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Translated by the late


Dean of Wells







The present edition of Dean 'Plumptre's elaborately anno-
tated translation of Dante consists of Jive volumes. The
jirst three contain the " Divina Commedia" which naturally
falls into three nearly equal divisions Hell, Purgatory,
and Paradise. The fourth volume is devoted to the Can-
zoniere or Minor Poems; and the work is brought to a
close with a volume of" Studies"

The translation of the " Commedia " is for the most part
based on Scartazzini's text (1874-82), with due attention
to the various readings that materially aff~tct the sense of
the original. In the " Minor Poems " the order and text
of Fraticelli's edition (1873) have been followed.

With regard to the Terza Rima of the "Commedia"
and the metrical forms of the " Canzoniere," the Dean
was deeply impressed with the conviction that, in default of
absolute identity of form, it is " the duty and the wisdom
of a translator to aim at the nearest possible analogue "
attainable, and to reproduce, as far as the nature of the
English language admits, the structure and recurrence of


rhymes which give sonnet and canzone their distinctive

'The " Studies" which testify at every turn to the
industry, erudition and sympathetic imagination of tke
writer, place a large accumulation of knowledge at the
disposal of the student of Dante, and fitly complete a work,
regarding which on its appearance a few years ago the
Spectator observed: " No book about Dante has been
published in England that will stand comparison with
Dean Plumptre's."




I. The Wild Wood The Bewildered Traveller

The Mountain Delectable The Three Beasts of

Prey Virgil to the Rescue Prophecy of the

Greyhound . . . , . . 17

II. The Pilgrim's Doubts The Three Blessed Ladies

in Paradise The Journey Resumed . . 25

III. The Gate of Hell The Company of the Neutrals

Charon and his Passengers . . . . 31

IV. The First Circle The Limbo of Infants The

Dwellers in the Elysian Fields ... 38
V. The Second Circle Sins of the Flesh Paolo and

Francesca ....... 46

VI. The Third Circle Cerberus Sin of Gluttony

Ciacco . . . . . . . 53

VII. Plutus The Fourth Circle Sins of Avarice and
Profusion Fortune and her Wheel The Fifth
Circle The Murmurers . . . . 58




VIIL Phlegyas The City of Dis and its Inhabitants

Filippo Argent! The Closed Gates . . 63

IX. The Angel-Helper The Erinnyes Medusa The

Sixth Circle The Heresiarchs ... 68
X. The Epicureans Farinata degli Uberti Cavalcante

de' Cavalcanti ...... 74

XI. The Heresiarchs Anastasius II. Classification of

Sins . . . . . . . . 8 1

XII. The Minotaur The Seventh Circle Sins of Vio-
lence The Centaurs The Tyrants . . 86

XIII. The Forest of Suicides The Harpies Pier della

Vigne Lano of Siena Jacopo da Sant'
Andrea . . . . . . . 93

XIV. The Desert of Fiery Sand The Violent against

God The Grand Old Form in Crete . . 99
XV. The Sin against Nature Brunetto Latin! . . 105
XVI. Guido Guerra Tegghiaio Rusticucci The
Waterfall of the Dark River The Cord Thrown
Away . . . . . . . .112

XVII. Geryon The Usurers The Abyss of Malebolge . 118
XVIII. The First Bolgia The Seducers, Jason, and Others

The Second Bolgia The Flatterers . . 124
XIX. The Third Bolgia The Simonists Pope Nico-
las III. Church Corruptions . . . .129

XX. The Fourth Bolgia The Soothsayers Amphiaraos

and Others . . . . . . 135

XXI. The Fifth Bolgia The Peculators The Ancients

of Santa Zita The Pranks of the Demons . 141
XXII. The Fifth Bolgia Ciampolo Friar Gomita

Michael Zanche 147

XXIII. The Sixth Bolgia Departure of the Demons

The Hypocrites The Friars Joyous Caiaphas 152

XXIV. The Clamber up the Rock The Seventh Bolgia

The Robber Vanni Fucci . . . .158
XXV. The Bolgia of the Serpents Cianfa de* Donati



and Others The Man and Serpent Transfor-
mation Scenes . . . . . .164

XXVI. The Eighth Bolgia The Givers of Evil Counsel
Ulysses and Diomede The Last Voyage of

Ulysses 170

XXVII. The Eighth Bolgia The State of Romagna

Guido da Montefeltro ..... 176
XXVIII. The Ninth Bolgia The Schismatics Mahomet,

Ali, Bertrand de Born, and Others . . .182
XXIX. The Tenth Bolgia The Alchemists Griffolino of

