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The Divine Comedy, Volume 1, Hell [The Inferno] by Dante Aligheri

Part 2 out of 3

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above some folk who far as the throat were seen to issue from
that boiling stream. He showed to us at one side a solitary
shade, and said, "He cleft, in the bosom of God, the heart that
still is honored on the Thames."[1] Then I saw folk, who out of
the stream held their head, and even all their chest; and of
these I recognized many. Thus ever more and more shallow became
that blood, until it cooked only the feet: and here was our
passage of the foss.

[1] In 1271, Prince Henry, son of Richard of Cornwall, was
stabbed during the mass, in a church at Viterbo, by Guy of
Montfort, to avenge the death of his father, Simon, Earl of
Leicester, in 1261. The heart of the young Prince was placed in a
golden cup, as Villani (vii. 39) reports, on a column, at the
head of a bridge in London.

"Even as on this side, thou seest that the boiling stream ever
diminishes," said the Centaur, "I would have thee believe that on
this other its bed sinks more and more, until it comes round
again where it behoves that tyranny should groan. The divine
justice here pierces that Attila who was a scourge on earth, and
Pyrrhus and Sextus; and forever milks the tears that with the
boiling it unlocks from Rinier of Corneto, and from Rinier Pazzo,
who upon the highways made such warfare."

Then he turned back and repassed the ford.

CANTO XIII. Second round of the Seventh Circle: of those who have
done violence to themselves and to their goods.--The Wood of
Self-murderers.--The Harpies.--Pier delle Vigne.--Lano of Siena
and others.

Nessus had not yet reached the yonder bank when we set forward
through a wood which was marked by no path. Not green leaves but
of a dusky color, not smooth boughs but knotty and gnarled, not
fruits were there but thorns with poison. Those savage beasts
that hold in hate the tilled places between Cecina and Corneto
have no thickets so rough or so dense.

Here the foul Harpies make their nests, who chased the Trojans
from the Strophades with dismal announcement of future calamity.
They have broad wings, and human necks and faces, feet with
claws, and a great feathered belly. They make lament upon the
strange trees.

And the good Master, "Before thou enter farther know that thou
art in the second round," he began to say to me, "and wilt be,
till thou shalt come unto the horrible sand. Therefore look well
around, and so thou shalt see things that would take credence
from my speech."[1]

[1] Things which if told would seem incredible.

I heard wailings uttered on every side, and I saw no one who
might make them, wherefore, I, all bewildered, stopped. I believe
that he believed that I believed that all these voices issued
amid those stumps from people who because of us had hidden

Therefore said the Master, "If thou break off a twig from one of
these plants, the thoughts thou hast will all be cut short." Then
I stretched my hand a little forward and plucked a branchlet from
a great thorn-bush, and its trunk cried out, "Why dost thou rend
me?" When it had become dark with blood it began again to cry,
"Why dost thou tear me? hast thou not any spirit of pity? Men we
were, and now we are become stocks; truly thy hand ought to be
more pitiful had we been the souls of serpents."

As from a green log that is burning at one of its ends, and from
the other drips, and hisses with the air that is escaping, so
from that broken splinter came out words and blood together;
whereon I let the tip fall, and stood like a man who is afraid.

"If he had been able to believe before," replied my Sage, "O
wounded soul, what he has seen only in my verse,[1] he would not
upon thee have stretched his hand. But the incredible thing made
me prompt him to an act which grieves my very self. But tell him
who thou wast, so that, by way of some amends, he may refresh thy
fame in the world above, whereto it is allowed him to return."

[1] In the story of Polydorus, in the third book of the Aeneid.

And the trunk, "So with sweet speech dost thou allure me, that I
cannot be silent, and may it not displease you, that I am enticed
to speak a little. I am he who held both the keys of the heart of
Frederick, and who turned them, locking and unlocking so softly,
that from his confidence I kept almost every one.[1] Fidelity so
great I bore to the glorious office, that I lost slumber and
strength thereby. The harlot,[2] that never from the abode of
Caear turned her strumpet eyes,--the common death and vice of
courts,--inflamed all minds against me, and they, inflamed, did
so inflame Augustus that my glad honors turned to dismal sorrows.
My mind, in scornful temper thinking to escape scorn by death,
made me unjust toward my just self. By the strange roots of this
tree I swear to you, that I never broke faith unto my lord who
was so worthy of honor. And if one of you returneth to the world,
let him comfort my memory that yet lies prostrate from the blow
that envy gave it."

[1] The spirit who speaks is Pier delle Vigne, the Chancellor of
Frederick II.; of low birth, he rose to the first place in the
state; he was one of the earliest writers of Italian verse. Dante
has placed his master as well as him in Hell. See Canto X.

[3] Envie ys lavendere of the court alway;
For she ne parteth neither nyght ne day
Out of the house of Cesar, thus saith Daunte.
Legende of Goode Women, 358.60.

A while he paused, and then, "Since he is silent," said the Poet
to me, "lose not the hour, but speak and ask of him, if more
pleaseth thee." Whereon I to him, "Do thou ask him further of
what thou thinkest may satisfy me, for I cannot, such pity fills
my heart."

Therefore he began again, "So may this man do for thee freely
what thy speech prays, spirit incarcerate, still be pleased to
tell us how the soul is bound within these knots, and tell us, if
thou canst, if any from such limbs is ever loosed."

Then the trunk puffed strongly, and soon that wind was changed
into this voice: "Briefly shall ye be answered. When the
ferocious soul departeth from the body wherefrom itself hath torn
itself, Minos sends it to the seventh gulf. It falls into the
wood, and no part is chosen for it, but where fortune flings it,
there it takes root like a grain of spelt; it springs up in a
shoot and to a wild plant. The Harpies, feeding then upon its
leaves, give pain, and to the pain a window.[1] Like the rest
we shall go for our spoils,[2] but not, forsooth, that any one
may revest himself with them, for it is not just to have that of
which one deprives himself. Hither shall we drag them, and
through the melancholy wood shall our bodies be suspended, each
on the thorn-tree of his molested shade."

[1] The tearing of the leaves gives an outlet to the woe.

[2] Our bodies, at the Last Judgment.

We were still attentive to the trunk, believing that it might
wish to say more to us, when we were surprised by an uproar, as
one who perceives the wild boar and the chase coming toward his
stand and hears the Feasts and the branches crashing. And behold
two on the left hand, naked and scratched, flying so violently
that they broke all the limbs of the wood. The one in front was
shouting, "Now, help, help, Death!" and the other, who seemed to
himself too slow, "Lano, thy legs were not so nimble at the
jousts of the Toppo:"[1] and when perhaps his breath was
failing, of himself and of a bush he made a group. Behind them
the wood was full of black bitches, ravenous and running like
greyhounds that have been unleashed. On him that had squatted
they set their teeth and tore him to pieces, bit by bit, then
carried off his woeful limbs.

[1] Lano was slain in flight at the defeat of the Sienese by the
Aretines, near the Pieve del Toppo, in 1280. He and Jacomo were
notorious prodigals.

My Guide then took me by the hand, and led me to the bush, which
was weeping through its bleeding breaks in vain. "O Jacomo of
Sant' Andrea," it was saying, "what hath it vantaged thee to make
of me a screen? What blame have I for thy wicked life?" When the
Master had stopped beside it, he said, "Who wast thou, who
through so many wounds blowest forth with blood thy woeful
speech?" And he to us, "O souls who art arrived to see the
shameful ravage that hath thus disjoined my leaves from me,
collect them at the foot of the wretched bush. I was of the city
which for the Baptist changed her first patron;[1] wherefore will
he always make her sorrowful with his art. And were it not that
at the passage of the Arno some semblance of him yet remains,
those citizens who afterwards rebuilt it upon the ashes that were
left by Attila[2] would have labored in vain. I made a gibbet for
myself of my own dwelling."

[1] The first patron of florence was Mars; a fragment of a statue
of whom stood till 1333 on the Ponte Vecchio.

[2] It was not Attila, but Totila, who in 542 besieged Florence,
and, according to false popular tradition, burned it. The names
and personages were frequently confounded in the Dark Ages.

CANTO XIV. Third round of the Seventh Circle of those who have
done violence to God.--The Burning Sand.--Capaneus.--Figure of
the Old Man in Crete.--The Rivers of Hell.

Because the charity of my native place constrained me, I gathered
up the scattered leaves and gave them back to him who was already

Then we came to the confine, where the second round is divided
from the third, and where is seen a horrible mode of justice.

To make clearly manifest the new things, I say that we had
reached a plain which from its bed removeth every plant. The
woeful wood is a garland round about it, even as the dismal foss
to that. Here, on the very edge, we stayed our steps. The floor
was a dry and dense sand, not made in other fashion than that
which of old was trodden by the feet of Cato.

O vengeance of God, how much thou oughtest to be feared by every
one who readeth that which was manifest unto mine eyes!

Of naked souls I saw many flocks, that were all weeping very
miserably, and diverse law seemed imposed upon them. Some folk
were lying supine on the ground, some were seated all crouched
up, and others were going about continually. Those who were going
around were far the more, and those the fewer who were lying down
under the torment, but they had their tongues more loose for

Over all the sand, with a slow falling, were raining down dilated
flakes of fire, as of snow on alps without a wind. As the flames
which Alexander in those hot parts of India saw falling upon his
host, solid to the ground, wherefore he took care to trample the
soil by his troops, because the vapor was better extinguished
while it was single; so was descending the eternal glow whereby
the sand was kindled, like tinder beneath the steel, for doubling
of the dole. Without repose was ever the dance of the wretched
hands, now there, now here, brushing from them the fresh burning.

I began, "Master, thou that overcomest everything, except the
obdurate demons, who at the entrance of the gate came out against
us, who is that great one that seemeth not to heed the fire, and
lies scornful and contorted, so that the rain seems not to ripen
him?" And that same one who had perceived that I was asking my
Leader about him, cried out, "Such as I was alive, such am I
dead. Though Jove weary his smith, from whom in wrath he took the
sharp thunderbolt wherewith on my last day I was smitten, or
though he weary the others, turn by turn, in Mongibello at the
black forge, crying, 'Good Vulcan, help, help!' even as he did at
the fight of Phlegra, and should hurl on me with all his might,
thereby he should not have glad vengeance."

Then my Leader spoke with force so great that I had not heard him
so loud, "O Capaneus, in that thy pride is not quenched, art thou
the more punished; no torture save thine own rage would be a pain
adequate to thy fury."

