Medieval Academy of America Dante and Francesca da Rimini: Realpolitik, Romance, Gender Author(s): Teodolinda Barolini Reviewed work(s): Source: Speculum, Vol. 75, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 1-28 Published by: Medieval Academy of America Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2887423 . Accessed: 27/08/2012 23:26 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] . Medieval Academy of America is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Speculum. http://www.jstor.org Dante and Francescada Rimini: Realpolitik, Romance,Gender By Teodolinda Barolini toDante'sappropriations andrevisions ofhistory, the Whileweareaccustomed caseofFrancesca thenorm, da Rimini (Inf.5.73-142)is rather different from sinceinhercasenotraceremains ofthehistorical record thatthepoetcouldhave Thereis nocompletely documentation appropriated. independent ofFrancesca's weareindebted forwhatweknowtoDanteandtohiscommentators. A story; MarcoBattagli, inpassing fourteenth-century chronicler ofRimini, alludes tothe in 1352,thuspostdating event, buthishistory was written bythreedecades Dante'sdeathin 1321.1Twofactors comeintoplaywhenwe assessBattagli's as anindependent verification ofFrancesca's ontheonehand,he chronicle story: he isanindisputable authority regarding Rimini andtheMalatesta;2 ontheother, knewDante's poem.3 Therefore, Battagli's passing andindirect reference (towhich induecourse) weshallreturn serves atbestas plausibly confirmation independent is silent. ofan occurrence aboutwhichthecontemporary historical record That thesilence of silence is broken byDante.4Byreintegrating history-including history-into our readingof canto 5, we restorea contextin whichto remember thatin thecase of Francescada RiminiDante is thehistorianof record:in effect he saved Francescafromoblivion,givingher a voice and a name. of the littlethatwe know Technically,we know thatDante is the transmitter 1 Marco Battagliwas born in Riminiin the first decade of the fourteenth centuryand died before 1376; his chronicle,Marcha (thetitlederivesfromtheauthor'sChristianname),compileseventsfrom creationto 1354 and was writtenbetween1350 and 1354. The last book containsthe chapter"On accordingto itseditor, theOriginsoftheMalatesta" ("De originedominorumde Malatestis"),written, in 1352; see Marcha,ed. Aldo FrancescoMassera, RerumItalicorumScriptores16/3(Cittadi Castello, 1913), p. xxiii. Battagli'ssentenceon Paolo's death elicitsfromMassera the followingcomment:"E' dell'Inferno, questa la notiziapiutanticadella tragediache ci rimanga,eccezionfattadei commentatori to thankBenjaminKohl forsteering in fontistoriche"(p. 31). I would like to take thisopportunity me towardBattagliand forprovidingvaluable feedbackas I workedon thisessay. 2 Accordingto Massera, Battagli'schapteron the Malatesta "costituisce la piuianticaed autorevole fontedi storia malatestianae municipale" (p. xlvii). For more on Battagli,see Massera's lengthy preface. 3Regarding Battagli's"assai vasta e varia cultura,"0. Bantinotesthat "in essa hanno larga parte (come appare spesso dalle espressionie dai concetti)la Bibbia e le operedell'Alighieri";see Dizionario biograficodegliItaliani,7 (Rome, 1965), p. 208. 4 Indeed, we mightwell wonder how we can feel sure that the storyas a whole is not Dante's invention.While he obviouslyinventedthematerialforwhichonlyone of themurderedprotagonists could have vouched,thebare factsof Francesca'sadulteryand murdermusthave occurred,giventhat the commentators who followDante fillin key details-like theprotagonists'names-that he omits fromInferno5 and thatFrancesca'sfamily, well acquaintedwithDante and hispoetry(Guido Novello da Polenta,Francesca'snephewand Dante's host in Ravenna, even triedhis hand at Dante-inspired love lyrics),neverdeniedhis account. On Dante and the Polenta family,and forGuido da Polenta's poetry,see Corrado Ricci, L'ultimorifugiodi Dante (1891; repr.Ravenna, 1965). Speculum 75 (2000) 1 2 Dante and Francescada Rimini about Francescada Rimini.FrancescoTorraca,whose 1902 essay on Inferno5 has not been surpassedin historicalrichness,clearlystatesas much ("Del fatto, nessuna cronaca contemporanea,nessundocumentoci ha conservatomemoria; primo,e solo narratorecontemporaneo,Dante" ),5 and thepointis repeatedin the Enciclopedia dantesca'sarticleon Francesca ("II raccontodantescorestal'unica testimonianzaantica intornoal drammadi adulterioe di morteconsumatoalla cortemalatestiana,ignoratodalle cronachee dai documentilocali coevi o posteof Francesca, when we beginto wonder about the historicity riorin")6Similarly, on thehistoricalFrancesca we discovertheexistenceof a specializedbibliography of greaterudition.But it rarelyintersectswiththe much largerliterarybibliographyon Inferno5, and its findings-includingthe fundamentalfactthatthere is no historicalrecordoftheeventsnarratedin thecanto-are rarelyfactoredinto literaryreadings.Torraca'sclarityabout the silenceof the historicalrecordhas not informedsubsequentreadingsof thecanto. of the factthatDante is the This essay attemptsto recuperatethe significance historianof recordwithrespectto Francescada Riminiaridto integratetheimas well as theimplicationsof a historicizedFranplicationsof thisunderstanding, cesca, intoour criticalresponseto Inferno5. My subtitleoutlinestheparameters of my reading:realpolitik,because Dante viewed Francesca'slifeas politically her death the resultof the pragmaticmatrimonialpoliticsthatgovdetermined, erneddynasticalliances;7romance,because Dante injectedromanceintoFrancebetweenher the tensiorn sca's essentiallypoliticalstory,as a way of highlighting 5"Il canto V dell'Inferno,"originallypublishedin Nuova antologia,1902, repr.in Studidanteschi (Naples, 1912), pp. 383-442, citationp. 409. 6 AntonioEnzo Quaglio, "Francescada Rimini,"in Enciclopediadantesca(henceforth ED), 6 vols. (Rome, 1970-78), 3:1. A dramaticaccountof thelacuna in two majorchroniclesofthelate duecento, by PietroCantinelliand Salimbeneda Parma, is offeredby Nevio Matteiniin Francescada Rimnini: Storia,mito,arte (Bologna, 1965): Il Chronicondi PietroCantinelli?Tace. Il Cantinelli,nato probabilmentea Faenza intornoal 1243 e morto,forse,nel 1306, ci porgel'illustrazionestoricapiu autenticadella Divina Commedia. "I personaggidanteschi"-scrive il Torracanella prefazione- "sono qui una fol]a.... Perl'ultimo trentenniodel secolo XIII Bologna e la Romagna non hanno un'altracronaca propriaaltrettanto ampia, abbondante,ordinataed esatta." Fra i Polentanivi compaiono: Guido Minore,Bernardino, Lamberto,Ostasio, Guido Riccio, Albericoe Geremia.Fra i Malatesti:il "Mastin vecchio,"Gianciotto, Malatestino,Rambertoe il figlioGiovanni. Di Francesca e Paolo neppurei nomi sono ricordati. E Salimbeneda Parma? Tace anch'egli.Fra' Salimbene,che visse dal 1221 al 1289, assistettea diversifattinotevolissimied avvicin6personalitadella Chiesa e della politica,uominidi toga t-di armi. Soggiorn6in Romagna, soprattuttoa Ravenna, per cinque anni. La prima data che ricorre nella sua Cronicae il 21 luglio1283; l'ultima1'8 settembre1287.... Parla di Guido da Montefeltro e di TebaldelloZambrasi,di Malatesta da Verucchioe dei Manfredi,dei Traversarie degliAccarisi, di Guido Minore e di Guido Riccio. Di Paolo e Francescanulla. (Pp. 57-58) 7This point is clearlymade by the distinguished Romagnol historianAugustoVasina in his entry "Malatesta" in the Enciclopediadantesca: "Persiio dietroil drammadi Paolo M[alatesta] e di Francesca da Polenta (If V 82-138) e ben presenteuna rigidalogica dinastica,tesa,mediantel'unionefra Giovanni(Gianciotto)M[alatesta] e Francesca,a finidi tirannide.In realtatale politicamatrimoniale, senza dubbio all'origine di quella tragedia, era destinata a rassodare un'alleanza familiarefra M[alatesta] e Polentaniproprionel momentopiu criticodella loro ascesa al dominiosignorile,rispettivamentesu Riminie su Ravenna" (ED 3:782). Dante and Francescada Rimini 3 roleas pawnofthestateand herdesireforpersonalfulfillment (romanceis the genre,in fact,thatmakespossiblethefocuson personaldesire);gender, because thechoiceof romanceas themodality forthisparticular narrative, a narrative foundedon dynastic is a choicethatnecessarily marriage, bringsus to gender. I hope to throwlighton the ways in whichFrancesca'sstory,as told Ultimately, by Dante, is a genderedstory,one in which unusual value is placed on the personhood of the dynasticwife.8 The keyfactofFrancescada Rimini'slifeis a dynastic-political-fact: Francesca was born into a familythataspiredto dominionover Ravenna (and achievedit, 'in 1275); she marriedinto a familythataspiredto dominionover Rimini(they, too, succeeded,twentyyearslater,in 1295). She thusserveda dynasticfunction, as a link betweenthe two mostpowerfulrisingdynastiesof Romagna. She was the daughterof Guido Minore da Polenta (so called to distinguishhim fromhis cousin Guido Riccio, he is also referred to as Guido il Vecchioda Polenta),lord of Ravenna. Circa 1275 she married Giovanni (called Gianciotto, "crippled John")Malatesta,thesecond son of Malatesta da Verucchio,firstlord of Rimini (Gianciottohimselfwas neverlord of Rimini).9She died because ofthismarriage, between1283 and 1286. Earlycommentators of the Commedia show theirawarenessof thesignificance of thesefactsby givingFrancesca'sstory a politicalframe;theystresstheimportance of her marriageas a political alliance, as an attemptto bringpeace and stabilityto Romagnabyallyingtheregion'stwo mostpowerfulfamilies.Beginning witha succinctstatementabout dynasticpower- "In Romagna sono due grandi case, in Riminoi Malatesti,in Ravenna quelli da Polenta" ("In Romnagna there are two great families,in Rimini the Malatesta, in Ravenna those fromPolenta")-the Florentinewriterof the Ottimocommento(ca. 1333) explainsthat these warringdynastiesmade peace and that GianciottomarriedFrancesca in orderto guarantee,to bring"fermezza"to, theiraccord: ... le quali case perla lorograndezzaebberoguerrainsieme, dellaqualefeceropace; alla cui fermezza JanniSciancatodi MesserMalatesta,uomode l'abitorustico, e del cuorefranco, e armigero, e crudele, tolsepermoglieFrancesca diMesserGuido figliuola il vechioda Polenta,donnabellissima delcorpo,e gaia ne' sembianti. (... thesefamilieson account of theirgreatnesswere at war witheach otherand then made peace; to guaranteethe peace Gianni Sciancato of Messer Malatesta, a man of 8 Of course,we should expectfromDante theculturallyunexpected;see, withrespectto theunorthodoxrole he assignsBeatrice,JoanM. Ferrante,"Dante's Beatrice:Priestof an Androgynous God," in CEMERS Occasional Papers,2 (Binghamton, N.Y., 1992). 9 Most scholarsconcurin puttingthe marriageat thistime,althoughTorracaopts fora laterdate; see "Il canto V dell'Inferno,"esp. p. 420. Afterthedeathof Malatesta da Verucchio,powerwentfirst to Giarciotto'solder brother,Malatestino,second lord of Rimini,and thento his halfbrother, Pandolfo,Malatesta da Verucchio'sson by his second wife.The EnciclopediadantescaentriesbyVasina on thevariousmembersof theMalatesta clan are morehelpfulin reconstructing Francesca'slifethan Quaglio's entryon Francesca,whose firstparagrapherroneouslycalls Gianciotto"signoredi Rimini" (ED 3:1). It is worthnoting,however,thatthismistakeis frequently made, and is perhapsdue to the contaminationof Boccaccio's account; see, forinstance,the commentaryof Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi,Commedia,1: Inferno(Milan, 1991), p. 155. 