Part 4 out of 11
the Lateran by Constantine to Silvester, of which Dante himself
seems to imply a doubt, in his treatise "De Monarchia." - "Ergo
scindere Imperium, Imperatori non licet. Si ergo aliquae,
dignitates per Constantinum essent alienatae, (ut dicunt) ab
Imperio," &c. l. iii.
The gift is by Ariosto very humorously placed in the moon, among
the things lost or abused on earth.
Di varj fiori, &c.
O. F. c. xxxiv. st. 80.
Milton has translated both this passage and that in the text.
Prose works, vol. i. p. 11. ed. 1753.
v. 11. Revers'd.] Compare Spenser, F. Q. b. i. c. viii. st. 31
v. 30. Before whose eyes.] Amphiaraus, one of the seven kings
who besieged Thebes. He is said to have been swallowed up by an
opening of the earth. See Lidgate's Storie of Thebes, Part III
where it is told how the "Bishop Amphiaraus" fell down to hell.
And thus the devill for his outrages,
Like his desert payed him his wages.
A different reason for his being doomed thus to perish is
assigned by Pindar.
For thee, Amphiaraus, earth,
By Jove's all-riving thunder cleft
Her mighty bosom open'd wide,
Thee and thy plunging steeds to hide,
Or ever on thy back the spear
Of Periclymenus impress'd
A wound to shame thy warlike breast
For struck with panic fear
The gods' own children flee.
v. 37. Tiresias.]
Duo magnorum viridi coeuntia sylva
Corpora serpentum baculi violaverat ictu, &c.
Ovid. Met. iii.
v. 43. Aruns.] Aruns is said to have dwelt in the mountains of
Luni (from whence that territory is still called Lunigiana),
above Carrara, celebrated for its marble. Lucan. Phars. l. i.
575. So Boccaccio in the Fiammetta, l. iii. "Quale Arunte," &c.
"Like Aruns, who amidst the white marbles of Luni, contemplated
the celestial bodies and their motions."
v. 50. Manto.] The daughter of Tiresias of Thebes, a city
dedicated to Bacchus. From Manto Mantua, the country of Virgil
derives its name. The Poet proceeds to describe the situation of
v. 61. Between the vale.] The lake Benacus, now called the
Lago di Garda, though here said to lie between Garda, Val
Camonica, and the Apennine, is, however, very distant from the
v. 63. There is a spot.] Prato di Fame, where the dioceses of
Trento, Verona, and Brescia met.
v. 69. Peschiera.] A garrison situated to the south of the
lake, where it empties itself and forms the Mincius.
v. 94. Casalodi's madness.] Alberto da Casalodi, who had got
possession of Mantua, was persuaded by Pinamonte Buonacossi, that
he might ingratiate himself with the people by banishing to their
own castles the nobles, who were obnoxious to them. No sooner
was this done, than Pinamonte put himself at the head of the
populace, drove out Casalodi and his adherents, and obtained the
sovereignty for himself.
v. 111. So sings my tragic strain.]
Suspensi Eurypilum scitatum oracula Phoebi
Virg. Aeneid. ii. 14.
v. 115. Michael Scot.] Sir Michael Scott, of Balwearie,
astrologer to the Emperor Frederick II. lived in the thirteenth
century. For further particulars relating to this singular man,
see Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. i. diss. ii. and
sect. ix. p 292, and the Notes to Mr. Scott's "Lay of the Last
Minstrel," a poem in which a happy use is made of the traditions
that are still current in North Britain concerning him. He is
mentioned by G. Villani. Hist. l. x. c. cv. and cxli. and l. xii.
c. xviii. and by Boccaccio, Dec. Giorn. viii. Nov. 9.
v. 116. Guido Bonatti.] An astrologer of Forli, on whose skill
Guido da Montefeltro, lord of that place, so much relied, that he
is reported never to have gone into battle, except in the hour
recommended to him as fortunate by Bonatti.
Landino and Vellutello, speak of a book, which he composed on the
subject of his art.
v. 116. Asdente.] A shoemaker at Parma, who deserted his
business to practice the arts of divination.
v. 123. Cain with fork of thorns.] By Cain and the thorns, or
what is still vulgarly called the Man in the Moon, the Poet
denotes that luminary. The same superstition is alluded to in
the Paradise, Canto II. 52. The curious reader may consult Brand
on Popular Antiquities, 4to. 1813. vol. ii. p. 476.
v. 7. In the Venetians' arsenal.] Compare Ruccellai, Le Api,
165, and Dryden's Annus Mirabilis, st. 146, &c.
v. 37. One of Santa Zita's elders.] The elders or chief
magistrates of Lucca, where Santa Zita was held in especial
veneration. The name of this sinner is supposed to have been
v. 40. Except Bonturo, barterers.] This is said ironically of
Bonturo de' Dati. By barterers are meant peculators, of every
description; all who traffic the interests of the public for
their own private advantage.
v. 48. Is other swimming than in Serchio's wave.]
Qui si nuota altrimenti che nel Serchio.
Serchio is the river that flows by Lucca. So Pulci, Morg. Mag.
Qui si nuota nel sangue, e non nel Serchio.
v. 92. From Caprona.] The surrender of the castle of Caprona to
the combined forces of Florence and Lucca, on condition that the
garrison should march out in safety, to which event Dante was a
witness, took place in 1290. See G. Villani, Hist. l. vii. c.
v. 109. Yesterday.] This passage fixes the era of Dante's
descent at Good Friday, in the year 1300 (34 years from our
blessed Lord's incarnation being added to 1266), and at the
thirty-fifth year of our poet's age. See Canto I. v. 1.
The awful event alluded to, the Evangelists inform us, happened
"at the ninth hour," that is, our sixth, when "the rocks were
rent," and the convulsion, according to Dante, was felt even in
the depths in Hell. See Canto XII. 38.
v. 16. In the church.] This proverb is repeated by Pulci, Morg.
Magg. c. xvii.
v. 47. Born in Navarre's domain.] The name of this peculator is
said to have been Ciampolo.
v. 51. The good king Thibault.] "Thibault I. king of Navarre,
died on the 8th of June, 1233, as much to be commended for the
desire he showed of aiding the war in the Holy Land, as
reprehensible and faulty for his design of oppressing the rights
and privileges of the church, on which account it is said that
the whole kingdom was under an interdict for the space of three
entire years. Thibault undoubtedly merits praise, as for his
other endowments, so especially for his cultivation of the
liberal arts, his exercise and knowledge of music and poetry in
which he much excelled, that he was accustomed to compose verses
and sing them to the viol, and to exhibit his poetical
compositions publicly in his palace, that they might be
criticized by all." Mariana, History of Spain, b. xiii. c. 9.
An account of Thibault, and two of his songs, with what were
probably the original melodies, may be seen in Dr. Burney's
History of Music, v. ii. c. iv. His poems, which are in the
French language, were edited by M. l'Eveque de la Ravalliere.
Paris. 1742. 2 vol. 12mo. Dante twice quotes one of his verses
in the Treatise de Vulg. Eloq. l. i. c. ix. and l. ii. c. v. and
refers to him again, l. ii. c. vi.
From "the good king Thibault" are descended the good, but more
unfortunate monarch, Louis XVI. of France, and consequently the
present legitimate sovereign of that realm. See Henault, Abrege
Chron. 1252, 2, 4.
v. 80. The friar Gomita.] He was entrusted by Nino de' Visconti
with the government of Gallura, one of the four jurisdictions
into which Sardinia was divided. Having his master's enemies in
his power, he took a bribe from them, and allowed them to escape.
Mention of Nino will recur in the Notes to Canto XXXIII. and in
the Purgatory, Canto VIII.
v. 88. Michel Zanche.] The president of Logodoro, another of
the four Sardinian jurisdictions. See Canto XXXIII.
v. 5. Aesop's fable.] The fable of the frog, who offered to
carry the mouse across a ditch, with the intention of drowning
him when both were carried off by a kite. It is not among those
Greek Fables which go under the name of Aesop.
v. 63. Monks in Cologne.] They wore their cowls unusually
v. 66. Frederick's.] The Emperor Frederick II. is said to have
punished those who were guilty of high treason, by wrapping them
up in lead, and casting them into a furnace.
v. 101. Our bonnets gleaming bright with orange hue.] It is
observed by Venturi, that the word "rance" does not here signify
"rancid or disgustful," as it is explained by the old
commentators, but "orange-coloured," in which sense it occurs in
the Purgatory, Canto II. 9.
v. 104. Joyous friars.] "Those who ruled the city of Florence
on the part of the Ghibillines, perceiving this discontent and
murmuring, which they were fearful might produce a rebellion
against themselves, in order to satisfy the people, made choice
of two knights, Frati Godenti (joyous friars) of Bologna, on whom
they conferred the chief power in Florence. One named M.
Catalano de' Malavolti, the other M. Loderingo di Liandolo; one
an adherent of the Guelph, the other of the Ghibelline party. It
is to be remarked, that the Joyous Friars were called Knights of
St. Mary, and became knights on taking that habit: their robes
were white, the mantle sable, and the arms a white field and red
cross with two stars. Their office was to defend widows and
orphans; they were to act as mediators; they had internal
regulations like other religious bodies. The above-mentioned M.
Loderingo was the founder of that order. But it was not long
before they too well deserved the appellation given them, and
were found to be more bent on enjoying themselves than on any
other subject. These two friars were called in by the
Florentines, and had a residence assigned them in the palace
belonging to the people over against the Abbey. Such was the
dependence placed on the character of their order that it was
expected they would be impartial, and would save the commonwealth
any unnecessary expense; instead of which, though inclined to
opposite parties, they secretly and hypocritically concurred in
promoting their own advantage rather than the public good." G.
