Dante's Inferno

By Dante Alighieri; Henry Francis Cary et al. | Go to book overview

dignified and polite. He was particularly careful not to make any approaches to flattery, a vice which he justly held in the utmost abhorrence. He spoke seldom, and in a slow voice; but what he said derived authority from the subtileness of his observations, somewhat like his own poetical heroes, who

"Parlavan rado con voci soavi."
"Spake
Seldom, but all their words were tuneful sweet." -- Hell, iv.

He was connected in habits of intimacy and friendship with the most ingenious men of his time; with Guido Cavalcanti,1 with Bunonaggiunta da Lucca,2 with Forese Donati,3 with Cino da Pistoia,4 with Giotto,5 the celebrated painter, by whose hand his likeness6 was preserved; with Oderigi da Gubbio,7 the illuminator, and with an eminent musician8 --

"His Casella, whom he wooed to sing,
Met in the milder shades of Purgatory." -- Milton's Sonnets.

Besides these, his acquaintance extended to some others, whose names illustrate the firt dawn of Italian literature: Lapo9 degli Uberti, Dante da Majano,10 Cecco Angiolieri,11 Dhio Frescobaldi,12 Giovanni di Virgilio,13 Giovanni Quirino,14 and Francesco Stabili,15 who is better known by the appellation of Cecco

