Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 10.djvu/110

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[9 th S. X. AUG. 9, 1902.

Leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan. The Delia Crusca favours this explanation : "Rosta. Strumento noto da farsi yento." Branches certainly resemble fans in this sense, or as screens from the sun-rays, but the notion, if poetic, is far-fetched. Dante simply means by rosta an obstacle which may be boughs or any other impediment which the duo nudi demolished in their head- long flight. Perazzini (quoted by Lombardi) confirms this. He says the Veronese " pueri apud nos quando aquae rivulum luto coercent, ne excurrat, dicunt se fecisse la rosta. Igitur quodvis est impedimentum excurrentibus per silvam objectum, quod tamen impetu ipso superari possit."

Observe also rompieno for rompevano, as (' Par.,' iii. 59 ; x. 81) movieno for movevano, and (Boccaccio) even in prose, facieno for facevano. The story of the two spendthrifts alluded to as the duo nudi is too well known to justify anything further than a mere reference. 2. Ibid., 143-4.

lo fui della citta che nel Batista

Mut6 il primo patrone.

Who was this suicide who found himself in the " Dolorosa Selva " 1 Conjecture is almost idle, seeing that the crime was so common in Florence in the fourteenth century. This practically puts all attemps at investigation out of court. Even Plumptre's remark that this passage depends for its significance on a knowledge of the early history of Florence is of slight help in this light. Dante (as Benvenuto observes) probably left the appli- cation open, though Benvenuto suggests Lotto degli Agli, a judge " qui, data una sententia falsa, ivit dpmum, et statim se suspendit." Others identify him with a certain Rocco de' Mozzi, whose debaucheries brought him so low that "egli stesso s' impicco per la gola nella sua casa."

This is, of course, pure conjecture, but the open application will necessarily render it permissible up to the Greek Kalends. Witte's text, I note, has " mut6 '1 primo patrone " ; and, according to Dr. Moore, four MSS. only give " patrone," whereas seventeen have " padrone." Lombardi and Bianchi follow the latter in their texts, with the substitution " cangi6 " for " mut6."

3. Ibid., 149.

Sovra il cener che d' Attila rimase.

Is Dante caught tripping in his history here 1 ? Possibly, just as greater than he have been so found more than once. Was it not rather Totila who besieged Florence 1 ? Dean Plumptre roundly charges the poet with con- fusing the two barbarian chiefs :

" When the city was laid waste by Totila (whom Dante confuses with Attila) in 450, it [the statue of Mars] was thrown into the Arno."

But the Dean's chronology entirely vitiates tiis charge. Totila reigned from AD. 541 to 552, whereas Attila's ravages of Lombardy occurred between A.D. 434 and 453. Clearly, therefore, if the statue of Mars first found a watery bed in the Arno in 450, it must have been under Attila and not under Totila that is, if the date be correct. It is just possible that 450 is a misprint for 550, which would place the event in the reign of Totila.

The Rev. H. F. Tozer ( l An English Com- mentary,' 1901, p. 74) echoes the Dean's indictment, and further implies that the poet had "mixed up a number of [other] tradi- tions."

"Dante has here confused Attila with Totila. King of the Ostrogoths a mistake which is found in some other writers of his time. Attila never came near Florence ; Totila besieged that city, and according to the common tradition destroyed it, though in reality he did not do so."

Of course he did not, owing to the generalship of Belisarius, so Dante was in double error. Attila never crossed the Apennines, and con- sequently could not have reduced Florence to a heap of ashes. The line is bad history ; but the canto is not ruined therebj 7 . Besides, the anachronism is pardonable.

"E un fatto," says Bianchi, who holds that Dante only voiced the erroneous opinion of his time in confusing Totila with Attila,

" che anche in qualche antica iscrizione si trova sbagliato il nome di Totila in quello di Attila. A Poppi, per esempio, nel Casentino, vi & una pietra dove leggesi che le mura di quella terra furono distrutte da Attila."

Evidently there was confusion of names all round ; out the mistake in nowise impairs the delicate sarcasm of the whole reference to the statue of Mars "il primo patrone "- which both Plumptre and Bianchi point out, though on slightly differing lines. The irony of fate is no less remarkable in that Mars effigy was thrice immersed, according to tradition, in the Arno (A.D. 450, 1078, and 1333 or 1337), and that his temple afterwards formed the substructure of the Baptistery, in addition to the city having been later dedi- cated to the Baptist.

4. Ibid., xiv. 30.

Come di neve in alpe senza vento.

" Another trace of distant wanderings, probably on the journey to Aries, implied in C. ix. 112, or to Paris ('Par.,' x. 136). The word 'Alp' is probably to be taken in its widest sense, of any lofty moun- tain."

Thus Plumptre ; but the second half of this gloss materially qualifies, if it does not alto-