Villani, b. vii. c.13. This happened in 1266.
v. 110. Gardingo's vicinage.] The name of that part of the city
which was inhabited by the powerful Ghibelline family of Uberti,
and destroyed under the partial and iniquitous administration of
Catalano and Loderingo.
v. 117. That pierced spirit.] Caiaphas.
v. 124. The father of his consort.] Annas, father-in-law to
v. 146. He is a liar.] John, c. viii. 44. Dante had perhaps
heard this text from one of the pulpits in Bologna.
v. 1. In the year's early nonage.] "At the latter part of
January, when the sun enters into Aquarius, and the equinox is
drawing near, when the hoar-frosts in the morning often wear the
appearance of snow but are melted by the rising sun."
v. 51. Vanquish thy weariness.]
Quin corpus onustum
Hesternis vitiis animum quoque praegravat una,
Atque affigit humi divinae particulam aurae.
Hor. Sat. ii. l. ii. 78.
v. 82. Of her sands.] Compare Lucan, Phars. l. ix. 703.
v. 92. Heliotrope.] The occult properties of this stone are
described by Solinus, c. xl, and by Boccaccio, in his humorous
tale of Calandrino. Decam. G. viii. N. 3.
In Chiabrera's Ruggiero, Scaltrimento begs of Sofia, who is
sending him on a perilous errand, to lend him the heliotrope.
In mia man fida
L'elitropia, per cui possa involarmi
Secondo il mio talento agli occhi altrui.
Trust to my hand the heliotrope, by which
I may at will from others' eyes conceal me
Compare Ariosto, II Negromante, a. 3. s. 3. Pulci, Morg. Magg.
c xxv. and Fortiguerra, Ricciardetto, c. x. st. 17.
Gower in his Confessio Amantis, lib. vii, enumerates it among the
jewels in the diadem of the sun.
Jaspis and helitropius.
v. 104. The Arabian phoenix.] This is translated from Ovid,
Metam. l. xv.
Una est quae reparat, seque ipsa reseminat ales,
See also Petrarch, Canzone:
"Qual piu," &c.
v. 120. Vanni Fucci.] He is said to have been an illegitimate
offspring of the family of Lazari in Pistoia, and, having robbed
the sacristy of the church of St. James in that city, to have
charged Vanni della Nona with the sacrilege, in consequence of
which accusation the latter suffered death.
v. 142. Pistoia.] "In May 1301, the Bianchi party, of Pistoia,
with the assistance and favor of the Bianchi who ruled Florence,
drove out the Neri party from the former place, destroying their
houses, Palaces and farms." Giov. Villani, Hist. l. viii. e
v. 144. From Valdimagra.] The commentators explain this
prophetical threat to allude to the victory obtained by the
Marquis Marcello Malaspina of Valdimagra (a tract of country now
called the Lunigiana) who put himself at the head of the Neri and
defeated their opponents the Bianchi, in the Campo Piceno near
Pistoia, soon after the occurrence related in the preceding note.
Of this engagement I find no mention in Villani. Currado
Malaspina is introduced in the eighth Canto of Purgatory; where
it appears that, although on the present occaision they espoused
contrary sides, some important favours were nevertheless
conferred by that family on our poet at a subsequent perid of his
exile in 1307.
v.1. The sinner ] So Trissino
Poi facea con le man le fiche al cielo
Dicendo: Togli, Iddio; che puoi piu farmi?
L'ital. Lib. c. xii
v. 12. Thy seed] Thy ancestry.
v. 15. Not him] Capanaeus. Canto XIV.
v. 18. On Marenna's marsh.] An extensive tract near the
sea-shore in Tuscany.
v. 24. Cacus.] Virgil, Aen. l. viii. 193.
v. 31. A hundred blows.] Less than ten blows, out of the
hundred Hercules gave him, deprived him of feeling.
v. 39. Cianfa] He is said to have been of the family of Donati
v. 57. Thus up the shrinking paper.]
--All my bowels crumble up to dust.
I am a scribbled form, drawn up with a pen
Upon a parchment; and against this fire
Do I shrink up.
Shakespeare, K. John, a. v. s. 7.
v. 61. Agnello.] Agnello Brunelleschi
v. 77. In that part.] The navel.
v. 81. As if by sleep or fev'rous fit assail'd.]
O Rome! thy head
Is drown'd in sleep, and all thy body fev'ry.
Ben Jonson's Catiline.
v. 85. Lucan.] Phars. l. ix. 766 and 793.
v. 87. Ovid.] Metam. l. iv. and v.
v. 121. His sharpen'd visage.] Compare Milton, P. L. b. x. 511
v. 131. Buoso.] He is said to have been of the Donati family.
v. 138. Sciancato.] Puccio Sciancato, a noted robber, whose
familly, Venturi says, he has not been able to discover.
v. 140. Gaville.] Francesco Guercio Cavalcante was killed at
Gaville, near Florence; and in revenge of his death several
inhabitants of that district were put to death.
v. 7. But if our minds.]
Namque sub Auroram, jam dormitante lucerna,
Somnia quo cerni tempore vera solent.
Ovid, Epist. xix
The same poetical superstition is alluded to in the Purgatory,
Cant. IX. and XXVII.
v. 9. Shall feel what Prato.] The poet prognosticates the
calamities which were soon to befal his native city, and which he
says, even her nearest neighbor, Prato, would wish her. The
calamities more particularly pointed at, are said to be the fall
of a wooden bridge over the Arno, in May, 1304, where a large
multitude were assembled to witness a representation of hell nnd
the infernal torments, in consequence of which accident many
lives were lost; and a conflagration that in the following month
destroyed more than seventeen hundred houses, many ofthem
sumptuous buildings. See G. Villani, Hist. l. viii. c. 70 and
v. 22. More than I am wont.] "When I reflect on the punishment
allotted to those who do not give sincere and upright advice to
others I am more anxious than ever not to abuse to so bad a
purpose those talents, whatever they may be, which Nature, or
rather Providence, has conferred on me." It is probable that
this declaration was the result of real feeling Textd have
given great weight to
any opinion or party he had espoused, and to whom indigence and
exile might have offerred strong temptations to deviate from that
line of conduct which a strict sense of duty prescribed.
v. 35. as he, whose wrongs.] Kings, b. ii. c. ii.
v. 54. ascending from that funeral pile.] The flame is said to
have divided on the funeral pile which consumed tile bodies of
Eteocles and Polynices, as if conscious of the enmity that
actuated them while living.
Ecce iterum fratris, &c.
Statius, Theb. l. xii.
Ostendens confectas flamma, &c.
Lucan, Pharsal. l. 1. 145.
v. 60. The ambush of the horse.] "The ambush of the wooden
horse, that caused Aeneas to quit the city of Troy and seek his
fortune in Italy, where his descendants founded the Roman
v. 91. Caieta.] Virgil, Aeneid. l. vii. 1.
v. 93. Nor fondness for my son] Imitated hp Tasso, G. L. c.
Ne timor di fatica o di periglio,
Ne vaghezza del regno, ne pietade
Del vecchio genitor, si degno affetto
Intiepedir nel generoso petto.
This imagined voyage of Ulysses into the Atlantic is alluded to
E sopratutto commendava Ulisse,
Che per veder nell' altro mondo gisse.
Morg. Magg. c. xxv
And by Tasso, G. L. c. xv. 25.
v. 106. The strait pass.] The straits of Gibraltar.
v. 122. Made our oars wings.l So Chiabrera, Cant. Eroiche. xiii
Faro de'remi un volo.
And Tasso Ibid. 26.
v. 128. A mountain dim.] The mountain of Purgatorg
v. 6. The Sicilian Bull.] The engine of torture invented by
Perillus, for the tyrant Phalaris.
v. 26. Of the mountains there.] Montefeltro.
v. 38. Polenta's eagle.] Guido Novello da Polenta, who bore an
eagle for his coat of arms. The name of Polenta was derived from
a castle so called in the neighbourhood of Brittonoro. Cervia is
a small maritime city, about fifteen miles to the south of
Ravenna. Guido was the son of Ostasio da Polenta, and made
himself master of Ravenna, in 1265. In 1322 he was deprived of
his sovereignty, and died at Bologna in the year following. This
last and most munificent patron of Dante is himself enumerated,
by the historian of Italian literature, among the poets of his
time. Tiraboschi, Storia della Lett. Ital. t. v. 1. iii. c. ii.
13. The passnge in the text might have removed the uncertainty
wwhich Tiraboschi expressed, respecting the duration of Guido's
absence from Ravenna, when he was driven from that city in 1295,
by the arms of Pietro, archbishop of Monreale. It must evidently
have been very short, since his government is here represented
(in 1300) as not having suffered any material disturbance for
v. 41. The land.l The territory of Forli, the inhabitants of
which, in 1282, mere enabled, hy the strategem of Guido da
Montefeltro, who then governed it, to defeat with great
slaughter the French army by which it had been besieged. See G.
Villani, l. vii. c. 81. The poet informs Guido, its former
ruler, that it is now in the possession of Sinibaldo Ordolaffi,
or Ardelaffi, whom he designates by his coat of arms, a lion
v. 43. The old mastiff of Verucchio and the young.] Malatesta
and Malatestino his son, lords of Rimini, called, from their
ferocity, the mastiffs of Verruchio, which was the name of their
v. 44. Montagna.] Montagna de'Parcitati, a noble knight, and
leader of the Ghibelline party at Rimini, murdered by
v. 46. Lamone's city and Santerno's.] Lamone is the river at
Faenza, and Santerno at Imola.
v. 47. The lion of the snowy lair.] Machinardo Pagano, whose
arms were a lion azure on a field argent; mentioned again in the
Purgatory, Canto XIV. 122. See G. Villani passim, where he is
called Machinardo da Susinana.
v. 50. Whose flank is wash'd of SSavio's wave.] Cesena,
situated at the foot of a mountain, and washed by the river
Savio, that often descends with a swoln and rapid stream from the
v. 64. A man of arms.] Guido da Montefeltro.
v. 68. The high priest.] Boniface VIII.
v. 72. The nature of the lion than the fox.]
Non furon leonine ma di volpe.
So Pulci, Morg. Magg. c. xix.
