Part 3 out of 11
At thee, and heard him by the others nam'd
Geri of Bello. Thou so wholly then
Wert busied with his spirit, who once rul'd
The towers of Hautefort, that thou lookedst not
That way, ere he was gone."--"O guide belov'd!
His violent death yet unaveng'd," said I,
"By any, who are partners in his shame,
Made him contemptuous: therefore, as I think,
He pass'd me speechless by; and doing so
Hath made me more compassionate his fate."
So we discours'd to where the rock first show'd
The other valley, had more light been there,
E'en to the lowest depth. Soon as we came
O'er the last cloister in the dismal rounds
Of Malebolge, and the brotherhood
Were to our view expos'd, then many a dart
Of sore lament assail'd me, headed all
With points of thrilling pity, that I clos'd
Both ears against the volley with mine hands.
As were the torment, if each lazar-house
Of Valdichiana, in the sultry time
'Twixt July and September, with the isle
Sardinia and Maremma's pestilent fen,
Had heap'd their maladies all in one foss
Together; such was here the torment: dire
The stench, as issuing steams from fester'd limbs.
We on the utmost shore of the long rock
Descended still to leftward. Then my sight
Was livelier to explore the depth, wherein
The minister of the most mighty Lord,
All-searching Justice, dooms to punishment
The forgers noted on her dread record.
More rueful was it not methinks to see
The nation in Aegina droop, what time
Each living thing, e'en to the little worm,
All fell, so full of malice was the air
(And afterward, as bards of yore have told,
The ancient people were restor'd anew
From seed of emmets) than was here to see
The spirits, that languish'd through the murky vale
Up-pil'd on many a stack. Confus'd they lay,
One o'er the belly, o'er the shoulders one
Roll'd of another; sideling crawl'd a third
Along the dismal pathway. Step by step
We journey'd on, in silence looking round
And list'ning those diseas'd, who strove in vain
To lift their forms. Then two I mark'd, that sat
Propp'd 'gainst each other, as two brazen pans
Set to retain the heat. From head to foot,
A tetter bark'd them round. Nor saw I e'er
Groom currying so fast, for whom his lord
Impatient waited, or himself perchance
Tir'd with long watching, as of these each one
Plied quickly his keen nails, through furiousness
Of ne'er abated pruriency. The crust
Came drawn from underneath in flakes, like scales
Scrap'd from the bream or fish of broader mail.
"O thou, who with thy fingers rendest off
Thy coat of proof," thus spake my guide to one,
"And sometimes makest tearing pincers of them,
Tell me if any born of Latian land
Be among these within: so may thy nails
Serve thee for everlasting to this toil."
"Both are of Latium," weeping he replied,
"Whom tortur'd thus thou seest: but who art thou
That hast inquir'd of us?" To whom my guide:
"One that descend with this man, who yet lives,
From rock to rock, and show him hell's abyss."
Then started they asunder, and each turn'd
Trembling toward us, with the rest, whose ear
Those words redounding struck. To me my liege
Address'd him: "Speak to them whate'er thou list."
And I therewith began: "So may no time
Filch your remembrance from the thoughts of men
In th' upper world, but after many suns
Survive it, as ye tell me, who ye are,
And of what race ye come. Your punishment,
Unseemly and disgustful in its kind,
Deter you not from opening thus much to me."
"Arezzo was my dwelling," answer'd one,
"And me Albero of Sienna brought
To die by fire; but that, for which I died,
Leads me not here. True is in sport I told him,
That I had learn'd to wing my flight in air.
And he admiring much, as he was void
Of wisdom, will'd me to declare to him
The secret of mine art: and only hence,
Because I made him not a Daedalus,
Prevail'd on one suppos'd his sire to burn me.
But Minos to this chasm last of the ten,
For that I practis'd alchemy on earth,
Has doom'd me. Him no subterfuge eludes."
Then to the bard I spake: "Was ever race
Light as Sienna's? Sure not France herself
Can show a tribe so frivolous and vain."
The other leprous spirit heard my words,
And thus return'd: "Be Stricca from this charge
Exempted, he who knew so temp'rately
To lay out fortune's gifts; and Niccolo
Who first the spice's costly luxury
Discover'd in that garden, where such seed
Roots deepest in the soil: and be that troop
Exempted, with whom Caccia of Asciano
Lavish'd his vineyards and wide-spreading woods,
And his rare wisdom Abbagliato show'd
A spectacle for all. That thou mayst know
Who seconds thee against the Siennese
Thus gladly, bend this way thy sharpen'd sight,
That well my face may answer to thy ken;
So shalt thou see I am Capocchio's ghost,
Who forg'd transmuted metals by the power
Of alchemy; and if I scan thee right,
Thus needs must well remember how I aped
Creative nature by my subtle art."
WHAT time resentment burn'd in Juno's breast
For Semele against the Theban blood,
As more than once in dire mischance was rued,
Such fatal frenzy seiz'd on Athamas,
That he his spouse beholding with a babe
Laden on either arm, "Spread out," he cried,
"The meshes, that I take the lioness
And the young lions at the pass: "then forth
Stretch'd he his merciless talons, grasping one,
One helpless innocent, Learchus nam'd,
Whom swinging down he dash'd upon a rock,
And with her other burden self-destroy'd
The hapless mother plung'd: and when the pride
Of all-presuming Troy fell from its height,
By fortune overwhelm'd, and the old king
With his realm perish'd, then did Hecuba,
A wretch forlorn and captive, when she saw
Polyxena first slaughter'd, and her son,
Her Polydorus, on the wild sea-beach
Next met the mourner's view, then reft of sense
Did she run barking even as a dog;
Such mighty power had grief to wrench her soul.
Bet ne'er the Furies or of Thebes or Troy
With such fell cruelty were seen, their goads
Infixing in the limbs of man or beast,
As now two pale and naked ghost I saw
That gnarling wildly scamper'd, like the swine
Excluded from his stye. One reach'd Capocchio,
And in the neck-joint sticking deep his fangs,
Dragg'd him, that o'er the solid pavement rubb'd
His belly stretch'd out prone. The other shape,
He of Arezzo, there left trembling, spake;
"That sprite of air is Schicchi; in like mood
Of random mischief vent he still his spite."
To whom I answ'ring: "Oh! as thou dost hope,
The other may not flesh its jaws on thee,
Be patient to inform us, who it is,
Ere it speed hence."--" That is the ancient soul
Of wretched Myrrha," he replied, "who burn'd
With most unholy flame for her own sire,
And a false shape assuming, so perform'd
The deed of sin; e'en as the other there,
That onward passes, dar'd to counterfeit
Donati's features, to feign'd testament
The seal affixing, that himself might gain,
For his own share, the lady of the herd."
When vanish'd the two furious shades, on whom
Mine eye was held, I turn'd it back to view
The other cursed spirits. One I saw
In fashion like a lute, had but the groin
Been sever'd, where it meets the forked part.
Swoln dropsy, disproportioning the limbs
With ill-converted moisture, that the paunch
Suits not the visage, open'd wide his lips
Gasping as in the hectic man for drought,
One towards the chin, the other upward curl'd.
"O ye, who in this world of misery,
Wherefore I know not, are exempt from pain,"
Thus he began, "attentively regard
Adamo's woe. When living, full supply
Ne'er lack'd me of what most I coveted;
One drop of water now, alas! I crave.
The rills, that glitter down the grassy slopes
Of Casentino, making fresh and soft
The banks whereby they glide to Arno's stream,
Stand ever in my view; and not in vain;
For more the pictur'd semblance dries me up,
Much more than the disease, which makes the flesh
Desert these shrivel'd cheeks. So from the place,
Where I transgress'd, stern justice urging me,
Takes means to quicken more my lab'ring sighs.
There is Romena, where I falsified
The metal with the Baptist's form imprest,
For which on earth I left my body burnt.
But if I here might see the sorrowing soul
Of Guido, Alessandro, or their brother,
For Branda's limpid spring I would not change
The welcome sight. One is e'en now within,
If truly the mad spirits tell, that round
Are wand'ring. But wherein besteads me that?
My limbs are fetter'd. Were I but so light,
That I each hundred years might move one inch,
I had set forth already on this path,
Seeking him out amidst the shapeless crew,
Although eleven miles it wind, not more
Than half of one across. They brought me down
Among this tribe; induc'd by them I stamp'd
The florens with three carats of alloy."
"Who are that abject pair," I next inquir'd,
"That closely bounding thee upon thy right
Lie smoking, like a band in winter steep'd
In the chill stream?"--"When to this gulf I dropt,"
He answer'd, "here I found them; since that hour
They have not turn'd, nor ever shall, I ween,
Till time hath run his course. One is that dame
The false accuser of the Hebrew youth;
Sinon the other, that false Greek from Troy.
Sharp fever drains the reeky moistness out,
In such a cloud upsteam'd." When that he heard,
One, gall'd perchance to be so darkly nam'd,
With clench'd hand smote him on the braced paunch,
That like a drum resounded: but forthwith
Adamo smote him on the face, the blow
Returning with his arm, that seem'd as hard.
"Though my o'erweighty limbs have ta'en from me
The power to move," said he, "I have an arm
At liberty for such employ." To whom
Was answer'd: "When thou wentest to the fire,
Thou hadst it not so ready at command,
Then readier when it coin'd th' impostor gold."
And thus the dropsied: "Ay, now speak'st thou true.
But there thou gav'st not such true testimony,
When thou wast question'd of the truth, at Troy."
"If I spake false, thou falsely stamp'dst the coin,"
Said Sinon; "I am here but for one fault,
And thou for more than any imp beside."
"Remember," he replied, "O perjur'd one,
The horse remember, that did teem with death,
And all the world be witness to thy guilt."
