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  • 1308-1320
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More it displeases God; and so stand lowest
The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them.

All the first circle of the Violent is;
But since force may be used against three persons,
In three rounds ’tis divided and constructed.

To God, to ourselves, and to our neighbour can we
Use force; I say on them and on their things,
As thou shalt hear with reason manifest.

A death by violence, and painful wounds,
Are to our neighbour given; and in his substance
Ruin, and arson, and injurious levies;

Whence homicides, and he who smites unjustly,
Marauders, and freebooters, the first round
Tormenteth all m companies diverse.

Man may lay violent hands upon himself
And his own goods; and therefore in the second
Round must perforce without avail repent

Whoever of your world deprives himself,
Who games, and dissipates his property,
And weepeth there, where he should jocund be.

Violence can be done the Deity,
In heart denying and blaspheming Him,
And by disdaining Nature and her bounty.

And for this reason doth the smallest round
Seal with its signet Sodom and Cahors,
And who, disdaining God, speaks from the heart.

Fraud, wherewithal is every conscience stung,
A man may practise upon him who trusts,
And him who doth no confidence imburse.

This latter mode, it would appear, dissevers
Only the bond of love which Nature makes;
Wherefore within the second circle nestle

Hypocrisy, flattery, and who deals in magic,
Falsification, theft, and simony,
Panders, and barrators, and the like-filth.

By the other mode, forgotten is that love Which
Nature makes, and what is after added,
From which there is a special faith engendered.

Hence in the smallest circle, where the point is
Of the Universe, upon which Dis is seated,
Whoe’er betrays for ever is consumed.”

And I:”My Master, clear enough proceeds
Thy reasoning, and full well distinguishes
This cavern and the people who possess it.

But tell me, those within the fat lagoon,
Whom the wind drives, and whom the rain doth beat,
And who encounter with such bitter tongues,

And unto me he said:”Why wanders so
Thine intellect from that which it is wont?
Or, sooth, thy mind where is it elsewhere looking?

Hast thou no recollection of those words
With which thine Ethics thoroughly discusses
The dispositions three, that Heaven abides not,–

Incontinence, and Malice, and insane
Bestiality ? and how Incontinence
Less God offendeth, and less blame attracts?

If thou regardest this conclusion well,
And to thy mind recallest who they are
That up outside are undergoing penance,

Clearly wilt thou perceive why from these felons
They separated are, and why less wroth
Justice divine doth smite them with its hammer.”

“O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,
Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,
That doubting pleases me no less than knowing!

Once more a little backward turn thee,” said I,
“There where thou sayest that usury offends
Goodness divine, and disengage the knot.”

“Philosophy,” he said, “to him who heeds it,
Noteth, not only in one place alone,
After what manner Nature takes her course

From Intellect Divine, and from its art;
And if thy Physics carefully thou notest,
After not many pages shalt thou find,

From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind
Genesis at the beginning, it behoves
Mankind to gain their life and to advance;

And since the usurer takes another way,
Nature herself and in her follower
Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.

But follow, now, as I would fain go on,
For quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,
And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies,

And far beyond there we descend the crag.”

CANTO 12

The place where to descend the bank we came
Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover,
Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.

Such as that ruin is which in the flank
Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige,
Either by earthquake or by failing stay,

For from the mountain’s top, from which it moved,
Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so,
Some path ‘twould give to him who was above;

Even such was the descent of that ravine,
And on the border of the broken chasm
The infamy of Crete was stretched along,

Who was conceived in the fictitious cow;
And when he us beheld, he bit himself,
Even as one whom anger racks within.

My Sage towards him shouted-:”Peradventure
Thou think’st that here may be the Duke of Athens,
Who in the world above brought death to thee?

Get thee gone, beast, for this one cometh not
Instructed by thy sister, but he comes
In order to behold your punishments.”

As is that bull who breaks loose at the moment
In which he has received the mortal blow,
Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there,

Thus down we took our way o’er that discharge
Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves
Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden.

Thoughtful I went and he said:”Thou art thinking
Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded
By that brute anger which just now I quenched.

Now will I have thee know, the other time
I here descended to the nether Hell,
This precipice had not yet fallen down.

But truly, if I well discern, a little Before
His coming who the mighty spoil
Bore off from Dis, in the supernal circle,

Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley
Trembled so, that I thought the Universe
Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think

The world ofttimes converted into chaos;
And at that moment this primeval crag
Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow.

But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near
The river of blood, within which boiling is
Whoe’er by violence doth injure others.”

O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,
That spurs us onward so in our short life,
And in the eternal then so badly steeps us!

I saw an ample moat bent like a bow,
As one which a]l the plain encompasses,
Conformable to what my Guide had said.

And between this and the embankment’s foot
Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows,
As in the world they used the chase to follow.

Beholding us descend, each one stood still,
And from the squadron three detached themselves,
With bows and arrows in advance selected;

And from afar one cried:”Unto what torment
Come ye, who down the hillside are descending?
Tell us from there; if not, I draw the bow.”

My Master said:”Our answer will we make
To Chiron, near you there; in evil hour,
That will of thine was evermore so hasty.”

Then touched he me, and said:”This one is Nessus,
Who perished for the lovely Dejanira,
And for himself, himself did vengeance take.

And he in the midst, who at his breast is gazing,
Is the great Chiron, who brought up Achilles;
That other Pholus is, who was so wrathful.

Thousands and thousands go about the moat
Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges
Out of the blood, more than his crime allots.”

Near we approached unto those monsters fleet;
Chiron an arrow took, and with the notch
Backward upon his jaws he put his beard.

After he had uncovered his great mouth,
He said to his companions:”Are you ware
That he behind moveth whate’er he touches?

Thus are not wont to do the feet of dead men.
“And my good Guide, who now was at his breast,
Where the two natures are together joined,

Replied:”Indeed he lives, and thus alone
Me it behoves to show him the dark valley;
Necessity, and not delight, impels us.

Some one withdrew from singing Halleluja,
Who unto me committed this new office;
No thief is he, nor I a thievish spirit.

But by that virtue through which I am moving
My steps along this savage thoroughfare,
Give us some one of thine, to be with us,

And who may show us where to pass the ford,
And who may carry this one on his back;
For ’tis no spirit that can walk the air.”

Upon his right breast Chiron wheeled about,
And said to Nessus: ” Turn and do thou guide them,
And warn aside, if other band may meet you.”

We with our faithful escort onward moved
Along the brink of the vermilion boiling,
Wherein the boiled were uttering loud laments.

People I saw within up to the eyebrows,
And the great Centaur said:”Tyrants are these,
Who dealt in bloodshed and in pillaging.

Here they lament their pitiless mischiefs; here Is
Alexander, and fierce Dionysius
Who upon Sicily brought dolorous years.

That forehead there which has the hair so black
Is Azzolin; and the other who is blond,
Obizzo is of Esti, who, in truth,

Up in the world was by his stepson slain.”
Then turned I to the Poet; and he said,
“Now he be first to thee, and second I.”

A little farther on the Centaur stopped
Above a folk, who far down as the throat
Seemed from that boiling stream to issue forth.

A shade’ he showed us on one side alone,
Saying: ” He cleft asunder in God’s bosom
The heart that still upon the Thames is honoured.”

Then people saw I, who from out the river
Lifted their heads and also all the chest;
And many among these I recognised.

Thus ever more and more grew shallower
That blood, so that the feet alone it covered;
And there across the moat our passage was.

“Even as thou here upon this side beholdest
The boiling stream, that aye diminishes,”
The Centaur said, “I wish thee to believe

That on this other more and more declines
Its bed, until it reunites itself
Where it behoveth tyranny to groan.

Justice divine, upon this side, is goading
That Attila, who was a scourge on earth,
And Pyrrhus, and Sextus; and for ever milks

The tears which with the boiling it unseals
In Rinier da Corneto and Rinier Pazzo,
Who made upon the highways so much war.”

Then back he turned, and passed again the ford.

CANTO 13

NOT yet had Nessus eached the other side,
When we had put ourselves within a wood,
That was not marked by any path whatever.

Not foliage green, but of a dusky colour,
Not branches smooth, but gnarled and intertangled,
Not apple-trees were there, but thorns with poison.

Such tangled thickets have not, nor so dense,
Those savage wild beasts, that in hatred hold
‘Twixt Cecina and Corneto the tilled places.

There do the hideous Harpies make their nests,
Who chased the Trojans from the Strophades,
With sad announcement of impending doom;

Broad wings have they, and necks and faces human,
And feet with claws, and their great bellies fledged;
They make laments upon the wondrous trees.

And the good Master:”Ere thou enter farther,
Know that thou art within the second round,
“Thus he began to say, ” and shalt be, till

Thou comest out upon the horrible sand;
Therefore look well around, and thou shalt see
Things that will credence give unto my speech.”

I heard on all sides lamentations uttered,
And person none beheld I who might make them,
Whence, utterly bewildered, I stood still.

I think he thought that I perhaps might think
So many voices issued through those trunks
From people who concealed themselves from us;

Therefore the Master said:”If thou break off
Some little spray from any of these trees,
The thoughts thou hast will wholly be made vain.”

Then stretched I forth my hand a little forward,
And plucked a branchlet off from a great thorn,
And the trunk cried, ” Why dost thou mangle me?”

After it had become embrowned with blood,
It recommenced its cry: ” Why dost thou rend me
Hast thou no spirit of pity whatsoever ?

Men once we were, and now are changed to trees;
Indeed, thy hand should be more pitiful,
Even if the souls of serpents we had been.”

As out of a green brand, that is on fire
At one of the ends, and from the other drips
And hisses with the wind that is escaping;

So from that splinter issued forth together
Both words and blood; whereat I let the tip
Fall, and stood like a man who is afraid.

‘:Had he been able sooner to believe,”
My Sage made answer, ” O thou wounded soul,
What only in my verses he has seen,

Not upon thee had he stretched forth his hand;
Whereas the thing incredible has caused me
To put him to an act which grieveth me.

But tell him who thou wast, so that by way
Of some amends thy fame he may refresh
Up in the world, to which he can return.”

And the trunk said:”So thy sweet words allure me,
I cannot silent be; and you be vexed not,
That I a little to discourse am tempted.

I am the one who both keys had in keeping
Of Frederick’s heart, and turned them to and fro
So softly in unlocking and in locking,

That from his secrets most men I withheld;
Fidelity I bore the glorious office
So great, I lost thereby my sleep and pulses.

The courtesan who never from the dwelling
Of Caesar turned aside her strumpet eyes,
Death universal and the vice of courts,

Inflamed against me all the other minds,
And they, inflamed, did so inflame Augustus,
That my glad honours turned to dismal mournings.

My spirit, in disdainful exultation,
Thinking by dying to escape disdain,
Made me unjust against myself, the just.

I, by the roots unwonted of this wood,
Do swear to you that never broke I faith
Unto my lord, who was so worthy of honour;

And to the world if one of you return,
Let him my memory comfort, which is lying
Still prostrate from the blow that envy dealt it.”

Waited awhile, and then: “Since he is silent,”
The Poet said to me, “lose not the time,
But speak, and question him, if more may please thee.”

Whence I to him:”Do thou again inquire
Concerning what thou thinks’t will satisfy me;
For I cannot, such pity is in my heart.”

Therefore he recommenced:”So may the man
Do for thee freely what thy speech implores,
Spirit incarcerate, again be pleased

To tell us in what way the soul is bound
Within these knots; and tell us, if thou canst
If any from such members e’er is freed.”

Then blew the trunk amain, and afterward
The wind was into such a voice converted:
“With brevity shall be replied to you.

When the exasperated soul abandons
The body whence it rent itself away,
Minos consigns it to the seventh abyss.

It falls into the forest, and no part
Is chosen for it; but where Fortune hurls it,
There like a grain of spelt it germinates.

It springs a sapling, and a forest tree;
The Harpies, feeding then upon its leaves,
Do pain create, and for the pain an outlet.

Like others for our spoils shall we return;
But not that any one may them revest,
For ’tis not just to have what one casts off.

Here we shall drag them, and along the dismal
Forest our bodies shall suspended be,
Each to the thorn of his molested shade.”

We were attentive still unto the trunk,
Thinking that more it yet might wish to tell us,
When by a tumult we were overtaken,

In the same way as he is who perceives
The boar and chase approaching to his stand,
Who hears the crashing of the beasts and branches;

And two behold! upon our left-hand side,
Naked and scratched, fleeing so furiously,
That of the forest, every fan they broke.

He who was in advance:”Now help, Death, help !”
And the other one, who seemed to lag too much,
Was shouting:”Lano, were not so alert

Those legs of thine at joustings of the Toppo!”
And then, perchance because his breath was failing,
He grouped himself together with a bush.

Behind them was the forest full of black
She-mastiffs, ravenous, and swift of foot
As greyhounds, who are issuing from the chain.

On him who had crouched down they set their teeth,
And him they lacerated piece by piece,
Thereafter bore away those aching members.

Thereat my Escort took me by the hand,
And led me to the bush, that all in vain
Was weeping from its bloody lacerations.

“O Jacopo,” it said, “of Sant’ Andrea,
What helped it thee of me to make a screen?
What blame have I in thy nefarious life ?”

When near him had the Master stayed his steps,
He said:”Who wast thou, that through wounds so many
Art blowing out with blood thy dolorous speech?”

And he to us:”O souls, that hither come
To look upon the shameful massacre
That has so rent away from me my leaves,

Gather them up beneath the dismal bush;
I of that city was which to the Baptist
Changed its first patron, wherefore he for this

Forever with his art will make it sad.
And were it not that on the pass of Arno
Some glimpses of him are remaining still,

Those citizens, who afterwards rebuilt it
Upon the ashes left by Attila,
In vain had caused their labour to be done.

Of my own house I made myself a gibbet.”

CANTO 14

BECAUSE he charity of my native place
Constrained me, gathered I the scattered leaves,
And gave them back to him, who now was hoarse.

