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Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies

Vol. 1, No. 1, 2005

The Music of Dante’s Purgatorio
by Mimi Stillman Dante’s Commedia resonates with music and sound. Beginning in the Inferno, Dante creates an atmosphere of striking cacophony. There is no real music in the Inferno, just parodies of liturgical hymns and distorted analogies to musical instruments whose infernal dissonance emphasizes the immorality of the region. In the third cantica, Paradiso, Dante journeys through heaven accompanied by the music of the spheres, a mysterious cosmic as well as musical phenomenon. The middle cantica of the Commedia, Purgatorio, is the central part of Dante the pilgrim’s and Virgil’s journey from Inferno to Paradiso. It is the musical bridge between the “anti-music” of Inferno and the celestial music of Paradiso. The music running throughout Purgatorio reinforces the penitential nature of this cantica. Here there are two kinds of music: psalms and hymns voiced by choirs of penitent souls, and troubadour song; both reflect Dante’s moral message. Despite the prevalence of music throughout the text, no comprehensive study of the music of Dante’s Commedia exists that draws on recent scholarship on both the literary aspects of Dante and on current work in trecento musicology. This is surprising because studying the music of the Commedia is fruitful in a number of ways: as another level on which to probe the depths of meaning of Dante’s masterwork; to reveal the philosophical and metaphysical underpinnings of his musical thought in relation to Christian and Classical authorities; and as a valuable insight into the music and performance practices of fourteenth-century Italy. The Commedia has a lot to tell us about the growth of polyphony, a momentous development in the history of music. Northern Italy in Dante’s time was a center for cross-cultural musical influences and for the birth of a new style of more complex polyphonic music called the Ars Nova. Before delving into Purgatorio itself, let us first examine the role of music in Dante’s life before he wrote the Commedia. In his impressive study of Dante’s Commedia and Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Michele Croese divides Dante’s musical education into two stages. The first corresponds to the author’s early years, in which he gained experience making music and working with musicians; the second treats a later stage in which he explored the theory and philosophy of music.1 The first stage includes the practical musical training Dante received as part of his highborn class. Music was a staple pastime for Dante and his circle of poets writing in the dolce stil novo (sweet new style).2 In this elegant, leisurely world described by Dante in his Vita nuova and by Boccaccio in the Decameron, aristocrats and intellectuals gathered to read poetry, perform music, and dance. In his Trattatello in laude di Dante, Boccaccio records that the young Dante played, sang, and composed skillfully: Sommamente si dillettò in suoni e in canti nella sua giovanezza, e a ciascuno che a que’ tempi era ottimo cantatore o sonatore fu amico e ebbe sua usanza; e assai cose da questo diletto tirato compose, le quali di piacevole e mastrevole nota a questi cotali facea rivestire.3 [In his youth he derived great pleasure from music and songs. He also cherished the friendship and company of www.hortulus.net 13

