c 11 1







Terrell, Carroll F. Cantos VIII-XI. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993. 35-58.

MC Lawrence Scott Rainey. Ezra Pound and the Monument of Culture: Text, History, and the Malatesta Cantos (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
PCH Lawrence Scott Rainey, ed. A Poem Containing History. Textual Studies in The Cantos. Ann Arbor: The U of Michigan P, 1997.


  1. E gradment… annutii – “the knights of antiquity put faith in these annunciations.” Part of Sigismondo's speech to his troops before the battle of Nidastore, on July 2, 1461. An account of the battle is given by Broglio (Tonini V: 281–8). The small errors of transcription are due to Pound having consulted Broglio in manuscript and not in Tonini’s printed version, which was also available to him. The "a" in "gradment" should have a dash on top, as Pound indicated for the 1925 edition of A Draft of XVI Cantos. This is a medieval abbreviation for "an" used in Broglio's manuscript (PCH 80-85).       

    “Or considerate se lla victoria è nostra – che iera sera un’aquila gientile se posò sull cima del nostro padiglione; grandemente li antichi e valenti romani davano grandissima fede a questi anuntii chiamati agurii; per la quale part ne pigliamo gran conforto perchè essendo noi dicessi della progienia e sanguinità dello illustrissimo Publio Scipone Affricano, nobile romano.” 
    (“Now consider whether the victory is ours – for yesterday evening a noble eagle landed on the top of our tent. Greatly the ancient and valiant Romans placed great faith in these annunciations called auguries; therefore we take solace from this event, as our house descends from the progeny and blood-line of the famous Roman nobleman, Publius Scipio Africanus.” Tr. L. Rainey.) See also the finale of canto X n.47 (M n.43, 85; PCH 77-87).
  2. us – the narrator of this canto is a soldier in Sigismondo’s army, an eye–witness loyal to the Malatesta house, maybe Broglio himself. The roll call of names differs slightly from Broglio’s manuscript.
  3. Robert MalatestaRoberto – Roberto Malatesta (1442–1482) Sigismondo’s eldest son by Vannetta dei Toschi. He was made legitimate by Pope Nicholas V in 1450 and started fighting at his father side. Seeing that he had traded Cesena for smaller provinces for himself after Malatesta Novello’s death in 1465, Sigismondo disinherited him in favour of his younger brother, Sallustio, when he came from Morea in 1466. After Sigismondo’s death, Roberto came back to Rimini, had Sallustio murdered and became the new lord, earning the title Roberto Magnifico. He became a condottiere like his father and fought for various patrons, including Venice and the Pope (Yriarte 339-55).
  4. papishes – pejorative term for Catholics. Here the term is used to show contempt for soldiers in the papal army.
  5. dilly cavalli tre milia – I. “of horses, three thousand.” Reference to the papal troops at Nidastore in 1461.
  6. mille tre cento cavalli – I. “one thousand three hundred horses.”
  7. fanti – I. “foot soldiers.”
  8. spingard – springald, an artillery device for throwing bolts, rocks, or Greek fire.
  9. mille cinquecento cavalli – I. “thousand five hundred horses.” 
  10. E gli homini… trecento – I. “And Signor Malatesta’s men were only thousand three hundred.”
  11. we got it next August – Sigismondo’s troops were defeated at the battle of Senigallia on 12 August 1462. See Timeline.
  12. got beaten at Fano – Sigismondo’s son Roberto defended Fano against the papal forces led by Federico de Montefeltro, but was forced to surrender it on 25 September 1463. See Timeline.
  13. TarantoTarentum – Latin name of Taranto, a port in the bay of the same name. Sigismondo went to Taranto, to visit Gianantonio Orsini, the Prince of Taranto on 25 August 1462 and discuss the situation with Piccinino and his Angevin allies (M n. 9, 86). In his absence, Federico da Montefeltro, at the head of the papal troops, systematically overran his territories (Jones 232).
