Dante: The Divine Comedy

Index AB

Abati, Bocca degli

Bocca, though a Ghibelline, fought on the Guelph side at Montaperti in 1260 when the Florentine Guelphs went down to defeat. The battle turned on an incident where Bocca cut off the hand of the Florentine standard bearer at the critical moment.

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

Abati, Buoso degli

A noble Florentine, and a thief.

Inferno Canto XXV:79-151. He mutates into a serpent. (It may be Buoso de’ Donati who is intended. See Blake’s Watercolour ‘Buoso Donati attacked by the Serpent’, Tate Gallery, London.


Bartolommeo de’ Folcacchieri, nicknamed Abbagliato, ‘the foolish’.

He was a member of the Brigata Spendereccia, the Spendthrift Brigade, a club founded by twelve wealthy Sienese, in the second half of the thirteenth century, who vied with each other in squandering their money on riotous living.

Inferno Canto XXIX:121-139. He is in the tenth chasm.


The son of Adam and Eve. His brother is Cain. See the Bible, Genesis iv. Abel is the type of the righteous brother.

Inferno Canto IV:1-63. Christ takes his spirit from Limbo into Paradise.


The Patriarch, from whom the Children of Israel derived. The father of Isaac by his wife Sarah. The type of faith, witness his preparedness to sacrifice his son Isaac. See the Bible,Genesis xi 25.

Inferno Canto IV:1-63. Christ takes his spirit from Limbo into Paradise.


King David’s Gilonite counsellor from Giloh, Ahitophel, see Second Samuel xv-xviii, conspired with David’s son Absalom against the King, and subsequently hanged himself when his counsel was not followed. Absalom was killed at the battle in the wood of Ephraim, and David mourned for him, saying ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!’

Inferno Canto XXVIII:112-142. He is mentioned.

Accorso, Francesco d’

Francesco d’Accorso (1225-1293) a distinguished lawyer and professor, of Bologna, son of Accorso da Bagnolo, also a famous lawyer. He lectured at Oxford.

Inferno Canto XV:100-124. He is in Hell for sodomy.


He was stoned and burned for disregarding Joshua’s decree that the treasure from the capture of Jericho should be consecrated to the Lord. See Joshua vi 19 and vii.

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


Son of Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis. Prince of the Myrmidons of Phthia in Thessaly in north-eastern Greece. The Greek hero of Homer’s Iliad who avenges the death of Patroclus by killing Hector, and dies from an arrow wound inflicted by Paris in his vulnerable heel. Offered the choice of glory or a long life he chose fame and a brief existence. Ulysses (Odysseus) meets his soul in Hades (Odyssey XI).

Inferno Canto V:52-72. He is a carnal sinner in Limbo, for his love of Polyxena, that brought about his death, according to later versions of the Trojan myths.

Inferno Canto XII:49-99. He was tutored by Chiron the Centaur.

Inferno Canto XXVI:43-84.Purgatorio Canto IX:34-63. Ulysses discovered Achilles hiding on Scyros, where his mother Thetis had concealed him, at the court of Lycomedes, and took him to the Trojan War. Deidamia fell in love with him, and bore him a son, and died of grief when he left. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XIII 162. For his amazement, see Statius Achilles i 247.

Inferno Canto XXXI:1-45. Peleus’s spear was given to him by Chiron the Centaur. It was cut from an ash on Mount Pelion. Hephaestus forged its blade, and Athene polished the shaft. At Troy Achilles wounded Telephus with it. He was a king of Mysia and the son of Hercules and the nymph Auge. Rust from the spear, rubbed on the wound, cured it. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XII 112 and XIII 171.

Purgatorio Canto XXI:76-136. The subject of Statius’s unfinished epic the Achilleid.

Acquasparta, Matteo da

Matteo, one of Boniface’s cardinals, Minister-General of the Franciscan Order from 1287, who relaxed the observances, and as Papal Legate interfered in the affairs of Florence in 1300-1301, with disastrous consequences.

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


The first man, see Genesis ii. The Fall made Adam the father of evil, and the sinful human race, as Eve was its mother.

Inferno Canto III:100-136. The dead souls are ‘the evil seed of Adam’.

Inferno Canto IV:1-63. Christ takes his spirit from Limbo into Paradise.

Purgatorio Canto IX:1-33. He is referred to, as the vessel of human infirmity.

Purgatorio Canto XI:37-72. His flesh, the flesh of mortality, is a burden.

Purgatorio Canto XXXIII:58-102. According to Eusebius, Adam was on earth for 930 years and in Limbo for 4302 years, making more than five thousand years in all.

Paradiso Canto VII:1-54. In Adam the whole human race fell.

Paradiso Canto XXVI:70-142. Adam’s exile was due to disobedience. His Life in Paradise endured only to the seventh hour. His existence on Earth, in exile, and in Limbo was more than five thousand years: see above.

Paradiso Canto XXXII:115-151. He sits at the left hand of the Virgin.

Adamo, of Brescia

Induced by Guido, Alessandro, and Aghinolfo the Conti Guidi of Romena, Master Adam of Brescia counterfeited 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. He is in the tenth chasm.

Inferno Canto XXX:91-129. He exchanges blows with Sinon.


An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI. Filippo Argenti belonged to one branch of the family. Ubertino Donati, the ancestor of Dante’s wife Gemma, had married one of the daughters of Bellincion Berti, a sister of Gualdrada, and strongly objected to his father-in-law giving the hand of a third daughter to one of the Adimari. A fourth daughter may have been the wife of Dante’s great-grandfather Alighiero I.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned. Hostile to Dante.

Adrian V, Pope (Ottobuono de’ Fieschi)

Ottobuono de’ Fieschi of Genoa, sent to England while a Cardinal as Papal legate in 1268, was elected Pope as Adrian V on 12th July 1276, and died on August 18th. The Fieschi were Counts of Lavagna, taking their name from a little river that flows into the Gulf of Genoa between Sestri Levante and Chiavari. One niece was Alagia wife of Moroello III Malaspina.

Purgatorio Canto XIX:70-114. He is among the avaricious.


Inferno Canto I:61-99. The legendary ancestor of the Roman people. The son of the Goddess Aphrodite and Anchises. See Iliad XX. A Trojan noble he escaped the sack of Troy and sailed via Carthage (where he was loved by Dido but abandoned her) to Italy. His wife was Creüsa, daughter of Priam by whom he had Ascanius (Iulus). His son is Silvius (Ascanius, or Iulus) in Inferno II. His visit to the underworld in Aeneid VI inspired Dante. Aeneas is the symbol of the Roman Empire achieved from the ruins of Troy, and the virtuous victor of the Wars in Latium against Turnus etc. As the ancestor of Rome’s founder Romulus, he is Dante’s Imperial founder also.

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

Inferno Canto XXVI:43-84. The Trojan War indirectly led to the founding of Rome, and the origin of the Roman people.

Inferno Canto XXVI:85-142. He cremated his old nurse Caïeta in Italy (at modern Gaeta, in Campania). See Ovid’s Metamorphoses XIV157, 443 and XV 716, and Virgil’s Aeneid vii 1-4.

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

Paradiso Canto VI:1-111. He is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto IX:67-126. Dido’s love for him wrongs Creüsa’s memory.

Paradiso Canto XV:1-36. He saw his father’s shade in the underworld. Aeneid vi 679.


The god of the winds, the son of Hippotas, and father of Alcyone and Athamas, who kept the winds imprisoned in a cave in the Aeolian Islands between Sicily and Italy. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses- various references.

Purgatorio Canto XXVIII:1-51. He is mentioned as loosing the Sirocco, the south east wind, whose notes are heard in the pine-forests of Ravenna, on the Adriatic shore, at Chiassi, the Classis of the Romans, who used it as a naval station and harbour. There was a later fortress there. See Byron’s ‘Don Juan’ iv 105.


The quasi-historical author of the Fables. He may have been a Phrygian slave, Babrius, living about the 6th century BC, at the time of Croesus. He was supposed to have been thrown over a cliff at Delphi for his ugliness, offensiveness or perhaps rectitude. Around his name a set of tales gathered, and were loosely attributed to him.

Inferno Canto XXII:124-151. Dante quotes the Frog and the Mouse, in which the Mouse, living on land (Alichino?) is tied to the frog who offers to carry him over the stream (Ciampolo?), and who then leaps into the water, drowning the mouse. A hawk (Calcabrina?) then spies the mouse and snatches it up, snatching up the frog as well. Dante no doubt knew a variant that fitted the situation more closely.


The King of Mycenae, son of Atreus, brother of Menelaus, husband of Clytemnestra, father of Iphigenia, Electra and Orestes. The commander-in-chief of the Greek forces at Troy.

He was told by an oracle to sacrifice his daughter, and vowed to do so, in order to gain favourable winds, when the Greek fleet was waiting at Aulis, to sail to Troy. He did so and brought down destruction on his house. See Aeschylus’s Oresteian trilogy, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses XII 30.

Paradiso Canto V:1-84. He is mentioned as an example of the danger of rash vows.

Agapetus I, Pope

Pope 535-536 AD. He induced Justinian to depose Anthimus, Bishop of Constantinople, because of Anthimus’s Monophysite leanings, and the other heads of the sect were likewise excommunicated. The Monophysite’s accepted only the divine and not the human nature of Christ.


The Greek tragic poet (c448-400BC).

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

Aghinolfo of Romena

See Guido Conte


The daughter of Cecrops who envied her sister Herse because of Mercury’s love for her. She was punished for treachery, when Pallas Athene (Minerva) sent the hag Envy to torment her, and changed to stone by Mercury. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses II 740, 752, 820.

Purgatorio Canto XIV:124-151. She is the second of the voices, signifying envy.

Agli, Lotto degli

Inferno Canto XIII:130-151. Possibly the speaker is Agli, a judge who hanged himself after giving a false sentence for money, or Rocco de’ Mozzi.

Agnello, See Brunelleschi

Agostino, Friar

He entered the Franciscan Order in 1210, and died on the same day as Francis after a vision of Francis ascending into Paradise.

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

Aguglione, Baldo da

A lawyer who deserted the Whites from the Blacks in 1302. Baldo was a prior in 1298 and 1311, in which year he drew up the decree recalling the exiles, but expressly excluding Dante. In 1299 he had been convicted of tampering with the public records of the Courts. See Note to the Purgatorio.

Paradiso Canto XVI:46-87. He is mentioned.


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.


King David’s Gilonite counsellor from Giloh, see Second Samuel xv-xviii, who conspired with David’s son Absalom, and subsequently hanged himself when his counsel was not followed.

Inferno Canto XXVIII:112-142. He is mentioned as an evil counsellor.

Alagia, see Malaspina

Alardo, Erard de Valéry

Inferno Canto XXVIII:1-21. In 1268, at Tagliacozzo, Charles of Anjou defeated Conradin, Manfred’s nephew, using reserve troops, on the advice of Erard.


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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Alberigo, Friar

Alberigo Manfredi of Faenza, one of the Frati Gaudenti, the Jovial Friars, avenged a blow from his younger brother Manfred, in 1284, by inviting him, and his son, to a banquet in 1285, and at a given signal ‘Bring the fruits’ Manfred and his son were murdered. Le male frutta (the evil fruit) di Frate Alberigo became a proverb. He was still alive in 1300, the date of the Vision.

Inferno Canto XXXIII:91-157. He is in the Ninth Circle.

Albero of Siena

Griffolino of Arezzo obtained money from Albero 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. Griffolino is in the tenth chasm.

Albert of Hapsburg, King of the Romans

Albrecht I of Hapsburg, King of the Germans, and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1298-1308), the son of the Emperor Rudolph (1273-91). To Dante, Albert represented both the invader of Italian soil, and the preserver of the Empire. As an absentee landlord, Dante berates him. He was murdered ultimately, as Dante predicts, by his nephew, John Parricida.

See Ciacco’s prophecy and Inferno Canto VI:64-93 for an indirect reference.

Purgatorio Canto VI:76-151. Dante inveighs against the state of Italy and Albert’s indifference to its plight.

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. Albert carried out an aggressive campaign against Bohemia in 1304, confiscating it as an expired fief of the crown. He is held as an example of poor kingship.

Alberti, Alberto, Alessandro and Napoleone degli

Alessandro and Napoleone, the two sons of Count Alberto degli Alberti, who held Vernia and Cerbaia in the Val de Bisenzio, quarrelled over their inheritance and killed each other, sometime after 1282.

Inferno Canto XXXII:40-69. They are in the Caïna in the Ninth Circle.

Purgatorio Canto VI:1-24. Count Orso, the son of Napoleone was murdered by Alberto the son of Alessandro in the continuing vendetta. He is among the late-repentant.

Albertus Magnus

Albertus of Cologne (1193-1280), the ‘Universal Doctor’, one of the two great lights of the Dominican order. Albertus, with Thomas Aquinas his pupil, ‘christianised’ Aristotle adapting his philosophy and making him a treasury of pagan learning.

Paradiso Canto X:64-99. He is in the fourth sphere of Prudence.


The son of Amphiaräus and Eriphyle. She was bribed with the necklace of Harmonia to betray the hiding place of her husband, who was compelled to go to the Theban War where he was killed. At the father’s request the son Alcmaeon killed his mother, and was pursued by the Furies, and was eventually killed himself. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses IX 408.

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

Paradiso Canto IV:64-114. He is mentioned as someone who grappled with conflicting duties.

Aldobrandesco, Guglielmo and Omberto

Purgatorio Canto VI:76-151. The Aldobrandeschi, Ghibelline leaders, held Santafiora in the Sienese Maremma for almost five centuries. They warred with the commune of Siena until 1300 when a treaty was agreed.

Purgatorio Canto XI:37-72. Omberto, Count of Santafiora, in the Sienese Maremma, was put to death at Campagnatico near Grosseto, by the Sienese in 1259, who resented the arrogance of the family with whom they had long been at war.

Aldobrandi, Tegghiaio

A Florentine Guelph who, with Guido Guerra, tried to dissuade his party from the conflict that led to the Guelph disaster at Montaperti in 1260. See Farinata. He fought courageously and took refuge at Lucca with other defeated Guelphs.

Inferno Canto VI:64-93. Dante asks after him.

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

Alessandro of Romena

See Conte Guido.

Alexander the Great

The son of Philip the Second of Macedonia (Philip ruled 359-336 BC) who ruled from 336 to 323 BC. He created an Empire from Greece and Egypt in the west, to India in the east, proclaiming himself king of Asia, and burning Darius’s Persian capital of Persepolis in 330BC. He married Roxane. He killed the historian Callisthenes, a nephew of Aristotle his former tutor, and Clitus, a friend of his youth, in a fit of rage. He died of fever, aged 33, in 323BC, while preparing for campaigns against Carthage and the Western Mediterranean.

Inferno Canto XII:100-139. He is placed in the seventh circle, in the ring of tyrants, unless the reference is to Alexander of Pherae.

Inferno Canto XIV:1-42. Dante’s source may have been Albertus Magnus’s De Meteoris, which describes the apocryphal letter, popular in the Middle Ages, in which Alexander the Great sends an account of such marvels to Aristotle his tutor. The soldiers warded off the flames with their clothes.

Alexander of Pherae

The Thessalian tyrant who was killed by his own wife in 323BC.

Inferno Canto XII:100-139. He is placed in the seventh circle in the ring of tyrants, unless the reference is to Alexander the Great.

Alfonso III, King of Aragon

He succeeded his father Peter III of Aragon, and died in 1291.

Purgatorio Canto VII:64-136. He is in Purgatory.

Ali, the Caliph

Ali (born c597AD) a cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed, was his fourth successor, and moved the capital to Kufa after conflict with Mohammed’s widow A’isha (First Islamic Civil War). He won the ‘camel-battle’ of Basra. He was murdered in 661AD after the indecisive battle of Siffin (657) and the arbitration of Adhroh (658).

Inferno Canto XXVIII:22-54. He is in the ninth chasm of the eighth circle as a schismatic within Islam.

Alichino, a demon

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

Inferno Canto XXII:97-123. He allows Ciampolo too much freedom.

Inferno Canto XXII:124-151. He and Calcabrina quarrel.

Alighieri, Alighiero son of Cacciaguida

Dante’s great-grandfather. His mother was Cacciaguida’s wife, Alighiera, of the Aldighieri family of Ferrara.

Paradiso Canto XV:88-148. The derivation of Dante’s name.

Alighieri, Bella, Dante’s mother


Purgatorio Canto XVII:1-39. Queen Amata, wife of King Latinus, who hanged herself through anger at the death of the hero Turnus, to whom her daughter Lavinia was originally betrothed, Lavinia being destined then to marry Aeneas. The fate of Lavinia was part of the reason for the Wars in Latium. See Aeneid xii 595.


Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154An ancient Florentine family. See the note to Paradiso Canto XVI. Buondelmonte broke his betrothal oath with a daughter of the family and his murder in retaliation was the root of the factional split within Florence.


A Greek seer, one of the heroes at the Calydonian Boar Hunt. He was the son of Oecleus, and father of Alcmaeon. His wife Eriphyle betrayed him for the golden necklace Aphrodite gave to Harmonia, wife of Cadmus, and he enjoined on his son the duty of punishing her. Alcmaeon killed her, and was pursued by the Furies. In the War of the Seven against Thebes, Amphiaraüs was one of the seven champions, and fled along the banks of the river Ismenus in his chariot. He was on the point of being killed when Zeus cleft the earth with a thunderbolt, and he vanished from sight, chariot and all, and now reigns alive among the dead. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VIII 317, IX 407-410.

Inferno Canto XX:31-51. He is in the eighth circle.


The son of Jupiter and Antiope, and husband of Niobe. He built the walls of Thebes aided by the magical music of his lyre. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 176 and XV 427. He killed himself through grief at the loss of his sons.

Inferno Canto XXXII:1-39. He is mentioned.


The fisherman who was unawed by Caesar’s summons and indifferent to the tumult of the times, secure in his poverty. See Lucan’s Pharsalia v 520-531.

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

Ananias, husband of Sapphira

He and his wife Sapphira sold possessions but kept back part of the price when other followers of Christ sold everything and gave everything into common ownership, to allow distribution according to need. They were rebuked by Peter for hypocrisy and died. See Acts iv 32-37 and V 1-11.

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

Paradiso Canto XXVI:1-69. The Ananias of Damascus who gives sight to the blind Saul of Tarsus (Paul), see Acts ix 10-18 is mentioned.


A Ghibelline family of Ravenna, virtually extinct by 1300. They were prominent in the latter half of the thirteenth century due to their strife with the Polentani and other Guelphs of Ravenna.

Purgatorio Canto XIV:67-123. They are mentioned.

Anastasius, Pope

Pope Anastasius II (469-498), who censured the non-dogmatic doctrines of Origen, is here confused, by medieval writers before Dante, with the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius (491-518), noted for his tolerance, who was induced by the deacon of Thessalonica, Photinus, to adopt the Acacian (Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople) formula, which was an attempt to reconcile the Monophysite doctrine that Christ appeared as a man but not with human nature and substance, with the Chalcedonian definition of Christ as known in two natures, one human, and that without confusion, and in one person.

Inferno Canto XI:1-66. Anastasius is with the heretics in the Sixth Circle.


The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, born at Clazomenae in Asia Minor about 500BC, and a Persian citizen who went to Athens in the year of Salamis 480/79 BC. He taught the young Pericles, and was later brought to trial by Pericles’s opponents, charged with impiety. He retired to Ionia where he settled at Lampsacus. He taught a doctrine of divisible particles of all types that individually combine together in proportions to produce unique wholes, ‘in everything there is a portion of everything’. His primal force is Mind ( Nous) present in all living things, and is present ‘there where everything else is, in the surrounding mass’ and this concept is his main contribution to philosophy.

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


Inferno Canto I:61-99. The father of Aeneas, who carried him from burning Troy on his shoulders.

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

Paradiso Canto XV:1-36. Aeneas saw his shade in the underworld.

Aeneid vi 679.

Paradiso Canto XIX:91-148. He died and was buried at Drepanum in Sicily, the Isle of Fire because of Mount Aetna. See the Funeral Games episode in Aeneid V 40 et seq. and Anchises’s death at III 700.

Andalo, Loderingo degli

See Loderingo.

Andrea, Giacomo (Jacomo) da Sant’

A Paduan, who wasted his own and other people’s fortunes, employing arson and other extraordinary methods. He appears to have been executed by Ezzelino da Romano in 1239, presumably after courting death.

Inferno Canto XIII:109-129. He is in the seventh circle.

Andrew III, King of Hungary

He ruled Hungary in 1300, having usurped the crown that belonged to Carobert the son of Charles Martel.

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


The father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest among the Pharisees, see John xi 47-53, who said: ‘it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should perish not’. Annas sent Christ bound to Caiaphas. See John xviii 24.

