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

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now I grieve again when I direct my mind to what I saw; and I
curb my genius more than I am wont, that it may not run unless
virtue guide it; so that if a good star, or better thing, has
given me of good, I may not grudge it to myself.

[1] The projections of the rocky wall.

As the rustic who rests him on the bill in the season when he
that brightens the world keepeth his face least hidden from us,
what time the fly yieldeth to the gnat,[1] sees many fireflies
down in the valley, perhaps there where he makes his vintage and
ploughs,--with as many flames all the eighth pit was resplendent,
as I perceived soon as I was there where the bottom became
apparent. And as he[2] who was avenged by the bears saw the
chariot of Elijah at its departure, when the horses rose erect to
heaven, and could not so follow it with his eyes as to see aught
save the flame alone, even as a little cloud, mounting upward:
thus each[3] was moving through the gulley of the ditch, for not
one shows its theft, and every flame steals away a sinner.[4]

[1] That is, in the summer twilight. Elisha.

[2] Kings ii. 9-24.

[3] Of those flames.

[4] Within each flame a sinner was concealed.

I was standing on the bridge, risen up to look, so that if I had
not taken hold of a rock I should have fallen below without being
pushed. And the Leader, who saw me thus attent, said, "Within
these fires are the spirits; each is swathed by that wherewith he
is enkindled." "My Master," I replied, "by hearing thee am I more
certain, but already I deemed that it was so, and already I
wished to say to thee, Who is in that fire that cometh so divided
at its top that it seems to rise from the pyre on which Eteocles
was put with his brother?" [1] He answered me, "There within are
tormented Ulysses and Diomed, and thus together they go in
punishment, as of old in wrath.[2] And within their flame they
groan for the ambush of the horse that made the gate, whence the
gentle seed of the Romans issued forth. Within it they lament for
the artifice whereby the dead Deidamia still mourns for Achilles,
and there for the Palladium they bear the penalty." "If they can
speak within those sparkles," said I, "Master, much I pray thee,
and repray that the prayer avail a thousand, that thou
make not to me denial of waiting till the horned flame come
hither; thou seest that with desire I bend me toward it." And he
to me, "Thy prayer is worthy of much praise, and therefore I
accept it, but take heed that thy tongue restrain itself. Leave
speech to me, for I have conceived what thou wishest, for,
because they are Greeks, they would be shy, perchance, of thy

[1] Eteocles and Polynices, sons of Oedipus and Jocaste, who,
contending at the siege of Thebes, slew each other. Such was
their mutual hate that, when their bodies were burned on the same
funeral pile, the flames divided in two.

--ezundant diviso vertice flammae
Alternosque apices abrupta luce coruscant.
Statius, Thebaid, xii, 431-2.

[2] Against the Trojans. It was through the stratagem of the
wooden horse that Troy was destroyed, and Aeneas thus compelled
to lead forth his followers who became the seed of the Romans.
Deidamia was the wife of Achilles, who slew herself for grief at
his desertion and departure for Troy, which had been brought
about by the deceit of Ulysses and Diomed. The Palladium was the
statue of Athena, on which the safety of Troy depended, stolen by
the two heroes.

[3] The ancient heroes might be averse to talking with a man of
the strange modern world.

When the flame had come there where it seemed to my Leader time
and place, in this form I heard him speak to it: "O ye who are
two within one fire, if I deserved of you while I lived, if I
deserved of you much or little, when in the world I wrote the
lofty verses, move not, but let one of you tell us, where, having
lost himself, he went away to die." The greater horn of the
ancient flame began to waver, murmuring, even as a flame that the
wind wearies. Then moving its tip hither and thither, as it had
been the tongue that would speak, it cast forth a voice, and

"When I departed from Circe, who had retained me more than a year
there near to Gaeta, before Aeneas had so named it, neither
fondness for my son, nor piety for my old father, nor the due
love that should have made Penelope glad, could overcome within
me the ardor that I had to gain experience of the world, and of
the vices of men, and of their valor. But I put forth on the
deep, open sea, with one vessel only, and with that little
company by which I had not been deserted. One shore and the
other[1] I saw as far as Spain, far as Morocco and the island of
Sardinia, and the rest which that sea bathes round about. I and
my companions were old and slow when we came to that narrow
strait where Hercules set up his bounds, to the end that man may
not put out beyond.[2] On the right hand I left Seville, on the
other already I had left Ceuta. 'O brothers,' said I, 'who
through a hundred thousand perils have reached the West, to this
so little vigil of your senses that remains be ye unwilling to
deny, the experience, following the sun, of the world that hath
no people. Consider ye your origin; ye were not made to live as
brutes, but for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.' With this
little speech I made my companions so eager for the road that
hardly afterwards could I have held them back. And turning our
stern to the morning, with our oars we made wings for the mad
flight, always gaining on the left hand side. The night saw now
all the stars of the other pole, and ours so low that it rose not
forth from the ocean floor. Five times rekindled and as many
quenched was the light beneath the moon, since we had entered on
the deep pass, when there appeared to us a mountain dim through
the distance, and it appeared to me so high as I had not seen
any. We rejoiced thereat, and soon it turned to lamentation, for
from the strange land a whirlwind rose, and struck the fore part
of the vessel. Three times it made her whirl with all the waters,
the fourth it made her stern lift up, and the prow go down, as
pleased Another, till the sea had closed over us."

[1] Of the Mediterranean.

[2] Piu oltre non; the famous Ne plus ultra, adopted as his motto
by Charles V.

CANTO XXVII. Eighth Circle: eighth pit fraudulent
counselors.--Guido da Montefeltro.

Now was the flame erect and quiet, through not speaking more, and
now was going from us, with the permission of the sweet poet,
when another that was coming behind it made us turn our eyes to
its tip, by a confused sound that issued forth therefrom. As the
Sicilian bull [1]--that bellowed first with the plaint of him
(and that was right) who had shaped it with his file--was wont to
bellow with the voice of the sufferer, so that, although it was
of brass, yet it appeared transfixed with pain, thus, through not
at first having way or outlet from the fire, the disconsolate
words were converted into its language. But when they had taken
their course up through the point, giving it that vibration which
the tongue had given in their passage, we heard say, "O thou, to
whom I direct my voice, thou that wast just speaking Lombard,[2]
saying, 'Now go thy way, no more I urge thee,' although I may
have arrived perchance somewhat late, let it not irk thee to stop
to speak with me, behold, it irks not me, and I am burning. If
thou but now into this blind world art fallen from that sweet
Italian land whence I bring all my sin, tell me if the Romagnuoli
have peace or war; for I was from the mountains there between
Urbino and the chain from which Tiber is unlocked."[3]

[1] The brazen bull of Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum, made to
hold criminals to be burned within it. Perillus, its inventor,
was the first to suffer. So these sinners are wrapped in the
flames which their fraudulent counsels had prepared for them.

[2] Lombard, because the words were those of Virgil, whose
"parents were Lombards," and in speaking he had used a form
peculiar to the Lombard dialect.

[3] It is the spirit of the Ghibelline count, Guido da
Montefeltro, a famous freebooting captain, who speaks.

