Nicolo III dEste Marquess of Ferrara attributed to Amadio da Milano designed after 1431 or c. 1441 Chazen Museum of Art DSC02135




Annotations in the List of Works Cited:

Author’s last name, first name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the Publisher [if different from website name], Date of Publication in Day Month Year format, URL. [MLA 8 format].

Example: Preda, Roxana. “Companion to Canto IV.” The Cantos Project, 5 August 2016.

In–text references


OCCEP – The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound

(Contributor name, OCCEP IV:

Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13). 

References to The Cantos

As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line number(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.

For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.

© Roxana Preda. Companion to Canto XXIV, 5 June 2018.  Updated  on 27 March 2020.




Terrell, Carroll F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.


Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Bantam, 1982. Digital Dante


Lazzari, Alfonso. Ugo e Parisina nella realta storica. Firenze: Rassegna Nazionale, 1915.


Preda, Roxana. Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project.


Alighieri, Dante. The Divine ComedyPurgatorio. Tr. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Bantam, 1988. Digital Dante.


Pound, Ezra. Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D. D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1950.


  1. book of mandates  – ledger of payments made by Parisina, Marchioness of Ferrara and wife of Niccolò III during the last years of her life. These payments were recorded and analysed by the historian Alfonso Lazzari, who is Pound’s source for this part of the canto. As Parisina had been the heroine of romance and tragedy in the work of Lord Byron and Gabrielle D’Annunzio, Lazzari’s aim was to give a historical, more truthful biographical reconstruction: he uses the mandates to gain a view into what her wifely duties were, particularly between 1422-1424. There are 300 such mandates in the neat handwriting of the court secretary kept in the Este archive in Modena, published by L. A. Gandini, 1891 (Laz 33).

    “Di Parisina noi possediamo soltanto una serie di documenti indiretti, i quali però, per via d’induzione, possono servirci a lummeggiare l’indole, le tendenze, le abitudini della nostra eroina. Essi sono i così detti Mandati ossia ordini di pagamento, che i fattori generali transcriverano in apposti registri, alcuni dei quali sono conservati nell’ Archivio estense di Modena. Tesoreggiando con cautela questi documenti, non ci riuscirà difficile presentare nella sua vera luce la protagonista del triste dramma di Casa d’Este. I Mandati a cui accennavamo, riguardono specialmente il periodo 1422-24” (Laz 33).       

    (“About Parisina we have only a series of indirect documents, which however, by way of inference, can serve to throw light on the character, tendencies and habits of our heroine. These are the so-called Mandates, that is, orders of payment which the general agents transcribed in appended ledgers, some of which are conserved in the Este archive in Modena. Evaluating these documents with caution, it won’t be difficult to present the protagonist of the sad drama of the House of Este in her true light. The Mandates which we touched on, concern particularly the period 1422-24.”)

  2. factor – agent, representative.

  3. Zohanne of Rimini – Giovanni of Rimini was a page with a special talent: he was the family’s most successful jockey (“paggio a correre” or “fantino”). Lazzari pointed out that Parisina’s special passion was horses: she organised the participation of Ferrara in the races in Modena, Bologna and Ferarra. Giovanni won all of these, which was a special reason of pride for Parisina, who also came from Rimini. She called Giovanni “maestro de’ nostri barbareschi” (“master of our racing horses”) (Laz 40).

  4. barbarisci – I. the best racing horses were called “barberi” or “barbareschi” because they came from the so-called “Barberìa,” i.e. northern Africa (Laz 41).

  5. San Zorzo – San Giorgio, the patron saint of Ferrara. The horse race (palio) of St. George was established in Ferrara in 1279 and still exists today. It takes place on the day of the saint, on 24 April (Laz 41 n.2).

