« הקודםהמשך »
is it quite improbable, that Milton, although he has greatly improved and dignified the idea, might have caught from hence his fićtion of Satan soaring over the infernal abyss. At length Geryon, having circuited the air like a faulcon towering without prey, deposits his burthen and vanishes".
While they are wandering along the banks of Phlegethon, as the twilight of evening approaches, Dante suddenly hears the sound of a horn more loud than thunder, or the horn of Orlando'.
But Virgil informs Dante that he is deceived by appearances, and that these are not towers but the giants.
Sappi, che non son torri ma giganti
One of them cries out to Dante with horrible voice. Another, Ephialtes, is cloathed in iron and bound with huge chains.
* In the thirty-fourth Canto, Dante This Canto begins with a Latin line, and Virgil return to light on the back of
Lucifer, who (like Milton's Satan, ii. Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni. 27.) is described as having wings like * Or Roland, the subjećt of archbishop
ails, Turpin's romance. See supr. vol. i. 132. Vele di mar non vid'io mai est celi, * CANT. xxxi.
And again, * Ibid.
Dante views the horn which had sounded so vehemently hanging by a leathern thong from the neck of one of the giants. Antaeus, whose body stands ten ells high from the pit, is commanded by Virgil to advance. They both mount on his shoulders, and are thus carried about Cocytus. The giant, says the poet, moved off with us like the mast of a ship ". One cannot help observing, what has been indeed already hinted, how judiciously Milton, in a similar argument, has retained the just beauties, and avoided the childish or ludicrous excesses of these bold inventions. At the same time we may remark, how Dante has sometimes heightened, and sometimes diminished by improper additions or misrepresentations, the legitimate descriptions of Virgil.
One of the torments of the Damned in Dante's INFERNo, is the punishment of being eternally confined in lakes of ice.
Eran l'ombre dolenti nell ghiaccia
The ice is described to be like that of the Danube or Tanais. This species of infernal torment, which is neither directly warranted by scripture, nor suggested in the systems of the Platonic fabulists, and which has been adopted both by Shakespeare and Milton, has its origin in the legendary hell of the monks. Thescribe every thing. They follow the public manners: and if they are either obscene or indelicate, it should be remembered that they wrote before obscenity or indelicacy became offensive. Some of the Guilty are made objećts of contempt by a transformation into beastly or ridiculous shapes. This was from the fable of Circe. In others, the human figure is rendered ridiculous by distortion. There is one set of criminals whose faces are turned round towards their backs.
F Ibid. a pine-apple, of saint Peter's church at * Dante says, if I understand the pas. Rome, ibid. Cant. xxxi. sage right, that the face of one of the Come la pina di san Pietro a Roma.
giants resembled the Cupola, shaped like
Vol. III. I i Milton,
* Job, xxiv. 19.
scribe * CANT. xx. * CANT. xxxiii. They are both in the lake of ice.
But Dante has displayed more true poetry in describing a real event than in the best of his fićtions. This is in the story of Ugolino count of Pisa, the subjećt of a very capital pićture by Reynolds. The poet, wandering through the depths of hell, sees two of the Damned gnawing the sculls of each other, which was their daily food. He enquires the meaning of this dreadful repast.
La bocca sollevo dal fiero pasto
Ugolino quitting his companion's half-devoured scull, begins his tale to this effect. “We are Ugolin count of Pisa, and “ archbishop Ruggieri. Trusting in the perfidious counsels of “ Ruggieri, I was brought to a miserable death. I was com“mitted with four of my children to the dungeon of hunger. “ The time came when we expected food to be brought. In“ stead of which, I heard the gates of the horrible tower more “ closely barred. I looked at my children, and could not speak.
I i 2 “ Ed
I could not complain. I was petrified. My children cried: and my little Anselm, Anselmuccio mio, said, Father, you look on us, what is the matter Ž
— “ Tu guardi fi, padre, che hai 2"
I could neither weep, nor answer, all that day and the following night. When the scanty rays of the sun began to glimmer through the dolorous prison,
“The fourth day being come, Gaddo falling all along at my “feet, cried out, My father, why do not you help me, and died.