The Vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise by Dante AlighieriHell, part 6

Produced by David Widger THE VISION OF HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE BY DANTE ALIGHIERI TRANSLATED BY THE REV. H. F. CARY, M.A. HELL OR THE INFERNO Part 6 Cantos 13 – 17 CANTO XIII ERE Nessus yet had reach’d the other bank, We enter’d on a forest, where no track Of steps had worn a
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Produced by David Widger

THE VISION

OF

HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE

BY

DANTE ALIGHIERI

TRANSLATED BY

THE REV. H. F. CARY, M.A.

HELL

OR THE INFERNO

Part 6

Cantos 13 – 17

CANTO XIII

ERE Nessus yet had reach’d the other bank, We enter’d on a forest, where no track
Of steps had worn a way. Not verdant there The foliage, but of dusky hue; not light The boughs and tapering, but with knares deform’d And matted thick: fruits there were none, but thorns Instead, with venom fill’d. Less sharp than these, Less intricate the brakes, wherein abide Those animals, that hate the cultur’d fields, Betwixt Corneto and Cecina’s stream.

Here the brute Harpies make their nest, the same Who from the Strophades the Trojan band
Drove with dire boding of their future woe. Broad are their pennons, of the human form Their neck and count’nance, arm’d with talons keen The feet, and the huge belly fledge with wings These sit and wail on the drear mystic wood.

The kind instructor in these words began: “Ere farther thou proceed, know thou art now I’ th’ second round, and shalt be, till thou come Upon the horrid sand: look therefore well Around thee, and such things thou shalt behold, As would my speech discredit.” On all sides I heard sad plainings breathe, and none could see From whom they might have issu’d. In amaze Fast bound I stood. He, as it seem’d, believ’d, That I had thought so many voices came
From some amid those thickets close conceal’d, And thus his speech resum’d: “If thou lop off A single twig from one of those ill plants, The thought thou hast conceiv’d shall vanish quite.”

Thereat a little stretching forth my hand, From a great wilding gather’d I a branch, And straight the trunk exclaim’d: “Why pluck’st thou me?”

Then as the dark blood trickled down its side, These words it added: “Wherefore tear’st me thus? Is there no touch of mercy in thy breast? Men once were we, that now are rooted here. Thy hand might well have spar’d us, had we been The souls of serpents.” As a brand yet green, That burning at one end from the’ other sends A groaning sound, and hisses with the wind That forces out its way, so burst at once, Forth from the broken splinter words and blood.

I, letting fall the bough, remain’d as one Assail’d by terror, and the sage replied: “If he, O injur’d spirit! could have believ’d What he hath seen but in my verse describ’d, He never against thee had stretch’d his hand. But I, because the thing surpass’d belief, Prompted him to this deed, which even now Myself I rue. But tell me, who thou wast; That, for this wrong to do thee some amends, In the upper world (for thither to return Is granted him) thy fame he may revive.”

“That pleasant word of thine,” the trunk replied “Hath so inveigled me, that I from speech Cannot refrain, wherein if I indulge
A little longer, in the snare detain’d, Count it not grievous. I it was, who held Both keys to Frederick’s heart, and turn’d the wards, Opening and shutting, with a skill so sweet, That besides me, into his inmost breast
Scarce any other could admittance find. The faith I bore to my high charge was such, It cost me the life-blood that warm’d my veins. The harlot, who ne’er turn’d her gloating eyes From Caesar’s household, common vice and pest Of courts, ‘gainst me inflam’d the minds of all; And to Augustus they so spread the flame, That my glad honours chang’d to bitter woes. My soul, disdainful and disgusted, sought Refuge in death from scorn, and I became, Just as I was, unjust toward myself.
By the new roots, which fix this stem, I swear, That never faith I broke to my liege lord, Who merited such honour; and of you,
If any to the world indeed return,
Clear he from wrong my memory, that lies Yet prostrate under envy’s cruel blow.”

First somewhat pausing, till the mournful words Were ended, then to me the bard began:
“Lose not the time; but speak and of him ask, If more thou wish to learn.” Whence I replied: “Question thou him again of whatsoe’er
Will, as thou think’st, content me; for no power Have I to ask, such pity’ is at my heart.”

He thus resum’d; “So may he do for thee Freely what thou entreatest, as thou yet Be pleas’d, imprison’d Spirit! to declare, How in these gnarled joints the soul is tied; And whether any ever from such frame
Be loosen’d, if thou canst, that also tell.”

Thereat the trunk breath’d hard, and the wind soon Chang’d into sounds articulate like these;

“Briefly ye shall be answer’d. When departs The fierce soul from the body, by itself Thence torn asunder, to the seventh gulf By Minos doom’d, into the wood it falls, No place assign’d, but wheresoever chance Hurls it, there sprouting, as a grain of spelt, It rises to a sapling, growing thence
A savage plant. The Harpies, on its leaves Then feeding, cause both pain and for the pain A vent to grief. We, as the rest, shall come For our own spoils, yet not so that with them We may again be clad; for what a man
Takes from himself it is not just he have. Here we perforce shall drag them; and throughout The dismal glade our bodies shall be hung, Each on the wild thorn of his wretched shade.”

Attentive yet to listen to the trunk
We stood, expecting farther speech, when us A noise surpris’d, as when a man perceives The wild boar and the hunt approach his place Of station’d watch, who of the beasts and boughs Loud rustling round him hears. And lo! there came Two naked, torn with briers, in headlong flight, That they before them broke each fan o’ th’ wood. “Haste now,” the foremost cried, “now haste thee death!”

The’ other, as seem’d, impatient of delay Exclaiming, “Lano! not so bent for speed Thy sinews, in the lists of Toppo’s field.” And then, for that perchance no longer breath Suffic’d him, of himself and of a bush
One group he made. Behind them was the wood Full of black female mastiffs, gaunt and fleet, As greyhounds that have newly slipp’d the leash. On him, who squatted down, they stuck their fangs, And having rent him piecemeal bore away
The tortur’d limbs. My guide then seiz’d my hand, And led me to the thicket, which in vain Mourn’d through its bleeding wounds: “O Giacomo Of Sant’ Andrea! what avails it thee,”
It cried, “that of me thou hast made thy screen? For thy ill life what blame on me recoils?”

When o’er it he had paus’d, my master spake: “Say who wast thou, that at so many points Breath’st out with blood thy lamentable speech?”

He answer’d: “Oh, ye spirits: arriv’d in time To spy the shameful havoc, that from me
My leaves hath sever’d thus, gather them up, And at the foot of their sad parent-tree Carefully lay them. In that city’ I dwelt, Who for the Baptist her first patron chang’d, Whence he for this shall cease not with his art To work her woe: and if there still remain’d not On Arno’s passage some faint glimpse of him, Those citizens, who rear’d once more her walls Upon the ashes left by Attila,
Had labour’d without profit of their toil. I slung the fatal noose from my own roof.”

CANTO XIV

SOON as the charity of native land
Wrought in my bosom, I the scatter’d leaves Collected, and to him restor’d, who now
Was hoarse with utt’rance. To the limit thence We came, which from the third the second round Divides, and where of justice is display’d Contrivance horrible. Things then first seen Clearlier to manifest, I tell how next
A plain we reach’d, that from its sterile bed Each plant repell’d. The mournful wood waves round Its garland on all sides, as round the wood Spreads the sad foss. There, on the very edge, Our steps we stay’d. It was an area wide Of arid sand and thick, resembling most
The soil that erst by Cato’s foot was trod.

Vengeance of Heav’n! Oh! how shouldst thou be fear’d By all, who read what here my eyes beheld!

Of naked spirits many a flock I saw,
All weeping piteously, to different laws Subjected: for on the’ earth some lay supine, Some crouching close were seated, others pac’d Incessantly around; the latter tribe,
More numerous, those fewer who beneath The torment lay, but louder in their grief.

O’er all the sand fell slowly wafting down Dilated flakes of fire, as flakes of snow On Alpine summit, when the wind is hush’d. As in the torrid Indian clime, the son
Of Ammon saw upon his warrior band
Descending, solid flames, that to the ground Came down: whence he bethought him with his troop To trample on the soil; for easier thus
The vapour was extinguish’d, while alone; So fell the eternal fiery flood, wherewith The marble glow’d underneath, as under stove The viands, doubly to augment the pain.

