace the beginning of a
literature, properly so-called, farther back than the thirteenth

Among the various causes which may be assigned for this phenomenon, the
most important undoubtedly is the fact that the Italians have always
looked upon themselves as of one race with the ancient Romans, and the
heirs of all the glorious traditions attached to the names of the
heroes, poets, and artists of the Eternal City. In similar manner they
regarded Latin as their true mother-tongue, of which the vernacular was
a mere corruption. Hence it came to pass that all the literature which
we find in Italy before the thirteenth century, and a large proportion
of that written in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries,
was in Latin and not in Italian, which seemed to the writers of those
days unworthy of forming the medium of poetry and learning.

This feeling of kinship was a natural one for those who lived in the
same cities in which the Romans had lived, surrounded by the imposing
ruins of the ancient world, speaking a language, which although
essentially a modern one, with all its characteristics, was still nearer
to Latin than French, Provençal, or Spanish. For these men the
irruptions of the northern barbarians, the Goths, the Lombards, and
later the Normans, were only a break in the continuity of the historical
development of the Latin race in Italy. This spirit--which explains the
popularity and temporary success of Arnold of Brescia, in the twelfth
century, and of Cola di Rienzi, in the fourteenth, in their efforts to
restore the old forms of the Roman republic--must be kept constantly in
mind by the student, not only of the political history of Italy, but of
its literature and art as well.

Yet this natural feeling does not rest altogether on fact. The Italians
of to-day are not the pure descendants of the ancient Romans, but, like
the other so-called Latin races, are of mixed origin, more nearly
related, it is true, to the Romans, yet in general formed in the same
ethnical way as their neighbors.

With the downfall of Rome, Italy, like France and Spain, was overrun by
the hordes of German tribes, who, leaving the cold and inhospitable
regions of the North sought for more congenial climes in the sunny
South. As the Franks in France, the Visigoths and Vandals in Spain, so
the Ostrogoths in Italy, toward the end of the fifth century, conquered
and colonized the country, and under Theodoric restored for a brief time
an appearance of prosperity. In the sixth century came the Lombards, and
after destroying and devastating city and country as far south as Rome,
and even beyond, finally settled in upper Italy now known from them as
Lombardy. Several centuries later came the Normans from France and
conquered Sicily and the southern extremity of the peninsula. All these
peoples were of German origin, and being gradually merged with the
conquered race, formed what we now call the Italian people.[1]

It goes without saying that the Latin language was profoundly affected
by all these changes. Although the German invaders gradually adopted the
civilization of the conquered land, including the language, yet they
could not help influencing this civilization and impressing it with
their own individual stamp.

With regard to the language, we must bear in mind that even in the time
of Vergil and Cicero, Latin had two forms, one the elegant and
artificial language of literature, and the other the idiom of the common
people, or the vernacular. Many of the peculiar phonetic, grammatical,
and syntactical phenomena which characterize the modern Romance
languages existed in this so-called "vulgar Latin," long before the fall
of Rome, the irruption of the northern barbarians, and the consequent
formation of new nations and new tongues.

All the Romance languages have been derived from this "vulgar Latin,"
each one being specially moulded by its peculiar environments, and by
the various German, Celtic, and other dialects by which it was
influenced. Thus the "vulgar Latin" imported by Roman colonists into
Gaul, and influenced by the Franks, produced the French language: in the
same way "vulgar Latin" plus the various local and foreign influences to
which it was subjected in Italy, produced the various dialects of that
country--Venetian, Tuscan, Neapolitan, and Sicilian. While literary
Latin, although becoming more and more corrupt as the years went by,
continued in Italy to be the language of the church, of the courts of
law, and of what literature there was, the vernacular--_i. e._, the
various dialects--was used in all the operations of daily life.

We have evidence that this popular tongue must have been in existence as
far back as the seventh century, for in Latin public documents dating
from that period on, we find occasional words and fragments of phrases,
especially the names of persons and places, which are marked by the
special characteristics of the Italian language. These expressions,
embedded in the Latin documents, like pebbles in sand, become more and
more numerous as we approach the tenth century, until finally, in the
year 960, we meet for the first time with a complete Italian sentence,
in a legal document concerning the boundaries of a certain piece of
property in Capua; four years later we find almost the same formula in a
similar document. Toward the end of the eleventh century certain
frescoes were painted in the lower church of Saint Clement in Rome,
where they may still be seen, and among them is one beneath which is
found an explanation in Italian.

In spite of the fact, however, that these monuments of early Italian
increase from year to year, they were not numerous before the thirteenth
century. The very scarcity of them shows the tenacity with which the
people clung to the traditions of Rome, since not only literature, but
even public and private documents were written in Latin. This literary
tradition never wholly died out in Italy, even in the darkest days of
her history. It is true that in the terrible disorders that accompanied
the slow agony of dying Rome, a long period of darkness and ignorance
occurred. The empire was split into two parts and the seat of the
emperor was transferred to Constantinople; the Goths and Lombards
conquered Northern Italy, the Saracens and Normans the South. All
through the Dark Ages Italy was the prey of foreign marauders; the
Huns--those scourges of the nations--came as far as Rome; the Arabs
obtained a foothold in Sicily, scoured the seas, and even ravaged the
Campagna up to the very walls of the Eternal City.

Not only did devoted Italy suffer from outsiders, but discord and civil
conflicts rent her very entrails. When Charlemagne was crowned emperor
in 800 by Leo III., as a reward for having defended Rome against the
incursions of the Lombards, it was thought that the reëstablishment of
the Roman empire would bring in a new era of peace and glory. With the
death of the great king, however, anarchy once more reigned supreme.
His successors in the empire (for the most part weaklings) were kept
busy with the affairs of Germany, and regarded Italy, "the garden of the
empire," as Dante calls it, with indifference. In Italy itself there was
no such thing as patriotism or feeling of national unity. The people
were oppressed by the nobles, who themselves were in a continual state
of warfare with each other. In the eleventh century a new power arose in
the form of free cities, chief among them being Venice, Genoa, Pisa, and
Florence. These, however, only increased the disorder which already
existed; city fought with city, and even within the same walls the
various families formed parties and feuds, which led to incessant
strife, of which murder, rapine, and arson were the usual concomitants.

No wonder, then, that in the midst of all this anarchy and confusion
Roman civilization almost died out. What the barbarians had spared, the
church itself tried to destroy. Having finally triumphed over pagan
Rome, it fought pagan civilization; the early Christian fathers looked
upon art and literature as the work of demons; the clergy were forbidden
to read the classic writers except for grammatical purposes, the subject
matter being deemed poisonous to the souls of Christians. Even so great
a man as Pope Gregory despised classical antiquity. During the long
period when Italy was the prey of Saracen and Hun, when pestilence and
famine stalked gauntly through the desolated land, civilization sank to
its lowest point. Superstition and asceticism held full sway in
religion; men sought relief from the sufferings of the life that now is
in the contemplation of a new and happier state in the life to come.
Hence arose the widespread conviction that God is best pleased with
those who despise this life, with all its beauty and pleasure, its pride
and glory, its pomp and power.

In spite of this apparent death, however, a spark of life still existed.
Through all this dolorous period, schools could be found, in which a
half-barbarous Latin was rudely taught, as being the language of the
church. There never was a time when Latin authors were not read to some
extent in school and monastery.

With the eleventh century a change for the better began in the
intellectual, as well as in the political life of Italy. The rise of
cities, the crusades, even the unholy contest between pope and emperor
gave new impulse to the minds of all, and led to the beginning of a new
era. The defeat of the German emperors, through papal intrigue, added to
the power of the free cities, which were thus made independent of
trans-Alpine over-lordship, and now began to enter upon that long career
of prosperity and intellectual conquest which is the wonder of the
student of the history of medieval Italy.

This intellectual movement of the eleventh century, which gave a new and
strong impulse to the study of philosophy and theology, resulted in a
rich literature in these departments of learning. Peter Damian, the
right hand of Gregory VII. in his war with the emperors, became a leader
in the study of philosophy and wrote many celebrated works. Other
Italian philosophers and theologians--Lanfranc, Anselm, and Peter
Lombard--taught in foreign schools. In the thirteenth century Italy
produced two of the greatest of the medieval philosophers, St. Thomas
Aquinas and St. Bonaventura. Later the newly founded University of
Bologna became the center of an eager study of law, which resulted in
the writing of many books on jurisprudence.

This late and artificial bloom of Latin literature in theology and
philosophy brought the necessity of a more satisfactory study of the
Latin language itself. Hence arose many new grammars, rhetorics, and
texts. In a similar manner the newly awakened interest in science (such
as it was) brought in a new class of books, corresponding to our modern
encyclopedias. From the twelfth century on, all over Europe, large
numbers of these compendiums were compiled, containing a summary of all
the knowledge of the times; chief among these encyclopedias was the vast
_Speculum Majus_ (the Greater Mirror) of Vincent of Beauvais, containing
82 books and 9,905 chapters. Very popular, also, were the moral and
didactic treatises. Symbolism took possession of all literature. The
phenomena of nature became types of religious life--even the writings of
pagan antiquity were treated symbolically and made to reveal prophecies
of Christian doctrine; Vergil, in a famous passage, was supposed to have
foretold the coming of the Savior, and even the _Ars Amatoria_ of Ovid,
"of the earth earthy," if ever poem was, was interpreted in terms of
Christian mysticism.

All the above-mentioned literature, however, so far as it existed in
Italy before the thirteenth century, was written in Latin; we must
dismiss it, therefore, with this brief mention, and pass on to the true
subject of this book, Italian literature properly so-called, which, as
we have already seen, cannot be said to have existed before the
thirteenth century.

One feature which is largely characteristic of all subsequent periods of
Italian literature marks the formative period thereof, that is, the
comparative lack of invention and originality, and the spirit of
imitation of other literatures, distant either in time or space. In
order to trace its early beginnings to their sources, we must go outside
the borders of Italy. For nearly two hundred years the south of France
had been the home of a large number of elegant lyrical poets, whose fame
and influence had spread over all Europe. These troubadours, as they
were called, were welcomed not only at the courts of princes and nobles
in Provence, but were likewise honored guests in Northern France, in
Spain, and in Italy. The latter country had long been closely connected
with Southern France by means of commerce and politics. Hence it was
natural for the troubadours to seek the rewards of their art in the
brilliant courts of Italy. Toward the end of the twelfth century some of
the best known of them, among them the famous Pierre Vidal and Rambaud
de Vaqueiras, made their way thither. After the terrible crusades
against the Albigenses--which not only cruelly slaughtered tens of
thousands of earnest Christians, but likewise destroyed forever the
independence and prosperity of Provence, and thus, by destroying the
courts of noble families, put a sudden stop to the flourishing
literature--large numbers of the wandering minstrels came to Northern

It was not long before their influence began to manifest itself, first
in Northern Italy, and later in the south and center. The north Italian
poets began to imitate the troubadours, and soon a considerable body of
poetry had been composed by native poets, in the manner and--a
phenomenon worthy of note--in the language itself of the Provençal
poets. This is due to the relationship between the dialects of Northern
Italy and the Provençal, and also to the fact that at that time the
latter tongue was far more elegant and cultivated than the other Romance
languages. This north Italian poetry is always included in the Provençal
collections and the writers are known as troubadours in spite of their
Italian nationality. Among the most famous are Bartolomeo Zorzi of
Venice, Bonifaccio Calvo of Genoa, and especially Sordello of Mantua,
praised by Dante in a famous passage of the Purgatory, and the subject
of Browning's well-known poem.

We see, then, that the above poets belong rather to the history of
Provençal than that of Italian literature. To find the first springs of
national poetry in Italy, we must traverse the whole length of the
peninsula and arrive at the court of Frederick II. (1194-1250) in
Sicily, which at this time was far ahead of the rest of the country in
civilization, art, and literature. Frederick himself was a many-sided
man, warrior, statesman, lawyer, and scholar, and stands out among his
contemporaries, especially in matters of religious tolerance. He
welcomed to his court not only the scholars, poets, and artists of
Europe, but likewise Arabs, who were at that time in possession of a
high degree of culture. He caused many Greek and Arab authors to be
translated into Latin, among them Aristotle; he founded the University
of Naples; above all, by his own mighty personality, he made a deep
impression on the times.

Frederick's ministers were, like himself, men of culture and learning.
Chief among them was Pier delle Vigne, statesman and poet, the cause of
whose tragic death by his own hand is told by Dante in the Inferno.

The influence of the troubadours made itself felt in Sicily about the
same time as in Northern Italy, only here the imitation was in the
Italian language and not in Provençal. Among the early Sicilian poets
who wrote after the manner of the troubadours, was the Emperor Frederick
II. himself, his son, Enzio, and Pier delle Vigne. From an æsthetic
point of view, this early indigenous poetry is of little interest, but
as the beginning of a movement which culminated in the New Life and
Divine Comedy of Dante, it is of very great importance.

It had no originality or freshness, but was a slavish imitation of
Provençal models, the conventions of which were transported bodily,
without any change, except to be poorer. Love was the only theme, and
the type always remains the same. The lover is humble, a feudal vassal
of his lady who stands far above him, all beauty and virtue, but a cold
and lifeless abstraction. She usually treats her lover with disdain or
indifference, while he pours forth the protestations of his love, extols
her beauty, and laments her hardness of heart. All these things,
repeated countless times, in almost the same language, became monotonous
in the Provençal poets, and naturally much more so in their Italian

This Sicilian school of poetry did not last long; it perished with the
downfall of the Hohenstaufens. It found a continuation, however, in
middle Italy, especially in the province of Tuscany, which, from this
time on, becomes the center of the literary and artistic life of Italy.
The poetry of the court of Frederick had not been written in the
Sicilian dialect, but in a sort of court language not very dissimilar to
the Tuscan. It is probable that among the poets of the Sicilian school
some were Tuscans, and that after the death of Frederick they returned
home, bringing with them the poetical doctrines which they had learned.

However this may be, we find a direct continuation of the movement in
Tuscany. We see the same slavish imitation of the troubadours, the same
ideas, and the same poetical language and tricks of style. In addition
to the influence of the Sicilian school, there was a direct imitation of
the Provençal poets; thus Guittone d'Arezzo, the leader of the early
Tuscan school, wrote and spoke Provençal, and Dante, in his Purgatory,
introduces the Troubadour Arnaut Daniel, speaking in his native tongue.

One phase of Provençal poetry--the political--strangely enough
considering the stormy times, had not been imitated by the poets at the
court of Frederick II. From the first, however, the Tuscans included
politics in their poetry, and one of the strongest of Guittone's poems
is a song on the battle of Montaperti (1260).

Guittone d'Arezzo is the direct literary ancestor of Dante, and the
first original Italian poet. Hence he deserves a word or two even in
this brief sketch. He was born in 1230 near Arezzo in Tuscany, hence
his name; after a youth spent in the pursuit of pleasure, he was
converted, and looking on all things earthly as mere vanities, he left
his wife and family and joined the recently founded military-religious
order of the Knights of Saint Mary. He died at Florence in 1294. In
early life he had been gay and dissipated; his last years he spent in
the exercises of religious asceticism. These two parts of his life
correspond to two phases of his poetry. In the first he was a follower
of the Sicilian school and wrote love poetry; in the second he discarded
this "foolishness" and wrote political, moral, and theological
discussions in verse. His poetry has little esthetic value, but is
important as forming a transition between the early Sicilian school and
the group of poets whose greatest member was Dante. His writings against
earthly love and his praise of heavenly love mark an important change in
the development of Italian poetry and open the path which leads up to
Beatrice and the Divine Comedy.

The next important step in this progress is marked by Guido Guinicelli,
a learned lawyer and judge of Bologna (situated in the province of
Romagna and separated from Tuscany by the Apennines), a city which at
that time was the seat of a flourishing university and the center of a
keen intellectual life.

Guinicelli was born in 1220, was prominent in political as well as in
literary circles, was banished in 1274, and died in 1276. He was a
follower of Guittone, and like him his first poetry was in the manner of
the Sicilian school. He changed later and began a new school, the
_dolce stile nuova_, as Dante calls it. The change shows itself
especially in the new conception of love, and of its origin, growth, and
effects. The troubadours and their Sicilian imitators declared that love
came from seeing, that it entered through the eyes of the beholder, and
thence descended to the heart. Guinicelli says, on the contrary, that
love does not come from without, but dwells, "as a bird in its nest," in
the heart and is an attribute thereof. This is not true, however, of all
men, but only of those who are virtuous and good. Only the gentle heart
can love, and a noble character is not the effect of love, but its
cause. These sentiments are expressed in the following lines, translated
by Rossetti:

    "Within the gentle heart Love shelters him,
      As birds within the green shade of the grove.
    Before the gentle heart, in Nature's scheme,
      Love was not, or the gentle heart ere Love.
        For with the sun, at once,
      So sprang the light immediately, nor was
        Its birth before the sun's.
      And Love hath its effect in gentleness
        Of very self; even as
      Within the middle fire the heat's excess."

Whereas the love of the troubadours was romantic and chivalrous, the
love of Guinicelli was intellectual and philosophical. With him earthly
affections become purified and spiritualized. The old repertory of
conventional expressions is gradually discarded, and new forms take
their place, soon to become conventional in their turn. Love and the
poet's Lady remain abstract, but have now a different signification. The
Lady is still treated as a perfect being, but she becomes now a symbol
of something higher. Love for her leads to virtue and to God; poetry now
receives an allegorical character, and its real end becomes the
inculcation of philosophical truth under the veil of earthly love. The
importance of Guinicelli for us is his influence on Dante, for the new
school was not continued in Bologna, but found its chief followers in
Florence. We are thus led naturally up to the works of the great
Florentine poet whom we shall study in the next two chapters.

In the meantime, however, we must cast a brief glance at certain other
early phases of Italian literature, which later developed into important
branches of poetry and prose.

Northern Italy, as we have seen, had no share in beginning an indigenous
lyrical poetry. It did, however, have an early literature of its own, in
the form of religious and didactic poetry, for the most part
translations from Latin and French originals. In Umbria, the home of St.
Francis, and the center of those waves of religious excitement which so
profoundly affected Italy in the thirteenth century, a popular religious
lyric arose. St. Francis himself deserves some mention in literary
history, if only on account of his famous song of praise, which he
instructed his followers to sing as they wandered, like spiritual
troubadours, through the land. St. Francis was no mere ascetic, but
loved the beauty of nature and had a tender love for all creatures.
Quaintly enough he was wont to call birds and animals, and even
inanimate objects, such as the sun and moon, by the name of brother and
sister.[2] Among his followers was Thomas of Celano, who wrote that
most solemn and majestic of all Latin hymns, "Dies Iræ."

The astonishing popularity and spread of the new order founded by St.
Francis can only be explained by the terrible sufferings of the times.
All Italy was stirred by deep religious excitement. In 1233, the
movement reached its high-water mark. Old and young, high and low,
leaving their ordinary occupations and business, marched in processions
through the land singing pious songs; the country folk streamed to the
cities to hear the sermons which were given morning, noon, and night.

About the year 1260, a similar movement started, that of the
Flagellants, so called from their custom of carrying whips with which
they lashed themselves in token of repentance. The times were dark and
stormy, the never-ending feuds between the papal and imperial parties
brought in their train murder and rapine, while famine and pestilence
stalked through the land. Suddenly a priest, named Fasani, appeared in
Perugia, who said he had been sent by heaven to prophesy terrible
punishments on a sinful world. Once more the processions began, and the
aroused and penitent multitudes moved through the land, lashing
themselves with whips and singing pious songs.

The literary effect of all this religious excitement was far-reaching,
especially important for us in that it prepared the way for Dante, not
only by creating the proper atmosphere, but by the production of hymns
and visionary journeys into the unseen world. The religious lyrics or
hymns, which the multitudes sang, were known as _Laudi_, or songs of
praise. They were not the artificial imitation of foreign poets, like
the early Sicilian and Tuscan poetry, but the genuine product of the
soil. They were composed for and sung by the great mass of the people
who could not understand Latin. They were spread far and wide and made
popular by the Flagellants, and thus became true folk-songs.

The most famous of the writers of these _Laudi_ in the thirteenth
century was Jacopone da Todi, the story of whose conversion is extremely
touching. He was a rich young lawyer of Florence, full of the pride of
life. At a certain festivity his wife was killed by an accident, and
under her costly garments was found, next to her skin, a hair-shirt,
such as was worn by penitents. The tragic death of his wife and this
evidence of her religious feelings converted the once proud Jacopone,
who joined a religious order and devoted the rest of his life to the
service of God. Besides being the author of a number of _Laudi_ and
religious poems, he probably wrote the famous Latin hymn, _Stabat

The _Laudi_, beginning in the thirteenth century, lasted down to the
sixteenth century. As an example of them we give here the following
stanzas, written by Girolamo Benivieni (1453-1542), and translated by
John Addington Symonds:

    Jesus, whoso with thee
    Hangs not in pain and loss
    Pierced on the cruel cross,
    At peace can never be.

    Lord, unto me be kind:
    Give me that peace of mind
    Which in the world so blind
    And false, dwells but with thee.

    Here in my heart be lit
    Thy fire to feed on it,
    Till burning bit by bit
    It dies to live with thee.

Before we close this chapter we must say a word or two concerning
another branch of early literature, whose influence is not great on
Dante or his immediate successors, but which was destined to bloom forth
later in a new kind of poetry, which has become the peculiar glory of
Italy. The introduction into Italy of the French national heroic epic
(the _chansons de geste_) began about the same time as the introduction
of the Provençal lyric. In Northern Italy these romances were not only
read but imitated, and about the second half of the thirteenth century,
arose a mongrel sort of literature, written in a language, half French,
half Italian. The most popular of these poems were those dealing with
Charlemagne, who, as the protector of the pope and the restorer of the
Roman empire, was looked upon by the Italians as one of their own race.
These old _chansons de geste_, however, in coming to Italy, lost much of
their original significance. The spirit and ideals could scarcely be
understood by the Italians, to whom feudal society was largely unknown.
What they liked in the French romances was not religious or patriotic
sentiments, but adventures and the wonderful deeds of the heroes. The
object, then, of the rude early writers of the Franco-Italian epic was
to interest the hearers and arouse curiosity. Hence these poems became
monopolized by wandering minstrels, who sang in the streets and public
squares to the people who gathered about them, much as their descendants
gather about the Punch and Judy shows and the wandering musicians of
to-day. For nearly two hundred years the French romances existed in
Italy in this humble state, until, as we shall see later, they were
incorporated into regular literature by Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto.


    Italian literature of comparatively recent origin--Causes
    therefor--Italian literature proper does not begin before the
    thirteenth century--The poetry of Provence and its influence on
    North Italy--The Italian troubadours--The rise of indigenous
    poetry in Sicily--Transference of the movement to
    Tuscany--Guido Guinicelli of Bologna--The "new school"--How it
    differed from the preceding poetry--Character of literature in
    North Italy--St. Francis and the religious movements--The
    Flagellants--Literary effect of these movements--The
    _Laudi_--Jacopone da Todi--French epic romances and their
    influence in Italy.

    1. Give a brief sketch of the origin of the Italian

    2. When does Italian literature proper begin?

    3. Name three great Italian philosophers who wrote in

    4. What country first influenced Italian lyrical poetry?

    5. What do you understand by the Sicilian school?

    6. Give the chief characteristics of the poetry of this

    7. Who was Guittone d'Arezzo?

    8. Guido Guinicelli and the "new school"?

    9. How did he differ from the Provençal and Sicilian

    10. St. Francis of Assisi,--what was his connection with

    11. Describe the religious movements in Italy in the
        thirteenth century.

    12. Who was Jacopone da Todi?

    13. What was the influence of the French national epic
        in Italy?


    It is very important in the study of any literature to have some
    knowledge of the history of the country in question. Those who
    wish to study more in detail the subject treated in this book,
    should read some book on the history of Italy. For the early
    period of the literature, the best authority is Gaspary, who
    wrote in German,--but the first volume of whose book has just
    been translated into English, and published in the Bohn Library.
    An indispensable book is Rossetti's "Dante and his Circle,"
    which contains many excellent translations from the early poets
    of Italy.


[1] In Southern Italy, especially in Sicily, there is a large infusion
of Greek and Saracen blood.

[2] His last words were, "Welcome, sister death."



In the preceding chapter we have outlined the development of early
Italian poetry, endeavoring to show how from the Sicilian school it was
carried over to Tuscany; how Guido Guinicelli, in Bologna, had
transformed it from a slavish imitation of the troubadours into a new
school of symbolical philosophical poetry, and finally, how from Bologna
the new doctrines spread to Florence.

There were a number of early poets of Florence and other Tuscan cities
who wrote in the manner of Guido Guinicelli, among the best known being
Cino da Pistoia, Lapo Gianni, Dante da Majano, and especially worthy of
note, Guido Cavalcanti. The latter, who was the intimate friend of
Dante, was a member of a noble family, and was prominent in all the
intellectual and political life of Florence. He was among those who were
exiled from the city in 1300, and died soon after his return in the same
year. Dante refers to him in the New Life as the "first of his friends,"
and records in the Inferno a pathetic interview with his father in the
city of Dis. To him and a mutual friend, Lapo, he addressed the
following beautiful sonnet, so well translated by Shelley:

    Guido, I would that Lapo, thou and I,
    Led by some strong enchantment, might ascend
    A magic ship, whose charmèd sails should fly,
    With winds at will where'er our thoughts might wend,
    And that no change, nor any evil chance
    Should mar our joyous voyage; but it might be,
    That even satiety should still enhance
    Between our hearts their strict community:
    And that the bounteous wizard then would place
    Vanna and Bice and my gentle love,
    Companions of our wandering, and would grace
    With passionate talk, wherever we might rove,
    Our time, and each were as content and free
    As I believe that thou and I should be.

As a sample of Guido Cavalcanti's own poetical skill we may take the
following sonnet, translated by Cary:

    Whatso is fair in lady's face or mind,
      And gentle knights caparison'd and gay,
    Singing of sweet birds unto love inclined,
      And gallant barks that cut the watery way;
    The white snow falling without any wind,
      The cloudless sky at break of early day,
    The crystal stream, with flowers the meadow lined,
      Silver, and gold, and azure for array:
    To him that sees the beauty and the worth
      Whose power doth meet and in my lady dwell,
      All seem as vile, their price and lustre gone.
    And, as the heaven is higher than the earth,
      So she in knowledge doth each one excel,
      Not slow to good in nature like her own.

It is with Dante alone, however, that we can busy ourselves here, for in
him are summed up all the various tendencies and characteristics of his
predecessors and contemporaries.

The figure of Dante Alighieri is one of the saddest in literary history;
his life seemed to contain all the sorrow that can fall to the lot of
humankind. An exile from his native city, separated from family and
friends, deprived of his property, and thus forced to live in poverty or
become the recipient of charity, disappointed in his patriotic hopes,
the only thing left him to do was to turn his eyes inward and to build
up out of his very sufferings and sorrow, his immortal poem:

    "Ah! from what agony of heart and brain,
      What exultations trampling on despair,
        What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong,
    What passionate outcry of a soul in pain,
      Uprose this poem of the earth and air,--
        This medieval miracle of song."

We see, then, that even more important than in the case of other poets
is some knowledge of the great Florentine.

Unfortunately we have not a reliable and complete record of that life.
Legend and fancy have been interwoven with facts so closely that often
it is hard to separate one from the other. The following data, however,
are well established. Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in the year
1265, the day and month being uncertain, but probably falling between
May 18th and June 17th. He belonged to a family which was counted among
the lesser nobility. Dante himself does not seem to have been able to
trace his ancestry further back than four generations. In the fifteenth
canto of Paradise there is a famous passage where the poet tells how he
meets in Mars his great-grandfather, Cacciaguida, who gives him certain
autobiographical details: That he was baptized at the church of San
Giovanni in Florence; that he had two brothers; that his wife came from
the Po valley (whence originated the name Alighieri); that he had gone
on the crusades with the Emperor Conrad, by whom he had been dubbed
knight, and finally, that he had been killed by the Arabs. This is all
Dante knew, for he makes Cacciaguida say:

                      "They, of whom I sprang,
    And I, had there our birthplace,"

that is, in a certain quarter of Florence--

                        "Thus much
    Suffice of my forefathers; who they were,
    And whence they hither came, more honorable
    It is to pass in silence than to tell."

Of Dante's immediate family we know little. Strangely enough for one who
reveals himself so completely in his poetry, he says nothing of either
father or mother. As to his education we can only infer it from his
works and the condition of the times. The statements made by Boccaccio
and Villani concerning his early school life, are fables. He did not go
to school under Brunetto Latini, for the latter had no school; although
Dante was undoubtedly influenced by Latini's _Trésor_ (a vast
encyclopedical compilation of contemporary knowledge) which laid the
foundations of the poet's learning. Moreover, it may well be that the
distinguished statesman, judge, and writer directed by his personal
counsel the studies of the bright young scholar, for whom he prophesied
a brilliant career. Hence Dante's joy and gratitude at meeting in the
Inferno the "dear paternal image of him who had taught him how man
becomes eternal."

It is certain that Dante studied the regular curriculum of medieval
education, the so-called seven liberal arts, consisting of the
Quadrivium and the Trivium.[3] He knew Latin, but no Greek; he quotes
frequently Vergil, Horace, Statius, and others. He was a profound
student of philosophy and theology; loved art, music, and poetry. In the
Divine Comedy he shows a wide knowledge, embracing practically all the
science and learning of the times. All this he largely taught himself,
especially in his early life. Later he visited the universities of Padua
and Bologna, and probably Paris. It is quite unlikely that he got as far
as Oxford, as Mr. Gladstone endeavored to prove some years ago. He was
not unacquainted with military life, having been present at the battle
of Campaldino and at the surrender of Caprona.

He was married before 1298 to Gemma Donati, and thus became related to
one of the most powerful families in Florence. Here again he shows a
strange reticence, never mentioning his wife or children. We have no
reason, however, to believe his marriage unhappy, or that he lacked
affection for his children.

It is true that his wife did not follow him in exile, but there was
reason enough for this in his poverty and wandering life. The apotheosis
of Beatrice need not presuppose lack of conjugal affection, for his love
for her was entirely Platonic and became later a mere symbol of the
spiritual life. He had by Gemma several children, two sons, Pietro and
Jacopo, and one daughter, Beatrice; that he had another daughter, named
Antonia, is probable, but not certain. His children joined him later in
life in Ravenna.

