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v. 70. Caesar.] For the opprobrium east on Caesar's effeminacy, see Suetonius, Julius Caesar, c. 49.
v. 83. Guinicelli.] See Note to Canto XI. 96.
v. 87. lycurgus.] Statius, Theb. 1. iv. and v. Hypsipile had left her infant charge, the son of Lycurgus, on a bank, where it was destroyed by a serpent, when she went to show the Argive army the river of Langia: and, on her escaping the effects of Lycurgus's resentment, the joy her own children felt at the sight of her was such as our Poet felt on beholding his predecessor Guinicelli.
The incidents are beautifully described in Statius, and seem to have made an impression on Dante, for he again (Canto XXII. 110.) characterizes Hypsipile, as her- Who show'd Langia's wave.
v. 111. He.] The united testimony of Dante, and of Petrarch, in his Triumph of Love, e. iv. places Arnault Daniel at the head of the Provencal poets. That he was born of poor but noble parents, at the castle of Ribeyrae in Perigord, and that he was at the English court, is the amount of Millot's information concerning him (t. ii. p. 479).
The account there given of his writings is not much more satisfactory, and the criticism on them must go for little better than nothing.
It is to be regretted that we have not an opportunity of judging for ourselves of his "love ditties and his tales of prose "
Versi d'amore e prose di romanzi.
Our Poet frequently cities him in the work De Vulgari Eloquentia. According to Crescimbeni, (Della Volg. Poes. 1. 1. p. 7. ed. 1698.) He died in 1189.
v. 113. The songster of Limoges.] Giraud de Borneil, of Sideuil, a castle in Limoges. He was a troubadour, much admired and caressed in his day, and appears to have been in favour with the monarchs of Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Arragon He is quoted by Dante, De Vulg. Eloq., and many of his poems are still remaining in MS. According to Nostradamus he died in 1278. Millot, Hist. Litt. des Troub. t. ii. p. 1 and 23. But I suspect that there is some error in this date, and that he did not live to see so late a period.
v. 118. Guittone.] See Cano XXIV. 56.
v. 123. Far as needs.] See Canto XI. 23.
v. 132. Thy courtesy.] Arnault is here made to speak in his own tongue, the Provencal. According to Dante, (De Vulg. Eloq. 1. 1. c. 8.) the Provencal was one language with the Spanish. What he says on this subject is so curious, that the reader will perhaps not be displeased it I give an abstract of it.
He first makes three great divisions of the European languages. "One of these extends from the mouths of the Danube, or the lake of Maeotis, to the western limits of England, and is bounded by the limits of the French and Italians, and by the ocean. One idiom obtained over the whole of this space: but was afterwards subdivided into, the Sclavonian, Hungarian, Teutonic, Saxon, English, and the vernacular tongues of several other people, one sign remaining to all, that they use the affirmative io, (our English ay.) The whole of Europe, beginning from the Hungarian limits and stretching towards the east, has a second idiom which reaches still further than the end of Europe into Asia. This is the Greek. In all that remains of Europe, there is a third idiom subdivided into three dialects, which may be severally distinguished by the use of the affirmatives, oc, oil, and si; the first spoken by the Spaniards, the next by the French, and the third by the Latins (or Italians). The first occupy the western part of southern Europe, beginning from the limits of the Genoese. The third occupy the eastern part from the said limits, as far, that is, as the promontory of Italy, where the Adriatic sea begins, and to Sicily. The second are in a manner northern with respect to these for they have the Germans to the east and north, on the west they are bounded by the English sea, and the mountains of Arragon, and on the south by the people of Provence and the declivity of the Apennine." Ibid. c. x. "Each of these three," he observes, "has its own claims to distinction The excellency of the French language consists in its being best adapted, on account of its facility and agreeableness, to prose narration, (quicquid redactum, sive inventum est ad vulgare prosaicum suum est); and he instances the books compiled on the gests of the Trojans and Romans and the delightful adventures of King Arthur, with many other histories and works of instruction. The Spanish (or Provencal) may boast of its having produced such as first cultivated in this as in a more perfect and sweet language, the vernacular poetry: among whom are Pierre d'Auvergne, and others more ancient. The privileges of the Latin, or Italian are two: first that it may reckon for its own those writers who have adopted a more sweet and subtle style of poetry, in the number of whom are Cino, da Pistoia and his friend, and the next, that its writers seem to adhere to, certain general rules of grammar, and in so doing give it, in the opinion of the intelligent, a very weighty pretension to preference."