first canto of the Inferno, unless Count Marchetti's ingenious and probable conjecture may be considered as having decided the question.
He may also pardon my failure the more, as I am not quite sure that he would be pleased with my success, since the Italians, with a pardonable nationality, are particularly jealous of all that is left them as a nation—their literature; and in the present bitterness of the classic and romantic war, are but ill disposed to permit a foreigner even to approve or imitate them, without finding some fault with his ultramontone presumption. I can easily enter into all this, knowing what would be thought in England of an Italian imitator of Milton, or if a translation of Monti, Pindemonte, or Arici, should be held up to the rising generation as a model for their future poetical essays. But I perceive that I am deviating into an address to the Italian reader, where my business is with the English one; and be they few or many, I must take my leave of both.
- [For Vincenzo Monti (1754-1828), see letter to Murray, October 15, 1816 (Letters, 1899, iii. 377, note 3); and for Ippolito Pindemonte (1753-1828), see letter to Murray, June 4, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 127, note 4). In his Essay on the Present Literature of Italy, Hobbouse supplies critical notices of Pindemonte and Monti, Historical Illustrations, 1818, pp. 413-449. Cesare Arici, lawyer and poet, was born at Brescia, July 2, 1782. His works (Padua, 1858, 4 vols.) include his didactic poems, La coltivazione degli Ulivi (1805), Il Corallo, 1810, La Pastorizia (on sheep-farming), 1814, and a translation of the works of Virgil. He died in 1836. (See, for a long and sympathetic notice, Tipaldo's Biografia degli Italiani Illutri, iii. 491, sq.)]
lupus ad vesperam vastavit eos, pardus vigilans super civitates eorum." Symbolically they have been from the earliest times understood as denoting—the panther, lust; the lion, pride; the wolf, avarice; the sins affecting youth, maturity, and old age. Later commentators have suggested that there may be an underlying political symbolism as well, and that the three beasts may stand for Florence with her "Black" and "White" parties, the power of France, and the Guelf party as typically representative of these vices (The Hell of Dante, A. J. Butler, 1892, p. 5. note).
Count Giovanni Marchetti degli Angelini (1790-1852), in his Discorso ... della prima e principale Allegoria del Poema di Dante, contributed to an edition of La Divina Commedia, published at Bologna, 1819-21, i. 17-44, and reissued in La Biografia di Dante ... 1822, v. 397, sq., etc., argues in favour of a double symbolism. (According to a life of Marchetti, prefixed to his Poesie, 1878 [Una notte di Dante, etc.], he met Byron at Bologna in 1819, and made his acquaintance.)]