COMPANION TO CANTO XLII
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.
(Contributor name, OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss or translation 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 Cantos XLII-XLIII-XLIV, 27 January 2020
Updated 14 September 2023
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Terrell, Carroll F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1980.
Moody, David. Ezra Pound: Poet. Volume II: The Epic Years, 1921-1939. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.
Pound, Ezra. Guide to Kulchur. New York: New Directions 1970.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound to His Parents – Letters 1895-1929. Eds. Mary de Rachewiltz, A. David Moody and Joanna Moody. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.
Kimpel, Ben, and T. C. Duncan Eaves. “Sources of Cantos XLII and XLIII.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 6.3 (1977): 333-58.
Kimpel, Ben, and T. C. Duncan Eaves. “The Sources of the Leopoldine Cantos.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 7.1-2 (1978): 249-77.
Kimpel, Ben, and T. C. Duncan Eaves. “Pound’s Use of Sienese Manuscripts for Cantos XLII and XLIII.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 8.3 (1979): 81-93.
Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Letters of T.S. Eliot. Vol. 8: 1936-1938. London: Faber, 2019.
Piccolomini, Nicollò. Il Monte dei Paschi di Siena e le aziende in esso riunite. 9 vols. Ed. Narciso Mengozzi. Siena: L. Lazzeri, 1891-1925. Volume III. Volume VI. Volume VII. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose: Contributions to Periodicals. 11 vols. Eds. Lea Baechler, A. Walton Litz and James Longenbach. New York: Garland, 1991.
Pound, Ezra. Selected Prose 1909-1965. Ed. William Cookson. New York: New Directions, 1973.
Palmerston – Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), British politician and leader of the Liberal Party. He served as Britain’s Foreign Secretary for sixteen years in the 1830s and 1840s, and as Prime Minister for all but one year of the decade 1855-65.
Pound quotes from a letter to John Russell in 1863 included in C. F. Bell’s biography of Palmerston that he was reading in Siena, while composing cantos 42-44.
Palmerston reappears in cantos 52, 89, and 104 and is approvingly presented as firm, plain spoken, honest, and effective (Hatcher and Witemeyer 225).
- Russell – Lord John Russell (1792-1898), British Liberal politician.
re/ Chas. H. Adams – Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886), American historian and politician, the grandson of John Adams (Founding Father and the second president of the United States). it became clear that British economic interest derived from its trade with the South (Britain imported cotton for its textile mills in Manchester) would dictate a covert anti-Union policy. In April 1861, the Union imposed a blockade of ports in the South. During the American civil war (1861-65), Charles Francis was the US envoy to Britain and played a key role in ensuring British neutrality in the American crisis. Pound refers to a significant episode in Adams’s efforts, looking at it from the point of view of Lord Palmerston, who was Prime Minister of Britain at the time:
“Two ships were being refitted as ironclad rams in the Laird shipyard at Birkenhead near Liverpool. They had been indirectly commissioned by the Confederacy for use against the Union. Apprised of the threat, the Union ambassador to London, Charles Francis Adams, demanded that Her Majesty’s Government respect its declared policy of neutrality and impound the vessels. If the rams were allowed to sail, as the Alabama had been earlier, Adams warned Russell on 5 September 1863, the Union would regard it as a belligerent act and would consider itself to be at war with Britain. Russell pointed out that, according to his law officers, no provision in British law gave him a right to seize the ships. In this context, Palmerston wrote to Russell on 22 September 1863, advising him to take a polite but firm stand against Adams’s hectoring:
‘It seems to me that we cannot allow to remain unnoticed his repeated and I must say somewhat insolent threats of war. We ought I think to say to him in civil terms “You be damned” and I endeavoured to express that sentiment to him in measured terms.’
