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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

more on "figlia"

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 28 Feb 2001 22:32:25 EST

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Steve,

Thanks for bringing up the issue of the Italian title to La Figlia che Piange 
and suggesting it might be from Dante. 

The word "figlia" is used in 16 different cantos of the Commedia, and I've 
given a list below. When writers play with word patterns (as Dante does), 
it's often the first (or the first and last) use(s) of the word that set the 
tone. In this case, the first reference is in Inf. 4.126 (Limbo), and this is 
the only time the word is used in the Inferno. Canto 4 is extremely important 
as a kind of pivotal canto on which the entire Commedia turns. It introduces 
the question of what the requirements are for salvation, and we spend the 
rest of the Commedia trying to find the answer. There's a sub-question 
introduced in this same canto of what God intends to do with the Jews, and 
Eliot plays around with the sub-question as a foundation for "Burbank."

The "figlia" mentioned in Inferno 4 is Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus. 
It's Dante's allusion to the Aeneid, where Lavinia becomes the second wife of 
Aeneas (and the marriage causes a war).

So now I see it this way. La Figlia che Piange is composed of 3 units--the 
title, the epigraph, and the body text. Each is linked to the Aeneid, and 
eacfh is linked in a different way.

1) The title, or at least the word "figlia" is lifted from Dante's first use 
of the word, where he's referring to la figlia Lavinia, who becomes Aeneas' 
wife in the Aeneid. (Inf. 4.1`26). 

2) The epigraph and body text take us back to an earlier time in Aeneas' 
life, before he marries Lavinia. The epigraph is from the beginning of the 
affair with Dido, where Aeneas has been shipwrecked and  meets his mother 
Venus, who  wants to take him to Dido's palace, where she knows they will  
fall in love.

3) In the body text, a narrator (Eliot?) muses on how he would have "arranged 
the scene" of Aeneas's parting from Dido after the affair is over. I 
understand the narrator to be sharing his thoughts about whether he would 
have written the scene the way Virgil wrote it or whether he would have 
written it differently. The narrator seems to  be seeing the scene (perhaps 
in imagination) at the same time he thinks about it. If the man and woman 
mentioned  are Aeneas and Dido, Aeneas has already left, putting the focus on 
Dido.

Now back to Dante's use of the word "figlia." As I mentioned, we seem to have 
a chain of studied word repetitions (the word in this case is "figlia") that 
finally lead to the ultimate daughter : the Virgin Mary as the daughter 
(figlia) of her son (figlio).  I haven't checked out all the in-between 
"figlias," but I'm wondering if this is where Eliot got the idea for his note 
about "all the women are one woman." Though Dante may mention many different 
"figlias," they're all sisters under the skin. Any and every woman is 
somebody's daughter--a "figlia." 

If I'm reading this in a reasonable way, Dante might be  offering an 
interesting twist on a familiar cliche, picked up to some extent by Eliot. 
Many people, when they hear the word "woman," think of "mother." But this 
might be a bit off the mark, because  it's not true that every woman is a 
mother. But it's true that every woman is a daughter. 

These are the cantos in which the word "figlia"is used. Inferno 4, Purgatorio 
3, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 28; Paradiso 9, 10, 15, 22, 26, 27, 32, 33.

Sorry not to give the line numbers as well as the canto numbers. But it's a 
lot harder to search the Commedia in Italian than in English. What's needed 
is a version with line numbers, and maybe Rick will put his mind to 
constructing one. I started to make one for my own use, but it's much too 
primitive to put on the Internet. 

