Dante and Cangrade

Andrea Placidi (Princeton University)

Dante Notes / November 25, 2017

“My lord, the whole universe crowns you with praise”, writes Giovanni Quirini in a famous sonnet addressed to Cangrande Della Scala, Lord of Verona: “I am one loyal servant, whose desire is to witness the sacred glory of Paradiso sung by the poet”.[1] The sonnet is a request to publish new cantos of Paradiso, which, apparently, the powerful Imperial Vicar is keeping to himself.[2] We infer from this sonnet of Quirini, a Venetian poet and early admirer of Dante writing not long before the death of the Alighieri in 1321, that the publication of Paradiso has come to a stall. Quirini, eager to read more, sends a dispatch to Verona to Dante’s powerful patron. As Boccaccio writes in the Trattatello, Cangrande received a copy for his eyes only of those cantos of Paradiso that the poet had freshly composed or revised, before common mortals could get their copies.[3] Jacopo and Piero, Dante’s sons, also allegedly respected this custom after their father’s death upon the fortuitous recovery of the last thirteen cantos of Paradiso, which had gone lost in the aftermath of the poet’s sudden and unexpected death.[4] The account of the rediscovery of the thirteen lost cantos continues to raise suspicions for its fictional quality. Yet, it gives a sense of closure to the fraught relationship between Cangrande and Dante which developed from the year 1318 to 1321, that is, from the poet’s departure from Verona to the late summer when he died of a malarial fever at age 56.[5] The rapport with the great man has left profound traces in the work of Dante, in addition to the direct celebration of the Scala family in Paradiso 17 and the Epistle to Cangrande. The marks of Cangrande’s presence are especially vivid on the Monarchia and the Quaestio de aqua et terra. In this note, I concentrate on the first Latin treatise, and investigate how an early circulation of the Monarchia in the context of Cangrande’s feud with Pope Giovanni XXII may have played a role in Dante’s estrangement from Verona and the interruption of the publication of the Commedia.

To serve as a background to the reconstruction of these events, we first need to establish a chronology for the publication of Paradiso. This process cannot be accomplished philologically: contrary to the testimony of Quirini and Boccaccio, the poem’s manuscript tradition does not reflect a publication in clusters of cantos for Paradiso. Our text seems to share one common ancestor close to the 1322 edition curated by Jacopo and Piero Alighieri.[6] Yet, the indirect evidence for a serial publication of the last canticle is strong.[7] Some have argued that Dante also published Inferno and Purgatorio serially.[8] The latter hypothesis remains controversial because of the dearth of early testimonies of the publication of the poem. Although Dante had started composing the Inferno around 1306,[9] the earliest traces of its publication are found in a gloss on the Documenti d’amore of Francesco da Barberino dated to the end of 1313, and in any case before the death of Pope Clement VII in April 1314.[10] The argument for the chronology of the first canticle deduced from the gloss, referred to as “argomento barberiniano” hinges on the mention of the “comedia [...] de infernalibus”.[11] Other chronological arguments exist but do not help prove the theory of a serial publication.[12] Assuming a serial publication of at least Paradiso, we may propose, on the basis of some observations, that this should fall after 1316. First, the first six cantos of Purgatorio may have been circulating already in 1313. [13] Second, Dante must have published Purgatorio by early 1316 because the fresco of the Maestà of Simone Martini in the Duomo of Siena (dated June 1316) contains a series of inscriptions in terzine inspired by the last cantos of Purgatorio.[14]

Paradiso was, then, most likely begun by 1316 at the latest. This chronology is conservative, if the reference made by Dante in Paradiso 1.21-7 to the possibility of his own future poetic coronation (“e coronarmi allor di quelle foglie”) is a direct reaction to the conferral of the poetic laurel to Albertino Mussato in Padova, news of which would have reached the poet already at the end of the year 1315, while the organization of the ceremony was underway.[15] Some argue that this canto was sent early on to Cangrande and accompanied the famous Epistle to Cangrande;[16] others that the Epistle later accompanied the envoy of the complete Paradiso to request its publication at the generous expense of the sovereign.[17] While we are uncertain about the dates of the sojourn at the Scala court, a fact which obfuscates the chronology of the Epistle,[18] the second hypothesis seems more plausible because Dante had already gained the favor and the friendship of the Scala Lord when he wrote it.[19]  Dante may have presented the letter to his patron either in 1316, not long after the start of composition, or in the year before his death, when the canticle was complete. In either case, the request implicit in the Epistle to Cangrande is the same evoked by Quirini in his sonnet: Cangrande should be the sponsor of Paradiso. As we gathered from Quirini, Cangrande suspended at some point in time the publication of the poem at his expense. This suspension may follow the departure of the poet for Ravenna.

