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given; we, like others, must follow the commonly received statement. He was a man endowed with every virtue, but most eminent in war; and resolving to kill Porsenna, attired himself in the Tuscan habit, and using the Tuscan language, came to the camp, and approaching the seat where the king sat amongst his nobles, but not certainly knowing the king, and fearful to inquire, drew out his sword, and stabbed. one who he thought had most the appearance of king. Mutius was taken in the act, and whilst he was under examination, a pan of fire was brought to the king, who intended to sacrifice; Mutius thrust his right hand into the flame, and whilst it burnt stood looking at Porsenna with a steadfast and undaunted countenance; Porsenna at last in admiration dismissed him, and returned his sword, reaching it from his seat; Mutius received it in his left hand, which occasioned the name of Scævola, left-handed, and said, I have. overcome the terrors of Porsenna, yet am vanquished by his generosity, and gratitude obliges me to disclose what no punishment could extort'; and assured. him then, that three hundred Romans, all of the same resolution, lurked about his camp only waiting for an opportunity; he, by lot appointed to the enterprise, was not sorry that he had miscarried in it, because so brave and good a man deserved rather to be a friend to the Romans than an enemy."
103. Alcmæon, who slew his mother Eriphyle to avenge his father Amphiaraüs the soothsayer. See Purg. XII. Note 50.
Ovid, Met., IX. :
"The son shall bathe his hands in parent's blood
And in one act be both unjust and good."
118. Beatrice, beloved of God; "that blessed Beatrice, who lives in heaven with the angels and on earth with my soul."
131. Lessing, Theol. Schrift., I. 108: "If God held all Truth shut up in his right hand, and in his left only the ever restless instinct for Truth, ... and said to me, Choose! I should humbly fall down at his left, and say, Father, give! Pure Truth is for Thee alone!"
139. It must not be forgotten, that Beatrice is the symbol of Divine Wisdom. Dante says, Convito, III. 15: "In her countenance appear things which display some of the pleasures of Paradise"; and notes particularly "the eyes and smile." He then adds: "And here it should be known that the eyes of Wisdom are its demonstrations, by which the truth is most clearly seen; and its smile the persuasions, in which is displayed the interior light of Wisdom under a veil; and in these two things is felt the exceeding pleasure of beatitude, which is the chief good in Paradise. This pleasure cannot exist in anything here below, except in beholding these eyes and this smile."
1. The Heaven of Mercury, where are seen the spirits of those who for the love of fame achieved great deeds. Of its symbolism Dante says, Convito, II. 14: "The Heaven of Mercury may be compared to Dialectics, on account of two properties; for Mercury is the smallest star of heaven, since the quantity of its diameter is not more than two thousand and thirty-two miles, according to the estimate of Alfergano, who declares it to be one twenty-eighth part of the diameter of the Earth, which is six thousand and fifty-two miles. The other property is, that it is more veiled by the rays of the Sun than any other And these two properties are in Dialectics; for Dialectics are less in body than any Science; since in them is perfectly compiled and bounded as much doctrine as is found in ancient and modern Art; and it is more veiled than any Science, inasmuch as it proceeds by more sophistic and probable arguments than any other."
For the influences of Mercury, see Canto VI. Note 114.
10. Burns, The Vision:
"I saw thy pulse's maddening play
By passion driven;
And yet the light that led astray
Was light from heaven."
24. Milton, Par. Lost, V. 235:"Happiness in his power left free to will, Left to his own free will, his will though free, Yet mutable."
33. In illustration of this line, Venturi quotes the following epigram:“This hospital a pious person built,
But first he made the poor wherewith to fill 't." And Biagioli this:
"C'est un homme d'honneur, de piété profonde, Et qui veut rendre à Dieu ce qu'il a pris au monde."
52. That which is sacrificed, or of which an offering is made.
57. Without the permission of Holy Church, symbolized by the two keys; the silver key of Knowledge, and the golden key of Authority. See Purg.
More precious one is, but the other needs
More art and intellect ere it unlock,
60. The thing substituted must be greater than the thing relinquished.
66. Judges xi. 30: "And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt-offering..... And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; and she was his only child: besides her he had neither son nor daughter."
ing, opposed them with arms and
70. Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, breast." I. 1, Buckley's Tr.:
"O thou who rulest over this Grecian expedition, Agamemnon, thou wilt not lead forth thy ships from the ports of this land, before Diana shall receive thy daughter Iphigenia as a victim; for thou didst vow to sacrifice to the light-bearing Goddess whatsoever the year should bring forth most beautiful. Now your wife Clytemnestra has brought forth a daughter in your house, referring to me the title of the most beautiful, whom thou must needs sacrifice. And so, by the arts of Ulysses, they drew me from my mother under pretence of being wedded to Achilles. But I wretched coming to Aulis, being seized and raised aloft above the pyre, would have been slain by the sword; but Diana, giving to the Greeks a stag in my stead, stole me away, and, sending me through the clear ether, she settled me in this land of the Tauri, where barbarian Thoas rules the land."
80. Dante, Convito, I. 11: « These should be called sheep, and not men; for if one sheep should throw itself down a precipice of a thousand feet, all the others would follow, and if one sheep, in passing along the road, leaps from any cause, all the others leap, though seeing no cause for it. And I once saw several leap into a well, on account of one that had leaped in, thinking perhaps it was leaping over a wall; notwithstanding that the shepherd, weeping and wail31
82. Lucretius, Nature of Things, II. 324, Good's Tr. :
"The fleecy flocks, o'er yonder hill that browse, From glebe to glebe, where'er, impearled with
The jocund clover call them, and the lambs
87. Towards the Sun, where the heaven is brightest.
95. The Heaven of Mercury.
97. Brunetto Latini, Tresor, I., Ch. 3, says, the planet Mercury "is easily moved according to the goodness or malice of the planets to which it is joined." Dante here represents himself as being of a peculiarly mercurial temperament.
