| Quote #1
he [Dante] goes in search of liberty – so precious,
Virgil tries to get Cato’s sympathy for Dante’s cause by pleading their common goal of freedom. Dante is attempting to find freedom for his soul – which means a pathway to Heaven – while Cato died for political freedom in Utica. It is for this ideal of political freedom that Cato earns his entry into Heaven, when “the garb [his body]…will be bright on the great day.” Author-Dante sets up political freedom as one aspect of an ideal society.
| Quote #2
[Jacopo del Cassero]: “My home was Fano; but the piercing wounds
Through the character of Jacopo del Cassero, author-Dante castigates Italy for its treachery. Jacopo, chief magistrate of Bologna, earned the jealousy and spite of Azzo VIII d’Este, who wanted that throne for himself. When Jacopo was traveling to Milan to take on another magistracy, Azzo deviously had him wounded and eventually killed. Here, Jacopo describes his desperate flight from his enemies towards Padua, the home of “Antenor’s sons,” where he “thought that [he] was most secure,” but where “he of Este […] had that deed done.” This implies that Antenor, a city named after the betrayer of Troy, betrayed Jacopo as well by plotting with Azzo to kill him. In general, Dante suggests that Italy is not as politically virtuous and unified as it once was.
| Quote #3
But those who are alive within you [Italy] now
In his famous invective against Italy, Dante criticizes his country for its disunity. The entire population of Italy, it seems, is “warring.” These wars – all petty political squabbles – keep Italy from uniting to form a great nation or from tackling greater issues like the corruption of the Church.