4 Dante and Francescada Rimini rusticdress,braveheart,a warrior, and cruel,tookas wifeFrancesca, thedaughter of in MesserGuidotheelderof Polenta,a ladyverybeautiful of bodyand lighthearted demeanor.)10 The Ottimo'scomment,while incorrectin its details(therewas no war between theMalatesta and thePolentaniat thattime),1"is correctin itsfundamental analysis,whichviewsdynastic"case" ofa certain"grandezza"as operatingin a frameworkthatis entirely politicaland thatprecludesneutrality: theyare eitherenemies or-as was alreadythecase withthesetwo-allies.12 Boccaccio (ca. 1373) follows the Ottimoin recountingthatupon thecessationof hostilitiesbetweenGuido da Polenta and Malatesta of Rimini,themarriageof theiroffspring was engineered as a way of cementing("fermeza"again) thenew peace: di messerGuidovecchioda Polenta,signor E' adunqueda saperechecosteifufigliuola di Ravennae di Cervia;ed essendostatalungaguerrae dannosatra lui e i signori e compostala pacetra Malatestida Rimino,adivenne chepercertimezzanifutrattata loro.La quale acci6chepiuifermeza avesse,piacquea ciascunadellepartidi volerla e '1parentadotrattato fuche '1 dettomesserGuidodovesse fortificare perparentado; a Gian chiamatamadonnaFrancesca, darepermoglieunasua giovanee bellafigliuola, di messer Malatesta. Ciotto,figliuolo ofGuidoda Polentatheelder,lordofRa(You mustknowthatshewas thedaughter himandtheMalatesta,lords vennaand Cervia.A long,harshwarhadragedbetween of Rimini, whenthrough certainintermediaries, To peacewas treatedand concluded. itwitha marriage. makeitall themorefirm, bothsideswerepleasedto cement WherethatMesserGuidowastogivehisbeautiful called uponitwas arranged youngdaughter, inmarriage MadonnaFrancesca, to Gianciotto, sonofMesserMalatesta.)13 Benvenutoda Imola, despite being fromRomagna, seems to possess no more information thantheOttimo,whose descriptions oftheprotagonists he translates; he does specifythatGianciottois the son of Malatesta senior,who was the first to seize power over Rimini: "filiusDomini Malatestae senioris,qui primusacof theAnonimoFiorentino quivisitdominiumArimini"(DDP). The commentary Over (ca. 1400) followsBoccaccio in everyway, includingthe dynasticframe.14 10 L'Ottimno copmnento della "Divina Commedia," citedfromtheDartmouthDante ProjectDatabase, http://www.dartmouth.edu/-iibrary/ (henceforth DDP). Translationsare mineunlessotherwisenoted. 11TorracacorrectstheOttimnoon thisscore: "Di una guerracombattutain quel periodotraRiminesi e Ravennatinon restanessunamenzione"("II canto V dell'Inferno,"p. 412). 12 In fact,the decreerelatingto the dowryof Margheritade' Paltenieri, Malatesta da Verucchio's secondwife,was drawnup in Guido da Polenta'shouse,on 25 July1266; see Aldo FrancescoMassia,"Note malatestiane,"Archiviostoricoitaliano,5th ser.,47 (1911), 3-48, at p. 17. 13 Esposizionisopra la "Comnedia" di Dante, ed. GiorgioPadoan, vol. 6 of Tuttele operedi Giovanni Boccaccio, ed. VittoreBranca (Milan, 1965), p. 315. The translationby Mario Domandi is in the commentaryvolume of The Divine Comedy: Inferno,trans. Charles S. Singleton(Princeton,N.J., 1970), p. 87. 14 "Egli e da sapere che gran tempo fu guerratra messerGuido da Polenta et messerMalatesta vecchioda Rimino.Ora, percheera rincresciuta all'una parteet all'altra,di comuneconcordiafeciono pace, et accio che meglios'osservasse,fecionoparentadoinsieme" ("It should be known thatfora long timetherewas war betweenMesser Guido da Polenta and Messer Malatesta of Rimini.Now, since both sides were unhappyabout the war,theydecidedtogetherto make peace, and so thatthe peace would be bettermaintained,theyarrangeda marriagebetweenthem" [DDP]). Dante and Francescada Rimini 5 ofDaniello(1568) thecenturies, however, bythetimewereachthecommentaries andpoliticalelement ofFrancesca's story andCastelvetro (ca. 1570),thedynastic theromance elements ofDante'sstory beginstofade,as thereception foregrounds and abandonsthepoliticalframework. Ifwe wereto tryto reconstruct data ofFrancesca's life thebasicbiographical The textoffers onlythe fromtheCommedia, we wouldfindthetaskimpossible. following facts:Francesca's birthplace ("Siedela terradovenatafui/su la marina dove'1Po discende /peraverpaceco' seguacisui" [Inf.5.97-99]), herChristian name("Francesca,i tuoimart'iri" [Inf.5.116]), thefactthatshe and herlover werekilledbya kinsman("Caina attendechia vitaci spense"[Inf.5.107]),the -factthat the lovers are related by marriage("i due cognati" [Inf. 6.2]).15 This presentationis remarkablyoblique, on a numberof counts.First,it omitsaltogetherthe names of Francesca's lover and husband. Second, while Francesca's fromhernatalcity, Christianname is registered, herfamilynamemustbe inferred Ravenna,whichin turnis nevernamedbutalludedto in a geographicalperiphrasis thatplaces her land of birth"on the shorewherethe Po descendsto be at peace withits followers,"thatis, whereit reachestheAdriatic.Third,thefactthatshe and her loverwere killedby a brotheris presentedin one compactand elliptical verse that in itselfrequiresglossing:"Caina awaits him who put out our life" destinedforthatpartof hell'slowimpliesthatthe lovers'murdereris a brother, est circlethathouses traitorsof kin and is named afterCain, the firstfratricide. (Whilereadersof theInfernoeventuallylearnthatthiszone houses all traitorsof of fratricide.) kin, the word Caina causes one to think,in this case correctly, Fourth,the factthatthe murdereris relatedto both lovers,in otherwords,the factthat the lovers were themselveslinkedby "parentado," to use Boccaccio's word, is givento us only afterthe encounterwith Francescahas ended, at the beginningof canto 6 whenthenarratorrefersto themas "i due cognati." Accordingto theaccountsthataccretedaroundthespare nucleusin Inferno5, Francescaenteredinto an adulterouslove affairwithPaolo Malatesta,thirdson of Malatesta da Verucchio,knownas Paolo il Bello; she and Paolo werekilledby Gianciotto,most likelybetween1283 and 1286. The date of death mustbe inferredcircumstantially, likeeveryothereventofFrancesca'sunrecordedlife.Paolo, who in 1269 marriedOrabile Beatrice,countessof Ghiaggiolo(bywhomhe had two children),was in Florenceas capitano del popolo in 1282; he tenderedhis By 1286 Gianresignationon thefirstofFebruary1283 and returnedto Rimini.16 So thedeathsofPaolo and Francescahad to occurbetween ciottohad remarried.17 1283 and 1286. 15The textis fromLa "Commedia" secondo l'anticavulgata,ed. GiorgioPetrocchi, 4 vols. (Milan, 1966-67). 16 See Torraca, "II canto V dell'Inferno,"p. 434. Torraca speculatesthat the seventeen-year-old Dante metPaolo Malatesta when he servedas capitanodel popolo in Florencein 1282 (p. 433). 17 Torraca reconstructs as follows: "Mori [Francesca]tra il 1283 e il 1286. Dopo il febbraiodel 1283, non accade piuidi trovarnessuna tracciadi Paolo; nel febbraiodel 1287, a un atto di grande i suoi fratelli, non lui. Nel 1288, il vecchioMalatestas'impegnaalle importanzapolitica,intervengono futurenozze di Malatestino,non suo figlio,quello, 'che vedeva pur con l'uno'; ma un bambino,che Giovanniaveva avuto da Zambrasina,la seconda moglie:se anche il bambinonon avessesuperatoun anno di eta, il matrimoniodi Zambrasinacon Giovannidoveva essereavvenutodue anniinnanzi,nel 1286" ("Il canto V dell'Inferno,"p. 419). The gistof this informationwas originallyput forthby LuigiToniniin Della storiacivilee sacra riminese,3 (Rimini,1862), pp. 257-58. 6 Dante and Francescada Rimini intotheinformation vacuumleftbyDante,theearliest Stepping commentators thecrucialdata thatthe Commedia omits.JacopoAlighieri beginby offering (ca. 1322) givesthenamesof all theprotagonists and a schematic of rendering events: Essendosidegliantichiinfino a qui ragionato, di duemodernamente si segue,de' quali l'unfuunadonnanominata monnaFrancesca figliuola dimesser Guidoda Polenta, cioe Guidovecchioda Polentadi Romagna,e della cittadi Ravenna,e l'altroPaolo d'i Malatestida Rimini, la qualeessendodel fratello del dettoPaulomoglie,il qualeebbe nomeGianniIsciancato, conleiusando,cioecotdettosuocognato,alcuna carnalmente voltainsieme, dal maritofurmorti.(JacopoAlighieri, DDP) oftheancientsup to now,whatfollowsregardstwomoderns, (Havingdiscoursed of whomonewasa ladynamedMadonnaFrancesca, ofMesserGuidoda Polenta, daughter thatis, GuidotheelderofPolentafromRomagna,and fromthecityofRavenna,and theotherPaolooftheMalatestaofRimini; shewasthewifeofthebrother ofsaidPaolo, whosenamewas GianniSciancato, and havingcarnalrelations withhim,thatis,with heraforementioned on a fewoccasionstogether, brother-in-law, theywerekilledbythe husband.) Shortlyafterwards, Jacopo della Lana (1324-28) adds some color;includingthe firstdescriptionofthedeathscene: "infinetrovolliin sul peccato,preseuna spada, e conficolliinsiemein tal modo che abbracciatiad uno morirono"("finallyhe foundthemwhile sinning,took a sword and piercedthemat the same timein such a way thatlocked togetherin one embracetheydied" [DDP]). The Ottimo commentogoes further, addingthedynasticframe,charactersketchesof theprotagonists,and a servantwho conveysthenews of theadulterousliaisonto Gianciotto. It is Boccaccio, the greatraconteur,who elaboratesFrancesca'sstoryto novella-likeproportionsand whose imprinton it is mostindelible. We have seen thatDante himselftellsus verylittle.This factin itselfrequires criticalacknowledgment, as well as recognitionof how different our readerlysituationis fromthatofthepoem'searlyreaders,forwhomthehistoricalimportance ofDante's intervention would have beenexplicit.We on theotherhandhaveheard or encounteredso manytellingsof Francesca'stale-our culturalimaginaryhas been for so long overstockedwith commentaries,paintings,dramas,tragedies, poems,and musicalresponsesto Francesca-that we onlywithdifficulty clearthe culturalunderbrushenough to re-createthe relativeemptinessin which Dante wrote Inferno5.18 The case of Francesca is only one example-albeit a major one-of a problemthatwe encounterin anycenturies-long criticalenterprise: the problemof a receptionthatto some degreewe must unlearn.In the particular case of Francesca da Rimini,unlearningthe receptionentailskeepingclear theboundariesbetweenwhat Dante tellsus and what is added to the storylateron and, most importantly, stayingfocused on the significanceof the existenceof 18 For a resumeof Francesca'sfortunes in drama,figurative art,and music,see Matteini,Franicesca da Rimnini: Storia,mito,arte,pp. 96-143. Dante and Francescada Rimini 7 Dante'stelling-without whichwe wouldnothaveheardofFrancescaat all,let aloneelaborated herintotheheroineofall thosemelodramas.19 Instaging theinfernal meeting between himself andFrancesca, Danterepresents himself as ableto identify heron thebasisofverylittleinformation. Shetellshim thatsheis fromRavenna(inan anmbiguous fashion, sinceRavennais nottheonly citythatfitsherdescription),20 thatloveboundherpartner to herandhertohim, thatloveledherandherloverto onedeath,andthatCainaawaitstheirmurderer. Afterhe has learnedthismuch,thepilgrim is able to addressFrancescabyher Christianname: "Francesca,i tuoi martirn / a lagrimarmi fanno tristoe pio" ("Francesca,your sufferings make me weep forsadness and pity" [Inf.5.1164 7]). Dante's stagingthusoffersus two possibilities:thathe consideredFrancesca's storynotorious,despiteits absence fromthe chroniclesavailable duringhis lifetime; that he wanted to renderthe storynotorious,which he does principally throughthe immortalverseshe dedicatesto its protagonist,but also by treating her as alreadyfamous.The realityis mostlikelya combinationof bothpossibilities,namely,that he took a storythat was notoriousenough for him to have heard it, but thateventuallywould have been lost, and made it a storythathas neverbeen forgotten. Giventhatwe can inferfromDante's stagingboththeconferred and thegenuine notorietyof Francesca'sstory,we can further inferthatculturalcelebrityis part ofthepointhere:Dante is investigating a certainkindoffameand whatitsignifies about'thepublic imaginary, and he is inventinga certainkind of fame,one that resonatesstillin our own day. Inferno5 testifies thatFrancesca'sstoryhad made her,by the firstdecade of the fourteenth centuryin centralItaly,a culturalicon whose recognizability is analogous to thatof the late Princessof Wales today.It further testifies thatDante, in takingthe notoriousbut forgettable eventsof the nascentMalatesta dynastyand fashioningtheminto Francesca'sunforgettable leastvaluablememstory-which happensalso to be thestoryof itsdynastically ber-invented a new kindofcelebrity. This new-and, I would argue,genderedcelebrityarisesfromthedynamiccollisionoftwo opposed stresses:therealpolitik of dynasticmarriageand thewish-fulfillment fantasyof romance.The paradigm thatresultsrevolvesaroundthenecessarypassivityand indeedvictimhoodof the story'sprotagonistin one domain and heragencyas she refashionsherlifeto her 19 A perusal of twentieth-century commentarieson Inferno5 will show thatneitherof the above guidelinesis routinecriticalpractice;commentatorsdo not, firstof all, explicitlyindicateDante's historicalrole in relatingFrancesca'sstory,nor,secondly,do theykeep clear the boundariesbetween Dante's account and its elaborations.A separatestudycould be done of issues relatingto the commentarytradition,which includethe questionsraised by Dante's own reticence.For instance,what did Dante thinka readerwould makeoftheverse"Caina attendechia vitaci spense"?Whilesuggestive of fratricide in itsallusionto Cain, itsprecisesignificance can onlybe ascertainedthrougha commentaryor priorknowledgeof theInferno.By thesame token,did Dante take forgrantedthatcommenin thecase of Francescaforinstance,at leastthenecessarynamesand a skeletal tatorswould furnish, versionof events?As it happens, commentatorsimmediatelybegan to fillin the gaps, so that the questionof what readingof Inferno5 emergesfroman encounterunmediatedby notescan be entertainedonlyas a thoughtexperiment. 