  6. Cariola Ritratto di Parisina Malatesta

    Parisina Marchesa – Laura Malatesta called Parisina (“the Parisian,” 1405-1425), older cousin of Sigismondo Malatesta. At 14, she was married to Niccolò d’Este, who was twenty years older. They had three children together, while Parisina was still a teenager. Pound’s source, Alfonso Lazzari, infers from her purchases the kind of a person she was: known for elegance and luxury in the expenses for herself, she takes care of the house linens and clothes for the illegitimate children of her husband; she loves horses and travels often; she is charitable, as she gave alms to the poor; loves music and takes care of the tutors and painters at court. Pound follows Lazzari in the small details of her expenses and letters to the clerks managing the family finances.

    Around 1424, at twenty, she fell in love with Ugo, her husband’s oldest natural son, who was a year younger than her. They were betrayed by a servant who reported to Niccolò about the affair. He spied on them to make sure of the truth of the accusation and saw them together. Blinded by grief and rage, he ordered that his wife and son be executed. The order was carried out on 21 May 1425 (Frizzi 451-3).   

    Pound introduced allusions to Parisina’s tragedy in cantos VIII and XX. See OCCEP VIII: nn.54-55 and XX: nn.24-27.

  7. un libro franxese che si chiama Tristano – I. “A French book that is called Tristan” (Laz 50-51). Probably Béroul’s Le Roman de Tristan (12th century) or the so-called Tristano Riccardiano, an Italian prose translation of the late 13th century preserved in the Riccardian Library in Florence.

    The hint at the story of Tristan and Iseult is a dark warning about Parisina’s future - her forbidden love is channelled by a medieval courtly romance, just like the tragedy of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo il Bello had been aided by the story of Lancelot and Guinevere some 150 years earlier. An apocryphal story, introduced by Frizzi’s editor in a footnote, even said that Parisina had been initially destined for Ugo, but that his father married her instead; Parisina had agreed to the marriage thinking that Ugo held her in contempt. (See Frizzi 451 n.2 Inf  V: ll.79-142.)

  8. Carissimi nostri – I. “Our dearest ones.” Form of address in Parisina’s letter of 24 November 1424 to Alberto Bonacossi, who was “fattore generale” (general manager). Pound translates her letter below, ll: 12-20 (Laz 41).

  9. palio – I. “horse race.”

  10. verde colore prediletto – I. “green, the favourite colour.”

  11. ziparello – I. “zaparello,” a short jacket. From a mandate of 8 April 1422, in which Parisina orders a green jacket with expensive silver embroidery for Ugo (Laz 45).

  12. Ritratto di Ugo figlio di Niccolò III

    Ugo fiolo del Signore – I. “Ugo, the son of our Lord.” Ugo Aldobrandino (1404-1425) was the eldest natural son of Niccolò d’Este and Stella de’Tolomei (also called Stella dell’Assassino). Lazzari emphasizes that Niccolò loved Ugo and privileged him in comparison with his other children. He had been made legitimate, had his own apartment in the palace and his own court. As Niccolò’s eldest son, he was going to succeed his father in the rule of Ferrara (Laz 45).

  13. 27 nov, 1427 – we find an explanation of this mysterious date by looking in Pound’s drafts of the canto: “1427/ That is to say: two years after her death/The dower land went back to her family.” 71/3209 p.4. It is the date that the notaries Michele Magnabuci from Ferrara and Niccolò Guiduccioli from Rimini set down in writing the dowry of Margherita d’Este on her marriage to Galeotto Roberto of Rimini in 1427. Among the goods were the tower and estate of Gualdo, which Niccolò III d’Este had received as part of Parisina’s dowry when he had married her in 1418.

  14. Procuratio nomine patris – L. “Acting in the name of the father.” At the time of the act, Niccolò was still alive, but his son Leonello drew up the marriage and dowry acts of his sister Margherita in his name.

  15. Leonello deste by Pisanello

    Leonello Este – Leonello d’Este (1407-1450), Niccolò III’s second son and his successor as Marquis of Ferrara after his father’s death in 1441. Leonello was Ugo’s younger brother and like him, a son of Stella de’Tolomei.

