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promising then to go to her husband. The time was employed in erecting a vast funeral pile in the midst of Carthage: and she, at the appointed hour, attired like a queen, and attended by a solemn procession of her court and nation, (who deemed the sacrifice an expiation to be offered to the deceased monarch before her new nuptials) proceeded to the scaffolding; and, leaving her train at its foot, ascended alone, where, after having pronounced this short harangue, 'Citizens! I keep my promise; 1 go to my husband, ' her own royal dagger sheathed itself in her heart(0.
Cleopatra, 'daughter of the sun, she who in Egypt bound Caesar with a wreath of flowers, the queen scorning a Roman triumph (»),' was herself triumphed over by illicit love: yet, with all her errors, she had virtues that extracted encomium from her mortal enemy (3).
Helen too appears in the assemblage selected to
(i) Justin, ap. Genealogia Deor. Lib. a. Cap. So.
(a) Trionfo d' Ainore. Cap. i.
(3) She shall be buried by her Anthony;
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them ; and their story is
No less in pity , than his glory, which
Brought them to be lamented.
Ant. and Cleop. Act. T. Scene the lilt.
prepare us for the young Italian couple; Helen — $& yvvuiKwv — the goddess of womankind , the Spartan Queen whose resistless beauty made even old Priam exclaim, though prescient of the destruction she was bringing on his house ,
. . . no wonder such celestial charms For nine long years have set the world in arms ('). When describing her juvenile appearance, previous to her first misadventure with the Prince of Athens, Boccaccio is eloquent.'Sculptors, aided by the verses of Homer, and by the union of the separate perfections of a multitude of females, endeavoured, but in vain, to form an ideal beauty that could represent her's. Their utmost genius was foiled: for it could not convey the rapture of her glance, the amenity and kindness of her look, her affable, celestial smile, the varying hues of her complexion, the modesty of her words, and the gentleness of her conduct. None of these could be imparted by the heavenly statue made in order to bequeath to posterity a notion of Helen. Poets, attempting a similar task, were obliged to fable her being daughter of Jupiter; hoping, by that super-human expedient, to suggest to their readers' fancy some, however imperfect, conception of the reality of her charms, of the admirable candour of her countenance, of the richness and light texture of her golden tresses falling luxuriantly and gracefully
(i) Pope's Iliad , Book. 3.
waving over her milky shoulders, of the soulsoothing tone of her sweet, sonorous voice, of the splendour of her forehead, of the ivory of her neck, and of the delicious roundness of her virginal bosom (0.' Next come Achilles and Paris; names recalling, not only stupendous events in history and the formation of republics and of empires, but, what outlive these, the matchless productions of poetry. To the soft, yet noble Paris is accorded perhaps the finest similitude ever produced by the Muse of Homer, as well as the most spirited specimen of Mr. Pope's translation W.Dante, by saying Achilles ' fought with love to the last,' alludes not only to the long history of his amorous feats, from his puerile attachment to Deidomia to his passion for Patroclus ( which produced an effect that neither patriotism, nor love of glory could), but also, and more particularly, to the manner of his death, when he was shot in the heel while waiting for the Trojan Virgin, Polyxena,by assignation . The amorous impetuosity of Achilles was
(») Comento, Vol. i. p. 3<H.
(a) Forth issues Paris from the palace wall
In brazen arms, whence gleamy lightning* fall .—
indeed so remarkable, that some pretend it was to denote it, that the fiction of his having been immersed in Styx entirely except the heel, was first invented (0. I know not, whether any stickler for the Classics may object to the introduction of the hero of the Iliad in this melancholy circle, instead of the Elysium of the former one: but let such re. collect the sorrowful plight of that sacred cham pion in the Odyssey, who is there made to aver that,rather than reign where he was., he would be
"A slave to some poor hind who toils for bread (»)." Indeed it is not easy to form any notion of Homer's plan of future rewards and punishments; and such no doubt was one reason for Dante's preferring the philosophical Virgil, as his instructor in the creed of Antiquity . The placing of Achilles here maintains that dignity which is intended for Francesca; nor is her state so terrible, uor the punishments of this first-circle of Tartarus so severe, as to be derogatory to him .
If Dante made a classic selection with regard to the preceding heroes and heroines, he made a fashionable one in designating Tristram of the
(r) Quod thalus imintrsus non sit, phvsit nm tegit nivsti-rium. Volimi namque physici quod venae quae in thajo sunt ad renum et fa;iDorum stque virilium rati one no pprtiiteant: et idea par thalum non mersum in Styge, invictaui in Acluil* libidincm vul.ui'ruut. Genealogia Deor. Lib. xn. Cap. 5a., rtA , j , , , .
(») Pope'i Iliad, Book xr. , i^,.\ i ',.,.'!
Round table; which romance,along with Launcelot of the lake, composed a lady's library in those days. Arthur's chief favourite was the nephew to the king of Cornwall, Tristram ; who had the misfortune to become enamoured of his own royal aunt, Ysotta, a fair haired princess of Erin (0, while she played innocently on her harp; and the uncle, finding them thus together, took a fit of jealousy and wounded the youth with a poisoned arrow which he happened to have in his hand; so that he was thereupon carried away to bed: where the aunt coming in to visit him before he expired, they embraced each other with such affection and despair, that both their hearts burst together CO. Petrarch also gives Tristram a place in his Triumph of Love (3). So many illustrious personages force the reader to make a reflection ( which the poet artfully omits), that, if so large a proportion of those, whom the world quote as examples of transcendant abilities and greatness of soul, were unequal to the conflict of love, we ought not to judge over-severely of a single fault of a very young
(i) . . . la bionda figliuola del Re d' frlanda . Bib. Rice. M. S. Cod. i0i6.
(a) .... dopo molto pianto, abbracciandosi insieme per grande passione ed amore, dice la favola cbe morirono l'una nelle braccie dell' altro — a story ( says tbe manuscript I am quoting ) taken from the Chronicle of Mantua. Id. Id. Id. and Boccaccio, Comento, Vol. i. p. 3io.
(3) Ecco quei die le carte empion di sogni Lancilotto , Tristano, e gli altri, ec. Trioufo d'Amora. p yy