20 Antonio Enzo Quaglio points out that "altre citta,oltre a Ravenna, potrebberoteoricamente ambire,per la loro posizione geografica,compresa nell'allora estuariopadano, a tale onore"; see "Francescada Riminitra Dante e Boccaccio," in Al di la di Francescae Laura (Padua, 1973), p. 10. 8 Dante and Francescada Rimini likingin theother.Moreover, through thepilgrim's behavior, Dantechartsthe culture's voyeuristic responseto sucha femaleprotagonist-aresponsethatwe havewitnessed exponentially multiplied (in thecase ofDiana, forinstance), alin ourowntime.Butthecanto'sausterebiothoughnotfundamentally altered, graphical minimalism also suggests thatDante,whilewanting to engageina culon the one hand and turaldebatewhosecoordinatesare dynasticmarriages romanceon theother, wantedto setthetermsofthedebateat a relatively high tocultural isnecessarily level.Whileourcompulsion voyeurism partofwhatneeds in thiscontext, itis nota compulsion to be examined to whichDantepanders. Or is it? Here, too, theissue is a complexone, forwhileDante does not stoop to the tabloid level of the commentators,one could reasonablyclaim that he solicitstheirreactionsby settingromanceas part of his agenda. He does indeed set romanceas partof a broad agenda, one thatalso includespoliticsand power we have and theinterplaybetweenthoseforces.Over centuriesof interpretation in thekeyof romance,at themost impoverishedthecanto byreadingit primarily expandingthediscoursealong themoralaxis where(in a readingthathas always coexistedwiththeromanticone and thathas dominatedforsome time)romance is counteredby reason. Moreover,it is the natureof the Commedia's "living" textualityto be dialectical,to catchthereaderin thevice,forexample,of loving Vergiland losinghim,or, in thisinstance,in the act of voyeurismthatthe text both solicitsand rebukes.21 What happenedafterFrancescaand Paolo ceased to is drivento createfullnessat all read that day? Where the commentary/tabloid costs, the Commedia gives us the generativeopenness of lifeitself:a world of possibilities,not of answers. Dante places Francescaamong the carnal sinners,drivenby a relentlesswind in hell as theywere drivenby theirpassions in life:"a cosi fattotormento/enno dannatii peccatorcarnali,/che la ragionsommettonoal talento" ("to sudhtormentare damned the carnal sinners,who subjectreason to desire" [Inf.5.3739]). VergilidentifiesSemiramis,Dido, Cleopatra-the presenceof threeruling queens here seems relevantto the dynasticconsiderationsthat underwrotethe unionofFrancescawithGianciotto-and thenHelen,Achilles,Paris,and Tristan. (He pointsto and names over a thousandshades, but theseare the ones whose names Dante shareswith us.) In the course of listingthese souls, the narrative registershifts(beginningwithAchilles,thefirstman) fromcriticaland moralistic to pityingand romantic.In semanticterms,we movefrom"lust" to "love": from to Semiramis's"vice of lust" and Cleopatra"the lussuria and lussuriosa, referring lustful,"we move to the amorewithwhichAchillesstrugglesat the end and the amor thathas caused morethanone thousandsouls to departthislife. Tercet70-72, which functionsas a pivot betweenthe two halves of canto 5, betweenthe half of the canto that builds up to Francescaand the halfthat she thediscourse.Here thenarratorrefersto dominates,is taskedwithromanticizing thepreviouslynamed "peccatorcarnali" as "le donne antichee ' cavalieri" (line 21 On lovingVergiland losinghim,see Teodolinda Barolini,Dante's Poets: Textualityand Truthin the "Comedy" (Princeton, N.J.,1984) chap. 3; on thedialecticaland "living"natureoftheCommedia's see Barolini,The Undivine"Comedy": DetheologizingDante (Princeton,N.J.,1992), pastextuality, sim. Dante and Francescada Rimini 9 Theearlierfigures arehere 71)-carnal sinners becomeladiesofold andknights. roindiscriminately recastin a romantic glow;theyarenow ladiesand knights, arrivesa romantic agenda, manceheroesand heroines. Witha romantic register surface. When signaledbytheissuesofcomplicity andinvolvement thatsuddenly thepilgrim ofold,pityovercomes has heardVergilnametheladiesand knights himand he is "almostlost": "pieta mi giunse,e fuiquasi smarrito"(line72). The narrator'smoral clarity("to such tormentare damned the carnal sinners,who subjectreason to desire") has givenway to thepilgrim'smoralconfusion. Under the aegis of this moral confusionthe encounterwith Francesca takes place, initiatedby an expressedattractionon Dante's part; summonedby the pilgrim,thetwo approach and Francescabeginsto speak. The trecentocommentatorscommonlymarkthisjunctureas a transitionfromancientsto moderns(see the passage fromJacopo Alighiericited above: "Essendosi degli antichiinfinoa qui ragionato,di due modernamentesi segue"). This is certainlyan important consideration,althoughit should be noted thatthe boundarybetweenancients and modernsis in factsomewhatfuzzier;Tristan,named last in thepreviouslist, is alreadya modern,and a quintessentially romanticmodernat that.As is frequentlythecase in thedynamicbetweentheCommediaand itscritics,a transition viewedby criticsas absoluteis engineeredby thepoet as a graduatedprocess.So, too, in this particularcase, the transitiondoes not occur all at once: stringent preceptsslacken gradually,untilwe reach the pivotal tercetthat proclaimsthe "peccatorcarnali" to be "donne antichee ' cavalieri,"by whichpointwe have fromancients entereda new frameofreference. Once accomplished,thetransition to modernsis a subsetin thelargertransitionfromtheframeof moral responsibilityto theframeof romance. In theologizedterms,to entertheframeof romancesignifies enteringa context in whichmoral responsibility and personalagencyare suspendedby an all-consumingsentiment, where passion rules untrammeledby reason. In thiscontext Francesca'spassivityis a function-as also etymologically-ofher passion; her passivityreflectsher sinfulrefusalof moral agency,herrefusalto fashionherself as a Christianagent.She consistently producesherselfas an object,and thecritical traditionhas respondedby readingherstory,and evenhersyntax,as a symptom ofthelustforwhichsheis damned.To givea recentexamplefrommyown writing, I offerthe syntaxof the lover in Dante's eroticcanzone "Jo son venuto" as a in source forFrancesca'ssyntax,notingthat "Francesca,too, uses constructions whichLove is subjectand she is thepassive object."22Specificto myargumentis theconnectionto Dante's lyricpast; thereadingof Francesca'ssyntactic passivity sinfulis by now a criticaltopos. Like the loverpersona of Dante's as inherently canzone,Francescaexperienceslove as a compulsiveforce,as a desirethatcannot be withstood,evenifitleadsto death;unliketheloverin thecanzone,sheis situated in a moralcontextin whichdesireuncheckedby freewill and reasonis sinful. Such a reading,absolutelynot gendered,is not onlynot wrong;it is canonical 22 See "Dante and Cavalcanti (On Making Distinctionsin Mattersof Love): Inferno5 in Its Lyric Context," Dante Studies 116 (1998), 31-63, where I note that Francesca's "Amor ... non m'abbandona" (Inf. 5.103, 105) echoes the "Amor ... non m'abbandona" of the lover of "Jo son venuto,"verses23-25. 10 Dante and Francescada Rimini and hermeneutically fundamental, as thecanto'sreception demonstrates. Noneour understanding of theless,I believethata gendered readingcan supplement 5, andthattheparadigm whatis at stakeforDanteinInferno ofrealpolitik versus romanceprovides theframework fora gendered reading. Against thisframework an alternativereadingsuggestsitself,wherebyFrancesca'ssyntacticpassivityreflects,first,her authentichistoricalpassivityas dynasticpawn in a world where matrimonialallianceswere power politicsand, second,herabilityto createpleasurablepassivityforherselfas theobject of a man's attention.To thedegreethat Francescasucceedsin obtainingpleasureforherselfthatwould otherwisebe deniedher,to thedegree(I shouldprobablyspecify)thatDante's Francescadefinitely succeedsin obtainingpleasurethatmay or may not have been obtained by the historicalFrancesca,it is possibleto findagencyin herpassivity.Thus, byfiguring herselfas objectin a romanticfantasy,as literalsyntacticobjectin a verselike "la he kissedme on themouth"[Inf. bocca mi bascio tuttotremante"("all trembling 5.136; italicsmine]),Francescamay be seen as assertingheragencyand herpersonhood againsta dynasticpatriarchythatassignedno value to herpleasure.23 I am arguing,in otherwords,thatagencyis doublyconstitutedin thiscanto, both along the moral axis to whichwe are accustomedand along a genderedhistoricized-axis. Althoughwe are not explicitlyaccustomedto the latter,its latentpresenceis nonethelessmostlikelyresponsibleforthe sympathythecanto has always elicitedforits femaleprotagonistfromthe mostlymale readerswho have traditionally writtenabout theexperienceof readingInferno5. Sensingthe presenceofgenderedissuesin thecanto,thesereadershave expressedtheirawareforFrancesca:thustherehave beenromanticcelebrationsofher nessin sympathy refined"femininity" that have in turndrawn the scorn of less impressionistic who have insisted,legitimately commentators, enough,on therubric"carnalsinners."24SympathyforFrancescahas takentheformof male gallantry, wantingto excuse her simplybecause of her sex, but withouttakinginto accountwhat her sex actuallysignifies.Dante, however,I propose,does take into accountFrancesca's sex and itssignificance: theissueofagencyis complicatedpreciselybyDante's 23 In thinkingof how Francesca could activelyconstructher passivity,I found usefulJaniceA. Radway,Reading theRomance: Women,Patriarchy, and Popular Literature(Chapel Hill, N.C., and London, 1984). Accordingto Radway,"To qualifyas a romance,thestorymustchroniclenotmerely the eventsof a courtshipbut what it feelslike to be the object of one" (p. 64). Furtheron, Radway writes,"Passivityis at the heartof the romanceexperiencein the sense that the finalgoal of each narrativeis the creationof thatperfectunionwherethe ideal male,who is masculineand strongyet nurturanttoo, finallyrecognizesthe intrinsicworthof the heroine.Thereafter, she is requiredto-do nothingmore than exist as the centerof this paragon's attention.Romanticescape is, therefore, a temporarybut literaldenial of the demands women recognizeas an integralpart of theirroles as nurturing wives and mothers.It is also a figurative journeyto a utopian stateof total receptiveness wherethereader,as a resultof heridentification withthe heroine,feelsherselftheobjectof someone else's attentionand solicitude.Ultimately, the romancepermitsits reader the experienceof feeling cared forand thesenseof havingbeenreconstituted affectively, evenifbothare livedonlyvicariously" (p. 97). 