E furon le sua opre e le sue colpe
Non creder leonine ma di volpe.
v. 81. The chief of the new Pharisee.] Boniface VIII. whose
enmity to the family of Colonna prompted him to destroy their
houses near the Lateran. Wishing to obtain possession of their
other seat, Penestrino, he consulted with Guido da Montefeltro
how he might accomplish his purpose, offering him at the same
time absolution for his past sins, as well as for that which he
was then tempting him to commit. Guido's advice was, that kind
words and fair promises nonld put his enemies into his power; and
they accordingly soon aftermards fell into the snare laid for
them, A.D. 1298. See G. Villani, l. viii. c. 23.
v. 84. Nor against Acre one
He alludes to the renegade Christians, by whom the Saracens, in
Apri., 1291, were assisted to recover St.John d'Acre, the last
possession of the Christians in the Iloly Land. The regret
expressed by the Florentine annalist G. Villani, for the loss of
this valuable fortress, is well worthy of observation, l. vii. c.
v. 89. As in Soracte Constantine besought.] So in Dante's
treatise De Monarchia: "Dicunt quidam adhue, quod Constantinus
Imperator, mundatus a lepra intercessione Syvestri, tunc summni
pontificis imperii sedem, scilicet Romam, donavit ecclesiae, cum
multis allis imperii dignitatibus." Lib.iii.
v. 101. My predecessor.] Celestine V. See Notes to Canto III.
v.8. In that long war.] The war of Hannibal in Italy. "When
Mago brought news of his victories to Carthage, in order to make
his successes more easily credited, he commanded the golden rings
to be poured out in the senate house, which made so large a heap,
that, as some relate, they filled three modii and a half. A more
probable account represents them not to have exceeded one
modius." Livy, Hist.
v. 12. Guiscard's Norman steel.] Robert Guiscard, who conquered
the kingdom of Naples, and died in 1110. G. Villani, l. iv. c.
18. He is introduced in the Paradise, Canto XVIII.
v. 13. And those the rest.] The army of Manfredi, which, through
the treachery of the Apulian troops, wns overcome by Charles of
Anjou in 1205, and fell in such numbers that the bones of the
slain were still gathered near Ceperano. G. Villani, l. vii. c.
9. See the Purgatory, Canto III.
v. 10. O Tagliocozzo.] He alludes to tile victory which Charles
gained over Conradino, by the sage advice of the Sieur de Valeri,
in 1208. G. Villani, l. vii. c. 27.
v. 32. Ali.] The disciple of Mohammed.
v. 53. Dolcino.] "In 1305, a friar, called Dolcino, who
belonged to no regular order, contrived to raise in Novarra, in
Lombardy, a large company of the meaner sort of people, declaring
himself to be a true apostle of Christ, and promulgating a
community of property and of wives, with many other such
heretical doctrines. He blamed the pope, cardinals, and other
prelates of the holy church, for not observing their duty, nor
leading the angelic life, and affirmed that he ought to be pope.
He was followed by more than three thousand men and women, who
lived promiscuously on the mountains together, like beasts, and,
when they wanted provisions, supplied themselves by depredation
and rapine. This lasted for two years till, many being struck
with compunction at the dissolute life they led, his sect was
much diminished; and through failure of food, and the severity of
the snows, he was taken by the people of Novarra, and burnt, with
Margarita his companion and many other men and women whom his
errors had seduced." G. Villanni, l. viii. c. 84.
Landino observes, that he was possessed of singular eloquence,
and that both he and Margarita endored their fate with a firmness
worthy of a better cause. For a further account of him, see
Muratori Rer. Ital. Script. t. ix. p. 427.
v. 69. Medicina.] A place in the territory of Bologna. Piero
fomented dissensions among the inhabitants of that city, and
among the leaders of the neighbouring states.
v. 70. The pleasant land.] Lombardy.
v. 72. The twain.] Guido dal Cassero and Angiolello da Cagnano,
two of the worthiest and most distinguished citizens of Fano,
were invited by Malatestino da Rimini to an entertainment on
pretence that he had some important business to transact with
them: and, according to instructions given by him, they mere
drowned in their passage near Catolica, between Rimini and Fano.
v. 85. Focara's wind.] Focara is a mountain, from which a wind
blows that is peculiarly dangerous to the navigators of that
v. 94. The doubt in Caesar's mind.] Curio, whose speech
(according to Lucan) determined Julius Caesar to proceed when he
had arrived at Rimini (the ancient Ariminum), and doubted whether
he should prosecute the civil war.
Tolle moras: semper nocuit differre paratis
Pharsal, l. i. 281.
v. 102. Mosca.] Buondelmonte was engaged to marry a lady of the
Amidei family, but broke his promise and united himself to one of
the Donati. This was so much resented by the former, that a
meeting of themselves and their kinsmen was held, to consider of
the best means of revenging the insult. Mosca degli Uberti
persuaded them to resolve on the assassination of Buondelmonte,
exclaiming to them "the thing once done, there is an end." The
counsel and its effects were the source of many terrible
calamities to the state of Florence. "This murder," says G.
Villani, l. v. c. 38, "was the cause and beginning of the
accursed Guelph and Ghibelline parties in Florence." It happened
in 1215. See the Paradise, Canto XVI. 139.
v. 111. The boon companion.]
What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted?
Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI. a. iii. s. 2.
v. 160. Bertrand.] Bertrand de Born, Vicomte de Hautefort, near
Perigueux in Guienne, who incited John to rebel against his
father, Henry II. of England. Bertrand holds a distinguished
place among the Provencal poets. He is quoted in Dante, "De
Vulg. Eloq." l. ii. c. 2. For the translation of some extracts
from his poems, see Millot, Hist. Litteraire des Troubadors t. i.
p. 210; but the historical parts of that work are, I believe, not
to be relied on.
v. 26. Geri of Bello.] A kinsman of the Poet's, who was
murdered by one of the Sacchetti family. His being placed here,
may be considered as a proof that Dante was more impartial in the
allotment of his punishments than has generally been supposed.
v. 44. As were the torment.] It is very probable that these
lines gave Milton the idea of his celebrated description:
Immediately a place
Before their eyes appear'd, sad, noisome, dark,
A lasar-house it seem'd, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas'd, all maladies, &c.
P. L. b. xi. 477.
v. 45. Valdichiana.] The valley through which passes the river
Chiana, bounded by Arezzo, Cortona, Montepulciano, and Chiusi. In
the heat of autumn it was formerly rendered unwholesome by the
stagnation of the water, but has since been drained by the
Emperor Leopold II. The Chiana is mentioned as a remarkably
sluggish stream, in the Paradise, Canto XIII. 21.
v. 47. Maremma's pestilent fen.] See Note to Canto XXV. v. 18.
v. 58. In Aegina.] He alludes to the fable of the ants changed
into Myrmidons. Ovid, Met. 1. vii.
v. 104. Arezzo was my dwelling.] Grifolino of Arezzo, who
promised Albero, son of the Bishop of Sienna, that he would teach
him the art of flying; and because be did not keep his promise,
Albero prevailed on his father to have him burnt for a
Was ever race
Light as Sienna's?]
The same imputation is again cast on the Siennese, Purg. Canto
v. 121. Stricca.] This is said ironically. Stricca, Niccolo
Salimbeni, Caccia of Asciano, and Abbagliato, or Meo de
Folcacchieri, belonged to a company of prodigal and luxurious
young men in Sienna, called the "brigata godereccia." Niccolo
was the inventor of a new manner of using cloves in cookery, not
very well understood by the commentators, and which was termed
the "costuma ricca."
v. 125. In that garden.] Sienna.
v. 134. Cappocchio's ghost.] Capocchio of Sienna, who is said to
have been a fellow-student of Dante's in natural philosophy.
v. 4. Athamas.] From Ovid, Metam. 1. iv.
Protinos Aelides, &c.
v. 16. Hecuba. See Euripedes, Hecuba; and Ovid, Metnm. l. xiii.
v. 33. Schicchi.] Gianni Schicci, who was of the family of
Cavalcanti, possessed such a faculty of moulding his features to
the resemblance of others, that he was employed by Simon Donati
to personate Buoso Donati, then recently deceased, and to make a
will, leaving Simon his heir; for which service he was
renumerated with a mare of extraordinary value, here called "the
lady of the herd."
v. 39. Myrrha.] See Ovid, Metam. l. x.
v. 60. Adamo's woe.] Adamo of Breschia, at the instigation of
Cuido Alessandro, and their brother Aghinulfo, lords of Romena,
coonterfeited the coin of Florence; for which crime he was burnt.
Landino says, that in his time the peasants still pointed out a
pile of stones near Romena as the place of his execution.
v. 64. Casentino.] Romena is a part of Casentino.
v. 77. Branda's limpid spring.] A fountain in Sienna.
v. 88. The florens with three carats of alloy.] The floren was
a coin that ought to have had tmenty-four carats of pure gold.
Villani relates, that it was first used at Florence in 1253, an
aera of great prosperity in the annals of the republic; before
which time their most valuable coinage was of silver. Hist. l.
vi. c. 54.
v. 98. The false accuser.] Potiphar's wife.
v. 1. The very tongue.]
Vulnus in Herculeo quae quondam fecerat hoste
Vulneris auxilium Pellas hasta fuit.
Ovid, Rem. Amor. 47.
The same allusion was made by Bernard de Ventadour, a Provencal
poet in the middle of the twelfth century: and Millot observes,
that it was a singular instance of erudition in a Troubadour.
But it is not impossible, as Warton remarks, (Hist. of Engl.
Poetry, vol. ii. sec. x. p 215.) but that he might have been
indebted for it to some of the early romances.
In Chaucer's Squier's Tale, a sword of similar quality is
And other folk have wondred on the sweard,
That could so piercen through every thing;
And fell in speech of Telephus the king,
And of Achillcs for his queint spere,
For he couth with it both heale and dere.
So Shakspeare, Henry VI. p. ii. a. 5. s. 1.
