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The Divine Comedy, Volume 2, Purgatory [Purgatorio] by Dante Aligheri

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The Divine Comedy, Volume 2, Purgatory [Purgatorio]

by Dante Aligheri

Translated by Charles Eliot Norton



CANTO I. Invocation to the Muses.--Dawn of Easter on the shore of
Purgatory.--The Four Stars.--Cato.--The cleansing of Dante from
the stains of Hell.

CANTO II. Sunrise.--The Poets on the shore.--Coming of a boat,
guided by an angel, bearing souls to Purgatory.--Their
landing.--Casella and his song.--Cato hurries the souls to the

CANTO III. Ante-Purgatory.--Souls of those who have died in
contumacy of the Church.--Manfred.

CANTO IV. Ante-Purgatory.--Ascent to a shelf of the
mountain.--The negligent, who postponed repentance to the last

CANTO V. Ante-Purgatory.--Spirits who had delayed repentance, and
met with death by violence, but died repentant.--Jacopo del
Cassero.--Buonconte da Montefeltro.--Via de' Tolomei.

CANTO VI. Ante-Purgatory.--More spirits who had deferred
repentance till they were overtaken by a violent death.--Efficacy
of prayer.--Sordello.--Apostrophe to Italy.

CANTO VII. Virgil makes himself known to Sordello.--Sordello
leads the Poets to the Valley of the Princes who have been
negligent of salvation.--He points them out by name.

CANTO VIII. Valley of the Princes.--Two Guardian Angels.--Nino
Visconti.--The Serpent.--Corrado Malaspina.

CANTO IX. Slumber and Dream of Dante.--The Eagle.--Lucia.--The
Gate of Purgatory.--The Angelic Gatekeeper.--Seven P's inscribed
on Dante's Forehead.--Entrance to the First Ledge.

CANTO X. First Ledge the Proud.--Examples of humility sculptured
on the Rock.

CANTO XI. First Ledge: the Proud.--Prayer.--Omberto
Aldobrandeschi.--Oderisi d' Agubbio.--Provinzan Salvani.

CANTO XII. First Ledge: the Proud.--Examples of the punishment of
Pride graven on the pavement.--Meeting with an Angel who removes
one of the P's.--Ascent to the Second Ledge.

CANTO XIII. Second Ledge: the Envious.--Examples of Love.--The
Shades in haircloth, and with sealed eyes.--Sapla of Siena.

CANTO XIV. Second Ledge: the Envious.--Guido del Duca.--Rinieri
de' Calboli.--Examples of the punishment of Envy.

CANTO XV. Second Ledge: the Envious.--An Angel removes the second
P from Dante's forehead.--Discourse concerning the Sharing of
Good.--Ascent to the Third Ledge: the Wrathful.--Examples of
Forbearance seen in Vision.

CANTO XVI. Third Ledge: the Wrathful.--Marco Lombardo.--His
discourse on Free Will, and the Corruption of the World.

CANTO XVII. Third Ledge: the Wrathful.--Issue from the
Smoke.--Vision of examples of Anger--Ascent to the Fourth Ledge,
where Sloth is purged--Second Nightfall--Virgil explains how Love
is the root of Virtue and of Sin.

CANTO XVIII. Fourth Ledge: the Slothful.--Discourse of Virgil on
Love and Free Will.---Throng of Spirits running in haste to
redeem their Sin.--The Abbot of San Zeno.--Dante falls asleep.

CANTO XIX. Fourth Ledge: the Slothful.--Dante dreams of the
Siren--The Angel of the Pass.--Ascent to the Fifth Ledge.--Pope
Adrian V.

CANTO XX. Fifth Ledge: the Avaricious.--The Spirits celebrate
examples of Poverty and Bounty.--Hugh Capet.--His discourse on
his descendants.--Trembling of the Mountain.

CANTO XXI. Fifth Ledge: the Avaricious.--Statius.--Cause of the
trembling of the Mountain.--Statius does honor to Virgil.

CANTO XXII. Ascent to the Sixth Ledge--Discourse of Statius and
Virgil.--Entrance to the Ledge: the Gluttonous.--The Mystic
Tree.--Examples of Temperance.

CANTO XXIII. Sixth Ledge the Gluttonous.--Forese
Donati.--Nella.--Rebuke of the women of Florence.

CANTO XXIV. Sixth Ledge: the Gluttonous.--Forese
Donati.--Bonagiunta of Lucca.--Pope Martin IV.--Ubaldin dalla
Pila.--Bonifazio.--Messer Marchese.--Prophecy of Bonagiunta
concerning Gentucca, and of Forese concerning Corso de'
Donati.--Second Mystic Tree.--The Angel of the Pass.

CANTO XXV. Ascent to the Seventh Ledge.--Discourse of Statius on
generation, the infusion of the Soul into the body, and the
corporeal semblance of Souls after death.--The Seventh Ledge:the
Lustful.--The mode of their Purification.

CANTO XXVI. Seventh Ledge: the Lustful.--Sinners in the fire,
going in opposite directions.--Guido Guinicelli.--Arnaut Daniel.

CANTO XXVII. Seventh Ledge: the Lustful.--Passage through the
Flames.--Stairway in the rock.--Night upon the stairs.--Dream of
Dante.--Morning.--Ascent to the Earthly Paradise.--Last words of

CANTO XXVIII. The Earthly Paradise.--The Forest.--A Lady
gathering flowers on the bank of a little stream.--Discourse with
her concerning the nature of the place.

CANTO XXIX. The Earthly Paradise.--Mystic Procession or Triumph
of the Church.

CANTO XXX. The Earthly Paradise.--Beatrice appears.--Departure of
Virgil.--Reproof of Dante by Beatrice.

CANTO XXXI. The Earthly Paradise.--Reproachful discourse of
Beatrice, and confession of Dante.--Passage of Lethe.--Appeal of
the Virtues to Beatrice.--Her Unveiling.

CANTO XXXII. The Earthly Paradise.--Return of the Triumphal
procession.--The Chariot bound to the Mystic Tree.--Sleep of
Dante.--His waking to find the Triumph departed.--Transformation
of the Chariot.--The Harlot and the Giant.

CANTO XXXIII. The Earthly Paradise.--Prophecy of Beatrice
concerning one who shall restore the Empire.--Her discourse with
Dante.--The river Eunoe.--Dante drinks of it, and is fit to
ascend to Heaven.


CANTO I. Invocation to the Muses.--Dawn of Easter on the shore of
Purgatory.--The Four Stars.--Cato.--The cleansing of Dante from
the stains of Hell.

To run over better waters the little vessel of my genius now
hoists its sails, and leaves behind itself a sea so cruel; and I
will sing of that second realm where the human spirit is purified
and becomes worthy to ascend to heaven.

But here let dead poesy rise again, O holy Muses, since yours I
am, and here let Calliope somewhat mount up, accompanying my song
with that sound of which the wretched Picae felt the stroke such
that they despaired of pardon.[1]

[1] The nine daughters of Pieros, king of Emathia, who,
contending in song with the Muses, were for their presumption
changed to magpies.

A sweet color of oriental sapphire, which was gathering in the
serene aspect of the sky, pure even to the first circle,[1]
renewed delight to my eyes soon as I issued forth from the dead
air that had afflicted my eyes and my breast. The fair planet
which incites to love was making all the Orient to smile, veiling
the Fishes that were in her train.[2] I turned me to the right
hand, and fixed my mind upon the other pole, and saw four stars
never seen save by the first people.[3] The heavens appeared to
rejoice in their flamelets. O widowed northern region, since thou
art deprived of beholding these!

[1] By "the first circle," Dante seems to mean the horizon.

[2] At the spring equinox Venus is in the sign of the Pisces,
which immediately precedes that of Aries, in which is the Sun.
The time indicated is therefore an hour or more before sunrise on
Easter morning, April 10.

When I had withdrawn from regarding them, turning me a little to
the other pole, there whence the Wain had already disappeared, I
saw close to me an old man alone, worthy in look of so much
reverence that no son owes more unto his father.[1] He wore a
long beard and mingled with white hair, like his locks, of which
a double list fell upon his breast. The rays of the four holy
stars so adorned his face with light, that I saw him, as if the
sun had been in front.

[1] These stars are the symbols of the four Cardinal Virtues,--
Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice,--the virtues of
active life, sufficient to guide men in the right path, but not
to bring them to Paradise. By the first people arc probably meant
Adam and Eve, who from the terrestrial Paradise, on the summit of
the Mount of Purgatory, had seen these stars, visible only from
the Southern hemisphere. According to the geography of the time
Asia and Africa lay north of the equator, so that even to their
inhabitants these stars were invisible. Possibly the meaning is
that these stars, symbolizing the cardinal virtues, had been
visible only in the golden age.

This old man, as soon appears, is the younger Cato, and the
office here given to him of warden of the souls in the outer
region of Purgatory was suggested by the position assigned to him
by Virgil in the Aeneid, viii. 670. "Secretosque pios, his dantem
jura Catonem."

It has been objected to Virgil's thus putting him in Elysium,
that as a suicide his place was in the Mourning Fields. A similar
objection may be made to Dante's separating him from the other
suicides in the seventh circle of Hell (Canto XIII.). "But," says
Conington, "Virgil did not aim at perfect consistency. It was
enough for him that Cato was one who from his character in life
might be justly conceived of as lawgiver to the dead." So Dante,
using Cato as an allegoric figure, regards him as one who, before
the coming of Christ, practised the virtues which are required to
liberate the soul from sin, and who, as be says in the De
Monarchia (ii. 5), "that he might kindle the love of liberty in
the world, showed how precious it was, by preferring death with
liberty to life without it." This liberty is the type of that
spiritual freedom which Dante is seeking, and which, being the
perfect conformity of the human will to the will of God, is the
aim and fruition of nil redeemed souls.

In the region of Purgatory outside the gate, the souls have not
yet attained this freedom; they are on the way to it, and Cato is
allegorically fit to warn and spur them on.

"Who are ye that counter to the blind stream have fled from the
eternal prison?" said he, moving those venerable plumes. "Who has
guided you? Or who was a lamp to you, issuing forth from the deep
night that ever makes the infernal valley black? Are the laws of
the abyss thus broken? or is a new design changed in heaven that,
being damned, ye come unto my rocks?"

