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A few observations on Dante's De Monarchia and Ezra Pound

Friday, 6 October 2017 at 21:31

Ezra Pound on Dr John Dunn.

Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Pound and Autocracy: From Medieval to Modern
Matthew Feldman
Teesside University

("On Monarchy" or "A Treatise on Government") was published in 1313. In this work, Dante argued that the authority of a secular ruler is not derived from the authority of the church, nor conferred by the Pope, but derives directly from God.

Yet certain medieval tropes have not been analysed in terms of ‘preparing’ Pound for his quasi-religious devotion to Mussolini; and thereby, Italian Fascism.

Above all, two sources stand out: Dante’s De Monarchia,which is effectively dealt with in Dasenbrock’s pivotal article; and Ernst Kantorowicz’s Frederick II, which has received much less attention.

Reed Way Dasenbrok, “Ezra Pound, the Last Ghibelline”, in Imitating the Italians: Wyatt, Spenser, Synge, Pound, Joyce (John Hopkins UP: Boston, 1991)

Ezra Pound - Poet, Volume 2
By A. David Moody


Will, a complex word implying a will to do something or to have something done, is the key word in Jefferson and/or Mussolini, which Pound once said was his De Monarchia, or blueprint for efficient government. ‘Will-power’ adds an emphasis,, meaning a power to effect what is desired; but the will-to-power is excluded from Pound’s lexicon, at least so far as it signifies the desire for power for its own sake. Moreover, before concerning himself with the power to govern, Pound nearly identifies the will to govern with the intelligence to do so, so that the intelligence, knowing the desired end, shall direct the will’s power to that end. Directio voluntatis, he insisted, taking the Latin tag from Dante’s De Monarchia:what matters is that the will-power be rightly directed. At the same time, as he insisted with equal force, intelligence counts for nothing ‘until it comes into action’. What might be a good idea is no good untilthere’s the will to do it.


De Monarchia: EP to Carlo Izzo, 23 Aug. [1935]. EP’s Poetry and Prose IX, 97. Dante’s De Monarchia is concerned with the problem of how to achieve a just society on earth, and there are indeed close parallels with
Jefferson and/or Mussolini,.Dante states that the well-regulated society will be achieved when love of natural perfection directs the will to act justly (directio volontatis); he declares the opposite of Justice to be Greed; and he maintains that only under a single ruling or guiding power, a king or anemperor, will the earthly paradise be attained.

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