  16. Margarita – Margherita d’Este (1410-1476), was Niccolò’s illegitimate daughter by Stella de’Tolomei and the sister of Ugo, Leonello and Borso d’Este. She was married to Galeotto Roberto Malatesta (1411-1432), Sigismondo Malatesta eldest brother and Lord of Rimini, in 1427. (Pardi VI; WikiTree) After her husband’s death just four years afterwards, Margherita never remarried. Their daughter Constanza (1430-1475) married into the Farnese family. (

  17. Roberto Malatesta – Galeotto Roberto Malatesta (1411-1431) eldest son of Pandolfo III of Rimini and brother of Sigismondo and Domenico Malatesta. On his father’s death in 1427, Galeotto Roberto inherited his father’s vicariate of Rimini and married into the House of Este. He was very pious and died young, at 20, being venerated in his city as a saint.

  18. natae prelibati margaritae Ill D. Nicolai Marchionis Esten. et Sponsae – L. natae praelibati margaritae Domini Illustrissimi Nicolai Marchionis Estensis et Sponsae (“on behalf of Margarita, daughter of the aforementioned most illustrious lord Niccolò d’Este, and bride”).

  19. Tower of Gualdo – Gualdo was an estate in the Marche, South of Rimini. See also n. 13.

  20. Nicolaus Marquis of Este – Niccolò d’Este III (1383-1441), Marquis of Ferrara.

    In one of the drafts, Pound noted:

    “//for USE

    So that he shattered, and recoagulated, and continued.
    Personal calamity, Parisina,
    counts for little in gen. hist. stone sinks,
    Gualdo, returned to Malat.
    Swirl of water over her.
                                             aimless, no consequence.” (71/3207 p.30)

  21. Don Carlo Malatesta – Carlo Malatesta (1368-1431), Italian condottiere, the brother of Andrea Malatesta of Cesena and Pandolfo III of Fano. After Andrea’s death in 1416, Carlo acted as caregiver to his niece Parisina and married her to Niccolò d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara in 1418.

  22. Illustrae Dominae Parisinae Marxesana – L. “to the Illustrious Lady Parisina the Marchioness.”

  23. pub. Ferr. – L. abbreviation: “public notary of Ferrara.” The notaries drawing up the act are Michele Magnabuci from Ferrara and Niccolò Guiduccioli from Rimini.

  24. Sequit bonorum descriptio – L. “follows description of goods.”

  25. In the wake of Odysseus – Pound makes an analogy between Odysseus’ return from the Trojan war and errancy on the Mediterranean to reach Ithaca, his home, and Niccolò d’Este’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1413. The resemblances are superficial: while Odysseus lost his way, had life-threatening adventures, lost his crew and ships and barely survived, Niccolò had a highly organized trip, which lasted only a few months and was conducted in terms of utmost safety and luxury.
    Screenshot 2018 04 02 14.29.40

  26. Cithera – Gr. Κύθηρα Kythera or Kithira, an island in the Aegean, south of the Peloponnese. Cythera was sacred to Aphrodite and traditionally associated with the goddess.

  27. 1413 – From April to July 1413, Niccolò d’Este made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem: Pound follows its broad itinerary in the following lines (48-79). His source is the travel log or diary redacted by Niccolò’s secretary, Luchino dal Campo. See note 25 above and Hugen 1977 for comprehensive account. See also full-screen itinerary as it appears in the canto: Niccolò’s pilgrimage.

  28. dove fu Elena rapta da Paris – I. “where Helen was stolen by Paris.” The elopement of the queen of Sparta, Helen, with the Trojan prince, Paris, led to the ten-year Trojan war, recounted in Homer’s epic The Iliad

    The story that Helen was abducted in Cythera for primarily political reasons is told in a late Roman forgery, a text attributed to a certain Dares the Phrygian, a Trojan priest who recounted the Greek-Trojan conflict from the Trojan perspective. See Dares 9-10.   