  14. anti–Aragons – The anti–Aragons were the members of the Anjou family, René d’Anjou, Duke of Lorraine and his son, Jean d’Anjou, Duke of Calabria, who were trying to win the kingdom of Naples after Alfonso’s death in 1458. The Angevin alliance had been routed at Troia on 18 August 1462 by Ferdinando de Aragon and Alessandro Sforza (C X: n. 44; C XI: n.10). The Angevin cause was lost and Sigismondo could expect no more help from them.
  15. Par che e fuor di questo Sigis… mundo – I. “He seems to be out of his Sigis world.” Pound’s pun on Sigismondo’s name (“mondo” in Italian means “world”) is based on an excerpt of a letter by Federico da Montefeltro to Cicco Simonetta on October 21, 1463 (Soranzo 509–510). It shows Federico's triumph at having beaten his rival beyond any possibility of recovery. See
  16. he was in the sick wards – A reference to Federico da Montefeltro’s intended siege of Rimini in the spring of 1463, which was lifted because the plague had broken out both within the city walls and in the country-side (C XI: n.14; Jones 236).
  17. Pius II Piccolomini Library Siena fresco PinturicchioQuali lochi sono questi – I. “These are the places.” The list is taken from the peace agreement between Sigismondo and the Pope referring to the cities and regions Sigismondo had to surrender by the peace treaty of October 1463 (Battaglini 656–57).
  18. Revmo Monsignore – I. "The Most Reverend Father," Pope Pius II.
  19. salt heaps - Pound refers to Cervia, which Malatesta Novello was forced to sell to the Venetians for 3000 ducats in April 1463. Cervia was particularly lucrative because of revenue out of salt (Jones 236).
  20. lame Novvy – Domenico (Malatesta Novello), Sigismondo’s younger brother, Lord of Cesena, became lame due to an accident at the age of 29. In August 1463, he closed a separate agreement with the pope, which stipulated that he could rule the city until his death, but surrender it to the pope after that, since he had no heirs. Domenico died in 1465. Sigismondo’s eldest son, Roberto, tried to defend Cesena, but surrendered it to the papal forces led by Federico da Montefeltro in 1466, while his father was in Morea. See Timeline.
  21. young Piero – Letter that Malatesta sent to Pierfrancesco de Medici (1430–1476) on 5 December 5, 1463. (Rossi 382).
    “You must have heard about the troubles and misfortunes I have borne in my war, and I am certain that for my continuing adversities you have felt that sadness which one friend feels for another. Now, in order to escape from my travails I have accepted everything that Fortune has brought me and made peace in the way that seemed best and pleased his Holiness of our Lord; and I remain in a state such as pleases God and I find my condition to be the opposite of that popular expression, that he who has few things has few thoughts; for I have very few things remaining and all too many thoughts. And to give scope to the bizarre and melancholy moods that strike me, I have decided to take up hunting and snaring birds for exercise, and being poorly supplied with dogs, in order to do such activities, would you please give me a couple of good harriers, for I know that you have them; or that, not having them, you will be able to get them from your many friendships. With these I can hunt away my troubles and sometimes give myself some pleasure; with confidence I request this of you because I am certain you would try to please me in much greater matters.” (M n. 12, 87. Tr. L Rainey.) See also the letter in Italian, which Pound copied in his notes: Autograph copy.
  22. chiexa – I. “church.”
  23. Old Zuliano – Letter by Sigismondo addressed to his son, Roberto, on 18 June 1463:      
    “Magnifice filii noster poy che quello poverecto de Giuliano agulante e morto voglio che se dal lato de la se trova niente del suo chel sia de glie figliolecti soy Si chi ordine chel sia salvato e non vada in mala parte Et di amiser alberto vicario de le gabelle che quella Robba che niccolo da rimino guadagno cun la fusta de certi da pesaro che ella sia sua et cosi voglio che glie la facce consignare e che Io sia avixato che robba e Ex Ariminio XVIII iunii 1463 Sigismundu pandulfus de Malatestis” (Grigioni “Documenti” XII, 382).     
