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

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name because it changes quarter. What more fame shalt thou have,
if thou strippest old flesh from thee, than if thou hadst died
ere thou hadst left the pap and the chink,[5] before a thousand
years have passed?--which is a shorter space compared to the
eternal than a movement of the eyelids to the circle that is
slowest turned in Heaven. With him who takes so little of the
road in front of me, all Tuscany resounded, and now he scarce is
lisped of in Siena, where he was lord when the Florentine rage
was destroyed,[6] which at that time was proud, as now it is
prostitute. Your reputation is color of grass that comes and
goes, and he[7] discolors it through whom it came up fresh from
the earth." And I to him, "Thy true speech brings good humility
to my heart, and thou allayest a great swelling in me; but who is
he of whom thou now wast speaking?" "He is," he answered,
"Provinzan Salvani;[8] and he is here, because he was
presumptuous in bringing all Siena to his hands. He has gone
thus--and he goes without repose--ever since he died: such money
doth he pay in satisfaction, who is on earth too daring." And I,
"If that spirit who awaits the verge of life ere he repents
abides there below, and unless good prayer further him ascends
not hither, ere as much time pass us he lived, how has this
coining been granted unto him?" "When he was living most
renowned," said he, "laying aside all shame, of his own accord he
planted himself in the Campo of Siena,[9] and there, to draw his
friend from the punishment he was enduring in the prison of
Charles, brought himself to tremble in every vein. More I will
not say, and I know that I speak darkly; but little time will
pass, before thy neighbors will so act that thou wilt he able to
gloss it.[10] This deed released him from those limits."[11]

[1] This stooping is the symbol of Dante's consciousness of pride
as his own besetting sin.

[2] Oderisi of Gubbio and Franco of Bologna were both eminent in
the art called miniare in Italian, enluminer in French.

[3] Ages in which no progress is made.

[4] The first Guido is doubtless Guido Guinicelli, whom Dante
calls (see Canto XXVI.) his master; the other probably Dante's
friend, Guido Cavalcanti.

[5] Dante's words are pappo and dindi, childish terms for "bread"
and "money."

[6] The mad Florentine people were utterly cast down in 1260, at
the battle of Montaperti.

[7] The sun.

[8] Provinzano Salvani was one of the chief supporters of the
Ghibelline cause in Tuscany. He was a man of great qualities and
capacity, but proud and presumptuous. Defeated and taken prisoner
at the battle of Colle, in 1269, he was beheaded.

[9] The Campo of Siena is her chief public square and
marketplace, set round with palaces. The friend of Provinzano is
said by the old commentators to have fought for Conradin against
Charles of Anjou, and, being taken captive, to have been
condemned to death. His ransom was fixed at ten thousand florins.
Provinzano, not being able to pay this sum from his own means,
took his seat in the Campo and humiliated himself to beg of the

[10] The meaning of the dark words seems to be: Exile and poverty
will compel thee to beg, and begging to tremble in every vein.

[11] This deed of humility and charity released him from the
necessity of tarrying outside the gate of Purgatory.

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.

Side by side, like oxen who go yoked, I went on with that
burdened spirit so long as the sweet Pedagogue allowed it; but
when he said, "Leave him, and come on, for here it is well that,
both with sail and oars, each as much as he can should urge his
bark," I straitened up my body again, as is required for walking,
although my thoughts remained both bowed down and abated.

I was moving on, and following willingly the steps of my Master,
and both now were showing how light we were, when he said to me,
"Turn thine eyes downward; it will be well for thee, in order to
solace the way, to look upon the bed of thy footprints." As above
the buried, so that there may be memory of them, their tombs in
earth bear inscribed that which they were before,--whence
oftentimes is weeping for them there, through the pricking of
remembrance, which only to the pious gives the spur,--so saw I
figured there, but of better semblance in respect of skill, all
that for pathway juts out from the mountain.

I saw him who was created more noble than any other creature,[1]
down from heaven with lightning flash descending, at one side.

[1] Lucifer.

I saw Briareus[1] transfixed by the celestial bolt, lying at the
other side, heavy upon the earth in mortal chill. I saw
Thymbraeus,[2] I saw Pallas and Mars, still armed, around their
father, gazing at the scattered limbs of the giants.

[1] Examples from classic and biblical mythology alternate.

[2] Apollo, so called from his temple at Thymbra, not far from
Troy, where Achilles is said to have slain Paris. Virgil
(Georgics, iv. 323) uses this epithet.

I saw Nimrod at the foot of his great toil, as if bewildered, and
gazing at the people who in Shinar had with him been proud.

O Niobe! with what grieving eyes did I see thee portrayed upon
the road between thy seven and seven children slain!

O Saul! how on thine own sword here didst thou appear dead on
Gilboa, that after felt not rain or dew![1]

[1] I Samuel, xxxi. 4, and 2 Samuel, i. 24.

O mad Arachne,[1] so I saw thee already half spider, wretched on
the shreds of the work that to thy harm by thee was made!

[1] Changed to a spider by Athena, whom she had challenged to a
trial of skill at the loom.

O Rehoboam! here thine image seems not now to threaten, but full
of fear, a chariot bears it away before any one pursues it.[1]

[1] 1 Kings, xii. 13-18.

The hard pavement showed also how Alcmaeon made the ill-fated
ornament seem costly to his mother.[1]

[1] Amphiaraus, the soothsayer, foreseeing his own death if he
went to the Theban war, hid himself to avoid being forced to go.
His wife, Eriphyle, bribed by a golden necklace, betrayed his
hiding-place, and was killed by her son Alcmaeon, for thus
bringing about his father's death.

It showed how his sons threw themselves upon Sennacherib within
the temple, and how they left him there dead.[1]

[1] 2 Kings, xix. 37.

It showed the ruin and the cruel slaughter that Tomyris wrought,
when she said to Cyrus, "For blood thou hast thirsted, and with
blood I fill thee."

[1] Herodotus (i. 214) tells how Tomyris, Queen of the
Massagetae, having defeated and slain Cyrus, filled a skin full
of human blood, and plunged his head in it with words such as
Dante reports, and which he derived from Orosius, Histor. ii. 7.

It showed how the Assyrians fled in rout after Holofernes was
killed, and also the remainder of the punishment.[1]

[1] Judith, xv. 1.

I saw Troy in ashes, and in caverns. O Ilion! how cast down and
abject the image which is there discerned showed thee!

What master has there been of pencil or of style that could draw
the shadows and the lines which there would make every subtile
genius wonder? Dead the dead, and the living seemed alive. He who
saw the truth saw not better than I all that I trod on while I
went bent down.--Now be ye proud, and go with haughty look, ye
sons of Eve, and bend not down your face so that ye may see your
evil path!

More of the mountain had now been circled by us, and of the sun's
course far more spent, than my mind, not disengaged, was aware,
when he, who always in advance attent was going on, began, "Lift
up thy head; there is no more time for going thus abstracted. See
there an Angel, who is hastening to come toward us: see how from
the service of the day the sixth hand-maiden returns.[1] With
reverence adorn thine acts and thy face so that he may delight to
direct us upward. Think that this day never dawns again."

[1] The sixth hour of the day is coming to its end, near noon.

I was well used to his admonition ever to lose no time, so that
on that theme he could not speak to me obscurely.

To us came the beautiful creature, clothed in white, and in his
face such as seems the tremulous morning star. Its arms it
opened, and then it opened its wings; it said, "Come: here at
hand are the steps, and easily henceforth one ascends. To this
invitation very few come. O human race, born to fly upward, why
before a little wind dost thou so fall?"

He led us to where the rock was cut; here he struck his wings
across my forehead,[1] then promised me secure progress.

[1] Removing the first P that the Angel of the Gate had incised
on Dante's brow.

As on the right hand, in going up the mountain,[1] where sits the
church that dominates her the well-guided[2] city above
Rubaconte,[3] the bold flight of the ascent is broken by the
stairs, which were made in an age when the record and the stave
were secure,[4] in like manner, the bank which falls here very
steeply from the next round is slackened; but on this side and
that the high rock grazes.[5] As we turned our persons thither,
voices sang "Beati pauperes spiritu"[6] in such wise that speech
could not tell it. Ah, how different are these passes from those
of Hell! for here through songs one enters, and there below
through fierce lamentings.

[1] The hill of San Miniato, above Florence.

[2] Ironical.

[3] The upper bridge at Florence across the Arno, named after
Messer Rubaconte di Mandella, podesta of Florence, who laid the
first stone of it in 1237; now called the Ponte alle Grazie,
after a little chapel built upon it in 1471, and dedicated to Our
Lady of Grace.

[4] In the good old time when men were honest. In 1299 one
Messer Niccola Acciaioli, in order to conceal a fraudulent
transaction, had a leaf torn out from the public notorial record;
and about the same time an officer in charge of the revenue from
salt, for the sake of private gain, measured the salt he received
with an honest measure, but that which he sold with a measure
diminished by the removal of a stave.

[5] The stairway is so narrow.

[6] "Blessed are the poor in spirit." As Dante passes from each
round of Purgatory, an angel removes the P which denotes the
special sin there purged away. And the removal is accompanied
with the words of one of the Beatitudes.

Now we were mounting up over the holy stairs, and it seemed to me
I was far more light than I had seemed on the plain before.
Whereon I, "Master, say, what heavy thing has been lifted from
me, so that almost no weariness is felt by me as I go on?" He
answered, "When the P's that almost extinct[1] still remain on
thy countenance shall be, as one is, quite erased, thy feet will
be so conquered by good will that not only they will not feel
fatigue, but it will be delight to them to be urged up." Then I
did like those who are going with something on their head,
unknown by them unless the signs of others make them suspect;
wherefore the hand assists to ascertain, and seeks and finds, and
performs that office which cannot be accomplished by the sight;
and with the fingers of my right hand outspread, I found only six
those letters which he of the keys had encised upon my temples:
looking at which my Leader smiled.