pat

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<HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>Steve,
<BR>
<BR>Thanks for bringing up the issue of the Italian title to La Figlia che Piange 
<BR>and suggesting it might be from Dante. 
<BR>
<BR>The word "figlia" is used in 16 different cantos of the Commedia, and I've 
<BR>given a list below. When writers play with word patterns (as Dante does), 
<BR>it's often the first (or the first and last) use(s) of the word that set the 
<BR>tone. In this case, the first reference is in Inf. 4.126 (Limbo), and this is 
<BR>the only time the word is used in the Inferno. Canto 4 is extremely important 
<BR>as a kind of pivotal canto on which the entire Commedia turns. It introduces 
<BR>the question of what the requirements are for salvation, and we spend the 
<BR>rest of the Commedia trying to find the answer. There's a sub-question 
<BR>introduced in this same canto of what God intends to do with the Jews, and 
<BR>Eliot plays around with the sub-question as a foundation for "Burbank."
<BR>
<BR>The "figlia" mentioned in Inferno 4 is Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus. 
<BR>It's Dante's allusion to the Aeneid, where Lavinia becomes the second wife of 
<BR>Aeneas (and the marriage causes a war).
<BR>
<BR>So now I see it this way. La Figlia che Piange is composed of 3 units--the 
<BR>title, the epigraph, and the body text. Each is linked to the Aeneid, and 
<BR>eacfh is linked in a different way.
<BR>
<BR>1) The title, or at least the word "figlia" is lifted from Dante's first use 
<BR>of the word, where he's referring to la figlia Lavinia, who becomes Aeneas' 
<BR>wife in the Aeneid. (Inf. 4.1`26). 
<BR>
<BR>2) The epigraph and body text take us back to an earlier time in Aeneas' 
<BR>life, before he marries Lavinia. The epigraph is from the beginning of the 
<BR>affair with Dido, where Aeneas has been shipwrecked and &nbsp;meets his mother 
<BR>Venus, who &nbsp;wants to take him to Dido's palace, where she knows they will &nbsp;
<BR>fall in love.
<BR>
<BR>3) In the body text, a narrator (Eliot?) muses on how he would have "arranged 
<BR>the scene" of Aeneas's parting from Dido after the affair is over. I 
<BR>understand the narrator to be sharing his thoughts about whether he would 
<BR>have written the scene the way Virgil wrote it or whether he would have 
<BR>written it differently. The narrator seems to &nbsp;be seeing the scene (perhaps 
<BR>in imagination) at the same time he thinks about it. If the man and woman 
<BR>mentioned &nbsp;are Aeneas and Dido, Aeneas has already left, putting the focus on 
<BR>Dido.
<BR>
<BR>Now back to Dante's use of the word "figlia." As I mentioned, we seem to have 
<BR>a chain of studied word repetitions (the word in this case is "figlia") that 
<BR>finally lead to the ultimate daughter : the Virgin Mary as the daughter 
<BR>(figlia) of her son (figlio). &nbsp;I haven't checked out all the in-between 
<BR>"figlias," but I'm wondering if this is where Eliot got the idea for his note 
<BR>about "all the women are one woman." Though Dante may mention many different 
<BR>"figlias," they're all sisters under the skin. Any and every woman is 
<BR>somebody's daughter--a "figlia." 
<BR>
<BR>If I'm reading this in a reasonable way, Dante might be &nbsp;offering an 
<BR>interesting twist on a familiar cliche, picked up to some extent by Eliot. 
<BR>Many people, when they hear the word "woman," think of "mother." But this 
<BR>might be a bit off the mark, because &nbsp;it's not true that every woman is a 
<BR>mother. But it's true that every woman is a daughter. 
<BR>
<BR>These are the cantos in which the word "figlia"is used. Inferno 4, Purgatorio 
<BR>3, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 28; Paradiso 9, 10, 15, 22, 26, 27, 32, 33.
<BR>
<BR>Sorry not to give the line numbers as well as the canto numbers. But it's a 
<BR>lot harder to search the Commedia in Italian than in English. What's needed 
<BR>is a version with line numbers, and maybe Rick will put his mind to 
<BR>constructing one. I started to make one for my own use, but it's much too 
<BR>primitive to put on the Internet. 
<BR>
<BR>pat</B></FONT></HTML>

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