My Leader then took hold of me, and with words, and with hands,
and with signs, made my legs and my brow reverent. Then he
answered him, "Of myself I came not; a Lady descended from
Heaven, through whose prayers I succored this man with my
company. But since it is thy will that more of our condition be
unfolded to thee as it truly is, mine cannot be that to thee this
be denied. This man has not seen his last evening, but through
his folly was so near thereto that very little time there was to
turn. Even as I have said, I was sent to him to rescue him, and
there was no other way than this, along which I have set myself.
I have shown to him all the guilty people; and now I intend to
show him those spirits that purge themselves under thy ward. How
I have led him, it would be long to tell thee; from on high
descends power that aids me to conduct him to see thee and to
hear thee. Now may it please thee to approve his coming. He goes
seeking liberty, which is so dear, as he knows who for her
refuses life. Thou knowest it, for death for her sake was not
hitter to thee in Utica, where thou didst leave the garment that
on the great day shall he so bright. The eternal edicts are not
violated by us, for this one is alive, and Minos does not bind
me; but I am of the circle where are the chaste eyes of thy
Marcia, who in her look still prays thee, O holy breast, that for
thine own thou hold her. For her love, then, incline thyself to
us; let us go on through thy seven realms.[1] Thanks unto thee
will I carry back to her, if to be mentioned there below thou

[1] The seven circles of Purgatory.

"Marcia so pleased my eyes while I was on earth," said he then,
"that whatsoever grace she wished from me I did it; now, that on
the other side of the evil stream she dwells, she can no more
move me, by that law which was made when thence I issued
forth.[1] But if a Lady of heaven move and direct thee, as thou
sayest, there is no need of flattery; suffice it fully to thee
that for her sake thou askest me. Go then, and see thou gird this
one with a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face so that thou
remove all sully from it, for it were not befitting to go with
eye overcast by any cloud before the first minister that is of
those of Paradise. This little island, round about at its base,
down there yonder where the wave heats it, bears rushes upon its
soft ooze. No plant of other kind, that might put forth leaf or
grow hard, can there have life, because it yields not to the
shocks. Thereafter let not your return be this way; the Sun which
now is rising will show you to take the mountain by easier

[1] The law that the redeemed cannot be touched by other than
heavenly affections.

So he disappeared, and I rose up, without speaking, and drew me
close to my Leader, and turned my eyes to him. He began, "Son,
follow my steps; let us turn back, for this plain slopes that way
to its low limits."

The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour which fled before it, so
that from afar I discerned the trembling of the sea. We set forth
over the solitary plain like a man who turns unto the road which
he has lost, and, till he come to it, seems to himself to go in
vain. When we were where the dew contends with the sun, and,
through being in a place where there is shade, is little
dissipated, my Master softly placed both his hands outspread upon
the grass. Whereon I, who perceived his design, stretched toward
him my tear-stained cheeks. Here he wholly uncovered that color
of mine which hell had hidden on me.[1]

[1] Allegorically, when the soul has entered upon the way of
purification Reason, with the dew of repentance, washes off the
stain of sin, and girds the spirit with humility.

We came, then, to the desert shore that never saw navigate its
waters one who afterwards had experience of return. Here he girt
me, even as pleased the other. O marvel! that such as he plucked
the humble plant, it instantly sprang up again there whence he
tore it.[1]

[1] The goods of the spirit are not diminished by appropriation.

CANTO II. Sunrise.--The Poets on the shore.--Coming of a boat,
guided by an angel, bearing souls to Purgatory.--Their
landing.--Casella and his song.--Cato hurries the souls to the

Now had the sun reached the horizon whose meridian circle covers
Jerusalem with its highest point; and the night which circles
opposite to it was issuing forth from Ganges with the Scales that
fall from her hand when she exceeds;[1] so that where I was the
white and red cheeks of the beautiful Aurora by too much age were
becoming orange.

[1] Purgatory and Jerusalem are antipodal, and in one direction
the Ganges or India was arbitrarily assumed to be their common
horizon. The night is here taken as the point of the Heavens
opposite the sun, and the sun being in Aries, the night is in
Libra. When night exceeds, that is, at the autumnal equinox, when
the night becomes longer than the day, the Scales may be said to
drop from her hand, since the sun enters Libra.

We were still alongside the sea, like folk who are thinking of
their road, who go in heart and linger in body; and lo! as, at
approach of the morning, through the dense vapors Mars glows
ruddy, down in the west above the ocean floor, such appeared to
me,--so may I again behold it!--a light along the sea coming so
swiftly that no flight equals its motion. From which when I had a
little withdrawn my eye to ask my Leader, again I saw it,
brighter become and larger. Then on each side of it appeared to
me a something, I know not what, white, and beneath, little by
little, another came forth from it. My Master still said not a
word, until the first white things showed themselves wings; then,
When he clearly recognized the pilot, he cried out, "Mind, mind,
thou bend thy knees. Lo! the Angel of God: fold thy hands;
henceforth shalt thou see such officials. See how he scorns human
means, so that he wills not oar, or other sail than his own wings
between such distant shores. See, how he holds them straight
toward heaven, stroking the air with his eternal feathers that
are not changed like mortal hair."

Then, as nearer and nearer toward us came the Bird Divine, the
brighter he appeared; so that near by my eye endured him not, but
I bent it down: and he came on to the shore with a small vessel,
very swift and light so that the water swallowed naught of it. At
the stern stood the Celestial Pilot, such that if but described
he would make blessed; and more than a hundred spirits sat
within. "In exitu Israel de Egypto"[1] they all were singing
together with one voice, with whatso of that psalm is after
written. Then he made the sign of holy cross upon them; whereon
they all threw themselves upon the strand; and he went away swift
as he had come.

1 "When Israel went out of Egypt." Psalm cxiv.

The crowd which remained there seemed strange to the place,
gazing round about like him who of new things makes essay. On all
sides the Sun, who had with his bright arrows chased from
midheaven the Capricorn,[1] was shooting forth the day, when the
new people raised their brow toward us, saying to us, "If ye
know, show us the way to go unto the mountain." And Virgil
answered, "Ye believe, perchance, that we are acquainted with
this place, but we are pilgrims even as ye are. Just now we came,
a little before you, by another way, which was so rough and
difficult that the ascent henceforth will seem play to us.

[1] When Aries, in which the Sun was rising, is on the horizon,
Capricorn is at the zenith.

The souls who had become aware concerning me by my breathing,
that I was still alive, marvelling became deadly pale. And as to
a messenger who bears an olive branch the folk press to hear
news, and no one shows himself shy of crowding, so, at the sight
of me, those fortunate souls stopped still, all of them, as if
forgetting to go to make themselves fair.

I saw one of them drawing forward to embrace me with so great
affection that it moved me to do the like. O shades empty save in
aspect! Three times behind it I clasped my hands and as oft
returned with them unto my breast. With marvel, I believe, I
painted me; wherefore the shade smiled and drew back, and I,
following it, pressed forward, Gently it said, that I should
pause; then I knew who it was, and I prayed it that to speak with
me it would stop a little. It replied to me, "So as I loved thee
in the mortal body, so loosed from it I love thee; therefore I
stop; but wherefore goest thou?"

"Casella mine, in order to return another time to this place
where I am, do I make this journey," said I, "but from thee how
has so much time been taken?"[1]

[1] "How has thy coming hither been delayed so long since thy

And he to me, "No wrong has been done me if he[1] who takes both
when and whom it pleases him ofttimes hath denied to me this
passage; for of a just will[2] his own is made. Truly for three
months he has taken with all peace whoso has wished to enter.
Wherefore I who was now turned to the seashore where the water of
Tiber grows salt was benignantly received by him.[3] To that
outlet has he now turned his wing, because always those assemble
there who towards Acheron do not descend."

[1] The Celestial Pilot.

[2] That is, of the Divine Will; but there is no explanation of
the motive of the delay.

[3] The Tiber is the local symbol of the Church of Rome, from
whose bosom those who die at peace with her pass to Purgatory.
The Jubilee, proclaimed by Boniface VIII., had begun at
Christmas, 1299, so that for three months now the Celestial Pilot
had received graciously all who had taken advantage of it to gain
remission of their sins.

And I, "If a new law take not from thee memory or practice of the
song of love which was wont to quiet in me all my longings, may
it please thee therewith somewhat to comfort my soul, which
coming hither with its body is so wearied."

"Love which in my mind discourseth with me,"[1] began he then so
sweetly that the sweetness still within me sounds.[2] My Master,
and I, and that folk who were with him, appeared so content as if
naught else could touch the mind of any.

[1] The first verse of a canzone by Dante; the canzone is the
second of those upon which he comments in his Convito.

[2] Every English reader recalls Milton's Sonnet to Mr. Henry
"Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he woo'd to sing,
Met in the milder shades of purgatory."

Nothing is known of Casella beyond what is implied in Dante's
affectionate record of their meeting.

We were all fixed and attentive to his notes; and lo! the
venerable old man crying, "What is this, ye laggard spirits? What
negligence, what stay is this? Run to the mountain to strip off
the slough that lets not God be manifest to you."

As, when gathering grain or tare, the doves assembled at their
feeding, quiet, without display of their accustomed pride, if
aught appear of which they are afraid, suddenly let the food
alone, because they are assailed by a greater care, so I saw that
fresh troop leave the song, and go towards the hill-side, like
one that goes but knows not where he may come out. Nor was our
departure less speedy.

CANTO III. Ante-Purgatory.--Souls of those who have died in
contumacy of the Church.-- Manfred.

Inasmuch as the sudden flight had scattered them over the plain,
turned to the mount whereto reason spurs us, I drew me close to
my trusty companion. And how should I without him have run? Who
would have drawn me up over the mountain? He seemed to me of his
own self remorseful. O conscience, upright and stainless, how
bitter a sting to thee is little fault!

When his feet left the haste that takes the seemliness from every
act, my mind, which at first had been restrained, let loose its
attention, as though eager, and I turned my face unto the hill
that towards the heaven rises highest from the sea. The sun,
which behind was flaming ruddy, was broken in front of me by the
figure that the staying of its rays upon me formed. When I saw
the ground darkened only in front of me, I turned me to my side
with fear of being abandoned: and my Comfort, wholly turning to
me, began to say, "Why dost thou still distrust? Dost thou not
believe me with thee, and that I guide thee? It is now evening
there where the body is buried within which I cast a shadow;
Naples holds it, and from Brundusium it is taken; if now in front
of me there is no shadow, marvel not more than at the heavens of
which one hinders not the other's radiance. To suffer torments,
both hot and cold, bodies like this the Power ordains, which
wills not that how it acts be revealed to us. Mad is he who hopes
that our reason can traverse the infinite way which One Substance
in Three Persons holds. Be content, human race, with the
quia;[1]; for if ye had been able to see everything, need had not
been for Mary to hear child: and ye have seen desiring
fruitlessly men such [2] that their desire would have been
quieted, which is given them eternally for a grief. I speak of
Aristotle and of Plato, and of many others;" and here he bowed
his front, and said no more, and remained disturbed.

