matteo da pasti medal tempio 



Canto VIII was first published in The Criterion, in July 1923 in a group of four cantos (8–11). It is the first canto to deal with the Italian condottiere Sigismondo Malatesta.



Annotations in the List of Works Cited:

Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.

Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.

In–text references

(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(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 VIII, 26 March 2017.




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


Ezra Pound. Guide to Kulchur. New York: New Directions, 1971.


Lawrence Rainey. “The Malatesta Cantos VIII–XI.” In Modernism. An Anthology. Ed. Lawrence Rainey. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.



1.    you – T. S. Eliot. Line 430 of his poem, The Waste Land, runs: “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.” Pound starts his canto by taking issue with Eliot’s handling of fragments in poetry and implicitly with the role these preserved traces of the past have for the present.

2.  Calliope – the muse of epic poetry. The Malatesta Cantos are Pound’s first sustained effort to reconcile historical truth and epic poetry (the muse Calliope). In the previous cantos (V-VII) Pound had made a diagnostic of this interaction and found that whether one wrote as a contemporary historian of events (Canto V), or composed a chronicle devoted to a bare succession of actions (Canto VI), or even re-constituted the past intuitively with the help of material visible traces (canto VII), truth was eluding both historiography and the epic and was in all cases only partially decidable. Cantos VIII-XI are Pound’s most intense effort to write poetry as "truth," on the basis of rigorous historical research: reading up on the subject, going to original documents in the archives, verifying sources, evaluating points of view. Calliope, on the other hand, is responsible with a sense of heightened drama, vivid poetic technique, use of point of view, and hero worship. The Malatesta Cantos are not “truth,” but an account of what Pound considered to be fascinating and important about Sigismondo. They are openly revisionist and represent Pound's sense of values, not the objective stance of a historian. (See also Coyle 48).

3.  sous les lauriers – Fr. “under the laurels.” Larence Rainey followed the phrase into Gérard de Nerval’s poem Delfica with which Pound may have been familiar (M n.3, 66).  Gerard de Nerval – Delfica.

4.  Alessandro 1That Alessandro – Alessandro de Medici (1511–1537), Duke of Florence and son of Lorenzo de Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492–1519). Alessandro was also called “Il Moro” because of his dark complexion. His mother was known to be a black servant in the Duke’s household, hence the term “negroid.” Pound included the story of his assassination by his cousin Lorenzino in canto V and referred to it again in canto VII. Apart from creating a link to cantos he had written before, Pound seems to suggest a contrast between what he perceived to be Alessandro’s inertia and fatalism, even when warned of his impending assassination (see Varchi, Storia fiorentina) and the active life and desperate struggle of Sigismondo.

malatesta portrait francesca5.   Malatesta Sigismund – Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417–1468), Italian condottiere, ruler of Rimini and main character of cantos VIII-XI which are delineating his life and struggles. He was the illegitimate son of Pandolfo III Lord of Fano (1369–1427) and had two brothers, also illegitimate: an older one, Galeotto Roberto (1411–1432), who was exceedingly pious, and a younger one, Domenico, also called Malatesta Novello (1418–1465), who ruled in Cesena. Pound called him Novvy.
At the death of Galeotto Roberto, Pope Eugenius IV allowed the Malatesta brothers to administer territories defined by the river Marecchia, which flowed into the sea at Rimini. The city, as well as territories south of the Marecchia belonged to Sigismondo, whereas Domenico ruled over lands north of the river, having his capital at Cesena (Jones 179). Pesaro, which was an important town in the south of Rimini, and a key link to Sigismondo’s dominions in the Marche region, was administered by a separate branch of the family.
The Malatestas did not own the land, they were vicars of the Pope, who was supposed to be the rightful owner of the region. However, since by the time Sigimondo took over, the family had administered the lands around Rimini for two hundred years, the Malatestas struggled to assert property rights: conquering land and towns, ensuring inheritance, buying and selling, not paying dues to the papacy, and generally acting independently and against the interests of the Pope. In this struggle, which defined his life, Sigismondo would lose; Pound thought his failure was “worth all the successes of the age,” as everything Sigismondo managed to establish (The Tempio Malatestiano, the Rocca citadel, his court, his military reputation) were successes against the ecclesiastic and military powers of his lifetime.

