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Annual report of the Dante Society online

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The Choice of a Theme
By Charles H. Grandgent

"Il Chi e il Quale"
By Ernest H, Wilkins



V - rg2o

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OD l'I


By the dante SOCIETT



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OFFICERS FOR 1917-1918



Mtmhtc0 of tlie Cmtttaì


Camòridgie, Mass,


Cambridge^ Mats»

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OFFieERS FOR 1918^1919



Mzmfnx^ of t!^ Counctf


Camòridggt Mass.

;èecmarp an0 (^Cteajfitrer

Cambridjstt Mass*

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♦Adolfo Bartoli , ...... i88^

♦Giosuè Cardùcci ...••/• iSSg^

♦Alessandro D'Ancona 18915

Isidoro Del Lungo 1905

Francesco D'Ovidio . . . . . 1903.

♦Edward Moore 1889

♦Theodor Paur ..*..: 1889

Pio Rajna 1896

♦Johann Andreas Scartazzini 1889

Paget Toynbee , . 1905

William Warren Vernon . * 1889.

Berthold Wiese - •: • • » • • 1903

♦Philip S. Abbot

Clark Hamilton Abbott . New York, N.Y.

Edward L. Adams Ann Arbor, Mich,

♦William E. Allen . -

Melville B. Anderson Palo Alto, CaL

George A. Armour .!-....... Princeton, NJ.

Mrs. Daniel M. Bates ... .... Cambridge, Mass.

Mrs. W. C. Bates "New York, N.Y.

♦Thomas D. Bergen

Marco Besso . Rome, Italy

Miss Louisa Blake . . . . *. . . . . Worcester, Mass.

Miss Alice W. Bond ... . . . . . West Newton, Mass.

Lawrence Bond ..... . . . . . Boston, Mass.

* Deceased. ^


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R. Brindisi ..••••' Boston, Mass.

♦Francis Bullard
*a- j. butler
♦George R. Carpenter

Morris Carter ...••..... Boston, Mass.

Mrs. Morris Carter Boston, Mass.

John J. Chapman New York, N.Y.

Chicago Literary Club . Chicago, IlL

♦George W. Childs

Archibald Cary Coolidge ...... Cambridge, Mass.

♦Mrs. C. R. Corson
♦George William Curtis
♦Mrs. R. H. Dana

Miss Rose C. Dexter . Boston, Mass.

C. A. DiNSMORE Waterbury, Conn.

R. E. N. Dodge Madison, Wis.

♦Edmund Dwight
♦A. M. Elliott

Miss Edith Fahnestock Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

♦J. C. Fales

K A. Fay Washington, D.C.

Miss C. FejérvAry Hungary

George H. Fisher Philadelphia, Pa.

Miss Lizette Andrews Fisher ..... New York, N.Y.
♦Willard Fiske

J. B. Fletcher New York, N.Y.

J. D. M. Ford Cambridge, Mass.

Mrs. J. D. M. Ford Cambridge, Mass.

♦Abbott Foster

B. A. G. Fuller Cambridge, Mass.

Edwin B. Gager *. . . . Derby, Conn.

Mrs. John L. Gardner Boston, Mass.

William Amory Gardner ....... Groton, Mass.


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Miss Julia George San Francisco, CaL

*James Gilmore

C. H. Grandgent Cambridge, Mass.

Mrs. John C. Gray Boston, Mass.

Sidney Gunn Annapolis, Md.

*W. T. Harris

A. B. Hart Cambridge, Mass.

♦Mrs. Alfred Hemenway

Mrs. Henry L. HiGGiNSON ... . . . Boston, Mass.


Edward J. Holmes Boston, Mass.

Mrs. Edward J. Holmes Boston, Mass.

Miss M. H. Jackson Wellesley, Mass.

*Henry Johnson
♦Freeman M. Josselyn

Mrs. David P. Kimball Boston, Mass.

P. C. Knapp Boston, Mass.

Mrs. p. C. Knapp Boston, Mass.

Theodore W. Koch Ann Arbor, Mich.

William C. Lane Cambridge, Mass.

Henry R. Lang New Haven, Conn.

Ernest F. Langley Cambridge, Mass.

♦Henry C. Lea

Moritz Levi Ann Arbor, Mich.