Arezzo Capocchio . . . . .189
XXX. The Tenth Bolgia The Workers of Lies Adam

of Brescia Sinon of Troy . . . .194
XXXI. The Giants in the Darkness Ephialtes Antaeus

Journey to the Abyss .... 200

XXXII. The Tenth Circle The Lake of Ice-Caina
Traitors to their Kin Antenora Traitors to
their Country ...... 206

XXXIII. Ugolino and Ruggieri Ptolomaea Traitors to

their Friends Alberigo . . . . 212

XXXIV. The Giudecca Traitors to their Lords Lucifer

Judas Brutus Cassius The Stars seen again . 220

INDEX ........ 229


Amp. Ampere, A. M. La Grece, Rome et Dante. Etudes

Anon. Fior. Anonimo Florentine. Commentary on Dante. Ascribed

by most critics to Jacopo, Dante's son. Written in 1328.

Published by Lord Vernon, 1848.
Aquin. Summ. Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica, ed. Migne,


Arr'rv. Arrivabene, F. II Secolo di Dante, 1838.
Aroux Aroux, E. Dante, Heretique, Revolutionnaire et Socialiste,

Aug. C. D. Augustine. De Civitate Dei.

Aug. Conff. Confessiones.

BaAr, Symb. Bahr, K. C. W. F. Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus.

2 VOls., 1839.

Earl. Barlow, H. C. Contributions to the Study of the Divina

Commedia, 1864.

Bartoli Bartoli, A. Storia della Litteratura Italiana, 1884.
Ben-v. Benvenuto Rampoldi da Imola. Comento sul Dante, 1879.
Bocc. Boccaccio, G. Comento sopra Dante, 1831.
Bocc. V. D. Boccaccio, G. Vita di Dante.
Bocc. Dec. Boccaccio, G. Decameron.
Boeth. Boethius. De Consolatione Philosophise, 1843.



Bre-v. Rom. Breviarium Romanum.

Bull. Butler, A. J. The Purgatory of Dante, 1880.

The Paradise of Dante, 1885.

Castelv. Castelver.ro, L. Sposizione a XXIX Canti dell' Inferno

Dantesco, 1886.

Chaucer, C. T. Chaucer, G. Canterbury Tales.
Church, R. IV. Essay on Dante in " Essays and Reviews," 1854.
Cf/mm. Dante. Commedia.

Comp. Stud. Bacon, Roger. Compendium Studii, ed. Brewer, 1859.
Con. Dante. Convito.
Cone. Rev. Contemporary Review.

Crowe Crowe and Cavalcaselle. History of Italian Painters.
D'Agincourt D'Agincourt. History of Art, 1847.
Daniel, TAes. Hymn. Daniel. Thesaurus Hymnologicus, 1841-56.
Dec. Boccaccio. Decamerone.

Denifle Denifle, P. H. Die Universitaten des Mittelalters, 1885.
D. C. A. Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (W. Smith), 1875-80.
D. C. B. Dictionary of Christian Biography (W. Smith), 1877-85.
D. G. R. Biog. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography (W.


D. Gesell. Deutsche Dante-Gesellschaft Jahrbucher, 1867-77.
Diez, Etym. ffo'rt. Diez, F. Etymologisches Wbrterbuch der

Romanischen Sprachen, 1853.

Diez, Troub. Diez, F. Leben und Werke der Troubadours, 1829.
Dino C. or D. C. Dino Compagni. Cronica Fiorentina, 1876.
Four. Fauriel, M. Dante et les Origines de la Langue et de la

Litterature Italiennes, 1854.
Foz. Fazio degli Uberti. Dittamondo, 1826.
Ferr. M. D. Ferrazzi, G. J. Manuale Dantesco, 1865.
Frat. 0. M. Fraticelli, P. Opere Minorc di Dante Alighieri,


Frat. V. D. Fraticelli, P. Storia della Vita di Dante Alighieri, 1861.
GUI. Pis. Guido Pisano. MS. Commentary on the Inferno, in the

British Museum, circ. 1330.
Hardouin Doutes sur 1'Age du Dante, 1847.



flare Hare, A. J. C. The Cities ofltaly, 1876.