6.  Frater ... carissime – ML: “As dear to me as a brother, and dearest companion.” Courtly form of salutation beginning Malatesta’s letter to Giovanni de Medici on 7 April 1449. Pound read this letter first in his main source, Charles Yriarte’s Un condottiere au XV siècle, but after checking on it in the Archivio di Stato in Florence, he was able to correct two errors that Yriarte had made: the addressee and the expression “buttato via” which he inserts below. Letter to Giovanni de Medici April 1449.

7.  tergo – ML: [written] “on the back.” This detail is not in Pound’s source (Yriarte 381) and shows that he checked the materials he used by going to the manuscript originals. He consulted the letter himself in the Florentine state archive and had it in his hands. Pound also corrects the addressee: Yriarte had falsely assumed it was Lorenzo de Medici, who had been born just three months earlier, in January 1449. In Pound’s Malatesta cantos, Truth will constantly be correcting Calliope - this is particularly visible in his departures from Yriarte, who by the errors in this letter alone should have ruined his credentials as reliable historian.

giovanni de medici bust8.  Giohanni de Medici – Giovanni de Cosimo de Medici (1421–1463), Cosimo the Elder’s second son. Like his older brother Piero, Giovanni was not only a prospective banker and heir to the Medici financial empire, but a patron of the arts and a collector of antiquities.
Sigismondo is writing to Giovanni because at the time of the letter, April 1449, he is formally under contract with the Florentines, who in October 1448 had released him to lead the Venetian army in Lombardy. Venice was Florence’s ally in the war for the Milan succession against Alfonso and the pope (Jones 200). See also Mayo V: 5 and note below.

9.  peace between you – Sigismondo was entitled to take part in the peace negotiations between Florence and Alfonso, King of Naples. Florence owed him for his brilliant and much praised victory at Piombino (September 1448) when he successfully defended Tuscany against Alfonso’s troops. Even Sigismondo’s bitterest enemy, Pope Pius II commented that Malatesta had saved the Florentine cause, as Pound himself mentions in canto IX: 51–55. However, when the peace was finally concluded at Lodi in 1454, Alfonso, still smarting from Sigismondo’s betrayal of 1447, demanded that he be excluded from the negotiations and the Florentines did not object (Jones 211). See also note on King of Ragona.

rsz alfonso v el magnanimo10.  King of Ragona – Alfonso (1396–1458) was the King of Aragon (as Alfonso V), Valencia (as Alfonso III), Majorca, Sardinia and Corsica (as Alfonso II), Sicily (as Alfonso I) and Count of Barcelona (as Alfonso IV) from 1416, and King of Naples (as Alfonso I) from 1442 until his death in 1458.
After the death of the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti in 1447, Alfonso laid claim to the city on the grounds that the Duke, who had no male heirs, had promised him the succession. In order to enforce his claim, Alfonso moved into Tuscany and hired Sigismondo to fight for him against Venice and Florence, which were also claiming Milan. A condotta was concluded between them in the summer of 1447, but because A was uncertain of payment and paid much less than promised Sigismondo switched sides and signed with the Florentines in December 1447 (Jones 198). Pound will tell of these events in canto IX: 46-55.

11.  Maestro di pentore – We do not know for certain whom Sigismondo referred to. Yriarte assumed it was Piero della Francesca, relying on the date of della Francesca’s fresco in the Tempio Malatestiano. This is also the only fresco in the church, so it is unlikely that another painter was involved.

12.   buttato via – I. “chucked away.” Pound insists on this point because Yriarte had mistranscribed “gettato via” in his book (Yriarte 381).