Unceasing was the play of wretched hands, Now this, now that way glancing, to shake off The heat, still falling fresh. I thus began: “Instructor! thou who all things overcom’st, Except the hardy demons, that rush’d forth To stop our entrance at the gate, say who Is yon huge spirit, that, as seems, heeds not The burning, but lies writhen in proud scorn, As by the sultry tempest immatur’d?”

Straight he himself, who was aware I ask’d My guide of him, exclaim’d: “Such as I was When living, dead such now I am. If Jove Weary his workman out, from whom in ire
He snatch’d the lightnings, that at my last day Transfix’d me, if the rest be weary out
At their black smithy labouring by turns In Mongibello, while he cries aloud;
“Help, help, good Mulciber!” as erst he cried In the Phlegraean warfare, and the bolts Launch he full aim’d at me with all his might, He never should enjoy a sweet revenge.”

Then thus my guide, in accent higher rais’d Than I before had heard him: “Capaneus!
Thou art more punish’d, in that this thy pride Lives yet unquench’d: no torrent, save thy rage, Were to thy fury pain proportion’d full.”

Next turning round to me with milder lip He spake: “This of the seven kings was one, Who girt the Theban walls with siege, and held, As still he seems to hold, God in disdain, And sets his high omnipotence at nought. But, as I told him, his despiteful mood
Is ornament well suits the breast that wears it. Follow me now; and look thou set not yet Thy foot in the hot sand, but to the wood Keep ever close.” Silently on we pass’d
To where there gushes from the forest’s bound A little brook, whose crimson’d wave yet lifts My hair with horror. As the rill, that runs From Bulicame, to be portion’d out
Among the sinful women; so ran this Down through the sand, its bottom and each bank Stone-built, and either margin at its side, Whereon I straight perceiv’d our passage lay.

“Of all that I have shown thee, since that gate We enter’d first, whose threshold is to none Denied, nought else so worthy of regard, As is this river, has thine eye discern’d, O’er which the flaming volley all is quench’d.”

So spake my guide; and I him thence besought, That having giv’n me appetite to know,
The food he too would give, that hunger crav’d.

“In midst of ocean,” forthwith he began, “A desolate country lies, which Crete is nam’d, Under whose monarch in old times the world Liv’d pure and chaste. A mountain rises there, Call’d Ida, joyous once with leaves and streams, Deserted now like a forbidden thing.
It was the spot which Rhea, Saturn’s spouse, Chose for the secret cradle of her son;
And better to conceal him, drown’d in shouts His infant cries. Within the mount, upright An ancient form there stands and huge, that turns His shoulders towards Damiata, and at Rome As in his mirror looks. Of finest gold
His head is shap’d, pure silver are the breast And arms; thence to the middle is of brass. And downward all beneath well-temper’d steel, Save the right foot of potter’s clay, on which Than on the other more erect he stands,
Each part except the gold, is rent throughout; And from the fissure tears distil, which join’d Penetrate to that cave. They in their course Thus far precipitated down the rock
Form Acheron, and Styx, and Phlegethon; Then by this straiten’d channel passing hence Beneath, e’en to the lowest depth of all, Form there Cocytus, of whose lake (thyself Shall see it) I here give thee no account.”

Then I to him: “If from our world this sluice Be thus deriv’d; wherefore to us but now Appears it at this edge?” He straight replied: “The place, thou know’st, is round; and though great part Thou have already pass’d, still to the left Descending to the nethermost, not yet
Hast thou the circuit made of the whole orb. Wherefore if aught of new to us appear,
It needs not bring up wonder in thy looks.”

Then I again inquir’d: “Where flow the streams Of Phlegethon and Lethe? for of one
Thou tell’st not, and the other of that shower, Thou say’st, is form’d.” He answer thus return’d: “Doubtless thy questions all well pleas’d I hear. Yet the red seething wave might have resolv’d One thou proposest. Lethe thou shalt see, But not within this hollow, in the place, Whither to lave themselves the spirits go, Whose blame hath been by penitence remov’d.” He added: “Time is now we quit the wood. Look thou my steps pursue: the margins give Safe passage, unimpeded by the flames;
For over them all vapour is extinct.”

CANTO XV

One of the solid margins bears us now Envelop’d in the mist, that from the stream Arising, hovers o’er, and saves from fire Both piers and water. As the Flemings rear Their mound, ‘twixt Ghent and Bruges, to chase back The ocean, fearing his tumultuous tide
That drives toward them, or the Paduans theirs Along the Brenta, to defend their towns
And castles, ere the genial warmth be felt On Chiarentana’s top; such were the mounds, So fram’d, though not in height or bulk to these Made equal, by the master, whosoe’er
He was, that rais’d them here. We from the wood Were not so far remov’d, that turning round I might not have discern’d it, when we met A troop of spirits, who came beside the pier.

They each one ey’d us, as at eventide One eyes another under a new moon,
And toward us sharpen’d their sight as keen, As an old tailor at his needle’s eye.

Thus narrowly explor’d by all the tribe, I was agniz’d of one, who by the skirt
Caught me, and cried, “What wonder have we here!”

And I, when he to me outstretch’d his arm, Intently fix’d my ken on his parch’d looks, That although smirch’d with fire, they hinder’d not But I remember’d him; and towards his face My hand inclining, answer’d: “Sir! Brunetto!

“And art thou here?” He thus to me: “My son! Oh let it not displease thee, if Brunetto Latini but a little space with thee
Turn back, and leave his fellows to proceed.”

I thus to him replied: “Much as I can, I thereto pray thee; and if thou be willing, That I here seat me with thee, I consent; His leave, with whom I journey, first obtain’d.”

“O son!” said he, “whoever of this throng One instant stops, lies then a hundred years, No fan to ventilate him, when the fire
Smites sorest. Pass thou therefore on. I close Will at thy garments walk, and then rejoin My troop, who go mourning their endless doom.”

I dar’d not from the path descend to tread On equal ground with him, but held my head Bent down, as one who walks in reverent guise.

“What chance or destiny,” thus he began, “Ere the last day conducts thee here below? And who is this, that shows to thee the way?”

“There up aloft,” I answer’d, “in the life Serene, I wander’d in a valley lost,
Before mine age had to its fullness reach’d. But yester-morn I left it: then once more Into that vale returning, him I met;
And by this path homeward he leads me back.”

“If thou,” he answer’d, “follow but thy star, Thou canst not miss at last a glorious haven: Unless in fairer days my judgment err’d. And if my fate so early had not chanc’d, Seeing the heav’ns thus bounteous to thee, I Had gladly giv’n thee comfort in thy work. But that ungrateful and malignant race,
Who in old times came down from Fesole, Ay and still smack of their rough mountain-flint, Will for thy good deeds shew thee enmity. Nor wonder; for amongst ill-savour’d crabs It suits not the sweet fig-tree lay her fruit. Old fame reports them in the world for blind, Covetous, envious, proud. Look to it well: Take heed thou cleanse thee of their ways. For thee Thy fortune hath such honour in reserve, That thou by either party shalt be crav’d With hunger keen: but be the fresh herb far From the goat’s tooth. The herd of Fesole May of themselves make litter, not touch the plant, If any such yet spring on their rank bed, In which the holy seed revives, transmitted From those true Romans, who still there remain’d, When it was made the nest of so much ill.”

“Were all my wish fulfill’d,” I straight replied, “Thou from the confines of man’s nature yet Hadst not been driven forth; for in my mind Is fix’d, and now strikes full upon my heart The dear, benign, paternal image, such
As thine was, when so lately thou didst teach me The way for man to win eternity;
And how I priz’d the lesson, it behooves, That, long as life endures, my tongue should speak, What of my fate thou tell’st, that write I down: And with another text to comment on
For her I keep it, the celestial dame, Who will know all, if I to her arrive.
This only would I have thee clearly note: That so my conscience have no plea against me; Do fortune as she list, I stand prepar’d. Not new or strange such earnest to mine ear. Speed fortune then her wheel, as likes her best, The clown his mattock; all things have their course.”

Thereat my sapient guide upon his right Turn’d himself back, then look’d at me and spake: “He listens to good purpose who takes note.”

I not the less still on my way proceed, Discoursing with Brunetto, and inquire
Who are most known and chief among his tribe.