Then came we to the confine, where disparted
The second round is from the third, and where
A horrible form of Justice is beheld.

Clearly to manifest these novel things,
I say that we arrived upon a plain,
Which from its bed rejecteth every plant;

The dolorous forest is a garland to it
All round about, as the sad moat to that;
There close upon the edge we stayed our feet.

The soil was of an arid and thick sand,
Not of another fashion made than that
Which by the feet of Cato once was pressed.

Vengeance of God, O how much oughtest thou
By each one to be dreaded, who doth read
That which was manifest unto mine eyes!

Of naked souls beheld I many herds,
Who all were weeping very miserably,
And over them seemed set a law diverse.

Supine upon the ground some folk were lying;
And some were sitting all drawn up together,
And others went about continually.

Those who were going round were far the more,
And those were less who lay down to their torment,
But had their tongues more loosed to lamentation.

O’er all the sand-waste, with a gradual fall,
Were raining down dilated flakes of fire,
As of the snow on Alp without a wind.

As Alexander, in those torrid parts
Of India, beheld upon his host
Flames fall unbroken till they reached the ground,

Whence he provided with his phalanxes
To trample down the soil, because the vapour
Better extinguished was while it was single;

Thus was descending the eternal heat,
Whereby the sand was set on fire, like tinder
Beneath the steel, for doubling of the dole.

Without repose forever was the dance
Of miserable hands, now there, now here,
Shaking away from off them the fresh gleeds.

” Master,” began I, “thou who overcomest
All things except the demons dire, that issued
Against us at the entrance of the gate,

Who is that mighty one who seems to heed not
The fire, and lieth lowering and disdainful,
So that the rain seems not to ripen him?”

And he himself, who had become aware
That I was questioning my Guide about him,
Cried: ” Such as I was living, am I, dead

If Jove should weary out his smith, from whom
He seized in anger the sharp thunderbolt,
Wherewith upon the last day I was smitten,

And if he wearied out by turns the others In
Mongibello at the swarthy forge,
Vociferating, ‘Help, good Vulcan, help!’

Even as he did there at the fight of Phlegra,
And shot his bolts at me with all his might,
He would not have thereby a joyous vengeance.”

Then did my Leader speak with such great force,
That I had never heard him speak so loud:
“O Capaneus, in that is not extinguished

Thine arrogance, thou punished art the more;
Not any torment, saving thine own rage,
Would be unto thy fury pain complete.”

Then he turned round to me with better lip, Saying:
“One of the Seven Kings was he
Who Thebes besieged, and held, and seems to hold

God in disdain, and little seems to prize him;
But, as I said to him, his own despites
Are for his breast the fittest ornaments.

Now follow me, and mind thou do not place
As yet thy feet upon the burning sand,
But always keep them close unto the wood.”

Speaking no word, we came to where there gushes
Forth from the wood a little rivulet,
Whose redness makes my hair still stand on end.

As from the Bulicame springs the brooklet,
The sinful women later share among them,
So downward through the sand it went its way.

The bottom of it, and both sloping banks,
Were made of stone, and the margins at the side;
Whence I perceived that there the passage was.

“In all the rest which I have shown to thee
Since we have entered in within the gate
Whose threshold unto no one is denied,

Nothing has been discovered by thine eyes
So notable as is the present river,
Which all the little ‘dames above it quenches.”

These words were of my Leader; whence I prayed him
That he would give me largess of the food,
For which he had given me largess of desire.

” In the mid-sea there sits a wasted land,”
Said he thereafterward, ” whose name is Crete,
Under whose king the world of old was chaste.

There is a mountain there, that once was glad
With waters and with leaves, which was called Ida;
Now ’tis deserted, as a thing worn out.

Rhea once chose it for the faithful cradle
Of her own son; and to conceal him better,
Whene’er he cried, she there had clamours made.

A grand old man stands in the mount erect,
Who holds his shoulders turned tow’rds Damietta,
And looks at Rome as if it were his mirror.

His head is fashioned of refined gold,
And of pure silver are the arms and breast;
Then he is brass as far down as the fork.

From that point downward all is chosen iron,
Save that the right foot is of kiln-baked clay,
And more he stands on that than on the other.

Each part, except the gold, is by a fissure
Asunder cleft, that dripping is with tears,
Which gathered together perforate that cavern

From rock to rock they fall into this valley;
Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon they form;
Then downward go along this narrow sluice

Unto that point where is no more descending.
They form Cocytus; what that pool may be
Thou shalt behold, so here ’tis not narrated.”

And I to him:”If so the present runnel
Doth take its rise in this way from our world,
Why only on this verge appears it to us?”

And he to me:”Thou knowest the place is round
And notwithstanding thou hast journeyed far,
Still to the left descending to the bottom,

Thou hast not yet through all the circle turned.
Therefore if something new appear to us,
It should not bring amazement to thy face.”

And I again:”Master, where shall be found
Lethe and Phlegethon, for of one thou’rt silent,
And sayest the other of this rain is made?”

“In all thy questions truly thou dost please me,”
Replied he; ” but the boiling of the red
Water might well solve one of them thou makest.

Thou shalt see Lethe, but outside this moat,
There where the souls repair to lave themselves,
When sin repented of has been removed.”

Then said he:”It is time now to abandon
The wood; take heed that thou come after me;
A way the margins make that are not burning,

And over them all vapours are extinguished.”

CANTO 15

Now bears us onward one of the hard margins,
And so the brooklet’s mist o’ershadows it,
From fire it saves the water and the dikes.

Even as the Flemings, ‘twixt Cadsand and Bruges,
Fearing the flood that tow’rds them hurls itself,
Their bulwarks build to put the sea to flight;

And as the Paduans along the Brenta,
To guard their villas and their villages,
Or ever Chiarentana feel the heat;

In such similitude had those been made,
Albeit not so lofty nor so thick,
Whoever he might be, the master made them.

Now were we from the forest so remote,
I could not have discovered where it was,
Even if backward I had turned myself,

Then we a company of souls encountered,
Who came beside the dike, and every one
Gazed at us, as at evening we are wont

To eye each other under a new moon,
And so towards us sharpened they their brows
As an old tailor at the needle’s eye.

Thus scrutinised by such a family,
By some one I was recognised, who seized
My garment’s hem, and cried out,”What a marvel!”

And I, when he stretched forth his arm-to me,
On his baked aspect fastened so mine eyes,
That the scorched countenance prevented not

His recognition by my intellect;
And bowing down my face unto his own,
I made reply,”Are you here, Ser Brunetto?”

And he:”May’t not displease thee, O my son,
If a brief space with thee Brunetto Latini
Backward return and let the trail go on.”

I said to him: ” With all my power I ask it;
And if you wish me to sit down with you,
I will, if he please, for I go with him.”

“O son,”he said,”whoever of this herd
A moment stops, lies then a hundred years,
Nor fans himself when smiteth him the fire.

Therefore go on; I at thy skirts will come,
And afterward will I rejoin my band,
Which goes lamenting its eternal doom.”

I did not dare to go down from the road
Level to walk with him; but my head bowed
I held as one who goeth reverently.

And he began:”What fortune or what fate
Before the last day leadeth thee down here?
And who is this that showeth thee the way?”

“Up there above us in the life serene,”
I answered him,”I lost me in a valley,
Or ever yet my age had been completed.

But yestermorn I turned my back upon it;
This one appeared to me, returning thither,
And homeward leadeth me along this road.”

And he to me:”If thou thy star do follow,
Thou canst not fail thee of a glorious port,
If well I judged in the life beautiful.

And if I had not died so prematurely,
Seeing Heaven thus benignant unto thee,
I would have given thee comfort in the work.

But that ungrateful and malignant people,
Which of old time from Fesole descended,
And smacks still of the mountain and the granite,

Will make itself, for thy good deeds, thy foe;
And it is right; for among crabbed sorbs
It ill befits the sweet fig to bear fruit.

Old rumour in the world proclaims them blind;
A People avaricious, envious, proud:,
Take heed that of their customs thou do cleanse thee.

Thy fortune so much honour doth reserve thee,
One party and the other shall be hungry
For thee; but far from goat shall be the grass.

Their litter let the beasts of Fesole
Make of themselves, nor let them touch the plant,
If any still upon their dunghill rise,

In which may yet revive the consecrated
Seed of those Romans, who remained there when
The nest of such great malice it became.”

“If my entreaty wholly were fulfilled,”
Replied I to him, ” not yet would you be
In banishment from human nature placed;

For in my mind is fixed, and touches now
My heart the dear and good paternal image
Of you, when in the world from hour to hour

You taught me how a man becomes eternal;
And how much I am grateful, while I live
Behoves that in my language be discerned.

What you narrate of my career I write,
And keep it to be glossed with other text
By a Lady who can do it, if I reach her.

This much will I have manifest to you;
Provided that my conscience do not chide me,
For whatsoever Fortune I am ready.

Such handsel is not new unto mine ears;
Therefore let Fortune turn her wheel around
As it may please her, and the churl his mattock.”

My Master thereupon on his right cheek
Did backward turn himself, and looked at me;
Then said:”He listeneth well who noteth it.”

Nor speaking less on that account, I go
With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are
His most known and most eminent companions.

And he to me:”To know of some is well;
Of others it were laudable to be silent,
For short would be the time for so much speech.

Know them in sum, that all of them were clerks,
And men of letters great and of great fame,
In the world tainted with the selfsame sin.

Priscian goes yonder with that wretched crowd,
And Francis of Accorso; and thou hadst seen there
If thou hadst had a hankering for such scurf,

That one, who by the Servant of the Servants
From Arno was transferred to Bacchiglione,
Where he has left his sin-excited nerves.

More would I say, but coming and discoursing
Can be no longer; for that I behold
New smoke uprising yonder from the sand.

A people comes with whom I may not be;
Commended unto thee be my Tesoro,
In which I still live, and no more I ask.”

Then he turned round, and seemed to be of those
Who at Verona run for the Green Mantle
Across the plain; and seemed to be among them

The one who wins, and not the one who loses.

CANTO 16

Now was I where was heard the reverberation
Of water falling into the next round,
Like to that humming which the beehives make,

When shadows three together started forth,
Running, from out a company that passed
Beneath the rain of the sharp martyrdom.

Towards us came they, and each one cried out:
“Stop, thou; for by thy garb to us thou seemest
To be some one of our depraved city.”

Ah me ! what wounds I saw upon their limbs,
Recent and ancient by the flames burnt in!
It pains me still but to remember it.

Unto their cries my teacher paused attentive;
He turned his face towards me, and ” Now wait,
He said; ” to these we should be courteous.

And if it were not for the fire that darts
The nature of this region, I should say
That haste were more becoming thee than them.”

As soon as we stood still, they recommenced
The old refrain, and when they overtook us,
Formed of themselves a wheel, all three of them.

As champions stripped and oiled are wont to do,
Watching for their advantage and their hold,
Before they come to blows and thrusts between them,

Thus, wheeling round, did every one his visage
Direct to me, so that in opposite wise
His neck and feet continual journey made.

And,”If the misery of this soft place
Bring in disdain ourselves and our entreaties,”
Began one, “and our aspect black and blistered.

Let the renown of us thy mind incline
To tell us who thou art, who thus securely
Thy living feet dost move along through Hell.

He in whose footprints thou dost see me treading,
Naked and skinless though he now may go,
Was of a greater rank than thou dost think;

He was the grandson of the good Gualdrada;
His name was Guidoguerra, and in life
Much did he with his wisdom and his sword.

The other, who close by me treads the sand,
Tegghiaio Aldobrandi is, whose fame
Above there in the world should welcome be.

And I, who with them on the cross am placed,
Jacopo Rusticucci was; and truly
My savage wife, more than aught else, doth harm me.”

Could I have been protected from the fire,
Below I should have thrown myself among them,
And think the Teacher would have suffered it;

But as I should have burned and baked myself,
My terror overmastered my good will,
Which made me greedy of embracing them.

Then I began:”Sorrow and not disdain
Did your condition fix within me so,
That tardily it wholly is stripped off,

As soon as this my Lord said unto me
Words, on account of which I thought within me
That people such as you are were approaching.

I of your city am; and evermore
Your labours and your honourable names
I with affection have retraced and heard.

I leave the gall, and go for the sweet fruits
Promised to me by the veracious Leader;
But to the centre first I needs must plunge.”

“So may the soul for a long while conduct
Those limbs of thine,” did he make answer
“And so may thy renown shine after thee,

Valour and courtesy, say if they dwell
Within our city, as they used to do,
Or if they wholly have gone out of it;

For Guglielmo Borsier, who is in torment
With us of late, and goes there with his comrades,
Doth greatly mortify us with his words.”

“The new inhabitants and the sudden gains,
Pride and extravagance have in thee engendered,
Florence, so that thou weep’st thereat already!”

In this wise I exclaimed with face uplifted;
And the three, taking that for my reply,
Looked at each other, as one looks at truth

“If other times so little it doth cost thee,”
Replied they all, ” to satisfy another,
Happy art thou, thus speaking at thy will !

Therefore, if thou escape from these dark places,
And come to rebehold the beauteous stars,
When it shall pleasure thee to say, ‘I was,’

See that thou speak of us unto the people.”
Then they broke up the wheel, and in their flight
It seemed as if their agile legs were wings.

Not an Amen could possibly be said
So rapidly as they had disappeared;
Wherefore the Master deemed best to depart.

I followed him, and little had we gone,
Before the sound of water was so near us,
That speaking we should hardly have been heard.

Even as that stream which holdeth its own course
The first from Monte Veso tow’rds the East,
Upon the left-hand slope of Apennine,

Which is above called Acquacheta, ere
It down descendeth into its low bed,
And at Forli is vacant of that name,

Reverberates there above San Benedetto
From Alps, by falling at a single leap,
Where for a thousand there were room enough;

Thus downward from a bank precipitate,
We found resounding that dark-tinted water,
So that it soon the ear would have offended.