    The abduction motif was quite popular and occurred in several 15th century Italian Renaissance artworks by Zanobi StrozziDario di Giovanni and Francesco di Giorgio.
    paris abductiong helen

  29. Pola – I. Pula, town in contemporary Croatia, on the Dalmatian coast.

  30. Naxos – island in the Aegean Sea, considered to be sacred to Dionysus.

  31. Ora vela, ora a remi, sino ad ora di vespero – I. “now sailing, now rowing, until evening.”

  32. Zefalonia – Cephalonia, Greek island in the Ionian Sea.

  33. Corfu – island in the Ionian Sea.

  34. Rhodos – island in the Aegean Sea.

  35. Paphos – coastal town in Cyprus where Aphrodite was said to have emerged from the sea.

  36. backsheesh – T. “gratuity, bribe.”

  37. groat – designation for the “grosso,” a Venetian silver coin.

  38. Olivet – Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge once covered with olive groves east of Jerusalem, where Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount.

  39. Judas’ tree – after betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Judas felt remorse, gave back the money to the priests and hanged himself (Matthew 27).

  40. hic est medium mundi – L. “here is the centre of the world.” (da Campo 60).

  41. Ego, scriptor cantilenae – L. “I, the writer of the canto.” Pound’s own ironic intervention poking fun at the medieval lore that Jerusalem was at the centre of the world. See Wright 259-60.

  42. Benché niuno cantasse – I. “though no one sang.”

  43. Luchino del Campo – Niccolò d’Este’s secretary, who kept the log of his patron’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land April-July 1413. The log is Pound’s source, see also n. 27.

  44. Aldovrandino – The so-called Diario Ferrarese states that one of Ugo’s familiars, Aldovrandino di Rangoni was executed with Ugo on the same night: Aldovrandino is mentioned in A. Frizzi’s recounting of the events in hisMemorie di Ferarra and makes an appearance in D’Annunzio’s libretto for Mascagni’s opera Parisina. However, his role in the events and the reason for the execution are not mentioned.           

    “Et insieme fu decapitato uno Aldovrandino di Rangoni da Modena, famio del dicto signore, per essere stato casone di questo male.” (Diario 17)

    “And together with them was decapitated one Aldovrandino of Rangoni from Modena, familiar of the said lord [Ugo] for having been the reason of this evil.” 

  45. 1425 vent'uno Maggio – 21 May 1425, the date when Parisina and Ugo were executed.

  46. Signor … si – I. “My Lord… yes.”

  47. Fa me hora tagliar la testa/... mani – I. “Cut my head off, as I so quickly decapitated my son Ugo, he said chewing at a stick he had in his hand.” Pound is paraphrasing the scene from A. Frizzi’s Memorie di Ferrara (Frizzi III: 452-53). Compare this expression of anguish with Niccolò’s “delirium” in canto XX: ll.60-92. See OCCEP XX: nn. 24-44.

  48. ter pacis Italiae auctor – L. “three times author of Italian peace.” Pound’s source, Alfonso Lazzari notes that Niccolò wanted to be a prince of peace (“il principe della pace”) and a peacemaker of Italy (“pacificatore d’Italia) (Laz 10-11). Pound emphasizes the peace politics that Niccolò and his son Borso pursued. See also XX: 65 and XXI: 1.
    Lazzari went even further to stress that Niccolò’s political acumen could only be compared to that of Lorenzo the Magnificent in Florence and praised him extravagantly:   
    “Aborrente dal sangue, pur essendo un valoroso guerriero provato in più d’una battaglia, giunto all’età matura, si compiacque di portare il ramo d’olivo fra i contendenti, e divenne l’autorevole arbitro delle controversie tra principi, il paciere invocato da popoli e da città. Alla sua integrità, alla sua incorruttibile giustizia, alla sua assennata prudenza s’affidarono amici ed avversari; ed egli acquistò nella politica italiana del suo tempo l’influenza che Lorenzo il Magnifico esercitò nella seconda metà del secolo” (Laz 11).   
    “Abhorring blood, even though he was a valiant soldier who had proved himself in more than one battle, when he reached a mature age, he liked to bear the olive branch to adversaries and became the authoritative arbiter of controversies among princes, the peacemaker invoked by people and the city. Both friends and foes trusted his integrity, his incorruptible justice, his wise prudence; and he acquired in the Italian politics of his time the influence that Lorenzo the Magnificent exerted in the second half of the century.”