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all the best singers and musicians of his day. Drawn on by this delight, he composed many lyrics which were then embellished by pleasant and masterful melodies.4 Dante’s philosophy of music developed during a period of reading and studying that began after the death of Beatrice in June 1290. In his Convivio, Dante writes that in his search for consolation after Beatrice’s death he found a new love in Lady Philosophy. To seek her out, he went to “the schools of the religious orders and to the disputations held by the philosophers”5 at the convent schools, or studia, in Florence.6 During this period of study Dante encountered the texts that would bring his musical knowledge from the practical into the theoretical realm. The philosophers most influential in Dante’s musical thought were Plato, Aristotle, and Boethius. By synthesizing elements of their philosophy, Dante developed a comprehensive philosophy of music. Dante makes reference in the Commedia to Plato’s Timaeus, the only Platonic dialogue widely available in the Middle Ages. In Timaeus, Plato advances his concept of the World-Soul, which is a unity divided into harmonic intervals.7 In his De institutione musica (Fundamentals of music), Boethius explicitly agrees with Plato’s concept of the harmony of the universe, arguing that “the soul of the universe was joined together according to musical concord.”8 Plato also gives a detailed account of the divisions of the monochord, a one-stringed instrument used by the Greeks to discover the mathematical ratios that produce the musical intervals of the overtone series. This conception of music in terms of numbers and ratios is fundamental to the thought of Pythagoras, and later Boethius. The close connection between music and mathematics was retained in medieval thought, and both music and arithmetic were part of the quadrivium of the artes mathematicae. Throughout the Middle Ages, writers of treatises on the musical scale based their tuning systems on Pythagorean ratios, and as early as the thirteenth century, musical rhythm was defined by highly mathematical modes that emphasized the perfection of the number three.9 The significance of the number three is obvious in the Commedia—terza rima, the three cantiche—and the number is also important in Dante’s conception of music in the Commedia through its reflection of Boethius’s division of music into three types. The three Boethian categories of music are musica mundana (cosmic music, the harmony of heaven and the planets), musica humana (pertaining to the union of body and soul), and musica instrumentalis (music produced by the voice and instruments: what we call music today).10 This tripartite division of music was standard in the musical thought of the Middle Ages, perpetuated in the writings of music theorists throughout the period.11 Musicologist Nino Pirrotta identifies each of the three categories of music in the Commedia: the troubadour song in Purgatorio is the worldly musica instrumentalis; the shades sing psalms and hymns to “tune” their souls and thus reach musica humana; and the celestial “armonia” of Paradiso ascends to musica mundana, the music of the spheres.12 For his fundamental notions about the purpose of music in the Commedia, Dante seems to have adopted Aristotle’s philosophy from Politics, which states that music has the power to affect the morality of society. Dante combined this principle with the thought of early Christian thinkers who incorporated classical ideas about music into a Christian context. Like Augustine, Cassiodorus, and Isidore of Seville, Dante viewed music as a servant of religion, capable of inspiring virtue and divine thoughts in the faithful. Thus, in the Commedia,

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he presents a coherent and comprehensive philosophy of music that is inextricably linked to his moral philosophy.13 An instance of music occurs in Purgatorio, in canto 2, that sets up the role and purpose of music for the whole cantica. Dante’s encounter with his friend Casella the musician is one of the most moving passages in Purgatorio. Little is known about Casella, except that he might have been born in Pistoia and probably set Dante’s poems to music. When Dante the pilgrim recognizes Casella in the crowd of spirits that has just debarked at the shore of Purgatory, he rushes to embrace him, but three times his arms return to his chest as he perceives the incorporeality of the shades in Purgatory. After this failed embrace, Dante asks his friend to regale him with one of the love songs which used to calm him, explaining that after his journey through the Inferno his soul is in need of solace. The song Casella sings, Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona14 (Love that discourses to me in my mind), is the second canzone from Dante’s Convivio. The word used by the author to describe Casella’s song, dolcezza (sweetness), is one of the terms he will use most often to describe the lovely sounds of music in Purgatorio. Indeed, the music was so sweet and beautiful that Dante, Virgil, and all the listening shades stood completely transfixed. Cato reprimands the assembled company: “Che è ciò, spiriti lenti? / qual negligenza, quale stare è questo? / Correte al monte a spogliarvi lo scoglio ch’esser non lascia a voi Dio manifesto” [What have we here, you laggard spirits? / What negligence, what lingering is this? / Quick, to the mountain to cast off the slough that will not let you see God show Himself!].15 Cato’s rebuke is the subject of much scholarly debate, but it is likely that it signifies Dante’s turning (conversion) from Lady Philosophy, his “amore” in the canzone, to the more spiritual goal of divine love.16 Cato makes it undeniably clear that the way to Heaven is not by idling around listening to a love song, no matter how sweet. But another kind of music does indeed purify the soul and speed one’s progress to Paradise—biblical songs of praise and penitence. Dante uses music explicitly to underscore the contrast between Purgatory and Hell. In the Inferno, the shades don’t just speak; they utter cries, moans, sobs, and shouts of pain and anguish that are suited to the contrapassi in each circle. Dante employs a rich vocabulary of specific vocal sound, like gridi, sospiri, pianti, alti guai (shouts, sighs, wails, high shrieks). Through its reflection of the evil and irrationality of Hell, Dante’s infernal cacophony is consistent with his discussion of the nature of good and evil. The souls in Purgatory all know that they will eventually ascend to heaven; they have hope and faith while their counterparts below are trapped in eternal agony. In Purgatory, spirits endure their punishments with prayer and song rather than cries of pain, and their music is always sweet. Dante describes the singing of the hymn Beati pauperes spiritu (Blessed are the poor in spirit) as so sweet that he cannot describe it in words: “Ahi quanto son diverse quelle foci / da l’infernali! Ché quivi per canti / s’entra, e là giù per lamenti feroci” [How different were these entryways from those / of Hell! For here it is with song one enters / down there, it is with savage lamentations] (12.112–114). Music not only enriches the plot, it also encloses the action in a religious framework. The protagonist’s journey through Purgatory takes place during three days, from dawn on Easter www.hortulus.net 15