Of the greatest importance for the understanding of the Divine Comedy is
a knowledge of the political doctrines and public life of Dante. Tuscany
at that time was in a wild and stormy condition. It shared in the
terrible disorders of the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines
(the former supporting the pope, the latter the emperor). It likewise
had private quarrels of its own. The old feudal nobility had been
repressed by the rise of the cities, into which the nobles themselves
had migrated, and where they kept up an incessant series of quarrels
among themselves or with the free citizens. Yet, in spite of this
constant state of warfare, the cities of Tuscany increased in power and
prosperity, especially Florence. We need only remember that at the time
Dante entered public life (1300) an extraordinary activity manifested
itself in all branches of public works; new streets, squares, and
bridges were laid out and built; the foundations of the cathedral had
been laid, and Santa Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio had been begun. Such
extensive works of public improvement presuppose a high degree of
prosperity and culture. The political condition of Florence itself at
this time was something as follows: In 1265, to go back a few years in
order to get the proper perspective, Charles of Anjou, brother of the
king of France, had been called by Pope Urban IV. to Italy to aid him in
the war with the house of Swabia, and through him the mighty imperial
family of the Hohenstaufens, which had counted among its members
Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II., was destroyed. Manfred, the
natural son of Frederick II., was killed at the battle of Beneventum
(1260), and his nephew, the sixteen-year-old Conradin, the last member
of the family, was betrayed into the hands of Charles after the battle
of Tagliacozza and brutally beheaded in the public square of Naples
(1268). It was through Charles of Anjou that the Ghibellines, who having
been banished from Florence in 1258, had returned after the battle of
Montaperti in 1260, were once more driven from the city; and the
Guelphs, that is, the supporters of the pope, were restored to power.

The government was subject to frequent changes, becoming, however, more
and more democratic in character. The decree of Gian della Bella had
declared all nobles ineligible to public office, and granted the right
to govern only to those who belonged to a guild or who exercised a
profession. It was undoubtedly to render himself eligible to office that
Dante joined the guild of physicians. In 1300 he was elected one of the
six priors who ruled the city, for a period of two months only. From
this brief term of office Dante himself dates all his later misfortunes.

At this time, in addition to the two great parties of Guelphs and
Ghibellines, which existed in Florence as in the rest of Italy, there
were in the city two minor parties, which at first had nothing to do
with papal or imperial politics. These parties, known as Whites and
Blacks, came from Pistoia, over which Florence exercised a sort of
protectorate. The rulers of the latter city tried to smooth out the
quarrels of the above local factions of Pistoia, by taking the chiefs of
both parties to themselves; but the quarrels continued in Florence, and
soon the whole city was drawn into the contest, the Blacks being led by
Corso Donati, and the Whites by the family of the Cerchi.

Pope Boniface VIII., who claimed Tuscany as the heir of the Countess
Matilda, endeavored to take advantage of the state of discord in order
to further his own selfish plans. For this purpose he sent the Cardinal
Acquasparta to Florence, who, failing to accomplish his mission,
excommunicated the recalcitrant city and left it in a rage. At this
juncture the priors, of whom, as we have seen, Dante was one, thought to
still the discord by banishing the leaders of the Whites and Blacks, an
act, however, which only served to bring the hatred of both parties on
the heads of the magistrates.

In 1301 Charles of Valois was called to Florence, ostensibly to pacify
the divided city; he favored the party of the Blacks, however, and let
in Corso Donati, who had been exiled the year before, and for five days
murder, fire, and rapine raged through the streets of the devoted city.
All the Whites who were not slain were exiled and their property
confiscated or destroyed. Among the exiled was Dante. There are several
decrees against him still extant in the archives of Florence. The first
is dated January 27, 1302, and accuses him, with several others, of
extortion, bribery, defalcation of public money, and hostility to the
pope and the church. We need not say that of all these accusations the
latter was alone true. In case the accused did not appear before the
court to answer the charges, they were condemned in contumacy, to pay a
fine of five hundred gold florins; if this was not paid within three
days, their property should be confiscated. This decree was followed by
another, on March 10, 1302, in which the same charges were repeated, and
in which Dante, as a delinquent, was declared an outlaw, and condemned
to be burned alive if ever caught within Florentine territory.

Thus begins the poignant story of Dante's exile. We know but few
definite details of that long period of wandering. He himself says, in
his Banquet, that he traveled all over Italy, "a pilgrim, almost a

In the seventeenth canto of Paradise Cacciaguida gives a brief summary
of Dante's exile in the form of a prophecy:

                      "Thou shalt leave each thing
    Beloved most dearly: this is the first shaft
    Shot from the bow of exile. Thou shalt prove
    How salt the savor is of other's bread;
    How hard the passage, to descend and climb
    By other's stairs. But that shall gall thee most,
    Will be the worthless and vile company,
    With whom thou must be thrown into these straits.
    For all ungrateful, impious all, and mad,
    Shall turn 'gainst thee: but in a little while,
    Theirs, and not thine, shall be the crimson'd brow,
    Their course shall so evince their brutishness,
    To have ta'en thy stand apart shall well become thee.
      "First refuge thou must find, first place of rest,
    In the great Lombard's courtesy, who bears,
    Upon the ladder perch'd, the sacred bird.
    He shall behold thee with such kind regard,
    That 'twixt ye two, the contrary to that
    Which 'falls 'twixt other men, the granting shall
    Forerun the asking."

We see from these lines that Dante first went to Verona, the seat of
Bartolommeo della Scala (the "great Lombard," whose coat of arms was a
ladder "scala," with an eagle perched upon it). From there he went to
Bologna, thence to Padua, and thence to the Lunigiana. It is about this
time that he is said to have gone to Paris (this is probable), and to
Germany, Flanders, and England; it is not at all probable that he ever
saw the last-mentioned place.

Dante never gave up altogether the hope that he might one day return to
Florence. He yearned all his life for the "beautiful sheep-fold" where
he had lived as a lamb. Yet even this happiness he would not accept at
the price of dishonor. When, in 1312, a general amnesty was proclaimed
by Florence, and he might have returned if he would consent to certain
humiliating conditions, he wrote the following noble words to a friend
in Florence:

    "This is not the way of coming home, my father! Yet, if you or
    other find one not beneath the fame of Dante and his honor, that
    will I gladly pursue. But if by no such way can I enter
    Florence, then Florence shall I never enter. And what then! Can
    I not behold the sun and the stars from every spot of earth?
    Shall I not be able to meditate on the sweetest truths in every
    place beneath the sky, unless I make myself ignoble, yea,
    ignominious to the people and state of Florence? Nor shall bread
    be wanting."

A great hope rose above the horizon of his life when Henry VII., of
Luxemburg, came to Italy to restore the ancient power of the empire.
Dante's letters written at this time are couched in exultant, almost
extravagant, language: "Rejoice, Oh! Italy," he cries, "for thy
bridegroom, the comfort of the world, and the glory of the people, the
most merciful Henry, the divine Augustus and Cæsar is hastening hither
to the wedding feast." His joy and exultation, alas! were doomed to a
speedy end.

In 1312 Henry, who, after the murder of Albert, had been crowned emperor
(in 1309), came to Pisa, thence to Rome. Then, after having in vain
besieged Florence, which had become the leader of the anti-imperial
movement, he retired to Buonconvento, where he died (probably from
poison) August 24, 1313.

With the tragic death of Henry, Dante seems to have given up all hope of
earthly happiness and from now on turned his eyes to heaven, from which
alone he could hope for justice to himself and peace and righteousness
for unhappy Italy. The composition of the Divine Comedy dates from this
period. His final refuge and place of rest was at Ravenna, at the court
of Guido da Polenta, uncle of Francesca da Rimini, whose pathetic story
is quoted in the next chapter. Here, in comparative comfort and peace,
he spent the evening of his life, occupying his time in writing the
Divine Comedy and in occasional journeys in the interest of his patron.
In 1321, while on one of these journeys to Venice, he caught fever and
died on the 13th of September of that year.

Many anecdotes and legends are told of these years of exile. Thus it is
said that while in Verona, as he was walking one day through the
streets, some women saw him and said: "Behold, there is the man who has
been in hell." A beautiful story is told in a letter, doubtful however,
written by Fra Ilario of the Monastery of Santa Croce on Monte Corvo, to
the effect that one day a dust-stained, travel-worn man, carrying a roll
of manuscript under his arm, knocked at the door of the monastery, and
on being asked what he wanted, answered "pace, pace" (peace, peace).
This legend has been beautifully rendered by Longfellow in the following

    "Methinks I see thee stand with pallid cheeks
      By Fra Ilario in his diocese,
    As on the convent walls in golden streaks
      The ascending sunbeams mark the day's decrease.
    And as he asks what there the stranger seeks
      Thy voice along the cloisters whispers 'peace.'"

Dante's character reveals itself in all its phases in his works. His
youth as represented in the New Life was a happy one, filled with ardor
for study, with affection for friends, and with the ecstasy of a pure
and virtuous love. He needed, however, the death of Beatrice, the long
years of exile, and the disappointment of all his hopes to develop that
strong and noble character which the world admires almost as much as his
poetry. He was an enthusiastic student, yet mingled with the affairs of
men; never willingly doing wrong himself, he was unyielding in what he
conceived to be right, and consecrated his consummate powers to the
cause of the noble and the good. His own conscience was clear, and under
this "breastplate," as he calls it, he went steadily on his way. He was
proud of his learning, strong in his opinions, and does not hesitate to
constitute himself the stern judge of all his contemporaries; this in a
lesser man would have seemed presumptuous; in Dante it was only the
prosecution of a solemn and, as he thought, a Godgiven duty. Yet, in
spite of this sternness his heart was soft and tender.

Like Tennyson's poet, Dante was "dowered with love of love," as well as
"hate of hate and scorn of scorn."

Those who read only the Inferno, may get the impression of a savage,
revengeful spirit, but the Purgatory and Paradise are full of tenderest
poetry of sublimest imagination, and show their author to have had a
heart full of love and gentleness, sweetness and light. A deep
melancholy weighed over the whole later life of Dante; his heart never
ceased to long for home and friends, yet this melancholy is not
pessimism; he never lost his confidence in God, never doubted right
would win.

It is this inspiring combination of noble qualities in Dante's
character, reflected in every page of the Divine Comedy, which makes the
study of the latter not merely an æsthetic pleasure, but a spiritual
exercise, ennobling and uplifting the minds of those who read it with
the "spirit and with the understanding also."

The works of Dante are not many. They consist of prose and poetry, the
former comprising the so-called Banquet (Convito) and the essay on
Universal Monarchy. The former was to have been finished in fifteen
books or chapters, but is only a fragment of four. It is a sort of
encyclopedia of knowledge, such as were so popular in the Middle Ages,
but written in Italian, in order to bring it within the reach of the
unlearned reader. It is full of the scholastic learning of the times,
and while not attractive to the ordinary reader, is of great importance
for a complete understanding of the Divine Comedy. Likewise important
in this respect is the political treatise on the Monarchy, in which
Dante sums up his theory of world-politics. This book, written in Latin,
is divided into three parts: in Book I., the author shows the necessity
of a universal empire; in Book II., he shows the right of Rome to be the
seat of this empire; in Book III., he shows the independence of the
emperor from the pope. This theory of the separation of the church and
state runs like a thread through the whole of the Divine Comedy, in
which Dante constantly attributes the sufferings of Italy to the lust
for temporal power on the part of the pope and clergy.

For the general reader, however, the most interesting of Dante's
writings, after the Divine Comedy, is the New Life, a strange and
beautiful little book which serves as a prologue to the Divine Comedy.
It is the story of Dante's love for Beatrice Portinari, the daughter of
Folco, a neighbor and friend of the poet's father. It is a simple story,
containing but few actual events, the details consisting for the most
part of repetitions of the theory of love propounded by Guido
Guinicelli, of analyses of Dante's own state of mind, and of mystical
visions. The form of the book is peculiar, part prose, part poetry, the
latter being accompanied by a brief commentary. Yet there is a truth and
sincerity in the book which prove that it is no mere allegory or symbol,
but the record of an actual love on the part of Dante for the fair young
Florentine girl who is its heroine.

Dante tells us in quaint and scholastic language how he first saw
Beatrice at a May festival, when she was at the beginning of her ninth
year and he was at the end of his. She was dressed in red, with
ornaments suited to her youthful age, and was so beautiful "that surely
one could say of her the words of the poet, Homer: 'She seemed not the
daughter of mortal man but of God.'" He tells us, further, how he felt
the spirit of love awaken within him and how, after that first meeting,
he sought every opportunity of seeing her again.

Nine years later, again in May, he records another occasion when he met
Beatrice, this time dressed in white and accompanied by two ladies, "and
passing along the street she turned her eyes toward the place where I
stood, very timid, and through her ineffable courtesy she gently saluted
me, so that it seemed to me that I experienced all the depths of bliss.
The hour was precisely the ninth of that day, and inasmuch as it was the
first time that her words reached my ears, such sweetness came upon me
that, intoxicated, as it were, with joy, I left the people and went to
my solitary chamber, and began to muse upon this most courteous lady."
This love, accompanied as it was with violent alternations of joy and
sorrow, produced a strong effect on Dante; his health suffered, his
nerves were shattered, and he became frail and weak. Yet he refused to
tell her name, although he confessed that love was the cause of his
sufferings: "And when they asked me by means of whom love brought me to
this wretched state, I looked at them with a smile, but said nothing."

In order, however, to put people on the wrong track, he pretended to
love another lady, and so successful was this subterfuge, that even
Beatrice herself believed it, so that one day, meeting Dante, she
refused to salute him, an act which filled him with deepest affliction:
"Now after my happiness was denied me, there came upon me so much grief
that leaving all people I went my way to a solitary place to bathe the
earth with bitterest tears; and when I was somewhat relieved by this
weeping, I entered my chamber where I could lament without being heard.
And there I began to call on my lady for mercy, and saying: 'Love, help
thy faithful one,' I fell asleep in tears like a little, beaten child."

As we have already said, there is little action in this book, only a few
meetings in the street, in church, or at funerals; even the death of
Beatrice's father is spoken of vaguely and allusively. The importance of
all lies in the psychological analysis of feelings and thoughts of the
poet. The descriptions of Beatrice are vague and her figure is wrapped
in an atmosphere of "vaporous twilight." Her beauty is not presented to
us by means of word-painting, but rather by its effect on all who behold
her. This is illustrated in the following sonnet, which is justly
considered the most beautiful not only of Dante's poetry but of all
Italian literature:

    So gentle and so noble doth appear
      My lady when she passes through the street,
      That none her salutation dare repeat
    And all eyes turn from her as if in fear.
    She goes her way, and cannot help but hear
      The praise of all,--yet modest still and sweet;
      Something she seems come down from heaven,--her seat,
    To earth a miracle to show men here.
    So pleasing doth she seem unto the eye,
      That to the heart a sweetness seems to move,
    A sweetness only known to those who feel.
    And from her lips a spirit seems to steal,--
      A gentle spirit, soft and full of love,--
      That whispers to the souls of all men,--"sigh."

The effect of all the conflicting sentiments which agitated Dante's
bosom was to throw him into a serious illness, in the course of which he
had a terrible vision of the approaching death of Beatrice. "Now a few
days after this, it happened that there came upon me a dolorous
infirmity, whence for nine days I suffered most bitter pain; this led me
to such weakness that I was not able to move from my bed. I say, then,
that on the ninth day, feeling my pain almost intolerable, there came to
me a thought concerning my lady. And when I had thought somewhat of her,
and turned again in thought to my own weakened life, and considered how
fragile is its duration, even though it be in health, I began to weep to
myself over so much misery. Whence I said to myself with sighs: verily
the most gentle Beatrice must sometime die. Wherefore there came upon me
so great a depression that I closed my eyes and began to wander in mind,
so that there appeared to me certain faces of ladies with disheveled
hair, who said to me, 'Thou also shalt die.' And after these ladies
certain other faces, horribly distorted, appeared and said: 'Thou art
dead.' Then I seemed to see ladies with disheveled hair going along the
street weeping, and wondrous sad; and the sun grew dark, so that the
stars showed themselves, of such color that methought they wept; and the
birds as they flew fell dead; and there were mighty earthquakes; and as
I wondered and was smitten with terror in such fancies, methought I saw
a friend come to me and say: 'Dost thou not know? Thy peerless lady has
departed this life.' Then I began to weep very piteously, and not only
in dream, but bathing my cheeks in real tears. And I dreamed that I
looked skyward and saw a multitude of angels flying upwards, and they
had before them a small cloud, exceedingly white.[4] And the angels
seemed to be singing gloriously, and the words which I seemed to hear
were these: 'Hosanna in the Highest,' and naught else could I hear. Then
it seemed to me that my heart, which was so full of love, said to me:
'It is true, indeed, that our lady lies dead.' And so strong was my
wandering fancy that it showed me this lady dead; and I seemed to see
ladies covering her head with a very white veil, and her face had so
great an aspect of humility that she seemed to say: 'I have gone to
behold the beginning of peace.' And then I seemed to have returned to my
own room, and there I looked toward heaven and began to cry out in
tears: 'O, soul most beautiful, how blessed is he who beholds thee.' And
as I said these words with sobs and tears, and called on death to come
to me, a young and gentle lady who was at my bedside, thinking that my
tears and cries were for grief on account of my infirmity began also to
weep in great fear. Whereupon other ladies who were in the room, noticed
that I wept, and leading away from my bedside her who was joined to me
by close ties of blood,[5] they came to me to wake me from my dream,
and saying: 'Weep no more,' and again: 'Be not so discomforted.' And as
they thus spoke, my strong fancy ceased, and just as I was about to say:
'O, Beatrice, blessed art thou,' and I had already said, 'O, Beatrice--'
giving a start I opened my eyes and saw that I had been dreaming."

The presentiment of Dante in the above exquisite passage came true.
Beatrice, too fair and good for earth, was called by God to Himself. One
day the poet sat down to write a poem in praise of her and had finished
one stanza when the news came that Beatrice was dead. At first he seemed
too benumbed even for tears, and after a quotation from Jeremiah--

    "How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! How is
    she become a widow, she that was great among the  nations!"--

at the beginning of the next paragraph, he gives a fantastic discussion
of the symbolical figure nine and its connection with the life and death
of Beatrice. Then the tears began to flow, and unutterable sadness took
possession of his heart. A whole year after he tells us how one day he
sat thinking of her and drawing the picture of an angel, a picture,
alas! which was never finished, as he was interrupted by visitors.[6] At
another time he tells how one day he saw a number of pilgrims passing
through Florence on their way to Rome, and to them he addressed one of
his most beautiful sonnets:

    Oh, pilgrims who move on with steps so slow,
      Musing perchance of friends now far away;
      So distant is your native land, oh say!
    As by your actions ye do seem to show?
    For lo! you weep and mourn not when you go,
      Through these our city streets, so sad to-day;
      Nor unto us your meed of pity pay,
    Bowed as we are 'neath heavy weight of woe.
    If while I speak you will but wait and hear,--
    Surely,--my heart in sighing whispers me,--
    That then you shall go on with sorrow deep.
    Florence has lost its Beatrice dear;
    And words that tell what she was wont to be,
    Are potent to make all that hear them weep.

With these lines the New Life practically ends. After one more sonnet,
in which he tells how he was lifted in spirit and had a vision of
Beatrice in paradise, he concludes the book with the following
paragraph, in which we first see a definite purpose on the part of Dante
to write a long poem in praise of Beatrice: "After this sonnet there
appeared to me a wonderful vision, in which I saw things which made me
resolve to say no more of this blessed one until I should be able to
treat more worthily of her, and to come to that I study as much as I
can, as she truly knows. So that if it shall be the pleasure of Him in
whom all things live that my life endure for some years more, I hope to
say of her that which has never yet been said of mortal woman. And then
may it please Him who is Lord of Courtesy, that my soul may go to see
the glory of its lady, that is, the blessed Beatrice who gloriously
looks on the face of him 'qui est per cuncta sæcula benedictus in sæcula
sæculorum. Amen.'" (Who is blessed throughout all the ages.)


    Early Tuscan poetry--Guido Cavalcanti, a contemporary of
    Dante--Guelphs and Ghibellines, Whites and Blacks at
    Florence--Dante born 1265; his education; his love for Beatrice;
    marriage and home life; an exile; dies in Ravenna 1321.

    1. Mention some of the early Tuscan poets.

    2. What is the date of Dante's birth?

    3. What is known of his family?

    4. How and where was he educated?

    5. Tell what you can of his family life.

    6. What was the political condition of Florence in
        Dante's time?

    7. Who were the Guelphs and Ghibellines,--the Whites and

    8. When and why was Dante exiled?

    9. Name some of the places he is known to have visited.

    10. How and when did he die?

    11. Describe briefly his character.

    12. Name the chief works of Dante, giving a brief
        indication of their contents.

    13. Tell briefly the story of his love for Beatrice.


    No poet in Italian literature is better adapted to special study
    than Dante, nor is any so profitable. The material is abundant.
    The reader should provide himself with Scartazzini's Companion
    to Dante, translated by A. J. Butler, or Symond's Introduction
    to Dante. These will furnish all necessary facts concerning the
    life and works of the poet. It must be remembered that the
    Divine Comedy is a difficult poem, and that it takes many
    readings and much study to master it. It will be best to begin
    by reading Maria F. Rossetti's A Shadow of Dante, which gives a
    general outline of the story with copious extracts. Then one of
    the numerous translations should be taken up and studied
    carefully, canto by canto--Cary's, Longfellow's, and Norton's
    translations (the latter in prose) are the best. An edition of
    Cary's translation has been made by the writer of this book
    (published by T. Y. Crowell & Co.), with special reference to
    the general reader. It contains an introduction, Rossetti's
    translation of the New Life, and a revised reprint of Cary's
    version of the Divine Comedy furnished with a popular commentary
    in the form of foot notes. The number of essays and critical
    estimates of Dante in English is legion; perhaps the best three
    are those by Carlyle (in Heroes and Hero Worship), Dean Church,
    and Lowell. Of especial value is Dinsmore's Aids to the Study of
    Dante (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.).


[3] The Quadrivium included arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music;
the Trivium, grammar (_i. e._, Latin), dialectics, and rhetoric.

[4] The soul of Beatrice.

[5] Dante's sister.


    "You and I would rather see that angel,
    Painted by the tenderness of Dante,
    Would we not? than read a fresh Inferno."
                      Browning (One Word More).



We have seen, at the end of the last chapter, how Dante had made a vow
to glorify Beatrice, as no other woman had ever been glorified, and how
he studied and labored to prepare himself for the lofty task. The Divine
Comedy is the fulfilment of this "immense promise." Although it is
probable that Dante did not begin to write this poem till after the
death of Henry VII. (1313), yet there can be no doubt that it was slowly
developing in his mind during all the years of his exile.

The Divine Comedy is divided into three parts or books, _canticas_, as
they are called by Dante: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, each one
containing thirty-three cantos, with one additional introductory canto
prefixed to the Hell. Even the number of lines in the three _canticas_
is approximately the same.[7] Dante's love for number-symbols was shown
in the New Life, hence we are justified in accepting the theory that the
threefold division of the poem is symbolical of the Trinity, and that
the thirty-three cantos of each _cantica_ represent the years of the
Savior's life. It is worthy of note that the last word in each of the
three books is "stars."

The allegory of the Divine Comedy has been the subject of countless
discussions. The consensus of the best modern commentators seems to be,
however, that although the allegory is more or less political, it is
chiefly religious. The great theme is the salvation of the human soul,
represented by Dante himself, who is the protagonist of the poem. As he
wanders first through hell, he sees in all its loathly horrors the
"exceeding sinfulness of sin," and realizes its inevitable punishment;
as he climbs the steep slopes of purgatory, at first with infinite
difficulty, but with ever-increasing ease as he approaches the summit,
he learns by his own experience how hard it is to root out the natural
tendencies to sin that pull the soul downward; and finally, as he mounts
from heaven to heaven, till he arrives in the very presence of God
Himself, he experiences the joy unspeakable that comes to him who,
having purged himself of all sin, is found worthy to join "the
innumerable company of saints and the spirits of just men made perfect."

The Divine Comedy is a visionary journey through the three supernatural
worlds, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Such visions were by no means
infrequent in the Middle Ages, and Dante had many predecessors. He
simply adopted a poetical device well known to his contemporaries. What
differentiated him from others is the dramatic and intensely personal
character of his vision; the consummate skill with which he interwove
into this one poem all the science, learning, philosophy, and history of
the times; and the lovely poetry in which all these things are embalmed.
To appreciate the vast difference between the Divine Comedy and
previous works of a similar nature, we need only to read a few pages of
such crude books as the Visions of Alberico, Tugdale, and Saint Brandon.

To Dante and his contemporaries the supernatural world was not what it
is to us to-day, a vast, unbounded space filled with star-systems like
our own: the topography of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise seemed to them
as definite as that of our own planet. The Ptolemaic system of astronomy
(overthrown by Copernicus, yet still forming the framework of Milton's
Paradise Lost) was accepted with implicit confidence. According to this
system the universe consisted of ten heavens or concentric spheres, in
the center of which was our earth, immovable itself, while around it
revolved the heavenly spheres. The earth was surrounded by an atmosphere
of air, then one of fire, and then came in order the heavens of the
moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the fixed stars,
and the Primum Mobile (the source of the motion of the spheres) beyond
which stretched out to infinity the Empyrean, the heaven of light and
love, the seat of God and the angels.

According to Dante, hell is situated in the interior of the earth, being
in shape a sort of funnel with the point downward, and reaching to the
center of the earth, which is also the center of the universe. Purgatory
rises in the form of a truncated cone in the surface of the southern
hemisphere, having in solid form, the same shape as the hollow funnel of
hell. It was formed of the earth which fled before Lucifer, and splashed
up behind him like water, when, after his revolt against the Almighty he
was flung headlong from heaven and became fixed in the center of the
earth, as far as possible according to the Ptolemaic system from the
Empyrean and God.

Hell is formed of nine concentric, ever-narrowing terraces, or circles,
exhibiting a great variety of landscapes, rivers, and lakes, gloomy
forests and sandy deserts, all shrouded in utter darkness except where
flickering flames tear the thick pall of night, or the red-hot walls of
Dis gleam balefully over the waters of the Stygian marsh. Here are
punished the various groups of sinners, whom Dante sees, whose suffering
he describes, and with whom he converses as he makes his way downward
from circle to circle.

It was in the year 1300, at Easter time, when Dante began his strange
and eventful pilgrimage, "midway in this our mortal life," he says in
the first line of the poem, that is when he himself was thirty-five
years old. He finds himself lost in a dense forest, not knowing how he
came there, and after wandering for some time, reaches the foot of a
lofty mountain, whose top is lighted by the rays of the morning sun. He
is about to make his way thither, when he is stopped by the appearance,
one after the other, of three terrible beasts, a leopard, a lion, and a
wolf. He falls back in terror to the forest, when suddenly he sees a
figure advancing toward him and learns that this is Vergil, who has been
sent by Beatrice (now in heaven) to lead her lover from the wood of sin
to salvation. To do this it will be necessary for Dante to pass through
the infernal world, then up the craggy heights of purgatory to the
earthly paradise, where Beatrice herself will take charge of him and
lead him from heaven to heaven, even to the presence of God Himself.
Dante's courage and confidence fail at this prospect--he is not Æneas or
St. Paul, he says, to undertake such supernatural journeys--but when
Vergil tells him that Beatrice herself has sent him, Dante expresses his
willingness to undertake the difficult and awe-inspiring task.

It is nightfall when they reach the gate of hell, over which is written
the dread inscription:

    "Through me you pass into the city of woe:
    Through me you pass into eternal pain:
    Through me among the people lost for aye:
    Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
    To rear me was the task of power divine,
    Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
    Before me things create were none, save things
    Eternal, and eternal I endure.
    All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

Entering in they are met with the sound of sighs, moans, and
lamentations, mingled with curses hoarse and deep, and the beating of
hands, all making a hideous din in the starless air, in which a long
train of spirits is whirled about hither and thither stung by wasps and
hornets. These spirits are the souls of those ignoble ones who were
neither for God nor against him.

    "The wretched souls of those, who lived
    Without or praise or blame, with that ill band
    Of angels mixed, who nor rebellious proved,
    Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves
    Were only. From his bounds Heaven drove them forth
    Not to impair his luster; nor the depth
    Of Hell receives them, lest the accursed tribe
    Should glory thence with exultation vain."

Here Dante recognizes the soul of him who made the "great refusal,"
recalling thus the strange story of the aged hermit, Peter Murrone, who
after fifty-five years and more of solitary life in a cave high up among
the Abruzzi Mountains, was forced to ascend the papal throne, and who
after a short period of ineffectual reign under the name of Celestine
V., resigned, thus making way for Boniface VIII., Dante's bitter enemy.
Vergil's contemptuous remark concerning these souls,

    "Speak not of them, but look and pass them by,"

has become proverbial.

Soon after this the two poets reach the shores of the river Acheron,
where Charon, the infernal boatman, is busy ferrying the souls of the
damned to the other side. He refuses to take Dante in his boat, and the
latter falls into a swoon, and being aroused by a clap of thunder, finds
himself on the other side. How he was carried over we are not told. The
wanderers are now in limbo or the first circle of hell, in which are
contained the souls of unbaptized children and of the great and good of
the pagan world, especially the poets and philosophers of ancient Greece
and Rome, who, having lived before the coming of Christ, had through no
fault of their own died without faith in Him who alone can save. These
souls are not punished by physical pain, as is the case with those in
the following circles, but nourishing forever a desire which they have
no hope of ever having satisfied, they pass the endless years of
eternity in gentle melancholy. Here Dante meets the spirits of Homer,
Ovid, Horace, and Lucan, who treat him kindly and make him one of the
band, thus consecrating him as a great poet.

      "When they together short discourse had held,
    They turned to me, with salutation kind
    Beckoning me; at the which my master smiled:
    Nor was this all; but greater honor still
    They gave me, for they made me of their tribe;
    And I was sixth amid so learn'd a band.
      "Far as the luminous beacon on we passed,
    Speaking of matters, then befitting well
    To speak, now fitter left untold. At foot
    Of a magnificent castle we arrived,
    Seven times with lofty walls begirt, and round
    Defended by a pleasant stream. O'er this
    As o'er dry land we passed. Next, through seven gates,
    I with those sages entered, and we came
    Into a mead with lively verdure fresh.
      "There dwelt a race, who slow their eyes around
    Majestically moved, and in their port
    Bore eminent authority: they spake
    Seldom, but all their words were tuneful sweet.
      "We to one side retired, into a place
    Open and bright and lofty, whence each one
    Stood manifest to view. Incontinent,
    There on the green enamel of the plain
    Were shown me the great spirits, by whose sight
    I am exalted in my own esteem."