"To thine," return'd the Greek, "witness the thirst
Whence thy tongue cracks, witness the fluid mound,
Rear'd by thy belly up before thine eyes,
A mass corrupt." To whom the coiner thus:
"Thy mouth gapes wide as ever to let pass
Its evil saying. Me if thirst assails,
Yet I am stuff'd with moisture. Thou art parch'd,
Pains rack thy head, no urging would'st thou need
To make thee lap Narcissus' mirror up."
I was all fix'd to listen, when my guide
Admonish'd: "Now beware: a little more.
And I do quarrel with thee." I perceiv'd
How angrily he spake, and towards him turn'd
With shame so poignant, as remember'd yet
Confounds me. As a man that dreams of harm
Befall'n him, dreaming wishes it a dream,
And that which is, desires as if it were not,
Such then was I, who wanting power to speak
Wish'd to excuse myself, and all the while
Excus'd me, though unweeting that I did.
"More grievous fault than thine has been, less shame,"
My master cried, "might expiate. Therefore cast
All sorrow from thy soul; and if again
Chance bring thee, where like conference is held,
Think I am ever at thy side. To hear
Such wrangling is a joy for vulgar minds."
THE very tongue, whose keen reproof before
Had wounded me, that either cheek was stain'd,
Now minister'd my cure. So have I heard,
Achilles and his father's javelin caus'd
Pain first, and then the boon of health restor'd.
Turning our back upon the vale of woe,
W cross'd th' encircled mound in silence. There
Was twilight dim, that far long the gloom
Mine eye advanc'd not: but I heard a horn
Sounded aloud. The peal it blew had made
The thunder feeble. Following its course
The adverse way, my strained eyes were bent
On that one spot. So terrible a blast
Orlando blew not, when that dismal rout
O'erthrew the host of Charlemagne, and quench'd
His saintly warfare. Thitherward not long
My head was rais'd, when many lofty towers
Methought I spied. "Master," said I, "what land
Is this?" He answer'd straight: "Too long a space
Of intervening darkness has thine eye
To traverse: thou hast therefore widely err'd
In thy imagining. Thither arriv'd
Thou well shalt see, how distance can delude
The sense. A little therefore urge thee on."
Then tenderly he caught me by the hand;
"Yet know," said he, "ere farther we advance,
That it less strange may seem, these are not towers,
But giants. In the pit they stand immers'd,
Each from his navel downward, round the bank."
As when a fog disperseth gradually,
Our vision traces what the mist involves
Condens'd in air; so piercing through the gross
And gloomy atmosphere, as more and more
We near'd toward the brink, mine error fled,
And fear came o'er me. As with circling round
Of turrets, Montereggion crowns his walls,
E'en thus the shore, encompassing th' abyss,
Was turreted with giants, half their length
Uprearing, horrible, whom Jove from heav'n
Yet threatens, when his mutt'ring thunder rolls.
Of one already I descried the face,
Shoulders, and breast, and of the belly huge
Great part, and both arms down along his ribs.
All-teeming nature, when her plastic hand
Left framing of these monsters, did display
Past doubt her wisdom, taking from mad War
Such slaves to do his bidding; and if she
Repent her not of th' elephant and whale,
Who ponders well confesses her therein
Wiser and more discreet; for when brute force
And evil will are back'd with subtlety,
Resistance none avails. His visage seem'd
In length and bulk, as doth the pine, that tops
Saint Peter's Roman fane; and th' other bones
Of like proportion, so that from above
The bank, which girdled him below, such height
Arose his stature, that three Friezelanders
Had striv'n in vain to reach but to his hair.
Full thirty ample palms was he expos'd
Downward from whence a man his garments loops.
"Raphel bai ameth sabi almi,"
So shouted his fierce lips, which sweeter hymns
Became not; and my guide address'd him thus:
"O senseless spirit! let thy horn for thee
Interpret: therewith vent thy rage, if rage
Or other passion wring thee. Search thy neck,
There shalt thou find the belt that binds it on.
Wild spirit! lo, upon thy mighty breast
Where hangs the baldrick!" Then to me he spake:
"He doth accuse himself. Nimrod is this,
Through whose ill counsel in the world no more
One tongue prevails. But pass we on, nor waste
Our words; for so each language is to him,
As his to others, understood by none."
Then to the leftward turning sped we forth,
And at a sling's throw found another shade
Far fiercer and more huge. I cannot say
What master hand had girt him; but he held
Behind the right arm fetter'd, and before
The other with a chain, that fasten'd him
From the neck down, and five times round his form
Apparent met the wreathed links. "This proud one
Would of his strength against almighty Jove
Make trial," said my guide; "whence he is thus
Requited: Ephialtes him they call.
Great was his prowess, when the giants brought
Fear on the gods: those arms, which then he piled,
Now moves he never." Forthwith I return'd:
"Fain would I, if 't were possible, mine eyes
Of Briareus immeasurable gain'd
Experience next." He answer'd: "Thou shalt see
Not far from hence Antaeus, who both speaks
And is unfetter'd, who shall place us there
Where guilt is at its depth. Far onward stands
Whom thou wouldst fain behold, in chains, and made
Like to this spirit, save that in his looks
More fell he seems." By violent earthquake rock'd
Ne'er shook a tow'r, so reeling to its base,
As Ephialtes. More than ever then
I dreaded death, nor than the terror more
Had needed, if I had not seen the cords
That held him fast. We, straightway journeying on,
Came to Antaeus, who five ells complete
Without the head, forth issued from the cave.
"O thou, who in the fortunate vale, that made
Great Scipio heir of glory, when his sword
Drove back the troop of Hannibal in flight,
Who thence of old didst carry for thy spoil
An hundred lions; and if thou hadst fought
In the high conflict on thy brethren's side,
Seems as men yet believ'd, that through thine arm
The sons of earth had conquer'd, now vouchsafe
To place us down beneath, where numbing cold
Locks up Cocytus. Force not that we crave
Or Tityus' help or Typhon's. Here is one
Can give what in this realm ye covet. Stoop
Therefore, nor scornfully distort thy lip.
He in the upper world can yet bestow
Renown on thee, for he doth live, and looks
For life yet longer, if before the time
Grace call him not unto herself." Thus spake
The teacher. He in haste forth stretch'd his hands,
And caught my guide. Alcides whilom felt
That grapple straighten'd score. Soon as my guide
Had felt it, he bespake me thus: "This way
That I may clasp thee;" then so caught me up,
That we were both one burden. As appears
The tower of Carisenda, from beneath
Where it doth lean, if chance a passing cloud
So sail across, that opposite it hangs,
Such then Antaeus seem'd, as at mine ease
I mark'd him stooping. I were fain at times
T' have pass'd another way. Yet in th' abyss,
That Lucifer with Judas low ingulfs,
I,ightly he plac'd us; nor there leaning stay'd,
But rose as in a bark the stately mast.
COULD I command rough rhimes and hoarse, to suit
That hole of sorrow, o'er which ev'ry rock
His firm abutment rears, then might the vein
Of fancy rise full springing: but not mine
Such measures, and with falt'ring awe I touch
The mighty theme; for to describe the depth
Of all the universe, is no emprize
To jest with, and demands a tongue not us'd
To infant babbling. But let them assist
My song, the tuneful maidens, by whose aid
Amphion wall'd in Thebes, so with the truth
My speech shall best accord. Oh ill-starr'd folk,
Beyond all others wretched! who abide
In such a mansion, as scarce thought finds words
To speak of, better had ye here on earth
Been flocks or mountain goats. As down we stood
In the dark pit beneath the giants' feet,
But lower far than they, and I did gaze
Still on the lofty battlement, a voice
Bespoke me thus: "Look how thou walkest. Take
Good heed, thy soles do tread not on the heads
Of thy poor brethren." Thereupon I turn'd,
And saw before and underneath my feet
A lake, whose frozen surface liker seem'd
To glass than water. Not so thick a veil
In winter e'er hath Austrian Danube spread
O'er his still course, nor Tanais far remote
Under the chilling sky. Roll'd o'er that mass
Had Tabernich or Pietrapana fall'n,
Not e'en its rim had creak'd. As peeps the frog
Croaking above the wave, what time in dreams
The village gleaner oft pursues her toil,
So, to where modest shame appears, thus low
Blue pinch'd and shrin'd in ice the spirits stood,
Moving their teeth in shrill note like the stork.
His face each downward held; their mouth the cold,
Their eyes express'd the dolour of their heart.
A space I look'd around, then at my feet
Saw two so strictly join'd, that of their head
The very hairs were mingled. "Tell me ye,
Whose bosoms thus together press," said I,
"Who are ye?" At that sound their necks they bent,
And when their looks were lifted up to me,
Straightway their eyes, before all moist within,
Distill'd upon their lips, and the frost bound
The tears betwixt those orbs and held them there.
Plank unto plank hath never cramp clos'd up
So stoutly. Whence like two enraged goats
They clash'd together; them such fury seiz'd.
And one, from whom the cold both ears had reft,
Exclaim'd, still looking downward: "Why on us
Dost speculate so long? If thou wouldst know
Who are these two, the valley, whence his wave
Bisenzio slopes, did for its master own
Their sire Alberto, and next him themselves.
They from one body issued; and throughout
Caina thou mayst search, nor find a shade
More worthy in congealment to be fix'd,
Not him, whose breast and shadow Arthur's land
At that one blow dissever'd, not Focaccia,
No not this spirit, whose o'erjutting head
Obstructs my onward view: he bore the name
Of Mascheroni: Tuscan if thou be,
Well knowest who he was: and to cut short
All further question, in my form behold
What once was Camiccione. I await
Carlino here my kinsman, whose deep guilt
Shall wash out mine." A thousand visages
Then mark'd I, which the keen and eager cold
Had shap'd into a doggish grin; whence creeps
A shiv'ring horror o'er me, at the thought
Of those frore shallows. While we journey'd on
Toward the middle, at whose point unites
All heavy substance, and I trembling went
Through that eternal chillness, I know not
If will it were or destiny, or chance,
But, passing 'midst the heads, my foot did strike
With violent blow against the face of one.