I was still downward attent and leaning over when my Leader
touched me on the side, saying, "Speak thou, this is an Italian."
And I, who even now had my answer ready, without delay began to
speak, "O soul, that art hidden there below, thy Romagna is not,
and never was, without war in the hearts of her tyrants, but open
war none have I left there now. Ravenna is as it hath been for
many years; the eagle of Polenta[1] is brooding there, so that he
covers Cervia with his wings. The city[2] that made erewhile the
long struggle, and of the French a bloody heap, finds itself
again beneath the green paws. And the old mastiff and the new of
Verrucchio,[3] who made the ill disposal of Montagna, make an
anger of their teeth there where they are wont. The little lion
of the white lair[4] governs the city of Lamone and of Santerno,
and changes side from summer to winter. And she[5] whose flank
the Savio bathes, even as she sits between the plain and the
mountain, lives between tyranny and a free state. Now who thou
art, I pray thee that thou tell us; be not harder than another
hath been,[6] so may thy name in the world hold front."

[1] Guido Novello da Polenta had been lord of Ravenna since 1275.
He was father of Francesca da Rimini, and a friend of Dante. His
shield bore an eagle, gules, on a field, or. Cervia is a small
town on the coast, not far from Ravenna.

[2] Forli, where in 1282 Guido da Montefeltro had defeated, with
great slaughter, a troop, largely of French soldiers, sent
against him by Pope Martin III. It was now ruled by the
Ordelaffi, whose shield, party per fess, bore on its upper half,
or, a demilion, vert.

[3] Malatesta, father and son, rulers of Rimini; father and
brother of the husband and of the lover of Francesca da Rimim.
They had cruelly put to death Montagna di Parcitade, the head of
the Ghibellines of Rimini; and they ruled as tyrants, sucking
the blood of their subjects.

[4] This is Maghinardo da Susinana, who bore a lion azure on a
field argent.

[5] The city of Cesena.

[6] Refuse not to answer me as I have answered thee.

After the fire had somewhat roared according to its fashion, the
sharp point moved this way and that, and then gave forth this
breath: "If I could believe that my answer might be to a person
who should ever return unto the world, this flame would stand
without more quiverings; but inasmuch as, if I hear truth, never
from this depth did any living man return, without fear of infamy
I answer thee.

"I was a man of arms, and then became a cordelier, trusting, thus
girt, to make amends; and surely my trust had been fulfilled but
for the Great Priest,[1] whom may ill betide! who set me back
into my first sins; and how and wherefore, I will that thou hear
from me. While I was that form of bone and flesh that my mother
gave me, my works were not leonine, but of the fox. The wily
practices, and the covert ways, I knew them all, and I so plied
their art that to the earth's end the sound went forth. When I
saw me arrived at that part of my age where every one ought to
strike the sails and to coil up the ropes, what erst was pleasing
to me then gave me pain, and I yielded me repentant and
confessed. Alas me wretched! and it would have availed. The
Prince of the new Pharisees having war near the Lateran,[2]--and
not with Saracens nor with Jews, for every enemy of his was
Christian, and none of them had been to conquer Acre,[3] nor a
trafficker in the land of the Soldan,--regarded in himself
neither his supreme office, nor the holy orders, nor
in me that cord which is wont to make those girt with it more
lean; but as Constantine besought Sylvester within Soracte to
cure his leprosy,[4] so this one besought me as master to cure
his proud fever. He asked counsel of me, and I kept silence,
because his words seemed drunken. And then he said to me, 'Let
not thy heart mistrust; from now I absolve thee, and do thou
teach me to act so that I may throw Palestrina to the ground.
Heaven can I lock and unlock, as thou knowest; for two are the
keys that my predecessor held not dear.' Then his grave arguments
pushed me to where silence seemed to me the worst, and I said,
'Father, since thou washest me of that sin wherein I now must
fall, long promise with short keeping will make thee triumph on
the High Seat.' Francis[5] came for me afterwards, when I was
dead, but one of the Black Cherubim said to him, 'Bear him not
away; do me not wrong; he must come down among my drudges because
he gave the fraudulent counsel, since which till now I have been
at his hair; for he who repents not cannot be absolved, nor can
repentance and will exist together, because of the contradiction
that allows it not.' O woeful me! how I shuddered when he took
me, saying to me, 'Perhaps thou didst not think that I was a
logician.' To Minos he bore me; and he twined his tail eight
times round his hard back, and, after he had bitten it in great
rage, he said, 'This is one of the sinners of the thievish fire.'
Therefore I, where thou seest, am lost, and going thus robed I
rankle." When he had thus completed his speech the flame,
sorrowing, departed, twisting and flapping its sharp horn.

[1] Boniface VIII.

[2] With the Colonna family, whose stronghold was Palestrina.

[3] Not one had been a renegade, to help the Saracens at the
siege of Acre in 1291.

[4] It was for this service that Constantine was supposed to have
made Sylvester "the first rich Father." See Canto xiv. His
predecessor, Celestine V., had renounced the papacy.

[5] St. Francis came for his soul, as that of one of the brethren
of his Order.

We passed onward, I and my Leader, along the crag, far as upon
the next arch that covers the ditch in which the fee is paid
by those who, sowing discord, win their burden.

CANTO XXVIII. Eighth Circle: ninth pit: sowers of discord and
schism.--Mahomet and Ali.--Fra Dolcino.--Pier da Medicina.
-Curio.--Mosca.--Bertrau de Born.

Who, even with words unfettered,[1] could ever tell in full of
the blood and of the wounds that I now saw, though many times
narrating? Every tongue assuredly would come short, by reason of
our speech and our memory that have small capacity to comprise so

[1] In prose.

If all the people were again assembled, that of old upon
the fateful land of Apulia lamented for their blood shed by the
Trojans,[1] and in the long war that made such high spoil of the
rings,[2] as Livy writes, who erreth not; with those that, by
resisting Robert Guiscard,[3] felt the pain of blows, and the
rest whose bones are still heaped up at Ceperano,[4] where every
Apullan was false, and there by Tagliacozzo,[5] where without
arms the old Alardo conquered,--and one should show his limb
pierced through, and one his lopped off, it would be nothing to
equal the grisly mode of the ninth pit.

[1] The Romans, descendants of the Trojans.

[2] The spoils of the battle of Canon, in the second Punic War.

[3] The Norman conqueror and Duke of Apulia. He died in 1085.

[4] Where, in 1266, the leaders of the army of Manfred, King of
Apulia and Sicily, treacherously went over to Charles of Anjou.

[5] Here, in 1265, Conradin, the nephew of Manfred, was defeated
and taken prisoner. The victory was won by a stratagem devised by
Count Erard de Valery.

Truly cask, by losing mid-board or cross-piece, is not so split
open as one I saw cleft from the chin to where the wind is
broken: between his legs were hanging his entrails, his
inner parts were visible, and the dismal sack that makes ordure
of what is swallowed. Whilst all on seeing him I fix myself, he
looked at me, and with his hands opened his breast, saying, "Now
see how I rend myself, see how mangled is Mahomet. Ali [1] goeth
before me weeping, cleft in the face from chin to forelock; and
all the others whom thou seest here were, when living, sowers of
scandal and of schism, and therefore are they so cleft. A devil
is here behind, that adjusts us so cruelly, putting again to the
edge of the sword each of this crew, when we have turned the
doleful road, because the wounds are closed up ere one passes
again before him. But thou, who art thou, that musest on the
crag, perchance to delay going to the punishment that is adjudged
on thine own accusations?" [2] "Nor death hath reached him yet,"
replied my Master, "nor doth sin lead him to torment him; but, in
order to give him full experience, it behoves me, who am dead, to
lead him through Hell down here, from circle to circle; and this
is true as that I speak to thee."

[1] Cousin and son-in-law of Mahomet, and himself the head of a

[1] When the soul appears before Minos, every sin is confessed.
See Canto V.

