v. 146. He is a liar.] John, c. viii. 44. Dante had perhaps heard this text from one of the pulpits in Bologna.
v. 1. In the year’s early nonage.] “At the latter part of January, when the sun enters into Aquarius, and the equinox is drawing near, when the hoar-frosts in the morning often wear the appearance of snow but are melted by the rising sun.”
v. 51. Vanquish thy weariness.]
Quin corpus onustum
Hesternis vitiis animum quoque praegravat una,
Atque affigit humi divinae particulam aurae.
Hor. Sat. ii. l. ii. 78.
v. 82. Of her sands.] Compare Lucan, Phars. l. ix. 703.
v. 92. Heliotrope.] The occult properties of this stone are described by Solinus, c. xl, and by Boccaccio, in his humorous tale of Calandrino. Decam. G. viii. N. 3.
In Chiabrera’s Ruggiero, Scaltrimento begs of
Sofia, who is
sending him on a perilous errand, to lend him the heliotrope.
In mia man fida
L’elitropia, per cui possa involarmi
Secondo il mio talento agli occhi altrui.
Trust to my hand the heliotrope, by which
I may at will from others’ eyes conceal me
Compare Ariosto, ii Negromante, a. 3. s. 3. Pulci, Morg. Magg.
c xxv. and Fortiguerra, Ricciardetto, c. x. st. 17.
Gower in his Confessio Amantis, lib. vii, enumerates it among the
jewels in the diadem of the sun.
Jaspis and helitropius.
v. 104. The Arabian phoenix.] This is translated
Metam. l. xv.
Una est quae reparat, seque ipsa reseminat ales,
See also Petrarch, Canzone:
“Qual piu,” &c.
v. 120. Vanni Fucci.] He is said to have been an illegitimate offspring of the family of Lazari in Pistoia, and, having robbed the sacristy of the church of St. James in that city, to have charged Vanni della Nona with the sacrilege, in consequence of which accusation the latter suffered death.
v. 142. Pistoia.] “In May 1301, the Bianchi party, of Pistoia, with the assistance and favor of the Bianchi who ruled Florence, drove out the Neri party from the former place, destroying their houses, Palaces and farms.” Giov. Villani, Hist. l. viii. e xliv.
v. 144. From Valdimagra.] The commentators explain this prophetical threat to allude to the victory obtained by the Marquis Marcello Malaspina of Valdimagra (a tract of country now called the Lunigiana) who put himself at the head of the Neri and defeated their opponents the Bianchi, in the Campo Piceno near Pistoia, soon after the occurrence related in the preceding note.
Of this engagement I find no mention in Villani. Currado Malaspina is introduced in the eighth Canto of Purgatory; where it appears that, although on the present occaision they espoused contrary sides, some important favours were nevertheless conferred by that family on our poet at a subsequent perid of his exile in 1307.