Then he turned round to me with better look, saying, "He was one
of the Seven Kings that besieged Thebes, and he held, and it
appears that he holds God in disdain, and little it appears that
he prizes Him; but as I said to him, his own despites are very
due adornments for his breast. Now come on behind me, and take
heed withal, not to set thy feet upon the burning sand, but keep
them always close unto the wood."

Silent we came to where spirts forth from the wood a little
streamlet, the redness of which still makes me shudder. As from
the Bulicame issues a brooklet, which then the sinful women share
among them, so this down across the sand went along.[1] Its bed
and both its sloping banks were made of stone, and the margins on
the side, whereby I perceived that the crossing[2] was there.

[1] The Bulicame, a hot spring near Viterbo, much frequented as a
bath, the use of a portion of which was assigned to "sinful

[2] The crossing of the breadth of the round of burning sand, on
the way inward toward the next circle.

"Among all else that I have shown to thee, since we entered
through the gate whose threshold is barred to no one, nothing has
been discerned by thine eyes so notable as is the present stream
which deadens all the flamelets upon it." These words were of my
Leader, wherefore I prayed him, that he should give me largess of
the food for which he had given me largess of desire.

"In mid sea sits a wasted land," said he then, "which is named
Crete, under whose king the world of old was chaste. A mountain
is there that of old was glad with waters and with leaves, which
is called Ida; now it is desert, like a thing outworn. Rhea chose
it of old for the trusty cradle of her little son, and to conceal
him better when he cried had shoutings made there. Within the
mountain stands erect a great old man, who holds his shoulders
turned towards Damietta, and looks at Rome as if his mirror. His
head is formed of fine gold, and pure silver are his arms and
breast; then he is of brass far as to the fork. From there
downward he is all of chosen iron, save that his right foot is of
baked clay, and he stands erect on that more than on the
other.[1] Every part except the gold is cleft with a fissure that
trickles tears, which collected perforate that cavern. Their
course falls from rock to rock into this valley; they form
Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon; then it goes down through this
narrow channel far as where there is no more descending. They
form Cocytus, and what that pool is, thou shalt see; therefore
here is it not told."

[1] This image is taken directly from the dream of Nebuchadnezzar
(Daniel ii. 31-33). It is the type of the ages of tradition and
history, with its back to the past, its face toward Rome,--the
seat of the Empire and of the Church. The tears of the sin and
suffering of the generations of man form the rivers of Hell.

And I to him, "If the present rill floweth down thus from our
world, why doth it appear to us only at this rim?"

And he to me, "Thou knowest that the place is round, and though
thou art come far, ever to the left descending toward the bottom,
not yet hast thou turned through the whole circle; wherefore if a
new thing appears to us, it ought not to bring wonder to thy

And I again, "Master, where are Phlegethon and Lethe found, for
of the one thou art silent, and of the other thou sayest that it
is formed by this rain?"

"In all thy questions surely thou pleasest me," he answered, "but
the boiling of the red water ought truly to solve one that thou
askest. Lethe thou shalt see, but outside of this ditch, there
where souls go to lave themselves when sin repented of is taken
away." Then he said, "Now it is time to depart from the wood;
take heed that thou come behind me; the margins afford way, for
they are not burning, and above them all the vapor is

CANTO XV. Third round of the Seventh Circle: of those who have
done violence to Nature.--Brunetto Latini.--Prophecies of
misfortune to Dante.

Now one of the hard margins bears us on, and the fume of the
brook overshadows so that it saves the water and the banks from
the fire. As the Flemings, between Wissant and Bruges, fearing
the flood that is blown in upon them, make the dyke whereby the
sea is routed; and as the Paduans along the Brenta, in order to
defend their towns and castles, ere Chiarentana[1] feel the
heat,--in such like were these made, though neither so high nor
so thick had the master, whoever he was, made them.

[1] The mountain range north of the Brenta, by the floods from
which the river is swollen in the spring.

We were now so remote from the wood that I could not have seen
where it was though I had turned me round to look, when we
encountered a troop of souls which was coming along by the bank,
and each of them was looking at us, as at eve one is wont to look
at another under the new moon, and they so sharpened their brows
toward us as the old tailor does on the needle's eye.

Thus gazed at by that company, I was recognized by one who took
me by the hem, and cried out, "What a marvel!" And when he
stretched out his arm to me, I fixed my eyes on his baked aspect
so that his scorched visage prevented not my mind from
recognizing him; and bending down my own to his face, I answered,
"Are you here, Sir Brunetto?"[1] And he, "O my son, let it not
displease thee if Brunetto Latini turn a little back with thee,
and let the train go on." I said to him, "With all my power I
pray this of you, and if you will that I seat myself with you I
will do so, if it pleaseth this one, for I go with him." "O son,"
said he, "whoever of this herd stops for an instant lies then a
hundred years without fanning himself when the fire smites him;
therefore go onward, I will come at thy skirts, and then I will
rejoin my band which goeth weeping its eternal sufferings."

[1] Brunetto Latini, one of the most learned and able Florentines
of the thirteenth century. He was banished with the other chiefs
of the Guelph party, after the battle of Montaperti, in 1260, and
went to France, where he resided for many years. After his return
to Florence he became Secretary of the Commune, and he was the
master of Dante and Guido Cavalcanti. His principal literary work
was Li Livres dou Tresor, written in French, an interesting
compend of the omne scibile. He died in 1290. Dante uses the
plural "you" in addressing him, as a sign of respect.

I dared not descend from the road to go level with him, but I
held my head bowed like one who goes reverently. He began, "What
fortune, or destiny, ere the last day, brings thee down here? and
who is this that shows the road?"

"There above, in the clear life," I answered him, "I lost myself
in a valley, before my time was full. Only yester morn I turned
my back on it; this one[1] appeared to me as I was returning to
it, and he is leading me homeward along this path."

[1] Dante never speaks Virgil's name in Hell.

And he to me: "If thou follow thy star, thou canst not miss the
glorious port, if, in the beautiful life, I discerned aright. And
if I had not so untimely died, seeing heaven so benignant unto
thee I would have given cheer unto thy work. But that ungrateful
populace malign which descended from Fiesole of old,[1] and
smacks yet of the mountain and the rock, will hate thee because
of thy good deeds; and this is right, for among the bitter sorb
trees it is not fitting the sweet fig should bear fruit. Old
report in the world calls them blind; it is a people avaricious,
envious, and proud; from their customs take heed that thou keep
thyself clean. Thy fortune reserves such honor for thee that one
party and the other shall hunger for thee; but far from the goat
shall be the grass. Let the Fiesolan beasts make litter of
themselves, and touch not the plant, if any spring still upon
their dungheap, in which may live again the holy seed of those
Romans who remained there when it became the nest of so much

[1] After his flight from Rome Catiline betook himself to
Faesulae (Fiesole), and here for a time held out against the
Roman forces. The popular tradition ran that, after his defeat,
Faesulae was destroyed, and its people, together with a colony
from Rome, made a settlement on the banks of the Arno, below the
mountain on which Faesulae had stood. The new town was named
Fiora, siccome fosse in fiore edificata, "as though built among
flowers," but afterwards was called Fiorenza, or Florence. See G.
Villani, Cronica, I. xxxi.-xxxviii.

"If all my entreaty were fulfilled," replied I to him, "you would
not yet be placed in banishment from human nature; for in my mind
is fixed, and now fills my heart, the dear, good, paternal image
of you, when in the world hour by hour you taught me how man
makes himself eternal and in what gratitude I hold it, so long as
I live, it behoves that on my tongue should be discerned. That
which you tell me of my course I write, and reserve it to be
glossed with other text,[1] by a Lady, who will know how, if I
attain to her. Thus much would I have manifest to you: if only
that my conscience chide me not, for Fortune, as she will, I am
ready. Such earnest is not strange unto my ears; therefore let
Fortune turn her wheel as pleases her, and the churl his

[1] The prophecy by Ciacco of the fall of Dante's party, Canto
vi., and that by Farinata of Dante's exile, Canto x., which
Virgil had told should be made clear to him by Beatrice.

[2] The churl of Fiesole.

My Master then upon his right side turned himself back, and
looked at me; then said, "He listens well who notes it."

Not the less for this do I go on speaking with Sir Brunetto, and
I ask, who are his most known and most eminent companions. And he
to me, "To know of some is good, of the others silence will be
laudable for us, for the time would be short for so much speech.
In brief, know that all were clerks, and great men of letters,
and of great fame, defiled in the world with one same sin.
Priscian goes along with that disconsolate crowd, and Francesco
of Accorso;[1] and thou mightest also have seen, hadst thou had
desire of such scurf, him who by the Servant of Servants was
translated from Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left his
ill-strained nerves.[2] Of more would I tell, but the going on
and the speech cannot be longer, for I see yonder a new cloud
rising from the sand. Folk come with whom I must not be. Let my
Tesoro be commended to thee, in which I still am living, and more
I ask not."

[1] Priscian, the famous grammarian of the sixth century; Francis
of Accorso, a jurist of great repute, who taught at Oxford and at
Bologna, and died in 1294.

[2] Andrea de Mozzi, bishop of Florence, translated by Boniface
VIII. to Viceuza, near which the Bacchiglione runs. He died in

Then he turned back, and seemed of those who run at Verona for
the green cloth[1] across the plain, and of these he seemed the
one that wins, and not he that loses.

[1] The prize in the annual races at Verona.

CANTO XVI. Third round of the Seventh Circle: of those who have
done violence to Nature.--Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi and
Jacopo Rusticucci.--The roar of Phlegethon as it pours downward.--
The cord thrown into the abyss.

Now was I in a place where the resounding of the water that was
falling into the next circle was heard, like that hum which the
beehives make, when three shades together separated themselves,
running, from a troop that was passing under the rain of the
bitter torment. They came toward us, and each cried out, "Stop
thou, that by thy garb seemest to us to be one from our wicked

Ah me! what wounds I saw upon their limbs, recent and old, burnt
in by the flames. Still it grieves me for them but to remember

To their cries my Teacher gave heed; he turned his face toward
me, and "Now wait," he said; "to these one should be courteous,
and were it not for the fire that the nature of the place shoots
out, I should say that haste better befitted thee than them."

They began again, when we stopped, the old verse, and when they
had reached us they made a wheel of themselves all three. As
champions naked and oiled are wont to do, watching their hold and
their vantage, before they come to blows and thrusts, thus,
wheeling, each directed his face on me, so that his neck in
contrary direction to his feet was making continuous journey.