108. The joy of spirits in Paradise is shown by greater brightness.
121. The spirit of Justinian.
129. Mercury is the planet nearest the Sun, and being thus "veiled with alien rays," is only visible to the naked eye at the time of its greatest elongation, and then but for a few minutes.
Dante, Convito, II. 14, says, that Mercury "is more veiled by the rays of the Sun than any other star." And yet it will be observed that in his planetary system he places Venus between Mercury and the Sun.
133. Milton, Par. Lost, III. 380:"Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear, Yet dazzle heaven."
And again, V. 598:
"A flaming mount, whose top Brightness had made invisible."
1. The Heaven of Mercury continued.
In the year 330, Constantine, after his conversion and baptism by Sylvester (Inf. XXVII. Note 94), removed the seat of empire from Rome to Byzantium, which received from him its more modern name of Constantinople. He called it also New Rome; and, having promised to the Senators and their families that they should soon tread again on Roman soil, he had the streets of Constantinople strewn with earth which he had brought from Rome in ships.
The transfer of the empire from west to east was turning the imperial eagle against the course of heaven, which it had followed in coming from Troy to Italy with Eneas, who married Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, and was the founder of the Roman Empire.
4. From 324, when the seat of empire was transferred to Constantinople by Constantine, to 527, when the reign of Justinian began.
5. The mountains of Asia, between Constantinople and the site of Troy.
10. Cæsar, or Kaiser, the general title of all the Roman Emperors.
The character of Justinian is thus sketched by Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Ch. XLIII.:
"The Emperor was easy of access, patient of hearing, courteous and affable in discourse, and a master of the
angry passions, which rage with such destructive violence in the breast of a despot. Procopius praises his temper to reproach him with calm and deliberate cruelty; but in the conspiracies which attacked his authority and person, a more candid judge will approve the justice or admire the clemency of Justinian. He excelled in the private virtues of chastity and temperance; but the impartial love of beauty would have been less mischievous than his conjugal tenderness for Theodora ; and his abstemious diet was regulated, not by the prudence of a philosopher, but the superstition of a monk. His repasts were short and frugal; on solemn fasts he contented himself with water and vegetables; and such was his strength as well as fervor, that he frequently passed two days, and as many nights, without tasting any food. The measure of his sleep was not less rigorous; after the repose of a single hour the body was awakened by the soul, and, to the astonishment of his chamberlain, Justinian walked or studied till the morning light. Such restless application prolonged his time for the acquisition of knowledge and the despatch. of business; and he might seriously deserve the reproach of confounding, by minute and preposterous diligence, the general order of his administration. The Emperor professed himself a musician and architect, a poet and philosopher, a lawyer and theologian; and
if he failed in the enterprise of reconciling the Christian sects, the review of the Roman jurisprudence is a noble monument of his spirit and industry. In the government of the empire he was less wise or less successful: the age was unfortunate; the people was oppressed and discontented; Theodora abused her power; a succession of bad ministers disgraced his judgment; and Justinian was neither beloved in his life, nor regretted at his death. The love of fame was deeply implanted in his breast, but he condescended to the poor ambition of titles, honors, and contemporary praise; and while he labored to fix the admiration, he forfeited the esteem and affection of the Romans."
12. Of the reform of the Roman Laws, by which they were reduced from two thousand volumes to fifty, Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Ch. XLIV., says: "The vain titles of the victories of Justinian are crumbled into dust; but the name of the legislator is inscribed on a fair and everlasting monument. Under his reign, and by his care, the civil jurisprudence was digested in the immortal works of the CODE, the PANDECT, and the INSTITUTES; the public reason of the Romans has been silently or studiously transfused into the domestic institutions of Europe, and the laws of Justinian still command the respect or obedience of independent nations. Wise or fortunate is the prince who connects his own reputation with the honor and interest of a perpetual order of men."
This is what Dante alludes to, Purg. VI. 89: —
"What boots it, that for thee Justinian The bridle mend, if empty be the saddle?"
14. The heresy of Eutyches, who maintained that only the Divine nature existed in Christ, not the human; and consequently that the Christ crucified. was not the real Christ, but a phan
16. Agapetus was Pope, or Bishop of Rome, in the year 515, and was compelled by King Theodotus the Ostrogoth to go upon an embassy to the Emperor Justinian at Constantinople, where he refused to hold any communication with Anthimus, Bishop of Trebizond, who, against the canon of the Church, had been transferred from his own see to that of Constantinople. Milman, Hist. Latin Christ., I. 460, says: "Agapetus, in a conference, condescended to satisfy the Emperor as to his own unimpeachable orthodoxy. Justinian sternly commanded him to communicate with Anthimus. . With the Bishop of Trebizond,' replied the unawed ecclesiastic, when he has returned to his diocese, and accepted the Council of Chalcedon and the letters of Leo.' The Emperor in a louder voice commanded him to acknowledge the Bishop of Constantinople on pain of immediate exile. I came hither in my old age to see, as I supposed, a religious and a Christian Emperor; I find a new Diocletian. But I fear not kings' menaces, I am ready to lay down my life for the truth.' The