previous next
[110] rather than direct statements. The general notion of God was still (perhaps is largely even now) of a provincial, one might almost say a denominational, Deity. The popular poets always represent Macon, Apolin, Tervagant, and the rest as quasi-deities unable to resist the superior strength of the Christian God. The Paynim answers the arguments of his would-be converters with the taunt that he would never worship a divinity who could not save himself from being done ignominiously to death. Dante evidently was not satisfied with the narrow conception which limits the interest of the Deity to the affairs of Jews and Christians. That saying of Saint Paul, ‘Whom, therefore, ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you,’ had perhaps influenced him, but his belief in the divine mission of the Roman people probably was conclusive. ‘The Roman Empire had the help of miracles 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.’1 In the Convito we find ‘Virgil speaking in the person of God,’ and Aeacus ‘wisely having recourse to God,’ the god being Jupiter.2 Ephialtes is punished in hell for rebellion against ‘the Supreme Jove,’3 and, that there may be no misunderstanding, Dante elsewhere invokes the

Jove Supreme,
Who upon earth for us wast crucified.

Purgatorio, VI. 118, 119. 4

It is noticeable also that Dante, with evident design,

1 De Monarchia, Lib. II. § 4.

2 Convito, Tr. IV. c. 4; Ib., c. 27; Aeneid, I. 178, 179; Ovid's Met., VII.

3 Inferno, XXXI. 92.

4 Pulci, not understanding, has parodied this. (‘Morgante,’ Canto II. st. 1.)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
St. Paul (Minnesota, United States) (1)
Ovid (Michigan, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Pietro Di Dante (3)
Numa Pompilius (1)
I. Lib (1)
Jupiter (1)
Ephialtes (1)
Aeacus (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: