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The beginning of Francesca's highly rhetorical speech reflects the tradition of classical rhetoric that would have a speaker first seek to gain the sympathy of the audience, a device referred to as captatio benevolentiae , the capturing of the goodwill of one's auditors. For noteworthy earlier examples of captatio see Beatrice's first words to Virgil Inf. This canto has one of its 'key words' in amore , which occurs fully eleven times in it vv.

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But this word, 'pity,' is crucial as well vv. Dante is filled with pity for lost lovers. Should he be? That may be the central question facing a reader of Inferno V see further discussion, below, in the note to Inf. The three main editorial constructions of this contested phrase of Francesca are as follows: it reads either 1 si tace becomes silent ; or 2a ci tace grows quiet here ; or 2b ci tace grows quiet for our sake. That is a sensible understanding, but either of the others might have been what Dante wrote. For the Italian text with an English translation of Boccaccio's Francesca-favoring narrative, in his Esposizioni , see Singleton, comm.

The use of anaphora repetition here at the beginning of each tercet, 'Amor It seems also reasonable to believe that Francesca is here referring to her 'god,' the Lord of Love, Cupid, whose name is 'Amor. This verse is much debated. See also the strong arguments of Chiavacci Leonardi Inferno, con il commento di A. As much as we may agree with this view of the matter, we must also acknowledge that the wording of the text allows, in itself, either interpretation.

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Our translation therefore leaves the meaning ambiguous, as does, indeed, the original, whatever Dante's intentions. Basing his argument in Italian and Latin texts [among the latter especially Andreas Capellanus's De amore ], Pertile demonstrates that modo [Latin modus ] frequently meant 'measure' when it referred to the immoderate nature of passionate love. He summarizes his sense of the verse as follows: 'il modo, la misura, la forza dell'amore di Paolo ancora mi ferisce, mi affligge, mi soggioga' [the manner, or measure, or force of Paolo's love still wounds, or afflicts, or dominates me].

The dicta of Andreas Capellanus are often cited as lying behind Francesca's speech e. A closer parallel exists between a line in a love poem by Cino da Pistoia and this one: 'A nullo amato amar perdona amore' cited by Enrico Mestica [comm. But we do not know if Dante is echoing Cino or Cino, Dante. The word piacer refers to the physical attractiveness of Paolo, as most commentators agree. There has been dispute over the exact meaning of the word here since the fourteenth century.

Most modern commentators, e. See Virgil, Aeneid VI. The verse describing 'the love that leads to death' contains a 'visual pun' on the theme, as was pointed out by a graduate student at Princeton, Laura Kellogg, in 'AMOR condusse noi ad unA MORte. Francesca, whose chief rhetorical strategy is to remove as much blame from herself as she is able, finding other forces at fault wherever possible e.

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She may be damned, but he, as the killer of his wife and brother, will be much lower down, in the ninth circle. Since Gianciotto, who killed them in , lived until , his shade could not be seen by Dante in Caina. We have, as a result, no basis on which to question her opinion.


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However, had Dante wanted to guarantee it, it would have taken a line or so to do just that — and he does several times have sinners tell of the impending arrival of still others in a given circle in ways that clearly call for acceptance see the note to Inf. And so we are left wondering at Francesca's remark, and should at least keep this question open. It seems better to view her prediction as a wish stated as a fact than as a fact.

Petrocchi is harshly polemical against those who have argued that this verse is spoken by Paolo La Commedia secondo l'antica vulgata , Inferno , p. It is indeed difficult to imagine that this rhetorically perfect speech could suddenly turn into a 'chorus' without the poet having given some very clear indication that such was the case. The next verse, 'These words were borne from them to us,' does not necessarily mean that they were spoken by both lovers, only that they come from where they where, reminding us that we always see them together.

As Benvenuto comm. It is difficult to accept such a view, since Dante is almost always carefully precise in separating one speaker's words from another's. And while punctuation in the manuscript tradition is not and cannot be reliable, it nonetheless seems odd that no one else had treated the line this way, which in fact seems more ingenious than sensible; that would at least suggest that, from the beginning, there have been no manuscripts that gave the line to Francesca's lover.