24 While FrancescoDe Sanctisis voluble on Francesca'sfeminine "delicatezza," his romanticsensibilitydoes not lead him to make the ultimateerror-for which he castigatesPierreGinguen6-of holdingthatshe is not damned;see "Francescada Rimini,"orig. 1869, repr.in Lezioni sulla "Divina Commedia,"ed. Michele Manfredi(Bari, 1955), pp. 137-47. Dante and Francescada Rimini 11 desireto engage,along withthenongenderedmoralissues,also thegenderedand historicalissues thatare implicitin his choice of a femaleprotagonistwhom he situateswithinthecoordinatesof dynasticmarriageand romance. Whileitis a criticalcommonplaceto notethatFrancescatakesno responsibility forher lifestory,it is not a criticalcommonplaceto historicizeherlife;as I indicated at the outset,the historicizing frameworkprovidedby the earlycommentatorswas lost to the traditionby the Renaissance.Only the act of historicizing Francesca,however,allows us to rememberthat,in real life,responsibility was available to herexclusivelyin theformsof acceptanceand resignation.I willturn laterto reconstructing in greaterdetailthecontextof thehistoricalFrancescaas U3antemay have viewedit; forthe moment,in returning to the textI would ask thereaderto bearin mindthatlack of agencyin Francesca'slanguageis a complex thatcuts across multipledomainsand resonatesdifferently in each. signifier In herfamoustercets,each beginningwith"Love" as subject,Francescadraws on the fundamentaltenetsof the establishedamatorycode to tell her storyin, precisely, coded form.The chosencode dictatesbiographicaland historicalopacity;in place of recognizablehumans engagingin recognizablehuman behavior, thecode renderstheloversas particlesadriftin a forcefieldgovernedby powers beyondtheircontrol:love, beauty,nobility.When otherpeople are involved,they are renderedas demonizedabstractions.Deftlyand denselytheseversesweave a plotthatcontainsno humanagency.The firsttercetgoes to theheartofFrancesca's storybyplacingherand herloveron a matrixof love and violentdeath,whileat foreitherthat love or that death. Prothe same timeevading all responsibility foundlyahistorical,the tercetyetsketchesthe lineamentsof a historythatis initiatedwiththe passions of the man. In thischronologyPaolo is the firstto love: "Amor,ch'al cor gentilrattos'apprende,/prese costui de la bella persona/che mi futolta;e '1modo ancorm'offende"(lines100-102). The syntacticdensityof thislanguagecreatesa sense of tightlycompactedineluctability, of a destinythat cannotbe escaped. Francescatellsus thatlove,whichis quicklykindledin a noble heart,seized Paolo, thatthe love thatseized him was forher beautifulbody,the same body thatwas taken fromher,and thatthe mode (of what? of loving?of The agentsof causalityhereare love, which beingmurdered?)stilloffendsher.25 the noble-souledare not able to withstand(this preceptrecapitulatesthe poet an authority, and thusanotheragentof causality);26 Guido Guinizzelli,implicitly Francesca'sphysicalbeauty,whichseizesPaolo; theunnamedagentsthattakeher body fromher; and the mysteriousmodo-the way,the modality-that stilloffendsher.The next tercetis only somewhatless dense. She explains that,since in love is obligatory(hereshe draws on The Artof CourtlyLove by reciprocity AndreasCapellanus,anotherimplicitauthority, hence agent),love caused by his beauty bound her reciprocally-and eternally:"Amor,ch'a nullo amato amar perdona, / mi prese del costui piacer si forte,/ che, come vedi, ancor non m'abbandona" ("Love, that absolves no beloved from loving, seized me so 25 For a resumeof interpretations of "e 'I modo ancor m'offende,"see the Chiavacci Leonardi commentary to theInferno,pp. 168-69. 26 For the allusion to Guido Guinizzelliin this tercetand to Aiidreas Capellanus in the next,see Barolini,Dante's Poets, pp. 5-7. 12 Dante and Francescada Rimini that,as yousee,ithas notyetletmego" [lines103-5]). strongly forhisbeauty, complex,morestark,still Francesca'stwo-verse conclusionis less syntactically theroleofobject:"Amor and equallydevotedto maintaining opaque,however, chia vitaci spense"("Loveledus to condussenoi ad unamorte./Caina attende onedeath.Cainaawaitshimwhoputoutourlife"[lines106-7]). theseversesimply;theseabstractand Again,letus takenoteof thecelebrity to herinterlocutor. declarations manageto revealthespeaker'sidentity codified a querythatis undeniably thepilgrim formulates Once he knowsheridentity, theirdesires?Her how did lovefirst permittheloversto recognize voyeuristic: Dantesque,in termsof "poeticyield,"thatis,theratioof responseis classically expenditure (verysparing).It introduces goalsachieved(verygreat)to linguistic Francesca theromanceLancelotdu Lac, to whoseprotagonists a newsubtext, ever andliterature thecomplicity ofwriting herself andPaolo.It brings compares ofthereaderas a mainthemeofthecanto,a themethat moreto theattention of theLancelotand its authoras the "goin Francesca's indictment culminates to passion. betweens"who broughther and Paolo to the point of surrendering forthe presentinquiry,Francescarespondsto the implicit And, mostinteresting and detailed voyeurismofthepilgrim'srequestbyprovidinga morecircumstantial window onto her affair.We could say that,in responseto and in exchangefor greatersympathy, she relaxesthe tightlyscriptednatureof the interviewshe has granted,perhapseventhatshe poses candidlyforthecameras. The window thatFrancescaopens onto herlifeis a window onto Francescaas subject,as agentin thepursuitofpleasure.Readingtogetherone day forpleasure, "perdiletto,"thecouple read ofhow love seizedLancelot:thereadingconstrained theireyesto meetand theirfacesto pale, and finally-but onlywhen theyread of how LancelotkissedGuenevere-Paolo kissedher.This accountis broughtup The first,"Galeotto fu '1 shortby two denselysuggestiveconsecutivestatements. libro e chi lo scrisse"("A Gallehautwas the book and he who wroteit"), states thatthe Old Frenchromanceand its authoroccupied thesame role-the role of go-between-in the lives of Francesca and Paolo that the knightGallehautoccupied in the lives of Guenevereand Lancelot.Thus, the Lancelot romanceand itsauthor-"'l libroe chi lo scrisse"-are responsibleforbringingtogetherFrancesca and Paolo, a formulathatseemsto leave littleroom forthe agencyof the text'sreaders.And yetFrancesca'snextdeclaration,"quel giornopiiunon vi legin it"), powerfully concludeswith gemmoavante" ("that day we read no further theiragency-Francesca's and Paolo's agency-both as readers,expressedwith theactive(notpassive) "leggemmo,"and as readerswho cease to read. The elliptical concludingverseis an assertionof controlover the Commedia'sreaderss'as well, who are leftto grapple with a statementthat suggestsvolumes but tells nothing.Ultimately, Francescahereuses languageto imposesilence,for,as though herrecollectionofreadingno more,shenow speaksno more.The artful mirroring allusive "Galeotto" opacityof her two last declarations-fromthe impressively to the tantalizingfinal "avante" that suggestsforwardnesswhile denyingitlapses into genuinesilence. juxtaposestwo These versesare thegenialseal to an interviewthatdynamically views of the lifestory:the lifestoryas reducedto abstractprinciplesversusthe The task of assuagingour lifestoryas reflectedin circumstanceand specificity. Dante and Francescada Rimini 13 collective desireforthelatterwas assumedfirstby theOttimocommento but especiallyby Boccaccio,who focuseda floodlight of biographic and romantic detailontoDante'smagisterially wrought obscurity. AsI notedearlier, theOttimo addsthedynastic frame, character sketches oftheprotagonists, anda servant who conveysthenewsoftheadulterous liaisonto Gianciotto. The character sketches areintriguing becausetheycreatean implicit motivation forFrancesca's infidelity on whichBoccacciolaterbuilds.The Ottimocommento marksthecharacters in theinherent sucha wayas tosuggest compatibility ofonecoupleversustheequally inherent incompatibility oftheother.Gianciotto is uncouthin hisappearance, a bravewarrior,and cruel("uomo dell'abitorustico,e del cuorefranco,e armigero, e crudele");Francescais verybeautifuland lighthearted in herdemeanor("donna wellmannered, bellissimadel corpo,e gaia ne' sembianti");Paolo is verybeautiful, and disposed moreto leisurethanto work ("uomo molto bello del corpo, e ben costumato,e acconcio piiua riposo, che a travaglio"). Francesca and Paolo are congruent,in balance, while Gianciottois incongruent, out of balance: if Francesca is "bellissimadel corpo," Paolo, too, is "moltobello del corpo"; ifFrancesca is inclinedtoward gaiety,Paolo, too, is givento leisurepursuits.Gianciotto,on theotherhand,is "dell'abitorustico";he sportsnot finemannersbut arms;he is, finally, "crudele." Despitethisfinaladjective,itis notclearthatthewriteroftheOttimocommento prefersPaolo to Gianciotto;rather,he codes thebrothersas opposites,withGianciottothe man of action and Paolo the lightweight dandy.Boccaccio maintains thepreviouscommentator's systemof coded charactersbut adjuststhevalues so thatGianciottois morerepellentand Paolo less flighty. The result,in Boccaccio's arrangement, is a marriagewhich,because of the perceiveddiscrepancyof the partners,is viewed as potentiallyexplosiveeven beforeit occurs. This manifest instability causes one of Guido da Polenta'sfriendsto alerthimto thescandalthat could arisefromsuch a union,and to warn himthatifFrancescasees Gianciotto beforethemarriageknotis tied,no one will be able to compelherto take him: modoad alcunaparte,chein Guardatecomevoifate,perci6 che,se voi nonprendete questoparentadoeglive ne potraseguirescandolo.Voi dovetesaperechi e vostrafigliuola,e quantoell'6d'altiero animo;e seellavedeGianCiottoavantiche'1matrimonio n6 voi ne altripotramai fareche ella il vogliapermarito.(Boccaccio, sia perfetto, Esposizioni, p. 315) thiswedding howyouproceed, forifyoudo nottakeprecautions, (Becareful maybring shecan be. IfsheseesGianscandal.You knowyourdaughter, and howhigh-spirited ciottobeforethemarriage is concluded, neither younoranyoneelsecan makehergo withit.[Trans.Domandi,p. 87]) through The friendfurther advisesthatone of Gianciotto'sbrothersbe sentto Ravennato hisproxy,"come suo procuratore"(p. 315). Guido da Polenta Francesca as marry prefersGianciottoto his brothersas his futureson-in-law,despitehis beingugly and crippled("sozo della personae sciancato"),because he expectsGianciottoto becomethenextlord of Rimini: e speravasi Era GianCiottouomodi gransentimento doverluidopola mortedelpadre rimanere sozo dellapersonae sciancatofosse,il signore; perla qual cosa,quantunque 14 Dante and Francescada Rimini messerGuidopergeneropiu tostoche alcunode' suoi fratelli. disiderava (Boccaccio, Esposizioni,p. 315) thathewouldbecomeruler (Gianciotto was a verycapableman,andeveryone expected whenhisfather died.Forthisreason,thoughhewas uglyanddeformed, MesserGuido thanoneofhisbrothers wantedhimrather as a son-in-law. [Trans.Domandi,p. 87]) And so Paolo, whom Boccaccio describes,followingthe Ottimo commento,as "bello e piacevole uomo e costumatomolto" ("a handsome,pleasing,verycourteous man" [p. 315, trans.p. 87]), comesto Ravenna to marryFrancesca.Paolo's symmetrical beautymakes Francesca,also beautiful,vulnerableto the trap that has been set forher.When a maid pointsto Paolo througha window,indicating himas Francesca'sfuturehusband,Francescaimmediately fallsin love. raised by thearrangement Having dealt withtheissues of moral responsibility in Francesca'sfavor,Boccaccio of the marriageand resolvedthemresoundingly turnsto thepart of thestorythatcan onlyrunits preordainedcourse;here,too, he findsampleopportunity to furnishthedetailslackingin Dante's account.Francesca learnsthatshe has been deceivedwhen she awakens themorningafterher weddingand findsGianciottoby herside. She is angry,and continuessteadfastin her love for Paolo: "vedendosi ingannata,isdegnasse,ne percio rimovessedell'animo suo l'amore gia postoviverso Polo" ("Whereuponshe realizedshe had been fooled,and, as can well be believed,she became furious.Nor did the love she had conceivedforPaolo disappear" [p. 316, trans.p. 88]). Boccaccio's Francesca is thus the initiatorof the romancewith her brother-in-law: Boccaccio's desireto legitimizeFrancesca'slaterbehaviorby havingher fallin love withthe man whom she fullyexpectsto be her husband,beforethe marriagehas taken place, causes himto reverseDante's storyon thisimportantpoint,in a movethat securesforFrancescaboth more agencyand less culpability.