As we have seen, Giovanni Quirini, impatient to read the latest cantos of Paradiso, sent a bold, cunning, adulatory sonnet to Cangrande asking him not to shrink from the liberality which made him famous, and honor his duty to circulate the new cantos of Paradiso, which he was keeping for himself.[20] Apart from its subtle irony, the sonnet is remarkable because it betrays a close knowledge of some of the closing terzine of Paradiso 9. The lexical units “pianta”; “al suo fattore”, “spande”, “fiore” in lines 127-130 may be compared to Quirini’s: “pianta”, “fioretti”, “fattore”, “spanta”.[21] From this circumstance, we may infer that at least the first nine cantos of Paradiso, and probably nothing further, had traveled as far as Quirini’s hometown of Venice when he sent the sonnet. In his verse, Quirini claims to be the messenger of Dante’s desires concerning the publication of Paradiso. Quirini knows - or so he argues - that Dante still wants Cangrande to publish Paradiso (cf. “so ch’intende ancore / che di voi prima per lo mondo spanta ... fosse”). In the poem Quirini refers to what is implicit in the Epistle to Cangrande; namely, that the ruler of Verona should sponsor the publication of the last canticle. The triangle Quirini – Cangrande – Dante is a fruitful one and produces several questions: if Quirini was as familiar with Dante as he contends, why didn’t he obtain the new cantos from our poet and instead had to go through Cangrande? Is Quirini acting of his own initiative? Or is it possible that Quirini may be playing the role of the literary agent and acting on behalf of our poet, who needs Cangrande to publish the Commedia? The sonnet, that is, may be marking a moment of crisis between Cangrande and Dante with Quirini acting as the middleman on Dante’s request. If we were to accept this hypothesis, we should read Quirini’s sonnet as an indirect attempt orchestrated by Dante to persuade Cangrande to resume publication.

Other signs of an interruption of the publication are offered in the Eclogues. Dante writes in Eclogue 2, in reply to the carmen of Giovanni del Virgilio (a young Bolognese master of arts, whom the poet had met in 1318 at the beginning of his stay in Ravenna)[22] that he will send his new friend “ten measures of milk” (“decem vascula”) from his choicest “ewe.”[23] Dante refers to a poetic work, with all probability the Commedia. There being, in my mind, little doubt as to the meaning of the image Dante uses to refer to the Commedia, Eclogue 2 documents the custom of circulating clusters of cantos to a number of friends and admirers.[24] The “ten measures of milk” ought then to be ten cantos of Paradiso, attached to the Eclogue as a gift.[25] Yet, we do not know whether Giovanni received the gift.[26] The Bolognese master shows his confusion about the nature of the ten “vascula” when he promises to return as many as he received back to the poet. It is not impossible, thus, to infer that Giovanni understood the “vascula” to mean eclogues.[27] Del Virgilio does neither confirm the reception of the ten cantos, nor suggest he has understood that the ‘vascula” are not Latin eclogues but vernacular cantos.