13.  affatigandose... mai – I. Pound embraces this Italian quotation with his own translation: “so that he can work as he likes/ Or waste time as he likes/ never lacking provision” (Yriarte 381).

14.  In campo... contra Cremonam – ML. In the field of the most illustrious lords of Venice, 7th day of April 1449 before Cremona.
As general for the Venetians, Sigismondo was besieging Cremona in the first months of 1449, but was unsuccessful (Jones, 201).

15.  … and because the aforesaid… Baily – the lines that follow are part of another contract drawn between Malatesta and the “Ten of the Baily,” the Florentine council, whereby Malatesta will leave the service of Milan and fight for Florence. The contract specifies that this service is drawn up with the Duke of Milan’s approval. The date of the contract is August 5, 1452. (Yriarte 381–84). Source.

220px Francesco Sforza16. Duke of Milan – At the time of the drawing of the contract, 1452, the Duke of Milan was Francesco Sforza (1401–1466). Francesco began his military career by serving Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan as a condottiere. He married Filippo’s daughter Bianca in 1441 and at the death of the duke, defended Milan against the claims of Venice and Alfonso de Aragon. By 1450 he defeated both and installed himself as the new Duke of Milan. (C n.15; M 67).

17.  Ten of the baily – Council governing the city of Florence.

18. Gente di cavallo e da pie – I. “horsemen and foot soldiers.”

19.  Penna and Billi – rocks on Monte Carpegna in the Apennines. Between them there is the small town Pennabilli, where the Malatesta family once originated: Malatesta I della Penna became Podestà of Rimini in 1239 (M n.14, 68).

20.  Carpegna – mountain near Rimini

21.  Marecchia – river which has its source in the Monte Carpegna near Pennabilli and runs through Pesaro, Urbino, Montefeltro and Rimini, where it flows into the Adriatic. Its older name is Ariminus.

22.  Lyra – the lines below are a short pastiche Pound composed, occasionally taking phrases from a longer poem in his source, Yriarte (389–92; translated in Hutton 209-15; Mayo 8; C n.21). The little song is Pound’s, even if he builds on names he found in the poem and on Hutton’s translation of two lines: “O spirits that were once in these realms/ Each of you by Love shaken” (Hutton 211). Further, Yriarte adds a few lines from another manuscript in Bologna: “0 formosa maestà degna d'impero/ Quale Elena è egualea te o quale Isolta” (Yriarte 394). Pound includes these dispersed lines to compose the little poem below.
Charles Yriarte was certain that Sigismondo had written poetry in honour of the love of his life, Isotta degli Atti: he gave a few examples both in the chapter dedicated to Isotta and in his own Sources. He stated that he found this poem in Mss. 5159 in the Vatican, a collection called Carmina italica Sigismundi Pandulphi, commenting: “Nous appelons l’attention des lecteurs sur ce petit poème, et nous leur signalons les invocations aux Planètes et aux signes du Zodiaque, que Agostino di Duccio et Matteo da Pasti traduiront en marbre dans la belle chapelle de San Francesco où s’élève le tombeau de l'évêque Vanzi.”
Even if Pound does not mention the planets and signs of the zodiac in his pastiche, this comment may have been the reason he chose this poem among others in Yriarte’s book.
This time he did not question Yriarte’s attributions, or did not question them enough. As L. Rainey pointed out, leaning on the critique of Aldo Francesca Massèra (1911), the longer poem in Yriarte was not written by Sigismondo, but by Simone Serdini, a Sienese poet who died in 1420. It had nothing to do with Sigismondo, who was three at the time of Serdini’s death, or Isotta, who was not yet born. (M n.15, 68; Monument 177–86).
Pound never says in his text that the lines are Sigismondo’s, because obviously they are his own work. But they do echo an idea that was close to his heart: that troubadour fashions had migrated from Provence to Italy and were giving voice to tender, forbidden emotions between spells of war. This idea is given center stage in canto VI, which in many respects prefigures the Malatesta. (See also Liebregts 154).

