Amazon.com - Click here to get the real thing

World Wide School
Library About us

 

The Divine Comedy: Inferno

by Dante Alighieri (Tr. H.W. Longfellow)

Terms

Contents

Preface

CANTO 1

CANTO 2

CANTO 3

CANTO 4

CANTO 5

CANTO 6

CANTO 7

CANTO 8

CANTO 9

CANTO 10

CANTO 11

CANTO 12

CANTO 13

CANTO 14

CANTO 15

CANTO 16

CANTO 17

CANTO 18

CANTO 19

CANTO 20

CANTO 21

CANTO 22

CANTO 23

CANTO 24

CANTO 25

CANTO 26

CANTO 27

CANTO 28

CANTO 29

CANTO 30

CANTO 31

CANTO 32

CANTO 33

CANTO 34

Notes

Essay

Chronology

 

 

CANTO 10

Dante having obtained permission from his guide, holds discourse with Farinata degli Uberti and Cavalcante Cavalcanti, who lie in their fiery tombs that are yet open, and not to be closed up till after the last judgement. Farinata predicts the Poet's exile from Florence; and shows him that the condemned have knowledge of future things, but are ignorant of what is at present passing, unless it be revealed by some new-comer from earth.

Now onward goes, along a narrow path 1
Between the torments and the city wall,
My Master, and I follow at his back.

"O power supreme, that through these impious circles
Turnest me,"I began, "as pleases thee,
Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;

The people who are Iying in these tombs,
Might they be seen? already are uplifted
The covers all, and no one keepeth guard."

And he to me:"They all will be closed up
When from Jehoshaphat they shall return
Here with the bodies they have left above.

Their cemetery have upon this side
With Epicurus all his followers, 14
Who with the body mortal make the soul;

But in the question thou dost put to me,
Within here shalt thou soon be satisfied,
And likewise in the wish thou keepest silent."

And I:"Good Leader,I but keep concealed
From thee my heart, that I may speak the less,
Nor only now hast thou thereto disposed me."

"O Tuscan, thou who through the city of fire
Goest alive, thus speaking modestly,
Be pleased to stay thy footsteps in this place.

Thy mode of speaking makes thee manifest
A native of that noble fatherland,
To which perhaps I too molestful was."

Upon a sudden issued forth this sound
From out one of the tombs; wherefore I pressed,
Fearing, a little nearer to my Leader.

And unto me he said:"Turn thee; what dost thou?
Behold there Farinata who has risen; 32
From the waist upwards wholly shalt thou see him."

I had already fixed mine eyes on his,
And he uprose erect with breast and front
E'en as if Hell he had in great despite.

And with courageous hands and prompt my Leader
Thrust me between the sepulchres towards him,
Exclaiming, " Let thy words explicit be."

As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb
Somewhat he eyed me, and, as if disdainful,
Then asked of me, "Who were thine ancestors?"

I, who desirous of obeying was,
Concealed it not, but all revealed to him;
Whereat he raised his brows a little upward.

Then said he:"Fiercely adverse have they been 46
To me, and to my fathers, and my party;
So that two several times I scattered them."

"If they were banished, they returned on all sides,"
I answered him, " the first time and the second;
But yours have not acquired that art aright." 51

Then there uprose upon the sight, uncovered
Down to the chin, a shadow at his side; 53
I think that he had risen on his knees.

Round me he gazed, as if solicitude
He had to see if some one else were with me,
But after his suspicion was all spent,

Weeping, he said to me:"If through this blind
Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,
Where is my son? and why is he not with thee?" 60

And I to him:"I come not of myself;
He who is waiting yonder leads me here,
Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had." 63

His language and the mode of punishment
Already unto me had read his name;
On that account my answer was so full.

Up starting suddenly, he cried out:"How
Saidst thou,--he had ? Is he not still alive?
Does not the sweet light strike upon his eyes ?"

When he became aware of some delay,
Which I before my answer made, supine
He fell again, and forth appeared no more.

But the other, magnanimous, at whose desire
I had remained, did not his aspect change,
Neither his neck he moved, nor bent his side. 75

"And if,"continuing his first discourse,
"They have that art,"he said, "not learned aright,
That more tormenteth me, than doth this bed.