More than a hundred there were that, when they heard him, stopped
in the ditch to look at me, forgetting the torment in their
wonder. "Now, say to Fra Dolcino,[1] then, thou who perchance
shalt shortly see the sun, if he wish not soon to follow me here,
so to arm himself with supplies that stress of snow bring not the
victory to the Novarese, which otherwise to gain would not be
easy":--after he had lifted one foot to go on Mahomet said to me
these words, then on the ground he stretched it to depart.

[1] A noted heretic and reformer, who for two years maintained
himself in Lombardy against the forces of the Pope, but finally,
being reduced by famine in time of snow, in 1807, was taken
captive and burnt at Novara.

Another who had his throat pierced and his nose cut off up under
his brows, and had but one ear only, having stopped to look in
wonder with the rest, before the rest opened his gullet, which
outwardly was all crimson, and said, "O thou whom sin condemns
not, and whom of old I saw above in the Latian land, if too great
resemblance deceive me not, remember Pier da Medicina [1] if ever
thou return to see the sweet plain that from Vercelli slopes to
Marcabb, and make known to the two best of Fano, to Messer Guido
and likewise to Angiolello,[2] that, if foresight here be not
vain, they will be cast forth from their vessel and drowned near
to the Cattolica, by treachery of a fell tyrant. Between the
islands of Cyprus and Majorca Neptune never saw so great a crime,
not of the pirates, nor of the Argolic people. That traitor who
sees only with one eye, and holds the city from sight of which
one who is here with me would fain have fasted,[3] will make them
come to parley with him; then will act so that against the wind
of Focara[4] they will not need or vow or prayer." And I to him,
"Show to me and declare, if thou wishest that I carry up news of
thee, who is he of the bitter sight?"[5] Then he put his hand on
the jaw of one of his companions, and opened the mouth of him,
crying, "This is he, and he speaks not; this outcast stifled the
doubt in Caesar, by affirming that the man prepared always
suffered harm from delay." Oh, how dismayed, with his tongue slit
in his gorge, seemed to me Curio,[6] who in speech had been so

[1] Medicina is a town in the Bolognese district. Piero was a
fosterer of discord.

[2] Guido del Cassero and Angiolello da Cagnano, treacherously
drowned by order of the one-eyed Malatestino, lord of Rimini.

[3] The city of Rimini, which Curio would wish never to have

[4] A high foreland near the Cattolica, between Rimini and Fano,
whence often fell dangerous squalls.

[5] He to whom the sight of Rimini had been bitter.

[6] Curio the Tribune, banished from Rome, fled to Caesar
delaying to cross the Rubicon, and urged him on, with the
argument, according to Lucan, "Tolle moras, semper nocuit
differre paratis." Phars. i. 281.

And one who had both hands lopped off, lifting the stumps through
the murky air so that the blood made his face foul, cried out,
"Thou shalt remember Mosca,[1] too, who said, alas! 'Thing done
has an end,' which was the seed of ill for the Tuscan people."
And I added thereto, "And death to thine own race." Whereat he,
accumulating woe on woe, went away like a person sad and

[1] In 1215 one of the Buondelmonti, plighted to a maiden of the
Amidei, broke faith, and engaged himself to a damsel of the
Donati. The family of the girl who had been thus slighted took
counsel how to avenge the affront, and Mosca de' Lamberti gave
the ill advice to murder the young Buondelmonte. The murder was
the beginning of long woe to Florence, and of the division of her
people into Guelphs and Ghibellines.

But I remained to look at the crowd, and I saw a thing that I
should be afraid, without more proof, only to tell, were it not
that conscience reassures me, the good companion that emboldens
man under the hauberk of feeling himself pure. I saw in truth,
and still I seem to see it, a trunk without a head going along
even as the others of the dismal flock were going. And it was
holding the cut-off head by its hair, dangling in hand like a
lantern. And it gazed on us, and said, "O me!" Of itself it was
making for itself a lamp; and they were two in one, and one in
two. How it can be He knows who so ordains. When it was right at
the foot of the bridge, it lifted its arm high with the whole
head, in order to approach its words to us, which were, "Now see
the dire punishment, thou that, breathing, goest seeing the dead:
see thou if any other is great as this! And that thou mayest
carry news of me, know that I am Bertran de Born,[1] he that gave
to the young king the ill encouragements. I made father and son
rebellious to each other. Ahithophel did not more with Absalom
and with David by his wicked goadings. Because I divided
persons so united, I bear my brain, alas! divided from its source
which is in this trunk. Thus retaliation is observed in me."

[1] The famous troubadour who incited the young Prince Henry to
rebellion against his father, Henry II. of England. The prince
died in 1183.

CANTO XXIX. Eighth Circle ninth pit.--Geri del Bello.--Tenth pit:
falsifiers of all sorts.--Griffolino of Arezzo.--Capocchio.

The many people and the diverse wounds had so inebriated mine
eyes that they were fain to stay for weeping. But Virgil said to
me, "What art thou still watching? why is thy sight still fixed
down there among the dismal mutilated shades? Thou hast not done
so at the other pits; consider if thou thinkest to count them,
that the valley circles two and twenty miles; and already the
moon is beneath our feet; the time is little now that is conceded
to us, and other things are to be seen than thou seest." "If thou
hadst," replied I thereupon, "attended to the reason why I was
looking perhaps thou wouldst have permitted me yet to stay."

Meanwhile my Leader went on, and I behind him went, already
waking reply, and adding, "Within that cavern where I just now
was holding my eyes so fixedly, I think that a spirit of my own
blood weeps the sin that down there costs so dear." Then said the
Master, "Let not thy thought henceforth reflect on him; attend to
other thing, and let him there remain, for I saw him at the foot
of the little bridge pointing at thee, and threatening fiercely
with his finger, and I heard him called Geri del Bello.[1] Thou
wert then so completely engaged on him who of old held
Hautefort[2] that thou didst not look that way till he had
departed." "O my Leader," said I, "the violent death which is not
yet avenged for him by any who is sharer in the shame made him
indignant, wherefore, as I deem, he went on without speaking to
me, and thereby has he made me pity him the more."

[1] A cousin or uncle of Dante's father, of whom little is known
but what may be inferred from Dante's words and from the place he
assigns him in Hell.

[2] Bertran de Born, lord of Hautefort.

Thus we spake far as the place on the crag which first shows the
next valley, if more light were there, quite to the bottom. When
we were above the last cloister of Malebolge so that its lay
brothers could appear to our sight, divers lamentations pierced
me, that had their arrows barbed with pity; wherefore I covered
my ears with my hands.

Such pain as there would be if, between July and September, from
the hospitals of Valdichiana and of Maremma and of Sardinia[1]
the sick should all be in one ditch together, such was there
here; and such stench came forth therefrom, as is wont to come
from putrescent limbs. We descended upon the last bank of the
long crag, ever to the left hand, and then my sight became more
vivid down toward the bottom, where the ministress of the High
Lord--infallible Justice--punishes the falsifiers whom on earth
she registers.

[1] Unhealthy regions, noted for the prevalence of malarial
fevers in summer.

I do not think it was a greater sorrow to see the whole people in
Egina sick, when the air was so full of pestilence that the
animals, even to the little worm, all fell dead (and afterwards
the ancient people, according as the poets hold for sure, were
restored by seed of ants), than it was to see the spirits
languishing in different heaps through that dark valley. This one
over the belly, and that over the shoulders of another was lying,
and this one, crawling, was shifting himself along the dismal
path. Step by step we went without speech, looking at and
listening to the sick, who could not lift their persons.

