Dante: The Divine Comedy

Index EFGH


Echo

A nymph who loved Narcissus, who was deprived of the ability to initiate speech by Juno, and wasted away with unrequited love until she became a mere voice repeating the last words she heard uttered. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses III 358-493.

Paradiso Canto XII:1-36. She is mentioned.

Edward I, King of England

King of England (1272-1307) in 1300, the date of the Vision.

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. Dante refers to the wars against the Scots. Edward claimed the crown of Scotland and suppressed William Wallace’s popular uprising. Later Scotland obtained national independence under Robert the Bruce, at Bannockburn, in 1314. Edward is held as an example of poor kingship.

Egidius, Giles, Friar

The third companion of Saint Francis. His sayings were collected in the Verba Aurea. He died in 1261.

Paradiso Canto XI:43-117. He is mentioned.

Eleanor, wife of Henry III of England

See Henry III.

Electra

The Pleiad, and mother by Zeus of Dardanus founder of Troy. She was, in one version, the seventh star of the Pleiades that was said to have disappeared in grief for the destruction of Troy and the house of Dardanus. The Palladium, or effigy of Pallas Athene was cast down with Electra from Olympus by Athene, when Zeus had violated Electra and she had defiled the statue with her touch. Electra gave it to her son Dardanus. She was thought to have founded the Italian town of Fiesole, as Antenor was thought to have founded Padua.

Inferno Canto IV:106-129. She is among the heroes and heroines in Limbo.

Elias

A name for Elijah, used in the Gospels.

Purgatorio Canto XXXII:64-99. At the Transfiguration, see Matthew xviii 1-8, Christ shone like the sun in white raiment, and Moses and Elias appeared talking with him.

Elijah, the Prophet

The prophet, who opposed the cult of Baal among the Israelites. He lived as a hermit on Mount Carmel, according to legend, and was regarded by the Carmelites as a founder of their order. He mounted to Heaven in a fiery chariot. See Second Kings ii 11

Inferno Canto XXVI:1-42. He is mentioned.

Eliseo, brother of Cacciaguida

Paradiso Canto XV:88-148. He is mentioned.

Elisha

The Old Testament prophet, who witnessed Elijah’s ascension to Heaven. He was mocked by little children near Beth-el, and cursed them, and two she bears came out of the wood and ate forty-two of them. See Second Kings ii 23-24.

Inferno Canto XXVI:1-42. He is mentioned.

Empedocles

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a citizen of Akragas, or Agrigentum, in Sicily. He was alive in 443/44 BC, and gave rise to a number of apocryphal stories about his magical abilities as a Pythagorean. He taught that matter is indestructible, and invented the idea of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water. Objects are a mingling of the four elements, but the elements themselves are indestructible. He taught the ideas of world-cycles, of the war of opposites, or discord of the elements, and the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. His root forces in nature, are Love and Hate, that generate the discord of the elements. (‘Empedocles has thrown all things about.’ Yeats: ‘The Gyres’ line 6)

Inferno Canto IV:130-151. He is among the philosophers in Limbo.

Inferno Canto XII:28-48. He taught that harmony, replacing discord, among the elements would result in a state of chaos.

Ephialtes

The Giant son of Neptune, and his brother Otus, warred against the gods, and tried to pile Pelion on Ossa, and both mountains on Olympus, but were killed by Apollo.

Inferno Canto XXXI:82-96. He helps guard the central well.

Epicurus

The Greek philospher of Samos (341-270BC) founder of the Garden, taught that the true happiness was an absence of pain, and gave a code of conduct for avoidance of mental and physical pain, concentrating on simple and moral essentials of the good life. The Epicureans were atomists, and denied the evidence for divine intervention in human affairs. Cicero was a student of the Epicurean Phaedrus. Dante expounds his philosophy in Convitio iv. 6:100-110.

The neo-Epicurean Catari and Paterini heretics of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries may have denied the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. Epicurus certainly concentrated on life in this world, and like Buddha, Confucius, and Lao-Tzu was reticent about the afterlife.

Inferno Canto X:1-21. He and his followers are entombed in the Sixth Circle. For the valley of Jehoshaphat see the Bible, Joel iii 2.

Erichtho

A Thessalian sorceress mentioned by Lucan in the Pharsalia vi 507-826, where she summons up the spirit of a dead soldier for Sextus Pompeius before the battle. Dante’s reference is to some further unknown tradition about her presence in the lowest regions of Hell, the Giudecca (See Inferno Canto XXXIV)

Inferno Canto IX:1-33. She had previously sent Virgil to Hell proper to bring out a soul from the Giudecca, the circle of Judas.

Erinyes, the Furies

The Eumenides or Kindly Ones, a euphemism for the Erinyes, the three sisters, the Furies, who live in Erebus. They punish crimes by hounding the wrongdoer, and acting as the unremitting conscience. They are crones with dog’s heads and bat’s wings, snakes for hair, and black bodies, and torment their victims. Their names are Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera. For Dante they symbolise remorse, as Medusa symbolises despair. The recollection of past sins is a potential source of despair, delaying penitence and turning the soul back to wrongdoing.

Inferno Canto IX:34-63. They challenge the poets.

Eriphyle

The wife of Amphiaräus, who betrayed him, bribed with the necklace of Harmonia, and was killed by her son Alcmaeon in retribution.

Purgatorio Canto XII:1-63. She is mentioned.

Erysichthon

The son of the Thessalian King Tropias. He committed sacrilege against the goddess Ceres by cutting down her sacred tree, and was punished with an inappeasable hunger. He consumed his own flesh until he starved. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VIII 738-878.

Purgatorio Canto XXIII:1-36. He is mentioned.

