"Old rumour in the world proclaims them blind"

(Canto 15, line 67)

Going back on a proverb about the blindness of Florentines, satirizing the contemporary rulers of the city. It is said that the Ostrogothic king Totila was able to taking Florence by first simply professing his good intentions, then razing the city. Villani notes of the Florentines (book 2, chapter 1): "and for this cause they were ever afterwards called blind in the proverb". Some commentators think of an episode where the Pisans fooled the Florentines: once, when Pisa went on a conquest to the Baleares islands, they asked Florence to help guard their city while away. For thanks, they presented the Florentines with a piece of cracked porphyry wrapped in red fabric, thereby fooling the Florentines into happily accepting the "gift", thinking it was a perfect stone. Of course, the proverbial blindness of the Florentines need not have only one explanation.