23.  Yseut – Fr. Iseult G. Isolde. Irish princess and heroine of the tragic love story of Thomas of Britain’s poem Tristan (1173) and Béroul’s Le Roman de Tristan (1150–1170).

24.  Batsabe – Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, was seduced by King David, who, on one of his walks on the roof of the palace, saw her bathing. David contrived that her husband should be killed in battle then married her himself. Her second son by David, Solomon, succeeded him, even if he was younger than other sons of David. (2 Samuel 11).

25. Magnifico, compater et carissime – ML. Magnificent, companion and most dear.Form of address that Malatesta uses in his letter to Giovanni de Medici on March 4, 1449. (Yriarte 384–85). Pound again corrects Yriarte, who had stated that the letter was addressed to Cosimo. Letter to Giovanni de Medici, March 1449.

26.  Fiorini di camera– I. Florins of the Treasury. Florentine gold coins, florins had 35 grams of gold each and their value remained constant, thus ensuring that they were used all over Europe. The letter as published in Yriarte has “ducati di camera” which at 1.2 florins were slightly higher in value (Mayo 9).

27.  Bombards – cannons hurling stone balls.

28. Under the plumes –In May 1442, just a month after Sigismondo’s marriage with Polissena Sforza, Bianca and Francesco Sforza visited Rimini and were splendidly received. Sigismondo hoped Sforza would help him gain Pesaro from Galeazzo the Inept, a cousin from another branch of the family.

“On the 23rd of May (1442], Count Francesco [Sforza] came into Rimini, bearing seven standards (the first from the Church, the second from Popo Eugenio, another from Venice, one from Florence and the others kept enfolded), and with him was his wife Bianca, daughter of the Duke of Milan, accompanied by eight young women all dressed the same in green on eight little ponies, beneath a canopy [baldachino) of silver brocade which was carried by the·principal members of the Court and the City, the street being covered from the church of St. Julian to the Palazzo; and having rested two days with various recreations, in particular fishing [la pesca], which he much enjoyed [di cui godeva molto), he went on to la Marca, followed by his people, and two days later by Sigismondo Pandolfo” (Cesare Clementini 324–25. Tr. L. Rainey M n.18, 69).
The scene is also presented in Battaglini and Hutton (Mayo 9)

29.  Arras – wall hanging, decorated as a tapestry, made and traded in the French town Arras.

rsz pannier30.  panniered habits – skirts designed to drape over a pannier (basket) on both  sides of the hips while leaving the front and back relatively flat. This offered a more spectacular view of the various decorations of the garment.220px Bianca Maria Visconti

31.  Baldachino – I. canopy.

32.  Bianca Visconti – Bianca Maria Visconti (1425–1468), the natural daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, the Duke of Milan and his only child. She was married to Francesco Sforza in 1441.

33. Wars southward – Francesco was on his way to a battle at Ancona, south of Rimini.

34. Pesca... godeva molto – I. Fishing, which he greatly enjoyed.

rsz john paleologus by benozzo gozzoli35. Greek emperor – John VIII Palaiologos (1392–1448), Byzantine Emperor. He travelled to Italy in 1438 in an attempt to forge an alliance with the Pope and the Italian princes that would give him enough strength to push back the Turks. To achieve this, he aimed at a reconciliation of the Western and Eastern Churches to be negotiated in a council which initially had to take place in Ferrara. Since the city had the pest and also for financial reasons, the two parties moved to Florence. The council deliberated on questions of doctrine (such as the idea of Purgatory, the primacy of the Pope and the issue whether the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and Son (the catholic position) or just from the Father (the orthodox view) (Liebregts 155). The council deliberated until July 1439, a compromise was reached, and the Pope agreed to give military aid to the Byzantine Emperor. Unfortunately, after John VIII’s return to Constantinople, the compromise led to indignation, protests and riots throughout what remained of the Byzantine Empire. John VIII was forced to repudiate the agreement with the Roman church to appease the rioters. As a result, no Western aid was forthcoming and the Byzantine Empire's fate was sealed. Fourteen years later, in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans (Schultze 63).