Leaving this beautiful oasis in the infernal desert, the poets enter the
second circle, where Hell may be said really to begin. Here Dante sees
the monster Minos, the judge of the infernal regions, who assigns to
each soul its proper circle, indicating the number thereof by winding
his tail about his body a corresponding number of times. In circle two
are the souls of the licentious, blown about forever by a violent wind.
Among them Dante recognizes the famous lovers of antiquity, Dido, Helen,
Cleopatra. His attention is especially attracted toward two spirits,
who, locked closely in each other's arms, are blown hither and thither
like chaff before the wind. Calling upon them to tell him who they are,
he hears the pathetic story of Francesca da Rimini, perhaps the most
famous and beautiful passage in all poetry:

      "When I had heard my sage instructor name
    Those dames and knights of antique days, o'erpowered
    By pity, well-nigh in amaze my mind
    Was lost; and I began: 'Bard! willingly
    I would address those two together coming,
    Which seem so light before the wind.' He thus:
    'Note thou, when nearer they to us approach.
    Then by that love which carries them along,
    Entreat; and they will come.' Soon as the wind
    Swayed them toward us, I thus framed my speech:
    'O wearied spirits! come, and hold discourse
    With us, if by none else restrained.' As doves
    By fond desire invited, on wide wings
    And firm, to their sweet nest returning home,
    Cleave the air, wafted by their will along;
    Thus issued, from that troop where Dido ranks,
    They, through the ill air speeding: with such force
    My cry prevailed, by strong affection urged.
      "'O gracious creature and benign! who go'st
    Visiting, through this element obscure,
    Us, who the world with bloody stain imbrued;
    If, for a friend, the King of all, we owned,
    Our prayer to him should for thy peace arise,
    Since thou hast pity on our evil plight.
    Of whatso'er to hear or to discourse
    It pleases thee, that will we hear, of that
    Freely with thee discourse, while e'er the wind,
    As now, is mute. The land, that gave me birth,
    Is situate on the coast, where Po descends
    To rest in ocean[8] with his sequent streams.
      "'Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt[9],
    Entangled him by that fair form, from me
    Ta'en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still:
    Love, that denial takes from none beloved,
    Caught me with pleasing him so passing well,
    That, as thou seest, he yet deserts me not.
    Love brought us to one death: Caïna[10] waits
    The soul, who spilt our life.' Such were their words;
    At hearing which, downward I bent my looks,
    And held them there so long, that the bard cried:
    'What art thou pondering?' I in answer thus:
    'Alas! by what sweet thoughts, what fond desire
    Must they at length to that ill pass have reached!'
      "Then turning, I to them my speech addressed,
    And thus began: 'Francesca! your sad fate
    Even to tears my grief and pity moves.
    But tell me; in the time of your sweet sighs,
    By what and how Love granted, that ye knew
    Your yet uncertain wishes?' She replied:
    'No greater grief than to remember days
    Of joy, when misery is at hand. That kens
    Thy learn'd instructor yet so eagerly
    If thou art bent to know the primal root,
    From whence our love gat being, I will do
    As one who weeps and tells his tale. One day
    For our delight we read of Launcelot,
    How him love thralled. Alone we were, and no
    Suspicion near us. Oft times by that reading
    Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue
    Fled from our altered cheek. But at one point
    Alone we fell. When of that smile we read,
    The wished for smile so rapturously kissed
    By one so deep in love, then he, who ne'er
    From me shall separate, at once my lips
    All trembling kissed. The book and writer both
    Were love's purveyors. In its leaves that day
    We read no more.' While thus one spirit spake,
    The other wailed so sorely, that heart-struck
    I, through compassion fainting, seemed not far
    From death, and like a corse fell to the ground."

Passing rapidly over circle three, in which the gluttons lie in mire
under a pelting storm of hail, snow, and rain, torn to pieces by the
three-throated Cerberus; and circle four, where misers and spendthrifts
roll great weights against each other and upbraid each the other with
his besetting sin; we come to circle five, where in the dark and dismal
waters of the Styx the wrathful and the melancholy are plunged. It is
singular that Dante makes low spirits or mental depression as much a sin
as violence and lack of self-control:

      "The good instructor spake: 'Now seest thou, son!
    The souls of those, whom anger overcame.
    This, too, for certain know, that underneath
    The water dwells a multitude, whose sighs
    Into these bubbles make the surface heave,--
    As thine eye tells thee wheresoe'er it turn.
    Fixed in the slime, they say: "Sad once were we,
    In the sweet air made gladsome by the sun,
    Carrying a foul and lazy mist within:
    Now in these murky settlings are we sad."
    Such dolorous strain they gurgle in their throats,
    But word distinct can utter none.'"

As they stand at the foot of a dark tower, a light flashes from its top
and another light, far off above the waters, sends back an answer
through the murky air. Dante, full of curiosity, turns to Vergil for

      "'There on the filthy waters,' he replied,
    'E'en now what next awaits us mayst thou see,
    If the marsh-gendered fog conceal it not.'
      "Never was arrow from the cord dismissed,
    That ran its way so nimbly through the air,
    As a small bark, that through the waves I spied
    Toward us coming, under the sole sway
    Of one that ferried it, who cried aloud:
    'Art thou arrived, fell spirit?'--'Phlegyas, Phlegyas,
    This time thou criest in vain,' my lord replied;
    'No longer shalt thou have us, but while o'er
    The slimy pool we pass.' As one who hears
    Of some great wrong he hath sustained, whereat
    Inly he pines: So Phlegyas inly pined
    In his fierce ire. My guide, descending, stepped
    Into the skiff, and bade me enter next,
    Close at his side; nor, till my entrance, seemed
    The vessel freighted. Soon as both embarked,
    Cutting the waves, goes on the ancient prow,
    More deeply than with others it is wont."

Thus they cross the Styx, and soon approach the other shore, where
luridly picturesque in the ink-black atmosphere rise the red-hot walls
and towers of the city of Dis:

      "And thus the good instructor: 'Now, my son
    Draws near the city, that of Dis[11] is named,
    With its grave denizens, a mighty throng.'
      "I thus: 'The minarets already, sir!
    There, certes, in the valley I descry,
    Gleaming vermilion, as if they from fire
    Had issued.' He replied: 'Eternal fire,
    That inward burns shows them with ruddy flame
    Illumed; as in this nether hell thou seest.'
      "We came within the fosses deep, that moat
    This region comfortless. The walls appeared
    As they were framed of iron. We had made
    Wide circuit, ere a place we reached, where loud
    The mariner cried vehement: 'Go forth:
    The entrance is here.' Upon the gates I spied
    More than a thousand, who of old from heaven
    Were shower'd. With ireful gestures, 'Who is this,'
    They cried, 'that, without death first felt, goes through
    The regions of the dead?' My sapient guide
    Made sign that he for secret parley wished;
    Whereat their angry scorn abating, thus
    They spake: 'Come thou alone; and let him go,
    Who hath so hardily entered this realm.
    Alone return he by his witless way;
    If well he know it, let him prove. For thee,
    Here shalt thou tarry, who through clime so dark
    Hast been his escort.' Now bethink thee, reader!
    What cheer was mine at sound of those curst words.
    I did believe I never should return."

While not only Dante but Vergil himself stand in dismay before the
closed gates of the city, and the threatening devils on the walls, they
hear a roar like that of a mighty wind, and behold! over the waters of
the Styx a celestial messenger comes dry-shod, puts to flight the
recalcitrant devils, and opening the gates with a touch of his wand,
departs without having uttered a word.

Entering the city, Dante sees a vast cemetery covered with tombs, whence
issue flames, and in which are shut up the souls of those who denied the
immortality of the soul. Here occurs the celebrated scene between Dante
and Farinata degli Uberti, who alone, after the battle of Montaperti, in
1260 (when the victorious Ghibellines seriously contemplated razing
Florence to the ground), opposed the motion, and thus saved his native
city from destruction. Here also Dante sees the father of his friend,
Guido Cavalcanti.

In the center of the cemetery yawns a tremendous abyss, which leads
to the lower regions of hell. Before they descend this, however,
Vergil explains to Dante the various kinds of sins which are punished
in hell. Those he has seen hitherto (gluttony, licentiousness,
avarice, wrath, and melancholy) all belong to the category of
incontinence; those which are to come are due to malice, and harm not
only oneself but others. The sixth circle, that of the heretics, in
which they now are, forms a transition between the above two general
divisions. In circle seven, the next one below them, are punished the
violent, subdivided into three classes: 1, those who were violent
against their fellow-men,--tyrants, murderers, and robbers; 2, those
who were violent against themselves,--suicides and gamblers; 3, those
who were violent against God, nature, and art,--blasphemers,
sodomites, and usurers. In circles eight and nine are the fraudulent
and traitors, the various classes of which are given later.

After this explanation, the two poets descend the rocky cliff, and find
at the bottom a blood-red river, where, guarded by centaurs, are plunged
the souls of murderers and robbers, in various depths according to the
heinousness of their cruelty and crimes. Crossing this stream they come
to a dark and gloomy wood, composed of trees gnarled and twisted into
all sorts of fantastic shapes, grimly recalling the contortions of a
human body in pain, and covered with poisonous thorns. On the branches
sit hideous harpies, half woman, half bird. Each of these trees contains
the soul of a suicide. Dante, breaking off a small branch, is horrified
to see human blood slowly ooze from the break, and a hissing noise like
escaping steam, which resolves itself finally into words. From these he
learns that the soul contained in this tree is that of Pier delle Vigne,
prime minister of Frederick II., who tells his sad and pathetic story,
how he became the victim of slander and court intrigue, and how, being
unjustly imprisoned by his master, he committed suicide.

Beyond this gruesome forest the wanderers come out upon a vast sandy
desert, utterly treeless, where they see many wretched souls, some lying
supine, some crouching down in a sitting posture, some walking
incessantly about, all, however, forever trying, but in vain, to ward
off from their naked bodies countless flakes of flame which fall slowly
and steadily like snow

    "On Alpine summits, when the wind is hushed."

Here are punished the blasphemers, violent against God; usurers, violent
against art; and sodomites, violent against nature. Among the latter
Dante recognizes and converses with his old friend, Brunetto Latini, who
prophesies to him his future fame and his exile from Florence:

      "'If thou,' he answer'd, 'follow but thy star,
    Thou canst not miss at last a glorious haven;
    Unless in fairer days my judgment erred.
    And if my fate so early had not chanced,
    Seeing the heavens thus bounteous to thee, I
    Had gladly given thee comfort in thy work.
    But that ungrateful and malignant race,
    Who in old times came down from Fiesole,[12]
    Ay and still smack of their rough mountain-flint,
    Will for thy good deeds show thee enmity.'"

To which the poet answers with noble courage:

    "This only would I have thee clearly note:
    That, so my conscience have no plea against me,
    Do Fortune as she list, I stand prepared,
    Not new or strange such earnest to my ear.
    Speed Fortune then her wheel, as likes her best;
    The clown his mattock; all things have their course."

The poets then descend the tremendous cliff leading to circle eight, on
the back of Geryon, a fantastic monster, with face of a good man, but
body of a beast, many-colored and covered over with complicated figures,
being a symbol of the fraud punished in the next circle. This is
subdivided into ten concentric rings, or ditches, with the floor
gradually descending to a well in the center, thus resembling the
circular rows of seats in an amphitheater, converging to the arena. In
these ten _malebolge_, as Dante calls them--_i. e._, evil pits--are ten
different kinds of fraudulent, panderers, flatterers, those guilty of
simony, false prophets, magicians, thieves, barterers (those who sell
public offices), evil counselors, schismatics, and hypocrites, all
punished with diabolic ingenuity, hewn asunder by the sword, boiled in
lakes of burning pitch, bitten by poisonous snakes, wasted by dire and
hideous disease. As an example of the horrors seen in these evil pits we
give one vivid picture, that of the famous Troubadour Bertrand de Born,
who, having incited the young son of Henry II., of England, to rebel
against his father, is punished in hell by having his head cut off and
carrying it in his hand:

                                      "But I there
    Still lingered to behold the troop, and saw
    Thing, such as I may fear without more proof
    To tell of, but that conscience makes me firm,
    The boon companion, who her strong breastplate
    Buckles on him, that feels no guilt within,
    And bids him on and fear not. Without doubt
    I saw, and yet it seems to pass before me,
    A headless trunk, that even as the rest
    Of the sad flock paced onward. By the hair
    It bore the severed member, lantern-wise
    Pendent in hand, which look'd at us and said,
    'Woe's me!' The spirit lighted thus himself;
    And two there were in one, and one in two.
    How that may be, he knows who ordereth so.
    "When at the bridge's foot direct he stood,
    His arm aloft he reared, thrusting the head
    Full in our view, that nearer we might hear
    The words, which thus it utter'd: 'Now behold
    This grievous torment, thou, who breathing go'st
    To spy the dead: behold, if any else
    Be terrible as this. And, that on earth
    Thou mayst bear tidings of me, know that I
    Am Bertrand, he of Born, who gave King John
    The counsel mischievous. Father and son
    I set at mutual war. For Absalom
    And David more did not Ahitophel,
    Spurring them on maliciously to strife.
    For parting those so closely knit, my brain
    Parted, alas! I carry from its source,
    That in this trunk inhabits. Thus the law
    Of retribution fiercely works in me.'"

In the eighth pit are the souls of evil counselors, so completely
swathed in flames that their forms cannot be seen. Dante's attention is
especially attracted to one of these moving flames, with a double-tipped
point, which proves to contain the souls of Diomede and Ulysses, who,
as they were together in fraud, are now inseparable in punishment. The
story of his last voyage and final shipwreck, told by Ulysses, how in
his old age, weary of the monotony of home life and longing to know the
secret of the great Western ocean, he set sail with his old companions,
is full of imaginative grandeur:

    "Of the old flame forthwith the greater horn
    Began to roll, murmuring, as a fire
    That labors with the wind, then to and fro
    Wagging the top, as a tongue uttering sounds,
    Threw out its voice, and spake: when I escaped
    From Circe, who beyond a circling year
    Had held me near Caieta by her charms,
    Ere thus Æneas yet had named the shore;
    Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
    Of my old father, nor return of love,
    That should have crowned Penelope with joy,
    Could overcome in me the zeal I had
    To explore the world, and search the ways of life,
    Man's evil and his virtue. Forth I sailed
    Into the deep, illimitable main,
    With but one bark, and the small faithful band
    That yet cleaved to me. As Iberia far,
    Far as Marocco, either shore I saw,
    And the Sardinian and each isle beside
    Which round that ocean bathes. Tardy with age
    Were I and my companions, when we came
    To the strait pass, where Hercules ordain'd
    The boundaries not to be o'erstepp'd by man
    The walls of Seville to my right I left,
    On the other hand already Ceuta past.
    'O brothers!' I began, 'who to the West
    Through perils without number now have reached;
    To this the short remaining watch, that yet
    Our senses have to wake, refuse not proof
    Of the unpeopled world, following the track
    Of Phoebus. Call to mind from whence ye sprang:
    Ye were not formed to live the life of brutes,
    But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.'
    With these few words I sharpened for the voyage
    The mind of my associates, that I then
    Could scarcely have withheld them. To the dawn
    Our poop we turned, and for the witless flight
    Made our oars wings, still gaining on the left.
    Each star of the other pole night now beheld,
    And ours so low, that from the ocean floor
    It rose not. Five times re-illumed, as oft
    Vanish'd the light from underneath the moon,
    Since the deep way we entered, when from far
    Appear'd a mountain dim, loftiest methought
    Of all I e'er beheld. Joy seized us straight;
    But soon to mourning changed. From the new land
    A whirlwind sprung, and at her foremost side
    Did strike the vessel. Thrice it whirl'd her round
    With all the waves; the fourth time lifted up
    The poop, and sank the prow: so fate decreed:
    And over us the booming billow closed."

In the center of the amphitheater of Malebolge is a deep and vast well,
guarded by giants, one of whom takes the poets in his arms and deposits
them at the bottom. Here they find the ninth and last circle, where in
four divisions the traitors against relatives, friends, country, and
benefactors, are fixed like flies in amber in a solid lake of ice, swept
by bitter, cold winds. Among the traitors to their country Dante sees
one man who is gnawing in relentless rage at the head of another fixed
in the ice in front of him. Inquiring the cause of this terrible
cruelty, Dante hears the following story, couched in language which
Goethe has declared to be without an equal in all poetry:

    "His jaws uplifting from their fell repast,
    That sinner wiped them on the hairs o' the head,
    Which he behind had mangled, then began:
    'Thy will obeying, I call up afresh
    Sorrow past cure; which, but to think of, wrings
    My heart, or ere I tell on 't. But if words,
    That I may utter, shall prove seed to bear
    Fruit of eternal infamy to him,
    The traitor whom I gnaw at, thou at once
    Shalt see me speak and weep. Who thou mayst be
    I know not, nor how here below art come:
    But Florentine thou seemest of a truth,
    When I do hear thee. Know, I was on earth
    Count Ugolino, and the Archbishop he
    Ruggieri. Why I neighbor him so close,
    Now list. That through effect of his ill thoughts
    In him my trust reposing, I was ta'en
    And after murdered, need is not I tell.
    What therefore thou canst not have heard, that is,
    How cruel was the murder, shalt thou hear,
    And know if he have wrong'd me. A small grate
    Within that mew, which for my sake the name
    Of famine bears, where others yet must pine,
    Already through its opening several moons
    Had shown me, when I slept the evil sleep
    That from the future tore the curtain off.
    This one, methought, as master of the sport,
    Rode forth to chase the gaunt wolf, and his whelps,
    Unto the mountain which forbids the sight
    Of Lucca to the Pisan. With lean brachs
    Inquisitive and keen, before him ranged
    Lanfranchi with Sismondi and Gualandi.
    After short course the father and the sons
    Seemed tired and lagging, and methought I saw
    The sharp tusks gore their sides. When I awoke,
    Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard
    My sons (for they were with me) weep and ask
    For bread. Right cruel art thou, if no pang
    Thou feel at thinking what my heart foretold;
    And if not now, why use thy tears to flow?
    Now had they wakened; and the hour drew near
    When they were wont to bring us food; the mind
    Of each misgave him through his dream, and I
    Heard, at its outlet underneath locked up
    The horrible tower: whence, uttering not a word,
    I look'd upon the visage of my sons.
    I wept not: so all stone I felt within.
    They wept: and one, my little Anselm, cried,
    "Thou lookest so! Father what ails thee?" Yet
    I shed no tear, nor answered all that day
    Nor the next night, until another sun
    Came out upon the world. When a faint beam
    Had to our doleful prison made its way,
    And in four countenances I descried
    The image of my own, on either hand
    Through agony I bit; and they, who thought
    I did it through desire of feeding, rose
    O' the sudden, and cried, "Father, we should grieve
    Far less, if thou wouldst eat of us: thou gavest
    These weeds of miserable flesh we wear;
    And do thou strip them off from us again."
    Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down
    My spirit in stillness. That day and the next
    We all were silent. Ah, obdurate earth!
    Why open'dst not upon us? When we came
    To the fourth day, then Gaddo at my feet
    Outstretched did fling him, crying, "Hast no help
    For me, my father!" There he died; and e'en
    Plainly as thou seest me, saw I the three
    Fall one by one 'twixt the fifth day and sixth:
    Whence I betook me, now grown blind, to grope
    Over them all, and for three days aloud
    Called on them who were dead. Then, fasting got
    The mastery of grief.' Thus having spoke,
    Once more upon the wretched skull his teeth
    He fasten'd like a mastiff's 'gainst the bone,
    Firm and unyielding. Oh, thou Pisa! shame
    Of all the people, who their dwelling make
    In that fair region, where the Italian voice
    Is heard; since that thy neighbors are so slack
    To punish, from their deep foundations rise
    Capraia and Gorgona,[13] and dam up
    The mouth of Arno; that each soul in thee
    May perish in the waters. What if fame
    Reported that thy castles were betrayed
    By Ugolino, yet no right hadst thou
    To stretch his children on the rack. For them,
    Brigata, Uguccione, and the pair
    Of gentle ones, of whom my song hath told,
    Their tender years, thou modern Thebes, did make
    Uncapable of guilt. Onward we passed,
    Where others, skarfed in rugged folds of ice.
    Not on their feet were turned, but each reversed."

Arriving at the very bottom of hell, the poets see the body of Lucifer
fixed in the center thereof (which is at the same time the center of
earth and of the universe), with its upper part projecting into the
freezing air. This monstrous figure, as hideous now as it had been
beautiful before his revolt against God, has three pairs of wings and
three heads, in the mouths of which he tears to pieces the three
arch-traitors, Judas, Brutus, and Cassius.

The wanderers climb along the hairy sides of Lucifer and finally reach a
cavity which corresponds to the lowest part of hell, and up into which
are thrust the legs of the monster. They have thus passed the center of
earth and are now in the other or southern hemisphere. Making their way
upward along the course of a stream they finally come out into the open
air, where the mount of purgatory rises sheer up from the surface of
the great southern sea.

The first cantos of Purgatory are of wonderful beauty, and their
loveliness is heightened by contrast, coming as it does after the
darkness, filth, and horrors of hell. Issuing from the subterranean
passage just before sunrise, the poets see before them a vast expanse of
sea, lighted up by the soft rays of Venus, the morning star, and
gradually becoming brighter as the dawn advances:

    "Sweet hue of eastern sapphire, that was spread
    O'er the serene aspect of the pure air,
    High up as the first circle, to mine eyes
    Unwonted joy renew'd, soon as I 'scaped
    Forth from the atmosphere of deadly gloom,
    That had mine eyes and bosom fill'd with grief.
    The radiant planet, that to love invites,
    Made all the Orient laugh, and veiled beneath
    The Pisces' light, that in his escort came.
    "To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind
    On the other pole attentive, where I saw
    Four stars ne'er seen before save by the ken
    Of our first parents. Heaven of their rays
    Seemed joyous. O thou northern site! bereft
    Indeed, and widowed, since of these deprived."

As they stand watching this scene, a venerable old man (Cato, the
guardian of the island) approaches and tells them to go to the seashore
and wipe off the stains of hell with the reeds that grow there:

      "The dawn had chased the matin hour of prime,
    Which fled before it, so that from afar
    I spied the trembling of the ocean stream.
      "We traversed the deserted plain, as one
    Who, wandered from his track, thinks every step
    Trodden in vain till he regain the path.
      "When we had come where yet the tender dew
    Strove with the sun, and in a place where fresh
    The wind breathed o'er it, while it slowly dried;
    Both hands extended on the watery grass
    My master placed, in graceful act and kind.
    Whence I of his intent before apprized,
    Stretched out to him my cheeks suffused with tears.
    There to my visage he anew restored
    That hue which the dun shades of hell concealed.
      "Then on the solitary shore arrived,
    That never sailing on its waters saw
    Man that could after measure back his course,
    He girt me in such manner as had pleased
    Him who instructed; and O strange to tell!
    As he selected every humble plant,
    Wherever one was plucked another there
    Resembling, straightway in its place arose."

As they linger by the seaside, they suddenly see a bright light far off
over the waters, which, as it approaches nearer, turns out to be a boat
wafted by angelic wings and bearing to purgatory the souls of the saved,
among them a musician, a friend of Dante's who at his request, sings one
of the poet's own songs:

    "Meanwhile we lingered by the water's brink,
    Like men, who, musing on their road, in thought
    Journey, while motionless the body rests.
    When lo! as, near upon the hour of dawn,
    Through the thick vapors Mars with fiery beam
    Glares down in west, over the ocean floor;
    So seemed, what once again I hope to view,
    A light, so swiftly coming through the sea,
    No winged course might equal its career.
    From which when for a space I had withdrawn
    Mine eyes, to make inquiry of my guide,
    Again I looked, and saw it grown in size
    And brightness: then on either side appeared
    Something, but what I knew not, of bright hue,
    And by degrees from underneath it came
    Another. My preceptor silent yet
    Stood, while the brightness, that we first discerned,
    Opened the form of wings: then when he knew
    The pilot, cried aloud, 'Down, down; bend low
    Thy knees; behold God's angel: fold thy hands:
    Now shalt thou see true ministers indeed.
    Lo! how all human means he sets at nought;
    So that nor oar he needs, nor other sail
    Except his wings, between such distant shores.
    Lo! how straight up to heaven he holds them reared,
    Winnowing the air with those eternal plumes,
    That not like mortal hairs fall off or change.'
      "As more and more toward us came, more bright
    Appeared the bird of God, nor could the eye
    Endure his splendor near: I mine bent down.
    He drove ashore in a small bark so swift
    And light, that in its course no wave it drank.
    The heavenly steersman at the prow was seen,
    Visibly written Blessed in his looks.
    Within, a hundred spirits and more there sat.
      "'In Exitu Israel de Egypto,'
    All with one voice together sang, with what
    In the remainder of that hymn is writ.
    Then soon as with the sign of holy cross
    He blessed them, they at once leaped out on land:
    He, swiftly as he came, returned. The crew,
    There left, appear'd astounded with the place,
    Gazing around, as one who sees new sights.
      "From every side the sun darted his beams,
    And with his arrowy radiance from mid heaven
    Had chased the Capricorn, when that strange tribe,
    Lifting their eyes toward us: 'If ye know,
    Declare what path will lead us to the mount.'
      "Them Vergil answered: 'Ye suppose, perchance,
    Us well acquainted with this place: but here,
    We, as yourselves, are strangers. Not long erst
    We came, before you but a little space,
    By other road so rough and hard, that now
    The ascent will seem to us as play.' The spirits,
    Who from my breathing had perceived I lived,
    Grew pale with wonder. As the multitude
    Flock round a herald sent with olive branch,
    To hear what news he brings, and in their haste
    Tread one another down; e'en so at sight
    Of me those happy spirits were fixed, each one
    Forgetful of its errand to depart
    Where, cleansed from sin, it might be made all fair.
      "Then one I saw darting before the rest
    With such fond ardor to embrace me, I
    To do the like was moved. O shadows vain!
    Except in outward semblance: thrice my hands
    I clasped behind it, they as oft return'd
    Empty into my breast again. Surprise
    I need must think was painted in my looks,
    For that the shadow smiled and backward drew.
    To follow it I hastened, but with voice
    Of sweetness it enjoined me to desist.
    Then who it was I knew, and pray'd of it,
    To talk with me it would a little pause.
    It answered: 'Thee as in my mortal frame
    I loved, so loosed from it I love thee still,
    And therefore pause: but why walkest thou here?'
      "'Not without purpose once more to return,
    Thou find'st me, my Casella, where I am,
    Journeying this way;' I said: 'but how of thee
    Hath so much time been lost?' He answered straight
      "'No outrage hath been done to me, if he,
    Who when and whom he chooses takes, hath oft
    Denied me passage here; since of just will
    His will he makes. These three months past indeed,
    He, whoso chose to enter, with free leave
    Hath taken; whence I wandering by the shore
    Where Tiber's wave grows salt, of him gain'd kind
    Admittance, at that river's mouth, toward which
    His wings are pointed; for there always throng
    All such as not to Acheron descend.'
      "Then I: '"If new law taketh not from thee
    Memory or custom of love-tuned song,
    That whilom all my cares had power to 'swage:
    Please thee therewith a little to console
    My spirit, that encumber'd with its frame,
    Traveling so far, of pain is overcome.'
      "'Love, that discourses in my thoughts,' he then
    Began in such soft accents, that within
    The sweetness thrills me yet. My gentle guide,
    And all who came with him, so well were pleased,
    That seemed nought else might in their thoughts have room.
      "Fast fixed in mute attention to his notes
    We stood, when lo! that old man venerable
    Exclaiming, 'How is this, ye tardy spirits?
    What negligence detains you loitering here?
    Run to the mountain to cast off those scales,
    That from your eyes the sight of God conceal.'
      "As a wild flock of pigeons, to their food
    Collected, blade or tares, without their pride
    Accustomed, and in still and quiet sort,
    If aught alarm them, suddenly desert
    Their meal, assailed by more important care;
    So I that new-come troop beheld, the song
    Deserting, hasten to the mountain side,
    As one who goes, yet, where he tends, knows not.
      Nor with less hurried step did we depart."

Thus rebuked by Cato for delaying, even thus innocently, their first
duty, which is to purge away their sins, the company of spirits breaks
up and Dante and Vergil make their way to the mountain of purgatory,
which lifts its seven terraces almost perpendicularly from the sea.

Before reaching the first of these terraces, however, they pass over a
steep and rocky slope, ante-purgatory, as it may be called, where
linger the souls of those who, although saved, neglected their
repentance till late in life, or who died in contumacy with Holy Church.
Among the latter Dante sees Manfred, the unfortunate son of Frederick

    "Comely and fair and gentle of aspect,"

who was slain at Benevento, in 1266; and likewise Buonconte da
Montefeltro, who was killed in the battle of Campaldino (1289), and
whose account of the post-mortem fate of his body is singularly
impressive; "There is nothing like it in literature," says Ruskin:

                                        "I thus:
    'From Campaldino's field what force or chance
    Drew thee, that ne'er thy sepulture was known?'
      "'Oh!' answered he, 'at Casentino's foot
    A stream there courseth, named Archiano, sprung
    In Apennine above the hermit's seat.
    E'en where its name is cancel'd, there came I,
    Pierced in the throat, fleeing away on foot,
    And bloodying the plain. Here sight and speech
    Fail'd me; and, finishing with Mary's name,
    I fell, and tenantless my flesh remain'd.
    I will report the truth; which thou again
    Tell to the living. Me God's angel took,
    Whilst he of hell exclaimed: "O thou from heaven:
    Say wherefore hast thou robb'd me? Thou of him
    The eternal portion bear'st with thee away,
    For one poor tear that he deprives me of.
    But of the other, other rule I make."
      "'Thou know'st how in the atmosphere collects
    That vapor dank, returning into water
    Soon as it mounts where cold condenses it.
    That evil will, which in his intellect
    Still follows evil, came; and raised the wind
    And smoky mist, by virtue of the power
    Given by his nature. Thence the valley, soon
    As day was spent, he covered o'er with cloud,
    From Pratomagno to the mountain range;
    And stretched the sky above; so that the air
    Impregnate changed to water. Fell the rain;
    And to the fosses came all that the land
    Contained not; and, as mightiest streams are wont,
    To the great river, with such headlong sweep,
    Rushed, that nought stayed its course. My stiffened frame
    Laid at his mouth, the fell Archiano found,
    And dashed it into Arno; from my breast
    Loosening the cross, that of myself I made
    When overcome with pain. He hurled me on,
    Along the banks and bottom of his course;
    Then in his muddy spoils encircling wrapt."

After leaving Buonconte, Dante and Vergil make their way upward and
finally come across the spirit of Sordello, the famous troubadour, a
native of Mantua and thus a fellow citizen of Vergil. The cordiality
with which they greet each other gives Dante an opportunity to vent his
indignation at the discord existing in Italy:

      "Ah, slavish Italy! thou inn of grief!
    Vessel without a pilot in loud storm!
    Lady no longer of fair provinces,
    But brothel-house impure! this gentle spirit,
    Even from the pleasant sound of his dear land
    Was prompt to greet a fellow citizen
    With such glad cheer: while now thy living ones
    In thee abide not without war; and one
    Malicious gnaws another; aye, of those
    Whom the same wall and the same moat contains.
    Seek, wretched one! around thy seacoasts wide;
    Then homeward to thy bosom turn; and mark,
    If any part of thee sweet peace enjoy.
    What boots it, that thy reins Justinian's hand
    Refitted, if thy saddle be unprest?
    Nought doth he now but aggravate thy shame.
    Ah, people! thou obedient still shouldst live,
    And in the saddle let thy Cæsar sit,
    If well thou marked'st that which God commands."

