v. 135. On Sextus and on Pyrrhus.] Sextus either the son of Tarquin the Proud, or of Pompey the Great: or as Vellutelli conjectures, Sextus Claudius Nero, and Pyrrhus king of Epirus.
The Rinieri, of Corneto this,
Pazzo the other named.]
Two noted marauders, by whose depredations the public ways in
Italy were infested. The latter was of the noble family of Pazzi
v. 10. Betwixt Corneto and Cecina’s stream.] A wild and woody tract of country, abounding in deer, goats, and wild boars. Cecina is a river not far to the south of Leghorn, Corneto, a small city on the same coast in the patrimony of the church.
v. 12. The Strophades.] See Virg. Aen. l. iii. 210.
v. 14. Broad are their pennons.] From Virg. Aen. l. iii. 216.
v. 48. In my verse described.] The commentators explain this, “If he could have believed, in consequence of my assurances alone, that of which he hath now had ocular proof, he would not have stretched forth his hand against thee.” But I am of opinion that Dante makes Virgil allude to his own story of Polydorus in the third book of the Aeneid.
v. 56. That pleasant word of thine.] “Since you have inveigled me to speak my holding forth so gratifying an expectation, let it not displease you if I am as it were detained in the snare you have spread for me, so as to be somewhat prolix in my answer.”
v. 60. I it was.] Pietro delle Vigne, a native of Capua, who, from a low condition, raised himself by his eloquence and legal knowledge to the office of Chancellor to the Emperor Frederick ii. whose confidence in him was such, that his influence in the empire became unbounded. The courtiers, envious of his exalted situation, contrived, by means of forged letters, to make Frederick believe that he held a secret and traitorous intercourse with the Pope, who was then at enmity with the Emperor. In consequence of this supposed crime he was cruelly condemned by his too credulous sovereign to lose his eyes, and, being driven to despair by his unmerited calamity and disgrace, he put an end to his life by dashing out his brains against the walls of a church, in the year 1245. Both Frederick and Pietro delle Vigne composed verses in the Sicilian dialect which are yet extant.
v. 67. The harlot.] Envy. Chaucer alludes
to this in the
Prologue to the Legende of Good women.
Envie is lavender to the court alway,
For she ne parteth neither night ne day
Out of the house of Cesar; thus saith Dant.
v. 119. Each fan o’ th’ wood.]
Hence perhaps Milton:
Leaves and fuming rills, Aurora’s fan.
P. L. b. v. 6.
v. 122. Lano.] Lano, a Siennese, who, being reduced by prodigality to a state of extreme want, found his existence no longer supportable; and, having been sent by his countrymen on a military expedition, to assist the Florentine against the Aretini, took that opportunity of exposing himself to certain death, in the engagement which took place at Toppo near Arezzo. See G. Villani, Hist. l. 7. c. cxix.