Benozzo Gozzoli Pletone Cappella dei Magi medici ricardi36. Gemisthus Plethon – Gr. Γεώργιος Γεμιστός (Georgios Gemistos, ca. 1355–1452). Byzantine Neoplatonist philosopher, politician and theologian who in homage to Plato, took the name Plethon.

Gemistos established a Platonic school in Mistra (Peloponese, or Morea) and was consulted by Byzantine Emperors for his knowledge of legal affairs - this political status and legal knowledge and not his reputation as philosopher was the reason why he travelled as a delegate. In Florence, he must have made a deep impression on Cosimo the Elder, who later gave Marsilio Ficino the task of translating Plato and the Neo-Platonists into Latin. The impetus he gave to Platonic studies “was to be the Byzantine scholar’s real legacy to the West” (Liebregts 154-56).
Sigismondo must also have been profoundly moved: when he was sent by the Venetians to Morea to fight against the Turks in 1464-66, he brought back Gemistos’s bones, which he put in one of the sarcophagi lining the outer right wall of the Tempio. Pound was impressed by both developments: his awareness of Ficino’s work is memorialized in Three Cantos I and III (1917), whereas his respect for Sigismondo’s act is shown by his comments on Gemisto in GK.Gemistos tomb

37.  war about the temple at Delphos – Gemistos referred to the wars for the control of the Temple to Apollo at Delphos, the four “sacred wars.” These were wars among Greek city states for the control of the temple. The conflict made it possible for Philip, the king of Macedonia to take over control of Greece at the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC (Rollin 3: 22–24).
The analogy with the current situation was clear: only by laying aside religious sectarian differences and forging a unified military front would it be possible to fight the outside danger. Constantinople could be compared with Delphos, as the cathedral of Hagia Sophia was the most splendid church in the entire Christendom. Italy at that time had no religious edifice to compare.

38.  Poseidon – In Gemistos’s pagan theology, (which he does not attempt to reconcile with Christianity), Poseidon is the son of Zeus, “the first cause of the universe.” Poseidon does not have an anthropomorphic form, but is the personification of the Platonic Idea that is manifested in all individual particulars (Liebregts 157). Pound found a presentation of Gemistos’s theology in Fritz Schultze’s book about Gemisto: (Schultze 155. See also M n.19, 69).
Pound’s drafts of the Malatesta Cantos as well as his comments in his review of Stokes’s Stones of Rimini indicate his belief that the importance Gemistos assigned to Poseidon inspired the iconology of the Tempio Malatestiano. As Pound wrote in Canto LXXXII/548: “Gemisto stemmed all from Neptune/ hence the Rimini bas reliefs” (Liebregts 157-59).

39. concret Allgemeine – G. “the concrete universal.” Again a reference to the principle of Poseidon as a universal being manifested in and flowing into the particular:
“Because these gods are only ideas or very universal concepts, so their genesis is only the logical development of a concept. For Plethon is completely a Platonic realist, in 1he medieval sense of that term. This universal is not an abstract universal, such as the nominalists understood it, but the concrete universal that contains all particulars within itself: it is not a mere extrapolation derived from all particulars, but the complete content of all particulars” (Schulze 159. Tr. L. Rainey. M n.19, 69).

40. Dionysius of Syracuse – Dionysius the Elder (432–367), Greek tyrant of Syracuse, Sicily. Plato visited him in 387 BC but had no influence over his policies. The philosopher visited his son, Dionysius II, with the same result.
Pound refers to an essay by Plethon called “On the Events among the Greeks after the Battle of Mantinea,” which he found translated into Latin at the back of a copy of Xenophon’s Hellenika. Gemisthus continued Xenophon’s history of the Greeks, which had stopped at the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC) and gave a lot of attention to Plato’s unsuccessful attempts to educate the two tyrants of Sicily (Liebregts 160).