I had a cord around about me girt,
And therewithal I whilom had designed
To take the panther with the painted skin.

After I this had all from me unloosed, As my
Conductor had commanded me,
I reached it to him, gathered up and coiled

Whereat he turned himself to the right side,
And at a little distance from the verge,
He cast it down into that deep abyss.

“It must needs be some novelty respond,”
I said within myself, ” to the new signal The
Master with his eye is following so.”

Ah me I how very cautious men should be
With those who not alone behold the act,
But with their wisdom look into the thoughts!

He said to me:”Soon there will upward come
What I await; and what thy thought is dreaming
Must soon reveal itself unto thy sight.”

Aye to that truth which has the face of falsehood,
A man should close his lips as far as may be,
Because without his fault it causes shame;

But here I cannot; and, Reader, by the notes
Of this my Comedy to thee I swear,
So may they not be void of lasting favour,

Athwart that dense and darksome atmosphere
I saw a figure swimming upward come,
Marvellous unto every steadfast heart,

Even as he returns who goeth down
Sometimes to clear an anchor, which has grappled
Reef,or aught else that in the sea is hidden,

Who upward stretches, and draws in his feet.

CANTO 17

“BEHOLD the monster with the pointed tail,
Who cleaves the hills, and breaketh walls and weapons,
Behold him who infecteth all the world.”

Thus unto me my Guide began to say,
And beckoned him that he should come to shore,
Near to the confine of the trodden marble;

And that uncleanly image of deceit
Came up and thrust ashore its head and bust,
But on the border did not drag its tail.

The face was as the face of a just man,
Its semblance outwardly was so benign,
And of a serpent all the trunk beside.

Two paws it had, hairy unto the armpits;
The back, and breast, and both the sides it had
Depicted o’er with nooses and with shields.

With colours more, groundwork or broidery
Never in cloth did Tartars make nor Turks,
Nor were such tissues by Arachne laid.

As sometimes wherries lie upon the shore,
That part are in the water, part on land;
And as among the guzzling Germans there,

The beaver plants himself to wage his war;
So that vile monster lay upon the border,
Which is of stone, and shutteth in the sand.

His tail was wholly quivering in the void,
Contorting upwards the envenomed fork,
That in the guise of scorpion armed its point.

The Guide said: “Now perforce must turn aside
Our way a little, even to that beast
Malevolent, that yonder coucheth him.”

We therefore on the right side descended,
And made ten steps upon the outer verge,
Completely to avoid the sand and flame;

And after we are come to him, I see
A little farther off upon the sand
A people sitting near the hollow place.

Then said to me the Master: “So that full
Experience of this round thou bear away,
Now go and see what their condition is.

There let thy conversation be concise;
Till thou returnest I will speak with him,
That he concede to us his stalwart shoulders.”

Thus farther still upon the outermost
Head of that seventh circle all alone
I went, where sat the melancholy folk.

Out of their eyes was gushing forth their woe;
This way, that way, they helped them with their hands
Now from the flames and now from the hot soil.

Not otherwise in summer do the dogs,
Now with the foot, now with the muzzle, when so
By fleas, or flies, or gadflies, they are bitten.

When I had turned mine eyes upon the faces
Of some, on whom the dolorous fire is falling,
Not one of them I knew; but I perceived

That from the neck of each there hung a pouch,
Which certain colour had, and certain blazon;
And thereupon it seems their eyes are feeding.

And as I gazing round me come among them,
Upon a yellow pouch I azure saw
That had the face and posture of a lion.

Proceeding then the current of my sight,
Another of them saw I, red as blood,
Display a goose more white than butter is.

And one, who with an azure sow and gravid
Emblazoned had his little pouch of white,
Said unto me:”What dost thou in this moat?

Now get thee gone; and since thou’rt still alive,
Know that a neighbour of mine, Vitaliano,
Will have his seat here on my left-hand side.

A Paduan am I with these Florentines;
Full many a time they thunder in mine ears,
Exclaiming, ‘Come the sovereign cavalier,

He who shall bring the satchel with three goats;”‘
Then twisted he his mouth, and forth he thrust
His tongue, like to an ox that licks its nose.

And fearing lest my longer stay might vex
Him who had warned me not to tarry long,
Backward I turned me from those weary souls.

I found my Guide, who had already mounted
Upon the back of that wild animal,
And said to me: “Now be both strong and bold.

Now we descend by stairways such as these;
Mount thou in front, for I will be midway,
So that the tail may have no power to harm thee.”

Such as he is who has so near the ague
Of quartan that his nails are blue already,
And trembles all, but looking at the shade;

Even such became I at those proffered words;
But shame in me his menaces produced,
Which maketh servant strong before good master.

I seated me upon those monstrous shoulders;
I wished to say, and yet the voice came not
As I believed, ” Take heed that thou embrace me.”

But he, who other times had rescued me
In other peril, soon as I had mounted,
Within his arms encircled and sustained me,

And said:”Now, Geryon, bestir thyself;
The circles large, and the descent be little;
Think of the novel burden which thou hast.”

Even as the little vessel shoves from shore,
Backward, still backward, so he thence withdrew;
And when he wholly felt himself afloat,

There where his breast had been he turned his tail,
And that extended like an eel he moved,
And with his paws drew to himself the air.

A greater fear I do not think there was
What time abandoned Phaeton the reins,
Whereby the heavens, as still appears, were scorched;

Nor when the wretched Icarus his flanks
Felt stripped of feathers by the melting wax,
His father crying,”An ill way thou takest!”

Than was my own, when I perceived myself
On all sides in the air, and saw extinguished
The sight of everything but of the monster.

Onward he goeth, swimming slowly, slowly;
Wheels and descends, but I perceive it only
By wind upon my face and from below.

I heard already on the right the whirlpool
Making a horrible crashing under us;
Whence I thrust out my head with eyes cast downward.

Then was I still more fearful of the abyss;
Because I fires beheld, and heard laments,
Whereat I, trembling, all the closer cling.

I saw then, for before I had not seen it,
The turning and descending, by great horrors
That were approaching upon divers sides.

As falcon who has long been on the wing,
Who, without seeing either lure or bird,
Maketh the falconer say, ” Ah me, thou stoopest,”

Descendeth weary, whence he started swiftly,
Thorough a hundred circles, and alights
Far from his master, sullen and disdainful;

Even thus did Geryon place us on the bottom,
Close to the bases of the rough-hewn rock,
And being disencumbered of our persons,

He sped away as arrow from the string.

CANTO 18

THERE is a place in Hell called Malebolge,
Wholly of stone and of an iron colour,
As is the circle that around it turns.

Right in the middle of the field malign
There yawns a well exceeding wide and deep,
Of which its place the structure will recount.

Round, then, is that enclosure which remains
Between the well and foot of the high, hard bank,
And has distinct in valleys ten its bottom.

As where for the protection of the walls
Many and many moats surround the castles,
The part in which they are a figure forms,

Just such an image those presented there;
And as about such strongholds from their gates
Unto the outer bank are little bridges,

So from the precipice’s base did crags
Project, which intersected dikes and moats,
Unto the well that truncates and collects them.

Within this place, down shaken from the back
Of Geryon, we found us; and the Poet
Held to the left, and I moved on behind.

Upon my right hand I beheld new anguish,
New torments, and new wielders of the lash,
Wherewith the foremost Bolgia was replete.

Down at the bottom were the sinners naked;
This side the middle came they facing us,
Beyond it, with us, but with greater steps;

Even as the Romans, for the mighty host,
The year of Jubilee, upon the bridge,
Have chosen a mode to pass the people over;

For all upon one side towards the Castle
Their faces have, and go unto St. Peter’s;
On the other side they go towards the Mountain.

This side and that, along the livid stone
Beheld I horned demons with great scourges,
Who cruelly were beating them behind.

Ah me!how they did make them lift their legs
At the first blows ! and sooth not any one
The second waited for, nor for the third.

While I was going on, mine eyes by one
Encountered were; and straight I said:
“Already With sight of this one I am not unfed.”

Therefore I stayed my feet to make him out,
And with me the sweet Guide came to a stand,
And to my going somewhat back assented;

And he, the scourged one. thought to hide himself,
Lowering his face, but little it availed him; For said I:
“Thou that castest down thine eyes

If false are not the features which thou bearest;
Thou art Venedico Caccianimico;
But what doth bring thee to such pungent sauces ? “

And he to me:”Unwillingly I tell it;
But forces me thine utterance distinct,
Which makes me recollect the ancient world.

I was the one who the fair Ghisola
Induced to grant the wishes of the Marquis,
Howe’er the shameless story may be told.

Not the sole Bolognese am I who weeps here;
Nay, rather is this place so full of them,
That not so many tongues to-day are taught

‘Twixt Reno and Savena to say sipa;
And if thereof thou wishest pledge or proof,
Bring to thy mind our avaricious heart.”

While speaking in this manner, with his scourge
A demon smote him, and said:”Get thee
Pander, there are no women here for coin.”

I joined myself again unto mine Escort;
Thereafterward with footsteps few we came
To where a crag projected from the bank.

This very easily did we ascend,
And turning to the right along its ridge,
From those eternal circles we departe.

When we were there, where it is hollowed out
Beneath, to give a passage to the scourged,
The Guide said: ” Wait, and see that on thee strike

The vision of those others evil-born,
Of whom thou hast not yet beheld the faces,
Because together with us they have gone.”

From the old bridge we looked upon the train
Which tow’rds us came upon the other border,
And which the scourges in like manner smite.

And the good Master, without my inquiring,
Said to me: ” See that tall one who is coming,
And for his pain seems not to shed a tear;

Still what a royal aspect he retains!
That Jason is, who by his heart and cunning
The Colchians of the Ram made destitute.

He by the isle of Lemnos passed along
After the daring women pitiless
Had unto death devoted all their males.

There with his tokens and with ornate words
Did he deceive Hypsipyle, the maiden
Who first, herself, had all the rest deceived.

There did he leave her pregnant and forlorn;
Such sin unto such punishment condemns him,
And also for Medea is vengeance done.

With him go those who in such wise deceive;
And this sufficient be of the first valley
To know, and those that in its jaws it holds.”

We were already where the narrow path
Crosses athwart the second dike, and forms
Of that a buttress for another arch.

Thence we heard people, who are making moan In the next
Bolgia, snorting with their muzzles,
And with their palms beating upon themselves

The margins were incrusted with a mould
By exhalation from below, that sticks there,
And with the eyes and nostrils wages war.

The bottom is so deep, no place suffices
To give us sight of it, without ascending
The arch’s back, where most the crag impends.

Thither we came, and thence down in the moat
I saw a people smothered in a filth
That out of human privies seemed to flow

And whilst below there with mine eve I search,
I saw one with his head so foul with ordure,
It was not clear if he were clerk or layman.

He screamed to me:”Wherefore art thou so eager
To look at me more than the other foul ones?”
And I to him:”Because, if I remember,

I have already seen thee with dry hair,
And thou’rt Alessio Interminei of Lucca;
Therefore I eye thee more than all the others.”

And he thereon, belabouring his pumpkin:
“The flatteries have submerged me here below,
Wherewith my tongue was never surfeited.”

Then said to me the Guide:”See that thou thrust
Thy visage somewhat farther in advance,
That with thine eyes thou well the face attain

Of that uncleanly and dishevelled drab,
Who there doth scratch herself with filthy nails,
And crouches now, and now on foot is standing.

Thais the harlot is it, who replied
Unto her paramour, when he said,’Have I
Great gratitude from thee ?’–‘ Nay, marvellous ;

And herewith let our sight be satisfied.”

CANTO 19

O SIMON MAGUS,
O forlorn disciples,
Ye who the things of God, which ought to be
The brides of holiness, rapaciously

For silver and for gold do prostitute,
Now it behoves for you the trumpet sound,
Because in this third Bolgia ye abide.

We had already on the following tomb
Ascended to that portion of the crag
Which o er the middle of the moat hangs plumb.

Wisdom supreme, O how great art thou showest
In heaven, in earth, and in the evil world,
And with what justice doth thy power distribute !

I saw upon the sides and on the bottom
The livid stone with perforations filled,
All of one size, and every one was round.

To me less ample seemed they not, nor greater
Than those that in my beautiful Saint John
Are fashioned for the place of the baptisers,

And one of which, not many years ago,
I broke for some one, who was drowning in it;
Be this a sea! all men to undeceive.

Out of the mouth of each one there protruded
The feet of a transgressor, and the legs
Up to the calf, the rest within remained.

In all of them the soles were both on fire;
Wherefore the joints so violently quivered,
They would have snapped asunder withes and bands.

Even as the flame of unctuous things is wont
To move upon the outer surface only,
So likewise was it there from heel to point.

“Master, who is that one who writhes himself,
More than his other comrades quivering,”
I said. ” and whom a redder flame is sucking?”

And he to me:”If thou wilt have me bear thee
Down there along that bank which lowest lies,
From him thou’lt know his errors and himself.”

And I:”What pleases thee, to me is pleasing;
Thou art my Lord, and knowest that I depart not
From thy desire, and knowest what is not spoken.”

Straightway upon the fourth dike we arrived;
We turned, and on the left-hand side descended
Down to the bottom full of holes and narrow.

And the good Master yet from off his haunch
Deposed me not, till to the hole he brought me
Of him who so lamented with his shanks.

“Whoe’er thou art, that standest upside down,
O doleful soul, implanted like a stake,”
To say began I, ” if thou canst, speak out.”

I stood even as the friar who is confessing
The false assassin, who, when he is fixed,
Recalls him, so that death may be delayed.

And he cried out:”Dost thou stand there already,
Dost thou stand there already, Boniface?
By many years the record lied to me.

Art thou so early satiate with that wealth,
For which thou didst not fear to take by fraud
The beautiful Lady, and then work her woe?”

