Site Map



THE De Monarchia is easily accessible in Latin editions, but an English version is practically unobtainable, at least by the American student of Dante. To be sure, it has twice been done into English, once by Mr. F. J. Church (Macmillan, 1878), and again by Mr. P. H. Wicksteed (Hull, 1896). If the former translation had not been long out of print, and the latter had not been published for private circulation only, the present volume would have less excuse for being. But with the growing interest in Dante, and the increasing number of Dante students in this country, the demand for ready access to all the poet's work becomes imperative. It is in response to this demand of the American student of Dante in and out of college that this translation has been undertaken.

In the notes which accompany the text the translator has had in mind chiefly the needs and interests of the literary student. Although the purpose of the annotation is to make the treatise clear in whole and in part by explanation and citation, it includes the effort to indicate at every possible point the relation existing between the De Monarchia and the Divine Comedy, the Convito, and the Letters. Many of the notes may be of little use to the student of civil government or to the general reader, but it is believed their value to the literary student will prove sufficient reason for their presence. The source of Dante's theories is noted wherever practicable, his debt to Aristotle, to the Hebrew Scriptures, and to Thomas Aquinas needing most frequent mention. In the cross-references to Dante's other works the translator has endeavored to point out as exhaustively as possible the recurrence of favorite ideas, and even of favorite figures of speech, as in the case of the metaphor of the seal and the wax. [1]

The references to Aristotle, and quotations from him, are almost without exception based on the Bohn translations of Aristotle. Biblical references are to the Authorized Version, except where indication is made to the contrary. In citations from the Summa Theologiae, the Latin text (Bloud and Barral, Paris, 1880) has been used, save in the few cases where the translation of the Ethics by Joseph Rickaby (New York, 1896) is indicated. In the quotations from the Divine Comedy, the edition and translation of A. J. Butler (Macmillan, 1891-92) has invariably been made use of; in quotations from the Convito, the translation of Miss Katharine Hillard (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1889), and in those from the Letters, that of C. L Latham (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1891).

The principal Latin texts of the De Monarchia are those edited by Fraticelli, Florence, 1860; Witte, Vienna, 1874; Giuliani, Florence, 1878; and Moore, Oxford, 1894. The Oxford text has been followed without exception, though in a few cases variant readings have been given in the notes. The earliest edition of the De Monarchia was printed at Basle in 1559. It had been translated into Italian in the fifteenth century by Marsilio Ficino. There are two German versions, that of Kannegiesser, Leipzig, 1845, and that of Hubatsch, Berlin, 1872. The two English translations have already been mentioned. Of them it only remains to add that a part of Church's translation is reprinted in Old South Leaflets, No. 123.

The Bibliography includes books likely to be helpful to the reader of the De Monarchia or the more general Dante student.

In the notes I am indebted to many commentaries and reference books. Moore's Studies in Dante, First Series, was indispensable for classical sources, Witte's Latin edition of 1874 for mediaeval sources, and Toynbee's Dante Dictionary for general reference.

I wish to express my gratitude to Mr. Charles Allen Dinsmore of Boston for his kindly interest and assistance in this translation, and to Dr. Albert S. Cook of Yale University, from whom came the first suggestion of the undertaking, and a continued encouragement and aid without which its completion would not have been possible.

A. H.

YALE UNIVERSITY, August, 1903.



1. See Professor Cook's list of the passages, and references to Aristotle, in Mod. Lang. Notes 15 (1900). 256 (511, 512).

Go to Next Page