Humb. Humboldt. Kosmos, ed. Bohn, 1849-58.

Irmer Die Romfahrt Kaiser Heinrich's VII., 1881.

Joanne Joanne. Dictionnaire Geographique de la France.

Kingt. Kington, T. L. History of Frederick II., Emperor of the

Romans, 1862.

Kluckz. Klackzo. Causeries Florentines.
Krafft Krafft, Carl. Dante's Lyrische Gedichte, 1859.
Lacroix Lacroix, Paul. Sciences et Lettres du Moyen Age, 1877.
Lindsay Lindsay, Lord. Sketches of the History of Christian Art,


Litta Famiglie celebri Italiane, -v. d.
Lowe/I Lowell, J. R. Essay on Dante in " Among my Books,"

Ser. ii., 1854.

Mart. Martigny. Dictionnaire des Antiquites Chretiennes, 1865.
Mask, M. R. Maskell. Monumenta Ritualia, 1846.
Malisf. Malispini, Ricordano. Storia Fiorentina, 1876.
Menzel Menzel, C. A. Die Geschichten des Deutschen, 1819.
Met. Ovid. Metamorphoses.
Milm. L. C. Milman, H. H. History of Latin Christianity, ed.


Mon. Dante. De Monarchia, ed. Fraticelli Opere Minore, 1873.
Man, Franc. Monumenta Franciscana, ed. J. S. Brewer, 1858.
Murat. Muratori. Italicarum Rerum Scriptores, 1723-51.
Napier (or Nap.) Napier. Florentine History, 1846.
N. <^. Notes and Queries, -v. d.

Ort. Ortolan, J. Les Penalites de 1'Enfer de Dante, 1873.
Of. Tert. Bacon, Roger. Opus Tertium, ed. J. S. Brewer, 1859.
Ott. Ottimo Comento della Divina Commedia (1330), 1827-29.
Ozan. Ozanam, A. F. Dante et la Philosophic Catholique au I3me

Siecle, 1840.
Phil, Philalethes (King John of Saxony). Dante Alighieri's

Gottliche Combdie, 1865.

Pott Pott, A. F. Die Personen Namen 1853.
Ramp. Rampoldi. Corografia dell' Italia.



Rostetti, M. Rossetti, Maria. The Shadow of Dante.

Rusk. F. C. Ruskin, John. Fors Clavigera.

Rusk. M. P. Ruskin, John. Modern Painters, 1843-60.

Scan. Scartazzini, G. A. La Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri,

Scart. L. D. Scartazzini, G. A. Dante Alighieri, Sein Zeit, Sein

Leben und Seine Werke, 1879.
Serrav. Serravalle, Giov. da. MS. Latin Translation of the

Commedia with Commentary, in the British Museum, 1414.
Sism. H. R. I. Sismondi, J. C. L. de. Histoire des Republiques

Italiennes, 1826.

TrojaTroja. II Veltro Allegorico di Dante.
Fas. Vasari, G. Lives of Painters, ed. Bohn, 1850.
V. E. Dante. De Vulgari Eloquio, ed. Fraticelli, 1873.
V. N. Dante. Vita Nuova, ed. Fraticelli, 1873.
Vill. Villani, G. Croniche, 1857.

Wart. H. E. P. Warton, T. History of English Poetry, 1840.
ffeg. Wegele, F. X. Dante Alighieri's Leben und Werke, 1879.
Witte, D. F. Witte. Dante Forschungen. 1879.



The Wild Wood The Bewildered Traveller The Mountain
Delectable The Three Beasts of Prey Virgil to the Rescue
Prophecy of the Greyhound

WHEN our life's course with me had halfway sped,

I found myself in gloomy forest dell,

Where the straight path beyond all search had fled.
Ah me ! hard task it were in words to tell

What was that wood, wild, drear, and tangled o'er, 5

Which e'en in thought renews that terror fell !

