v. 9. Two fix’d a gaze.] The allegorical interpretation of Vellutello whether it be considered as justly terrible from the text or not, conveys so useful a lesson, that it deserves our notice. “The understanding is sometimes so intently engaged in contemplating the light of divine truth in the scriptures, that it becomes dazzled, and is made less capable of attaining such knowledge, than if it had sought after it with greater moderation”
v. 39. Its tresses.] Daniel, c. iv. 10, &c.
v. 41. The Indians.]
Quos oceano proprior gerit India lucos.
Virg. Georg. 1. ii. 122,
Such as at this day to Indians known.
Milton, P. L. b. ix. 1102.
v. 51. When large floods of radiance.] When the sun enters into Aries, the constellation next to that of the Fish.
v. 63. Th’ unpitying eyes.] See Ovid, Met. 1. i. 689.
v. 74. The blossoming of that fair tree.] Our Saviour’s transfiguration.
v. 97. Those lights.] The tapers of gold.
v. 101. That true Rome.] Heaven.
v. 110. The bird of Jove.] This, which is imitated from Ezekiel, c. xvii. 3, 4. appears to be typical of the persecutions which the church sustained from the Roman Emperors.
v. 118. A fox.] By the fox perhaps is represented the treachery of the heretics.
v. 124. With his feathers lin’d.]. An allusion to the donations made by the Roman Emperors to the church.
v. 130. A dragon.] Probably Mahomet.
v. 136. With plumes.] The donations before mentioned.
v. 142. Heads.] By the seven heads, it is supposed with sufficient probability, are meant the seven capital sins, by the three with two horns, pride, anger, and avarice, injurious both to man himself and to his neighbor: by the four with one horn, gluttony, lukewarmness, concupiscence, and envy, hurtful, at least in their primary effects, chiefly to him who is guilty of them.
v. 146. O’er it.] The harlot is thought to represent the state of the church under Boniface viii and the giant to figure Philip iv of France.
v. 155. Dragg’d on.] The removal of the Pope’s residence from Rome to Avignon is pointed at.
v. 1. The Heathen.] Psalm lxxix. 1.
v. 36. Hope not to scare God’s vengeance with a sop.] “Let not him who hath occasioned the destruction of the church, that vessel which the serpent brake, hope to appease the anger of the Deity by any outward acts of religious, or rather superstitious, ceremony, such as was that, in our poet’s time, performed by a murderer at Florence, who imagined himself secure from vengeance, if he ate a sop of bread in wine, upon the grave of the person murdered, within the space of nine days.”
v. 38. That eagle.] He prognosticates that the Emperor of Germany will not always continue to submit to the usurpations of the Pope, and foretells the coming of Henry vii Duke of Luxembourg signified by the numerical figures DVX; or, as Lombardi supposes, of Can Grande della Scala, appointed the leader of the Ghibelline forces. It is unnecessary to point out the imitation of the Apocalypse in the manner of this prophecy.