As night is now coming on, during which upward progress cannot be made,
Sordello conducts Dante and Vergil to a pleasant valley:

      "Betwixt the steep and plain, a crooked path
    Led us traverse into the ridge's side,
    Where more than half the sloping edge expires.
    Refulgent gold, and silver thrice refined,
    And scarlet grain and ceruse, Indian wood
    Of lucid dye serene, fresh emeralds
    But newly broken, by the herbs and flowers
    Placed in that fair recess, in color all
    Had been surpassed, as great surpasses less.
    Nor nature only there lavish'd her hues.
    But of the sweetness of a thousand smells
    A rare and undistinguished fragrance made.
      "'Salve Regina,' on the grass and flowers,
    Here chanting, I beheld those spirits sit,
    Who not beyond the valley could be seen."

Here Sordello points out the souls of mighty princes who left deep
traces in the history of the times, among them the Emperor Rudolph of
Germany, Peter of Aragon, Philip III. of France, and

    "The king of simple life and plain,"

Henry III. of England. The scene that follows is one of the most
celebrated, as well as beautiful in the Divine Comedy:

    "Now was the hour that wakens fond desire
    In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful heart
    Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell,
    And pilgrim newly on his road with love
    Thrills, if he hear the vesper bell from far,
    That seems to mourn for the expiring day:
    When I, no longer taking heed to hear,
    Began, with wonder, from those spirits to mark
    One risen from its seat, which with its hand
    Audience implored. Both palms it joined and raised,
    Fixing its steadfast gaze toward the east,
    As telling God, 'I care for nought beside.'
      "'Te Lucis Ante,' so devoutly then
    Came from its lip, and in so soft a strain,
    That all my sense in ravishment was lost.
    And the rest after, softly and devout,
    Follow'd through all the hymn, with upward gaze
    Directed to the bright supernal wheels.
      "I saw that gentle band silently next
    Look up, as if in expectation held,
    Pale and in lowly guise; and, from on high,
    I saw, forth issuing descend beneath,
    Two angels, with two flame-illumined swords,
    Broken and mutilated of their points.
    Green as the tender leaves but newly born,
    Their vesture was, the which, by wings as green
    Beaten, they drew behind them, fanned in air.
    A little over us one took his stand;
    The other lighted on the opposing hill;
    So that the troop were in the midst contained.
    Well I descried the whiteness on their heads;
    But in their visages the dazzled eye
    Was lost, as faculty that by too much
    Is overpowered. 'From Mary's bosom both
    Are come,' exclaimed Sordello, 'as a guard
    Over the vale, 'gainst him, who hither tends,
    The serpent.' Whence not knowing by which path
    He came, I turned me round; and closely pressed
    All frozen, to my leader's trusted side."
                      "My insatiate eyes
    Meanwhile to heaven had traveled, even there
    Where the bright stars are slowest, as a wheel
    Nearest the axle: When my guide inquired:
    'What there aloft, my son, has caught thy gaze?'
      "I answered: 'The three torches, with which here
    The pole is all on fire.' He then to me:
    'The four resplendent stars, thou saw'st this morn,
    Are there beneath; and these, risen in their stead.'
      "While yet he spoke, Sordello to himself
    Drew him, and cried: 'Lo there our enemy!'
    And with his hand pointed that way to look.
      "Along the side, where barrier none arose
    Around the little vale, a serpent lay,
    Such haply as gave Eve the bitter food,
    Between the grass and flowers, the evil snake
    Came on, reverting oft his lifted head;
    And, as a beast that smooths its polished coat,
    Licking his back. I saw not, nor can tell,
    How those celestial falcons from their seat
    Moved, but in motion each one well descried.
    Hearing the air cut by their verdant plumes,
    The serpent fled; and, to their stations, back
    The angels up return'd with equal flight."

After conversing with several friends whom he meets here, Dante falls
asleep and is carried thus unconscious by Lucia (symbol of divine grace)
to the gate of purgatory proper. When he awakes the sun is two hours
high. Three steps lead to the gate, one dark and broken, symbol of a
"broken and a contrite heart"; one of smooth, white marble, symbol of
confession; and one purple, repentance. On the threshold of diamond (the
immovable foundation of Holy Church) sits an angel with a sword and two
keys; with the former he cuts seven P's on Dante's forehead (the Latin
word for sin, _peccatum_), and with the latter he opens the gate, which
as it swings open sends forth a sound of heavenly music:

                    "Attentively I turned,
    Listening the thunder that first issued forth;
    And 'We praise thee, O God,' methought I heard,
    In accents blended with sweet melody.
    The strains came o'er mine ear, e'en as the sound
    Of choral voices, that in solemn chant
    With organ mingle, and, now high and clear
    Come swelling, now float indistinct away."

In Terrace I. are punished the proud, crushed beneath enormous weights.
On the side of the mountain wall are sculptured wonderful bas-reliefs,
representing examples of humility; especially famous is the one which
tells the story of Trajan's justice, a story which led Pope Gregory to
make a prayer to God, who granted it, for the release of the pagan
emperor's soul from hell:

              "There, was storied on the rock
    The exalted glory of the Roman prince,
    Whose mighty worth moved Gregory to earn
    His mighty conquest, Trajan the Emperor.
    A widow at his bridle stood, attired
    In tears and mourning. Round about them trooped
    Full throng of knights; and overhead in gold
    The eagles floated, struggling with the wind.
    The wretch appeared amid all these to say:
    'Grant vengeance, Sire! for, woe beshrew this heart,
    My son is murdered.' He replying seemed:
    'Wait now till I return.' And she, as one
    Made hasty by her grief: 'O Sire! if thou
    Dost not return?'--'Where I am, who then is,
    May right thee.'--'What to thee is other's good,
    If thou neglect thy own?'--'Now comfort thee;'
    At length he answers. 'It beseemeth well
    My duty be perform'd, ere I move hence:
    So justice wills; and pity bids me stay.'
      "He whose ken nothing new surveys, produced
    That visible speaking, new to us and strange,
    The like not found on earth. Fondly I gazed
    Upon those patterns of meek humbleness,
    Shapes yet more precious for their artist's sake."

Farther on in the same terrace they see similar sculptures representing
examples of punished pride, such as the fall of Lucifer, and the
destruction of Niobe. In each of the following terraces these examples
of sin and the opposite virtue are given, represented, however, by
various means.

Among the proud, Dante sees the miniature painter, Oderisi of Adubbio,
who pronounces those words on the vanity of earthly fame, which have
been proverbial:

                                      "The noise
    Of worldly fame is but a blast of wind,
    That blows from diverse points, and shifts its name,
    Shifting the point it blows from.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                "Your renown
    Is as the herb, whose hue doth come and go;
    And his[14] might withers it, by whom it sprang
    Crude from the lap of earth."

Passing through Terrace II., where the envious sit sadly against the
rocky wall, with their eye-lids sewn together, and Terrace III., where
the wrathful are shrouded in a black, stifling mist, the poets reach
Terrace IV., where the slothful are punished. Here Vergil explains the
apparent paradox that love is the root of all evil as well as good.
Love, he says, is the desire for something; desire for those things
which harm others--_i. e._, love for evil, produces pride, envy, and
wrath. These are punished in the first three terraces. Insufficient
desire or love for that which is good--_i. e._, God--is punished in
Terrace IV., that of the "slothful in well-doing"; excessive desire for
merely earthly things, which are not evil in themselves, but only in
their excess, produces avarice, gluttony, and licentiousness; these are
punished in the last three terraces.

Ascending now to Terrace V., Dante sees the souls of Pope Adrian, and
Hugh Capet, founder of the long dynasty of the kings of France, who
gives a brief but admirable summary of the development of the monarchy
in France. As they are walking along this terrace, suddenly a mighty
earthquake shakes the whole mountain, and while Dante is still filled
with amazement and dread at this strange phenomenon, they are overtaken
by the spirit of Statius, who explains the cause of the earthquake,
telling how, when a soul has been completely purged of its sins, and the
time of its redemption has arrived, it rises spontaneously from its
place, and joyfully makes its way toward the heavens above, while the
whole mountain rejoices with him, and the souls along the slope above
and below cry out: "Glory to God in the highest!"

Statius now accompanies Dante and Vergil and all three mount to Terrace
VI., where the gluttons are punished, being worn to skin and bone by
hunger and thirst, which are only increased by the sight of waterfalls
and trees laden with fruit. The last terrace is swathed in flames of
fire, within which move about the licentious. Here Dante sees many
famous poets and greets with especial joy Guido Guinicelli of Bologna,
who he says:

    "Was a father to me, and to those
    My betters, who have ever used the sweet
    And pleasant rhymes of love."

Through this wall of living flame, Dante, too, must pass before he can
reach the summit of purgatory. His spirit, indeed, is willing, but his
flesh is weak; he hesitates long before daring to enter the fiery
furnace. Vergil urges him on in the tenderest manner:

      "The escorting spirits turned with gentle looks
    Toward me; and the Mantuan spake: 'My son,
    Here torment thou mayst feel, but canst not death.
    Remember thee, remember thee, if I
    Safe e'en on Geryon brought thee; now I come
    More near to God, wilt thou not trust me now?
    Of this be sure; though in its womb that flame
    A thousand years contained thee, from thy head
    No hair should perish. If thou doubt my truth,
    Approach; and with thy hands thy vesture's hem
    Stretch forth, and for thyself confirm belief.
    Lay now all fear, oh! lay all fear aside.
    Turn hither, and come onward undismayed.'
      "I still, though conscience urged, no step advanced.
      "When still he saw me fixed and obstinate,
    Somewhat disturb'd he cried: 'Mark now, my son,
    From Beatrice thou art by this wall
    Divided.' As at Thisbe's name the eye
    Of Pyramus was open'd (when life ebbed
    Fast from his veins), and took one parting glance,
    While vermeil dyed the mulberry; thus I turned
    To my sage guide, relenting, when I heard
    The name that springs forever in my breast.
      "He shook his forehead; and, 'How long,' he said,
    'Linger we now?' then smiled, as one would smile
    Upon a child that eyes the fruit and yields.
    Into the fire before me then he walked;
    And Statius, who erewhile no little space
    Had parted us, he prayed to come behind.
      "I would have cast me into molten glass
    To cool me, when I entered; so intense
    Raged the conflagrant mass. The sire beloved,
    To comfort me, as he proceeded, still
    Of Beatrice talked. 'Her eyes,' saith he,
    'E'en now I seem to view.' From the other side
    A voice, that sang did guide us; and the voice
    Following, with heedful ear, we issued forth,
    There where the path led upward. 'Come,' we heard,
    'Come, blessed of my father.' Such the sounds
    That hailed us from within a light; which shone
    So radiant, I could not endure the view."

Above this last terrace stretches out the lovely earthly paradise, but
before the poets can reach it night comes on, and Dante sleeps on the
steps, guarded by Vergil and Statius, as a flock is watched over by its
shepherd. The passage which describes this scene, and Dante's vision, is
a beautiful one:

                    "Each of us had made
    A stair his pallet; not that will, but power,
    Had failed us, by the nature of that mount
    Forbidden further travel. As the goats
    That late have skipt and wanton'd rapidly
    Upon the craggy cliffs, ere they had ta'en
    Their supper on the herb, now silent lie
    And ruminate beneath the umbrage brown,
    While noon-day rages; and the goatherd leans
    Upon his staff, and leaning watches them:
    And as the swain, that lodges out all night
    In quiet by his flock, lest beast of prey
    Disperse them: even so all three abode;
    I as a goat, and as the shepherds they,
    Close pent on either side by shelving rock.
      "A little glimpse of sky was seen above;
    Yet by that little I beheld the stars,
    In magnitude and lustre shining forth
    With more than wonted glory. As I lay,
    Gazing on them, and in that fit of musing
    Sleep overcame me, sleep, that bringeth oft
    Tidings of future hap. About the hour,
    As I believe, when Venus from the east
    First lighten'd on the mountain, she whose orb
    Seems alway glowing with the fire of love,
    A lady young and beautiful, I dreamed,
    Was passing o'er a lea; and, as she came,
    Methought I saw her ever and anon
    Bending to cull the flowers; and thus she sang:
    'Know ye, whoever of my name would ask,
    That I am Leah:[15] for my brow to weave
    A garland, these fair hands unwearied ply.
    To please me at the crystal mirror, here
    I deck me. But my sister Rachel, she
    Before her glass abides the livelong day
    Her radiant eyes beholding, charmed no less,
    Than I with this delightful task. Her joy
    In contemplation, as in labor mine.'
      "And now as glimmering dawn appeared, that breaks
    More welcome to the pilgrim still, as he
    Sojourns less distant on his homeward way,
    Darkness from all sides fled, and with it fled
    My slumber; whence I rose, and saw my guide
    Already risen. 'That delicious fruit,
    Which through so many a branch the zealous care
    Of mortals roams in quest of, shall this day
    Appease thy hunger.' Such the words I heard
    From Vergil's lip; and never greeting heard,
    So pleasant as the sounds. Within me straight
    Desire so grew upon desire to mount,
    Thenceforward at each step I felt the wings
    Increasing for my flight. When we had run
    O'er all the ladder to its topmost round,
    As there we stood, on me the Mantuan fixed
    His eyes, and thus he spake: 'Both fires, my son,
    The temporal and eternal, thou hast seen;
    And art arrived, where of itself my ken
    No further reaches. I, with skill and art,
    Thus far have drawn thee. Now thy pleasure take
    For guide. Thou hast o'ercome the steeper way,
    O'ercome the straiter. Lo! the sun, that darts
    His beam upon thy forehead: lo! the herb,
    The arborets and flowers, which of itself
    This land pours forth profuse. Till those bright eyes
    With gladness come, which, weeping, made me haste
    To succor thee, thou mayst or seat thee down,
    Or wander where thou wilt.'"

Thus Dante, having been led by reason (represented by Vergil) to purge
himself of sin and vice, is now to put himself under the guidance of
heavenly wisdom (represented by Beatrice), by whom he is to visit the
homes of the blessed. First, however, he lingers in the earthly paradise
which forms the summit of purgatory, and sees strange sights before
Beatrice reveals herself to him.

The descriptions of the landscape in the earthly paradise are of
surpassing beauty and choice of quotation is exceedingly difficult. Only
a few passages can be given here:

    "Through that celestial forest, whose thick shade
    With lively greenness the new-springing day
    Attemper'd, eager now to roam, and search
    Its limits round, forthwith I left the bank;
    Along the champain leisurely my way
    Pursuing, o'er the ground, that on all sides
    Delicious odor breathed. A pleasant air,
    That intermitted never, never veered,
    Smote on my temples, gently, as a wind
    Of softest influence: at which the sprays,
    Obedient all, lean'd trembling to that part
    Where first the holy mountain casts his shade;
    Yet were not so disorder'd, but that still
    Upon their top the feathered quiristers
    Applied their wonted art, and with full joy
    Welcomed those hours of prime, and warbled shrill
    Amid the leaves, that to their jocund lays
    Kept tenor; even as from branch to branch,
    Along the piny forests on the shore
    Of Chiassi,[16] rolls the gathering melody,
    When Eolus hath from his cavern loosed
    The dripping south. Already had my steps,
    Though slow, so far into that ancient wood
    Transported me, I could not ken the place
    Where I had entered; when, behold! my path
    Was bounded by a rill, which, to the left,
    With little rippling waters bent the grass
    That issued from its brink. On earth no wave,
    How clean soe'er, that would not seem to have
    Some mixture in itself, compared with this,
    Transpicuous clear; yet darkly on it rolled,
    Darkly beneath perpetual gloom, which ne'er
    Admits or sun or moon-light there to shine.
      "My feet advanced not; but my wondering eyes
    Passed onward, o'er the streamlet, to survey
    The tender may-bloom, flush'd through many a hue,
    In prodigal variety: and there,
    As object, rising suddenly to view,
    That from our bosom every thought beside
    With the rare marvel chases, I beheld
    A lady all alone, who, singing, went,
    And culling flower from flower, wherewith her way
    Was all o'er painted. 'Lady beautiful!
    Thou, who (if looks, that used to speak the heart,
    Are worthy of our trust) with love's own beam
    Dost warm thee,' thus to her my speech I framed;
    'Ah! please thee hither towards the streamlet bend
    Thy steps so near, that I may list thy song.
    Beholding thee and this fair place, methinks,
    I call to mind where wander'd and how look'd
    Proserpine, in that season, when her child
    The mother lost, and she the bloomy spring.'
      "As when a lady, turning in the dance,
    Doth foot it featly, and advances scarce
    One step before the other to the ground;
    Over the yellow and vermilion flowers
    Thus turned she at my suit, most maiden-like
    Veiling her sober eyes; and came so near,
    That I distinctly caught the dulcet sound.
    Arriving where the limpid waters now
    Laved the green swerd, her eyes she deigned to raise,
    That shot such splendor on me, as I ween
    Ne'er glanced from Cytherea's, when her son
    Had sped his keenest weapon to her heart.
    Upon the opposite bank she stood and smiled;
    As through her graceful fingers shifted still
    The intermingling dyes, which without seed
    That lofty land unbosoms. By the stream
    Three paces only were we sunder'd: yet,
    The Hellespont, where Xerxes pass'd it o'er
    (A curb forever to the pride of man),
    Was by Leander not more hateful held
    For floating, with inhospitable wave,
    'Twixt Sestus and Abydos, than by me
    That flood, because it gave no passage thence.
      "'Strangers ye come; and haply in this place,
    That cradled human nature in her birth,
    Wondering, ye not without suspicion view
    My smiles: but that sweet strain of psalmody,
    "Thou, Lord! hast made me glad," will give ye light,
    Which may uncloud your minds.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Singing, as if enamored, she resumed
    And closed the song, with 'Blessed they whose sins
    Are covered.' Like the wood-nymphs then, that tripped
    Singly across the sylvan shadows; one
    Eager to view, and one to escape the sun;
    So moved she on, against the current, up
    The verdant rivage. I, her mincing step
    Observing, with as tardy step pursued.
      "Between us not an hundred paces trod,
    The bank, on each side bending equally,
    Gave me to face the Orient. Nor our way
    Far onward brought us, when to me at once
    She turned, and cried: 'My brother! look, and hearken.'
    And lo! a sudden lustre ran across
    Through the great forest on all parts, so bright,
    I doubted whether lightning were abroad;
    But that, expiring ever in the spleen
    That doth unfold it, and this during still,
    And waxing still in splendor, made me question
    What it might be: and a sweet melody
    Ran through the luminous air. Then did I chide,
    With warrantable zeal, the hardihood
    Of our first parent; for that there, where earth
    Stood in obedience to the heavens, she only,
    Woman, the creature of an hour, endured not
    Restraint of any veil, which had she borne
    Devoutly, joys, ineffable as these,
    Had from the first, and long time since, been mine.
      "While, through that wilderness of primy sweets
    That never fade, suspense I walked, and yet
    Expectant of beatitude more high;
    Before us, like a blazing fire, the air
    Under the green boughs glowed; and, for a song,
    Distinct the sound of melody was heard."

The poet now beholds a mystical procession of strange and wonderful
beasts, venerable old men, beautiful maidens dressed in red, white,
green, and purple, all accompanying a chariot drawn by a griffin and
representing the Church of Christ. On the chariot itself stands

                                "At the last audit, so
    The blest shall rise, from forth his cavern each
    Uplifting lightly his new-vested flesh;
    As, on the sacred litter, at the voice
    Authoritative of that elder, sprang
    A hundred ministers and messengers
    Of life eternal. 'Blessed thou, who comest!'
    And, 'Oh!' they cried, 'from full hands scatter ye
    Unwithering lilies:' and, so saying, cast
    Flowers over head and round them on all sides.
      "I have beheld, ere now, at break of day,
    The eastern clime all roseate; and the sky
    Opposed, one deep and beautiful serene;
    And the sun's face so shaded, and with mists
    Attempered, at his rising, that the eye
    Long while endured the sight: thus, in a cloud
    Of flowers, that from those hands angelic rose,
    And down within and outside of the car
    Fell showering, in white veil with olive wreathed,
    A virgin in my view appeared, beneath
    Green mantle, robed in hue of living flame.
    And o'er my spirit, that so long a time
    Had from her presence felt no shuddering dread,
    Albeit mine eyes discerned her not, there moved
    A hidden virtue from her, at whose touch
    The power of ancient love was strong within me."

After Beatrice has rebuked Dante for his wayward conduct in life, and he
repents in bitter tears, he is led by Matilda to the streams of Lethe
and Eunoe, and bathing therein, is made "pure and apt for mounting to
the stars."

As we have already seen, the paradise of Dante is composed of nine
spheres enclosed by the Empyrean, which itself is boundless, and is the
seat of the Godhead, surrounded by the celestial hierarchy of seraphim,
cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities,
archangels, and angels. The blessed are here arranged on seats in the
form of a rose, surrounding a lake of liquid light, in which they,
gazing, see all the fulness of the glory of God. These souls, however,
by a mystical virtue of ubiquity, are likewise seen by Dante in the
various heavens through which he, with Beatrice, passes, and manifest
themselves to him in various forms of light, flames, flashes, sparkles,
or shapes made of fiery particles. The souls of the blessed, which are
thus distributed over the nine heavens, have varying degrees of
felicity. Thus, in the first heaven--that of the moon--Piccarda, sister
of Corso Donati, appears to Dante, faint and dim in that tenuous
atmosphere, as a "pearl set on a white forehead," and tells him how,
having been forced by her brother to break her vows as a nun, and not
having shown tenacity of purpose in opposing his tyranny, she now
occupies the lowest sphere of Paradise. Yet this she does with perfect
content and happiness, since such is the will of God, for, she says, to
quote that one incomparable line, as Matthew Arnold calls it:

    "In la sua voluntade è nostra pace."
    (In His will is our peace.)

Rising from heaven to heaven with Beatrice, Dante passes through Mercury
and Venus, in the former of which are the souls of Christians who sought
with over-much zeal for earthly glory, and in the latter those who were
inclined too much to mere human love, and finally reaches the sun, where
he sees the great doctors of theology. Here Saint Thomas Aquinas, a
Dominican himself, tells in beautiful language the story of St. Francis
of Assisi and the establishment of his order; while the Franciscan, St.
Bonaventura, with the same exquisite courtesy, tells the story of St.

In Mars, Dante sees the souls of Christian martyrs and warriors, many of
whom form themselves before the eyes of the poet into a wonderful cross
of roseate light, flashing in countless splendors. Here, as we have
already seen, he meets and converses with his ancestor, Cacciaguida. In
Saturn the poet beholds a wonderful ladder of light, with spirits
mounting and descending upon it, a ladder such as

      "Crowded with angels unnumbered
    By Jacob was seen as he slumbered
    Alone in the desert at night."

Here Peter Damian tells of the mystery of predestination, and St.
Benedict describes the founding of his order at Montecassino.

In the heaven of the fixed stars Dante beholds the triumph of Christ:

      "Short space ensued; I was not held, I say,
    Long in expectance, when I saw the heaven
    Wax more and more resplendent; and, 'Behold,'
    Cried Beatrice, 'the triumphal hosts
    Of Christ, and all the harvest gathered in,
    Made ripe by these revolving spheres.' Meseemed,
    That, while she spake, her image all did burn;
    And in her eyes such fulness was of joy,
    As I am fain to pass unconstrued by.
      "As in the calm full moon, when Trivia smiles,
    In peerless beauty, 'mid the eternal nymphs,
    That paint through all its gulfs the blue profound;
    In bright preëminence so saw I there
    O'er million lamps a sun, from whom all drew
    Their radiance, as from ours the starry train:
    And, through the living light, so lustrous glowed
    The substance, that my ken endured it not.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                  "Prompt I heard
    Her bidding, and encountered once again
    The strife of aching vision. As, erewhile,
    Through glance of sunlight, streamed through broken cloud,
    Mine eyes a flower-besprinkled mead have seen;
    Though veiled themselves in shade: so saw I there
    Legions of splendors, on whom burning rays
    Shed lightnings from above; yet saw I not
    The fountain whence they flowed. O gracious virtue!
    Thou, whose broad stamp is on them, higher up
    Thou didst exalt thy glory, to give room
    To my o'erlabored sight; when at the name
    Of that fair flower, whom duly I invoke
    Both morn and eve, my soul with all her might
    Collected, on the goodliest ardor fix'd.
    And, as the bright dimensions of the star
    In heaven excelling, as once here on earth,
    Were, in my eyeballs livelily portrayed;
    Lo! from within the sky a cresset fell,
    Circling in fashion of a diadem;
    And girt the star; and, hovering, round it wheel'd.
      "Whatever melody sounds sweetest here,
    And draws the spirit most unto itself,
    Might seem a rent cloud when it grates the thunder;
    Compared unto the sounding of that lyre,
    Wherewith the goodliest sapphire, that inlays
    The floor of heaven was crown'd. 'Angelic Love
    I am, who thus with hovering flight enwheel
    The lofty rapture from that womb inspired.
    Where our desire did dwell: and round thee so,
    Lady of Heaven! will hover; long as thou
    Thy Son shalt follow, and diviner joy
    Shall from thy presence gild the highest sphere.'
      "Such close was to the circling melody:
    And, as it ended, all the other lights
    Took up the strain, and echoed Mary's name.
      "The robe,[17] that with its regal folds enwraps
    The world, and with the nearer breath of God
    Doth burn and quiver, held so far retired
    Its inner hem and skirting over us,
    That yet no glimmer of its majesty
    Had stream'd unto me: therefore were mine eyes
    Unequal to pursue the crowned flame,
    That towering rose, and sought the seed it bore.
    And like to babe that stretches forth its arms
    For very eagerness toward the breast,
    After the milk is taken; so outstretch'd
    Their wavy summits all the fervent band,
    Through zealous love to Mary: then, in view,
    There halted; and 'Regina Coeli' sang
    So sweetly, the delight hath left me never."

After the passing away of this glorious vision Dante is examined as to
his faith by St. Peter, his hope by St. James, and his love by St. John;
then being found worthy of being admitted into the presence of God, he
rises to the Empyrean, beholds the Blessed Rose, where are seated the
saints of all ages, and finally catches an instantaneous glimpse of the
glory and mystery of the Trinity. In this supreme vision his desires
find full fruition, and his spirit, overcome by the overwhelming glory
of the Godhead, fails him, and thus his vision comes to an end,

      "Here vigor failed the towering fantasy:
    But yet the will rolled onward, like a wheel
    In even motion, by the love impell'd,
    That moves the sun in heaven and all the stars."

Such is the Divine Comedy of Dante, which has won the undying admiration
of all great minds from the poet's own time down to the present. It
would lead us too far to go into a detailed analysis of its greatness
here, but with one consent men like Carlyle, Ruskin, Gladstone,
Browning, and Tennyson in England; Tholuck, Witte, and Kraus, in
Germany; Longfellow and Lowell in America, attribute the title of
supreme genius to this poem.

The Divine Comedy is universal in its compass, containing the elements
of dramatic, epic, and lyric poetry; full of sublime imaginations,
touching and pathetic episodes, and not deficient even in humor,
grotesque at times, but often of a strangely sweet and tender nature.
The language is astonishingly simple and concise, and invariably
represents the thought of the poet with absolute truth and fidelity. We
find in this wonderfully condensed poem no mere epithets, no mere
arabesques of style such as adorn the lesser thoughts of lesser men.
Each word is in its right place. "It is amazing," says Ruskin, "how
every word, almost every syllable, reveals new meanings the more we
study them." The metaphors of Dante are especially famous, for the most
part simple and drawn from everyday life, yet unexcelled in beauty and
especially in their perfect and complete adaptation to the point they
are meant to illustrate. Such are those of the old tailor threading his
needle, the sheep leaving the fold in huddling groups, the fish
disappearing from view in the depths of clear water, and the pearl
faintly discernible on a white forehead.

Above all, the personality of the author lends a dramatic interest to
the poem and exercises a fascination on the reader. As Lowell says, "The
man behind the verse is far greater than the verse itself."[18] In the
midst of the wonderful landscapes of his own creation, dark and
terrible, soft and beautiful, he walks among the men and woman of all
ages; he talks to them and hears their stories of half-forgotten crimes
and tragedies; he brands them with infamy or sets upon their brows the
wreath of praise. It is his love for Beatrice--now become the symbol of
spiritual life--which leads him through the realms of sin over the steep
rocks of Purgatory to the glory ineffable of God.

Completely a man of his age, Dante incorporates into the Divine Comedy
all its science and learning, its theology, philosophy, astronomy, use
of classical authors, way of looking at the insignificance of the
present life in comparison with the life to come. All these things have
still a distinct medieval stamp. Yet Dante is at the same time the most
original of poets. It is his mighty individuality which, rising above
the conventionality of his age and country, has made him a world-poet,
as true to-day as ever in his depiction of the human heart in all its
sin and sorrow, virtue, and vice, in its love and hate and its
inextinguishable aspiration toward a better and happier existence in the
world beyond the grave.


    Visionary journeys to the unseen world in the Middle Ages--How
    Dante differs from them--The Ptolemaic system--Year of Dante's
    supposed journey--Entrance to Hell--Souls of the Ignoble--Limbo
    and the Unbaptized--Circle II and the Licentious--III and IV,
    Gluttons and Misers--V, The Styx--VI, Heretics--VII, The
    Violent: River of blood, Wood of Suicides, Sandy Plain--VIII,
    The Fraudulent--IX, The Traitors. Purgatory and its seven
    terraces--The Earthly Paradise--The Supreme
    Vision--Characteristic features of the Divine Comedy--Its beauty
    and greatness.

    1. Did Dante invent the framework of the Divine Comedy?

    2. Give briefly the Ptolemaic system of the universe.

    3. How old was Dante when he is supposed to have begun
        his journey?

    4. Give the various sins punished in the nine circles of

    5. Who was Francesca da Rimini?

    6. Mention some of the most famous passages in Dante's

    7. Describe the scene before the gates of Dis.

    8. What was the shape of Malebolge, and what kinds of
        sin were there punished?

    9. Tell the story of the last voyage of Ulysses.

    10. Describe the lowest circle of Hell.

    11. Story of Ugolino and the Tower of Hunger.

    12. Describe the appearance of Lucifer and the three

    13. Where is Purgatory situated?

    14. Describe the scene on the seashore.

    15. Who were Cato, Casella, Manfred, and Buonconte?

    16. What souls are punished in Ante-Purgatory?

    17. Describe the scene in the Valley of the Princes.

    18. How does Dante reach the gate of Purgatory?

    19. Name the various sins punished in the seven terraces
        of Purgatory.

    20. Describe the Earthly Paradise.

    21. What happens to Dante there?

    22. Name the various heavens in their order.

    23. In which of these heavens does Dante see the souls
        of Piccarda, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cacciaguida, and
        St. Peter?