♦Charlton T. Lewis

Miss Alice M. Longfellow Cambridge, Mass.

♦Henry W. Longfellow
♦Mrs. Morris Longstreth

Miss Georgina Lowell Boston, Mass.

♦James Ritssell Lowell

Miss Ellen F. Mason Boston, Mass.

F. J. Mather, Jr.

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viiF LlàT €t^ MEMBERS ^

Kenneth McKenzie . ...... . Urbana, 111. ■

*LuiGi Monti

Clifford H, Moore ...•..,-,. Cambridge, Mass.

Lewis F. Mott . . .... .... New York, N.Y.

Martin 'Mower . . ........ Cambridge, Mass.

♦James J. Myers

*B. H. Nash

*C. K Norton

Miss GRÀèiE- Norton •...•. . . * . Cambridge, Mass.

Miss Sara Norton Boston, Mass.

C. H. Page Hanover> N.H.

*T. W. PàììsÓns

Miss Lucy- A. Paton . ...... ■. Cambridge, Mass.

Arthur S; Pease . . . • . .■..-.. Urbana, IH
♦Theodore C. Pease

Miss Catherine M. Phillimore .... London, England

Chandler Rathfon Post . . . • . . . . Cambridge, Mass.
*M. A. Potter

R. Radcliffe-Whitehead . . . • . ... Woodstock, N.Y.

E. K. Rand . . . ....... . Cambridge, Mass.

Mrs. Aurelia H. Reinhardt . . ... Oakland, Cai.

*Miss Julia A. de Rham

F. N. Robinson . . . . ...... Cambridge, Mass.

Mrs. F. N. Robinson Cambridge, Mass.

Mrs. Héloise Durant Rose . . . . . . New City, N.Y.

G. H. Savage Newark, N.J.

Mrs. Eben G. Scott ...-..,. . Wilkesbarre, Pa.

Miss Mary Augusta Scott Northampton, Mass.

*Miss Theodora Sedgwick

LuciAN Sharpe . . . . . . . . . . Cambridge, Mass.

K S. Sheldon Cambridge, Mass.

K. C. M. Sills . ........ . Brunswick, Maine

Carroll Smyth Philadelphia, Pa.

* Deceased.

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Miss Katharine V. Spencer Cambridge, Mass.

Merritt Starr Chicago, IlL

C. Chauncey Stillman New York, N.Y.

*T. Russell Sullivan

Thomas Fenton Taylor Rome, Italy

William R. Thayer Cambridge, Mass.

Miss Helen K Thompson Northampton, Mass.

*Miss Anna E. Ticknor

Henry A. Todd New York, N.Y.

Marvin R. Vincent . . . ... » . • • New York, N.Y.

*K L. Walter

Raymond Weeks . , . . . ..... New York, N.Y.

Barrett Wendell Boston, Mass.

G. B. Weston Cambridge, Mass.

*Mrs. Henry Whitman

Ernest H. Wilkins . . . " Chicago, 111.

* Justin. WiNSOR

John Woodbury . Boston, Mass.

♦Francis Wyatt

Miss Mary V. Young South Hadley, Mass.

* Deceased. •

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(From May 15, 1917,10 May 21, 19 18)

Balance in the hands of the Treasiirer, May

15» 1917 1^835.51

Members* fees till May 21, 1918 190.00

Cop)mghts, etc 10.48

Interest to Oct. I, 19 1 7 4.37

' $1040.36

Paid Ginn and Company $308.53

Paid Harvard College Library (for postage) . . 5.23

Balance on hand, May 21, 1918 726.60


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1. This Society shall be called the Dante Society. Its object shall
be the encouragement of the study of the Life and Works of Dante.

2. Any person desirous to become a member of this Society may do
so by Signifying, hts or her wish in writing to the Secretary, and by the
payment of an annual fee of five dollars.

3. An Annual Meeting for the election of officers shall be held at
Cambridge on the third Tuesday of May, of which due notice shall be
given to the members by the Secretary.