[1] Almost extinct, because, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, "Pride
by which we are chiefly turned from God is the first and the
origin of all sins." He adds, "Pride is said to be the beginning
of every sin, not because every single sin has its source in
pride, but because every kind of sin is born of pride." Summa
Theol., II. 2, quaest. 162, art. 7.

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

We were at the top of the stairway, where the mountain, ascent of
which frees one from ill, is the second time cut back. There a
cornice binds the hill round about, in like manner as the first,
except that its arc bends more quickly. No shadow is there, nor
mark which is apparent [1] so that the bank appears smooth and so
the path, with the livid color of the stone.

[1] No sculptured or engraved scenes.

"If to enquire one waits here for people," said the Poet, "I fear
that perhaps our choice will have too much delay." Then he set
his eyes fixedly upon the sun, made of his right side the centre
for his movement, and turned the left part of himself. "O sweet
light, with confidence in which I enter on the new road, do thou
lead us on it," he said, "as there is need for leading here
within. Thou warmest the world, thou shinest upon it; if other
reason prompt not to the contrary, thy rays ought ever to be

As far as here on earth is counted for a mile, so far had we now
gone there, in little time because of ready will; and towards us
were heard to fly, not however seen, spirits uttering courteous
invitations to the table of love. The first voice that passed
flying, "Virum non habent,"[1] loudly said, and went on behind
us reiterating it. And before it had become quite inaudible
through distance, another passed by, crying, "I am Orestes," [2]
and also did not stay. "O Father," said I, "what voices are
these?" and even as I was asking, lo! the third, saying, "Love
them from whom ye have had wrong." And the good Master: "This
circle scourges the sin of envy, and therefore from love are
drawn the cords of the scourge. The curb must be of the opposite
sound; I think that thou wilt hear it before thou arrivest at the
pass of pardon.[3] But fix thine eyes very fixedly through the
air, and thou wilt see in front of us people sitting, and each is
seated against the rock." Then more than before I opened my eyes;
I looked in front of me, and saw shades with cloaks in color not
different from the stone. And when we were a little further
forward, I heard them crying, "Mary, pray for us!" crying,
"Michael," and "Peter," and all the Saints.

[1] "They have no wine."--John ii. 3. The words of Mary at the
wedding feast of Cana, symbolic of a kindness that is a rebuke of

[2] The words of Pylades, before Aegisthus, when contending with
Orestes to be put to death in his stead.

[3] At the stair to the third ledge, at the foot of which stands
the angel who cancels the sin of envy.

I do not believe there goes on earth to-day a man so hard that he
had not been pricked by compassion at that which I then saw. For
when I had approached so near to them that their actions came
surely to me, tears were drawn from my eyes by heavy grief. They
seemed to me covered with coarse haircloth, and one supported the
other with his shoulders, and all were supported by the bank.
Thus the blind, who lack subsistence, stand at pardons[1] to beg
for what they need, and one bows his head upon another, so that
pity may quickly be moved in others, not only by the sound of the
words, but by the sight which implores no less. And as to the
blind the sun profits not, so to the shades, there where I was
now speaking, the light of Heaven wills not to make largess of
itself; for a wire of iron pierces and sews up the eyelids of
all; even as is done to a wild sparrow-hawk, because it stays not

[1] On occasion of special indulgences the beggars gather at the
door of churches frequented by those who seek the pardons to be
obtained within.

It seemed to me I was doing outrage as I went on, seeing others,
not myself being seen, wherefore I turned me to my sage Counsel;
well did he know what the dumb wished to say, and therefore
waited not my asking, but said, "Speak, and be brief and to the

Virgil was coming with me on that side of the cornice from which
one may fall, because it is encircled by no rim. On the other
side of me were the devout shades, that through the horrible
stitches were pressing out the tears so that they bathed their
cheeks. I turned me to them, and, "O folk secure," I began, "of
seeing the lofty light which alone your desire holds in its care,
may grace speedily dissolve the scum of your consciences so that
the stream of memory through them may descend clear,[1] tell me,
for it will be gracious and dear to me, if there be a soul here
among you that is Latin, and perhaps it will be good for him if I
learn it." "O my brother, each is a citizen of one true city,[2]
but thou meanest, who lived in Italy while a pilgrim."[3] This it
seemed to me to hear for answer somewhat further on than where I
was standing; wherefore I made myself heard still more that way.
Among the others I saw a shade that was expectant in look; and,
if any one should wish to ask, How?--like a blind man it was
lifting up its chin. "Spirit," said I, "that humblest thyself in
order to ascend, if thou art that one which answered me, make
thyself known to me either by place or by name." "I was a
Sienese," it answered, "and with these others I cleanse here my
guilty life, weeping to Him that He grant Himself to us. Sapient
I was not, although I was called Sapia, and I was far more glad
of others' harm than of my own good fortune. And that thou mayst
not believe that I deceive thee, bear if I was foolish as I tell
thee. The arch of my years already descending, my fellow-citizens
were joined in battle near to Colle[4] with their adversaries,
and I prayed God for that which He willed. They were routed
there, and turned into the bitter passes of flight; and I, seeing
the pursuit, experienced a joy unmatched by any other; so much
that I turned upward my audacious face, crying out to God, 'Now
no more I fear thee;' as the blackbird doth because of a little
fair weather. At the very end of my life I desired peace with
God; and even yet my debt would not be lessened by penitence,[5]
had it not been that Pier Pettinagno,[6] who out of charity was
sorry for me, held me in memory in his holy prayers. But thou,
who art thou that goest asking of our conditions, and bearest
thine eyes loose as I think, and breathing dost speak?" "My
eyes," said I, "will yet be taken from me here but a little time,
for small is the offence committed through their being turned
with envy. Far greater is the fear, with which my soul is in
suspense, of the torment beneath, and already the load down there
weighs upon me. And she to me, "Who then hath led thee here up
among us, if thou thinkest to return below?" And I, "This one who
is with me, and says not a word: and I am alive; and therefore
ask of me, spirit elect, if thou wouldst that I should yet move
for thee on earth my mortal feet." "Oh, this is so strange a
thing to hear," she replied, "that it is great sign that God
loves thee; therefore assist me sometimes with thy prayer. And I
beseech thee, by that which thou most desirest, if ever thou
tread the earth of Tuscany, that with my kindred thou restore my
fame. Thou wilt see them among that vain people which hopes in
Talamone,[7] and will waste more hope there, than in finding the
Diana[8] but the admirals will stake the most there.[9]

[1] Being purified from sin they will retain no memory of it.

[2] "Fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of
God."--Ephesians, ii. 19.

[3] "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to
come."--Hebrews, xiii. 14.

[4] This was the battle in 1259, in which the Florentines routed
die Sienese Ghibellines, at whose head was Provenzan Salvani. who
was slain. See Canto XI.

[5] I should not yet within Purgatory have diminished my debt of
expiation, but, because I delayed repentance till the hour of
Death, I should still be outside the gate.

[6] A poor comb-dealer, a man of kind heart, honest dealings, and
good deeds, and still remembered for them in Siena. He died in

[7] A little port on the coast of Tuscany, on which the Sienese
wasted toil and money in the vain hope that by strengthening and
enlarging it they could make themselves rivals at sea of the
Pisans and Genoese.

[8] A subterranean stream supposed to flow beneath the city.

[9] Of these last words the meaning is obscure.

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

"Who is this that circles our mountain ere death have given him
flight, and opens and shuts his eyes at his own will?"[1] "I know
not who he is, but I know that he is not alone. Do thou, who art
nearer to him, ask him; and sweetly, so that he may speak, accost
him." Thus two spirits, leaning one to the other, discoursed of
me there on the right hand, then turned up their faces to speak
to me. And one of them said, "O soul that still fixed in thy body
goest on toward heaven, for charity console us, and tell us
whence thou comest, and who thou art; for thou makest us so
marvel at this thy grace, as needs must a thing that never was
before." And I, "Through mid Tuscany there wanders a little
stream, that has its rise on Falterona,[2] and a hundred miles of
coarse does not suffice it. From thereupon I bring this body.
To tell you who I am would be to speak in vain, for my name as
yet makes no great sound." "If I grasp aright thy meaning with my
understanding," then replied to me he who had spoken first, "thou
speakest of the Arno." And the other said to him, "Why did he
conceal the name of that river, even as one does of horrible
things?" And the shade of whom this was asked, delivered itself
thus, "I know not, but truly it is fit that the name of such a
valley perish, for from its source (where the rugged mountain
chain, from which Pelorus[3] is cut off, is so teeming that in
few places it passes beyond that mark), far as there where it
gives back in restoration that which heaven dries up of the sea
(wherefrom the rivers have what flows in them), virtue is driven
away as an enemy by all men, like a snake, either through
misfortune of the place, or through evil habit that incites them.
Wherefore the inhabitants of the wretched valley have so changed
their nature that it seems as though Circe had had them in her
feeding. Among foul hogs,[4] more fit for acorns than for other
food made for human use, it first directs its poor path. Then,
coming down, it finds curs more snarling, than their power
warrants,[5] and at them disdainfully it twists its
muzzle.[6] It goes on falling, and the more it swells so much the
more the accursed and ill-fated ditch finds the dogs becoming
wolves.[7] Descending then through many hollow gulfs, it finds
foxes[8] so full of fraud, that they fear not that wit may entrap
them. Nor will I leave to speak though another hear me: and well
it will be for this one if hereafter he mind him of that which a
true spirit discloses to me.

[1] These words are spoken by Guido del Duca, who is answered by
Rinieri de' Calboli; both of them from the Romagna.

[2] One of the highest of the Tuscan Apennines.

[3] The north-eastern promontory of Sicily.

[4] The people of the Casentino, the upper valley of the Arno.

[5] The Aretines.

[6] Turning westward.

[7] The wolves of Florence.

[8] The Pisans.