Despite the ambiguity and potential misinterpretation of Dante’s expression by Giovanni, we may surmise that in the Eclogue the poet is referring to the cantos. If they were cantos, can we determine which? Probably not with any certainty, but a speculative attempt is possible. The cantos in question will be either the first ten, the last ten, or an undetermined selection from the middle of the canticle. There exists an argument to identify the “ten measures of milk” within the last canticle. In the carmen that initiates the epistolary exchange between Dante and Giovanni, the latter urges our poet to write an epic poem in Latin. A Latin epic, Giovanni argues, will grant Dante the poetic laurel. The Commedia will not, Giovanni’s message implies. Del Virgilio proposes Bologna as the venue for the coronation, a location as prestigious, if not more, than Padua, where Albertino Mussato was given the laurel in 1315. The young Bolognese master made this invitation to work on greater things in a spirit of friendly preoccupation. He did not mean to make light of the Commedia. Yet, the remarks piqued Dante. He certainly did not miss the analogy to Mussato’s coronation of 1315, a historical event registered in writing by the poet as early as the composition of Paradiso 1, where he envisions for the first time the same honor for himself. Eclogue 2 prompted Dante to readdress this bittersweet topic in Paradiso 25, the canto on which he may have been working upon receiving Giovanni’s dispatch from Bologna. In the famous verses that open the canto (1-9), Dante writes that if the fame and glory of the holy poem win him the return from exile, he will receive the poetic laurel (“cappello”) at the font of his baptism; that is, in the baptistery of his hometown of Florence.[28] The opacity of these verses, which could lean toward the expression of hopefulness for a much longed-for return from exile, as toward sardonic irony and despair, agrees well with the hypothesis that they constitute a direct reaction to Giovanni’s insensible remarks.[29] Assuming that Paradiso 25, and especially verses 1-9 were written when Dante received Giovanni’s carmen, we may surmise that Paradiso 25 was the canto he was currently revising and hence the tenth and last of those that he would send to Bologna. The latter hypothesis was first suggested by Giorgio Padoan: if accurate, the ten cantos to which Dante refers in the eclogue may be - although this remains at most a speculation based on the research of the late philologist - Cantos 16-25. [30]

The promise of ten freshly-written cantos and the use of the classicizing form of the Virgilian eclogue in the reply to Giovanni aim at conveying a message to the younger friend: that the Commedia will constitute his legacy, but that he is nonetheless up to the task of writing Latin verse. Dante wants to impress the Bolognese professor by showing how well versed he is in Latin composition without having to write the epic poem which Giovanni commissioned. Here, a clear sign that Giovanni’s carmen had elicited a pointed response from the poet of the Commedia.


The cantos that were lost after Dante’s death, as we gather from Boccaccio’s recounting of the events, were the last thirteen; that is, cantos 21-33. Since we have established, at least tentatively, that Dante was revising Paradiso 25 sometime after beginning his new life in Ravenna (when he replied to Giovanni’s carmen), we can infer that Dante composed these last thirteen cantos in Romagna at the Polenta court, outside the sphere of influence of Cangrande. If the relationship with the Veronese ruler had somewhat worsened around the time of our poet’s departure, as Quirini’s sonnet leads us to believe, then we may ask if these last thirteen cantos were ever actually delivered to Cangrande. Yet, something suggests that they were delivered: Dante’s later return to Verona in the winter of 1320 to take part in a “determinatio” (a technical term in use in medieval universities for defending a philosophical or scientific thesis against an opponent) held in the Church of St. Helena. We know the text of Dante’s defense as Quaestio de aqua et terra.[31] The text, which inquires whether the earth envelopes the waters or vice versa, as there was no agreement on whether the earth floated on water or emerged from the lower strata of our planet, is another proof of Dante’s transformative scholarship after De Vulgari Eloquentia and Monarchia.[32] The place where Dante held the defense and his audience deserve special attention. The Church of St. Helena in Verona was a gift from the Scala family to the city and constituted for the ruling family a privileged venue for attending and celebrating both religious and lay ceremonies. Furthermore, a series of statutes of Alberto Della Scala record that the Scala family had established in 1285 some salaries (fellowships, rather, to use a more familiar term) for professors of liberal arts to give lectures in the classrooms adjacent to the church.[33] From this record of their patronage we may surmise that Dante’s invitation had less to do with the cultural interests of the Augustinian canons who lived and taught in St. Helena than with the desires of Cangrande, whose presence at the defense - recorded in the concluding remarks - is notable, considering the narrowness of the topic and the fact that the lecture was conducted in Latin.[34] Was Dante’s invitation to St. Helena the sign of a reconciliation between him and Cangrande? Such a rapprochement is not unthinkable, since the ruler’s presence at the defense is a clear sign of benevolence.

The concluding remarks of the Quaestio strike, however, a different note. There, Dante alerts the audience to the noticeable absence among their number of some gentlemen, who, we are told, have been struck by a “fervor of charity”[35]. In this absence, looming large on the stage of this scientific as much as political gathering, there is a clear sign of acrimony against our poet, at least on the part of the city and its clergy. That these fellows are churchmen and members of the intelligentsia is guaranteed by the solemnity of the event, presided by Cangrande, and by the topic of the discussion, the proposed advancement of a scientific theory. Will this acrimony have to do with the thesis defended by our poet on the natural place of earth and water? Or else the root cause of the animosity is not in the science? In the next, concluding section, I address a possible explanation for both the absence of members of the audience at Dante’s defense and the suspended publication of the last canticle: the controversies generated by the early reception of the Monarchia.