41. Ancona – town on the shore of the Adriatic, to the south of Rimini, in the province of Le Marche. In 1442-1444, the region around Ancona belonged to Francesco Sforza, who was desperately defending it against the Pope and the King of Naples. Sigismondo was Francesco’s ally and it “was his loyalty alone which … saved Sforza from total defeat” (Jones 188).

42. Church against him – Sigismondo did not always have the church against him. He was on passable terms with four popes: Martin V, Eugenius IV, Nicholas V, and Calixtus III. However, Pius II, who became pope in 1458, was his bitterest enemy and in his Commentaries he left an indelible negative image of Sigismondo throughout centuries. Malatesta was also in conflict with Pius’s successor, Pope Paul II, whom he almost assassinated.

43. Francesco’s daughter – Malatesta married Francesco Sforza’s daughter Polissena in 1442 in order to consolidate an alliance between Sforza and himself. But Francesco, instead of helping Sigismondo gain Pesaro from his cousin Galeazzo the Inept, betrayed him and mediated the sale of the town to his own brother, Alessandro Sforza, just three years after the wedding.

44. Pesaro town in the south of Rimini which had belonged to the Malatesta family for more than a century. Galeazzo the Inept sold it to Alessandro Sforza for 20.000 florins in January 1445 (Jones 192-3). Broglio gives the date of 16 March 1444.

45. Broglio – Gaspare Broglio Tartaglia (1407–1493), one of Malatesta’s most loyal counsellors. He wrote an account of Sigismondo’s life called Cronaca Malatestiana del secolo XV.

46. bestialmenteI. vilely.

front view47. templum aedificavit – L. built the temple. Phrase out of Pope Pius II’s Commentaries. The reference is to the Church of San Francesco in Rimini, also called The Tempio Malatestiano. One of Pius’s proofs that Malatesta deserved to be excommunicated and burnt in effigy was that he had filled the Church of San Francesco with pagan works:

“Aedificavit tamen nobile templum Arimini in honorem divi Francisci, verum ita gentilibus operibus implevit, ut non tam Christianorum quam infidelium daemones adorantium, templum esse videatur”
(“He built at Rimini a splendid church dedicated to St. Francis, though he filled it so full of pagan works of art that it seemed less a Christian sanctuary than a temple of heathen devil-worshippers.” Pius Commentaries 11.32; also quoted in Mayo 14)
Pound turns the tables on this phrase – he pulls it out of its initial opprobrium and makes it Sigismondo’s main claim to grandeur as Lord of Rimini and human being.

48. till ’50 – 1450 was the year in which Francesco Sforza became Duke of Milan. The war for the Milan succession thus ended, prompting the major Italian powers, Venice, Naples, Florence and the Pope to create a lasting era of peace. This was finally achieved at Lodi (1454) creating a stable balance of powers which made condottieri largely unnecessary. For Malatesta, the peace meant his contracts would become smaller and his political position more vulnerable.
1450 was also the year in which Francesco Sforza and Federico da Urbino cheated Sigismondo’s attempt to gain Pesaro, a town of huge strategic importance to him. See canto IX: ll. 29-45; 64-70.

49.  Romagna – region of Italy bordering on Lombardy and Veneto in the North, Tuscany in the east and Marche in the south. Rimini is located at the very south–east border of Romagna. Sigismondo wanted to extend and consolidate to the south, in the Marche, hence his activities in Pesaro, and conflicts with Urbino and Ancona. Map.

50. Galeaz – Galeazzo the Inept (1385–1461), one of Malatesta’s cousins and the Lord of Pesaro. He sold Pesaro to Alessandro Sforza for 20,000 florins and Fossombrone to Federico de Urbino for 13,000 florins in January 1445. He was excommunicated for it, as these were papal towns and he had no right to sell them (Jones 192-93).