[1] Quic is used here, as often in mediaeval Latin, for quod. The
meaning is, Be content to know that the thing is, seek not to
know WHY or HOW--propter quid--it is as it is.

[2] If human knowledge sufficed.

We had come, meanwhile, to the foot of the mountain; here we
found the rock so steep, that there the legs would be agile in
vain. Between Lerici and Turbia[1] the most deserted, the most
secluded way is a stair easy and open, compared with that. "Now
who knows on which hand the hillside slopes," said my Master,
staying his step, "so that he can ascend who goeth without

[1] Lerici on the Gulf of Spezzia, and Turbia, just above Monaco,
are at the two ends of the Riviera; between them the mountains
rise steeply from the shore, along which in Dante's time there
was no road.

And while he was holding his face low, questioning his mind about
the road, and I was looking up around the rock, on the left hand
appeared to me a company of souls who were moving their feet
towards us, and seemed not, so slowly were they coming. "Lift,"
said I to the Master, "thine eyes, lo! on this side who will give
us counsel, if thou from thyself canst not have it." He looked at
them, and with air of relief, answered, "Let us go thither, for
they come slowly, and do thou confirm thy hope, sweet son.

That people was still as far, I mean after a thousand steps of
ours, as a good thrower would cast with his hand, when they all
pressed up to the hard masses of the high bank, and stood still
and close, as one who goes in doubt stops to look.[1] "O ye who
have made good ends, O spirits already elect," Virgil began, "by
that peace which I believe is awaited by you all, tell us, where
the mountain lies so that the going up is possible; for to lose
time is most displeasing to him who knows most."

[1] They stopped, surprised, at seeing Virgil and Dante advancing
to the left, against the rule in Purgatory, where the course is
always to the right, symbolizing progress in good. In Hell the
contrary rule holds.

As the sheep come forth from the fold by ones, and twos, and
threes, and the others stand timid, holding eye and muzzle to the
ground; and what the first does the others also do, huddling
themselves to her if she stop, silly and quiet, and wherefore
know not; so I saw then moving to approach, the head of that
fortunate flock, modest in face and dignified in gait.

When those in front saw the light broken on the ground at my
right side, so that the shadow fell from me on the cliff, they
stopped, and drew somewhat back; and all the rest who were coming
behind, not knowing why, did just the same. "Without your
asking, I confess to you that this is a human body which you see,
whereby the light of the sun on the ground is cleft. Marvel not
thereat, but believe that not without power that comes from
heaven he seeks to surmount this wall." Thus the Master:and that
worthy people said, "Turn, enter in advance, then;" with the
backs of their hands making sign. And one of them began, "Whoever
thou art, turn thy face as thou thus goest; consider if in the
world thou didst ever see me?" I turned me toward him, and looked
at him fixedly: blond he was, and beautiful, and of gentle
aspect, but a blow had divided one of his eyebrows.

When I had humbly disclaimed having ever seen him, he said, "Now
look!" and he showed me a wound at the top of his breast. Then he
said, smiling, "I am Manfred,[1] grandson of the Empress
Constance; wherefore I pray thee, that when thou returnest, thou
go to my beautiful daughter,[2] mother of the honor of Sicily and
of Aragon, and tell to her the truth if aught else be told. After
I had my body broken by two mortal stabs, I rendered myself,
weeping, to Him who pardons willingly. Horrible were my sins, but
the Infinite Goodness has such wide arms that it takes whatever
turns to it. If the Pastor of Cosenza,[3] who was set on the hunt
of me by Clement, had then rightly read this page in God, the
bones of my body would still be at the head of the bridge near
Benevento, under the guard of the heavy cairn. Now the rain
bathes them, and the wind moves them forth from the kingdom,
almost along the Verde, whither he transferred them with
extinguished light.[4] By their [5] malediction the Eternal Love
is not so lost that it cannot return, while hope hath speck of
green. True is it, that whoso dies in contumacy of Holy Church,
though he repent him at the end, needs must stay outside[6] upon
this bank thirtyfold the whole time that he has been in his
presumption,[7] if such decree become not shorter through good
prayers. See now if thou canst make me glad, revealing to my good
Constance how thou hast seen me, and also this prohibition,[8]
for here through those on earth much is gained."

[1] The natural son of the Emperor Frederick II. He was born in
1231; in 1258 he was crowned King of Sicily. In 1263 Charles of
Anjou was called by Pope Urban IV. to contend against him, and in
1266 Manfred was killed at the battle of Benevento.

[2] Constance, the daughter of Manfred, was married to Peter of
Aragon. She had three sons, Alphonso, James, and Frederick.
Alphonso succeeded his father in Aragon, and James in Sicily, but
after the death of Alphonso James became King of Aragon. and
Frederick King of Sicily. Manfred naturally speaks favorably of
them, but Dante himself thought ill of James and Frederick. See
Canto VII., towards the end.

[3] The Archbishop of Cosenza, at command of the Pope, Clement
IV., took the body of Manfred from his grave near Benevento, and
threw it unburied, as the body of one excommunicated, on the bank
of the Verde.

[4] Not with candles burning as in proper funeral rites.

[5] That is, of Pope or Bishop.

[6] Outside the gate of Purgatory.

[7] This seems to be a doctrine peculiar to Dante. The value of
the prayers of the good on earth in shortening the period of
suffering of the souls in Purgatory is more than once referred to
by him, as well as the virtue of the intercession of the souls in
Purgatory for the benefit of the living. [8] The prohibition of
entering within Purgatory.

CANTO IV. Ante-Purgatory.--Ascent to a shelf of the
mountain.--The negligent, who postponed repentance to the last

When through delights, or through pains which some power of ours
may experience, the soul is all concentrated thereon, it seems
that to no other faculty it may attend; and this is counter to
the error which believes that one soul above another is kindled
in us.[1] And therefore, when a thing is heard or seen, which may
hold the soul intently turned to it, the time passes, and the man
observes it not: for one faculty is that which listens, and
another is that which keeps the soul entire; the latter is as it
were bound, and the former is loosed.

[1] Were it true that, as according to the Platonists, there were
more than one soul in man, he might give attention to two things
at once. But when one faculty is free and called into activity,
the rest of the soul is as it were bound in inaction.

Of this had I true experience, hearing that spirit and wondering;
for full fifty degrees had the sun ascended,[1] and I had not
noticed it, when we came where those souls all together cried out
to us, "Here is what you ask."

[1] It was now about nine o'clock A. M.

A larger opening the man of the farm often hedges up with a
forkful of his thorns, when the grape grows dark, than was the
passage through which my Leader and I behind ascended alone, when
the troop departed from us. One goes to Sanleo, and descends to
Noli, one mounts up Bismantova[1] to its peak, with only the
feet; but here it behoves that one fly, I mean with the swift
wings and with the feathers of great desire, behind that guide
who gave me hope and made a light for me. We ascended in through
the broken rock, and on each side the border pressed on us, and
the ground beneath required both feet and hands.

[1] These all are places difficult of access.

When we were upon the upper edge of the high bank on the open
slope, "My Master," said I, "what way shall we take?" And he to
me, "Let no step of thine fall back, always win up the mountain
behind me, till some sage guide appear for us."

The summit was so high it surpassed the sight and the side
steeper far than a line from the mid quadrant to the centre.[1] I
was weary, when I began, "O sweet Father, turn and regard howl
remain alone if thou dost not stop." "My son," said he, "far as
here drag thyself," pointing me to a ledge a little above, which
on that side circles all the hill. His words so spurred me, that
I forced myself, scrambling after him, until the belt was beneath
my feet. There we both sat down, turning to the east, whence we
had ascended, for to look back is wont to encourage one. I first
turned my eyes to the low shores, then I raised them to the sun,
and wondered that on the left we were struck by it. The Poet
perceived clearly that I was standing all bewildered at the
chariot of the light, where between us and Aquilo,[2] it was
entering. Whereupon he to me, "If Castor and Pollux were in
company with that mirror [3] which up and down guides with its
light, thou wouldst see the ruddy Zodiac revolving still closer
to the Bears, if it went not out of its old road.[4] How that may
be, if thou wishest to be able to think, collected in thyself
imagine Zion and this mountain to stand upon the earth so that
both have one sole horizon, and different hemispheres; then thou
wilt see that the road which Phaethon, to his harm, knew not how
to drive, must needs pass on the one side of this mountain, and
on the other side of that, if thy intelligence right clearly
heeds." "Surely, my Master," said I, "never yet saw I so clearly,
as I now discern there where my wit seemed deficient; for the
mid-circle of the supernal motion, which is called Equator in a
certain art,[4] and which always remains between the sun and the
winter, for the reason that thou tellest, from here departs
toward the north, while the Hebrews saw it toward the warm
region. But, if it please thee, willingly I would know how far we
have to go, for the hill rises higher than my eyes can rise." And
he to me, "This mountain is such, that ever at the beginning
below it is hard, and the higher one goes the less it hurts;
therefore when it shall seem so pleasant to thee that the going
up will be easy to thee as going down the current in a vessel,
then wilt thou be at the end of this path; there repose from toil
await: no more I answer, and this I know for true."

[1] A steeper inclination than that of an angle of forty-five

[2] The North.

[3] The brightness of the sun is the reflection of the Divine

[4] If the sun were in the sign of the Gemini instead of being in
Aries it would make the Zodiac ruddy still farther to the north.
In Purgatory the sun being seen from south of the equator is on
the left hand, while at Jerusalem, in the northern hemisphere, it
is seen on the right.

[5] Astronomy.

And when he had said his word, a voice near by sounded,
"Perchance thou wilt be first constrained to sit." At the sound
of it each of us turned, and we saw at the left a great stone
which neither he nor I before had noticed. Thither we drew; and
there were persons who were staying in the shadow behind the
rock, as one through indolence sets himself to stay. And one of
them, who seemed to me weary, was seated, and was clasping his
knees, holding his face down low between them. "O sweet my Lord,"
said I, "look at him who shows himself more indolent than if
sloth were his sister." Then that one turned to us and gave heed,
moving his look only up along his thigh, and said, "Now go up
thou, for thou art valiant." I recognized then who he was, and
that effort which was still quickening my breath a little
hindered not my going to him, and after I had reached him, he
scarce raised his head, saying, "Hast thou clearly seen how the
sun over thy left shoulder drives his chariot?"