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Sunday in the year 1300 to noon on the following Wednesday. Dante often chooses liturgical music that corresponds to specific services of the Divine Office to mark time. Then he makes the text of those songs reinforce the meaning of the action with his characteristically multivalent symbolism. In the Valley of the Rulers who repented late because of negligence, the kings sit singing Salve Regina, a hymn to the Virgin Mary from the eleventh or twelfth century. This hymn was typically sung after Vespers, the evening service, which fits with the timing of Dante and Virgil’s arrival at the valley at sunset.17 The text is a prayer for pity for those in the lagrimarum valle (Valley of Tears), which is also appropriate to its performance in the valley where the kings atone (7.82–84). A little later, while Dante and Virgil are still in the valley, the spirits sing Te lucis ante, from the hymn for Compline, Te lucis ante terminum (Before the end of light). The text is a prayer to God for safety from wicked dreams and spiritual corruption while sleeping, and thus foreshadows Dante’s dream that night, which is the first of three significant dreams in Purgatorio. As with Casella’s song, Dante notes the sweetness of the singing, such that “I was made to move beyond my mind” [che fece me a me uscir di mente] (8.15). When Dante passes through the gate between ante-Purgatory and the first terrace, he hears the hymn of praise Te Deum laudamus (We praise you O God) (9.139–141). This hymn was part of the liturgy at Matins, the Night Office, on Sundays and feasts. As a hymn of Thanksgiving, its performance here is in keeping with Dante’s crossing of this major threshold in the ascent to Purgatory. Throughout Purgatorio, choirs of shades in each tier sing passages from psalms and hymns that Dante chose for their capacity to help the souls expiate their specific sins. For example, the souls who were killed by violence and saved from damnation by late repentance sing the Miserere from Psalm 50 (5.22–24).18 This penitential prayer for God’s mercy is fitting because they must have died without last rites.19 The prideful are bent under the weight of heavy stones; they are literally brought low to repent for their lack of humility on earth. Dante reinforces the importance of humility by having them sing Beati pauperes spiritu, the first Beatitude from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.3 (12.109–111). Dante employs hymns, like this one, based on the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to mark the transitions between terraces in Purgatory and to reinforce the repentance for each sin. As Dante and Virgil climb past the second terrace, where the envious are punished by having their eyes sewn shut, they hear behind them Beati misericordes (Blessed are the merciful), from the fifth Beatitude. Far from being merciful, the envious, like Sapia the Sienese, wished others ill. Similarly, the travelers hear Beati pacifici (Blessed are the peacemakers), from the seventh Beatitude, as they leave the terrace where the wrathful are blinded by heavy smoke. This smoke is a metaphor for the clouds of anger they had once unleashed (17.67–69). To return to the other kind of music in Purgatorio, that of the troubadours, it is important to note that Casella’s song is the only explicit example of troubadour music in this cantica. The fact that Dante assigned a poet and a troubadour to the terrace of the lustful in canto 26 suggests an interesting attitude toward this type of music. Here we find Guido Guinizzelli, whom Dante acknowledges as “il padre mio,” his poetic father and the originator of the dolce stil novo, and www.hortulus.net 16

