106. This cord has puzzled the commentators exceedingly.
Boccaccio, Volpi, and Venturi, do not explain it. The anonymous
author of the Ottimo, Benvenuto da Imola, Buti, Landino, Vellutello,
and Daniello, all think it means fraud, which Dante had used in the
pursuit of pleasure,--
"the panther with the painted skin." Lombardi is of opinion that,
"by girding himself with the Franciscan cord, he had endeavored
to restrain his sensual appetites, indicated by the panther; and
still wearing the cord as a Tertiary of the Order, he makes it
serve here to deceive Geryon, and bring him up." Biagioli
understands by it "the humility with which a man should approach
Science, because it is she that humbles the proud." Fraticelli
thinks it means vigilance; Tommaseo, "the good faith with which
he hoped to win the Florentines, and now wishes to deal with
their fraud, so that it may not harm him"; and Gabrielli Rossetti
says, "Dante flattered himself, acting as a sincere Ghibelline,
that he should meet with good faith from his Guelf countrymen,
and met instead with horrible fraud."
Dante elsewhere speaks of the cord in a good sense. In
Purgatorio, VII.114, Peter of Aragon is "girt with the cord of
every virtue. " In Inferno, XXVII. 92, it is mortification, "the
cord that used to make those girt with it more meagre"; and in
Paradiso, XI. 87, it is humility, "that family which had already
girt the humble cord."
It will be remembered that St. Francis, the founder of the
Cordeliers (the wearers of the cord), used to call his body
asino, or ass, and to subdue it with the capestro, or halter.
Thus the cord is made to symbolize the subjugation of the animal
nature. This renders Lombardi's interpretation the most
intelligible and satisfactory, though Virgil seems to have thrown
the cord into the abyss simply because he had nothing else to
throw, and not with the design of deceiving.
112. As a man does naturally in the act of throwing.
131. That Geryon, seeing the cord, ascends, expecting to find
some moine defroque, and carry him down, as Lombardi suggests, is
hardly admissible; for that was not his office. The spirits were
hurled down to their appointed places, as soon as Minos doomed
them. Inferno, V.15.
132. Even to a steadfast heart.