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agrees with S. Austin (■), and indeed S. Paul (*) also, in representing that Limbo, or Abraham's bosom as being situated in Infernus or hell. In it Virgil also placed Elysium ; so that, when he himself is
put there, it is both justly and kindly done:
justly,because, as 1 have this moment said, it is in a division of hell that he puts the ancient worthies of Greece and Rome, and not in the Paradise of Heathenism, which was the milky-way, as we learn from the philosophers and indeed from Virgil himself in the fourth Eclogue; kindly, because, although we shall perceive a great resemblance between Limbo and Elysium, yet shall we find the former more placidly atractive; since the boisterous introduction of steeds and chariots gives way to the purer and spiritualizing imagery of Christianity. Should it be objected, that the Aeneid is a poetic fiction, but that the ecclesiastical authorities of Paganism elevated some of its votaries, under the title of Demi-gods, to a participation of celestial bliss, (as Romulus or Scipio for example) it might be answered that also Dante is writing poetry; were it not that, in truth, he disclaims any such excuse, and prefers to every other glory that of displaying the characteristic charity of his faith. Therefore he too (probably for the sake of the principle, rather than merely to honor those individuals ) makes exceptions in favour of a few distinguished Pagans:
(i) De Civit. Dei. Lib. xx. (a) Romans, x. 7.
so that, if he now leaves Virgil in Limbo, we shall find him, as he advances, enlarging at every step the horizon of benevolence; not so much by the ardour of his fancy, as by a mixture of prudence and learning, qualities that make him be looked upon by the Roman Church as one of its most venerable theologians, and indeed sometimes be designated by the title, not of a poet, but of a most divine theologian, as I remarked in my comment on the preceding Canto (»); whence he shall at last present us with Trajan among the saints, (without violating the doctrine of Catholicism, as shall be elucidated) and with Cato on his way thither, in Purgatory; him of whom it hath also been written in the Convito, 'Sacred, holy, bosom of Cato! who shall presume to speak of thee? For me, I know no eulogy befitting thee,on an occasion like the present, when I am precluded from being diffuse, except that of S. Jerome on S. Paul in his preface to the Bible, the eulogy of silence (»).'
'Our calm suspended being' color che son
sospesi is borrowed seemingly from the Mohammedan doctors, who, having a limbo very similar to that of the Catholics, call it « al Araf, a word derived from the verb arafa, which signifies properly to separate or raise (3); » so that al Araf means a place suspended between Paradise
(0 p. 6*.
(») p. i53.
(3) Sale p. i15.
and the Hell-of-the-damned: and that conveys a just idea of this Limbo, which, we shall find, may
be termed suspended in three several senses as
being a counter poise between joy and sorrow; as having held the Patriarchs in a state of suspense; and as overhanging the infernal abyss . That to this Limbo Saints and Angels (') make frequent visits, was once an opinion of the Franciscan friars, and is so still, I suppose; so that Dante , in making 'a gentle fair'descend thither from Paradise, did nothing theologically irregular.
The Original is la Stella 'the star: which is after the manner of the Greeks, who named the sun, ci^pov, the star by excellence; a mode of expression followed by Boelius in latin , for he calls the sun simply sidus (»), and by Dante in Italian, not only on the present occasion , but also in one of his Canzoni (5).
Os olhos com que o sol escurecia 'Those eyes at which the sun grew dim' wrote CamoesC*); but, long before him, another Portugese (Bernar1les) had transplanted from
(i) Sarpi. Storia del Con. Trid. I. a. p. i65. (») Vel curhesperias Sidus in undas Casurum rutulo surgat ab ortu.
Dc Coin<il I. i. cap. 1. (i) La bella Stella. Rime, p. 300. (4) Sonetto. Lxxxxix.
Dante's Italian this hyperbole of eyes outshining the sun
A lui que faz o Sol escurecerse (0 —
In the text there is, between the oldest editions, a petty disagreement not worth a translator's attention; since, be the true reading moto, or mondo,
the signification is, in substance, the same
the roll of the world, or the rolling wofld. I would however venture to propose the insertion of a comma after moto, or mondo; by which means quanto'l moto or mondo, being included between two commas, as in a parenthesis, ceases to govern lontana; which therefore, ceasing to be a very dubious kind of verb, resumes its usual title of adjective and agrees in case, gender and number
Di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura
E durera, quanto '1 moto, lontana: -—
That is, di cui la lontana fama dura ancor nel mondo e durera, quanto il moto, o il mondo: 'whose distant fame still lasts in the world, and shall, as long as motion, or the world itself.'Lontana is an epithet quite naturally given to fama,
(i) Rimas. Son. xxin
'distant or widespread fame'. As the lines are at present stopped
Di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura
E durera, quanto '1 moto lontana:
lontana is explained to be a verb neuter put for si lontana, and in the Vocabolario is declared synonimous with si stende in lungo: whereupon it is
generally construed 'whose fame shall last
as long, as motion or the world shall continue moving itself to a distance .' But this does not seem to me to furnish clear ideas. Since the spheres
move in a circle, as Dante says, gira uu cor
po why should they be described as going from
us to a distance, rather than as coming to us? Then I do not think it happy, to make Dante here use as a verb neuter lontanare, which I find him every where else using either as active or reflective, like the rest of Italians. Indeed the Academicians cite no other authority than this very verse for the employment of that verb in a neutral sense. Then, even were the interpretation not loose,yet it would seem to me an easier matter to insert a comma, ( if one be indeed necessary to my proposal of considering lontana as a simple adjective) than to have recourse to a kind of grammatical licence, or to at least a novelty, by making lontana be considered as the third person singular of a verb neuter. I, however, am almost afraid of suggesting even this trifle in a text so often revised by the