Whose smile and frown like to Achilles' spear
Is able with the change to kill and cure.
v. 14. Orlando.l
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
Milton, P. L. b. i. 586.
See Warton's Hist. of Eng. Poetrg, v. i. sect. iii. p. 132.
"This is the horn which Orlando won from the giant Jatmund, and
which as Turpin and the Islandic bards report, was endued with
magical power, and might be heard at the distance of twenty
miles." Charlemain and Orlando are introduced in the Paradise,
v. 36. Montereggnon.] A castle near Sienna.
v. 105. The fortunate vale.] The country near Carthage. See
Liv. Hist. l. xxx. and Lucan, Phars. l. iv. 590. Dante has kept
the latter of these writers in his eye throughout all this
v. 123. Alcides.] The combat between Hercules Antaeus is
adduced by the Poet in his treatise "De Monarchia," l. ii. as a
proof of the judgment of God displayed in the duel, according to
the singular superstition of those times.
v. 128. The tower of Carisenda.] The leaning tower at Bologna
v. 8. A tongue not us'd
To infant babbling.]
Ne da lingua, che chiami mamma, o babbo.
Dante in his treatise " De Vulg. Eloq." speaking of words not
admissble in the loftier, or as he calls it, tragic style of
poetry, says- "In quorum numero nec puerilia propter suam
simplicitatem ut Mamma et Babbo," l. ii. c. vii.
v. 29. Tabernich or Pietrapana.] The one a mountain in
Sclavonia, the other in that tract of country called the
Garfagnana, not far from Lucca.
v. 33. To where modest shame appears.] "As high as to the
v. 35. Moving their teeth in shrill note like the stork.]
Mettendo i denti in nota di cicogna.
So Boccaccio, G. viii. n. 7. "Lo scolar cattivello quasi cicogna
divenuto si forte batteva i denti."
v. 53. Who are these two.] Alessandro and Napoleone, sons of
Alberto Alberti, who murdered each other. They were proprietors
of the valley of Falterona, where the Bisenzio has its source, a
river that falls into the Arno about six miles from Florence.
v. 59. Not him,] Mordrec, son of King Arthur.
v. 60. Foccaccia.] Focaccia of Cancellieri, (the Pistoian
family) whose atrocious act of revenge against his uncle is said
to have given rise to the parties of the Bianchi and Neri, in the
year 1300. See G. Villani, Hist. l, viii. c. 37. and
Macchiavelli, Hist. l. ii. The account of the latter writer
differs much from that given by Landino in his Commentary.
v. 63. Mascheroni.] Sassol Mascheroni, a Florentiue, who also
murdered his uncle.
v. 66. Camiccione.] Camiccione de' Pazzi of Valdarno, by whom
his kinsman Ubertino was treacherously pnt to death.
v. 67. Carlino.] One of the same family. He betrayed the
Castel di Piano Travigne, in Valdarno, to the Florentines, after
the refugees of the Bianca and Ghibelline party had defended it
against a siege for twenty-nine days, in the summer of 1302. See
G. Villani, l. viii. c. 52 and Dino Compagni, l. ii.
v. 81. Montaperto.] The defeat of the Guelfi at Montaperto,
occasioned by the treachery of Bocca degli Abbati, who, during
the engagement, cut off the hand of Giacopo del Vacca de'Pazzi,
bearer of the Florentine standard. G. Villani, l. vi. c. 80, and
Notes to Canto X. This event happened in 1260.
v. 113. Him of Duera.] Buoso of Cremona, of the family of
Duera, who was bribed by Guy de Montfort, to leave a pass between
Piedmont and Parma, with the defence of which he had been
entrusted by the Ghibellines, open to the army of Charles of
Anjou, A.D. 1265, at which the people of Cremona were so enraged,
that they extirpated the whole family. G. Villani, l. vii. c. 4.
v. 118. Beccaria.] Abbot of Vallombrosa, who was the Pope's
Legate at Florence, where his intrigues in favour of the
Ghibellines being discovered, he was beheaded. I do not find the
occurrence in Vallini, nor do the commentators say to what pope
he was legate. By Landino he is reported to have been from Parma,
by Vellutello from Pavia.
v. 118. Soldanieri.] "Gianni Soldanieri," says Villani, Hist.
l. vii. c14, "put himself at the head of the people, in the hopes
of rising into power, not aware that the result would be mischief
to the Ghibelline party, and his own ruin; an event which seems
ever to have befallen him, who has headed the populace in
Florence." A.D. 1266.
v. 119. Ganellon.] The betrayer of Charlemain, mentioned by
Archbishop Turpin. He is a common instance of treachery with the
poets of the middle ages.
Trop son fol e mal pensant,
Pis valent que Guenelon.
Thibaut, roi de Navarre
O new Scariot, and new Ganilion,
O false dissembler, &c.
Chaucer, Nonne's Prieste's Tale
And in the Monke's Tale, Peter of Spaine.
v. 119. Tribaldello.] Tribaldello de'Manfredi, who was bribed
to betray the city of Faonza, A. D. 1282. G. Villani, l. vii. c.
v. 128. Tydeus.] See Statius, Theb. l. viii. ad finem.
v. 14. Count Ugolino.] "In the year 1288, in the month of July,
Pisa was much divided by competitors for the sovereignty; one
party, composed of certain of the Guelphi, being headed by the
Judge Nino di Gallura de'Visconti; another, consisting of others
of the same faction, by the Count Ugolino de' Gherardeschi; and
the third by the Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, with the
Lanfranchi, Sismondi, Gualandi, and other Ghibelline houses. The
Count Ugolino,to effect his purpose, united with the Archbishop
and his party, and having betrayed Nino, his sister's son, they
contrived that he and his followers should either be driven out
of Pisa, or their persons seized. Nino hearing this, and not
seeing any means of defending himself, retired to Calci, his
castle, and formed an alliance with the Florentines and people of
Lucca, against the Pisans. The Count, before Nino was gone, in
order to cover his treachery, when everything was settled for his
expulsion, quitted Pisa, and repaired to a manor of his called
Settimo; whence, as soon as he was informed of Nino's departure,
he returned to Pisa with great rejoicing and festivity, and was
elevated to the supreme power with every demonstration of triumph
and honour. But his greatness was not of long continuauce. It
pleased the Almighty that a total reverse of fortune should
ensue, as a punishment for his acts of treachery and guilt: for
he was said to have poisoned the Count Anselmo da Capraia, his
sister's son, on account of the envy and fear excited in his mind
by the high esteem in which the gracious manners of Anselmo were
held by the Pisans. The power of the Guelphi being so much
diminished, the Archbishop devised means to betray the Count
Uglino and caused him to be suddenly attacked in his palace by
the fury of the people, whom he had exasperated, by telling them
that Ugolino had betrayed Pisa, and given up their castles to the
citizens of Florence and of Lucca. He was immediately compelled
to surrender; his bastard son and his grandson fell in the
assault; and two of his sons, with their two sons also, were
conveyed to prison." G. Villani l. vii. c. 120.
"In the following march, the Pisans, who had imprisoned the Count
Uglino, with two of his sons and two of his grandchildren, the
offspring of his son the Count Guelfo, in a tower on the Piazza
of the Anzania, caused the tower to be locked, the key thrown
into the Arno, and all food to be withheld from them. In a few
days they died of hunger; but the Count first with loud cries
declared his penitence, and yet neither priest nor friar was
allowed to shrive him. All the five, when dead, were dragged out
of the prison, and meanly interred; and from thence forward the
tower was called the tower of famine, and so shall ever be."
Ibid. c. 127.
Chancer has briefly told Ugolino's story. See Monke's Tale,
Hugeline of Pise.
v. 29. Unto the mountain.] The mountain S. Giuliano, between
Pisa and Lucca.
v. 59. Thou gav'st.]
Tu ne vestisti
Queste misere carni, e tu le spoglia.
Imitated by Filicaja, Canz. iii.
Di questa imperial caduca spoglia
Tu, Signor, me vestisti e tu mi spoglia:
Ben puoi'l Regno me tor tu che me'l desti.
And by Maffei, in the Merope:
Queste misere membra e tu le annodi.
v. 79. In that fair region.]
Del bel paese la, dove'l si suona.
Italy as explained by Dante himself, in his treatise De Vulg.
Eloq. l. i. c. 8. "Qui autem Si dicunt a praedictis finibus.
(Januensiem) Oreintalem (Meridionalis Europae partem) tenent;
videlicet usque ad promontorium illud Italiae, qua sinus
Adriatici maris incipit et Siciliam."
v. 82. Capraia and Gorgona.] Small islands near the mouth of
v. 94. There very weeping suffers not to weep,]
Lo pianto stesso li pianger non lascia.
So Giusto de'Conti, Bella Mano. Son. "Quanto il ciel."
Che il troppo pianto a me pianger non lassa.
v. 116. The friar Albigero.] Alberigo de'Manfredi, of Faenza,
one of the Frati Godenti, Joyons Friars who having quarrelled
with some of his brotherhood, under pretence of wishing to be
reconciled, invited them to a banquet, at the conclusion of which
he called for the fruit, a signal for the assassins to rush in
and dispatch those whom he had marked for destruction. Hence,
adds Landino, it is said proverbially of one who has been
stabbed, that he has had some of the friar Alberigo's fruit.
Thus Pulci, Morg. Magg. c. xxv.
Le frutte amare di frate Alberico.
v. 123. Ptolomea.] This circle is named Ptolomea from Ptolemy,
the son of Abubus, by whom Simon and his sons were murdered, at a
great banquet he had made for them. See Maccabees, ch xvi.
v. 126. The glazed tear-drops.]
-sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears.