1 We are unable to fix with precision the date (probably circ. 1302-3)
when Dante first entered on the work of writing the Commedia. He has
defined with the utmost care the time at which its action opens He has
reached the "halfway" point of the threescore years and ten which he,
with the Psalmist (Ps. xc. 10), recognised as the normal standard of man's
life (Conv. iv. 23); and as he was born in A.D. 1265, this brings us to A.D.
1300. The sun is in the sign of Aries (1. 38), the date (March 25), according
to mediaeval tradition, of the Creation and the Incarnation. And, as we
learn laur on (C. xxi. 112), it was on the morning of Good Friday that the
narrative of his experience begins. On that day, at the same age (Conv. I.e.),
the Christ had died. It was a memorable epoch in the poet's life. In that
year (June 15), he was chosen as one of the Priori of Florence, and to that
election he looked back as they^>f et origo of all his after troubles (Weg.
p. 143). Earlier in the year (Weg. p. 140), he had probably been sent on a
mission to Boniface VIII., who was then keeping the great Jubilee which
he had proclaimed on the Christmas Day of 1299. He was there, it may be,
at the very date which he fixes for his vision, and his friend Giotto, and
Villani, the future historian of Florence, were with him (Crowe, p. 233).
When he looked back upon the Easter-tide of that year, it came before him as
the great crisis of his life. He had fallen from his "first love" (Purg. xxx.
124-141), and was wandering in ways that were not good. Inwardly
and outwardly, morally and politically, he was without guidance, and a
horror of great darkness fell upon him. The melancholy of the Bargello
portrait, p_erhaps painted in this very year, was the outward token of the
inward misery and weariness which preyed upon his soul, like that of which
we read in Ecclesiastes and in Hamlet. He has to tell of his deliverance
from that evil state. The Commedia, is for him, as the Pilgrim's Progress
was afterwards for Bunyan, the history of his conversion. He has also to
fulfil the promise, made ten years before, with which the l^ita Nuova ended,
that he would make the name of Beatrice immortal.

' The " gloomy forest " (Purs:, xiv. 64), the " straight path" lost (Purg.
17 B


So bitter 'tis, death's self were little more ;
But that the good there found I may display,
I'll tell what else 'twas given me to explore.

How I there entered, can I not well say,
So sleep-opprest was I in that same hour
When from the true path thus I went astray.

But when I reached a point 'bove which did tower
A mount, where to its end that valley drew,
Which pierced my heart with terror's torturing power,

I looked on high, and lo ! its slopes to view [ 15

Came clothed with brightness from that planet's raj
Which for all others ordereth path most true.

Then for a while did peace the fear allay

That my heart's fountain vexed, nor did relent : m
All the sad night I passed in such dismay,

And e'en as one who, panting, worn, and spent,
From the deep sea escaping to the shore,
Turns to the perilous waves in wonderment,

xxx. 122), was so natural a symbol of the state just described, that it is
hardly necessary to look elsewhere for the sources of the imagery. Prov. ii.
13-15, 2 Pet. ii. 15, may have floated in his mind, or he may have found the
thought in the Tesoretto of his master, Brunette Latini (ii. 75). In his own
Convito (iv. 24) he speaks of life as a selva erronea. To him, as to others
(the Autobiography of J. S. Mill and the Confessions of Augustine supply
striking parallels, not to speak of St. Paul's recollections of a like state in
Rom. vii. 23, 24), that state was as " the body of this death," and even to
remember it was terrible.

9 " What else." A v. I. gives "what high things."

, 10 Self-knowledge had not yet come, as it came afterwards, through the
reproofs of Beatrice (Purg. xxx. 115-145), to point to the cause, and there-
fore to the remedy, of the evil. He was as one walking in a dream.

14 The "mount," afterwards (1. 77) described as the "mount delectable"
(we note the unconscious parallelism in Bunyan), can stand for nothing else
than the ideal life of holiness, perhaps also the ideal Christian polity, such
as we find in the Man., after which the poet was beginning to aspire. He
saw its heights gleaming with the "rose of dawn." Even to contemplate
that ideal as afar off brought with it some calm and comfort The sun, iu
accordance with the Ptolemaic astronomy, is d_ecribed as a "planet."
Here, of course, it is the symbol of the Sun of Righteousness. God is the
spiritual Sun of the Universe (Par. xxv. 54 ; Com>. iii. 12), leading men'(we
note the sad pathos of the "others" as coming from the bewildered pilgrim)
on their way (furg. xiii. 16-21).