  49. boys pulling the tow ropes – Niccolò was famous for his womanizing: Lazzari counts 22 children, both legitimate and illegitimate (Laz 13).

    “Il motto proverbial: Dietro al fiume del Po trecento figli del marchese Niccolò hanno tirata l’altana delle navi (Bandello nov. 44 p.139). Ciò significa che il marchese non disdegnava di scendere alla Venere plebea, perchè, quando era in uso la navigazione fluviale, uno dei più umili mestieri era appunto quello di tirare contro corenti i battelli per mezzo della fune (l’altana o alzana) attaccata al albero della nave” (Laz 13).
    [“the proverbial motto: on the river Po, three hundred sons of Marquis Niccolò have drawn ships by rope (Bandello Novelle XLIV). This means that the marquis did not refrain from descending to the plebeian Venus, because when the navigation on the river was in use, one of the humblest professions was that of drawing the ships against the currents by means of a rope (called altana or alzana) attached to the mast.”]

  50. tre cento bastardi – I. “three hundred bastards.” Niccolò was famous for his womanizing: Lazzari counts 22 children, both legitimate and illegitimate (Laz 13).
    The word “bastard” carries among its historical meanings that of a small-size cannon, or culverin, typically able to fire an 8-12-pound projectile. The English word, derived from the French “batard,” and taking the form “bastard” or “battard” has had a limited circulation, mostly in Scotland. The Oxford English Dictionary follows it back to 1545 and lists a use as recent as 1949.

  51. called off a horse race – After the execution, Niccolò sent messages to all the princes of Italy to let them know about the deed and its punishment. In Venice, the Doge Francesco Foscari suspended a horse race without giving a public reason (Frizzi 453).

  52. killed a judge’s wife – After the execution of Parisina and Ugo, Niccolò gave order to execute all adulterous women in his domains. Though this order was soon reversed, there were two executions, one of a judge’s wife, Laodamia de Romei, recounted in Frizzi 453. See also n.60.

  53. pa della justicia – I. “palace of justice.”
    The line was revised for the Lerici edition of A Draft of XXX Cantos (1961). As the original text containing the information (Frizzi 453) had “prato della giustizia” (“the Field of Justice”) the line was changed to “pra della justicia.” The Lerici edition contained the last corrections made by Pound himself in 1959, yet the New Directions edition has the older version (also to be found in Pound’s drafts of the canto) saying “pa.” The abbreviation, as well as the eccentric and possibly archaic spelling of “justicia,” which are not in the original source, may have been created by Pound himself.

  54. Madonna Agnesina – the second execution was that of Madonna Agnese in Modena. See the entry for 25 May 1425 in Diario 17.

  55. Monna Ricarda – Madonna Ricciarda di Salluzzo (1410-1464) married Niccolò d’Este in 1429 but came to Ferrara only in January 1431 (Frizzi 459, 460). She bore him two sons, Ercole and Sigismondo. She was just four years older than Parisina.

  56. CHARLES – Charles VII, King of France (1403-1462). He awarded Niccolò the coat of arms of three gold lilies in azure field, a distinction that his son Louis would give to Lorenzo de Medici in 1465, as mentioned in Lorenzo’s Ricordi, which Pound used as his source in Canto XXI.        

    Coat of arms of Medici“In the year 1465 H. M. King Louis of France, out of regard for the friendship between our grandfather, our father, and the House of France, decorated our escutcheon with three Lilies d'or on a field azure, which we carry at present.” See Lorenzo de Medici: Ricordi.

