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My spirit in stillness. That day and the next
Firm and unyielding. The poet, in his indignation at the horrid tale, breaks forth into a fearful denunciation against the city of Pisa for its cruelty to the count and his innocent children:
Oh thou Pisa, shame
The catastrophe of Count Ugolino happened at Pisa in 1289. Th count, an ambitious leader, was accused of treachery to his country, and, being overpowered by the opposite party, at the head of which was the Archbishop Ruggieri, he was shut up in a tower near the Arno
with two of his sons, Uguccione and Brigata, and two grandsons, Anselmuccio and Gaddo, the latter still of tender years.
After some weeks the archbishop caused the key of the tower to be thrown into
The the river, and left the five prisoners to be starved to death. tower was thenceforth called Torre della Fame,” “ The Tower of Hunger.”
237.—THE DIVINA COMMEDIA OF DANTE.-II. ARRIVING at the bottom of the ninth circle described, the poet beholds Lucifer, the emperor who sways the realms of sorrow,” standing forth with giant form, at mid-breast from the ice, with three heads, and holding a sinner in each of his mouths. The waist of the giant is at the centre of the earth. Virgil having Dante clinging to his back, turning with the head downwards, passed the central point and climbed up one of the legs of the giant, and between them and the ice; and then, by a secret path ascending, they both emerged on the other hemisphere of the earth, where Dante beheld a lofty hill, which is the mountain of Purgatory. Round the mountain are seven circles or vast cornices, one above the other, making so many prisons, in which the same sins are expiated which have been noticed in Hell, with this difference, that the souls having died in a state of repentance, hope cheers them until their hour of delivery comes.
A milder air breathes over this part of the poem, which is divided, like the Inferno, into thirtythree cantos, and contains many beautiful passages full of pathos. Such is the beginning of Canto viii., when Dante, speaking of the evening twilight, thus describes it :
Now was the hour that wakens fond desire
A poet of our own times (Byron) who, though less consistent in his judgment than Dante, less comprehensive in his views, and less sincere in his poetical faith, has, like him, made man and man's feelings the main theme of his verse, has also sung the Sweet Hour of Twilight,' the · Ave Maria' of Italy, the Hour of Prayer,' and The
Hour of Love,' and he has paraphrased the above passage of Dante in the following stanza :
Soft hour which wakes the wish and melts the heart
Seeming to weep the dying day's decay. At the foot of the mountain, and before entering the boundaries of Purgatory Proper, our poet met with many souls which were waiting for leave to begin their period of expiation, having deferred their repentance to the last moments of their life. Among others he saw Manfred, King of Sicily and Naples, who was killed at the battle of Benevento, fighting against Charles of Anjou.
At last, being admitted through the portals of Purgatory, Dante sees in the first circle those who expiate the sin of pride by carrying heavy stones, the weight of which bends their bodies to the ground. Among the rest he meets Oderigi of Gubbio, a miniature painter of some reputation, and a friend of Giotto, who confessed that his pupil, Franca, of Bologna, had surpassed him in his art, although through pride he would not acknowledge it in his lifetime. Reflecting upon the
precariousness of man's works and fame, Oderigi illustrates it by the example of his wrongs :
0 powers of man! how vain your glory, nipp'd
Shalt thou more
Briefer than is the twinkling of an eye
In the second cornice, or circle, the envious are confined, clad in sackcloth, and their eyes sewed up with a thread of wire. He hears two of the sufferers discussing the condition of Italy, and especially that of Tuscany, where a fine description is given of the course of the river Arno, from its source in the mountain of Falterona to its estuary on the coast of Pisa.
In the third circle those who have been prone to anger expiate their guilt by being involved in clouds of dense smoke. À certain Marco Lombardo, a Venetian noble, enters into a disquisition concerning the free will of man, which he defends against the doctrine of necessity :
• Brother,' he thus began, 'the world is blind,
If this were so,
And afterwards comes the following fine image :
• Forth from the plastic hand, who charm'd beholds
In the fourth circle is expiated the sin of indifference, or lukewarmness in piety and virtue ( accidia” in Italian), and in the fifth circle that of avarice.
Proceeding to the sixth circle, Dante and Virgil meet the poet Statius by the way, who tells them that he died a Christian. In the sixth circle the vices of gluttony and intemperance are expiated. Here Dante meets Forese Donati, the brother of his wife, and of Corso Donati, the leader of the Neri, and Dante's enemy. The whole conversation of Dante with Forese, who had died in 1295, before the broils which distracted Florence, breathes the remembrance of former sweet domestic affections, which were rudely broken asunder by civil discord. Dante here shows himself in an amiable light : he avoids naming Corso and his other political enemies of the Donati family, to which he was allied by marriage, whilst he speaks most kindly of Forese, and his sister Piccarda, who had died a nun. Forese, on his part, draws a most affectionate picture of his own wife, Nella; whose retired manner and modest worth he contrasts with the profligate manners of Florence's “ unblushing dames ” of that age :
In the sight of God
Reaching the seventh circle of Purgatory, Dante finds in it those who had indulged in the sin of lasciviousness, from which they are purified by fire. From the seventh circle Dante, in company with Virgil and Statius, proceeds to the terrestrial Paradise, which occupies the summit of the mountain of Purgatory, and in which the first man was placed by the Creator. Here Virgil tells him that he is no longer his guide, and that Beatrice will soon appear to lead him through the celestial Paradise, which Virgil is not allowed to enter.
Beatrice makes her appearance, descending in a cloud from Heaven, when the spirit of Virgil vanishes away from the sight of Dante. Beatrice, in a literal sense, is the soul of the early love of Dante, but, figuratively, it is understood to mean theology, by the assistance of which the poet is made to understand the mysteries of religion. Beatrice reproves Dante for the errors of his past life, which the poet humbly confesses, and he is taken across the waters of Lethe; and after many mystical visions the poet is drawn up with Beatrice to the heaven, or circle of Paradise. The Paradise, which forms the third part of Dante's poem,
consists of thirty-three cantos, like each of the two preceding parts. The circles or heavens are ten, the lowest being that of the Moon; next to