But fifty times shall not rekindled be
The countenance of the Lady who reigns here 80
Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art;

And as thou wouldst to the sweet world return,
Say why that people is so pitiless
Against my race in each one of its laws?"

Whence I to him:"The slaughter and great carnage
Which have with crimson stained the Arbia, cause 86
Such orisons in our temple to be made."

After his head he with a sigh had shaken,
"There 1 was not alone," he said,"nor surely
Without a cause had with the others moved.

But there I was alone, where every one
Consented to the laying waste of Florence,
He who defended her with open face."

"Ah! so hereafter may your seed repose," 94
I him entreated, " solve for me that knot,
Which has entangled my conceptions here.

It seems that you can see, if I hear rightly,
Beforehand whatsoe'er time brings with it,
And in the present have another mode."

"We see, like those who have imperfect sight,
The things," he said, " that distant are from us;
So much still shines on us the Sovereign Ruler.

When they draw near, or are, is wholly vain
Our intellect, and if none brings it to us,
Not anything know we of your human state.

Hence thou canst understand, that wholly dead
Will be our knowledge from the moment when
The portal of the future shall be closed."

Then I, as if compunctious for my fault,
Said: " Now, then, you will tell that fallen one,
That still his son is with the living joined.

And if just now, in answering, I was dumb,
Tell him I did it because I was thinking
Already of the error you have solved me."

And now my Master was recalling me,
Wherefore more eagerly I prayed the spirit
That he would tell me who was with him there.

He said:"With more than a thousand here I lie;
Within here is the second Frederick, 119
And the Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not." 120

Thereon he hid himself; and I towards
The ancient poet turned my steps, reflecting
Upon that saying, which seemed hostile to me.

He moved along; and afterward thus going,
He said to me, " Why art thou so bewildered?"
And I in his inquiry satisfied him.

"When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet
Of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold,
From her thou'lt know the journey of thy life."

Unto the left hand then he turned his feet;
We left the wall, and went towards the middle,
Along a path that strikes into a valley,

Footnotes 10

Canto 10

1. In this Canto is described the punishment of Heretics. Brunetto Latini, Tesoretto, XIII.:--

"Or va mastro Brunetto
Per lo cammino stretto."

14. Sir Thomas Browne, Urn Burial, Chap. IV., says:"They may sit in the orchestra and noblest seats of heaven who have held up shaking hands in the fire, and humanly contended for glory.

Meanwhile Epicurus lies deep in Dante's hell, wherein we meet with tombs enclosing souls, which denied their immortalities. But whether the virtuous heathen, who lived better than he spake, or, erring in the principles of himself, yet lived above philosophers of more specious maxims, lie so deep as he is placed, at least so low as not to rise against Christians, who, believing or knowing that truth, have lastingly denied it in their practice and conversation, -- were a query too sad to insist on."

Also Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part II. Sec. 2. Mem. 6. Subs. I, thus vindicates the memory of Epicurus: "A quiet mind is that voluptas, or summum bonum of Epicurus; non dolere, curis vacare, animo tranquillo esse, not to grieve, but to want cares, and have a quiet soul, is the only pleasure of the world, as Seneca truly recites his opinion, not that of eating and drinking, which injurious Aristotle maliciously puts upon him, and for which he is still mistaken, mala audit et vapulat, slandered without a cause, and lashed by all posterity."

32. Farinata degli Uberti was the most valiant and renowned leader of the Ghibellines in Florence. Boccacio, Comento, says: "He was of the opinion of Epicurus, that the soul dies with the body, and consequently maintained that human happiness consisted in temporal pleasures; but he did not follow these in the way that Epicurus did, that is by making long fasts to have afterwards pleasure in eating dry bread; but was fond of good and delicate viands, and ate them without waiting to be hungry; and for this sin he is damned as a Heretic in this place."

Farinata led to Ghibellines at the famous battle of Monte Aperto in 1260, where the Guelfs were routed, and driven out of Florence. He died in 1264.

