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The Proud: Oderisi da Gubbio

In the first cornice of Purgatory Dante meets the proud, forced to walk in a circle under the weight of huge stones while reciting Our Father. Oderisi from Gubbio, a famous 13th-century miniaturist, remembers that fame, which he sought in his life, is destined to be forgotten among men, a destiny that affects even the greatest, as already occurred to painter Cimabue with Giotto, or to poet Guinizzelli with Cavalcanti.

"Brother," said he, "more laughing are the leaves
Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese;
All his the honour now, and mine in part.
In sooth I had not been so courteous
While I was living, for the great desire
Of excellence, on which my heart was bent.
Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture;
And yet I should not be here, were it not
That, having power to sin, I turned to God.
O thou vain glory of the human powers,
How little green upon thy summit lingers,
If't be not followed by an age of grossness!
In painting Cimabue thought that he
Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other's fame is growing dim.
So has one Guido from the other taken
The glory of our tongue, and he perchance
Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both.
Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath
Of wind, that comes now this way and now that,
And changes name, because it changes side.
What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off
From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead
Before thou left the 'pappo' and the 'dindi,'
Ere pass a thousand years? which is a shorter
Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye
Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest.
With him, who takes so little of the road
In front of me, all Tuscany resounded;
And now he scarce is lisped of in Siena,
Where he was lord, what time was overthrown
The Florentine delirium, that superb
Was at that day as now 'tis prostitute.
Your reputation is the colour of grass
Which comes and goes, and that discolours it
By which it issues green from out the earth."

Purgatory, XI, 82-117.

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