Shakspeare, Rich. II. a. 2. s. 2.
v. 136. Branca Doria.] The family of Doria was possessed of
great influence in Genoa. Branca is said to have murdered his
father-in-law, Michel Zanche, introduced in Canto XXII.
v. 162 Romagna's darkest spirit.] The friar Alberigo.
v. 6. A wind-mill.] The author of the Caliph Vathek, in the
notes to that tale, justly observes, that it is more than
probable that Don Quixote's mistake of the wind-mills for giants
was suggested to Cervantes by this simile.
v. 37. Three faces.] It can scarcely be doubted but that Milton
derived his description of Satan in those lines,
Each passion dimm'd his face
Thrice chang'd with pale, ire, envy, and despair.
P. L. b. iv. 114.
from this passage, coupled with the remark of Vellutello upon it:
"The first of these sins is anger which he signifies by the red
face; the second, represented by that between pale and yellow is
envy and not, as others have said, avarice; and the third,
denoted by the black, is a melancholy humour that causes a man's
thoughts to be dark and evil, and averse from all joy and
v. 44. Sails.]
--His sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight.
Milton, P. L. b. ii. 927.
Compare Spenser, F. Q. b. i. c. xi. st. 10; Ben Jonson's Every
Man out of his humour, v. 7; and Fletcher's Prophetess, a. 2. s.
v. 46. Like a bat.] The description of an imaginary being, who
is called Typhurgo, in the Zodiacus Vitae, has some touches very
like this of Dante's Lucifer.
Ingentem vidi regem ingentique sedentem
In solio, crines flammanti stemmate cinctum
Alae humeris magnae, quales vespertilionum
Membranis contextae amplis--
Nudus erat longis sed opertus corpora villis.
M. Palingenii, Zod. Vit. l. ix.
A mighty king I might discerne,
Plac'd hie on lofty chaire,
His haire with fyry garland deckt
Puft up in fiendish wise.
x x x x x x
Large wings on him did grow
Framde like the wings of flinder mice, &c.
v. 61. Brutus.] Landino struggles, but I fear in vain, to
extricate Brutus from the unworthy lot which is here assigned
him. He maintains, that by Brutus and Cassius are not meant the
individuals known by those names, but any who put a lawful
monarch to death. Yet if Caesar was such, the conspirators might
be regarded as deserving of their doom.
v. 89. Within one hour and half of noon.] The poet uses the
Hebrew manner of computing the day, according to which the third
hour answers to our twelve o'clock at noon.
v. 120. By what of firm land on this side appears.] The
mountain of Purgatory.
v.123. The vaulted tomb.] "La tomba." This word is used to
express the whole depth of the infernal region.
O'er better waves to speed her rapid course
The light bark of my genius lifts the sail,
Well pleas'd to leave so cruel sea behind;
And of that second region will I sing,
In which the human spirit from sinful blot
Is purg'd, and for ascent to Heaven prepares.
Here, O ye hallow'd Nine! for in your train
I follow, here the deadened strain revive;
Nor let Calliope refuse to sound
A somewhat higher song, of that loud tone,
Which when the wretched birds of chattering note
Had heard, they of forgiveness lost all hope.
Sweet hue of eastern sapphire, that was spread
O'er the serene aspect of the pure air,
High up as the first circle, to mine eyes
Unwonted joy renew'd, soon as I 'scap'd
Forth from the atmosphere of deadly gloom,
That had mine eyes and bosom fill'd with grief.
The radiant planet, that to love invites,
Made all the orient laugh, and veil'd beneath
The Pisces' light, that in his escort came.
To the right hand I turn'd, and fix'd my mind
On the' other pole attentive, where I saw
Four stars ne'er seen before save by the ken
Of our first parents. Heaven of their rays
Seem'd joyous. O thou northern site, bereft
Indeed, and widow'd, since of these depriv'd!
As from this view I had desisted, straight
Turning a little tow'rds the other pole,
There from whence now the wain had disappear'd,
I saw an old man standing by my side
Alone, so worthy of rev'rence in his look,
That ne'er from son to father more was ow'd.
Low down his beard and mix'd with hoary white
Descended, like his locks, which parting fell
Upon his breast in double fold. The beams
Of those four luminaries on his face
So brightly shone, and with such radiance clear
Deck'd it, that I beheld him as the sun.
"Say who are ye, that stemming the blind stream,
Forth from th' eternal prison-house have fled?"
He spoke and moved those venerable plumes.
"Who hath conducted, or with lantern sure
Lights you emerging from the depth of night,
That makes the infernal valley ever black?
Are the firm statutes of the dread abyss
Broken, or in high heaven new laws ordain'd,
That thus, condemn'd, ye to my caves approach?"
My guide, then laying hold on me, by words
And intimations given with hand and head,
Made my bent knees and eye submissive pay
Due reverence; then thus to him replied.
"Not of myself I come; a Dame from heaven
Descending, had besought me in my charge
To bring. But since thy will implies, that more
Our true condition I unfold at large,
Mine is not to deny thee thy request.
This mortal ne'er hath seen the farthest gloom.
But erring by his folly had approach'd
So near, that little space was left to turn.
Then, as before I told, I was dispatch'd
To work his rescue, and no way remain'd
Save this which I have ta'en. I have display'd
Before him all the regions of the bad;
And purpose now those spirits to display,
That under thy command are purg'd from sin.
How I have brought him would be long to say.
From high descends the virtue, by whose aid
I to thy sight and hearing him have led.
Now may our coming please thee. In the search
Of liberty he journeys: that how dear
They know, who for her sake have life refus'd.
Thou knowest, to whom death for her was sweet
In Utica, where thou didst leave those weeds,
That in the last great day will shine so bright.
For us the' eternal edicts are unmov'd:
He breathes, and I am free of Minos' power,
Abiding in that circle where the eyes
Of thy chaste Marcia beam, who still in look
Prays thee, O hallow'd spirit! to own her shine.
Then by her love we' implore thee, let us pass
Through thy sev'n regions; for which best thanks
I for thy favour will to her return,
If mention there below thou not disdain."
"Marcia so pleasing in my sight was found,"
He then to him rejoin'd, "while I was there,
That all she ask'd me I was fain to grant.
Now that beyond the' accursed stream she dwells,
She may no longer move me, by that law,
Which was ordain'd me, when I issued thence.
Not so, if Dame from heaven, as thou sayst,
Moves and directs thee; then no flattery needs.
Enough for me that in her name thou ask.
Go therefore now: and with a slender reed
See that thou duly gird him, and his face
Lave, till all sordid stain thou wipe from thence.
For not with eye, by any cloud obscur'd,
Would it be seemly before him to come,
Who stands the foremost minister in heaven.
This islet all around, there far beneath,
Where the wave beats it, on the oozy bed
Produces store of reeds. No other plant,
Cover'd with leaves, or harden'd in its stalk,
There lives, not bending to the water's sway.
After, this way return not; but the sun
Will show you, that now rises, where to take
The mountain in its easiest ascent."
He disappear'd; and I myself uprais'd
Speechless, and to my guide retiring close,
Toward him turn'd mine eyes. He thus began;
"My son! observant thou my steps pursue.
We must retreat to rearward, for that way
The champain to its low extreme declines."
The dawn had chas'd the matin hour of prime,
Which deaf before it, so that from afar
I spy'd the trembling of the ocean stream.
We travers'd the deserted plain, as one
Who, wander'd from his track, thinks every step
Trodden in vain till he regain the path.
When we had come, where yet the tender dew
Strove with the sun, and in a place, where fresh
The wind breath'd o'er it, while it slowly dried;
Both hands extended on the watery grass
My master plac'd, in graceful act and kind.
Whence I of his intent before appriz'd,
Stretch'd out to him my cheeks suffus'd with tears.
There to my visage he anew restor'd
That hue, which the dun shades of hell conceal'd.
Then on the solitary shore arriv'd,
That never sailing on its waters saw
Man, that could after measure back his course,
He girt me in such manner as had pleas'd
Him who instructed, and O, strange to tell!
As he selected every humble plant,
Wherever one was pluck'd, another there
Resembling, straightway in its place arose.
Now had the sun to that horizon reach'd,
That covers, with the most exalted point
Of its meridian circle, Salem's walls,
And night, that opposite to him her orb
Sounds, from the stream of Ganges issued forth,
Holding the scales, that from her hands are dropp'd
When she reigns highest: so that where I was,
Aurora's white and vermeil-tinctur'd cheek
To orange turn'd as she in age increas'd.
Meanwhile we linger'd by the water's brink,
Like men, who, musing on their road, in thought
Journey, while motionless the body rests.
When lo! as near upon the hour of dawn,
Through the thick vapours Mars with fiery beam
Glares down in west, over the ocean floor;
So seem'd, what once again I hope to view,
A light so swiftly coming through the sea,
No winged course might equal its career.
From which when for a space I had withdrawn
Thine eyes, to make inquiry of my guide,
Again I look'd and saw it grown in size
And brightness: thou on either side appear'd
Something, but what I knew not of bright hue,
And by degrees from underneath it came
Another. My preceptor silent yet
Stood, while the brightness, that we first discern'd,
Open'd the form of wings: then when he knew
The pilot, cried aloud, "Down, down; bend low
Thy knees; behold God's angel: fold thy hands:
Now shalt thou see true Ministers indeed.
Lo how all human means he sets at naught!
So that nor oar he needs, nor other sail
Except his wings, between such distant shores.
Lo how straight up to heaven he holds them rear'd,
Winnowing the air with those eternal plumes,
That not like mortal hairs fall off or change!"
As more and more toward us came, more bright
Appear'd the bird of God, nor could the eye
Endure his splendor near: I mine bent down.
He drove ashore in a small bark so swift
And light, that in its course no wave it drank.
The heav'nly steersman at the prow was seen,
Visibly written blessed in his looks.
Within a hundred spirits and more there sat.
"In Exitu Israel de Aegypto;"
All with one voice together sang, with what
In the remainder of that hymn is writ.
Then soon as with the sign of holy cross
He bless'd them, they at once leap'd out on land,
The swiftly as he came return'd. The crew,
There left, appear'd astounded with the place,
Gazing around as one who sees new sights.
