Purgatorio -- Canto XI

The Proud, Omberto, Oderisi



1-24 Dante is paraphrasing the liturgical prayer Our Father.































49 The speaker is Omberto Aldobrandesco, son of Guglielmo and count of Santafiora; he was killed by the Sienese in the siege of his stronghold at Campagnatico in 1259.














74 Oderisi da Gubbio (d. 1299) belonged to the Bolognese school of manuscript illuminators, as did his pupil Franco of Bologna (l.82).




83 Franco Bolognese is a minor artist, well known at the beginning of the 14th century. Vasari mentioned that he was appreciated by the popes.






94 Cimabue (1240?-1302?), the Florentine artist, was followed by his student Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) who not only excelled his master but became the founder of European art.

97 Probably Dante refers to Guido Cavalcanti (d. 1300) who is mentioned in Inferno X, l. 60, and the other is Guido Guinizelli of Bologna (d. 1276). He is in the seventh terrace of purgatory (Canto XXVII, l. 94). The two poets were highly regarded by Dante for the innovations in their poetry.




109 Provenzan Salvani (d. 1269) is indicated here; he led the Ghibelline Sienese at the battle of Montaperti in 1260; later captured and beheaded by the Florentine Guelphs. He was reputed to have publicly begged in Siena for the ransom money to free a friend captured by Charles Anjou (l. 133).

          "Our Father, who art in heaven, not bound there,
          But dwelling in it for the greater love
          Thou bearest toward thy firstborn works on high,
          "Hallowed be thy name and be thy worthiness
5         Through every creature, as it is most fitting
          To thank thee for the sweet breath of thy wisdom.
          "Thy kingdom come to us in peacefulness,
          Because we cannot reach it by ourselves,
          Unless it come, for all our striving effort.
10       "And as the angels do thy will in heaven
          By sacrificing theirs, singing hosanna,
          So let the men on earth do with their wills.
          "Give us this day our daily manna, since
          Without it, through this bitter wilderness
15       He retreats who tries hardest to advance.
          "And as we pardon all for the trespasses
          That we have suffered, so in loving kindness
          Forgive us: do not judge by our deserving.
          "Our strength so easily fails: lead us not
20       Into temptation through our ancient foe,
          But deliver us from the evil he provokes.
          "This last petition, dearest Lord, we make
          Not for our sake, since now we have no need,
          But for those people who remain behind us."
25       This way the souls, praying godspeed for both
          Themselves and us, trudged on beneath a burden
          Like that one pictures sometimes in a dream,
          Unequal in their anguish, all of them
          Plodding wearily around the first terrace,
30       Purging away the black dross of the world.
          If there they always speak up for our good,
          What for their good can here be said or done
          By those whose prayers are rooted in goodwill?
          Surely we should help them cleanse the stains
35       They brought from here, so that, buoyant and pure,
          They may take flight up to the wheeling stars.
          "Ah, so may justice and pity soon remove
          Your load of guilt that you may spread out wings
          Which will lift you to the limit of your longing,
40       "Show us on which side is the shortest way
          To reach the stairs, and if there’s more than one,
          Instruct us to the path that is least steep,
          "Because this man who walks with me, weighed down
          By Adam’s flesh, which he still wears about him,
45       Is slowed, against his will, in his climb up."
          Words of theirs were then returned in answer
          To those the guide I followed had addressed,
          But one could not be sure from whom they came:
          The words were: "Come with us along this bank
50       To the right, and you’ll find the passageway
          Possible for a living person to ascend.
          "And were I not encumbered by this stone
          Which has so tamed my proud neck to submission
          That I am forced to keep my face bent down,
55       "I would now gaze upon this man who lives
          But remains nameless, to see if I know him
          And to make him feel compassion for my load.
          "I was Italian, son of a great Tuscan:
          Guglielmo Aldobrandesco was my father;
60       I do not know if you ever heard his name.
          "The age-old blood and the gallant exploits
          Of my forebears made me so arrogant
          That, not thinking of our common mother,
          "I held all men in such complete contempt
65       It killed me, as the Sienese all know
          And every child in Campagnatico.
          "I am Omberto. And not only has pride
          Damaged me but it has dragged down all
          My kinsfolk with it into catastrophe.
70       "And for this sin I here must bear this weight
          Until I give God satisfaction — since I
          Gave none among the living — among the dead."
          Listening to him I held my head down lower;
          And one of them — not the one who’d spoken —
75       Shifted under the mass that pressed upon him
          And noticed me and knew me and called out,
          Struggling to keep his eyes fixed upon me
          While I, stooped over, walked along with them.
          "Oh," I cried out, "are you not Oderisi,
80       Honor of Gubbio, glory of that art
          Which in Paris they call ‘illuminating’?"
          "Brother," he said, "the pages painted by
          Franco Bolognese smile more brightly:
          All his the honor now — and partly mine.
85       "Certainly I would have been less courteous
          While I was alive, through my vaulting zeal
          For excellence to which my heart aspired.
          "The price of pride like this is paid out here;
          And still I’d not be here if it were not
90       That, capable of sin, I turned to God.
          "Oh, the vainglory of our human powers!
          How brief the time the green grows on the hilltop,
          Unless the age that follows it is barren!
          "Cimabue thought he held the field
95       In painting, but now the hue and cry is for
          Giotto, and the other’s fame is dulled.
          "So, one Guido has snatched from another
          Poetic glory, and perhaps the man
          Has been born who will chase both from the nest!
100      "Earthly fame is but a breath of wind,
          No more; huffing here and puffing there,
          It changes name when it changes quarter.
          "What more renown will you have, if you lose
          Your flesh through old age, than if you had died
105      Before you left your baby-talk behind you
          "In, say, a thousand years? That is a shorter
          Span to the eternal than the blink of an eye
          Is to the turn of the slowest of the spheres.
          "All Tuscany resounded with the name
110      Of him who creeps before me on this path:
          Now’s scarce a whisper of him in Siena
          "Where he was lord when they together crushed
          The rage of Florence — who was then in wartime
          As proud as she is prostituted now.
115      "Your reputation is like the shade of grass
          Which comes and goes: the sun that makes it spring
          Green from the ground soon causes it to fade."
          And I told him, "Your words ring true to my heart
          With fit humility and cure my puffed-up pride:
120     But who is he of whom you spoke just now?"
          "That," he replied, "is Provenzan Salvani,
          And he is here because in his presumption
          He tried to get his hands on all Siena.
          "So he goes on and has gone since he died,
125     Without rest: such is the coin which those
          Who dare too much must pay in satisfaction."
          And I: "If souls who postpone until the last
          Moment of life before they show repentance
          Stay there below and do not mount up here
130      "Until they wait as long as they once lived —
          Unless propitious prayers come to their aid —
          Then how was he allowed to hasten here?"
          "When he lived at the height of his own glory,"
          He said, "he in Siena’s marketplace,
135     Shunning all shame, freely took his stand:
          "And there, to gain release for his good friend
          From sufferings he endured in Charles’ dungeon,
          He reduced himself to shivering in his veins.
          "I say no more: I know that I speak darkly,
140      But after a short time has passed, your neighbors
          Will so behave that you can gloss it out:
          "This act delivered him from that confinement."
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