“To know of some is well;” thus he replied, “But of the rest silence may best beseem. Time would not serve us for report so long. In brief I tell thee, that all these were clerks, Men of great learning and no less renown, By one same sin polluted in the world.
With them is Priscian, and Accorso’s son Francesco herds among that wretched throng: And, if the wish of so impure a blotch
Possess’d thee, him thou also might’st have seen, Who by the servants’ servant was transferr’d From Arno’s seat to Bacchiglione, where
His ill-strain’d nerves he left. I more would add, But must from farther speech and onward way Alike desist, for yonder I behold
A mist new-risen on the sandy plain. A company, with whom I may not sort,
Approaches. I commend my TREASURE to thee, Wherein I yet survive; my sole request.”

This said he turn’d, and seem’d as one of those, Who o’er Verona’s champain try their speed For the green mantle, and of them he seem’d, Not he who loses but who gains the prize.

CANTO XVI

NOW came I where the water’s din was heard, As down it fell into the other round,
Resounding like the hum of swarming bees: When forth together issu’d from a troop, That pass’d beneath the fierce tormenting storm, Three spirits, running swift. They towards us came, And each one cried aloud, “Oh do thou stay! Whom by the fashion of thy garb we deem
To be some inmate of our evil land.”

Ah me! what wounds I mark’d upon their limbs, Recent and old, inflicted by the flames! E’en the remembrance of them grieves me yet.

Attentive to their cry my teacher paus’d, And turn’d to me his visage, and then spake; “Wait now! our courtesy these merit well: And were ‘t not for the nature of the place, Whence glide the fiery darts, I should have said, That haste had better suited thee than them.”

They, when we stopp’d, resum’d their ancient wail, And soon as they had reach’d us, all the three Whirl’d round together in one restless wheel. As naked champions, smear’d with slippery oil, Are wont intent to watch their place of hold And vantage, ere in closer strife they meet; Thus each one, as he wheel’d, his countenance At me directed, so that opposite
The neck mov’d ever to the twinkling feet.

“If misery of this drear wilderness,” Thus one began, “added to our sad cheer
And destitute, do call forth scorn on us And our entreaties, let our great renown Incline thee to inform us who thou art,
That dost imprint with living feet unharm’d The soil of Hell. He, in whose track thou see’st My steps pursuing, naked though he be
And reft of all, was of more high estate Than thou believest; grandchild of the chaste Gualdrada, him they Guidoguerra call’d,
Who in his lifetime many a noble act Achiev’d, both by his wisdom and his sword. The other, next to me that beats the sand, Is Aldobrandi, name deserving well,
In the’ upper world, of honour; and myself Who in this torment do partake with them, Am Rusticucci, whom, past doubt, my wife Of savage temper, more than aught beside Hath to this evil brought.” If from the fire I had been shelter’d, down amidst them straight I then had cast me, nor my guide, I deem, Would have restrain’d my going; but that fear Of the dire burning vanquish’d the desire, Which made me eager of their wish’d embrace.

I then began: “Not scorn, but grief much more, Such as long time alone can cure, your doom Fix’d deep within me, soon as this my lord Spake words, whose tenour taught me to expect That such a race, as ye are, was at hand. I am a countryman of yours, who still
Affectionate have utter’d, and have heard Your deeds and names renown’d. Leaving the gall For the sweet fruit I go, that a sure guide Hath promis’d to me. But behooves, that far As to the centre first I downward tend.”

“So may long space thy spirit guide thy limbs,” He answer straight return’d; “and so thy fame Shine bright, when thou art gone; as thou shalt tell, If courtesy and valour, as they wont,
Dwell in our city, or have vanish’d clean? For one amidst us late condemn’d to wail, Borsiere, yonder walking with his peers, Grieves us no little by the news he brings.”

“An upstart multitude and sudden gains, Pride and excess, O Florence! have in thee Engender’d, so that now in tears thou mourn’st!” Thus cried I with my face uprais’d, and they All three, who for an answer took my words, Look’d at each other, as men look when truth Comes to their ear. “If thou at other times,” They all at once rejoin’d, “so easily
Satisfy those, who question, happy thou, Gifted with words, so apt to speak thy thought! Wherefore if thou escape this darksome clime, Returning to behold the radiant stars,
When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past, See that of us thou speak among mankind.”

This said, they broke the circle, and so swift Fled, that as pinions seem’d their nimble feet.

Not in so short a time might one have said “Amen,” as they had vanish’d. Straight my guide Pursu’d his track. I follow’d; and small space Had we pass’d onward, when the water’s sound Was now so near at hand, that we had scarce Heard one another’s speech for the loud din.

E’en as the river, that holds on its course Unmingled, from the mount of Vesulo,
On the left side of Apennine, toward The east, which Acquacheta higher up
They call, ere it descend into the vale, At Forli by that name no longer known,
Rebellows o’er Saint Benedict, roll’d on From the’ Alpine summit down a precipice, Where space enough to lodge a thousand spreads; Thus downward from a craggy steep we found, That this dark wave resounded, roaring loud, So that the ear its clamour soon had stunn’d.

I had a cord that brac’d my girdle round, Wherewith I erst had thought fast bound to take The painted leopard. This when I had all Unloosen’d from me (so my master bade)
I gather’d up, and stretch’d it forth to him. Then to the right he turn’d, and from the brink Standing few paces distant, cast it down Into the deep abyss. “And somewhat strange,” Thus to myself I spake, “signal so strange Betokens, which my guide with earnest eye Thus follows.” Ah! what caution must men use With those who look not at the deed alone, But spy into the thoughts with subtle skill!

“Quickly shall come,” he said, “what I expect, Thine eye discover quickly, that whereof Thy thought is dreaming.” Ever to that truth, Which but the semblance of a falsehood wears, A man, if possible, should bar his lip;
Since, although blameless, he incurs reproach. But silence here were vain; and by these notes Which now I sing, reader! I swear to thee, So may they favour find to latest times! That through the gross and murky air I spied A shape come swimming up, that might have quell’d The stoutest heart with wonder, in such guise As one returns, who hath been down to loose An anchor grappled fast against some rock, Or to aught else that in the salt wave lies, Who upward springing close draws in his feet.

CANTO XVII

“LO! the fell monster with the deadly sting! Who passes mountains, breaks through fenced walls And firm embattled spears, and with his filth Taints all the world!” Thus me my guide address’d, And beckon’d him, that he should come to shore, Near to the stony causeway’s utmost edge.

Forthwith that image vile of fraud appear’d, His head and upper part expos’d on land, But laid not on the shore his bestial train. His face the semblance of a just man’s wore, So kind and gracious was its outward cheer; The rest was serpent all: two shaggy claws Reach’d to the armpits, and the back and breast, And either side, were painted o’er with nodes And orbits. Colours variegated more
Nor Turks nor Tartars e’er on cloth of state With interchangeable embroidery wove,
Nor spread Arachne o’er her curious loom. As ofttimes a light skiff, moor’d to the shore, Stands part in water, part upon the land; Or, as where dwells the greedy German boor, The beaver settles watching for his prey; So on the rim, that fenc’d the sand with rock, Sat perch’d the fiend of evil. In the void Glancing, his tail upturn’d its venomous fork, With sting like scorpion’s arm’d. Then thus my guide: “Now need our way must turn few steps apart, Far as to that ill beast, who couches there.”

Thereat toward the right our downward course We shap’d, and, better to escape the flame And burning marle, ten paces on the verge Proceeded. Soon as we to him arrive,
A little further on mine eye beholds A tribe of spirits, seated on the sand
Near the wide chasm. Forthwith my master spake: “That to the full thy knowledge may extend Of all this round contains, go now, and mark The mien these wear: but hold not long discourse. Till thou returnest, I with him meantime Will parley, that to us he may vouchsafe The aid of his strong shoulders.” Thus alone Yet forward on the’ extremity I pac’d
Of that seventh circle, where the mournful tribe Were seated. At the eyes forth gush’d their pangs. Against the vapours and the torrid soil
Alternately their shifting hands they plied. Thus use the dogs in summer still to ply Their jaws and feet by turns, when bitten sore By gnats, or flies, or gadflies swarming round.

Noting the visages of some, who lay
Beneath the pelting of that dolorous fire, One of them all I knew not; but perceiv’d, That pendent from his neck each bore a pouch With colours and with emblems various mark’d, On which it seem’d as if their eye did feed.

And when amongst them looking round I came, A yellow purse I saw with azure wrought, That wore a lion’s countenance and port. Then still my sight pursuing its career, Another I beheld, than blood more red.
A goose display of whiter wing than curd. And one, who bore a fat and azure swine
Pictur’d on his white scrip, addressed me thus: “What dost thou in this deep? Go now and know, Since yet thou livest, that my neighbour here Vitaliano on my left shall sit.
A Paduan with these Florentines am I. Ofttimes they thunder in mine ears, exclaiming ‘O haste that noble knight! he who the pouch With the three beaks will bring!'” This said, he writh’d The mouth, and loll’d the tongue out, like an ox That licks his nostrils. I, lest longer stay He ill might brook, who bade me stay not long, Backward my steps from those sad spirits turn’d.