    “Most magnificent son of ours, since that poor Giuliano Agulante is dead I want that, should you find anything that belongs to him down there, this shall be given to his sons. Therefore you shall order that these belongings are saved and not wasted. Moreover, you shall tell Mister Alberto Vicario that the taxes on those things that Niccolò da Rimini earned with the galley of certain people from Pesaro are his and similarly I want that you make sure that those taxes are delivered to him and that he is told what sort of things those are. From Rimini, 18th of July 1469 Sigismndo Pandolfo Malatesta.” (Tr. N. Maldino.)
  24. And Vanni must give – passage from Sigismondo’s letter to his son Roberto, 24 March 1463:        
    “Magnifice filii noster si quella armadura de Giohan riccio presente aportadore e li ho altra che bona gliesia voglio che tu glie la facce dare e cosi quelli doy ronzini che ha uno contadino li vede operacte che dicto Giohanne riccio li habbia per omne modo in vendita e del pregio che convenerrano Io glielo faro dare e remanero Io lo pagadore. arimini die XXIV martii 1463 Sigismundus pandulfus de Malatestis” (“Documenti” XI, Grigioni 382).

    “Most magnificent son of ours I want that you order that Giovanni Riccio that brings this letter is given that armour or any other armour that he might prefer, and similarly that you make sure that those two nags that belong to a peasant are sold every which way to the aforementioned Giovanni Riccio and I shall give him their worth and I shall pay for them. From Rimini, 24th of March 1463, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta.” (Tr. N. Maldino.)
  25. writs run in Fano – the two letters above (n.20 and 21) were written to Roberto, Sigismondo’s son, who in March and June 1463 was still his lieutenant in Fano. The city would be surrendered to Federico da Montefeltro, Pope Pius’s general, on 25 September. Carlo Grigioni, who published the letters, noted that they are to be found in the city archives. They are thus among the last of Malatesta’s rulings as lord of Fano.
  26. Long room over the arches - The long room over the arches is part of the ensemble called “Case malatestiane” in Fano, built between 1413 and 1421 by Pandolfo III, Sigismondo’s father. Used at times for meetings of the town council, it is now part of the Museo Civico and houses its collection of paintings (Sala Grande). Fano: Museo civico.
    Fano sala grande
  27. Sub annulo piscatoris – L. “Under the seal of the Church, the palace or court formerly of the Malatesta.” “Annulo piscatoris” literally means “the ring of the fisherman” to show that the pope was the successor of St. Peter.
  28. D’”e b’”e colonne – I. “with the beautiful columns.” Probable reference to the architecture of the Biblioteca Malatestiana and the Hospital of the Holy Cross in Cesena, both built by Malatesta Novello. Cesena was surrendered to the pope by the treaty at Tivoli on 26 August 1463 (Jones 237). Malatesta was permitted to rule until his death in 1465, but after that, the pope assumed control.
    rsz biblioteca malatestiana cesena
  29. big diamond – In the list of documents that Carlo Grigioni collected in his “Documenti inediti” article, there is one referring to the purchase of a very precious jewel with a big diamond that Sigismondo bought in Venice for 15.000 ducats in November 1457. As the jewel was far beyond his means, he pledged to pay it over five years in grain and woad. The expense was put to vote in the city council in Fano (Grigioni “Documenti” 367-371).
  30. Morea – The name of the Peloponnese peninsula in the Middle Ages. Pound refers to Sigismondo’s expedition to Morea as a captain of the Venetians, 1464-66. He was the only condottiere who accepted to fight against the Ottomans. However, his campaign was severely underfunded and hampered by Venetian incompetence and bureaucracy. The only gain for Sigismondo was saving Gemisto’s bones from a possible depredation by the Turks. He brought them to Rimini in 1466 and put them in a sarcophagus on the right side of the Tempio. See also OCCEP VIII n.36.
  31. Lakedaemon – Laedaemon, ancient name of Sparta, a Greek city state in the Peloponnese.
  32. 44 thousand years – The formula “we sit here” which Pound added at the end of canto IV and would use again in canto XII indicates the Arena di Verona, where Pound met T.S. Eliot in early June 1922. The arena became for Pound a magical place where he could survey layers of history is one sweeping view. The arena has 44 concentric circles from the top to the stage level, as Caterina Ricciardi remarked, “mille per ogni gradino” (a thousand (years) for each step”) (31). 