Esau

Jacob’s brother, the son of Isaac and Rebeccah, a hunter, a man of the fields. The brothers’ rivalry was seen as an analogy of Church and Synagogue. Jacob deprived Esau of his father Isaac’s blessing by guile, and Esau, the man of Edom, sold Jacob his birthright for ‘a mess of pottage’. See Genesis xxv 19-34.

Paradiso Canto VIII:85-148. Jacob and Esau as contrasting types.

Este, Azzo da

Azzo VIII of Este, Lord of Ferrara (1293-1308) married Beatrice, daughter of Charles II of Anjou and Naples, in 1305.

Inferno Canto XII:100-139. He was the son of Obizzo II whom he was said to have murdered.

Purgatorio Canto V:64-84. He ordered the murder of Jacopo del Cassero.

Este, Beatrice da

See Beatrice d’Este.

Este, Obizzo da

Obizzo II of Este, fourth Marquis of Ferrara and the March of Ancona (from 1264-1293), the grandson of Azzo VII called Azzo Novello, who had led the Guelf crusaders against Ezzelino. Obizzo, dying in 1293, was said to have been murdered by his son and successor Azzo VIII (from 1293-1308), whom Dante calls his stepson in reference to the unnatural nature of the crime. His daughter Beatrice married Nino de’ Visconti of Pisa, then Galeazzo Visconti of Milan.

Inferno Canto XII:100-139. He is placed in the seventh circle in the first ring, of tyrants.

Inferno Canto XVIII:40-66. His follower Venedico Caccianimico, a leading Guelph, exiled in 1289, assisted him in his seduction of Venedico’s own sister, Ghisola, who later married Niccolò de Fontana of Ferrara in 1270.

Esther

Ahasuerus, the Persian King, enriched Haman, until he was accused by Esther of intending to take the life of Mordecai. Haman was executed in Mordecai’s place. See Esther iii-viii.

Purgatorio Canto XVII:1-39. He is mentioned.

Eteocles

The son of Oedipus and Jocasta, and brother of Polynices. They fought over the succession, in the war of the Seven against Thebes. Both brothers were killed and, according to Statius in the Thebaid xii 429 et seq. the flames of their funeral pyre itself were divided.

Inferno Canto XXVI:43-84. They are mentioned.

Purgatorio Canto XXII:55-93. They are indirectly mentioned.

Euclid

The Greek mathematician and founder of geometry. He flourished c.300 BC.

Inferno Canto IV:130-151. He is among the group of wise men in Limbo.

Paradiso Canto XIII:91-142. Dante quotes an example from Euclid’s Elements.

Paradiso Canto XVII:1-99. A further geometric analogy.

Euripides

The Greek tragic playwright (480-441BC).

Purgatorio Canto XXII:94-114. He is in Limbo.

Europa

The daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor, abducted by Jupiter disguised as a bull. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses II 858, VI 104.

Paradiso Canto XXVII:67-96. Her abduction from the Phoenician shore, near Tyre, at the longitude of Jerusalem is mentioned.

Euryalus

Inferno Canto I:100-111. The close comrade of Nisus in the Aeneid, noted for his beauty. His death is described in Aeneid IX.

Eurypylus

The son of Telephus, sent by the Greeks to the oracle of Apollo, according to Sinon, to ask for a favourable wind to return home to Greece. The oracle replied by reminding them of the incident at Aulis, and telling them to shed blood again. At Aulis, where the Greek ships waited for a favourable wind to sail to Troy, Calchas interpreted the appearance of a snake that killed a sparrow and her eight fledglings, and then was turned to stone. It signified that Troy would be taken in the tenth year after a long struggle. He also prophesied that they must pacify Artemis by sacrificing Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia. After that the north-east wind dropped and the fleet was able to set sail for Troy. Eurypylus’s trip to the oracle is described by Virgil in his high ‘Tragedía’, the Aeneid ii 110 et seq.

Inferno Canto XX:100-130. He is mentioned in the eighth circle.

Eve

The first woman, the wife of Adam the first man, created after him, who, at the prompting of the serpent, ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and gave the apple to Adam who also ate of it. See Genesis ii and iii. This caused the Fall of Man, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Purgatorio Canto VIII:85-108. The event is mentioned.

Purgatorio Canto XII:64-99. Human beings are her flawed children.

Purgatorio Canto XXIX:1-36. By uncovering her nakedness, physically and spiritually, Eve sinned, and the sons of Adam inherited her guilt, and were denied the Earthly Paradise, without prior purgation and redemption.

Paradiso Canto XXXII:1-36. She is at the feet of the Virgin in Heaven.

Ezekiel

Purgatorio CantoXXIX:82-105. The priest, the son of Buzi, and visionary prophet of the Jews in Chaldea. He was among the Hebrews exiled to Babylon in 579BC, where he saw visions beside the river Kebar. Dante uses imagery from his Old Testament writings for the Divine Pageant.

Fabii, The

See Justinian’s Empire.

Fabricius

Caius Frabricius Luscinus, the Consul (282BC) and Censor (275BC) who refused gifts from the Samnites at the time of the peace settlement with them, and bribes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus when negotiating an exchange of friends with him in 280BC. See Virgil’s Aeneid vi 844, and Lucan’s Pharsalia x 151.

Purgatorio Canto XX:1-42. He is mentioned.

Fantolini, Ugolino de’

A nobleman of Faenza who led an honourable retired life and died in 1278 leaving two sons Ottaviano and Fantolino. The one was killed at Forlì in 1282, fighting for the Guelphs against Guido da Montefeltro, and the other died a few years later, before 1291, ending the family line.

Purgatorio Canto XIV:67-123. He is mentioned.

Farfarello, a demon

Inferno Canto XXI:97-139. A demon guarding the eighth circle, the fifth chasm, of the barrators.