"Ah! if the misery of this shifting sand bring us and our prayers
into contempt," began one, "and our darkened and blistered
aspect, let our fame incline thy mind to tell us who thou art,
that so securely plantest thy living feet in Hell. He whose
tracks thou seest me trample, though he go naked and singed, was
of greater state than thou thinkest. Grandson he was of the good
Gualdrada; his name was Guidoguerra, and in his life he did much
with counsel, and with the sword. The other who treads the sand
behind me is Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, whose fame should be welcome
in the world above. And I, who am set with them on the cross, was
Jacopo Rusticucci,[1] and surely my savage wife more than aught
else injures.

[1] Concerning Tegghiaio and Rusticucci Dante had enquired of
Ciacco, Canto vi. They and Guido Guerra were illustrious citizens
of Florence in the thirteenth century. Their deeds are recorded
by Villani and Ricordano Malespini. The good Gualdrada, famed for
her beauty and her modesty, was the daughter of Messer
Bellincione Berti, referred to in Cantos w. and wi. of Paradise
as one of the early worthies of the city. See O. Villani,
Cronica. V. xxxvii.

If I could have been sheltered from the fire I would have cast
myself below among them, and I think that the Teacher would have
permitted it; but because I should have been scorched and baked,
fear overcame my good will that made me greedy to embrace them.
Then I began: "Not contempt, but grief, did your condition fix
within me, so that slowly will it be all divested, soon as this
my Lord said words to me by which I understood that such folk as
ye are might be coming. Of your city I am; and always your deeds
and honored names have I retraced and heard with affection. I
leave the gall and go for the sweet fruits promised me by my
veracious Leader; but far as the centre needs must I first

"So may thy soul long direct thy limbs," replied he then, "and so
may thy fame shine after thee, say if courtesy and valor abide in
our city as they were wont, or if they have quite gone forth from
it? For Guglielmo Borsiere,[1] who is in torment with us but
short while, and goes yonder with our companions, afflicts us
greatly with his words."

[1] Nothing is known from contemporary record of Borsiere, but
Boccaccio tells a story of him in the Decameron, giorn. i. nov.

"The new people and the sudden gains [1] have generated pride and
excess, Florence, in thee, so that already thou weepest thereat."
Thus cried I with face uplifted. And the three, who understood
that for answer, looked one at the other, as men look at hearing

[1] Florence had grown rapidly in population and in wealth during
the last years of the thirteenth century.

"If other times it costeth thee so little," replied they all, "to
satisfy others, happy thou that thus speakest at thy pleasure.
Therefore, if thou escapest from these dark places, and returnest
to see again the beautiful stars, when it shall rejoice thee to
say, 'I have been,' mind thou speak of us unto the people." Then
they broke the wheel, and in flying their swift legs seemed

Not an amen could have been said so quickly as they had
disappeared; wherefore it seemed good to my Master to depart. I
followed him, and we had gone little way before the sound of the
water was so near to us, that had we spoken we scarce had heard.
As that river on the left slope of the Apennine, which, the first
from Monte Veso toward the east, has its proper course,--which is
called Acquacheta up above, before it sinks valleyward into its
low bed, and at Forli no longer has that name,[1] --reverberates
from the alp in falling with a single leap there above San
Benedetto, where there ought to be shelter for a thousand;[2]
thus down from a precipitous bank we found that dark-tinted water
resounding, so that in short while it would have hurt the ears.

[1] At Forli the river is called the Montone; it was the first of
the rivers on the left of the Apennines that had its course to
the sea; the others before it being tributaries of the Po, which
rises on Monte Veso.

[2] These last words are obscure, and none of the commentators
explain them satisfactorily.

I had a cord girt around me, and with it I had once thought to
take the leopard of the dappled skin.[1] After I had loosed it
wholly from me, even as my Leader had commanded me, I reached it
to him wound up and coiled. Whereon he turned toward the right,
and somewhat far from the edge threw it down into that deep
abyss. "And surely some strange thing must needs respond," said I
to myself, "to the strange signal which the Master so follows
with his eye."

[2] The leopard of the dappled skin, which had often turned
back Dante from the Mountain to the Dark Wood (see Canto i.); the
type of sensual sin. The cord is the type of religions
asceticism, of which the poet no longer has need. The meaning of
its use as a signal is not apparent.

Ah! how cautious men ought to be near those who see not only the
act, but with their wisdom look within the thoughts. He said to
me: "Soon will come up that which I await, and what thy thought
is dreaming must soon discover itself unto thy sight."

To that truth which has the aspect of falsehood ought one always
to close his lips so far as he can, because without fault it
causes shame;[1] but here I cannot be silent, and by the notes of
this comedy, Reader, I swear to thee,--so may they not be void of
lasting grace,--that I saw through that thick and dark air a
shape come swimming upwards marvelous to every steadfast heart;
like as he returns who goes down sometimes to loose an anchor
that grapples either a rock or other thing that in the sea is
hid, who stretches upward, and draws in his feet.

[1] Because the narrator is falsely taxed with falsehood.

CANTO XVII. Third round of the Seventh Circle: of those who have
done violence to Art.--Geryon.--The Usurers.--Descent to the
Eighth Circle.

"Behold the wild beast with the pointed tail, that passes
mountains, and breaks walls and weapons; behold him that infects
all the world."[1] Thus began my Leader to speak to me; and he
beckoned to him that he should come to shore near the end of the
trodden marbles.[2] And that loathsome image of fraud came
onward, and landed his head and his body, but drew not his tail
upon the bank. His face was the face of a just man (so benignant
was its skin outwardly), and of a serpent all the trunk beside;
he had two paws, hairy to the armpits; his back and breast and
both his sides were painted with nooses and circles. With more
colors of woof and warp Tartars or Turks never made cloth, nor
were such webs woven by Arachne.

[1] Dante makes Geryon the type and image of Fraud, thus
allegorizing the triple form (forma tricorperis umbrae: Aeneid
vi. 289; tergemini Geryonae; Id. viii. 292) ascribed to him by
the ancient poets.

[2] The stony margin of Phlegethon, on which Virgil and Dante
have crossed the sand.

As sometimes boats lie on the shore, so that they are partly in
water and partly on the ground, and as yonder, among the
gluttonous Germans, the beaver settles himself to make his
war,[1] so lay that worst of beasts upon the rim that closes in
the sand with stone. In the void all his tail was quivering,
twisting upwards its venomous fork, which like a scorpion's armed
the point.

[1] With his tail in the water to catch his prey, as was
popularly believed.

The Leader said: "Now needs must our way bend a little toward
that wicked beast that is couching there." Therefore we descended
on the right hand and took ten steps upon the verge quite to
avoid the sand and flame. And when we had come to it, I see, a
little farther on, people sitting upon the sand near to the void

[1] These people are the third class of sinners punished in this
round of the Seventh Circle, those who have done violence to Art,
the usurers. (See Canto xi.)

Here the Master said to me: "In order that thou mayst bear away
complete experience of this round, now go and see their
condition. Let thy discourse there be brief. Till thou returnest
I will speak with this one, that he may concede to us his strong

Thus, still up by the extreme head of that seventh circle, all
alone, I went where the sad people were sitting. Through the eyes
their woe was bursting forth. This way and that they helped with
their hands, sometimes against the vapors,[1] and sometimes
against the hot soil. Not otherwise do the dogs in summer, now
with muzzle, now with paw, when they are bitten either by fleas,
or flies, or gadflies. When I set my eyes on the face of some on
whom the woeful fire falls, not one of them I recognized;[2] but
I perceived that from the neck of each was hanging a pouch, that
had a certain color and a certain device,[3] and thereupon it
seems their eyes feed. And as I looking come among them, I saw
upon a yellow purse azure that had the face and bearing of a
lion.[4] Then as the current of my look proceeded I saw another,
red as blood, display a goose whiter than butter. And one, who
had his little white bag marked with an azure and pregnant
sow,[5] said to me, "What art thou doing in this ditch? Now get
thee gone, and since thou art still alive, know that my neighbor,
Vitaliano, will sit here at my left side. With these Florentines
am I, a Paduan; often they stun my ears shouting, "Let the
sovereign cavalier come who will bring the pouch with the three
goats."[1] Then he twisted his mouth, and stuck out his tongue,
like an ox that licks his nose.

[1] The falling flames.

[2] Dante thus indicates that they were not worthy to be known.

[3] The blazon of their arms, by which Dante learns who they are.

[4] This was the device of the Gianfigliazzi, a Guelph family of
Florence; the next was that of the Ubriachi, Ghibellines, also of

[5] Arms of the Scrovigni of Padua.

[6] One Giovanni Buiamonte of Florence, "who surpassed all others
of the time in usury," says Benvenuto da Imola.

And I, fearing lest longer stay might vex him who had admonished
me to stay but little, turned back from these weary souls. I
found my Leader, who had already mounted upon the croup of the
fierce animal, and he said to me, "Now be strong and courageous;
henceforth the descent is by such stairs; [1] mount thou in
front, for I wish to be between, so that the tail cannot do thee

[1] Not by foot, nor by boat as heretofore, but carried by living
ministers of Hell.

As is he who hath the shivering fit of the quartan so near that
his nails are already pallid, and he is all of a tremble only
looking at the shade, such I became at these words uttered. But
his reproaches wrought shame in me, which in presence of a good
lord makes a servant strong.

I seated myself on those huge shoulders. I wished to speak thus,
"Take heed that thou embrace me," but the voice came not as I had
thought. But he who other time had succored me, in other peril,
soon as I mounted, clasped and sustained me with his arms: and he
said, "Geryon, move on now; let the circles be wide, and the
descending slow; consider the strange burden that thou hast."

As a little vessel goeth from its place, backward, backward, so
he thence withdrew; and when he felt himself quite at play, he
turned his tail to where his breast had been, and moved it,
stretched out like an eel, and with his paws gathered the air to
himself. Greater fear I do not think there was when Phaethon
abandoned the reins, whereby heaven, as is still apparent, was
scorched; nor when the wretched Icarus felt his flanks
unfeathering through the melting of the wax, his father shouting
to him, "Ill way thou holdest," than mine was, when I saw that I
was in the air on every side, and saw every sight vanished,
except that of the beast. He goes along swimming very slowly,
wheels and descends, but I perceive it not, save by the wind upon
my face, and from below.

I heard now on the right hand the gorge making beneath us a
horrible roar; wherefore I stretch out my head, with my eyes
downward. Then I became more afraid to lean over, because I saw
fires and heard laments; whereat I, trembling, wholly cowered
back. And I saw then, what I had not seen before, the descending
and the wheeling, by the great evils that were drawing near on
diverse sides.