(The Ottimo commentodoes not need to deviatefromDante in thisway,sinceit is less committed to exculpatingFrancesca.)While Boccaccio is clearthatFrancescais theleaderin thispas-de-deux,he leavesundisclosedthemannerin whichthedancefirstbegins, distancinghimselfin thisregard,too, fromtheauthorof the Ottimotommento, who devotesnearlyhalfof his commentary to describingthecouple's firsterotic encounter: Finalmente standol'unocon l'altrosenzanullasospecione siccomecognati,e leggendo nellacameradelladonnaunlibrodellaTavolaRitonda,nelqualeerascritto comeLancilottoinnamoro dellareinaGinevra, e comepermezzanapersona,cioe GaleottoLoBruno,Signoredell'Isolelontane,ellisi congiunse insiemea ragionare di loroamore,e comeil dettoLancilotto di quelloragionamento pervirtiu conosciuto l'amorosofuoco, fubaciatodallareina;al qualepuntopervegnendo la dettaFrancesca, vinsela forzadi si lordue,chepostogiuil librovennero questotrattato all'attodellalussuria.... (Finallytheyweretogether withoutsuspicionas in-laws,readingin thelady'srooma bookoftheRoundTable,in whichwas written howLancelotfellin lovewithqueen andhowthrough an intermediary, Guenevere, thatis Gallehaut, lordoftheFarIslands, to talkoftheirlove,and howLancelotbyvirtueofthisdiscourse theycametogether knewtheamorousflameand was kissedbythequeen;whenFrancescareachedthis themthatputting pointtheforceofthatstoryso overcame downthebooktheycame to theactoflust..I. Dante and Francescada Rimini 15 Fromthecrisply transparent "venneroall'attodellalussuria,"it is onlya short distanceto theconclusion oftheOttimo'stale:newsoftheindiscretion leaks,a servantalertsGianciotto, Gianciottokillshiswifeand brother together "nella dettacamnera"-her room,theroominwhichtheymetto read.Boccacciogreatly thedeathscene,describing amplifies at length howGianciotto trapstheloversin Francesca's room,whichis boltedfromwithin.Francescagoesto openthedoor, thatPaolo hassuccessfully thinking fledthrough a trapdoor to a roombelow,not realizing thatthefoldofhisjackethascaughton a pieceofiron.Gianciotto runs at his brother withhis rapier,butFrancescaliterally intervenes, placingherself between thetwomen.Gianciotto killshiswife;hethenkillsPaolo. unintentionally The complexstorythatBoccaccioinvented-beginning withitshiigh-spirited heroineand deformed intended, movingthroughthe decisionto deceiveher a proxymarriage and herundeception through on beingwed,and culminating withthedoublekilling ofinterposed wifeandbrother-omits theemotional highpointof theoriginalepisodein Inferno5: themomentwhenthelovers,while readingfromtheLancelotromance, cometo realizethattheyloveeachother, the evokeswiththegreatest theonlymoment moment thatDante'sFrancesca candor, thatDantereallyportrays.27 butwith Boccaccioomitsthisscenenotclandestinely, greatfanfare, inserting himself intothestoryto declarecategorically thathecannotcomment on thispointsincehehasneverheardanything onthissubjectother thanwhatDantewrote,andthatwhileDante'saccountmaybe true,hethinks it morelikelyto be a fiction constructed on thebasisofwhatmight havehappened: Col quale comeella poi si giugnesse, mai nonudi' direse nonquellochel'autorene formata scrive;ilchepossibile6 checosifosse:maio credoquelloesserepiiutostofizione ch6io noncredochel'autoresapesse sopraquellocheerapossibilead essereavvenuto, checos'ifosse.(Boccaccio,Esposizioni,p. 316) (I haveneverheardtellhowtheythengottogether, otherthanwhat[Dante]writes; and it is possiblethatit did happenthatway.ButI believethatit is probablya fiction havehappened; constructed andthattheauthordidnotknow uponwhatmight possibly whatreallytookplace.[Trans.Domandi,p. 88]) and selective retiWhatis at stakeforBoccacciohere?Whatdoes his defiant cence-since on everyotherpointhe adds detailand textureto the Ottimo's simplecanvas-achieve? whichworksto enhance Boccacciosucceedsin an act of multiple distancing, thecredibility ofhisversionofFrancesca's storyoveragainstthoseofhisrivals, as is attested Danteincluded.He thuscreateshimself-very successfully, bythe ofhisstory, contamimmediate andcontinuing a story thathasutterly acceptance inatedthereception ofcanto5-as thecreatorofthecanonicalromanceofFranhimself fromDantebyexcising cesca.He distances theclimaxofDante'saccount, thesceneinscribed mostvividly intothecollective hecastigates memory; moreover, it and openlyimpugnsitscredibility. Danteforincluding He distanceshimself VittorioRusso pointsout thatBoccaccio's suppressionof thispoint is part of his creationof a Francescawho is not surprisedinto lovingbut chooses to love; see "Nuclei e scheminarrativinelle Esposizioni," in "Con le Muse in Parnaso": ?T9estudisu Boccaccio (Naples, 1983), pp. 109-65, at p. 160. 27 16 Dante and Francescada Rimini fromtheOttimoand all previous commentators byimplying thathe learnedthe and orallyandnotfroma priorwritten source.28 He goesright storyfirsthand to thethreshold ofthecrucialscene,specifying thatFrancescadoesnotremoveher lovefromPaolowhensherealizesthatsheis married to Gianciotto. Butas tohow Francesca wasfirst unitedwithPaolo,Boccacciorefuses tocomment. subsequently theloversthrough WheretheOttimofollowsDantein uniting theirreadingtoofLancelotand Guenevere gether (andthenmakesexplicit the"attodi lussuria" thatDanteleavesunspoken), Boccaccioputsa marker, a redflag,andthenpicks whenGianciotto leavestown. up withthemoment The scenethatBoccaccioomitsis powerfully a miseen abymewhere specular, readersreadingaboutpassion. ourpassionsareengagedas we readofpassionate Perhapsdeciding thatDante'sversion ofthatscenewouldalwaysbethestrongest, Boccaccioharnesses itspowerindirectly, byrefusing to add to theonlyscenethat Dantehad previously portrayed. Boccaccioalso harnesses thepowerofDante's textbyopposingit;bytakinghisstandagainstall thatreadingand textualityall that"fizioneformata"-hecastshimself as the scrupuloushistorian who worksfromoral sources.The others,theones who invent,are thewriters of he includesnothing in hisaccountthathe cannotverify. romances; However, the salutarywordsthathe appliesto Dante'slove scene-"non credoche l'autore sapesseche cosi fosse"-cannotbe appliedto his own account.The resultof Boccaccio'scannyandaggressive moveis to emerge as theshaperofthecanonical and definitive-and romanticized-Francesca. definitively in Francesca's Boccacciobetrays a particular emotionalinvestment His story. useoftheword"procuratore" forPaolo pointsto thetalismanic significance that Francesca'sstorypossessedfora writerwho cotitledhis greatwork"prencipe to thesame "princeGallehaut"who servedas Lancelot's Galeotto,"referring to Guinevere, and withwhomFrancescaidentified thebook agent(procuratore) thatjoinedherto Paolo: "Galeottofu'1libroe chilo scrisse."As theauthorof "il librochiamatoDecameron Galeotto"("thebookcalled cognominato prencipe Decameronalso knownas PrinceGallehaut"),Boccacciofashions himself intoa ofthewordand alludesto theliberating procuratore poweroflanguage-that ultimatego-between-inthe livesof the disenfranchised, the synecdochically womento whomhe addressestheDecameron,viewedas so manyFrancescas. 28 I agree completelywith Torraca's statement that "Al raccontodel Boccaccio si e fattotroppo onore attribuendoglivalore storico;e una novella" ("II canto V dell'Inferno,"p. 416). He argues compellinglyboth forthe impossibility of Boccaccio's story(forinstance,thatit was impossiblefor Francescanot to have knownwho Paolo was, and to whom he was marriedwhen "Appuntoper la contea di Ghiaggiolo,Paolo aveva avuto una litecon il Capitolo di Ravenna" [p. 414]), and forthe evidentromanceprecedentsforBoccaccio's plot (e.g., Tristan,who marriesIseult as Mark's proxy, whileIseultbelievessheis genuinelymarrying Tristan).Quaglio nonethelessviewsBoccaccio'spersonal intrusionintothe accountas thecautionof a scrupuloushistorian("Francesca da RiminitraDante e Boccaccio," pp. 18-19), thisdespitethefactthatBoccaccio'sfictionsare repletewithsimilarrhetorical techniques.BothVittorioRusso and JonathanUsherspeak to thenovella-likestrategies thatBoccaccio carriesoverfrompreviousfictionsto his treatment of Francesca;Russo concentrateson parallelswith the Decameron (see "Nuclei e scheminarrativinelle Esposizioni,"pp. 154-65), whileUsherdemonstrateslinksto the Filocolo (see "Paolo and Francescain the Filocolo and theEsposizioni," Lectura Dantis: A ForumforDante Researchand Interpretation 10 , 22-33). Dante and Francescada Rimini 17 The implicitstrengthof Dante's Francesca,who speaks and does not weep, in markedcontrastto her man, who weeps and does not speak, is unpacked by Boccaccio, who bestowson Francescaan "altieroanimo" thatmakes her capable-like his own Ghismonda-of liberatingbut fatal choices.29The appeal of such a characterforBoccaccio,who createdso manywomencapable of standing theirgroundin a male world,is evident.His additionto the Ottimo'sdescription of Francesca is telling,since it underscoresFrancesca'sidentity, her selfhood"Voi dovete sapere chi e vostrafigliuola,e quanto ell'e d'altieroanimo"-and lets us know that the strengthof this selfis such as to withstandany formof coercion:"e se ella vede Gian Ciotto avantiche '1 matrimoniosia perfetto, ne voi -nealtripotra mai fareche ella il voglia per marito" (Esposizioni,p. 315; italics mine).Moreover,Francesca'sappeal is now universalized, so thatforthefirsttime in thestory'stransmission we learnthatGianciotto,too, adoredhiswife:"avvenne quello che eglinon arebbevoluto" ("And thushappenedwhathe would not have wanted"), writesBoccaccio of themomentwhen he accidentallykillsher,adding thatGianciottois "turbato. . . si come colui che piiuche se medesimoamava la donna" ("distressed,as one who loved thewoman morethanhis veryself" [Esposizioni,p. 317]). WiththisFrancesca'sapotheosisas a fullyromanticizediconis complete,leaving heronlyto be accordedthe burialin one tombwithPaolo thatawaits theDecameron's star-crossed lovers.At thesame time,however,thatBoccaccio heightens the romanticelementof the story,he does not neglectits quotientof realpolitik. He takes care to remindus that Gianciottoleaves Riminiforpoliticalreasons, writingthat he went to a nearbytown "per podesta" ("as mayor"). And, as I noted earlier,Boccaccio raisesthe politicalstakesof thisstoryby specifying that Francesca'sfatherchose theson-in-lawwhomhe expectedto becomethenextlord ofRimini.In otherwords,thecommentators who mostcapitalizedon theromance elementsof Inferno5, Boccaccio and the Ottimo,did not do so at theexpenseof the historicaland politicalrealitiesthatundergirdFrancesca'sstory.As theirversions show,theyunderstoodherstoryas situatedat thejunctureof two opposed stresses:dynasticrealpolitikon the one hand and the desireforromanceon the and withouther consent,into a other.A woman who was bartered,deceitfully marriagethat was a politicaltransaction,and that she consideredincapable of or happiness,desiredmore;the desireformoregivingherpersonalfulfillment the desireforlove-killed her.The factthat her reasons forbelievingthat she could not love Gianciotto,like her reasons for fallingin love with Paolo-the the beautyof the latter-are superficialby today'sstanuglinessof the former, dardsis not thepoint;thesewereculturallysanctionedreasons,coded normsthat in themselvesreflecta suspectview of women as externalizedbeingswithoutinteriority. Suspect as these normsare, however,theyallow the commentatorsa code in which to expressFrancesca'slegitimatesense of outrage. By the same token,farfromdownplayingthepoliticalaspect of thisnarrative,Boccaccio underscoresit in a bid forsympathyforhis heroine,accentuatingthe brutalityof 29 Russo makes the connectionto Ghismonda,notingsimilarities in of characterthatare reflected identicaldescriptions:"[Francesca] e 'd'altiero animo' cosi come Ghismondae d"animo altiero' " ("Nuclei e scheminarrativinelleEsposizioni,"p. 163). 18 Dante and Francescada Rimini Guido da Polenta'spoliticalschemingand hisconnivingindifference to hisdaughter'swelfare.Her romanticinclinationsare viewedin a moresympathetic and less self-indulgent lightagainstthe backdropof herfather'sunvarnishedcruelty. Let us turnnow to the latentpresenceof the historicalFrancescain the Commedia. Inferno5 revealsits suregripof politicalrealitiesthroughitscast of characters:thegroupof souls to whichFrancescabelongsincludesthreerulingqueens. What Semiramis,empressof Assyria,Dido, founderaridqueen of Carthage,and Cleopatra,queen of Egypt,have in commonis thateach sooneror laterruledin herown right;each was a wielderof power.Theyare all, in thissense,masculine women;thename "Dido" was glossedbyServiusas meaning" 'virago,'a woman who has done somethingmasculine."30Dante calls Semiramis"empressof many tongues"and underlinesthatshe was firstNirius'swifeand thenbecamehis successor,in which capacityshe "held the land that the Sultan now commands": "succedettea Nino e fu sua sposa: / tennela terrache '1 Soldan corregge"(Inf. 5.59-60). Semiramisis thus doublymanlike,firstin beingsuccessorto herhusband and second in holdingthe land now held by the sultan. Semiramisand Francescaare textuallylinkedthroughtheword terra,whichrecursin thiscanto to describethe land of Francesca'sbirth,the citywhose politicalfortunesdeterminedherdestiny, not because she took poweroverit butsimplybecauseshewas born there:"Siede la terradove nata fui...." These are Francesca'sfirstwords, wordsin whichsheidentifies herselfnot byname,as so manycharactersin Dante's poem do, butbytheplace thatdefinesher.The different statusofthesetwowomen is fullyexpressedin theirrelationto the word terra:on the one hand "tennela terra"speaks of agency,power,and possession;on theotherFrancesca'ssenseof selfis mediatedthroughher positionin a familydynastythatrendersher powerless,possessed,and controlled. Dante was astutein takingthe measureof the lords of Romagna, who,were