I saw two seated leaning on each other, as pan is leaned against
pan to warm, spotted from head to foot with scabs; and never did
I see currycomb plied by a boy for whom his lord is waiting nor
by one who keeps awake unwillingly, as each often plied the bite
of his nails upon himself, because of the great rage of his
itching which has no other relief. And the nails dragged down the
scab, even as a knife the scales of bream or of other fish that
may have them larger.

"O thou, that with thy fingers dost dismail thyself," began my
Leader unto one of them, "and who sometimes makest pincers of
them, tell me if any Latian[1] is among those who are here
within: so may thy nails suffice thee eternally for this work."
"Latians are we whom here thou seest so defaced, both of us,"
replied one weeping, "but thou, who art thou that hast asked of
us?" And the Leader said, "I am one that descends with this
living man down from ledge to ledge, and I intend to show Hell to
him." Then their mutual support was broken; and trembling each
turned to me, together with others that heard him by rebound. The
good Master inclined himself wholly toward me, saying, "Say to
them what thou wilt;" and I began, since he was willing, "So may
memory of you not steal away in the first world from human minds,
but may it live under many suns, tell me who ye are, and of what
race; let not your disfiguring and loathsome punishment fright
you from disclosing yourselves unto me." "I was from Arezzo,"
replied one of them,[2] "and Albero of Siena had me put in the
fire; but that for which I died brings me not here. True it is
that I said to him, speaking in jest, I knew how to raise myself
through the air in flight, and he, who had vain desire and little
wit, wished that I should show him the art, and only because I
did not make him Daedalus, made me be burned by one[3] that held
him as a son; but to the last pit of the ten, for the alchemy
that I practiced in the world, Minos, to whom it is not allowed
to err, condemned me." And I said to the Poet, "Now was ever
people so vain as the Sienese? surely not so the French by much."
Whereon the other leprous one, who heard me, replied to my words,
"Except[4] Stricca who knew how to make moderate expenditure, and
Niccolo, who first invented the costly custom of the clove[5] in
the garden where such seed takes root; and except the brigade in
which Caccia of Asciano wasted his vineyard and his great wood,
and the Abbagliato showed his wit. But that thou mayest know who
thus seconds thee against the Sienese, so sharpen thine eye
toward me that my face may answer well to thee, so shalt thou see
that I am the shade of Capocchio, who falsified the metals by
alchemy; and thou shouldst recollect, if I descry thee aright,
how I was a good ape of nature."

[1] Italian.

[2] This is supposed to be one Griffolino, of whom nothing is
known but what Dante tells.

[3] The Bishop of Siena.

[4] Ironical; these youths all being members of the company known
as the brigata godereccia or spendereccia, the joyous or
spendthrift brigade.

[5] The use of rich and expensive spices in cookery.

CANTO XXX. Eighth Circle: tenth pit: falsifiers of all
sorts.--Myrrha.--Gianni Schicchi.--Master Adam.--Sinon of Troy.

At the time when Juno was wroth because of Semele against the
Theban blood, as she showed more than once, Athamas became so
insane, that seeing his wife come laden on either hand with her
two sons, cried out, "Spread we the nets, so that I may take the
lioness and the young lions at the pass," and then he stretched
out his pitiless talons, taking the one who was named Learchus,
and whirled him and struck him on a rock; and she drowned herself
with her other burden. And when Fortune turned downward the
all-daring loftiness of the Trojans, so that together with the
kingdom the king was undone, Hecuba, sad, wretched, and captive,
when she saw Polyxena dead, and woeful descried her Polydorus on
the sea-bank, frantic, barked like a dog,--to such degree had
grief distraught her mind.

But neither the furies of Thebes, nor the Trojan, were ever seen
toward any one so cruel, whether in goading beasts or human
limbs,[1] as I saw two shades pallid and naked who, biting, were
running in the way that a boar does when from the sty he breaks
loose. One came at Capocchio, and on the nape of his neck struck
his teeth, so that dragging him he made his belly scratch along
the solid bottom. And the Aretine,[2] who remained trembling,
said to me, "That goblin is Gianni Schicchi, and rabid he goes
thus maltreating others." "Oh," said I to him, "so may time other
not fix his teeth on thee, let it not weary thee to tell who it
is ere it start hence." And he to me, "That is the ancient soul
of profligate Myrrha, who became her father's lover beyond
rightful love. She came to sinning with him by falsifying herself
in another's form, even as the other, who goes off there,
undertook, in order to gain the lady of the herd,[3] to
counterfeit Buoso Donati, making a will and giving to the will
due form."

[1] No mad rages were ever so merciless as those of these furious

[2] Griffolino.

[3] Buoso Donati had died without making a will, whereupon his
nephew suborned Gianni Schicchi to personate the dead man in bed,
and to dictate a will in his favor. This Gianni did, but with a
clause leaving to himself a favorite mare of Buoso's, the best in
all Tuscany.

And after the two rabid ones upon whom I had kept my eye had
disappeared, I turned it to look at the other miscreants. I saw
one made in fashion of a lute, had he but only had his groin cut
off at the part where man is forked. The heavy hydropsy which,
with the humor that it ill digests, so unmates the members that
the face corresponds not with the belly, was making him hold his
lips open as the hectic does, who for thirst turns one toward his
chin, the other upward.

"Oh ye, who are without any punishment, and I know not why, in
the dismal world," said he to us, "look and attend to the misery
of Master Adam. Living, I had enough of what I wished, and now,
alas! I long for a drop of water. The rivulets that from the
green hills of the Casentino descend into the Arno, making their
channels cool and soft, stand ever before me, and not in vain;
for their image dries me up far more than the disease which
strips my face of flesh. The rigid justice that scourges me draws
occasion from the place where I sinned to put my sighs the more
in flight. There is Romena, where I falsified the alloy stamped
with the Baptist,[1] for which on earth I left my body burned.
But if here I could see the wretched soul of Guido or of
Alessandro, or of their brother,[2] for Fount Branda[3] I would
not give the sight. One of them is here within already, if the
rating shades who go around speak true. But what does it avail me
who have my limbs bound? If I were only yet so light that in a
hundred years I could go an inch, I should already have set out
along the path, seeking for him among this disfigured folk,
although it circles round eleven miles, and is not less than half
a mile across. Because of them I am among such a family; they
induced me to strike the forms that had full three carats of base
metal." And I to him, "Who are the two poor wretches that are
smoking like a wet hand in winter, lying close to your confines
on the right?" "Here I found them," he answered, "when I
rained down into this trough, and they have not since given a
turn, and I do not believe they will give one to all eternity.
One is the false woman that accused Joseph, the other is the
false Sinon the Greek, from Troy; because of their sharp fever
they throw out such great reek."

[1] The florin which bore on the obverse the figure of John the
Baptist, the protecting saint of Florence.

[2] Counts of Romena.

[3] The noted fountain in Siena, or perhaps one in Romena.

And one of them who took it ill perchance at being named so
darkly, with his fist struck him on his stiff paunch; it sounded
as if it were a drum; and Master Adam struck him on the face with
his arm that did not seem less hard, saying to him, "Though,
because of my heavy limbs, moving hence be taken from me, I have
an arm free for such need." Whereon he replied, "When thou wast
going to the fire thou hadst it not thus ready, but so and more
thou hadst it when thou wast coining." And the hydropic, "Thou
sayst true in this, but thou wast not so true a witness there
where thou wast questioned of the truth at Troy." "If I spake
false, thou didst falsify the coin," said Sinon, "and I am here
for a single sin, and thou for more than any other demon."
"Remember, perjured one, the horse," answered he who had the
puffed up paunch, "and be it ill for thee that the whole world
knows it." "And be ill for thee the thirst which cracks thy
tongue," said the Greek, "and the putrid water that makes thy
belly thus a hedge before thine eyes." Then the coiner, "So yawns
thy mouth for its own harm as it is wont, for if I am thirsty,
and humor stuffs me out, thou hast the burning, and the head that
pains thee, and to lick the mirror of Narcissus thou wouldst not
want many words of invitation."