As the falcon which has been long on wing, that, without sight of
lure or bird, makes the falconer say, "Ah me, thou stoopest!"
descends weary, there whence he had set forth swiftly, through a
hundred circles, and lights far from his master, disdainful and
sullen; so Geryon set us at the bottom, at the very foot of the
scarped rock, and, disburdened of our persons, darted away as
arrow from the bowstring.

CANTO XVIII. Eighth Circle: the first pit: panders and seducers.--
Venedico Caccianimico.--Jason.--Second pit: false flatterers.--
Alessio Interminei.--Thais.

There is a place in Hell called Malebolge, all of stone of the
color of iron, as is the encircling wall that surrounds it. Right
in the middle of this field malign yawns an abyss exceeding wide
and deep, the structure of which I will tell of in its place.
That belt, therefore, which remains between the abyss and the
foot of the high bank is circular, and it has its ground divided
into ten valleys. Such an aspect as where, for guard of the
walls, many moats encircle castles, the place where they are
presents, such image did these make here. And as in such
strongholds from their thresholds to the outer bank are little
bridges, so from the base of the precipitous wall started crags
which traversed the dykes and the moats far as the abyss that
collects and cuts them off.

In this place, shaken off from the back of Geryon, we found
ourselves; and the Poet held to the left, and I moved on behind.
On the right hand I saw new sorrow, new torments, and new
scourgers, with which the first pit [1] was replete. At its
bottom were the sinners naked. This side the middle they came
facing us; on the farther side with us, but with swifter pace. As
the Romans, because of the great host in the year of Jubilee,[2]
have taken means upon the bridge for the passage of the people,
who on one side all have their front toward the Castle,[3] and go
to Saint Peter's, and on the other toward the Mount.[4]

[1] Bolgia, literally, budget, purse, sack, here used for
circular valley, or pit.

[2] The year 1299-1300, from Christmas to Easter.

[3] Of Sant' Angelo.

[4] The Capitoline.

Along the gloomy rock, on this side and on that, I saw horned
demons with great scourges, who were beating them cruelly from
behind. Ah! how they made them lift their heels at the first
blows; truly not one waited for the second, or the third.

While I was going on, my eyes encountered one, and I said
straightway, "Ere now for sight of him I have not fasted;"
wherefore to shape him out I stayed my feet, and the sweet Leader
stopped with ire, and assented to my going somewhat back. And
that scourged one thought to conceal himself by lowering his
face, but little it availed him, for I said: "O thou that castest
thine eye upon the ground, if the features that thou bearest are
not false, thou art Venedico Caccianimico; but what brings thee
unto such pungent sauces?"

And he to me, "Unwillingly I tell it, but thy clear speech
compels me, which makes me recollect the olden world. I was he
who brought the beautiful Ghisola[1] to do the will of the
Marquis, how ever the shameful tale may be reported. And not the
only Bolognese do I weep here, nay, this place is so full of
them, that so many tongues are not now taught between Savena and
the Reno to say sipa; [2] and if of this thou wishest pledge or
testimony, bring to mind our avaricious heart." As he spoke thus
a demon struck him with his scourge and said, "Begone, pandar,
here are no women for coining."

[1] His own sister; the unseemly tale is known only through Dante
and his fourteenth-century commentators, and the latter, while
agreeing that the Marquis was one of the Esti of Ferrara, do not
agree as to which of them he was.

[2] Bologna lies between the Savena and the Reno; sipa is the
Bolognese form of sia, or si.

I rejoined my Escort; then with few steps we came to where a crag
jutted from the bank.[1] Easily enough we ascended it, and
turning to the right[2] upon its ridge, from those eternal
circles we departed.

[1] Forming a bridge, thrown like an arch across the pit.

[2] The course of the Poets, which has mostly been to the left
through the upper Circles, is now generally to proceed straight
across the lower Circles where Fraud is punished. They had been
going to the left at the foot of the precipice, and consequently
turn to the right to ascend the bridge. The allegorical intention
in the direction of their course is evident.

When we were there where it opens below to give passage to the
scourged, the Leader said, "Stop, and let the sight strike on
thee of these other miscreants, of whom thou hast not yet seen
the face, because they have gone along in the same direction with

From the ancient bridge we looked at the train that was coining
toward us from the other side, and which the whip in like manner
drives on. The good Master, without my asking, said to me, "Look
at that great one who is coming, and seems not to shed a tear for
pain. What royal aspect he still retains! He is Jason, who by
courage and by wit despoiled the Colchians of their ram. He
passed by the isle of Lemnos, after the undaunted women pitiless
had given all their males to death. There with tokens and with
ornate words he deceived Hypsipyle, the maiden, who first had
deceived all the rest. There he left her pregnant, and alone;
such sin condemns him to such torment; and also for Medea is
vengeance done. With him goes whoso in such wise deceives. And
let this suffice to know of the first valley, and of those that
it holds in its fangs."

Now we were where the narrow path sets across the second dyke,
and makes of it shoulders for another arch. Here we heard people
moaning in the next pit, and snorting with their muzzles, and
with their palms beating themselves. The banks were encrusted
with a mould because of the breath from below that sticks on
them, and was making quarrel with the eyes and with the nose. The
bottom is so hollowed out that no place sufficeth us for seeing
it, without mounting on the crest of the arch where the crag
rises highest. Hither we came, and thence, down in the ditch, I
saw people plunged in an excrement that seemed as if it proceeded
from human privies.

And while I am searching down there with my eye, I saw one with
his head so foul with ordure that it was not apparent whether he
were layman or clerk. He shouted to me, "Why art so greedy to
look more at me than at the other filthy ones?" And I to him,
"Because, if I remember rightly, ere now I have seen thee with
dry hair, and thou art Alessio Interminei of Lucca[1]; therefore
I eye thee more than all the rest." And he then, beating his
pate, "Down here those flatteries wherewith my tongue was never
cloyed have submerged me."

[1] Of him nothing is known but what these words tell.

Hereupon my Leader, "Mind thou push thy sight a little farther
forward so that with thine eyes thou mayest quite reach the face
of that dirty and disheveled creature, who is scratching herself
there with her nasty nails, and now is crouching down and now
standing on foot. She is Thais the prostitute, who answered her
paramour when he said, 'Have I great thanks from thee?'--'Nay,
marvelous.'" [1] And herewith let our sight be satisfied.

[1] These words are derived from Terence, Eunuchus, act iii. sc.

CANTO XIX. Eighth Circle third pit: simonists.--Pope Nicholas

Oh Simon Magus! Oh ye his wretched followers, who, rapacious, do
prostitute for gold and silver the things of God that ought to be
the brides of righteousness, now it behoves for you the trumpet
sound, since ye are in the third pit!

Already were we come to the next tomb,[1] mounted on that part of
the crag which just above the middle of the ditch hangs plumb. Oh
Supreme Wisdom, how great is the art that Thou displayest in
Heaven, on Earth, and in the Evil World! and how justly doth Thy
Power distribute!

[1] The next bolgia or pit.

I saw along the sides, and over the bottom, the livid stone full
of holes all of one size, and each was circular. They seemed to
me not less wide nor larger than those that in my beautiful Saint
John are made as place for the baptizers [1] one of which, not
many years ago, I broke for sake of one who was stifling in it;
and be this the seal to undeceive all men. Forth from the mouth
of each protruded the feet of a sinner, and his legs up to the
calf, and the rest was within. The soles of all were both on
fire, wherefore their joints quivered so violently that they
would have snapped withes and bands. As the flaming of things
oiled is wont to move only on the outer surface, so was it there
from the heels to the toes.

[1] "My beautiful Saint John" is the Baptistery at Florence. In
Dante's time the infants, born during the year, were all here
baptized by immersion, mostly on the day of St. John Baptist, the
24th of June. There was a large circular font in the middle of
the church, and around it in its marble wall were four
cylindrical standing-places for the priests, closed by doors, to
protect them from the pressure of the crowd.

"Who is he, Master, that writhes, quivering more than the others
his consorts," said I, "and whom a ruddier flame is sucking?" And
he to me, "If thou wilt that I carry thee down there by that bank
which slopes the most,[1] from him thou shalt know of himself and
of his wrongs." And I, "Whatever pleaseth thee even so is good to
me. Thou art Lord, and knowest that I part me not from thy
will, and thou knowest that which is unspoken."

[1] The whole of the Eighth circle slopes toward the centre, so
that the inner wall of each bolgia is lower, and is less sharply
inclined than the outer.

Then we went upon the fourth dyke, turned, and descended on the
left hand, down to the bottom pierced with holes, and narrow. And
the good Master set me not down yet from his haunch, till he
brought me to the cleft of him who was thus lamenting with his

"O whoe'er thou art, that keepest upside down, sad soul, planted
like a stake," I began to say, "speak, if thou canst." I was
standing like the friar who confesses the perfidious assassin,[1]
who, after he is fixed, recalls him, in order to delay his death.

[1] Such criminals were not infrequently punished by being set,
head downwards, in a hole in which they were buried alive.

And he[1] cried out, "Art thou already standing there? Art thoh
already standing there, Boniface? By several years the record
lied to me. Art thou so quickly sated with that having, for which
thou didst not fear to seize by guile the beautiful Lady,[2] and
then to do her outrage?"

[1] This is Nicholas III., pope from 1277 to 1280; he takes Dante
to be Boniface VIII., but Boniface was not to die till 1303.
Compare what Nicholas says of "the record" with Farinata's
statement, in Canto X, concerning the foresight of the damned.

[2] The Church, to which Boniface did outrage in many forms;
but worst by his simoniacal practices.

Such I became as those that, not comprehending that which is
replied to them, stand as if mocked, and know not what to answer.

Then Virgil said, "Tell him quickly, I am not he, I am not he
thou thinkest." And I answered as was enjoined on me; whereat the
spirit quite twisted his feet. Thereafter, sighing and with
tearful voice, he said to me, "Then what dost thou require of me?
If to know who I am concerneth thee so much that thou hast
crossed the bank therefor, know that I was vested with the Great
Mantle; and verily I was a son of the She-Bear,[1] so eager to
advance the cubs, that up there I put wealth, and here myself,
into the purse. Beneath my head are stretched the others that
preceded me in simony, flattened through the fissures of the
rock. There below shall I likewise sink, when he shall come whom
I believed thou wert, then when I put to thee the sudden
question; but already the time is longer that I have cooked my
feet, and that I have been thus upside down, than he will stay
planted with red feet; for after him will come, of uglier deed,
from westward, a shepherd without law,[2] such as must cover him
and me again. A new Jason will he be, of whom it is read in
Maccabees;[3] and as to that one his king was compliant, so unto
this he who rules France shall be."[4]

[1] Nicholas was of the Orsini family.