From every side the sun darted his beams,
And with his arrowy radiance from mid heav'n
Had chas'd the Capricorn, when that strange tribe
Lifting their eyes towards us: If ye know,
Declare what path will Lead us to the mount."
Them Virgil answer'd. "Ye suppose perchance
Us well acquainted with this place: but here,
We, as yourselves, are strangers. Not long erst
We came, before you but a little space,
By other road so rough and hard, that now
The' ascent will seem to us as play." The spirits,
Who from my breathing had perceiv'd I liv'd,
Grew pale with wonder. As the multitude
Flock round a herald, sent with olive branch,
To hear what news he brings, and in their haste
Tread one another down, e'en so at sight
Of me those happy spirits were fix'd, each one
Forgetful of its errand, to depart,
Where cleans'd from sin, it might be made all fair.
Then one I saw darting before the rest
With such fond ardour to embrace me, I
To do the like was mov'd. O shadows vain
Except in outward semblance! thrice my hands
I clasp'd behind it, they as oft return'd
Empty into my breast again. Surprise
I needs must think was painted in my looks,
For that the shadow smil'd and backward drew.
To follow it I hasten'd, but with voice
Of sweetness it enjoin'd me to desist.
Then who it was I knew, and pray'd of it,
To talk with me, it would a little pause.
It answered: "Thee as in my mortal frame
I lov'd, so loos'd forth it I love thee still,
And therefore pause; but why walkest thou here?"
"Not without purpose once more to return,
Thou find'st me, my Casella, where I am
Journeying this way;" I said, "but how of thee
Hath so much time been lost?" He answer'd straight:
"No outrage hath been done to me, if he
Who when and whom he chooses takes, me oft
This passage hath denied, since of just will
His will he makes. These three months past indeed,
He, whose chose to enter, with free leave
Hath taken; whence I wand'ring by the shore
Where Tyber's wave grows salt, of him gain'd kind
Admittance, at that river's mouth, tow'rd which
His wings are pointed, for there always throng
All such as not to Archeron descend."
Then I: "If new laws have not quite destroy'd
Memory and use of that sweet song of love,
That while all my cares had power to 'swage;
Please thee with it a little to console
My spirit, that incumber'd with its frame,
Travelling so far, of pain is overcome."
"Love that discourses in my thoughts." He then
Began in such soft accents, that within
The sweetness thrills me yet. My gentle guide
And all who came with him, so well were pleas'd,
That seem'd naught else might in their thoughts have room.
Fast fix'd in mute attention to his notes
We stood, when lo! that old man venerable
Exclaiming, "How is this, ye tardy spirits?
What negligence detains you loit'ring here?
Run to the mountain to cast off those scales,
That from your eyes the sight of God conceal."
As a wild flock of pigeons, to their food
Collected, blade or tares, without their pride
Accustom'd, and in still and quiet sort,
If aught alarm them, suddenly desert
Their meal, assail'd by more important care;
So I that new-come troop beheld, the song
Deserting, hasten to the mountain's side,
As one who goes yet where he tends knows not.
Nor with less hurried step did we depart.
Them sudden flight had scatter'd over the plain,
Turn'd tow'rds the mountain, whither reason's voice
Drives us; I to my faithful company
Adhering, left it not. For how of him
Depriv'd, might I have sped, or who beside
Would o'er the mountainous tract have led my steps
He with the bitter pang of self-remorse
Seem'd smitten. O clear conscience and upright
How doth a little fling wound thee sore!
Soon as his feet desisted (slack'ning pace),
From haste, that mars all decency of act,
My mind, that in itself before was wrapt,
Its thoughts expanded, as with joy restor'd:
And full against the steep ascent I set
My face, where highest to heav'n its top o'erflows.
The sun, that flar'd behind, with ruddy beam
Before my form was broken; for in me
His rays resistance met. I turn'd aside
With fear of being left, when I beheld
Only before myself the ground obscur'd.
When thus my solace, turning him around,
Bespake me kindly: "Why distrustest thou?
Believ'st not I am with thee, thy sure guide?
It now is evening there, where buried lies
The body, in which I cast a shade, remov'd
To Naples from Brundusium's wall. Nor thou
Marvel, if before me no shadow fall,
More than that in the sky element
One ray obstructs not other. To endure
Torments of heat and cold extreme, like frames
That virtue hath dispos'd, which how it works
Wills not to us should be reveal'd. Insane
Who hopes, our reason may that space explore,
Which holds three persons in one substance knit.
Seek not the wherefore, race of human kind;
Could ye have seen the whole, no need had been
For Mary to bring forth. Moreover ye
Have seen such men desiring fruitlessly;
To whose desires repose would have been giv'n,
That now but serve them for eternal grief.
I speak of Plato, and the Stagyrite,
And others many more." And then he bent
Downwards his forehead, and in troubled mood
Broke off his speech. Meanwhile we had arriv'd
Far as the mountain's foot, and there the rock
Found of so steep ascent, that nimblest steps
To climb it had been vain. The most remote
Most wild untrodden path, in all the tract
'Twixt Lerice and Turbia were to this
A ladder easy' and open of access.
"Who knows on which hand now the steep declines?"
My master said and paus'd, "so that he may
Ascend, who journeys without aid of wine,?"
And while with looks directed to the ground
The meaning of the pathway he explor'd,
And I gaz'd upward round the stony height,
Of spirits, that toward us mov'd their steps,
Yet moving seem'd not, they so slow approach'd.
I thus my guide address'd: "Upraise thine eyes,
Lo that way some, of whom thou may'st obtain
Counsel, if of thyself thou find'st it not!"
Straightway he look'd, and with free speech replied:
"Let us tend thither: they but softly come.
And thou be firm in hope, my son belov'd."
Now was that people distant far in space
A thousand paces behind ours, as much
As at a throw the nervous arm could fling,
When all drew backward on the messy crags
Of the steep bank, and firmly stood unmov'd
As one who walks in doubt might stand to look.
"O spirits perfect! O already chosen!"
Virgil to them began, "by that blest peace,
Which, as I deem, is for you all prepar'd,
Instruct us where the mountain low declines,
So that attempt to mount it be not vain.
For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves."
As sheep, that step from forth their fold, by one,
Or pairs, or three at once; meanwhile the rest
Stand fearfully, bending the eye and nose
To ground, and what the foremost does, that do
The others, gath'ring round her, if she stops,
Simple and quiet, nor the cause discern;
So saw I moving to advance the first,
Who of that fortunate crew were at the head,
Of modest mien and graceful in their gait.
When they before me had beheld the light
From my right side fall broken on the ground,
So that the shadow reach'd the cave, they stopp'd
And somewhat back retir'd: the same did all,
Who follow'd, though unweeting of the cause
"Unask'd of you, yet freely I confess,
This is a human body which ye see.
That the sun's light is broken on the ground,
Marvel not: but believe, that not without
Virtue deriv'd from Heaven, we to climb
Over this wall aspire." So them bespake
My master; and that virtuous tribe rejoin'd;
" Turn, and before you there the entrance lies,"
Making a signal to us with bent hands.
Then of them one began. "Whoe'er thou art,
Who journey'st thus this way, thy visage turn,
Think if me elsewhere thou hast ever seen."
I tow'rds him turn'd, and with fix'd eye beheld.
Comely, and fair, and gentle of aspect,
He seem'd, but on one brow a gash was mark'd.
When humbly I disclaim'd to have beheld
Him ever: "Now behold!" he said, and show'd
High on his breast a wound: then smiling spake.
"I am Manfredi, grandson to the Queen
Costanza: whence I pray thee, when return'd,
To my fair daughter go, the parent glad
Of Aragonia and Sicilia's pride;
And of the truth inform her, if of me
Aught else be told. When by two mortal blows
My frame was shatter'd, I betook myself
Weeping to him, who of free will forgives.
My sins were horrible; but so wide arms
Hath goodness infinite, that it receives
All who turn to it. Had this text divine
Been of Cosenza's shepherd better scann'd,
Who then by Clement on my hunt was set,
Yet at the bridge's head my bones had lain,
Near Benevento, by the heavy mole
Protected; but the rain now drenches them,
And the wind drives, out of the kingdom's bounds,
Far as the stream of Verde, where, with lights
Extinguish'd, he remov'd them from their bed.
Yet by their curse we are not so destroy'd,
But that the eternal love may turn, while hope
Retains her verdant blossoms. True it is,
That such one as in contumacy dies
Against the holy church, though he repent,
Must wander thirty-fold for all the time
In his presumption past; if such decree
Be not by prayers of good men shorter made
Look therefore if thou canst advance my bliss;
Revealing to my good Costanza, how
Thou hast beheld me, and beside the terms
Laid on me of that interdict; for here
By means of those below much profit comes."
When by sensations of delight or pain,
That any of our faculties hath seiz'd,
Entire the soul collects herself, it seems
She is intent upon that power alone,
And thus the error is disprov'd which holds
The soul not singly lighted in the breast.
And therefore when as aught is heard or seen,
That firmly keeps the soul toward it turn'd,
Time passes, and a man perceives it not.
For that, whereby he hearken, is one power,
Another that, which the whole spirit hash;
This is as it were bound, while that is free.
This found I true by proof, hearing that spirit
And wond'ring; for full fifty steps aloft
The sun had measur'd unobserv'd of me,
When we arriv'd where all with one accord
The spirits shouted, "Here is what ye ask."
A larger aperture ofttimes is stopp'd
With forked stake of thorn by villager,
When the ripe grape imbrowns, than was the path,
By which my guide, and I behind him close,
Ascended solitary, when that troop
Departing left us. On Sanleo's road
Who journeys, or to Noli low descends,
Or mounts Bismantua's height, must use his feet;
But here a man had need to fly, I mean
With the swift wing and plumes of high desire,
Conducted by his aid, who gave me hope,
And with light furnish'd to direct my way.
We through the broken rock ascended, close
Pent on each side, while underneath the ground
Ask'd help of hands and feet. When we arriv'd
Near on the highest ridge of the steep bank,
Where the plain level open'd I exclaim'd,
"O master! say which way can we proceed?"