When Dante left Verona in 1318, Cangrande had reached a breaking point in his conflict with Pope Giovanni XXII. The pope pressured Cangrande to renounce the title of imperial vicar granted him by Emperor Henry VII.  The political negotiations with Avignon, begun as early as the election of the pope in 1316, had intensified with the arrival in Verona of the papal emissaries Bertrand de la Tour and Bernard Guy in the summer of 1317, when Dante had solidified his position within Cangrande’s innermost circle.[36] As the man of trust of Cangrande, Dante may have played a central role in rebutting arguments brought to the table by the papal emissaries. This context was the ideal catalyst for returning to the manuscript of the Monarchia, a work of political theory that refuted the Church’s claim to sovereignty over the temporal monarchy of the Emperor. Yet, the pope’s hovering threats soon translated in the excommunication of Cangrande and the city on April 6, 1318. The commitment to the cause of the Imperial Vicar Cangrande against the papal legation may have prompted Dante to conclude and circulate the Monarchia.[37] The chronology of the Monarchia is a delicate philological problem in its own right. A signal of a return to the manuscript of the Monarchia in the context of the negotiations with Avignon is found in the sentence “sicut in Paradiso Comoediae iam dixi” (referring to Paradiso 5.19 ff.) in Monarchia, 1, 12, which has been restituted to the critical text by Prue Shaw.[38] The mention of Paradiso 5 situates the first book of the treatise in 1316 at the earliest; which is to say, around the election of the new pope.

No trace exists of the circulation of the Monarchia during Dante’s lifetime. Yet, Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto and Guido Vernani condemned, hence read, the treatise as early as 1328.[39] From this element, we may argue - taking in due consideration the potential risks of an “argumentum e silentio” - that the text was likely to have had a circulation during Dante’s lifetime because we have no news of Jacopo and Piero publishing it. The animosity against Dante that the city of Verona and its clergy showed after the excommunication in the spring of 1318, which manifested as the absence of important city members from his defense in 1320, ought to be explained at least in part with the controversies generated by the early circulation of the Monarchia. Cangrande’s defeat in the dispute with Avignon may have concurrently resulted in the deterioration of the reputation of his man of trust, Dante.[40]  Cangrande’s protection being thus jeopardized, Dante may have decided to leave the city. Dante’s brief return to Verona and its court for the defense of the Quaestio suggests either the continuing support of, or a reconciliation with, Cangrande following the events of 1318. The occasion of the defense may have also offered Dante the opportunity to present to Cangrande the famous Epistle with the gift of the now complete Paradiso (inclusive of the last thirteen cantos).[41] The Monarchia would have been among those gifts that the poet had come to consider unfit to stand next to the Commedia in Cangrande’s library, referred to in the Epistle as those “munuscula mea” which “ab invicem segregavi” (Epistole 13.3).[42]

The text of the Quaestio records the date of the lecture: January 1320. This date is left unchallenged by commentaries, in which no mention is made of the fact that most Italian cities, and especially Florentines extrinseci, used the calendar ‘ab incarnatione’, which begun in March. The date of January 1320 would thus correspond to January 1321 in the modern calendar, a mere seven months before our poet died in Ravenna. Awareness of the later date makes arguably more reasonable the hypothesis that both the Comedy and the Monarchia had been completed before Dante reworked the Quaestio in written form in the months following his lecture in St. Helena. Only the last thirteen cantos of the poem had not presumably been circulated among friends. Thus, it is hard to fathom a better opportunity to offer Cangrande the complete poem accompanied by the famous epistle than the ‘determinatio’ itself. The commonplace and narrow poetics of the Epistle to Cangrande, which many have used as an argument against Dantean authorship, may be more easily explained if the letter is understood in the context of the proceedings at St. Helena.[43] The presentation of the poem as a gift had to be a public affair, performed in front of both the lay and religious members of Verona’s court. Hence the need of a simple, straightforward introduction to the Comedy, which paid homage to textual hermeneutics as taught in the cathedral schools of the time, and meant rather to sell the text to a difficult, prevented audience than to explain it in detail.