In the end, however, Palmerston and Russell did accede to Adams’s demands. The rams were illegally detained at Birkenhead until Palmerston could arrange for them to be purchased by the British Admiralty. What Bell (355) calls ‘the virtual certainty’ of ‘immediate war’ between Britain and the U. S. was thus averted” (Hatcher and Witemeyer 227-8).
Chas. H. Adams should read Chas. F. Adams.
old etcetera – reference to Queen Victoria, whose Memorial, formally unveiled in 1911, is located in front of the Buckingham Palace in London. The monument presents Queen Victoria (1819-1901) as the Empress of the world, as she holds the orb in her left hand and sceptre in her right; the golden winged Victory at the top is also standing on an orb, to suggest Britain’s dominion over the earth. At the same time, the monument has a strong nautical theme visible at the base, showing mermaids and a hippogriff. On the base, the memorial bears the inscription: “Victoria Regina, Imperatrix” (Victoria Queen Empress). See Resources for enlarged image.
Just seven years after the unveiling of this monument, the perspective on Britain’s supremacy on land and sea, as well as on Victoria as symbol of Britishness was changed to bitter sarcasm; the queen was a member of the German royal house of Hanover and the grandmother of the Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941) who was universally considered to be the prime villain of WWI. Britain’s sacrifice of almost a million lives (Pound mentions “five million” in canto 46) for maintaining the illusion of imperial strength during WWI was painfully fresh. Initially, Pound had written “that old BITCH,” which on 22 December 1936 was queried by T.S. Eliot, who in his position of editor of The Cantos at Faber, took greatest care not to attract libel suits. In a letter five days later, Pound pretended to have forgotten who the bitch was and allowed Eliot to replace the word by “etcetera” (L/TSE 8:417n.3). The banter between the two poets on the subject went on until later January 1937. See Calendar.
- H.G. – Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), British novelist.
- Lex salica – Salic Law, a code of laws created by the king of the Franks, Clovis, around 500 AD. It is best known for its rigorous exclusion of women from property inheritance and royal succession. Wikipedia.
If the Salic law had fully operated in England, Queen Victoria would never have been able to inherit the throne. However, the crises of royal succession in Britain were historically settled by royal wills, usurpations, and acts of Parliament, not by the Salic Law, which was applied only on the European continent.
- lex germanica – In German inheritance law, the right of primogeniture historically contended with the principle of “equality among brothers,” which ensured that younger siblings received a share of their father’s property. The principle also allowed women a share of inheritance and even total control over property in case of the death of male siblings (Hurwich 700).
Pound uses the term “lex germanica” informally, even playfully – he seems to imply that it was the German law that governed English royal succession. This however is not the case: the road to female royal succession in Britain was begun by the will of Henry VIII, which stipulated that if his male successor (Edward VI) died without heirs, his elder sisters, Mary and Elisabeth, should succeed to the throne. Queen Victoria herself was barred from the throne of the Electorate of Hanover by the Salic Law, which operated in Germany at the time. Wikipedia.
Antoninus – Antoninus Pius (137-161), Roman emperor, regarded as a very effective administrator.
Here is Pound’s opinion of the Emperor:
“Caesar was a hi-jacker, Crassus a Wall St bloater etc. But Antoninus, Constantine and Justinian were serious characters, they were trying to work out an orderly system, a modus vivendi for vast multitudes of mankind. […] In 138 Antoninus Pius was considering the difference between Roman Law and the Law of Rhodes, between agrarian usury and maritime usury, he was concerned as to whether the Roman State shd. profit by sailor’s misfortune and batten on shipwreck.” (GK 40).