My guide already seated on the haunch Of the fierce animal I found; and thus
He me encourag’d. “Be thou stout; be bold. Down such a steep flight must we now descend! Mount thou before: for that no power the tail May have to harm thee, I will be i’ th’ midst.”

As one, who hath an ague fit so near, His nails already are turn’d blue, and he Quivers all o’er, if he but eye the shade; Such was my cheer at hearing of his words. But shame soon interpos’d her threat, who makes The servant bold in presence of his lord.

I settled me upon those shoulders huge, And would have said, but that the words to aid My purpose came not, “Look thou clasp me firm!”

But he whose succour then not first I prov’d, Soon as I mounted, in his arms aloft,
Embracing, held me up, and thus he spake: “Geryon! now move thee! be thy wheeling gyres Of ample circuit, easy thy descent.
Think on th’ unusual burden thou sustain’st.”

As a small vessel, back’ning out from land, Her station quits; so thence the monster loos’d, And when he felt himself at large, turn’d round There where the breast had been, his forked tail. Thus, like an eel, outstretch’d at length he steer’d, Gath’ring the air up with retractile claws.

Not greater was the dread when Phaeton The reins let drop at random, whence high heaven, Whereof signs yet appear, was wrapt in flames; Nor when ill-fated Icarus perceiv’d,
By liquefaction of the scalded wax, The trusted pennons loosen’d from his loins, His sire exclaiming loud, “Ill way thou keep’st!” Than was my dread, when round me on each part The air I view’d, and other object none
Save the fell beast. He slowly sailing, wheels His downward motion, unobserv’d of me,
But that the wind, arising to my face, Breathes on me from below. Now on our right I heard the cataract beneath us leap
With hideous crash; whence bending down to’ explore, New terror I conceiv’d at the steep plunge:

For flames I saw, and wailings smote mine ear: So that all trembling close I crouch’d my limbs, And then distinguish’d, unperceiv’d before, By the dread torments that on every side Drew nearer, how our downward course we wound.

As falcon, that hath long been on the wing, But lure nor bird hath seen, while in despair The falconer cries, “Ah me! thou stoop’st to earth!” Wearied descends, and swiftly down the sky In many an orbit wheels, then lighting sits At distance from his lord in angry mood; So Geryon lighting places us on foot
Low down at base of the deep-furrow’d rock, And, of his burden there discharg’d, forthwith Sprang forward, like an arrow from the string.

===7

THE VISION

OF

HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE

OR THE INFERNO

BY

DANTE ALIGHIERI

TRANSLATED BY

THE REV. H. F. CARY, M.A.

HELL

Part 7

Cantos 18 – 22

CANTO XVIII

THERE is a place within the depths of hell Call’d Malebolge, all of rock dark-stain’d With hue ferruginous, e’en as the steep
That round it circling winds. Right in the midst Of that abominable region, yawns
A spacious gulf profound, whereof the frame Due time shall tell. The circle, that remains, Throughout its round, between the gulf and base Of the high craggy banks, successive forms Ten trenches, in its hollow bottom sunk.

As where to guard the walls, full many a foss Begirds some stately castle, sure defence Affording to the space within, so here
Were model’d these; and as like fortresses E’en from their threshold to the brink without, Are flank’d with bridges; from the rock’s low base Thus flinty paths advanc’d, that ‘cross the moles And dikes, struck onward far as to the gulf, That in one bound collected cuts them off. Such was the place, wherein we found ourselves From Geryon’s back dislodg’d. The bard to left Held on his way, and I behind him mov’d.

On our right hand new misery I saw,
New pains, new executioners of wrath, That swarming peopled the first chasm. Below Were naked sinners. Hitherward they came, Meeting our faces from the middle point, With us beyond but with a larger stride. E’en thus the Romans, when the year returns Of Jubilee, with better speed to rid
The thronging multitudes, their means devise For such as pass the bridge; that on one side All front toward the castle, and approach Saint Peter’s fane, on th’ other towards the mount.

Each divers way along the grisly rock, Horn’d demons I beheld, with lashes huge, That on their back unmercifully smote.
Ah! how they made them bound at the first stripe!

None for the second waited nor the third.

Meantime as on I pass’d, one met my sight Whom soon as view’d; “Of him,” cried I, “not yet Mine eye hath had his fill.” With fixed gaze I therefore scann’d him. Straight the teacher kind Paus’d with me, and consented I should walk Backward a space, and the tormented spirit, Who thought to hide him, bent his visage down. But it avail’d him nought; for I exclaim’d: “Thou who dost cast thy eye upon the ground, Unless thy features do belie thee much,
Venedico art thou. But what brings thee Into this bitter seas’ning?” He replied: “Unwillingly I answer to thy words.
But thy clear speech, that to my mind recalls The world I once inhabited, constrains me. Know then ’twas I who led fair Ghisola
To do the Marquis’ will, however fame The shameful tale have bruited. Nor alone Bologna hither sendeth me to mourn
Rather with us the place is so o’erthrong’d That not so many tongues this day are taught, Betwixt the Reno and Savena’s stream,
To answer SIPA in their country’s phrase. And if of that securer proof thou need,
Remember but our craving thirst for gold.”

Him speaking thus, a demon with his thong Struck, and exclaim’d, “Away! corrupter! here Women are none for sale.” Forthwith I join’d My escort, and few paces thence we came
To where a rock forth issued from the bank. That easily ascended, to the right
Upon its splinter turning, we depart From those eternal barriers. When arriv’d, Where underneath the gaping arch lets pass The scourged souls: “Pause here,” the teacher said, “And let these others miserable, now
Strike on thy ken, faces not yet beheld, For that together they with us have walk’d.”

From the old bridge we ey’d the pack, who came From th’ other side towards us, like the rest, Excoriate from the lash. My gentle guide, By me unquestion’d, thus his speech resum’d: “Behold that lofty shade, who this way tends, And seems too woe-begone to drop a tear. How yet the regal aspect he retains!
Jason is he, whose skill and prowess won The ram from Colchos. To the Lemnian isle His passage thither led him, when those bold And pitiless women had slain all their males. There he with tokens and fair witching words Hypsipyle beguil’d, a virgin young,
Who first had all the rest herself beguil’d. Impregnated he left her there forlorn.
Such is the guilt condemns him to this pain. Here too Medea’s inj’ries are avenged.
All bear him company, who like deceit To his have practis’d. And thus much to know Of the first vale suffice thee, and of those Whom its keen torments urge.” Now had we come Where, crossing the next pier, the straighten’d path Bestrides its shoulders to another arch.

Hence in the second chasm we heard the ghosts, Who jibber in low melancholy sounds,
With wide-stretch’d nostrils snort, and on themselves Smite with their palms. Upon the banks a scurf From the foul steam condens’d, encrusting hung, That held sharp combat with the sight and smell.

So hollow is the depth, that from no part, Save on the summit of the rocky span,
Could I distinguish aught. Thus far we came; And thence I saw, within the foss below, A crowd immers’d in ordure, that appear’d Draff of the human body. There beneath
Searching with eye inquisitive, I mark’d One with his head so grim’d, ‘t were hard to deem, If he were clerk or layman. Loud he cried: “Why greedily thus bendest more on me,
Than on these other filthy ones, thy ken?”

“Because if true my mem’ry,” I replied, “I heretofore have seen thee with dry locks, And thou Alessio art of Lucca sprung.
Therefore than all the rest I scan thee more.”

Then beating on his brain these words he spake: “Me thus low down my flatteries have sunk, Wherewith I ne’er enough could glut my tongue.”

My leader thus: “A little further stretch Thy face, that thou the visage well mayst note Of that besotted, sluttish courtezan,
Who there doth rend her with defiled nails, Now crouching down, now risen on her feet.

“Thais is this, the harlot, whose false lip Answer’d her doting paramour that ask’d, ‘Thankest me much!’–‘Say rather wondrously,’ And seeing this here satiate be our view.”