Inferno Canto XXII:76-96. He wants to attack Ciampolo.

Farinata, see Scornigiani and Uberti

Federigo Novello of Battifolle

A member of the Conti Guidi family, killed while assisting the Tarlati, after Campaldino in 1289. He was a grandson of Count Ugolino della Gherardesca.

Purgatorio Canto VI:1-24. He is with the late-repentants.

Federigo Tignoso

A nobleman of Rimini, noted for his generosity, who lived in the first half of the thirteenth century.

Purgatorio Canto XIV:67-123. He is mentioned.

Felice Guzman, father of Saint Dominic

The father of Saint Dominic, his name interpreted to mean ‘favoured by fortune’.

Paradiso Canto XII:37-105. He is mentioned.

Feltre, Alessandro Novello Bishop of

See Alessandro Novello.

Ferdinand IV, King of Castile

Ferdinand IV King of Castile and Leon (1295-1312) noted for his luxurious style of living at the expense of his kingdom.

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. He is held as an example of poor kingship.

Fieschi, Ottobuono de’ see Adrian V

Fieschi, Alagia de’

See Alagia de’ Fieschi Malaspina.

Fieschi, Bonifazio de’

See Bonifazio, Archbishop of Ravenna.

Fifanti, the

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Filippeschi of Orvieto

Purgatorio Canto VI:76-151. Feuded with the Monaldi.

Filippi of Florence

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Flaccus, see Horace

Focaccia see Cancellieri

Folco, or Folquet

Folco of Marseilles (fl 1180-1195), or Folcetto, a troubadour, a Genoese by origin, born at Marseilles shortly before 1160. A famous lover he became a Cistercian monk and was made Bishop of Toulouse in 1205. He was a friend of Saint Dominic, and persecuted the Albigensian heretics till his death in 1231. (Marseilles is on the same meridian as Bougia in Algeria. At Gibraltar where the Mediterranean runs out of the Atlantic the sun is on the horizon when it is noon in the Levant, so the Mediterranean makes zenith at its eastern end of what was horizon at its western end. i.e. it extends over a quadrant.)

Paradiso Canto IX:1-66. Paradiso Canto IX:67-126. He is in the third sphere, of Venus.

Forese, see Donati

Francesca da Rimini

She loved Paolo Malatesta, Il Bello, and was unfaithful to her husband Gianciotto, the son of Malatesta da Verucchio, Lord of Rimini. Gianciotto, brave but possibly deformed, stabbed to death the unfaithful Francesca, along with, Paolo about 1285. (He was still alive in 1300, the date of the vision, so that Caïna, the first ring of the ninth circle, reserved for murderers of their kin, is ‘waiting’ for him according to Francesca.) According to legend she thought that Paolo was her intended husband when he stood proxy for his brother in the marriage. She was born in Ravenna, the daughter of Guido Vecchio da Polenta, and aunt of Guido Novello at whose court in Ravenna Dante found his last refuge. (See Rossetti's watercolour Paolo and Francesca Da Rimini – Tate Gallery, London, and Blake’s engraving ‘The Whirlwind of Lovers’, Plate 10 of his illustrations to the Divine Comedy, British Museum)

Inferno Canto V:70-142. She tells her story to Dante, in Limbo.

Francis of Assisi, Saint

Giovanni, later Francesco, of Assisi (c1182-1226) the Founder of the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscans. (Brown or Grey habit, with three knots in the girdle representing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.) The son of a wool and cloth merchant, Bernadone Moriconi. Assisi is between the Rivers Tupino and Chiascio rising in the mountains near Gubbio where St Ubaldo chose a hermitage (Bishop of Gubbio 1160). Ascesi an old form of Assisi may be translated ‘I have ascended’. Francis was often compared to the rising Sun. He renounced his possessions before the Bishop, of Assisi in the presence of his father Pietra Bernadone. The Franciscan Rule was approved by Pope Innocent III in 1210 and confirmed by Honorius III in 1223. In 1219 he went to the East to try and convert the Sultan. Christ gave him the third confirmation of his work in 1224 on the ‘hard rock’ of La Verna where he received the stigmata, the five wounds of the Passion. He died at Assisi on October 4th 1226 stretched naked on the ground in the arms of ‘his dearest lady’ Poverty. The Seraphim are associated with Love and therefore Francis is the Seraphical Saint. Saint Dominic was associated with the Cherubim and Wisdom. The popular stories of him are the Fioretti.

Paradiso Canto XI:1-42. Aquinas speaks of him.

Inferno Canto XXVII:58-136. The Cordeliers, from the wearing of a black habit with a cord tired round it, was a name for the Order of Saint Francis.

Paradiso Canto XII:106-145. He is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto XXII:1-99. He is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto XXXII:1-36. He is seated below John the Baptist in Heaven.

Franco of Bologna

An illuminator and painter of miniatures. Vasari says he was at Rome in 1295, to illuminate manuscripts, in the Vatican Library, for Pope Boniface VIII, and the work was shared with Oderisi of Gubbio.

Purgatorio Canto XI:73-117. He is among the proud.

Frederick I, Barbarossa, Emperor

Emperor (1152-1190). Initial leader of the Third Crusade (1189-1192). He won a brilliant victory at Iconium, but drowned in the River Saleph, on 10th June 1190. He had campaigned in Italy (1154-55, 1158-62, 1163-64, 1166-68, 1174-78 and 1184-86: Milan was razed in 1162, and rebuilt in 1169) achieving a series of shifting alliances, and several peace treaties. During the third campaign, the Veronese league of cities was formed, which later joined with the Lombard league, but eventually agreed peace with Frederick in 1183 (The Peace of Constance). He took the cross in 1188, the year of the Diet of Worms.

Purgatorio Canto XVIII:112-145. He is mentioned.