46. The ancestors of Dante, and Dante himself, were Guelfs. He did not become a Ghibelline till after his banishment. Boccaccio in his Life of Dante makes the following remarks upon his party spirit. I take the passage as given in Mrs. Bunbury's translation of Balbo's Life and Times of Dante, II. 227.

"He was," says Boccaccio, "a most excellent man, and most resolute in adversity. It was only on a one subject that he showed himself, I do not know whether I ought to call it impatient, or spirited, -- it was regarding anything relating to Party; since in his exile he was more violent in this respect than suited his circumstances, and more than he was willing that others should believe. And in order that it may be seen for what party he was thus violent and pertinacious, it appears to me I must go further back in my story. I believe that it was the just anger of God that permitted, it is a long time ago, almost all Tuscany and Lombardy to be divided into two parties; I do not know how they acquired those names, but one party was called Guelf and the other party Ghibelline. And these two names were so revered, and had such an effect on the folly of many minds, that, for the sake of defending the side any one had chosen for his own against the opposite party, it was not considered hard to lose property, and even life, if it were necessary. And under these names the Italian cities many times suffered serious grievences and changes; and among the rest our city, which was sometimes at the head of one party, and sometimes of the other, according to the citizens in power; so much so that Dante's ancestors, being Guelfs, were twice expelled by the Ghibellines from their home, and he likewise under the title of Guelf held the reins of the Florentine Republic, from which he was expelled, as we have shown, not by the the Ghibellines, but by the Guelfs; and seeing that he could not return, he so much altered his mind that there never was a fiercer Ghibelline, or a bitterer enemy to the Guelfs, than he was. And that which I feel most ashamed at for the sake of his memory is, that it was a well-known thing in Romagna, that if any boy or girl, talking to him on party matters, condemned the Ghibelline side, he would become frantic, so that if they did not be silent he would have been induced to throw stones at them; and with this violence of party feeling he lived until his death. I am certainly ashamed to tarnish with any fault the fame of such a man; but the order of my subject in some degree demands it, because if I were silent in those things in which he was to blame, I should not be believed in those things I have already related in his praise. Therefore I excuse myself to himself, who perhaps looks down from heaven with a disdainful eye on me writing."

51. The following account of the Guelfs and Ghibellines is from the Pecorone of Giovanni Fiorentino, a writer of the fourteenth century. It forms the first Novella of the Eight Day, and will be found in Roscoe's Italian Novelists, I. 322.

"There formerly resided in Germany two wealthy and well-born individuals, whose names were Guelfo and Ghibellino, very near neighbors, and greatly attached to each other. But returning together one day from the chase, there unfortunately arose some difference of opinion as to the merits of one of their hounds, which was maintained on both sides so very warmly, that, from being almost inseparable friends and companions, they became each other's deadliest enemies. This unlucky division between them still increasing, they on either side collected parties of their followers, in order more effectually to annoy each other. Soon extending its malignant influence among the neighboring lords and barons of Germany, who divided, according to their motives, either with the Guelf or the Ghibelline, it not only produced many serious affrays, but several persons fell victims to its rage. Ghibellino, finding himself hard pressed by his enemy, and unable longer to keep the field against him, resolved to apply for assistance to Frederick the First, the reigning Emperor. Upon this, Guelfo, perceiving that his adversary sought the alliance of this monarch, applied on his side to Pope Honorius II., who being at variance with the former, and hearing how the affair stood, immediately joined the cause of the Guelfs, the Emperor having already embraced that of the Ghibellines. It is thus the apostolic see became connected with the former, and the empire with the latter faction; and it was thus that a vile hound became the origin of a deadly hatred between the two noble families. Now it happened that in the year of our dear Lord and Redeemer 1215, the same pestiferous spirit spread itself into parts of Italy, in the following manner.