CANTO XIX

WOE to thee, Simon Magus! woe to you, His wretched followers! who the things of God, Which should be wedded unto goodness, them, Rapacious as ye are, do prostitute
For gold and silver in adultery!
Now must the trumpet sound for you, since yours Is the third chasm. Upon the following vault We now had mounted, where the rock impends Directly o’er the centre of the foss.

Wisdom Supreme! how wonderful the art, Which thou dost manifest in heaven, in earth, And in the evil world, how just a meed
Allotting by thy virtue unto all!

I saw the livid stone, throughout the sides And in its bottom full of apertures,
All equal in their width, and circular each, Nor ample less nor larger they appear’d
Than in Saint John’s fair dome of me belov’d Those fram’d to hold the pure baptismal streams, One of the which I brake, some few years past, To save a whelming infant; and be this
A seal to undeceive whoever doubts
The motive of my deed. From out the mouth Of every one, emerg’d a sinner’s feet
And of the legs high upward as the calf The rest beneath was hid. On either foot The soles were burning, whence the flexile joints Glanc’d with such violent motion, as had snapt Asunder cords or twisted withs. As flame, Feeding on unctuous matter, glides along The surface, scarcely touching where it moves; So here, from heel to point, glided the flames.

“Master! say who is he, than all the rest Glancing in fiercer agony, on whom
A ruddier flame doth prey?” I thus inquir’d.

“If thou be willing,” he replied, “that I Carry thee down, where least the slope bank falls, He of himself shall tell thee and his wrongs.”

I then: “As pleases thee to me is best. Thou art my lord; and know’st that ne’er I quit Thy will: what silence hides that knowest thou.” Thereat on the fourth pier we came, we turn’d, And on our left descended to the depth,
A narrow strait and perforated close. Nor from his side my leader set me down, Till to his orifice he brought, whose limb Quiv’ring express’d his pang. “Whoe’er thou art, Sad spirit! thus revers’d, and as a stake Driv’n in the soil!” I in these words began, “If thou be able, utter forth thy voice.”

There stood I like the friar, that doth shrive A wretch for murder doom’d, who e’en when fix’d, Calleth him back, whence death awhile delays.

He shouted: “Ha! already standest there? Already standest there, O Boniface!
By many a year the writing play’d me false. So early dost thou surfeit with the wealth, For which thou fearedst not in guile to take The lovely lady, and then mangle her?”

I felt as those who, piercing not the drift Of answer made them, stand as if expos’d In mockery, nor know what to reply,
When Virgil thus admonish’d: “Tell him quick, I am not he, not he, whom thou believ’st.”

And I, as was enjoin’d me, straight replied.

That heard, the spirit all did wrench his feet, And sighing next in woeful accent spake: “What then of me requirest? If to know
So much imports thee, who I am, that thou Hast therefore down the bank descended, learn That in the mighty mantle I was rob’d,
And of a she-bear was indeed the son, So eager to advance my whelps, that there My having in my purse above I stow’d,
And here myself. Under my head are dragg’d The rest, my predecessors in the guilt
Of simony. Stretch’d at their length they lie Along an opening in the rock. ‘Midst them I also low shall fall, soon as he comes, For whom I took thee, when so hastily
I question’d. But already longer time Hath pass’d, since my souls kindled, and I thus Upturn’d have stood, than is his doom to stand Planted with fiery feet. For after him,
One yet of deeds more ugly shall arrive, From forth the west, a shepherd without law, Fated to cover both his form and mine.
He a new Jason shall be call’d, of whom In Maccabees we read; and favour such
As to that priest his king indulgent show’d, Shall be of France’s monarch shown to him.”

I know not if I here too far presum’d, But in this strain I answer’d: “Tell me now, What treasures from St. Peter at the first Our Lord demanded, when he put the keys
Into his charge? Surely he ask’d no more But, Follow me! Nor Peter nor the rest
Or gold or silver of Matthias took, When lots were cast upon the forfeit place Of the condemned soul. Abide thou then;
Thy punishment of right is merited: And look thou well to that ill-gotten coin, Which against Charles thy hardihood inspir’d. If reverence of the keys restrain’d me not, Which thou in happier time didst hold, I yet Severer speech might use. Your avarice
O’ercasts the world with mourning, under foot Treading the good, and raising bad men up. Of shepherds, like to you, th’ Evangelist Was ware, when her, who sits upon the waves, With kings in filthy whoredom he beheld, She who with seven heads tower’d at her birth, And from ten horns her proof of glory drew, Long as her spouse in virtue took delight. Of gold and silver ye have made your god, Diff’ring wherein from the idolater,
But he that worships one, a hundred ye? Ah, Constantine! to how much ill gave birth, Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower, Which the first wealthy Father gain’d from thee!”

Meanwhile, as thus I sung, he, whether wrath Or conscience smote him, violent upsprang Spinning on either sole. I do believe
My teacher well was pleas’d, with so compos’d A lip, he listen’d ever to the sound
Of the true words I utter’d. In both arms He caught, and to his bosom lifting me
Upward retrac’d the way of his descent.

Nor weary of his weight he press’d me close, Till to the summit of the rock we came,
Our passage from the fourth to the fifth pier. His cherish’d burden there gently he plac’d Upon the rugged rock and steep, a path
Not easy for the clamb’ring goat to mount.

Thence to my view another vale appear’d

CANTO XX

AND now the verse proceeds to torments new, Fit argument of this the twentieth strain Of the first song, whose awful theme records The spirits whelm’d in woe. Earnest I look’d Into the depth, that open’d to my view,
Moisten’d with tears of anguish, and beheld A tribe, that came along the hollow vale, In silence weeping: such their step as walk Quires chanting solemn litanies on earth.

As on them more direct mine eye descends, Each wondrously seem’d to be revers’d
At the neck-bone, so that the countenance Was from the reins averted: and because
None might before him look, they were compell’d To’ advance with backward gait. Thus one perhaps Hath been by force of palsy clean transpos’d, But I ne’er saw it nor believe it so.

Now, reader! think within thyself, so God Fruit of thy reading give thee! how I long Could keep my visage dry, when I beheld
Near me our form distorted in such guise, That on the hinder parts fall’n from the face The tears down-streaming roll’d. Against a rock I leant and wept, so that my guide exclaim’d: “What, and art thou too witless as the rest? Here pity most doth show herself alive,
When she is dead. What guilt exceedeth his, Who with Heaven’s judgment in his passion strives? Raise up thy head, raise up, and see the man, Before whose eyes earth gap’d in Thebes, when all Cried out, ‘Amphiaraus, whither rushest? ‘Why leavest thou the war?’ He not the less Fell ruining far as to Minos down,
Whose grapple none eludes. Lo! how he makes The breast his shoulders, and who once too far Before him wish’d to see, now backward looks, And treads reverse his path. Tiresias note, Who semblance chang’d, when woman he became Of male, through every limb transform’d, and then Once more behov’d him with his rod to strike The two entwining serpents, ere the plumes, That mark’d the better sex, might shoot again.

“Aruns, with more his belly facing, comes. On Luni’s mountains ‘midst the marbles white, Where delves Carrara’s hind, who wons beneath, A cavern was his dwelling, whence the stars And main-sea wide in boundless view he held.

“The next, whose loosen’d tresses overspread Her bosom, which thou seest not (for each hair On that side grows) was Manto, she who search’d Through many regions, and at length her seat Fix’d in my native land, whence a short space My words detain thy audience. When her sire From life departed, and in servitude
The city dedicate to Bacchus mourn’d, Long time she went a wand’rer through the world. Aloft in Italy’s delightful land
A lake there lies, at foot of that proud Alp, That o’er the Tyrol locks Germania in,
Its name Benacus, which a thousand rills, Methinks, and more, water between the vale Camonica and Garda and the height
Of Apennine remote. There is a spot At midway of that lake, where he who bears Of Trento’s flock the past’ral staff, with him Of Brescia, and the Veronese, might each Passing that way his benediction give.
A garrison of goodly site and strong Peschiera stands, to awe with front oppos’d The Bergamese and Brescian, whence the shore More slope each way descends. There, whatsoev’er Benacus’ bosom holds not, tumbling o’er
Down falls, and winds a river flood beneath Through the green pastures. Soon as in his course The steam makes head, Benacus then no more They call the name, but Mincius, till at last Reaching Governo into Po he falls.
Not far his course hath run, when a wide flat It finds, which overstretchmg as a marsh It covers, pestilent in summer oft.
Hence journeying, the savage maiden saw ‘Midst of the fen a territory waste
And naked of inhabitants. To shun
All human converse, here she with her slaves Plying her arts remain’d, and liv’d, and left Her body tenantless. Thenceforth the tribes, Who round were scatter’d, gath’ring to that place Assembled; for its strength was great, enclos’d On all parts by the fen. On those dead bones They rear’d themselves a city, for her sake, Calling it Mantua, who first chose the spot, Nor ask’d another omen for the name,
Wherein more numerous the people dwelt, Ere Casalodi’s madness by deceit
Was wrong’d of Pinamonte. If thou hear Henceforth another origin assign’d
Of that my country, I forewarn thee now, That falsehood none beguile thee of the truth.”