- law rules at sea – Antoninus’ response to the petition of a citizen from Nicomedia, whose name was Eudaemones (case discussed in Salmasius 199-200). In the short fragment transmitted to us, the merchant stated that he was shipwrecked but that fiscal agents in the Cyclades were impounding his property. Calling Antoninus kyrios [Lord of the World], Eudaemones must have asked that he be spared the confiscation, at least, this is what we infer from Antoninus’ answer: “I rule the Earth but the law [of Rhodes] rules the sea, where it does not contradict Roman law” Salmasius 200. See also K&E 2: 250-1. Pound considered this response to be the very origin of our knowledge on usury. In “The Individual and his Milieu” Pound stated:
“The archaeologist and serendipitist can wander back through Claudius Salmasius and find the known beginnings of usury entangled with those of marine insurance, sea lawyers, the law of Rhodes, the disputed text of Antoninus Pius on the limits of his jurisdiction. Even  then the dealers in metal appeared to be privileged over other merchants and the insurance risk mainly paid by the takers of greater risk. Vast mines of anecdote lie still unexploited.” SP 272-3.
Pound returned to Antoninus’ answer in cantos 46, 78, and 87 where he gives more detail:
‘I rule the Earth’ said Antoninus ‘but LAW rules the sea’ / meaning, we take it, lex Rhodi, the Law Maritime of sea lawyers. /usura and sea insurance / where from no State was erected greater than Athens. (XLVI/234)
Knowledge lost with Justinian, and with Titus and Antoninus / (“law rules the sea” meaning lex Rhodi) / that the state have vantage from private misfortune No! (LXXVIII/499-500)
“But”, said Antoninus, / “Law rules the sea”. / “And that the state shd/ have benefit / from private misfortune, / not in my time, not under me.” / Until Salmasius, wanting precision: (LXXXVII/590)
Antoninus’ statement may be considered the lynchpin connecting the preamble of the first lines (ll.1-7) to the canto’s main story around the creation of the Monte dei Paschi. The Palmerston episode, which had happened at the time of Queen Victoria, showed that although the queen was depicted in monuments as the Empress and embodiment of victorious Britain dominating land and sea, the laws of empire were controlled by her ministers who bent them to avert the threat of war between Britain and the United States. Palmerston’s outburst derived from his understanding that British sovereignty is absolute and could not be challenged. However, his caving in indicated that the representation of global dominance on the Victoria Memorial was an illusion, a situation painfully revealed in WWI.
Going over to the foundation of the Monte, we see how the public income from taxes could be used to guarantee a risky banking venture at a time when political power in Tuscany was weak: in spite of the proliferation of sovereign titles the canto shows (and ridicules), the strict division between the person in power and the laws governing a community was not rigidly upheld. Like Eudaemones petitioning Antoninus to ask for a redress from an all-powerful emperor, the Sienese were asking the Tuscan Highnesses to show their mercy and help the city by stretching the existing legal arrangements between Siena and Florence. And like Palmerson, the Ducal family may have kept saying “you be damned” for ten years before eventually acceding to the request.
- nell’anima – It. “in the soul.”
In the documents, the term is “animo” (mind). See MDP III: 263 and K&E 1: 344-5.
“Actually, the scholar sleuths point out, the document has ‘nell’animo’, ‘in the mind’, and Pound appears to have misread it; unless, they concede, he was deliberately altering the sense, to fix the idea of the bank not in the mind only but in the spirit. Since that would make all the difference between simply having a good idea, and having the will to carry it into effect, we may take it that Pound’s ‘anima’ was no slip. He was not copying the record, he was interpreting it, in this case to build in his conviction that the new bank of Siena must have been not merely conceived but actively willed into existence. This will be a Volitionist episode” (EPP II: 212).
David Moody’s insight above is corroborated by an exchange on the poem between Pound and his wife. When he sent her the poems for correction, Dorothy queried a missing article in the Monte’s charter (the 8th). Pound replied: “Yes. 7th 9th. (I am not giving all the 12 or 17 points. but the ones pertinent to my theme).” See Calendar, 21 September 1936.
- Illustrious College – Collegio di Balìa, the Senate of Siena. It was formed of 20 citizens who were members of the College for one year and who had already had other roles in government before election. They were chosen directly by the Duke of Tuscany from a longer list of names.