His slothful acts and his short words moved my lips a little to a
smile, then I began, "Belacqua,[1] I do not grieve for thee
now,[2] but tell me why just here thou art seated? awaitest thou
a guide, or has only thy wonted mood recaptured thee?" And he,
"Brother, what imports the going up? For the bird of God that
sitteth at the gate would not let me go to the torments. It first
behoves that heaven circle around me outside the gate, as long as
it did in life, because I delayed good sighs until the end;
unless the prayer first aid me which rises up from a heart that
lives in grace: what avails the other which is not heard in

[1] Belacqua, according to Benvenuto da Imola, was a Florentine,
a maker of citherns and other musical instruments; he carved with
great care the necks and heads of his citherns, and sometimes he
played on them. Dante, because of his love of music, had been
well acquainted with him.

[2] He had feared lest Belacqua might be in Hell.

And now the Poet in front of me was ascending, and he said, "Come
on now: thou seest that the meridian is touched by the sun, and
on the shore the night now covers with her foot Morocco."

CANTO V. Ante-Purgatory.--Spirits who had delayed repentance, and
met with death by violence, but died repentant.--Jacopo del
Cassero.--Buonconte da Montefeltro--Via de' Tolomei.

I had now parted from those shades, and was following the
footsteps of my Leader, when behind me, pointing his finger, one
cried out, "Look, the ray seems not to shine on the left hand of
that lower one, and as if alive he seems to hear himself." I
turned my eyes at the sound of these words, and I saw them
watching, for marvel, only me, only me, and the light which was

"Why is thy mind so hampered," said the Master, "that thou
slackenest thy going? What matters to thee that which here is
whispered? Come after me, and let the people talk. Stand as a
tower firm, that never wags its top for blowing of the winds; for
always the man in whom thought on thought wells up removes from
himself his aim, for the force of one weakens the other." What
could I answer, save "I come"? I said it, overspread somewhat
with the color, which, at times, makes a man worthy of pardon.

And meanwhile across upon the mountain side, a little in front of
us, were coming people, singing "Miserere," verse by verse. When
they observed that I gave not place for passage of the rays
through my body, they changed their song into a long and hoarse
"Oh!" and two of them, in form of messengers, ran to meet us, and
asked of us, "Of your condition make us cognizant." And my
Master, "Ye can go back, and report to them who sent you, that
the body of this one is true flesh. If, as I suppose, they
stopped because of seeing his shadow, enough is answered them;
let them do him honor and he may he dear to them."

Never did I see enkindled vapors at early night so swiftly cleave
the clear sky, nor at set of sun the clouds of August, that these
did not return up in less time; and, arrived there, they, with
the others, gave a turn toward us, like a troop that runs without
curb. "These folk that press to us are many, and they come to
pray thee," said the Poet; "wherefore still go on, and in going
listen." "O soul," they came crying, "that goest to be happy with
those limbs with which thou wast born, a little stay thy step;
look if thou hast ever seen any one of us, so that thou mayest
carry news of him to earth. Ah, why dost thou go on? Ah, why dost
thou not stop? We were of old all done to death by violence, and
sinners up to the last hour; then light from Heaven made us
mindful, so that both penitent and pardoning we issued forth from
life, at peace with God, who fills our hearts with the desire to
see him." And I, "Although I gaze upon your faces, not one I
recognize; but if aught that I can do be pleasing to you, spirits
wellborn,[1] speak ye, and I will do it by that peace which makes
me, following the feet of such a guide, seek for itself from
world to world." And one began, "Each of us trusts in thy good
turn without thy swearing it, provided want of power cut not off
the will; wherefore I, who alone before the others speak, pray
thee, if ever thou see that land that sits between Romagna and
the land of Charles,[2] that thou be courteous to me with thy
prayers in Fano, so that for me good orisons be made, whereby I
may purge away my grave offences. Thence was I; but the deep
wounds, wherefrom issued the blood in which I had my seat,[3]
were given me in the bosom of the Endoneuria,[4] there where I
thought to be most secure; he of Este had it done, who held me in
wrath far beyond what justice willed. But if I had fled toward
Mira,[5] when I was overtaken at Oriaco, I should still be yonder
where men breathe. I ran to the marsh, and the reeds and the mire
hampered me so that I fell, and there I saw a lake made by my
veins upon the ground."

[1] Elect from birth to the joys of Paradise, in contrast with
the ill-born, the miscreants of Hell.

[2] The March of Ancona, between the Romagna and the kingdom of
Naples, then held by Charles II. of Anjou. It is Jacopo del
Cassero who speaks. He was a noted and valiant member of the
leading Guelph family in Fano. On his way to take the place of
Podesta of Milan, in 1298, he was assassinated by the minions of
Azzo VIII. of Este, whom he had offended.

[3] The life of all flesh is the blood thereof." Levit., xvii.
14. Or, according to the Vulgate, "Anima carnis in sanguine est."

[4] That is to say, in the territory of the Paduans, whose city
was reputed to have been founded by Antenor.

[5] Mira is a little settlement on the bank of one of the canals
of the Brenta. Why flight thither would have been safe is mere
matter of conjecture.

Then said another, "Ah! so may that desire be fulfilled which
draws thee to the high mountain, with good piety help thou mine.
I was of Montefeltro, and am Buonconte.[1] Joan or any other has
no care for me, wherefore I go among these with downcast front."
And I to him, "What violence, or what chance so carried thee
astray from Campaldino,[2] that thy burial place was never
known?" "Oh!" replied he, "at foot of the Casentino crosses a
stream, named the Archiano, which rises in the Apennine above the
Hermitage.[3] Where its proper name becomes vain[4] I arrived,
pierced in the throat, flying on foot, and bloodying the plain.
Here I lost my sight, and I ended my speech with the name of
Mary, and here I fell, and my flesh remained alone. I will tell
the truth, and do thou repeat it among the living. The Angel of
God took me, and he of Hell cried out, "O thou from Heaven, why
dost thou rob me?[5] Thou bearest away for thyself the eternal
part of him for one little tear which takes him from me; but of
the rest I will make other disposal." Thou knowest well how in
the air is condensed that moist vapor which turns to water soon
as it rises where the cold seizes it. He joined that evil will,
which seeketh only evil, with intelligence, and moved the mist
and the wind by the power that his own nature gave. Then when the
day was spent he covered the valley with cloud, from Pratomagno
to the great chain, and made the frost above so intense that the
pregnant air was turned to water. The rain fell, and to the
gullies came of it what the earth did not endure, and as it
gathered in great streams it rushed so swiftly towards the royal
river that nothing held it back. The robust Archiano found my
frozen body near its outlet, and pushed it into the Arno, and
loosed on my breast the cross which I made of myself when the
pain overcame me. It rolled me along its banks, and along its
bottom, then with its spoil it covered and girt me."

[1] Son of Count Guido da Montefeltro, the treacherous counsellor
who had told his story to Dante in Hell, Canto XXVII. Joan was
his wife.

[2] The battle of Campaldino, in which Dante himself, perhaps,
took part, was fought on the 11th of June, 1289, between the
Florentine Guelphs and the Ghibellines of Arezzo. Buonconte was
the captain of the Aretines. Campaldino is a little plain in the
upper valley of the Arno.

[3] The convent of the Calmaldoli, founded by St. Romualdo of
Ravenna, in 1012.

[4] Being lost at its junction with the Arno.

[5] St. Francis and one of the black Cherubim had had a similar
contention, as will be remembered, over the soul of Buonconte's

"Ah! when thou shalt have returned unto the world, and rested
from the long journey," the third spirit followed on the second,
"be mindful of me, who am Pia.[1] Siena made me, Maremma unmade
me; he knows it who with his gem ringed me, betrothed before."

[1] This sad Pia is supposed to have belonged to the Sienese
family of the Tolomei, and to have been the wife of Nello or
Paganello de' Pannocchieschi, who was reported to have had her
put to death in his stronghold of Pietra in the Tuscan Maremma.
Her fate seems the more pitiable that she does not pray Dante to
seek for her the prayers of any living person. The last words of
Pia are obscure, and are interpreted variously. Possibly the
"betrothed before" hints at a source of jealousy as the motive of
her murder.

CANTO VI. Ante-Purgatory.--More spirits who had deferred
repentance till they were overtaken by a violent death.--Efficacy
of prayer.--Sordello.--Apostrophe to Italy.

When a game of dice is broken up, he who loses remains sorrowful,
repeating the throws, and, saddened, learns; with the other all
the folk go along; one goes before and one plucks him from
behind, and at his side one brings himself to mind. He does not
stop; listens to one and the other the man to whom he reaches
forth his hand presses on him no longer, and thus from the throng
he defends himself. Such was I in that dense crowd, turning my
face to them this way and that; and, promising, I loosed myself
from them.

Here was the Aretine,[1] who from the fierce arms of Ghin di
Tacco had his death; and the other who was drowned when running
in pursuit. Here Federigo Novello [2] was praying with hands
outstretched, and he of Pisa, who made the good Marzucco seem
strong.[3] I saw Count Orso; and the soul divided from its body
by spite and by envy, as it said, and not for fault committed,
Pierre do la Brosse,[5] I mean; and here let the Lady of Brabant
take forethought, while she is on earth, so that for this she be
not of the worse flock.

[1] The Aretine was Messer Benincasa da Laterina, a learned
judge, who had condemned to death for their crimes two relatives
of Ghin di Tacco, the most famous freebooter of the day, whose
headquarters were between Siena and Rome. Some time after, Messer
Benincasa sitting as judge in Rome, Ghino entered the city with a
band of his followers, made his way to the tribunal, slew
Benincasa, and escaped unharmed.

[2] Another Aretine, of the Tarlati family, concerning whose
death the early commentators are at variance. Benvenuto da Imola
says that, hotly pursuing his enemies, his horse carried him into
a marsh, from which he could not extricate himself, so that his
foes turned upon him and slew him with their arrows.

[3] Federigo, son of the Count Guido Novello, of the
circumstances of whose death, said to have taken place in 1291,
nothing certain is known. Benvenuto says, he was multum probus, a
good youth, and therefore Dante mentions him.

[4] Of him of Pisa different stories are told. Benvenuto says, "I
have heard from the good Boccaccio, whom I trust more than the
others, that Marzucco was a good man of the city of Pisa, whose
son was beheaded by order of Count Ugolino, the tyrant, who
commanded that his body should remain unburied. In the evening
his father went to the Count, as a stranger unconcerned in the
matter, and, without tears or other sign of grief, said, 'Surely,
my lord, it would be to your honor that that poor body should be
buried, and not left cruelly as food for dogs.' Then the Count,
recognizing him, said astonished, 'Go, your patience overcomes my
obduracy,' and immediately Marzucco went and buried his son."