"I see thy grandson,[1] who becomes hunter of those wolves upon
the bank of the fierce stream, and terrifies them all. He sells
their flesh,[2] it being yet alive; then he slays them, like an
old wild beast; many of life, himself of honor he deprives.
Bloody he comes forth from the dismal wood;[3] he leaves it such,
that from now for a thousand years, in its primal state it is not
rewooded." As at the announcement of grievous ills, the face of
him who listens is disturbed, from whatsoever side the danger may
assail him, so I saw the other soul, that was turned to hear,
become disturbed and sad, when it had gathered to itself the

[1] Fulcieri da Calvoli, so named by Villani (viii. 69), "a
fierce and cruel man," was made podesta of Florence in 1302. He
put to death many of the White Guelphs, and banished more of

[2] Bribed by the opposite party.

[3] Florence, spoiled and undone.

The speech of one and the look of the other made me wishful to
know their names, and I made request for it, mixed with prayers.
Wherefore the spirit which first had spoken to me began again,
"Thou wishest that I abase myself in doing that for thee which
thou wilt not do for me; but since God wills that such great
grace of His shine through in thee, I will not be chary to thee;
therefore know that I am Guido del Duca. My blood was so inflamed
with envy, that had I seen a man becoming joyful, thou wouldst
have seen me overspread with livid hue. Of my sowing I reap this
straw. O human race, why dost thou set thy heart there where is
need of exclusion of companionship?

"This one is Rinier; this is the glory and the honor of the house
of Calboli,[1] where no one since has made himself heir of his
worth. And between the Po and the mountain,[2] and the sea[3] and
the Reno,[4] not his blood alone has become stripped of the good
required for truth and for delight; for within these limits the
ground is so full of poisonous stocks, that slowly would they now
die out through cultivation. Where is the good Lizio, and Arrigo
Manardi, Pier Traversaro, and Guido di Carpigna? O men of Romagna
turned to bastards! When in Bologna will a Fabbro take root
again? When in Faenza a Bernardin di Fosco, the noble scion of a
mean plant? Marvel not, Tuscan, if I weep, when I remember with
Guido da Prata, Ugolin d' Azzo who lived with us, Federico
Tignoso and his company, the house of Traversara, and the
Anastagi, (both the one race and the other is without heir), the
ladies and the cavaliers, the toils and the pleasures for which
love and courtesy inspired our will, there where hearts have
become so wicked. O Brettinoro! why dost thou not flee away,
since thy family hath gone, and many people, in order not to be
guilty? Well doth Bagnacaval that gets no more sons; and ill doth
Castrocaro, and worse Conio that takes most trouble to beget such
counts. Well will the Pagani do when their Demon shall go from
them;[6] yet not so that a pure report of them can ever remain. O
Ugolin de' Fantolin! thy name is secure, since one who,
degenerating, can make it dark is no longer awaited. But go thy
way, Tuscan, now; for now it pleases me far more to weep than to
speak, so much hath our discourse wrung my mind."

[1] A noble Guelph family of Forli.

[2] The Apennines.

[3] The Adriatic.

[4] Near Bologna.

[5] These and the others named afterwards were well-born,
honorable, and courteous men in Romagna in the thirteenth
century. What is known of them may be found in Benvenuto da
Imola's comment, and in that of Scartazzini.

[6] The Pagani were lords of Faenza and Imola (see Hell, Canto
XXVII); the Demon was Mainardo, who died in 1302.

We knew that those dear souls heard us go; therefore by silence
they made us confident of the road. After we had become alone by
going on, a voice that seemed like lightning when it cleaves the
air, came counter to us, saying, "Everyone that findeth me shall
slay me," [1] and fled like thunder which rolls away, if suddenly
the cloud is rent. Soon as our hearing had a truce from it, lo!
now another with so great a crash that it resembled thunderings
in swift succession: "I am Aglauros who became a stone."[2] And
then to draw me close to the Poet, I backward and not forward
took a step. Now was the air quiet on every side, and he said to
me, "That was the hard curb[3] which ought to hold man within his
bound; but ye take the bait, so that the hook of the old
adversary draws you to him, and therefore little avails bridle or
lure. Heaven calls you, and around you circles, displaying to you
its eternal beauties, and your eye looks only on the ground;
wherefore He who discerns everything scourges you.

[1] The words of Cain--Genesis, iv. 14.

[2] Daughter of Cecrops, changed to stone because of envy of her

[3] These examples of the fatal consequences of the sin.

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.

As much as appears, between the beginning of the day and the
close of the third hour, of the sphere that ever in manner of a
child is sporting, so much now, toward the evening, appeared to
be remaining of his course for the sun.[1] It was vespers[2]
there,[3] and here midnight; and the rays struck us across the
nose,[4] because the mountain had been so circled by us that we
were now going straight toward the sunset, when I felt my
forehead weighed down by the splendor far more than at first, and
the things not known were a wonder to me.[5] Wherefore I lifted
my hands toward the top of my brows, and made for myself the
visor that lessens the excess of what is seen.

[1] The sun was still some three hours from his setting. The
sphere that ever is sportive like a child has been variously
interpreted; perhaps Dante only meant the sphere of the heavens
which by its ever varying aspect suggests the image of a playful

[2] Dante uses "vespers" as the term for the last of the four
canonical divisions of the day; that is, from three to six P.M.
See Convito, iv. 23. Three o'clock in Purgatory corresponds with
midnight in Italy.

[3] In Italy.

[4] Full in the face.

[5] The source of this increase of brightness being unknown, it
caused him astonishment.

As when from water, or from the mirror, the ray leaps to the
opposite quarter, and, mounting up in like manner to that in
which it descends, at equal distance departs as much from the
falling of the stone,[1] as experiment and art show; so it seemed
to me that I was struck by light reflected there in front of me,
from which my sight was swift to fly. "What is that, sweet
Father, from which I cannot screen my sight so that it avails
me," said I, "and which seems to be moving toward us?" "Marvel
not if the family of Heaven still dazzle thee," he replied to me;
"it is a messenger that comes to invite men to ascend. Soon will
it be that to see these things will not be grievous to thee, but
will be delight to thee as great as nature fitted thee to feel."

[1] I.e., the perpendicular, at the point of incidence.

When we had reached the blessed Angel, with a glad voice he said,
"Enter ye here to a stairway far less steep than the others."

We were mounting, already departed thence, and "Beati
misericordes"[1] had been sung behind us, and "Rejoice thou that
overcomest." [2] My Master and I, we two alone, were going on
upward, and I was thinking to win profit as we went from his
words; and I addressed me to him, thus enquiring, "What did the
spirit from Romagna mean, mentioning exclusion and
companionship?"[3] Wherefore he to me, "Of his own greatest fault
he knows the harm, and therefore it is not to be wondered at if
he reprove it, in order that there may be less lamenting on
account of it. Because your desires are directed there, where,
through companionship, a share is lessened, envy moves the
bellows for your sighs. But if the love of the highest sphere[4]
had turned your desire on high, that fear would not be in your
breast; for the more there are who there say 'ours,' so much the
more of good doth each possess, and the more of charity burns in
that cloister."[5] "I am more hungering to be contented," said I,
"than if I had at first been silent, and more of doubt I assemble
in my mind. How can it be that a good distributed makes more
possessors richer with itself, than if by few it is
possessed?"[6] And he to me, "Because thou fastenest thy mind
only on earthly things, from true light thou gatherest darkness.
That infinite and ineffable Good which is on high, runs to love
even as the sunbeam comes to a lucid body. As much of itself it
gives as it finds of ardor; so that how far soever charity
extends, beyond it doth the eternal bounty increase. And the more
the people who are intent on high the more there are for loving
well, and the more love is there, and like a mirror one reflects
to the other. And if my discourse appease not thy hunger, thou
shalt see Beatrice, and she will fully take from thee this and
every other longing. Strive only that soon may be extinct, as two
already are, the five wounds that are closed up by being

[1] "Blessed are the merciful."

[2] At the passage from each round, the Angel at the foot of the
stairs repeats words from the Beatitudes adapted to those
purified from the sin punished upon the ledge which is being

[3] In the last canto, Guido del Duca had exclaimed, "O human
race, why dost thou set thy heart there where companionship must
needs be excluded!"

[4] The Empyrean.

[5] "Since good, the more
Communicated, the more abundant grows."
Milton, Paradise Lost, v. 73.

[6] "True love in this differs from gold and clay,
That to divide is not to take away."--Shelley, Epipsychidion.

[7] The pain of contrition.

As I was about to say "Thou satisfiest me," I saw myself arrived
on the next round,[1] so that my eager eyes made me silent. There
it seemed to me I was of a sudden rapt in an ecstatic vision, and
saw many persons in a temple, and a lady at the entrance, with
the sweet action of a mother, saying, "My son, why hast thou done
thus toward us? Lo, sorrowing, thy father and I were seeking
thee;" and when here she was silent, that which first appeared,

[1] Where the sin of anger is expiated.

Then appeared to me another, with those waters down along her
cheeks which grief distils when it springs from great despite
toward others, and she was saying, "If thou art lord of the city
about whose name was such great strife among the gods, and whence
every science sparkles forth, avenge thyself on those audacious
arms, that have embraced our daughter, O Pisistratus." And the
lord appeared to me, benign and mild, to answer her, with
temperate look, "What shall we do to him who desires ill for us,
if he who loves us is by us condemned?"[1]

[1] Dante translated this story from Valerius Maximus, Facta et
dicta mem., vi. 1.

Then I saw people kindled with fire of wrath, killing a youth
with stones, loudly crying to each other only, "Slay, slay." And
I saw him bowed by death, which now was weighing on him, toward
the ground, but in such great strife he ever made of his eyes
gates for heaven, praying to the high Lord, that He would pardon
his persecutors, with that aspect which unlocks pity.[1]

[1] See Acts, vii. 55-60.

When my mind returned outwardly to the things which outside of it
are true, I recognized my not false errors. My Leader, who could
see me do like a man who looses himself from slumber, said,
"What ails thee, that thou canst not support thyself? but art
come more than a half league veiling thine eyes, and with thy
legs staggering like one whom wine or slumber bends." "O sweet
Father mine, if thou harkenest to me I will tell thee," said I,
"what appeared to me when my legs were thus taken from me." And
he, "If thou hadst a hundred masks upon thy face, thy thoughts
howsoever small would not be hidden from me. That which thou hast
seen was in order that thou excuse not thyself from opening thy
heart to the waters of peace which are poured forth from the
eternal fountain. I did not ask, 'What ails thee?' for the reason
that he does who looks only with the eye which hath no seeing
when the body lies inanimate; but I asked, in order to give vigor
to the foot; thus it behoves to spur the sluggards, slow to use
their wakefulness when it returns."