To listen to them was I wholly fixed, when the Master said to me,
"Now then look, for it wants but little that I quarrel with
thee." When I heard him speak to me with anger, I turned me
toward him with such shame that still it circles through my
memory. And as is he that dreams of his harm, and, dreaming,
desires to dream, so that that which is he craves as if it were
not, such I became, not being able to speak, for I desired to
excuse myself, and I was indeed excusing myself, and did not
think that I was doing it. "Less shame doth wash away a greater
fault than thine hath been," said the Master; therefore disburden
thyself of all regret, and make reckoning that I am always at thy
side, if again it happen that fortune find thee where people are
in similar brawl; for the wish to hear it is a base wish."

CANTO XXXI. The Giants around the Eighth Circle.--Nimrod.
--Ephialtes.--Antaeus sets the Poets down in the Ninth Circle.

One and the same tongue first stung me, so that it tinged both
my cheeks, and then supplied the medicine to me. Thus do I
hear[1] that the lance of Achilles and of his father was wont to
be cause first of a sad and then of a good gift. We turned our
back to the wretched valley,[2] up along the bank that girds it
round, crossing without any speech. Here it was less than night
and less than day, so that my sight went little forward; but I
heard a horn sounding so loud that it would have made every
thunder faint, which directed my eyes, following its course
counter to it,[3] wholly to one place.

[1] Probably from Ovid, who more than once refers to the magic
power of the spear which had been given to Peleus by Chiron.
Shakespeare too had heard of it, and applies it, precisely as
Dante does, to one

Whose smile and frown, like to Achilles' spear,
Is able with the charge to kill and cure.
2 Henry VI. v. i.

[2] The tenth and last pit. My eyes went in the direction whence
the sound came.

After the dolorous rout when Charlemagne lost the holy gest,
Roland sounded not so terribly.[1] Shortwhile did I carry my head
turned thitherward, when it seemed to me I saw many high towers;
whereon I, "Master, say, what city is this?" And he to me,
"Because too far away thou peerest through the darkness, it
happens that thou dost err in thy imagining. Thou shalt see well,
if thou arrivest there, how much the sense at distance is
deceived; therefore somewhat more spur thyself on;" Then
tenderly he took me by the hand, and said, "Before we go further
forward, in order that the fact may seem less strange to thee,
know that they are not towers, but giants, and they are in the
abyss[2] round about the bank, from the navel downward, one and
all of them."

[1] At Roncesvalles.

Rollanz ad mis l'olifan a sa buche,
Empeint le bien, par grant vertut le sunet.
Halt sunt li pui e la voiz est mult lunge,
Granz xxx. liwes l'oirent-il respundre,
Carles l'oit e ses cumpaignes tutes.

Chanson de Roland, 1753-57.

[2] The central deep of Hell, dividing the eighth circle from
the ninth,--the lowest.

As when the mist is dissipating, the look little by little shapes
out what the vapor that thickens the air conceals, so, as I
pierced the gross and dark air as we drew nearer and nearer to
the verge, error fled from me and fear grew upon me. For as above
its circular enclosure Montereggione [1] crowns itself with
towers, so with half their body the horrible giants, whom Jove
still threatens from heaven when he thunders, betowered the bank
that surrounds the abyss.

[1] The towers of Montereggione in ruin still crown its broken
wall, and may be seen from the railroad not far from Siena, on
the way to Florence.

And I discerned now the face of one, his shoulders, and his
breast, and great part of his belly, and down along his sides
both his arms. Nature, surely, when she left the art of such like
creatures, did exceeding well in taking such executers from Mars;
and if she repent not of elephants and of whales, he who looks
subtly holds her more just and more discreet therefor;[1] for
where the faculty of the mind is added to evil will and to power,
the human race can make no defense against it. His face seemed to
me long and huge as the pine-cone[2] of St. Peter at Rome, and in
its proportion were his other bones; so that the bank, which was
an apron from his middle downward, showed of him fully so much
above, that to reach to his hair three Frieslanders[3] would have
made ill vaunt. For I saw of him thirty great palms down from the
place where one buckles his cloak.

[1] For no longer creating giants.

[2] Of bronze, that came from the Mausoleum of Hadrian, and
in Dante's time stood in the fore-court of St. Peter's, and is
now in the Vatican gardens.

[3] Supposed to be tall men.

"Raphel mai amech zabi almi," the fierce mouth, to which sweeter
psalms were not befitting, began to cry. And my Leader toward
him, "Foolish soul! Keep to thy horn, and with that vent thyself
when anger or other passion touches thee; seek at thy neck, and
thou wilt find the cord that holds it tied, O soul confused! and
see it lying athwart thy great breast." Then he said to me, "He
himself accuses himself; this is Nimrod, because of whose evil
thought the world uses not one language only. Let us leave him,
and let us not speak in vain, for so is every language to him, as
his to others, which to no one is known."

Then turning to the left, we pursued our way, and at a
crossbow's shot we found the next, far more fierce and larger.
Who the master was for binding him I cannot tell; but he had his
right arm fastened behind, and the other in front, by a chain
that held him entwined from the neck downward, so that upon his
uncovered part it was wound as far as the fifth coil. "This
proud one wished to make trial of his power against the supreme
Jove," said my Leader, "wherefore he has such reward;
Ephialtes[1] is his name, and he made his great endeavors when
the giants made the Gods afraid; the arms which he plied he moves

[1] Iphimedeia bore to Poseidon two sons, "but they were short-
lived, godlike Otus and far-famed Ephialtes whom the fruitful
Earth nourished to be the tallest and much the most beautiful of
mortals except renowned Orion, for at nine years old they were
nine cubits in breadth, and nine fathoms tall. They even
threatened the immortals, raising the din of tumultuous war on
Olympus, and strove to set Ossa upon Olympus and wood-clad Pelion
upon Ossa, in order to scale heaven. But Jove destroyed them
both." Odyssey, xi. 306-317.

And I to him, "If it may be, I should like my eyes to have
experience of the huge Briareus." [1] Whereon he answered, "Thou
shalt see Antaeus close at hand here, who speaks, and is
unbound,[2] and will set us at the bottom of all sin. Him whom
thou wishest to see is much farther on, and is bound and
fashioned like this one, save that he seems more ferocious in his

[1] "Him of the hundred hands whom the Gods call Briareus."
Iliad, i. 402.

[2] Because he took no part in the war of his brethren against
the Gods. What Dante tells of him is derived from Lucan,
Pharsalia, iv. 597 sqq.

Never was earthquake so mighty that it shook a tower as violently
as Ephialtes was quick to shake himself. Then more than ever did
I fear death; and there had been no need of more than the fright,
if I had not seen his bonds. We then proceeded further forward,
and came to Antaeus, who full five ells, besides his head, issued
forth from the cavern. "O thou that, in the fateful valley which
made Scipio the heir of glory when Hannibal and his followers
turned their backs, didst bring of old a thousand lions for
booty,--and it still seems credible that hadst thou been at the
high war of thy brothers, the sons of the Earth would have
conquered,--set us below, and disdain thou not to do so, where
the cold locks up Cocytus. Make us not go to Tityus, nor to
Typhon;[1] this one can give of that which here is longed for;
[2] therefore stoop, and curl not thy snout. He yet can restore
fame to thee in the world; for he is living, and still expects
long life, if Grace doth not untimely call him to itself." Thus
said the Master; and he in haste stretched out those hands, whose
strong grip Hercules once felt, and took my Leader. Virgil, when
he felt himself taken up, said to me, "Come hither so that I take
thee." Then he made one bundle of himself and me. As beneath its
leaning side, the Carisenda[3] seems to look when a cloud is
going over so that the tower hangs counter to it, thus seemed
Antaeus to me that stood attent to see him bend; and it was a
moment when I could have wished to go by another road. But
lightly on the bottom that swallows Lucifer with Judas he set us
down; nor, thus bent, did he there make stay, and like a mast in
a ship he raised himself.