Such I became, as people are who stand,
Not comprehending what is answered them,
As if bemocked, and know not how to answer.

Then said Virgilius:”Say to him straightway,
‘I am not he, I am not he thou thinkest.”
And I replied as was imposed on me.

Whereat the spirit writhed with both his feet,
Then, sighing, with a voice of lamentation
Said to me: ” Then what wantest thou of me?

If who I am thou carest so much to know,
That thou on that account hast crossed the bank,
Know that I vested was with the great mantle;

And truly was I son of the She-bear,
So eager to advance the cubs, that wealth
Above, and here myself,I pocketed.

Beneath my head the others are dragged down
Who have preceded me in simony,
Flattened along the fissure of the rock.

Below there I shall likewise fall, whenever
That one shall come who I believed thou wast,
What time the sudden question I proposed.

But lon er I my feet already toast,
And here have been in this way upside down.
Than he will planted stay with reddened feet;

For after him shall come of fouler deed
From tow’rds the west a Pastor without law,
Such as befits to cover him and me.

New Jason will he be, of whom we read
In Maccabees j and as his king was pliant,
So he who governs France shall be to this one.”

I do not know if I were here too bold,
That him I answered only in this metre:
“I pray thee tell me now how great a treasure

Our Lord demanded of Saint Peter first,
Before he put the keys into his keeping?
Truly he nothing asked but ‘Follow me.’

Nor Peter nor the rest asked of Matthias
Silver or gold, when he by lot was chosen
Unto the place the guilty soul had lost.

Therefore stay here, for thou art justly punished,
And keep safe guard o’er the ill-gotten money,
Which caused thee to be valiant against Charles.

And were it not that still forbids it me
The reverence for the keys superlative
Thou hadst in keeping in the gladsome life,

I would make use of words more grievous still;
Because your avarice afflicts the world,
Trampling the good and lifting the depraved.

The Evangelist you Pastors had in mind,
When she who sitteth upon many waters
To fornicate with kings by him was seen;

The same who with the seven heads was born,
And power and strength from the ten horns received,
So long as virtue to her spouse was pleasing.

Ye have made yourselves a god of gold and silver;
And from the idolater how differ ye,
Save that he one, and ye a hundred worship?

Ah, Constantine ! of how much ill was mother,
Not thy conversion, but that marriage dower
Which the first wealthy Father took from thee!”

And while I sang to him such notes as these.
Either that anger or that conscience stung him,
He struggled violently with both his feet.

I think in sooth that it my Leader pleased,
With such contented lip he listened ever
Unto the sound of the true words expressed.

Therefore with both his arms he took me up,
And when he had me all upon his breast,
Remounted by the way where he descended.

Nor did he tire to have me clasped to him;
Rut bore me to the summit of the arch
Which from the fourth dike to the fifth is passage.

There tenderly he laid his burden down,
Tenderly on the crag uneven and steep,
That would have been hard passage for the goats:

Thence was unveiled to me another valley.

CANTO 20

OF a new pain behoves me to make verses
And give material to the twentieth canto
Of the first song, which is of the submerged.

I was already thoroughly disposed
To peer down into the uncovered depth,
Which bathed itself with tears of agony;

And people saw I through the circular valley,
Silent and weeping, coming at the pace
Which in this world the Litanies assume.

As lower down my sight descended on them,
Wondrously each one seemed to be distorted
From chin to the beginning of the chest;

For tow’rds the reins the countenance was turned,
And backward it behoved them to advance,
As to look forward had been taken from them.

Perchance indeed by violence of palsy
Some one has been thus wholly turned awry;
But I ne’er saw it. nor believe it can be.

As God may let thee, Reader, gather fruit
From this thy reading,think now for thyself
How I could ever keep my face unmoistened,

When our own image near me I beheld
Distorted so, the weeping of the eyes
Along the fissure bathed the hinder parts.

Truly I wept, leaning upon a peak
Of the hard crag, so that my Escort said
To me:”Art thou, too, of the other fools?

Here pity lives when it is wholly dead;
Who is a greater reprobate than he
Who feels compassion at the doom divine?

Lift up, lift up thy head, and see for whom
Opened the earth before the Thebans’ eyes;
Wherefore they all cried: ‘ Whither rushest thou,

Amphiaraus? Why dost leave the war?’
And downward ceased he not to fall amain
As far as Minos, who lays hold on all.

See, he has made a bosom of his shoulders!
Because he wished to see too far before him
Behind he looks, and backward goes his way:

Behold Tiresias, who his semblance changed,
When from a male a female he became,
His members being all of them transformed;

And afterwards was forced to strike once more
The two entangled serpents with his rod,
Ere he could have again his manly plumes.

That Aruns is, who backs the other’s belly,
Who in the hills of Luni, there where grubs
The Carrarese who houses underneath,

Among the marbles white a cavern had
For his abode; whence to behold the stars
And sea, the view was not cut off from him.

And she there, who is covering up her breasts,
Which thou beholdest not, with loosened tresses,
And on that side has all the hairy skin,

Was Manto, who made quest through many lands,
Afterwards tarried there where I was born;
Whereof I would thou list to me a little.

After her father had from life departed,
And the city of Bacchus had become enslaved,
She a long season wandered through the world.

Above in beauteous Italy lies a lake
At the Alp’s foot that shuts in Germany
Over Tyrol, and has the name Benaco.

By a thousand springs, I think, and more, is bathed,
‘Twixt Garda and Val Camonica, Pennino,
With water that grows stagnant in that lake.

Midway a place is where the Trentine Pastor,
And he of Brescia, and the Veronese
Might give his blessing, if he passed that way.

Sitteth Peschiera, fortress fair and strong,
To front the Brescians and the Bergamasks,
Where round about the bank descendeth lowest.

There of necessity must fall whatever
In bosom of Benaco cannot stay,
And grows a river down through verdant pastures.

Soon as the water doth begin to run
No more Benaco is it called, but Mincio,
Far as Governo, where it falls in Po.

Not far it runs before it finds a plain
In which it spreads itself, and makes it marshy,
And oft ’tis wont in summer to be sickly.

Passing that way the virgin pitiless
Land in the middle of the fen descried,
Untilled and naked of inhabitants;

There to escape all human intercourse,
She with her servants stayed, her arts to practise
And lived, and left her empty body there.

The men, thereafter, who were scattered round,
Collected in that place, which was made strong
By the lagoon it had on every side;

They built their city over those dead bones,
And, after her who first the place selected,
Mantua named it, without other omen.

Its people once within more crowded were,
Ere the stupidity of Casalodi
From Pinamonte had received deceit.

Therefore I caution thee, if e’er thou hearest
Originate my city otherwise,
No falsehood may the verity defraud.”

And I:”My Master, thy discourses are
To me so certain, and so take my faith,
That unto me the rest would be spent coals.

But tell me of the people who are passing,
If any one note-worthy thou beholdest,
For only unto that my mind reverts.”

Then said he to me:”He who from the cheek
Thrusts out his beard upon his swarthy shoulders
Was, at the time when Greece was void of males,

So that there scarce remained one in the cradle,
An augur, and with Calchas gave the moment,
In Aulis, when to sever the first cable.

Eryphylus his name was, and so sings
My lofty Tragedy in some part or other;
That knowest thou well, who knowest the whole of it.

The next, who is so slender in the flanks,
Was Michael Scott, who of a verity
Of magical illusions knew the game.

Behold Guido Bonatti, behold Asdente
Who now unto his leather and his thread
Would fain have stuck, but he too late repents.

Behold the wretched ones, who left the needle,
The spool and rock, and made them fortune-tellers;
They wrought their magic spells with herb and image.

But come now, for already holds the confines
Of both the hemispheres, and under Seville
Touches the ocean-wave, Cain and the thorns,

And yesternight the moon was round already;
Thou shouldst remember well it did not harm thee
From time to time within the forest deep.”

Thus spake he to me, and we walked the while.

CANTO 21

FROM bridge to bridge thus, speaking other things
Of which my Comedy cares not to sing,
We came along, and held the summit, when

We halted to behold another fissure
Of Malebolge and other vain laments;
And I beheld it marvellously dark.

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels o’er again,

For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made;

One hammers at the prow, one at the stern,
This one makes oars, and that one cordage twists,
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen;

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,
Was boiling down below there a dense pitch
Which upon every side the bank belimed.

I saw it, but I did not see within it
Aught but the bubbles that the boiling raised,
And all swell up and resubside compressed.

The while below there fixedly I gazed,
My Leader, crying out: ” Beware, beware!”
Drew me unto himself from where I stood.

Then I turned round, as one who is impatient
To see what it behoves him to escape,
And whom a sudden terror doth unman.

Who, while he looks, delays not his departure;
And I beheld behind us a black devil,
Running along upon the crag, approach.

Ah, how ferocious was he in his aspect!
And how he seemed to me in action ruthless,
With open wings and light upon his feet!

His shoulders, which sharp-pointed were and high,
A sinner did encumber with both haunches,
And he held clutched the sinews of the feet.

From off our bridge, he said: “O Malebranche,
Behold one of the elders of Saint Zita;
Plunge him beneath, for I return for others

Unto that town, which is well furnished with them.
All there are barrators, except Bonturo;
No into Yes for money there is changed.”

He hurled him down, and over the hard crag
Turned round, and never was a mastiff loosened
In so much hurry to pursue a thief.

The other sank, and rose again face downward;
But the demons, under cover of the bridge,
Cried:”Here the Santo Volto has no place!

Here swims one otherwise than in the Serchio;
Therefore, if for our gaffs thou wishest not,
Do not uplift thyself above the pitch.”

They seized him then with more than a hundred rakes;
They said: ” It here behoves thee to dance covered,
That, if thou canst, thou secretly mayest pilfer.”

Not otherwise the cooks their scullions make
Immerse into the middle of the caldron
The meat with hooks, so that it may not float.

Said the good Master to me:”That it be not
Apparent thou art here, crouch thyself down
Behind a jag, that thou mayest have some screen;

And for no outrage that is done to me
Be thou afraid, because these things I know,
For once before was I in such a scuffle.”

Then he passed on beyond the bridge’s head,
And as upon the sixth bank he arrived,
Need was for him to have a steadfast front.

With the same fury, and the same uproar,
As dogs leap out upon a mendicant,
Who on a sudden begs, where’er he stops,

They issued from beneath the little bridge,
And turned against him all their grappling-irons;
But he cried out: ” Be none of you malignant!

Before those hooks of yours lay hold of me,
Let one of you step forward, who may hear me,
And then take counsel as to grappling me.”

They all cried out:”Let Malacoda go;”
Whereat one started, and the rest stood still,
And he came to him, saying: ” What avails it?”

“Thinkest thou, Malacoda, to behold me
Advanced into this place,”my Master said,
“Safe hitherto from all your skill of fence,

Without the will divine, and fate auspicious?
Let me go on, for it in Heaven is willed
That I another show this savage road.”

Then was his arrogance so humbled in him,
That he let fall his grapnel at his feet,
And to the others said: ” Now strike him not.”

And unto me my Guide:”O thou, who sittest
Among the splinters of the bridge crouched down,
Securely now return to me again.”

Wherefore I started and came swiftly to him;
And all the devils forward thrust themselves,
So that I feared they would not keep their compact.

And thus beheld I once afraid the soldiers
Who issued under safeguard from Caprona,
Seeing themselves among so many foes.

Close did I press myself with all my person
Beside my Leader, and turned not mine eyes
From off their countenance, which was not good.

They lowered their rakes, and “Wilt thou have me hit him,”
They said to one another, “on the rump?”
And answered: “Yes; see that thou nick him with it.”

But the same demon who was holding parley
With my Conductor turned him very quickly,
And said:”Be quiet, be quiet, Scarmiglione;”

Then said to us:”You can no farther go
Forward upon this crag, because is Iying
All shattered, at the bottom, the sixth arch.

And if it still doth please you to go onward,
Pursue your way along upon this rock;
Near is another crag that yields a path.

Yesterday, five hours later than this hour,
One thousand and two hundred sixty-six
Years were complete, that here the way was broken.

I send in that direction some of mine
To see if any one doth air himself;
Go ye with them; for they will not be vicious.

Step forward, Alichino and Calcabrina,”
Began he to cry out, ” and thou, Cagnazzo;
And Barbariccia, do thou guide the ten.

Come forward, Libicocco and Draghignazzo,
And tusked Ciriatto and Graffiacane,
And Farfarello and mad Rubicante;

Search ye all round about the boiling pitch;
Let these be safe as far as the next crag,
That all unbroken passes o’er the dens.”

“O me! what is it, Master, that I see? Pray let us go,”
I said, ” without an escort,
If thou knowest how, since for myself I ask none.

If thou art as observant as thy wont is,
Dost thou not see that they do gnash their teeth,
And with their brows are threatening woe to us?”

And he to me:”I will not have thee fear;
Let them gnash on, according to their fancy,
Because they do it for those boiling wretches.”

Along the left-hand dike they wheeled about;
But first had each one thrust his tongue between
His teeth towards their leader for a signal;

And he had made a trumpet of his rump.

CANTO 22

I HAVE erewhile seen horsemen moving camp,
Begin the storming, and their muster make,
And sometimes starting off for their escape;

Vaunt-couriers have I seen upon your land,
O Aretines, and foragers go forth,
Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run,

Sometimes with trumpets and sometimes with bells,
With kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,
And with our own, and with outlandish things,

But never yet with bagpipe so uncouth
Did I see horsemen move, nor infantry,
Nor ship by any sign of land or star.

We went upon our way with the ten demons:
Ah, savage company ! but in the church
With saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons!

Ever upon the pitch was my intent,
To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
And of the people who therein were burned.

Even as the dolphins, when they make a sign
To mariners by arching of the back,
That they should counsel take to save their vessel,

Thus sometimes, to alleviate his pain,
One of the sinners would display his back,
And in less time conceal it than it lightens.

