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[69] never been able wholly to satisfy, she already rose before him as the lost ideal of his youth, reproaching him with his desertion of purely spiritual aims. It is, perhaps, in allusion to this that he fixes the date of her death with such minute precision on the 9th June, 1390, most probably his own twenty-fifth birthday, on which he passed the boundary of adolescence.1

That there should seem to be a discrepancy between the Lady of the Vita Nuova and her of the Convito, Dante himself was already aware when writing the former and commenting it. Explaining the sonnet beginning Gentil pensier, he says, ‘In this sonnet I make two parts of myself according as my thoughts were divided in two. The one part I call heart, that is, the appetite, the other soul, that is, reason. . . . . It is true that in the preceding sonnet I take side with the heart against the eyes [which were weeping for the lost Beatrice], and that appears contrary to what I say in the present one; and therefore I say that in that sonnet also I mean by my heart the appetite, because my desire to remember me of my most gentle Lady was still greater than to behold this one, albeit I had already some appetite for her, but slight as should seem: whence it appears that the one saying is not contrary to the other.’2 When, therefore, Dante speaks of the love of this Lady as the ‘adversary of Reason,’ he uses the word in its highest sense, not as understanding (Intellectus), but as synonymous with soul. Already,

1 Convito, Tr. IV. c. 24. The date of Dante's birth is uncertain, but the period he assigns for it (Paradiso, XXII. 112-117) extends from the middle of May to the middle of June. If we understand Buti's astrological comment, the day should fall in June rather than May.

2 Vita Nuova, XXXIX. Compare for a different view, ‘The New Life of Dante, an Essay with Translations,’ by C. E. Norton, pp. 92 et seq.

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