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1 Convito, Tr. III. c. 3; Paradiso, XVIII. 108-130.
2 See an excellent discussion and elucidation of this matter by Witte, who so highly deserves the gratitude of all students of Dante, in Dante Alighieri's Lyrische Gedichte, Theil II. pp. 48-57. It was kindly old Boccaccio, who, without thinking any harm, first set this nonsense a going. His ‘Life of Dante’ is mainly a rhetorical exercise. After making Dante's marriage an excuse for revamping all the old slanders against matrimony, he adds gravely, ‘Certainly I do not affirm these things to have happened to Dante, for I do not know it, though it be true that (whether things like these or others were the cause of it), once parted from her, he would never come where she was nor suffer her to come where he was, for all that she was the mother of several children by him.’ That he did not come to her is not wonderful, for he would have been burned alive if he had. Dante could not send for her because he was a homeless wanderer. She remained in Florence with her children because she had powerful relations and perhaps property there. It is plain, also, that what Boccaccio says of Dante's lussuria had no better foundation. It gave him a chance to turn a period. He gives no particulars, and his general statement is simply incredible. Lionardo Bruni and Vellutello long ago pointed out the trifling and fictitious character of this ‘Life.’ Those familiar with Dante's allegorical diction will not lay much stress on the literal meaning of pargoletta in Purgatorio, XXXI. 59. Gentucca, of course, was a real person, one of those who had shown hospitality to the exile. Dante remembers them all somewhere, for gratitude (which is quite as rare as genius) was one of the virtues of his unforgetting nature. Boccaccio's ‘Comment’ is later and far more valuable than the ‘Life.’
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