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[13] 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 in part1 by a contemporary as early as 1333, we learn that Dante soon separated himself from his companions in misfortune with mutual discontents and recriminations.2 During the nineteen years of Dante's exile, it would be hard to say where he was not. In certain districts of Northern Italy there is scarce a village that has not its tradition of him, its sedia, rocca, spelonca, or torre di Dante; and what between the patriotic complaisance of some biographers overwilling to gratify as many provincial vanities as possible, and the pettishness of others anxious only to snub them, the confusion becomes hopeless.3 After his banishment we find some definite trace of him first at Arezzo with Uguccione della Faggiuola; then at Siena; then at Verona with the Scaligeri. He

1 See Witte, ‘Quando e da chi sia composto la Ottimo Comento,’ etc. (Leipsic, 1847).

2 Ott. Corn. Parad. XVII.

3 The loose way in which many Italian scholars write history is as amazing as it is perplexing. For example: Count Balbo's ‘Life of Dante’ was published originally at Turin, in 1839. In a note (Lib. I. Cap. X.) he expresses a doubt whether the date of Dante's banishment should not be 1303, and inclines to think it should be. Meanwhile, it seems never to have occurred to him to employ some one to look at the original decree, still existing in the archives. Stranger still, Le Monnier,reprinting the work at Florence in 1853, within a stone'sthrow of the document itself, and with full permission from Balbo to make corrections, leaves the matter just where it was.

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