v. 1. Ah me! O Satan! Satan!] Pape Satan, Pape Satan, aleppe. Pape is said by the commentators to be the same as the Latin word papae! “strange!” Of aleppe they do not give a more satisfactory account. See the Life of Benvenuto Cellini, translated by Dr. Nugent, v. ii. b. iii c. vii. p 113, where he mentions “having heard the words Paix, paix, Satan! allez, paix! in the court of justice at Paris. I recollected what Dante said, when he with his master Virgil entered the gates of hell: for Dante, and Giotto the painter, were together in France, and visited Paris with particular attention, where the court of justice may be considered as hell. Hence it is that Dante, who was likewise perfect master of the French, made use of that expression, and I have often been surprised that it was never understood in that sense.”
v. 12. The first adulterer proud.] Satan.
v. 22. E’en as a billow.]
As when two billows in the Irish sowndes
Forcibly driven with contrarie tides
Do meet together, each aback rebounds
With roaring rage, and dashing on all sides,
That filleth all the sea with foam, divides
The doubtful current into divers waves.
Spenser, F.Q. b. iv. c. 1. st. 42.
v. 48. Popes and cardinals.] Ariosto, having
Avarice as a strange and hideous monster, says of her—
Peggio facea nella Romana corte
Che v’avea uccisi Cardinali e Papi.
Orl. Fur. c. xxvi. st. 32.
Worse did she in the court of Rome, for there
She had slain Popes and Cardinals.
v. 91. By necessity.] This sentiment called forth the reprehension of Cecco d’Ascoli, in his Acerba, l. 1. c. i.
cio peccasti, O Fiorentin poeta, &c.
Herein, O bard of Florence, didst thou err
Laying it down that fortune’s largesses
Are fated to their goal. Fortune is none,
That reason cannot conquer. Mark thou, Dante,
If any argument may gainsay this.
v. 18. Phlegyas.] Phlegyas, who was so incensed against Apollo for having violated his daughter Coronis, that he set fire to the temple of that deity, by whose vengeance he was cast into Tartarus. See Virg. Aen. l. vi. 618.
v. 59. Filippo Argenti.] Boccaccio tells us, “he was a man remarkable for the large proportions and extraordinary vigor of his bodily frame, and the extreme waywardness and irascibility of his temper.” Decam. g. ix. n. 8.
v. 66. The city, that of Dis is nam’d.] So Ariosto. Orl. Fur. c. xl. st. 32
v. 94. Seven times.] The commentators, says Venturi, perplex themselves with the inquiry what seven perils these were from which Dante had been delivered by Virgil. Reckoning the beasts in the first Canto as one of them, and adding Charon, Minos, Cerberus, Plutus, Phlegyas and Filippo Argenti, as so many others, we shall have the number, and if this be not satisfactory, we may suppose a determinate to have been put for an indeterminate number.