William IX of Aquitaine BN MS fr 1247351. Guillaume Poictiers – Guillaume, VIIth Count of Poitiers and IXth Duke of Aquitaine (1071–1126), who is considered to be the first troubadour.
Pound first mentions him in Canto VI and implicitly draws analogies between him and Sigismondo bespeaking their roles as aristocrats/ warriors/ poets. Both "signaled a sharp break, the abrupt entry of a new cultural era" (Rainey Monument 49)

vieille52.  viel – [Vielle] string instrument similar to a violin used in medieval music, especially by troubadours. It continued to be used until the mid–16th century.

53. Mastin – I. The Mastiff – nickname of Sigismondo’s ancestor Malatesta da Verucchio (1212–1312). Verucchio is a town about ten miles south west of Rimini.

54. Paolo il Bello – Paolo Malatesta, called Il Bello (ca 1250–1283), second son of Malatesta da Verucchio. He is mostly known for his love for Francesca da Rimini, his sister in law and wife to his brother Giovanni (Il Sciancato). The husband caught them together and killed them. In the Inferno, Dante imagined Paolo and Francesca holding onto each other in an eternal whirlwind (V: 80–142).

Cariola Ritratto di Parisina Malatesta55. Parisina – Pound alludes to a similar story of love and death, this time in Ferrara. Parisina Malatesta (1404–1425), daughter of Andrea Malatesta, married Niccolò III d’Este in 1418. She fell in love with Niccolò’s son, Ugo. Her husband found out and executed them both in 1425. By the time of her death at 21, she had given birth to three children. Her eldest daughter, Ginevra (1419–1440), became Sigismondo’s first wife.

56. Atreides – the Atreides were known throughout centuries as a family whose members murdered each other for power or revenge. Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia on the altar of Artemis so that the goddess would free the winds necessary for his ships to sail to the Trojan War. When after ten years of battle he returned home, his wife Clytemnestra murdered him in the bath. Clytemnestra was then killed by her own son, Orestes, in revenge for the father. The tales are told in the Oresteia, the three–play cycle by Aeschylus: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides.
Throughout generations, the Malatesta family was similarly beset by murders of kin and Sigismondo had fought his own relatives from early age to attain and keep control over Rimini. He would himself be accused of murdering his older brother and first two wives. These conflicts, intrigues and murders would continue after his death, when Roberto Malatesta, his oldest son by Vanetta dei Toschi, would have both his brothers Sallustio and Valerio Galeotto, as well as his stepmother Isotta murdered to get control of Rimini.

57. at the time – In September 1429, Sigismondo’s tutor and protector, Carlo Malatesta died. Rimini was inherited by his brother Galeotto Roberto, who out of piety had joined the Franciscan order and had no political or military inclination.

58. no dues – in January 1430, Pope Martin V sent a letter to Rimini declaring he would confiscate the Malatesta lands for non-payment of dues. This provoked an energetic protest from the Rimini population, the regents of the city and their allies, the Este family of Ferrara. By March, the pope was willing to negotiate. The Malatesta brothers could keep Rimini, Cesena and Fano, but had to surrender the region of Ancona, San Sepolcro and Cervia. In addition, 4,000 ducats were sent to Rome to ensure the extension of the vicariate (Jones 170).

59. fought in the streets – No sooner were the Malatesta brothers freed from the papal threat, than in May 1341, they had to face an insurrection provoked by a family member, Giovanni di Ramberto Malatesta. This attempt at a coup d’état was accompanied by disturbances in Fano and Cesena. Sigismondo went to Cesena and brought soldiers to Fano to restore order (Jones 172). Even though S was attacked and seriously wounded in the Piazza del Commune in Fano, he managed to escape. (Pernis and Schneider Adams 11; Arduini 6).

60. Cesena – small town north of Rimini controlled by the Malatestas.

61. Foglia – river south of Rimini, in the region of Le Marche and flowing into the Adriatic near Pesaro.


Cantos in periodicals

Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

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A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of the Cantos 17-27

Eleven New Cantos

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The Fifth Decad

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