[1] Lucan (Phars. iv. 600), naming these giants, says they were
less strong than Antaeus; wherefore there is subtle flattery in
these words of Virgil.

[2] To be remembered on earth.

[3] The more inclined of the two famous leaning towers at
Bologna. As the cloud goes over it, the tower seems to bend to
meet it. So Coleridge in his Ode to Dejection:

And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give sway their motion to the stars.

CANTO XXXII. Ninth Circle: traitors. First ring: Caina.--Counts
of Mangona.--Camicion de' Pazzi.--Second ring: Antenora.--Bocca
degli Abati.--Buoso da Duera.--Count Ugolino.

If I had rhymes both harsh and raucous, such as would befit the
dismal hole on which thrust[1] all the other rocks, I would
press out the juice of my conception more fully; but since I have
them not, not without fear I bring myself to speak; for to
describe the bottom of the whole universe is no enterprise to
take up in jest, nor a tongue that cries mamma or babbo. But
may those Dames aid my verse who aided Amphion to close in
Thebes; so that from the fact the speech be not diverse.

[1] Rest their weight.

O populace miscreant above all, that art in the place whereof to
speak is hard, better had ye been here[1] or sheep or goats!

[1] On earth.

When we were down in the dark abyss beneath the feet of the
giant, but far lower, and I was gazing still at the high wall, I
heard say to me, "Beware how thou steppest; take heed thou
trample not with thy soles the heads of the wretched weary
brethren." Whereat I turned, and saw before me, and under my
feet, a lake which through frost had semblance of glass and not
of water.

The Danube in Austria makes not for its current so thick a veil
in winter, nor the Don yonder under the cold sky, as there was
here; for if Tambernich [1] had fallen thereupon, or
Pietrapana,[2] it would not even at the edge have given a creak.
And as to croak the frog lies with muzzle out of the water, what
time[3] oft dreams the peasant girl of gleaning, so, livid up to
where shame appears,[4] were the woeful shades within the ice,
setting their teeth to the note of the stork.[5] Every one held
his face turned downward; from the mouth the cold, and from the
eyes the sad heart compels witness of itself among them.

[1] A mountain, the locality of which is unknown.

[2] One of the Toscan Apennines.

[3] In summer.

[4] Up to the face.

[5] Chattering with cold.

When I had looked round awhile, I turned to my feet, and saw two
so close that they had the hair of their heads mixed together.
"Tell me, ye who so press tight your breasts," said I, "who are
ye?" And they bent their necks, and after they had raised their
faces to rue, their eyes, which before were moist only within,
gushed up through the lids, and the frost bound the tears between
them, and locked them up again. Clamp never girt board to board
so strongly; wherefore they like two he goats butted together,
such anger overcame them.

And one who had lost both his ears through the cold, still with
his face downward, said to me, "Why dost thou so mirror thyself
on us? If thou wouldst know who are these two, the valley whence
the Bisenzio descends belonged to their father Albert, and to
them.[1] From one body they issued, and all Caina[2] thou mayst
search, and thou wilt not find shade more worthy to be fixed in
ice; not he whose breast and shadow were broken by one and the
same blow by the hand of Arthur;[3] not Focaccia;[4] not he who
encumbers me with his head, so that I cannot see beyond, and was
named Sassol Mascheroni:[5] if thou art Tuscan, well knowest thou
now who he was. And that thou mayst not put me to more speech,
know that I was Camicion de' Pazzi,[6] and I await Carlino that
he may exonerate me."

[1] They were of the Alberti, counts of Mangona, in Tuscany, and
had killed each other.

[2] The first division of this ninth and lowest circle of Hell.

[3] Mordred, the traitorous son of Arthur.

[4] From the crimes of Focaccia, a member of the great
Cancellieri family of Pistoia, began the feud of the Black and
the White factions, which long raged in Pistoia and in Florence.

[5] A Florentine who murdered his nephew for an inheritance.

[6] A murderer of one of his kinsmen, whose crime was surpassed
by that of Carlino de' Pazzi, who, in 1302, betrayed a band of
the Florentine exiles who had taken refuge in a stronghold of his
in Valdarno.

Then I saw a thousand faces made currish by the cold, whence
shuddering comes to me, and will always come, at frozen pools.

And while we were going toward the centre[1] to which tends every
weight, and I was trembling in the eternal shade, whether it was
will or destiny, or fortune I know not, but, walking among the
heads, I struck my foot hard in the face of one. Wailing he cried
out to me, "Why dost thou trample me? If thou comest not to
increase the vengeance of Mont' Aperti, why dost thou molest me?"
And I, "My Master, now wait here for me, so that I may free me
from a doubt by means of this one, then thou shalt make me hasten
as much as thou wilt." The Leader stopped, and I said to that
shade who was bitterly blaspheming still, "Who art thou that thus
railest at another?" "Now thou, who art thou, that goest through
the Antenora,"[2] he answered, "smiting the cheeks of others, so
that if thou wert alive, it would be too much?" "Alive I am, and
it may be dear to thee," was my reply, "if thou demandest fame,
that I should set thy name amid the other notes." And he to me,
"For the contrary do I long; take thyself hence, and give me no
more trouble, for ill thou knowest to flatter on this plain."
Then I took him by the hair of the crown, and said, "It shall
needs be that thou name thyself, or that not a hair remain upon
thee here." Whereon he to me, "Though thou strip me of hair, I
will not tell thee who I am, nor will I show it to thee if a
thousand times thou fallest on my head."

[1] The centre of the earth.

[2] The second division of the ninth circle; so named after the
Trojan who, though of good repute in Homer, was charged by a
later tradition with having betrayed Troy.

I already had his hair twisted in my hand, and had pulled out
more than one shock, he barking, with his eyes kept close down,
when another cried out, "What ails thee, Bocca?[1] Is it not
enough for thee to make music with thy jaws, but thou must bark?
What devil has hold of thee?" "Now," said I, "I would not have
thee speak, accursed traitor, for to thy shame will I carry true
news of thee." "Begone," he answered, "and relate what thou wilt,
but be not silent, if from here within thou goest forth, of him
who now had his tongue so ready. He weeps here the money of the
French; I saw, thou canst say, him of Duera,[2] there where the
sinners stand cooling. Shouldst thou be asked who else was there,
thou hast at thy side that Beccheria [3] whose gorget Florence
cut. Gianni del Soldanier [4] I think is farther on with
Ganellon[5] and Tribaldello,[6] who opened Faenza when it
was sleeping."

[1] Bocca degli Abati, the most noted of Florentine traitors, who
in the heat of the battle of Mont' Aperti, in 1260, cut off the
hand of the standard-bearer of the cavalry, so that the standard
fell, and the Guelphs of Florence, disheartened thereby, were put
to rout with frightful slaughter.

[2] Buoso da Duera of Cremona, who, for a bribe, let pass near
Parma, without resistance, the cavalry of Charles of Anjou, led
by Gui de Montfort to the conquest of Naples in 1265.