    24. How does the Divine Comedy end?

    25. What is your idea of the greatness and beauty of the
        Divine Comedy?


(See Chapter II.)


[7] Hell, 4,720; Purgatory, 4,755; Paradise, 4,758.

[8] The Adriatic.

[9] Compare with what is said in Chapter 1.

[10] One of the divisions of the last circle, where traitors are

[11] Dis--the emperor of the infernal regions, according to the

[12] Fiesole is a town on a high hill near Florence--the latter was said
to have been settled by the people of Fiesole.

[13] Two islands in the Mediterranean near the mouth of the Arno.

[14] The sun's.

[15] Symbol of active life, as Rachel is of contemplative life.

[16] Forest near Ravenna.

[17] The Empyrean.

[18] Carducci says Dante is a "most great poet because he is a great
man, and a great man because he had a great conscience."



It is hard for people to-day to realize the enormous difference between
the medieval and modern world. The former was full of superstition and
naïve belief; authority reigned supreme; in religion no one dreamed of
questioning the decrees of church and pope; in philosophy a question was
settled by a quotation from Aristotle or his scholastic representative,
St. Thomas Aquinas. This same blind following of authority was
exemplified in art--painters imitated slavishly their predecessors, and
up to the appearance of Cimabue and Giotto no one dreamed of improving
on the stiff conventionalities of the Byzantine artists. In scholarship,
criticism--_i. e._, individual judgment--was unknown; in science, all
such old-world fables as the mandragora, dragons, phenix, and unicorn
were devoutly received as true zoölogy, while the Ptolemaic system of
astronomy was unquestioned. The idea of progress was utterly unknown;
the world had been created exactly as it was, and would remain so till
the coming of Christ, when a new heaven and a new earth would be formed.
So, in the political and social world, the thought that the existing
state of things could change would have seemed absurd. It needs no words
of mine to demonstrate the vast difference between these conceptions
and the present world, with its idea of illimitable progress, its
criticism of all things high and low, its denial that authority in
church and state is just, simply because it is old; its eager
acceptation of all innovations; its cultivation of the individual in all
departments of life; to say nothing of the vast field opened up by the
discoveries of positive science.

Dante stands at the end of the old order of things, rising like a mighty
mountain peak over the dead plain of medieval mediocrity.

Yet he is not an innovator; he does not inaugurate a new period of
civilization. When he died he left no school of followers to carry on
his work; he closed an epoch rather than opened one. It is true that for
a hundred years or more men did imitate his Divine Comedy, but only in
the outward form thereof, neglecting the poetical and æsthetical side,
for which indeed Dante's contemporaries had little or no appreciation.
It is only in the nineteenth century that Dante has become a power in
Italy as voicing the universal desire for a united fatherland.

The man who begins the mighty movement of the Renaissance, from which
modern civilization takes its rise, is Francesco Petrarch. It is strange
to think that he, so utterly different in mental attitude from Dante,
was seventeen years old when the latter died. Yet the change which he
represents was being slowly prepared by his predecessors. As we have
seen, the study of the Latin language and authors had never fully died
out in the Middle Ages; especially in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries the classic writers--Vergil, Ovid, Statius, Livy--were read
more and more, not, however, as examples of literary excellence, or as
revealing the culture of antiquity, but as mines of practical wisdom, or
as supplying quotations and examples for philosophical and theological
discussions. The classic writers were made to fit in with medieval ways
of thinking, and thus subordinated to the then existing state of
civilization. With Petrarch, however, comes a complete change in all
these respects. For him the classic writers were the _ne plus ultra_ of
elegant form; he strove to penetrate into their spirit, to appreciate
fully the peculiar excellence of each one; and above all to clear
antiquity from its barnacle-like covering of medieval traditions and
superstitions and to present Roman civilization, its learning, science,
and art, as it was. To him the Middle Ages were a period of degradation,
which had long hidden from view the past glories of Rome; and he now,
for the first time in history, broke away from the present and immediate
past, and turned his eyes back to ancient times. In so doing he founded
the Renaissance in Italy, and laid down the lines along which all
subsequent students of classical antiquity were to follow. In all these
respects Petrarch is justly considered, not only the founder of modern
classical scholarship, but the founder of modern civilization as well.
He has been referred to by more than one historian as the Columbus of a
new intellectual world.

The life of Petrarch is intensely interesting, and, contrary to the case
of Dante, the difficulty in giving an outline of it consists not in the
absence of well-ascertained facts, but in an embarrassment of riches.
For we know more of the details of Petrarch's life than we do of any
other ancient writer.

Francesco Petrarch was born in 1304 at Arezzo, whither his father, a
prominent lawyer of Florence, had gone on being exiled in 1302, at the
same time as Dante. After moving about some time in Italy, the family
finally settled at Avignon, in southern France, then famous as the seat
of the Roman papacy during the so-called Babylonian captivity. From 1315
to 1319 Francesco was sent to school at the neighboring town of
Charpentras; in 1319 he went to the University of Montpellier to study
law, and in 1323 went to the University of Bologna. At the university,
however, he neglected law for the classic writers, and he tells us how
one day his father appeared and burnt all his Latin books, with the
exception of Vergil and Cicero's Rhetoric, which by means of tears and
entreaties he succeeded in saving from the flames.

After the death of his parents, in 1326, Petrarch settled down in
Avignon and devoted himself to his favorite studies. As he was without
means he entered the clergy and henceforth was relieved of all anxiety
in regard to money. From this time on his life was spent in study, in
the collection of a library, in writing books, in travel, and visits to
his friends. Petrarch was very fond of traveling and his letters abound
with interesting descriptions of the places he had seen. Yet, in spite
of this passion for travel, he loved also the quiet and tranquil
existence of country life. Here he could indulge to his heart's content
his love for nature, the beauty of which he was practically the first to
describe in sympathetic language. It was to satisfy this love for
nature and the "quiet life," that Petrarch bought a small property in
Vaucluse, near Avignon, and here he never failed to return from time to
time during all his later life, when tired of travel, weighed down by
care, or depressed by the loss of friends and the "creeping steps of

Petrarch seemed to have had a peculiar faculty for making friends; he
was loved and admired by high and low. Among these countless friends are
worthy of especial mention the powerful Colonna family, father and two
sons, who played so important a part in the history of Italy; King
Robert of Naples; the Emperor Charles IV., who wished to have Petrarch
accompany him to Germany; King John of France, who wished to retain him
in Paris; Pope Urban IV., who offered him the position of papal
secretary. There were scores of others of humbler rank, among them
Boccaccio, his faithful admirer and lifelong friend. Not only kings and
princes lavished honors on Petrarch, but cities as well: Florence
offered to restore his father's property and make him professor at the
university if he would live there; Venice gave him a palace in return
for his library; and in 1340 the cities of Paris and Rome, at the same
time, invited him to receive the laurel crown of poet.

After due deliberation Petrarch accepted the invitation of Rome, and on
Easter Sunday, 1340, in the presence of an immense company of people, he
was crowned at the capitol, amid the blare of trumpets and the
acclamations of the assembled multitudes. This scene may be considered
as the climax of Petrarch's victorious career.

No man outwardly ever had a happier life than he. He was well-to-do; was
handsome and amiable; surrounded by friends; admired and flattered by
all Europe; looked on as a great poet and a prodigy of learning. Surely,
if any man could be content, Petrarch was that man. And yet he was not
happy--owing to his peculiar character, his sensitiveness, his streak of
melancholy, his immense vanity which could never be fully satisfied, and
especially owing to the constant struggle that went on in his soul
between the medieval ascetic view of life (which he could never wholly
shake off) and the more worldly modern view, which he himself
inaugurated. Owing to all these things, I say, there is a tinge of
sadness in all his writings. Perhaps no man ever lived who illustrated
so well the beautiful words of the old Latin poet:

      "E'en where the founts of pleasure flow,
    A bitter something bubbles up."

Indeed, Petrarch's character presents us with strange contrasts. He who
loved travel so much is constantly writing about the joys of country
life; constantly seen in the gay and often licentious courts of princes,
he wrote a treatise in praise of the solitary life; receiving his living
from the church and naturally religious, many of his acts were contrary
to both religion and morality.

And yet Petrarch was not a hypocrite. No one can doubt his sincerity;
these things are only the outward expression of that struggle which was
constantly going on in his heart. Like St. Paul, he seemed always to be
crying out, "The good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would
not, that I do."

The latter part of his life was thus spent in ever-increasing sadness.
In 1347 his friend, Colonna, died; in 1348, Laura; in 1347 his high
hopes concerning the restoration of the ancient glory of the Roman
Republic by Rienzi, the "last of the tribunes," were suddenly dashed by
the fall and death of the latter. Henceforth Petrarch spent his life
wandering from city to city, from court to court, surrounded by an
aureole of glory, yet never at rest, except when he retired to the quiet
seclusion of Vaucluse.

In 1370 he went to the university town of Padua, then the center of an
active intellectual life. In the spring of the same year he started for
Rome, in response to an invitation of the pope, but fell so grievously
ill at Ferrara that he gave up his journey and settled down at Arquà, a
village not far from Padua, where he died July 18, 1374. He was found
dead in his library, bending over a folio volume.

As may be supposed from Petrarch's enthusiasm for the Latin authors,
most of his own works were written in that language. It is a generous
trait of literary and scholarly, as well as of religious, enthusiasts
that they are not content to receive the treasures of art and learning,
but feel impelled to impart their own joys to others. Petrarch was not
only an eager student, but devoted his life to making known to others
the riches and glory of ancient Rome. All this he does in his numerous
Latin works. These include, in poetry, bucolics and eclogues, imitated
from Vergil; poetic epistles, imitated from Horace; and especially his
"Africa," from which he expected immortality, an epic poem on the life
of Scipio Africanus. Of especial importance in the development of the
Renaissance and the Revival of Learning are his prose Latin works. Chief
among these we may mention his history of Illustrious Men; his moral and
religious tractates--The Remedy of Fortune, the Solitary Life; and
especially his letters, six hundred in number, written in a Latin style
which infinitely surpassed anything produced till then, and which
founded a branch of literature which was most popular throughout all the

For our purpose here, however, we can only discuss in detail Petrarch's
Italian poetry--he wrote no Italian prose. It is this which gives him
his place in literature as the first great lyric poet of modern times.

We have seen that Italian lyrical poetry began in Sicily, and that,
carried thence to Bologna and Tuscany, it formed a new school, which
found its highest expression in Dante. Petrarch once more founds a new
school of lyrics, which, while still in some respects recalling the
writings of his predecessors, is yet in spirit far different from them.
With him poetry is no longer a matter of chivalrous ideals, as with the
troubadours, or of symbolism and philosophy, as with Guido Guinicelli
and Dante, but the expression of his own genuine feelings. His Laura is
not like the Beatrice of the Divine Comedy, a mere abstraction, a
personification of virtue and symbol of religion, but is a woman of
flesh and blood, beautiful and virtuous, but not ethereal and
mystical--a woman, in fact,

        "Not too bright or good
    For human nature's daily food."

In his songs, then, Petrarch describes real things--the beauty of Laura
in all its details; her coldness and his suffering; and especially the
conflicting feelings which tormented his soul. In his subjectivity, his
psychological analysis of feelings, his use of poetry to express his own
mental experiences; in his lovely descriptions of nature; and especially
in his melancholy, the far-off anticipation of the "Weltschmerz,"[19]
Petrarch is indeed the first modern lyrical poet.

He himself confidently expected immortality from his Latin works, which,
alas! for the vanity of human expectations, are now forgotten by all
except special students. He apparently looked with contempt on his
Italian lyrics, yet this was only affectation, for even in his later
years he carefully revised them. These songs and sonnets are still
unsurpassed in Italian literature. Many, it is true, are artificial, and
on account of puns, antitheses, and conceits are repugnant to modern
taste; yet the large number of his best poems are exquisite pictures of
womanly beauty, with a charming landscape as a background, all enveloped
in an atmosphere of lovely poetry, full of tenderness, pathos, and
genuine feeling. Above all, they are written in a style and with a
harmony of numbers unknown till then and not surpassed since.

Petrarch's Italian poetry consists of some 375 sonnets, ballads, and
songs (of which the vast majority are sonnets), and in the twelve
chapters, or books, of the so-called Triumphs. These are, with but few
exceptions, consecrated to the story of his love for a certain woman
named Laura, concerning whose actual existence as much contest has been
waged as over that of Beatrice. It seems now pretty definitely
ascertained that Laura was no mere fancy-picture, but a real being. She
was the daughter of Audibert de Noves, and the wife of Ugo de Sade, to
whom she bore eleven children. She died April 6, 1348, probably of the
pest, which then was raging. Petrarch saw her for the first time April
6, 1327, and for twenty-one years worshiped her from a respectful
distance. There is little story or event in all these sonnets.
Petrarch's love is not returned by Laura, he makes no progress in her
affections, and his poems are devoted for the most part to descriptions
of her beauty, coldness, and indifference, and his own state of

Among the many sonnets descriptive of Laura's beauty we may take the
following, in which she is declared to be the most perfect example of
Nature's handiwork:

      "The stars, the elements, and Heaven have made
    With blended powers a work beyond compare;
    All their consenting influence, all their care,
    To frame one perfect creature lent their aid.
    Whence Nature views her loveliness displayed
    With sun-like radiance sublimely fair;
    Nor mortal eye can the pure splendor bear:
    Love, sweetness, in unmeasured grace arrayed.
    The very air illumed by her sweet beams
    Breathes purest excellence; and such delight
    That all expression far beneath it gleams.
    No base desire lives in that heavenly light,
    Honor alone and virtue!--fancy's dreams
    Never saw passion rise refined by rays so bright."

    Capel Lofft.

In another sonnet he tells how he was affected the first time he saw

      "Sun never rose so beautiful and bright
    When skies above most clear and cloudless showed,
    Nor, after rain, the bow of heaven e'er glowed
    With tints so varied, delicate, and light,
    As in rare beauty flash'd upon my sight,
    The day I first took up this am'rous load,
    That face whose fellow ne'er on earth abode--
    Even my praise to paint it seems a slight!
    Then saw I Love, who did her fine eyes bend
    So sweetly, every other face obscure
    Has from that hour till now appeared to me.
    The boy-god and his bow, I saw them, friend,
    From whom life since has never been secure,
    Whom still I madly yearn again to see."


Yet Laura is not only beautiful, but good; she unites in herself the
highest excellencies of virtue as well as of beauty:

      "High birth in humble life, reserved yet kind,
    On youth's gay flower ripe fruits of age and rare,
    A virtuous heart, therewith a lofty mind,
    A happy spirit in a pensive air;
    Her planet, nay, heaven's king, has fitly shrined
    All gifts and graces in this lady fair,
    True honor, purest praises, worth refined,
    Above what rapt dreams of best poets are.
    Virtue and Love so rich in her unite,
    With natural beauty dignified address.
    Gestures that still a silent grace express,
    And in her eyes I know not what strange light,
    That makes the noonday dark, the dusk night clear,
    Bitter the sweet, and e'en sad absence dear."


Petrarch not only gives general descriptions of the beauty of his lady
and of its effect, as his predecessors had done, but he gives over and
over again details thereof, especially her eyes and hair:

      "Say, from what vein did Love procure the gold
    To make those sunny tresses? From what thorn
    Stole he the rose, and whence the dew of morn,
    Bidding them breathe and live in Beauty's mold?
    What depth of ocean gave the pearls that told
    Those gentle accents sweet, though rarely born?
    Whence came so many graces to adorn
    That brow more fair than summer skies unfold?
    Oh! say what angels lead, what spheres control
    The song divine which wastes my life away?
    (Who can with trifles now my senses move?)
    What sun gave birth unto the lofty soul
    Of those enchanting eyes, whose glances stray
    To burn and freeze my heart--the sport of Love?"


He is especially fond of describing the scenes where she is, thus
combining with her own charms those of lovely nature. Thus he sees her
on the banks of clear streams, sitting on the green grass, with blossoms
falling upon her from the trees in springtime, as in the following lines
from one of his most beautiful songs:

    "Clear, fresh, and dulcet streams,
    Which the fair shape, who seems
    To me sole woman, haunted at noontide;
    Fair bough, so gently fit,
    (I sigh to think of it),
    Which lent a pillar to her lovely side;
    And turf, and flowers bright-eyed,
    O'er which her folded gown
    Flow'd like an angel's down;
    And you, O holy air and hushed,
    Where first my heart at her sweet glances gushed:
    Give ear, give ear, with one consenting,
    To my last words, my last and my lamenting.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "How well I call to mind,
    When from those boughs the wind
    Shook down upon her bosom flower on flower;
    And there she sat, meek-eyed,
    In midst of all that pride,
    Sprinkled and blushing through an amorous shower
    Some to her hair paid dower,
    And seemed to dress the curls,
    Queenlike, with gold and pearls;
    Some, snowing, on her drapery stopped,
    Some on the earth, some on the water dropped;
    While others, fluttering from above,
    Seemed wheeling round in pomp, and saying, 'Here reigns Love.'
    How often then I said,
    Inward, and filled with dread,
    'Doubtless this creature came from Paradise!'
    For at her look the while,
    Her voice, and her sweet smile,
    And heavenly air, truth parted from mine eyes;
    So that, with long-drawn sighs,
    I said, as far from men,
    'How came I here, and when?'
    I had forgotten; and alas!
    Fancied myself in heaven, not where I was;
    And from that time till this, I bear
    Such love for the green bower, I cannot rest elsewhere."

    Leigh Hunt.

Yet, in spite of all her beauty, he is not happy; the thought of her
never leaves him. When absent from her he is most miserable:

    "Never was bird, spoiled of its young, more sad,
    Nor wild beast in his lair more lone than me,
    Now that no more that lovely face I see,
    The only sun my fond eyes ever had.
    In ceaseless sorrow is my chief delight:
    My food to poison turns, to grief my joy;
    The night is torture, dark the clearest sky,
    And my lone pillow a hard field of fight.
    Sleep is indeed, as has been well expressed,
    Akin to death, for it the heart removes
    From the dear thought in which alone I live.
    Land above all with plenty, beauty blessed!
    Ye flowery plains, green banks, and shady groves!
    Ye hold the treasure for whose loss I grieve!"


Above all, his torment is increased by the contest between his religious
feelings and his love, which, earthly as it was, seemed to be
inconsistent with his duty as a Christian. Yet he cannot tear his heart
away from the object of his affection. Hence arises a constant warring
of the flesh against the spirit, and a vacillation which finds
expression in sentiments diametrically opposite. Thus at times he
declares that his love for Laura is a blessing to him, leading him to a
virtuous and religious life:

      "Lady, in your bright eyes
    Soft glancing round, I mark a holy light,
    Pointing the arduous way that heavenward lies;
    And to my practised sight,
    From thence, where Love enthroned, asserts his might,
    Visibly, palpably, the soul beams forth.
    This is the beacon guides to deeds of worth,
    And urges me to seek the glorious goal;
    This bids me leave behind the vulgar throng,
    Nor can the human tongue
    Tell how those orbs divine o'er all my soul
    Exert their sweet control,
    Both when hoar winter's frosts around are flung,
    And when the year puts on his youth again,
    Jocund, as when this bosom first knew pain."


Then comes another mood, in which his love seems sinful and he prays God
to lead him to a better life:

      "Father of heaven! after the days misspent,
    After the nights of wild tumultuous thought,
    In that fierce passion's strong entanglement,
    One, for my peace too lovely fair, had wrought;
    Vouchsafe that, by thy grace, my spirit bent
    On nobler aims, to holier ways be brought;
    That so my foe, spreading with dark intent
    His mortal snares, be foiled, and held at nought.
    E'en now th' eleventh year its course fulfils,
    That I have bowed me to the tyranny
    Relentless most to fealty most tried.
    Have mercy, Lord! on my unworthy ills:
    Fix all my thoughts in contemplation high;
    How on the cross this day a Savior died."


This state of his mind, divided against itself, finds its best
expression in the song which is regarded as one of the most beautiful of
his poems. In the various strophes conflicting sentiments arise,
develop, and reach a climax, only to be overthrown by a sudden revulsion
of feeling; fame, happiness, the sweetness of love beckon the poet on;
then comes the chilling thought of death to show that all things earthly
are nothing but vanity. Unfortunately this song is too long to be quoted
here entire. We give the first strophe and the refrain:

      "Ceaseless I think, and in each wasting thought
    So strong a pity for myself appears,
    That often it has brought
    My harass'd heart to new yet natural tears;
    Seeing each day my end of life draw nigh,
    Instant in prayer, I ask of God the wings
    With which the spirit springs,
    Freed from its mortal coil, to bliss on high;
    But nothing, to this hour, prayer, tear, or sigh,
    Whatever man could do, my hopes sustain:
    And so indeed in justice should it be;
    Able to stay, who went and fell, that he
    Should prostrate, in his own despite, remain.
    But, lo! the tender arms
    In which I trust are open to me still,
    Though fears my bosom fill
    Of other's fate, and my own heart alarms,
    Which worldly feelings spur, haply, to utmost ill.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Song! I am here, my heart the while more cold
    With fear than frozen snow,
    Feels in its certain core death's coming blow;
    For thus, in weak self-communing, has roll'd
    Of my vain life the better portion by:
    Worse burden surely ne'er
    Tried mortal man than that which now I bear;
    Though death be seated nigh,
    For future life still seeking councils new,
    I know and love the good, yet, ah! the worse pursue."


The finest of Petrarch's sonnets are those written after the death of
Laura. With this dread event he loses all joy in life; thought of her
beauty returns softened by memory and the lapse of time:

      "Where is the brow whose gentlest beckonings led
    My raptured heart at will, now here, now there?
    Where the twin stars, lights of this lower sphere,
    Which o'er my darkling path their radiance shed?
    Where is true worth, and wit, and wisdom fled?
    The courteous phrase, the melting accent, where?
    Where, grouped in one rich form, the beauties rare,
    Which long their magic influence o'er me shed?
    Where is the shade, within whose sweet recess
    My wearied spirit still forgot its sighs,
    And all my thoughts their constant record found?
    Where, where is she, my life's sole arbitress?--
    Ah, wretched world! and wretched ye, mine eyes
    (Of her pure light bereft) which aye with tears are drowned."


Yet, in his affliction there is a certain comfort, for now that she is
dead she seems no longer cold to him, and he often sees and converses
with her in heaven:

      "Fond fancy raised me to the spot, where strays
    She, whom I seek but find on earth no more:
    There, fairer still and humbler than before,
    I saw her, in the third heaven's blessèd maze.
    She took me by the hand, and 'Thou shalt trace,
    If hope not errs,' she said, 'this happy shore;
    I, I am she, thy breast with slights who tore,
    And ere its evening closed my day's brief space.
    What human heart conceives, my joys exceed:
    Thee only I expect, and (what remain
    Below) the charms, once objects of thy love,'
    Why ceased she? Ah! my captive hand why freed?
    Such of her soft and hallowed tones the chain,
    From that delightful heaven my soul could scarcely move."


But, when spring returns, it brings a renewal of his grief:

      "The spring returns, with all her smiling train;
    The wanton Zephyrs breathe along the bowers,
    The glistening dewdrops hang on bending flowers,
    And tender green light-shadows o'er the plain:
    And thou, sweet Philomel, renew'st thy strain,
    Breathing thy wild notes to the midnight grove:
    All nature feels the kindling fire of love,
    The vital force of spring's returning reign.
    But not to me returns the cheerful spring!
    O heart! that know'st no period to thy grief,
    Nor nature's smiles to thee impart relief,
    Nor change of mind the varying seasons bring:
    She, she is gone! All that e'er pleased before,
    Adieu! ye birds, ye flowers, ye fields, that charm no more!"


His only comfort now is in thinking that he, too, must soon die:

      "Oh! swifter than the hart my life hath fled,
    A shadow'd dream; one winged glance hath seen
    Its only good; its hours (how few serene!)
    The sweet and bitter tide of thought have fed:
    Ephemeral world! in pride and sorrow bred,
    Who hope in thee, are blind as I have been;
    I hoped in thee, and thus my heart's loved queen
    Hath borne it mid her nerveless, kindred dead.
    Her form decayed--its beauty still survives,
    For in high heaven that soul will ever bloom,
    With which each day I more enamored grow:
    Thus though my locks are blanched, my hope revives
    In thinking on her home--her soul's high doom:
    Alas! how changed the shrine she left below!"


Weary of life, now that he is left alone, he devotes himself to God; he
directs all his thought to heaven, where Laura awaits and beckons him:

      "The chosen angels, and the spirits blest,
    Celestial tenants, on that glorious day
    My lady joined them, thronged in bright array
    Around her, with amaze and awe imprest.
    'What splendor, what new beauty stands confest
    Unto our sight?'--among themselves they say;
    'No soul, in this vile age, from sinful clay
    To our high realms has risen so fair a guest.'
    Delighted to have changed her mortal state,
    She ranks amid the purest of her kind;
    And ever and anon she looks behind,
    To mark my progress and my coming wait;
    Now my whole thought, my wish to heaven I cast;
    'Tis Laura's voice I hear, and hence she bids me haste."


His love thus purified and his thoughts now turned to God alone, the
poet awaits in resignation the coming of the inevitable hour of death.
The "Book of Songs and Sonnets," as his Italian poetry may be called,
ends in a beautiful hymn to the Virgin Mary, in which the poet breathes
forth all his chastened sorrow and hopes. From this we select the
following lines:

    "Bright Virgin! and immutable as bright,
    O'er life's tempestuous ocean the sure star
    Each trusting mariner that truly guides,
    Look down, and see amid this dreadful storm
    How I am tost at random and alone,
    And how already my last shriek is near,
    Yet still in thee, sinful although and vile,
    My soul keeps all her trust;
    Virgin! I thee implore
    Let not thy foe have triumph in my fall;
    Remember that our sin made God himself,
    To free us from its chain,
    Within thy virgin womb our image on Him take!

    "Virgin! what tears already have I shed,
    Cherished what dreams and breathed what prayers in vain,
    But for my own worse penance and sure loss;
    Since first on Arno's shore I saw the light
    Till now, whate'er I sought, wherever turn'd,
    My life has passed in torment and in tears,
    For mortal loveliness in air, act, speech,
    Has seized and soiled my soul:
    O Virgin! pure and good,
    Delay not till I reach my life's last year;
    Swifter than shaft and shuttle are, my days
    'Mid misery and sin
    Have vanished all, and now Death only is behind!


    Difference between the Medieval and Modern World--Dante's
    position between the two--Petrarch, 1304-74, the real founder of
    modern civilization--Latin works--Fame rests on his Italian
    poetry--How this differed from the Sicilian and Tuscan
    schools--Laura and Petrarch's love--Her influence upon his life.

    1. How does the medieval world differ from the modern?

    2. Why is Petrarch called the founder of modern

    3. Give a brief sketch of his life.

    4. What kind of character did he have?

    5. Name some of his Latin works.

    6. What were his services to classical scholarship?

    7. On what does his fame as a poet rest?

    8. How does his lyrical poetry differ from that of his

    9. Tell the story of his love for Laura, as seen in his

    10. How is his character illustrated in his poetry?


    A collection of translations of Petrarch's Italian poems,
    together with an extended life of the poet, is published in the
    Bohn Library. Very important are the Latin letters of Petrarch;
    an English translation of a number of these was published a
    short time ago by Putnam & Co., of New York.


[19] Best translated literally, "world pain."



We have hitherto discussed the development of poetry almost exclusively;
and this is justifiable, for in Italy, as in all other countries, the
development of prose as a form of literature comes after that of poetry.
Petrarch wrote no prose in Italian; and although Dante wrote his Banquet
and, in part, his New Life in prose, yet the former is couched in
scholastic phraseology and the prose portion of the latter is of small
compass. Giovanni Boccaccio, although not so great a poet as Dante, or
so great a scholar and master of form as Petrarch, is yet of high
importance in the history of Italian literature from a double point of
view, as the first great writer of prose and the founder of the modern

We can only give here a brief outline of his life and character, before
passing on to his works. He was born in Paris in 1313, the son of a
Florentine merchant and a young French gentlewoman. Going to Florence
with his father, he was sent to school and is said to have written
verses before the age of seven. His father, a merchant himself, wished
his son to follow the same career, and at the age of fourteen the boy
was taken to Naples with this purpose in view. In this "great, sinful
city" Boccaccio passed his youth, at first in business, then in the
study of law, both of which, however, he heartily disliked. Making the
acquaintance of some well-known scholars, he was inducted into a love
for study, and resolved to devote himself to a literary career.

About 1340 he left Naples and returned to Florence, which henceforth
became his residence, although he was frequently absent from it on
matters of business and pleasure. For he soon became known as a scholar
and poet, and, in accordance with the customs of the times, he was
honored by his city by being sent on frequent embassies. In this
capacity he went, in 1350, to Ravenna, to the daughter of Dante; in
1354, to Pope Innocent VI., at Avignon; and in 1351, to Petrarch at
Padua, in order to induce the great poet and scholar to reside in
Florence. This meeting with the great apostle of the New Learning was an
important event in Boccaccio's life, who from henceforth became an
enthusiastic admirer of Petrarch. He plunged still more eagerly into the
study of classic antiquity; and although not so great a scholar as
Petrarch, he accomplished some things which the latter had not been able
to do. Thus he learned Greek, imperfectly, however, and introduced to
the western world a knowledge of that language (unknown to the Middle
Ages) by bringing Leontius Pilatus to Florence as a professor in the
university. It was at the dictation of the latter that Boccaccio wrote
down his Latin translation of the Homeric poems, which, worthless as it
now seems, then excited widespread admiration.

Boccaccio differed from Petrarch in being an ardent admirer and
indefatigable student of Dante. Petrarch had once declared that he had
never read the Divine Comedy. The influence of Dante on Boccaccio is
seen on almost every page of his poetry, and it was in reward of his
services in promoting the study of the former's works that in 1373 he
was invited by Florence to lecture on the Divine Comedy (for the first
time in Italy) in the university.

