1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

The Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri online

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J. Campbell,


15 Vandewater St., N. Y.


In the years 1805 and 1806, I j)ul)lished the first part of

I the following translation, with the text of the original.

' Since that period, two impressions of the whole of the

j Divina Commedia, in Italian, have made their appear

i ance in this country. It is not necessary that I should

1 add a third : and I am induced to hoj^e that the Poem,

j even in the present version of it, may not be without

j interest for the mere EnoHsh reader.

The translation of the second and third parts, " The
Purgatory" and "The Paradise," was begun long before
the first, and as early as the year 1797 ; but, owing to
many interruptions, not concluded till the summer before
last. On a retrospect of the time and exertions that
have been thus employed, I do not regard those hours as
the least happy of my life, during which (to use the
eloquent language of Mr. Coleridge) "my individual
recollections have been suspended, and lulled to sleep
amid the music of nobler thoughts ; " nor that study as
misapplied, which has familiarized me with one of the
sublimest efforts of the human invention.

To those, who shall be at the trouble of examimug
into the degree of accuracy Avith which the task has been


executed, I may be allowed to suggest, that tlioir judg-
ment should not be formed on a comparison with any
single text of my Author ; since, in more instances than
I liave noticed, I have had to make my choice out of a
variety of readings and interpretations, presented by
different editions and commentators.

In one or two of those editions is to be found the
title of " The Vision," which I have adopted, as more
conformable to the genius of our language than that
of "The Divine Comedy." Dante himself, I believe,
termed it sim2:)ly " The Comedy ; " in the first place,
because the style was of the middle kind: and in the
next, because the story (if story it may be called) ends

Instead of a Life of my Author, I have subjoined, in
chronological order, a view not only of the princij)al
events which befell him, but of the chief public occur-
rences that happened in his time : concerning both of
which the reader may obtain further information, by
turning to the passages referred to in the Poem and

January^ 1814.


TiHE .A^a-E o:r iDj^isrrcjB.


12G5 Dante, son of Alighieri degli Alishieri and Bella, is born at
Florence. Of his own ancestry he speaks in the Paradise, Canto
XV. and XVI.

In the same year, Manfredi, king of Naples and Sicily, is defeated
and slain by Charles of Aujoix. Hell, C. XXVIII. 13. and I'lirga-
tor>% C. III. 110.

Guido Novello of Polenta obtains the sovereignty of Ravenna. II.
C. XXVII. 38.

1266 Two of the Frati Godenti chosen arbitrators of the differences at
Florence. H. C. XXIII. 104.

Gianni de' Soldanieri heads the populace in tliat city. H. C.
XXXII. 118.

1268 Cliarles of Anjou puts Conradine to death, and becomes King of
Naples. H. C. XXVIII. 16. and Purg. C. XX. 66.

1272 Henry III. of England is succeeded by Edward I. Purg. C. VII.

1274 Our Poet first sees Beatrice, daughter of Folco Portinari. I'ra.
Guittone d'Arezzo, the poet, dies. Purg. C. XXIV. 56.

Thomas Aquinas dies. Purg. C. XX. 67. and Par. C. X. 96.
Buonaveutura dies. Par. C. XII. 25.

1275 Pierre de la Brosse, secretary to Philip III. of France, executed.
Purg. C. VI. 23.

1276 Giotto, the painter, is born. Purg. C. XI. 95. Pope Adrian V.
dies. Purg. C. XIX. 97.

Guido Guiuicelli, the poet, dies. Purg. C. XL 96. and C. XXVI. 8S.

1277 Pope John XXI. dies. Par, C. XII. 126.

'l278 pttocar,

king of Bohemia, dies.

Purg. C. VU. 97.



1279 Diuiiysiiis hucccccIh to tlie throne of Portugal. Par. C. XIX. 135

1280 Albcrtiis Maxims dies. Par. C. X. 95.

1281 Pope Nicholas III. dies. H. C. XIX. 71.

Dante studies at the universities of Bologna and Padua.

1282 The Sicilian vespers. Par. C. VIII. 80.

The Frciicli defeated by the people of Forli. II. C. XXVII. 41.
Tribaldello dc' Maufredi betrays the city of Facnza. II. C. XXXII.

