v. 50. Feltro.] The Bishop of Felto having received a number of fugitives from Ferrara, who were in opposition to the Pope, under a promise of protection, afterwards gave them up, so that they were reconducted to that city, and the greater part of them there put to death.
v. 53. Malta’s.] A tower, either in the citadel of Padua, which under the tyranny of Ezzolino, had been “with many a foul and midnight murder fed,” or (as some say) near a river of the same name, that falls into the lake of Bolsena, in which the Pope was accustomed to imprison such as had been guilty of an irremissible sin.
v. 56 This priest.] The bishop, who, to show himself a zealous partisan of the Pope, had committed the above-mentioned act of treachery.
v. 58. We descry.] “We behold the things that we predict, in the mirrors of eternal truth.”
v. 64. That other joyance.] Folco.
v. 76. Six shadowing wings.] “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings.” Isaiah, c. vi. 2.
v. 80. The valley of waters.] The Mediterranean sea.
v. 80. That.] The great ocean.
v. 82. Discordant shores.] Europe and Africa.
v. 83. Meridian.] Extending to the east, the Mediterranean at last reaches the coast of Palestine, which is on its horizon when it enters the straits of Gibraltar. “Wherever a man is,” says Vellutello, “there he has, above his head, his own particular meridian circle.”
v. 85. —’Twixt Ebro’s stream And Macra’s.] Eora, a river to the west, and Macra, to the east of Genoa, where Folco was born.
v. 88. Begga.] A place in Africa, nearly opposite to Genoa.
v. 89. Whose haven.] Alluding to the terrible slaughter of the Genoese made by the Saracens in 936, for which event Vellutello refers to the history of Augustino Giustiniani.
v. 91. This heav’n.] The planet Venus.
v. 93. Belus’ daughter.] Dido.
v. 96. She of Rhodope.] Phyllis.
v. 98. Jove’s son.] Hercules.
v. 112. Rahab.] Heb. c. xi. 31.
v. 120. With either palm.] “By the crucifixion of Christ”
v. 126. The cursed flower.] The coin of Florence, called the florin.
v. 130. The decretals.] The canon law.
v. 134. The Vatican.] He alludes either to the death of Pope Boniface viii. or, as Venturi supposes, to the coming of the Emperor Henry vii. into Italy, or else, according to the yet more probable conjecture of Lombardi, to the transfer of the holy see from Rome to Avignon, which took place in the pontificate of Clement V.
v. 7. The point.] “To that part of heaven,” as Venturi explains it, “in which the equinoctial circle and the Zodiac intersect each other, where the common motion of the heavens from east to west may be said to strike with greatest force against the motion proper to the planets; and this repercussion, as it were, is here the strongest, because the velocity of each is increased to the utmost by their respective distance from the poles. Such at least is the system of Dante.”