known throughoutEurope for their murderousand treacherousquarrels.31 Amongthe lowesttraitorsin hell is Alberigode' Manfrediof Faenza, the "frate Alberigo"whom Dante calls the "worstspiritof Romagna" ("[il] peggiorespirto 30 MarilynnDesmond,Reading Dido: Gender,Textuality, and theMedieval "Aeneid"(Minneapolis, 1994), p. 83. In hertreatment of Dido in Inferno5, Desmond claimsthatDante allows Dido agency: "But Inferno5 categorizesthe sinnersin the second circleforthe factthattheyallowed theirreason to be overcomeby desire,a contextthat assignsDido the positionof subjectratherthan object of desire" (p. 96). The "intenseengagementwithVirgil'stextand Dido as itsfemaleprotagonist"(p. 97) thatDesmond discernsin canto 5 is a key factorin dictatinga femaleprotagonistforthe canto. In manyrespectsFrancesca,who comes to Dante from"la schieraov'e Dido" (Inf. 5.85), is a modern correlativeof Dido, "che s'ancise amorosa" (Inf.5.61): bothfigurethelinkbetweendesireand death. The two differmostmarkedlyin theirrelationto power;in thiscontextDido comes intoplay as what Francescawas not. 31 See John Larner,The Lords of Romagna: Romagnol Societyand the Origins of the Signorie (Ithaca,N.Y., 1965), pp. 71-72, who writes:"A Frenchlegateofthefourteenth centurydid notscruple to comparethem[theRomagnols]to theEnglish:'so treacherousand extravagant,are they,'he wrote, 'that in feastingand falsehoodtheyare littledifferent fromEnglishmen.But theyare much more cunning,and withno shadow of doubt more intelligent than the English,so thatin reputationand performance, theyhold themonarchyofperfidy amongotherItalians.''An old proverb,'wroteMatteo Villani,'says thatthe Romagnol bears his faithin his breast.One should not be surprisedthatthe tyrantsof Romagna lack faith,sincetheyare bothtyrantsand Romagnols.' " Dante and Francescada Rimini 19 di Romagna"[Inf.33.154]);heheldtheinfamous dinner partyat whichthefruit coursewas thesignalto killhiscousinand otherguests.(As we shallsee,dinner Another Romagnoloamongthe partiesofthissortwerea Romagnoltrademark.) is Tebaldellode' Zambrasi,also ofFaenza,who openedthegatesofhis traitors townto Guelfenemyforces"whileitslept"("ch'apriFaenzaquandosi dormia" [Inf.32.123]).In TheLordsofRomagnaJohnLarnerpointsoutthatTebaldello one Zanbrasina[sic],toTanodiUgolinodiFantolino, "hadmarried hisdaughter of theGuelfleaderswho enteredthetown,and hisfellowcitizensshouldhave to werehardlylikelyto be subordinated realisedthathis new familyinterests interests arerelevant to our idealsofloyalty"(p. 46). Tebaldello's family abstract after Zambrasina, sincetheyeventually coincided withMalatestainterests: -story, therecent widowerGianciotto Malatesta,andborehim beingwidowed,married fivechildren, thusachievingtheuniquestatusof beingwifeof one traitorin ofanother.32 Dante'shelland daughter andtreachmostconsistently linkedbyDantetocruelty TheRomagnoldynasty In Inferno 27's catalogueofRomagnoltyrants Malaeryis theMalatestaclan.33 thefirst and secondlordsof testada Verucchio and hiseldestson Malatestino, in who "makean augeroftheirteeth,"whousetheirteeth, Rimini,aremastiffs bore otherwords,to piercetheirsubjects'fleshas a toolwitha screwpointmight wood. And,whilein canto27 theMalatestaareone ofa groupofcasthrough in canto 28 Dantesinglesthemout,describing at lengthone of tigatedtiranni, Pier thetypical means:betrayal. achievedthrough Malatestino's politicalmurders da Medicina34 tellsthepilgrim to warnthe"twobestmenofFano" thattheyare d'untito be killed"through thetreachery of an eviltyrant"("pertradimento is further described as "thattraitor whosees rannofello"[Inf.28.81]); thetyrant withbutoneeye"("Quel traditor chevedepurconl'uno" [line85])-a reference to Malatestino, who had onlyone eyeand was therefore knownas Malatestino to a dall'Occhio.The menwillbe drowned,saysPiero,afterbeingsummoned a parlamento seco" [line88]); theparconference witlh Malatestino ("faravenirli inin traitorous leyis a particularly tellingdetailsincetheMalatestaspecialized is therhetoric thatDanteemploysforthiscrime.He Alsonoteworthy vitations. as heinousfromoneendoftheMediterinvokesNeptune,whohas seennothing raneanto theother:"Tral'isoladi Ciprie di Maiolica/nonvidemaisi granfallo theislandsofCyprus /nonda pirate,nonda genteargolica"("Between Nettuno, 32 Zambrasina'sfirsthusbandwas Tano (Ottaviano) dei Fantolini,son of theUgolinode' Fantolini whom Guido del Duca apostrophizesin Purgatorio14, callinghim securein his good name because Tebaldello,in 1282, in thebattle of the deathsof his male heirs.He died,along withhis father-in-law of Forli to which Dante refersin Inferno27.43-44. Thus Tebaldello was no longerpursuingany interestswhen his daughtermarriedGianciottocirca 1286. See Torraca,"Le rimembranzedi Guido del Duca," in Studidanteschi,pp. 137-71, esp. p. 168. 33 Ignazio Baldellicomments sui Malatesta (e su chi era that"Dante, per altro,insistespietatamente traditori";see "Dante, i Guidi e i Malatesta," in Annalidella con loro connesso) come naturalmente Scuola Normale Superioredi Pisa, Classe di Letteree Filosofia,series3, 18/3(1988), 1067-70; and Dante e Francesca(Florence,1999). 34 Pierda Medicina has not been clearlyidentified; it is interesting to notethatBenvenutoindirectly who used negotiationsbetween linkshimto Francesca.DepictingPiero as a Romagnoltroublemaker the powerfulas an opportunityto sow discord,Benvenutooffersan extendednarrativeof Piero's warningMalatesta da VerucchioagainstGuido da Polentaand vice versa. 20 Dante and Francescada Rimini and MajorcaNeptuneneversaw so greata crime,notbypiratesnorbyArgolic hereis a kindofinfernal pendanttohis horror folk"[Inf.28.82-84]). Neptune's amazement at theendoftheParadiso,in a passagewheretheearlier"genteartheship,theArgo:"la 'mpresa/ che f6Nettuno golica" are recalledthrough thatmadeNeptunewonderat the ammirarl'ombrad'Argo"("the enterprise betweenthesepassages shadowof theArgo"[Par.33.95-96]). The similarities ofMalatestino, whichbecomesa on thetreachery confera striking importance retrospective emblemforhell. is mostcompreof Romagnaas thecradleof Italiantyranny The indictment 27's catalogueoftheregion's principal preciseinInferno hensiveand historically as response toGuidoda Montefeltro's query"dimmi towns,offered bythepilgrim havepeaceor war" hanpace o guerra"("TellmeifRomagnoles se Romagnuoli war in theheartsofits is free of [Inf.27.28]). Romagna notand has neverbeen Dante says-"Romagna tua non e, e non fumai, /sanza guerrane' cuor tyrants, de' suoi tiranni"(lines37-38)-alluding withtheword "tiranni"to theprocess Larnerdescribesas "the breakdownof thecommunesthroughfactions,and the governments."35 firststagesin theslow emergenceofthesignorie,or single-person P. J.Jones,in TheMalatestaofRiminiand thePapal State,callsRomagna"the provincemostearlyaddictedto despots" and says that"its chronicwar [Dante] rightlysees as the feudingof tiranni."36 The Inferno'scatalogue of Romagnol towns,or despotisms,beginswith Francesca'snatal Ravenna and thenliststhe others,not as theyfollowthe Via Emilia runningalong the Apenninefoothills, butratherin theorderForli,Rimini,Faenza, Imola, and Cesena;37thelast'sfragile communeallows Dante to circle back fromindividualtyrantsto tyrannyas a genericcursewiththe verse "tra tiranniasi vive e stato franco"("[Cesena] lives betweentyrannyand freedom"[line54]). He conjuresthetownsthrougha comthesignorial binationofgeographical,historical,dynastic,and heraldicreferences; with of arms. animals associated their coats familiesare figuredby predatory The Polenta are representedby an eagle thatbroods over Ravenna and covers nearbyCervia,too, withitswings:"l'aguglia da Polentala si cova, /si che Cervia ricuopreco' suoi vanni" (Inf. 27.41-42). Benvenutoda Imola, who writeswith particularauthorityabout his home province,considerstheeagle a symbolof the Polenta family'sbeneficent rule and a complimentto Guido Novello da Polenta (Dante's host duringhis finalyears),and it is truethatthe eagle's wingsare less 35 Larner,The Lords of Romagna,pp. 1-2. As LarnerdescribesRomagna: "The collapse ofimperial power,which had neverbeen strong,the failureof Bologna (1248-78), and thenof the papacy,to dominatethe province,meantthattherewas no centralauthorityto bringorderin place of anarchy. By the end of the thirteenth century, leadersof the factionshad obtainedfullcontrolof theirtowns, and had begunto dominatethemthroughtheircommunalmachinery. These men can be called 'tyrants"' (p. 77). 36 P. J. Jones,The Malatesta of Riminiand the Papal State: A PoliticalHistory(Cambridge,Eng., 1974), p. 11. 37 Ravenna is the only major town of Romagna not on the Via Emilia,the Roman road thatruns fromRiminion the Adriaticalong the line of the Apenninefoothillstoward Bologna. Dante's geographicalprecisionleads himto includethreeof the fiveriversof whichLarnerwrites:"To meetthe townsupon theroad, fiveriversflowedfromthemountains:theMarecchia,Savio, Montone,Lamone, and Santerno"(p. 2). Dante and Francescada Rimini 21 ferocious-if no less restrictive-thanthe "greenclaws" of theOrdelaffiof Forli or the "younglion" who representsthe lord of Faenza. It is also true,however, thatthePolentanibehavedmuchas theotherdespotsin theregion.Thus,Jones's accountof theirriseto power: "Politicallytheyrose firstas clientsof theTraverof sari,sharinga place by 1215 in thecouncilof thecommunewithmembership the episcopal curia; and with the 'pars Traversariorum'theycontinuedto long collaborate afterits fall in 1240, in oppositionto the Ghibellinecounts of Bagnacavallo. But eventually, in theway of all Italian faction,the partydivided.In 1274 theTraversariwereexpelled;and thefollowingyearthePolenta,armedwith in Ravenna, outsidehelp (fromtheMalatesta), seizedpower (dominium)forcibly at the same timetakingComacchio" (p. 18). This bit of historyis particularly relevantto our story,for the year in which the Polenta, with the help of the Malatesta,seizedpowerin Ravennawas 1275, thesameyearin whichthealliance of the two ambitiousdynastieswas furtherreinforcedthroughthe marriageof Francescada Polentato GianciottoMalatesta.38 However we read Dante's image of the Polenta eagle, therecan be no doubt thathe reserveshis mostsanguinaryand menacingdescriptionfortheMalatesta: "E '1 mastin'vecchio e '1 nuovo da Verrucchio,/ che fecerdi Montagna il mal governo,/ la dove soglion fan d'i dentisucchio" (Inf. 27.46-48).39 And, while Ravenna is describedas politicallystable("Ravenna sta come statae molt'anni"; thatlends "Ravenna is as ithas beenformanyyears"[line40]), a characterization authorityto Polenta rule,the terceton Riminifixeson the foundationalact of treacherythroughwhich,in 1295, Malatesta da Verucchioconsolidatedhis family'spower overthecity.Essentially, theMalatesta seized dominionby becoming theParcitadi,an old Guelfand defeatingthefamilyalignedwiththeGhibellines,40 and powerfulimperialist clan thatMalatestada Verucchiodidnothesitateto crush despitehis connectionto it throughhis firstwife.41The leader of the Parcitadi treatso evilly.In factionwas theMontagna de' Parcitadiwhom Dante's mastiffs 38 "It was probablyat thistime, as a seal to thealliance of theda Polentaand theMalatesti, thatFrancesca,daughterof Guido da Polenta,marriedGiovanniScianciotto,'theLame,' son ofMalatesta da Verucchio"(Larner,The Lords of Romagna, p. 37). For a more detailedaccount of Guido Minore's riseto power,see AugustoTorre,I Polentanifinoal tempodi Dante (Florence,1966), pp. 73-76. 39 "And the old mastiff and the new of Verucchio,who dealt withMontagna so evilly,make their alone among theanimalsin thecatalogueseem teethinto augerswheretheyare wont." The mastiffs not to be connectedto the family'scoat of arms,makingthe choice on the partof the poet themore noteworthy. 40 One should bear in mindthat,in the contextof Romagna, "theTuscan terms'Guelf' and 'Ghibelline,' with theirideological undertones,[were] later and adventitious"(Jones,The Malatesta of Riminiand the Papal State,pp. 14-15); " 'Ghibelline'and 'Guelf' were names withoutpoliticalor social significance"(Jones,p. 19). 41 Malatesta da Verucchio'sfirstwife (and motherof fiveof his children,includingMalatestino, daughteroftheimperialvicecomesofRomagna. Gianciotto,and Paolo) was Concordia di Enrichetto, On hermother'sside she was a Parcitade.See Massera, "Note malatestiane,"esp. pp. 3-20, "Le mogli di Malatesta da Verucchio."Joneswritesthat,although"[Concordia's] marriagewithMalatesta da Verucchio[was designed]in orderto preventthe defectionof Malatesta to the Guelfs,"it was not successfulin that regardand that "Concordia's death about 1265 was soon to removewhat frail restraintupon hostilityshe may have been" (The Malatesta of Riminiand thePapal State,p. 30). 