Puslapio vaizdai


[ocr errors]

though even here we might instance passages imitated in which, apparently, a new meaning is intentionally given to one or more words.

One obvious case in which quotations may throw light upon interpretation is that of ätaf leyóueva, which are not uncommon in Dante, and, it may be added, come with suspicious frequency at the end of lines, in spite of his alleged boast that he never altered anything that he wished to say for the sake of a rhyme. If these occur, as they sometimes do, in a quotation or obvious imitation, we can often determine their sense pretty confidently. Thus, when Dante says

Quel fu il duro camo Che dovria l'uom tener dentro a sua meta' (Purg. xiv. 143), he is evidently thinking of Ps. xxxi. 9: 'In camo et freno maxillas eorum constringe; 'and we know that the word thus transliterated into Italian must mean'a bit. Also that Dante was familiar with the passage is shown by its direct quotation in De Mon. iii. 16. Again, the disputed interpretation of the word rimorte (again a äraç neyóuevov) in Purg. xxiv. 4,

•E l'ombre che parean cose rimorte,' seems really determined for us by the obvious imitation of

arbores ... bis mortuæ' in Jude 12. But there are a great inany words not uncommon in themselves, but used in an unusual or uncommon sense in Dante, the explanation of which may be traced in the same way. For Dante is said to have qualified the boast above referred to by adding that many times and oft (molte e spesse volte) he had made words to express for him that which they had not been in the habit of expressing for others. No student of Dante would feel any difficulty in admitting the truth of this. Thus, in Purg. x. 65, David dancing before the ark is described as 'trescando alzato. The interpretation of the latter word is very much disputed. It seems most probable that it represents "accinctus ephod lineo' in 2 Sam. vi. 14, in a narrative which Dante is here imitating throughout. The number of such passages is almost endless.* Two more from Ovid may be briefly mentioned. In Purg. xxviii. 50, 51–

Prosperina nel tempo che perdette

La madre lei, ed ella primavera,' the explanation of primavera has been variously given. We

[ocr errors]




* The two passages from Par. xii. already quoted above (p. 294) would also illustrate the use of quotations in interpretation.

[ocr errors]

venture to think that it is to be found in the passage which Dante is imitating from Ovid, Metam. v. 385 seq., and especially the lines 397-99 :

" Jatrem sæpius ore
Clamat; et ut summa vestem laniarat ab ora

Collecti flores tunicis cecidere remissis.' In other words, primavera means the flowers of spring that she had been gathering; and so, indeed, Dante uses the word elsewhere

'[rive] Dipinte di mirabil primavera' (Par, xxx. 63). So, again, some doubt has attached to the meaning of the word vivi in Purg. xxix. 95, where Dante compares the eyes of the four beasts' to those of Argus, se fosser vivi.' It surely means if they were alive' in the sense of awake and * watchful,' this proviso, so to speak, being required from a recollection that Ovid, from whom the story is borrowed, states that half of Argus's eyes were always closed, so that only half were at any time .vivi' (Ovid actually says ' vivebant'), whereas those of the four beasts''rest not day nor 'night.'

Centum luminibus cinctum caput Argus habebat :
Inque suis vicibus capiebant bina quietem :

Cætera servabant atque in statione vivebant' (Met. i. 623-7). But we must pass on, though many similar instances sug. gest themselves, and space compels us to limit ourselves to the merest hints or notes as to other practical applications of the special study of which we have been speaking. Another interesting problem to which it lends help is that of the actual Latin translation of Aristotle employed by Dante. Without going further into details, we may observe that such translations fall, at any rate, into two classes: the earlier ones made not directly from the Greek, but from Arabic versions of it ; * and later ones so recent as to be called 'new' in Dante's time, made from the Greek itself. Both, it need hardly be said, abound with blunders, unintelligent literal renderings of single words without regard to the sense of the context, and still stranger transliterations of Greek words, the meaning of which was unknown to the translator. Some of these are reproduced in Dante's citations of Aristotle, and when they are peculiar to one translation, or at any rate

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Indeed, some of the earliest Latin versions were four removes from the Greek (auct. Buhle), being based on a Hebrew translation of an Arabic translation of a Syriac translation of Aristotle !

