Imagens das páginas

* «*HTO r.

either cum clamore, or cum stridore: for the former sense is the usual one, but this latter is the one. conveyed by the lai of Dante. That lai here means 'sorrowing lays' is certain from the context: whatever etymology we give the word (0. It vindicates Homer for itcontrastshis two similesas much as the Trojans and Greeks by makingxAavyij mean querulous murmurs (cum stridore), while KXwyyyiS ov may retain its common acceptation of exulting cries. What could be more correctly applied to an unmilitary advance than those, or to the joyous disembarking of a fine army than these? Mr. Pope recognized no such distinction , and so translated noise in both places:

Now light with noise . . .

With noise and order .... His interpolation of order, in the second passage, is to make the opposition between the two similes consist in the disorder of the birds on one occasion, and their order on the other; as if the similitudes were otherwise defective, from the total absence of contrast: but it were enough to have accompanied noise with sprcifiying epithets ( as joyful , and querulous ) without introducing an idea not perceptible in the Greek. Moreover disorder is thus attributed to the Greeks, and order to the Trojans; for at " Cayster's springs " the cranes fly about

(i) Boccaccio interprets it vers! di lamentaiione. Comento, Vol. i. p. »90. and Dante himself uses it in the same signification in hit Creed , pianti, stridi, ed infiniti lai. Credo, p. i4i.


disorderly, and it is in their passage that they assume order. Homer scarcely intended that these similes should have more than one strict application that of the cries made. Like cranes cried

both G1eeks and Trojans; but those exulting in their native marshes, and these flying from dreary

winter which ominous screaming is in strong

opposition to the manly silence of his favourites when marching to battle

Ol &' up i<rctv <rryy , /xevsx Tvsiavrs?- Ayyuo't. Rut Dante could not have made y,?.xyyV{ mean 'sorrowing lnys', had he (instead of borrowing from the original hellenic ) had recourse to Virgil's copies; for in these there is nothing sorrow/itl, and the cries of the cranes are described as happy and canorous on both occasions. The first is canoros

1)ant per colla modus: sonat amms, et Asia longe

Pulsa palus (■)....

the second

Strymoniae <lant signa grues, atqne sethera tranant Cum sonitu, fugiuntque notos clamore sccundo (*). Twice already have I spoken of Dante's knowledge of Greek (3) ( a knowledge probably confined td a

very few books certainly he had no greek Aris

totle); artd cited out of his Monarchia greek writteu in greek characters; to which may be added

(i) Arncid. Lib, vn. T joo— Macrobius, Saturnalia, Lib. v. Cap. Tin. (a) Id. Lib. x. v. »65 — Id. Id. Id. Cap. x.

(3) Hell, CommtDt, Camo in p. ig<j — C*uto i». p. »Si


<,\»ro r.

crowds of greek words (as alios, coroos (0) in Roman letters; a mode of writing lately proposed

for general adoption in the study of all the oriental tongues , without its being known that he had already realized the project with respect to Greek; and (as we shall see ) to Hebrew and Arabic. I at the same time noticed his familiarity with the Iliad and Odyssey, and quoted his own affirmation to prove he had never seen a Latin translation of those poems: so, be it asked again , in what language could he have read them:'




The manner in which the darkness of this circle is inculcated hy ' the gloom, 'the ' muteness of light,'etc. is to prevent our being surprised at Dante's dubious mode of apostrophizing Francesca and Paul, or at her thinking it necessary to state who she was. It is to prepare ns for her ap pearance that the eminent characters, now about to be seen, are introduced. The first of them is Semi ram is , the mightiest of female sovereigns, foundress of the Assyrian monarchy, who conquered the Medes and Persians, and India, and all the east, who led into the field auarmy of three millions of foot, fifty thousand horse, and a hundred thousand chariots, and was, in fine, buildress (after Nim rod) of the renowned Babylon "the golden cup

(i) EpistoU Danti« D K G. de Scaln . p. i.


i:\nro T.

that made.nations drunk, that dwelt upon many waters and abounded in treasures, and at whose fall the very earth was moved (0; "of the city to which ancient Rome and modern London were but pigmies. Yet these were the works of centuries; whereas Babylon is represented as having been for the most part, founded and finished by the self-same Semiramis. 'Asa proof of her marvellous activity' ( says Boccaccio (a).)' we have the story, that, being engaged at her mirror when the tidings of a rebellion reached her, she started up with one half of her hair platted, and, hurrying to arms, finished the Campaigu successfully before platting the remainder; which the returned to her mirror to do, as soon as the war was ended: in which posture, of platting her hair, the Was represented in a statue that for ages remained in Babylon .' Dante commemorates her anew in his Monarchia(3), citing a verse from Ovid in her honor. Yet, in spite of such elevated merits, history accuses her of having possessed a large share of frailty; and of even having made a law to authorize many of her amatory practises.

N. , un.

Dante, in his account of Dido, follows his master, Virgil; to whom she would surely express her

(i) Jeremiah, Chap. fx.

(a) Comento, vol. i. p. aa3.

(J) ... murU cinxis Semicramis Urbtm. Monarchia, Lib. n. p. 49



gratitude for the sweet imbalming of her name, if she be supposed to bear human feelings in the other world, or could she come back to this: for she would not,I think, relinquish that immortality of pity, for the best reputation given her by accurate chronologists . These prove she could not possibly have committed any breach of decorum with Aeneas, since she was not his cotemporary: still is it her supposed adventure with him that endears her to posterity; and painters, actors, and statuaries agree in transmitting the story of her interesting error; though, Macrobius remarks, they have been always well aware of its falshood;

such influence has a poet's eloquence! tantum

valuit pulchritudo narrandi(O. Her real catastrophe is however far from being void of interest: and it engaged Petrarch to give her a conspicuous place in one of his Triumphs, as a victim, not of lawless love, but of exemplary chastity (a).'The widow Dido,' according to this account, committed her suicide for, not a living, but a dead Lord: and such was her fidelity to the manes of Sicchaeus, that, when compelled by her subjects to yield her hand to the king of Mauritania, she required a few days delay before the consummation of her marriage,

(0 Saturoalia, Lib. T. Cap. i-].

(a) Taccia il volgo ignorante: io dico Dido

Cui studio d'onestate a morte spinse

Noil amor ....

Trionfo della Castiti, p. n4.

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