Frederick II, Emperor

Frederick (1194-1250), ‘Stupor Mundi’, the wonder of the world, became King of Sicily and Naples in 1197 and Emperor in 1212. He was crowned Emperor in Rome in 1220. He agreed to lead a crusade in 1227 but was turned back by an epidemic, and as a result was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX despite continuing with the crusade in 1228-9. He was granted absolution in 1230, but excommunicated again in 1239 and declared a heretic at the First Council of Lyon and deposed. He struggled against Henry VII of Germany, and died in Apulia in 1250. He was by reputation an Epicurean, and a sensualist.

Inferno Canto X:94-136. He is among the heretics in the Sixth

Circle.

Inferno Canto XIII:31-78. Pier delle Vigne was his minister.

Inferno Canto XXII:76-96. Enzio was his natural son.

Inferno Canto XXIII:58-81. He punished malefactors by coating them with lead and roasting them over a fire.

Purgatorio Canto XVI:97-145. He is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto III:97-130. The son of Constance and Henry VI, and called the ‘third stormwind of Swabia’.

Frederick III, King of Sicily

King of Sicily (1296-1337). and therefore alive at the time of the Vision.

Purgatorio Canto III:103-145. The son of Peter (Pere) III of Aragon, and Constanza, daughter of Manfred.

Purgatorio Canto VII:64-136. Dante regards him as inferior to his father.

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. He is held as an example of poor kingship.

Paradiso Canto XX:1-72. He is a burden to Sicily.

Fucci, Vanni

The illegitimate son of a noble family, and a turbulent Black Guelph from Pistoia who, in 1293, together with two accomplices, stole the treasure of San Jacopo from the church of San Zeno. Rampiono de’ Foresi was held in prison for the crime, while the culprits went undetected for a year.

Inferno Canto XXIV:97-129. He is in the eighth circle.

Gabriel, the Archangel

The Archangel who made the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. See Luke i.

Purgatorio Canto X:1-45. The Annunciation is sculpted on the Frieze, indicating humility that corrects pride.

Paradiso Canto IV:1-63. He is shown with human form though beyond the human.

Paradiso Canto IX:127-142. Paradiso Canto XIV:1-66. The Annunciation, at Nazareth, is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto XXIII:88-139. Circles the Virgin in the Stellar Heaven.

Paradiso Canto XXXII:85-114. Shows his adoration for the Virgin, he the height of celestial chivalry.

Gaddo della Gherardesca

See Ugolino.

Gaia, see Camino

Galen

The Roman experimental physician and the main authority on medicine and physiology throughout the Middle Ages. He lived c.130-200 AD. His doctrines concerned ‘natural’, ‘vital’ and ‘animal’ spirits. Blood charged with ‘natural’ spirits in the liver, meets air charged with ‘pneuma’, the ‘world spirit’ in the lungs, creating ‘vital’ spirits in the blood of the arteries, which in the brain become ‘animal’ spirits. He identified muscle and bones as levers. He examined the pituitary and thyroid glands, but incorrectly identified their purpose. He sectioned the ocular nerves and spinal cord and roughly localised several nervous functions, but was an inveterate teleologist, and thus became the bible for the Medieval period.

Inferno Canto IV:130-151. He is among the group of wise men in Limbo.

Galeotto

Gallehaut was the go-between for Lancelot and Guenever, who urged the queen to give Lancelot the first kiss that initiated their love. His name was therefore synonymous with ‘pandar’. The story is found in the old French romance of Lancelot du Lac.

Inferno Canto V:70-142. His role of pandar is mentioned by Francesca.

Galigai, Galigaio de’

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Galli

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Ganellon, Ganelon

Inferno Canto XXXI:1-45 Roland (Orlando) Charlemagne’s nephew, and the hero of the battle of Roncesvalles, went down to defeat with his Franks, fighting against the Saracens, while attempting to hold the valley in 778AD. He blew his horn in desperation, to alert his uncle eight miles away, but Charlemagne was misled by the advice of Ganelon, and did not provide aid. The epic is told in the Old French Chanson de Roland, the ‘Song of Roland’, where the intensity of Roland’s blast on the horn shattered it. The defeat allowed Arab incursions into Narbonne in 793.

Inferno Canto XXXII:70-123. He is in the Ninth Circle.

Ganymede

The son of Tros, and brother of Ilus and Assaracus, who was loved by Jupiter because of his great beauty, and snatched up to the Heavens, by Jupiter disguised as an eagle, where he became Jupiter’s cupbearer. Tros was an ancestor of Aeneas, so linking to Ganymede to Rome. See Ovid’s Metamoprhoses X 155, X1 756.

Purgatorio Canto IX:1-33. He is mentioned.

Gentucca, Morla

The beautiful wife of Cosciorino Fondora of Lucca. She was a friend to Dante between 1314 and 1316, when he was at Lucca. She was still unmarried in 1300 (and did not wear the benda, or headdress reserved for married women, and, when white, for widows.)

Purgatorio Canto XXIV:34-99. She is mentioned as a future friend of Dante.

Geryon

The type of fraud or malice, as the Minotaur is of brutishness and bestiality. He is compounded of the mythical (three-bodied in the myth, but not here) and monstrous King of Spain whom Hercules killed for the sake of his herd of cattle (Virgil’s Aeneid VIII 202, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses IX 184), and the creatures of the bottomless pit in Revelations ix. As an enemy of Hercules he is an enemy of Rome, since Hercules is Rome’s protector, see Virgil VIII 108 et al.

Inferno Canto XVI:88-136. He appears to the poets from below the seventh circle.

Inferno Canto XVII:79-136. He carries them down to the eighth circle on his back.

Purgatorio Canto XXVII:1-45. Virgil reminds Dante of him.