Boccaccio's character was in many respects an attractive one; he was
honest, sincere, and modest; a faithful friend, a lover of true
literature; and, above all, of a lovable and gentle disposition;
_Giovanni della Tranquillità_, his friends called him--"John of the
quiet mind," as we may translate it. The gravest accusation made against
him, and one, alas! only too well founded, is his immorality. In his
early years, and even later in life, his manners were light, and the
effects thereof are too often reflected in his books. Before condemning
him too harshly, however, we must bear in mind the low state of morals
that marked all society at that time. Toward the end of his life
Boccaccio became converted by a strange event. It seems that a certain
Carthusian monk, Pietro de' Petroni--who, by the austerity of his life
and his religious exaltation, had won a reputation for holiness--died at
Siena, May 29, 1361. Fourteen days before his death he entered into a
trance, in which he had a vision of the saints in heaven and the damned
in hell. When he awoke he declared that he had been commanded by Christ
to warn a number of distinguished men of the error of their ways. Among
these was Boccaccio. Being too sick to go himself, Petroni sent his
disciple, Gioachino Ciani, to fulfill his commission. The latter came to
Florence, told Boccaccio of his master's vision, and then, in fiery
language, urged him to see to the salvation of his soul, and to
repudiate his immoral writings, else he would soon die and his soul be
lost forever. Boccaccio was deeply affected by this strange embassy. In
the first moments of depression he resolved to give up all study, burn
his books, write no more, and spend the rest of life in religious
exercises. From this violent action, however, he was saved by a sensible
letter from Petrarch. Yet the effect did not pass away. Ever after this
he was more serious and thought more of religious matters. He lost his
former zest in life; his gaiety and serenity of temper became clouded.
After a youth of enjoyment the evening of life came on gray and cold.

He died December 21, 1375, in Certaldo, not far from Florence.

Boccaccio, like Petrarch, wrote much in Latin, chief among such writings
being the historical or biographical compilations on Illustrious Women
and the Vicissitudes of Great Men, and especially his Genealogy of the
Gods, which for one hundred years and more became the standard hand-book
of mythology. In Italian poetry he was far more voluminous than
Petrarch. Among the best known of his poems are the Vision of Love;
Filostrato, which tells the story of Troilus and Cressida, afterwards
imitated by Chaucer and Shakespeare; and the Theseid, imitated by
Chaucer in his Knight's Tale. His Ninfale Fiesolana describes the
beautiful suburbs of Florence, while his pastoral poem, Ameto, is the
first example of that popular branch of poetry, which found its highest
development in Sannazaro's Arcadia, Tasso's Aminta, and Guarini's Pastor

All these, however, are now almost forgotten. The one book by which
Boccaccio is known to-day, not only in Italy, but the world over, is his
Decameron, a collection of short stories in prose. In this book he
becomes epoch-making in a double sense, for it begins both Italian prose
and the modern novel. The name of the book is composed of two Greek
words, meaning "ten days," and is explained by the fact that there are
one hundred stories in all, told ten at a time, on ten successive days.

Neither the various stories themselves nor the idea of uniting them in a
framework is original with Boccaccio. The latter device was especially
popular in the Orient, and is illustrated in the Seven Wise Men, so
vastly popular in the Middle Ages. Chaucer imitated Boccaccio in this
respect in his Canterbury Tales. The sources of the stories in the
Decameron are various. Such tales were among the most popular kinds of
literature of the times, as may be seen in the Fabliaux in France and
the well-known collections, the Novellino and Cento Novelle, in Italy.
Boccaccio gathers them from all sides and adds many he had heard told
orally, especially anecdotes of his contemporaries. All these are
changed, however, by the alchemy of his own genius, and become original
in style, in delineation of character, and in local color.

The framework of the Decameron is as follows: During the terrible
pestilence which raged in Europe in 1348, a famous description of which
is given in the opening chapter of the book, seven young ladies and
three young men meet in one of the churches at Florence and agree to
forsake the plague-stricken city, retire to their villas in the country
and try to forget in pleasant converse the terrors that surround them.
The plan is carried out. Each day a leader is chosen, whom all must
obey. After breakfast they betake themselves to the garden, and here on
green lawns covered with flowers, beneath shady trees and beside
clear-running streams, they dance, play, and sing; and then, comfortably
seated on the soft grass, they pass the hours away in cheerful
conversation and story-telling.

Each one of these one hundred stories has an individual character of its
own. While reading them we see passing in picturesque procession before
our eyes the whole of Italian society of the times, kings and princes,
knights and peasants, merchant, artist, mechanic, priest, and monk.
There are not wanting earnest and serious stories, but the comic and
satirical element prevails; especially are the vices of the clergy
scourged, that fruitful source of all European medieval literature. The
avaricious and licentious priests and monks are everywhere held up to
the scornful laughter of his readers.

All this is expressed in an admirable prose style, with perfect
adaptation of local color, with excellent delineation of character and
insight into human nature, and with the inimitable skill in narration of
the born story-teller.

The popularity of Boccaccio was, and is still, enormous, in spite of the
immorality of certain of his stories. He is read to-day in the
elementary schools of Italy (in emendated editions), and his influence
on modern literature is incalculable. In English literature alone most
of the great writers have found subjects for poems, stories, and dramas
in the Decameron, among them Chaucer, Dryden, Shakespeare, Keats,
Tennyson, and Longfellow.

The following story, which I have translated with some slight
condensation, is not only the best and most famous of the Decameron, but
it illustrates on the one hand the vast antiquity of the short-story
(existing, as it does, not only in all European languages in the Middle
Ages, but running back its roots to the early antiquity of India), and
on the other hand, the influence of Boccaccio, "Patient Griselda" having
become almost a household word in modern literature, and having
furnished themes for poet, painter, and sculptor. John Addington Symonds
has declared that no Greek poem equals Boccaccio's story of Griselda for

    A long time ago there lived a certain marquis of Saluzzo, named
    Walter, who spent his time chiefly in hunting, with never a
    thought of marriage. His vassals not liking this state of
    affairs often urged him to take to himself a wife, so that in
    case of death, he might not be without an heir, nor they without
    a master. To all this Walter made answer as follows: "My
    friends, you urge me to do that which I had resolved not to do,
    considering how difficult it is to find a proper mate, and how
    hard is the life of him who finds one not suited to him. Yet
    since it pleases you to bind me with these chains, I will
    agree--on this condition, however, that I choose my wife myself,
    so that if evil come to me, I may have no one to blame but
    myself. But bear this in mind: if you do not honor her as
    becomes your lady, you shall prove to your cost how grievous a
    thing it is to have forced me to wed against my own desire."

    Now for some time past Walter had been much attracted by the
    gentle manners of a poor but beautiful village maiden, who lived
    near his castle; and it seemed to him that with her he could be
    happy. Hence without seeking further he sent for her father, and
    agreed with him to take his daughter as his wife. This being
    settled, Walter called together his friends and vassals and said
    to them: "Friends, it has pleased you to ask me to take to
    myself a wife, and I have yielded, more to please you, however,
    than through any desire of my own. You will remember that you
    agreed to be satisfied and treat as your lady whomsoever I
    should choose. The time has now come when I intend to keep my
    promise, and I desire that you keep yours. I have found a young
    lady to my liking whom I intend to marry, and I shall bring her
    home in a few days. See to it that the wedding feast be a fair
    one and that you receive her honorably." The good men, all
    rejoicing, answered that they were indeed pleased, and that
    whoever his bride might be, they would honor her in all things
    as their lady.

    After this Walter prepared a bountiful wedding feast and invited
    thereto his many friends and relatives and all the gentle folk
    round about. He had many rich and beautiful gowns made fit to
    adorn the figure of the young girl whom he proposed to wed; and
    likewise rings, and girdles, and a fair rich crown, in short all
    things that a new bride might require.

    Now when the day fixed for the wedding had come, Walter mounted
    his horse and said to his followers: "Gentlemen, it is time to
    go for the bride." And setting out with all his company he came
    to the village, and the house of the young girl's father, where
    they found her returning in great haste from the fountain, in
    order that she, with the other women-folk of the village, might
    go and see the coming of their lord's bride. When Walter saw her
    he called her by name--that is, Griselda--and asked her where
    her father was; to whom she answered shamefacedly, "My lord, he
    is in the house." Then Walter dismounted, and ordering his
    followers to remain outside, went alone into the humble cottage,
    where he found her father--whose name was Giannùcolo--and said
    to him: "I have come to wed Griselda; but first I wish to ask
    her something in your presence." And he asked her if she would
    always try to please him, if he took her for his wife; and if
    she would promise not to be angry, whatever he might say or do;
    and many other similar things; to all of which she made answer:
    "Yes, my lord."

    Then Walter, taking her by the hand, led her outside, and having
    called for the gowns he had prepared, he had her clothed
    therewith, and upon her head he placed a crown, and then as all
    present marveled mightily, he said: "My lords, this is she whom
    I intend shall be my wife"; and then turning to her who stood
    blushing and full of wonder, he said: "Griselda, will you take
    me for your husband?" To which she answered as before, "Yes, my
    lord." "Then," said he, "I will take you for my wife"; and in
    presence of all he wed her, and setting her upon a palfrey, he
    led her home.

    The young bride was, as we have already said, beautiful in face
    and person, and withal so attractive, pleasing, and
    gentle-mannered, that she did not seem to have been a
    shepherdess, but the daughter of a noble lord; so that she made
    all those who had known her before, to marvel greatly. Moreover,
    she was so obedient to her husband, and so attentive to his
    comfort, that he held himself the happiest man in the world. In
    similar manner she was so kind and gracious towards her
    husband's subjects that they loved and honored her one and all,
    always praying for her health and happiness.

    Shortly after the birth of his first child, a daughter, a
    strange fancy entered the mind of Walter, and he resolved to
    prove the patience and obedience of his wife, by subjecting her
    to many cruel trials. In the first place, he wounded her spirit
    by harsh words, feigning to be much disturbed in mind, and
    declaring that his vassals were ill-content with her on account
    of her low birth, and especially now that they saw that she bore
    children; wherefore they were sullen and did nothing but murmur.
    Hearing which words, Griselda, without changing countenance,
    said: "My lord, do with me as you think best for your own honor
    and happiness, and I will be content; for I know I was not
    worthy of all this honor to which you, by your courtesy, have
    brought me." This answer was very pleasing to Walter, who thus
    saw that her new honors had not puffed her up with pride.

    A short time after, having said to his wife that his subjects
    could not endure her daughter, he sent one of his servants to
    her who, with mournful countenance, said, "My lady, if I would
    not die, I must do that which my lord commands me. He has
    ordered me to take your little daughter and to----" and he said
    no more. The lady, hearing these words, and seeing the face of
    the servant, and remembering the words of her husband, believed
    that the servant had been ordered to kill her child; whereupon
    quickly taking the little one from the cradle, she kissed and
    prayed over it, with unchanged countenance, in spite of the
    great sorrow she felt in her heart; and placing it in the arms
    of the servant, said: "Here, do what thy lord and mine has
    commanded thee to do. But see to it that the child be not
    devoured by birds or wild beasts, unless indeed he commands thee
    so to do."

    The servant took the girl and reported to Walter what the lady
    had said. He, marveling greatly at her constancy, sent both
    servant and child to a certain lady in Bologna, a relative of
    his, begging her to bring it up and educate it carefully,
    without, however, revealing its parentage.

    Some years after this Griselda gave birth to a son, to the great
    joy of Walter. But not being satisfied with what he already had
    done, he wounded Griselda's feelings still more, saying to her
    one day, "My lady, since this our child was born, I have not
    been able to live with my subjects, so bitterly do they rebel
    against the thought that some day a grandson of Giannùcolo shall
    rule over them. Wherefore, if I do not wish to be driven out, I
    shall have to leave you and take another wife." Griselda heard
    these words with patient mind, and only answered: "My lord, do
    you think how you may best satisfy your own pleasure; have no
    thought concerning me, for I desire only to see you happy."

    A few days after, Walter sent for the son as he had done for the
    daughter before, and feigning again to have it slain, he sent
    it to Bologna to be brought up together with his daughter. At
    all of which Griselda made no other sign, nor said anything more
    than she had done when her daughter had been taken away. And
    once more Walter marveled to himself and declared that no other
    woman could do what she did, for he knew well that she loved her
    children dearly. His vassals, believing that he had put his
    children to death, blamed him strongly as a most cruel man, and
    had great compassion on their lady. She, however, never
    complained, but said always to those who condoled with her on
    the loss of her children, that what seemed good to their father
    seemed good to her.

    Many years after the birth of his daughter, Walter, thinking it
    time to make a final test of Griselda's long suffering, declared
    openly that he could endure her no longer as his wife, and that
    he had acted as a foolish boy when he had taken her. Wherefore
    he would now make overtures to the pope for leave to divorce
    her, and take another wife. The lady, hearing these things, and
    foreseeing that she should have to return to her father's house,
    and perchance keep sheep as before, seeing another woman married
    to him whom she loved so much, grieved deeply in her heart.
    Nevertheless, as in the other blows of fortune, she disposed
    herself to bear this also with firm countenance.

    Not long after, Walter caused false letters to come from Rome,
    and told his subjects that the pope had granted him a
    dispensation to leave Griselda and take a new wife. Then calling
    her before him in the presence of many others, he said to her:
    "Griselda, by special dispensation granted me by the pope, I am
    able now to leave you and take another wife; and inasmuch as my
    ancestors have been great gentlemen and lords of this country,
    while yours have always been laborers, I intend that you shall
    no longer be my wife, but shall return to your father's house,
    bearing with you the dowry which you brought." Hearing these
    words, Griselda, with the greatest difficulty, kept back her
    tears, being in this stronger than the common run of women, and
    answered: "My lord, I have always known that my humble condition
    was in no wise suited to your exalted rank; and what I have been
    to you, I recognize as coming from God and your courtesy. Nor
    have I ever regarded all these honors as given to me, but only
    loaned. If it please you then to take them back, it is my duty
    to be willing to give them up. Here is the ring with which you
    married me; take it."

    Walter, who had more desire to weep than anything else, stood
    there with hard face and said: "Go, but see to it that you take
    with you one garment only." Whereupon she, dressed in a single
    garment, barefooted and bareheaded, left her husband's castle,
    and returned to her father, followed by the tears and compassion
    of all who saw her. Giannùcolo, who had never been quite able to
    believe that Walter could be content to take his daughter as his
    wife, and who expected her return every day, had kept her
    clothes which she had put off on the morning of her marriage.
    Now Griselda put them on again and gave herself up to the little
    duties of her father's house, bearing the cruel assaults of
    hostile fortune with firm mind.

    In the meantime Walter declared to his vassals that he had
    chosen for his wife the daughter of a certain count of Panago
    (who was the husband of the lady in Bologna, to whom he had sent
    his children); and ordering great preparations for the wedding
    to be made, he sent for Griselda, and when she had come, he
    said: "I am about to bring home the lady whom I have chosen for
    my wife. You know that I have no one here who can arrange all
    the things needful for so great a feast. Wherefore do you put
    everything in order, and call in to help you the women you think
    best, and receive them as if you were still the lady here. Then
    after the wedding is all over you may return home."

    Although these words were like so many stabs to the heart of
    Griselda, who could not lay aside her love for him as easily as
    she had laid aside her good fortune, she answered: "My lord, I
    am ready." And dressed in her peasant costume, she entered the
    house, whence she had shortly before gone forth, and began to
    sweep and put in order the rooms, and to prepare the food,
    setting her own hands to everything as if she were but a common
    servant of the house. Nor did she rest till all was properly
    arranged and prepared for the wedding. And then, inviting in
    the name of Walter all the ladies of the country round about,
    she began to prepare the feast, and when the wedding day had
    come, although she was dressed in coarse garments, she received
    all the ladies who came with ladylike bearing and smiling face.

    Walter, who had caused his children to be diligently brought up
    in Bologna in the house of his relative, wife of the count of
    Panago (his son being six years old and his daughter twelve, the
    latter being the most beautiful creature ever seen), had sent to
    the count of Panago, begging him to bring his children to
    Saluzzo, and to say to all that the girl was to marry Walter.
    The count did as he was requested, and with the two children and
    a noble company arrived about noon at Saluzzo, where all the
    peasants and neighbors from round about were waiting for the new
    bride. She was received by the ladies, and Griselda, dressed as
    she was, came forward to meet her cheerfully, saying: "Welcome
    to my lady."

    Walter, who now thought he had sufficient evidence of the
    long-suffering of his wife, called her to him, and in the
    presence of all, said to her: "What think you of our bride?" "My
    lord," said Griselda, "she seems fair indeed to look upon; and
    if she is as wise as beautiful, which I well believe, I doubt
    not that you will live with her the happiest gentleman in the
    world. But I beseech you for one thing: do not wound her spirit,
    as you have that of your other wife. For I do not believe she
    can stand it, young as she is, and so delicately brought up."

    Walter, seeing that she firmly believed the girl was to be his
    wife, and that yet she spoke thus kindly of her, set her down
    beside him, and said: "Griselda, it is time now that you receive
    the rewards of your patience, and that those who have reputed me
    cruel, may know that what I did was to teach you how to be a
    wife, and to prepare for myself a life of perpetual peace and
    quiet with you as my loving and faithful companion. Therefore
    take with joyful mind this girl, whom you thought to be my
    bride, and her brother, for your children and mine. These are
    they whom you and many others long have thought I had cruelly
    slain. I am your husband, who love you above all things else;
    and I indeed can boast that no other man has so great reason to
    be content with his wife as I;" and thus speaking he embraced
    and kissed her, and raising her who was now weeping for joy, he
    led her to where the daughter sat, listening in amazement to all
    these things, and embraced her and her brother tenderly. Then
    all the ladies, rejoicing greatly, rose from the table and went
    with Griselda to her room, and dressed her in a rich gown, such
    as befitted a lady, which she ever seemed, even in her rags, and
    led her back again to the hall, and then all, rejoicing,
    continued the feast. The count of Panago went back to Bologna,
    and Walter, taking Giannùcolo from his work-shop, kept him in
    state as his father-in-law, so that he lived in great comfort
    and honor to the end of his life. And the marquis himself,
    having found his daughter a noble husband, lived long and
    happily with Griselda, holding her ever in love and esteem.


    Development of Italian prose later than that of
    poetry--Boccaccio its founder (1313-75)--Friendship for
    Petrarch--Service in introducing Greek language into Western
    Europe--His influence upon Chaucer and Shakespeare--The
    Decameron--He founds Italian prose style and the modern novel.

    1. Which is usually developed first, prose or poetry?

    2. Give sketch of the life of Boccaccio.

    3. Describe his character.

    4. Tell the story of his conversion.

    5. Give a list of Boccaccio's chief works in Latin and

    6. Which one is his greatest work?

    7. What is the general framework of the Decameron?

    8. Its popularity and influence.

    9. Tell briefly the story of patient Griselda.

    10. What is your opinion of this story?


    Owing to the immorality of some of the stories of the Decameron
    the English translations of the whole book are not to be
    recommended. A selection, however, fit for the general public
    has been made by Joseph Jacobs, and published by John Lane.



We have seen that Petrarch is considered the founder of the Renaissance
in Italy. He died in 1374, and it took a century and more to complete
the work he inaugurated. The whole of the fifteenth century is of
importance in the history of Italian literature, not so much for what it
produced, as for the fact that it prepared the way for the so-called
"Golden Age" of the sixteenth century. During these hundred years
classical scholarship became more and more widely diffused, being no
longer confined to a few cities or princely courts, but spread over all
Italy and through all classes of society.

Yet Florence still remained the great center of this influence. Under
the powerful family of the Medici the city had risen to great power and
prosperity, and amid all the political confusion of the times it
continued to be characterized by a keen intellectual and æsthetic life.
The immediate successors of Petrarch and Boccaccio in the spread of the
new learning, Luigi Marsili and Coluccio Salutati, lived and worked at
Florence. Later came Poggio Bracciolini, who equaled Petrarch himself as
an eager and successful collector of manuscripts; Marsilio Ficino, who
founded under Cosimo de' Medici the famous Platonic academy; Pico della
Mirandola, the youthful prodigy of learning and mystical enthusiast; and
Politian, the greatest scholar and most elegant poet of his day. These
men studied not only Latin as Petrarch had done, but obtained a good
knowledge of Greek. They plunged eagerly into the study of Plato, who
for so many centuries had been unknown to western Europe, and who now
threatened to take the place of Aristotle in the world of philosophy.
They gathered statues, coins, and inscriptions, and studied ruins in
order to obtain as clear an idea as possible of the ancient world. It is
hard for us to-day to get an idea of the eager enthusiasm and intense
delight in study of these men of the Renaissance; they must have felt as
Wordsworth did when he cried out:

    "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
    But to be young was very heaven."

The scholars of the time enjoyed an immense popularity. A new caste of
society arose, not dependent on birth or wealth, but on learning and
intelligence. Princes and cities sought for their services, for which
they paid large sums. Everywhere they were received as equal to the
noblest in the land. The movement reached its highest point in the first
half of the sixteenth century, when the intellectual and artistic life
of Italy was of almost incredible greatness. In proof of this statement
we need only mention a few names, such as Michel Angelo, Raphael,
Leonardo da Vinci, Ariosto, and Macchiavelli; Tasso belongs to the same
group, though born out of due season.

Naturally enough the early Humanists wrote for the most part in Latin,
which they still looked upon as the language of their ancestors and
thus, in a certain sense, their mother-tongue. Indeed, many at first
despised the vernacular as a base corruption. Later, however, a reaction
set in; the example of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio induced others to
write in Italian, which now became more and more polished and adapted to
become the medium of a great literature. This new impulse toward a
national literature was first given at Florence, at the court of Lorenzo
the Magnificent, who himself, next to Politian, was the greatest poet of
his day. We cannot linger, however, over these fifteenth century
writers, but must hasten on to the next century and to the consideration
of Ariosto, the supreme poet of the Renaissance.

In discussing the romantic poetry of Ariosto, however, we must go back a
number of years in order to get the proper perspective. Among the
brilliant men of letters of the court of the Medici was a certain Luigi
Pulci, of a poor but noble family. It was he who was the first to
introduce into elegant literature the old romances of the Carlovingian
cycle, which for centuries had been sung and recited by rude, wandering
minstrels in the public streets of Italy.

We have seen in Chapter I. how in the thirteenth century the old French
_chansons de gestes_ had been introduced into North Italy and had there
become popular; these had been rewritten and worked over in rude forms
for the amusement of the common folk, but up to the time of Pulci had
found no place in literature proper. Now it is the glory of Pulci to
have brought this popular material into the realm of artistic poetry.
This he is said to have done at the request of Lorenzo's mother, the
result being the poem known as Morgante. In this poem Pulci introduces
as the chief character Orlando, the Italian form of Roland, the nephew
of Charlemagne, and the hero of Roncesvalles, who plays so large a rôle
in the French romances. The title is derived from the name of a giant
whose life has been saved by Orlando, whom he, in gratitude therefor,
follows as a faithful servant; he drops out of the story in the
twentieth canto.

Pulci, in his Morgante, follows closely the popular poetry of his
predecessors, but differs from them in language, style, and especially
in the comic treatment of his theme; in all these respects he is the
forerunner of Boiardo and Ariosto. As we have seen, he was a native of
Florence, which, up to the end of the fifteenth century, had been the
chief center of the literary glory of Italy. The scene now changes to
Ferrara, where the house of Este had for generations held a brilliant
court. It was here that the three great poets, Boiardo, Ariosto, and
Tasso, lived and produced their works.

Boiardo has been so eclipsed by Ariosto that he is not known as well as
he ought to be, when we consider his services to Italian literature. To
him belongs the credit of having invented the romantic epic, and
Ariosto, who followed in the same lines, added but little to the general
groundwork of his predecessor.

Matteo Maria Boiardo was born of a noble family at Reggio in 1434, and
having early gone to Ferrara, remained there till his death in 1494. A
scholar, poet, administrator, and courtier, his position at the court of
the duke of Este reminds us involuntarily of that of Goethe, three
hundred years later, at Weimar. His first essays in literature were in
Latin, but when he was about forty years old he began his poem of
Orlando Innamorato (Roland in Love). He was led naturally thereto.
Ferrara had early favored chivalrous poetry, and the library of the duke
contained a large number of romances, belonging especially to the
Arthurian cycle, which pleased the elegant society of the court more
than the Carlovingian stories so popular with the common people. These
romances of King Arthur and the Round Table, however, were in French.

Boiardo's great merit consists in the fact that he united in one the
various characteristics of both the Carlovingian and the Arthurian
romances, and thus combined the popular and the courtly element. He
chose the characters of his poem from the former, but changed them to
true knights of chivalry, and added all the paraphernalia of the
Arthurian tales. Of especial importance was the introduction of romantic
love as the motive of all action.

The general theme of Orlando Innamorato is the war between Charlemagne
and the Saracens, yet there is no one definite action, as in the case of
the regular epic. Rather the poem consists of a series of independent,
or at least very loosely connected, episodes, in which the adventures of
the various knights errant are recounted with great skill and interest.
Chief among these episodes is that of Orlando and his love for Angelica,
the daughter of the king of Cathay, who comes to the court of
Charlemagne in Paris, and by means of her beauty and coquetry succeeds
in drawing away a number of the best Christian warriors. Other
important characters are Astolfo, Rodomonte, Rinaldo, and the latter's
sister, Brandiamente, who falls in love with the pagan Roger, who,
according to Boiardo, was the founder of the house of Este. Vast as the
poem is in its present state, Boiardo left it only half finished when he
died in 1494.

At the time of Boiardo's death Ludovico Ariosto was a youth of twenty.
Born in Reggio, in 1474, of a family that had long been in the service
of the Este family, he too, after an irregular and tardy education came
to Ferrara and entered the service of the Cardinal Este. At the death of
his father, in 1500, Ariosto found himself at the head of a family of
ten, and nobly performed his duty by caring and providing for all his
brothers and sisters. His position in the household of the cardinal was
not at all to his liking; he was often sent on embassies and business
trips, a function which, to a man who loved quiet and leisure as much as
Ariosto did, was utterly distasteful. In 1517 he refused to accompany
the cardinal to Hungary, on the ground of ill-health, and was thereupon
summarily dismissed. He found soon, however, more congenial employment
in the household of Duke Alfonso. His life now was more quiet and
afforded him more opportunity for study and writing. Yet even here he
was not content. His inclinations were all against court life, and he
only retained his position on account of his poverty. His character, as
depicted in his satires, was very different from that of Petrarch, who
was a successful courtier. Ariosto could not bow and smile and make
himself agreeable. He was sincere and independent by nature, modest in
his desires, kindly and amiable, loved nature, quiet study, and rural
occupations. In 1527 he succeeded in saving enough to buy a small house
at Ferrara, with a garden attached. Over the door he placed the
inscription which has become famous: "Small, but suited to me; harmful
to no one; bought with my own money." Here he spent the remainder of his
days, happy and contented, amusing himself with almost childish joy in
the cultivation of his garden. He died June 6, 1533.

Ariosto's literary work consists of comedies, which are among the very
first of modern literature; satires and the Orlando Furioso (Mad
Roland). The satires rank next in literary value to his masterpiece, and
are charming examples of the poetic epistle rather than biting satire.
They contain many details of the society of the day, and are our best
source for the life and character of their author. They are all inspired
with kindly humor and full of worldly wisdom and common sense. No one
can read these satires without feeling a respect and affection for the
poet who wrote them.

Ariosto's most famous work, however, is the Orlando Furioso. When he
came to Ferrara everybody was talking about the Orlando Innamorato of
Boiardo. Ariosto himself admired it immensely, for it harmonized
perfectly with his own genius and literary tastes. Hence when there came
to him that mysterious command, "Write," which all men of poetical
genius hear some day or other, it was only natural that he should turn
to the unfinished poem of his predecessor, with the thought of
completing it.

Yet it would be a mistake to think Ariosto was a mere plagiarist or that
he lacked originality. No writer ever lived who has so impressed his
own individuality on his works as he. He took the data furnished by his
predecessors and joined to them all the culture of the times, ideas,
aspirations, conception of life; all these he fused into one vast work
which reflects the age of the Renaissance as truly as the Divine Comedy
reflects the closing period of the Middle Ages.

It is practically impossible to give a clear yet brief outline of
Orlando Furioso. It does not, like the Iliad, Æneid, Paradise Lost, and
Jerusalem Delivered, contain one central action, with which all parts
are logically connected, but is rather a vast arena on which take place
many different and independent actions at the same time. The wars
between Charlemagne and the Saracens, which had been begun in Boiardo's
poem, are here continued and carried to an end. In similar manner
Ariosto takes up the history of the various knights errant introduced by
his predecessor, and either continues their adventures or introduces new
ones himself. In the first canto the poet shows us the army of Agramante
before the walls of Paris, in which Charlemagne and his army are shut
up, and in the course of the poem he shows us the city freed, the enemy
defeated, and Christianity saved from the dominion of the Saracen. Yet
this is not the real center of action; often it is entirely lost sight
of in the confusing crowd of individual adventures. It only serves as a
factitious means of joining from time to time the scattered threads of
the various episodes. When the poet does not know what to do with any
particular character, he despatches him forthwith to Paris, there to
await the final dénouement.

The individual heroes are free, not bound by any ties of discipline to
Charlemagne; they leave at any moment, in obedience to individual
caprice, and wander forth in search of love and honor. It is in these
various episodes or adventures that the true interest of the poem
resides. At first sight there seems to be an inextricable confusion in
the way they are told; but after careful study we find that the poet
always controls them with a firm hand. A constant change goes on before
our eyes. When one story has been told for some time, the poet, fearing
to weary the reader, breaks it off, always at an interesting point, to
begin another, which, in its turn, yields to another, and this to still
another; from time to time these stories are taken up again, continued,
and finished. All these transitions are marvels of skill and ingenuity.

Among the crowd of minor episodes three stand out with especial
distinctness, the story of Cloridan and Medoro, Angelica's love for the
latter and the consequent madness of Orlando; and the death of Zerbino.

Cloridan and Medoro are two brave young pagans, whose lord and master,
Dardinello, has been slain in battle with Charlemagne's army outside the
walls of Paris. Now the two youths, as they stand on guard at night,
lament that their master's body lies unburied and dishonored on the
field of battle, and resolve to go and find it and bring it back to

    These two were posted on a rampart's height,
      With more to guard the encampment from surprise,
      When 'mid the equal intervals, at night,
      Medoro gazed on heaven with sleepy eyes.
      In all his talk, the stripling, woful wight,
      Here cannot choose, but of his lord devise,
      The royal Dardinel; and evermore
      Him, left unhonored on the field, deplore.

    Then, turning to his mate, cries: "Cloridane,
      I cannot tell thee what a cause of woe
      It is to me, my lord upon the plain
      Should lie, unworthy food for wolf or crow!
      Thinking how still to me he was humane,
      Meseems, if in his honor I forego
      This life of mine, for favors so immense
      I shall but make a feeble recompense.

    "That he may lack not sepulture, will I
      Go forth, and seek him out among the slain;
      And haply God may will that none shall spy
      Where Charles's camp lies hushed. Do thou remain;
      That, if my death be written in the sky,
      Thou may'st the deed be able to explain.
      So that if Fortune foil so fair a feat,
      The world, through Fame, my loving heart may weet."

    Seeing that nought would bend him, nought would move,
      "I too will go," was Cloridan's reply,
      "In such a glorious act myself will prove;
      As well such famous death I covet, I:
      What other thing is left me, here above,
      Deprived of thee, Medoro mine? To die
      With thee in arms is better, on the plain,
      Than afterwards of grief, should'st thou be slain."