As on the brink of water in a ditch
The frogs stand only with their muzzles out,
So that they hide their feet and other bulk.

So upon every side the sinners stood;
But ever as Barbariccia near them came,
Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.

I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,
One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
One frog remains, and down another dives;

And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,
Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.

I knew, before, the names of all of them,
So had I noted them when they were chosen,
And when they called each other, listened how.

“O Rubicante, see that thou do lay
Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,”
Cried all together the accursed ones.

And I:”My Master, see to it, if thou canst,
That thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
Thus come into his adversaries’ hands.”

Near to the side of him my Leader drew,
Asked of him whence he was; and he replied:
“I in the kingdom of Navarre was born;

My mother placed me servant to a lord,
For she had borne me to a ribald knave,
Destroyer of himself and of his things.

Then I domestic was of good King Thibault;
I set me there to practise barratry,
For which I pay the reckoning in this heat.”

And Ciriatto, from whose mouth projected,
On either side, a tusk, as in a boar,
Caused him to feel how one of them could rip.

Among malicious cats the mouse had come;
But Barbariccia clasped him in his arms,
And said: ” Stand ye aside, while I enfork him.”

And to my Master he turned round his head;
“Ask him again,” he said,”if more thou wish
To know from him, before some one destroy him.”

The Guide:”Now tell then of the other culprits;
Knowest thou any one who is a Latian,
Under the pitch ?” And he:”I separated

Lately from one who was a neighbour to it;
Would that I still were covered up with him,
For I should fear not either claw nor hook!”

And Libicocco:”We have borne too much;”
And with his grapnel seized him by the arm,
So that, by rending, he tore off a tendon.

Eke Draghignazzo wished to pounce upon him
Down at the legs; whence their Decurion
Turned round and round about with evil look.

When they again somewhat were pacified,
Of him, who still was looking at his wound,
Demanded my Conductor without stay:

“Who was that one, from whom a luckless parting
Thou sayest thou hast made, to come ashore?”
And he replied ” It was the Friar Gomita,

He of Gallura, vessel of all fraud,
Who had the enemies of his Lord in hand,
And dealt so with them each exults thereat;

Money he took, and let them smoothly off,
As he says; and in other offices
A barrator was he, not mean but sovereign.

Foregathers with him one Don Michael Zanche
Of Logodoro; and of Sardinia
To gossip never do their tongues feel tired.

O me ! see that one, how he grinds his teeth;
Still farther would I speak, but am afraid
Lest he to scratch my itch be making ready.”

And the grand Provost, turned to Farfarello,
Who rolled his eyes about as if to strike, Said:
“Stand aside there, thou malicious bird.”

“If you desire either to see or hear,”
The terror-stricken recommenced thereon,
“Tuscans or Lombards. I will make them come.

But let the Malebranche cease a little,
So that these may not their revenges fear,
And I, down sitting in this very place,

For one that I am will make seven come,
When I shall whistle, as our custom is
To do whenever one of us comes out.”

Cagnazzo at these words his muzzle lifted,
Shaking his head, and said:”Just hear the trick
Which he has thought of, down to throw himself!

Whence he, who snares in great abundance had,
Responded: ” I by far too cunning am,
When I procure for mine a greater sadness.”

Alichin held not in, but running counter
Unto the rest, said to him:”If thou dive,
I will not follow thee upon the gallop,

But I will beat my wings above the pitch;
The height be left, and be the bank a shield
To see if thou alone dost countervail us.”

O thou who readest, thou shalt hear new sport!
Each to the other side his eyes averted;
He first, who most reluctant was to do it.

The Navarrese selected well his time;
Planted his feet on land, and in a moment
Leaped, and released himself from their design.

Whereat each one was suddenly stung with shame,
But he most who was cause of the defeat;
Therefore he moved, and cried: ” Thou art o’ertakern.”

But little it availed, for wings could not
Outstrip the fear; the other one went under,
And, flying, upward he his breast directed;

Not otherwise the duck upon a sudden
Dives under, when the falcon is approaching,
And upward he returneth cross and weary.

Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina
Flying behind him followed close, desirous
The other should escape, to have a quarrel.

And when the barrator had disappeared,
He turned his talons upon his companion,
And grappled with him right above the moat.

But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk
To clapperclaw him well; and both of them
Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.

A sudden intercessor was the heat;
But ne’ertheless of rising there was naught,
To such degree they had their wings belimed.

Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
Made four of them fly to the other side
With all their gaffs, and very speedily

This side and that they to their posts descended;
They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
Who were already baked within the crust,

And in this manner busied did we leave them.

CANTO 23

SILENT, alone, and without company
We went, the one in front, the other after,
As go the Minor Friars along their way

Upon the fable of Aesop was directed
My thought, by reason of the present quarrel,
Where he has spoken of the frog and mouse;

For mo and issa are not more alike
Than this one is to that, if well we couple
End and beginning with a steadfast mind.

And even as one thought from another springs,
So afterward from that was born another,
Which the first fear within me double made.

Thus did I ponder:”These on our account
Are laughed to scorn, with injury and scoff
So great, that much I think it must annoy them.

If anger be engrafted on ill-will,
They will come after us more merciless
Than dog upon the leveret which he seizes,”

I felt my hair stand all on end already
With terror, and stood backwardly intent,
When said I: ” Master, if thou hidest not

Thyself and me forthwith, of Malebranche
I am in dread; we have them now behind us;
I so. imagine them, I already feel them”

And he:”If I were made of leaded glass
Thine outward image I should not attract
Sooner to me than I imprint the inner.

Just now thy thoughts came in among my own,
With similar attitude and similar face,
So that of both one counsel sole I made.

If peradventure the right bank so slope
That we to the next Bolgia can descend.
We shall escape from the imagined chase.”

Not yet he finished rendering such opinion.
When I beheld them come with outstretched wings,
Not far remote, with will to seize upon us.

My Leader on a sudden seized me up,
Even as a mother who by noise is wakened,
And close beside her sees the enkindled flames,

Who takes her son, and flies, and does not stop,
Having more care of him than of herself,
So that she clothes her only with a shift;

And downward from the top of the hard bank
Supine he gave him to the pendent rock,
That one side of the other Bolgia walls.

Ne’er ran so swiftly water through a sluice
To turn the water of any land-built mill,
When nearest to the paddles it approaches,

As did my Master down along that border,
Bearing me with him on his breast away,
As his own son, and not as a companion.

Hardly the bed of the ravine below
His feet had reached, ere they had reached the hill
Right over us; but he was not afraid;

For the high Providence, which had ordained
To place them ministers of the fifth moat,
The power of thence departing took from all.

A painted people there below we found,
Who went about with footsteps very slow,
Weeping and in their semblance tired and vanquished.

They had on mantles with the hoods low down
Before their eyes, and fashioned of the cut
That in Cologne they for the monks arc made.

Without, they gilded are so that it dazzles;
But inwardly all leaden and so heavy
That Frederick used to put them on of straw.

O everlastingly fatiguing mantle!
Again we turned us, still to the left hand
Along with them, intent on their sad plaint;

But owing to the weight, that weary folk
Came on so tardily, that we were new
In company at each motion of the haunch.

Whence I unto my Leader:”See thou find
Some one who may by deed or name be known,
And thus in going move thine eye about.”

And one,who understood the Tuscan speech
Cried to us from behind:”Stay ye your feet
Ye, who so run athwart the dusky air

Perhaps thou’lt have from me what thou demandest.”
Whereat the Leader turned him, and said:”Wait,
And then according to his pace proceed.”

I stopped, and two beheld I show great haste
Of spirit, in their faces, to be with me;
But the burden and the narrow way delayed them.

When they came up, long with an eye askance
They scanned me without uttering a word.
Then to each other turned, and said together:

“He by the action of his throat seems living;
And if they dead are, by what privilege
Go they uncovered by the heavy stole?”

Then said to me:”Tuscan, who to the college
Of miserable hypocrites art come,
Do not disdain to tell us who thou art.”

And I to them: “Born was I, and grew up
In the great town on the fair river of Arno,
And with the body am I’ve always had.

But who are ye, in whom there trickles down
Along your cheeks such grief as I behold?
And what pain is upon you, that so sparkles?”

And one replied to me:”These orange cloaks
Are made of lead so heavy, that the weights
Cause in this way their balances to creak.

Frati Gaudenti were we, and Bolognese;
I Catalano, and he Loderingo
Named, and together taken by thy city,

As the wont is to take one man alone,
For maintenance of its peace; and we were such
That still it is apparent round Gardingo.”

“O Friars,”began I,”your iniquitous …”
But said no more; for to mine eyes there rushed
One crucified with three stakes on the ground.

When me he saw, he writhed himself all over,
Blowing into his beard with suspirations;
And the Friar Catalan, who noticed this,

Said to me:”This transfixed one, whom thou seest,
Counselled the Pharisees that it was meet
To put one man to torture for the people.

Crosswise and naked is he on the path,
As thou perceivest; and he needs must feel,
Whoever passes, first how much he weighs;

And in like mode his father-in-law is punished
Within this moat, and the others of the council,
Which for the Jews was a malignant seed.”

And thereupon I saw Virgilius marvel
O’er him who was extended on the cross
So vilely in eternal banishment.

Then he directed to the Friar this voice:
“Be not displeased, if granted thee, to tell us
If to the right hand any pass slope down

By which we two may issue forth from here,
Without constraining some of the black angels
To come and extricate us from this deep.”

Then he made answer:”Nearer than thou hopest
There is a rock, that forth from the great circle
Proceeds, and crosses all the cruel valleys,

Save that at this ’tis broken, and does not bridge it;
You will be able to mount up the ruin,
That sidelong slopes and at the bottom rises.”

The Leader stood awhile with head bowed down;
Then said: ” The business badly he recounted
Who grapples with his hook the sinners yonder.”

And the Friar:”Many of the Devil’s vices Once heard
I at Bologna, and among them,
That he’s a liar and the father of lies.”

Thereat my Leader with great strides went on,
Somewhat disturbed with anger in his looks;
Whence from the heavy-laden I departed

After the prints of his beloved feet.

CANTO 24

IN that part of the youthful year wherein
The Sun his locks beneath Aquarius tempers,
And now the nights draw near to half the day,

What time the hoar-frost copies on the ground
The outward semblance of her sister white,
But little lasts the temper of her pen,

The husbandman, whose forage faileth him,
Rises, and looks, and seeth the champaign
All gleaming white, whereat he beats his flank,

Returns in doors, and up and down laments,
Like a poor wretch, who knows not what to do;
Then he returns and hope revives again,

Seeing the world has changed its countenance
In little time, and takes his shepherd’s crook,
And forth the little lambs to pasture drives.

Thus did the Master fill me with alarm
When I beheld his forehead so disturbed,
And to the ailment came as soon the plaster.

For as we came unto the ruined bridge
The Leader turned to me with that sweet look
Which at the mountain’s foot I first beheld.

His arms he opened, after some advisement
Within himself elected, looking first
Well at the ruin, and laid hold of me.

And even as he who acts and meditates,
For aye it seems that he provides beforehand,
So upward lifting me towards the summit

Of a huge rock, he scanned another crag, Saying:
“To that one grapple afterwards,
But try first if ’tis such that it will hold thee.”

This was no way for one clothed with a cloak;
For hardly we, he light, and I pushed upward,
Were able to ascend from jag to jag.

And had it not been, that upon that precinct
Shorter was the ascent than on the other,
He I know not, but I had been dead beat.

But because Malebolge tow’rds the mouth
Of the profoundest well is all inclining,
The structure of each valley doth import

That one bank rises and the other sinks.
Still we arrived at length upon the point
Wherefrom the last stone breaks itself asunder.

The breath was from my lungs so milked away,
When I was up, that I could go no farther,
Nay, I sat down upon my first arrival.

“Now it behoves thee thus to put off sloth,”
My Master said; ” for sitting upon down,
Or under quilt, one cometh not to fame,

Withouten which whoso his life consumes
Such vestige leaveth of himself on earth.
As smoke in air or in the water foam.

And therefore raise thee up, o’ercome the anguish
With spirit that o’ercometh every battle,
If with its heavy body it sink not.

A longer stairway it behoves thee mount;
‘Tis not enough from these to have departed;
Let it avail thee, if thou understand me.”

Then I uprose,showing myself provided
Better with breath than I did feel myself,
And said: ” Go on, for I am strong and bold.”

Upward we took our way along the crag,
Which jagged was, and narrow, and difficult,
And more precipitous far than that before.

Speaking I went,not to appear exhausted;
Whereat a voice from the next moat came forth,
Not well adapted to articulate words.

I know not what it said, though o’er the back
I now was of the arch that passes there;
But he seemed moved to anger who was speaking

I was bent downward, but my living eyes
Could not attain the bottom, for the dark;
Wherefore I: ” Master, see that thou arrive

At the next round, and let us descend the wall;
For as from hence I hear and understand not,
So I look down and nothing I distinguish.”

“Other response,”he said,”I make thee not,
Except the doing; for the modest asking
Ought to be followed by the deed in silence.”

We from the bridge descended at its head,
Where it connects itself with the eighth bank,
And then was manifest to me the Bolgia;

And I beheld therein a terrible throng
Of serpents, and of such a monstrous kind,
That the remembrance still congeals my blood

Let Libya boast no longer with her sand;
For if Chelydri, Jaculi, and Pharae
She breeds, with Cenchri and with Ammhisbaena.

Neither so many plagues nor so malignant
E’er showed she with all Ethiopia,
Nor with whatever on the Red Sea is!

Among this cruel and most dismal throng
People were running naked and affrighted.
Without the hope of hole or heliotrope.

They had their hands with serpents bound behind them;
These riveted upon their reins the tail
And head, and were in front of them entwined.

And lo! at one who was upon our side
There darted forth a serpent, which transfixed him
There where the neck is knotted to the shoulders.