[2] Clement V., who will come from Avignon, and in a little more
than ten years after the death of Boniface. Nicholas had already
"cooked his feet" for twenty years. The prophecy of the death of
Clement after a shorter time affords an indication that this
canto was not written until after 1314, the year of his death.

[3] The story of Jason, "that ungodly wretch and no high-priest"
who bought the high-priesthood from King Antiochus, is told in 2
Maccabees iv. Its application to the Pope was plain.

[4] "He who rules France" was Philip the Fair.

I know not if here I was too audacious that I only answered him
in this strain, "Pray now tell me how much treasure our Lord
desired of Saint Peter before he placed the keys in his keeping?
Surely he required nothing save 'Follow me.' Nor did Peter or the
others require of Matthias gold or silver, when he was chosen to
the place which the guilty soul had lost. Therefore stay thou,
for thou art rightly punished, and guard well the ill-gotten
money that against Charles[1] made thee to be bold. And were it
not that reverence for the Supreme Keys that thou heldest in the
glad life still forbiddeth me, I would use words still more
grave; for your avarice saddens the world, trampling down the
good and exalting the bad. Of you shepherds the Evangelist was
aware, when she that sitteth upon the waters was seen by him to
fornicate with kings: that woman that was born with the seven
heads, and from the ten horns had evidence, so long as virtue
pleased her spouse.[2] Ye have made you a god of gold and silver:
and what difference is there between you and the idolater save
that he worships one and ye a hundred? Ah Constantine! of how
much ill was mother, not thy conversion, but that dowry which the
first rich Father received from thee!"[3]

[1] Charles of Anjou, of whom Nicholas III, was the enemy. He was
charged with having been bribed to support the attempt to expel
the French from Sicily, which began with the Sicilian Vespers in

[2] Dante deals freely with the figures of the Apocalypse:
Revelation vii. The woman here stands for the Church; her seven
heads may be interpreted as the Seven Sacraments, and her ten
horns as the Commandments; her spouse is the Pope.

[3] The reference is to the so-called Donation of Constantine,
the reality of which was generally accepted till long after
Dante's time.

And, while I was singing these notes to him, whether anger or
conscience stung him, he violently quivered with both feet. I
believe, forsooth, that it had pleased my Leader, with so
contented look be listened ever to the sound of the true words
uttered. Thereupon with both his arms he took me, and when he had
me wholly on his breast, remounted on the way by which he had
descended. Nor did he tire of holding me clasped till he had
borne me up to the summit of the arch which is the passage from
the fourth to the fifth dyke. Here softly he laid down his
burden, softly because of the ragged and steep crag, that would
be a difficult pass for goats. Thence another great valley was
discovered to me.

CANTO XX. Eighth Circle: fourth pit: diviners, soothsayers, and
Michael Scott.--Asdente.

Of a new punishment needs must I make verses, and give matetial
to the twentieth canto of the first lay, which is of the

[1] Plunged into the misery of Hell.

I was now wholly set on looking into the disclosed depth that was
bathed with tears of anguish, and I saw folk coming, silent and
weeping, through the circular valley, at the pace at which
lltanies go in this world. As my sight descended deeper among
them, each appeared marvelously distorted from the chin to the
beginning of the chest; for toward their reins their face was
turned, and they must needs go backwards, because they were
deprived of looking forward. Perchance sometimes by force of
palsy one has been thus completely twisted, but I never saw it,
nor do I think it can be.

So may God let thee, Reader, gather fruit from thy reading, now
think for thyself how I could keep my face dry, when near by I
saw our image so contorted that the weeping of the eyes bathed
the buttocks along the cleft. Truly I wept, leaning on one of the
rocks of the hard crag, so that my Guide said to me, "Art thou
also one of the fools? Here pity liveth when it is quite dead.[1]

Who is more wicked than he who feels compassion at the Divine
Judgment? Lift up thy head, lift up, and see him [2] for whom the
earth opened before the eyes of the Thebans, whereon they shouted
all, 'Whither art thou rushing, Amphiaraus? Why dost thou leave
the war?' And he stopped not from falling headlong down far as
Minos, who seizes hold of every one. Look, how he has made a
breast of his shoulders! Because he wished to see too far before
him, he looks behind and makes a backward path.

[1] It is impossible to give the full significance of Dante's
words in a literal translation, owing to the double meaning of
pieta in the original. Qui viva la pieta quando e ben morta.
That is: "Here liveth piety when pity is quite dead."

[2] One of the seven kings who besieged Thebes, augur and
prophet. Dante found his story in Statius, Thebais, viii. 84.

"See Tiresias,[1] who changed his semblance, when from a male he
became a female, his members all of them being transformed; and
afterwards was obliged to strike once more the two entwined
serpents with his rod, ere he could regain his masculine plumage.
Aruns[2] is he that to this one's belly has his back, who on the
mountains of Luni (where grubs the Carrarese who dwells beneath),
amid white marbles, had a cave for his abode, whence for looking
at the stars and the sea his view was not cut off.

[1] The Theban soothsayer. Dante had learned of him from Ovid.,
Metam., iii. 320 sqq., as well as from Statius.

[2] An Etruscan haruspex of whom Lucan tells,--Arens incoluit
desertae moenia Lanae. Phars. i. 556.

"And she who with her loose tresses covers her breasts, which
thou dost not see, and has on that side all her hairy skin, was
Manto,[1] who sought through many lands, then settled there where
I was born; whereof it pleases me that thou listen a little to
me. After her father had departed from life, and the city of
Bacchus had become enslaved, long while she wandered through the
world. Up in fair Italy lies a lake, at foot of the alp that
shuts in Germany above Tyrol, and it is called Benaco.[2] Through
a thousand founts, I think, and more, between Garda and Val
Camonica, the Apennine is bathed by the water which settles in
that lake. Midway is a place where the Trentine Pastor and he of
Brescia and the Veronese might each give his blessing if he took
that road.[3] Peschiera, fortress fair and strong, sits to
confront the Brescians and Bergamasques, where the shore round
about is lowest. Thither needs must fall all that which in the
lap of Benaco cannot stay, and it becomes a river down through
the verdant pastures. Soon as the water gathers head to run, no
longer is it called Benaco, but Mincio, far as Governo, where it
falls into the Po. No long course it hath before it finds a
plain, on which it spreads, and makes a marsh, and is wont in
summer sometimes to be noisome. Passing that way, the cruel
virgin saw a land in the middle of the fen without culture and
bare of inhabitants. There, to avoid all human fellowship, she
stayed with her servants to practice her arts, and lived, and
left there her empty body. Afterward the men who were scattered
round about gathered to that place, which was strong because of
the fen which surrounded it. They built the city over those dead
hones, and for her, who first had chosen the place, they called
it Mantua, without other augury. Of old its people were more
thick within it, before the stupidity of Casalodi had been
tricked by Pinamonte.[4] Therefore I warn thee, that if thou ever
hearest otherwise the origin of my town, no falsehood may defraud
the truth."

[1] The daughter of Tiresias, of whom Statius, Ovid, and Virgil
all tell.

[2] Now Lago di Garda.

[3] Where the three dioceses meet.

[4] The Count of Casalodi, being lord of Mantua about 1276,
gave ear to the treacherous counsels of Messer Pinamonte de
Buonacorsi, and was driven, with his friends, from the city.

And I, "Master, thy discourses are so certain to me, and so lay
hold on my faith, that the others would be to me as dead embers.
But tell me of the people who are passing, if thou seest any one
of them worthy of note; for only unto that my mind reverts."

Then he said to me, "That one, who from his cheek stretches his
beard upon his dusky shoulders, was an augur when Greece was so
emptied of males that they scarce remained for the cradles, and
with Calchas at Aulis he gave the moment for cutting the first
cable. Eurypylus was his name, and thus my lofty Tragedy sings
him in some place;[1] well knowest thou this, who knowest the
whole of it. That other who is so small in the flanks was Michael
Scott,[2] who verily knew the game of magical deceptions. See
Guido Bonatti,[3] see Asdente,[4] who now would wish he had
attended to his leather and his thread, but late repents. See the
forlorn women who left the needle, the spool, and the spindle,
and became fortune-tellers; they wrought spells with herb and
with image.

[1] Suspensi Eurypylum scitantem oracula Phoebi
Mittimus. Aeneid, ii. 112.

[2] A wizard of such dreaded fame
That, when in Salamanca's cave
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Notre Dame.
Lay of the Lost Minstrel, Canto ii.

[3] A famous astrologer of Forli, in the thirteenth century.

[4] Dante, in the Canvito, trattato iv. c. 16, says that if
NOBLE meant being widely known, then "Asdente, the shoemaker of
Parma, would be more noble than any of his fellow-citizens."

"But come on now, for already Cain with his thorns [1] holds the
confines of both the hemispheres, and touches the wave below
Seville. And already yesternight was the moon round; well
shouldst thou remember it, for it did thee no harm sometimes in
the deep wood." Thus he spoke to me, and we went on the while.

[1] The Man in the Moon, according to an old popular legend.

CANTO XXI. Eighth Circle: fifth pit: barrators.--A magistrate of
Lucca.--The Malebranche.--Parley with them.

So from bridge to bridge we went, speaking other things, which my
Comedy careth not to sing, and held the suffimit, when we stopped
to see the next cleft of Malebolge and the next vain
lamentations; and I saw it wonderfully dark.

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians, in winter, the sticky pitch
for smearing their unsound vessels is boiling, because they
cannot go to sea, and, instead thereof, one builds him a new
bark, and one caulks the sides of that which hath made many a
voyage; one hammers at the prow, and one at the stern; another
makes oars, and another twists the cordage; and one the foresail
and the mainsail patches,--so, not by fire, but by divine art, a
thick pitch was boiling there below, which belimed the bank on
every side. I saw it, but saw not in it aught but the bubbles
which the boiling raised, and all of it swelling up and again
sinking compressed.

