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TSE  January 2002

TSE January 2002

Subject:

Re: Thoughts on "La Figlia che Piange"

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 31 Jan 2002 23:01:18 EST

Content-Type:

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In a message dated 1/31/02 6:05:52 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:

> Steve's post of Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 ([log in to unmask]) entitled
>  'Thoughts on "La Figlia che Piange"'
>  was the one making the Aeneas/Dido and Paolo/Francesca connection.
>  Steve mentioned Singleton saying there was an allusion.  I did not
>  really think it was an allusion but, to show I at least thought about
>  it, I mentioned that it might deal with fate.  Later I saw the mention
>  of Dido in the same Canto and I gave another reason that it **MIGHT**
>  be an allusion.  I still don't see it myself.
>  
>  This is a great opportunity for me to bow out and hand the baton back
>  to Steve.  I think we ended up a bit off from his original post and
>  I'll give him the chance to bring it back to his post and get me off
>  the hook.

   Rick, it seems to me that Canto 5 (Inferno) deals with tragic love and 
faithlessness. That's why Dido is mentioned by Dante -- it's not a 
coincidence or a lapse of cohesive writing on Dante's part (that is, Dante is 
not just randomly mentioning Dido in the Francesca canto). Look again at the 
lines where Dido is first mentioned:

##############################################################
======================================================

          "Maestro, chi son quelle               (50-51)
 genti che I'aura nera si gastiga?"
([Dante, pilgrim]: "Master, who are these people
 that are so lashed by the black air?" )

----------------------------
L 'altra e colei che s'ancise amorosa,    61-62 
  e ruppe fede al cener di Sicheo; 

(The next is she who slew herself for love and broke faith to the 
ashes of Sichaeus;)
================================================
Singleton's commentary:
-----------------------------
61--62. L'altra e colei ...Sicheo:   Dido, also called Elissa, was a daughter 
of Belus, king of Tyre, and the sister of Pygmalion. She married Sichaeus, 
who later was murdered by Pygmalion for his wealth. When the shade of 
Sichaeus revealed Pygmalion's crime to Dido, she fled from Tyre and sailed 
across to Africa where, according to legend, she founded Carthage. In the 
Aeneid, Virgil makes Dido a contemporary of Aeneas, with whom she falls in 
love despite her vow to remain faithful to her dead husband. When Aeneas 
leaves Carthage for Italy, Dido, in despair, stabs herself and dies on a 
funeral pyre of her own making. Dante's reference to the unfaithful Dido is 
an evident reminiscence of Aen. IV, 552: "Non servata fides cineri promissa 
Sychaeo." ("The faith vowed to the ashes of Sichaeus I have not kept.") 
#############################################################

And here's the passage where Dido is mentioned by name:

#############################################################
---------------------------------------------------------
Quali colombe dal disio chiamate                (82-87)
 con l'ali alzate e ferme al dolce nido 
 vegnon per I'aere, dal voler portate; 
cotati uscir de la schiera ov' e Dido, 
  a noi venendo per l'aere maligno,
 si forte fu l'affettuoso grido.

(As doves called by desire, with wings raised and steady, come through the 
air, borne by their will to their sweet nest, so did these issue from the 
troop where Dido is, coming to us through the malignant air, such force had 
my compassionate cry.)
-----------------------------------------------------
Again, Singleton's commentary:

85. la schiera ov' e Dido:   This second mention 0f Dido -- this time by name 
--invites us to remember Virgil's heroine and her tragic love, as we listen 
to Dante's "heroine" tell of her own. In a sense Dante is vying with Virgil 
here. 
###############################################################


   Note particularly Singleton's remark, "Dante's reference to the unfaithful 
Dido is an evident reminiscence of Aen. IV, 552: "Non servata fides cineri 
promissa Sychaeo." ("The faith vowed to the ashes of Sichaeus I have not 
kept.")"  Note that Francesca dies while being unfaithful to her husband 
Gianciotto. 

  I don't know if any of this makes you rethink whether or not the 
Francesca/Paolo canto is intended to allude to Dido/Aeneas. I also don't know 
if you think that "La Figlia che Piange" (with lines like "Simple and 
faithless as a smile and shake of the hand") draws its title from Canto 5.  I 
won't repeat my arguments about TSE's notion of the universal, betrayed, 
"weeping girl". 

   I'll only add that I think Rick Seddon's argument (that TSE picked a title 
**IN ITALIAN** for no other reason than it sounded good) only works if one 
thinks TSE is an extremely amateurish poet who doesn't understand the 
importance of a poem's title.

-- Steve --

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