Inferno Canto XXIII:82-126. He is in the eighth circle.

Anne, Saint

Paradiso Canto XXXII:115-151. The mother of the Virgin. She sits near her, and opposite Saint Peter in Heaven.

Anselm, Saint

St Anselm (1033-1109) Archbishop of Canterbury, who wrote treatises on the Trinity and the Incarnation. He is known as the second father of Scholasticism, Scotus Erigena in the ninth century being the first. Both tried to show the coincidence of natural reason and revealed truth.

Paradiso Canto VII:55-120. Beatrice’s argument follows Anselm’s Cur Deus homo. Adam’s disobedience injured himself not God, and what was demanded was not a propitiation, but restoration. Man was required to give back what he owed, to match what he had taken that he did not own, but could not since he owes everything and owns nothing. Therefore God who owes nothing and owns everything had to become Man to achieve restoration. See Cur Deus homo passim, and specifically Bk i, chapter 15.

Paradiso Canto VII:121-148. Again Anselm’s argument is used: that since God made Adam and Eve flesh directly, man’s body will be restored at the Last Judgement when redemption is complete for the saved.

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

Anselmo della Gherardesca

See Ugolino della Gherardesca.


One of the Giant sons of Earth and Tartarus. He is unchained in Hell because he kept out of the battle against the gods of Olympus. The details of him Dante takes from Lucan’s Pharsalia iv 593-660. Hercules lifted him in the air, whereby he lost his strength as he no longer touched the earth, and crushed him. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses IX 184. 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 XXXI:97-145. He sets the poets down in the Ninth Circle.


The Trojan, who, according to medieval tradition betrayed Troy to the Greeks. (See Dictys Cretensis, Dares Phrygius, and the later Roman de Troie) He escaped to Italy after the fall of Troy and founded Padua, see Aeneid i 242 et seq.

Inferno Canto XXXII:70-123. The Antenora is named after him.

Anthony, Saint

Paradiso Canto XXIX:85-126. Saint Anthony (251-356). His symbol was the pig, and he was therefore the patron of the pigs that infested Florence, and its neighbourhood, belonging to the monks. They were fed on the fraudulent gain made from selling remissions (indulgences).


The daughter of Oedipus, by Jocasta, and sister of Eteocles and Polynices. See Sophocles’s Antigone.

Purgatorio Canto XXII:94-114. She is in Limbo. One of the people celebrated by Statius in his epic poetry.


Inferno Canto XIX:31-87. Antiochus IV, ruler of the Seleucid Empire (175-164BC), whose self-conferred title was Theos Epiphanes, the evident God. He accepted a bribe from Jason to make him high-priest of Judea.


The Greek tragic poet, praised by Aristotle and Plutarch.

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


The son of Jupiter and Latona (Leto), born on the island of Delos. The sun-god and god of art and music, prophecy and healing, the archer’s bow, and the lyre. He was present at the battle with the Giants. He is called Thymbraeus from his temple at Thymbra in the Troad. Artemis-Diana was his sister.

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

Paradiso Canto I:1-36. He equates to the Sun, as the sun-god, and to Christ and the Father as the Divine presence. Dante believed that the Muses occupied one peak of Mount Parnassus, and Apollo the other, which Dante calls Cirra.

Apollo flayed Marsyas for challenging his skill in music, and Dante asks for the inspirational breath with which Apollo played on that occasion. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 382.

Apollo loved Daphne, the daughter of the river-god Peneus, who was changed into a laurel-tree by the river-god, as Apollo pursued her. He then adopted her laurel as the sacred tree whose leaves would crown his lyre etc. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses I 452-548.

Paradiso Canto II:1-45. Apollo guides the poet.

Paradiso Canto XIII:1-51. His name as God of Healing, and the religious hymn of praise in his honour.

Paradiso Canto XXIX:1-66. The sun.


A Lydian girl, the daughter of Idmon, famous for her weaving, who

challenged Pallas Athene to a contest, was defeated, and was changed by Pallas into a spider. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 42 etc.

Inferno Canto XVII:1-30. Geryon’s body is adorned with more decoration than her weaving.

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

Arca, dell’

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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.


The son of Callisto or Helice, an Arcadian nympth, a favourite of Artemis-Diana, raped by Jupiter. Diana expelled her from her company, and she was changed by Juno into a bear, and hunted by her son. Jupiter placed her in the sky as the constellation of the Bear, Ursa Major, and Arcas as the constellation of the little Bear, Ursa Minor, at the pole, towards which the ‘pointers’ Dubhe and Merak, of the Great Bear, or Plough, point as it circles on Polaris the pole-star. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses II 409-528

Paradiso Canto XXXI:28-63. Circles over the northern latitudes.


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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.


Inferno Canto XXV:79-151. A nymph of Elis, one of Diana’s maidens, who was loved by the river-god Alpheus. She was pursued by him, and was turned into a fountain. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses V 572.

Argenti, Filippo (Adimari)

A Florentine noble who appears with Ciacco in Boccaccios’s Decameron IX 8. He was notorious for his fierce temper and overbearing conduct. He and the Adimari family may also have been hostile to Dante.

Inferno Canto VIII:31-63. He is rent by the people in the mud.


The wife of Polynices, sister of Deiphyle, and daughter of King Adrastus of Argos.

Purgatorio Canto XXII:94-114. She is in Limbo. One of the people celebrated by Statius in his epic poetry.

Argogliosi, Marchese degli

One of the Argogliosi or possibly the Ordelaffi family of Forlì, who was Podestà of Faenza in 1296. When told that he was always drinking he replied that he was always thirsty.

Purgatorio Canto XXIV:1-33. He is among the gluttonous.


Purgatorio CantoXXIX:82-105. The monstrous son of Arestor, set by Juno to guard Io (transformed to a heifer). He had a hundred eyes, but was lulled to sleep by Mercury, and killed. Juno set his eyes in the peacock’s tail. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses I 624-723.

Purgatorio Canto XXXII:64-99. Mercury lulled him by telling the tale of Syrinx.


The daughter of Minos, King of Crete, who helped Theseus kill her half-brother the Minotaur, and was then abandoned by him on Naxos. Dionysus rescued her and married her, setting Thetis’s crown on her head, which was later made a constellation, the Corona Borealis, or Northern Crown, thrown by Dionysus (Bacchus) into the sky to mark their nuptials. The constellation consists of an arc of seven stars between Hercules and Bootes. Dante follows the myth that makes the constellation Ariadne herself, set there after her death.

Inferno Canto XII:1-27. She helped Theseus escape the labyrinth.

Paradiso Canto XIII:1-51. Her crown.


The Greek philosopher, 384-322 BC, the philosopher par excellence for Dante and the medieval period. Aristotle was born at Stageira in Chalcidice near Salonica. His father was a doctor. He became a member of Plato’s Academy at Athens, though he was later to differ from Plato in his thinking. He was Alexander the Great’s ‘tutor’ and founded the Lyceum at Athens, and his teaching while walking in the garden, the Peripatos, led to its being called the ‘Peripatetic Philosophy’. On a wave of anti-Macedonian feeling after Alexander’s death, Aristotle retired to his mother’s property at Chalcis where he died.