Messer Guido Orlando being at that time chief magistrate of Florence, there likewise resided in that city a noble and valiant cavalier of the family of Buondelmonti, one of the most distinguished houses in the state. Our young Buondelmonte having already plighted his troth to a lady of the Amidei family, the lovers were considered as betrothed, with all the solemnity usually observed on such occasions. But this unfortunate young man, chancing one day to pass by the house of the Donati, was stopped and accosted by a lady of the name of Lapaccia, who moved to him from her door as he went along, saying: `I am surprised that a gentleman of your appearance, Signor, should think of taking for his wife a woman scarcely worthy of handing him his boots. There is a child of my own, whom, to speak sincerely, I have long intended for you, and whom I wish you would just venture to see.' And on this she called out for her daughter, whose name was Ciulla, one of the prettiest and most enchanting girls in all Florence. Introducing her to Messer Buondelmonte, she whispered, `This is she whom I had reserved for you'; and the young Florentine, suddenly becoming enamored of her, thus replied to her mother, `I am quite ready, Madonna, to meet your wishes'; and before stirring from the spot he placed a ring upon her finger, and, wedding her, received her there as his wife. "The Amidei, hearing that young Buondelmonte had thus espoused another, immediately met together, and took counsel with other friends and relations, how they might best avenge themselves for such an insult offered to their house. There were present among the rest Lambertuccio Amidei, Schiatta Ruberti, and Mosca Lamberti, one of whom proposed to give him a box on the ear, another to strike him in the face; yet they were none of them able to agree about it among themselves. On observing this, Mosca hastily rose, in a great passion, saying, `Cosa fatta capo ha,' wishing it to be understood that a dead man will never strike again. It was therefore decided that he should be put to death, a sentence which they proceeded to execute in the following manner. "M. Buondelmonte returning one Easter morning from a visit to the Casa Bardi, beyond the Arno, mounted upon a snow white steed, and dressed in a mantle of the same color, had just reached the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, or old bridge, where formerly stood a statue of Mars, whom the Florentines in their Pagan state were accustomed to worship, when the whole party issued out upon him, and, dragging him in the scuffle from his horse, in spite of the gallant resistance he made, despatched him with a thousand wounds. The tidings of this affair seemed to throw all Florence into confusion; the chief prsonages and noblest families in the place everywhere meeting, and dividing themselves into parties in consequence; the one party embracing the cause of the Buondelmonti, who placed themselves at the head of the Guelfs; and the other taking part with the Amidei, who supported the Ghibellines.

"In the same fatal manner, nearly all the seigniories and cities of Italy were involved in the original quarrel between these two German families: the Guelfs still supporting the interest of the Holy Church, and the Ghibellines those of the Emperor. And thus I have made you acquainted with the origin of the Germanic faction, between two noble houses, for the sake of a vile cur, and have shown how it afterwards disturbed the peace of Italy for the sake of a beautiful woman."

53. Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti, father of Dante's friend, Guido Cavalcanti. He was of the Guelf party; so that there are Guelf and Ghibelline buried in the same tomb.

60. This question recalls the scene in the Odyssey, where the shade of Agamemnon appears to Ulysses and asks for Orestes. Book XI. in Chapman's translation, line 603:--

"Doth my son yet survive
In Orchomen or Pylos? Or doth live
In Sparta with his uncle? Yet I see
Divine Orestes is not here with me."

63. Guido Cavalcanti, whom Benvenuto da Imola calls "the other eye of Florence,"-- alter oculus Florentiae tempore Dantis. It is this Guido that Dante addresses the sonnet, which is like the breath of Spring, beginning:--

"Guido, I wish that Lapo, thou, and I
Could be by spells conveyed, as it were now,
Upon a barque, with all the winds that blow,
Across all seas at our good will to hie."

He was a poet of decided mark, as may be seen by his "Song of Fortune," quoted in Note 68, Canto VII., and the Sonnet to Dante, Note 136, Purgatorio XXX.

But he seems not to have shared Dante's admiration for Virgil, and to have been more given to the study of philosophy than of poetry. Like Lucentio in "The Taming of the Shrew" he is

"So devote to Aristotle's ethics
As Ovid be an outcast quite abjured."

