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that it becomes susceptible of a variety of explications (0. The epithet given to llion in the Italian
is superbo a literal translation of ceciditque
superbum Ilium (a).
P. —— LXXXTII.
In this pathetical burst of encomium, of which the style is so beautiful, (3) Dante however is not unfair to himself; for, though he avows his having had a master in style, it is Style alone that is specified. He must have been conscious, that, in still higher qualities, he had neither the will nor the genius that employs itself in imitating others. As inventor, he could not but have felt himself vastly superior to Virgil; of whom Macrobius, nowise unjustly, remarks, that he scarcely inserted an incident in any of his works without having a model in Homer-, Apollonius, Pindar, or some other Greek; and that on the only occasion when he appears to have been reduced to his own contrivance he succeeded badly; for that the wounding of a stag and a consequent tumult among country churls is no adequate cause for the breaking out of a war of such importance and all the mighty events to ensue the fall of Turn us and the fouu
(i) Artis eat interdum sic loqui ut io plureia santeotias trahi possuanus. Com.
(a) Aencid. lib. 3. r. ».
(3) Lo bello stile: Oui certes un beau ttyle, tt le plna bean qu'ait employ^ aucun pocte drpuis que Virgile lui merae avait cess* de a* fair* eDteodre. Hist. Litt, d'ltalie. Vol. a. p. 3o.
C I STO I
ding of Rome (0. Indeed if invention be the highest gift of poetry, (and that it is we have the authority of Dryden ) then has Dante hut two rivals in that art, Homer, and Shakespere. If the rest
are poets, this triumvirate are vates.
This verse is sometimes cited to prove the circulation of the blood to he no recent discovery of Harvey; and the citation acquires speciousness from the fact of physic having been one of Dante's favorite studies. A french review CO. seems to think that M. Biagioli was the first to advance such a pretension ; but therein it makes a mistake (3).
In one of the oldest comments, bearing date r343, that is, only 22 years after Dante's decease, or indeed the very oldest , ( unless those left by Dante's own children , Peier and Jacob Alighieri, preceded it, which , in my mind, is improbable) it is asserted, that the best instructed men were then of opinion , that it was impossible to decide who was meant by the hound (*). Similar indecisi
(i) Saturn, lib 5. Cap. i", Aeneid. lib. 7.
(a) Le Journal des Savans.
(3) Magalotti. Lett. Vol. i.
(4) Chi (ia questo Veltro non e diffiuito, ed e pretermesio da mold valenti Uomioi.
Bib. Rice. Cod. i0i6.
on is displayed by both of the younger Alighieri: Peter, after observing it was a very contested point, de quo tantum quaeritur adds, it was a prediction of the birth of some illustrious personage,
but whom he knows not pracdicit nascere et
surgere quemdam plenum sapientiae; (0 Jacob is of opinion, that hound was inserted merely for the sake of its contra-distinction to wolf, these being
animals naturally enemies, veltro per contrario
della lupa 00. Boccaccio, a little later, owned equal ignorance; although hinting a suspicion of some individual being personified (3). So true is my former observation, that this entire allegory was either mis-understood from the beginning, or soon en" tirely forgot, or sedulously kept secret by the early annotators; and was afterwards interpreted by the moderns, as best suited their own interests, caprice or prejudice. Laudino and others say, that the hound means Christ; at whose second coming, between the heavens, (this being the mystical signification they give Feltri) avarice and every other vice shall be re-consigned to the bottomless pit: or else a certain benign conjunction of the planets calculated by Dante, who is reported even
(5) Bib. Laureuziana .
Plut. XL. Cod. 38.
(6) Id. Id. Cod. Io.
(7) Manifestamente confesso ch'io Odd 1' iatendo,.... ma pare intendere altro che noo dica la fettera .
Com. Vol. i. pp. 47—88.
by his son Peter, (though I know not on what ground) to have been, like his master, Virgil ,
a great astrologer nunc vult se ostendere
in judieiis astrologicis scientem; 'which conjunct tion', adds Landino,'! have myself, by a new calculation, verified as undoubtedly to take place at two minutes past eight, on the morning of November the twenty-fifth, i484; for then Saturn and Jove will so meet in the Scorpion, as to prognosticate, with infallible certainty, some mighty change in religion; and , since Jove will be ascendant over Saturn, we may further predict, that, that change will be an amelioration; and will be brought about by a Prince, to be born at the above moment, or else by some other species of potent influence, then to commence'(8): or, finally,
(8) Certo nell'anno i484 il dl t5 Novemhre, or: iS, minut:4i, tale sara la conjuctione di Saturno e di Giove nello Scorpione net asceadente del qninto grado della libra, la quale dimostrera mutazione di Religione: e, perche Gioveprevale a Saturuo, signifies , che tale mutazioue sara iu meglio. Questo io veggio, e pero il narro .
Ed. della Magna, fol. Fir. i48i.
Tbis odd prophecy of Landino , put forth in such a tone of confi. deuce, having seemingly attracted no notice in the thickly printed volume wherein it occurs , I had the curiosity to try how it could he applied, and found , to my surprise, that, Luther was born in the November of i484,0n the twenty-second, according to his mother, which differs from the prediction by three days; but Bayle informs us, that she owned she conld not affirm the date with absolute precision . I know Luther's foes are said to have pretended , that they had drawn opprobrious horoscopes of his birth: but such prejudices could not have dictated the present one , for Landino died in i5o4 , that is, a dozen years before Luther began to attract attention; besides this is a favourable, rather than a diffamatory piediction, and will please luaro I.
that Dante might have only intended to poze his readers and start matter for ingenious controversy, as Virgil did in one of his compositions (0. The history of the affair is, that, Dante was at that time busy in seeking for some champion to oppose the usurping spirit of the Papal court; and therefore, if he personified the later as a she wolf, it is likely, that the hound was a personification of the champion he had selected . This agrees very well with what is the common opinion now; that
the Veltro 'Greyhound' of the text is put
for Cane , 'dog'; and that, therefore, the individual meant is a prince of Verona known hy the title of Can grande della Scala. He is said to be born mid the 'Feltri', because (remarks Venturi)
neither his friends or foes. Since theu Landino was neither a Magician, nor a reputed Prophet, what can be done better than repeat Cicero's sentence——'a whimsical coincidence of what is foretold and what really comes to pass sometimes happens, otherwise not even an old woman would be superstitious'. The prophecy was known to Sterne(Slanken : tale) but not its origin or date, nor the prophecv itself correctly, for he attributes to it the error of a year, by calling it i*83, whereas we see it was really and truly i484. He adds, that, Luther was born in December and not November ; it may be so, hnt Dayle decides for the latter. For Sterne to have ridiculed the prediction was qnite fair; as well as to have thought it made after the event, if he had never seen Landino's book. If he had, he must have admired the fortuitous veri Bcatiou of the horoscope, even while despi sing both the astrologer and his art: for not only before Lnther became known, did Landino die; but he put his calculation to a fair trial, by divulging it long previous to the period it pretended to foretel; that is , the first edition of his comment, now on my table, was printed and pubblished in August i48i , or above three years before Luther was born. This hypothesis thnn makes Dante's hound Luther. ^i) Jam redit ct virgo. Eel, 4.