Compare Origen in Genesim, Patrum Graecorum, vol.
xi. p. 14.
v. 79. To mightier force.] “Though ye are subject to a higher power than that of the heavenly constellations, e`en to the power of the great Creator himself, yet ye are still left in the possession of liberty.”
v. 88. Like a babe that wantons sportively.] This reminds one of the Emperor Hadrian’s verses to his departing soul:
Animula vagula blandula, &c
v. 99. The fortress.] Justice, the most necessary virtue in the chief magistrate, as the commentators explain it.
v. 103. Who.] He compares the Pope, on account of the union of the temporal with the spiritual power in his person, to an unclean beast in the levitical law. “The camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof, he is unclean unto you.” Levit. c. xi. 4.
v. 110. Two sons.] The Emperor and the Bishop of Rome.
v. 117. That land.] Lombardy.
v. 119. Ere the day.] Before the Emperor Frederick ii was defeated before Parma, in 1248. G. Villani, 1. vi. c. 35.
v. 126. The good Gherardo.] Gherardo di Camino of Trevigi. He is honourably mentioned in our Poet’s “Convito.” Opere di Dante, t. i. p. 173 Venez. 8vo. 1793. And Tiraboschi supposes him to have been the same Gherardo with whom the Provencal poets were used to meet with hospitable reception. See Mr. Matthias’s edition, t. i. p. 137, v. 127. Conrad.] Currado da Palazzo, a gentleman of Brescia.
v. 127. Guido of Castello.] Of Reggio. All the Italians were called Lombards by the French.
v. 144. His daughter Gaia.] A lady equally admired for her modesty, the beauty of her person, and the excellency of her talents. Gaia, says Tiraboschi, may perhaps lay claim to the praise of having been the first among the Italian ladies, by whom the vernacular poetry was cultivated. Ibid. p. 137.
v. 21. The bird, that most Delights itself in song.] I cannot think with Vellutello, that the swallow is here meant. Dante probably alludes to the story of Philomela, as it is found in Homer’s Odyssey, b. xix. 518 rather than as later poets have told it. “She intended to slay the son of her husband’s brother Amphion, incited to it, by the envy of his wife, who had six children, while herself had only two, but through mistake slew her own son Itylus, and for her punishment was transformed by Jupiter into a nightingale.” Cowper’s note on the passage. In speaking of the nightingale, let me observe, that while some have considered its song as a melancholy, and others as a cheerful one, Chiabrera appears to have come nearest the truth, when he says, in the Alcippo, a. l. s. 1, Non mal si stanca d’ iterar le note O gioconde o dogliose, Al sentir dilettose.
Unwearied still reiterates her lays,
Jocund or sad, delightful to the ear.