4. Special meetings may be held at any time appointed by vote of
the members at the Annual Meeting, or by call from the President and

5. The officers ^aU be a President, a*Vice President, a Secretary
and Treasurer, and a Librarian, who, together ^th three members
thereto chosen, shall form the Council of the Society. All these officers
shall be chosen at the Armual Meeting, and their term of service shall
be for one year, or until their successors are elected. Vacancies in the
Coimcil shall be filled for the remainder of the year by the CoimdL

6. The President, or, in his absence, the Vice President, or, m the
absence of both, any member of the Council, shall preside at all meet-
ings of the Society and of the CoundL

7. The Secretary and Treasurer shall keep a record of the meetings
of the Society and of the Council, shall collect and receive all dues, and
keep accounts of the income and expenditure of the Society, shall give
notice of meetings, and shall perform all other duties appropriate to
his office.

8. The Council shall hold meetings at such times as it may appoint,
shall determine on the use to be made of the income of the Society,
shall endeavor to promote the special objects of the Society in such ways
as may seem most appropriate, and shall make an annual report of their

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proceedings, indudìng a full statement of accounts, at each Annual
Meeting. This report shall be made in print for distribution to the

9. No officer of the Society shall be competent to contract debts in
the name of the Society, ^d no. expenditure shall be made without a
vote of the Council. ' -

10. A majority of the Council shall form a quorum for the transac-
tiop of business.

, II, Any person distinguished for his interest in the purposes of the
Society, or. who has rendere4 it valuable, service, may be chosen an
Honorary Member at any regular meeting of the Society, and shall be
entitled to all its privileges without annual assessment.

12. The preceding rules may be changed ^t any time by unanimous
vote of the Council. .

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The Sodety offers an annual prize of ofte himdred dollars for the beat
essay by a sùiadent in aaiy depaatmeht-crf Harvard tJniveraty, or by a
graduate <5f not more than three years' stàndihg, on a subject drawn
from the life or works of Dante. The competition is open to students
and graduates ^of similat standing of any college òr university in the
United States. *

For the year 1917-^918 the following subject? were proposed;
7. A study of the vocabulary of Dante^s Lyrics,
2, The classification- of Datiti s Miscellaneous Lyrics,
J. Ihe influence of Boethius on the Vita Nuova and the Convivio,

4, A discussion of the authorship of II More, .

5, A study of Dante's influence upon English literature {or upon any
single author or period), ■ •

6, The relation of Dant^s theological doctrines to the present teachings
of the Church of Rome,

7, The relation of modem scientific discovery to Dant^s conception of
the divine order of the universe,

8, The main reasons for the increase of interest in the Divina Com-
media during the pa^t fifty years.

g, Dante and Cecco cP Ascoli,
JO, A study of the decline of Dante's influence in Italy in the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries,

11, Modem traits in Dante,

12, Dante in the anecdotic literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth

13, The influence of Guido Cavalcanti on Dante.

14, A criticism of Torraca^s edition of the Divina Commedia,
Essays must be deposited with the Dean of Harvard Collie

Cambridge, Mass., on or before the first day of May,

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Essayists are at liberty to write on any one of the subjects whicb
have been proposed in the years during which the Dante Prize has
been offered, or to propose new subjects for the approval of the
Council of the Sode^.

On the title-page must be written an assumed name and a state»
ment of the writer's standing, i.e. whether he is a graduate or an
undergraduate (and of what college or university) ; if he is an under-
graduate, to wlMit ckM he belongs, and to what departnent of the
college or ii&Ì¥erBÌty. Under cover «ntà the essay must be sent a
sealed letter containing the true name and jddress of the writer, and
supersoribed with his assumed name.

The «ssays must be written upon letter paper, of good quality, of
the quarto size, with a margin of not less than one inch at the top,
at the bottom, and on each side, so that thej may be bound up with-
out injury to the writing. The sheets on which tae essay is written
must be securely stitched together.

The judges of the essays are a committee of the Dante Society.

In case the judges decide tiiat no essay submitted to them deserves
the full prize, they are at IS^erty to award one or two prizes of fifty
dl5(fars, or to award no prize.

The Dante Society has the privilege of retaining and depositing in
the Dante Collection of the Harvard College Library any or all essays
offered in competition for the Dante Prize, whether successful or not.

