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strictly Christian, and the other a picture for a most celebrated Christian temple . I know not whether such authorities are decisive: but it will be pardonable to think so , until some poet, painter, philosopher,or preacher present us with a less imperfect emblem of a region of everlasting misery than any of which the world is yet possessed .
U. —— Cxii.
This metaphor is from the Aeneid — Quam multa in sylvis autumni frigore primo Lapsa cadunt foglia (>).... but it has not so perfect an application there, as here: for Virgil designates only the number of the ghosts by it, but Dante both their number and the gradual manner in which they drop down into the boat; for autumnal leaves do not fall together,
but by little and little ad una ad una
according as they acquire full maturity, until at last each branch has rendered up all its rol>es to mother earth: so that I think M. Biagioli has a right to call this passage superiore di gran lunga a quella del Poeta Latino (a).
The original of this too belongs to Virgil, and forms the continuation of the verses cited in the last comment
.... aut ad terrain gurgite ab alto
Quam multae glomerantur aves, ubi frigidus annus
Trans pontum fugat et terris immittit apricis.
The common way of understanding com' augel per suo richiamo (') (and in my opinion certainly the true one) is ' as birds to their decoy.' For augel is here a noun collective, as avis is in Aquino's translation of the same passage
inque arctos sociae velut illice cantu
Se laqueos adstringit avis, mala gurgitis atri Progenies sic complet aquas: and richiamo means not only what hawkers call technically a lure, but a bird-call, or anything used to decoy birds Here then Dante alluded to a field sport, which was, and is still common in Italy: and if his phraseology must be allowed to be inharmonious and jejune in comparison with his sweet original (3), yet the idea suggested by him is more apposite as a metaphor, and as poetical in itself. It was bold and good taste to
(i) Come gli nccelletti si gittano al paretajo, o al boschetto invitati dal canto degli augelli di gabbia, o per altro suono . Biagioli, Veaturi, ec, ec.
(a) Qualunque allettamento al quale si gittano per natura gli uccelli. Vocabolario §. i.
(3) It may not however be fastidious criticism to remark , that apricis in the Latin introduces a confusion of images. The sorrowful condition of the ghosts was the matter to be impressed, and therefor* any thing suggesting a pleasing notion was at best superfluous. The Homeric application of the similitude is liable to no such objection. In leaving out apricis, did not Dante borrow from Virgil with more discrimination, than Virgil from Homer?
display something of gentle sorrow without pain
duol senza martiri; and the Hell -of-holy
fathers be quite free from either pain or sorrow —^— ne trista, as we shall see a few tiercets farther on. Here we are still in the Hell-of-Children; so this line D'infanti e di femmine e di viri is only an expletive mode of saying innumerable crowds of infants of both sexes: and in this persuasion I translate it 'babies males and maids (').' To do otherwise would confuse the topography of which Dante is so curious an observer,and which the accompanying drawing gives .
The Hell-of Children extends'not far from the bank' or vestibule (dal sommo) which our travellers had descended: and, since they could have no interest to particularise any of those nameless innocents, it is evident they must be drawing very close to the second division , or at least in full sight of it, when they begin to think it worth while to ' scan the shades' Che spiriti son questi ? To whom
(i) Mr. Cary by translating "men, women, and infanta," and indeed by his whole version, confounds these two divisions which are easily traced in the text. The first is this; the second begins to be seen at vidi un fuoco ec. v. 88. He aeems to have been totally unaware of the existence of any such divisions, and therefore mixed them together past distinguishing. But in truth they form two rings or circlets into which this first Circle is divided all round — per tutta la estensione (all the parts of Dante's Hell being thus circular, as Lombardi justly observes), and are separated regularly by a stream and seven wall*. y. i07.
B ird s eye view of ttie £irst Circle of Hell.
A . Its first division ,or Hell - of-Ck ild re n .
B . Its second, or Hell-of-Holy-Fathers , or Elyslum .
1 \ C. Vestibule of Hell .
3 [ H . Tartarus .
V Seven walls.
8- Stream .
o_ Seven (Sates.