Characters

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 415

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Cantos Study Guide

Subscribe Now

John Adams
John Adams (1735-1826) was the second president of the United States. His correspondence with Jefferson forms the basis for many of the middle cantos.

The Boss, Muss
See Benito Mussolini

Confucius
See Kung Futse

Isotta degli Atti
Isotta degli Atti (1430?-1470) was Sigismondo Malatesta's mistress and, later, his third wife. His love for her is demonstrated all over the Tempio Malatestiano by the intertwined initials S and I.

Kung Futse
Confucius (551-479 B.C.) is the moral anchor of The Cantos. Pound compares the moral precepts of the West, especially those of Aristotle, against Confucian ideals and finds the West's lacking. Perhaps the most important dictum of Confucius for Pound's poem is his insistence on exact terminology; Pound feared and hated the inexact use of language, and The Pisan Cantos are suffused with Pound's regretful sense that he violated this precept in his wartime broadcasts.

Ixotta
See Isotta degli Atti

Thomas Jefferson
The third president of the United States, Jefferson (1743-1826) was a proponent of agrarian democracy and opposed centralized banking systems.

Sigismondo Malatesta
Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468) was the lord of the Italian city of Rimini and a famous "condottiere," or Renaissance courtier. By the time he was 13, Malatesta was fighting in the field, leading his troops against Papal armies—and winning. These experiences were the prelude to a violent life in which Malatesta struggled against the Popes Pius II and Paul II. Malatesta held his own, and at the same time built a court in Rimini. This court, for Pound, was an example of enlightened governance, bringing the artists Agostino di Duccia and Piero della Francesca to Rimini to help in the decoration of the church of San Francesco, also known as the Tempio Malatestiano.

Benito Mussolini
The Fascist party leader and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was Pound's contemporary and one of his idols. Pound met with him once, in 1933, having sent "il Duce" an economic program, and felt that he could sense Mussolini's intelligence in their brief encounter. He retells this story in Canto 41. Mussolini returns in Canto 74, the first of the Pisan series, when we see him and his mistress Clara hung "by the heels at Milano." After the Italian fascist state fell, the Nazis took Mussolini to the northern Italian city of Salo and set up a puppet government there. As the Allied forces penetrated northward, the Italian partisans captured Mussolini, executed him, and displayed his body in the main square of Milan.

Siggy
See Sigismondo Malatesta

Previous

Themes

Next

Critical Essays