Since its establishment the Dante Prize (in full or in part) has
been awarded to the following persons :

Heinrich Conrad Bierwirth . . « . 1887
For an essay entitled DanU^s ObHgations to the Schoolmen^ £spe-
cia^ly to Thomas Aquinas,

George Rice Carpenter .... 1888
Por an essi^ entitled The Jnter^jttation and Reconciliation of the
Different Accounts of his Experiences after the Death of BecUrice^ given
by Dante in the Vita Nuova and the Convito,

Charles Sterrett Latham .... 1890
For an essay entitled A Translation into English of Dante* s Letters^
with Explanatory and Historical Comments,

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Ralph Hayward Keniston .... 1909

For an essay entitled TTie Dante Tradition in the Fourteenth and
JFtfteenth Centuries.

Roger Theodore Lafferty . . . . 1912
For an essay entitled The Philosophy of Dante.

George Hussey Gifford .... 19 13
For an essay entitied Expressions of Gratitude in Dante,

Richard Ager Newhall .... 19 14
For an essay entitied Italian Ghibellinism as reflected in Dante.

Amos Philip McMahon . . . . 19 15

For an essay entitled On Dante's De Monarchia. A Study of Im-
perialism in MeduEval and in Modem Times.

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The thirty-seventh annual meeting of the Dante Society
was held at the house of the President, Professor C. H.
Grandgent, 107 Walker Street, Cambridge, on the eve-
ning of May 21, 1918. The reports of the Secretary and
Treasurer were presented and accepted. The Secretary
reported that no essay had been offered in competition
for the Dante Prize.

By recommendation of a committee appointed to nom-
inate officers for the ensuing year, all the officers of the
Society were reelected.

The President read a paper on " Dante's Versification."

With the present report, the Council publish an essay
by the President, entitled " The Choice of a Theme."


Cambridge, Mass., November 29, 1919

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Ernest H. Wilkins

Lines 1 1-18 of the second canto of the Inferno are as follows :

Tu did che di Silvio lo parente,
Corruttibile ancora, ad immortale
Secolo andò, e fu sensibilmente.

Però se V avversario d' ogni male
Cortese i fu, pensando T alto effetto
Che uscir dovea di lui, e il chi e il quale.

Non pare indegno ad uomo d' intelletto.^

Of the commentators who discuss the words " il chi e il quale " ali
except Passerini and Grandgent, I believe, regard these words as indi-
cating the quiddity and the quality of the " effetto." As to just what
quiddity and just what quality are meant there is much difference of

Passerini has the following note :

e il chi, e il quale : " quis et qualis." Il fondatore di Roma e V autorità

Grandgent has the following note :

// chi e il quale iguis et qualis\ ' who and what he was ' : Father iCneas,
founder of Rome.

Passerini and Grandgent then agree in applying ** il chi e il quale " to
-^neas, not to the ** effetto." They take the sense as being : ** pensando
(i) r alto effetto ch'uscir dovea di lui, (2) chi fu, e (3) quale fu."

That they are right in applying the phrase to -^neas, and that the
words have a connotation different from and more definite than that sug-
gested in their notes, appears on consideration of the third chapter of
the second book of the De Monarchia, In that chapter Dante, in order

1 I quote from the edition of C. H. Grandgent, Boston, 191 1.

2 Edition of G. L. Passerini, Florence, 1897.

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to prove the nobility of the Roman people, asserts and proves the
nobility of ^neas, the father of the Roman people. Lines 35-60 are
as follows :

Qui quidem invictissimus atque piissimus pater, quantae nobilitatis vir fuerit,
non solum sua considerata virtute, sed progenitorum suorum atque uxorum,
quorum utrorumque nobilitas hereditario lure in ipsum confluxit, explicare
nequirem, sed summa sequar vestigia rerum.

'Quantum ergo ad propriam eius nobilitatem, audiendus est Poeta noster,
introducens in primo Ilioneum orantem sic :

* Rex erat Aeneas nobis, quo iustibr alter
Nee pietate fuit, nee bello maior et armis.'
Audiendus est idem in sexto, qui quum de Miseno mortuo loqueretur, qui
fuerat Hectoris minister in bello, et post mortem Hectoris, Aeneae ministrum
se dederat, dicit ipsum Misenum *non inferiora sequutum,* comparationem
faciens de Aenea ad Hectorem, quem prae omnibus Homerus glorificat, ut
refert Philosophus in iis quae de moribus fugiendis ad Nicomachum.