Unfortunately, the sudden death of our poet released the lord of Verona from all commitments. Jacopo and Piero Alighieri - not Cangrande - publish the Commedia more than a year after their father’s death, having failed to rekindle the interest of the sovereign in their father’s legacy. The association of Dante’s name with the failed negotiations with Avignon and the controversy generated by the arguments contained in the Monarchia may have contributed to Cangrande’s decision to drop the publication. Yet, Jacopo and Piero knew the importance that their father assigned to the prestige of a publication at Cangrande’s expense. The ghost of Dante who communicates with our world to reveal the location of the last thirteen cantos of the Commedia, recounted by Boccaccio in the Trattatello, is a metaphor of the doubts and fears that the two brothers must have had about respecting their father’s wishes. Before publishing the poem, they sent the last thirteen cantos to Cangrande, a last appeal to their father’s memory. Their decision to publish the poem independently turned out to be a brilliant strategy. The wide circulation and stability of the text in our manuscript tradition attest to it. Yet, the ingenuity of Jacopo and Piero’s editorial wager could only be appreciated by readers of later generations. For the two brothers, many years must have passed before their father’s ghost ceased hunting their dreams.

[1] The translation is mine. The original is published in Poesia italiana del duecento, ed. Piero Cudini (Milan: Garzanti, 1978) and reads: “Segnor ch’avete di pregio corona / per l’universo e fama di prodeza, / di onor, di cortesia e di largeza / et di iusticia, che meglio ancor sona, / e di vertù vostra gentil persona / ornata fulge e splende in grande alteza, si’ ch’ogni nazion vi dotta e preza / udendo cio’ che di voi si ragiona; / io sono un vostro fedel servidore / bramoso di veder la gloria santa / del Paradiso, che ‘l poeta canta; / onde vi prego che di cotal pianta / mostrar vi piaza i be’ fioretti fore, / ché e’ dian frutto degno al suo fatore, / lo quale intese, e so ch’intende ancore, / che di voi prima per lo mondo spanta / agli altri fosse questa ovra cotanta.”

[2] The name ‘Cane’ (dog) may be the Romanized version of ‘Khan’, the royal title of the Mongols of the horde of Genghis Khan, and not merely an homage - as is often repeated - to his powerful uncle, Mastino [‘mastiff’] della Scala. The peculiar name contributes to the charismatic aura of Cangrande.

[3] See Boccaccio, Trattatello in laude di Dante, in Tutte le opere, ed. Vittore Branca (Milan: Mondadori, 1974), par. 183: “Egli era suo [Dante] costume, quale ora sei o otto o più o meno canti fatti n’avea, quegli, prima che alcuno altro gli vedesse, donde che egli fosse, mandare a messer Cane della Scala, il quale egli oltre ad ogni altro uomo avea in reverenza; e, poi che da lui eran veduti, ne facea copia a chi la ne volea.”

[4] As Boccaccio writes, Dante appears to Jacopo in a dream and reveals the hidden location of the cantos, which are recovered by the brothers. See ibid. “Per la qual cosa lietissimi, quegli riscritti, secondo l’usanza dell’autore prima gli mandarono a messer Cane, e poi alla imperfetta opera ricongiunsono come si convenia. In cotale maniera l’opera, in molti anni compilata, si vide finita.”

[5] For how this chronology intersects with the composition of Paradiso, see n. 8. There is no agreement on 1318 as the date of Dante’s departure from Verona. Dante ought to have visited Ravenna several times before leaving the Scala court. See the recent biographies: Giorgio Inglese, Vita di Dante: una biografia possibile, (Rome: Carocci, 2015); and Marco Santagata, Dante: Il Romanzo Della Sua Vita, (Milan: Mondadori, 2012). See also n. 17.

[6] See Inglese, Vita, 118. If clusters of the Paradiso circulated before a final revision either by Dante or his sons, it is hard to explain the relative stability of the text and the low incidence of what may be considered authorial variants in our manuscript tradition. For a more thorough discussion, the introduction to Petrocchi’s edition remains indispensable along with this article: Giorgio Petrocchi, “Intorno alla pubblicazione dell’'Inferno e del Purgatorio', in Convivium, n.s. 6 (1957): 652-69 [later reprinted in the volume Itinerari danteschi (Bari: Laterza, 1969): 83-118].