The functions of the Sienese College were to: Elect the envoys to the Duke; determine the city expenses; manage all questions related to the Monte dei Paschi; control the monasteries, confraternities, hospitals; organize the festivals of the city such as the Palio; more generally, decide every question regarding Siena. Wikipedia.
- Monte – It. “mountain.” The designation also refers to “heap” or “mass,” hence a loan office (K&E1 333). The Monte dei Paschi (Mount of Pastures) derived its name from the already existing Monte di Pietà, the pawnshop of Siena. Though Pound presents the Monte dei Paschi as founded in 1624 and totally separate from the pawnshop, the historians of the bank have shown the continuity between the two institutions and count the foundation of the Mount of Pastures from the creation of the Mount of Pity in 1472.
- banco di giro – a bank that routinely transfers money between individuals and organisations by inscriptions into accounts, without the necessity of paper checks. Investopedia.
The first Banco del Giro was founded in Venice in 1524 – it was a bank founded on public capital with the aim of guaranteeing the necessary liquidity to the Rialto market. With new statutes on 3 May 1619, the Banco Giro became a permanent institution of the Venetian state, whose administration was entrusted to the Senate. Rota 114. Wikipedia.
By using this term, Pound draws the lines of continuity between the financial innovations in Venice and the Monte dei Paschi in Siena. Pound was aware of the Venetian experiment of founding banks on public capital from his reading of Pietro Rota, Storia delle banche, which he had used for cantos 40 and 41. In the latter, he mentions the Monte dei Paschi for the first time. See also Rota on the Monte dei Paschi 154-8.
- Bailey – the elect group of Sienese councillors – see note 11.
- sought views from the Senate – In cantos 42 and 43, Pound uses three (clusters of) documents: A. the report of the Florentine Senate to the Ducal family concerning the Sienese petition and further, its approval on 30 December 1622, notarized on 2 January 1623; B. the meeting of the Sienese councillors to discuss the bank’s charter and guarantees in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Town Hall of Siena on 4 March 1623 (or 1622, Sienese style), notarized by Livio Pasquini on 18 July 1623; and C. the foundation document of the Monte, in Latin and Italian, on 2 November 1624, signed by Pasquini on the part of Siena and Nicolaus Ulixis on that of Florence. See Commentary for more detail.
Pound starts his presentation of Sienese materials (ll.14-50) in medias res with set B.: the meeting of the Siena councillors on 4 March 1623 in which the articles of the Monte’s charter were agreed (MDP III: 263-5). Pound concentrates on what he considers important in the Monte’s functions and regulations (points 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9); however, he returns to the same scene and document at the start of canto 43, to list the guarantees the city is offering to the Ducal family.
- Senate – Since Cosimo I defeated Siena in the war of 1555, the city lost its independence and became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. All the decisions about the creation of the Monte dei Paschi were thus taken in Florence by the Ducal family and the Florentine government. Its Senate was composed of forty-eight men: it was vested with the prerogative of determining Florence’s financial, security, and foreign policies. Wikipedia.
It was the Florentine Senate that presented to the Ducal family the petition of the Sienese Bailey to create a new “Monte” based on tax revenue in a report on 29 December 1622 (Set A, see n.15; MDP III: 261-3 and K&E 1: 334-5). The main consideration for the Senate as consultative body in this matter was the financial safety of the Ducal family. (See also Commentary and K&E 1: 334-42.)
- Nov. 1624 – 2 November 1624, the birth date of the Monte dei Paschi, when its charter was written and notarised by Florence and Siena.
- following details – the details are taken from the deliberations of the councillors in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Siena town hall and notarized by Livio Pasquini in July 1623.
- dei ministri – It. “of the administrators.”
It is important to point out that the services of the “ministri” were only a small part of the Monte’s profit. Enough was left over to build up a liquidity reserve and donate to charity. See Green 1991; Rota 157.
