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[105] the Imperialist can alike quote him for their purpose. Dante's ardent conviction would not let him see that both Church and Empire were on the wane. If an ugly suspicion of this would force itself upon him, perhaps he only clung to both the more tenaciously; but he was no blind theorist. He would reform the Church through the Church, and is less anxious for Italian independence than for Italian good government under an Emperor from Germany rather than from Utopia.

The Papacy was a necessary part of Dante's system, as a supplement to the Empire, which we strongly incline to believe was always foremost in his mind. In a passage already quoted, he says that ‘the soil where Rome sits is worthy beyond what men preach and admit,’ that is, as the birthplace of the Empire. Both in the Convito and the De Monarchia he affirms that the course of Roman history was providentially guided from the first. Rome was founded in the same year that brought into the world David, ancestor of the Redeemer after the flesh. St. Augustine said that ‘God showed in the most opulent and illustrious Empire of the Romans how much the civil virtues might avail even without true religion, that it might be understood how, this added, men became citizens of another city whose king is truth, whose law charity, and whose measure eternity.’ Dante goes further than this. He makes the Romans as well as the Jews a chosen people, the one as founders of civil society, the other as depositaries of the true faith.1 One side of Dante's mind

1 This results from the whole course of his argument in the second book of De Monarchia, and in the VI. Paradiso he calls the Roman eagle ‘the bird of God’ and ‘the scutcheon of God.’ We must remember that with Dante God is always the ‘Emperor of Heaven,’ the barons of whose court are the Apostles. (Paradiso, XXIV. 115; Ib., XXV. 17.)

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