DANTE’S PILLS: 3. Melisende Of Jerusalem

Melisende of Jerusalem may have been the Countess of Tripoli, famous because the French poet and troubadour Jaufré Rudel, Prince of Blaye, fell in love with her.

He, having heard the people sing her praises, felt in love with her so much that he composed poetry for her, then, exhausted by the unbearable distance that prevented him from seeing her, became a crusader and began the long journey to reach the Holy Land. The long travel cost him his life.

He fell ill, but he expelled his last breath and died in the arms of his beloved whom he had never laid eyes on before that moment. She, however, had been informed of his love, which became legendary during his travel.

The Lady, in troubadour’s conception of love, transcends her human nature and her physical form. Dante adopts this concept, but he also refers to the secondary theme of love from a distance (“amor de lonh”) when he creates the story of the great love that bound the Latin poet Statius (Purgatory XXII) for his master Virgil, who the first did not know in life. In fact the “first meeting” between them took place in a memorable exquisite way, in the fiction of Dante’s tale, in the second book of the Divine Comedy.

About the love Statius had for the other Poet (Virgil), it should be recalled the dedication he affixed to his Poem, the Thebaid. He is speaking directly to his Poem, making a tender recommendation to it: “O live, I pray! Nor rival the divine Aeneid, but follow afar and ever venerate its footsteps”. “Vive, precor: nec tu divinam Aeneida tempta. Sed longe sequere et vestigia semper adora”.

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