"Wherefore dost bruise me?" weeping, he exclaim'd,
"Unless thy errand be some fresh revenge
For Montaperto, wherefore troublest me?"
I thus: "Instructor, now await me here,
That I through him may rid me of my doubt.
Thenceforth what haste thou wilt." The teacher paus'd,
And to that shade I spake, who bitterly
Still curs'd me in his wrath. "What art thou, speak,
That railest thus on others?" He replied:
"Now who art thou, that smiting others' cheeks
Through Antenora roamest, with such force
As were past suff'rance, wert thou living still?"
"And I am living, to thy joy perchance,"
Was my reply, "if fame be dear to thee,
That with the rest I may thy name enrol."
"The contrary of what I covet most,"
Said he, "thou tender'st: hence; nor vex me more.
Ill knowest thou to flatter in this vale."
Then seizing on his hinder scalp, I cried:
"Name thee, or not a hair shall tarry here."
"Rend all away," he answer'd, "yet for that
I will not tell nor show thee who I am,
Though at my head thou pluck a thousand times."
Now I had grasp'd his tresses, and stript off
More than one tuft, he barking, with his eyes
Drawn in and downward, when another cried,
"What ails thee, Bocca? Sound not loud enough
Thy chatt'ring teeth, but thou must bark outright?
What devil wrings thee?"--" Now," said I, "be dumb,
Accursed traitor! to thy shame of thee
True tidings will I bear."--" Off," he replied,
"Tell what thou list; but as thou escape from hence
To speak of him whose tongue hath been so glib,
Forget not: here he wails the Frenchman's gold.
'Him of Duera,' thou canst say, 'I mark'd,
Where the starv'd sinners pine.' If thou be ask'd
What other shade was with them, at thy side
Is Beccaria, whose red gorge distain'd
The biting axe of Florence. Farther on,
If I misdeem not, Soldanieri bides,
With Ganellon, and Tribaldello, him
Who op'd Faenza when the people slept."
We now had left him, passing on our way,
When I beheld two spirits by the ice
Pent in one hollow, that the head of one
Was cowl unto the other; and as bread
Is raven'd up through hunger, th' uppermost
Did so apply his fangs to th' other's brain,
Where the spine joins it. Not more furiously
On Menalippus' temples Tydeus gnaw'd,
Than on that skull and on its garbage he.
"O thou who show'st so beastly sign of hate
'Gainst him thou prey'st on, let me hear," said I
"The cause, on such condition, that if right
Warrant thy grievance, knowing who ye are,
And what the colour of his sinning was,
I may repay thee in the world above,
If that, wherewith I speak be moist so long."
HIS jaws uplifting from their fell repast,
That sinner wip'd them on the hairs o' th' head,
Which he behind had mangled, then began:
"Thy will obeying, I call up afresh
Sorrow past cure, which but to think of wrings
My heart, or ere I tell on't. But if words,
That I may utter, shall prove seed to bear
Fruit of eternal infamy to him,
The traitor whom I gnaw at, thou at once
Shalt see me speak and weep. Who thou mayst be
I know not, nor how here below art come:
But Florentine thou seemest of a truth,
When I do hear thee. Know I was on earth
Count Ugolino, and th' Archbishop he
Ruggieri. Why I neighbour him so close,
Now list. That through effect of his ill thoughts
In him my trust reposing, I was ta'en
And after murder'd, need is not I tell.
What therefore thou canst not have heard, that is,
How cruel was the murder, shalt thou hear,
And know if he have wrong'd me. A small grate
Within that mew, which for my sake the name
Of famine bears, where others yet must pine,
Already through its opening sev'ral moons
Had shown me, when I slept the evil sleep,
That from the future tore the curtain off.
This one, methought, as master of the sport,
Rode forth to chase the gaunt wolf and his whelps
Unto the mountain, which forbids the sight
Of Lucca to the Pisan. With lean brachs
Inquisitive and keen, before him rang'd
Lanfranchi with Sismondi and Gualandi.
After short course the father and the sons
Seem'd tir'd and lagging, and methought I saw
The sharp tusks gore their sides. When I awoke
Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard
My sons (for they were with me) weep and ask
For bread. Right cruel art thou, if no pang
Thou feel at thinking what my heart foretold;
And if not now, why use thy tears to flow?
Now had they waken'd; and the hour drew near
When they were wont to bring us food; the mind
Of each misgave him through his dream, and I
Heard, at its outlet underneath lock'd up
The' horrible tower: whence uttering not a word
I look'd upon the visage of my sons.
I wept not: so all stone I felt within.
They wept: and one, my little Anslem, cried:
"Thou lookest so! Father what ails thee?" Yet
I shed no tear, nor answer'd all that day
Nor the next night, until another sun
Came out upon the world. When a faint beam
Had to our doleful prison made its way,
And in four countenances I descry'd
The image of my own, on either hand
Through agony I bit, and they who thought
I did it through desire of feeding, rose
O' th' sudden, and cried, 'Father, we should grieve
Far less, if thou wouldst eat of us: thou gav'st
These weeds of miserable flesh we wear,
And do thou strip them off from us again.'
Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down
My spirit in stillness. That day and the next
We all were silent. Ah, obdurate earth!
Why open'dst not upon us? When we came
To the fourth day, then Geddo at my feet
Outstretch'd did fling him, crying, 'Hast no help
For me, my father!' "There he died, and e'en
Plainly as thou seest me, saw I the three
Fall one by one 'twixt the fifth day and sixth:
Whence I betook me now grown blind to grope
Over them all, and for three days aloud
Call'd on them who were dead. Then fasting got
The mastery of grief." Thus having spoke,
Once more upon the wretched skull his teeth
He fasten'd, like a mastiff's 'gainst the bone
Firm and unyielding. Oh thou Pisa! shame
Of all the people, who their dwelling make
In that fair region, where th' Italian voice
Is heard, since that thy neighbours are so slack
To punish, from their deep foundations rise
Capraia and Gorgona, and dam up
The mouth of Arno, that each soul in thee
May perish in the waters! What if fame
Reported that thy castles were betray'd
By Ugolino, yet no right hadst thou
To stretch his children on the rack. For them,
Brigata, Ugaccione, and the pair
Of gentle ones, of whom my song hath told,
Their tender years, thou modern Thebes! did make
Uncapable of guilt. Onward we pass'd,
Where others skarf'd in rugged folds of ice
Not on their feet were turn'd, but each revers'd
There very weeping suffers not to weep;
For at their eyes grief seeking passage finds
Impediment, and rolling inward turns
For increase of sharp anguish: the first tears
Hang cluster'd, and like crystal vizors show,
Under the socket brimming all the cup.
Now though the cold had from my face dislodg'd
Each feeling, as 't were callous, yet me seem'd
Some breath of wind I felt. "Whence cometh this,"
Said I, "my master? Is not here below
All vapour quench'd?"--"'Thou shalt be speedily,"
He answer'd, "where thine eye shall tell thee whence
The cause descrying of this airy shower."
Then cried out one in the chill crust who mourn'd:
"O souls so cruel! that the farthest post
Hath been assign'd you, from this face remove
The harden'd veil, that I may vent the grief
Impregnate at my heart, some little space
Ere it congeal again!" I thus replied:
"Say who thou wast, if thou wouldst have mine aid;
And if I extricate thee not, far down
As to the lowest ice may I descend!"
"The friar Alberigo," answered he,
"Am I, who from the evil garden pluck'd
Its fruitage, and am here repaid, the date
More luscious for my fig."--"Hah!" I exclaim'd,
"Art thou too dead!"--"How in the world aloft
It fareth with my body," answer'd he,
"I am right ignorant. Such privilege
Hath Ptolomea, that ofttimes the soul
Drops hither, ere by Atropos divorc'd.
And that thou mayst wipe out more willingly
The glazed tear-drops that o'erlay mine eyes,
Know that the soul, that moment she betrays,
As I did, yields her body to a fiend
Who after moves and governs it at will,
Till all its time be rounded; headlong she
Falls to this cistern. And perchance above
Doth yet appear the body of a ghost,
Who here behind me winters. Him thou know'st,
If thou but newly art arriv'd below.
The years are many that have pass'd away,
Since to this fastness Branca Doria came."
"Now," answer'd I, "methinks thou mockest me,
For Branca Doria never yet hath died,
But doth all natural functions of a man,
Eats, drinks, and sleeps, and putteth raiment on."
He thus: "Not yet unto that upper foss
By th' evil talons guarded, where the pitch
Tenacious boils, had Michael Zanche reach'd,
When this one left a demon in his stead
In his own body, and of one his kin,
Who with him treachery wrought. But now put forth
Thy hand, and ope mine eyes." I op'd them not.
Ill manners were best courtesy to him.
Ah Genoese! men perverse in every way,
With every foulness stain'd, why from the earth
Are ye not cancel'd? Such an one of yours
I with Romagna's darkest spirit found,
As for his doings even now in soul
Is in Cocytus plung'd, and yet doth seem
In body still alive upon the earth.
"THE banners of Hell's Monarch do come forth
Towards us; therefore look," so spake my guide,
"If thou discern him." As, when breathes a cloud
Heavy and dense, or when the shades of night
Fall on our hemisphere, seems view'd from far
A windmill, which the blast stirs briskly round,
Such was the fabric then methought I saw,
To shield me from the wind, forthwith I drew
Behind my guide: no covert else was there.
Now came I (and with fear I bid my strain
Record the marvel) where the souls were all
Whelm'd underneath, transparent, as through glass
Pellucid the frail stem. Some prone were laid,
Others stood upright, this upon the soles,
That on his head, a third with face to feet
Arch'd like a bow. When to the point we came,
Whereat my guide was pleas'd that I should see
The creature eminent in beauty once,
He from before me stepp'd and made me pause.