I answer’d: “Teacher, I conclude thy words So certain, that all else shall be to me As embers lacking life. But now of these, Who here proceed, instruct me, if thou see Any that merit more especial note.
For thereon is my mind alone intent.”

He straight replied: “That spirit, from whose cheek The beard sweeps o’er his shoulders brown, what time Graecia was emptied of her males, that scarce The cradles were supplied, the seer was he In Aulis, who with Calchas gave the sign When first to cut the cable. Him they nam’d Eurypilus: so sings my tragic strain,
In which majestic measure well thou know’st, Who know’st it all. That other, round the loins So slender of his shape, was Michael Scot, Practis’d in ev’ry slight of magic wile.

“Guido Bonatti see: Asdente mark,
Who now were willing, he had tended still The thread and cordwain; and too late repents.

“See next the wretches, who the needle left, The shuttle and the spindle, and became
Diviners: baneful witcheries they wrought With images and herbs. But onward now:
For now doth Cain with fork of thorns confine On either hemisphere, touching the wave
Beneath the towers of Seville. Yesternight The moon was round. Thou mayst remember well: For she good service did thee in the gloom Of the deep wood.” This said, both onward mov’d.

CANTO XXI

THUS we from bridge to bridge, with other talk, The which my drama cares not to rehearse, Pass’d on; and to the summit reaching, stood To view another gap, within the round
Of Malebolge, other bootless pangs.

Marvelous darkness shadow’d o’er the place.

In the Venetians’ arsenal as boils
Through wintry months tenacious pitch, to smear Their unsound vessels; for th’ inclement time Sea-faring men restrains, and in that while His bark one builds anew, another stops
The ribs of his, that hath made many a voyage; One hammers at the prow, one at the poop; This shapeth oars, that other cables twirls, The mizen one repairs and main-sail rent So not by force of fire but art divine
Boil’d here a glutinous thick mass, that round Lim’d all the shore beneath. I that beheld, But therein nought distinguish’d, save the surge, Rais’d by the boiling, in one mighty swell Heave, and by turns subsiding and fall. While there I fix’d my ken below, “Mark! mark!” my guide Exclaiming, drew me towards him from the place, Wherein I stood. I turn’d myself as one, Impatient to behold that which beheld
He needs must shun, whom sudden fear unmans, That he his flight delays not for the view. Behind me I discern’d a devil black,
That running, up advanc’d along the rock. Ah! what fierce cruelty his look bespake! In act how bitter did he seem, with wings Buoyant outstretch’d and feet of nimblest tread! His shoulder proudly eminent and sharp
Was with a sinner charg’d; by either haunch He held him, the foot’s sinew griping fast.

“Ye of our bridge!” he cried, “keen-talon’d fiends! Lo! one of Santa Zita’s elders! Him
Whelm ye beneath, while I return for more. That land hath store of such. All men are there, Except Bonturo, barterers: of ‘no’
For lucre there an ‘aye’ is quickly made.”

Him dashing down, o’er the rough rock he turn’d, Nor ever after thief a mastiff loos’d
Sped with like eager haste. That other sank And forthwith writing to the surface rose. But those dark demons, shrouded by the bridge, Cried “Here the hallow’d visage saves not: here Is other swimming than in Serchio’s wave. Wherefore if thou desire we rend thee not, Take heed thou mount not o’er the pitch.” This said, They grappled him with more than hundred hooks, And shouted: “Cover’d thou must sport thee here; So, if thou canst, in secret mayst thou filch.”

E’en thus the cook bestirs him, with his grooms, To thrust the flesh into the caldron down With flesh-hooks, that it float not on the top.

Me then my guide bespake: “Lest they descry, That thou art here, behind a craggy rock Bend low and screen thee; and whate’er of force Be offer’d me, or insult, fear thou not: For I am well advis’d, who have been erst In the like fray.” Beyond the bridge’s head Therewith he pass’d, and reaching the sixth pier, Behov’d him then a forehead terror-proof.

With storm and fury, as when dogs rush forth Upon the poor man’s back, who suddenly
From whence he standeth makes his suit; so rush’d Those from beneath the arch, and against him Their weapons all they pointed. He aloud: “Be none of you outrageous: ere your time Dare seize me, come forth from amongst you one,

“Who having heard my words, decide he then If he shall tear these limbs.” They shouted loud, “Go, Malacoda!” Whereat one advanc’d,
The others standing firm, and as he came, “What may this turn avail him?” he exclaim’d.

“Believ’st thou, Malacoda! I had come Thus far from all your skirmishing secure,” My teacher answered, “without will divine And destiny propitious? Pass we then
For so Heaven’s pleasure is, that I should lead Another through this savage wilderness.”

Forthwith so fell his pride, that he let drop The instrument of torture at his feet,
And to the rest exclaim’d: “We have no power To strike him.” Then to me my guide: “O thou! Who on the bridge among the crags dost sit Low crouching, safely now to me return.”

I rose, and towards him moved with speed: the fiends Meantime all forward drew: me terror seiz’d Lest they should break the compact they had made. Thus issuing from Caprona, once I saw
Th’ infantry dreading, lest his covenant The foe should break; so close he hemm’d them round.

I to my leader’s side adher’d, mine eyes With fixt and motionless observance bent On their unkindly visage. They their hooks Protruding, one the other thus bespake:
“Wilt thou I touch him on the hip?” To whom Was answer’d: “Even so; nor miss thy aim.”

But he, who was in conf’rence with my guide, Turn’d rapid round, and thus the demon spake: “Stay, stay thee, Scarmiglione!” Then to us He added: “Further footing to your step
This rock affords not, shiver’d to the base Of the sixth arch. But would you still proceed, Up by this cavern go: not distant far,
Another rock will yield you passage safe. Yesterday, later by five hours than now, Twelve hundred threescore years and six had fill’d The circuit of their course, since here the way Was broken. Thitherward I straight dispatch Certain of these my scouts, who shall espy If any on the surface bask. With them
Go ye: for ye shall find them nothing fell. Come Alichino forth,” with that he cried, “And Calcabrina, and Cagnazzo thou!
The troop of ten let Barbariccia lead. With Libicocco Draghinazzo haste,
Fang’d Ciriatto, Grafflacane fierce, And Farfarello, and mad Rubicant.
Search ye around the bubbling tar. For these, In safety lead them, where the other crag Uninterrupted traverses the dens.”

I then: “O master! what a sight is there! Ah! without escort, journey we alone,
Which, if thou know the way, I covet not. Unless thy prudence fail thee, dost not mark How they do gnarl upon us, and their scowl Threatens us present tortures?” He replied: “I charge thee fear not: let them, as they will, Gnarl on: ‘t is but in token of their spite Against the souls, who mourn in torment steep’d.”

To leftward o’er the pier they turn’d; but each Had first between his teeth prest close the tongue, Toward their leader for a signal looking, Which he with sound obscene triumphant gave.

CANTO XXII

IT hath been heretofore my chance to see Horsemen with martial order shifting camp, To onset sallying, or in muster rang’d,
Or in retreat sometimes outstretch’d for flight; Light-armed squadrons and fleet foragers Scouring thy plains, Arezzo! have I seen, And clashing tournaments, and tilting jousts, Now with the sound of trumpets, now of bells, Tabors, or signals made from castled heights, And with inventions multiform, our own,
Or introduc’d from foreign land; but ne’er To such a strange recorder I beheld,
In evolution moving, horse nor foot, Nor ship, that tack’d by sign from land or star.

With the ten demons on our way we went; Ah fearful company! but in the church
With saints, with gluttons at the tavern’s mess.

Still earnest on the pitch I gaz’d, to mark All things whate’er the chasm contain’d, and those Who burn’d within. As dolphins, that, in sign To mariners, heave high their arched backs, That thence forewarn’d they may advise to save Their threaten’d vessels; so, at intervals, To ease the pain his back some sinner show’d, Then hid more nimbly than the lightning glance.

