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HELL 447one of his distinguishing features; and which might have enslaved his reason to his imagination, had he not been a man of the world habitually conversant with business . As it was, it formed a rare compound of philosophy, theology, poetry and politics; in each of which departments he may have some rivals, but scarcely one superior.
Sua sapientia et virtute gaudet , says Cicero speaking of the life of the Deity (0: but it is of Boetius that the entire of this beautiful passage breathes much; whose volume we should recognise as one of Dante's habitual companions, even if he had not told us it. 'Riches, honors, and all such' ( Boetius exclaims in the person of Fortune) 'are within my jurisdiction, and, like slaves, they know their Mistress (»).' How inferior to the verses of Dante, are rendered even these noble ones of Horace, by the mere epithets of reproval which they contain; reproval so severely stigmatized by the other, as the sacrilegious vociferation of men, who forget how much they are beholden to the Angel they insult.
Fortuna savo laeta negotio, et
(i) Nat. Deor. lib. i. p. xtz.
(a) Dominant famulae cognoscunt. Cotitol. Phil. Lib. u. cap. a.
niaio Tii. Transmutat incertos honores Nunc mihi, nunc aliis benigna (t)! This passage of the Divine Comedy appears manifestly to have been paraphrased by Guido Cavalcanti; and I remark it, because it furnishes an additional corroboration of Boccaccio's statement, that Dante had composed the seven first Cantos of this poem before his exile from Florence. Guido died ere then; but that he shonld have perused the Cantos, however secret they were kept from all other eyes, was natural. He was more of a philosopher than of a poet; so he gives rather the morality, than the sweet fancy of his friend (»).
U, — xoix.
The ' night is dropping ' of Virgil is here imitated , in order to mark the hour. Night is said to begin to drop, when it is past mid-night; forming what Macrobius tells us, under the name of mediae noctis inclinatio, was the first of the twelve parts into which the Romans divided their civil day. Dante therefore does nothing more than simplify the Virgilian phrase, and, instead of night, put
the stars themselves 'every star begins to drop:'
and this has the advantage of keeping the reader in mind of the time more effectually, by making
(i) Carm. 1. J. Od. »S.
(s) II moto, il corso, e I'oprs di Fortuna
E quanto in lei s'aduua
Moto riceve dal primo Motore, ec.
him recollect that those same stars were climbing up the nocturnal arch when Hell was entered. We have been in it then full six hours; or it is now about one o'clock in the morning of the ninth of April, i3oo (0. It follows, that it is not another verse of Virgil's (suadentque cadentia sidera somnos) that is refered to; for this were to indicate a much later hour, or what Macrobius calls conticinium (»). Nor are we to suppose that Virgil points upward while he uses the words, or in any way imagine changes of day and night to be in hell ( which misconstruction were to introduce the same confusion into this poem, that some of the commentators do into the Aeneid ): but he avers that the stars are declining, precisely because (though he is gifted with internal consciousness of it himself ) he knows they are invisible to his pupil: for we shall be told in positive terms hereafter, that our travellers see them again only on emerging back to our world (3).
Crossing over towards the interior edge of this fourth Circle ( in which it was useless to tar
(i) Hell, Comment, Canto n. p. 87.
(4) Prinuim tempus diei dicitur mediae noctis inclinatio; deinde gallicinium; inde conticinium, cum et galli conticescuut et homines etiam tum quietcunt; deinde diliculum, id est, cum incipit diguoici dies, etc. Saturnalia, Lib. i. cap. 3.
(3; Ijscimmo a riveder 1* stelle. Inf. Canto xxxiv. ?. 13o.
ry longer , since its inhabitants were none of them recognised ) they find a hole with a gush of nauseous waters: these being apparently that gloomy Acheron 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 miles deep and (in its net diameter) i7 \ wide. But its 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 bumanos animos in gurgite mergit odiorum . Macrob. in Som. Scip. lib. i. cap. i0.