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the troubadour Arnaut Daniel, whom Guido praises as the finest of vernacular poets. Dante’s choice of words for Arnaut’s disappearance back into the fire is significant: “Poi s’ascose nel foco che li affina” [Then, in the fire that refines, he hid] (26.148). Affinare means “to refine,” but also “to tune”—a pun with deeper meaning because here it is the musician’s soul that needs tuning. Dante’s treatment of troubadours and their sins throughout the Commedia provides a general lesson about the proper uses of art. Bertran de Born ends up in Hell not only for splitting Henry II from his son, but for using politicized art—the sirventes—to do so. Arnaut is in Purgatory for writing love poetry that was lustful and immoral, although not divisive to society. Looking ahead (or up!) at Paradiso, the troubadour Folquet de Marseilles is in Heaven because in life he chose God over earthly values by becoming a bishop. This may signal an evolution in Dante’s thought from the De vulgari eloquentia, in which he discusses some of these poets on their poetic merits, to the Commedia, in which he makes moral judgments about them.20 While scholars routinely point out the penitential purpose of the liturgical music in Purgatorio, they tend not to question how the hymns and psalms were sung. Dante’s descriptions of the singing itself, though lamentably brief, are detailed enough to allow for the conclusion that all three styles of medieval psalmody (direct, antiphonal, and responsorial) are heard in Purgatorio.21 In direct psalmody, all of the verses of the text were sung straight through with no textual additions. The very first psalm heard in Purgatorio, In exitu Israel de Aegypto(When Israel went out of Egypt), Psalm 113 is sung by 100 souls as they arrive by boat in Purgatory: “cantavan tutti insieme ad una voce” [all of those spirits sang as if with one voice] (2.47). With one voice literally means in unison. Dante quotes just the first line of the psalm and notes that they sang the rest. This description of a unison performance of the psalm from beginning to end is an example of direct psalmody. This moment in Purgatorio can be seen to evoke Dante’s musical world in another way. By the thirteenth century, a genre of music became established in Italy called the lauda—a devotional song performed by lay brotherhoods. The fraternities grew out of the religious fervor encouraged by the mendicant orders, and by the time of Dante’s birth these confraternities were being founded specifically to perform the repertoire, and were known as laudesi. Perhaps Dante intended the souls in canto 2 as a hybrid ensemble rooted in the music of his time—liturgical music sung by a lay laudesi.22 The other two styles of psalmody, antiphonal and responsorial, were used more frequently than direct psalmody in Dante’s period. In antiphonal psalmody, the verses of the psalm were sung alternately by two halves of the choir, often interspersed with a short additional verse with a contrasting melody called an antiphon.23 In canto 5, Dante records that the Miserere was sung “a verso a verso” (5.24). There are two schools of interpretation of this verse among English translators. One version takes the literal route: “verse by verse.”24 The other alludes to some form of alternation of the verses.25 The first interpretation, however, does not make sense in a musical context. Verses were almost always sung consecutively, so Dante would have no need to point that out, and he was not prone to redundancy. A verso might alternatively be read as a pun with avverso, meaning “against” or “opposing.” This in turn might suggest that Miserere was performed with two choirs, singing www.hortulus.net 17

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alternating verses in accordance with antiphonal chant practice. Given the prevalence of antiphonal liturgical singing in Dante’s time, it is highly likely that this style of psalmody is depicted in Purgatorio canto 5. In the final canto of Purgatorio, the women singing Psalm 79 do so “alternando / or tre or quattro dolce salmodia, / le donne incominciaro, e lagrimando” [Weeping, the women then began—now three, / now four, alternately—to psalm gently, / “Deus venerunt gentes . . .”] (33.1–3). These lines strongly suggest another example of antiphonal psalmody.26 In responsorial psalmody, the text of the psalm was sung solo, usually by a celebrant, with ensemble responses from the chorus or congregation after each verse.27 Dante’s description of Te lucis ante is explicit enough to conclude that he was recording the use of responsorial psalmody. In canto 8’s Valley of the Rulers, Dante describes a soul who begins singing alone with palms together and eyes uplifted to the east, soon to be joined by the other spirits singing “per tutto ‘inno intero” [through all of that hymn] (8.17). The fact that the simpler style of direct psalmody appears early in Purgatorio, with the more complex styles occurring later in the cantica, reinforces the idea that Dante constructed a musical evolution parallel to the spiritual journey. The protagonist’s arrival at the Earthly Paradise in canto 28 is a major turning point in the narrative of his journey, and it also ushers in a new atmosphere in music and sound. Foreshadowing the effulgence of song in Paradiso, the characters begin to sing whenever they are not speaking. The virtuous Matilda, who guides Dante as he enters the Earthly Paradise, sings with “dolce suono” [sweet/gentle sound] (28.40) as she picks flowers on the bank of the river Lethe. Here, Dante’s music is filled with gladness and celebration, as in Psalm 93 “Delectasti” [made me glad] (28.79). Matilda sings Psalm 32, Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata (Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered) like “an enamored woman” (29.1–4). In the most striking example, Dante choreographs the heavenly procession with music and dance. Matilda exhorts Dante to listen and look; he hears “dolce suon” and sees bright light. Dante makes this connection between aural and visual perception a major feature throughout Paradiso. All the music in Purgatorio is monophonic, meaning it contains one melodic line with no harmonization. Polyphonic music contains more than one line and has harmony. Dante saves polyphony for Paradiso, in which he describes multi-voice textures in the music of the spheres, to set heavenly music apart from all that precedes it in the Commedia. As Dante the pilgrim approaches the summit of the Mount of Purgatory, Dante the poet hints at the indescribably heavenly music that is to come. During his immersion in the river Lethe, in an evocation of the rite of baptism, Dante hears “Asperges me” [Cleanse/purify me] sung. These words from Psalm 51 were sung in church during the symbolic cleansing of the congregation with holy water. Dante writes that the music was sung “sì dolcemente” [so sweetly] that he cannot remember, nor transcribe it. This remark is of the utmost significance in light of the musical developments in Dante’s time. By the mid-fourteenth century, a new kind of polyphonic music had been born in the courts and city-states of northern Italy, the region in which Dante lived in exile. This style, collectively called the Ars Nova, was comprised of musical genres such as the madrigal, the caccia, and the www.hortulus.net 18

