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wondrous; rather the wonder would be, had he been devoid of that knowledge and yet translated the psalms as he did; but what most may make us wonder is that his crowds of Orientalisms could so long have escaped attention . Whether he was right in introducing foreign tongues into his poem with whatever grammatical accuracy, and in writing them all in the same characters; are two questions that may be discussed: but still I must premise that the opinion of Dante (let that of his readers be what it may) was deliberately in the affirmative; for we shall find him delivering, without once changing his Roman letters, not merely words and phrases and whole verses, (like this present one) but sometimes entire tiercets and even many tiercets together, not only in Hebrew and Arabic, but in Latin, Greek, French, German, etc. But whatever may be thought as to the propriety of clothing the verse before us in a strange dialect, there can be no demur as to the sublimity of the ideas it conveys, nor as to the vexation to be proved at finding such sublime ideas not merely not apprehended, but converted by dogmatical pretenders into very loathsome mummery. One of the best peculiarities of Dante's poetry is its true, tangible commonseuse; and on few occasions is this more observable than on the present. Concede he might indulge in Roman-written Hebrew, and there cannot be a controversy as to the precision with which he fits it to his purpose; since
this evidently was to indicate the money-fiend's antiquity and foulness, by making him speak in what is usually believed to be the oldest discoverable language, and to be capable of the most discordant sounds. Thus, he intended to strike the illiterate by the horrible dissonance of the hell wolfs scream, and the learned by its tremen dous signification. Of this latter here is the substance. Plutus rendered furious by the intrusive boldness of a mortal, bellows down the infernal gulf for the king of the abyss ( Satan ) to put forth his fiery head and annihilate the intruder by a single glimpse of it; and such it were likely might have been the effect, had Satan put it forth now; since we shall hereafter find Dante (although he had acquired full experience of how innoxious to him were monsters and atrocities of hell) smote with such horror and dismay at the first appearance of the damned Monarch, that it were hard to tell whether he was alive or dead; a state that he expresses by the hyperbole of declaring he was neither (0 .
*)sk fofr ns ye jet? ne J?b
Pa pe Satan! Pa pe Satan aleppe! Risplendeat facies Satani! Risplendeatfacies Satani primarii! Or,as in Italian: Ti mostra, Satanasso! Ti mostra nella maesta dei tuoi splendori, principe
(i) Io non mori", e non rimaiii vivo.
Inferno Canto zxxiv. T. aS.
Ok ITU TiI.
Satanasso !(0.' Look out, Satan! Look out in the majesty of thy splendors, princely Satan!' What venerable concision is that of the Original! Two long lines -—
Forth, Satan, forth! Thine awful forehead shine!
O princely Satan, for one gleam of thine!
are scarcely a paraphrase .
The first observation that occurs, on looking at the above, is the almost miraculous fidelity with which the verse has been handed down during five centuries, by a multitude of copyists and printers not one of whom knew what they were doing . It is in general printed thus:
Pape Satan ! pape Satan , aleppe! Here we see are only two deviations from correctness: one of which (that of changing aleph into aleppe ) was clearly introduced by the Author himself; and the second (that of making a single word of pa Aiidpe) was most natural, particularly among people so inimical to monosyllables as the Italians. Aleph (hSu) has no reference whatever to the interjection Ah: but it is the first Hebrew element,and therefore denotes unity and pre-eminence , and issynonimous with thelatin^nV/iariMj. Nor is the adjective chioccia (that comes immediately after) properly interpreted as meaning hoarse (rauca); for its precise signification is guttural (gutturale), and no doubt but it was expressly
(i) Or exactly syllable by syllable: Splendi aspetto di Satano! Splefidi aspetto di Satano primajo!
C l.fTO Til
employed by Dante, as an exact linguist, to inform us of the true mode of pronouncing the words of Plutus who repeats so often that harsh guttural ain (V), which is quite characteristic of the-Hebrew (»).
That such is the clear, indubitable solution of the verse under consideration, all Hebrew students will aver; and their astonishment at this disclosure not having been made long since» may be somewhat mitigated by the reflection of how strange in our eyes becomes even the tongue with which we are best acquainted (then much more dead one) if written in letters not its own. For
(i) I think it now superfluous to mention another attempt at interpreting this passage; wherein aleppe is derived from a provincialism of Val d'Arno. It seems the country people there have a word of nearly similar sound to signify flee ( fuggire ); so that Plutus would be bidding Dante flee. But even were this interpretation less forced , it could merit no attention after the direct proof of the other: — which is corroborated by so many Hebrew translations and derivations up and dowu in Dante, and by those from the tongue most nearly related to it, the Arabic; a< well as by an entire Arabic verse, which we shall find in Canto xxxi of this same Canticle; to none of which a provincial origin can be ascribed. The Hebrew scholar will observe that our Saviour himself uses Sathan for Luci/er; and that though pe mejns properly mouth, it may be taken in the larger sen.se of front, or the entire countenance — facies; and must be so on the present occasion , for we shall find Lucifer has three mouths. Ed e bene a ramroaricarci de' Retort, ch'an uso uelle moderne scuole citare il Pape di Dante come verso da prendersi a heffe; e Dio volesse die insegnassero a mener lanto concetto in un solo verso, quanta quel ne contiene: perciocche nan sarebbe sifolta la turba de versrggintori, die dalla prima Alpe all ultimo Appennino con ventose parole rimbombano. Dissertazione dell* Ab. M. A. Lanci sui versi di Nemhrotte, ec. p. 44. In fact, I have lately read a little M. S. tract, in which those verseggiatori are estimated a* being never less than three hundred thousand between Kaples and Milan.
example, many Englishmen travelling in Greece and finding in a Greek poem
TAeiSe wtreav e$8ei eSqu) /3Aue might give their assent to the opinion of the natives, that the line was a jargon put together in mere wantonness by the author; but should some one either luckier, or more attentive than his predecessors, pronounce it English, and, as a proof, transcribe it correctly
Glide, Ocean, with thy wavy blue; adding that evdei, for with thy, was so written to avoid monosyllables and not to repeat the theta, that in Ocean a sigma was substitued for c there being no c in the Greek alphabet, that ei is the dipthong most resembling our w, that the a in wavy is changed into *i because such is its pronunciation, and that it is with the same attention to pronunciation that the y in thy is made u , and that in wavy, I: I say that though here would be much more unavoidable alteration than in Dante's Hebrew, yet no Englisman coming after the first discoverer but would affirm the same, and treat every argument drawn from the improbability of the Greek poet's possessing any knowledge of English as ridiculous, when balanced with the other positive evidence; for it were certainly easier to believe that a Greek knew English (although there were no records to inform as that either he or any of his countrymen at that time did) than to persuade ourselves that a verse nei