So they go forth on their generous enterprise, and after slaying many
distinguished warriors among the Christians, as they lay asleep, they
approach the tent of Charlemagne, near which they find the body of their

    The horrid mixture of the bodies there
      Which heaped the plain where roved these comrades sworn,
      Might well have rendered vain their faithful care
      Amid the mighty piles, till break of morn,
      Had not the moon, at young Medoro's prayer,
      Out of a gloomy cloud put forth her horn.
      Medoro to the heavens upturns his eyes
      Towards the moon, and thus devoutly cries:

    "O holy goddess! whom our fathers well
      Have styled as of a triple form, and who
      Thy sovereign beauty dost in heaven, and hell,
      And earth, in many forms reveal; and through
      The greenwood holt, of beast and monster fell,
      --A huntress bold--the flying steps pursue,
      Show where my king, amid so many lies,
      Who did, alive, thy holy studies prize."

    At the youth's prayer from parted cloud outshone
      (Were it the work of faith or accident)
      The moon, as fair, as when Endymion
      She circled in her naked arms: with tent,
      Christian or Saracen, was Paris-town
      Seen in that gleam, and hill and plain's extent.
      With these Mount Martyr and Mount Lery's height,
      This on the left, and that upon the right.

    The silvery splendor glistened yet more clear,
      There where renowned Almontes's son lay dead.
      Faithful Medoro mourned his master dear,
      Who well agnized the quartering white and red,
      With visage bathed in many a bitter tear
      (For he a rill from either eyelid shed),
      And piteous act and moan, that might have whist
      The winds, his melancholy plaint to list;

    Hurrying their steps, they hastened, as they might,
      Under the cherished burden they conveyed;
      And now approaching was the lord of light,
      To sweep from heaven the stars, from earth the shade,
      When good Zerbino, he, whose valiant sprite
      Was ne'er in time of need by sleep down-weighed,
      From chasing Moors all night, his homeward way
      Was taking to the camp at dawn of day.

    He has with him some horsemen in his train,
      That from afar the two companions spy.
      Expecting thus some spoil or prize to gain,
      They, every one, towards that quarter his.
      "Brother, behoves us," cries young Cloridane,
      "To cast away the load we bear, and fly:
      For 'twere a foolish thought (might well be said)
      To lose _two_ living men, to save _one_ dead;"

    And dropt the burden, weening his Medore
      Had done the same by it, upon his side;
      But that poor boy, who loved his master more,
      His shoulders to the weight, alone, applied;
      Cloridan hurrying with all haste before,
      Deeming him close behind him or beside;
      Who, did he know his danger, him to save
      A thousand deaths, instead of one, would brave.

    So far was Cloridan advanced before,
      He heard the boy no longer in the wind;
      But when he marked the absence of Medore,
      It seemed as if his heart was left behind.
      "Ah! how was I so negligent (the Moor
      Exclaimed), so far beside myself, and blind,
      That I, Medoro, should without thee fare,
      Nor know when I deserted thee or where?"

    So saying, in the wood he disappears,
      Plunging into the maze with hurried pace;
      And thither, whence he lately issued, steers,
      And, desperate, of death returns in trace.
      Cries and the tread of steeds this while he hears,
      And word and threat of foemen, as in chase;
      Lastly Medoro by his voice is known,
      Disarmed, on foot, 'mid many horse, alone.

    A hundred horsemen who the youth surround,
      Zerbino leads, and bids his followers seize
      The stripling; like a top, the boy turns round
      And keeps him as he can: among the trees,
      Behind oak, elm, beech, ash, he takes his ground,
      Nor from the cherished load his shoulders frees.
      Wearied, at length, the burden he bestowed
      Upon the grass, and stalked about his load.

    Cloridan, who to aid him knows not how,
      And with Medoro willingly would die,
      But who would not for death this being forego,
      Until more foes than one should lifeless lie,
      Ambushed, his sharpest arrow to his bow
      Fits, and directs it with so true an eye,
      The feathered weapon bores a Scotchman's brain,
      And lays the warrior dead upon the plain.

Enraged at this, Zerbino leaps forward to wreak revenge on Medoro, but
he, begging to be allowed to bury his master so touches Zerbino with his
youthful beauty that he is inclined to spare him, and one of his own
followers smiting Medoro, who stands in suppliant attitude, Zerbino, in
a rage, pursues him and followed by his companions, disappears, leaving
Cloridan dead and Medoro gravely wounded.

In the meantime--

    By chance arrived a damsel at the place,
      Who was (though mean and rustic was her wear)
      Of royal presence and of beauteous face,
      And lofty manners, sagely debonair:
      Her have I left unsung so long a space,
      That you will hardly recognize the fair.
      Angelica, in her (if known not) scan,
      The lofty daughter of Cathay's great khan.

This is Angelica, who having despised the love of Orlando, now finally
meets her fate in the person of Medoro:

    When fair Angelica the stripling spies,
      Nigh hurt to death in that disastrous fray,
      Who for his king, that there unsheltered lies,
      More sad than for his own misfortune lay,
      She feels new pity in her bosom rise,
      Which makes its entry in unwonted way.
      Touched was her haughty heart, once hard and curst,
      And more when he his piteous tale rehearsed.

    And calling back to memory her art,
      For she in Ind had learned chirurgery,
      (Since it appears such studies in that part
      Worthy of praise and fame are held to be,
      And, as an heirloom, sires to sons impart,
      With little aid of books, the mystery)
      Disposed herself to work with simples' juice,
      Till she in him should healthier life produce.

She succeeds in curing him, and falling desperately in love, marries him
and departs for Cathay, of which she designs making her husband king.

After some time Orlando comes that way and finds engraved on trees in
love-knots and intertwined names, the evidence of the love of Angelica
and Medoro:

    Turning him round, he there, on many a tree,
      Beheld engraved, upon the woody shore,
      What as the writing of his deity
      He knew, as soon as he had marked the lore.
      This was a place of those described by me,
      Whither ofttimes, attended by Medore,
      From the near shepherd's cot had wont to stray
      The beauteous lady, sovereign of Cathay.

    In a hundred knots, amid those green abodes,
      In a hundred parts, their cyphered names are dight;
      Whose many letters are so many goads,
      Which Love has in his bleeding heart-core pight.
      He would discredit in a thousand modes,
      That which he credits in his own despite;
      And would parforce persuade himself, _that_ rhind
      Other Angelica than his had signed.

He tries to convince himself that there is no truth in all this, but in
vain, for meeting the shepherd at whose house Angelica had brought
Medoro, he learns in detail the whole story. Upon hearing this he rushes
forth from the cottage and hastens to the forest, where he can give full
vent to the sorrow that fills his heart, and where he gradually loses
all control of himself, and finally becomes raging mad:

    All night about the forest roved the count,
      And, at the break of daily light, was brought
      By his unhappy fortune to the fount,
      Where his inscription young Medoro wrought.
      To see his wrongs inscribed upon that mount,
      Inflamed his fury so, in him was nought
      But turned to hatred, frenzy, rage, and spite;
      Nor paused he more, but bared his falchion bright.

    Cleft through the writing; and the solid block,
      Into the sky, in tiny fragments sped.
      Wo worth each sapling and that caverned rock,
      Where Medore and Angelica were read!
      So scathed, that they to shepherd or to flock
      Thenceforth shall never furnish shade or bed.
      And that sweet fountain, late so clear and pure,
      From such tempestuous wrath was ill secure.

    For he turf, stone, and trunk, and shoot, and lop
      Cast without cease into the beauteous source;
      Till, turbid from the bottom to the top,
      Never again was clear the troubled course.
      At length, for lack of breath, compelled to stop,
      (When he is bathed in sweat, and wasted force,
      Serves not his fury more) he falls, and lies
      Upon the mead, and, gazing upward, sighs.

    Wearied and woe-begone, he fell to ground,
      And turned his eyes toward heaven; nor spake he aught,
      Nor ate, nor slept, till in his daily round
      The golden sun had broken thrice, and sought
      His rest anew; nor ever ceased his wound
      To rankle, till it marred his sober thought.
      At length, impelled by frenzy, the fourth day,
      He from his limbs tore plate and mail away.

Thus begins the madness of Orlando, who, after performing prodigious
deeds of strength on men, cattle, and trees, is seized with
restlessness, and wanders far and wide:

    Now right, now left, he wandered, far and wide,
      Throughout all France, and reached a bridge one day;
      Beneath which ran an ample water's tide,
      Of steep and broken banks: a turret gray
      Was builded by the spacious river's side,
      Discerned, from far and near, and every way.
      What here he did I shall relate elsewhere,
      Who first must make the Scottish prince my care.

The Scottish prince, to whom the poet refers in these last lines, is the
same Zerbino whom we have left pursuing the wretch who wounded the young
Medoro. Zerbino is young, handsome, and brave, and has married Isabella,
daughter of the king of Gallicia, whom he loves and by whom he is loved
with tender conjugal affection. Now his time has come to die. He, with
Isabella, arrives on the scene of Orlando's madness and finds the
scattered arms of Orlando, which he gathers together and hangs on a
tree, with an inscription telling whose they are, and forbidding all to
touch them. Just then up comes Mandricardo, emperor of Tartary,
accompanied by Doralice, his lady-love, and attempts to take Orlando's
sword Durindane. The two warriors fight, and Zerbino being fatally
wounded, Doralice, at the prayer of Isabella, prevails on Mandricardo to
end the battle: yet it is too late to save the life of Zerbino.

Neither the wars of Charlemagne nor the madness of Orlando gives a real
unity to the poem; the nearest thing to such a unity is to be found in
the story of Roger and Brandiamante, the former a pagan, the latter a
Christian, daughter of Aymon and sister to Rinaldo. They love each
other, seek each other, and after countless adventures by land and sea,
are united in marriage, thus founding the house of Este. It is with
Roger's conversion to Christianity and his marriage that the poem ends.
All the different heroes are gathered together before the walls of
Paris, Orlando's madness has been cured by Astolfo, who has made his
famous visit to the moon, where, in the paradise of fools, he recovers
the lost brain of his friend; Rinaldo, on his wedding day, slays
Rodamonte, the truculent and hitherto unconquerable enemy of the
Christians, and with his fall the war and the poem are ended.

Hard as it is to give a clear conception of the complicated adventures
told in the Orlando Furioso, it is perhaps still harder to give an idea
of its charm to these who have not read it. We are introduced at once
into a world of fancy, a sort of fairy-book for grown-up people. The
poem is not deeply impressive like the Divine Comedy, it has no elements
of tragedy. Ariosto did not aim at moral effect, but merely sought to
amuse his readers. Dante represents the deep, mystical religious
feeling of his times; Ariosto represents the worldliness of the
neo-paganism of the Renaissance. The asceticism of the Middle Ages now
gives way to intense delight in the life that now is. The artist and
poet sought to represent the pomp and circumstance of life, man in his
physical and intellectual power, woman in her beauty, nature in all its
picturesque variety, art in its magnificence. This was the ideal
followed by Ariosto; this was the ideal of the Italian Renaissance.

The great charm of Ariosto is his style. Here form reaches its highest
expression. He worked over and polished his verses unceasingly, yet so
natural are they that they seem to have been written spontaneously. The
Orlando is full of beautiful descriptions, of pathetic scenes,
alternating skilfully with humorous ones. Ariosto's humor, however, is
not coarse or grotesque, but refined and elegant. He does not caricature
the stories of chivalry, as Cervantes does in Don Quixote; but living in
a skeptical age he cannot take seriously the creatures of his own fancy,
and accompanies the prodigious deeds of his heroes with a smile of
good-natured irony.

We have already said that Ariosto was a man of good sense. From the
quiet of his own home he looked out upon the ruffled sea of life and
mused on what he saw. His reflections are contained in his satires; but
they likewise add a peculiar and original charm to the Orlando Furioso.
Among the parts most popular with the serious reader are the short
introductions to the various cantos, each containing some wise
reflection, some rule of life, or some kindly satire; this charm is
well known to the genuine lover of Thackeray.


    Progress of the revival of learning--Florence the center of the
    movement--Poggio Bracciolini; Pico della Mirandola; Politian;
    their services to scholarship--The chivalrous romance in
    Italy--Boiardo's influence--Ariosto (1474-1533); Comedies and
    Satires--His Orlando Furioso reflects the age.

    1. Trace the development of the Renaissance from
        Petrarch to Politian.

    2. Name some of the more important writers of this

    3. Who was Lorenzo the Magnificent?

    4. Who was the first to introduce chivalrous romances
        into Italian literature?

    5. Who was Boiardo? What were his services to Italian

    6. Give a sketch of Ariosto's life.

    7. Describe his character.

    8. Give a list of his works.

    9. What is the general theme of Orlando Furioso?

    10. Did Ariosto invent the plot of his poem?

    11. Tell the story of Cloridano and Medoro.

    12. How does Orlando become insane?

    13. Describe the death of Zerbino.

    14. How does the poem end?

    15. Was Ariosto a great poet?


    The best English book on the Renaissance is that by J. A.
    Symonds. For the romatic poets, Leigh Hunt's book, "Stories from
    the Italian Poets," should be read. The first canto of Pulci's
    Morgante Maggiore was translated by Byron and may be found in
    his works. A complete translation of Orlando Furioso, translated
    by Rose, is published in the Bohn Library.



From the beginning of Italian literature to the death of Ariosto nearly
three hundred years had elapsed. In that period four of its greatest
writers had appeared. Yet no literature can attain the highest rank in
which the drama and epic are not represented. Italy hitherto lacked
these two important branches. The Divine Comedy of Dante is, strictly
speaking, not an epic, but forms a class by itself, being an imaginative
journey to the supernatural world, with a record of things seen and
heard therein; Ariosto's Orlando Furioso was a revival of the old
chivalrous romances in a new and elegant form, adapted to the conditions
and taste of his times; a huge fresco, rather than an epic. As we shall
see in the next chapter, comedy and tragedy had to wait nearly two
hundred years after the death of Ariosto before finding worthy
representatives in Alfieri and Goldoni. The regular epic, however, was
given to Italy by Tasso at the end of the sixteenth century.

The story of Tasso's life is of great though painful interest. It is a
tragedy of suffering like that of Dante; yet how vast the difference
between the two. Dante bore his sufferings with unparalleled nobility of
character, exciting our admiration. Tasso, weak and vacillating by
nature, lives wretched and miserable, not from the decrees of fortune,
but owing to his unfitness to bear the trials of ordinary life.

He was born March 11, 1544, at Sorrento, near Naples, the son of
Bernardo Tasso, a man of affairs, a courtier and a poet, who, although
of noble family, was forced by straitened circumstances to pass his life
in the service of others. Tasso's education was varied enough; a few
years at a Jesuit school in Naples, an experience which left a lasting
impression on his sensitive and melancholy temperament; then under
private teachers at Rome; and finally, several years of study of law at
the universities of Padua and Bologna. He was compelled to leave the
latter as a result of certain satires against the university
authorities, which he was accused of having written.

The important period of his life begins in 1565, when he went to
Ferrara, then, as in the days of Boiardo and Ariosto, the center of a
rich and brilliant court. His life here for the next seven or eight
years was a prosperous one. Fortune seemed to have showered her fairest
gifts on this young, handsome, and gentle-mannered poet. He was treated
on terms of intimacy by the duke and his sisters, Lucretia and Leonora.
He was accustomed to take his meals with the two ladies, and to them he
read the poetry which he wrote from time to time. It was undoubtedly due
to their influence that he composed his famous pastoral poem, Aminta
(1572-73), full of exquisite pictures of rural life and bathed in an
atmosphere of tender and refined love. This poem had an unprecedented
success and made its author famous throughout all Europe.

Not long after this, however, the first germs of the terrible mental
disease which wrecked his life began to show themselves. For many years
Tasso was made the hero of a romance, in which he was depicted as a
martyr to social caste--the victim of his own love for a woman beyond
his sphere. According to this romance Tasso fell in love with the sister
of the duke of Ferrara, and for this crime was shut up in prison and
falsely treated as insane. The results of modern scholarship, however,
have dissipated the sentimental halo from the brow of the unfortunate
poet, and reduced his case to one of pathological diagnosis. Leonora was
some ten years older than Tasso, and the affection which at first
undoubtedly existed between them was that of an elder sister and a
younger brother. The duke was not cruel to Tasso, but on the contrary
treated him at first kindly, and only when he was at last worn out by
the vagaries of the poet, did he drop him and bother himself no more
about him.

The secret of Tasso's sufferings and vicissitudes of fortune lay in
himself; he was, during the latter part of his life, simply insane. All
his actions during this period illustrate perfectly the various phases
of the persecution mania, which in his case was aggravated by religious
hallucination. To this terrible mental disease he was predisposed from
early life; his Jesuit education, the mysterious death of his mother
(suspected of having been poisoned), overwork and worriment, and
especially his morbidly sensitive and melancholy temperament, all helped
to prepare the way for the catastrophe that was to darken his life.

The first open manifestations of insanity occurred in 1577 (probably as
the result of a fever), about the time he had finished the first draft
of the Jerusalem Delivered. Very foolishly for a man as sensitive as he
was, he turned over the manuscript of his poem to a number of friends
for suggestions. The heartless criticisms he thus received filled him
with bitterness and fostered the rising irritability of his nascent
disease. He was especially hurt by the brutal and stupid criticism of
the Inquisitor Antoniano, who advised him to cut out all the romantic
episodes, which form the real beauty of the poem. This put into his mind
the thought that the Inquisition might refuse him permission to print
his poem, and made him fear that he might be a heretic. The lessons of
his early teachers, the Jesuits, now began to bear fruit. In 1577,
tormented by religious doubts, he went to the inquisitor of Bologna and
laid his case before him. Although the latter absolved him from his
self-charge of heresy, Tasso was not satisfied. Henceforth religious
fear was added to the fear of assassination--a double torment to his

Under these circumstances he became more and more moody and irritable;
he was suspicious of all about him and subject to frequent outbursts of
violence. On the evening of June 17, 1577, he was discoursing of his
troubles to the Princess Lucretia, when he suspected a passing servant
of spying him, and flung a knife at him. In order to prevent further
acts of violence he was shut up, at first in his room, and later in the
monastery of St. Francis, under the care of a physician. On July 27 he
broke the door and escaped. Horsemen were sent after him, but being
disguised as a peasant, he escaped, and after many adventures, often
begging his way as a common beggar, he reached Sorrento, where, in the
quiet seclusion of his sister's house, surrounded by all the tokens of
her love and sympathy, he enjoyed a short period of rest and peace.

He soon became restless, however, and yearned for the brilliant life of
the court, which presented itself to his fancy, enhanced by the charms
of distance and of those things we have had and lost. He was like a
butterfly, always attracted toward the light that was to destroy him. He
returned to Ferrara, and again ran away, wandering from city to city,
yet finding nowhere a warm welcome. "The world's rejected guest,"
Shelley called him, who knew himself only too well the meaning of these

In February, 1579, Tasso once more returned to Ferrara, this time
without previous warning, and asked to be received by the duke. It was a
singularly unpropitious moment; the duke was then in the midst of
preparations for his marriage with Margaret Gonzaga, his third wife, and
naturally enough the obscure, half-insane poet was neglected. This
neglect completely turned his mind, and losing all self-control he broke
out into violent invectives in the presence of the court. He was
immediately taken out, shut up in the insane asylum of S. Anna, and in
accordance with the barbarous customs of the age in the treatment of the
insane, put in chains. Here he remained in utter misery, a prey to the
double nightmare of his sick brain, fear of death by the assassin's
knife, and of everlasting damnation as a heretic. The letters which he
wrote by scores during this period are of heartbreaking pathos.

He remained in S. Anna nearly eight years, being released in 1586 at the
solicitation of Prince Vincenzo Gonzaga, brother-in-law of the duke of
Ferrara. From now on to the end, the story of Tasso's life becomes a
mere repetition of melancholy incidents. Once more he went from city to
city, visiting in turn Milan, Florence, Naples, and Rome, and moving
restlessly hither and thither

    "Like spirits of the wandering wind,
    Who seek for rest, yet rest can never find."

Finally fortune seemed about to smile upon him; a faint ray of sunshine
broke through the thick clouds that for so long had hung over his life.
In November, 1594, he was invited to Rome, there to be crowned poet, as
Petrarch had been. The pope assigned him a pension, and it seemed as if
at last some measure of happiness might again be his. It was only a
brief gleam of sunshine, however; the clouds soon closed again, and the
sun of Tasso's life hastened to its setting shrouded in gloom. The
coronation was put off on account of the ill health of Cardinal Cinzio
and the inclemency of the season. In March, 1595, he himself fell sick,
and in April was taken to the monastery of S. Onofrio on the Janiculum
hill. To the monks who came to meet him he uttered the pathetic words:
"My fathers, I have come to die among you." The pope sent his own
physician to attend him, but in vain. The world-weary poet passed away
April 25, 1595. His body lies buried in the adjacent church. The visitor
to-day can still see his room, furnished as in his lifetime, and on the
wall a copy of his last letter, in which he announces his speedy death.

Tasso's works are comparatively voluminous, and consist of lyrical
poems, the pastoral poem, Aminta, a tragedy, Torrismondo, dialogues,
letters, and the Jerusalem Delivered. In this brief sketch we can only
discuss the latter, by which alone he is known the world over.

Already when only sixteen years old, he had felt the ambition to write a
poem which should combine the merits of the regular epic (such as the
Iliad and Æneid), and the romantic interest of the poems of Boiardo and
Ariosto. His Rinaldo, written when he was only nineteen years old, was
remarkable both on account of the youth of its author and as a promise
of what was to follow. For a number of years after this, however, he
devoted himself almost exclusively to the task of preparing himself, by
reading, study, and thought, to write the great poem which he had in

His choice of a subject was a happy one. The fear of the Turk at that
time was widespread; the wars between Christian and Saracen, which
filled the old romances, were now occurring again on the eastern borders
of Europe. The Turks had conquered Hungary, and their piratic ships had
ravaged the coast of Italy, often destroying entire populations; a short
time before Sorrento, Tasso's birthplace, had been attacked, and his
sister escaped only by a miracle. Tasso himself must have heard many a
story of the crusades, when a child at Sorrento, where Pope Urban, who
had published the first crusade, was buried. His choice of the
deliverance of Jerusalem from the unbeliever then was a natural one.

Contrary to the Orlando Furioso, the story of Jerusalem Delivered, is a
simple one. Yet the main plot, _i. e._, the military operations of
Godfrey, the various battles, and the final capture of Jerusalem, are
not so effective or interesting as the various romantic episodes
introduced from time to time; the reader to-day is disposed to hurry
over the early cantos and to linger over the beautiful pages which tell
the loves of Tancred and Clorinda, Olindo and Sophronia, Rinaldo,
Armida, and Erminia.

The poem begins with the usual invocation:

      I sing the pious arms and Chief, who freed
      The Sepulcher of Christ from thrall profane:
      Much did he toil in thought, and much in deed;
      Much in the glorious enterprise sustain;
      And hell in vain opposed him; and in vain
      Afric and Asia to the rescue poured
      Their mingled tribes;--Heaven recompensed his pain,
      And from all fruitless sallies of the sword,
    True to the Red-Cross flag his wandering friends restored.

      O, thou, the Muse, that not with fading palms
      Circlest thy brows on Pindus, but among
      The Angels warbling their celestial psalms,
      Hast for thy coronal a golden throng
      Of everlasting stars! make thou my song
      Lucid and pure; breathe thou the flame divine
      Into my bosom; and forgive the wrong,
      If with grave truth light fiction I combine,
    And sometimes grace my page with other flowers than thine.

The poet then plunges into the midst of the action, We learn how the
Christian army has been in Holy Land for six years and had made many

      Six summers now were past, since in the East
      Their high Crusade the Christians had begun;
      And Nice by storm, and Antioch had they seized
      By secret guile, and gallantly when won,
      Held in defiance of the myriads dun,
      Prest to its conquest by the Persian king;
      Tortosa sacked, when now the sullen sun
      Entered Aquarius, to breme winter's wing
    The quartered hosts give place, and wait the coming spring.

In the spring of the seventh year the archangel Gabriel appears to
Godfrey of Bouillon and orders him to assemble the chiefs of the army
and prepare for a new and vigorous prosecution of the war. Godfrey obeys
and is himself elected commander-in-chief. Then, after a review of the
troops, which furnishes the poet an opportunity of giving a catalogue of
the various Christian forces (after the manner of Homer), the whole army
starts for Jerusalem.

The scene then changes to the Holy City itself, where King Aladine and
his followers are seized with consternation at the news of the advance
of the Christians. We now see the first of the famous episodes of the
Jerusalem Delivered. The Magician Ismeno urges the king to seize a
certain image of the Virgin Mary and shut it up in the royal mosque
(thus converting it into a palladium for Jerusalem). The king does so;
but immediately the image disappears from the mosque. Aladine is wild
with rage and being unable to discover the perpetrator of the outrage,
resolves to destroy all the Christians in the city. Now there was in the
city a beautiful Christian girl:

      Of generous thoughts and principles sublime,
      Amongst them in the city lived a maid.
      The flower of virgins, in her ripest prime,
      Supremely beautiful! but that she made
      Never her care, or beauty only weighed
      In worth with virtue; and her worth acquired
      A deeper charm from blooming in the shade;
      Lovers she shunned, nor loved to be admired.
    But from their praises turned, and lived a life retired.

Although she was unconscious of love herself, there was a noble
Christian youth, Olindo, who had long loved her in secret. Sophronia
resolves to save her people. She makes her way to the king's palace, and
declares that she alone is guilty of having stolen the sacred image from
the mosque.

      Thus she prepares a public death to meet,
      A people's ransom at a tyrant's shrine:
      Oh glorious falsehood! beautiful deceit!
      Can Truth's own light thy loveliness outshine?
      To her bold speech misdoubting Aladine
      With unaccustomed temper calm replied:
      "If so it were, who planned the rash design,
      Advised thee to it, or became thy guide?
    Say, with thyself who else his ill-timed zeal allied?"

      "Of this my glory not the slightest part
      Would I," said she, "with one confederate share;
      I needed no adviser; my full heart
      Alone sufficed to counsel, guide, and dare."
      "If so," he cried, "then none but thou must bear
      The weight of my resentment, and atone
      For the misdeed." "Since it has been my care,"
      She said, "the glory to enjoy alone,
    'T is just none share the pain; it should be all mine own."

      To this the tyrant, now incensed, returned,
      "Where rests the Image?" and his face became
      Dark with resentment: she replied, "I burned
      The holy image in the holy flame,
      And deemed it glory; thus at least no shame
      Can e'er again profane it--it is free
      From further violation; dost thou claim
      The spoil or spoiler? this behold in me;
    But that, whilst time rolls round, thou never more shall see

       *       *       *       *       *

      Doomed in tormenting fire to die, they lay
      Hands on the maid; her arms with rough cords twining,
      Rudely her mantle chaste they tear away,
      And the white veil that o'er her drooped declining:
      This she endured in silence unrepining,
      Yet her firm breast some virgin tremors shook;
      And her warm cheek, Aurora's late outshining,
      Waned into whiteness, and a color took,
    Like that of the pale rose, or lily of the brook.

At this moment Olindo approaches the spot, and discovering that the
victim is Sophronia, bursts through the crowd, exclaiming that he
himself is the author of the crime. Sophronia appeals to him not to
sacrifice himself for her, but he remains firm until the king, angered
at their apparent scorn of his power, condemns them both to be burned.
Thus both are about to die, when a knight appears:

      In midst of their distress, a knight behold,
      (So would it seem) of princely port! whose vest,
      And arms of curious fashion, grained with gold,
      Bespeak some foreign and distinguished guest;
      The silver tigress on the helm impressed,
      Which for a badge is borne, attracts all eyes,--
      A noted cognizance, the accustomed crest
      Used by Clorinda, whence conjectures rise,
    Herself the stranger is--nor false is their surmise.

      All feminine attractions, aims, and parts,
      She from her childhood cared not to assume;
      Her haughty hand disdained all servile arts,
      The needle, distaff, and Arachne's loom;
      Yet, though she left the gay and gilded room
      For the free camp, kept spotless as the light
      Her virgin fame, and proud of glory's plume,
      With pride her aspect armed; she took delight
    Stern to appear, and stern, she charmed the gazer's sight.

This is the first appearance of Clorinda, who is destined to play so
large a part in the poem, and who shows the nobility of her character by
interceding for the lovers with the king. The king, delighted at having
so powerful an auxiliary in his hour of danger and need, willingly
grants Clorinda's request, and the lovers are saved.

In the meantime the Christian army approach Jerusalem, which they reach
at early dawn, and which they greet with deep emotion:

      The odorous air, morn's messenger, now spread
      Its wings to herald, in serenest skies,
      Aurora issuing forth, her radiant head
      Adorned with roses plucked in Paradise;
      When in full panoply the hosts arise,
      And loud and spreading murmurs upward fly,
      Ere yet the trumpet sings; its melodies
      They miss not long, the trumpet's tuneful cry
    Gives the command to march, shrill sounding to the sky.

       *       *       *       *       *

      Winged is each heart, and winged every heel;
      They fly, yet notice not how fast they fly;
      But by the time the dewless meads reveal
      The fervent sun's ascension in the sky,
      Lo, towered Jerusalem salutes the eye!
      A thousand pointing fingers tell the tale;
      "Jerusalem!" a thousand voices cry,
      "All hail, Jerusalem!" hill, down, and dale
    Catch the glad sounds, and shout, "Jerusalem, all hail!"

Erminia, daughter of the deceased king of Antioch, points out to King
Aladine from a high tower the famous warriors among the Christians, and
especially praises Tancred, who had conquered her father and taken her
prisoner, and who, by his courtesy and gentle treatment, had won her
love. A sortie is made from the city, and Tancred, finding himself
engaged in battle with Clorinda, whom he esteems a man, breaks her
helmet, and discovering her to be the maiden whom he loves, refuses to
fight further with her.

      Meanwhile Clorinda rushes to assail
      The Prince, and level lays her spear renowned;
      Both lances strike, and on the barred ventayle
      In shivers fly, and she remains discrowned
      For, burst its silver rivets, to the ground
      Her helmet leaped (incomparable blow!)
      And by the rudeness of the shock unbound,
      Her sex to all the field emblazoning so,
    Loose to the charmed winds her golden tresses flow.

Thus begins the most famous episode of the Jerusalem Delivered. For the
next half of the poem Tancred and Clorinda are the real hero and

In the meantime Satan has called together his followers for
consultation. Among the many plans for holding the Christian army in
check is the sending of the beautiful enchantress Armida to the camp
of Godfrey, where she succeeds by her wiles in drawing away from the
army a number of the bravest warriors. The king of Egypt, with an
immense army, announces his intention to help Jerusalem and from this
time on, this menace hovers like a black cloud over the horizon of the
poem, ever approaching nearer and nearer, till in the last canto the
storm is averted by the bravery of the Christian warriors and the aid
of heaven.

