« AnteriorContinuar »
present Canto, by proving clearly that he had not entered into its spirit. But particularly when he applies the term vilei') to Ciacco, it is not to he denied, that be hazards a most manifest interpolation. Dante ( whose business was not to degrade his jocund countryman, but to point out the evils of luxury) seems to have done what he could to prevent this mistake; for he greets him in a most friendly manner, melting at the sufferings of one , whose brilliant and harmless mirth he had probably long known, loved, and admired; although he could not but condemn as a patriot what he. had smiled at as a companion .
Boccaccio tells a story in his Decameron (») about one Ciacco; but whether he means precisely the same person of whom Dante is now speaking, is not quite certain: nor indeed is it so, whether Ciacco was not a surname. That it was synonimous withporco, pig, is probable, but not absolutely proved (3); and even if it were-so, that would not establish that it was expressive of the disposition of him who bore it, any more than with us Mr. Smith indicates his employment by his appellation. Although Ciacco might have heen once, like such English titles, conferred as a characterise
(i) Enfin 1' on n'aime pas a le voir donner del larmes au »ort dece *U Ciacco. Hilt. Litt. Vol. a. p. S3.
(2) Giorn. 9. Nov. 8.
(3) Ciacco nella volgar lingua nnl tempo di Dante sembra voleise •tir porce . Poggiaii , Ed. Li Torn. Vol. 3. p. 8i.
tic, it might, like them , have hecome hereditary before Dante's day; and that no family called Ciacco appears in Villani, ( nor, as far as I have observed, in any of the Priorists ) is no proof of there not having been any such; because it might have been used to designate, not an entire family, but a particular branch of one (as was frequently the case), and no registry of family names can well be
verified farther back than the year i3oo the
date of the present poem. But it appears impossible either that Dante would have applied the term 'pig to such a pleasing, inoffensive individual, as Landino pictures Ciacco to have been; or that to one meriting such an ignominous reproach he would have conceded the honor of a tear, as we shall see he does in the next tiercet but one. We must allow then, that the identity of this gentleman escapes us: it is of small consequence; and it suffices to know that he possessed both rank, good nature and wit, and was a frequenter of the tables of the rich and gay, and moved in the widest circle of fashion , to enable us to gather , that no fitter person could be selected to inform us of the domestic politics of his native city. The chiefs of the day might have returned a partial answer to Dante's queries; but the festive Ciacco, who had laughed with, and at the conflicting factions, had no undue bias; nor was the lesson taught through such a medium less emphatic. A few tiercets lower down, wc shall therefore find f.iNIO VI.
him predict the guilt and misfortunes of Florence p
I presume never was an epithet applied more appropriately, than this of divided to the city of Florence.
Two distinct questions are put to Ciacco, that shall be answered as distinctly: what is to be the fate of Florence? and contains it not a single just and righteous man, for whose sake it might be spared? So of old Abraham urged to the Lord: "Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?
and the Lord said , if I find in Sodom fifty
righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes ." The whole of this xviu of Genesis is highly interesting.
Recollecting that this descent is supposed to have taken place early in i3oo, it will follow, that the events to which Ciacco now refers (and which lam about to relate,) make a poetical prophecyr for none of them occurred before 13oo , some of them even after i3oa, the period of Dante's exile; so that (if he was advanced farther than this in the composition of the Divine Comedy before his exile, as, I think, shall be clearly substantiated) whatever portious of them were posterior to tioa CtHT* VI.
are necessarily in the predicament of having been inserted into the Canto long after it had been written ; a mode ( as I have shown ) probably followed with respect to Lucia of Prato-vecchio, and possibly too with respect to the epoch selected for the opening of the poem (0.
The close of the thirteenth century saw Florence in a more flourishing state than she had ever attained, or is likely to attain again . The dispersion of the Ghibellines in the battle of Campaldino ten years before left theGuelphs in undisturbed possession of the government; there were no strifes either between the nobles themselves, or the nobility and the people; the revenue was considerable; public works were erecting; all Tuscany was in obedience, partly as allies, partly subjects; and even within sound of the city tocsin could be mustered, at a moment's warning, no less an
army than a hundred thousand men, thirty
thousand inside of the walls and seventy thousand in the immediate vicinity. But this felicity was not permanent. It was the fifteenth of April of the very year i3oo, that a tavern altercation between two hot young men (Amadore and Carlino Can
(i) Hell, Comment, Canto i. p. 8. — Cart to n. p. i47. M. Sisraondi ridicules fairly enough the dogmatism with which tome argue; a* if a poet must necessarily begin with the first verse of his poem and proceed regularly, verse by verse, to the last. Dante better than any one (from the independaut nature of his Cantos ) might go backward and forward, and retouch, without the risk of breach of connexion , and probably often did. Hitt. des Repub. Ital. Vol. iv. p. i85.
(a) Hell, Comment. Canto i. p. 7.
• 4HTO Tl.
cellieri) of the same name and near relatives, in the little town of Pistoja, (effecting a mischief in no proportion with so insignificant a cause) sowed the speedy ruin of the illustrious and powerful Florentine republicCi). The Cancellieri were a family of not very high lineage, but so rich, that they were considered as by far the most powerful in Pistoja, and scarcely inferior to any in Tuscany; boasting of eighteen knights of the gold spur, and a hundred valiant men at arms. Their commou ancestor was a merchant, who, besides an immense fortune, left a very numerous issue by two wives; one of whom being named (Bianca) White, the other was called (Nera) Black ; and their respective children were designated by similar appellations (»). In that drunken squabble one of the Blacks, young Amadore , having been slightly wounded , and disdaining to take revenge on the youth who was the offendor (Carlino, the White), lay in wait that evening with an intention to murder the first of the same party who should pass by: and a certain
(i) Maccbiavelli, 1st. Fior. Lib. a. p. 85 Gio. VilUuj, Lib rm.
(a) Fioravanti affirmt that their true names were Nera and Bianca , and gives the genealogical tree. That one should have been called Bianca by right, and her successor acquire, on that account, the name Nera , is natural; but if so strange a coincidence occurred, as that they had those opposite appellations from their child-hood, we may suppose it ominous of the unnatural factions that were to ensue . Other chroniclers however attribute other origins to those terms: as Ferretti Vicen. (Rer. Ital. Scrip. T. tx.) who deduces them from two brothers, one with black and the other with light hair. Fior. Mem. 1st. di Pistoja. p. 248.