  33. trapped him – Pound’s story teller refers back to an ambush by Astorre Manfredi in 1446. Sigismondo had to escape Manfredi’s dogs and "floundered about in the marsh for three days." See Canto IX: 4-13. 
  34. Rocca Sorano – The fortress of Sorano, to which Sigismondo laid siege in October-December 1454. See Canto IX: 114-123 and Canto X: 1-13.
  35. Vogliamo che le donne – I. “We want that the ladies.” In 1436, at nineteen, Sigismondo repealed Rimini’s sumptuary laws (M n.15, 88).
  36. Melozzo da Forlì Bartolomeo PlatinaPlatina – the assumed name of Bartolomeo Sacchi (1421–81) a member of an informal, secret group called Accademia Romana. The members of the Roman Academy shared an enthusiasm for pagan antiquity and Latin literature, wore togas, spoke classic Latin and composed homoerotic poetry. They also held celebrations of the founding of the Roman Empire and revived pagan rites (d’Elia 6).
    They were arrested on suspicion of plotting against the life of Pope Paul II in February 1468, but they were soon released. Platina was jailed and interrogated: one of the questions he had to answer was what he had discussed with Sigismondo while waiting in the pope’s antechamber in 1467.
  37. singing to Zeus in the catacombs – The members of the Accademia Romana met in the catacombs of Rome, among the tombs and bones of the early Christians. There they felt safe to perform secret pagan rites and lose themselves in their devotion to antiquity (and each other) (D’Elia 7).
  38. 220px PietrobarboBarbo Formosus – Pietro Barbo succeeded Pius II in 1464. As he was generally considered to be good-looking, he wished to be called “Formosus” (“the handsome”). However, his cardinals protested and he settled for the neutral Paul II. See Timeline.
  39. de litteris e de armis, praestantibusque ingeniis – L. “Of letters and arms, of outstanding minds.” Platina’s answer when interrogated about what he talked about with Sigismondo Malatesta.
  40. sexaginta quator nec tentatur habere plures – L. “64 and he not to try to get more.” (Pound quotes from Battaglini Doc. No. 69, 668–71). Sigismondo was only allowed 64 lances, a final humiliation he had to endure from the pope (M n.17, 88).
  41. to watch the Venetians - While Sigismondo was away in Morea, the Venetians placed a guard in the city to preserve his lordship while he was away. The pope was well aware of the Venetian desire to occupy Rimini and told Sigismondo that the 64 lances were to counteract the Venetians, should they try to take over.
  42. left three horses – In 1467, Sigismondo learned that the pope wanted to dislocate him from Rimini, in exchange for a lesser domain like Spoleto and Foligno. On hearing this, Sigismondo was frantic and planned to murder Paul. The pope received him in the presence of seven cardinals: realizing that he could not carry out his plan, Sigismondo fell to his knees and begged the pope to consider the services the Malatesta family had brought to the papacy over the years. Paul then denied the plan to dispossess Sigismondo and offered to make him condottiere for the papal army. This service, paid with 8000 ducats a year, would continue until Sigismondo's death in 1468. (Jones 243-44; Broglio in Tonini 311-18).
  43. castellan of Montefiore – when Sigismondo returned from Morea, his ship landed in the small coastal town of Montefiore, a former Malatestan possession. The castellan wrote to the new Venetian overlords that Sigismondo was still very popular with the town’s people (M n.19 89).
  44. Henry – Enricho de Aquabello. Malatesta made a written agreement that Enrico would receive a green cloak with silver brocade if for four months he stood any tolerable joke Sigismondo played on him. Enrico too, could play jokes on Sigismondo, provided they were bearable. The agreement is included in Grigioni, “Capriccio” 40-41.
  45. Actum… Aquabello – L. “Act executed in Sigismondo’s fortress, Roberto Valturio present… of his free will and full knowledge… to Enrico Aquabello (Grigioni “Capriccio” 41-41; M n.20, 89).