5:2 The first simile in the Comm.. like all that follow it, is as far as possible

from being a "poetical ornament.' It is introduced because it describes a

state which no other words could describe half as well. It reminds us in

part of the "suave mart magno . . ." of Lucretius (i. i), but there the



So did my soul, that still fled evermore,
Turn back to gaze upon the scene around,
Which never living man had yet passed o'er.

When my worn frame awhile had sought the ground,
Once more I started through the desert plain,
So that the firm foot still was lower found.

And lo ! just as the sloping side I gain,
A leopard supple, lithe, exceeding fleet,
Whose skin full many a dusky spot did stain ;

Nor did she from before my face retreat,
Nay, hindered so my journey on the way,
That many a time I backward turned my feet.

The hour was that of earliest dawn of day;
And with each star the sun on high did ride,
Which with him was when Love's divinest sway

tranquillity is that of one who had not been struggling with the waves, who
had not made shipwreck of his faith, because there was no faith to lose.
Here the escape is that of one who has uttered his De Profundis. He has
passed (the two images blend together) out of the valley of the shadow of
death, the abyss from which no living man " (he speaks of the soul's life,
not the body's) had ever been delivered, and looks back with the first
consciousness that hope was possible, even in the midst of fears.

29 Aspirations after the ideal are followed by efforts. He begins, after a
short interval of repose, to climb the mountain of holiness.

32 The three symbolic forms that obstruct the pilgrim's path are those of
Jer. v. 6. The frequency with which Dante quotes that prophet (V. N.
c. 29 ; Prat. O. M ; iii. 116) seems to indicate a certain attraction of affinity.
In temperament, in genius, to some extent in their outward fortunes, the
lives of the two men present a strange parallelism. After the manner of
mediaeval commentaries, starting from Jerome (Comm. in Jer. v. 6), the
three forms of animal life become types of moral evil the leopard of the
love of sensuous beauty, the lion of pride, the wolf of greed (so Bocc.,
without noticing others). So in the Golden Legend these are the three sins
which S. Dominic and S. Francis were raised up to overcome. So Boelhius
(B. iii.), where, however, the swine takes the place of the leopard. Possibly,
as a whole school of commentators (Foscolp, Rossetti, and others) have
suggested, there may be an underlying political symbolism as well, and the
three beasts may stand for Florence, France, and the Papal Curia respectively,
as typical representatives of those vices. What Dante calls (Ej>. to Can
Grande) the nature of his poems, "as manifold in meaning," makes a
double interpretation probable, and it is perhaps in favour of this view that
Jerome (Comm. in Jer. v. 6), while accepting the moral allegory, suggests
also that the lion is the symbol of the Babylonian monarchy, the wolf of the
Medo-Persian. and the leopard of that of Alexander the Great ; the spots of
the leopard's skin representing the mingled population of the Macedonian
monarchy, as to the interpreters above-named they represent the factions
that destroyed the peace of Florence.

39 See note on 1. i.



O'er the first forms of beauty did preside; *

So that good ground for bright hopes met me here
From that fair'creature with the spotted hide,

The hour of day and season sweet of year ;
Yet o'er me, spite of this, did terror creep
From aspect of a lion drawing near. 4S

He seemed as if upon me he would leap,

With head upraised and hunger fierce and wild,
So that a shudder through the air did sweep ;

Then a she-wolf, with all ill greed defiled,

Laden with hungry leanness terrible, M

That many nations of their peace beguiled ;

And thereupon such sorrow on me fell,

With dread that came from that ill-boding sight,
That I lost hope to climb that mountain well.

And e'en as one who gains with great delight, 55

When the time comes that makes him lose his prey,
Mourns in each thought, opprest with sore despite,

So that fierce beast, who ne'er at rest did stay,
Now meeting me, by slow degrees and sure,
Thrust me back there where silent is the day.