While I was gazing down there fixedly, my Leader, saying, "Take
heed! take heed!" drew me to himself from the place where I was
standing. Then I turned as one who is slow to see what it behoves
him to fly, and whom a sudden fear unnerves, and delays not to
depart in order to see. And I saw behind us a black devil come
running up along the crag. Ah! how fell he was in aspect, and how
rough he seemed to me in action, with wings open, and light upon
his feet! His shoulder, which was sharp and high, was laden by a
sinner with both haunches, the sinew of whose feet he held
clutched. "O Malebranche[1] of our bridge," he said, "lo, one of
the Ancients of Saint Zita[2] put him under, for I return again
to that city, which I have furnished well with them; every man
there is a barrator,[3] except Bonturo:[4] there, for money, of
No they make Ay." He hurled him down, and along the hard crag he
turned, and never mastiff loosed was in such haste to follow a

[1] Malebranche means Evil-claws.

[2] One of the chief magistrates of Lucca, whose special
protectress was Santa Zita.

[3] A corrupt official, selling justice or office for bribes; in
general, a peculator or cheat.

[4] Ironical.

That one sank under, and came up back uppermost, but the demons
that had shelter of the bridge cried out, "Here the Holy Face[1]
avails not; here one swims otherwise than in the Serchio;[2]
therefore, if thou dost not want our grapples, make no show above
the pitch." Then they struck him with more than a hundred prongs,
and said, "Covered must thou dance here, so that, if thou canst,
thou mayst swindle secretly." Not otherwise cooks make their
scullions plunge the meat with their hooks into the middle of the
cauldron, so that it may not float.

[1] An image of Christ upon the cross, ascribed to Nicodemus,
still venerated at Lucca.

[2] The river that runs not far from Lucca.

The good Master said to me, "In order that it be not apparent
that thou art here, crouch down behind a splinter, that may
afford some screen to thee, and at any offense that may be done
to me be not afraid, for I have knowledge of these things,
because another time I was at such a fray."

Then he passed on beyond the head of the bridge, and when he
arrived upon the sixth bank, he had need of a steadfast front.
With such fury and with such storm, as dogs run out upon the poor
wretch, who of a sudden begs where he stops, they came forth from
under the little bridge, and turned against him all their forks.
But he cried out, "Be no one of you savage; ere your hook take
hold of me, let one of you come forward that he may hear me, and
then take counsel as to grappling me." All cried out, "Let
Malacoda[1] go!" Whereon one moved, and the rest stood still; and
he came toward him, saying, "What doth this avail him?"
"Thinkest thou, Malacoda, to see me come here," said my Master,
"safe hitherto from all your hindrances, except by Will Divine
and fate propitious? Let us go on, for in Heaven it is willed
that I show another this savage road." Then was his arrogance so
fallen that he let the hook drop at his feet, and said to the
rest, "Now let him not be struck."

[1] Wicked tail.

And my Leader to me, "O thou that sittest cowering among the
splinters of the bridge, securely now return to me." Whereat I
moved and came swiftly to him. And the devils all pressed
forward, so that I feared they would not keep their compact. And
thus I once saw the foot-soldiers afraid, who came out under
pledge from Caprona,[1] seeing themselves among so many enemies.
I drew with my whole body alongside my Leader, and turned not
mine eyes from their look, which was not good. They lowered their
forks, and, "Wilt thou that I touch him on the rump?" said one to
the other, and they answered, "Yes, see thou nick it for him."
But that demon who was holding speech with my Leader turned very
quickly and said, "Stay, stay, Scarmiglione!"

[1] In August, 1290, the town of Caprona, on the Arno,
surrendered to the Florentine troops, with whom Dante was

Then he said to us, "Further advance along this crag there cannot
be, because the sixth arch lies all shattered at the bottom. And
if to go forward still is your pleasure, go on along this rocky
bank; near by is another crag that affords a way. Yesterday, five
hours later than this hour, one thousand two hundred and
sixty-six years were complete since the way was broken here.[1] I
am sending thitherward some of these of mine, to see if any one
is airing himself; go ye with them, for they will not be wicked.
Come forward, Alichino and Calcabrina," began he to say, "and
thou, Cagnazzo; and do thou, Barbariccia, guide the ten. Let
Libicocco come also, and Draghignazzo, tusked Ciriatto, and
Graffiacane, and Farfarello, and mad Rubicante. Search round
about the boiling pitch; let these be safe far as the next crag,
that all unbroken goes over these dens."

[1] By the earthquake at the death of the Saviour.

"O me! Master, what is it that I see?" said I; "pray let us go
alone without escort, if thou knowest the way, for I desire it
not for myself. If thou art as wary as thou art wont to be, dost
thou not see that they show their teeth, and threaten harm to us
with their brows?" And he to me, "I would not have thee afraid.
Let them grin on at their will, for they are doing it at the
boiled wretches."

Upon the left bank they wheeled round, but first each had pressed
his tongue with his teeth toward their leader for a signal, and
he had made a trumpet of his rump.

CANTO XXII. Eighth Circle: fifth pit: barrators.--Ciampolo of
Navarre.--Fra Gomita.--Michaci Zanche.--Fray of the Malebranche.

I have seen of old horsemen moving camp, and beginning an
assault, and making their muster, and sometimes setting forth on
their escape; I have seen runners through your land, O Aretines,
and I have seen freebooters starting, tournaments struck and
jousts run, at times with trumpets, and at times with bells, with
drums, and with signals from strongholds, and with native things
and foreign,--but never with so strange a pipe did I see horsemen
or footmen set forth, or ship by sign of land or star.

We went along with the ten demons. Ah, the fell company! but in
the church with saints, and in the tavern with gluttons. Ever on
the pitch was I intent, to see every aspect of the pit, and of
the people that were burning in it.

As dolphins, when, by the arching of their back, they give a sign
to sailors that they take heed for the safety of their vessel,
so, now and then, to alleviate his pain, one of the sinners
showed his back and hid in less time than it lightens. And as at
the edge of the water of a ditch the frogs stand with only their
muzzle out, so that they conceal their feet and the rest of their
bulk, thus stood on every side the sinners; but as Barbariccia
approached so did they draw back beneath the boiling. I saw, and
still my heart shudders at it, one waiting, just as it happens
that one frog stays and another jumps. And Graffiacane, who was
nearest over against him, hooked him by his pitchy locks, and
drew him up so that he seemed to me an otter. I knew now the name
of every one of them, so had I noted them when they were chosen,
and when they had called each other I had listened how. "O
Rubicante, see thou set thy claws upon him so thou flay him,"
shouted all the accursed ones together.

And I, "My Master, see, if thou canst, that thou find out who is
the luckless one come into the hands of his adversaries." My
Leader drew up to his side, asked him whence he was, and he
replied, "I was born in the kingdom of Navarre; my mother placed
me in service of a lord, for she had borne me to a ribald,
destroyer of himself and of his substance. Afterward I was of the
household of the good King Thibault;[1] there I set myself to
practice barratry, for which I pay reckoning in this heat."

[1] Probably Thibault II., the brother-in-law of St Louis, who
accompanied him on his last disastrous crusade, and died on his
way home in 1270.

And Ciriatto, from whose mouth protruded on either side a tusk,
as in a boar, made him feel how one of them rips. Among evil cats
the mouse had come; but Barbariccia clasped him in his arms, and
said, "Stand off, while I enfork him," and to my Master turned
his face. "Ask," said he, "if thou desirest to know more from
him, before some other undo him." The Leader, "Now, then, tell of
the other sinners; knowst thou any one under the pitch who is
Italian?" And he, "I parted short while since from one who was a
neighbor to it; would that with him I still were covered so that
I might not fear claw or hook." And Libicocco said, "We have
borne too much," and seized his arm with his grapple so that,
tearing, he carried off a sinew of it. Draghignazzo, also, he
wished to give him a clutch down at his legs, whereat their
decurion turned round about with evil look.

When they were a little appeased, my Leader, without delay, asked
him who still was gazing at his wound, "Who was he from whom thou
sayest thou madest in parting to come to shore?" And he replied,
"It was Brother Gomita, he of Gallura,[1] vessel of all fraud,
who held the enemies of his lord in hand, and dealt so with them
that they all praise him for it. Money he took, and let them
smoothly off, so he says; and in other offices besides he was no
little barrator, but sovereign. With him frequents Don Michael
Zanche of Logodoro,[2] and in talking of Sardinia their tongues
feel not weary. O me! see ye that other who is grinning: I would
say more, but I fear lest he is making ready to scratch my itch."
And the grand provost, turning to Farfarello, who was rolling his
eyes as if to strike, said, "Get thee away, wicked bird!"

[1] Gallura, one of the four divisions of Sardinia, called
judicatures, made by the Pisans, after their conquest of the
island. The lord of Gomita was the gentle Judge Nino, whom Dante
meets in Purgatory. Gomita was hung for his frauds.

[2] Logodoro was another of the judicatures of Sardinia. Don
Michael Zanche was a noted man, but of his special sins little or
nothing has been recorded by the chroniclers.

"If you wish to see or to hear Tuscans or Lombards," thereon
began again the frightened one, "I will make them come; but let
the Malebranche stand a little withdrawn, so that they may not be
afraid of their vengeance, and I, sitting in this very place, for
one that I am, will make seven of them come, when I shall whistle
as is our wont to do whenever one of us comes out." Cagnazzo at
this speech raised his muzzle, shaking his head, and said, "Hear
the knavery he has devised for throwing himself under!" Whereon
he who had snares in great plenty answered, "Too knavish am I,
when I procure for mine own companions greater sorrow." Alichino
held not in, and, in opposition to the others, said to him, "If
thou dive, I will not come behind thee at a gallop, but I will
beat my wings above the pitch; let the ridge be left, and be the
bank a shield, to see if thou alone availest more than we."

O thou that readest! thou shalt hear new sport. Each turned his
eyes to the other side, he first who had been most averse to
doing it. The Navarrese chose well his time, planted his feet
firmly on the ground, and in an instant leaped, and from their
purpose freed himself. At this, each of them was pricked with
shame, but he most who was the cause of the loss; wherefore he
started and cried out, "Thou art caught." But little it availed,
for wings could not outstrip fear. The one went under, and the
other, flying, turned his breast upward. Not otherwise the wild
duck on a sudden dives when the falcon comes close, and he
returns up vexed and baffled. Calcabrina, enraged at the flout,
kept flying behind him, desirous that the sinner should escape,
that he might have a scuffle; and when the barrator had
disappeared he turned his talons upon his companion, and grappled
with him above the ditch. But the other was indeed a sparrowhawk
full grown to gripe him well, and both fell into the midst of the
boiling pool. The heat was a sudden ungrappler, but nevertheless
there was no rising from it, they had their wings so glued.
Barbariccia, grieving with the rest of his troop, made four of
them fly to the other side with all their forks, and very
quickly, this side and that, they descended to their post. They
stretched out their hooks toward the belimed ones, who were
already baked within the crust: and we left them thus embroiled.