Further, for Paolo to enter the fray in this single and petulant? And it is clear from what follows that it is she who is much on Dante's mind, not Paolo. These nine verses contain the 'drama' of the canto in nuce. Dante's pensive condition in the first tercet reflects his being moved deeply by Francesca's beautiful speech; Virgil attempts to spur him to thoughtful appreciation of what he has seen and heard; the second tercet records his more emotional than rational outburst: he is totally sympathetic to the lovers, and now, in the third, he turns to tell Francesca that he is filled with pity for her.


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She has won him over. Some twenty years ago Dante's tearful state v. Padoan argues effectively comm. Chiavacci Leonardi Inferno, con il commento di A. Padoan's solution seems the more economical and in keeping with the protagonist's view of the two sinners, here circling forever on the black winds of hell.

The word doloroso may reflect the dolenti note , the agonized cries of the damned in this circle Inf. In Georgia Nugent, then a student at Princeton, pointed out that Dante's question mimics the questions used by confessors to ascertain the nature of a penitent's sins.


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Here, we may reflect, Dante is behaving more like a priest in the so-called 'religion of Love' than like a Christian confessor. See the earlier discussion of confession in this canto, in the note to Inferno V. See the Consolation of Philosophy II, pr. For the Virgilian resonances Aen. There is debate as to whether the word dottore here 'teacher' refers to Boethius or Virgil. We should realize that either choice forces upon us a somewhat ungainly hypothesis, the first that Francesca knows Boethius well it is only several years since Dante had characterized the Consolation of Philosophy as a work known only to few [at Convivio II.

Since Virgil is referred to by Dante as 'il mio dottore' in this very canto Inf. Much has been written on the Old French sources of this scene. Francesca's account of her and Paolo's conquest by Amor is 'corrected' by a later text, Dante's reference to God as the 'punto che mi vinse' Par.

The passage in Paradiso is clearly meant to reflect negatively, not only on the amorous activity of Francesca and Paolo, but on the protagonist's reactions to it. The god of Love and Francesca are being played against God and Beatrice — or so we will understand once we reach the last cantica. Di Scipio and A. Scaglione Amsterdam: John Benjamins, , pp. Once again Francesca blames another for the two lovers' predicament, this time the go-between in the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere as well as author of the tale.

By now we have come to see — or should have — how often her problems are laid at the doors of others. Francesca, reading a book that leads to her 'conversion' to sin and death in the company of a man named Paul, is the 'negative antitype' of St.

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Swing for what seems to be the first observation of this striking connection [ The Fragile Leaves of the Sibyl Westminster: The Newman Press, ], p. Augustine is converted by reading a passage in St. Paul Romans : 'Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. And if Augustine was converted by reading a man named Paul, Francesca gives herself to adultery with a man bearing the same name.

For support of the idea that Dante is here thinking of this pivotal moment in Augustine's spiritual autobiography, see John A. If we are meant to think of Augustine's book here, that would round off this canto's concern with confession see discussion, above, in the notes to Inf. Irvine], p. For still more recent support of this position if without mention of any of its previous proponents , see Douglas Biow review of Meredith J.

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We now realize that during the entire episode we have not heard a word from Paolo. In each case one of the two is a silent partner. We can try to imagine what an eternity of silence in the company of the voluble being who shares the culpability for one's damnation might be like. Petrocchi La Commedia secondo l'antica vulgata , Inferno , p. Dante's death-like swoon has him experiencing something akin to the death in sensuality experienced by Francesca and Paolo. This is to be at odds with the view of Pietrobono comm.

It would rather seem that this is exactly not the state attained by the protagonist at this point in the poem. Torraca comm. His fainting marks him here as unable to control his pity, as it had had the same effect with respect to fear two cantos earlier Inf.

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The fifth canto of Inferno is the cause of continuing debate. Where are we to locate ourselves as witnesses to these scenes? Virgil perhaps, given his silence through most of the second half of the canto once Francesca appears on the scene he speaks only two words: 'che pense? For example, figlia daughter becomes figlie daughters , and padrino godfather becomes padrini godparents.