[7] Indirect evidence also includes Eclogue 2, where Dante promises Giovanni Del Virgilio the envoy of ten cantos of Paradiso. See my discussion of the eclogue below.

[8] The hypothesis was vulgarized by Giorgio Padoan in his seminal book Il lungo cammino del “poema sacro”, (Florence: Olschki, 1993). The hypothesis of the serial publication of the first two canticles is at odds with the standard reconstruction of the history of the publication of the poem. Ernesto Parodi and Michele Barbi believed that the first two canticles had been published in their entirety at a short interval from each other, or rather together, around 1313. With a slight difference of dates, Giorgio Petrocchi, to whom we owe the critical text of the Comedy and the establishment of the ecdotic principles that govern it, argued that from 1313 to 1315 Dante was occupied in the revision of the first two canticles for their publication in a volume. For a summary of traditional chronologies, see Enrico Fenzi, “Ancora a proposito dell’argomento barberiniano: una possibile eco del Purgatorio nei Documenti d’Amore di Francesco da Barberino”, in Tenzone 6 (2005): 103. More recently, see Giorgio Inglese, Vita, 113-33. For the work of Petrocchi, see at least: Giorgio Petrocchi, “Intorno alla pubblicazione dell’'Inferno e del Purgatorio', in Convivium, n. s. 6 (1957): 652-69, reprinted in Itinerari danteschi (Bari: Laterza, 1969): 83-118; and Vita di Dante (Bari: Laterza. 1983). Some reactions to the work of Giorgio Padoan, in Emilio Pasquini “Dante and the 'Prefaces of Truth': From Figure to Completion,” Italian Studies 54:1 (1999): 18-25; and Alberto Casadei, “Sulla prima diffusione della Commedia, Italianistica 39:1 (2010): 57-66, later reprinted in Dante oltre la "Commedia" (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2013): 45-76, as “Sulla prima diffusione del Paradiso.”

[9] See Inglese, Vita di Dante, 92-98. For a reconstruction of the so-called story of the seven cantos of the Inferno (which would date to before the exile, according to Boccaccio), see Giorgio Padoan, Il lungo cammino: 25-39.

[10] The signature of this manuscript of the Vatican Library is: Cod. Vat. Barb. 4076, c. 63v.

[11] The gloss also mentions Virgil as a character in the poem and calls him “magistrum”: cf. Inf. 1.85: tu se’ lo mio maestro. As for the actual knowledge of the poem by Barberino, the author of our gloss, it is impossible to determine whether he had read any further than the first few cantos of the Inferno when he wrote the gloss.

[12] For example, the “Memoriali bolognesi”, a series of official registers recording legal transactions in the city of Bologna, also help us date the circulation of the Inferno and Purgatorio respectively to as early - or rather as late - as 1317 and 1319. For a useful summary of the external arguments for the chronology of the first two canticles, see: Giuseppe Indizio, “Gli argomenti esterni per la pubblicazione dell’Inferno e del Purgatorio”, Studi Danteschi 68 (2003): 17-47. The Memoriali establish 1317 as the terminus ante quem for Inferno (3.94-6, 103-4; 5.16- 7) and 1319 for Purgatorio (1.1). The scribes of the poetic fragments used verses of the Commedia to fill blank spaces in the registers and prevent the insertion of codicils, additions that might have altered the legal act, drafted by a notary in the presence of testimonies.  

[13] Enrico Fenzi suggested that at least the first six cantos may have been circulating as high as 1313, based on a probable echo of Purgatorio 6 in the commentary on the Documenti d’amore of Francesco da Barberino (Cod. Vat. Barb. 4076, c. 63v). The interference is discussed in Fenzi “Ancora a proposito dell’argomento barberiniano.”

[14] Giuseppe Indizio, “L'argomento barberiniano: dossier di un'attribuzione” Studi Danteschi 72 (2007): 283-97. Martini’s fresco was first discussed by Brugnolo. See: Furio Brugnolo, “Le terzine della Maestà di Simone Martini e la prima diffusione della Commedia,” Medioevo romanzo 12 (1987): 135-154. Brugnolo dated the fresco to 1315 in error, following the convention of the Pisan calendar. Indizio corrects it to 1316 in “L’argomento barberiniano”: 8 n. 35. The interval we assign to the circulation of Purgatorio (1313-1316) provides us the first clue to situate the inception of Paradiso in 1316 at the latest. Petrocchi believed instead that during this interval Dante was revising the two canticles before publishing them.