CANTO XXIII. Eighth Circle. Escape from the fifth pit.--The sixth
pit: hypocrites, in cloaks of gilded lead.--Jovial Friars.
--Caiaphas.--Annas.--Frate Catalano.

Silent, alone, and without company, we went on, one before, the
other behind, as the Minor friars go along the way. My thought
was turned by the present brawl upon the fable of Aesop, in which
he tells of the frog and the mole; for NOW and THIS INSTANT are
not more alike than the one is to the other, if beginning and end
are rightly coupled by the attentive mind.[1] And as one thought
bursts out from another, so from that then sprang another which
made my first fear double. I reflected in this wise: These
through us have been flouted, and with such harm and mock as I
believe must vex them greatly; if anger to ill-will be added,
they will come after us more merciless than the dog upon the
leveret which he snaps.

[1] "Sed dices forsan, lector," says Benvenuto da Imola, "nescio
per me videre quomodo istae duae fictiones habeant inter se
tantam convenientam. Ad quod respondeo, quod passus vere est
fortis." The point seems to be that, the frog having deceitfully
brought the mole to trouble and death, the mole declares, "me
vindicabit major," and the eagle swoops down and devours the frog
as well as the dead mole. The comparison is not very close except
in the matter of anticipated vengeance.

Already I was feeling my hair all bristling with fear, and was
backwards intent, when I said, "Master, if thou concealest not
thyself and me speedily, I am afraid of the Malebranche; we have
them already behind us, and I so imagine them that I already feel
them." And he, "If I were of leaded glass,[1] I should not draw
thine outward image more quickly to me than thine inward I
receive. Even now came thy thoughts among mine, with similar
action and with similar look, so that of both one sole design I
made. If it be that the right bank lieth so that we can descend
into the next pit, we shall escape the imagined chase."

[1] A mirror.

Not yet had he finished reporting this design, when I saw them
coming with spread wings, not very far off, with will to take us.
My Leader on a sudden took me, as a mother who is wakened by the
noise, and near her sees the kindled flames, who takes her son
and flies, and, having more care of him than of herself, stays
not so long as only to put on a shift. And down from the ridge of
the hard bank, supine he gave himself to the sloping rock that
closes one of the sides of the next pit. Never ran water so
swiftly through a duct, to turn the wheel of a land-mill, when it
approaches near est to the paddles, as my Master over that
border, bearing me along upon his breast, as his own son, and not
as his companion. Hardly had his feet reached the bed of the
depth below, when they were on the ridge right over us; but here
there was no fear, for the high Providence that willed to set
them as ministers of the fifth ditch deprived them all of power
of departing thence.

There below we found a painted people who were going around with
very slow steps, weeping, and in their semblance weary and
vanquished. They had cloaks, with hoods lowered before their
eyes, made of the same cut as those of the monks in Cluny.
Outwardly they are gilded, so that it dazzles, but within all
lead, and so heavy that Frederick put them on of straw.[1] Oh
mantle wearisome for eternity!

[1] The leaden cloaks which the Emperor Frederick II. caused to
be put on criminals, who were then burned to death, were light as
straw in comparison with these.

We turned, still ever to the left hand, along with them, intent
on their sad plaint. But because of the weight that tired folk
came so slowly that we had fresh company at every movement of the
haunch. Wherefore I to my Leader, "See that thou find some one
who may be known by deed or name, and so in going move thy eyes
around." And one who understood the Tuscan speech cried out
behind us, "Stay your feet, ye who run thus through the dusky
air; perchance thou shalt have from me that which thou askest."
Whereon the Leader turned and said, "Await, and then according to
his pace proceed." I stopped, and saw two show, by their look,
great haste of mind to be with me, but their load delayed them,
and the narrow way.

When they had come up, somewhile, with eye askance,[1] they gazed
at me without a word; then they turned to each other, and said
one to the other, "This one seems alive by the action of his
throat; and if they are dead, by what privilege do they go
uncovered by the heavy stole?" Then they said to me, "O Tuscan,
who to the college of the wretched hypocrites art come, disdain
not to tell who thou art." And I to them, "I was born and grew up
on the fair river of Arno, at the great town, and I am in the
body that I have always had. But ye, who are ye, in whom such woe
distills, as I see, down your cheeks? and what punishment is on
you that so sparkles?" And one of them replied to me, "The orange
hoods are of lead so thick that the weights thus make their
scales to creak. Jovial Friars[2] were we, and Bolognese; I
Catalano, and he Loderingo named, and together taken by thy city,
as one man alone is wont to be taken, in order to preserve its
peace; and we were such as still is apparent round about the
Gardingo." I began, "O Friars, your evil"--but more I said not,
for there struck mine eyes one crucified with three stakes on the
ground. When me he saw he writhed all over, blowing into his
beard with sighs: and the Friar Catalano, who observed it, said
to me, "That transfixed one, whom thou lookest at, counseled the
Pharisees that it was expedient to put one man to torture for the
people. Crosswise and naked is he on the path, as thou seest, and
he first must feel how much whoever passes weighs. And in such
fashion his father-in-law is stretched in this ditch, and the
others of that Council which for the Jews was seed of ill."[3]
Then I saw Virgil marvelling over him that was extended on a
cross so vilely in eternal exile. Thereafter he addressed this
speech to the Friar, "May it not displease thee, so it be allowed
thee, to tell us if on the right hand lies any opening whereby we
two can go out without constraining any of the Black Angels to
come to deliver us from this deep." He answered then, "Nearer
than thou hopest is a rock that from the great encircling wall
proceeds and crosses all the savage valleys, save that at this
one it is broken, and does not cover it. Ye can mount up over the
ruin that slopes on the side, and heaps up at the bottom." The
Leader stood a little while with bowed head, then said, "Ill he
reported the matter, he who hooks the sinners yonder." [4] And
the Friar, "I once heard tell at Bologna vices enough of the
devil, among which I heard that he is false, and the father of
lies." Then the Leader with great steps went on, disturbed a
little with anger in his look; whereon I departed from the
heavily burdened ones, following the prints of the beloved feet.

[1] They could not raise their heads for a straight look.

[2] Brothers of the order of Santa Maria, established in 1261,
with knightly vows and high intent. From their free life the
name of "Jovial Friars" was given to the members of the order.
After the battle of Montaperti (1260) the Ghibellines held the
upper hand in Florence for more than five years. The defeat and
death of Manfred early in 1266, at the battle of Benevento, shook
their power and revived the hopes of the Guelphs. As a measure of
compromise, the Florentine Commune elected two podestas, one from
each party; the Guelph was Catalano de' Malavolti, the
Ghibelline, Loderingo degli Andalo, both from Bologna. They were
believed to have joined hands for their own gain, and to have
favored the reviving power of the Guelphs. In the troubles of the
year the houses of the Uberti, a powerful Ghibelline family, were
burned. They lay in the region of the city called the Gardingo,
close to the Palazzo Vecchio.

[3] Annas "was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high
priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to
the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the
people." John xviii. 13-14; id. xi. 47-50.

[4] Malacoda had told him that he would find a bridge not far off
by which to cross this sixth bolgia.

CANTO XXIV. Eighth Circle. The poets climb from the sixth pit.--
Seventh pit, filled with serpents, by which thieves are
tormented.--Vanni Fucci.--Prophecy of calamity to Dante.

In that part of the young year when the sun tempers his locks
beneath Aquarius,[1] and now the nights decrease toward half the
day,[2] when the hoar frost copies on the ground the image of her
white sister,[3] but the point of her pen lasts little while, the
rustic, whose provision fails "gets up up and sees the plain all
whitened o'er, whereat he strikes his thigh, returns indoors, and
grumbles here and there, like the poor wretch who knows not what
to do; again goes out and picks up hope again, seeing the world
to have changed face in short while, and takes his crook and
drives forth his flock to pasture": in like manner the Master made
me dismayed, when I saw his front so disturbed, and in like
manner speedily arrived the plaster for the hurt. For when we
came to the ruined bridge, the Leader turned to me with that
sweet look which I first saw at the foot of the mount.[4] He
opened his arms, after some counsel taken with himself, looking
first well at the ruin, and laid hold of me. And as one who acts
and considers, who seems always to be ready beforehand, so
lifting me up toward the top of a great rock, he took note of
another splinter, saying, "Seize hold next on that, but try first
if it is such that it may support thee." It was no way for one
clothed in a cloak, for we with difficulty, he light and I pushed
up, could mount from jag to jag. And had it not been that on that
precinct the bank was shorter than on the other side, I do not
know about him, but I should have been completely overcome. But
because all Malebolge slopes toward the opening of the lowest
abyss, the site of each valley is such that one side rises and
the other sinks.[5] We came, however, at length, up to the point
where the last stone is broken off. The breath was so milked from
my lungs when I was up that I could no farther, but sat me down
on first arrival.

[1] Toward the end of winter.

[2] Half of the twenty-four hours.

[3] The frost copies the look of the snow, but her pen soon loses
its cut, that is, the white frost soon vanishes.

[4] The hill of the first Canto, at the foot of which Virgil had
appeared to Dante.

[5] The level of the whole circle slopes toward the central deep,
so that the inner side of each pit is of less height than the

"Now it behoves thee thus to put off sloth," said the Master,
"for, sitting upon down or under quilt, one attains not fame,
without which he who consumes his life leaves of himself such
trace on earth as smoke in air, or in water the foam. And
therefore rise up, conquer the exhaustion with the spirit that
conquers every battle, if by its heavy body it be not dragged
down. A longer stairway needs must be ascended; it is not enough
from these to have departed; if thou understandest me, now act so
that it avail thee." Then I rose up, showing myself furnished
better with breath than I felt, and said, "Go on, for I am strong
and resolute."

Up along the crag we took the way, which was rugged, narrow, and
difficult, and far steeper than the one before. I was going along
speaking in order not to seem breathless, and a voice, unsuitable
for forming words, came out from the next ditch. I know not
what it said, though I was already upon the back of the arch that
crosses here; but he who was speaking seemed moved to anger. I
had turned downwards, but living eyes could not go to the bottom,
because of the obscurity. Wherefore I said, "Master, see that
thou go on to the next girth, and let us descend the wall, for as
from hence I hear and do not understand, so I look down and shape
out nothing." "Other reply," he said, "I give thee not than
doing, for an honest request ought to be followed by the deed in

We descended the bridge at its head, where it joins on with the
eighth bank, and then the pit was apparent to me. And I saw
therewithin a terrible heap of serpents, and of such hideous look
that the memory still curdles my blood. Let Libya with her sand
vaunt herself no more; for though she brings forth chelydri,
jaculi, and phareae, and cenchri with amphisboena, she never,
with all Ethiopia, nor with the land that lies on the Red Sea,
showed either so many plagues or so evil.