- half scudo – The “scudo” (from L. “shield”) was a gold coin minted in Florence starting from 1530 and equivalent of ca. 7 lire (Cipolla 64).
- id est – L. “that is.”
- piú utilmente – It. “more usefully.”
The text in the current edition has a typographical error: read “più utilmente.”
- contrade – It. wards, districts of Siena. There are 17 contrade in the city and they are best known for competing against each other in the annual Palio (horse race).
“These districts were set up in the Middle Ages in order to supply troops to the many military companies that were hired to defend Siena as it fought to preserve its independence from Florence and other nearby city states. With the passage of time, however, the contrade have lost their administrative and military functions and have become areas of localised patriotism. The communities are held together by their histories, and the emotions and sense of civic pride of the residents. Their roles have broadened so that in the 21st century, every important event – baptisms, deaths, marriages, church holidays, victories at the Palio, even wine or food festivals – is celebrated only within one’s own contrada” Wikipedia. See also the Seventeen Contrade of Siena (courtesy of John Gery).
- Loco signi – L. “place of signature.” Pound tongue in cheek changed the “loco Sigilii” (“place for the seal”) into the blank space where the illiterate could place their sign. K&E 1: 348.
It must be emphasized that Pound takes care to include all the signatories to the documents he uses. Under the “loco signi” he notices the signature of Livio Pasquini, the notary who authorized the rescript. See Commentary for the correct names pertaining to each document.
- benché – It. “though; however; no matter how.” K&E I: 349.
- Consules, Iudices – L. ““councilors, judges.”
Partial translation of the phrase: “Nos Consules Collegii Iudicum et notariorum [We Councilors of the College of judges and notaries.].”
- pro serenissimo – It. “for the most serene.”
- wave falls – lyric transitional section of four lines that separates the first block devoted to the Monte (ll.14-50) from the next one (ll. 55-132) where Pound returns to the beginning of the story, the report of the Florentine Senate to the ducal family concerning the Sienese petition and its approval in December 1622. In effect, Pound turns from the Monte’s charter, which he had presented in the beginning, to its rationale.
- we believe – the Florentine “Consulta,” senators who were rephrasing the Sienese petition for their report to the Ducal family. See MDP III: 261.
- AA VV – It. “Altezze vostre” (“Your Highnesses”). The abbreviations are doubled in Italian to show the plural form; Pound parodies that in English when he writes “YYour HHighness.” See ll.61 and 73. “Your Highnesses” are the mother of the Duke of Florence, Maria Maddalena, and his grandmother, Christina of Lorraine.
- Luoghi – It. “organisations,” “institutions” (K&E1 336).
- Grand Duke – at the time of the application for the Monte, the Grand Duke of Tuscany was Ferdinand II (1610-1670), who was still a minor.
- ‘The Abundance’ – I. “L’Abbondanza” was a magistracy charged with the provision and distribution of grain in times of scarcity. K&E 1: 337.
- pledge the persons – The Bailey was aware that what they were asking was a risky venture for the Ducal family. The Sienese had very little to offer as reassurance: assets and incomes (which Pound lists at the beginning of canto 43) were very low. This is why the Bailey offers the ultimate pledge: the fortune and estate of every citizen of Siena, who would be called to give proportionate contribution to cover the financial loss of the ducal family in case of disaster. Not only the shareholders of the Monte, but everyone (apart from the ecclesiastics).
See the passage in the official document:
“Et conoscendo i medesimi Deputati che le sopradette assegnationi per sì piccole somme non sarebbero ricevute per sufficienti,...
“And the said Deputies, knowing that the aforementioned assignments for such small sums would not be received as sufficient, offer that the City will validly and formally bind all the persons and goods possessed by laymen, which are in the dominion and possession of all the Sienese citizens contributing and inhabiting the city of Siena, in whatsoever place of the said State located and situated, making about such goods an order and measure by which the aforestated weight, burden, and indebtedness for the aforestated preservation is divided and separated in such a way that each one according to his rate remains mortgaged and obligated to free His Highness from all damage by the aforesaid occasion” (MDP III: 262; ; K&E 1: 337).