Nor O so quickly e’er, nor I was written,
As he took fire, and burned; and ashes wholly
Behoved it that in falling he became.

And when he on the ground was thus destroyed,
The ashes drew together, and of themselves
Into himself they instantly returned.

Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year;

On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,
But only on tears of incense and amomum,
And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.

And as he is who falls, and knows not how,
By force of demons who to earth down drag him,
Or other oppilation that binds man,

When he arises and around him looks,
Wholly bewildered by the mighty anguish
Which he has suffered, and in looking sighs;

Such was that sinner after he had risen.
Justice of God! O how severe it is,
That blows like these in vengeance poureth down!

The Guide thereafter asked him who he was;
Whence he replied: ” I rained from Tuscany
A short time since into this cruel gorge.

A bestial life, and not a human, pleased me,
Even as the mule I was; I’m Vanni Fucci,
Beast, and Pistoia was my worthy den.”

And I unto the Guide:”Tell him to stir not,
And ask what crime has thrust him here below,
For once a man of blood and wrath I saw him.”

And the sinner, who had heard, dissembled not,
But unto me directed mind and face,
And with a melancholy shame was painted.

Then said: “It pains me more that thou hast caught me
Amid this misery where thou seest me,
Than when I from the other life was taken.

What thou demandest r cannot deny;
So low am I put down because I robbed
The sacristy of the fair ornaments,

And falsely once ’twas laid upon another;
But that thou mayst not such a sight enjoy,
If thou shalt e’er be out of the dark places,

Thine ears to my announcement ope and hear:
Pistoia first of Neri groweth meagre;
Then Florence doth renew her men and manners;

Mars draws a vapour up from Val di Magra,
Which is with turbid clouds enveloped round,
And with impetuous and bitter tempest

Over Campo Picen shall be the battle;
When it shall suddenly rend the mist asunder,
So that each Bianco shall thereby be smitten

And this I’ve said that it may give thee pain.”

CANTO 25

At the conclusion of his words, the thief
Lifted his hands aloft with both the figs,
Crying : “Take that, God, for at thee I aim them.”

From that time forth the serpents were my friends;
For one entwined itself about his neck
As if it said: ” I will not thou speak more; “

And round his arms another, and rebound him,
Clinching itself together so in front,
That with them he could not a motion make,

Pistoia, ah, Pistoia ! why resolve not
To burn thyself to ashes and so perish,
Since in ill-doing thou thy seed excellest?

Through all the sombre circles of this Hell,
Spirit I saw not against God so proud,
Not he who fell at Thebes down from the walls!

He fled away, and spake no further word;
And I beheld a Centaur full of rage
Come crying out: ” Where is, where is the scoffer?”

I do not think Maremma has so many
Serpents as he had all along his back,
As far as where our countenance begins.

Upon the shoulders, just behind the nape,
With wings wide open was a dragon lying,
And he sets fire to all that he encounters.

My Master said:”That one is Cacus, who
Beneath the rock upon Mount Aventine
Created oftentimes a lake of blood.

He goes not on the same road with his brothers,
By reason of the fraudulent theft he made
Of the great herd, which he had near to him;

Whereat his tortuous actions ceased beneath
The mace of Hercules, who peradventure
Gave him a hundred, and he felt not ten.”

While he was speaking thus, he had passed by,
And spirits three ha(l underneath us come,
Of which nor I aware was, nor my Leader

Until what time they shouted: “Who are you?”
On which account our story made a halt
And then we were intent on them alone.

I did not know them; but it came to pass,
As it is wont to happen by some chance,
That one to name the other was compelled,

Exclaiming:”Where can Cianfa have remained?”
Whence I, so that the Leader might attend,
Upward from chin to nose my finger laid.

If thou art,Reader, slow now to believe
What I shall say, it will no marvel be,
For I who saw it hardly can admit it.

As I was holding raised on them my brows,
Behold ! a serpent with six feet darts forth
In front of one, and fastens wholly on him.

With middle feet it bound him round the paunch,
And with the forward ones his arms it seized;
Then thrust its teeth through one cheek and the other;

The hindermost it stretched upon his thighs,
And put its tail through in between the two,
And up behind along the reins outspread it.

Ivy was never fastened by its barbs
Unto a tree so, as this horrible reptile
Upon the other’s limbs entwined its own.

Then they stuck close, as if of heated wax
They had been made, and intermixed their colour;
Nor one nor other seemed now what he was;

E’en as proceedeth on before the flame
Upward along the paper a brown colour,
Which is not black as yet, and the white dies.

The other two looked on, and each of them
Cried out: “O me, Agnello, how thou changest!
Behold, thou now art neither two nor one.”

Already the two heads had one become,
When there appeared to us two figures mingled
Into one face, wherein the two were lost.

Of the four lists were fashioned the two arms,
The thighs and legs, the belly and the chest
Members became that never yet were seen.

Every original aspect there was cancelled;
Two and yet none did the perverted image
Appear, and such departed with slow pace.

Even as a lizard, under the great scourge
Of days canicular, exchanging hedge,
Lightning appeareth if the road it cross;

Thus did appear, coming towards the bellies
Of the two others, a small fiery serpent,
Livid and black as is a peppercorn.

And in that part whereat is first received
Our aliment, it one of them transfixed;
Then downward fell in front of him extended.

The one transfixed looked at it, but said naught;
Nay, rather with feet motionless he yawned,
Just as if sleep or fever had assailed him.

He at the serpent gazed, and it at him;
One through the wound, the other through the mouth
Smoked violently, and the smoke commingled.

Henceforth be silent Lucan, where he mentions
Wretched Sabellus and Nassidius,
And wait to hear what now wil be shot forth.

Be silent Ovid, of Cadmus and Arethusa;
For if him to a snake, her to a fountain,
Converts he fabling, that I grudge him not;

Because two natures never front to front
Has he transmuted, so that both the forms
To interchange their matter ready were.

Together they responded in such wise,
That to a fork the serpent cleft his tail,
And eke the wounded drew his feet together.

The legs together with the thighs themselves
Adhered so, that in little time the juncture
No sign whatever made that was apparent.

He with the cloven tail assumed the figure
The other one was losing, and his skin
Became elastic, and the other’s hard.

I saw the arms draw inward at the armpits,
And both feet of the reptile, that were short,
Lengthen as much as those contracted were.

Thereafter the hind feet, together twisted,
Became the member that a man conceals,
And of his own the wretch had two created.

While both of them the exhalation veils
With a new colour, and engenders hair
On one of them and depilates the other,

The one uprose and down the other fell,
Though turning not away their impious lamps,
Underneath which each one his muzzle changed.

He who was standing drew it tow’rds the temples,
And from excess of matter, which came thither,
Issued the ears from out the hollow cheeks;

What did not backward run and was retained
Of that excess made to the face a nose,
And the lips thickened far as was befitting.

He who lay prostrate thrusts his muzzle forward,
And backward draws the ears into his head,
In the same manner as the snail its horns

And so the tongue, which was entire and apt
For speech before, is cleft, and the bi-forked
In the other closes up, and the smoke ceases.

The soul,which to a reptile had been changed,
Along the valley hissing takes to flight,
And after him the other speaking sputters.

Then did he turn upon him his new shoulders,
And said to the other: ” I’ll have Buoso run,
Crawling as I have done, along this road.”

In this way I beheld the seventh ballast
Shift and reshift, and here be my excuse
The novelty, if aught my pen transgress.

And notwithstanding that mine eyes might be
Somewhat bewildered, and my mind dismayed,
They could not flee away so secretly

But that I plainly saw Puccio Sciancato;
And he it was who sole of three companions,
Which came in the beginning, was not changed;

The other was he whom thou, Gaville, weepest.

CANTO 26

REJOICE, 0 Florence, since thou art so great,
That over sea and land thou beatest thy wings,
And throughout Hell thy name is spread abroad

Among the thieves five citizens of thine
Like these I found, whence shame comes unto me,
And thou thereby to no great honour risest.

But if when morn is near our dreams are true,
Feel shalt thou in a little time from now
What Prato, if none other, craves for thee.

And if it now were, it were not too soon;
Would that it were, seeing it needs must be,
For ’twill aggrieve me more the more I age.

We went our way, and up along the stairs
The bourns had made us to descend before,
Remounted my Conductor and drew me.

And following the solitary path
Among the rocks and ridges of the crag,
The foot without the hand sped not at all.

Then sorrowed I, and sorrow now again,
When I direct my mind to what I saw,
And more my genius curb than I am wont,

That it may run not unless virtue guide it;
So that if some good star, or better thing,
Have given me good, I may myself not grudge it.

As many as the hind (who on the hill
Rests at the time when he who lights the world
His countenance keeps least concealed from us,

While as the fly gives place unto the gnat)
Seeth the glow-worms down along the valley,
Perchance there where he ploughs and makes his

With flames as manifold resplendent all
Was the eighth Bolgia, as I grew aware
As soon as I was where the depth appeared.

And such as he who with the bears avenged him
Beheld Elijah’s chariot at departing,
What time the steeds to heaven erect uprose

For with his eye he could not follow it
So as to see aught else than flame alone,
Even as a little cloud ascending upward,

Thus each along the gorge of the intrenchment
Was moving; for not one reveals the theft,
And every flame a sinner steals away.

I stood upon the bridge uprisen to see,
So that, if I had seized not on a rock,
Down had I fallen without being pushed.

And the Leader, who beheld me so attent
Exclaimed:”Within the fires the spirits are;
Each swathes himself with that wherewith he burns.”

‘My Master,” I replied,”by hearing thee
I am more sure; but I surmised already
It might be so, and already wished to ask thee

Who is within that fire, which comes so cleft
At top, it seems uprising from the pyre
Where was Eteocles with his brother placed.”

He answered me:”Within there are tormented
Ulysses and Diomed, and thus together
They unto vengeance run as unto wrath.

And there within their flame do they lament
The ambush of the horse, which made the door
Whence issued forth the Romans’ gentle seed;

Therein is wept the craft, for which being dead
Deidamia still deplores Achilles,
And pain for the Palladium there is borne.”

“If they within those sparks possess the power
To speak,” I said, ” thee, Master, much I pray,
And re-pray, that the prayer be worth a thousand,

That thou make no denial of awaiting
Until the horned flame shall hither come;
Thou seest that with desire I lean towards it.”

And he to me:”Worthy is thy entreaty
Of much applause, and therefore I accept it;
But take heed that thy tongue restrain itself.

Leave me to speak,because I have conceived
That which thou wishest; for they might disdain
Perchance, since they were Greeks, discourse of thine.”

When now the flame had come unto that point,
Where to my Leader it seemed time and place,
After this fashion did I hear him speak:

“O ye, who are twofold within one fire,
If I deserved of you, while I was living,
If I deserved of you or much or little

When in the world I wrote the lofty verses,
Do not move on, but one of you declare
Whither, being lost, he went away to die.”

Then of the antique flame the greater horn,
Murmuring, began to wave itself about
Even as a flame doth which the wind fatigues.

Thereafterward, the summit to and fro
Moving as if it were the tongue that spake
It uttered forth a voice, and said:”When I

From Circe had departed, who concealed me
More than a year there near unto Gaeta,
Or ever yet Aenas named it so,

Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
For my old father, nor the due affection
Which joyous should have made Penelope,

Could overcome within me the desire
I had to be experienced of the world,
And of the vice and virtue of mankind;

But I put forth on the high open sea
With one sole ship, and that small company
By which I never had deserted been.

Both of the shores I saw as far as Spain,
Far as Morocco. and the isle of Sardes,
And the others which that sea bathes round about.

I and my company were old and slow
When at that narrow passage we arrived
Where Hercules his landmarks set as signals,

That man no farther onward should adventure.
On the right hand behind me left I Seville,
And on the other already had left Ceuta.

‘O brothers, who amid a hundred thousand
Perils,’ I said, ‘ have come unto the West,
To this so inconsiderable vigil

Which is remaining of your senses still
Be ye unwilling to deny the knowledge,
Following the sun, of the unpeopled world.

Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang;
Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,
But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.’

So eager did I render my companions,
With this brief exhortation, for the voyage,
That then I hardly could have held them back.

And having turned our stern unto the morning,
We of the oars made wings for our mad flight,
Evermore gaining on the larboard side.

Already all the stars of the other pole
The night beheld, and ours so very low
It did not rise above the ocean floor.

Five times rekindled and as many quenched
Had been the splendour underneath the moon,
Since we had entered into the deep pass,

When there appeared to us a mountain, dim
From distance, and it seemed to me so high
As I had never any one beheld.

Joyful were we, and soon it turned to weeping;
For out of the new land a whirlwind rose,
And smote upon the fore part of the ship.

Three times it made her whirl with all the waters,
At the fourth time it made the stern uplift,
And the prow downward go, as pleased Another,

Until the sea above us closed again.”

CANTO 27

Already was the flame erect and quiet,
To speak no more, and now departed from us
With the permission of the gentle Poet;

When yet another, which behind it came,
Caused us to turn our eyes upon its top
By a confused sound that issued from it.

As the Sicilian bull (that bellowed first
With the lament of him, and that was right,
Who with his file had modulated it)

Bellowed so with the voice of the afflicted,
That, notwithstanding it was made of brass,
Still it appeared with agony transfixed;

Thus, by not having any way or issue
At first from out the fire, to its own language
Converted were the melancholy words.

But afterwards, when they had gathered way
Up through the point, giving it that vibration
The tongue had given them in their passage out,

We heard it said:”O thou, at whom I aim
My voice, and who but now wast speaking
Lombard, Saying,’Now go thy way, no more I urge thee,’

Because I come perchance a little late,
To stay and speak with me let it not irk thee;
Thou seest it irks not me, and I am burning.

If thou but lately into this blind world
Hast fallen down from that sweet Latian land,
Wherefrom I bring the whole of my transgression,

Say,if the Romagnuols have peace or war,
For I was from the mountains there between
Urbino and the yoke whence Tiber bursts.”