And as I fell back to that clime obscure,

Before mine eyes there seemed a form to glide,
Whose voice, through silence long, seemed hoarse and
poor ;

41 The leopard did not alarm the wanderer. The life of sensual enjoyment,
the stir of the rejoicing city, if we admit the reference to Florence, blended
with the brightness of spring, perhaps with the memories of Holy Week and
Easter (Bocc.}, and gave rise at first to hope. But the hope was transitory.
The leopard hindered the pilgrim from climbing the mountain. He sought
to resist _ the temptation by enrolling himself among the followers of
S. Francis of Assisi, probably among the Tertiaries (C. xvi. 106), but he
needed a stronger impulse than any ascetic rules could give him.

49 The lion and the wolf (comp. Purg. xx. 10), unlike the leopard, are
imply deterrent. Pride and avarice, embodied chiefly in the acts of the
powers, France and Rome, that thwart his political aspirations, caused fear,
and not hope. The soul gave up the struggle and fell back into the darkness
from which it seemed to have escaped.
80 Comp. Milton, S. A. 86 : " The sun to me is dark,

And silent is the moon."

Help comes from an unexpected quarter. What Plato had been to


And when I saw him in that desert wide,

" Have pity on me " I to him did cry, K

"Whether in thee or man or shade is spied."

And he made answer : " Man no more am t :
Man [ was once ; my parents Lombards were,
And both to Mantua traced their ancestry;

Sub Julio was I born, though late the year, w

And lived at Rome beneath Augustus good,
While false and lying Gods men worshipped there.

A poet I, and sang the righteous mood

Of great Anchises' son, who came from Troy,
When haughty Ilion was by fire subdued. 75

But thou, why turn'st thou back to such annoy ?
Why climb'st thou not yon mount delectable, .
Which is the source and spring of every joy ? "

"What ! art thou Virgil, thou that springing well
Which pours of clear full eloquence the tide ? "
I answered him with looks that reverence tell.

" O, of all other bards the light and pride,
Let the long study and the love avail
Which I to that thy volume have applied.

Justin and Augustine, Virgil was to Dante a " schoolmaster leading him to
Christ." Iii Purg: xii. 3, he applies to him the very term, "psedagogue,"
of Gal. iii. 24. I cannot doubt that we have the record of an actual
experience. Virgil was for him more than a Deus ex tnachtnd, the repre-
sentative of human, as distinguished from divine , wisdom. He had studied
him in his youth, had formed his style on his, had drunk in his thoughts as
to the greatness of the part assigned to Rome in the divine drama of history.
In the vision of Hades in B. vi. of the ^Enetd he found, it need hardly be
said, more than in any mediaeval legends, visions of Alberic, or S. Patrick's
Purgatory, the archetype of the Commedia. The "long silence" and the
"hoarse voice" may symbolise either the general neglect of the poet's
wisdom, or Dante's own temporary disregard of what might have saved him
from his fall. To him, at first, the oracles of human wisdom seemed dim and
dark. Comp. Milton, P. L. vii. 25 :

" With mortal voice unchanged,
To hoars* or mute, though fallen on evil days."

70 Sub Julio. Virgil, b. B.C. 70, d. B.C. 19. Julius Cassar, b. B.C. 100, d. B.C. 44.
Augustus, 6. B.C. 63, d. A.D. 14. Virgil had, therefore, been for twenty-six
years a contemporary of Julius. It is worth noting that Dante had been
taught by his master, Latini, to think of Julius as the first Emperor
(Tes. 1.38).



Thou art my Master, Guide that dost not fail,
And thou alone art he from whom I drew
The goodly style whence comes of praise full tale.

Thou see'st the beast that back my footsteps threw ;
Give me thine aid against her, famous seer,
For she with fear doth vein and pulse imbue."

"'Tis mee: thy steps to other course should veer,"
He answered, when he saw me weeping sore,
"If thou wilt 'scape this region waste and drear ;

For that fell beast, whose spite thou wailest o'er,
Lets no man onward pass along her way,
But so doth hinder that he lives no more,

And is of mood so evil, fierce to slay,

That never doth she sate her hunger dread,

But, when full-gorged, still hungers most for prey.

Many the creatures are that with her wed,
And will be more until the Greyhound come
Who with sharp agony shall smite her dead.

87 Dante speaks as one already (in A.D. 1300) held in repute as a writer,
probably referring to the Vita Nuova, and the Sonnets and Canzoni, which
belong to the earlier labours of his life ; possibly to the De Mon. (Witte), or
to Latin poems which have not come down to us, but in which the eclogues

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