This situation happens to be a parallel to the only scrap of the maritime Law of Rhodes that has come down to us: the directive that in case a ship’s crew are forced by a storm at sea to throw cargo overboard to save themselves, on arrival into port, each member will contribute to reimburse the merchant for his loss (Schomberg 60ff). This parallel gives weight to Pound’s apparently eccentric introduction of Antoninus’ reference to this law at the beginning of the canto. It also illuminates the principle of anti-usury that he wants to stress: the risk is shared by creditor and debtor – both are responsible to each other, both are equally invested in the success of their common enterprise, no one wins at the expense of the other.
- Nicolo … Gionfiglioli – Pound gets the names of two of the signatories wrong: they are Niccolò dell’Antella and Horatio Gianfigliazzi. The misspelling of almost all signatures in the canto is most surely deliberate, as Pound could have easily turned to the printed source (MDP III: 261-6) to transcribe them correctly.
- public entries – revenue from taxes.
- Tutrice – It. “female guardian.” As the Grand Duke Ferdinand II was still a minor, his mother Maria Maddalena and his grandmother Cristina of Loraine were guardians and regents. They had to decide in his name.
- Xembre – December. December was the 10th month of the old Sienese calendar, as Pound states in l.131, hence noted with the Roman numeral X.
- Fabbizio bollo vedo – Misprint for, or rather parody of Fabrizio Colloredo’s name. “bollo vedo” means “I see a stamp” in Italian.
- Cenzio Grcolini – Misprint for Orazio Ercolani. Pound is parodying the name and his own inability to read it in the archival document.
“’Grcolini’’ the ‘r’ also looks like a ‘v,’ the context furnishes no hint as to which letter it is, and Pound must have been well aware that the name he came up with is impossible in Italian. The first, second, fourth, and seventh letters of ‘Oratio Ercolani’ are hard to read, but Pound’s ‘Cenzio Grcolini’ […] is more probably deliberate than a misunderstanding” K&E 3: 514.
- ACTUM SENIS – L. Transacted at Siena.
The act refers to the foundation act of the Monte dei Paschi on 2 November 1624 (See n.15, Commentary, MDP III: 265-6, and K&E 1: 349-57). This is the first line of a short passage acting as a conclusion: ll.133-44.
- echo turned back in my mind – Here Pound is thinking of three cities of northern Italy, located between Milan and Venice: Pavia, Vicenza and Verona, all of which possess treasures of architecture and art. Pound had invoked a similar procession of his beloved Italian cities in an early poem, “Guillaume de Lorris Belated.” See poem.
- Pavia – Italian city near Milano. Pound mentions Pavia again in canto 74, tying it more firmly with San Zeno:
veder Napo’iiiii or Pavia the romanesque
and by analogy the form of San Zeno the
columns signed by their maker (LXXIV/468)
- Vicenza as depicted – town in Veneto that was under the dominion of Venice until it was conquered by Napoleon in 1796.
During the 16th century, the architect Andrea Palladio built in the city many outstanding palaces and villas in classical style. Pound may refer to Vicenza as depicted in Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture.
- San Zeno – Romanesque church in Verona, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, Zeno, bishop of Verona in the 4th century. San Zeno was special to Pound: he discovered it in his youth and considered it a supreme example of Romanesque architectural beauty. In a letter to his father in April 1910 he called San Zeno “the ultimate perfection” (L/HP 229). Pound was particularly impressed with a signed column he found on the way to the crypt bearing the inscription “Adamino de Giorgio me fecit” which he mentions in canto 45.
- Adige – river flowing through Verona.
- Nicolaus Ulivis de Cagnascis – the name should read: Nicolaus Ulixis de Magnanis, Florentine notary who countersigned the foundation document of the Monte dei Paschi alongside the Sienese notary Livio Pasquini. Pound may have parodied the name, as “Ulivi” means “olives” in Italian, a far cry from “Ulixis” [“Ulysses”].