[5] Of Count Orso nothing is known with certainty.

[6] Pierre de is Brosse was chamberlain and confidant of Philip
the Bold of France. He lost the king's favor, and charges of
wrong-doing being brought against him he was hung. It was
reported that his death was brought about through jealousy by
Mary of Brabant, the second wife of Philip. She lived till 1321,
so that Dante's warning may have reached her ears.

When I was free from each and all those shades who prayed only
that some one else should pray, so that their becoming holy may
be speeded, I began, "It seems that thou deniest to me, O Light
of mine, expressly, in a certain text, that orison can bend
decree of Heaven, and this folk pray only for this, -- shall then
their hope be vain? or is thy saying not rightly clear to me?[1]

[1] Virgil represents Palinurus as begging to be allowed to cross
the Styx, while his body was still unburied and without due
funeral rites. To this petition the Sibyl answers:--Desine fata
Deum flecti sperare precando:--Cease to hope that the decrees of
the gods can be changed by prayer."--Aeneid, vi. 376.

And he to me, "My writing is plain, and the hope of these is not
fallacious, if well it is regarded with sound mind; for top of
judgment vails not itself because a fire of love may, in one
instant, fulfil that which he who is stationed here must satisfy.
And there where I affirmed this proposition, defect was not
amended by a prayer, because the prayer was disjoined from God.
But truly in regard to so deep a doubt decide thou not, unless
she tell thee who shall be a light between the truth and the
understanding.[1] I know not if thou understandest; I speak of
Beatrice. Thou shalt see her above, smiling and happy, upon the
summit of this mountain."

[1] The question, being one that relates to the Divine will,
cannot be answered with full assurance by human reason.

And I, "My lord, let us go on with greater speed, for now I mu
not weary as before; and behold now how the bill casts its
shadow." "We will go forward with this day," he answered, "as
much further as we shall yet be able; but the fact is of other
form than thou supposest. Before thou art there-above thou wilt
see him return, who is now hidden by the hill-side so that thou
dost not make his rays to break. But see there a soul which
seated all alone is looking toward us; it will point out to us
the speediest way." We came to it. O Lombard soul, how lofty and
scornful wast thou; and in the movement of thine eyes grave and
slow! It said not anything to us, but let us go on, looking only
in manner of a lion when he couches. Virgil, however, drew near
to it, praying that it would show to us the best ascent; and it
answered not to his request, but of our country and life it asked
us. And the sweet Leader began, "Mantua,"--and the shade, all in
itself recluse, rose toward him from the place where erst it was,
saying, "O Mantuan, I am Sordello of thy city,"[1]--and they
embraced each other.

[1] Sordello, who lived early in the thirteenth century, was of
the family of the Visconti of Mantua. He left his native land and
gave up his native tongue to live and write as a troubadour in
Provence, but his fame belonged to Italy.

Ah, servile Italy, hostel of grief! ship without pilot in great
tempest! not lady of provinces, but a brothel! that gentle soul
was so ready, only at the sweet sound of his native land, to give
glad welcome here unto his fellow-citizen: and now in thee thy
living men exist not without war, and of those whom one wall and
one moat shut in one doth gnaw the other. Search, wretched one,
around the shores, thy seaboard, and then look within thy bosom,
if any part in thee enjoyeth peace! What avails it that for thee
Justinian should mend the bridle, if the saddle be empty? Without
this, the shame would be less. Ah folk,[1] that oughtest to be
devout and let Caesar sit in the saddle, if thou rightly
understandest what God notes for thee! Look how fell this wild
beast has become, through not being corrected by the spurs, since
thou didst put thy hand upon the bridle. O German Albert, who
abandonest her who has become untamed and savage, and oughtest to
bestride her saddle-bows, may a just judgment from the stars fall
upon thy blood, and may it be strange and manifest, so that thy
successor may have fear of it! [2] For thou and thy father,
retained up there by greed, have suffered the garden of the
empire to become desert. Come thou to see Montecchi and
Cappelletti, Monaldi and Filippeschi,[3] thou man without care:
those already wretched, and these in dread. Come, cruel one,
come, and see the distress of thy nobility, and cure their hurts;
and thou shalt see Santafiora[4] how safe it is. Come to see thy
Rome, that weeps, widowed and alone, and day and night cries, "My
Caesar, wherefore dost thou not keep me company?" Come to see the
people, how loving it is; and, if no pity for us move thee, come
to be shamed by thine own renown! And if it be lawful for me, O
Supreme Jove that wast on earth crucified for us, are thy just
eyes turned aside elsewhere? Or is it preparation, that in the
abyss of thy counsel thou art making for some good utterly cut
off from our perception? For the cities of Italy are all full of
tyrants, and every churl that comes playing the partisan becomes
a Marcellus?[5]

[1] The Church-folk, the clergy, for whom God has ordained, --
"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's."

[2] Albert of Hapsburg, son of the Emperor Rudolph, was elected
King of the Romans in 1298, but like his father never went to
Italy to he crowned. He was murdered by his nephew, John, called
the parricide, in 1308, at Konigsfelden. The successor of Albert
was Henry VII. of Luxemborg, who came to Italy in 1311, was
crowned at Rome in 1312, and died at Buonconvento the next year.
His death ended the hopes of Dante.

[3] Famous families, the first two of Verona, the last two of
Orvieto, at enmity with each other in their respective
cities,--types of a common condition.

[4]The Counts of Santafiora were once the most powerful
Ghibelline nobles in the Sienese territory. Their power had
declined since the Hohenstaufen Emperors had been succeeded by
the Hapsburgs, and they were now subjected to the Guelphs of

[5] That is, a hitter opponent of the empire, as the Consul M.
Claudius Marcellus was of Caesar.

My Florence! surely thou mayst be content with this digression,
which toucheth thee not, thanks to thy people that for itself
takes heed. Many have justice at heart but shoot slowly, in order
not to come without counsel to the bow; but thy people has it on
the edge of its lips. Many reject the common burden, but thy
people, eager, replies without being called on, and cries, "I
load myself." Now be thou glad, for thou hast truly wherefore:
thou rich, thou in peace, thou wise. If I speak the truth, the
result hides it not. Athens and Lacedaemon, that made the ancient
laws and were so civilized, made toward living well a little
sign, compared with thee that makest such finespun provisions,
that to mid November reaches not, what thou in October spinnest.
How often in the time that thou rememberest, law, money, office,
and custom, hast thou changed, and renewed thy members! And if
thou mind thee well and see the light, thou wilt see thyself
resembling a sick woman, who cannot find repose upon the
feathers, but with her tossing seeks to relieve her pain.

CANTO VII. Virgil makes himself known to Sordello.--Sordello
leads the Poets to the Valley of the Princes who have been
negligent of salvation.--He points them out by name.

After the becoming and glad salutations had been repeated three
and four times, Sordello drew back and said, "Ye, who are ye?"
"Before the souls worthy to ascend to God were turned unto this
mountain, my bones had been buried by Octavian; I am Virgil, and
for no other sin did I lose heaven, but for not having faith,"
thus then replied my Leader.

As is he who suddenly sees a thing before him whereat he marvels,
and doth and doth not believe, saying, "It is, it is not,"--so
seemed that shade, and then he bent down his brow, and humbly
turned again toward him and embraced him where the inferior takes

"O glory of the Latins," said he, "through whom our language
showed what it could do, O honor eternal of the place wherefrom I
was, what merit or what grace shows thee to me? If I am worthy to
hear thy words, tell me if thou comest from Hell, and from what
cloister." "Through all the circles of the realm of woe," replied
he to him, "am I come hither; Power of Heaven moved me, and with
it I come. Not by doing, but by not doing have I lost the sight
of the high Sun whom thou desirest, and who by me was known late.
A place there is below not sad with torments but with darkness
only, where the lamentations sound not as wailings, but are
sighs; there stay I with the little innocents bitten by the teeth
of death before they were exempt from human sin; there stay I
with those who were not vested with the three holy virtues, and
without vice knew the others and followed all of them.[1] But if
thou knowest and canst, give us some direction whereby we may
come more speedily there where Purgatory has its true beginning."
He replied, "A certain place is not set for us; it is permitted
me to go upward and around; so far as I can go I join myself to
thee as guide. But see how already the day declines, and to go up
by night is not possible; therefore it is well to think of some
fair sojourn. There are souls here on the right apart; if thou
consentest to me I will lead thee to them, and not without
delight will they be known to thee." "How is this?" was answered,
"he who might wish to ascend by night, would he be hindered by
another, or would he not be able to ascend?" And the good
Sordello drew his finger on the ground, saying, "See, only this
line thou couldst not pass after set of sun; not because aught
else save the nocturnal darkness would give hindrance to going
up; that hampers the will with impotence.[2] One could, indeed,
in it[3] turn downward and walk the hillside wandering around,
while the horizon holds the day shut up." Then my Lord, as if
wondering, said, "Lead us, then, there where thou sayest one may
have delight while waiting."

[1] The virtuous Heathen did not possess the so-called
theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity; but they
practiced the four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Temperance,
Fortitude and Justice.

[2] The allegory is plain: the soul can mount the steep of
purification only when illuminated by the Sun of Divine Grace.

[3] In the darkness.

Little way had we gone from that place, when I perceived that the
mountain was hollowed out in like fashion as the valleys hollow
them here on earth. "Yonder," said that shade, "will we go, where
the hillside makes a lap of itself, and there will we await the
new day." Between steep and level was a winding path that led us
into a side of the dale, where more than by half the edge dies
away. Gold and fine silver, and scarlet and white, Indian wood
lucid and clear,[1] fresh emerald at the instant it is split,
would each be vanquished in color by the herbage and by the
flowers set within that valley, as by its greater the less is
vanquished. Nature had not only painted there, but with sweetness
of a thousand odors she made there one unknown and blended.

[1] The blue of indigo.