"Lo!" he exclaim'd, "lo Dis! and lo the place,
Where thou hast need to arm thy heart with strength."
How frozen and how faint I then became,
Ask me not, reader! for I write it not,
Since words would fail to tell thee of my state.
I was not dead nor living. Think thyself
If quick conception work in thee at all,
How I did feel. That emperor, who sways
The realm of sorrow, at mid breast from th' ice
Stood forth; and I in stature am more like
A giant, than the giants are in his arms.
Mark now how great that whole must be, which suits
With such a part. If he were beautiful
As he is hideous now, and yet did dare
To scowl upon his Maker, well from him
May all our mis'ry flow. Oh what a sight!
How passing strange it seem'd, when I did spy
Upon his head three faces: one in front
Of hue vermilion, th' other two with this
Midway each shoulder join'd and at the crest;
The right 'twixt wan and yellow seem'd: the left
To look on, such as come from whence old Nile
Stoops to the lowlands. Under each shot forth
Two mighty wings, enormous as became
A bird so vast. Sails never such I saw
Outstretch'd on the wide sea. No plumes had they,
But were in texture like a bat, and these
He flapp'd i' th' air, that from him issued still
Three winds, wherewith Cocytus to its depth
Was frozen. At six eyes he wept: the tears
Adown three chins distill'd with bloody foam.
At every mouth his teeth a sinner champ'd
Bruis'd as with pond'rous engine, so that three
Were in this guise tormented. But far more
Than from that gnawing, was the foremost pang'd
By the fierce rending, whence ofttimes the back
Was stript of all its skin. "That upper spirit,
Who hath worse punishment," so spake my guide,
"Is Judas, he that hath his head within
And plies the feet without. Of th' other two,
Whose heads are under, from the murky jaw
Who hangs, is Brutus: lo! how he doth writhe
And speaks not! Th' other Cassius, that appears
So large of limb. But night now re-ascends,
And it is time for parting. All is seen."
I clipp'd him round the neck, for so he bade;
And noting time and place, he, when the wings
Enough were op'd, caught fast the shaggy sides,
And down from pile to pile descending stepp'd
Between the thick fell and the jagged ice.
Soon as he reach'd the point, whereat the thigh
Upon the swelling of the haunches turns,
My leader there with pain and struggling hard
Turn'd round his head, where his feet stood before,
And grappled at the fell, as one who mounts,
That into hell methought we turn'd again.
"Expect that by such stairs as these," thus spake
The teacher, panting like a man forespent,
"We must depart from evil so extreme."
Then at a rocky opening issued forth,
And plac'd me on a brink to sit, next join'd
With wary step my side. I rais'd mine eyes,
Believing that I Lucifer should see
Where he was lately left, but saw him now
With legs held upward. Let the grosser sort,
Who see not what the point was I had pass'd,
Bethink them if sore toil oppress'd me then.
"Arise," my master cried, "upon thy feet.
"The way is long, and much uncouth the road;
And now within one hour and half of noon
The sun returns." It was no palace-hall
Lofty and luminous wherein we stood,
But natural dungeon where ill footing was
And scant supply of light. "Ere from th' abyss
I sep'rate," thus when risen I began,
"My guide! vouchsafe few words to set me free
From error's thralldom. Where is now the ice?
How standeth he in posture thus revers'd?
And how from eve to morn in space so brief
Hath the sun made his transit?" He in few
Thus answering spake: "Thou deemest thou art still
On th' other side the centre, where I grasp'd
Th' abhorred worm, that boreth through the world.
Thou wast on th' other side, so long as I
Descended; when I turn'd, thou didst o'erpass
That point, to which from ev'ry part is dragg'd
All heavy substance. Thou art now arriv'd
Under the hemisphere opposed to that,
Which the great continent doth overspread,
And underneath whose canopy expir'd
The Man, that was born sinless, and so liv'd.
Thy feet are planted on the smallest sphere,
Whose other aspect is Judecca. Morn
Here rises, when there evening sets: and he,
Whose shaggy pile was scal'd, yet standeth fix'd,
As at the first. On this part he fell down
From heav'n; and th' earth, here prominent before,
Through fear of him did veil her with the sea,
And to our hemisphere retir'd. Perchance
To shun him was the vacant space left here
By what of firm land on this side appears,
That sprang aloof." There is a place beneath,
From Belzebub as distant, as extends
The vaulted tomb, discover'd not by sight,
But by the sound of brooklet, that descends
This way along the hollow of a rock,
Which, as it winds with no precipitous course,
The wave hath eaten. By that hidden way
My guide and I did enter, to return
To the fair world: and heedless of repose
We climbed, he first, I following his steps,
Till on our view the beautiful lights of heav'n
Dawn, through a circular opening in the cave:
Thus issuing we again beheld the stars.
NOTES TO HELL
Verse 1. In the midway.] That the era of the Poem is intended
by these words to be fixed to the thirty fifth year of the poet's
age, A.D. 1300, will appear more plainly in Canto XXI. where that
date is explicitly marked.
v. 16. That planet's beam.] The sun.
v. 29. The hinder foot.] It is to be remembered, that in
ascending a hill the weight of the body rests on the hinder foot.
v. 30. A panther.] Pleasure or luxury.
v. 36. With those stars.] The sun was in Aries, in which sign
he supposes it to have begun its course at the creation.
v. 43. A lion.] Pride or ambition.
v. 45. A she wolf.] Avarice.
v. 56. Where the sun in silence rests.] Hence Milton appears to
have taken his idea in the Samson Agonistes:
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon, &c
The same metaphor will recur, Canto V. v. 29.
Into a place I came
Where light was silent all.
v. 65. When the power of Julius.] This is explained by the
commentators to mean "Although it was rather late with respect to
my birth before Julius Caesar assumed the supreme authority, and
made himself perpetual dictator."
v. 98. That greyhound.] This passage is intended as an eulogium
on the liberal spirit of his Veronese patron Can Grande della
v. 102. 'Twizt either Feltro.] Verona, the country of Can della
Scala, is situated between Feltro, a city in the Marca
Trivigiana, and Monte Feltro, a city in the territory of Urbino.
v. 103. Italia's plains.] "Umile Italia," from Virgil, Aen lib.
v. 115. Content in fire.] The spirits in Purgatory.
v. 118. A spirit worthier.] Beatrice, who conducts the Poet
v. 130. Saint Peter's gate.] The gate of Purgatory, which the
Poet feigns to be guarded by an angel placed on that station by
v. 1. Now was the day.] A compendium of Virgil's description
Aen. lib. iv 522. Nox erat, &c. Compare Apollonius Rhodius, lib
iii. 744, and lib. iv. 1058
v. 8. O mind.]
O thought that write all that I met,
And in the tresorie it set
Of my braine, now shall men see
If any virtue in thee be.
Chaucer. Temple of Fame, b. ii. v.18
v. 14. Silvius'sire.] Aeneas.
v. 30. The chosen vessel.] St.Paul, Acts, c. ix. v. 15. "But
the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel
v. 46. Thy soul.] L'anima tua e da viltate offesa. So in Berni,
Orl Inn.lib. iii. c. i. st. 53.
Se l'alma avete offesa da viltate.
v. 64. Who rest suspended.] The spirits in Limbo, neither
admitted to a state of glory nor doomed to punishment.
v. 61. A friend not of my fortune, but myself.] Se non fortunae
sed hominibus solere esse amicum. Cornelii Nepotis Attici Vitae,
v. 78. Whatever is contain'd.] Every other thing comprised
within the lunar heaven, which, being the lowest of all, has the
v. 93. A blessed dame.] The divine mercy.
v. 97. Lucia.] The enlightening grace of heaven.
v. 124. Three maids.] The divine mercy, Lucia, and Beatrice.
v. 127. As florets.] This simile is well translated by
But right as floures through the cold of night
Iclosed, stoupen in her stalkes lowe,
Redressen hem agen the sunne bright,
And speden in her kinde course by rowe, &c.
Troilus and Creseide, b.ii.
It has been imitated by many others, among whom see Berni,
Orl.Inn. Iib. 1. c. xii. st. 86. Marino, Adone, c. xvii. st. 63.
and Sor. "Donna vestita di nero." and Spenser's Faery Queen, b.4.
c. xii. st. 34. and b. 6 c. ii. st. 35.
v. 5. Power divine
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.] The three
persons of the blessed Trinity.
v. 9. all hope abandoned.] Lasciate ogni speranza voi
So Berni, Orl. Inn. lib. i. c. 8. st. 53.
Lascia pur della vita ogni speranza.
v. 29. Like to the sand.]
Unnumber'd as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings.
Milton, P. L. ii. 908.
v. 40. Lest th' accursed tribe.] Lest the rebellious angels
should exult at seeing those who were neutral and therefore less
guilty, condemned to the same punishment with themselves.
v. 50. A flag.]
All the grisly legions that troop
Under the sooty flag of Acheron
v. 56. Who to base fear
Yielding, abjur'd his high estate.] This is
commonly understood of Celestine the Fifth, who abdicated the
papal power in 1294. Venturi mentions a work written by
Innocenzio Barcellini, of the Celestine order, and printed in
Milan in 1701, In which an attempt is made to put a different
interpretation on this passage.
v. 70. through the blear light.]
Lo fioco lume
So Filicaja, canz. vi. st. 12.
Qual fioco lume.
v. 77. An old man.]
Portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina servat
Terribili squalore Charon, cui plurima mento
Canities inculta jacet; stant lumina flamma.
Virg. 7. Aen. Iib. vi. 2.
v. 82. In fierce heat and in ice.]
The delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick ribbed ice.
Shakesp. Measure for Measure, a. iii.s.1.