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ballata.28 It was known for its complex polyphony of up to four voices, while until the midfourteenth century we only know of two-voice Italian polyphony. For a listener like Dante, accustomed to two-voice polyphony, more voices would certainly have been difficult to write down. This presents the tantalizing possibility that the new style of polyphony reached Dante’s ears in embryonic form. If this is the case, it is possible that the music of the spheres in Paradiso is grounded in the actual music of the early fourteenth century. Music is more than an interesting feature of Purgatorio; it plays a central role. Dante positions a musician and a troubadour at center stage in his narrative, uses liturgical songs to situate his story within a framework of time, establishes the singing of these songs as the means to achieve spiritual purification, and provides clues to the music of his own time. A reading of Purgatorio attuned to these clues, especially in regard to the styles of psalmody and the birth of polyphony, sheds light on the poet’s musical world. By weaving these various strands into a hierarchy of musica instrumentalis, musica humana, and musica mundana, Dante places his philosophy of music at the service of his moral thesis. With such a vivid description of sound and a nuanced portrayal of vocal and instrumental performances, Dante commands his readers to listen carefully to the music of Purgatorio. Mimi Stillman, M.A., is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Pennsylvania. Her interests include early modern Europe, cultural and music history, and East-West contact.

Notes
1. Michele Croese, La Commedia come partitura bachiana: Osservazioni sul cielo del sole e sul Sanctus della Messa in si minore (Pisa: ETS, 2001), pp. 40–41. 2. The dolce stil novo was an Italian style of lyric poetry that developed in Tuscany and Bologna in the generation before Dante. 3. Quoted in La Musica nel Tempo di Dante, ed. Luigi Pestalozza (Verona: Unicopli, 1986), p. 130. 4. Giovanni Boccaccio, The Life of Dante (Trattatello in laude di Dante), trans. Vincenzo zin Bollettino (New York: Garland, 1990), p. 32. 5. Dante Alighieri, Convivio 2.12, trans. Richard Lansing, p. 14. 6. See Charles T. Davis, “Education in Dante’s Florence,” Speculum 40 (1965), 415–35 for more information on Dante’s time at the Florentine studia. Davis provides a very valuable account of the books contained in their libraries that Dante may have read. 7. Plato, Timaeus 35, trans. Francis M. Cornford (New York: Liberal Arts, 1959), p. 25. 8. Boethius, Fundamentals of Music 1.1, trans. Calvin M. Bower, ed. Claude V. Palisca (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 2. Boethius’s De institutione musica, written in the early sixth century, is a compilation of Greek sources including Ptolemy’s Harmonics and a treatise by Nicomachus; see Donald