    The award document that Pound introduces below shows that he follows Lazzari’s comparison between Niccolò and Lorenzo. See n.45.

  57. Blason Nicolas III dEste 1383 1441

    scavoir faisans … Rabateau – F. “making known … and to come … to high/ nobility of lineage and house … and great deeds …/ valour …. affection … our aforesaid cousin … / power, royal authority …. he and his descendants … and/ as they desire to have henceforth / FOREVER IN THEIR ARMS IN QUARTERS/ three gold lilies … on laced azure field …/ enjoy and use. / 1431, council at Chinon, the King, l’Esne de Trimouill, / Vendoise, [and signed] Jehan Rabateau.”

  58. Marchese Saluzzo – Monna Riccarda’s father, Thomasso III, had died in 1416. Her brother, Lodovico I of Saluzzo was indeed in Ferrara in 1433. The author of the Diariowrites that Lodovico is Riccarda’s father and Pound follows this error. (Diario 20. See also Tuohy 6.)

  59. Hercules – Ercole d’Este (1431-1505) the eldest son of Niccolò d’Este and his third wife, Monna Riccarda.

  60. piccolo e putino – I. “small and boyish.”

  61. Polenta – The Polenta family had been Dante Alighieri’s protectors and patrons. Dante spent the last years of his life in Ravenna and is buried there. Pound notes in one typescript “1441. Polenta loses Rav[enna].” See draft 71/3209. Ostasio III da Polenta was the last Lord of Ravenna in the Polenta family. In 1441, Venice conquered the city and Ostasio died in exile on Crete in 1447. It is an early sign of what would happen to the family of Este, who would lose Ferrara to the pope in 1597. 

  62. fu sepulto nudo – I. “he was buried nude” (Diario 26).

  63. ter pacis Italiae – L. “three times the peace of Italy.” See n.48.

  64. Bondeno – town in Emilia Romagna, about 15 km northwest of Ferrara.

  65. Casini libraio – I. “Casini bookseller.” In Venice, Calle Larga XXII Marzo, no. 2424, there used to be a book shop, Libreria Antiquaria Cassini, which Pound used to visit (Mamoli Zorzi 47). By a stroke of luck, Casini discovered pages of a diary written during the Napoleonic conquest of Italy in 1796 telling how loads of brass fittings from Modena (door-knobs and bells) and the statues of Niccolò and Borso d’Este, which had adorned the entrance of the Palazzo Ducale in Ferrara since 1454, were transported to Piacenza “for cannon.”     

    The statues that we see today on location are copies made in the twentieth century to replace the originals struck down on 19 October 1796 (Videtta 1991). The irony has it that it is a sculptor from Piacenza, Giaccomo Zilocchi, to whom the copies are attributed. They were replaced in front of the Palazzo Municipale in Ferrara in 1926, about the time Pound’s canto was completed.

    431px Ferrara Statua di Niccolo III dEste 1Borso deste

  66. Napoleon’s time – Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Italy in two campaigns in 1796 and 1797 as part of the war between France and Austria. He defeated the papal forces both times and occupied Ferrara, Mantua, and Bologna. Napoleon’s wars in Italy were partly financed and supported by the systematic theft of art. Noah Charney quotes Napoleon saying: “We have stripped Italy of everything of artistic worth, with the exception of a few things in Turin and Naples” (112).

  67. via del Po – The Po is the longest river in Italy, flowing on the 45th parallel across Northern Italy eastward into the Adriatic Sea, in a delta near Venice. Along its course there are several cities: Turin, Pavia, Piacenza and Ferrara.
    640px Plaine du Pô villes

  68. Piacenza – Italian town along the river Po about 153 km west of Ferrara.

  69. Borso dEste at the SchifanoiaBorso – Borso d’Este (1413-1471), Marquis and later Duke of Ferrara. He was Niccolò’s third natural son with Stella de’Tolomei and youngest brother to Ugo and Leonello.

  70. per diletto – I. “for pleasure.”