Compare Milton, P. L. b. ii. 600.
v. 92. The livid lake.] Vada livida.
Virg. Aen. Iib. vi. 320
Totius ut Lacus putidaeque paludis
Lividissima, maximeque est profunda vorago.
Catullus. xviii. 10.
v. 102. With eyes of burning coal.]
His looks were dreadful, and his fiery eyes
Like two great beacons glared bright and wide.
Spenser. F.Q. b. vi. c. vii.st. 42
v. 104. As fall off the light of autumnal leaves.]
Quam multa in silvis autumul frigore primo
Lapsa cadunt folia.
Virg. Aen. lib. vi. 309
Compare Apoll. Rhod. lib. iv. 214.
v. 8. A thund'rous sound.] Imitated, as Mr. Thyer has remarked,
by Milton, P. L. b. viii. 242.
But long ere our approaching heard
Noise, other, than the sound of dance or song
Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.
v. 50. a puissant one.] Our Saviour.
v. 75. Honour the bard
Onorate l'altissimo poeta.
So Chiabrera, Canz. Eroiche. 32.
Onorando l'altissimo poeta.
v. 79. Of semblance neither sorrowful nor glad.]
She nas to sober ne to glad.
v. 90. The Monarch of sublimest song.] Homer.
v. 100. Fitter left untold.]
Che'l tacere e bello,
So our Poet, in Canzone 14.
La vide in parte che'l tacere e bello,
Ruccellai, Le Api, 789.
Ch'a dire e brutto ed a tacerlo e bello
"Vie pui bello e il tacerle, che il favellarne."
Gli. Asol. lib. 1.
v. 117. Electra.] The daughter of Atlas, and mother of Dardanus
the founder of Troy. See Virg. Aen. b. viii. 134. as referred to
by Dante in treatise "De Monarchia," lib. ii. "Electra, scilicet,
nata magni nombris regis Atlantis, ut de ambobus testimonium
reddit poeta noster in octavo ubi Aeneas ad Avandrum sic ait
"Dardanus Iliacae," &c.
v. 125. Julia.] The daughter of Julius Caesar, and wife of
v. 126. The Soldan fierce.] Saladin or Salaheddin, the rival
of Richard coeur de lion. See D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. and
Knolles's Hist. of the Turks p. 57 to 73 and the Life of Saladin,
by Bohao'edin Ebn Shedad, published by Albert Schultens, with a
Latin translation. He is introduced by Petrarch in the Triumph of
Fame, c. ii
v. 128. The master of the sapient throng.]
Maestro di color che sanno.
Aristotle--Petrarch assigns the first place to Plato. See Triumph
of Fame, c. iii.
Pulci, in his Morgante Maggiore, c. xviii. says,
Tu se'il maestro di color che sanno.
v. 132. Democritus
Who sets the world at chance.]
Democritus,who maintained the world to have been formed by the
fortuitous concourse of atoms.
v. 140. Avicen.] See D'Herbelot Bibl. Orient. article Sina. He
died in 1050. Pulci here again imitates our poet:
Avicenna quel che il sentimento
Intese di Aristotile e i segreti,
Averrois che fece il gran comento.
Morg. Mag. c. xxv.
v. 140. Him who made
That commentary vast, Averroes.]
Averroes, called by the Arabians Roschd, translated and commented
the works of Aristotle. According to Tiraboschi (storia della
Lett. Ital. t. v. 1. ii. c. ii. sect. 4.) he was the source of
modern philosophical impiety. The critic quotes some passages
from Petrarch (Senil. 1. v. ep. iii. et. Oper. v. ii. p. 1143) to
show how strongly such sentiments prevailed in the time of that
poet, by whom they were held in horror and detestation He adds,
that this fanatic admirer of Aristotle translated his writings
with that felicity, which might be expected from one who did not
know a syllable of Greek, and who was therefore compelled to
avail himself of the unfaithful Arabic versions. D'Herbelot, on
the other hand, informs us, that "Averroes was the first who
translated Aristotle from Greek into Arabic, before the Jews had
made their translation: and that we had for a long time no other
text of Aristotle, except that of the Latin translation, which
was made from this Arabic version of this great philosopher
(Averroes), who afterwards added to it a very ample commentary,
of which Thomas Aquinas, and the other scholastic writers,
availed themselves, before the Greek originals of Aristotle and
his commentators were known to us in Europe." According to
D'Herbelot, he died in 1198: but Tiraboschi places that event
v. 5. Grinning with ghastly feature.] Hence Milton:
Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile.
P. L. b. ii. 845.
v. 46. As cranes.] This simile is imitated by Lorenzo de
Medici, in his Ambra, a poem, first published by Mr. Roscoe, in
the Appendix to his Life of Lorenzo.
Marking the tracts of air, the clamorous cranes
Wheel their due flight in varied ranks descried:
And each with outstretch'd neck his rank maintains
In marshal'd order through th' ethereal void.
Roscoe, v. i. c. v. p. 257. 4to edit.
Compare Homer. Il. iii. 3. Virgil. Aeneid. 1 x. 264, and
Ruccellai, Le Api, 942, and Dante's Purgatory, Canto XXIV. 63.
v. 96. The land.] Ravenna.
v. 99 Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt.]
Amor, Ch' al cor gentil ratto s'apprende.
A line taken by Marino, Adone, c. cxli. st. 251.
v. 102. Love, that denial takes from none belov'd.]
Amor, ch' a null' amato amar perdona.
So Boccacio, in his Filocopo. l.1.
Amore mal non perdono l'amore a nullo amato.
And Pulci, in the Morgante Maggiore, c. iv.
E perche amor mal volontier perdona,
Che non sia al fin sempre amato chi ama.
Indeed many of the Italian poets have repeated this verse.
v. 105. Caina.] The place to which murderers are doomed.
v. 113. Francesca.] Francesca, daughter of Guido da Polenta,
lord of Ravenna, was given by her father in marriage to
Lanciotto, son of Malatesta, lord of Rimini, a man of
extraordinary courage, but deformed in his person. His brother
Paolo, who unhappily possessed those graces which the husband of
Francesca wanted, engaged her affections; and being taken in
adultery, they were both put to death by the enraged Lanciotto.
See Notes to Canto XXVII. v. 43
The whole of this passage is alluded to by Petrarch, in his
Triumph of Love c. iii.
No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy,xwhen mis'ry is at hand!]
Imitated by Marino:
Che non ha doglia il misero maggiore
Che ricordar la giola entro il dolore.
Adone, c. xiv. st. 100
And by Fortiguerra:
Rimembrare il ben perduto
Fa piu meschino lo presente stato.
Ricciardetto, c. xi. st. 83.
The original perhaps was in Boetius de Consol. Philosoph. "In
omni adversitate fortunae infelicissimum genus est infortunii
fuisse felicem et non esse." 1. 2. pr. 4
v. 124. Lancelot.] One of the Knights of the Round Table, and
the lover of Ginevra, or Guinever, celebrated in romance. The
incident alluded to seems to have made a strong impression on the
imagination of Dante, who introduces it again, less happily, in
the Paradise, Canto XVI.
v. 128. At one point.]
Questo quel punto fu, che sol mi vinse.
Tasso, Il Torrismondo, a. i. s. 3.
v. 136. And like a corpse fell to the ground ]
E caddi, come corpo morto cade.
E cadde come morto in terra cade.
Morgante Maggoire, c. xxii
v. 1. My sense reviving.]
Al tornar della mente, che si chiuse
Dinanzi alla pieta de' duo cognati.
Berni has made a sportive application of these lines, in his Orl.
Inn. l. iii. c. viii. st. 1.
v. 21. That great worm.] So in Canto XXXIV Lucifer is called
Th' abhorred worm, that boreth through the world.
Ariosto has imitated Dante:
Ch' al gran verme infernal mette la briglia,
E che di lui come a lei par dispone.
Orl. Fur. c. xlvi. st. 76.
v. 52. Ciacco.] So called from his inordinate appetite: Ciacco,
in Italian, signifying a pig. The real name of this glutton has
not been transmitted to us. He is introduced in Boccaccio's
Decameron, Giorn. ix. Nov. 8.
v. 61. The divided city.] The city of Florence, divided into
the Bianchi and Neri factions.
v. 65. The wild party from the woods.] So called, because it
was headed by Veri de' Cerchi, whose family had lately come into
the city from Acone, and the woody country of the Val di Nievole.
v. 66. The other.] The opposite parts of the Neri, at the head
of which was Corso Donati.
v. 67. This must fall.] The Bianchi.
v. 69. Of one, who under shore
Charles of Valois, by whose means the Neri were replaced.
v. 73. The just are two in number.] Who these two were, the
commentators are not agreed.
v. 79. Of Farinata and Tegghiaio.] See Canto X. and Notes, and
Canto XVI, and Notes.
v. 80. Giacopo.] Giacopo Rusticucci. See Canto XVI, and Notes.
v. 81. Arrigo, Mosca.] Of Arrigo, who is said by the
commentators to have been of the noble family of the Fifanti, no
mention afterwards occurs. Mosca degli Uberti is introduced in
Canto XXVIII. v.
108. Consult thy knowledge.] We are referred to the following
passage in St. Augustin:--"Cum fiet resurrectio carnis, et
bonorum gaudia et malorum tormenta majora erunt. "--At the
resurrection of the flesh, both the happiness of the good and the
torments of the wicked will be increased."
v. 1. Ah me! O Satan! Satan!] Pape Satan, Pape Satan, aleppe.
Pape is said by the commentators to be the same as the Latin word
papae! "strange!" Of aleppe they do not give a more
See the Life of Benvenuto Cellini, translated by Dr. Nugent, v.
ii. b. iii c. vii. p 113, where he mentions "having heard the
words Paix, paix, Satan! allez, paix! in the court of justice
at Paris. I recollected what Dante said, when he with his master
Virgil entered the gates of hell: for Dante, and Giotto the
painter, were together in France, and visited Paris with
particular attention, where the court of justice may be
considered as hell. Hence it is that Dante, who was likewise
perfect master of the French, made use of that expression, and I
have often been surprised that it was never understood in that
v. 12. The first adulterer proud.] Satan.
v. 22. E'en as a billow.]
