v. 131. Before the date.] “Before many ages are past, before those fractions, which are drops in the reckoning of every year, shall amount to so large a portion of time, that January shall be no more a winter month.” By this periphrasis is meant " in a short time,” as we say familiarly, such a thing will happen before a thousand years are over when we mean, it will happen soon.
v. 135. Fortune shall be fain.] The commentators in general suppose that our Poet here augurs that great reform, which he vainly hoped would follow on the arrival of the Emperor Henry vii. in Italy. Lombardi refers the prognostication to Can Grande della Scala: and, when we consider that this Canto was not finished till after the death of Henry, as appears from the mention that is made of John xxii, it cannot be denied but the conjecture is probable.
v. 36. Heav’n, and all nature, hangs upon that point.] [Greek here] Aristot. Metaph. 1. xii. c. 7. “From that beginning depend heaven and nature.”
v. 43. Such diff’rence.] The material world and the intelligential (the copy and the pattern) appear to Dante to differ in this respect, that the orbits of the latter are more swift, the nearer they are to the centre, whereas the contrary is the case with the orbits of the former. The seeming contradiction is thus accounted for by Beatrice. In the material world, the more ample the body is, the greater is the good of which itis capable supposing all the parts to be equally perfect. But in the intelligential world, the circles are more excellent and powerful, the more they approximate to the central point, which is God. Thus the first circle, that of the seraphim, corresponds to the ninth sphere, or primum mobile, the second, that of the cherubim, to the eighth sphere, or heaven of fixed stars; the third, or circle of thrones, to the seventh sphere, or planet of Saturn; and in like manner throughout the two other trines of circles and spheres.
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb
Milton, P. L. b. v. 596.
v. 70. The sturdy north.] Compare Homer, ii. b. v. 524.
v. 82. In number.] The sparkles exceeded the number which would be produced by the sixty-four squares of a chess-board, if for the first we reckoned one, for the next, two; for the third, four; and so went on doubling to the end of the account.
v. 106. Fearless of bruising from the nightly ram.] Not injured, like the productions of our spring, by the influence of autumn, when the constellation Aries rises at sunset.
v. 110. Dominations.] Hear all ye angels, progeny of light, Thrones, domination’s, princedoms, virtues, powers. Milton, P. L. b. v. 601.
v. 119. Dionysius.] The Areopagite, in his book De Caelesti Hierarchia.
v. 124. Gregory.] Gregory the Great. “Novem vero angelorum ordines diximus, quia videlicet esse, testante sacro eloquio, scimus: Angelos, archangelos, virtutes, potestates, principatus, dominationae, thronos, cherubin atque seraphin.” Divi Gregorii, Hom. xxxiv. f. 125. ed. Par. 1518. fol.