Florence is spared, despite losing a battle in 1260 today.
On the 4th September 1260 the Siennese army and supporters of the Emperor, Ghibellines, defeated the larger Florentine army, supporters of the Pope, or Guelphs, at Montaperti.
The battle lasted all day and neither side looked like winning. At the day’s close, an act of treachery(always) saw an opportunist Florentine Guelf walk up to his own Standard Bearer, draw his sword and cut of his arm, so dropping the City’s Standard. This act was seen as an important message and gave the Ghibelline army hope and caused dismay in the Florentine ranks. 10000 were lost and the city of Florence was now at the mercy of the victors. Many of the Ghibellines called for it to be burnt to the ground.
It was not, because one of their great Generals stood up and said no.
He was Farinata degli Uberti.
When Dante came to write his Commedia. He placed both the traitor (and man to whom the battle’s defeat was due) and Farinata in Hell.
The traitor’s name was Bocca degli Abati. He is the 9th Circle, with the lowest of the low. He likens his voice to a bark.
Farinata is in the 6th Circle, because he was an Epicuran, denying the afterlife, instead choosing the life of a hedonist, following earthly pleasures, to the detriment of spiritual ones. Despite condemning him, he is one of only three characters that Dante treats with utter respect, twice calling him magnanimous and allowing him a total contempt of his painful circumstances. He towers over Dante, almost cowering him and speaks very clearly, unlike Bocca and other unworthy characters he portrays.
I love my native city and like Dante respect Farinata for his stance and possible singlehanded stand against his peers. The 10th Canto is my favourite because of this.
How could Farinata be called a hedonist, when he specifically denied himself the pleasure of BURNING florence to the ground!
Great write up btw… keep em coming.
Thank you Garg.
Farinata was a Florentine, not a Barbarian (native of any other Tuscan city). He was probably on the right side, as we know most of our Popes were unscrupulous, barely spiritual leaders, who only furthered their families’ interests.
Dante was exiled from his beloved Florence by Pope Boniface VIII (also in his Inferno, for Simony). He died and is buried in Ravenna.
I will go one day.
The rivalry between cities that goes back to medieval times still exists in Italy. It can be seen in sport nowadays, certainly in football.
I like it. I like how your place of birth can give you a sense of pride.
I never feel better than when I return to Florence and walk the historic streets, see the Palazzo Vecchio, cathedral, the city walls and the river.
I will be there in give weeks. October is a good month too.