The second book is very curious.
In it Dante
endeavors to demonstrate the divine right of the Roman Empire
to universal sovereignty.
One of his arguments is, that Christ
consented to be born under the reign of Augustus; another, that he assented to the imperial jurisdiction in allowing himself to be crucified under a decree of one of its courts.
The atonement could not have been accomplished unless Christ
suffered under sentence of a court having jurisdiction, for otherwise his condemnation would have been an injustice and not a penalty.
Moreover, since all mankind was typified in the person of Christ
, the court must have been one having jurisdiction over all mankind; and since he was delivered to Pilate, an officer of Tiberius
, it must follow that the jurisdiction of Tiberius
He draws an argument also from the wager of battle to prove that the Roman Empire
was divinely permitted, at least, if not instituted.
For since it is admitted that God gives the victory, and since the Romans always won it, therefore it was God's will that the Romans should attain universal empire.
In the third book he endeavors to prove that the emperor holds by divine right, and not by permission of the pope.
He assigns supremacy to the pope in spirituals, and to the emperor in temporals.
This was a delicate subject, and though the king of Saxony
(a Catholic) says that Dante
did not overstep the limits of orthodoxy, it was on account of this part of the book that it was condemned as heretical.1
Next follows the treatise De Vulgari Eloquio
. Though we have doubts whether we possess this book as Dante
wrote it, inclining rather to think that it is a copy in