[ocr errors]

to one class of translations, they afford a clue to the source from which Dante derived them. Several such coincidences enable us to determine, if not the actual translation which he used, at any rate within fairly narrow limits the family to which it belonged. The only illustration of this subject which is perhaps suitable for production here is the singular passage in Conv. ii. 15, in which Dante confesses himself unable to state with certainty the opinion of Aristotle as to the nature of the galaxy (the via di santo Jacopo '*) because it was different in the 'new' translation and the old.” Dante, fortunately, adds the view which is attributed to him in each of them. Thus we can start on our investigation of the subject with the clue that the 'new translation,' which naturally Dante is most likely to have employed, was one of those made directly from the Latin, since we find that those made through the Arabic exhibit the version attributed by Dante to the old translation. The further steps in the argument involve details too technical for reproduction here.

There is yet another line of argument, in which we think some use might be made of the study of the quotations in Dante if they were systematically worked out and tabulated, though at present the suggestion is rather a speculative one. We refer to what might be called the 'synchronism of quotations' in different works of Dante, as affording some evidence of approximate date of composition. Such evidence might be regarded as at least confirmatory of, and subsidiary to, other considerations. The task of determining the chronology of Dante's works is one of extreme difficulty. It is greatly complicated by the consideration that in days before formal publication the date of a work is rather an indeterminate matter. Not only may different parts of a work (as the Trattati of the Convito) exhibit evidence of very different dates, but a work in any of its parts would remain to a considerable extent in the author's control, and be capable of revision and alteration, and of being brought up to date, long after its contents were in a general sense known to a certain amount of public. Of such revisiou, too, some students have thought that there are indications even in the Divina Commedia. The arguments on which the solution of this question of date turns are almost entirely considerations of probability gathered from internal evidence. Among these, coincidences of thought and expression, sometimes very striking and unmistakeable, between portions of different

[ocr errors]

* So called from Galassia being confused with Galizia !

works have often been employed as evidence of probable synchronism in composition. If so, why should not the repetition of the same quotations, or the frequency of quotations occurring from the same author, or the same book, in two different works of Dante be taken as an indication of the grooves in which his thoughts were running at a given time, and that time, therefore, the one common to the composition of both works? It is, no doubt, only a slight argument; but so are pretty nearly all the arguments available in this investigation, when isolated; but if several agree in pointing in the same direction, the contributory force of each is not to be neglected.

This is but a fragmentary sketch of a large subject, and one which has yet to be worked out in detail. Nor must it be forgotten, as we said at the outset, that a field nearly as large remains beyond our limits in the evidences of Dante's study of Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Peter Lombard, Bonaventura, and several Scholastic writers besides, to say nothing of Alfraganus and other Arabian astronomers, to whom he is very frequently beholden, especially in the Convito. We hope that the importance and interest of the subject will before long engage the leisure and research of some one in the school of students of Dante, which, we are glad to believe, in spite of the deplorable neglect of the study of Italian in our schools and examinations, is, in these closing years of the nineteenth century, a large and ever-increasing body.

[ocr errors]

ART. III.-A Memoir of Mrs. Augustus Craven (Pauline de la Ferronays). By MARIA CATHERINE BISHOP.

. 2 vols. 8vo. London : 1894. IT T is always difficult to form a just estimate of society and

ways of living different from our own, even when these are within our own country and more or less within the conditions of our own existence. But this difficulty is greatly increased when country, language, and uses differ from ours, and we have to strain our intelligence to follow the lines of a life with which we have no familiarity. We, in our insular ways, are more separate from the rest of the kingdoms of the earth than are any of those nations who divide the Continent among them. We love, we rejoice, and mourn, as they do; we encounter the same human episodes and revolutions, but we do not express ourselves in the same way, and we often find it difficult to understand or to sympathise with their modes of expression. On the other hand, the very absence of this faculty of expression often gives to a journal intime from another language a popularity and an influence to which in itself it has little right.

The book before us is interesting from both these points of view. It is one of the best indications we could have of French life and character, and it is a kind of sequel to a work which of all journaux intimes is the most exquisite and touching The 'Récit d'une Sæur,' by which the name of Mrs. Craven will always be distinguished, is already an old book, and we dare not undertake to say how it is regarded by the new generation, which has a standard of taste so much changed from that of the last: though it may indeed be said to be a classic, and therefore one of the books which it touches the reputation of all who profess a a love of literature to know. We cannot but bope, however, that the book now before us, which is in some sort the completion and winding up of that wonderful history of love and sorrow, will do much to bring it back to the reader. Seldom has there been so full and delicate a record of youth, of love, of happiness and gaiety, and trouble and grief. The life of Mrs. Craven, its author, records the maturer years, the riper thoughts, the consolations and philosophy of a woman tried with every possible shock and sorrow, yet retaining the spirit and courage, the gay heart, the happy blood—to use a phrase of her own—of her early years through all.



« AnkstesnisTęsti »