Upon the green and upon the flowers I saw souls who, because of
the valley, were not visible from without, seated here singing
"Salve regina." [1] "Before the lessening sun sinks to his nest,"
began the Mantuan who had turned us thither, "desire not that
among these I guide you. From this bank ye will better become
acquainted with the acts and countenances of all of them, than
received among them on the level below. He who sits highest and
has the semblance of having neglected what he should have done,
and who moves not his mouth to the others' songs, was Rudolph the
Emperor, who might have healed the wounds that have slain Italy,
so that slowly by another she is revived.[2] The next, who in
appearance comforts him, ruled the land where the water rises
that Moldau bears to Elbe, and Elbe to the sea. Ottocar was his
name,[3] and in his swaddling clothes he was better far than
bearded Wenceslaus, his son, whom luxury and idleness feed.[4]
And that small-nosed one, who seems close in counsel with him who
has so benign an aspect, died in flight and disflowering the
lily;[5] look there how he beats his breast. See the next who,
sighing, has made a bed for his cheek with his hand.[6] Father
and father-in-law are they of the harm of France; they know his
vicious and foul life, and thence comes the grief that so pierces
them. He who looks so large-limbed,[7] and who accords in singing
with him of the masculine nose,[8] wore girt the cord of every
worth, and if the youth that is sitting behind him had followed
him as king, truly had worth gone from vase to vase, which cannot
be said of the other heirs: James and Frederick hold the realms;
[9] the better heritage no one possesses. Rarely doth human
goodness rise through the branches, and this He wills who gives
it, in order that it may be asked from Him. To the large-nosed
one also my words apply not less than to the other, Peter, who is
singing with him; wherefore Apulia and Provence are grieving
now.[10] The plant is as inferior to its seed, as, more than
Beatrice and Margaret, Constance still boasts of her husband.[11]
See the King of the simple life sitting there alone, Henry of
England; he in his branches hath a better issue.[12] That one who
lowest among them sits on the ground, looking upward, is William
the marquis,[13] for whom Alessandria and her war make Montferrat
and the Canavese mourn."

[1] The beginning of a Church hymn to the Virgin, sung after
vespers, of which the first verses are:--
Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae!
Vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve!
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae;
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
In hac lacrymarum valle.

[2] The neglect of Italy by the Emperor Rudolph (see the
preceding Canto) was not to be repaired by the vain efforts of
Henry VII.

[3] Ottocar, King of Bohemia and Duke of Austria, had been slain
in battle against Rudolph, on the Marchfeld by the Donau, in
1278; "whereby Austria fell to Rudolph." See Carlyle's Frederick
the Great, book ii. ch. 7.

[4] Dante repeats his harsh judgment of Wenceslaus in the
nineteenth Canto of Paradise. His first wife was the daughter of
Rudolph of Hapsburg. He died in 1305.

[5] This is Philip the Bold of France, 1270-1285. Having invaded
Catalonia, in a war with Peter the Third of Aragon, he was driven
back, and died on the retreat at Perpignan.

[6] Henry of Navarre, the brother of Thibault, the poet-king
(Hell, Canto XXII.). His daughter Joan married Philip the Fair,
"the harm of France," the son of Philip the Bold.

[7] Peter of Aragon (died 1285), the husband of Constance,
daughter of Manfred (see Canto III.); the youth who is seated
behind him is his son Alphonso, who died in 1291.

[8] Charles of Anjou.

[9] The kingdoms of Aragon and Sicily; both James and Frederick
were living when Dante thus wrote of them. The "better heritage"
was the virtue of their father.

[10] Apulia and Provence were grieving under the rule of Charles
II., the degenerate son of Charles of Anjou, who died in 1309.

[11] The meaning is doubtful; perhaps it is, that the children of
Charles of Anjou and of Peter of Aragon are as inferior to their
fathers, as Charles himself, the husband first of Beatrice of
Provence and then of Margaret of Nevers, was inferior to Peter,
the husband of Constance.

[12] Henry III., father of Edward I.

[13] William Spadalunga was Marquis of Montferrat and Canavese,
the Piedmontese highlands and plain north of the Po. He was
Imperial vicar, and the bead of the Ghibellines in this region.
In a war with the Guelphs, who had risen in revolt in 1290, he
was taken captive at Alessandria, and for two years, till his
death, was kept in an iron cage. Dante refers to him in the
Convito, iv. 11, as "the good marquis of Montferrat."

CANTO VIII. Valley of the Princes.--Two Guardian Angels.--Kino
Visconti.--The Serpent.--Corrado Malaspina.

It was now the hour that turns back desire in those that sail the
sea, and softens their hearts, the day when they have said to
their sweet friends farewell, and which pierces the new pilgrim
with love, if he hears from afar a bell that seems to deplore the
dying day,--when I began to render hearing vain, and to look at
one of the souls who, uprisen, besought attention with its hand.
It joined and raised both its palms, fixing its eyes toward the
orient, as if it said to God, "For aught else I care not." "Te
lucis ante"[1] so devoutly issued from his mouth and with such
sweet notes that it made me issue forth from my own mind. And
then the others sweetly and devoutly accompanied it through all
the hymn to the end, having their eyes upon the supernal wheels.
Here, reader, sharpen well thine eyes for the truth, for the veil
is now indeed so thin that surely passing through within is

[1] The opening words of a hymn sung at Complines, the last
service of the day:

Te locis ante terminum,
Rerom Creator poscimus,
Ut tus pro clementia
Sis presul et custodia:--

"Before the close of light, we pray thee, O Creator, that through
thy clemency, thou be our watch and guard."

[2] The allegory seems to be, that the soul which has entered
upon the way of repentance and purification, but which is not yet
securely advanced therein, is still exposed to temptation,
especially when the light of the supernal grace does not shine
directly upon it. But if the soul have steadfast purpose to
resist temptation, and seek aid from God, that aid will not be
wanting. The prayer of the Church which is recited after the hymn
just cited has these words: "Visit, we pray thee, O Lord, this
abode, and drive far from it the snares of the enemy. Let thy
holy Angels bide in it, and guard us in peace." Pallid with self
distrust, humble with the sense of need, the soul awaits the
fulfilment of its prayer. The angels are clad in green, the
symbolic color of hope. Their swords are truncated, because
needed only for defence.

I saw that army of the gentle-born silently thereafter gazing
upward as if in expectation, pallid and humble; and I saw issuing
from on high and descending two angels, with two fiery swords
truncated and deprived of their points. Green as leaflets just
now born were their garments, which, beaten and blown by their
green pinions, they trailed behind. One came to stand a little
above us, and the other descended on the opposite bank, so that
the people were contained between them. I clearly discerned in
them their blond heads, but on their faces the eye was dazzled,
as a faculty which is confounded by excess. "Both come from the
bosom of Mary," said Sordello, "for guard of the valley, because
of the serpent that will come straightway." Whereat I, who knew
not by what path, turned me round, and all chilled drew me close
to the trusty shoulders.

And Sordello again, "Now let us go down into the valley among the
great shades, and we will speak to them; well pleasing will it be
to them to see you." Only three steps I think I had descended and
I was below; and I saw one who was gazing only at me as if he
wished to know me. It was now the time when the air was
darkening, but not so that between his eyes and mine it did not
reveal that which it locked up before.[1] Towards me he moved,
and I moved towards him. Gentle Judge Nino,[2] how much it
pleased me when I saw that thou wast not among the damned! No
fair salutation was silent between us; then he asked, "How long
is it since thou camest to the foot of the mountain across the
far waters?"

[1] It was not yet so dark that recognition of one near at hand
was difficult, though at a distance it had been impossible.

[2] Nino (Ugolino) de' Visconti of Pisa was the grandson of Count
Ugolino, and as the leader of the Pisan Guelphs became his bitter
opponent. Sardinia was under the dominion of Pisa, and was
divided into four districts, each of which was governed by one of
the Pisan nobles, under the title of Judge. Nino had held the
judicature of Gallura, where Frate Gomita (see Hell, Canto XXII.)
had been his vicar. Nino died in 1296.

"Oh," said I to him, "from within the dismal places I came this
morning, and I am in the first life, albeit in going thus, I may
gain the other." And when my answer was heard, Sordello[1] and he
drew themselves back like folk suddenly bewildered, the one to
Virgil, and the other turned to one who was seated there, crying,
"Up, Corrado,[2] come to see what God through grace hath willed."
Then, turning to me, "By that singular gratitude thou owest unto
Him who so hides His own first wherefore[3] that there is no ford
to it, when thou shalt be beyond the wide waves, say to my Joan,
that for me she cry there where answer is given to the innocent.
I do not think her mother[4] loves me longer, since she changed
her white wimples,[5] which she, wretched, needs must desire
again. Through her easily enough is comprehended how long the
fire of love lasts in woman, if eye or touch does not often
rekindle it. The viper[6] which leads afield the Milanese will
not make for her so fair a sepulture as the cock of Gallura would
have done." Thus he said, marked in his aspect with the stamp of
that upright zeal which in due measure glows in the heart.

[1] The sun was already hidden behind the mountain when Virgil
and Dante came upon Sordello. Sordello had not therefore seen
that Dante cast a shadow, and being absorbed in discourse with
Virgil had not observed that Dante breathed as a living man.

[2] Corrado, of the great Guelph family of the Malaspina, lords
of the Lunigiana, a wide district between Genoa and Pisa.

[3] The reason of that which He wills.

[4] Her mother was Beatrice d' Este, who, in 1300, married
Galeazzo de' Visconti of Milan.

[5] The white veil or wimple and black garments were worn by
widows. The prophecy that she must needs wish for her white
wimple again seems merely to rest on Nino's disapproval of her
second marriage.

[6] The viper was the cognizance of the Visconti of Milan.

My greedy eyes were going ever to the sky, ever there where the
stars are slowest, even as a wheel nearest the axle. And my
Leader, "Son, at what lookest thou up there?" And I to him, "At
those three torches with which the pole on this side is all
aflame." [1] And he to me, "The four bright stars which thou
sawest this morning are low on the other side, and these are
risen where those were."

[1] These three stars are supposed to symbolize the theological
virtues, -- faith. hope, and charity, whose light shines when the
four virtues of active life grow dim in night.

As he was speaking, lo! Sordello drew him to himself, saying,
"See there our adversary," and pointed his finger that he should
look thither. At that part where the little valley has no barrier
was a snake, perhaps such as gave to Eve the bitter food. Through
the grass and the flowers came the evil trail, turning from time
to time its head to its back, licking like a beast that sleeks
itself. I did not see, and therefore cannot tell how the
celestial falcons moved, but I saw well both one and the other in
motion. Hearing the air cleft by their green wings the serpent
fled, and the angels wheeled about, up to their stations flying
back alike.