Quantum vero ad hereditariam, quaelibet pars tripartiti orbis tam avis quam
coniugibus ilium nobilitasse invenitur.^

In the first of the three paragraphs quoted, Dante asserts that -^neas
possessed a double nobility : a nobility proper to himself, and a nobility
of inheritance, derived from ancestors and wives. In the second para-
graph Dante proves that ^neas possessed a nobility proper to himself,
alleging the qualities of justice and prowess ascribed to him by Virgil,
together with Virgil's statement that ^neas was not inferior to Hector.

In the rest of the chapter Dante proves that -^neas possessed a
nobility of inheritance, the inheritance being itself double — through an-
cestors and through wives. Each type of inheritance came to ^neas
from each of the three continents. As to ancestors, Asia ennobled him
through the more recent, such as Assaracus and others who ruled
Phrygia; Africa through Electra and Atlas; and Europe through Dar-
danus. As to wives, Asia ennobled him through Creusa ; Africa through
Dido ; and Europe through Lavinia.

The chapter ends as follows :

His itaque ad evidentiam subadsumptae praenotatis, cui non satis persuasum
est. Romani populi patrem, et per consequens ipsum populum, nobilissimum
fuisse sub coelo ? Aut quem in ilio duplici concursu sanguinis a qualibet mundi
parte in unum virum, praedestinatio divina latebit?

1 I quote from the Oxford Dante.

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In view of the distinction so clearly made in this chapter between the
two types of nobility possessed by -^neas, and the extensive treatment
of each^ it seems to me evident that when Dante wrote the words
"il chi e il quale" he had in mind the same distinction; that by the
words " il chi " he meant to suggest the nobility of -^neas by inheritance ;
and that by the words " il quale " he meant to suggest the nobility of
-^neas in personal qualities.

Just as " l'alto effetto ch'uscir dovea di lui" refers to the descendants
of -^neas, so "il chi" refers by implication to those from whom he
derived inheritance, and " il quale " refers to the man himself. The two
lines constitute another of Dante's swift surveys of past, present, and

The phrase "il chi e il quale" thus affords a notable instance of
Dante's habit of endowing common words with rich and specific meaning.

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By C. H. Grandgent

Sumite matenam vestris qui scribitis aequam
Viribus ; et versate diu, quid ferre recusent
Quid valeant humeri.

Horace, Epistola ad Pisones^ 38-40

"Before all things," declares Dante in his treatise On Vernacular
Composition^ " before all things it behooves everyone to adapt to his own
shoulders the weight of his theme, lest one be forced to stumble into the
mire, because the strength of his shoulders is overladen. That is what
our master Horace counsels, when he says at the beginning of his Poetics :
* choose your theme/ " It is not without interest to ask what Dante had
to choose from, when he started his literary career. What possibilities
were suggested to him by the literature he knew ? To answer this ques-
tion, we must ask another : what literature did he know in the years when,
having studied out for himself the art of verse-making, he began to com-
pose songs of his own ? His earliest poem, as far as we are aware, is
that first sonnet of the JVew Life^ written when he was seventeen and,
having received a greeting from Beatrice, became conscious of love :

On every captive soul and gentle heart

Before whose eyes the present screed may go,
Greetings from Love, their master, I bestow,

And beg, their judgment they to me impart.

Of all the time when stars display their art
The hours bethirded were, or nearly so.
When Love appeared before me, nothing slow.

At thought of him I still with horror start !

1 A lecture delivered at Yale University on January 29, 1918. Most of the
translations are taken from three of my books: Dante^ Duffield & Co., 191 6;
The Ladies of Dante's Lyrics^ Harvard University Press, 191 7 ; The Power of Dante y
Marshall Jones Co., 19 18.


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Joyous to see was Love, and he did keep
My heart within his hand, and in his arms

My Lady, lightly wrapt, in slumber deep.

Then on this burning heart, aroused from sleep,
He poorly fed her, deaf to her alarms.

And as he went away, I saw him weep.

{The Ladies of Dante's Lyrics^ 137-138)

This poem he sent "to many who were famous composers at that
time," and answers caitie *' from many people, and of different opinions ;

1 3

Online LibraryDante Society (U.S.)Annual report of the Dante Society → online text (page 1 of 3)