- Senatus Populusque Senensis – L. “the senate and people of Siena.”
Pound returns to the top of the document of 2 November 1624, presenting the rationale of the creation of the Monte: ll. 151-64. All the Latin phrases are taken from the founding document of the bank.
- OB PECUNIAE SCARSITATEM – L. “because of the scarcity of money.” Latin in original document of 2 November 1624 (MDP III: 265-6, K&E 1: 349-50).
“Scarcity of money” is a leitmotif of the Siena cantos, highlighting the economic depression the city found itself in before the time the Monte was created. The bank improved the situation by creating loans, therefore credit that everyone could invest or spend. By selling shares beyond its initial capital of 10,000 up to its upper limit of 200,000 scudi, and further, by lending the capital thus acquired, the Monte was virtually creating new money.
The Monte also alleviated the scarcity of money by offering the rich the possibility of buying shares in the bank, thus allowing the transfer of coin lying idle at home into the Sienese economy. It did not escape Pound’s attention that the Monte’s shares were expensive: the price of one, 100 scudi, was the equivalent of 700 lire in (pre-war) money, as he mentions in ll.193-4. After WWI, the Italian lira devalued to one fifth of what it had been in 1914. Wikipedia.
- Monte non vacabilis publico – “shares not to expire with death… against public entries” – Pound’s translation follows in the text.
The Monte was issuing what in financial parlance is called “perpetual bonds,” or “perps” i.e. loan certificates with no maturity date. The bond was never redeemed, only the interest was paid.
- with precautions – the precautions refer to the guarantees that the city of Siena could offer the Ducal family in case the Monte had losses or failed. The first precaution was that earned profits should be used to cover losses, no matter how small, and maintain a small reserve against future (see ll.43-6).
- die decima ottava – L. “octava decima die” (“the 18th day”).
- Della Rena – Horatio della Rena, Maria Maddalena’s secretary and one of the signatories of the act of 30 December 1622, in which the establishment of the Monte was approved by the Ducal family.
- Don Ferdinandus … Magnus – Lord Ferdinand the Second Grand Duke.”
- logo – the image Pound introduces here is a hand drawn reproduction of the coat of arms of the Chigi family, who had been bankers in Siena since the 15th century. Agostino Chigi was among the first magistrates of the Monte. By 1933, when Count Guido Chigi Saracini decided to start his Accademia Musicale Chigiana, the Monte sponsored it. Olga Rudge became the first secretary of the Accademia, which prompted Pound’s interest in Siena and its history.
When canto 42 was first published in The Criterion, the logo was very tentatively drawn, with just two levels and four “loca montis.” It corresponded neither with the Monte’s coat of arms which shows three, nor with that of the Chigi family, with six. The situation was remedied in the Faber edition of the Fifth Decad, where the logo took the now existing form. See XLII in The Criterion.
- Chigi, Soffici, … St. Alban – Agostino Chigi, Alessandro de Sozzini, Marcellus de Agostini, Cesare Marescotti of Mont’Albano, the officials who were first entrusted with managing the Monte dei Paschi in 1624 (MDP III: 266-7, K&E 1: 351-2; Fusi 127.)
- loca Montis – L. “places on the Mount,” i.e. shares in the Monte dei Paschi.
- ex certe scientia et – L. “ex certa scientia et” is “out of sure knowledge and.” Pound provided the translation in the preceding line.
- de libris septeno – L. “de libris septem” (“of seven pounds”) C n.49. Each scudo was worth 7 lire. The spelling error is due to Pound’s difficulties in reading the original documents at the public library in Siena.
“After ‘libris septem’ he [Pound in his notebooks] has written three question marks and then written and crossed out ‘anyhow I can’t read it.’” K&E 2: 249.