As when two billows in the Irish sowndes
Forcibly driven with contrarie tides
Do meet together, each aback rebounds
With roaring rage, and dashing on all sides,
That filleth all the sea with foam, divides
The doubtful current into divers waves.
Spenser, F.Q. b. iv. c. 1. st. 42.
v. 48. Popes and cardinals.] Ariosto, having personified
Avarice as a strange and hideous monster, says of her--
Peggio facea nella Romana corte
Che v'avea uccisi Cardinali e Papi.
Orl. Fur. c. xxvi. st. 32.
Worse did she in the court of Rome, for there
She had slain Popes and Cardinals.
v. 91. By necessity.] This sentiment called forth the
reprehension of Cecco d'Ascoli, in his Acerba, l. 1. c. i.
In cio peccasti, O Fiorentin poeta, &c.
Herein, O bard of Florence, didst thou err
Laying it down that fortune's largesses
Are fated to their goal. Fortune is none,
That reason cannot conquer. Mark thou, Dante,
If any argument may gainsay this.
v. 18. Phlegyas.] Phlegyas, who was so incensed against Apollo
for having violated his daughter Coronis, that he set fire to the
temple of that deity, by whose vengeance he was cast into
Tartarus. See Virg. Aen. l. vi. 618.
v. 59. Filippo Argenti.] Boccaccio tells us, "he was a man
remarkable for the large proportions and extraordinary vigor of
his bodily frame, and the extreme waywardness and irascibility of
his temper." Decam. g. ix. n. 8.
v. 66. The city, that of Dis is nam'd.] So Ariosto. Orl. Fur.
c. xl. st. 32
v. 94. Seven times.] The commentators, says Venturi, perplex
themselves with the inquiry what seven perils these were from
which Dante had been delivered by Virgil. Reckoning the beasts
in the first Canto as one of them, and adding Charon, Minos,
Cerberus, Plutus, Phlegyas and Filippo Argenti, as so many
others, we shall have the number, and if this be not
satisfactory, we may suppose a determinate to have been put for
an indeterminate number.
v. 109. At war 'twixt will and will not.]
Che si, e no nel capo mi tenzona.
So Boccaccio, Ninf. Fiesol. st. 233.
Il si e il no nel capo gli contende.
The words I have adopted as a translation, are Shakespeare's,
Measure for Measure. a. ii. s. 1.
v. 122. This their insolence, not new.] Virgil assures our
poet, that these evil spirits had formerly shown the same
insolence when our Savior descended into hell. They attempted to
prevent him from entering at the gate, over which Dante had read
the fatal inscription. "That gate which," says the Roman poet,
"an angel has just passed, by whose aid we shall overcome this
opposition, and gain admittance into the city."
v. 1. The hue.] Virgil, perceiving that Dante was pale with
fear, restrained those outward tokens of displeasure which his
own countenance had betrayed.
v. 23. Erictho.] Erictho, a Thessalian sorceress, according to
Lucan, Pharsal. l. vi. was employed by Sextus, son of Pompey the
Great, to conjure up a spirit, who should inform him of the issue
of the civil wars between his father and Caesar.
v. 25. No long space my flesh
Was naked of me.]
Quae corpus complexa animae tam fortis inane.
Ovid. Met. l. xiii f. 2
Dante appears to have fallen into a strange anachronism. Virgil's
death did not happen till long after this period.
v. 42. Adders and cerastes.]
Vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.
Virg. Aen. l. vi. 281.
--spinaque vagi torquente cerastae
. . . et torrida dipsas
Et gravis in geminum vergens eaput amphisbaena.
Lucan. Pharsal. l. ix. 719.
Scorpion and asp, and amphisbaena dire,
Cerastes horn'd, hydrus and elops drear,
P. L. b. x. 524.
v. 67. A wind.] Imitated by Berni, Orl. Inn. l. 1. e. ii. st.
v. 83. With his wand.]
She with her rod did softly smite the raile
Which straight flew ope.
Spenser. F. Q. b. iv. c. iii. st. 46.
v. 96. What profits at the fays to but the horn.] "Of what
avail can it be to offer violence to impassive beings?"
v. 97. Your Cerberus.] Cerberus is feigned to have been dragged
by Hercules, bound with a three fold chain, of which, says the
angel, he still bears the marks.
v. 111. The plains of Arles.] In Provence. See Ariosto, Orl.
Fur. c. xxxix. st. 72
v. 112. At Pola.] A city of Istria, situated near the gulf of
Quarnaro, in the Adriatic sea.
v. 12. Josaphat.] It seems to have been a common opinion among
the Jews, as well as among many Christians, that the general
judgment will be held in the valley of Josaphat, or Jehoshaphat:
"I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into
the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my
people, and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered
among the nations, and parted my land." Joel, iii. 2.
v. 32. Farinata.] Farinata degli Uberti, a noble Florentine,
was the leader of the Ghibelline faction, when they obtained a
signal victory over the Guelfi at Montaperto, near the river
Arbia. Macchiavelli calls him "a man of exalted soul, and great
military talents." Hist. of Flor. b. ii.
v. 52. A shade.] The spirit of Cavalcante Cavalcanti, a noble
Florentine, of the Guelph party.
v. 59. My son.] Guido, the son of Cavalcante Cavalcanti; "he
whom I call the first of my friends," says Dante in his Vita
Nuova, where the commencement of their friendship is related.
>From the character given of him by contemporary writers his
temper was well formed to assimilate with that of our poet. "He
was," according to G. Villani, l. viii. c. 41. "of a
philosophical and elegant mind, if he had not been too delicate
and fastidious." And Dino Compagni terms him "a young and noble
knight, brave and courteous, but of a lofty scornful spirit, much
addicted to solitude and study." Muratori. Rer. Ital. Script t. 9
l. 1. p. 481. He died, either in exile at Serrazana, or soon
after his return to Florence, December 1300, during the spring of
which year the action of this poem is supposed to be passing.
v. 62. Guido thy son
Had in contempt.]
Guido Cavalcanti, being more given to philosophy than poetry, was
perhaps no great admirer of Virgil. Some poetical compositions by
Guido are, however, still extant; and his reputation for skill in
the art was such as to eclipse that of his predecessor and
namesake Guido Guinicelli, as we shall see in the Purgatory,
Canto XI. His "Canzone sopra il Terreno Amore" was thought
worthy of being illustrated by numerous and ample commentaries.
Crescimbeni Ist. della Volg. Poes. l. v.
For a playful sonnet which Dante addressed to him, and a spirited
translation of it, see Hayley's Essay on Epic Poetry, Notes to
v. 66. Saidst thou he had?] In Aeschylus, the shade of Darius
is represented as inquiring with similar anxiety after the fate
of his son Xerxes.
Atossa: Xerxes astonish'd, desolate, alone--
Ghost of Dar: How will this end? Nay, pause not. Is he safe?
The Persians. Potter's Translation.
v. 77. Not yet fifty times.] "Not fifty months shall be passed,
before thou shalt learn, by woeful experience, the difficulty of
returning from banishment to thy native city"
v.83. The slaughter.] "By means of Farinata degli Uberti, the
Guelfi were conquered by the army of King Manfredi, near the
river Arbia, with so great a slaughter, that those who escaped
from that defeat took refuge not in Florence, which city they
considered as lost to them, but in Lucca." Macchiavelli. Hist.
of Flor. b 2.
v. 86. Such orisons.] This appears to allude to certain prayers
which were offered up in the churches of Florence, for
deliverance from the hostile attempts of the Uberti.
v. 90. Singly there I stood.] Guido Novello assembled a council
of the Ghibellini at Empoli where it was agreed by all, that, in
order to maintain the ascendancy of the Ghibelline party in
Tuscany, it was necessary to destroy Florence, which could serve
only (the people of that city beingvGuelfi) to enable the party
attached to the church to recover its strength. This cruel
sentence, passed upon so noble a city, met with no opposition
from any of its citizens or friends, except Farinata degli
Uberti, who openly and without reserve forbade the measure,
affirming that he had endured so many hardships, and encountered
so many dangers, with no other view than that of being able to
pass his days in his own country. Macchiavelli. Hist. of Flor. b.
v. 103. My fault.] Dante felt remorse for not having returned
an immediate answer to the inquiry of Cavalcante, from which
delay he was led to believe that his son Guido was no longer
v. 120. Frederick.] The Emperor Frederick the Second, who died
in 1250. See Notes to Canto XIII.
v. 121. The Lord Cardinal.] Ottaviano Ubaldini, a Florentine,
made Cardinal in 1245, and deceased about 1273. On account of
his great influence, he was generally known by the appellation of
"the Cardinal." It is reported of him that he declared, if there
were any such thing as a human soul, he had lost his for the
v. 132. Her gracious beam.] Beatrice.
v. 9. Pope Anastasius.] The commentators are not agreed
concerning the identity of the person, who is here mentioned as a
follower of the heretical Photinus. By some he is supposed to
have been Anastasius the Second, by others, the Fourth of that
name; while a third set, jealous of the integrity of the papal
faith, contend that our poet has confounded him with Anastasius
1. Emperor of the East.
v. 17. My son.] The remainder of the present Canto may be
considered as a syllabus of the whole of this part of the poem.
v. 48. And sorrows.] This fine moral, that not to enjoy our
being is to be ungrateful to the Author of it, is well expressed
in Spenser, F. Q. b. iv. c. viii. st. 15.