Gherardesca, Count Ugolino

A leading Guelph of Pisa. He led one party while his grandson Nino de’ Visconti led the other. In 1288 Ugolino intrigued with Ruggieri degli Ubaldini the Archbishop, the nephew of Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, and leader of the Ghibellines in Pisa, who was supported by the Lanfranchi, Sismondi, Gualandi and other families, and Nino was expelled. The Archbishop however betrayed him and had Ugolino and four of his sons and grandsons (his sons were Gaddo, and Uguccione, his grandsons Nino, called Brigata, and Anselmuccio or ‘little Anselm’) imprisoned in the Torre dei Gualandi in July 1288. When Guido da Montefeltro took command of the Pisan forces, in March 1289, the keys were thrown into the river Arno and the prisoners left to starve to death, even a priest being denied them. The tower was known afterwards as the Torre della Fame, the Tower of Famine. Ugolino had previously acquired a reputation by the surrender of certain castles to the Florentine and Lucchese after the defeat of the Pisans by the Genoese at Meloria in 1284. (The islands of Caprara and Gorgona mentioned, north-west of Elba, and south-west of Livorno respectively, were held by Pisa at the time.)

Inferno Canto XXXIII:1-90. He is in the Ninth Circle.

Gherardo da Camino

See Camino.

Ghino da Tacco

Benicasa da Laterina, judge to the Podestà of Siena condemned a relative of Ghin di Tacco, a highwayman, to death, and Ghino took his revenge by murdering him while he was sitting as a magistrate in Rome.

Purgatorio Canto VI:1-24. He is mentioned.

Ghisola, da Fontana, née de’ Caccianimico

Inferno Canto XVIII:40-66. Her father Alberto was head of the Bolognese Guelphs. Her brother Venedico was a leading Guelph, exiled in 1289, and a follower of Marquis Obizzo II d’Este of Ferrara. He assisted the Marquis in her seduction. She later married Niccolò de Fontana of Ferrara, in 1270.

Gianfigliazzi

Inferno Canto XVII:31-78. The Florentine Gianfigliazzi family belonged to the Black Guelphs. Their arms were ‘a lion azure on field or’.

Gideon

The son of Joash, instructed by the angel to save Israel from the Midianites. He selected men to fight based on how they drank water at the pool of Harod: rejecting those who drank ‘as a dog lappeth’ or on their knees, selecting the three hundred who put hand to mouth. Dante regards the example of the former drinkers’ greed as a sin, since it later leads Israel astray. See Judges vii 1-7 and 24-33.

Purgatorio Canto XXIV:100-154. The incident is mentioned.

Giotto

Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) painter, sculptor and architect. Found by Cimabue, according to the legend, as a shepherd boy, drawing on stones. He liberated Florentine painting from Byzantine stasis. Both painters are said to have been friends of Dante’s, and the Bargello portrait of Dante is attributed to Giotto.

Purgatorio Canto XI:73-117. He surpassed his master Cimabue.

Giovanna, mother of Saint Dominic, seeJoanna

Giovanna Guzman, mother of Dominic, whose name was interpreted to mean ‘grace of the Lord’, who dreamed she was about to give birth to a whelp with a blazing brand in its mouth which would light the world.

Paradiso Canto XII:37-105. She is mentioned.

Giovanna, wife of Buonconte da Montefeltro

Her family name is not known.

Purgatorio Canto V:85-129. She is mentioned by Buonconte.

Giovanna Visconti da Camino

The daughter of Nino de’ Visconti, and Beatrice d’Este. She married Riccardo da Cammino.

Purgatorio Canto VIII:46-84. She is mentioned.

Giraut de Borneil

Giraut de Bornelh of Limoges (c1170-c1220), the Provençal poet,‘master of the troubadours’ as his contemporaries called him.

Purgatorio Canto XXVI:112-148. He is alluded to.

Giuda

An ancient Florentine family.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Giuochi

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Glaucus

A fisherman of Anthedon in Boeotia, who was changed into a sea-god after eating magic grass. He fell in love with Scylla, and was loved by Circe. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VII 233.

Paradiso Canto I:37-72. He is mentioned.

Godfrey of Bouillon

Duke of Lorraine. A descendant of Charlemagne who led the First Crusade which captured Jerusalem in 1099. (Friday July 15th: He was the first Crusader to drop down from the wall into the city, close by Herod’s Gate) The capture was followed by indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants, ‘the knights riding up to their knees in blood, in the Haram enclosure, where the Mahomedans sought refuge’. He ruled there, as king, until his death of illness the following year, but refused the royal crown and title. He was buried in the Holy Sepulchre where his tomb (and sword) survived until the great fire of 1808. Despite the massacre, he was remembered as the best and wisest of the Christian leaders.

Paradiso Canto XVIII:1-57. He is in the Fifth Sphere of Mars.

Gomita, Friar

A Sardinian friar, chancellor of Nino Visconti of Pisa, judge of Gallura, one of the four jurisdictions of Sardinia (Cagliari, Logodoro, Gallura, and Arborea) which belonged at the time to Pisa. He took bribes to release prisoners etc. Visconti hanged him.

Inferno Canto XXII:76-96. He is in the eighth circle.

Graffiacane, a demon

Inferno Canto XXI:97-139. A demon guarding the eighth circle, the fifth chasm, of the barrators.

Inferno Canto XXII:31-75. He hauls Ciampolo out of the boiling pitch.

Gratianus, Franciscus

Gratian (fl. c. 1150), an Italian Benedictine monk, brought ecclesiastical and civil law into harmony with each other. His Decretum was the first systematic treatise on Canon Law.

Paradiso Canto X:100-129. He is in the fourth sphere of Prudence.