We were going on through the vesper time, forward intent so far
as the eyes could reach against the bright evening rays; when,
lo, little by little, a smoke came toward us, dark as night; iior
was there place to shelter ourselves from it. This took from us
our eyes and the pure air.

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

Gloom of hell, or of night deprived of every planet, under a
barren sky, obscured by clouds as much as it can be, never made
so thick a veil to my sight nor to my feeling so harsh of tissue
as that smoke which covered us there; so that my eye endured not
to stay open[1] wherefore my sage and trusty Escort drew to my
side and offered me his shoulder. Even as a blind man goes behind
his guide, in order not to stray, and not to butt against
anything that may hurt or perhaps kill him, I went along, through
the bitter and foul air, listening to my Leader, who was ever
saying, "Take care that thou be not cut off from me."

[1] The gloom and the smoke symbolize the effects of anger on the

I heard voices, and each appeared to be praying for peace and
mercy to the Lamb of God that taketh sins away. Only "Agnus
Dei[1] were their exordiums: one word there was in all, and one
measure; so that among them seemed entire concord. "Are these
spirits, Master, that I hear?" said I. And he to me, "Thou
apprehendest truly; and they go loosening the knot of anger."
"Now who art thou that cleavest our smoke, and yet dost speak of
us even as if thou didst still divide the time by calends?" [2]
Thus by one voice was said: whereon my Master said, "Reply, and
ask if by this way one goeth up." And I, "O creature, that
cleansest thyself in order to return beautiful unto Him who made
thee, a marvel shalt thou hear if thou accompanyest me." "I will
follow thee, so far as is permitted me," it replied, "and if the
smoke allows not seeing, in its stead hearing shall keep us
joined." Then I began, "With that swathing band which death
unbinds I go upward, and I came hither through the infernal
anguish. And if God bath so enclosed me in His grace that He
wills that I should see His court by a mode wholly out of modern
usage, conceal not from me who thou wert before thy death, but
tell it to me, and tell me if I am going rightly to the pass; and
let thy words be our guides." "Lombard I was, and was called
Marco; the world I knew, and that worth I loved, toward which
every one hath now unbent his bow. For mounting thou art going
rightly." Thus he replied, and added, "I pray thee that thou pray
for me when thou shalt he above." And I to him, "I pledge my
faith to thee to do that which thou askest of me; but I am
bursting inwardly with a doubt, if I free not myself of it; at
first it was simple, and now it is made double by thy words which
make certain to me, here as elsewhere, that wherewith I couple
it.[3] The world is indeed as utterly deserted by every virtue as
thou declarest to me, and with iniquity is big and covered; but I
pray that thou point out to me the cause, so that I may see it,
and that I may show it to others; for one sets it in the heavens,
and one here below."

[1] "The Lamb of God."

[2] By those in the eternal world dine is not reckoned by earth

[3] The doubt was occasioned by Guido del Duca's words (Canto
XV.), in regard to the prevalence of evil in Tuscany, arising
either from misfortune of the place, or through the bad habits of
men. The fact of the iniquity of men was now reaffirmed by Marco
Lombardo; Dante accepts the fact as certain, and his doubt is
coupled with it.

A deep sigh that grief wrung into "Ay me!" he first sent forth,
and then began, "Brother, the world is blind, and thou forsooth
comest from it. Ye who are living refer every cause upward to the
heavens only, as if they of necessity moved all things with
themselves. If this were so, free will would be destroyed in you,
and there would be no justice in having joy for good, and grief
for evil. The heavens initiate your movements: I do not say all
of them; but, supposing that I said it, light for good and for
evil is given to you; and free will, which, if it endure fatigue
in the first battles with the heavens, afterwards, if it be well
nurtured, conquers everything. To a greater force, and to a
better nature, ye, free, are subjected, and that creates the mind
in you, which the heavens have not in their charge.' Therefore if
the present world goes astray, in you is the cause, in you let it
be sought; and of this I will now be a true informant for thee.

[1] The soul of man is the direct creation of God, and is in
immediate subjection to His power; it is not in charge of the
Heavens, and its will is free to resist their mingled and
imperfect influences.

"Forth from the hand of Him who delights in it ere it exist, like
to a little maid who, weeping and smiling, wantons childishly,
issues the simple little soul, which knows nothing, save that,
proceeding from a glad Maker, it willingly turns to that which
allures it. Of trivial good at first it tastes the savor; by this
it is deceived and runs after it, if guide or bridle bend not its
love. Wherefore it was needful to impose law as a bridle; needful
to have a king who could discern at least the tower of the true
city. The laws exist, but who set hand to them? Not one: because
the shepherd who is in advance can ruminate, but has not his
hoofs divided?[1] Wherefore the people, who see their guide only
at that good[2] whereof they are greedy, feed upon that, and seek
no further. Well canst thou see that the evil leading is the
cause that has made the world guilty, and not nature which in you
may be corrupted. Rome, which made the world good, was wont to
have two Suns,[3] which made visible both one road and the other,
that of the world and that of God. One has extinguished the
other; and the sword is joined to the crozier; and the two
together must of necessity go ill, because, being joined, one
feareth not the other. If thou believest rue not, consider the
grain,[4] for every herb is known by its seed.

[1] The shepherd who precedes the flock, and should lead it
aright, is the Pope. A mystical interpretation of the injunction
upon the children of Israel (Leviticus, xi.) in regard to clean
and unclean beasts was familiar to the schoolmen. St. Augustine
expounds the cloven hoof as symbolic of right conduct, because it
does not easily slip, and the chewing of the cud as signifying
the meditation of wisdom. Dante seems here to mean that the Pope
has the true doctrine, but makes not the true use of it for his
own guidance and the government of the world.

[2] Material good.

[3] Pope and Emperor.

[4] The results that follow this forced union.

"Within the land which the Adige and the Po water, valor and
courtesy were wont to be found before Frederick had his
quarrel;[1] now safely anyone may pass there who out of shame
would cease discoursing with the good, or drawing near them.
Truly three old men are still there in whom the antique age
rebukes the new, and it seems late to them ere God restore them
to the better life; Currado da Palazzo, and the good Gherardo,[2]
and Guido da Castel, who is better named, after the manner of the
French, the simple Lombard.[3]

[1] Before the Emperor Frederick II. had his quarrel with the
Pope; that is, before Emperor and Pope had failed in their
respective duties to each other.

[2] Gherardo da Camino, "who was noble in his life, and whose
memory will always be noble," says Dante in the Convito, iv. 14.

[3] "The French," says Benvenuto da Linda, "call all Italians
Lombards, and repute them very astute."

"Say thou henceforth, that the Church of Rome, through
confounding in itself two modes of rule,[1] falls in the mire,
and defiles itself and its burden."

[1] The spiritual and the temporal.

"O Marco mine," said I, "thou reasonest well; and now I discern
why the sons of Levi were excluded from the heritage;[1] but what
Gherardo is that, who, thou sayest, remains for sample of the
extinct folk, in reproach of the barbarous age?" "Either thy
speech deceives me, or it is making trial of me," he replied to
me, "in that, speaking Tuscan to me, it seems that of the good
Gherardo thou knowest naught. By other added name I know him not,
unless I should take it from his daughter Gaia.[2] May God be
with you! for further I come not with you. Behold the brightness
which rays already glimmering through the smoke, and it behoves
me to depart--the Angel is there--ere I appear to him."[3] So he
turned, and would not hear me more.

[1] "The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the
covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto
him, and to bless in his name, unto this day. Wherefore Levi hath
no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his
inheritance."--Deuteronomy, x. 8-9.

[2] Famed for her virtues, says Buti; for her vices, say the
Ottimo and Benvenuto.

[3] His time of purgation is not yet finished; not yet is he
ready to meet the Angel of the Pass.

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.

Recall to mind, reader, if ever on the alps a cloud closed round
thee, through which thou couldst not see otherwise than the mole
through its skin, how, when the humid and dense vapors begin to
dissipate, the ball of the sun enters feebly through them: and
thy imagination will easily come to see, how at first I saw again
the sun, which was already at its setting. So, matching mine to
the trusty steps of my Master, I issued forth from such a cloud
to rays already dead on the low shores.

O power imaginative, that dost sometimes so steal us from outward
things that a man heeds it not, although around him a thousand
trumpets sound, who moveth thee if the sense afford thee naught?
A light, that in the heavens is formed, moveth thee by itself, or
by a will that downward guides it?

[1] If the imagination is not stirred by some object of sense, it
is moved by the influence of the stars, or directly by the Divine

In my imagination appeared the impress of the impiety of her[1]
who changed her form into the bird that most delights in singing.
And here was my mind so shut up within itself that from without
came nothing which then might he received by it. Then rained down
within my high fantasy, one crucified,[2] scornful and fierce in
his look, and thus was dying. Around him were the great
Ahasuerus, Esther his wife, and the just Mordecai, who was in
speech and action so blameless. And when this imagination burst
of itself, like a bubble for which the water fails, beneath which
it was made, there rose in my vision a maiden,[3] weeping
bitterly, and she was saying, "O queen, wherefore through anger
hast thou willed to be naught? Thou hast killed thyself in order
not to lose Lavinia: now thou hast lost me: I am she who mourns,
mother, at thine, before another's ruin.

[1] Progne or Philomela, according to one or the other version of
the tragic myth, was changed into the nightingale, after her
anger had led her to take cruel vengeance on Tereus.

[2] Haman, who, according to the English version, was hanged, but
according to the Vulgate, was crucified--Esther, vii.

[3] Lavinia, whose mother, Amata, killed herself in a rage at
hearing premature report of the death of Turnus, to whom she
desired that Lavinia should be married.--Aeneid, xii. 595-607.