Boccaccio, Decameron, VI. 9, praises him for his learning and other good qualities; "for over and beside his being one of the best Logitians, as those times not yielded a better," so runs the old translation, "he was also a most absolute Natural Philosopher, a very friendly Gentleman, singularly well spoken, and whatsoever else was commendable in any man was no way wanting in him." In the same Novella he tells this anecdote of him:-- "It chanced upon a day that Signior Guido, departing from the Church of Saint Michael d'Horta, and passing along by the Adamari, so far as to Saint John's Church, which evermore was his customary walk: many goodly Marble Tombs were then about the said Church, as now adays are at Saint Reparata, and divers more beside. He entring among the Columns of Porphiry, and the other Sepulchers being there, because the door of the Church was shut: Signior Betto and his Company came riding from Saint Reparata, and espying Signior Guido amont the Graves and Tombs, said, `Come, let us go make some jests to anger him.' so putting the Spurs to their Horses they rode apace towards him; and being upon him before he perceived them, one of them said, `Guido, thou refusest to be one of our society, and seekest for that which never was: when thou hast found it, tell us, what wilt thou do with it?'

"Guido seeing himself round engirt with them, suddenly thus replyed:

`Gentlemen, you may use me in your own House as you please.' And setting his hand upon one of the Tombs (which was somewhat great) he took his rising, and leapt quite over it on the further side, as being of an agile and springhtly body, and being thus freed from them, he went away to his own lodging.

"They stood all like men amazed, strangely looking one upon another, and began afterward to murmur among themselves: That Guido was a man without any understanding, and the answer which he had made unto them was to no purpose, neither savoured of any discretion, but meerly came from an empty Brain, because they had no more to do in the place where now they were, than any of the other Citizens, and Signior Guido (himself) as little as any of them; whereto Signior Betto thus replyed: `Alas, Gentlemen, it is you your selves that are void of understanding: for, if you had but observed the answer which he made unto us: he did honestly, and (in very few words) not only notably express his own wisdom, but also deservedly reprehend us. Because, if we observe things as we ought to do, Graves and Tombs are the Houses of the dead, ordained and prepared to be the latest dwellings. He told us moreover that although we have here (in this life) our habitations and abidings, yet these (or the like) must at last be our Houses. To let us know, and all other foolish, indiscreet, and unlearned men, that we are worse than dead men, in comparison of him, and other men equal to him in skill and learning. And therefore, while we are here among the Graves and Monuments, it may be well said, that we ar not far from our own Houses, or how soon we shall be possessors of them, in regard of the frailty attending on us.'"

Napier, Florentine History, I. 368, speaks of Guido as "a bold, melancholy man, who loved solitude and literature; but generous, brave, and courteous, a poet and philosopher, and one that seems to have had the respect and admiration of his age." He then adds this singular picture of the times:--

"Corso Donati, by whom he was feared and hated, would have had him murdered while on a pilgrimage to Saint James of Galicia; on his return this became known and gained him many supporters amongst the Cerchi and other youth of Florence; he took no regular measures of vengeance, but accidentally meeting Corso in the street, rode violently towards him, casting his javelin at the same time; it missed by the tripping of his horse and he escaped with a slight wound from one of Donati's attendants." Sacchetti, Nov. 68, tells a pleasant story of Guido's having his cloak nailed to the bench by a roguish boy, while he was playing chess in one of the streets of Florence, which is also a curious picture of Italian life.

75. Farinata pays no attention to this outburst of paternal tenderness on the part of his Guelfic kinsman, but waits, in stern indifference, till it is ended, and then calmly resumes his discourse.

80. The moon, called in the heavens Diana, on earth Luna, and in the infernal regions Proserpina.

86. In the great battle of Monte Aperto. The river Arbia is a few miles south of Siena. The traveller crosses it on his way to Rome. In this battle the banished Ghibellines of Florence, joining the Sienese, gained a victory over the Guelfs, and retook the city of Florence. Before the battle Buonaguida, Syndic of Siena, presented the keys of the city to the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral, and made a gift to her of the city and the neighboring country. After the battle the standard of the vanquished Florentines, together with their battle-bell, the Martinella, was tied to the tail of a jackass and dragged in the dirt. See Ampere, Voyage Dantesque, 254.