Argantes, one of the pagan warriors of Jerusalem, sends a herald to
Godfrey's camp, challenging any of his warriors to single combat.
Tancred is appointed by Godfrey to accept the challenge, and the two
doughty champions fight all day long with no result. When night comes on
both retire, bearing away serious wounds. Erminia, who has been in a
terrible state of anxiety during the combat, cannot rest content when
night comes on, without learning the condition of Tancred's wounds. She
puts on Clorinda's suit of armor, leaves the city, and makes her way to
the Christian camp, first sending a messenger to Tancred, announcing
that a lady desires to see him. The scene which follows is very
picturesque, describing as it does the silence of the night and the
distant view of the tents.

      On high were the clear stars; the gentle Hours
      Walked cloudless through the galaxy of space,
      And the calm moon rose, lighting up the flowers
      With frost of living pearl: like her in grace,
      Th' enamored maid from her illumined face
      Reflected light where'er she chanced to rove;
      And made the silent Spirit of the place,
      The hills, the melancholy moon above,
    And the dumb valleys round, familiars of her love.

      Seeing the Camp, she whispered: "O ye fair
      Italian tents! how amiable ye show!
      The breathing winds that such refreshment bear,
      Ravish my soul, for 't is from you they blow
      So may relenting Heaven on me bestow,--
      On me, by froward Fate so long distressed,--
      A chaste repose from weariness and woe,
      As in your compass only lies my quest;
    As 'tis your arms alone can give my spirit rest."

       *       *       *       *       *

      Ah, little does she think, while thus she dreams,
      What is prepared for her by Fortune's spite!
      She is so placed, that the moon's placid beams
      In line direct upon her armor light;
      So far remote into the shades of night
      The silver splendor is conveyed, and she
      Surrounded is with brilliancy so bright,
      That whosoe'er might chance her crest to see,
    Would of a truth conclude it must Clorinda be.

Two sentinels see her, and believing her to be Clorinda, pursue her. She
flies and is carried by her horse many miles away, finally reaching a
shepherd's cottage on the banks of the Jordan, where for some time she
takes up her abode far from war's alarms and the "pangs of despised
love." The description of Erminia's life here is much admired for its
delineations of the charm of rural life.

      She slept, till in her dreaming ear, the bowers
      Whispered, the gay birds warbled of the dawn;
      The river roared; the winds to the young flowers
      Made love; the blithe bee wound its dulcet horn:
      Roused by the mirth and melodies of morn,
      Her languid eyes she opens, and perceives
      The huts of shepherds on the lonely lawn;
      Whilst seeming voices, 'twixt the waves and leaves
    Call back her scattered thoughts,--again she sighs and grieves.

      Her plaints were silenced by soft music, sent
      As from a rural pipe, such sounds as cheer
      The Syrian shepherd in his summer tent,
      And mixed with pastoral accents, rude but clear
      She rose and gently, guided by her ear,
      Came where an old man on a rising ground
      In the fresh shade, his white flocks feeding near,
      Twig baskets wove, and listened to the sound
    Trilled by three blooming boys, who sate disporting round.

The shepherd, pitying Erminia's distress, takes her to his wife, and she
thus becomes a member of the humble but happy household.

In the meantime many events are taking place between the Christians and
pagans, sorties, single combats, and attacks on the walls of the city.
Godfrey has caused powerful engines of war to be built, especially a
mighty movable tower, so high that it overtops the walls of the city.
Clorinda, eager for glory, undertakes one night to destroy the tower, in
spite of the warning of her old servant Arsetes, who tells her the story
of her birth, and reveals the fact that she is of Christian parentage.
She issues forth, succeeds in setting fire to the tower, but not being
able to reënter the city, flies, followed by Tancred, who not
recognizing her, fights with her and to his own eternal sorrow, slays
her. This passage is regarded as the most beautiful of the whole poem:

      As the deep Euxine, though the wind no more
      Blows, that late tossed its billows to the stars,
      Stills not at once its rolling and its roar,
      But with its coasts long time conflicting jars;
      Thus, though their quickly-ebbing blood debars
      Force from their blades as vigor from their arms,
      Still lasts the frenzy of the flame which Mars
      Blew in their breasts; sustained by whose strong charms,
    Yet heap they strokes on strokes, yet harms inflict on harms.

      But now, alas! the fatal hour arrives
      That must shut up Clorinda's life in shade;
      In her fair bosom deep his sword he drives;
      'Tis done--life's purple fountain bathes the blade;
      The golden flowered cymar of light brocade,
      That swathed so tenderly her breasts of snow,
      Is steeped in the warm stream: the hapless maid
      Feels her end nigh; her knees their strength forego,
    And her enfeebled frame droops languishing and low.

      He, following up the thrust with taunting cries,
      Lays the pierced Virgin at his careless feet;
      She as she falls, in mournful tones outsighs,
      Her last faint words, pathetically sweet;
      Which a new spirit prompts, a spirit replete
      With charity, and faith, and hope serene,
      Sent dove-like down from God's pure mercy-seat;
      Who, though through life his rebel she had been,
    Would have her die a fond, repentant Magdalene.

      "Friend, thou hast won; I pardon thee, and oh
      Forgive thou me! I fear not for this clay,
      But my dark soul--pray for it, and bestow
      The sacred right that laves all stains away:"
      Like dying hymns heard far at close of day,
      Sounding I know not what in the soothed ear
      Of sweetest sadness, the faint words make way
      To his fierce heart, and, touched with grief sincere,
    Streams from his pitying eye the involuntary tear.

      Not distant, gushing from the rocks, a rill
      Clashed on his ear; to this with eager pace
      He speeds--his hollow casque the waters fill--
      And back he hurries to the deed of grace;
      His hands as aspens tremble, whilst they raise
      The locked aventayle of the unknown knight;--
      God, for thy mercy! 'tis her angel face!
      Aghast and thunderstruck, he loathes the light;
    Ah, knowledge best unknown! ah, too distracting sight.

      Yet still he lived; and mustering all his powers
      To the sad task, restrained each wild lament,
      Fain to redeem by those baptismal showers
      The life his sword bereft; whilst thus intent
      The hallowing words he spoke, with ravishment
      Her face transfigured shone, and half apart
      Her bland lips shed a lively smile that sent
      This silent speech in sunshine to his heart:
    "Heaven gleams; in blissful peace behold thy friend depart!"

      A paleness beauteous as the lily's mixt
      With the sweet violet's, like a gust of wind
      Flits o'er her face; her eyes on Heaven are fixt,
      And heaven on her returns its looks as kind:
      Speak she can not; but her cold hand, declined,
      In pledge of peace on Tancred she bestows;
      And to her fate thus tenderly resigned,
      In her meek beauty she expires, and shows
    But as a smiling saint indulging soft repose.

Clorinda, being dead, Tancred has little desire to live, but is
comforted by a vision of her in heaven:

      And, clad in starry robes, the maid for whom
      He mourned, appears amid his mourning dreams;
      Fairer than erst, but by the deathless bloom
      And heavenly radiance that around her beams,
      Graced, not disguised; in sweetest act she seems
      To stoop, and wipe away the tears that flow
      From his dim eyes: "Behold what glory streams
      Round me," she cries; "how beauteous now I show,
    And for my sake, dear friend, this waste of grief forego."

Up to this time the most prominent characters in the poem have been
Tancred and Clorinda. This state of things now changes and the real
hero, Rinaldo, who like Achilles has long been absent from the field of
action, reappears and brings matters to a climax.

We have already seen how Armida has come to camp and carried off a
number of the Christian warriors. At the same time Rinaldo had, in a
contest for the successor of Dudo (killed in the first skirmish between
the crusaders and the pagans), slain Gernando in the presence of the
whole army, and was forced to fly the wrath of Godfrey. He, after having
freed the fifty knights from the power of Armida, is himself caught by
her wiles, and carried off by her to a gorgeous palace situated in the
midst of a beautiful garden, on a high mountain in the island of
Teneriffe. Here, lost in luxury and idleness, he sleeps out the thought
of his duty as a Christian warrior.

In the meantime Godfrey, by various supernatural tokens, learns that
Rinaldo alone can bring about the final success of the Christian arms.
He is thus induced to pardon his crime, which indeed had in a certain
sense been justified, and sends two messengers to bring him back. These
embark on a magic vessel, traverse the Mediterranean, pass the strait of
Gibraltar, enter the Atlantic, and reach the island of Teneriffe. The
descriptions of this voyage and the allusion to Columbus, are famous and
well deserve to be quoted, if we had the space. It is especially
interesting to compare this fictitious voyage into the Atlantic Ocean
with that of Ulysses in Dante's Inferno, the one written before, the
other shortly after the discovery of America.

The ambassadors arrive at the island, climb the mountain, overcome all
obstacles, enter the enchanted garden, and discover Rinaldo, surrounded
by all the beauty of nature and magnificence of art.

The messengers succeed in arousing the dormant nobility of Rinaldo; he
tears himself away, follows them to the camp of Godfrey, is pardoned by
the latter, succeeds in breaking the spell of the enchanted forest, and
thus prepares the way for the building of new war machines. The city
then is assaulted and taken, and finally the Egyptian army, which now
appears on the scene, is defeated and the poem ends.

The literature of the Italian Renaissance, which was inaugurated by
Petrarch and Boccaccio, reached its highest point with Ariosto. Tasso,
equally great with Ariosto, lived at the beginning of a long period of
decline; the Jerusalem Delivered projecting the last rays of the glories
of the Renaissance into this new period. The sixteenth century,
especially the first half, is the golden age of Italian literature,
comparable to that of Augustus in Rome, Louis XIV. in France, and Queen
Elizabeth in England. In the narrow confines of this sketch we have only
been able to treat in some detail the great writers thereof, Boiardo,
Ariosto, and Tasso. Yet the number of men of genius and talent is
legion--giants indeed lived in those days--not only in the field of art
and scholarship but in literature. In lyrical poetry were Pietro Bembo,
the Petrarch of his times; Michel Angelo and Vittoria Colonna. In the
pastoral poem, besides Tasso, there were Sannazaro and Guarini, the
former (whose Arcadia was imitated in England by Sidney and Spenser) on
the border-line between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the
latter on that between the sixteenth and seventeenth. In comic poetry
there was Francesco Berni, who worked over Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato,
which has since then been read almost wholly in this version. In prose
was developed an especially rich literature, among the great masters of
which we may mention in history, Nicholas Machiavelli, who, in his
Prince, introduced a new philosophy of politics; Guicciardini, Varchi,
and Nardi; in the history of art, Vasari; in novels and stories, Luigi
da Porto, who first told the story of Romeo and Juliet; Giraldo Cinzio,
Matteo Bandello, who continued the work of Boccaccio and Sacchetti.
Forming a special group are Benvenuto Cellini, whose autobiography has
made him famous; Firenzuola, who wrote on the beauty of woman;
Baldasarre Castiglione, the Lord Chesterfield of his day, who in his
book on the Courtier, depicted the character of the perfect gentleman
according to the ideals of the times.


    Lack of true epic hitherto--Tasso (1544-95) the first to give
    Italy an epic in the style of Homer and Vergil--Pathos of his
    life--His works: The pastoral poem Aminta; a tragedy,
    Torrismondo; Jerusalem Delivered--Long preparation for his
    masterpiece--The sixteenth century the Golden Age of Italian
    literature: Bembo, Sannazaro, Guarini, Berni, Machiavelli,

    1. Would you call the Divine Comedy and Orlando Furioso
        true epics?

    2. Give briefly the main facts of Tasso's life.

    3. What was the real cause of his unhappiness?

    4. Describe his death.

    5. What was the Aminta; when was it written?

    6. What is the theme of Jerusalem Delivered?

    7. Why did Tasso choose this subject?

    8. Give in brief outline the plot.

    9. Tell the story of Sophronia and Olindo.

    10. Who was Clorinda, by whom was she loved, and how did
        she die?

    11. Tell all you know about Erminia.

    12. What part in the poem is played by Armida?

    13. Where was Rinaldo during most of the fighting, and
        how was he brought back to camp?

    14. How does the poem end?

    15. Mention a few other writers of the sixteenth


    A complete translation of Jerusalem Delivered by Wiffen is
    published in the Bohn Library.



In the history of Italian literature, Dante, to expand a figure already
used, stands at the end of the Middle Ages like a lofty, solitary
mountain peak; behind him the low, level plain fades away into darkness;
before him the landscape, shone upon by the first rays of a new epoch,
slopes gradually upward until with Petrarch, Boccaccio, and the great
writers of the Renaissance, we have a lofty and widely extended plateau.
After Tasso there is a sudden descent to a low, level, uniform plain, in
which Italian literature dragged itself along till the middle of the
eighteenth century, when again an upward slope is noticed, which becomes
more and more accentuated as we approach the present.

Among the causes of the period of degradation, from 1560 to 1750, the
leading ones must be sought for in the political and religious condition
of Italy at that time. Spain had become possessed of a large part of the
country, especially in the north and south, while the pope, who ruled
the center, in temporal as well as spiritual matters, was the firm ally
of the Spaniards. The country thus under foreign dominion, was oppressed
and robbed without mercy. The Spanish viceroys, and their ignoble
imitators, the Italian nobles, lived a life of luxury and vice,
surrounded by bandits and brigands, and by paralyzing all commerce and
industry, brought on famine and pestilence.

The religious condition was no better. The Catholic reaction, or counter
reformation, which culminated in the Council of Trent, fastened still
more firmly the chains of medieval superstition and dogmatism on the
mass of the Italian people. The absolute power of the pope was
reaffirmed; two mighty instruments were forged to crush out heresy and
opposition--the Inquisition, which effectually choked out free thought,
and the Jesuits, who found their way stealthily into all ranks and
classes of society. Such was the condition of Italy at this time, "a
prolonged, a solemn, an inexpressibly heartrending tragedy." The effect
on the social life of Italy was almost fatal. Everywhere, to use the
almost exaggerated language of Symonds, were to be seen idleness,
disease, brigandage, destitution, ignorance, superstition, hypocrisy,
vice, ruin, pestilence, "while over the Dead Sea of social putrefaction
floated the sickening oil of Jesuit hypocrisy."

No wonder that in such a state of society, literature and art reached
the lowest point in all its history. Scarcely a single man of genius or
even of talent, can be found in the period between 1580 and 1750. All
literature was marked by lack of originality of thought and by a style
deformed by execrable taste, a style which consisted of wretched
conceits, puns, antithesis, and gorgeous and far-fetched metaphors. This
form of literary diction was not confined, however, to Italy, being
represented in Spain by Gongora, in France by the Hôtel de Rambouillet,
and in England by Lyly's Euphues. In Italy it is known as Marinism from
the poet Marini, whose Adone (in which is told the love of Venus for
Adonis, a subject previously treated by Shakespeare) exemplifying all
phases of the above-mentioned style, had enormous popularity not only in
Italy but abroad.

During the period now under discussion, poets were not wanting, for the
defect was in quality rather than quantity. Yet not all were entirely
without merit, for some possessed a certain degree of talent, especially
in the musical elements of their verse. Such were the lyrical poets,
Chiabrera, Testi, and Filicaja. In prose literature a better and saner
style prevailed, especially in the dialogues of Galileo, and in the
historical and critical writings of Sarpi and Vico.

In 1748 the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended Spanish rule in Italy, and
the breath of free thought from England sweeping across the plains of
France entered Italy and gradually weakened the power of the Jesuits,
dissipated to a certain extent superstition and ignorance, and aroused
the country to a sense of its degradation. By bringing Italy into
connection with other nations, and with newer ideas, it planted the
germs of a new intellectual life. The influence of France, England, and
Germany began to make itself felt. Corneille, Racine, and Voltaire
influenced Italian tragedy, while Molière, who himself had borrowed
largely from the early Italian comedies, now returned the favor by
becoming the master of Goldoni. English influence came later, first
Addison, Pope, and Milton, then toward the end of the eighteenth
century, Young, Gray, Shakespeare, and Ossian. Last of all came the
German influence, especially Klopstock and Goethe.

In this period of awakening the chief gain was in the field of the
drama. Up to the middle of the eighteenth century, Italy, in this branch
of literature, could not even remotely be compared with France, Spain,
or England. In the sixteenth century comedies had not been wanting, and
beside the purely Italian creation of improvised farce (now represented
in Punch and Judy shows, pantomimes, and harlequinades), Ariosto had
written literary comedies in close imitation of Plautus and Terence.
Yet, from Ariosto to Goldoni we find practically but one genuine writer
of comedy; this singularly enough, was Machiavelli, whose Mandragora was
enormously popular, and was declared by Voltaire to be better than
Aristophanes and but little inferior to Molière. But one book does not
make a literature any more than one swallow makes a summer. It was left
for Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) to give his country a number of comedies
worthy of being compared with those of Molière. Goldoni was a kindly,
amiable man of the world as well as of letters, bright and witty but
withal somewhat superficial. Although a keen observer of the outer form
of society and human nature, he lacked the depth and insight, and
especially the subtle pathos of Molière. He was greatly influenced by
the latter, whom he looked upon as his master. Like him he began with
light comedy, farcical in nature, and gradually produced more and more
comedies of manner and character. Yet he is not a slavish imitator of
the great Frenchman, to whom, while inferior in earnestness and
knowledge of the human heart, he was equal in dialogue, in development
of plot, and in comic talent. Goldoni composed rapidly (once he wrote
sixteen comedies in a year), and has left behind him one hundred and
sixty plays and eighty musical dramas and opera texts.

The musical drama is a peculiar Italian invention, and almost
immediately reached perfection in Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782), after
whom it began rapidly to decline. Metastasio was universally admired and
was, before Goldoni and Alfieri, the only Italian that had a European
reputation, and who thus won some measure of glory for his country in
her period of deepest degradation. His plays, meant to be set to
music--the modern opera text is a debased form of this--were
superficial, had no real delineation of character, yet were written in
verses which flowed softly along like a clear stream through flowery
meads. Light, artificial in sentiment, often lax in morals, yet
expressing the courtly conventionalities of the times, Metastasio's
poetry enjoyed vast popularity, while he himself became the favorite of
the aristocratic society of Vienna, where he lived for fifty years, and
the pride and glory of Italy. After him music became the all-important
element in this peculiar form of drama, which thus became the modern
opera, while the poetical element was degraded to the text thereof.

More famous, perhaps, than either the above was Alfieri, the founder of
modern Italian tragedy. In the intellectual movement of the sixteenth
century, tragedy, like comedy, had not been neglected, and many
translations and imitations had been made of the Greek and Latin
dramatists. The first regular tragedy, not only of Italian but of modern
European literature, was the Sofonisba of Trissino, which became the
model of all succeeding writers. Published first in 1524 it was soon
translated into all European languages and has been imitated, among many
others, by Corneille and Voltaire in France, Alfieri in Italy, and
Geibel in Germany. In spite of this promising beginning, however,
Italian tragedy did not develop as that of the neighboring countries
did. Among the numberless writers of tragedy in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries scarcely one deserves mention. In the early part
of the eighteenth century one name became famous, Scipio Maffei
(1675-1755) the immediate predecessor of Alfieri, whose Merope was
vastly popular throughout all Europe.

Yet Italy could not boast of a truly national drama before the
appearance of Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803), who gave her an honorable
rank in this department of the world's literature. The story of his
life, as told by himself in his autobiography, is exceedingly
interesting. Born in Asti, near Turin, of a noble family, after a youth
spent in idleness, ignorance, and selfish pleasure, he "found himself,"
at the age of twenty-six, and being fired with ambition to become a
poet, he began a long period of self-education, in which he made
especial effort to master the Italian language, which he, born in
Piedmont, and long absent abroad, only half understood. The rest of his
life was spent in this study and in writing his dramas.

In his reform of the Italian drama, Alfieri did not, like Manzoni later,
try to introduce Shakesperean methods. He went back to the tragic
system of the Greeks and tried to improve on the French followers of the
latter. He observed the three unities, especially that of action, even
more strictly than Corneille or even Racine. Hence his plays are
extraordinarily short (only one is of more than fifteen hundred lines).
The action moves on swiftly to the climax with no effort at mere
dramatic situation or stage effect.

Of especial interest are the subjects of Alfieri's tragedies, all of
them having a political or social tendency. They all express the
theories of the French philosophers then so popular in Italy, concerning
freedom and the rights of the people in opposition to the divine right
of kings. His heroes--Virginius, Brutus, Timoleon--all proclaim the
liberty of man. It is interesting to note that he dedicated one of his
plays to George Washington. To the reader of the present day even his
best plays--Virginia, Orestes, Agamemnon, Myrra, and Saul--seem
conventional, monotonous, and unreal. The characters are mere types of
passion or sentiment; there is no variety of action, no episodes, and no
poetical adornments. Yet in his own age Alfieri was regarded as a great
tragic poet, not only in his own country, but beyond the Alps. His
influence on Italian literature was very great. For the next two
generations there was scarcely a poet who did not admire and imitate
him. Parini, Foscolo, Monti, Manzoni, Leopardi, and Pellico, all looked
up to him as their master.

Alfieri was the first to speak of a fatherland, a united Italy; he
practically founded the patriotic school of literature which has lasted
down to the present time. Hence he is even more important from a
political standpoint than from a literary one. He himself looked on his
tragedies as a means of inspiring new and higher political ideas in his
fellow-countrymen, degraded as they had been by the long oppression of
Spain. "I wrote," he says, "because the sad conditions of the times did
not allow me to act."

The literature of the first half of the nineteenth century was dominated
by this political and patriotic spirit; Monti, Foscolo, Manzoni, and
Pellico, all wrote dramas in the spirit of Alfieri. Most of them,
however, are better known in other accounts. Foscolo, through his
letters of Jacopo Ortis, the Italian Werther, and his literary essays;
Pellico for his My Prisons; Manzoni for his Betrothed, one of the great
novels of modern times.

Greater than all of these, however, is Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), who
alone is worthy to be placed beside the four great Italian poets, Dante,
Petrarch, Ariosto, and Tasso, the last three of whom, at least, he might
under happier circumstances have equaled. The story of his life is a
pathetic one. Born of a family noble but poor, with a sensitive and
melancholy temperament, the circumstances of his life only added to his
morbid tendency, and after a brief existence, passed in sickness,
poverty, and gloom, he died. Leopardi was great as a poet, a
philosopher, and scholar. His Ode to Italy is one of the noblest poems
in the language, and his Solitary Shepherd of Asia, is full of
incomparable beauty.

Other names of this later period crowd upon our attention, in political
literature, Mazzini; in the novel, D'Azeglio, Cantù, Guerazzi, and
Gozzi; in history Botta, Balbo, and Cantù. But we must hasten to close
this brief survey, with merely mentioning the names of a few of the more
important writers of the present time; in poetry, Carducci, Ada Negri,
D'Annunzio; in the novel, which in Italy as elsewhere has usurped the
chief place, Fogazzaro, D'Annunzio. The latter, although still young,
is, next to Carducci, the most considerable figure in Italian literature
to-day. In his dramas, poetry, and novels he shows a wonderful command
of language and descriptive imagination, and at one time bid fair to
become a truly great writer. In his later works he shows retrogression
rather than progress, and the taint of immorality and a certain
exaggerated eccentricity of thought have vitiated his talent and tended
to destroy his popularity.


    1. Mention some causes of the degradation of Italian literature
    in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

    2. Describe the political and social condition of the country.

    3. Who was Marini?

    4. Name some of the early writers of Italian comedy.

    5. Life, character, and literary genius of Goldoni.

    6. What was the musical drama; who its greatest writer?

    7. Name two famous tragedies before the time of Alfieri.

    8. Give an account of the life of Alfieri.

    9. What is the general character of his plays?

    10. Alfieri's influence, what form did it take?

    11. Name some of his followers.

    12. Who was the greatest poet of the early nineteenth century?


    For the political and social condition of Italy during the
    period of decline see Symond's Catholic Reaction. Alfieri's
    Autobiography, an intensely interesting book, has been often
    published in English. For modern literature see Howell's Modern
    Italian Poets, Sewall's translations from Carducci, and Greene's
    Italian Lyrists of To-day.


  Accius, 5.

  Alexander, 7.

  Alfieri, Vittorio, 341, seq.

  Alighieri, Dante, 195, seq.; 299, 313, 337.

  Andronicus, 4, 39, 119.

  Angelo, Michel, 335.

  Annales, 124.

  Anselm, 179.

  Apollodorus, 39.

  Aquinas, St. Thomas, 180, 256, 263.

  Arezzo, Guittone d', 184, seq.

  Argo, 7.

  Argonautæ, 7.

  Ariosto, 191, Chap. VI. works; 303, 322, 335.

  Aristophanes, 39.

  Bandello, Matteo, 335.

  Beatrice, 197, 204, 206, seq.

  Bellum, Punicum, 119.

  Bembo, Pietro, 335.

  Benivieni, Girolamo, 189.

  Berni, Francesco, 335.

  Boccaccio, 196, 267, Chap. V. works; 286, seq.; 299, 335, 337.

  Boiardo, 191, 300, seq.; 322.

  Bonaventura, St., 180.

  Bracciolini, Poggio, 297.

  Cæsar, 82, 90, 129.

  Calvo, Bonifaccio, 182.

  Carducci, 345.

  Castiglione, Baldasarre, 335.

  Cato, 9, 72, 122.

  Catullus, 128.

  Cavalcanti, 193, seq.

  Cellini, Benvenuto, 335.

  Cervantes, 314.

  Chanson, de geste, 190, 299.

  Chaucer, 286, seq.; 289.

  Chiabrera, 339.

  Ciani, Gioachino, 286.

  Cicero, 129.

  Cino da Pistoia, 193.

  Cinzio, Giraldo, 335.

  Colonna, Vittoria, 335.

  Convito, 205.

  Cratinus, 39.

  Damian, Peter, 179, 257.

  Daniel, Arnaut, 184.

  D'Annunzio, 345.

  Dante da Majano, 193.

  Decameron, 287, seq.

  Dies, Iræ, 188.

  Divine Comedy, 205, Chap. III., 316.

  Domitian, 106.

  Domitius, 9.

  Eclogues of Vergil, 130.

  Ennius, 5, 74;
    epitaph of, 75; 121.

  Epicharmus, 74.

  Eupolis, 39.

  Fabulæ prætextæ, 5.

  Fasani, 188.

  Ficino, Marsilio, 297.

  Filicaja, 339.

  Firenzuola, 335.

  Flagellants, 188, seq.

  Foscolo, 343, 344.

  Francesca da Rimini, 203, 221.

  Frederick II., 182, seq.

  Fulvius, 122, 123.

  Georgics of Vergil, 130.

  Gianni, Lapo, 193.

  Goldoni, Carlo, 339.

  Guarini, 335.

  Guelphs and Ghibellines, 198, seq.

  Guicciardini, 335.

  Guinicelli, Guido, 185, seq.; 247.

  Hesiod, 72.

  Horace, 72, 80.

  Italian Renaissance, 314, 335.

  Jacopone da Todi, 189.

  Jerusalem Delivered, 304, 322, seq.

  Juvenal, 105.

  Lanfranc, 179.

  Latini, Brunetto, 196, 227.

  Laudi, 189.

  Laura, 269, seq.

  Leopardi, Giacomo, 344.

  Lombard, Peter, 179.

  Lucan, 9.

  Lucilius, 72, 73, 75, 76, 128.

  Lucretius, 128.

  Machiavelli, Nicholas, 335, 340.

  Mæcenas, 83, 91, 92, 95, 130.

  Maffei, Scipio, 342.

  Manzoni, 343, 344.

  Marini, 339.

  Marsili, Luigi, 297.

  Maternus, 9.

  Menander, 39.

  Metastasio, Pietro, 341.

  Mirandola, Pico della, 298.

  Nævius, 5, 40, 119.

  Nardi, 335.

  New Life, The, 206, seq.

  Octavia, 9.

  Odyssey, 4, 119.

  OEnomaus, 8.

  Orlando, 300;
    Innamorato, 301;
    Furioso, 303;
    seq., 316.

  Ovid, 9, 72.

  Pacuvius, 5.

  Paris, 7.

  Pellico, 343, 344.

  Persius, 99.

  Petrarch, Chap. IV., 299, 335, 337.

  Petroni, Pietro de', 285.

  Pharsalia of Lucan, 127.

  Philemon, 39.

  Plautus, 40.

  Politian, 298, 299.

  Pollio, 8, 91.

  Pomponius Secundus, 9.

  Porto Luigi da, 335.

  Provençal, 173, 182, seq.

  Ptolemaic system, 216, 217.

  Pulci, Luigi, 191, 299.

  Punica, of Silius, 127.

  Sallust, 129.

  Salutati, Coluccio, 297.

  Sannazaro, 335.

  Sarpi, 339.

  Seneca, 9.

  Sordello, of Mantua, 182, 241.

  Speculum Majus, 180.

  Stabat Mater, 189.

  St. Francis, 187, 256.

  Tacitus, 107.

  Tasso, 298, Chapter VII.
    Works, 322, 337.

  Terence, 40.

  Testi, 339.

  Thebaid, of Statius, 127.

  Thomas, of Celano, 188.

  Thyestes, 9.

  Uberti, Farinata degli, 225.

  Ulysses, 230.

  Universal Monarchy, 205;
    political treatise on, 206.

  Vaqueiras, Rambaud de, 181.

  Varchi, 335.

  Varius, 8, 9.

  Varro, 72, 128.

  Vasari, 335.

  Vergil, 9, 72, 91, 128, Chap. III.

  Vico, 339.

  Vidal, Pierre, 181.

  Vigne, Pier delle, 183.

  Vincent of Beauvais, 180.

  Works and Days, 72.

  Zorzi, Bartolomeo, 182.

Transcriber's Notes

This is the second part of a larger work. The first part is
"Studies in the Poetry of Italy, I. Roman" by Frank Justus Miller.
References in the index to pages earlier than 173 refer the first part.

Page 261

'among the men and woman'

'woman' is likely 'women'. Unchanged.

Page 273

'noonday' rather that 'noon-day' as used elsewhere.


Page 302

'Rinaldo, and the latter's sister, Brandiamente,'

Brandiamente also spelled Brandiamante. Unchanged.

Page 302

'Other important characters are Astolfo, Rodomonte,'

Rodamonte also spelled Rodomonte. Unchanged.

Pages 305-315

Medoro and Medore are used interchangeably. Unchanged.

Page 313

'Roger and Brandiamante, the former a pagan,'

Brandiamente also spelled Brandiamante. Unchanged.

Page 313

on his wedding day, slays Rodamonte,

'Rodamonte also spelled Rodomonte. Unchanged.'

Page 315

'For the romatic poets,'

May be 'romantic' vice 'romatic'. Unchanged.

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