Greci

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Gregory the Great, Saint and Pope

Pope Gregory I, the Great (?540-604), the first monastic Pope, who called himself Servus Servorum Dei, the servant of God’s servants. He was the founder of the worldly power of the Papacy in Italy. He was one of the four Latin (western) Fathers of the Church, with Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome. He established the form of the Roman liturgy and its music (Gregorian Chant). He instituted the rule of celibacy for the clergy.

Purgatorio Canto X:73-96. He interceded through prayer to obtain the deliverance of Trajan from Hell, because of this act of clemency and justice to the widow, so that Trajan might have a respite for repentance.

Paradiso Canto XX:73-148. The prayers were predestined to save Trajan, since prayers for the truly damned have no effect, according to Aquinas and to Gregory himself.

Paradiso Canto XXVIII:94-139. He gave a different account of the Angelic Hierarchies to that of Dionysius the Areopagite.

Griffolino of Arezzo

He obtained money from Albero of Siena by pretending he could teach him how to fly. On discovering the deceit, Albero induced the Bishop of Siena to have Griffolino burned as an Alchemist.

Inferno Canto XXIX:73-99. He is in the tenth chasm.

Inferno Canto XXX:1-48. He names the spirits for Dante.

Gualandi, Ghibellines of Pisa

See Ugolino.

Gualdrada de’ Ravignani

The virtuous and lovely daughter of Bellincion Berti was the ancestress of the Conti Guidi, the great feudal nobles of the Casentino. She married Guido Guerra IV at the instigation, it was said, of Emperor Otto IV. The Guido Guerra, one of many of that name, mentioned here was the son of her fourth son, Marcovaldo of Dovadola.

Inferno Canto XVI:1-45. The mother of Guido Guerra.

Gualterotti

An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Guenever

The wife of King Arthur of Britain, who in the Arthurian Legends conceived an illicit love for Sir Lancelot, which led, fatally, to the dissolution of the Round Table and the death of Arthur. See Malory’s Morte D’Arthur.

Inferno Canto V:70-142. Reading about their love corrupts Paolo and Francesca.

Paradiso Canto XVI:1-45. Her first words to Lancelot in public are referred to.

Guido, Conte

Guido, Alessandro, and Aghinolfo the Conti Guidi of Romena, induced Master Adam of Brescia to counterfeit the Florentine gold florin, stamped with the figure of St John the Baptist. He was burnt to death for the crime in 1281, on the Consuma, the pass that leads out of the Casentino towards Florence. The Conti Guidi escaped punishment. Conte Giudo was dead by 1300, but the other two were still alive. Fonte Branda, the spring, is not the more famous one near Siena, but a lesser one near the castle of Romena, near where Adamo died.

Inferno Canto XXX:49-90. Adamo is in the tenth chasm.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. The family was descended from the Ravignani through Bellincion Berti’s daughter Gualdrada.

Guido Guerra

The grandson of Gualdrada, a leading Guelf in Tuscany from 1250 to 1266, appointed Vicar of Tuscany by Charles of Anjou. He died in 1272. He played a distinguished part at Benevento in 1265, where Manfred died, and before the disaster at Montaperti in 1260, when the Guelfs went down to defeat, he was one of the nobles who had voted with Tegghiaio Aldebrandi against the expedition, knowing the Sienese had been reinforced with German mercenaries.

Inferno Canto XVI:1-45. He is in the seventh circle for sodomy.

Guido of Romena

See Conte Guido

Guinicelli (or Guinizelli), Guido

The poet (c1235-1276), who was valued highly by Dante and his companions, as ‘their’ philosopher. He was a member of the Ghibelline Principi family of Bologna, and was Podestà of Castefranco in 1270 and exiled in 1274 with the Lambertazzi. He began as an imitator of the later style of Guittone d’Arezzo. His best work, including the canzone of the Gentle Heart (‘Al cor gentil ripara sempre Amore: Love always shelters in the gentle heart, as birds do in the green shade of the trees. No love in nature before the gentle heart, nor the gentle heart before love.’), inspired the Florentine School of the dolce stil nuovo.

Purgatorio Canto XI:73-117. Dante expresses the view that he has been surpassed, by the poetic school of Guido Cavalcanti. (Who wrote the famous ballatetta: ‘Because I do not hope to turn again’, ‘Perch’i’ no spero di tornar giammai’)

Purgatorio Canto XXVI:67-111. He is among the lustful.

Guiscard, Robert

The founder (d 1085) of the Norman dynasty in southern Italy and Sicily. The Son of Tancred de Hauteville.

Inferno Canto XXVIII:1-21. He waged war in Sicily and Southern Italy from 1059 to 1080, against the Greeks and Saracens. He won the title Duke of Apulia from Pope Nicholas II in 1059, and died in 1085 having rescued Gregory VII, and sacked Rome in the previous year.

Paradiso Canto XVIII:1-57. He is in the Fifth Sphere of Mars.

Guittone d’Arezzo, Fra

Jacopo da Lentino ( il Notaio, the Notary), Guittone del Viva known as Fra Guittone, of Arezzo (1230-1294: one of the Frati Gaudenti) in his first poetic period, and Bonagiunta were prominent members of the Sicilian school of Poetry, continued in Central Italy, based on Provençal traditions. Their style lacked the spontaneity and sweetness of the dolce stil nuovo developed by Guido Guinicelli of Bologna, Guido Cavalcanti and Dante.

Purgatorio Canto XXIV:34-99. He is mentioned.

Purgatorio Canto XXVI:112-148. Dante considers him to have been over-praised, and now superseded.

Haman

Ahasuerus, the Persian King, enriched Haman, until he was accused by Esther of intending to take the life of Mordecai. Haman was executed in Mordecai’s place. See Esther iii-viii.

Purgatorio Canto XVII:1-39. He is mentioned.