94. After the battle of Monte Aperto a diet of the Ghibellines was held at Empoli, in which the deputies from Siena and Pisa, prompted no doubt by provincial hatred, urged the demolition of Florence. Farinata vehemently opposed the project in a speech, thus given in Napier, Florentine History, I. 257:--

"`It would have been better,' he exclaimed, `to have died on the Arbia, than survive only to hear such a proposition as that which they were then discussing. There is no happiness in victory itself, that must ever be sought for amongst the companions who helped us to gain the day, and the injury we receive from an enemy inflicts a far more trifling wound than the wrong that comes from the hand of a friend. If I now complain, it is not that I fear the destruction of my native city, for as long as I have life to wield a sword Florence shall never be destroyed; but I cannot suppress my indignation at the discourses I have just been listening to: we are here assembled to discuss the wisest means of maintaining our influence in Florence, not to debate on its destruction, and my country would indeed be unfortunate, and I and my companions miserable, mean-spirited creatures, if it were true that the fate of our city depended on the fiat of the present assembly. I did hope that all former hatred would have been banished from such a meeting, and that our mutual destruction would not have been treacherously aimed at from under the false colors of general safety; I did hope that all here were convinced that counsel dictated by jealousy could never be advantageous to the general good! But to what does your hatred attach itself? To the ground on which the city stands? To its houses and insensible walls? To the fugitives who have abandoned it? Or to ourselves that now possess it? Who is he that thus advises? Who is the bold bad man that dare thus give voice to the malice he hath engendered in his soul? It is meet then that all your cities should exist unharmed, and ours alone be devoted to destruction? That you should return in triumph to your hearths, and we with whom you have conquered should have nothing in exchange but exile and the ruin of our country? Is there on of you who can believe that I could even hear such things with patience? Are you indeed ignorant that if I have carried arms, if I have persecuted my foes, I still have never ceased to love my country, and that I never will allow what even our enemies have respected to be violated by your hands, so that posterity may call them the saviours, us the destroyers of our country? Here then I declare, that, although I stand alone amongst the Florentines, I will never permit my native city to be destroyed, and if it be necessary for her sake to die a thousand deaths, I am ready to meet them all in her defence. '

"Farinata then rose, and with angry gestures quitted the assembly; but left such an impression on the mind of his audience that the project was instantly dropped, and the only question for the moment was how to regain a chief of such talent and influence."

119. Frederick II., son of the Emperor Henry VI., surnamed the Severe, and grandson of Barbarossa. He reigned from 1220 to 1250, not only as Emperor of Germany, but also as King of Naples and Sicily, where for the most part he held his court, one of the most brilliant of the Middle Ages. Villani, Cronica, V. I, thus sketches his character: "This Frederick reigned thirty years as Emperor, and was a man of great mark and great worth, learned in letter and of natural ability, universal in all things; he knew the Latin language, the Italian, the German, French, Greek, and Arabic; was copiously endowed with all virtues, liberal and courteous in giving, valiant and skilled in arms, and was much feared. And he was dissolute and voluptuous in many ways, and had many concubines and mamelukes, after the Saracenic fashion; he was addicted to all sensual delights, and led an Epicurean life, taking no account of any other; and this was one principal reason why he was an enemy to the clergy and the Holy Church." Milman, Lat. Christ., B. X., Chap. iii., says of him:

"Frederick's predilection for his native kingdom, for the bright cities reflected in the blue Mediterranean, over the dark barbaric towns of Germany, of itself characterizes the man. The summer skies, the more polished manners, the more elegant luxuries, the knowledge, the arts, the poetry, the gayety, the beauty, the romance of the South, were throughout his life more congenial to his mind, than the heavier and more chilly climate the feudal barbarism, the ruder pomp, the coarser habits of his German liegemen..... And no doubt that delicious climate and lovely land, so highly appreciated by the gay sovereign, was not without influence on the state, and even the manners of his court, to which other circumstances contributed to give a peculiar and romantic character. It resembled probably (though its full splendor was of a later period) Grenada in its glory, more than any other in Europe, though more rich and picturesque from the variety of races, of manners, usages, even dresses, which prevailed within it." Gibbon also, Decline and Fall, Chap. lix., gives this graphic picture:--