As sleep is broken, when of a sudden the new light strikes the
closed eyes, and, broken, quivers ere it wholly dies, so my
imagining fell down, soon as a light, greater by far than that to
which we are accustomed, struck my face. I turned me to see where
I was, when a voice said, "Here is the ascent;" which from every
other object of attention removed me, and made my will so eager
to behold who it was that was, speaking that it never rests till
it is face to face. But, as before the sun which weighs down our
sight, and by excess veils its own shape, so here my power
failed. "This is a divine spirit who directs us, without our
asking, on the way to go up, and with his own light conceals
himself. He does for us as a man doth for himself; for he who
sees the need and waits for asking, malignly sets himself already
to denial. Now let us grant our feet to such an invitation; let
us hasten to ascend ere it grows dark, for after, it would not be
possible until the day returns." Thus said my Guide; and I and he
turned our steps to a stairway. And soon as I was on the first
step, near use I felt a motion as of wings, and a fanning on my
face,[1] and I heard said, "Beati pacifici,'[2] who are without
ill anger."

[1] By which the angel removes the third P from Dante's brow.

[2] "Blessed are the peacemakers."

Now were the last sunbeams on which the night follows so lifted
above us, that the stars were appearing on many sides. "O my
virtue, why dost thou so melt away?" to myself I said, for I felt
the power of my legs put in truce. We had come where the stair no
farther ascends, and we were stayed fast even as a ship that
arrives at the shore. And I listened a little, if I might hear
anything in the new circle. Then I turned to my Master, and said,
"My sweet Father, say what offence is purged here in the circle
where we are: if the feet are stopped, let not thy discourse
stop." And he to me, "The love of good, less than it should have
been, is here restored;[1] here is plied again the ill-slackened
oar. But that thou mayst still more clearly understand, turn thy
mind to me, and thou shalt gather some good fruit from our delay.

[1] It is the round on which the sin of acedie, sloth, is purged

"Neither Creator nor creature," began he, "son, ever was without
love, either natural, or of the mind,[1] and this thou knowest.
The natural is always without error; but the other may err either
through an evil object, or through too much or through too little
vigor. While love is directed on the primal goods, and on the
second moderates itself, it cannot be the cause of ill delight.
But when it is bent to evil,[2] or runs to good with more zeal,
or with less, than it ought, against the Creator works his own
creature. Hence thou canst comprehend that love needs must be the
seed in you of every virtue, and of every action that deserves

[1] Either native in the soul, as the love of God, or determined
by the choice, through free will, of some object of desire in the

[2] A wrong object of desire.

"Now since love can never bend its sight from the welfare of its
subject,[1] all things are safe from hatred of themselves; and
since no being can be conceived of divided from the First,[2] and
standing by itself, from hating Him[3] every affection is cut
off. It follows, if, distinguishing, I rightly judge, that the
evil which is loved is that of one s neighbor; and in three modes
is this love born within your clay. There is he who hopes to
excel through the abasement of his neighbor, and only longs that
from his greatness he may be brought low.[4] There is he who
fears loss of power, favor, honor, fame, because another rises;
whereat he is so saddened that he loves the opposite.[5] And
there is he who seems so outraged by injury that it makes him
gluttonous of vengeance, and such a one must needs coin evil for
others.[6] This triform love is lamented down below.[7]

[1] To however wrong an object love may be directed, the person
always believes it to be for his own good.

[2]The source of being.

[3] God, the First Cause.

[4] This is the nature of Pride.

[5] Envy.

[6] Anger.

[7] In the three lower rounds of Purgatory.

"Now I would that thou hear of the other,--that which runs to the
good in faulty measure. Every one confusedly apprehends a good[1]
in which the mind may be at rest, and which it desires; wherefore
every one strives to attain it. If the love be slack that draws
you to see this, or to acquire it, this cornice, after just
repentance, torments you therefor. Another good there is,[2]
which doth not make man happy, is not happiness, is not the good
essence, the root of every good fruit. The love which abandons
itself too much to this[3] is lamented above us in three circles,
but how it is reckoned tripartite, I am silent, in order that
thou seek it for thyself."

[1] The supreme Good.

[2] Sensual enjoyment.

[2] Resulting in the sins of avarice, gluttony, and lust.

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 Zone.--Dante falls asleep.

The lofty Teacher had put an end to his discourse, and looked
attentive on my face to see if I appeared content; and I, whom a
fresh thirst already was goading, was silent outwardly, and
within was saying, "Perhaps the too much questioning I make
annoys him." But that true Father, who perceived the timid wish
which did not disclose itself, by speaking gave me hardihood to
speak. Then I, "My sight is so vivified in thy light that I
discern clearly all that thy discourse may imply or declare:
therefore I pray thee, sweet Father dear, that thou demonstrate
to me the love to which thou referrest every good action and its
contrary." "Direct," he said, "toward me the keen eyes of the
understanding, and the error of the blind who make themselves
leaders will be manifest to thee. The mind, which is created apt
to love, is mobile unto everything that pleases, soon as by
pleasure it is roused to action. Your faculty of apprehension
draws an image from a real existence, and within you displays it,
so that it makes the mind turn to it; and if, thus turned, the
mind incline toward it, that inclination is love, that
inclination is nature which is bound anew in you by pleasure.[1]
Then, as the fire moveth upward by its own form,[2] which is born
to ascend thither where it lasts longest in its material, so the
captive mind enters into longing, which is a spiritual motion,
and never rests until the thing beloved makes it rejoice. Now it
may be apparent to thee, how far the truth is hidden from the
people who aver that every love is in itself a laudable thing;
because perchance its matter appears always to be good;[3] but
not every seal is good although the wax be good."

[1] In his discourse in the preceding canto, Virgil has declared
that neither the Creator nor his creatures are ever without love,
either native in the soul, or proceeding from the mind. Here he
explains how the mind is disposed to love by inclination to an
image within itself of some object which gives it pleasure. This
inclination is natural to it; or in his phrase, nature is bound
anew in man by the pleasure which arouses the love. All this is a
doctrine derived directly from St. Thomas Aquinas. "It is the
property of every nature to have some inclination, which is a
natural appetite, or love."--Summa Theol., 1, lxxvi. i.

[2] Form is here used in its scholastic meaning. " The active
power of anything depends on its form, which is the principle of
its action. Fur the form is either the nature itself of the
thing, as in those which are pure form; or it is a constituent of
the nature of the thing, as in those which are composed of matter
and form."--Summa Theol., 3, xiii. i. Fire by its form, or
nature, seeks the sphere of fire between the ether and the moon.

[3] The object may seem desirable to the mind, without being a
fit object of desire.

"Thy words, and my understanding which follows," replied I to
him, "have revealed love to me; but that has made me more full of
doubt. For if love is offered to us from without, and if with
other foot the soul go not, if strait or crooked she go is not
her own merit."[1] And he to me, "So much as reason seeth here
can I tell thee; beyond that await still for Beatrice; for it is
a work of faith. Every substantial form that is separate from
matter, and is united with it,[2] has a specific virtue residing
in itself which without action is not perceived, nor shows itself
save by its effect, as by green leaves the life in a plant. Yet,
whence the intelligence of the first cognitions comes man doth
not know, nor whence the affection for the first objects of
desire, which exist in you even as zeal in the bee for making
honey: and this first will admits not desert of praise or blame.
Now in order that to this every other may be gathered,[3] the
virtue that counsels [4] is innate in you, and ought to keep the
threshold of assent. This is the principle wherefrom is derived
the reason of desert in you, according as it gathers in and
winnows good and evil loves. Those who in reasoning went to the
foundation took note of this innate liberty, wherefore they
bequeathed morals[5] to the world. Assuming then that every love
which is kindled within you arises of necessity, the power exists
in you to restrain it. This noble virtue Beatrice calls the free
will, and therefore see that thou have it in mind, if she take to
speaking of it with thee."

[1] If love be aroused in the soul by an external object, and if
it be natural to the soul to love, how does she deserve praise or
blame for loving?

[2] The substantial form is the soul, which is separate from
matter but united with it.

[3] In order that every other will may conform with the first,
that is, with the affection natural to man for the primal objects
of desire.

[4] The faculty of reason, the virtue which counsels and on which
free will depends, is "the specific virtue" of the soul.

[5] The rules of that morality which would have no existence were
it not for freedom of the will.

The moon, belated[1] almost to midnight, shaped[2] like a bucket
that is all ablaze, was making the stars appear fewer to us, and
was running counter to the heavens[3] along those paths which the
sun inflames, when the man of Rome sees it between Sardinia and
Corsica at its setting;[4] and that gentle shade, for whom
Pietola[5] is more famed than the Mantuan city, had laid down the
burden of my loading:[6] wherefore I, who had harvested his open
and plain discourse upon my questions, was standing like a man
who, drowsy, rambles. But this drowsiness was taken from me
suddenly by folk, who, behind our backs, had now come round to
us. And such as was the rage and throng, which of old Ismenus and
Asopus saw at night along their banks, in case the Thebans were
in need of Bacchus, so, according to what I saw of them as they
came, those who by good will and right love are ridden curve
their steps along that circle. Soon they were upon us; because,
running, all that great crowd was moving on; and two in front,
weeping, were crying out, "Mary ran with haste unto the mountain
[7] and Caesar, to subdue Ilerda, thrust at Marseilles, and then
ran on to Spain."[8] "Swift, swift, that time be not lost by
little love," cried the others following, "for zeal in doing well
may refreshen grace." "O people, in whom keen fervor now perhaps
redeems your negligence and delay, through lukewarmness, in
well-doing, this one who is alive (and surely I lie not to you)
wishes to go up, soon as the sun may shine again for us;
therefore tell us where is the opening near." These words were of
my Guide; and one of those spirits said: "Come thou behind us,
and thou shalt find the gap. We are so filled with desire to move
on that we cannot stay; therefore pardon, if thou holdest our
obligation for churlishness. I was Abbot[9] of San Zeno at
Verona, under the empire of the good Barbarossa, of whom Milan,
still grieving, doth discourse. And he has one foot already in
the grave,[10] who soon will lament on account of that monastery,
and will be sorry for having had power there; because in place of
its true shepherd he has put his son, ill in his whole body and
worse in mind, and who was evil-born." I know not if more he
said, or if he were silent, so far beyond us he had already run
by; but this I heard, and to retain it pleased me.