Hannibal

Inferno Canto XXXI:97-145. The eldest son of Hamilcar, who became the commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian fight against Rome in the Punic wars. He crossed the Pyrenees and defeated the Romans at Cannae in 216 BC, but was defeated in turn by Scipio at Zama in 202BC. He ultimately committed suicide in 183 BC.

Paradiso Canto VI:1-111. Mentioned in the summary of Imperial history.

Hakon V, King of Norway

King of Norway (1299-1319)

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. He is held as an example of poor kingship.

Harpies

Virgil’s Aeneid III 209-267 describes how the Harpies, monstrous birds with the faces of girls, fouled the Trojans banquet on the Strophades Islands (The clashing islands) in the Ionian Sea, and drove off Aeneas and his companions. Celaeno (infelix vates), the Harpies’s leader, prophesies that the Trojans will reach Italy but only after being reduced to starvation.

Inferno Canto XIII:1-30. They nest in the wood of suicides.

Inferno Canto XIII:79-108. They feed on the leaves of the trees, giving pain to the spirits imprisoned in them.

Hector

The Trojan prince, son of Priam and Hecabe (Hecuba), a hero of the Iliad, who was killed by Achilles in revenge for the death of Patroclus.

Inferno Canto IV:106-129. He is among the heroes and heroines in Limbo.

Paradiso Canto VI:1-111. His grave is mentioned in the summary of Imperial history.

Hecuba

Inferno Canto XXX:1-48. The wife of Priam King of Troy. At the fall of Troy she witnessed the death of her daughter Polyxena, sacrificed at the tomb of Achilles, and found the body of her son Polydorus, done to death by Polymestor, her son-in-law. She went mad and became a dog, Maera, barking on the shore. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XIII 423 et seq.

Helen of Troy

The wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, daughter of Zeus by Lede. Her abduction by Paris initiated the Trojan War. She spent nineteen years in Troy and, after the ten-year war and the city’s destruction, she went to Egypt with Menelaus. ( according to Homer, see the Iliad XXIV and Odyssey IV)

Inferno Canto V:52-72. She is a carnal sinner in Limbo.

Helice, see Callisto

Heliodorus

The treasurer of King Seleucus, who went to the Temple to remove its treasure, and was met by a rider on a horse, which struck at him with its hooves. See Second Maccabees iii 25.

Purgatorio Canto XX:97-151. He is mentioned.

Helios

The Sun-god, the son of Euryphessa or Theia, and the Titan Hyperion. Identical for Dante with Apollo-Christ.

Paradiso Canto XXII:100-154. The Sun.

Henry VI, Emperor

Paradiso Canto III:97-130. The son of Frederick Barbarossa. He married Constance, the daughter of Roger II in 1186 and inherited the Norman kingdom in 1194. He was Emperor from 1190 to 1197, and crowned, by Pope Celestine in 1191, during his first Italian campaign. He united Germany and Sicily after his second Italian campaign in 1194-5, ‘unio regni ad imperium’ but died at the age of 32. Constance assumed the regency for Frederick II, their son.

Paradiso Canto XVII:1-99. Supported in his Italian expedition, but afterwards secretly opposed by Pope Clement V.

Henry VII, Emperor

Henry of Luxembourg, the Emperor Henry VII (1308-1313). Of insignificant wealth and background he hoped to establish his prestige by his coronation in Rome (1312), and revival of the Imperial claims south of the Alps. Pope Clement V attempted to use him to further his own ambitions. Henry was in Italy between 1310 and 1313, and was hailed by Dante as the Liberator. He reached Milan in December 1310, but failed as honest broker to reconcile the Guelph and Ghibelline factions. He was driven into leadership of the Ghibelline party and aligned himself with Federico III of Sicily. Clement then swung back to the Guelphs, and repudiated the alliance. Henry died at Buonconvento of disease in 1313, as he was marching on Florence and planning a campaign against Naples, ending the dreams of Dante and the Florentine exiles.

Paradiso Canto XXX:97-148. A throne is reserved for him in Heaven.

Henry II of England

Henry II (reigned 1154-89) held England, Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Aquitaine. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in 1170, with Henry’s tacit consent, and Henry did penance at the grave in 1174. He oversaw the development of the royal courts and the common law, and initiated the conquest of Ireland. He refused to grant the sovereignty of England or Normandy to his son, and the resulting strife lasted until the ‘Young King’s’, Henry Plantagenet’s, death in 1183. (See Ezra Pound’s translation of the lament ‘Planh for the Young English King’ in Personae)

Inferno Canto XXVIII:112-142. He is mentioned, in connection with Bertrand de Born, who fomented the strife with his son.

Henry III of England

King of England (1226-1272). The pious father of the warlike Edward I (1272-1307). His wife Eleanor of Provence was a daughter of Raymond Berenger and sister of Beatrice.

Purgatorio Canto VII:64-136. He is one of the negligent rulers.

Henry I, King of Navarre

Henry the Fat (1270-1274), brother of Thibaut II. His daughter Joan married Philip IV, the Fair.

Purgatorio Canto VII:64-136. He is one of the negligent rulers

Henry II of Lusignan, King of Cyprus

King of Cyprus (died 1324), whose bad rule Dante cites as a warning to Joanna wife of Philip the Fair, concerning her separate kingdom of Navarre.

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. He is held as an example of poor kingship.

Henry, ‘The Young King’

Prince Henry Plantagenet, the elder brother to Richard Coeur de Lion, and named the ‘Young King’, the son of Henry II of England, and twice crowned in his father’s lifetime. Henry II refused to grant the sovereignty of England or Normandy to his son, and the resulting strife lasted until the Young King’s death in 1183. (See Ezra Pound’s translation of the lament ‘Planh for the Young English King’ in Personae)

Inferno Canto XXVIII:112-142. He is mentioned, in connection with Bertrand de Born, who fomented the strife.