"Frederick the Second, the grandson of Barbarossa, was successively the pupil, the enemy, and the victim of the Church. At the age of twenty-one years, and in obedience to his guardian Innocent the Third, he assumed the cross; the same promise was repeated at his royal and imperial coronations; and his marriage with the heiress of Jerusalem forever bound him to defend the kingdom of his son Conrad. But as Frederick advanced in age and authority, he repented of the rash engagements of his youth: his liberal sense and knowledge taught him to despise the phantoms of superstition and the crowns of Asia: he no longer entertained the same reverence for the successors of Innocent; and his ambition was occupied by the restoration of the Italian monarchy, from Sicily to the Alps. But the success of this project would have reduced the Popes to their primitive simplicity; and, after the delays and excuses of twelve years, they urged the Emperor, with entreaties and threats, to fix the time and place of his departure for Palestine. In the harbors of Sicily and Apulia he prepared a fleet of one hundred galleys, and of one hundred vessels, that were famed to transport and land two thousand five hundred knights, with horses and attendants; his vassals of Naples and Germany formed a powerful army; and the number of English crusaders was magnified to sixty thousand by the report of frame. But the inevitable, or affected, slowness of these mighty preparations consumed the strength and provisions of the more indigent pilgrims; the multitude was thinned by sickness and desertion, and the sultry summer of Calabria anticipated the mischiefs of a Syrian campaign. At length the Emperor hoisted sail at Brundusium with a fleet and army of forty thousand men; but he kept the sea no more than three days; and his hasty retreat, which was ascribed by his friends to a grievous indisposition, was accused by his enemies as a voluntary and obstinate disobedience. For suspending his vow was Frederick excommunicated by Gregory the Ninth; for presuming, the next year, to accomplish his vow, he was again excommunicated by the same Pope. While he served under the banner of the cross, a crusade was preached against him in Italy; and after his return he was compelled to ask pardon for the injuries which he had suffered. The clergy and military orders of Palestine were previously instructed to renounce his communion and dispute his commands; and in his own kingdom the Emperor was forced to consent that the orders of the camp should be issued in the name of God and of the Christian republic. Frederick entered Jerusalem in triumph; and with his own hands (for no priest would perform the office) he took the crown from the alter of the holy sepulchre."

Matthew Paris, A. D. 1239, gives a long letter of Pope Gregory IX. in which he calls the Emperor some very hard names; "a beast, full of the words of blasphemy," "a wolf in sheep's clothing, " "a son lies," "a staff of the impious," and "hammer of the earth"; and finally accuses him of being the author of a work De Tribus Impostoribus, which, if it ever existed, is no longer to be found. "There is one thing," he says in conclusion, "at which, although we ought to mourn for a lost man, you ought to rejoice greatly, and for which you ought to return thanks to God, namely, that this man, who delights in being called a forerunner of Antichrist, by God's will, no longer endures to be veiled in darkness; not expecting that his trial and disgrace are near, he with his own hands undermines the wall of his abominations, and, by the said letters of his, brings his works of darkness to the light, boldly setting forth in them, that he could not be excommunicated by us, although the Vicar of Christ; thus affirming that the Church had not the power of binding and loosing, which was given by our Lord to St. Peter and his successors.....But as it may not be easily believed by some people that he has ensnared himself by the words of his own mouth, proofs are ready, to the triumph of the faith; for this king of pestilence openly asserts that the whole world was deceived by three, namely Christ Jesus, Moses, and Mahomet; that, two of them having died in glory, the said Jesus was suspended on the cross; and he, moreover, presumes plainly to affirm (or rather to lie), that all are foolish who believe that God, who created nature, and could do all things, was born of the Virgin."

120. This is Cardinal Ottaviano delgi Ubaldini, who is accused of saying, "If there be any soul, I have lost mine for the Ghibellines." Dante takes him at his word.

[Previous] [Contents] [Next]

 

 

 

Please read the terms under which this book is provided to you


Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More