I still was downward bent and listening,
When my Conductor touched me on the side,
Saying: ” Speak thou: this one a Latian is.”

And I, who had beforehand my reply
In readiness, forthwith began to speak:
“O soul, that down below there art concealed,

Romagna thine is not and never has been
Without war in the bosom of its tyrants;
But open war I none have left there now.

Ravenna stands as it long years has stood;
The Eagle of Polenta there is brooding,
So that she covers Cervia with her vans.

The city which once made the long resistance,
And of the French a sanguinary heap,
Beneath the Green Paws finds itself again;

Verrucchio’s ancient Mastiff and the new,
Who made such bad disposal of Montagna,
Where they are wont make wimbles of their teeth.

The cities of Lamone and Santerno
Governs the Lioncel of the white lair,
Who changes sides ‘twixt summer-time and winter;

And that of which the Savio bathes the flank,
Even as it lies between the plain and mountain,
Lives between tyranny and a free state.

Now I entreat thee tell us who thou art;
Be not more stubborn than the rest have been,
So may thy name hold front there in the world.”

After the fire a little more had roared
In its own fashion, the sharp point it moved
This way and that, and then gave forth such breath:

“If I believed that my reply were made
To one who to the world would e’er return,
This flame without more flickering would stand still;

But inasmuch as never from this depth
Did any one return, if I hear true,
Without the fear of infamy I answer,

I was a man of arms, then Cordelier,
Believing thus begirt to make amends;
And truly my belief had been fulfilled

But for the High Priest, whom may ill betide,
Who put me back into my former sins;
And how and wherefore I will have thee hear.

While I was still the form of bone and pulp
My mother gave to me, the deeds I did
Were not those of a lion, but a fox.

The machinations and the covert ways
I knew them all, and practised so their craft,
That to the ends of earth the sound went forth.

When now unto that portion of mine age
I saw myself arrived, when each one ought
To lower the sails, and coil away the ropes,

That which before had pleased me then displeased me;
And penitent and confessing I surrendered,
Ah woe is me ! and it would have bestead me;

The Leader of the modern Pharisees
Having a war near unto Lateran,
And not with Saracens nor with the Jews,

For each one of his enemies was Christian,
And none of them had been to conquer Acre,
Nor merchandising in the Sultan’s land,

Nor the high office, nor the sacred orders,
In him regarded, nor in me that cord
Which used to make those girt with it more meagre;

But even as Constantine sought out Sylvester
To cure his leprosy, within Soracte,
So this one sought me out as an adept

To cure him of the fever of his pride.
Counsel he asked of me, and I was silent,
Because his words appeared inebriate.

And then he said: ‘Be not thy heart afraid;
Henceforth I thee absolve; and thou instruct me
How to raze Palestrina to the ground.

Heaven have I power to lock and to unlock,
As thou dost know; therefore the keys are two,
The which my predecessor held not dear.’

Then urged me on his weighty arguments
There, where my silence was the worst advice;
And said I:’Father, since thou washest me

Of that sin into which I now must fall,
The promise long with the fulfilment short
Will make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.’

Francis came afterward, when I was dead,
For me; but one of the black Cherubim
Said to him:’Take him not; do me no wrong;

He must come down among my servitors,
Because he gave the fraudulent advice
From which time forth I have been at his hair;

For who repents not cannot be absolved,
Nor can one both repent and will at once,
Because of the contradiction which consents not.

O miserable me! how I did shudder
When he seized on me, saying: ‘Peradventure
Thou didst not think that I was a logician !’

He bore me unto Minos, who entwined
Eight times his tail about his stubborn back,
And after he had bitten it in great rage,

Said: ‘Of the thievish fire a culprit this;’
Wherefore, here where thou seest, am I lost,
And vested thus in going I bemoan me.”

When it had thus completed its recital,
The flame departed uttering lamentations,
Writhing and flapping its sharp-pointed horn.

Onward we passed, both I and my Conductor,
Up o’er the crag above another arch,
Which the moat covers, where is paid the fee

By those who, sowing discord, win their burden.

CANTO 28

WHO ever could, e’en with untrammelled words,
Tell of the blood and of the wounds in full
Which now I saw, by many times narrating?

Each tongue would for a certainty fall short
By reason of our speech and memory,
That have small room to comprehend so much

If were again assembled all the people
Which formerly upon the fateful land
Of Puglia were lamenting for their blood

Shed by the Romans and the lingering war
That of the rings made such illustrious spoils,
As Livy has recorded, who errs not,

With those who felt the agony of blows
By making counterstand to Robert Guiscard,
And all the rest, whose bones are gathered still

At Ceperano, where a renegade
Was each Apulian, and at Tagliacozzo,
Where without arms the old Alardo conquered,

And one his limb transpierced, and one lopped off,
Should show, it would be nothing to compare
With the disgusting mode of the ninth Bolgia.

A cask by losing centre-piece or cant
Was never shattered so, as I saw one
Rent from the chin to where one breaketh wind.

Between his legs were hanging down his entrails;
His heart was visible, and the dismal sack
That maketh excrement of what is eaten.

While I was all absorbed in seeing him,
He looked at me, and opened with his hands
His bosom, saying:”See now how I rend me;

How mutilated, see, is Mahomet;
In front of me doth Ali weeping go,
Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;

And all the others whom thou here beholdest,
Disseminators of scandal and of schism
While living were, and therefore are cleft thus.

A devil is behind here, who doth cleave us
Thus cruelly, unto the falchion’s edge
Putting again each one of all this ream,

When we have gone around the doleful road;
By reason that our wounds are closed again
Ere any one in front of him repass.

But who art thou, that musest on the crag,
Perchance to postpone going to the pain
That is adjudged upon thine accusations ?”

“Nor death hath reached him yet, nor guilt doth bring him,”
My Master made reply, ” to be tormented;
But to procure him full experience,

Me, who am dead, behoves it to conduct him
Down here through Hell, from circle unto circle;
And this is true as that I speak to thee.”

More than a hundred were there when they heard him,
Who in the moat stood still to look at me,
Through wonderment oblivious of their torture.

“Now say to Fra Dolcino, then, to arm him,
Thou, who perhaps wilt shortly see the sun,
If soon he wish not here to follow me,

So with provisions,that no stress of snow
May give the victory to the Novarese,
Which otherwise to gain would not be easy.”

After one foot to go away he lifted,
This word did Mahomet say unto me,
Then to depart upon the ground he stretched it.

Another one, who had his throat pierced through,
And nose cut off close underneath the brows,
And had no longer but a single ear,

Staying to look in wonder with the others,
Before the others did his gullet open,
Which outwardly was red in every part,

And said:”O thou, whom guilt doth not condemn,
And whom I once saw up in Latian land,
Unless too great similitude deceive me,

Call to remembrance Pier da Medicina,
If e’er thou see again the lovely plain
That from Vercelli slopes to Marcabo,

And make it known to the best two of Fano,
To Messer Guido and Angiolello likewise,
That if foreseeing here be not in vain,

Cast over from their vessel shall they be,
And drowned near unto the Cattolica,
By the betrayal of a tyrant fell.

Between the isles of Cyprus and Majorca
Neptune ne’er yet beheld so great a crime
Neither of pirates nor Argolic people.

That traitor, who sees only with one eye,
And holds the land, which some one here with me
Would fain be fasting from the vision of,

Will make them come unto a parley with him;
Then will do so, that to Focara’s wind
They will not stand in need of vow or prayer.”

And I to him:”Show to me and declare,
If thou wouldst have me bear up news of thee,
Who is this person of the bitter vision.”

Then did he lay his hand upon the jaw
Of one of his companions, and his mouth
Oped, crying:”This is he, and he speaks not.

This one, being banished, every doubt submerged
In Caesar by affirming the forearmed
Always with detriment allowed delay.”

O how bewildered unto me appeared,
With tongue asunder in his windpipe slit,
Curio, who in speaking was so bold !

And one, who both his hands dissevered had,
The stumps uplifting through the murky air,
So that the blood made horrible his face,

Cried out:”Thou shalt remember Mosca also,
Who said, alas ! ‘ A thing done has an end!’
Which was an ill seed for the Tuscan people

“And death unto thy race,”thereto I added;
Whence he, accumulating woe on woe,
Departed, like a person sad and crazed.

But I remained to look upon the crowd;
And saw a thing which I should be afraid,
Without some further proof, even to recount,

If it were not that conscience reassures me,
That good companion which emboldens man
Beneath the hauberk of its feeling pure.

I truly saw, and still I seem to see it,
A trunk without a head walk in like manner
As walked the others of the mournful herd.

And by the hair it held the head dissevered,
Hung from the hand in fashion of a lantern,
And that upon us gazed and said:”O me!”

It of itself made to itself a lamp,
And they were two in one, and one in two;
How that can be, He knows who so ordains it.

When it was come close to the bridge’s foot,
It lifted high its arm with all the head,
To bring more closely unto us its words,

Which were:”Behold now the sore penalty,
Thou, who dost breathing go the dead beholding;
Behold if any be as great as this.

And so that thou may carry news of me,
Know that Bertram de Born am I, the same
Who gave to the Young King the evil comfort.

I made the father and the son rebellious;
Achitophel not more with Absalom
And David did with his accursed goadings.

Because I parted persons so united,
Parted do I now bear my brain, alas!
From its beginning, which is in this trunk.

Thus is observed in me the counterpoise.”

CANTO 29

THE many people and the divers wounds
These eyes of mine had so inebriated,
That they were wishful to stand still and weep;

But said Virgilius:”What dost thou still gaze at?
Why is thy sight still riveted down there
Among the mournful, mutilated shades ?

Thou hast not done so at the other Bolge;
Consider, if to count them thou believest,
That two-and-twenty miles the valley winds,

And now the moon is underneath our feet;
Henceforth the time allotted us is brief,
And more is to be seen than what thou seest.”

“If thou hadst,” I made answer thereupon
“Attended to the cause for which I looked,
Perhaps a longer stay thou wouldst have pardoned.”

Meanwhile my Guide departed, and behind him
I went, already making my reply,
And superadding: ” In that cavern where

I held mine eyes with such attention fixed,
I think a spirit of my blood laments
The sin which down below there costs so much”

Then said the Master:”Be no longer broken
Thy thought from this time forward upon him;
Attend elsewhere, and there let him remain;

For him I saw below the little bridge,
Pointing at thee, and threatening with his finger
Fiercely, and heard him called Geri del Bello.

So wholly at that time wast thou impeded
By him who formerly held Altaforte,
Thou didst not look that way; so he departed.”

“O my Conductor, his own violent death,
Which is not yet avenged for him,”I said,
“By any who is sharer in the shame,

Made him disdainful; whence he went away,
As I imagine, without speaking to me,
And thereby made me pity him the more.”

Thus did we speak as far as the first place
Upon the crag, which the next valley shows
Down to the bottom, if there were more light.

When we were now right over the last cloister
Of Malebolge, so that its lay-brothers
Could manifest themselves unto our sight,

Divers lamentings pierced me through and through,
Which with compassion had their arrows barbed,
Whereat mine ears I covered with my hands.

What pain would be, if from the hospitals
Of Valdichiana, ‘twixt July and September,
And of Maremma and Sardinia

All the diseases in one moat were gathered,
Such was it here, and such a stench came from it
As from putrescent limbs is wont to issue.

We had descended on the furthest bank
From the long crag, upon the left hand still,
And then more vivid was my power of sight

Down tow’rds the bottom, where the ministress
Of the high Lord, Justice infallible,
Punishes forgers, which she here records.

I do not think a sadder sight to see
Was in Aegina the whole people sick,
(When was the air so full of pestilence,

The animals, down to the little worm,
All fell, and afterwards the ancient people,
According as the poets have affirmed,

Were from the seed of ants restored again,)
Than was it to behold through that dark
The spirits languishing in divers heaps.

This on the belly, that upon the back
One of the other lay, and others crawling
Shifted themselves along the dismal road.

We step by step went onward without speech,
Gazing upon and listening to the sick
Who had not strength enough to lift their bodies.

I saw two sitting leaned against each other,
As leans in heating platter against platter,
From head to foot bespotted o’er with scabs;

And never saw I plied a currycomb
By stable-boy for whom his master waits,
Or him who keeps awake unwillingly,

As every one was plying fast the bite
Of nails upon himself, for the great rage
Of itching which no other succour had.

And the nails downward with them dragged the scab,
In fashion as a knife the scales of bream,
Or any other fish that has them largest.

“O thou, that with thy fingers dost dismail thee,
“Began my Leader unto one of them,
“And makest of them pincers now and then,

Tell me if any Latian is with those
Who are herein; so may thy nails suffice thee
To all eternity unto this work.”

“Latians are we, whom thou so wasted seest,
Both of us here,” one weeping made reply;
“But who art thou, that questionest about us?”

And said the Guide:”One am I who descends
Down with this living man from cliff to cliff,
And I intend to show Hell unto him.”

Then broken was their mutual support,
And trembling each one turned himself to me,
With others who had heard him by rebound.

Wholly to me did the good Master gather,
Saying:”Say unto them whate’er thou wishest.
“And I began, since he would have it so:

“So may your memory not steal away
In the first world from out the minds of men,
But so may it survive ‘neath many suns,

Say to me who ye are, and of what people;
Let not your foul and loathsome punishment
Make you afraid to show yourselves to me.”

“I of Arezzo was,” one made reply,
“And Albert of Siena had me burned;
But what I died for does not bring me here.

‘Tis true I said to him, speaking in jest,
That I could rise by flight into the air,
And he who had conceit, but little wit,

Would have me show to him the art; and only
Because no Daedelus I made him, made me
Be burned by one who held him as his son.

But unto the last Bolgia of the ten,
For alchemy, which in the world I practised,
Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned.”

And to the Poet said I:”Now was ever
So vain a people as the Sienese?
Not for a certainty the French by far.”