22 Dante and Francescada Rimini theirquarrelwiththeMalatesta theParcitadiappealed forhelpto thegreatGhibellinewarlordand leader in Romagna, Guido da Montefeltro,who "had longpersonaland public,"withtheMalatesta.42Accordingto the standingdifferences, Cronaca malatestiana,the followersof both facanonymousfourteenth-century tions were barricadedin the streetsof Rimini,while the Parcitadiawaited the arrivalof Guido. Takingadvantageof a disturbancecaused bytheattemptoftwo asses to mate,Malatesta made a falsepeace withhis opponents,so that "miser Parcitadowroteto theConte Guido thankinghimand explainingthatpeace had been made so thatforthepresenthe need not come" ("miserParcitadorescrisse al conteGuido rengraziandoloe dicendocomo aveva factopaxe, si che al presente la sua venutanon era de bisogno").43Malatesta thenhid a portionof his troops in his house and lefttown with the remainder,but he went only threemiles, returnedthatnight,and killedhis rivalsas theysoughtto flee. The hybridnatureof what we call historyis beautifullyexemplifiedby the presenceof Benvenuto'scommentaryto Inferno27 in historicalreconstructions of the Malatesta takeoverof Rimini:thusJones'saccount of the imprisonment and deathof Montagna de' Parcitadirelieson Benvenuto'sgloss to Dante's verse "che fecerdi Montagna il mal governo."44 And,at thesame timethatthecontaminatednatureof historycomes into focus,we also see theremarkableand unexploitedhistoricaldensityof Dante's poetry;thedrama of Guido da Montefeltro's falseconversionin the latterpartof canto 27, forinstance,is ripefora reexaminationthatreadshis storyagainstthecanto'searlierprobingofRomagnolhistory. thattakes Thereis, to myknowledge,no readingofDante's Guido da Montefeltro intoaccounthiscrucialrolein a historicalprocessthatDante deplored:ofGuido's of local intoregional impacton Romagna,Joneswritesthatthe "transformation signoriawas mainlythe work of one man."45By the same token,thereis no thefactthatwhenthepilgrim,speakingto Guido da readingthatreallyconfronts Montefeltro,refersto the "lunga prova" enduredby Forli beforeit reducedthe to eventsin whichhistorians Frenchto a "sanguinosomucchio,"he is referring thecentral-indeed epic-role.46 Butthat assignthatsame Guido da Montefeltro Jones,The Malatesta of Riminiand thePapal State,p. 38. A translationof thechronicle'saccountof 13 December1295 is inJones,The MalatestaofRimini and thePapal State,p. 39; theoriginalis in Cronaca malatestiana,ed. Aldo FrancescoMassera,Rerum ItalicorumScriptores,15/2(Bologna, 1922), pp. 5-7 (thequoted sentenceis on p. 6). 44 See Jones,The Malatesta of Riminiand the Papal State, p. 40; see also Larner,The Lords of Romagna,p. 53, n. 53. 45 Jones,The Malatesta of Riminiand the Papal State,p. 17. For the "long conflictbetweentk& untilthe end of the cenMalatesta and Guido da Montefeltro, whichwas to continueintermittently tury,"see Jones,pp. 33-34. Even the imageryof canto 27 can be contextualizedwith respectto contemporary politics:forinstance,Jonesmentionsa Ghibellinepoem that "sets out to contrastthe two captains,Guido 'leone' and Malatesta da Verucchio'veltro"' (p. 34); in Inferno27 Malatesta is ratherthan a veltro,while Guido famouslysays thathis deeds "non furonleonine,ma di a mastiff, volpe" (p. 75). 46 Forli is "the citythatalreadystood long trialand made of the Frencha bloodyheap" ("La terra che fegia la lungaprova /e di Franceschisanguinosomucchio" [Inf.27.43-44]). I am notsuggesting thatDante views Guido da Montefeltro'sleadershipat Forlinegatively;rather,the historicalcontext revealsto what degreeGuido is a complexly"epic" figure,more like Ulysses,his companionin the bolgia of fraudulentcounselors,thanwe realize.The mosthistoricallyastutereadingof canto 27 to 42 43 Dante and Francescada Rimini 23 is a different storyfromthe one thatI am tracing,albeitconnectedto it because of theconnectionsbetweenall thetyrantsof Romagna: theywereeitherallied,as weretheGuelfPolentaniwiththeGuelfMalatesta,or theywereenemies,as were Malatesta da Verucchioand Guido da Montefeltro. This is theculturalbackdropagainstwhichFrancescada Polentaplayeda historicallyinsignificant role. On thisbrutalstage,shewas thesmallestofbitplayers. Of the familyfromwhichshe emergedLarnerwrites,"[T]he treacheriesamong the da Polenta familyassume at timesthe scale and improbability of Victorian melodrama";of thefamilyintowhichshe marriedhe continues,"The same murIf we followthefortunesof derousquarrelswere to splittheMalatestifamily."47 theMalatesta in theyearsfollowingMalatesta da Verucchio'sdeathin 1312, we finda clan rivenby rivalriesand addictedto the use of treacheryforresolving problemsof succession.Malatesta da Verucchio'seldest son, Malatestino dall'Occhio, was secondlord of Rimini,followedbyhis halfbrotherPandolfo(a son ofMalatesta da Verucchio'ssecondmarriage),who was thirdlordofRimini.After contestedamongMaMalatestinoand Pandolfo,sole ruleof Riminiwas fiercely latestada Verucchio'sgrandsons,the cousinsFerrantino(son of Malatestinodall'Occhio), Ramberto(son of Gianciotto),and Malatesta (son of Pandolfo).Following the sinisterfamilyetiquetteof issuing invitationsand then killingthe relativeswho showed up, ascendancywas ultimatelywrestedby Pandolfo'sson Malatesta,who was giventhename "Guastafamiglia"forhis labors.48 Historycould notprovidea moreappropriateglossto Francesca'sverse"Caina lord fifth attendechi a vitaci spense" thanthenameofMalatesta Guastafamiglia, of Rimini,whose ruthlesswillingnessto destroyhis family-guastare la famiglia-established the supremacyof his line. If Gianciottois destinedforCaina, named forthe firstfratricide, it is because his was a crimenot of passion but of betrayal,not hot but cold. Francesca'sindictmentof her husband has troubled readers,who have oftentakenit as an anomalous expressionof deplorablevindictivenesson thepartof an otherwiserefinedand "feminine"nature;some have claimedthatDante was undulyharshtowardGianciotto,notingthatthecontemto wrongedhusbandsand punishesuxporaryItalian penal code is sympathetic oricidemuchmoremildlythanDante.49However,ratherthanindicatingFrancemyknowledgeis FrancescoTorraca's;see "II canto XXVII dell'Inferno,"in Studidanteschi,pp. 30546, and also "II sanguinosomucchio,"in Studidanteschi,pp. 109-21. It is not coincidentalthatthe two cantosto whichTorraca,a studentof Romagna,devotesin-depthreadingsare Inferno5 and 27; theseare, withPurgatorio14 (see n. 32 above), thecantos of Romagna. 47 Larner describesthe quarrelsfor successionamong the PolentaniafterDante's death,first the amongOstasio's oustingofDante's patron,Guido Novello,byhiscousinOstasio,and thenthefighting sons; see The Lords of Roinagna,pp. 68-69. 48 AftertellingMalatesta Guastafamiglia's story,Massera notes of his moniker:"Cosi era meritamentesoprannominato'communiter'Malatesta" (see "Note malatestiane,"p. 48, n. 2). 49 Corrado Ricci, writing in 1891, wonderswhy Gianciottois not pitiedratherthan condemned, and notes that he would be absolved by "today's tribunals": "Perche tanta pieta per la coppia d'Ariminoe nemmenouna scusa per la giusta vendettadi Gianciotto?Perchecondannarequesto disgraziato,che i tribunalid'oggi assolverebbero,con una frasecruda e spietataad esserfittonel duro gelo della Caina, mentreal fratelloche l'oltraggi6nell'onoresi concede anche oltretombadi stare insiemea Francesca?" (L'ultimorifugiodi Dante, p. 119). As recentlyas 1965 Nevio Matteiniclaims Italianpenal code, which,he says, indulgenceforbetrayedhusbandsand commendsthecontemporary 24 Dante and Francescada Rimini thestatement"Caina attendechi a vitaci spense" can be seen sca's vindictiveness, Malatesta pracappraisal of entrenched a lucid and clear-sighted as constituting tice: thisis a familyin whichfamilymemberskilledeach otherwithharrowing and thehistory Again,Inferno5 is tellingus somethingabout history, regularity. of Malatesta da Verucchio'sgrandsonsprovidesthe most compellinggloss to Dante's words,fornot onlydid GianciottokillPaolo, but Gianciotto'sson killed Paolo's son. The struggleforpoweramongthecousinswas so fierce,and betrayal thatGianciotto'sson Rambertowould eventuallyinvitePaolo's son so customary, Uberto to dinnerand there,in concertwith other familymembers,have him killed.50 In thisculturalcontextthe murderof Francescada Polenta in Malatesta was not a seriousmatter.As we have alreadyseen,it did not preventGianciottofrom and producingheirs.Francesca'sone child,her daughterConcordia, remarrying In fact,Francesca'sdeathincurredfewerpolitical was ofno politicalimportance.51 consequencesfortheMalatesta thanPaolo's murder:Paolo's heirs,thecountsof Ghiaggiolo,remainedpoliticallyhostileto the Malatesta of Rimini,52while the withthe Malatesta.s3In Francesca's Polentanicontinuedto ally and intermarry "La coscienza umana e le stesseleggiscritte would sentenceGianciottoto fouryears'imprisonment: riconosconouna certaindulgenzaai maritiquando, nel cospettoe nell'ira,lavano col sanguela gravisa Gianciottola pena della reclusionea quattro sima ingiuria.I1 codice italiano di oggi irrogherebbe anni circa (art. 587 e art. 62 bis)" (Francescada Rimini:Storia,mito,arte,p. 87). Matteinigoes on to explainthatthechurch,too, was less severetowarduxoricidethanDante. 50 Larner describesthe event: "Uberto, Count of Giaggiolo, son of Paolo Malatesta, came into conflictwithMalatestinodell' Occhio overthepossessionof Cesena. In 1324, he was treatingsecretly with his cousin Ramberto,the son of GiancottoMalatesta, on means by whichtheymightdeprive Pandolfoof his rulein Rimini.ButUbertowas foolishto trusttheson oftheman who had murdered his own father.On 21 January,Rambertoinvitedhim to his castle at Ciolaradi, near Roncofreddo, and had himmurderedas he dined,bythreebastardsof thefamily"(The Lords of Romagna,pp. 6970). 51 Toninidisputesthe existenceof a son named Francesco(included,however, byVasina in theED will;.see Della storia entryforGianciotto),and in factonly Concordia is named in hergrandfather's civilee sacra riminese,3:256. Toninialso suggeststhatConcordia'sname is in honorofMalatesta da Verucchio'sfirstwife(3:259). 52 In 1269 Paolo marriedOrabile,the daughter and heirof thelast countof Ghiaggiolo.As a result Paolo's heirswere the counts of Ghiaggiolo,and, as Joneswrites:"His prematuredeath, and the and hostility mannerof it,wereto makehis principallegacyto theMalatesta ofRiminitheresentment oftheneighbouring countsofGhiaggiolo"(The MalatestaofRiminiand thePapal State,p. 37). During the Malatesta battlesforsuccession,Paolo's son Uberto,countof Ghiaggiolo,allied himselfwiththe Ghibellines.As we have seen (n. 50 above), he was killedby the Malatesta in the standardfashion; Jonesnotesthat"he lefta son, Ramberto,to carryon thefeud" (p. 56). 