Monday, May 02, 2016

Two predecessors to Cacciaguida

Many son-and-father stand behind Dante's encounter with Cacciaguida. He's certainly thinking of Phaethon's quest for knowledge of his father. And Brunetto Latini, Inferno 15, who, the poet says, taught come l'uom s'eterna (how man makes himself immortal) is highly relevant, if by contrast with the familial bond Dante discovers with Cacciaguida.

But the one that Cacciaguida's first words put before us is from Virgil. It's Aeneas's encounter with his father Anchises in the Underworld, Aeneid 6, 679 ff.

The long scene begins:
[679] But deep in a green vale father Anchises was surveying with earnest thought the imprisoned souls that were to pass to the light above and, as it chanced, was counting over the full number of his people and beloved children, their fates and fortunes, their works and ways. And as he saw Aeneas coming towards him over the sward, he eagerly stretched forth both hands, while tears streamed from his eyes and a cry fell from his lips: “Have you come at last, and has the duty that your father expected vanquished the toilsome way? Is it given me to see your face, my son, and hear and utter familiar tones? Even so I mused and deemed the hour would come, counting the days, nor has my yearning failed me. Over what lands, what wide seas have you journeyed to my welcome! What dangers have beset you, my son! How I feared the realm of Libya might work you harm!” 
But he answered: “Your shade, father, your sad shade, meeting me repeatedly, drove me to seek these portals. My ships ride the Tuscan sea. Grant me to clasp your hand, grant me, father, and withdraw not from my embrace!” So he spoke, his face wet with flooding tears. Thrice there he strove to throw his arms about his neck; thrice the form, vainly clasped, fled from his hands, even as light winds, and most like a winged dream.

Perseus VI.679-703:

At pater Anchises penitus convalle virenti
680inclusas animas superumque ad lumen ituras
lustrabat studio recolensomnemque suorum
forte recensebat numerum carosque nepotes,
fataque fortunasque virum moresque manusque.
Isque ubi tendentem adversum per gramina videt
685Aeneanalacris palmas utrasque tetendit,
effusaeque genis lacrimaeet vox excidit ore:
Venisti tandemtuaque exspectata parenti
vicit iter durum pietasDatur ora tueri,
natetuaet notas audire et reddere voces?
690Sic equidem ducebam animo rebarque futurum,
tempora dinumerans” nec me mea cura fefellit.
Quas ego te terras et quanta per aequora vectum
accipioquantis iactatumnatepericlis!
Quam metuine quid Libyae tibi regna nocerent!”
695Ille autem: “Tua megenitortua tristis imago,
saepius occurrenshaec limina tendere adegit:
stant sale Tyrrheno classesDa iungere dextram,
dagenitorteque amplexu ne subtrahe nostro.”
Sic memoranslargo fletu simul ora rigabat.
700Ter conatus ibi collo dare brachia circum,
ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno.

More here and below

[703] Meanwhile, in a retired vale, Aeneas sees a sequestered grove and rustling forest thickets, and the river Lethe drifting past those peaceful homes. About it hovered peoples and tribes unnumbered; even as when, in the meadows, in cloudless summertime, bees light on many-hued blossoms and stream round lustrous lilies and all the fields murmur with the humming. Aeneas is startled by the sudden sight and, knowing not, asks the cause – what is that river yonder, and who are the men thronging the banks in such a host? Then said father Anchises: “Spirits they are, to whom second bodies are owed by Fate, and at the water of Lethe’s stream they drink the soothing draught and long forgetfulness. These in truth I have long yearned to tell and show you to your face, yea, to count this, my children’s seed, that so you may rejoice with me the more at finding Italy.” “But, father, must we think that any souls pass aloft from here to the world above and return a second time to bodily fetters? What mad longing for life possesses their sorry hearts?” “I will surely tell you, my son, and keep you not in doubt,” Anchises replies and reveals each truth in order.

