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ry longer , since its inhabitants were none of them recognised ) they 6nd a hole with a gush of nauseous waters: these being apparently that gloomy \cheron which we saw encompassing the first Circle, and which (from its never having been noticed since ) we may suppose had performed a subterranean course as far as this point; where it seems to have eaten away a hole, that renders its conduit a little visible. Its ' flood of sorrow' then tumbles along; till, spouting out below, it forms the fifth Circle or Stygian lake. Into this fifth Circle Virgil and Dante descend, and find the Stygian lake to be the place of punishment for the crime of anger: and with the more propriety is this classic name given, because the Ancients believed Styx to be symbolical of the very same vice (0.
As to the dimensions of this fifth Circle, they are similar to the preceding ones, viz: it is i4 mile* deep and (in its net diameter) i7 J wide. But it* form is different. Immediately under the wall runs a narrow path, forming an exterior border to the lake: and the interior circumference instead of being, as heretofore, the brink of a pit, presents us with a circular fortification inclosing that horrid town which is to form the sixth Circle both
the fifth and sixth Circle being on a level. This
(i) Stygem quicquid inter se hum a nos animos in gurgite mergit odiorum . Macrob. in Som. Scip. lib. i. cap. i0.
enough in this poem to certify that he would have changed his style, though not sentiments; for these were strikingly an union ( to repeat my former words ) of entire fidelity to his own Church with much tolerance towards that of others (0. If bribery, plunder, extortion, and all the enormities of avarice and debauch were displayed by pseudo-republicans, and free discussion interdicted by pseudo-philosophers, it is them that our poet, who was truly both a philosopher and a republican, would have reprobated: for the context of all his writings justify the assertion, that it was manifestly to the beneficial or pestilential nature of men's actions that he attended, anrl not to see by what rank or garb the actors were distinguished military or clerical 'whether by toga or cassock , bonnet or tonsure (a).
P. — LTII.
Virgil, having given a negative to Dante's question whether any of those shades were to be recognised , goes on to tell him of the appearance which their bodies shall present when rising from the grave on the last day. The Avaricious shall be seen with 'clenched hand' (col pugno aMliso):
(i) Hell, Comment, Canto n,p. 87.
(a) Sive ille Episcopus , sive sit laicus; Imperator et dominus, nut miles et servus, aut in purpura , ant in serico , ant in vilissimn panno jaceat; non honorum diversitate, sod operam memo judicabilur. Febronius, de statu Ecclesias, p. 77*.
and this is the expression which, I already said, should be understood even of the semblances of bodies(0, the ghosts, after (perche tieni ? ) ' why keep?' The prodigals shall rise to judgment with
bald crowns' (co'crin mozzi ): which may
refer either to the Italian ' they have shaved him' (1'hanno pelato), the proverbial mode of designating a man ruined by his excesses; or else to the medical observation that premature baldness is generally the consequence of a wild, extravagant life. This want of hair is not to be referred to the tonsures, or shaven heads, of the Romish clergy as twice before alluded to in verse xxxix and Xlvi. It is only the prodigals that are to rise with 'bald crowns;' whereas the Clergy, though accused both of avarice and prodigality , were more characteristically guilty of the former vice. Then whatever resemblance appear between the figures, this present one has nothing to do with either of the preceding (»).
•Evil spending and evil hoarding robbed them
(i) La vanita die par persona. Inf. Canto vi. v. 36.
(») This resemblance is not muclr in the Italian. Neither the technical term cuerruti, nor roperchio piloso al capo (which is only applicable to the npprr part of the head and is thus svnonimous with chercnti, •tonsured') h.is a similar signification with crin mozzi—which last expression refers to the entire hrad ofhair as being cut or torn off. But Mr. Gary's " whose heads are shorn,"" that with no hairv cowls arc crowned" and "those with close-shaven locks" all seem synonimes. ClRTO TII.
of the beautiful world' is the verbal exposition. Most annotators interpretet ' beautiful world ', Paradise: but some (amongst whom lam one) think it signifies this beautiful, natural world (0. That both misers and prodigals render it a joyless scene with regard both to themselves and others, is most true; for those deprive themselves of pleasure, and these become callous to the sense of it. I have preferred putting this obvious interpretation on the text to that usually given (avarice and prodigality shut all these wretches out of Paradise), because Virgil need scarcely have told that to Dante, who sees them in hell; and besides, it were a repetition of what has been said so often. Indeed when it is added, that, to explain the sadness of their present plight requires 'no varnish of words' (parole non ci appulcro), since it is visible of itself, we naturally reflect that to tell us they are not in Paradise is also superfluous; since we behold them in this Tartarean hell, whose very nature is to be eternal to its occupants. But the passage, as I understand it, conveys a fine moral verity, and one not mentioned before.
'In no production of any follower of the Muse (says M. Ginguene") 'is there a picture of Fortune superior to the one now before us, perhaps not
(i) Alcuui espongono mondo pnlcro i beni mondani, i quali di lor natura son belli. Landino, Comento , p. 43.
even in that fine ode of'Horace ( O Diva gratum quae regis Antium) than which there is nothing finer, on the same subject, in ancient poetry (0.' Instead of considering such praise over-rated, I would remove the perhaps. Yet we must reflect that, when Dante wrote, the current philosophy, but particularly astronomy was very different from what it is at present: so»that to prevent the passage in question from seeming abstruse, it is requisite to recollect the philosophical system on which it reposes; and for that purpose we may consult Dante's own words in the Convito.
'It is almost uniformly believed that there are several heavens; and that they are directed in their motion by several intelligences, in commoner language spirits, or Angels. That on such subjects little can be positively demonstrated to human reason is true; yet that little (says the Philosopher) is calculated to impart more delight, than the investigations in which we can obtain mathematical evidence. As to the number of heavens, much have opinions varied. Aristotle, and many old astronomers, reckoned the remotest of them from us that of the fixed stars; beyond which it was held there was nothing. Ptolemy perceiving that that eighth sphere or heaven moved with more than a single motion (and being constrained by that philosophical principle, which
(i) Hist. I.ilI. d' Italic , vol. u. p. 69.