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

Inferno Canto XI:67-93. Virgil refers to his Nichomachean Ethics. See VII i ‘....those qualities of character to be avoided, which may be taken as three in number, and we call them incontinence (=lack of self-control), brutishness or bestiality(= violence) and vice (=fraud).’ (My bracketed expansion). See also VII vi ‘...it is thought more excusable to follow the natural impulses, which all men feel, than those which are peculiar to certain persons....bestiality is a lesser evil than vice.

Inferno Canto XI:94-115. Virgil refers to Aristotle’s Physics II ii ‘.. if Art mimics Nature.’

Purgatorio Canto III:1-45. The pagan philosophers cannot hope to understand the ‘why’ of God’s works, and are condemned to an unsatisfied desire for supreme knowledge. (Aquinas: ‘the one demonstrates by means of the cause and is called propter quid.... the other by means of the effect and is called the demonstration quia.)

Paradiso Canto IV:64-114. Dante follows Aristotle’s theory of the dual will, an absolute will that does not consent to evil coupled with a practical will that chooses the lesser of two evils. The former may remain intent on its goal, while the latter compromises, and that is a failing. See Aristotle’s Ethics III, where the example of Alcmaeon is also mentioned.

Paradiso Canto VI:1-111. Dante refers to Aristotelian logic, where the propositions that this is so, and this is not so, cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. Related propositions are termed contradictories e.g. if ‘some swans are not white’ is true, then ‘all swans are white’ is false, since a black swan would be white, and not white, if both statements were true simultaneously.

Paradiso Canto VIII:85-148. Aristotle taught that human society requires varied conditions and qualifications amongst its members. In the Politics he shows that the individual is not self-sufficient but a part of a whole, and a State is a group of citizens providing all the necessary variety for a complete life. Functions and duties are distributed so that the State can be self-sufficient where the individual is not.

Paradiso Canto XXVI:1-69. He taught that God is the supreme object, towards whom the Heavens yearn. In the Metaphysics the Prime Mover is the object of longing or of intellectual apprehension.


The presbyter of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria (early 4th Century). The Arian heresy denies that the incarnate Son is one substance with the transcendent First Cause of creation, though differing in Person. The heresy created dissension until the end of the fourth century.

Paradiso Canto XIII:91-142. He is mentioned.

Arnaut Daniel

The Provençal poet. He flourished between 1180 and 1200 and Richard Coeur de Lion was among his patrons. (See Ezra Pound’s poem ‘Near Perigord’ in his collection Lustra). Arnaut was a master of form, the trobar clus or hidden style, inventing the sestina form, and it was for this above all that Dante and others regarded him so highly, rather than his sentiment.

Purgatorio Canto XXVI:112-148. He is among the lustful. In the Provençal poem Dante invents for him, he refers to the style that hides, and is here open, and reminds Dante to consider his own punishment to come, for Lust, as Dante himself goes onward.

Arrigo, de’ Fifanti(?)

His family is uncertain. He is said to have been one of Mosca de’ Lamberti’s accomplices in the murder of Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti, that initiated the Guelf and Ghibelline factional alignments in Florence.

Inferno Canto VI:64-93. Dante asks after him.


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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Artemis, Diana, Delia

The daughter of Jupiter and Latona, and twin sister of Apollo, born on the island of Delos (hence Delia). She is a moon-goddess, and goddess of the chase.

Purgatorio Canto XXV:109-139. She expelled Callisto (Helice) from her company, after Callisto was raped by Jupiter. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses II 409-528.

Purgatorio Canto XXIX:61-81. Paradiso Canto X:64-99. She has a rainbow-coloured girdle (the Moon’s halo) in her Moon incarnation.

Paradiso Canto XXII:100-154. The moon-goddess and daughter of Latona.

Paradiso Canto XXIII:1-48. Called Diana Trivia by the Romans, identifying her with Hecate, as an underworld aspect of the Triple-Goddess, worshipped where three ways meet. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses II 416.

Paradiso Canto XXIX:1-66. The moon.

Arthur, King of Britain

The mythical King of Britain, after the Roman withdrawal, around whose name medieval legends gathered. See Malory’s ‘Le Morte D’Arthur’.

Mordred his nephew and son, attempted to usurp his kingdom. In the last battle Arthur pierced Mordred with his lance, at the same time receiving his own death-wound. According to an Old French version of the theme, which differs from Malory’s version ‘after the lance was withdrawn a ray of sunlight passed through the wound...’

Inferno Canto XXXII:40-69. He is mentioned in the Ninth Circle.


The Etruscan seer who in Lucan’s Pharsalia i 584-638 prophesied the Civil War in Rome that ended in Julius Caesar defeating Pompey the Great.

Inferno Canto XX:31-51. He is in the eighth circle.

Asciano, Caccia de’ Cacciaconti

See Caccia.


A shoemaker of Parma. Asdente, ‘the toothless’, whose real name was Benvenuto, practised as a soothsayer. He died c1284.

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


Inferno Canto XXX:1-48. Juno was angered because of Jupiter’s adultery with Semele, whom she punished, and took vengeance on the house of Cadmus of Thebes, her father. She pursued Ino, Semele’s sister by driving her husband Athamas mad. He killed their son Learchus, and drove Ino to throw herself over a cliff, with their son Melicertes. Ino and Melicertes became sea-gods, namely Leucothea, the White Goddess, and Palaemon. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses III 261 and IV 519.

Athene, Minerva, Pallas

Pallas Athene (the Roman Minerva), the daughter of Jupiter, sprung from his head, and the goddess of wisdom, intelligence, technical skill, and women’s arts. The olive was her gift to mankind. Often depicted as a warrior goddess. Present at the battle with the Giants.

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

Purgatorio Canto XXX:49-81. The olive is sacred to her. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses VI 335, VIII 275 and 664.

Paradiso Canto II:1-45. Minerva breathes intellectual inspiration into the poet.


The third of the three Fates, or Moerae, in Greek myth. They were begotten by Erebus on Night. Their names are Clotho,’ the spinner’, Lachesis, ‘the measurer’, and Atropos, ‘she who cannot be avoided or turned’. Clotho spins the thread of a life, Lachesis measures it out, and Atropos cuts the thread. Moera means a phase, and they are yet another incarnation of the triple Moon-goddess.

Inferno Canto XXXIII:91-157. She is mentioned.

Purgatorio Canto XXI:1-33. The other two are mentioned.


Attila the Hun, the scourge of God (flagellum dei), king of the Huns (433-453) who advanced into the Eastern Roman Empire, and on to the west, but was turned back at Chalôns in the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields in 451. He retreated to Hungary (the plains of Tisza) and died there.

Inferno Canto XII:100-139. He is in the seventh circle.

Inferno Canto XIII:130-151. The historians, and Dante, confused him with Totila, the leader of the Goths, who reputedly sacked Florence. Totila gained Italy (542-552) excluding Ravenna, and resisted Belisarius from 544 to 549, but died fighting Narses at Tadinae.