E’en as the frogs, that of a wat’ry moat Stand at the brink, with the jaws only out, Their feet and of the trunk all else concealed, Thus on each part the sinners stood, but soon As Barbariccia was at hand, so they
Drew back under the wave. I saw, and yet My heart doth stagger, one, that waited thus, As it befalls that oft one frog remains, While the next springs away: and Graffiacan, Who of the fiends was nearest, grappling seiz’d His clotted locks, and dragg’d him sprawling up, That he appear’d to me an otter. Each
Already by their names I knew, so well When they were chosen, I observ’d, and mark’d How one the other call’d. “O Rubicant!
See that his hide thou with thy talons flay,” Shouted together all the cursed crew.

Then I: “Inform thee, master! if thou may, What wretched soul is this, on whom their hand His foes have laid.” My leader to his side Approach’d, and whence he came inquir’d, to whom Was answer’d thus: “Born in Navarre’s domain My mother plac’d me in a lord’s retinue, For she had borne me to a losel vile,
A spendthrift of his substance and himself. The good king Thibault after that I serv’d, To peculating here my thoughts were turn’d, Whereof I give account in this dire heat.”

Straight Ciriatto, from whose mouth a tusk Issued on either side, as from a boar,
Ript him with one of these. ‘Twixt evil claws The mouse had fall’n: but Barbariccia cried, Seizing him with both arms: “Stand thou apart, While I do fix him on my prong transpierc’d.” Then added, turning to my guide his face, “Inquire of him, if more thou wish to learn, Ere he again be rent.” My leader thus:
“Then tell us of the partners in thy guilt; Knowest thou any sprung of Latian land
Under the tar?”–“I parted,” he replied, “But now from one, who sojourn’d not far thence; So were I under shelter now with him!
Nor hook nor talon then should scare me more.”–.

“Too long we suffer,” Libicocco cried, Then, darting forth a prong, seiz’d on his arm, And mangled bore away the sinewy part.
Him Draghinazzo by his thighs beneath Would next have caught, whence angrily their chief, Turning on all sides round, with threat’ning brow Restrain’d them. When their strife a little ceas’d, Of him, who yet was gazing on his wound, My teacher thus without delay inquir’d:
“Who was the spirit, from whom by evil hap Parting, as thou has told, thou cam’st to shore?”–

“It was the friar Gomita,” he rejoin’d, “He of Gallura, vessel of all guile,
Who had his master’s enemies in hand, And us’d them so that they commend him well. Money he took, and them at large dismiss’d. So he reports: and in each other charge
Committed to his keeping, play’d the part Of barterer to the height: with him doth herd The chief of Logodoro, Michel Zanche.
Sardinia is a theme, whereof their tongue Is never weary. Out! alas! behold
That other, how he grins! More would I say, But tremble lest he mean to maul me sore.”

Their captain then to Farfarello turning, Who roll’d his moony eyes in act to strike, Rebuk’d him thus: “Off! cursed bird! Avaunt!”–

“If ye desire to see or hear,” he thus Quaking with dread resum’d, “or Tuscan spirits Or Lombard, I will cause them to appear. Meantime let these ill talons bate their fury, So that no vengeance they may fear from them, And I, remaining in this self-same place, Will for myself but one, make sev’n appear, When my shrill whistle shall be heard; for so Our custom is to call each other up.”

Cagnazzo at that word deriding grinn’d, Then wagg’d the head and spake: “Hear his device, Mischievous as he is, to plunge him down.”

Whereto he thus, who fail’d not in rich store Of nice-wove toils; “Mischief forsooth extreme, Meant only to procure myself more woe!”

No longer Alichino then refrain’d,
But thus, the rest gainsaying, him bespake: “If thou do cast thee down, I not on foot Will chase thee, but above the pitch will beat My plumes. Quit we the vantage ground, and let The bank be as a shield, that we may see If singly thou prevail against us all.”

Now, reader, of new sport expect to hear!

They each one turn’d his eyes to the’ other shore, He first, who was the hardest to persuade. The spirit of Navarre chose well his time, Planted his feet on land, and at one leap Escaping disappointed their resolve.

Them quick resentment stung, but him the most, Who was the cause of failure; in pursuit He therefore sped, exclaiming; “Thou art caught.”

But little it avail’d: terror outstripp’d His following flight: the other plung’d beneath, And he with upward pinion rais’d his breast: E’en thus the water-fowl, when she perceives The falcon near, dives instant down, while he Enrag’d and spent retires. That mockery
In Calcabrina fury stirr’d, who flew After him, with desire of strife inflam’d; And, for the barterer had ‘scap’d, so turn’d His talons on his comrade. O’er the dyke In grapple close they join’d; but the’ other prov’d A goshawk able to rend well his foe;

And in the boiling lake both fell. The heat Was umpire soon between them, but in vain To lift themselves they strove, so fast were glued Their pennons. Barbariccia, as the rest, That chance lamenting, four in flight dispatch’d From the’ other coast, with all their weapons arm’d. They, to their post on each side speedily Descending, stretch’d their hooks toward the fiends, Who flounder’d, inly burning from their scars: And we departing left them to that broil.

===8

THE VISION

OF

HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE

OR THE INFERNO

BY

DANTE ALIGHIERI

TRANSLATED BY

THE REV. H. F. CARY, M.A.

HELL

Part 8

Cantos 23 – 28

CANTO XXIII

IN silence and in solitude we went,
One first, the other following his steps, As minor friars journeying on their road.

The present fray had turn’d my thoughts to muse Upon old Aesop’s fable, where he told
What fate unto the mouse and frog befell. For language hath not sounds more like in sense, Than are these chances, if the origin
And end of each be heedfully compar’d. And as one thought bursts from another forth, So afterward from that another sprang,
Which added doubly to my former fear. For thus I reason’d: “These through us have been So foil’d, with loss and mock’ry so complete, As needs must sting them sore. If anger then Be to their evil will conjoin’d, more fell They shall pursue us, than the savage hound Snatches the leveret, panting ‘twixt his jaws.”

Already I perceiv’d my hair stand all On end with terror, and look’d eager back.

“Teacher,” I thus began, “if speedily Thyself and me thou hide not, much I dread Those evil talons. Even now behind
They urge us: quick imagination works So forcibly, that I already feel them.”

He answer’d: “Were I form’d of leaded glass, I should not sooner draw unto myself
Thy outward image, than I now imprint That from within. This moment came thy thoughts Presented before mine, with similar act
And count’nance similar, so that from both I one design have fram’d. If the right coast Incline so much, that we may thence descend Into the other chasm, we shall escape
Secure from this imagined pursuit.”

He had not spoke his purpose to the end, When I from far beheld them with spread wings Approach to take us. Suddenly my guide
Caught me, ev’n as a mother that from sleep Is by the noise arous’d, and near her sees The climbing fires, who snatches up her babe And flies ne’er pausing, careful more of him Than of herself, that but a single vest
Clings round her limbs. Down from the jutting beach Supine he cast him, to that pendent rock, Which closes on one part the other chasm.

Never ran water with such hurrying pace Adown the tube to turn a landmill’s wheel, When nearest it approaches to the spokes, As then along that edge my master ran,
Carrying me in his bosom, as a child, Not a companion. Scarcely had his feet
Reach’d to the lowest of the bed beneath,

When over us the steep they reach’d; but fear In him was none; for that high Providence, Which plac’d them ministers of the fifth foss, Power of departing thence took from them all.

There in the depth we saw a painted tribe, Who pac’d with tardy steps around, and wept, Faint in appearance and o’ercome with toil. Caps had they on, with hoods, that fell low down Before their eyes, in fashion like to those Worn by the monks in Cologne. Their outside Was overlaid with gold, dazzling to view, But leaden all within, and of such weight, That Frederick’s compar’d to these were straw. Oh, everlasting wearisome attire!

We yet once more with them together turn’d To leftward, on their dismal moan intent. But by the weight oppress’d, so slowly came The fainting people, that our company
Was chang’d at every movement of the step.

Whence I my guide address’d: “See that thou find Some spirit, whose name may by his deeds be known, And to that end look round thee as thou go’st.”

Then one, who understood the Tuscan voice, Cried after us aloud: “Hold in your feet, Ye who so swiftly speed through the dusk air. Perchance from me thou shalt obtain thy wish.”

Whereat my leader, turning, me bespake: “Pause, and then onward at their pace proceed.”