Amid this cruel and most dismal store were running people naked
and in terror, without hope of hole or heliotrope.[1] They had
their hands tied behind with serpents, which fixed through the
reins their tail and their head, and were knotted up in front.

[1] A precious stone, of green color, spotted with red, supposed
to make its wearer invisible.

And lo! at one, who was on our side, darted a serpent that
transfixed him there where the neck is knotted to the shoulders.
Nor _O_ nor _I_ was ever so quickly written as he took fire and
burned, and all ashes it behoved him to become in falling. And
when upon the ground he lay thus destroyed, the dust drew
together of itself, and into that same one instantly returned.
Thus by the great sages it is affirmed that the Phoenix dies, and
then is reborn when to her five hundredth year she draws
nigh. Nor herb nor grain she feeds on in her life, but only on
tears of incense and on balsam, and nard and myrrh are her last

And as he who falls and knows not how, by force of demon that
drags him to ground, or of other attack that seizeth the man;
when he arises and around him gazes, all bewildered by the great
anguish that he has suffered, and in looking sighs, such was that
sinner after he had risen. Oh power of God! how just thou art
that showerest down such blows for vengeance!

The Leader asked him then who he was; whereon he answered, "I
rained from Tuscany short time ago into this fell gullet. Bestial
life, and not human, pleased me, like a mule that I was. I am
Vanni Fucci, beast, and Pistoia was my fitting den." And I to my
Leader, "Tell him not to budge, and ask what sin thrust him down
here, for I have seen him a man of blood and rages." And the
sinner who heard dissembled not, but directed toward me his mind
and his face, and was painted with dismal shame. Then he said,
"More it grieves me, that thou hast caught me in the misery where
thou seest me, than when I was taken from the other life. I
cannot refuse that which thou demandest. I am put so far down
because I was robber of the sacristy with the fair furnishings,
and falsely hitherto has it been ascribed to another.[1] But that
thou enjoy not this sight, if ever thou shalt be forth of these
dark places, open thine ears to my announcement and hear.[2]
Pistoia first strips itself of the Black, then Florence renovates
her people and her customs. Mars draws a flame from Val di Magra
wrapped in turbid clouds, and with impetuous and bitter storm
shall it be opposed upon Campo Piceno, where it shall suddenly
rend the mist, so that every White shall thereby be smitten. And
this have I said because it must grieve thee."

[1] Vanni Fucci robbed the rich sacristy of the Church of St.
James, the cathedral of Pistoia. Suspicion of the crime fell upon
others, who, though innocent, were put to torture and hung for

[2] The following verses refer under their dark imagery to the
two parties, the Black and the White, introduced from Pistoia, by
which Florence was divided in the early years of the fourteenth
century, and to their fightings. The prophecy is dismal to Dante,
because it was with the Whites, whose overthrow Vanni Fucci
foretells, that his own fortunes were linked.

CANTO XXV. Eighth Circle: seventh pit: fraudulent thieves.
--Cacus. --Agnel Brunelleschi and others.

At the end of his words the thief raised his hands with both the
figs,[1] crying, "Take that, God! for at thee I square them."
Thenceforth the serpents were my friends, for then one coiled
around his neck, as if it said, "I will not that thou say more,"
and another round his arms and bound them up anew, clinching
itself so in front that he could not give a shake with them. Ah
Pistoia! Pistoia! why dost thou not decree to make ashes of
thyself, so that thou mayest last no longer, since in evil-doing
thou surpassest thine own seed?[2] Through all the dark
circles of Hell I saw no spirit against God so proud, not he who
fell at Thebes down from the walls.[3] He fled away and spake no
word more.

[1] A vulgar mode of contemptuous defiance, thrusting out the
fist with the thumb between the first and middle finger.

[2] According to tradition, Pistoia was settled by the followers
of Catiline who escaped after his defeat.

[3] Capaneus; see Canto xiv.

And I saw a Centaur full of rage come crying out, "Where is,
where is that obdurate one?" I do not think Maremma has so many
snakes as he had upon his croup up to where our semblance begins.
On his shoulders behind the nape a dragon with open wings was
lying upon him, and it sets on fire whomsoever it encounters. My
Master said, "This is Cacus, who beneath the rock of Mount
Aventine made oftentimes a lake of blood. He goes not on one road
with his brothers because of the fraudulent theft he committed of
the great herd that was in his neighborhood; wherefor his crooked
deeds ceased under the club of Hercules, who perhaps dealt him a
hundred blows with it, and he felt not ten."

While he was so speaking, and that one had run by, lo! three
spirits came below us, of whom neither I nor my Leader
was aware till when they cried out, "Who are ye?" whereon our
story stopped, and we then attended only unto them. I did not
recognize them, but it happened, as it is wont to happen by
chance, that one must needs name the other, saying, "Cianfa,
where can he have stayed?" Whereupon I, in order that the Leader
should attend, put my finger upward from my chin to my nose.

If thou art now, Reader, slow to credit that which I shall tell,
it will not be a marvel, for I who saw it hardly admit it to
myself. As I was holding my brow raised upon them, lo! a serpent
with six feet darts in front of one, and grapples close to him.
With his middle feet he clasped his paunch, and with his forward
took his arms, then struck his fangs in one and the other cheek.
His hinder feet he stretched upon the thighs, and put his tail
between the two, and behind bent it up along the reins. Ivy was
never so bearded to a tree, as the horrible beast through the
other's limbs entwined his own. Then they stuck together as if
they had been of hot wax, and mingled their color; nor one nor
the other seemed now that which it was; even as before the flame,
up along the paper a dark color proceeds which is not yet black,
and the white dies away. The other two were looking on, and each
cried, "O me! Agnello, how thou changest! Lo, now thou art
neither two nor one! Now were the two heads become one, when
there appeared to us two countenances mixed in one face wherein
the two were lost. Of four [1] strips the two arms were made; the
thighs with the legs, the belly and the chest became members that
were never seen before. Each original aspect there was cancelled;
both and neither the perverse image appeared, and such it went
away with slow step.

[1] The two fore feet of the dragon and the two arms of the man
were melted into two strange arms.

As the lizard under the great scourge of the dog days, changing
from hedge to hedge, seems a flash, if it crosses the way, so
seemed, coming toward the belly of the two others, a little fiery
serpent, livid, and black as a grain of pepper. And that part
whereby our nourishment is first taken it transfixed in one of
them, then fell down stretched out before him. The transfixed one
gazed at it, but said nothing; nay rather, with feet fixed, he
yawned even as if sleep or fever had assailed him. He
looked at the serpent, and that at him; one through his wound,
the other through his mouth, smoked violently, and their smoke
met. Let Lucan henceforth be silent, where he tells of the
wretched Sabellus, and of Nasidius, and wait to hear that which
now is uttered. Let Ovid be silent concerning Cadmus and
Arethusa, for if, poetizing, he converts him into a serpent and
her into a fountain, I envy him not; for two natures front to
front never did he transmute, so that both the forms were prompt
to exchange their matter. To one another they responded by such
rules, that the serpent made his tail into a fork, and the
wounded one drew together his feet. The legs and the very thighs
with them so stuck together, that in short while the juncture
made no sign that was apparent. The cleft tail took on the shape
that was lost there, and its skin became soft, and that of the
other hard. I saw the arms draw in through the armpits, and the
two feet of the beast which were short lengthen out in proportion
as those shortened. Then the hinder feet, twisted together,
became the member that man conceals, and the wretched one from
his had two[1] stretched forth.

[1] Hinder feet.

While the smoke is veiling both with a new color, and generates
hair on the one, and from the other strips it, one rose up, and
the other fell down, not however turning aside their pitiless
lights,[1] beneath which each was changing his visage. He who was
erect drew his in toward the temples, and, from the excess of
material that came in there, issued the ears on the smooth
cheeks; that which did not run backwards but was retained, of its
superfluity made a nose for the face, and thickened the lips so
far as was needful. He who was lying down drives his muzzle
forward, and draws in his ears through his skull, as the snail
doth his horns. And his tongue, which erst was united and fit for
speech, cleaves itself, and the forked one of the other closes
up; and the smoke stops. The soul that had become a brute fled
hissing along the valley, and behind him the other speaking
spits. Then he turned upon him his new shoulders, and said to the
other,[2] "I will that Buoso[3] run, as I have done, groveling
along this path."

[1] Glaring steadily at each other.

[2] The third of the three spirits, the only one unchanged.

[3] Buoso is he who has become a snake.

Thus I saw the seventh ballast[1] change and rechange, and here
let the novelty be my excuse, if my pen straggle[2] a little. And
although my eyes were somewhat confused, and my mind bewildered,
those could not flee away so covertly but that I clearly
distinguished Puccio Sciancato, and he it was who alone, of the
three companions that had first come, was not changed; the
other[3] was he whom thou, Gaville, weepest.

[1] The ballast,--the sinners in the seventh bolgia.

[2] Run into unusual detail.

[3] One Francesco Guerelo de' Cavalcanti, who was slain by men of
the little Florentine town of Gaville, and for whose death cruel
vengeance was taken. The three who had first come were the three
Florentine thieves, Agnello, Buoso, and Puccio. Cianfa Donati had
then appeared as the serpent with six feet, and had been
incorporated with Agnello. Lastly came Guercio Cavalcanti as a
little snake, and changed form with Buoso.

CANTO XXVI. Eighth Circle: eighth pit fraudulent counselors.--
Ulysses and Diomed.

Rejoice, Florence, since thou art so great that over sea
and land thou beatest thy wings, and thy name is spread through
Hell. Among the thieves I found five such, thy citizens, whereat
shame comes to me, and thou unto great honor risest not thereby.
But, if near the morning one dreams the truth, thou shalt feel
within little time what Prato, as well as others, craves for
thee.[1] And if now it were, it would not be too soon. Would that
it were so! since surely it must be; for the more it will weigh
on me the more I age.

[1] If that which I foresee is not a vain dream, the calamities
which thine enemies crave for thee will soon be felt.

We departed thence, and up along the stairs that the bourns[1]
had made for our descent before, my Leader remounted and dragged
me. And pursuing the solitary way mid the splinters and rocks of
the crag, the foot without the hand sped not. Then I grieved, and

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