Augustine, Saint

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Christian Saint and influential theologian. The Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, and one of the four Latin (western) fathers of the Church with Jerome, Gregory, and Ambrose. He was born at Tagaste in Numidia, and was given religious instruction by Monica, his mother. He wrote the famous Confessions, and The City of God.

Paradiso Canto X:100-129. He is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto XXIV:115-154. Dante echoes Augustine, that the conversion of the world without miracles, would have been a greater miracle than any recorded, attesting to their reality.

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

Augustus, Caesar

Inferno Canto I:61-99. Generally known as Octavian (Octavius) until 27BC when he became the Roman Emperor Augustus. The adopted son of Julius Caesar. The founder of the Imperial system and first Roman Emperor who was Caesar from 31BC to AD14. Virgil lived in his reign.

Purgatorio Canto VII:1-39. He ordered Virgil’s remains to be brought from Brindisi to Naples, after Virgil’s death in 19BC, and interred there.

Purgatorio Canto XXIX:106-132. His Triumph is mentioned.

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


Purgatorio Canto II:1-45. The goddess of the dawn, daughter of the Titan Pallas, and wife of Tithonus, for whom she won eternal life but not eternal youth..


Ibn Rushd, 1128-1198 AD. An Arabian physician and commentator on Aristotle. He espoused a sceptical philosophy, and as ‘the Commentator’ in Latin translation c. 1250 made Aristotle’s philosophy supreme in the Middle Ages.

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

Purgatorio Canto XXV:1-79. He taught, in error, that the human intellect being potential not actualised, discursive rather than intuitive like the angels, could not have its seat in the actual organs in the way that animals have intelligence, and so existed independently of physical form. He does however make self-consciousness a characteristic of the rational or intellectual soul, as life is of the vegetable soul, and sensation of the animal soul. ‘The action of the intellect is likened to a circle, because it turns round upon itself, and comprehends itself.’


An Arabian physician and commentator on Aristotle 979-1037 AD. He codified Galen with smatterings of Hippocrates, and was translated into Latin, for European use, by Gerard of Cremona c. 1180.

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

Azzo, see da Este

Azzo, see Ugolino d’Azzo degli Ubaldini

Azzolino (Ezzelino)

Ezzellino III da Romano, the tyrant (1194-1259), lord of Verona, Vicenza and Padua, called ‘the son of the devil’, imperial vicar under Frederick II. Pope Alexander IV declared a crusade against him, and he was defeated at Cassano on the Adda, and subsequently died. He was the head of the Ghibellines in Northern Italy.

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

Paradiso Canto IX:1-66. His mother dreamed she had given birth to a firebrand that scorched the land. Cunizza was his sister.


The god of the vine, the son of Jupiter and Semele, was worshipped ecstatically at Thebes in Boeotia (See Ovid’s Metamorphoses III 528). The banks of the neighbouring rivers, Ismenus and Asopus, were crowded with worshippers, when the midnight rituals were enacted, that were designed to ensure the fruitfulness of the crop. The worship of Bacchus (Dionysus) was introduced into Greece from Asia Minor.

Purgatorio Canto XVIII:76-111. The rites are mentioned.

Paradiso Canto XIII:1-51. He is mentioned in the context of the shouts of praise cried out at his rites.

Barbariccia, a demon

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

Inferno Canto XXII:1-30. The sinners hide from him.

Inferno Canto XXII:31-75. He protects Ciampolo from the other demons so that Virgil can speak to him.

Inferno Canto XXII:124-151. He is left rescuing Calcabrina and Alichino from the boiling pitch.

Barbarossa, see Frederick I, Emperor


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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Battifolle, see Federigo Novello of

Beatrice, daughter of Raymond Berenger

The daughter of Raymond Berenger, and wife of Charles I of Anjou.

Purgatorio Canto VII:64-136. She is mentioned.

Beatrice, d’Este Visconti

Beatrice d’Este, daughter of Obizzo d’Este II of Ferrara, married Nino de’ Visconti by whom she had a daughter Giovanna, voted a pension by the Guelphs in 1328. After Nino’s death Beatrice married Galeazzo Visconti of Milan, a separate branch. The Milanese Visconti suffered misfortune in 1302. Giovanna married Riccardo da Cammino of Treviso. The arrangements for Beatrice’s marriage were in progress at Easter 1300, and the wedding took place in the June.

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

Beatrice, of Anjou

The youngest daughter of Charles the Lame, Charles I of Anjou. She married Azzo VIII d’Este in 1305.

Purgatorio Canto XX:43-96. She is mentioned.

Beatrice, = divine philosophy

A personification, but also the real Beatrice, whom Dante first saw as a child of eight, in May 1274, when he was nine years old. His love for her inspired the Vita Nuova and the Divine Comedy. She was Bice, or Beatrice, Portinari daughter of Folco de’ Portinari who died in 1288. She died young in June of 1290. (See Rossetti’s painting Beata Beatrix – Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, England)

Inferno Canto I:61-99. Virgil says she will be Dante’s guide in Paradise.

Inferno Canto II:43-93. She asks Virgil to aid Dante.

Inferno Canto X:94-136. She will, through Cacciaguida, reveal Dante’s future to him.

Purgatorio Canto VI 25-48. Virgil tells Dante he will see her again, when they reach the summit of the Mount of Purgatory.

Purgatorio Canto XVIII:1-48. Her Divine philosophy goes beyond Virgil’s human philosophy, entering into matters of Faith.

Purgatorio Canto XVIII:49-75. As Divine Philosophy she takes Freewill to be the noble virtue.

Purgatorio Canto XXVII:1-45. Dante must pass through the purifying fire to reach her.

Purgatorio Canto XXX:1-48. She appears to Dante, wreathed in the olive sacred to Pallas Athene-Minerva, dressed in the white, green and red of Faith, Hope and Charity. Line 48 is a translation of Virgil’s Aeneid iv 23 ‘Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae: I recognise the tokens of the ancient flame.’

Purgatorio Canto XXXI:91-145. For Beatrice’s attributes, note Vita Nuova xxi the sonnet: ‘My lady bears Love in her eyes,’ and Convito III vv 55-58 of the canzone: ‘Her aspect shows the joy of Paradise, seen in her eyes and in her smiling face: Love brought them there as to his dwelling-place.’ Beatrice’s first beauty, her eyes, is that of the cardinal virtues, her seconda bellaza, her second beauty, her smile, is the beauty of the theological virtues.

Purgatorio Canto XXXIII:1-57. Beatrice employs Christ’s words to his disciples. See John xvi 16.

Paradiso Canto XXXI:64-93. Dante sees Beatrice crowned in Heaven, and his final prayer to her.

Paradiso Canto XXXII:1-36. She, Divine Philosophy, sits with Rachel (Contemplation) in Heaven, in the third rank, below the Virgin.

Paradiso Canto XXXIII:1-48. She prays, with Bernard, to the Virgin, that Dante finds the strength to persevere in his affections.