____________________
entrances and exits might mix with such persons only whose worth erects them and their actions to a grave and tragic deportment, and not to have to do with clowns and vices." -- Colasterion, Prose Works, vol. i., p. 339, edit. London, 1753.
1
See "Hell", x., and Notes.
10
Dante da Majano flourished about 1290. He was a Florentine, and composed many poems in praise of a Sicilian lady, who, being herself a poetess, was insensible neither to his verses nor his love, so that she was called the Nina of Dante. -- Pelli, p. 60, and Tiraboschi, Storia della Poes. Ital., v. i., p. 137. There are several of his sonnets addressed to our poet, who declares, in his answer to one of them, that although he knows not the name of its author, he discovers in it the traces of a great mind.
11
Of Cecco Angiolieri, Boccaccio relates a pleasant story in the "Decameron," Giorn. 9, Nov. 4. He lived towards the end of the thirteenth century, and wrote several sonnets to Dante, which are in Allacci's collection. In some of them he wears the semblance of a friend; but in one the mask drops, and shows that he was well disposed to be a rival. See Crescimbeni, "Com. alla Storia di Volgar Poesia", v. ii., par. ii., lib. ii., p. 103; Pelli, p. 61.
12
Dino, son of Lambertuccio Frescobaldi. Crescimbeni (ibid., lib. iii., p. 120) assures us that he was not inferior to Cino da Pistoia. -- Pelli, p. 61. He is said to have been a friend of Dante's, in whose writings I have not observed any mention of him. Boccaccio, in his "Life of Dante," calls Dino "in que' tempi famosissimo dicitore in rima in Firenze."
13
Giovanni di Virgilio addressed two Latin eclogues to Dante, which were answered in similar compositions; and is said to have been his friend and admirer. See Boccaccio, "Vita di Dante;" and Pelli, p. 137. Dante's poetical genius sometimes breaks through the rudeness of style in his two Latin eclogues.
14
Muratori had seen several sonnets, addressed to Giovanni Quirino by Dante, in a MS. preserved in the Ambrosian Library. "Della Perfetta Poesia Ital.", ediz. Venezia, 1770, tom. i., lib. i., c. iii., p. 9.
15
For the correction of many errors respecting this writer, see Tiraboschi, "Storia della Lett. Ital."," tom. v., lib. ii., cap. ii., § xv., &c. He was burned in 1317. In his "Acerba," a poem in sesta rima, he has taken several occasions of venting his spleen against his great contemporary.
2
See "Purgatory", xxiv. Yet Tiraboschi observes, that though it is not improbable that Buonaggiunta was the contemporary and friend of Dante, it cannot be considered as certain. "Storia della Poes. Ital.", tom. i., p. 109, Mr. Mathias's edition.
3
See "Purgatory", xxiii. 44.
4
Guittorino de' Sigibuldi, commonly called Cino da Pistoia (besides the passage that will be cited in a following Note from the "De Vulgari Eloquentia"), is again spoken of in the same treatise, lib. i., c. xvii., as a great master of the vernacular diction in his canzoni, and classed with our poet himself, who is termed "Amicus ejus;" and likewise in lib. ii., c. ii., where he is said to have written of "Love." His verses are cited too in other chapters. He addressed and received sonnets from Dante; and wrote a sonnet, or canzone, on Dante's death, which is preserved in the Library of St. Mark, at Venice. -- "Tiraboschi, della Poes. Ital.", v. i., p. 116, and v. ii., p. 60. The same honour was done to the memory of Cino by Petrarch, son. 71, part i. "Celebrated both as a lawyer and a poet, he is better known by the writings which he has left in the latter of these characters," insomuch that Tiraboschi has observed, that amongst those who preceded Petrarch, there is, perhaps, none who can be compared to him in elegance and sweetness. "There are many editions of his poems, the most copious being that published at Venice in 1589, by P. Faustino Tasso; in which, however, the Padre degli Agostini, not without reason, suspects that the second book is by later hands." -- Tiraboschi, ibid. There has been an edition by Seb. Ciampi, at Pisa, in 1813, &c. ; but see the remarks on it in Gamba "Testi di Lingua Ital"., 294. He was interred at Pistoia with this epitaph: Cino eximio Juris interpreti Bartolique præceptori dignissimo popalus Pistoriens Civi suo B. M. fecit. Obiit anno 1336." -- Guidi Panziroli de Claris Legum Interpretibus, lib. ii., cap. xxix., Lips. 410, 1721. A Latin letter, supposed to be addressed by Dante to Cino, was published for the first time from a MS. in the Laurentian Library, by M. Witte.
5
See "Purgatory", xi.
6
Mr. Eatlake, in a Note to "Kugler's Hand-Book of Painting. translated by a Lady", Lond., 1842, p. 50, describes the recovery and restoration, in July, 1840, of Dante's portrait by Giotto, in the chapel of the Podestá at Florence, where it had been covered with whitewash or plaster. But it could scarcely have been concealed so soon as our distinguished artist supposes, since Landino speaks of it as remaining in his time, and Vasari says it was still to be seen when he wrote.
7
See "Purgatory", xi.
8
Ibid., canto ii.
9
Lapo is said to have been the son of Farinata degli Uberti (see "Hell", x. 32, and Tiraboschi, "Della Poes. Ital.", v. i., p. 116), and the father of Fazio degli Uberti, author of the "Dittamondo," a poem, which is thought, in the energy of its style, to make some approaches to the "Divina Commedia" (ibid., v. ii., p. 63), though Monti passes on it a much less favourable sentence (see his "Proposta", v. iii., part ii., p. 210, 8V0, 1824). He is probably the Lapo mentioned in the sonnet to Guido Cavalcanti, beginning,
"Guido vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io,"

which Mr. Hayley has so happily translated (see "Hell", x. 62); and also in a passage that occurs in the "De Vulgari Eloquentia", v. i., p. 116: "Quariquam fere Omnes Tusci in suo turpiloquio sint obtusi, nonnullos Vulgaris excellentiam cognovisse sentimus, scilicet Guidonem Lapum, et unum alium, Florentinos, et Cinum Pistoriensem, quem nunc indigme postponimus, non indigne coacti." "Although almost all the Tuscans are inarred by the baseness of their dialect, yet I perceive that some have known the excellence of the vernacular tongue, namely, Guido Lapo" (I suspect Dante here means his two friends Cavalcanti and Uberti, though this has hitherto been taken for the name of one person), "and one other" (who is supposed to be the author himself), "Florentines; and last, though not of least regard, Cino da Pistoia."

-xiv-

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