He answer'd, "Let no step of thine recede.
Behind me gain the mountain, till to us
Some practis'd guide appear." That eminence
Was lofty that no eye might reach its point,
And the side proudly rising, more than line
From the mid quadrant to the centre drawn.
I wearied thus began: "Parent belov'd!
Turn, and behold how I remain alone,
If thou stay not." --" My son!" He straight reply'd,
"Thus far put forth thy strength; "and to a track
Pointed, that, on this side projecting, round
Circles the hill. His words so spurr'd me on,
That I behind him clamb'ring, forc'd myself,
Till my feet press'd the circuit plain beneath.
There both together seated, turn'd we round
To eastward, whence was our ascent: and oft
Many beside have with delight look'd back.
First on the nether shores I turn'd my eyes,
Then rais'd them to the sun, and wond'ring mark'd
That from the left it smote us. Soon perceiv'd
That Poet sage how at the car of light
Amaz'd I stood, where 'twixt us and the north
Its course it enter'd. Whence he thus to me:
"Were Leda's offspring now in company
Of that broad mirror, that high up and low
Imparts his light beneath, thou might'st behold
The ruddy zodiac nearer to the bears
Wheel, if its ancient course it not forsook.
How that may be if thou would'st think; within
Pond'ring, imagine Sion with this mount
Plac'd on the earth, so that to both be one
Horizon, and two hemispheres apart,
Where lies the path that Phaeton ill knew
To guide his erring chariot: thou wilt see
How of necessity by this on one
He passes, while by that on the' other side,
If with clear view shine intellect attend."
"Of truth, kind teacher!" I exclaim'd, "so clear
Aught saw I never, as I now discern
Where seem'd my ken to fail, that the mid orb
Of the supernal motion (which in terms
Of art is called the Equator, and remains
Ever between the sun and winter) for the cause
Thou hast assign'd, from hence toward the north
Departs, when those who in the Hebrew land
Inhabit, see it tow'rds the warmer part.
But if it please thee, I would gladly know,
How far we have to journey: for the hill
Mounts higher, than this sight of mine can mount."
He thus to me: "Such is this steep ascent,
That it is ever difficult at first,
But, more a man proceeds, less evil grows.
When pleasant it shall seem to thee, so much
That upward going shall be easy to thee.
As in a vessel to go down the tide,
Then of this path thou wilt have reach'd the end.
There hope to rest thee from thy toil. No more
I answer, and thus far for certain know."
As he his words had spoken, near to us
A voice there sounded: "Yet ye first perchance
May to repose you by constraint be led."
At sound thereof each turn'd, and on the left
A huge stone we beheld, of which nor I
Nor he before was ware. Thither we drew,
find there were some, who in the shady place
Behind the rock were standing, as a man
Thru' idleness might stand. Among them one,
Who seem'd to me much wearied, sat him down,
And with his arms did fold his knees about,
Holding his face between them downward bent.
"Sweet Sir!" I cry'd, "behold that man, who shows
Himself more idle, than if laziness
Were sister to him." Straight he turn'd to us,
And, o'er the thigh lifting his face, observ'd,
Then in these accents spake: "Up then, proceed
Thou valiant one." Straight who it was I knew;
Nor could the pain I felt (for want of breath
Still somewhat urg'd me) hinder my approach.
And when I came to him, he scarce his head
Uplifted, saying "Well hast thou discern'd,
How from the left the sun his chariot leads."
His lazy acts and broken words my lips
To laughter somewhat mov'd; when I began:
"Belacqua, now for thee I grieve no more.
But tell, why thou art seated upright there?
Waitest thou escort to conduct thee hence?
Or blame I only shine accustom'd ways?"
Then he: "My brother, of what use to mount,
When to my suffering would not let me pass
The bird of God, who at the portal sits?
Behooves so long that heav'n first bear me round
Without its limits, as in life it bore,
Because I to the end repentant Sighs
Delay'd, if prayer do not aid me first,
That riseth up from heart which lives in grace.
What other kind avails, not heard in heaven?"'
Before me now the Poet up the mount
Ascending, cried: "Haste thee, for see the sun
Has touch'd the point meridian, and the night
Now covers with her foot Marocco's shore."
Now had I left those spirits, and pursued
The steps of my Conductor, when beheld
Pointing the finger at me one exclaim'd:
"See how it seems as if the light not shone
From the left hand of him beneath, and he,
As living, seems to be led on." Mine eyes
I at that sound reverting, saw them gaze
Through wonder first at me, and then at me
And the light broken underneath, by turns.
"Why are thy thoughts thus riveted?" my guide
Exclaim'd, "that thou hast slack'd thy pace? or how
Imports it thee, what thing is whisper'd here?
Come after me, and to their babblings leave
The crowd. Be as a tower, that, firmly set,
Shakes not its top for any blast that blows!
He, in whose bosom thought on thought shoots out,
Still of his aim is wide, in that the one
Sicklies and wastes to nought the other's strength."
What other could I answer save "I come?"
I said it, somewhat with that colour ting'd
Which ofttimes pardon meriteth for man.
Meanwhile traverse along the hill there came,
A little way before us, some who sang
The "Miserere" in responsive Strains.
When they perceiv'd that through my body I
Gave way not for the rays to pass, their song
Straight to a long and hoarse exclaim they chang'd;
And two of them, in guise of messengers,
Ran on to meet us, and inquiring ask'd:
Of your condition we would gladly learn."
To them my guide. "Ye may return, and bear
Tidings to them who sent you, that his frame
Is real flesh. If, as I deem, to view
His shade they paus'd, enough is answer'd them.
Him let them honour, they may prize him well."
Ne'er saw I fiery vapours with such speed
Cut through the serene air at fall of night,
Nor August's clouds athwart the setting sun,
That upward these did not in shorter space
Return; and, there arriving, with the rest
Wheel back on us, as with loose rein a troop.
"Many," exclaim'd the bard, "are these, who throng
Around us: to petition thee they come.
Go therefore on, and listen as thou go'st."
"O spirit! who go'st on to blessedness
With the same limbs, that clad thee at thy birth."
Shouting they came, "a little rest thy step.
Look if thou any one amongst our tribe
Hast e'er beheld, that tidings of him there
Thou mayst report. Ah, wherefore go'st thou on?
Ah wherefore tarriest thou not? We all
By violence died, and to our latest hour
Were sinners, but then warn'd by light from heav'n,
So that, repenting and forgiving, we
Did issue out of life at peace with God,
Who with desire to see him fills our heart."
Then I: "The visages of all I scan
Yet none of ye remember. But if aught,
That I can do, may please you, gentle spirits!
Speak; and I will perform it, by that peace,
Which on the steps of guide so excellent
Following from world to world intent I seek."
In answer he began: "None here distrusts
Thy kindness, though not promis'd with an oath;
So as the will fail not for want of power.
Whence I, who sole before the others speak,
Entreat thee, if thou ever see that land,
Which lies between Romagna and the realm
Of Charles, that of thy courtesy thou pray
Those who inhabit Fano, that for me
Their adorations duly be put up,
By which I may purge off my grievous sins.
From thence I came. But the deep passages,
Whence issued out the blood wherein I dwelt,
Upon my bosom in Antenor's land
Were made, where to be more secure I thought.
The author of the deed was Este's prince,
Who, more than right could warrant, with his wrath
Pursued me. Had I towards Mira fled,
When overta'en at Oriaco, still
Might I have breath'd. But to the marsh I sped,
And in the mire and rushes tangled there
Fell, and beheld my life-blood float the plain."
Then said another: "Ah! so may the wish,
That takes thee o'er the mountain, be fulfill'd,
As thou shalt graciously give aid to mine.
Of Montefeltro I; Buonconte I:
Giovanna nor none else have care for me,
Sorrowing with these I therefore go." I thus:
"From Campaldino's field what force or chance
Drew thee, that ne'er thy sepulture was known?"
"Oh!" answer'd he, "at Casentino's foot
A stream there courseth, nam'd Archiano, sprung
In Apennine above the Hermit's seat.
E'en where its name is cancel'd, there came I,
Pierc'd in the heart, fleeing away on foot,
And bloodying the plain. Here sight and speech
Fail'd me, and finishing with Mary's name
I fell, and tenantless my flesh remain'd.
I will report the truth; which thou again0
Tell to the living. Me God's angel took,
Whilst he of hell exclaim'd: "O thou from heav'n!
Say wherefore hast thou robb'd me? Thou of him
Th' eternal portion bear'st with thee away
For one poor tear that he deprives me of.
But of the other, other rule I make."
"Thou knowest how in the atmosphere collects
That vapour dank, returning into water,
Soon as it mounts where cold condenses it.
That evil will, which in his intellect
Still follows evil, came, and rais'd the wind
And smoky mist, by virtue of the power
Given by his nature. Thence the valley, soon
As day was spent, he cover'd o'er with cloud
From Pratomagno to the mountain range,
And stretch'd the sky above, so that the air
Impregnate chang'd to water. Fell the rain,
And to the fosses came all that the land
Contain'd not; and, as mightiest streams are wont,
To the great river with such headlong sweep
Rush'd, that nought stay'd its course. My stiffen'd frame
Laid at his mouth the fell Archiano found,
And dash'd it into Arno, from my breast
Loos'ning the cross, that of myself I made
When overcome with pain. He hurl'd me on,
Along the banks and bottom of his course;
Then in his muddy spoils encircling wrapt."
"Ah! when thou to the world shalt be return'd,
And rested after thy long road," so spake
Next the third spirit; "then remember me.
I once was Pia. Sienna gave me life,
Maremma took it from me. That he knows,
Who me with jewell'd ring had first espous'd."
When from their game of dice men separate,
He, who hath lost, remains in sadness fix'd,
Revolving in his mind, what luckless throws
He cast: but meanwhile all the company
Go with the other; one before him runs,
And one behind his mantle twitches, one
Fast by his side bids him remember him.