The shade which had drawn close to the Judge when he exclaimed,
through all that assault had not for a moment loosed its gaze
from me. "So may the light that leadeth thee on high find in
thine own free-will so much wax as is needed up to the enamelled
summit,"[1] it began, "if thou knowest true news of Valdimacra[2]
or of the neighboring region, tell it to me, for formerly I was
great there. I was called Corrado Malaspina; I am not the
ancient,[3] but from him I am descended; to mine own I bore the
love which here is refined." "Oh," said I to him, "through your
lands I have never been, but where doth man dwell in all Europe
that they are not renowned? The fame that honoreth your house
proclaims its lords, proclaims its district, so that he knows of
them who never yet was there; and I swear to you, so may I go
above, that your honored race doth not despoil itself of the
praise of the purse and of the sword. Custom and nature so
privilege it that though the guilty head turn the world awry,
alone it goes right and scorns the evil road."[4] And he, "Now
go, for the sun shall not lie seven times in the bed that the Ram
covers and bestrides with all four feet,[5] before this courteous
opinion will be nailed in the middle of thy head with greater
nails than the speech of another, if course of judgment be not

[1] So may illuminating grace find the disposition in thee
requisite for the support of its light, until thou shalt arrive
at the summit of the Mountain, the earthly Paradise enamelled
with perpetual flowers.

[2] A part of the Lunigiana.

[3] The old Corrado Malaspina was the husband of Constance, the
sister of King Manfred. He died about the middle of the
thirteenth century. The second Corrado was his grandson.

[4] This magnificent eulogy of the land and the family of
Malaspina is Dante's return for the hospitality which, in 1306,
he received from the Marquis Moroello and other members of the

[5] Seven years shall not pass, the sun being at this time in the
sign of the Ram.

CANTO IX. Slumber and Dream of Dante.--The Eagle.--Lucia.--The
Gate of Purgatory.--The Angelic Gatekeeper.--Seven P's inscribed
on Dante's Forehead.--Entrance to the First Ledge.

The concubine of old Tithonus was now gleaming white on the
balcony of the orient, forth from the arms of her sweet friend;
her forehead was lucent with gems set in the shape of the cold
animal that strikes people with its tail.[1] And in the place
where we were the night had taken two of the steps with which she
ascends, and the third was already bending down its wings, when
I, who had somewhat of Adam with me, overcome by sleep, reclined
upon the grass, there where all five of us were seated.

[1] By the concubine of old Tithonus, Dante seems to have
intended the lunar Aurora, in distinction from the proper wife of
Tithonus, Aurora, who precedes the rising Sun, and the meaning of
these verses is that " the Aurora before moonrise was lighting up
the eastern sky, the brilliant stars of the sign Scorpio were on
the horizon, and, finally, it was shortly after 8.30 P.M."
(Moore.) "The steps with which the night ascends" are the six
hours of the first half of the night, from 6 P.M. to midnight.

At the hour near the morning when the little swallow begins her
sad lays,[1] perchance in memory of her former woes, and when our
mind, more a wanderer from the flesh and less captive to the
thought, is in its visions almost divine,[2] in dream it seemed
to me that I saw poised in the sky an eagle with feathers of
gold, with wings widespread, and intent to stoop. And it seemed
to me that I was there[3] where his own people were abandoned by
Ganymede, when he was rapt to the supreme consistory. In myself I
thought, "Perhaps this bird strikes only here through wont, and
perhaps from other place disdains to carry anyone upward in his
feet." Then it seemed to me that, having wheeled a little, it
descended terrible as a thunderbolt, and snatched me upwards far
as the fire.[4] There it seemed that it and I burned, and the
imagined fire so scorched that of necessity the sleep was broken.

[1] The allusion is to the tragic story of Progne and Philomela,
turned the one into a swallow, the other into a nightingale.
Dante found the tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book vi.

[2] Dante passes three nights in Purgatory, and each night his
sleep is terminated by a dream towards the hour of dawn, the time
when, according to the belief of classical antiquity, the visions
of dreams are symbolic and prophetic. (Moore.)

[3] Mt. Ida.

[4] The sphere of fire by which, according to the mediaeval
cosmography, the sphere of the air was surrounded.

Not otherwise Achilles shook himself,--turning around his
awakened eyes, and not knowing where he was, when his mother from
Chiron to Scyros stole him away, sleeping in her arms, thither
whence afterwards the Greeks withdrew him,[1]--than I started,
as from my face sleep fled away; and I became pale, even as a man
frightened turns to ice. At my side was my Comforter only, and
the sun was now more than two hours high,[2] and my face was
turned toward the sea. "Have no fear," said my Lord; "be
reassured, for we are at a good point; restrain not, but increase
all thy force. Thou art now arrived at Purgatory; see there the
cliff that closes it around; see the entrance, there where it
appears divided. A while ago in the dawn that precedes the day,
when thy soul was sleeping within thee, upon the flowers
wherewith the place down yonder is adorned, came a lady, and
said, "I am Lucia; let me take this one who is sleeping; thus
will I assist him along his way.' Sordello remained, and the
other gentle forms: she took thee, and when the day was bright,
she came upward, and I along her footprints. Here she laid thee
down: and first her beautiful eyes showed me that open entrance;
then she and slumber went away together." Like a man that in
perplexity is reassured, and that alters his fear to confidence
after the truth is disclosed to him, did I change; and when my
Leader saw me without solicitude, up along the cliff he moved on,
and I behind, toward the height.

[1] Statius, in the first book of the Achilleid, tells how
Thetis, to prevent Achilles from going to the siege of Troy, bore
him sleeping away from his instructor, the centaur Chiron, and
carried him to the court of King Lycomedes, on the Island of
Scyros, where, though concealed in women's garments, Ulysses and
Diomed discovered him. Statius relates how wonderstruck Achilles
was when on awaking he found himself at Scyros:
Quae loca? qui fluctus? ubi Pelion? onmia versa
Atque ignota videt, dubitatque agnoscere matrem--249-50.

[2] The morning of Easter Monday.

[3] Lucia seems to be here the symbol of assisting grace, the
gratia operans of the school-men. It was she who was called upon
by the Virgin (Hell, Canto II.) to aid Dante when he was astray
in the wood, and who had moved Beatrice to go to his succor.

Reader, thou seest well how I exalt my theme, and therefore
marvel not if with more art I reenforce it.[1]

[1] These words may be intended to call attention to the doctrine
which underlies the imagery of the verse.

The entrance within the gate of Purgatory is the assurance of
justification, which is the change of the soul from a state of
sin to a state of justice or righteousness. Justification itself
consists, according to St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica,
Prima Secundae, quaest. cxiii. art. 6 and 8), of four parts:
first, the infusion of grace; second, the turning of the free
will to God through faith; third, the turning of the free will
against sin; fourth, the remission of sin. It must be accompanied
by the sacrament of penance, which consists of contrition,
confession, and satisfaction by works of righteousness.

Outside the gate of Purgatory justification cannot be complete.
The souls in the Ante-Purgatory typify those who have entered on
the way towards justification, but have not yet attained it. They
undergo a period of mortification to sin, of deliberation, as St.
Thomas Aquinas says: "Contingit autem quandoque quod praecedit
aliqua deliberatio quae non est do substantia justificationis sed
via in justificationem." Summa Theol., l. c. art. 7.

We drew near to it, and reached such place that there, where at
first there seemed to me a rift, like a cleft which divides a
wall, I saw a gate, and three steps beneath for going to it of
divers colors, and a gatekeeper who as yet said not a word. And
as I opened my eye there more and more, I saw him sitting on the
upper step, such in his face that I endured it not.[1] And he had
in his hand a naked sword, which so reflected the rays toward us
that I often raised my sight in vain. "Tell it from there, what
would ye?" began he to say; "where is the guide? Beware lest the
coming up be harmful to you." [2] "A lady from Heaven with these
things acquainted," replied my Master to him, "only just now said
to us, 'Go thither, here is the gate.'" "And may she speed your
progress in good," began again the courteous gatekeeper, "come
forward then unto our steps."

[1] The angel at the gate appears to be the type of the priest
who administers absolution.

[2] Unless grace has been infused into the heart it is a sin to
present one's self as ready for the sacrament.

Thither we came to the first great stair; it was of white marble
so polished and smooth that I mirrored myself in it as I appear.
The second, of deeper hue than perse, was of a rough and scorched
stone, cracked lengthwise and athwart. The third, which above
lies massy, seemed to me of porphyry as flaming red as blood that
spirts forth from a vein. Upon this the Angel of God held both
his feet, seated upon the threshold that seemed to me stone of
adamant.[1] Up over the three steps my Leader drew me with good
will, saying, "Beg humbly that he undo the lock." Devoutly I
threw myself at the holy feet; I besought for mercy's sake that
he would open for me; but first upon my breast I struck three
times.[2] Seven P's upon my forehead he inscribed with the point
of his sword,[3] and "See that thou wash these wounds when thou
art within," he said.

[1] The first step is the symbol of confession, the second of
contrition, the third of satisfaction; the threshold of adamant
may perhaps signify the authority of the Church.

[2] Three times, in penitence for sins in thought, in word, and
in deed.

[3] The seven P's stand for the seven so-called mortal sins,--
Peccati, not specific acts, but the evil dispositions of the soul
from which all evil deeds spring,--pride, envy, anger, sloth
(accidia), avarice, gluttony, and lust. After justification these
dispositions which already have been overcome, must be utterly
removed from the soul.

Ashes or earth dug out dry would be of one color with his
vestment, and from beneath that he drew two keys. One was of gold
and the other was of silver; first with the white and then with
the yellow he so did to the door, that I was content.[1]
"Whenever one of these keys fails, and turns not rightly in the
lock," said he to us, "this passage doth not open. More precious
is one[2] but the other requires much art and wit before it
unlocks, because it is the one that disentangles the knot. From
Peter I hold them; and he told me to err rather in opening than
in keeping shut, if but the people prostrate themselves at my
feet." Then he pushed the valve of the sacred gate, saying,
"Enter, but I give you warning that whoso looks behind returns
outside."[3] And when the pivots of that sacred portal, which are
of metal, sonorous and strong, were turned within their hinges,
Tarpeia roared not so loud nor showed herself so harsh, when the
good Metellus was taken from her, whereby she afterwards remained

[1] The golden key is typical of the power to open, and the
silver of the knowledge to whom to open.

[2] The gold, more precious because the power of absolution was
purchased by the death of the Saviour.

[3] For he who returns to his sins loses the Divine Grace.

[4] This roaring of the gate may, perhaps, be intended to enforce
the last words of the angel, and may symbolize the voices of his
own sins as the sinner turns his back on them. When Caesar forced
the doors of the temple of Saturn on the Tarpeian rock, in order
to lay hands on the sacred treasure of Rome, he was resisted by
the tribune Metellus.