Whereat the other leper, who had heard me,
Replied unto my speech:”Taking out Stricca,
Who knew the art of moderate expenses,

And Niccolo, who the luxurious use
Of cloves discovered earliest of all
Within that garden where such seed takes root;

And taking out the band, among whom squandered
Caccia d’Ascian his vineyards and vast woods,
And where his wit the Abbagliato proffered!

But,that thou know who thus doth second thee
Against the Sienese, make sharp thine eye
Tow’rds me, so that my face well answer thee,

And thou shalt see I am Capocchio’s shade,
Who metals falsified by alchemy;
Thou must remember, if I well descry thee,

How I a skilful ape of nature was.”

CANTO 30

‘TWAS at the time when Juno was enraged,
For Semele, against the Theban blood,
As she already more than once had shown,

So reft of reason Arthamas became,
That, seeing his own wife with children twain
Walking encumbered upon either hand,

He cried:”Spread out the nets, that I may take
The lioness and her whelps upon the passage;”
And then extended his unpitying claws,

Seizing the first, who had the name Learchus,
And whirled him round, and dashed him on a rock;
And she, with the other burthen, drowned herself;–

And at the time when fortune downward hurled
The Trojan’s arrogance, that all things dared,
So that the king was with his kingdom crushed,

Hecuba sad, disconsolate, and captive,
When lifeless she beheld Polyxena,
And of her Polydorus on the shore

Of ocean was the dolorous one aware,
Out of her senses like a dog she barked,
So much the anguish had her mind distorted;

But not of Thebes the furies nor the Trojan
Were ever seen in any one so cruel
In goading beasts, and much more human members,

As I beheld two shadows pale and naked,
Who, biting, in the manner ran along
That a boar does, when from the sty turned loose.

One to Capocchio came, and by the nape
Seized with its teeth his neck, so that in dragging
It made his belly grate the solid bottom.

And the Aretine, who trembling had remained,
Said to me: ” That mad sprite is Gianni Schicchi,
And raving goes thus harrying other people.”

“O,” said I to him, ” so may not the other
Set teeth on thee, let it not weary thee
To tell us who it is, ere it dart hence.”

And he to me:”That is the ancient ghost
Of the nefarious Myrrha, who became
Beyond all rightful love her father’s lover.

She came to sir with him after this manner,
By counterfeiting of another’s form;
As he who goeth yonder undertook,

That he might gain the lady of the herd,
To counterfeit in himself Buoso Donati,
Making a will and giving it due form.”

And after the two maniacs had passed
On whom I held mine eye, I turned it back
To look upon the other evil-born.

I saw one made in fashion of a lute,
If he had only had the groin cut off
Just at the point at which a man is forked.

The heavy dropsy, that so disproportions
The limbs with humours, which it ill concocts,
That the face corresponds not to the belly,

Compelled him so to hold his lips apart
As does the hectic, who because of thirst
One tow’rds the chin, the other upward turns.

“O ye, who without any torment are,
And why I know not, in the world of woe,”
He said to us, ” behold, and be attentive

Unto the misery of Master Adam;
I had while living much of what I wished,
And now, alas ! a drop of water crave.

The rivulets, that from the verdant hills
Of Cassentin descend down into Arno,
Making their channels to be cold and moist,

Ever before me stand, and not in vain;
For far more doth their image dry me up
Than the disease which strips my face of flesh.

The rigid justice that chastises me
Draweth occasion from the place in which
I sinned, to put the more my sighs in flight.

There is Romena, where I counterfeited
The currency imprinted with the Baptist,
For which I left my body burned above.

But if I here could see the tristful soul
Of Guido, or Alessandro, or their brother,
For Branda’s fount I would Dot give the sight.

One is within already, if the raving
Shades that are going round about speak truth;
But what avails it me, whose limbs are tied ?

If I were only still so light, that in
A hundred years I could advance one inch,
I had already started on the way,

Seeking him out among this squalid folk,
Although the circuit be eleven miles,
And be not less than half a mile across.

For them am I in. such a family;
They did induce me into coining florins,
Which had three carats of impurity.”

And I to him:”Who are the two poor wretches
That smoke like unto a wet hand in winter,
Lying there close upon thy right-hand confines?”

“I found them here,”replied he, “when
I rained Into this chasm, and since they have not turned,
Nor do I think they will for evermore.

One the false woman is who accused Joseph,
The other the false Sinon, Greek of Troy;
From acute fever they send forth such reek.”

And one of them, who felt himself annoyed
At being, peradventure, named so darkly,
Smote with the fist upon his hardened paunch.

It gave a sound, as if it were a drum;
And Master Adam smote him in the face,
With arm that did not seem to be less hard,

Saying to him:”Although be taken from me
All motion, for my limbs that heavy are,
I have an arm unfettered for such need.”

Whereat he answer made:”When thou didst go
Unto the fire, thou hadst it not so ready:
But hadst it so and more when thou wast coining.”

The dropsical:”Thou sayest true in that;
But thou wast not so true a witness there,
Where thou wast questioned of the truth at Troy.”

“If I spake false, thou falsifiedst the coin,
“Said Sinon; ” and for one fault I am here,
And thou for more than any other demon.”

“Remember,perjurer,about the horse,”
He made reply who had the swollen belly,
“And rueful be it thee the whole world knows it.”

“Rueful to thee the thirst be wherewith cracks
Thy tongue,” the Greek said, ” and the putrid water
That hedges so thy paunch before thine eyes.”

Then the false-coiner:”So is gaping wide
Thy mouth for speaking evil, as ’tis wont;
Because if I have thirst, and humour stuff me

Thou hast the burning and the head that aches,
And to lick up the mirror of Narcissus
Thou wouldst not want words many to invite thee.”

In listening to them was I wholly fixed,
When said the Master to me: ” Now just look,
For little wants it that I quarrel with thee.”

When him I heard in anger speak to me,
I turned me round towards him with such shame
That still it eddies through my memory.

And as he is who dreams of his own harm,
Who dreaming wishes it may be a dream,
So that he craves what is, as if it were not;

Such I became, not having power to speak,
For to excuse myself I wished, and still
Excused myself, and did not think I did it.

“Less shame doth wash away a greater fault,
“The Master said, ” than this of thine has been;
Therefore thyself disburden of all sadness,

And make account that I am aye beside thee,
If e’er it come to pass that fortune bring thee
Where there are people in a like dispute;

For a base wish it is to wish to hear it.”

CANTO 31

ONE and the selfsame tongue first wounded me,
So that it tinged the one cheek and the other,
And then held out to me the medicine;

Thus do I hear that once Achilles’ spear,
His and his father’s, used to be the cause
First of a sad and then a gracious boon.

We turned our backs upon the wretched valley,
Upon the bank that girds it round about,
Going across it without any speech.

There it was less than night, and less than day,
So that my sight went little in advance;
But I could hear the blare of a loud horn,

So loud it would have made each thunder faint,
Which, counter to it following its way,
Mine eyes directed wholly to one place.

After the dolorous discomfiture
When Charlemagne the holy emprise lost,
So terribly Orlando sounded not.

Short while my head turned thitherward I held
When many lofty towers I seemed to see,
Whereat I: ” Master, say, what town is this?

And he to me:”Because thou peerest forth
Athwart the darkness at too great a distance,
It happens that thou errest in thy fancy.

Well shalt thou see, if thou arrivest there,
How much the sense deceives itself by distance;
Therefore a little faster spur thee on.”

Then tenderly he took me by the hand, And said:
“Before we farther have advanced,
That the reality may seem to thee

Less strange, know that these are not towers, but giants,
And they are in the well, around the bank,
From navel downward, one and all of them.”

As, when the fog is vanishing away,
Little by little doth the sight refigure
Whate’er the mist that crowds the air conceals,

So, piercing through the dense and darksome air,
More and more near approaching tow’rd the verge,
My error fled, and fear came over me;

Because as on its circular parapets
Montereggione crowns itself with towers,
E’en thus the margin which surrounds the well

With one half of their bodies turreted
The horrible giants, whom Jove menaces
E’en now from out the heavens when he thunders.

And I of one already saw the face,
Shoulders, and breast, and great part of the belly,
And down along his sides both of the arms.

Certainly Nature, when she left the making
Of animals like these, did well indeed,
By taking such executors from Mars;

And if of elephants and whales she doth not
Repent her, whosoever looketh subtly
More just and more discreet will hold her for it;

For where the argument of intellect
Is added unto evil will and power,
No rampart can the people make against it.

His face appeared to me as long and large
As is at Rome the pine-cone of Saint Peter’s,
And in proportion were the other bones;

So that the margin, which an apron was
Down from the middle, showed so much of him
Above it, that to reach up to his hair

Three Frieslanders in vain had vaunted them;
For I beheld thirty great palms of him
Down from the place where man his mantle buckles.

“Raphael mai amech izabi almi,”
Began to clamour the ferocious mouth,
To which were not befitting sweeter psalms.

And unto him my Guide:”Soul idiotic,
Keep to thy horn, and vent thyself with that,
When wrath or other passion touches thee.

Search round thy neck, and thou wilt find the belt
Which keeps it fastened,O bewildered soul
And see it, where it bars thy mighty breast.”

Then said to me:”He doth himself accuse;
This one is Nimrod, by whose evil thought
One language in the world is not still used.

Here let us leave him and not speak in vain;
For even such to him is every language
As his to others, which to none is known.”

Therefore a longer journey did we make,
Turned to the left, and a crossbow-shot oft
We found another far more fierce and large.

In binding him, who might the master be
I cannot say; but he had pinioned close
Behind the right arm, and in front the other,

With chains, that held him so begirt about
From the neck down, that on the part uncovered
It wound itself as far as the fifth gyre.

“This proud one wished to make experiment
Of his own power against the Supreme Jove,”
My Leader said, ” whence he has such a guerdon.

Ephialtes is his name; he showed great prowess.
What time the giants terrified the gods;
The arms he wielded never more he moves.”

And I to him:”If possible, I should wish
That of the measureless Briareus
These eyes of mine might have experience.”

Whence he replied: “Thou shalt behold Antaeus
Close by here, who can speak and is unbound,
Who at the bottom of all crime shall place us.

Much farther yon is he whom thou wouldst see,
And he is bound, and fashioned like to this one,
Save that he seems in aspect more ferocious.”

There never was an earthquake of such might
That it could shake a tower so violently,
As Ephialtes suddenly shook himself

Then was I more afraid of death than ever,
For nothing more was needful than the fear,
If I had not beheld the manacles.

Then we proceeded farther in advance,
And to Antaeus came, who, full five ells
Without the head, forth issued from the cavern.

“O thou,who in the valley fortunate,
Which Scipio the heir of glory made,
When Hannibal turned back with all his hosts,

Once brought’st a thousand lions for thy prey,
And who, hadst thou been at the mighty war
Among thy brothers, some it seems still think

The sons of Earth the victory would have gained:
Place us below, nor be disdainful of it,
There where the cold doth lock Cocytus up.

Make us not go to Tityus nor Typhoeus;
This one can give of that which here is longed for;
Therefore stoop down, and do not curl thy lip.

Still in the world can he restore thy fame;
Because he lives, and still expects long life,
If to itself Grace call him not untimely.”

So said the Master; and in haste the other
His hands extended and took up my Guide,–
Hands whose great pressure Hercules once felt.

Virgilius, when he felt himself embraced,
Said unto me: ” Draw nigh, that I may take thee;
“Then of himself and me one bundle made.

As seems the Carisenda, to behold
Beneath the leaning side, when goes a cloud
Above it so that opposite it hangs;

Such did Antaeus seem to me, who stood
Watching to see him stoop, and then it was
I could have wished to go some other way.

But lightly in the abyss, which swallows up
Judas with Lucifer, he put us down;
Nor thus bowed downward made he there delay,

But, as a mast does in a ship, uprose.

CANTO 32

IF I had rhymes both rough and stridulous,
As were appropriate to the dismal hole
Down upon which thrust all the other rocks,

I would press out the juice of my conception
More fully; but because I have them not,
Not without fear I bring myself to speak;

For ’tis no enterprise to take in jest,
To sketch the bottom of all the universe,
Nor for a tongue that cries Mamma and Babbo.

But may those Ladies help this verse of mine,
Who helped Amphion in enclosing Thebes,
That from the fact the word be not diverse.

O rabble ill-begotten above all,
Who’re in the place to speak of which is hard,
‘Twere better ye had here been sheep or goats !

When we were down within the darksome well,
Beneath the giant’s feet, but lower far,
And I was scanning still the lofty wall,

heard it said to me:”Look how thou steppest!
Take heed thou do not trample with thy feet
The heads of the tired, miserable brothers!”

Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me
And underfoot a lake, that from the frost
The semblance had of glass, and not of water.

So thick a veil ne’er made upon its current
In winter-time Danube in Austria,
Nor there beneath the frigid sky the Don,

As there was here; so that if Tambernich
Had fallen upon it, or Pietrapana,
E’en at the edge ‘twould not have given a creak.

And as to croak the frog doth place himself
With muzzle out of water,–when is dreaming
Of gleaning oftentimes the peasant-girl,–

Livid, as far down as where shame appears,
Were the disconsolate shades within the ice,
Setting their teeth unto the note of storks.

Each one his countenance held downward bent:
From mouth the cold, from eyes the doeful heart
Among them witness of itself procures.

When round about me somewhat I had looked,
I downward turned me, and saw two so close,
The hair upon their heads together mingled.

“Ye who so strain your breasts together, tell me,”
I said. “who are you;” and they bent their necks,
And when to me their faces they had lifted,

Their eyes, which first were only moist within,
Gushed o’er the eyelids, and the frost congealed
The tears between, and locked them up again.

Clamp never bound together wood with wood
So strongly; whereat they, like two he-goats,
Butted together, so much wrath o’ercame them.

And one, who had by reason of the cold

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