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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
n within the boundaries of the republic. That Dante was not of the grandi, or great nobles (what we call grandees), as some of his biographers have tried to make out, is plain from this sentence, where his name appears low on the list and with no ornamental prefix, after half a dozen domini. Bayle, however, is equally wrong in supposing his family to have been obscure. From this time the life of Dante becomes semi-mythical, and for nearly every date we are reduced to the as they say of Herodotus. He became now necessarily identified with his fellow-exiles (fragments of all parties united by common wrongs in a practical, if not theoretic, Ghibellinism), and shared in their attempts to reinstate themselves by force of arms. He was one of their council of twelve, but withdrew from it on account of the unwisdom of their measures. Whether he was present at their futile assault on Florence (July 22, 1304) is doubtful, but probably he was not. From the Ottimo Comento, written at least