v. 109. At war ’twixt will and will not.]
Che si, e no nel capo mi tenzona.
So Boccaccio, Ninf. Fiesol. st. 233.
Il si e il no nel capo gli contende. The words I have adopted as a translation, are Shakespeare’s, Measure for Measure. a. ii. s. 1.
v. 122. This their insolence, not new.] Virgil assures our poet, that these evil spirits had formerly shown the same insolence when our Savior descended into hell. They attempted to prevent him from entering at the gate, over which Dante had read the fatal inscription. “That gate which,” says the Roman poet, “an angel has just passed, by whose aid we shall overcome this opposition, and gain admittance into the city.”
v. 1. The hue.] Virgil, perceiving that Dante was pale with fear, restrained those outward tokens of displeasure which his own countenance had betrayed.
v. 23. Erictho.] Erictho, a Thessalian sorceress, according to Lucan, Pharsal. l. vi. was employed by Sextus, son of Pompey the Great, to conjure up a spirit, who should inform him of the issue of the civil wars between his father and Caesar.
v. 25. No long space my flesh
Was naked of me.]
Quae corpus complexa animae tam fortis inane.
Ovid. Met. l. xiii f. 2
Dante appears to have fallen into a strange anachronism. Virgil’s
death did not happen till long after this period.
v. 42. Adders and cerastes.]
Vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.
Virg. Aen. l. vi. 281.
—spinaque vagi torquente cerastae
. . . et torrida dipsas
Et gravis in geminum vergens eaput amphisbaena.
Lucan. Pharsal. l. ix. 719.
Scorpion and asp, and amphisbaena dire,
Cerastes horn’d, hydrus and elops drear,
P. L. b. x. 524.
v. 67. A wind.] Imitated by Berni, Orl. Inn. l. 1. e. ii. st. 6.
v. 83. With his wand.]
She with her rod did softly smite the raile
Which straight flew ope.
Spenser. F. Q. b. iv. c. iii. st. 46.
v. 96. What profits at the fays to but the horn.] “Of what avail can it be to offer violence to impassive beings?”
v. 97. Your Cerberus.] Cerberus is feigned to have been dragged by Hercules, bound with a three fold chain, of which, says the angel, he still bears the marks.
v. 111. The plains of Arles.] In Provence. See Ariosto, Orl. Fur. c. xxxix. st. 72
v. 112. At Pola.] A city of Istria, situated near the gulf of Quarnaro, in the Adriatic sea.
v. 12. Josaphat.] It seems to have been a common opinion among the Jews, as well as among many Christians, that the general judgment will be held in the valley of Josaphat, or Jehoshaphat: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people, and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” Joel, iii. 2.