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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
cles in perfecting itself, he says, and then enumerates some of them. The first is that under Numa Pompilius, the second king of the Romans, when he was sacrificing according to the rite of the Gentiles, a shield fell from heaven into the city chosen of God. De Monarchia, Lib. II. ยง 4. In the Convito we find Virgil speaking in the person of God, and Aeacus wisely having recourse to God, the god being Jupiter. Convito, Tr. IV. c. 4; Ib., c. 27; Aeneid, I. 178, 179; Ovid's Met., VII. Ephialtes is punished in hell for rebellion against the Supreme Jove, Inferno, XXXI. 92. and, that there may be no misunderstanding, Dante elsewhere invokes the Jove Supreme, Who upon earth for us wast crucified. Purgatorio, VI. 118, 119. Pulci, not understanding, has parodied this. (Morgante, Canto II. st. 1.) It is noticeable also that Dante, with evident design, constantly alternates examples drawn from Christian and Pagan tradition or mythology. See, for example, Purgatorio, XX.