He stops not; and each one, to whom his hand
Is stretch'd, well knows he bids him stand aside;
And thus he from the press defends himself.
E'en such was I in that close-crowding throng;
And turning so my face around to all,
And promising, I 'scap'd from it with pains.
Here of Arezzo him I saw, who fell
By Ghino's cruel arm; and him beside,
Who in his chase was swallow'd by the stream.
Here Frederic Novello, with his hand
Stretch'd forth, entreated; and of Pisa he,
Who put the good Marzuco to such proof
Of constancy. Count Orso I beheld;
And from its frame a soul dismiss'd for spite
And envy, as it said, but for no crime:
I speak of Peter de la Brosse; and here,
While she yet lives, that Lady of Brabant
Let her beware; lest for so false a deed
She herd with worse than these. When I was freed
From all those spirits, who pray'd for others' prayers
To hasten on their state of blessedness;
Straight I began: "O thou, my luminary!
It seems expressly in thy text denied,
That heaven's supreme decree can never bend
To supplication; yet with this design
Do these entreat. Can then their hope be vain,
Or is thy saying not to me reveal'd?"
He thus to me: "Both what I write is plain,
And these deceiv'd not in their hope, if well
Thy mind consider, that the sacred height
Of judgment doth not stoop, because love's flame
In a short moment all fulfils, which he
Who sojourns here, in right should satisfy.
Besides, when I this point concluded thus,
By praying no defect could be supplied;
Because the pray'r had none access to God.
Yet in this deep suspicion rest thou not
Contented unless she assure thee so,
Who betwixt truth and mind infuses light.
I know not if thou take me right; I mean
Beatrice. Her thou shalt behold above,
Upon this mountain's crown, fair seat of joy."
Then I: "Sir! let us mend our speed; for now
I tire not as before; and lo! the hill
Stretches its shadow far." He answer'd thus:
"Our progress with this day shall be as much
As we may now dispatch; but otherwise
Than thou supposest is the truth. For there
Thou canst not be, ere thou once more behold
Him back returning, who behind the steep
Is now so hidden, that as erst his beam
Thou dost not break. But lo! a spirit there
Stands solitary, and toward us looks:
It will instruct us in the speediest way."
We soon approach'd it. O thou Lombard spirit!
How didst thou stand, in high abstracted mood,
Scarce moving with slow dignity thine eyes!
It spoke not aught, but let us onward pass,
Eyeing us as a lion on his watch.
I3ut Virgil with entreaty mild advanc'd,
Requesting it to show the best ascent.
It answer to his question none return'd,
But of our country and our kind of life
Demanded. When my courteous guide began,
"Mantua," the solitary shadow quick
Rose towards us from the place in which it stood,
And cry'd, "Mantuan! I am thy countryman
Sordello." Each the other then embrac'd.
Ah slavish Italy! thou inn of grief,
Vessel without a pilot in loud storm,
Lady no longer of fair provinces,
But brothel-house impure! this gentle spirit,
Ev'n from the Pleasant sound of his dear land
Was prompt to greet a fellow citizen
With such glad cheer; while now thy living ones
In thee abide not without war; and one
Malicious gnaws another, ay of those
Whom the same wall and the same moat contains,
Seek, wretched one! around thy sea-coasts wide;
Then homeward to thy bosom turn, and mark
If any part of the sweet peace enjoy.
What boots it, that thy reins Justinian's hand
Befitted, if thy saddle be unpress'd?
Nought doth he now but aggravate thy shame.
Ah people! thou obedient still shouldst live,
And in the saddle let thy Caesar sit,
If well thou marked'st that which God commands
Look how that beast to felness hath relaps'd
From having lost correction of the spur,
Since to the bridle thou hast set thine hand,
O German Albert! who abandon'st her,
That is grown savage and unmanageable,
When thou should'st clasp her flanks with forked heels.
Just judgment from the stars fall on thy blood!
And be it strange and manifest to all!
Such as may strike thy successor with dread!
For that thy sire and thou have suffer'd thus,
Through greediness of yonder realms detain'd,
The garden of the empire to run waste.
Come see the Capulets and Montagues,
The Philippeschi and Monaldi! man
Who car'st for nought! those sunk in grief, and these
With dire suspicion rack'd. Come, cruel one!
Come and behold the' oppression of the nobles,
And mark their injuries: and thou mayst see.
What safety Santafiore can supply.
Come and behold thy Rome, who calls on thee,
Desolate widow! day and night with moans:
"My Caesar, why dost thou desert my side?"
Come and behold what love among thy people:
And if no pity touches thee for us,
Come and blush for thine own report. For me,
If it be lawful, O Almighty Power,
Who wast in earth for our sakes crucified!
Are thy just eyes turn'd elsewhere? or is this
A preparation in the wond'rous depth
Of thy sage counsel made, for some good end,
Entirely from our reach of thought cut off?
So are the' Italian cities all o'erthrong'd
With tyrants, and a great Marcellus made
Of every petty factious villager.
My Florence! thou mayst well remain unmov'd
At this digression, which affects not thee:
Thanks to thy people, who so wisely speed.
Many have justice in their heart, that long
Waiteth for counsel to direct the bow,
Or ere it dart unto its aim: but shine
Have it on their lip's edge. Many refuse
To bear the common burdens: readier thine
Answer uneall'd, and cry, "Behold I stoop!"
Make thyself glad, for thou hast reason now,
Thou wealthy! thou at peace! thou wisdom-fraught!
Facts best witness if I speak the truth.
Athens and Lacedaemon, who of old
Enacted laws, for civil arts renown'd,
Made little progress in improving life
Tow'rds thee, who usest such nice subtlety,
That to the middle of November scarce
Reaches the thread thou in October weav'st.
How many times, within thy memory,
Customs, and laws, and coins, and offices
Have been by thee renew'd, and people chang'd!
If thou remember'st well and can'st see clear,
Thou wilt perceive thyself like a sick wretch,
Who finds no rest upon her down, hut oft
Shifting her side, short respite seeks from pain.
After their courteous greetings joyfully
Sev'n times exchang'd, Sordello backward drew
Exclaiming, "Who are ye?" "Before this mount
By spirits worthy of ascent to God
Was sought, my bones had by Octavius' care
Been buried. I am Virgil, for no sin
Depriv'd of heav'n, except for lack of faith."
So answer'd him in few my gentle guide.
As one, who aught before him suddenly
Beholding, whence his wonder riseth, cries
"It is yet is not," wav'ring in belief;
Such he appear'd; then downward bent his eyes,
And drawing near with reverential step,
Caught him, where of mean estate might clasp
His lord. "Glory of Latium!" he exclaim'd,
"In whom our tongue its utmost power display'd!
Boast of my honor'd birth-place! what desert
Of mine, what favour rather undeserv'd,
Shows thee to me? If I to hear that voice
Am worthy, say if from below thou com'st
And from what cloister's pale?"--"Through every orb
Of that sad region," he reply'd, "thus far
Am I arriv'd, by heav'nly influence led
And with such aid I come. There is a place
There underneath, not made by torments sad,
But by dun shades alone; where mourning's voice
Sounds not of anguish sharp, but breathes in sighs.
There I with little innocents abide,
Who by death's fangs were bitten, ere exempt
From human taint. There I with those abide,
Who the three holy virtues put not on,
But understood the rest, and without blame
Follow'd them all. But if thou know'st and canst,
Direct us, how we soonest may arrive,
Where Purgatory its true beginning takes."
He answer'd thus: "We have no certain place
Assign'd us: upwards I may go or round,
Far as I can, I join thee for thy guide.
But thou beholdest now how day declines:
And upwards to proceed by night, our power
Excels: therefore it may be well to choose
A place of pleasant sojourn. To the right
Some spirits sit apart retir'd. If thou
Consentest, I to these will lead thy steps:
And thou wilt know them, not without delight."
"How chances this?" was answer'd; "who so wish'd
To ascend by night, would he be thence debarr'd
By other, or through his own weakness fail?"
The good Sordello then, along the ground
Trailing his finger, spoke: "Only this line
Thou shalt not overpass, soon as the sun
Hath disappear'd; not that aught else impedes
Thy going upwards, save the shades of night.
These with the wont of power perplex the will.
With them thou haply mightst return beneath,
Or to and fro around the mountain's side
Wander, while day is in the horizon shut."
My master straight, as wond'ring at his speech,
Exclaim'd: "Then lead us quickly, where thou sayst,
That, while we stay, we may enjoy delight."
A little space we were remov'd from thence,
When I perceiv'd the mountain hollow'd out.
Ev'n as large valleys hollow'd out on earth,
"That way," the' escorting spirit cried, "we go,
Where in a bosom the high bank recedes:
And thou await renewal of the day."
Betwixt the steep and plain a crooked path
Led us traverse into the ridge's side,
Where more than half the sloping edge expires.
Refulgent gold, and silver thrice refin'd,
And scarlet grain and ceruse, Indian wood
Of lucid dye serene, fresh emeralds
But newly broken, by the herbs and flowers
Plac'd in that fair recess, in color all
Had been surpass'd, as great surpasses less.
Nor nature only there lavish'd her hues,
But of the sweetness of a thousand smells
A rare and undistinguish'd fragrance made.
"Salve Regina," on the grass and flowers
Here chanting I beheld those spirits sit
Who not beyond the valley could be seen.
"Before the west'ring sun sink to his bed,"
Began the Mantuan, who our steps had turn'd,
"'Mid those desires not that I lead ye on.
For from this eminence ye shall discern
Better the acts and visages of all,
Than in the nether vale among them mix'd.
He, who sits high above the rest, and seems
To have neglected that he should have done,
And to the others' song moves not his lip,
The Emperor Rodolph call, who might have heal'd
The wounds whereof fair Italy hath died,
So that by others she revives but slowly,
He, who with kindly visage comforts him,
Sway'd in that country, where the water springs,
That Moldaw's river to the Elbe, and Elbe