[1] In its rising.

[2] Gibbous, like certain buckets still in use in Italy.

[3] "These words describe the daily backing of the moon through
the signs from west to east."--Moore.

[4] These islands are invisible from Rome, but the line that runs
from Rome between them is a little south of east.

[5] The modern name of Andes, the birthplace of Virgil, and
therefore more famous than Mautua itself.

[6] With which I had laden him.

[7] Luke, i. 36.

[8] Examples of zeal.

[9] Unknown, save for this mention of him.

[10] Alberto della Scala, lord of Verona; he died in 1301. He had
forced upon the monastery for its abbot his deformed and depraved
illegitimate son.

And he who was at every need my succor said: "Turn thee this way;
see two of them coming, giving a bite to sloth." In rear of all
they were saying: "The people for whom the sea was opened were
dead before their heirs beheld the Jordan;[1] and those who
endured not the toil even to the end with the son of Anchises,[2]
offered themselves to life without glory."

[1] Numbers, xiv. 28.

[2] But left him, to remain with Acestes in Sicily--Aeneid, v.

Then when those shades were so far parted from us that they could
no more be seen, a new thought set itself within me, from which
many others and diverse were born; and I so strayed from one unto
another that, thus wandering, I closed my eyes, and transmuted my
meditation into dream.

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

At the hour when the diurnal heat, vanquished by the Earth or
sometimes by Saturn,[1] can warm no more the coldness of the
moon,--when the geomancers see their Greater Fortune[2] in the
east, rising before the dawn along a path which short while stays
dark for it,--there came to me in dream[3] a woman stammering,
with eyes asquint, and crooked on her feet, with hands lopped
off, and pallid in her color. I gazed at her; and as the sun
comforts the cold limbs which the night bennmbs, so my look made
her tongue nimble, and then set her wholly straight in little
while, and so colored her wan face as love requires. Then, when
she had her speech thus unloosed, she began to sing, so that with
difficulty should I have turned my attention from her. "I am,"
she sang, "I am the sweet Siren, and the mariners in mid sea
I bewitch, so full am I of pleasantness to hear. I turned Ulysses
from his wandering way by my song; and whoso abides with me
seldom departs, so wholly I content him."

[1] Toward dawn, when the warmth of the preceding day is
exhausted, Saturn was supposed to exert a frigid influence.

[2] "Geomancy is divination by points in the ground, or pebbles
arranged in certain figures, which have peculiar names. Among
these is the figure called the Fortuna Major, which by an effort
of imagination can also be formed out of some of the last stars
of Aquarius and some of the first of Pisces." These are the signs
that immediately precede Aries, in which the Sun now was, and
the stars forming the figure of the Greater Fortune would be in
the east about two hours before sunrise.

[3] The hour when this dream comes to Dante is "post mediam
noctem ... cum somnia vera,"--the hour in which it was
commonly believed that dreams have a true meaning. The woman seen
by Dante is the deceitful Siren, who symbolizes the temptation to
those sins of sense from which the spirits are purified in the
three upper rounds of Purgatory.

Not yet was her mouth closed when at my side a Lady[1] appeared,
holy, and ready to make her confused. "O Virgil, Virgil, who is
this?" she sternly said; and he came with his eyes fixed only on
that modest one. She took hold of the other, and in front she
opened her, rending her garments, and showed me her belly; this
waked me with the stench that issued from it. I turned my eyes,
and the good Virgil said, "At least three calls have I given
thee; arise and come; let us find the opening through which thou
mayst enter."

[1] This lady seems to be the type of the conscience, virtus
intellectualis, that calls reason to rescue the tempted soul.

Up I rose, and now were all the circles of the sacred mountain
full of the high day, and we went on with the new sun at our
backs. Following him, I bore my forehead like one who has it
laden with thought, and makes of himself the half arch of a
bridge, when I heard, "Come ye! here is the passage," spoken in a
mode soft and benign, such as is not heard in this mortal region.
With open wings, which seemed of a swan, he who thus had spoken
to us turned us upward between the two walls of the hard rock. He
moved his feathers then, and fanned us, affirming qui lugent[1]
to be blessed, for they shall have their souls mistresses of
consolation.[2] "What ails thee that ever on the ground thou
lookest?" my Guide began to say to me, both of us having mounted
up a little from the Angel. "With such apprehension a recent
vision makes me go, which bends me to itself so that I cannot
from the thought withdraw me." "Hast thou seen," said he, "that
ancient sorceress who above us henceforth is alone lamented? Hast
thou seen how from her man is unbound? Let it suffice thee, and
strike thy heels on the ground;[3] turn thine eyes to the lure
that the eternal King whirls with the great circles."

[1] "They that mourn."

[2] The meaning seems to be, "they shall be possessed of
comfort." Donne (i.e."mistresses ) is a rhyme-word, and affords
an instance of a straining of the meaning compelled by the rhyme.

[3] Hasten thy steps.

Like the falcon that first looks down, then turns at the cry, and
stretches forward, through desire of the food that draws him
thither; such I became, and such, so far as the rock is cleft to
afford a way to him who goeth up, did I go on as far as where the
circling[1] is begun. When I was come forth on the fifth round, I
saw people upon it who were weeping, lying upon the earth all
turned downward. "Adhoesit pavimento anima mea,"[2] I heard them
saying with such deep sighs that the words were hardly
understood. "O elect of God, whose sufferings both justice and
hope make less hard, direct us toward the high ascents." "If ye
come secure from the lying down, and wish to find the speediest
way, let your right hands always be outside." So prayed the Poet,
and so a little in front was replied to us by them; wherefore I,
in his speaking, marked the hidden one;[3] and then turned my
eyes to my Lord, whereon he granted me, with cheerful sign, that
which the look of my desire was asking for. Then when I could do
with myself according to my will, I drew me above that creature
whose words had first made me note him, saying, "Spirit in whom
weeping matures that without which no one can turn to God,
suspend a little for me thy greater care. Tell me who thou wast;
and why ye have your backs turned upward; and if thou wishest
that I obtain aught for thee there whence I alive set forth." And
he to me, "Thy heaven turns to itself our hinder parts thou shalt
know; but first, scias quod ego fui successor Petri.[4] Between
Sestri and Chiaveri[5] descends a beautiful stream,[6] and of its
name the title of my race makes its top.[7] One month and little
more I proved how the great mantle weighs on him who guards it
from the mire, so that all other burdens seem a feather. My
conversion, ah me! was tardy; but when I had become the Roman
Shepherd, then I found out the lying life. I saw that there the
heart was not at rest; nor was it possible to, mount higher in
that life; wherefore the love of this was kindled in me. Up to
that time a wretched soul and parted from God had I been,
avaricious of everything; now, as thou seest, I am punished for
it here. That which avarice doth is displayed here in the
purgation of these converted souls, and the Mountain has no more
bitter penalty.[8] Even as our eye, fixed upon earthly things,
was not lifted on high, so justice here to earth has depressed
it. As avarice, in which labor is lost, quenched our love for
every good, so justice here holds us close, bound and captive in
feet and hands; and, so long as it shall be the pleasure of the
just Lord, so long shall we stay immovable and outstretched."

[1] The level of the fifth round.

[2] "My soul cleaveth to the dust."-- Psalm cxix. 25.

[3] The face of the speaker, turned to the ground, was concealed.

[4] "Know that I was a successor of Peter." This was the Pope
Adrian V., Ottobono de' Fieschi, who died in 1276, having been
Pope for thirty-eight days.

[5] Little towns on the Genoese sea-coast.

[6] The Lavagna, from which stream the Fieschi derived their
title of Counts of Lavagna.

[7] Its chief boast.

[8] Others may be greater, but none more humiliating.

I had knelt down and wished to speak; but when I began, and he
became aware, only by listening, of my reverence, "What cause,"
said he, "hath bent thee thus downward?" And I to him, "Because
of your dignity my conscience stung me for standing." "Straighten
thy legs, and lift thee up, brother," he replied; "err not,
fellow servant of one power am I with thee and with the rest.[1]
If ever thou hast understood that holy gospel sound which says
neque nubent,[2] thou mayst well see why I speak thus. Now go thy
way. I will not that thou longer stop; for thy stay hinders my
weeping, with which I ripen that which thou hast said. A
grandchild I have on earth who is named Alagia,[3] good in
herself, if only our house make her not wicked by example; and
she alone remains to me yonder."[4]

[1] And I fell at His feet to worship him. And He said unto me,
See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant."--Revelation xix.

[2] They neither marry."--Matthew, xxii. 80. The distinctions of
earths do not exist in the spiritual world.

[3] Alagia was the wife of the Marquis Moroello Malaspina. See
the close of Canto VIII. Dante had probably seen her in 1306,
when he was a guest of the house, in the Lunigiana.

[4] Not that she was his only living relative, but the only one
whose prayers, coming from a good heart, would avail him.

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.

Against a better will the will fights ill: wherefore against my
own pleasure, in order to please him, I drew from the water the
sponge not full.

I moved on, and my Leader moved on through the space vacant only
alongside of the rock, as upon a wall one goes close to the
battlements. For on the other side the people, that through their
eyes are pouring drop by drop the evil that possesses all the
world, approach too near the edge.[1]

[1]Too close to leave a space for walking.

