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E Earth

The Earth surrounded by Air and Fire

Ga= Mouth of the Ganges Gi Straits of Gibraltar Gr= Greece

It = Italy

J = Jerusalem

P= Purgatory

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N. B.

Whenever Dante's minor works are cited, the references are to the Oxford Dante, Tutte le opere di Dante Alighieri, edited by Dr. E. Moore, 3d ed., 1904.

References to the Bible are printed in lower case Roman type.

Acts: The Acts of the Apostles.
En.: Virgil's Æneid.
ARIST. Aristotle.

Bull.: Bullettino della Società
Dantesca Italiana, publ. in
Florence, Nuova Serie.
CASINI: La Divina Commedia,

ed. by T. Casini, 4th ed., 1899. Cons.: Boethius's De Consolatione Philosophia. Conv.: Dante's Convivio. Cor.: The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. De Cons. Phil.: see Cons. Deut.: Deuteronomy. D'OVIDIO: F. D' Ovidio, Studii

sulla Divina Commedia, 1901. D' OVIDIO2: F. D'Ovidio, Il Purgatorio e il suo preludio, 1906.

D' OVIDIO 3: F. D' Ovidio,
Nuovi Studii danteschi, 1907.
Eccles. Ecclesiastes.

Ecclus. Ecclesiasticus.
Exod.: Exodus.

FLAM. F. Flamini, I significati reconditi della Divina Commedia e il suo fine supremo, 3 vols., 1903-.

Gen.: Genesis. Giorn. dant.: Giornale dantesco, publ. in Florence.

Giorn. stor.: Giornale storico della Letteratura italiana, publ. quarterly in Turin. Inf.: Dante's Inferno. Jer. Jeremiah. Levit.: Leviticus.


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THE Florence in which Dante lived was virtually an independent municipality controlled by trades' unions. Intense local pride, multifarious energy and enterprise, zest for politics, and partisan rivalry kept the blood of her citizens hot. The town was rapidly coming to the front rank among European cities; in manufactures and commerce she was a leader; inrushing wealth and increasing magnificence made her a pleasant abode. And all these interests self-government, business, luxurious living had the charm of novelty. So it was with painting, which was undergoing transformation at the hands of Giotto, the successor of Cimabue; so with sculpture and architecture; so with literature in the vulgar tongue, first introduced into Tuscany in the generation preceding Dante. Yet all these innovations were developing, not in a traditionless new settlement, but in a very ancient community, the home of countless generations of civilization. This, no doubt, is the reason why all her creative activities, material and intellectual, naturally assumed an artistic form in which delicacy and sobriety are allied to a dominant sense of harmony. It was a fit place for the breeding of genius: the swiftly growing town was big enough to afford a field for all kinds of talent, and yet so little that all were neighbors and merit could scarcely go unrecognized. The public offices, too, were numerous and the terms of service short, so that many citizens had a direct share in the management of affairs. On the other hand, the community was rent by party strife. The middle class, with its accumulating wealth and strength, was hated by the old military aristocracy, largely of Germanic origin, which lurked entrenched in castles within and without the city, surrounded by armed retainers, ready to seize upon any pretext to make trouble; and the burghers were bent on reducing the feudal lords to political impotence. The old quarrel between Guelfs and Ghibellines had

ceased with the defeat of the latter party at Benevento in 1266; but new factions, as irreconcilable as the old, carried on the internal war. The Whites, under the leadership of the Cerchi family, represented the new power of industry and money; the Donati, with their Blacks, stood for the old nobility, with which the unaffiliated lowest class was inclined to side. In 1300 the most active leaders of both parties were sentenced to banishment. The Blacks, unsuccessful at home, sought aid abroad. Pope Boniface VIII, who had an old claim on Tuscany, sent to the city that royal adventurer, Charles of Valois, ostensibly as a peacemaker. He entered Florence with an army, and straightway turned it over to the Blacks. The Whites were driven out, among them Dante, who never returned. This was in 1302.1

In such a community Dante was born in 1265, probably in the last days of May. We know little of his career. His works afford some bits of information, and there are a few scraps of documentary evidence; his neighbor, Giovanni Villani, inserted a brief sketch of him in his Chronicle; Boccaccio prepared a short, eulogistic account of him after his death, and his life was written in the next century by Leonardo Bruni. These are our principal sources. The mass of legend that has grown up about him makes the truth all the more difficult to ascertain. He came of a family ennobled several generations back, but neither rich nor particularly conspicuous. Their name was originally Alagherius, or Alaghieri. His own name, Dante, is a shortened form of Durante. His mother died during his childhood, and his father, after marrying again, died in 1283. A half-brother, Francesco, and a half-sister, Tana, were the fruit of this new marriage. Concerning another sister we do not know whether she was the child of the first wife or the second. As far as we can judge from the Commedia, the lad's early impressions of family life were happy. He doubtless received a careful

1 See R. W. Church, Dante: an Essay, 1878; E. G. Gardner, The Story of Florence, 1900; A. J. Butler, Dante, his Times and his Work, 2d ed., 1901; P. Villari, I primi due secoli della storia di Firenze: Ricerche, 1893-4 (English translation by L. Villari in 1894-5); R. Davidsohn, Geschichte von Florenz, II, 1908; I. Del Lungo, Da Bonifazio VIII a Arrigo VII, 1899.

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