For he whose daies in wilful woe are worne
The grace of his Creator doth despise,
That will not use his gifts for thankless
v. 53. Cahors.] A city in Guienne, much frequented by usurers
v. 83. Thy ethic page.] He refers to Aristotle's Ethics.
"In the next place, entering, on another division of the subject,
let it be defined. that respecting morals there are three sorts
of things to be avoided, malice, incontinence, and brutishness."
v. 104. Her laws.] Aristotle's Physics. [GREEK
HERE] "Art imitates nature." --See the Coltivazione of Alamanni,
-I'arte umana, &c.
v. 111. Creation's holy book.] Genesis, c. iii. v. 19. "In the
sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread."
v. 119. The wain.] The constellation Bootes, or Charles's wain.
v. 17. The king of Athens.] Theseus, who was enabled, by the
instructions of Ariadne, the sister of the Minotaur, to destroy
v. 21. Like to a bull.] [GREEK HERE] Homer Il. xvii 522
As when some vig'rous youth with sharpen'd axe
A pastur'd bullock smites behind the horns
And hews the muscle through; he, at the stroke
Springs forth and falls.
v. 36. He arriv'd.] Our Saviour, who, according to Dante, when
he ascended from hell, carried with him the souls of the
patriarchs, and other just men, out of the first circle. See
v. 96. Nessus.] Our poet was probably induced, by the following
line in Ovid, to assign to Nessus the task of conducting them
over the ford:
Nessus edit membrisque valens scitusque vadorum.
Metam, l. ix.
And Ovid's authority was Sophocles, who says of this Centaur--
[GREEK HERE] Trach.570
He in his arms, Evenus' stream
Deep flowing, bore the passenger for hire
Without or sail or billow cleaving oar.
v. 110. Ezzolino.] Ezzolino, or Azzolino di Romano, a most
cruel tyrant in the Marca Trivigiana, Lord of Padua, Vicenza,
Verona, and Brescia, who died in 1260. His atrocities form the
subject of a Latin tragedy, called Eccerinis, by Albertino
Mussato, of Padua, the contemporary of Dante, and the most
elegant writer of Latin verse of that age. See also the
Paradise, Canto IX. Berni Orl. Inn. l ii c. xxv. st. 50. Ariosto.
Orl. Fur. c. iii. st. 33. and Tassoni Secchia Rapita, c. viii.
v. 111. Obizzo' of Este.] Marquis of Ferrara and of the Marca
d'Ancona, was murdered by his own son (whom, for the most
unnatural act Dante calls his step-son), for the sake of the
treasures which his rapacity had amassed. See Ariosto. Orl. Fur.
c. iii. st 32. He died in 1293 according to Gibbon. Ant. of the
House of Brunswick. Posth. Works, v. ii. 4to.
v. 119. He.] "Henrie, the brother of this Edmund, and son to
the foresaid king of Almaine (Richard, brother of Henry III. of
England) as he returned from Affrike, where he had been with
Prince Edward, was slain at Viterbo in Italy (whither he was come
about business which he had to do with the Pope) by the hand of
Guy de Montfort, the son of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester,
in revenge of the same Simon's death. The murther was committed
afore the high altar, as the same Henrie kneeled there to hear
divine service." A.D. 1272, Holinshed's chronicles p 275. See
also Giov. Villani Hist. I. vii. c. 40.
v. 135. On Sextus and on Pyrrhus.] Sextus either the son of
Tarquin the Proud, or of Pompey the Great: or as Vellutelli
conjectures, Sextus Claudius Nero, and Pyrrhus king of Epirus.
The Rinieri, of Corneto this,
Pazzo the other named.]
Two noted marauders, by whose depredations the public ways in
Italy were infested. The latter was of the noble family of Pazzi
v. 10. Betwixt Corneto and Cecina's stream.] A wild and woody
tract of country, abounding in deer, goats, and wild boars.
Cecina is a river not far to the south of Leghorn, Corneto, a
small city on the same coast in the patrimony of the church.
v. 12. The Strophades.] See Virg. Aen. l. iii. 210.
v. 14. Broad are their pennons.] From Virg. Aen. l. iii. 216.
v. 48. In my verse described.] The commentators explain this,
"If he could have believed, in consequence of my assurances
alone, that of which he hath now had ocular proof, he would not
have stretched forth his hand against thee." But I am of opinion
that Dante makes Virgil allude to his own story of Polydorus in
the third book of the Aeneid.
v. 56. That pleasant word of thine.] "Since you have inveigled
me to speak my holding forth so gratifying an expectation, let it
not displease you if I am as it were detained in the snare you
have spread for me, so as to be somewhat prolix in my answer."
v. 60. I it was.] Pietro delle Vigne, a native of Capua, who,
from a low condition, raised himself by his eloquence and legal
knowledge to the office of Chancellor to the Emperor Frederick
II. whose confidence in him was such, that his influence in the
empire became unbounded. The courtiers, envious of his exalted
situation, contrived, by means of forged letters, to make
Frederick believe that he held a secret and traitorous
intercourse with the Pope, who was then at enmity with the
Emperor. In consequence of this supposed crime he was cruelly
condemned by his too credulous sovereign to lose his eyes, and,
being driven to despair by his unmerited calamity and disgrace,
he put an end to his life by dashing out his brains against the
walls of a church, in the year 1245. Both Frederick and Pietro
delle Vigne composed verses in the Sicilian dialect which are yet
v. 67. The harlot.] Envy. Chaucer alludes to this in the
Prologue to the Legende of Good women.
Envie is lavender to the court alway,
For she ne parteth neither night ne day
Out of the house of Cesar; thus saith Dant.
v. 119. Each fan o' th' wood.] Hence perhaps Milton:
Leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan.
P. L. b. v. 6.
v. 122. Lano.] Lano, a Siennese, who, being reduced by
prodigality to a state of extreme want, found his existence no
longer supportable; and, having been sent by his countrymen on a
military expedition, to assist the Florentine against the
Aretini, took that opportunity of exposing himself to certain
death, in the engagement which took place at Toppo near Arezzo.
See G. Villani, Hist. l. 7. c. cxix.
v. 133. O Giocomo
Of Sant' Andrea!]
Jacopo da Sant' Andrea, a Paduan, who, having wasted his property
in the most wanton acts of profusion, killed himself in despair.
v. 144. In that City.] "I was an inhabitant of Florence, that
city which changed her first patron Mars for St. John the
Baptist, for which reason the vengeance of the deity thus
slighted will never be appeased: and, if some remains of his
status were not still visible on the bridge over the Arno, she
would have been already leveled to the ground; and thus the
citizens, who raised her again from the ashes to which Attila had
reduced her, would have laboured in vain." See Paradise, Canto
The relic of antiquity to which the superstition of Florence
attached so high an importance, was carried away by a flood, that
destroyed the bridge on which it stood, in the year 1337, but
without the ill effects that were apprehended from the loss of
their fancied Palladium.
v. 152. I slung the fatal noose.] We are not informed who this
v. 15. By Cato's foot.] See Lucan, Phars, l. 9.
v. 26. Dilated flakes of fire.] Compare Tasso. G. L. c. x. st.
v. 28. As, in the torrid Indian clime.] Landino refers to
Albertus Magnus for the circumstance here alluded to.
v. 53. In Mongibello.]
More hot than Aetn' or flaming Mongibell.
Spenser, F. Q. b. ii. c. ix. st. 29.
See Virg. Aen. 1. viii. 416. and Berni. Orl. Inn 1. i. c. xvi.
st. 21. It would be endless to refer to parallel passages in the
v. 64. This of the seven kings was one.] Compare Aesch. Seven
Chiefs, 425. Euripides, Phoen. 1179 and Statius. Theb. l. x.
v. 76. Bulicame.] A warm medicinal spring near Viterbo, the
waters of which, as Landino and Vellutelli affirm, passed by a
place of ill fame. Venturi, with less probability, conjectures
that Dante would imply, that it was the scene of much licentious
merriment among those who frequented its baths.
v. 91. Under whose monarch.]
Credo pudicitiam Saturno rege moratam
Juv. Satir. vi.
v. 102. His head.] Daniel, ch. ii. 32, 33.
v. 133. Whither.] On the other side of Purgatory.
v. 10. Chiarentana.] A part of the Alps where the Brenta
rises, which river is much swoln as soon as the snow begins to
dissolve on the mountains.
v. 28. Brunetto.] "Ser Brunetto, a Florentine, the secretary or
chancellor of the city, and Dante's preceptor, hath left us a
work so little read, that both the subject of it and the language
of it have been mistaken. It is in the French spoken in the
reign of St. Louis,under the title of Tresor, and contains a
species of philosophical course of lectures divided into theory
and practice, or, as he expresses it, "un enchaussement des
choses divines et humaines," &c. Sir R. Clayton's Translation of
Tenhove's Memoirs of the Medici, vol. i. ch. ii. p. 104. The
Tresor has never been printed in the original language. There is
a fine manuscript of it in the British Museum, with an
illuminated portrait of Brunetto in his study prefixed. Mus.
Brit. MSS. 17, E. 1. Tesor. It is divided into four books, the
first, on Cosmogony and Theology, the second, a translation of
Aristotle's Ethics; the third on Virtues and Vices; the fourth,
on Rhetoric. For an interesting memoir relating to this work,
see Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. vii. 296. His
Tesoretto, one of the earliest productions of Italian poetry, is
a curious work, not unlike the writings of Chaucer in style and
numbers, though Bembo remarks, that his pupil, however largely he
had stolen from it, could not have much enriched himself. As it
is perhaps but little known, I will here add a slight sketch of
Brunetto describes himself as returning from an embassy to the
King of Spain, on which he had been sent by the Guelph party from
Florence. On the plain of Roncesvalles he meets a scholar on a
bay mule, who tells him that the Guelfi are driven out of the
city with great loss.