[3] Tesauro de' Beccheria, Abbot of Vallombrosa, and Papal
Legato, beheaded by the Florentines in 1258, because of his
treacherous dealings with the exiled Ghibellines.

[4] A Ghibelline leader, who, after the defeat of Manfred in
1266, plotted against his own party.

[5] Ganellon, the traitor who brought about the defeat at

[6] He betrayed Faenza to the French, in 1282.

We had now parted from him when I saw two frozen in one hole, so
that the head of one was a hood for the other. And as bread is
devoured in hunger, so the uppermost one set his teeth upon the
other where the brain joins with the nape. Not otherwise Tydeus
gnawed for spite the temples of Menalippus than this one did the
skull and the other parts. "O thou! that by so bestial a sign
showest hatred against him whom thou dost eat, tell me the
wherefore," said I, "with this compact, that if thou rightfully
of him complainest, I, knowing who ye are, and his sin, may yet
recompense thee for it in the world above, if that with which I
speak be not dried up."

CANTO XXXIII. Ninth circle: traitors. Second ring:
Antenora.--Count Ugolino.--Third ring Ptolomaea.--Brother
Alberigo. Branca d' Oria.

From his savage repast that sinner raised his mouth, wiping it
with the hair of the head that he had spoiled behind: then he
began, "Thou willest that I renew a desperate grief that
oppresses my heart already only in thinking ere I speak of it.
But, if my words are to be seed that may bear fruit of infamy for
the traitor whom I gnaw, thou shalt see me speak and weep at
once. I know not who thou art, nor by what mode thou art come
down hither, but Florentine thou seemest to me truly when I hear
thee. Thou hast to know that I was the Count Ugolino and he the
Archbishop Ruggieri.[1] Now will I tell thee why I am such a
neighbor. That by the effect of his evil thoughts, I, trusting to
him, was taken and then put to death, there is no need to tell.
But that which thou canst not have heard, namely, how cruel was
my death, thou shalt hear, and shalt know if he hath wronged me.

[1] In July, 1288, Ugolino della Gherardesca, Count of
Donoratico, head of a faction of the Guelphs in Pisa, in order to
deprive Nino of Gallura, head of the opposing faction, of the
lordship of the city, treacherously joined forces with the
Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, head of the Ghibellines, and
drove Nino and his followers from the city. The archbishop
thereupon took advantage of the weakening of the Guelphs and
excited the populace against Ugolino, charging him with having
for a bribe restored to Florence and Lucca some of their towns of
which the Pisans had made themselves masters. He, with his
followers, attacked Count Ugolino in his house, took him
prisoner, with two of his sons and two of his grandsons, and shut
them up in the Tower of the Gualandi, where in the following
March, on the arrival of Count Guido da Montefeltro (see Canto
xvii), as Captain of Pisa, they were starved to death.

"A narrow slit in the mew, which from me has the name of Famine,
and in which others yet must be shut up, had already shown me
through its opening many moons, when I had the bad dream that
rent for me the veil of the future. "This one appeared to me
master and lord, chasing the wolf and his whelps upon the
mountain[1] for which the Pisans cannot see Lucca. With lean,
eager, and trained hounds, Gualandi with Sismondi and with
Lanfranchi[2] he had put before him at the front. After short
course, the father and his sons seemed to me weary, and it seemed
to me I saw their flanks torn by the sharp fangs.

[1] Monte San Giuliano.

[2] Three powerful Ghibelline families of Pisa.

"When I awoke before the morrow, I heard my sons, who were with
me, wailing in their sleep, and asking for bread. Truly thou art
cruel if already thou grievest not, thinking on what my heart
foretold; and if thou weepest not, at what art thou wont to weep?
Now they were awake, and the hour drew near when food was wont to
be brought to us, and because of his dream each one was
apprehensive. And I heard the door below of the horrible tower
locking up; whereat I looked on the faces of my sons without
saying a word. I wept not, I was so turned to stone within. They
wept; and my poor little Anselm said, 'Thou lookest so, father,
what aileth thee?' Yet I did not weep; nor did I answer all that
day, nor the night after, until the next sun came out upon the
world. When a little ray entered the woeful prison, and I
discerned by their four faces my own very aspect, both my hands I
bit for woe; and they, thinking I did it through desire of
eating, of a sudden rose, and said, 'Father, it will be far less
pain to us if thou eat of us; thou didst clothe us with this
wretched flesh, and do thou strip it off.' I quieted me then, not
to make them more sad: that day and the next we all stayed dumb.
Ah, thou hard earth! why didst thou not open? After we had come
to the fourth day, Gaddo threw himself stretched out at my feet,
saying, 'My father, why dost thou not help me?' Here he died:
and, even as thou seest me, I saw the three fall one by one
between the fifth day and the sixth; then I betook me, already
blind, to groping over each, and two days I called them after
they were dead: then fasting had more power than grief."

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted, he seized again
the wretched skull with his teeth, that were strong as a dog's
upon the bone.

Ah Pisa! reproach of the people of the fair country where the si
doth sound,[1] since thy neighbors are slow to punish thee, let
Caprara and Gorgona [2] move and make a hedge for Arno at its
mouth, so that it drown every person in thee; for if Count
Ugolino had repute of having betrayed thee in thy towns, thou
oughtest not to have set his sons on such a cross. Their young
age, thou modern Thebes! made Uguccione and the Brigata innocent,
and the other two that the song names above.

[1] Italy, whose language Dante calls il volgare di ci. (Convito,
i. 10.)

[2] Two little islands not far from the mouth of the Arno, on
whose banks Pisa lies.

We passed onward to where the ice roughly enswathes another folk,
not turned downward, but all upon their backs. Their very weeping
lets them not weep, and the pain that finds a barrier on the eyes
turns inward to increase the anguish; for the first tears form a
block, and like a visor of crystal fill all the cup beneath the

And although, because of the cold, as from a callus, all feeling
had left its abode in my face, it now seemed to me I felt some
wind, wherefore I, "My Master, who moves this? Is not every
vapor[1] quenched here below?" Whereon he to me, "Speedily shalt
thou be where thine eye shall make answer to thee of this,
beholding the cause that rains down the blast."

[1] Wind being supposed to be cansed by the action of the sun on
the vapors of the atmosphere.

And one of the wretches of the cold crust cried out to us, "O
souls so cruel that the last station is given to you, lift from
my eyes the hard veils, so that I may vent the grief that swells
my heart, a little ere the weeping re-congeal!" Wherefore I to
him, "If thou wilt that I relieve thee, tell me who thou art, and
if I rid thee not, may it be mine to go to the bottom of the
ice." He replied then, "I am friar Alberigo;[1] I am he of the
fruits of the bad garden, and here I receive a date for a fig."
[2] "Oh!" said I to him; "art thou now already dead?" And he to
me, "How it may go with my body in the world above I bear no
knowledge. Such vantage hath this Ptolomaea[3] that oftentime the
soul falls hither ere Atropos hath given motion to it.[4] And
that thou may the more willingly scrape the glassy tears from my
face, know that soon as the soul betrays, as I did, its body is
taken from it by a demon, who thereafter governs it until its
time be all revolved. The soul falls headlong into this cistern,
and perchance the body of the shade that here behind me winters
still appears above; thou oughtest to know him if thou comest
down but now. He is Ser Branca d' Oria,[5] and many years have
passed since he was thus shut up." "I think," said I to him,
"that thou deceivest me, for Branca d' Oria is not yet dead, and
he eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes." "In the
ditch of the Malebranche above," he said, "there where the
tenacious pitch is boiling, Michel Zanche had not yet arrived
when this one left in his own stead a devil in his body, and in
that of one of his near kin, who committed the treachery together
with him. But now stretch out hither thy hand; open my eyes for
me." And I opened them not for him, and to be rude to him was

[1] Alberigo de' Manfredi, of Faenza; one of the Jovial Friars
(see Canto xxiii). Having received a blow from one of his
kinsmen, he pretended to forgive it, and invited him and his son
to a feast. Toward the end of the meal he gave a preconcerted
signal by calling out, "Bring the fruit," upon which his
emissaries rushed in and killed the two guests. The "fruit of
Brother Alberigo" became a proverb.

