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Dante and the Ass Driver 10/01/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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A story (115) of Franco Sacchetti, c. 1390.

The last novel moves me to relate another concerning the same poet, which is brief and good. One day as Dante was going along for his diversion in a certain part of the city, wearing the gorget and the armlet, as the custom then was, he encountered an ass-driver, driving before him certain loads of refuse. The driver was going behind his asses, singing the book of Dante, and every now and then as he sang he touched up an ass, and said : ‘Arri.’When Dante came up to him he gave him a sharp blow upon the shoulders with his armlet, saying: ‘I did not put that ‘Arri’ there!’ The driver did not know who Dante was, nor what he meant to say, and only struck his asses the more sharply, and again said : ‘Arri.’ When he had gone a little further he turned to Dante, and, thrusting out his tongue and putting his thumb to his nose, said, ‘Take that’. Dante, who saw him, said: ‘I would not give one of mine for a hundred of yours.’ O gentle words, full of wisdom! How many there are who would have run after the ass-driver, crying and raising a disturbance; others again who would have thrown stones; but the wise poet overwhelmed the ass-driver, winning praise from passers-by that heard him with those clever words which he hurled after so vile a man as was the ass-driver.

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