  71. left the night work to the servants – if by “night work” Pound means “sex,” then the line echoes a phrase from Villiers de L’Isle-Adam’s play Axël, as Massimo Bacigalupo observed: “Accepting to live will be nothing else than a form of sacrilege against ourselves: Live? Our servants will do that for us!” (Villiers de L’Isle-Adam 283; Bacigalupo 349).

  72. paradiso dei sarti – I. “paradise of tailors.”

  73. feste stomagose – I. “disgusting feasts.”

  74. Is it likely – dramatization of the showdown between Apollo and Hermes in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (IV). As a baby, Hermes stole Apollo’s cattle and hid them; then returned to his crib. When Apollo confronted him, Hermes pretended to be innocent of any wrongdoing. Pound found this Homeric Hymn in his copy of Andreas Divus’ translation of the Odyssey, which he had used since canto I.          

    This mythological allusion might refer to the fact that Napoleon, who boasted to have stripped Italy of all its valuable art, was young at the time. In 1796, when he authorized the blanket theft of Italian art for the Louvre and ordered the statues of Niccolò and Borso to be torn down, he was just 27 years old.

  75. Albert made me – Pound is riffing on a line in Dante’s Purgatorio about Pia dei Tolomei, a lady of Siena who told Dante that her husband sent her to the marsh of Maremma, where she died: “Siena mi fé, disfecemi Maremma” (“Siena made me, Maremma unmade me”) Purg. V 134.     

    If Schifanoia could speak, it would say, “Alberto d’Este made me.” Alberto I d’Este (1347-1393), Niccolò’s father, built the palace. Borso d’Este, Niccolò’s son developed it and commissioned the painting of the Salon of the Months 1467-1470.
    schifanoia featured

  76. Tura painted my wall – Borso d’Este considerably enlarged and decorated the Schifanoia Palace during the last years of his life. The large reception hall called Salone dei Mesi (“Salon of the Months”) was decorated 1467-1470 by a number of artists. It was believed in Pound’s time that Cosimo Tura alone painted the walls. It has now been ascertained that Francesco del Cossa was the painter of at least three panels. In a famous letter of 25 March 1470, del Cossa stated that he painted three insets on his own (March, April and May). Out of the initial twelve panels painted on the walls, just seven (March to September) remain visible today (Lippincott 11).            

    Pound became aware of this shift in attribution, as he wrote to L. Binyon on 30 August 1934: “Nic. del Cossa is now, I believe, considered the chief responsible for the Schifanoja frescoes. And I have since seen some Tura’s corrupted by the Rotterdam or gotterdam dutch, or tinges with hell smoke” (SL 260). See also Ricciardi 258.

  77. Julia the Countess sold to a tannery – After the extinction of the Este family in Ferrara with the death of Alfonso II (1533-1597), the city was taken over by the Pope and administered as a papal state. During this time, the palace had various occupants, among whom the Tassoni family, who in 1789 sublet it to the city, which needed a place to process tobacco. The frescoes were still visible in 1710 but whitewashed sometime before the sublet date (Lippincott 6).

    This act irreversibly destroyed the frescoes in the palace and “unmade” it, erasing its origins, character and role. The frescoes were rediscovered in 1820 by Giuseppe Saroli and the whitewash was removed by 1841. However, the palace continued to be used as a granary, an asylum for deaf-mutes, and a schoolroom. It was not until 1897 that it achieved civic museum status and the restoration was fully addressed. The frescoes were restored twice: in 1950-54 and in 1983 (Lippincott 7). Pound must have seen the frescoes in much worse state of disrepair than we see them today. As Terrell explains, the Italian verb “conciare” means to “tan hides” or to “cure tobacco,” hence Pound’s confusion between tannery and tobacco factory (n.88). This means that although we have not yet ascertained the source of Pound’s information, it must have been an Italian book or article published between 1790 and 1925.

Cantos in periodicals

Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

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A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of XVI Cantos


Eleven New Cantos

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The Fifth Decad

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