by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Politics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto, Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[Marco Lombardo]: “You can conclude: the Church of Rome confounds
two powers in itself; into the filth,
it falls and fouls itself and its new burden.” (Purg. XVI, 127-129)
The popes, who represent “the Church of Rome,” by allowing themselves to be bribed by nobles and princes with their own political agendas, deflect the Church from its duty of maintaining virtue.
[Hugh Capet]: “I found the reins that ruled the kingdom tight
within my hands, and I held so much new-
gained power and possessed so many friends
that, to the widowed crown, my own son’s head
was elevated, and from him began
the consecrated bones of all those kings.
Until the giant dowry of Provence
removed all sense of shame within my house,
my line was not worth much, but did no wrong.
There its rapine began with lies and force;
and then it seized – that it might make amends –
Ponthieu and Normandy and Gascony.” (Purg. XX, 55-66)
The “widowed crown” refers to King Louis V’s inability to produce an heir, resulting in Hugh Capet’s seizure of the throne. Hugh claims his family (the Capetians) ruled justly until “the giant dowry of Provence” – a marriage between the Capetian family and the ruling dynasty of Provence – allowed the Capetians to gain influence in Provence, another province in France. Out of spite, Philip IV the Fair (from the Capetian line) seized “Ponthieu and Normandy and Gascony,” beginning a long series of spats with the Church that ultimately ended with Philip’s seizing of the papacy and his moving it from Rome to Avignon. Here, Hugh Capet blames the families of Provence for the eventual corruption of the Capetian line, but it is not clear that Dante agrees with him.