[2] A fig is the cheapest of Tuscan fruits; the imported date is
more costly.

[3] The third ring of ice, named for that Ptolemy of Jericho who
slew his father-in-law, the high-priest Simon, and his sons (1
Maccabees wi. 11-16).

[4] That is, before its life on earth is ended.

[5] Murderer, in 1275, of his father-in-law, Michel Zanche.
Already heard of in the fifth pit (Canto xxii. 88).

Ah Genoese! men strange to all morality and full of all
corruption, why are ye not scattered from the world? For with the
worst spirit of Romagna I found one of you such that for his
deeds in soul he is bathed in Cocytus, and in body he seems still
alive on earth.

CANTO XXXIV. Ninth Circle: traitors. Fourth ring: Judecca.--
Lucifer.--Judas, Brutus and Cassius.--Centre of the universe.--
Passage from Hell.--Ascent to the surface of the Southern

"Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni,[1] toward us; therefore look in
front," said my Master; "if thou discernest him." As a mill that
the wind turns seems from afar when a thick fog breathes, or when
our hemisphere grows dark with night, such a structure then it
seemed to me I saw.

[1] "The banners of the King of Hell advance." Vexilla Regis
prodeunt are the first words of a hymn in honor of the Cross,
sung at vespers on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
and on Monday of Holy Week.

Then, because of the wind, I drew me behind my Leader; for there
was no other shelter. I was now, and with fear I put it in verse,
there[1] where the shades were wholly covered, and showed through
like a straw in glass. Some are lying; some stand erect, this on
his head, and that on his soles; another like a bow inverts his
face to his feet.

[1] In the fourth, innermost ring of ice of the ninth circle, the

When we had gone so far forward that it pleased my Master to show
me the creature that had the fair semblance, from before me he
took himself and made me stop, saying, "Behold Dis, and behold
the place where it is needful that with fortitude thou arm thee."
How I became then chilled and hoarse, ask it not, Reader, for I
write it not, because all speech would be little. I did not die,
and I did not remain alive. Think now for thyself, if thou hast
grain of wit, what I became, deprived of one and the other.

The emperor of the woeful realm from his midbreast issued forth
from the ice; and I match better with a giant, than the giants do
with his arms. See now how great must be that whole which
corresponds to such parts. If he was as fair as he now is foul,
and against his Maker lifted up his brow, surely may all
tribulation proceed from him. Oh how great a marvel it seemed to
me, when I saw three faces on his head! one in front, and that
was red; the others were two that were joined to this above the
very middle of each shoulder, and they were joined together at
the place of the crest; and the right seemed between white and
yellow, the left was such to sight as those who come from where
the Nile flows valleyward. Beneath each came forth two great
wings, of size befitting so huge a bird. Sails of the sea never
saw I such. They had no feathers, but their fashion was of a bat;
and he was flapping them so that three winds went forth from him,
whereby Cocytus was all congealed. With six eyes he was weeping,
and over three chins trickled the tears and bloody drivel. With
each mouth he was crushing a sinner with his teeth, in manner of
a brake, so that he thus was making three of them woeful. To the
one in front the biting was nothing to the clawing, so that
sometimes his spine remained all stripped of skin.

"That soul up there which has the greatest punishment," said the
Master, "is Judas Iscariot, who has his head within, and plies
his legs outside. Of the other two who have their heads down, he
who hangs from the black muzzle is Brutus; see how he writhes and
says no word; and the other is Cassius, who seems so
large-limbed. But the night is rising again, and now we must
depart, for we have seen the whole."

As was his pleasure, I clasped his neck, and he took opportunity
of time and place, and when the wings were opened wide he caught
hold on the shaggy flanks; from shag to shag he then descended
between the bushy hair and the frozen crusts. When we were just
where the thigh turns on the thick of the haunch, my Leader, with
effort and stress of breath, turned his head where he had his
shanks, and clambered by the hair as a man that ascends, so that
I thought to return again to hell.

"Cling fast hold," said the Master, panting like one weary, "for
by such stairs it behoves to depart from so much evil." Then he
came forth through the opening of a rock, and placed me upon its
edge to sit; then stretched toward me his cautious step.

I raised my eyes, and thought to see Lucifer as I had left him,
and I saw him holding his legs upward. And if I then became
perplexed, let the dull folk think it that see not what that
point is that I had passed.[1]

[1] This point is the centre of the universe; when Virgil had
turned upon the haunch of Lucifer, the passage had been made from
one hemisphere of the earth--the inhabited and known hemisphere--
to the other where no living men dwell, and where the only land
is the mountain of Purgatory. In changing one hemisphere for the
other there is a change of time of twelve hours. A second
Saturday morning begins for the poets, and they pass nearly as
long a time as they have been in Hell, that is, twenty-four
hours, in traversing the long and hard way that leads through the
new hemisphere on which they have just entered.

"Rise up," said the Master, "on thy feet; the way is long and the
road is difficult, and already the sun unto mid-tierce[1]

[2] Tierce is the church office sung at the third hour of the
day, and the name is given to the first three hours after
sunrise. Midtierce consequently here means about half-past seven
o'clock. In Hell Dante never mentions the sun to mark division of
time, but now, having issued from Hell, Virgil marks the hour by
a reference to the sun.

It was no hallway of a palace where we were, but a natural
dungeon that had a bad floor, and lack of light. "Before I tear
me from the abyss," said I when I had risen up, "my Master, speak
a little to me to draw me out of error. Where is the ice? and
this one, how is he fixed thus upside down? and how in such short
while has the sun from eve to morn made transit?" And he to me,
"Thou imaginest that thou still art on the other side of the
centre where I laid hold on the hair of the guilty Worm that
pierces the world. On that side wast thou so long as I descended;
when I turned thou didst pass the point to which from all parts
whatever has weight is drawn; and thou art now arrived beneath
the hemisphere opposite to that which the great dry land covers,
and beneath whose zenith the Man was slain who was born and lived
without sin. Thou hast thy feet upon the little sphere which
forms the other face of the Judecca. Here it is morning when
there it is evening; and he who made for us a stairway with his
hair is still fixed even as he was before. Upon this side he fell
down from heaven, and the earth, which before was spread out
here, through fear of him made of the sea a veil, and came to
your hemisphere; and perchance to flee from him that land[1]
which on this side appears left here this empty space and upward
ran back."

[1] The Mount of Purgatory.

A place is there below, stretching as far from Beelzebub as his
tomb extends,[1] which not by sight is known, but by the sound of
a rivulet that here descends along the hollow of a rock that it
has gnawed with its course that winds and little falls. My Leader
and I entered through that hidden way, to return to the bright
world. And without care, to have any repose, we mounted up, he
first and I second, till through a round opening I saw of those
beauteous things which heaven bears, and thence we came forth to
see again the stars.

[1] Hell is his tomb; this vacant dark passage through the
opposite hemisphere is, of course, of the same depth as Hell from
surface to centre.

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