by Honore de Balzac
Translated by James Waring
To Don Michele Angelo Cajetani, Prince of Teano.
It is neither to the Roman Prince, nor to the representative of
the illustrious house of Cajetani, which has given more than one
Pope to the Christian Church, that I dedicate this short portion
of a long history; it is to the learned commentator of Dante.
It was you who led me to understand the marvelous framework of
ideas on which the great Italian poet built his poem, the only
work which the moderns can place by that of Homer. Till I heard
you, the Divine Comedy was to me a vast enigma to which none had
found the clue--the commentators least of all. Thus, to understand
Dante is to be as great as he; but every form of greatness is
familiar to you.
A French savant could make a reputation, earn a professor's chair,
and a dozen decorations, by publishing in a dogmatic volume the