Struck with grief at these mournful tidings, and musing with his
head bent downwards, he loses his road, and wanders into a wood.
Here Nature, whose figure is described with sublimity, appears,
and discloses to him the secrets of her operations. After this
he wanders into a desert; but at length proceeds on his way,
under the protection of a banner, with which Nature had furnished
him, till on the third day he finds himself in a large pleasant
champaign, where are assembled many emperors, kings, and sages.
It is the habitation of Virtue and her daughters, the four
Cardinal Virtues. Here Brunetto sees also Courtesy, Bounty,
Loyalty, and Prowess, and hears the instructions they give to a
knight, which occupy about a fourth part of the poem. Leaving
this territory, he passes over valleys, mountains, woods,
forests, and bridges, till he arrives in a beautiful valley
covered with flowers on all sides, and the richest in the world;
but which was continually shifting its appearance from a round
figure to a square, from obscurity to light, and from
populousness to solitude. This is the region of Pleasure, or
Cupid, who is accompanied by four ladies, Love, Hope, Fear, and
Desire. In one part of it he meets with Ovid, and is instructed
by him how to conquer the passion of love, and to escape from
that place. After his escape he makes his confession to a friar,
and then returns to the forest of visions: and ascending a
mountain, he meets with Ptolemy, a venerable old man. Here the
narrative breaks off. The poem ends, as it began, with an
address to Rustico di Filippo, on whom he lavishes every sort of
It has been observed, that Dante derived the idea of opening his
poem by describing himself as lost in a wood, from the Tesoretto
of his master. I know not whether it has been remarked, that the
crime of usury is branded by both these poets as offensive to God
and Nature: or that the sin for which Brunetto is condemned by
his pupil, is mentioned in the Tesoretto with great horror.
Dante's twenty-fifth sonnet is a jocose one, addressed to
Brunetto. He died in 1295.
v. 62. Who in old times came down from Fesole.] See G. Villani
Hist. l. iv. c. 5. and Macchiavelli Hist. of Flor. b. ii.
v. 89. With another text.] He refers to the prediction of
Farinata, in Canto X.
v. 110. Priscian.] There is no reason to believe, as the
commentators observe that the grammarian of this name was stained
with the vice imputed to him; and we must therefore suppose that
Dante puts the individual for the species, and implies the
frequency of the crime among those who abused the opportunities
which the education of youth afforded them, to so abominable a
v. 111. Francesco.] Son of Accorso, a Florentine, celebrated
for his skill in jurisprudence, and commonly known by the name of
v. 113. Him.] Andrea de' Mozzi, who, that his scandalous life
might be less exposed to observation, was translated either by
Nicholas III, or Boniface VIII from the see of Florence to that
of Vicenza, through which passes the river Baccchiglione. At the
latter of these places he died.
v. 114. The servants' servant.] Servo de' servi. So Ariosto,
Io sia il gran servo.
v. 124. I commend my Treasure to thee.] Brunetto's great work,
Sieti raccomandato 'l mio Tesoro.
So Giusto de' Conti, in his Bella Mano, Son. "Occhi:"
Siavi raccommandato il mio Tesoro.
v. 38. Gualdrada.] Gualdrada was the daughter of Bellincione
Berti, of whom mention is made in the Paradise, Canto XV, and
XVI. He was of the family of Ravignani, a branch of the Adimari.
The Emperor Otho IV. being at a festival in Florence, where
Gualdrada was present, was struck with her beauty; and inquiring
who she was, was answered by Bellincione, that she was the
daughter of one who, if it was his Majesty's pleasure, would make
her admit the honour of his salute. On overhearing this, she
arose from her seat, and blushing, in an animated tone of voice,
desired her father that he would not be so liberal in his offers,
for that no man should ever be allowed that freedom, except him
who should be her lawful husband. The Emperor was not less
delighted by her resolute modesty than he had before been by the
loveliness of her person, and calling to him Guido, one of his
barons, gave her to him in marriage, at the same time raising him
to the rank of a count, and bestowing on her the whole of
Casentino, and a part of the territory of Romagna, as her
portion. Two sons were the offspring of this union, Guglielmo
and Ruggieri, the latter of whom was father of Guidoguerra, a man
of great military skill and prowess who, at the head of four
hundred Florentines of the Guelph party, was signally
instrumental to the victory obtained at Benevento by Charles of
Anjou, over Manfredi, King of Naples, in 1265. One of the
consequences of this victory was the expulsion of the Ghibellini,
and the re-establishment of the Guelfi at Florence.
v. 39. Many a noble act.] Compare Tasso, G. L. c. i. st. 1.
v. 42. Aldobrandiu] Tegghiaio Aldobrandi was of the noble
family of Adimari, and much esteemed for his military talents.
He endeavored to dissuade the Florentines from the attack, which
they meditated against the Siennese, and the rejection of his
counsel occasioned the memorable defeat, which the former
sustained at Montaperto, and the consequent banishment of the
Guelfi from Florence.
v. 45. Rusticucci.] Giacopo Rusticucci, a Florentine,
remarkable for his opulence and the generosity of his spirit.
v. 70. Borsiere.] Guglielmo Borsiere, another Florentine, whom
Boccaccio, in a story which he relates of him, terms "a man of
courteous and elegant manners, and of great readiness in
conversation." Dec. Giorn. i. Nov. 8.
v. 84. When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past.]
Quando ti giovera dicere io fui.
So Tasso, G. L. c. xv. st. 38.
Quando mi giovera narrar altrui
Le novita vedute, e dire; io fui.
v. 121. Ever to that truth.] This memorable apophthegm is
repeated by Luigi Pulci and Trissino.
Sempre a quel ver, ch' ha faccia di menzogna
E piu senno tacer la lingua cheta
Che spesso senza colpa fa vergogna.
Morgante. Magg. c. xxiv.
La verita, che par mensogna
Si dovrebbe tacer dall' uom ch'e saggio.
Italia. Lib. C. xvi.
v. 1. The fell monster.] Fraud.
v. 53. A pouch.] A purse, whereon the armorial bearings of each
were emblazoned. According to Landino, our poet implies that the
usurer can pretend to no other honour, than such as he derives
from his purse and his family.
v. 57. A yellow purse.] The arms of the Gianfigliazzi of
v. 60. Another.] Those of the Ubbriachi, another Florentine
family of high distinction.
v. 62. A fat and azure swine.] The arms of the Scrovigni a
noble family of Padua.
v. 66. Vitaliano.] Vitaliano del Dente, a Paduan.
v. 69. That noble knight.] Giovanni Bujamonti, a Florentine
usurer, the most infamous of his time.
v. 28. With us beyond.] Beyond the middle point they tended the
same way with us, but their pace was quicker than ours.
v. 29. E'en thus the Romans.] In the year 1300, Pope Boniface
VIII., to remedy the inconvenience occasioned by the press of
people who were passing over the bridge of St. Angelo during the
time of the Jubilee, caused it to be divided length wise by a
partition, and ordered, that all those who were going to St.
Peter's should keep one side, and those returning the other.
v. 50. Venedico.] Venedico Caccianimico, a Bolognese, who
prevailed on his sister Ghisola to prostitute herself to Obizzo
da Este, Marquis of Ferrara, whom we have seen among the
tyrants, Canto XII.
v. 62. To answer Sipa.] He denotes Bologna by its situation
between the rivers Savena to the east, and Reno to the west of
that city; and by a peculiarity of dialect, the use of the
affirmative sipa instead of si.
v. 90. Hypsipyle.] See Appolonius Rhodius, l. i. and Valerius
Flaccus l.ii. Hypsipyle deceived the other women by concealing
her father Thoas, when they had agreed to put all their males to
v. 120. Alessio.] Alessio, of an ancient and considerable
family in Lucca, called the Interminei.
v. 130. Thais.] He alludes to that passage in the Eunuchus of
Terence where Thraso asks if Thais was obliged to him for the
present he had sent her, and Gnatho replies, that she had
expressed her obligation in the most forcible terms.
T. Magnas vero agere gratias Thais mihi?
Eun. a. iii. s. i.
v. 18. Saint John's fair dome.] The apertures in the rock were
of the same dimensions as the fonts of St. John the Baptist at
Florence, one of which, Dante says he had broken, to rescue a
child that was playing near and fell in. He intimates that the
motive of his breaking the font had been maliciously represented
by his enemies.
v. 55. O Boniface!] The spirit mistakes Dante for Boniface
VIII. who was then alive, and who he did not expect would have
arrived so soon, in consequence, as it should seem, of a
prophecy, which predicted the death of that Pope at a later
period. Boniface died in 1303.
v. 58. In guile.] "Thou didst presume to arrive by fraudulent
means at the papal power, and afterwards to abuse it."
v. 71. In the mighty mantle I was rob'd.] Nicholas III, of the
Orsini family, whom the poet therefore calls "figliuol dell'
orsa," "son of the she-bear." He died in 1281.
v. 86. From forth the west, a shepherd without law.] Bertrand
de Got Archbishop of Bordeaux, who succeeded to the pontificate
in 1305, and assumed the title of Clement V. He transferred the
holy see to Avignon in 1308 (where it remained till 1376), and
died in 1314.
v. 88. A new Jason.] See Maccabees, b. ii. c. iv. 7,8.
v. 97. Nor Peter.] Acts of the Apostles, c.i. 26.
v. 100. The condemned soul.] Judas.
v. 103. Against Charles.] Nicholas III. was enraged against
Charles I, King of Sicily, because he rejected with scorn a
proposition made by that Pope for an alliance between their
families. See G. Villani, Hist. l. vii. c. liv.
v. 109. Th' Evangelist.] Rev. c. xvii. 1, 2, 3. Compare
Petrarch. Opera fol. ed. Basil. 1551. Epist. sine titulo liber.
ep. xvi. p. 729.
v. 118. Ah, Constantine.] He alludes to the pretended gift of