Accursed be thou, old she-wolf, who more than all the other
beasts hast prey, because of thy hunger hollow without end! O
Heaven! by whose revolution it seems that men believe conditions
here below are transmuted, when will he come through whom she
shall depart?[1] We were going on with slow and scanty steps, and
I attentive to the shades whom I heard piteously lamenting and
bewailing; and peradventure I heard in front of us one crying
out, "Sweet Mary," in his lament, even as a woman does who is in
travail; and continuing, "So poor wast thou as may be seen by
that inn where thou didst lay down thy holy burden." And
following this I heard, "O good Fabricius,[2] thou didst rather
wish for virtue with poverty than to possess great riches with
vice." These words were so pleasing to me that I drew myself
further on to have acquaintance with that spirit from whom they
seemed to come. He was speaking furthermore of the largess which
Nicholas[3] made to the damsels in order to conduct their youth
to honor. "O soul that discoursest so well," said I, "tell me who
thou wast, and why thou alone renewest these worthy praises. Not
without meed will be thy words, if I return to complete the short
journey of that life which flies towards its end." And he, "I
will tell thee, not for comfort that I may expect from yonder,[4]
but because such grace shineth on thee ere thou art dead. I was
the root of the evil plant which so overshadows all the Christian
land[5] that good fruit is rarely plucked therefrom. But if
Douai, Lille, Ghent, and Bruges had power, soon would there be
vengeance on it;[6] and I implore it from him who judges
everything. Yonder I was called Hugh Capet: of me are born the
Philips and the Louises, by whom of late times France is ruled. I
was the son of a butcher of Paris.[7] When the ancient kings had
all died out, save one, who had assumed the grey garb,[8] I found
me with the bridle of the government of the realm fast in my
hands, and with so much power recently acquired, and so full of
friends, that to the widowed crown the head of my son was
promoted, from whom the consecrated bones[9] of these began.

[1] The old she-wolf is avarice, the same who at the outset
(Hell, Canto I.) had driven Dante back and made him lose hope of
the height. The likeness of the two passages is striking.

[2] Caius Fabricius, the famous poor and incorruptible Roman
consul, who refused the bribes of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus. Dante
extols his worth also in the Convito, iv. 5.

[3] St. Nicholas, Bishop of Mira, who, according to the legend,
knowing that owing to the poverty of their father, three maidens
were exposed to the risk of leading lives of dishonor, secretly,
at night, threw into the window of their house money enough to
provide each with a dowry.

[4] The earth.

[5] In 1300 the descendants of Hugh Capet were ruling France,
Spain, and Naples.

[6] Phillip the Fair gained possession of Flanders, by force and
fraud, in 1299; but in 1802 the French were driven out of the
country, after a fatal defeat at Courtrai, here dimly prophesied.

[7] Dante here follows the incorrect popular tradition.

[8] Who had become a monk. The historical reference is obscure.

[9] An ironical reference to the ceremony of consecration at the
coronation of the kings.

"So long as the great dowry of Provence[1] took not the sense of
shame from my race, it was little worth, but still it did not
ill. Then it began its rapine with force and with falsehood; and,
after, for amends,[2] Ponthieu and Normandy it took, and Gascony;
Charles[3] came to Italy, and, for amends, made a victim of
Conradin,[4] and then thrust Thomas[5] back to heaven for amends.
A time I see, not long after this day, that draws forth another
Charles[6] from France to make both himself and his the better
known. Without arms he goes forth thence alone, but with the
lance with which Judas jousted;[7] and that he thrusts so that he
makes the paunch of Florence burst. Therefrom he will gain not
land,[8] but sin and shame so much the heavier for himself, as he
the lighter reckons such harm. The other,[9] who has already gone
out a prisoner from his ship, I see selling his daughter, and
bargaining over her, as do the corsairs with other female slaves.
O Avarice, what more canst thou do with us, since thou hast so
drawn my race unto thyself that it cares not for its own flesh?
In order that the ill to come and that already done may seem the
less, I see the fleur-de-lis entering Anagna, and in his Vicar
Christ made a captive.[10] I see him being mocked a second time;
I see the vinegar and the gall renewed, and between living
thieves him put to death. I see the new Pilate so cruel that this
does not sate him, but, without decretal, he bears his covetous
sails into the Temple.[11] O my Lord, when shall I be glad in
seeing thy vengeance which, concealed, makes sweet thine anger in
thy secrecy?

[1] Through the marriage in 1245 of Charles of Anjou, brother of
St. Louis (Louis IX.), with Beatrice, the heiress of the Count
of Provence.

[2] The bitterness of Dante's irony is explained by the part
which France had played in Italian affairs.

[3] Of Anjou.

[4] The youthful grandson of Frederick II., who, striving to
wrest Naples and Sicily, his hereditary possessions, from the
hands of Charles of Anjou, was defeated and taken prisoner by him
in 1267, and put to deaths by him in 1268. His fate excited great

[5] Charles was believed to have had St. Thomas Aquinas poisoned.

[6] Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the Fair, sent by
Boniface VIII., in 1301, to Florence as peacemaker. But there he
wrought great harm, and siding with the Black party, the Whites,
including Dante, were driven into exile.

[7] The lance of treachery.

[8] A reference to his nickname of Senza terra, or Lackland.

[9] Charles II., son of Charles of Anjou. In 1283 he was made
captive in a sea fight, by Ruggieri de Loria, the Admiral of
Peter II. of Aragon. In 1300, according to common report, he sold
his young daughter in marriage to the old Marquis of Este.

[10] Spite of his hostility to Boniface VIII., the worst crime of
the house of France was, in Dante's eyes, the seizure of the Pope
at Anagni, in 1303, by the emissaries of Philip the Fair.

[11] The destruction of the Order of the Temple.

"What I was saying of that only bride of the Holy Spirit, and
which made thee turn toward me for some gloss, is ordained for
all our prayers so long as the day lasts, but when the night
comes, we take up a contrary sound instead. Then we rehearse
Pygmalion,[1] whom his gluttonous longing for gold made a traitor
and thief and parricide; and the wretchedness of the avaricious
Midas which followed on his greedy demand, at which men must
always laugh. Then of the foolish Achan each one recalls how he
stole the spoils, so that the anger of Joshua seems still to
sting him, here.[2] Then we accuse Sapphira with her husband; we
praise the kicks that Heliodorus received,[3] and in infamy
Polymnestor who slew Polydorus[4] circles the Whole mountain.
Finally our cry here is, 'Crassus, tell us, for thou knowest,
what is the taste of gold?'[5] At times one speaks loud, and
another low, according to the affection which spurs us to speak
now at a greater, now at a less pace. Therefore in the good which
by day is here discoursed of, of late I was not alone, but here
near by no other person lifted up his voice."

[1] The brother of Dido, and the murderer of her husband for the
sake of his riches--Aeneid, i. 353-4.

[2] Joshua, vii.

[3] For his attempt to plunder the treasury of the Temple.--2
Maccabees, iii. 25.

[4] Priam had entrusted Polydorus, his youngest son, to
Polymnestor, King of Thrace, who, when the fortunes of Troy
declined, slew Polydorus, that he might take possession of the
treasure sent with him.

[5] Having been slain in battle with the Parthians, their king
poured molten gold down his throat in derision, because of his
fame as the richest of men.

We had already parted from him, and were striving to advance
along the road so far as was permitted to our power, when I felt
the Mountain tremble, like a thing that is falling; whereupon a
chill seized me such as is wont to seize him who goes to death.
Surely Delos shook not so violently, before Latona made her nest
therein to give birth to the two eyes of heaven.[1] Then began on
all sides such a cry that the Master drew towards me, saying:
"Distrust not, while I guide thee." "Gloria in excelsis Deo,"[2]
all were saying, according to what I gathered from those near at
hand whose cry it was possible to understand. We stopped,
motionless and in suspense, like the shepherds who first heard
that song, until the trembling ceased, and it was ended. Then we
took up again our holy journey, looking at the shades that were
lying on the ground, returned already to their wonted plaint. No
ignorance ever with so sharp attack made me desirous of
knowing--if my memory err not in this--as it seemed to me I then
experienced in thought. Nor, for our haste, did I dare to ask,
nor of myself could I see aught there. So I went on timid and

[1] Apollo and Diana, the divinities of Sun and Moon.

[2] "Glory to God in the highest."

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

The natural thirst,[1] which is never satisfied save with the
water[2] whereof the poor woman of Samaria besought the grace,
was tormenting me, and haste was goading me along the encumbered
way behind my Leader, and I was grieving at the just vengeance;
and lo,--as Luke writes for us that Christ, now risen forth from
the sepulchral cave, appeared to the two who were on the way,--a
shade appeared to us; and it was coming behind us looking at the
crowd that lay at its feet: nor did we perceive it, so it spoke
first saying, "My Brothers, may God give you peace!" We turned
suddenly, and Virgil gave back to it the greeting which answers
to that;[3] then he began: "In the assembly of the blest may the
true court, which relegates me into eternal exile, place thee in
peace." "How," said it,--and meanwhile we went on steadily,--"if
ye are shades that God deigns not on high, who hath guided you so
far along his stairs?" And my Teacher, "If thou regardest the
marks which this one bears, and which the Angel traces, thou wilt
clearly see it behoves that with the good he reign. But, because
she who spinneth day and night[4] had not for him yet drawn the
distaff off, which Clotho loads for each one and compacts, his
soul, which is thy sister and mine, coming upwards could not
come alone, because it sees not after our fashion. Wherefore I
was drawn from out the ample throat of Hell to show him, and I
shall show him so far on as my teaching can lead him. But tell
us, if thou knowest, why just now the mountain gave such shocks,
and why all seemed to cry together, even down to its moist feet."
Thus asking he shot for me through the needle's eye of my desire,
so that only with the hope my thirst became less craving.

[1] "According to that buoyant and immortal sentence with which
Aristotle begins his Metaphysics, 'All mankind naturally desire
knowledge.'" Matthew Arnold, God and the Bible, cli. iv. This
sentence of Aristotle is cited by Dante in the first chapter of
the Convito.

[2] The living water of truth.

[3] To the salutation, "Peace be with you," the due answer is,
"And with thy spirit."

[4] Lachesis.