I turned away attentive to the first tone,[1] and it seemed to me
I heard "Te Deum laudamus"[2] in voices mingled with sweet sound.
That which I heard gave me just such an impression as we are wont
to receive when people stand singing with an organ, and the words
now are, now are not caught.

[1] The first sound within Purgatory.

[2] Words appropriate to the entrance of a sinner that repenteth.

CANTO X. First Ledge: the Proud.--Examples of Humility sculptured
on the Rock.

When we were within the threshold of the gate, which the souls'
wrong love[1] disuses, because it makes the crooked way seem
straight, I heard by its resounding that it was closed again.
And, if I had turned my eyes to it, what excuse would have been
befitting for the fault?

[1] It is Dante's doctrine that love is the motive of every act;
rightly directed, of good deeds; perverted, of evil. See Canto

We were ascending through a cloven rock, which moved on one side
and on the other, even as the wave retreats and approaches. "Here
must be used a little art," began my Leader, "in keeping close,
now here, now there to the side which recedes."[1] And this made
our progress so slow that the waning disk of the moon regained
its bed to go to rest, before we had come forth from that
needle's eye. But when we were free and open above, where the
mountain backward withdraws,[2] I weary, and both uncertain of
our way, we stopped upon a level more solitary than roads through
deserts. The space from its edge, where it borders the void, to
the foot of the high bank which rises only, a human body would
measure in three lengths; and as far as my eye could stretch its
wings, now on the left and now on the right side, such did this
cornice seem to me. Thereon our feet had not yet moved when I
perceived that bank round about, which, being perpendicular,
allowed no ascent, to be of white marble and adorned with such
carvings, that not Polycletus merely but Nature would be put to
shame there.

[1] The path was a narrow, steep zigzag, which, as it receded on
one side and the other, afforded the better foothold.

[2] Leaving an open space, the first ledge of Purgatory.

The Angel who came to earth with the announcement of the peace,
wept for for many years, which opened Heaven from its long
interdict, appeared before us here carved in a sweet attitude so
truly that he did not seem an image that is silent. One would
have sworn that he was saying "Ave;" for there was she imaged who
turned the key to open the exalted love. And in her action she
had these words impressed, "Ecce ancilla Dei!"[1] as exactly as a
shape is sealed in wax.

[1] "Behold the handmaid of the Lord!"

"Keep not thy mind only on one place," said the sweet Master, who
had me on that side where people have their heart. Wherefore I
moved my eyes and saw behind Mary, upon that side where he was
who was moving me, another story displayed upon the rock;
whereupon I passed Virgil and drew near so that it might be set
before my eyes. There in the very marble was carved the cart and
the oxen drawing the holy ark, because of which men fear an
office not given in charge.[1] In front appeared people; and all
of them, divided in seven choirs, of two of my senses made the
one say "NO," the other "YES, THEY ARE SINGING."[2] In like
manner, by the smoke of the incense that was imaged there, mine
eyes and nose were made in YES and NO discordant. There,
preceding the blessed vessel, dancing, girt up, was the humble
Psalmist, and more and less than king was he in that proceeding.
Opposite, figured at a window of a great palace, Michal was
looking on even as a lady scornful and troubled.[3]

[1] "And they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it
out of the house.. . and Uzzah and Ahio drave the new cart....and
when they came to Nachon's threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth his
hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook
it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God
smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of
God." 2 Samuel, vi. 4-7.

[2] The hearing said "No," the sight said "Yes."

[3] "So David went and brought up the ark of God... into the city
of David with gladness. And when they that bare the ark of the
Lord had gone six paces he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. And
David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was
girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel
brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound
of the trumpet. And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of
David, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window, and saw
King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised
him in her heart." 2 Samuel, vi. 12-16.

I moved my feet from the place where I was standing to look from
near at another story which behind Michal was shining white on
me. Here was storied the high glory of the Roman prince, whose
worth incited Gregory to his great victory:[1] I speak of Trajan
the emperor; and a poor widow was at his bridle in attitude of
weeping and of grief. Round about him there seemed a press and
throng of knights, and the eagles in the gold above him to the
sight were moving in the wind. The wretched woman among all these
seemed to be saying, "Lord, do vengeance for me for my son who is
slain, whereat I am broken-hearted." And he to answer her, "Now
wait till I return;" and she, "My Lord,"--like one in whom grief
is hasty,--"if thou return not?" And he, "He who shall be where I
am will do it for thee." And she, "What will the good deed of
another be to thee if thou art mindless of thine own?" Whereon
he, "Now comfort thee; for it behoves that I discharge my own
duty ere I go; justice requires it, and pity constrains me." He
who hath never seen new thing [2] had produced that visible
speech, novel to us, since on earth it is not found.

[1] This legend of Trajan had great vogue during the Middle Ages.
It was believed that Pope Gregory the Great interceded for him,
praying that he might be delivered from Hell; "then God because
of these prayers drew that soul from pain and put it into glory."
This was Gregory's great victory. See Paradise, XX., p. 131.

[2] God, to whom nothing can be new.

While I was delighting me with regarding the images of such great
humilities, and for their Maker's sake dear to behold, "Lo, on
this side many people, but they make few steps," murmured the
Poet. "They will put us on the way to the high stairs." My eyes
that were intent on looking in order to see novelties whereof
they are fain, in turning toward him were not slow.

I would not, indeed, Reader, that thou be dismayed at thy good
purpose, through hearing how God wills that the debt be paid.
Attend not to the form of the suffering; think on what follows;
think that at worst beyond the Great Judgment it cannot go!

I began, "Master, that which I see moving toward us, seems to me
not persons, but what I know not, my look is so in vain." And he
to me, "The heavy condition of their torment so presses them to
earth, that mine own eyes at first had contention with it. But
look fixedly there, and disentangle with thy sight that which
cometh beneath those stones; now thou canst discern how each is

O proud Christians, wretched weary ones, who, diseased in vision
of the mind, have confidence in backward steps, are ye not aware
that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly which flies
unto judgment without defence? Why doth your mind float up aloft,
since ye are as it were defective insects, even as a worm in
which formation fails?

As sometimes for support of ceiling or roof, by way of corbel, a
figure is seen joining its knees to its breast, which out of its
unreality makes a real pang rise in him who sees it, thus
fashioned saw I these when I gave good heed. True it is that they
were more or less contracted according as they had more or less
upon their backs; and he who had most patience in his looks,
weeping, appeared to say, "I can no more."

CANTO XI. First Ledge: the Proud.--Prayer.--Omberto
Aldobrandeschi.--Oderisi d' Agubbio.--Provinzan Salvani.

"O our Father who art in Heaven, not circumscribed, but through
the greater love which to the first effects on high Thou hast,[1]
praised be Thy name and Thy power by every creature, even as it
is befitting to render thanks to Thy sweet effluence. May the
peace of Thy Kingdom come towards us, for we to it cannot of
ourselves, if it come not, with all our striving. As of their
will Thine angels, singing Hosanna, make sacrifice to Thee, so
may men make of theirs. Give us this day the daily manna, without
which through this rough desert he backward goes, who toils most
to go on. And as we pardon every one for the wrong that we have
suffered, even do Thou, benignant, pardon and regard not our
desert. Our virtue which is easily overcome put not to proof with
the old adversary, but deliver from him who so spurs it. This
last prayer, dear Lord, truly is not made for ourselves, for it
is not needful, but for those who behind us have remained."

[1] Not circumscribed by Heaven, but having Thy seat there
because of the love Thou bearest to the first effects --the
angels, and the heavens--of Thyself the First Cause.

Thus praying for themselves and us good speed, those souls were
going under the weight, like that of which one sometimes dreams,
unequally in anguish, all of them round and round, and weary,
along the first cornice, purging away the mists of the world. If
good they ask for us always there, what can here be said and done
for them by those who have a good root for their will? Truly we
ought to aid them to wash away the marks which they bore hence,
so that pure and light they may go forth unto the starry wheels.

"Ah! so may justice and pity unburden you speedily that ye may be
able to move the wing, which according to your desire may lift
you, show on which hand is the shortest way towards the stair;
and if there is more than one pass, point out to us that which
least steeply slopes; for this man who comes with me, because of
the load of the flesh of Adam wherewith he is clothed, is chary
against his will of mounting up." It was not manifest from whom
came the words which they returned to these that he whom I was
following had spoken, but it was said, "To the right hand along
the bank come ye with us, and ye will find the pass possible for
a living person to ascend. And if I were not hindered by the
stone which tames my proud neck, wherefore I needs must carry my
face low, I would look at that one who is still alive and is not
named, to see if I know him, and to make him pitiful of this
burden. I was Italian, and born of a great Tuscan; Guglielmo
Aldobrandesco was my father: I know not if his name was ever with
you.[1] The ancient blood and the gallant deeds of my ancestors
made me so arrogant that, not thinking on the common mother, I
held every man in scorn to such extreme that I died therefor, as
the Sienese know, and every child in Campagnatico knows it. I am
Omberto: and not only unto me Pride doth harm, for all my
kinsfolk bath she dragged with her into calamity; and here must I
heap this weight on her account till God be satisfied,--here
among the dead, since I did it not among the living."

[1] The Aldobrandeschi were the counts of Santa Fiore (see Canto
VI.) in the Sienese Maremma. Little is known of them, but that
they were in constant feud with Siena. The one who speaks was
murdered in his own stronghold of Campagnatico, in 1259.

Listening, I bent down my face; and one of them, not he who was
speaking, twisted himself under the weight that hampers him; and
he saw me, and recognized me and called out, keeping his eyes
with effort fixed on me, who was going along all stooping with
him.[1] "Oh," said I to him, "art thou not Oderisi, the honor of
Gubbio, and the honor of that art which in Paris is called
illumination?" "Brother," said he, "more smiling are the leaves
that Franco of Bologna pencils; the honor is now all his, and
mine in part.[2] Truly I should not have been so courteous while
I lived, because of the great desire of excelling whereon my
heart was intent. Of such pride here is paid the fee; and yet I
should not be here, were it not that, still having power to sin,
I turned me unto God. Oh vainglory of human powers! how little
lasts the green upon the top, if it be not followed by dull
ages.[3] Cimabue thought to hold the field in painting, and now
Giotto has the cry, so that the fame of him is obscured. In like
manner one Guido hath taken from the other the glory of the
language; and he perhaps is born who shall drive both one and the
other from the nest.[4] Worldly renown is naught but a breath of
wind, which now comes hence and now comes thence, and changes

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