Beccaria, Tesauro de’ Beccheria

Tesauro de’ Beccheria of Pavia, Abbot of Vallombrosa, and Legate of Pope Alexander IV in Florence, plotted against the Guelphs, after the Ghibellines had been expelled in 1258 and was executed.

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

Bede, The Venerable

Bede (c673-735) the English Ecclesiastical historian who died in Jarrow.

Paradiso Canto X:130-148. He is in the fourth sphere of Prudence.


A Florentine maker of musical instruments, a friend of Dante’s, noted for his laziness.

Purgatorio Canto IV:88-139. He is among the late-repentant.


Belisarius (c505-565) restored the authority of the Empire in Italy by his campaigns against the Ostrogoths. He fell into disfavour, and, according to legend, beggary. See Robert Graves’ historical novel ‘Count Belisarius.’

Paradiso Canto VI:1-111. He is mentioned.

Bella, Giano della

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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Bellincion, Berti de’ Ravignani

The father of ‘ the good Gualdrada’ one of the honoured knights of ancient Florence.

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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. The Conti Guidi were descended from him through Gualdrada.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned as marrying one of his daughters to one of the Adimari.

Bello Alighieri, Geri del

A first cousin of Dante’s father, who was killed for sowing discord among the Sacchetti family, and was not revenged until thirty years after the vision, when Geri’s nephews, the sons of Messer Cione del Bello Alighieri killed one of the Sacchetti in his own house. The families were reconciled in 1342.

Inferno Canto XXIX:1-36. He is in the ninth chasm.


Paradiso Canto IX:67-126. King Belus of Sidon, the Phoenician, father of Dido.

Benedict, Saint

The Christian Saint (c480-543) the founder of the oldest Western monastic order, the Benedictines. He was born at Nursia in Umbria, and went to Rome to study. He lived as a hermit for several years near Subiaco. He founded the famous monastery at Monte Cassino on a mountain between Rome and Naples, a spur of Monte Cairo, a few miles from Aquino in the north of Campania. It was once crowned by altars to Apollo and Venus-Aphrodite. The Rule of his Order demanded poverty, chastity and obedience, manual labour, and irrevocable vows. He was remembered for his many acts of healing.

Paradiso Canto XXII:1-99. He is manifest in the seventh sphere.

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

Benincasa of Arezzo

Benicasa da Laterina, judge to the Podestà of Siena. He 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 among the late-repentant.

Berenger, Raymond Count of Provence

His daughter Margaret married Louis IX of France, Eleanor married Henry III of England, Sancha married Richard of Cornwall, and Beatrice married Charles of Anjou, bringing Provence as her dowry, after her father’s death.

Paradiso Canto VI:112-142. Danter refers to the fable of his chamberlain, Romeo of Villeneuve.

Bernard of Quintavalle

A wealthy citizen of Assisi who gave up his possessions to follow Saint Francis, and became his first disciple.

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

Bernard, Saint

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) the Cistercian monk and theologian, son of a noble Burgundian family, who founded the great monastery at Clairvaux in France and was Abbot there till his death. He had a particular devotion to the Virgin, expressed in his De Laudibus Virginis matris and his nine sermons for the feasts of the Purification, Assumption, Nativity etc. He opposed the celebration of her Immaculate Conception. He dedicated all the monasteries of the Cistercian Order to her. He is the type of contemplation.

Paradiso Canto XXXI:94-142. He guides Dante to the final Vision.

Paradiso Canto XXXII:37-84. Bernard is made to express the orthodox view that the unbaptised child must remain in Limbo (See Inferno IV), where spirits live ‘without hope, in longing’. However Bernard himself in his treatise addressed to Hugh of Saint Victor, holds back from this terrible conclusion. ‘We must suppose that the ancient sacraments were efficacious as long as it can be shown that they were not notoriously prohibited. And after that? It is in God’s hands. Not mine be it to set the limit.’

Bernadin di Fosco

His father was a field labourer. Bernadin distinguished himself at the siege of Faenza against the Emperor Frederick II in 1240. He was a Guelph, and died c1250 having become one of the nobility of Faenza.

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

Bernadone, Pietro

The father of Saint Francis, to whom Francis gave all his worldly possessions, in order to pursue Poverty.

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

Bertrand de Born

Bertrand (c1140-1215), The Lord of the Castle of Hautefort (Altaforte), near Périgord, who spent his life in feudal warfare, ended it in the Cistercian monastery of Dalon, nearby. He was one of the most individual of the Provençal troubadours. One of his finest poems (‘Si tuit li dohl elh plor elh marrimen’) is his song of lament on the death of 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. Bertrand was accused of stirring up the strife whereby Henry II refused to grant the sovereignty of England or Normandy to his son, and which lasted until the Young King’s death in 1183. (See Ezra Pound’s poem ‘Near Périgord’ from Lustra, and his translation of the lament ‘Planh for the Young English King’ in Personae: also his translation of ‘Dompna pois de me no’us cal’ in Lustra, where Bertrand makes ‘a borrowed lady’, ‘una dompna soiseubuda’ or ‘una donna ideale’, out of the best characteristics of the noble women he knows, and its companion piece ‘Na Audiart’ in Personae.)

Inferno Canto XXVIII:112-142. He is in the ninth chasm of the eighth circle, as a ‘stirrer up of strife’.

Bocca, see Abati, Bocca degli


Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boëthius (c475-525), Roman consul and philosopher who was condemned to death by Theodoric, at Pavia. He wrote the Consolation of Philosophy while in prison, defending the virtuous life and the ways of God. He stressed philosphical truth, and the earthly life, and though a Pagan with Christian connections was accepted as a Christian teacher. He argued the timelessness of God’s view of existence, and the validity of Human Freewill. Cieldauro (Golden Ceiling) is St. Peter’s Church in Pavia where he was buried. Since his opponents were Arian heretics, he is claimed as a Catholic martyr.

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

Bonatti, Guido

The private astrologer to Guido da Montefeltro. He came from Forlì and was a tiler by trade. He wrote ‘Liber Introductorius ad Judicia Stellorum’ (c1170) and was credited with aiding Guido’s victory over the French Papal forces at Forlì in 1282.

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

Bonaventura, Saint

Giovanni Fidanza, the Franciscan ‘Seraphic Doctor’ Saint Bonaventura (1221-1274). He was born at Bagnoregio near Bolsena. He was a friend and colleague of Thomas Aquinas, and minister-general of the Franciscan Order from 1256. He wrote the official life of Saint Francis, and shortly before his death was made a Cardinal and Bishop of Albano by Pope Gregory X.

Paradiso Canto XII:1-36. He is in the fourth sphere of the Sun.

Paradiso Canto XII:106-145. His extended speech to Dante.

Boniface VIII, Pope

Benedetto Gaetani who succeeded Celestine V in 1294, and imprisoned him after his abdication until his death. His political manoeuvres are the background to the critical three years of Dante’s political life, leading to his exile from Florence, and described in Ciacco’s prophecy. For Dante, he represented the corrupt Papacy, placed in Hell for his vindictiveness; falsity; profligate simony; an ultramontane sacerdotalism, that saw the Empire as subordinate to the Church, with only a derived authority; and his destructive policies that led to French control of Florence. Boniface died in October 1303, and was succeeded by Benedict XI. Boniface is therefore the Pope at the time of the Vision in 1300.