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Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca, A History of Western Music, 5th ed. (New York: Norton, 1996), pp. 26– 7. 9. Willi Apel, “Mathematics and Music in the Middle-Ages,” in his Medieval Music: Collected Articles and Reviews (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GMBH, 1986), pp. 135–65. 10. Boethius’s categories and their wide acceptance show the remarkable centrality of music in medieval thought. What we call music today was only the bottom third of the definitions of musica: “music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired. For this reason the power of the intellect ought to be summoned, so that this art, innate through nature, may also be mastered, comprehended through knowledge.” See Boethius, Fundamentals of Music 1.1.8, trans. Bower. 11. For more information on the role of the Boethian musical categories in medieval music theory, see Grout and Palisca, A History of Western Music, 53–55; and Richard H. Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York: Norton, 1978), pp. 20–2. 12. Nino Pirrotta, Music and Culture in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Baroque: A Collection of Essays (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 21. 13. The moral and religious meaning of music in the Commedia is particularly apparent in Inferno, canto 30, where Dante likens the counterfeiter Master Adam’s swollen body to a lute. Denise Heilbronn explores the highly symbolic, Christological significance of this parallel in “Master Adam and the FatBellied Lute (Inf. XXX),” Dante Studies 101 (1983), 51–65. 14. Listen to Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona by Peire Cardenals. The musical selections referenced were heard as part of my presentation of this paper at the Brown University Medieval Graduate Student Conference, October 2, 2004. 15. Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio 2.120–23, trans. Allen Mandelbaum (New York: Bantam, 1984). All Italian and English quotations of Dante’s Purgatorio are from this edition. Subsequent citations will be given in the text with the canto and line number(s) in parentheses. 16. See John Freccero, “Casella’s Song: Purgatorio II.112,” in Dante: The Poetics of Conversion (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986), pp. 186–94; Teodolinda Barolini, Dante’s Poets: Textuality and Truth in the Commedia (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 31–40; and Robert Hollander, “Purgatorio II: Cato’s Rebuke and Dante’s Scoglio,” Italica 52 (Autumn, 1975), 348– 63. 17. Salve Regina was one of the most important Marian antiphons, chants composed to celebrate the growing cult of the Virgin in the period. Ave maria, Regina coeli, and Alma redemptoris mater are other examples of these pieces that are characterized by their one-octave range and relative ornateness. See Gabriela Ilnitchi, “Music in the Liturgy,” in The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, ed. Thomas J. Heffernan and E. Ann Matter (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute, 2001), pp. 645–71. 18. [Psalm numbering follows the Vulgate numbering system—Eds.] 19. Allen Mandelbaum, notes to Purgatorio (New York: Bantam, 1982), p. 327. 20. Dante Alighieri, De vulgari eloquentia 2.2.9. Dante considers military skill, love, and righteousness to be the noblest pursuits, and mentions whom he considers to be the most illustrious vernacular poets for

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each theme—Bertran de Born for war, Arnaut Daniel for love, and Gerhard de Borneilh for righteousness. Also see Marianne Shapiro, De Vulgari Eloquentia: Dante’s Book of Exile (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990). 21. For more information on the three styles of medieval psalmody, see Hoppin, Medieval Music, pp. 80– 1. 22. Giulio Cattin, Music of the Middle Ages 1, trans. Steven Botterill (Cambridge, Engl.: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 145–52. 23. Sometimes the full choir would alternate with a half-choir, or the cantor would begin the antiphon and be joined by the choir after the first words. Antiphonal psalmody may have originated in the Syrian church. There are more antiphons than any other type of chant. Musically they range from older, simpler versions to later examples with complex rhythm and florid melodies. See Grout and Palisca, A History of Western Music, 44–8; and Hoppin, Medieval Music, 80–3. 24. Dante translators who interpret the performance of Miserere as “verse by verse” without specifying alternation include Reverend John Wesley Thomas (1862); Charles Eliot Norton (1892); Henry Johnson (1915); Jefferson Butler Fletcher (1931); Charles S. Singleton (1973); Kenneth Mackenzie (1979); Allen Mandelbaum (1982); W. S. Merwin (2000); and Anthony Esolen (2003). 25. The translators who specify alternating verses include Henry Francis Cary (1916); John D. Sinclair (1939); Carlyle-Wicksteed (1944); John Ciardi (1957); Mark Musa (1981); and C. H. Sisson (1993). 26. Deus venerunt gentes, Psalm 78, is sung by seven women who represent the Theological and Cardinal Virtues after the episode of the giant and the whore. Mandelbaum interprets this psalm of lamentation for the destruction of the temple as a metaphor for the fallen state of the Church. Mandelbaum, notes to Purgatorio, 404. 27. This ancient style is a legacy of Jewish cantorial practices in the synagogue. See Hoppin, Medieval Music, pp. 80–1. 28. For examples of Ars Nova compositions in modern notation, see Nino Pirrotta, The Music of Fourteenth Century Italy (Amsterdam: American Institute of Musicology, 1954).

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