[724] “First, know that heaven and earth and the watery plains the moon’s bright sphere and Titan’s star, a spirit within sustains; in all the limbs mind moves the mass and mingles with the mighty frame. Thence springs the races of man and beast, the life of winged creatures, and the monsters that ocean bears beneath his marble surface. Fiery is the vigour and divine the source of those seeds of life, so far as harmful bodies clog them not, or earthly limbs and frames born but to die. Hence their fears and desires, their griefs and joys; nor do they discern the heavenly light, penned as they are in the gloom of their dark dungeon. Still more! When life’s last ray has fled, the wretches are not entirely freed from all evil and all the plagues of the body; and it needs must be that many a taint, long ingrained, should in wondrous wise become deeply rooted in their being. Therefore are they schooled with punishments, and pay penance for bygone sins. Some are hung stretched out to the empty winds; from others the stain of guilt is washed away under swirling floods or burned out by fire till length of days, when time’s cycle is complete, has removed the inbred taint and leaves unsoiled the ethereal sense and pure flame of spirit: each of us undergoes his own purgatory. Then we are sent to spacious Elysium, a few of us to possess the blissful fields. All these that you see, when they have rolled time’s wheel through a thousand years, the god summons in vast throng to Lethe’s river, so that, their memories effaced, they may once more revisit the vault above and conceive the desire of return to the body.”

[752] Anchises paused, and drew his son and with him the Sibyl into the heart of the assembly and buzzing throng, then chose a mound whence he might scan face to face the whole of the long procession and note their faces as they came.
[756] “Now then, the glory henceforth to attend the Trojan race, what children of Italian stock are held in store by fate, glorious souls waiting to inherit our name, this shall I reveal in speech and inform you of your destiny. The youth you see leaning on an untipped spear holds by lot of life the most immediate place: he first shall rise into the upper air with Italian blood in his veins, Silvius of Alban name, last-born of your children, whom late in your old age your wife Lavinia shall rear in the woodlands, a king and father of kings, with whom our race shall hold sway in Alba Longa. He next is Procas, pride of the Trojan nation, then Capys and Numitor and he who will resurrect you by his name, Aeneas Silvius, no less eminent in goodness and in arms, if ever he come to reign over Alba. What fine young men are these! Mark the strength they display and the civic oak that shades their brows! These to your honour will build Nomentum and Gabii and Fidena’s town; these shall crown hills with Collatia’s towers, and Pometii, the Fort of Inuus, Bola and Cora: one day to be famous names, these now are nameless places. Further, a son of Mars shall keep his grandsire company, Romulus, whom his mother Ilia shall bear of Assaracus’ stock. Do you see how twin plumes stand upright on his head and how the Father of the gods stamps him with divine majesty? Lo, under his auspices, my son, shall that glorious Rome extend her empire to earth’s ends, her ambitions to the skies, and shall embrace seven hills with a single city’s wall, blessed in a brood of heroes; even as the Berecyntian mother [Cybele], turret-crowned, rides in her chariot through Phrygian towns, happy in a progeny of gods, clasping a hundred grandsons, all denizens of heaven, all tenants of the celestial heights.

[788] “Turn hither now your two-eyed gaze, and behold this nation, the Romans that are yours. Here is Caesar and all the seed of Iulus destined to pass under heaven’s spacious sphere. And this in truth is he whom you so often hear promised you, Augustus Caesar, son of a god, who will again establish a golden age in Latium amid fields once ruled by Saturn; he will advance his empire beyond the Garamants and Indians to a land which lies beyond our stars, beyond the path of year and sun, where sky-bearing Atlas wheels on his shoulders the blazing star-studded sphere. Against his coming both Caspian realms and the Maeotic land even now shudder at the oracles of their gods, and the mouths of sevenfold Nile quiver in alarm. Not even Hercules traversed so much of earth’s extent, though he pierced the stag of brazen foot, quieted the woods of Erymanthus, and made Lerna tremble at his bow; nor he either, who guides his car with vine-leaf reins, triumphant Bacchus, driving his tigers down from Nysa’s lofty peaks. And do we still hesitate to make known our worth by exploits or shrink in fear from settling on Western soil?

[808] “but who is he apart, crowned with sprays of live, offering sacrifice? Ah, I recognize the hoary hair and beard of that king of Rome [Numa] who will make the infant city secure on a basis of laws, called from the needy land of lowly Cures to sovereign might. Him shall Tullus next succeed, the breaker of his country’s peace, who will rouse to war an inactive folk and armies long unused to triumphs. Hard on his heels follows over-boastful Ancus, who even now enjoys too much the breeze by popular favour. Would you also see the Tarquin kings, the proud spirit of Brutus the Avenger, and the fasces regained? He first shall receive a consul’s power and the cruel axes, and when his sons would stir up revolt, the father will hale them to execution in fair freedom’s name, unhappy man, however later ages will extol that deed; yet shall a patriot’s love prevail and unquenched third for fame.