See Ciacco’s prophecy and Inferno Canto VI:64-93 for an indirect reference.

Inferno Canto XV:100-124. He is mentioned, indirectly, regarding his translation of Andrei dei Mozzi from Florence to Vicenze in 1295.

Inferno Canto XIX:31-87. His place in Hell is reserved for him in the eighth circle with the Simonists.

Inferno Canto XXVII:58-136. He persuaded Guido da Montefeltro to leave his religious retreat in order to advise him on the razing of Palestrina, giving him absolution in advance, which Dante explicitly rejects, as unacceptable, logically and morally. (Acre is mentioned as the last possession of the Christians in the Holy Land, lost to the Saracens in 1291.)

Purgatorio Canto XX:43-96. In the name of Philip IV, the Fair, Sciarra Colonna and William de Nogaret seized Boniface at Anagni his birthplace, forty miles south east of Rome, in September 1303 and treated him with such cruelty that he died at Rome, a month after his release from their hands, on October 11th 1303.

Paradiso Canto IX:67-126. His indifference to the fate of Acre and the Holy Land is mentioned.

Paradiso Canto IX:127-142. His reign has caused the abandonment of the study of the Gospels, for the study of the law-books, the Decretals, since that study brings preferment.

Paradiso Canto XII:37-105. The ideal of Poverty has been abandoned by the Holy See.

Paradiso Canto XVII:1-99. He engineered Dante’s exile.

Paradiso Canto XVIII:100-136. Dante deems him in love with the gold coins of Florence that carried the figure of the Baptist, as well as the lily, the florins, that he has forgotten the meaning of his office.

Paradiso Canto XXVII:1-66. He is denounced as a corrupt usurper of the Papal Office.

Paradiso Canto XXX:97-148. When Clement V arrives in Hell (1314), Boniface will be pushed further down.

Bonifazio, de’ Fieschi, Archbishop of Ravenna

Archbishop of Ravenna from 1274 to 1295. Dante refers to the ornamental rook like a chess-piece set at the top of the ancient pastoral staff of the Archbishops of Ravenna.

Purgatorio Canto XXIV:1-33. He is among the gluttonous.

Bonturo, see Dati


The north wind personified as a god. The north-westerlies are classically cloud-bearing winds, the north-easterlies sky-clearing winds.

Paradiso Canto XXVIII:58-93. He is mentioned.

Borsiere, Guglielmo

A retired purse-maker who entered the aristocracy. There is a story about him in Boccaccio’s Decameron I, 8 where he is noted for refinement, and eloquence. He died shortly before 1300.

Inferno Canto XVI:46-87. He is in the seventh circle for sodomy.


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

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. Mentioned.

Botaio, Martino

One of the elders of Lucca.

Inferno Canto XXI:31-58. He is in Hell.


Chief of the Sennonian Gauls who sacked Rome in 390BC.

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

Briarius, Briareus

One of the Giant sons of Earth and Tartarus who fought against the gods of Olympus. See Virgil’s Aeneid x 565-568, where he is described as having fifty heads and a hundred arms. See also Statius Theb. ii 596.

Inferno Canto XXXI:97-145. He helps guard the central pit.

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

Brigata, Nino della Gherardesca

See Ugolino della Gherardesca.

Brosse, Pierre de la

The surgeon and afterwards chamberlain of King Philip III of France. Mary of Brabant was accused by Pierre and others of having murdered Louis, Philip’s son by his first wife, with poison, in 1276. She destroyed Pierre by falsely accusing him of an attempt on her honour, and of treasonable correspondence with Alfonso X of Castile, Philip’s enemy. Pierre was hanged for this in 1278.

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

Brunelleschi, Agnello

A Florentine noble, and a thief.

Inferno Canto XXV:34-78. He merges with Cianfa as a serpent.

Brunetto, see Latini

Brutus, Junius, who expelled Tarquin

The type of a noble Roman of the Republic. Lucius Junius Brutus conquered Tarquinius Superbus, whose son had raped Lucretia, Collatine’s wife, in 510 BC. (See Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece)

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

Brutus, Marcus, who assassinated Julius Caesar

Marcus Junius Brutus, who with Gaius Cassius plotted to assassinate Julius Caesar, fearful of Caesar’s increasing power, and the death of the Republic. Caesar, who had loved Brutus’s mother Servilia, according to Suetonius, so that Brutus was perhaps his own child, was murdered on the Ides of March in 44BC, in the Hall of Pompey where the Senate were due to meet. One of the Casca brothers struck the first blow, with a sweep of his dagger just below the throat. Twenty-three dagger thrusts went home, and it was said that when he saw Brutus about to deliver the second blow, Caesar reproached him in Greek, saying: ‘You too, my child?’ In the ensuing Civil War, Octavian, later Augustus Caesar, and Mark Antony, defeated Brutus at the Second Battle of Philippi in 42BC. Brutus’s head was sent to Rome to be thrown at the foot of Caesar’ divine image. Dante holds him in special opprobrium, because of his murder of the founder of the Roman Empire, and because no doubt of the close relationship between Brutus and Caesar, making the betrayal more bitter.

Inferno Canto XXXIV:55-69. He is tormented in one of Satan’s mouths.

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

Bryso, Bryson

The Greek philosopher, considered by Aristotle an example of the powers of false-reasoning.

Paradiso Canto XIII:91-142. He is mentioned.

Buiamonte, Giovanni

Inferno Canto XVII:31-78. A knight of the Bicchi family of Florence, still alive in 1300 at the time of the Vision. His arms were ‘three eagles’ beaks or on field azure’.

Buonaccorsi, Pinamonte

The Brescian Counts of Casalodi held Mantua in 1272 but were unpopular and threatened with expulsion. Pinamonte de Buonaccorsi, obtained control, by advising Alberta da Casalodi to banish the powerful nobles, as a source of trouble. He then took over, massacred any opponents, expelled Alberta, and held Mantua until 1291.

Inferno Canto XX:52-99. Mentioned regarding Mantuan history.

Buonagiunta, Orbicciani

Bonagiunta Orbicciani degli Overardi, a notary and poet, of Lucca, who died between 1296 and 1300. 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:1-33. He is among the gluttonous.

Buonconte, see Montefeltro

Buondelmonti, Buondelmonte de’

See Mosca. Buondelmonti was betrothed to a daughter of the Amidei, but broke faith at the instigation of Gualdrada Donati. In the debate as to whether he should be killed Mosca said the evil word, ‘A thing done has an end.’ Buondelmonte was murdered, at the foot of the statue of Mars, on the Ponte Vecchio, in 1215. The family divisions created the Guelph and Ghibelline factional conflicts.

Paradiso Canto XVI:46-87. They are mentioned among the ancient Florentine families.

Paradiso Canto XVI:88-154. The family originated from Valdigreve and settled in the Borgo Saint Apostoli. To reach Florence they would have crossed the small stream called Ema.

Buoso, see Donati