Henry, son of Richard of Cornwall

See Guy de Montfort.

Heraclitus

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, an Ephesian nobleman who flourished about the 69th Olympiad 504-501BC, according to Diogenes. His gnomic and pithy style contains ideas of the flux of existence, the instability of sensation and experience. His key concept is of unity in diversity and diversity in unity, a theme that Dante often plays with. The One exists as a tension of opposites, in the Many, Identity in Difference.

Inferno Canto IV:130-151. He is among the philosophers in Limbo.

Hercules

The mythical Greek hero of Thebes, son of Jupiter, and Alcmena. He was driven to perform Twelve Labours, at Juno’s instigation. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses IX et al. Called Alcides, as a descendant of Alceus, through his mother Amphitryon. Hercules is seen by Dante as a protector of ancient Rome, deriving this from Aeneid VIII 108 et al, where Hercules saves Evander and his people from Cacus. References to Hercules’s enemies are therefore references to enemies of Rome.

Inferno Canto XXV:1-33. He stole the cattle of King Geryon (the Tenth Labour), and battered Cacus to death for stealing some of them in turn. See Virgil Aeneid VIII.

Inferno Canto XXVI:85-142. His pillars, at the entrance to the Mediterranean, were, in ancient times, the limits of the western world (namely Mount Abyla in North Africa, near Ceuta, and Mount Calpe, Gibraltar, well south-east of Seville).

Inferno Canto XXXI:97-145. He lifted the Giant Antaeus from the ground, and crushed him. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses IX 184.

Paradiso Canto IX:67-126. He loved Iole, daughter of Eurytus, King of Oechalia whom he had captured. That love caused the jealousy of Deianira, his wife, who sent him, unknowingly, the fatal shirt of Nessus the Centaur, which caused his death. Nessus had been killed by Hercules after trying to carry off and rape Deianira, and steeped the shirt in his own blood, containing the poison of the Hydra from the wound caused by Hercules’s poisoned arrow, telling Deianira the shirt was a love charm to win back Hercules’s affections. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses IX 13 et seq.

Hezekiah

The King of Judah, whose life was extended by the Lord, for the sake of his past sincerity and virtue. The word of God came to him through the mouth and actions of Isaiah. See Second Kings xx.

Paradiso Canto XX:1-72. He is in the sixth sphere of Jupiter. Aquinas taught that God’s decrees are consistent with prayer, because prayer does not alter the Divine plan, but fulfils what God ordained to be fulfilled by prayer.

Hippocrates

The Greek physician of Cos, c460-360 BC, and founder of the medical school there. He initiated an experimental method which discarded teleology. He identified the healing properties of plants. He articulated the principle of vis medicatrix naturae, that nature is the best healer, and that the wise physician only tries to remove the obstacles in her path.

Inferno Canto IV:130-151. He is among the group of wise men in Limbo.

Purgatorio Canto XXIX:133-154. St Luke in the Divine Pageant is of his school, but a spiritual physician.

Hippolytus

The son of Theseus, and the Amazon Hippolyte, whom Phaedra his stepmother fell in love with. Repulsed, she lied about the situation and accused him to his father, indirectly bringing him to his death.

See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XV 492 et seq.

Paradiso Canto XVII:1-99. A victim of lies.

Holofernes

One of Nebuchadnezzar’s captains, who besieged Bethulia. Judith, the Jewish widow, gained access to his tent and cut off his head, which was displayed on the walls of Jerusalem, at which the Assyrians fled, pursued by the Jews. See Judith x-xiv.

Purgatorio Canto XII:1-63. He is depicted on the roadway.

Homer

The author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the great epic poems of Ancient Greece, telling the story of the Trojan War and Ulysses’s (Odysseus’s) wanderings and return.

Inferno Canto IV:64-105. He leads the great Classical poets in Limbo.

Purgatorio Canto XXII:94-114. He is mentioned.

Honorius III, Pope

Paradiso Canto XI:43-117. He re-confirmed the Franciscan Order in 1223.

Paradiso Canto XII:37-105. He sanctioned the Dominican Order in 1216.

Horace, Flaccus

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the Roman poet, 65-8BC, who wrote odes and epodes in various metres derived from the Greek poets; satires; and epistles. He was on the losing side at Philippi but won the patronage of Maecenas from whom he received his beloved Sabine farm. He is the type of a moralist, rather than satirist, for Dante.

Inferno Canto IV:64-105. He is among the great poets in Limbo.

Hugh of St Victor

Hugo (c1097-1141), one of the great mystics of the Abbey of Saint Victor at Paris. It was the centre of the conservative learning as opposed to the scholastic Aristotelian learning of the progressives. He was the master of Peter the Lombard and Richard of Saint Victor.

Paradiso Canto XII:106-145. He is in the Fourth Sphere of the Sun.

Hyperion

Paradiso Canto XXII:100-154. The Titan of the Sun, father of Helios.

Hypsipyle

Inferno Canto XVIII:67-99. The daughter of King Thoas of Lemnos, who saved him when the women of the island killed their menfolk. She was loved and abandoned by Jason. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XIII 399.

Purgatorio Canto XXII:94-114. She is in Limbo. One of the people celebrated by Statius in his epic poetry. She was sold into slavery by the women of Lemnos, and acted as nurse to Lycurgus of Nemea’s son Archemorus (Opheltes). She showed the Seven Champions against Thebes the pool of Langia, and in her absence a serpent killed the child. Lycurgus would have killed her, but she was rescued by her sons.

Purgatorio Canto XXVI:67-111. Her children’s joy at seeing her again is mentioned. See Statius’s Thebaid iv and v.