[15] Padoan, Il lungo cammino: 99.

[16] Recently, Inglese, Vita: 137.

[17] See Padoan, Il lungo cammino: 114-20.

[18] See n. 5.

[19] Dante calls Cangrande a friend in Epistole 13.4, despite the difference of social status: “Nec reor amici nomen assumens, ut nonnulli forsitan obiectarent, reatum presumptionis incurrere, cum non minus dispares connectantur quam pares amicitie sacramento.”

[20] For the text of the sonnet, see n. 1.

[21] Cfr. Gianfranco Folena, “Giovanni Quirini” (s.v.), in Enciclopedia Dantesca.

[22] For a chronology of the exchange, see Gabriella Albanese’s commentary in Dante Alighieri, Opere ed. Marco Santagata, (Milan: Mondadori, 2011): 1659. For another opinion, see: Inglese, Vita, 139. See also n. 9.

[23] For the English translation, I have used Ascoli’s rendering from Albert R. Ascoli, “Blinding the Cyclops: Petrarch afer Dante,” in eds. Zygmunt G. Baranski and Theodore J. Cachey, Jr., Petrarch and Dante: Anti-Dantism, Metaphysics, Tradition (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2009): 114-73.

[24] In the first eclogue, Dante assumes Giovanni is familiar with the “ovis gratissima”, that is the Commedia, (“quam noscis” [Ecl. 1.58]). For the Latin text, I follow Gabriella Albanese. See Dante Alighieri, Opere: “«Est mecum quam noscis ovis gratissima» dixi / «ubera vix que ferre potest, tam lactis abundans; / rupe/ sub ingenti carptas modo ruminat herbas; / nulli iuncta gregi nullis assuetaque caulis, / sponte/ venire solet, numquam vi, poscere mulctram. / Hanc ego prestolor manibus mulgere paratis, / hac inplebo/ decem missurus vascula Mopso».”

[25] For the relevant bibliography, see Albert Ascoli, “Blinding the Cyclops”: n. 88.

[26] See Albanese’s commentary in Dante Alighieri, Opere, 1743, where the critic argues that Giovanni has received Paradiso 25 before he writes Eclogue 3 because he refers as “fonte tuo” 9 (v. 45) for the venue of the poet’s coronation (cf. Paradiso 25.8-9: “e in sul fonte / del mio battesmo prenderò’l cappello”). Eclogue 3 is not written later than the first months of 1321. Cf. also Ascoli, “Blinding the Cyclops”: n. 88.

[27] Eclogue 3, 94-5: “Tot mandabimus illi / vascula, quot nobis promisit Titirus ipse.”

[28] See Padoan, Il lungo cammino: 105.

[29] See Robert Hollander’s commentary on 1.1-9 in Robert Hollander, and Jean Hollander. Paradiso, (New York: Doubleday, 2007), ad loc..

[30] See Giorgio Padoan, Il lungo cammino: 105 ff.; Padoan also suggests other elements that would corroborate this date for Paradiso 16-25.

[31] Following the Società Dantesca, I refer to it as Quaestio de aqua et terra. It is also known as (Quaestio) De Situ et forma aquae et terrae. See Enciclopedia Dantesca, s.v. “Quaestio de aqua et terra.

[32] Key phenomena whose explanation was affected by the resolution of the quaestio were tides, which alternatively gave the impression - with their ebb and flow - that the earth was both above and below water, and the nature of lands like the Netherlands, which lay beneath sea level.

[33] Guglielmo Bottari, “La cultura veronese attorno a Dante. I. Tra storia e letteratura,” in “Per correr miglior acque”. Bilanci e prospettive degli studi danteschi alle soglie del nuovo millennio, Atti del Convegno di Verona-Ravenna, 25-29 ottobre 1999 (Rome: Salerno, 2001): 371-91 [379]. See also Giorgio Padoan, “Il de situ et figura aque” in Dante e la cultura veneta, in Atti del Convegno di studi, Venezia, Padova, Verona, 30 marzo - 5 aprile 1966, eds. Vittore Branca e Giorgio Padoan, (Florence: Olschki, 1966): 347-66.

