Monday, June 1, 2009

Ugolino and His Sons

This poet's plea, a pulsing pain
The sorrow, the anguish, the inane
Man in freedom so born is he
Yet shackled he sets himself to be
Sacrifice of spirits young and grand of heart
Willing with devotion their life to depart
The torment, the despair, a wretchedness of soul
The din of desolation rings its treacherous toll.

Rose Marie Raccioppi

"Dante's Divine Comedy, Canto 33 of the Inferno. This intensely Romantic sculpture derives from the passage in which Dante describes the imprisonment in 1288 and subsequent death by starvation of the Pisan count Ugolino della Gherardesca and his offspring. Carpeaux depicts the moment when Ugolino, condemned to die of starvation, yields to the temptation to devour his children and grandchildren, who cry out to him:"

"But when to our somber cell was thrown
A slender ray, and each face was lit
I saw in each the aspect of my own,
For very grief both of my hands I bit,
And suddenly from the floor arising they,
Thinking my hunger was the cause of it,
Exclaimed: Father eat thou of us, and stay
Our suffering: thou didst our being dress
In this sad flesh; now strip it all away."

Ugolino and His Sons, ca.1857-1861, Saint-Béat marble 1865-1867, Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, French sculptor and painter, 1827-1875, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1 comment:

  1. Much maligned was he, according to the most recent accounts. Forensic evidence actually exonerates Ugolino - who had had no meat in his body for months before his death. Poor guy.