53 Historianspay lip serviceto the idea of a rupture betweenthe Polentaniand theMalatesta over Francesca'sdeathbut offerno proof;one has theimpressionthattheyare projectingwhattheybelieve historianof Ravenna Girolamo should have happened.Thus Torre,followingthe sixteenth-century Rossi (who adhered,as was common,to the 1289 date of deathforFrancescathatwe now know to be impossible),writes:"All'anno 1289 e precisamente alla secondameta. .. il Rossi assegnal'uccisione di Francescada Riminie quindi la rotturadell'amiciziafrai Polentanie i Malatesti,rotturache non potevaprotrarsimolto,data la coincidenzadegliinteressipolitici"(I Polentanifinoal tempodi Dante, p. 106). Larner,too, assumes the ruptureand writes,providingno explanation,"In March 1290 Malatesta made peace withthe da Polenta,on the issue of Francesca'smurder"(The Lords of Romagna,p. 53). Dante and Francescada Rimini 25 own generationtherewas a double intermarriage betweenthePolentaniand the Malatesta: her brotherBernardinoda Polenta was marriedto Maddalena Malatesta,a daughterofMalatesta da Verucchio,and was a usefulallyto theMalatesta, helpingthemto subdue the castle of Sogliano in 1312, long afterFrancesca's death.54Bernardino'sson, Ostasio, who took controlof Ravenna fromhis cousin Guido Novello byforce(bothmenwerenephewsof Francesca),was a strongally of Malatesta Guastafamiglia;it was with the help of Ostasio da Polenta that Guastafamigliawas able to completehis work againstthe descendantsof Malatestinodall'Occhio, imprisoningFerrantinoand murderinghis son and grandson.55 -My pointabout theinsignificance of Francescain thishistoryis made indirectly but decisivelyby the chronicles.The "firstand most authoritative chroniclerof Rimini"is, as we have seen,thefourteenth-century historianMarco Battagli,who composed "On the Originsof theMalatesta" ("De originedominorumde Malatestis")in 1352.56Battaglialludes to the eventin whichFrancescadied without namingher,indeed withoutacknowledgingher existence,except as an implicit cause of Paolo's death,whichoccurred"causa luxurie": "Paulus autemfuitmortuus per fratremsuum JohannemZottum causa luxurie" ("Paolo was killedby his brotherGiovannithe Lame, on account of lust"). Paolo's death is registered because it affectsthe succession,and the sentencereferring to it is sandwiched betweenothereventsof Malatesta dynasticsuccession: DominusautemMalatestavixitannisC et plus;cui successerunt Malatestinus et Pandolfus.Paulusautemfuitmortuus suumlohannem Zottumcausa luxurie. perfratrem indominiopostea Qui Paulushabuitindotemcomitatum Glazoli.MortuoMalatestino successit Pandulfus. (LordMalatestalivedonehundred yearsand more;to himsucceeded Malatestino and Pandolfo.Paolo was killedbyhisbrother GiovannitheLame,on accountoflust.The samePaolo received in dowrythecountyof Ghiaggiolo. On thedeathofMalatestino Pandolfosucceeded as lord.... )57 54Jones, The Malatesta of Rimnini and the Papal State, p. 48. The grandson of Malatestino dall'Occhio was marriedto the daughterof Guido Novello. See Massera, "Note malatestiane,"p. 30; Jones,p. 56 n; and Larner;The Lords of Romagna,p. 70. 55 "At the beginningof June1334 Malatesta Guastafamiglia, in concertwithOstasio da Polenta, suddenlyseized Ferrantino,his son Malatestinoand his grandsonGuido, and confinedthemto the castle of Gradara. Ferrantinowas later released in January1336, but the otherswere removedto Fossombroneand thereput to death" (Jones,The Malatestaof Rimnini and thePapal State,p. 60). For a fulland movingdescriptionof theseeventsand theongoingstruggleofFerrantino's surviving grandson, FerrantinoNovello, see Massera, "Note malatestiane,"esp. pp. 32-48, "La guerramalatestiana nel contado di Riminideglianni 1334-1343." 56 Massera calls Battagli's"la prima e piiuautorevolecronaca riminese"in "Note malatestiane," p. 3. 57 Marcha, p. 31. BenjaminKohl's assessment, as expressedto me in a letter,thatBattaglihereis "clearlyreportingpoliticalanecdotesfromtheRomagna" seemsfullyjustified.At thesame time,one wonderswhetherBattagli'schoice ofwords,especiallythetechnicalreference to luxuria,mightnotbe influencedby Dante's placementof Paolo and Francescain his Inferno.This is thepassage thatelicits Massera's note: "E' questa la notiziapiuiantica della tragediache ci rimanga,eccezionfattadei commentatoridell'Inferno,in fontistoriche"(p. 31). 26 Dante and Francescada Rimini Like Battagli,theauthorof the Cronaca malatestianarefersto thekillingofPaolo and Francescain passing;while at least accordingFrancescaa role in thedrama, to hermerelyas wife,"la donna sua": he, too, dispenseswithhername,referring et era tantoamato,chenonse poria signored'Arimino, Fo factoel dittoMalatestino trovoPauloso contare.Acaddecaso cos'ifacto,ch'eldittoZannesancadosuo fratello fratello conla donnasua etabelomortosubito,luie la donnasua. Malatestino wasmadelordofRimini, andhewasmorelovedthan (Theaforementioned Giannithelame, It happenedthathisbrother, theaforementioned one couldrecount. killedhim,himandhislady.)58 withhisladyandimmediately foundPaolo hisbrother Francesca,then,was preservedby Dante, who recordshername and saves her fromconsignmentto historicaloblivion.She became a culturaltouchstoneand of the fifthcanto of the Inferno,a text referencepointthroughthe intervention thatboth conjuresthe historythatwe have been tracingand invertsit,givingto Francescaa dignityand a prominence-a celebrity-thatin real lifeshe did not possess. In real lifeherdeathwas less importantthanthatof Paolo, who was yet the least importantof Malatesta da Verucchio'ssons, promptingJonesto note, "He was less activethantheothermembersof his family,"and to commentthus and the on the difference betweenPaolo and his brothers:"The mostresourceful mostconsistentallies of Malatesta da Verucchiowerehis othersons,Malatestino dall'Occhio (the One-eyed)and Gianciotto,both of whom were warriors,ambitious,able and ruthless,as portrayedin the pages of Dante, and one or otherof themwas always presentwithhim at the criticalmomentsin his riseto power" (p. 37). Dante capturesthe lesserpoliticalprofileof thehistoricalPaolo in canto 5's muteand ineffectual weeper;moreover,hisstoryof loversambushedand murderedin a privateand presumablysafe place-"soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto" ("alone we were and withoutsuspicion" [Inf.5.129])-is a chillingevocation of the Malatesta habit of familialexecution.But the energyand forceof Dante's Francescaare whollyincompatiblewiththelow dynasticstatusand faint politicalresonanceof the historicalFrancesca,who is named in familyand contemporarydocumentsonlyonce, withrespectto herdowry.The dynasty'sfounding patriarchMalatesta da Verucchio,who died in 1312 at age one hundred, mentionsFrancesca'sdowryin his will of 1311, wherehe enjoinsConcordiaand herfivehalfsiblings(thechildrenof Gianciottoand Zambrasina) to resolveamicablyany issuesrelatingto theinheritanceof Francesca'sdowry.59This reference to Francesca,in which she existsonly in functionof her dowry-"pro dotibus olim dominaeFrancischae"("regardingthedowryof thelate ladyFrancesca") is theonlyhistoricaldocumentto recordhername. 58 The quotation is frompage 8. It is worthnotingthat the author of the Cronaca malatestiana of Montagna he approvinglyciteson page 7. certainlyknewDante, whose verseson thetreatment 59AugustoVasina citesfromMalatesta's will in the entry"Concordia Malatesta" (ED 3:783). The sectionthat names Francesca reads: "pro dotibus olim dominae Francischaeab eo receptis,uxoris olim lohannis dictisui filiiet matrisdictae dominae Concordiae" ("regardingthe dowryof the late lady Francesca,wifeof the late aforementioned Johnhis son and motherof the aforementioned lady Concordia,thattheyhave receivedfromhim"). The entirewill may be foundin Tonini,Della storia civilee sacra riminese,4 (Rimini,1880), appendixpp. 21-35; discussionof the will is on pp. 27779. Dante and Francescada Rimini 27 Francesca'sname thus becomes the hallmarkof Dante's achievement,forthe name thatis missingfromthe local chroniclesand contemporary historiesis the onlyname connectedto thisstorythatInferno 5 sees fitto registerand preserve, inscribedforall time-all history-intothegreatpoem: "Francesca,i tuoimartirn I is thisdisparitybetweenreal lifeand Dante's poem-between absence in . ."Jt the formerand presencein thelatter-that allows a genderedview of canto 5 to come into focus,not the spuriouslygenderedreadingwherebyFrancesca'ssex takes her offthe moral hook, but a truegenderedreadingbased on her:herhistoricalexistence,heridentity, hername. Again,letme make perfectly clearthatI am notarguingagainstthenongenderedreadingoftheepisode.Francescasignifies thienexus of desireand death forany reader,male or female.She raisesissuesof moralagencyand responsibility forany reader,male or female.The male pilgrim faintsat thecanto'send because he is likeFrancesca,not because he is unlikeher. Textually,this identityis reinforcedby Francesca'suse of language taken from love poetrythatwas read by-and even writtenby-Dante. As a representation of the Cavalcantianlove thatleads to death,as a figurewhose "Amor condusse noi ad una morte" echoes Cavalcanti's "Di sua potenza segue spesso morte," Francescais not gendered.Rather,she is the avatar of a persona thathad been Dante's own.60 And yetFrancescais not casually female;her story,as Dante delineatesit, is profoundlygendered.The storyis thatof a woman trappedbetweenthepatriarchal cohstraintsof an arrangeddynasticmarriagein whichpersonalfulfillment is utterlyirrelevantand her desiresforromanticlove, that is, fora love thatshe perceivesas takingaccount of and respondingto her unique personhood.The factsthatDante chose to tell Francesca'sstoryat all and thathe chose to giveit those particularcontoursare extraordinarily significant, since he therebyraises all the genderedand ideological issues connectedto romance.AlthoughJanice Radway,writingabout contemporary romancenovels,maintainsthat"all popular romanticfictionoriginatesin thefailureof patriarchalcultureto satisfyitsfemale in ascertaining whether"theromance members,"she is candidabout thedifficulty should be consideredfundamentally conservativeon the one hand or incipiently oppositionalon the other."61 The Francesca storyoffersa versionof the same dilemma.On theone hand,themedievalromanceis moretrulyoppositionalthan contemporarypopular romancesbecause the femaleheroineis engagingin an optionnot sanctionedbysociety;Francesca'slove affairwithPaolo is notscripted of and so readingabout it cannotbe viewedas a reinforcement by thepatriarchy, patriarchalideology.On theotherhand,thetragicendingensuresthatFrancesca is punished;in thatshe pays forherbid forfreedomwithherlife,and in Dante's textwith damnationas well, the storycan also be seen as ideologicallyconservative. Dante himselfseemsto be conflicted, and to presentus withyetanotherversion of thesame dilemma,foron theone hand he givesFrancesca(historical)life,and on theotherhe condemnsherto (eternal)death.But damnationand punishment 60 61 On the Cavalcantianissuesembeddedin Inferno5, see Barolini,"Dante and Cavalcanti." ReadingtheRomance,citationsfrompp. 151 and 209. 28 Dante and Francescada Rimini mustalso be historicizedand contextualized,and it is importantto bear in mind of lustis in facthighlyunusual: he emphaticallydoes not thatDante's treatment thatare commonin treatFrancescato thedegradingand sexualizedpunishments of lust is exquisitelypsychological, vision literature.62 Rather,Dante's treatment and is centeredon a story,the storyof one woman and her desireforlove. This is the storythatattractsthecommentatorsand to whichtheyrespondwithvoyeuristicfascination,enhancingboth featuresof Dante's Francesca,both hervulis inherentin her job description, nerabilityand her agency.Her vulnerability while her agencytranspiresfromher appropriationof language: she reads, she speaks. It matterslittlefromthisperspectiveif she reads poorly,as criticshave held;63what is importantis the agencyof those activeverbs:"Noi leggiavamo," "leggemmo,""leggemmo."She reads,and by readingshe imaginesa lifeforherfromthe one her familyassigned her.Nor is she confinedto the self different vicariouspleasureof manyfemalereadersof romances,sinceshe acts on whatshe reads.Whateverhisown conflicts mayhave been,theculturalforceofwhatDante For in Francesca,in hercombustiblemixofvulnerability createdwas electrifying. and agency,Dante establishesa paradigmwith a tenacious and enduringhold over our collectiveimagination:the femalefigurewho is both powerlessand deadly-to strong,and who attractsour attentionwithherattempts-ultimately negotiatethatcombination. Dante's treatment oflustis relatively desexualizedin comparison,say,withTundale'sVision(Irish, takestheformof an obscenepreg1149), wherethepunishmentof bothmale and femalefornicators nancy,or Thurkill'sVision(English,1206), wheretheadulterersmustfornicatepubliclyin an infernal see my "Dante and Cavalcanti" fora fullerdiscussionof thisissue. amphitheater; 63 This commonplaceof dantistihas been embracedby feminist scholarsin otherdisciplines.Thus Mary-KayGamel writes:"ObviouslyFrancescais not a well-trained studentof literature. She doesn't finishthework,she misremembers an importantdetail(GuineverekissesLancelot,notviceversa),she is entirely too mimetic"("'This Day We Read is guiltyoftheintentionalfallacy,and herinterpretation No Further':FeministInterpretation and the Studyof Literature,"PacificCoast Philology22 , 7-14). Similarly, Helen Soltererargues: "Women are commonlytypedas literalists-unableto pass beyondtheletterofa text.Fromthescoresofinscribedfemalereadersinromanceto Dante'sFrancesca, theyare presentedas readingpoorly,proneto misunderstanding" (The Masterand Minerva:Disputing Womenin FrenchMedieval Culture[Berkeleyand Los Angeles,1995],p. 4). 62 Teodolinda Barolini is Lorenzo Da Ponte Professorof Italian at Columbia University (e-mail:[email protected]).