"But fifty times shall not rekindled be The countenance of the Lady who reigns here, Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art"

Proserpina, the Roman Persephone
Public DomainProserpina, the Roman Persephone - Credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(Canto 10, lines 79-81)

"The Lady who reigns here" is Persephone, wife of Hades. In Greek mythology, she was also associated with the Moon, which is then the "countenance" "rekindled" mentioned here. "Fifty times shall not" then indicates that less than fifty months shall pass. Four years and two months from the time of the fictional journey (at spring equinox 1300) would be in May/June 1304. Dante was banished from Florence in 1302 - during the years following he and other White partyists would try to fight their way back into Florence several times without success: this is what Farinata's prophecy aims at. Farinata takes the opportunity to return Dante's reproach about the "art" of fighting one's way back into the city.