[34] Quaestio 24: “Determinata est hec phylosophia dominante invicto domino, domino Cane Grandi de Scala pro Imperio sacrosancto Romano, per me Dantem Alagherium, phylosophorum minimum, in inclita urbe Verona, in sacello Helene gloriose, coram universo clero Veronensi, preter quosdam qui, nimia caritate ardentes, aliorum rogamina non admittunt, et per humilitatis virtutem Spiritus Sancti pauperes, ne aliorum excellentiam probare videantur, sermonibus eorum interesse refugiunt.”

[35] See the conclusion of Quaestio de aqua et terra (24.87): “Coram universo clero Veronensi, preter quosdam qui, nimia caritate ardentes, aliorum rogamina non admittunt, et per humilitatis virtutem Spiritus Sancti pauperes, ne aliorum excellentiam probare videantur, sermonibus eorum interesse refugiunt.”

[36] Bertrand de la Tour and Bernard Guy, the papal emissaries that arrived in the summer of 1317 and excommunicated Cangrande and his city in the following Spring. See Gian Maria Varanini, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, s.v. “Della Scala, Cangrande.”

[37] The treatise might have been only recently completed, or resumed after a long interruption. In Trattatello (195), Boccaccio argues that Monarchia was undertaken “nella venuta d’Arrigo VII imperadore”, that is between 1308 and the emperor’s death in 1313. See Inglese, Vita: 114-16. Inglese does not exclude the possibility that the treatise was partially written under Arrigo and later continued in Verona during the negotiations between Cangrande and Avignon.

[38] Inglese calls the chronology of the Monarchia “il problema più delicato della filologia dantesca”; see Inglese, Vita: 114. As for the sentence “sicut in Paradiso Comoediae iam dixi,” Prue Shaw argued that the sentence belongs to the original even though many modern editors have left it out of their critical editions. See Shaw’s critical text in the edition of the Società Dantesca Italiana, Le Opere di Dante, Testi critici a cura di F. Brambilla Ageno, G. Contini, D. De Robertis, G. Gorni, F. Mazzoni, R. Migliorini Fissi, P. V. Mengaldo, G. Petrocchi, P. Shaw, riveduti da Domenico De Robertis e Giancarlo Breschi, (Florence: Edizioni Polistampa, 2012). See also: Gian Lorenzo Mellini, “Can Grande e Dante con un probabile inedito dell'Alighieri e una data più certa per la Monarchia,Labyrinthos. Ermeneutica delle arti figurative dal Medioevo al Novecento 43-44 (2006): 41-50.

[39] Vernani wrote a reprobatio to censure the content of the Monarchia. For an overview, see the introduction by Antonio Scolari to Dante e Verona: catalogo della mostra in Castelvecchio (Verona: Comune di Verona, 1965): i-xxviii. News of Cardinal Del Poggetto’s condemnation is reported by Boccaccio in Trattatello, 196:Questo libro più anni dopo la morte dell’auttore fu dannato da messer Beltrando cardinale del Poggetto e legato di papa nelle parti di Lombardia, sedente Giovanni papa XXII. E la cagione fu perciò che Lodovico duca di Baviera, dagli elettori della Magna eletto in re de’ Romani, e venendo per la sua coronazione a Roma, contra il piacere del detto Giovanni papa essendo in Roma, fece, contra gli ordinamenti ecclesiastici, uno frate minore, chiamato frate Pietro della Corvara, papa, e molti cardinali e vescovi; e quivi a questo papa si fece coronare.” The Monarchia will be added to the index of forbidden books in the sixteenth century.

[40] In the aftermath of the city’s excommunication in the spring of 1318, Cangrande, although still undeterred in his military campaigns, realized the necessity of a reconciliation with Avignon and progressively severed his ties with Emperor Frederick of Austria. The presence of the author of Monarchia at court would have been perceived by the pro-reconciliation faction as problematic. See the introduction to Scolari, Dante e Verona; for the bibliography; see also Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, s. v. “Della Scala, Cangrande”.

[41] That is, if the Epistle to Cangrande did not accompany the envoy of the first canto of Paradiso.

[42] Epistole 13.3: “Et propter hoc munuscula mea sepe multum conspexi et ab invicem segregavi nec non segregata percensui, digniusque gratiusque vobis inquirens.”

[43] See especially Zygmunt G. Baranski: "Comedìa. Notes on Dante, the Epistle to Cangrande, and Medieval Comedy,” Lectura Dantis 8 (1991): 26–55.