[824] “Now behold over there the Decii and the Drusi, Torquatus of the cruel axe, and Camillus bringing the standards home! But they whom you see, resplendent in matching arms, souls now in harmony and as long as they are imprisoned in night, alas, if once they attain the light of life, what mutual strife, what battles and bloodshed will they cause, the bride’s father swooping from Alpine ramparts and Monoeus’ fort, her husband confronting him with forces from the East! Steel not your hearts, my sons, to such wicked war nor vent violent valour on the vitals of your land. And you who draw your lineage from heaven, be you the first to show mercy; cast the sword from your hand, child of my blood! . . .

[836] “He yonder [Lucius Mummius], triumphant over Corinth, shall drive a victor’s chariot to the lofty Capitol, famed for Achaeans he has slain. Yon other [Luxius Aemilius Paullus] shall uproot Argos, Agamemnon’s Mycenae, and even an heir of Aeacus, seed of mighty Achilles: he will avenge his Trojan sires and Minerva’s polluted shrine. Who, lordly Cato, could leave you unsung, of you, Cossus; who the Gracchan race or the Scipios twain, two thunderbolts of war and the ruin of Carthage, or Favricius, in penury a prince, or you, Serranus, sowing seed in the soil? Whither, O Fabii, do ye hurry me all breathless? You re he, the mightest [Quinus Fabius Maximus], who could, s no one else, through inaction preserve our state. Others, I doubt not, shall with softer mould beast out the breathing bronze, coax from the marble features to life, plead cases with greater eloquence and with a pointer trace heaven’s motions and predict the risings of the stars: you, Roman, be sure to rule the world (be these your arts), to crown peace with justice, to spare the vanquished and to crush the proud.”

[854] Thus Father Anchises, and as they marvel, adds: “Behold how Marcellus advances, graced with the spoils of the chief he slew, and towers triumphant over all! When the Roman state is reeling under a brutal shock, he will steady it, will ride down Carthaginians and the insurgent Gaul, and offer up to Father Quirinus a third set of spoils.”

[860] At this Aeneas said – for by his side he saw a youth of passing beauty in resplendent arms, but with joyless mien and eyes downcast: “Who, father, is he that thus attends the warrior on his way? Is it his son, or some other of his progeny’s heroic line? What a stir among his entourage! What majesty is his! But death’s dark shadow flickers mournfully about his head.”

[867] Then, as his tears well up, Father Anchises begins: “My son, seek not to taste the bitter grief of your people; only a glimpse of him will fate give earth nor suffer him to stay long. Too powerful, O gods above, you deemed the Roman people, had these gifts of yours been lasting. What sobbing of the brave will the famed Field waft to Mars’ mighty city! What a cortege will you behold, Father Tiber, as you glide past the new-build tomb! No youth of Trojan stock will ever raise his Latin ancestry so high in hope nor the land of Romulus ever boast of any son like this. Alas for his goodness, alas for his chivalrous honour and his sword arm unconquerable in the fight! In arms none would have faced him unscathed, marched he on foot against his foe or dug with spurs the flanks of his foaming steed. Child of a nation’s sorrow, could you but shatter the cruel barrier of fate! You are to be Marcellus. Grant me scatter in handfuls lilies of purple blossom, to heap at least these gifts on my descendant’s shade and perform an unavailing duty.” Thus they wander at large over the whole region in the wide airy plain, taking note of all. After Anchises had led his son over every scene, kindling his soul, with longing for the glory that was to be, he then tells of the wars that the hero next must wage, the Laurentine peoples and Latinus’ town, and how is to face or flee each peril.

[893] Two gates of Sleep there are, whereof the one, they say, is horn and offers a ready exit to true shades, the other shining with the sheen of polished ivory, but delusive dreams issue upward through it from the world below. Thither Anchises, discoursing thus, escorts his son and with him the Sibyl, and sends them forth by the ivory gate: Aeneas speeds his way to the ships and rejoins his comrades; then straight along the shore he sails for Caieta’s haven. The anchor is cast from the prow; the sterns stand ranged on the shore.

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