I staid, and saw two Spirits in whose look Impatient eagerness of mind was mark’d
To overtake me; but the load they bare And narrow path retarded their approach.

Soon as arriv’d, they with an eye askance Perus’d me, but spake not: then turning each To other thus conferring said: “This one Seems, by the action of his throat, alive. And, be they dead, what privilege allows They walk unmantled by the cumbrous stole?”

Then thus to me: “Tuscan, who visitest The college of the mourning hypocrites,
Disdain not to instruct us who thou art.”

“By Arno’s pleasant stream,” I thus replied, “In the great city I was bred and grew,
And wear the body I have ever worn. but who are ye, from whom such mighty grief, As now I witness, courseth down your cheeks? What torment breaks forth in this bitter woe?” “Our bonnets gleaming bright with orange hue,” One of them answer’d, “are so leaden gross, That with their weight they make the balances To crack beneath them. Joyous friars we were, Bologna’s natives, Catalano I,
He Loderingo nam’d, and by thy land Together taken, as men used to take
A single and indifferent arbiter,
To reconcile their strifes. How there we sped, Gardingo’s vicinage can best declare.”

“O friars!” I began, “your miseries–” But there brake off, for one had caught my eye, Fix’d to a cross with three stakes on the ground: He, when he saw me, writh’d himself, throughout Distorted, ruffling with deep sighs his beard. And Catalano, who thereof was ‘ware,

Thus spake: “That pierced spirit, whom intent Thou view’st, was he who gave the Pharisees Counsel, that it were fitting for one man To suffer for the people. He doth lie
Transverse; nor any passes, but him first Behoves make feeling trial how each weighs. In straits like this along the foss are plac’d The father of his consort, and the rest
Partakers in that council, seed of ill And sorrow to the Jews.” I noted then,
How Virgil gaz’d with wonder upon him, Thus abjectly extended on the cross
In banishment eternal. To the friar He next his words address’d: “We pray ye tell, If so be lawful, whether on our right
Lies any opening in the rock, whereby We both may issue hence, without constraint On the dark angels, that compell’d they come To lead us from this depth.” He thus replied: “Nearer than thou dost hope, there is a rock From the next circle moving, which o’ersteps Each vale of horror, save that here his cope Is shatter’d. By the ruin ye may mount:
For on the side it slants, and most the height Rises below.” With head bent down awhile My leader stood, then spake: “He warn’d us ill, Who yonder hangs the sinners on his hook.”

To whom the friar: At Bologna erst
“I many vices of the devil heard,
Among the rest was said, ‘He is a liar, And the father of lies!'” When he had spoke, My leader with large strides proceeded on, Somewhat disturb’d with anger in his look.

I therefore left the spirits heavy laden, And following, his beloved footsteps mark’d.

CANTO XXIV

IN the year’s early nonage, when the sun Tempers his tresses in Aquarius’ urn,
And now towards equal day the nights recede, When as the rime upon the earth puts on
Her dazzling sister’s image, but not long Her milder sway endures, then riseth up
The village hind, whom fails his wintry store, And looking out beholds the plain around All whiten’d, whence impatiently he smites His thighs, and to his hut returning in, There paces to and fro, wailing his lot, As a discomfited and helpless man;
Then comes he forth again, and feels new hope Spring in his bosom, finding e’en thus soon The world hath chang’d its count’nance, grasps his crook, And forth to pasture drives his little flock: So me my guide dishearten’d when I saw
His troubled forehead, and so speedily That ill was cur’d; for at the fallen bridge Arriving, towards me with a look as sweet, He turn’d him back, as that I first beheld At the steep mountain’s foot. Regarding well The ruin, and some counsel first maintain’d With his own thought, he open’d wide his arm And took me up. As one, who, while he works, Computes his labour’s issue, that he seems Still to foresee the’ effect, so lifting me Up to the summit of one peak, he fix’d
His eye upon another. “Grapple that,” Said he, “but first make proof, if it be such As will sustain thee.” For one capp’d with lead This were no journey. Scarcely he, though light, And I, though onward push’d from crag to crag, Could mount. And if the precinct of this coast Were not less ample than the last, for him I know not, but my strength had surely fail’d. But Malebolge all toward the mouth
Inclining of the nethermost abyss,
The site of every valley hence requires, That one side upward slope, the other fall.

At length the point of our descent we reach’d From the last flag: soon as to that arriv’d, So was the breath exhausted from my lungs, I could no further, but did seat me there.

“Now needs thy best of man;” so spake my guide: “For not on downy plumes, nor under shade Of canopy reposing, fame is won,
Without which whosoe’er consumes his days Leaveth such vestige of himself on earth, As smoke in air or foam upon the wave.
Thou therefore rise: vanish thy weariness By the mind’s effort, in each struggle form’d To vanquish, if she suffer not the weight Of her corporeal frame to crush her down. A longer ladder yet remains to scale.
From these to have escap’d sufficeth not. If well thou note me, profit by my words.”

I straightway rose, and show’d myself less spent Than I in truth did feel me. “On,” I cried, “For I am stout and fearless.” Up the rock Our way we held, more rugged than before, Narrower and steeper far to climb. From talk I ceas’d not, as we journey’d, so to seem Least faint; whereat a voice from the other foss Did issue forth, for utt’rance suited ill. Though on the arch that crosses there I stood, What were the words I knew not, but who spake Seem’d mov’d in anger. Down I stoop’d to look, But my quick eye might reach not to the depth For shrouding darkness; wherefore thus I spake: “To the next circle, Teacher, bend thy steps, And from the wall dismount we; for as hence I hear and understand not, so I see
Beneath, and naught discern.”–“I answer not,” Said he, “but by the deed. To fair request Silent performance maketh best return.”

We from the bridge’s head descended, where To the eighth mound it joins, and then the chasm Opening to view, I saw a crowd within
Of serpents terrible, so strange of shape And hideous, that remembrance in my veins Yet shrinks the vital current. Of her sands Let Lybia vaunt no more: if Jaculus,
Pareas and Chelyder be her brood,
Cenchris and Amphisboena, plagues so dire Or in such numbers swarming ne’er she shew’d, Not with all Ethiopia, and whate’er
Above the Erythraean sea is spawn’d.

Amid this dread exuberance of woe
Ran naked spirits wing’d with horrid fear, Nor hope had they of crevice where to hide, Or heliotrope to charm them out of view. With serpents were their hands behind them bound, Which through their reins infix’d the tail and head Twisted in folds before. And lo! on one
Near to our side, darted an adder up, And, where the neck is on the shoulders tied, Transpierc’d him. Far more quickly than e’er pen Wrote O or I, he kindled, burn’d, and chang’d To ashes, all pour’d out upon the earth. When there dissolv’d he lay, the dust again Uproll’d spontaneous, and the self-same form Instant resumed. So mighty sages tell,
The’ Arabian Phoenix, when five hundred years Have well nigh circled, dies, and springs forthwith Renascent. Blade nor herb throughout his life He tastes, but tears of frankincense alone And odorous amomum: swaths of nard
And myrrh his funeral shroud. As one that falls, He knows not how, by force demoniac dragg’d To earth, or through obstruction fettering up In chains invisible the powers of man,
Who, risen from his trance, gazeth around, Bewilder’d with the monstrous agony
He hath endur’d, and wildly staring sighs; So stood aghast the sinner when he rose.

Oh! how severe God’s judgment, that deals out Such blows in stormy vengeance! Who he was My teacher next inquir’d, and thus in few He answer’d: “Vanni Fucci am I call’d,
Not long since rained down from Tuscany To this dire gullet. Me the beastial life And not the human pleas’d, mule that I was, Who in Pistoia found my worthy den.”

I then to Virgil: “Bid him stir not hence, And ask what crime did thrust him hither: once A man I knew him choleric and bloody.”

The sinner heard and feign’d not, but towards me His mind directing and his face, wherein Was dismal shame depictur’d, thus he spake: “It grieves me more to have been caught by thee In this sad plight, which thou beholdest, than When I was taken from the other life.
I have no power permitted to deny
What thou inquirest. I am doom’d thus low To dwell, for that the sacristy by me
Was rifled of its goodly ornaments, And with the guilt another falsely charged. But that thou mayst not joy to see me thus, So as thou e’er shalt ‘scape this darksome realm Open thine ears and hear what I forebode. Reft of the Neri first Pistoia pines,
Then Florence changeth citizens and laws. From Valdimagra, drawn by wrathful Mars, A vapour rises, wrapt in turbid mists,