The shade began: "There is nothing which without order the
religion of the mountain can feel, or which can be outside its
wont.[1] Free is this place from every alteration; of that which
heaven receives from itself within itself there may be effect
here, but of naught else;[2] because nor rain, nor hail, nor
snow, nor dew, nor frost, falls higher up than the little
stairway of the three short steps; clouds appear not, or thick or
thin; nor lightning, nor the daughter of Thaumas[3] who yonder
often changes her quarter; dry vapor[4] rises not farther up than
the top of the three steps of which I spoke, where the vicar of
Peter has his feet. It trembles perhaps lower down little or
much; but up here it never trembles because of wind that is
hidden, I know not how, in the earth. It trembles here when some
soul feels itself pure, so that it rises or moves to ascend; and
such a cry seconds it. Of the purity the will alone makes proof,
which surprises the soul, wholly free to change its company, and
helps it with the will. The soul wills at first indeed, but the
inclination,--which, contrary to the will, Divine Justice sets to
the torment, as erst to the sin,--allows it not.[5] And I who
have lain in this pain five hundred years and more, only just now
felt a free volition for a better seat. Wherefore thou didst feel
the earthquake, and hear the pious spirits through the Mountain
giving praise to that Lord, who--may He speed them upward soon!"

[1] The religion, the sacred rule, of the Mountain admits nothing
that is not ordained and customary.

[2] Whatever happens here is occasioned only by the direct
influences of the heavens.

[3] Iris = the rainbow, seen now to the west, now to the east.

[4] Dry vapor, according to Aristotle, was the source of wind and
of earthquake.

[5] Until the soul is wholly purified from its sinful
disposition,it desires the punishment through; which its
purification is accomplished, as it had originally desired the
object of its sin. But when it becomes pure, then the will
possesses it to mount to Heaven, and becomes effective.

Thus he said to us, and since one enjoys drinking in proportion
as the thirst is great, I could not say how much he did me good.
And the sage Leader, "Now I see the net which snares you here,
and how it is unmeshed; wherefore it trembles here; and for what
ye rejoice together. Now who thou wast may it please thee that I
know, and that from thy words I learn why for so many centuries
thou hast lain here?" "At the time when the good Titus, with the
aid of the Most High King, avenged the wounds wherefrom issued
the blood sold by Judas, I was fatuous enough on earth with the
name which lasts longest, and honors most,"[1] replied that
spirit, "but not as yet with faith. So sweet was my vocal spirit,
that me of Toulouse Rome drew to itself, where I deserved to
adorn my temples with myrtle. Statius the people still on earth
name me. I sang of Thebes, and then of the great Achilles, but I
fell on the way with my second load.[2] Seed of my ardor were the
sparks that warmed me of the divine flame whereby more than a
thousand have been kindled; I speak of the Aeneid, which was
mother to me, and was my nurse in poesy: without it I balanced
not the weight of a drachm; and to have lived yonder, when Virgil
lived, I would agree to one sun more than I owe for my issue from

[1] The name of Poet.

[2] Statius died before completing his Achilleid.

[3] A year more in Purgatory than is due for my punishment.

These words turned Virgil to me with a look which, silent, said,
"Be silent:" but the power that wills cannot do everything; for
smiles and tears are such followers on the emotion from which
each springs, that in the most truthful they least follow the
will. I merely smiled, like a man who makes a sign; whereat the
shade became silent, and looked at me in the eyes where the
expression is most fixed. And it said, "So mayst thou in good
complete so great a labor, why aid thy face just now display to
me a flash of a smile?" Now am I caught on one side and the
other: one bids me be silent, the other conjures me to speak;
wherefore I sigh and am understood by my Master, and "Have no
fear to speak," he said to me, "but speak, and tell him what he
asks so earnestly." Whereon I, "Perhaps thou marvellest, ancient
spirit, at the smile I gave; but I would have more wonder seize
thee. This one who guides my eyes on high is that Virgil from
whom thou didst derive the strength to sing of men and of the
gods. If thou didst believe other cause for my smile, dismiss it
as untrue, and believe it to be those words which thou saidst of
him." Already he was stooping to embrace the feet of my Leader,
but he said to him, "Brother, do it not, for thou art a shade,
and thou seest a shade." And he rising, "Now canst thou
comprehend the sum of the love that warms me to thee when I
forget our vanity, treating the shades as if a solid thing."[1]

[1] Sordello and Virgil (Canto VI.) embraced each other. The
shades could thus express their mutual affection. Perhaps it is
out of modesty that Virgil here represses Statius, and possibly
there may be the under meaning that an act of reverence is not
becoming from a soul redeemed, to one banned in eternal exile.

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

Already was the Angel left behind us,--the Angel who had turned
us to the sixth round,--having erased a stroke[1] from my face;
and he had said to us that those who have their desire set on
justice are Beati, and his words ended with sitiunt, without the
rest.[2] And I, more light than through the other passes, was
going on so that without any labor I was following upward the
swift spirits, when Virgil began, "Love kindled by virtue always
kindles another, provided that its flame appear outwardly;
wherefore from the hour when amid us Juvenal descended into the
limbo of Hell, and made known to me thy affection, my own good
will toward thee was such that more never bound one to an unseen
person; so that these stairs will now seem short to me. But tell
me (and as a friend pardon me, if too great confidence let loose
my rein, and as a friend now talk with me) boxy avarice could
find a place within thy breast, amid wisdom so great as that
wherewith through thy diligence thou wast filled?"

[1] The fifth P.

[2] The Angel had not recited all the words of the Beatitude, but
only, "Blessed are they which do thirst after righteousness,"
contrasting this thirst with the thirst for riches.

These words first moved Statius a little to smiling; then he
replied, "Every word of thine is a dear sign to me of love. Truly
oftentimes things have such appearance that they give false
material for suspicion, because the true reasons lie hid. Thy
question assures me of thy belief, perhaps because of that circle
where I was, that I was avaricious in the other life; know then
that avarice was too far removed from me, and this want of
measure thousands of courses of the moon have punished. And had
it not been that I set right my care, when I understood the
passage where thou dost exclaim, as if indignant with human
nature, "O cursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not impel the
appetite of mortals?"[1] I, rolling, should share the dismal
jousts.[2] Then I perceived that the bands could spread their
wings too much in spending; and I repented as well of that as of
my other sins. How many shall rise with cropped hair[3] through
ignorance, which during life and in the last hours prevents
repentance for this sin! And know, that the vice which rebuts any
sin with direct opposition,[4] together with it here dries up its
verdure. Wherefore if to purify myself I have been among the
people who lament their avarice, because of its contrary this has
befallen me." "Now when thou wast singing[5]the cruel strife of
the twofold affliction[6] of Jocasta," said the Singer of the
Bucolic songs, "it does not appear from that which Clio
touches[7] with thee there,[8] that the faith, without which good
works suffice not, had yet made thee faithful. If this be so,
what sun, or what candles dispersed thy darkness so that thou
didst thereafter set thy sails behind the Fisherman?"[9] And he
to him, "Thou first directedst me toward Parnassus to drink in
its grots, and then, on the way to God, thou enlightenedst me.
Thou didst like him, who goes by night, and carries the light
behind him, and helps not himself, but makes the persons
following him wise, when thou saidst, 'The ages are renewed;
Justice returns, and the primeval time of man, and a new progeny
descends from heaven.'[10] Through thee I became a poet, through
thee a Christian. But in order that thou mayst better see that
which I sketch, I will stretch out my hand to color it. Already
was the whole world teeming with the true belief, sown by the
messengers of the eternal realm; and these words of thine touched
upon just now were in harmony with the new preachers, wherefore I
adopted the practice of visiting them. They came to me then
appearing so holy, that, when Domitian persecuted them, not
without my tears were their lamentings. And so long as I
remained on earth I succored them; and their upright customs
made me scorn all other sects. And before I had led the Greeks to
the rivers of Thebes in my verse, I received baptism; but out of
fear I was a secret Christian, for a long while making show of
paganism: and this lukewarmness made me circle round the fourth
circle,[11] longer than to the fourth century. Thou, therefore,
that didst lift for me the covering that was hiding from me such
great good as I say, while we have remainder of ascent, tell me
where is our ancient Terence, Caecilius, Plautus, and Varro, if
thou knowest it; tell me if they are damned, and in what region?"
"They, and Persius, and I, and many others," replied my Leader,
"are with that Greek whom the Muses suckled more than any other
ever, in the first girdle of the blind prison. Oftentimes we
discourse of the mountain[12] that hath our nurses[13] always
with itself. Euripides is there with us, and Antiphon, Simonides,
Agathon, and many other Greeks who of old adorned their brows
with laurel. There of thine own people[14] are seen Antigone,
Deiphile, and Argia, and Ismene sad[15] even as she was. There
she is seen who showed Langia;[16] there is the daughter of
Tiresias and Thetis,[17] and Deidamia with her sisters."

[1] Quid non mortalia peetora yogis,
Auri sacra fames?
Aeneid. iii. 56-57.

[2] I should be in Hell among the prodigals rolling heavy weights
and striking them against those rolled by the avaricious. See
Hell, Canto VII.

[3] A reference to the symbolic short hair of prodigals in Hell.

[4] As, for instance, avarice and prodigality.

[5] In the Thebaid.

[6] Eteocles and Polynices, the two sons of Jocasta. See Hell,
Canto XXVI.

[7] On her lyre.

[8] From the general course of thy poems.

[9] St. Peter.

[10] The famous prophecy of the Cumaean Sibyl, very early applied
to the coming of Christ:--
Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
Jam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna:
Jam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto.--Ecloga, iv. 5-7.

[11] Where love too slack is punished.

[12] Parnassus.

[13] The Muses.

[14] The people celebrated in thy poems.

[15] Two pairs of sisters, and, of the four, Ismene, sister of
Antigone, had the hardest lot.

[16] Hypsipyle, who showed the fountain Langia to Adrastus, and
the other kings, when their army was perishing with thirst.

[17] Manto is the only daughter of Tiresias, who is mentioned by
Statius; but Manto is in the eighth circle in Hell. See Canto XX.

Now both the poets became silent, once more intent on looking
around, free from the ascent and from the walls; and four of the
handmaids of the day were now remaining behind,[1] and the fifth
was at the pole,[2] directing still upward its burning horn, when

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