1284 Prince Charles of Aujou is defeated and made prisoner by Rngier
de Lauria, admiral to Peter III. of Arraj^on. Pnrg. C. XX. 78.
Charles I. king of Naples, dies. Purg. C. VII 111.

1285 Pope Martin IV. dies. Purg. C. XXIV. 2.3.
Philip III. of France, and Peter III. of Arragon, die.
Purg. C. VII. 101, and 110.

Henry 11. king of Cyprus, comes to the throne. Par. C. XIX. 144.

1287 Guldo dalle Colonne (mentioned by Dante in his De Vulgari Elo-
quio) writes " The War of Troy."

1288 Haquin, king of Norway, makes war on Denmark. Par. C. XIX

Count Ugolino de' Gherardeschi dies of famine. H. C. XXXII I. 14.

1289 Dante is in the battle of Campaldino, where the Florentines defeat
the people of Arezzo, June 11. Purg. C. V. 90.

1290 Beatrice dies. Purg. C. XXXII. 2.

He serves in the war waged by the Florentines upon the Pisans,
and is present at the surrender of Caproua in the autumn. H. C
XXI. 92.

1291 He marries Gemma de' Donati, with whom he lives unhappily. By
this marriage he had five sons and a daughter.

Can Grande della Scala is born. March 9. H. C. I. 08. Purg. C.

XX. 16. Par. C. XVII. 75. and XXVII. 135.

The renegade Cliristians assist the Saracens to recover St. John

D'Acre. H. C. XXVII. 84.

The Emperor Rodolph dies. Pnrg. C. VI. lOt. and VII. 91.

Alonzo III. of Arragon dies, and is succeeded by James II. Purg.

C. VII. 113. and Par. C. XIX. 133,

1294 Clement V. abdicates the papal chair. H. C. III. 56.
Dante writes his Vita Nuova.

1295 His preceptor, Brunetto Latini, dies. H. C. XV. 28.

Charles Martel, king of Hungary, visits Florence, Par. C. VIII. 57.
and dies in the same year.

Frederick, son of Peter III. of Arragon, becomes king of Sicily.
Purg. C. VII. 117. and Par. C. XIX. 127.

1296 Forese, tlie coiupaniou of Dante, dies. Purg. C. XXXIII. 44.


1300 The Bianca and Ncra parties take their rise in Pistoia. II. C.

This is the year in which he supposes liimself to see his Vision. II.

C. 1. 1. and XXI. 109.

Ho is chosen cliief magistrate, or first of the Priors of Florence ;

and continues in office from June 15 to August 15.

Cimabue, tlie painter, dies. Purg. C XI. 93.

Guido Cavalcanti, the most beloved of our Poet's friends, dies. II.

C. X. 59. and Purg. C. XI. 9G.

1301 The Bianca party expels the Nera from Pistoia. H. C. XXIV. 142.

1302 January 27. During his absence at Rome, Dante is mulcted by his
fellow-citizens in the sum of 8000 lire, and condemned to two years'

March 10. He is sentenced, if taken, to be burned.

Fulcieri de' Calboli commits great atrocities on certain of the Glii-

belline party. Purg. C XIV. 01.

Carlino de' Pazzi betrays the castle di Piano Travigne, in Valdarno,

to the Florentines. H. C. XXXII. 67.

The French vanquished in the battle of Courtrai. Purg. C. XX. 47.

James, king of Majorca and Minorca, dies. Par. C XIX. 133.

1303 Pope Boniface VIII. dies. H. C. XIX. 55. Purg. G. XX. 86.
XXXII. 14G. and Par. C. XXVII. 20.

The other exiles appoint Dante one of a council of twelve, under
Alessandro da Romena.

Ho appears to have been much dissatisfied with his colleagues.
Par. C. XVII. 61.

1304 He joins with the exiles in an unsuccessful attack on the city of

May. The bridge over the Arno breaks down during a representa-
tion of the infernal torments exhibited on that river. II. C.
XXVI. 9.

July 20. Petrarch, whose father had been banished two years be-
fore from Florence, is born at Arezzo.

1305 Winceslaus II. king of Bohemia, dies. Purg. G. VII. 99. and Par.
G. XIX. 123.

A conflagration happens at Florence. H. G. XXVI. 9.

1306 Dante visits Padua.

1307 He is in Lunigiana with the Marchese Marcello Malaspina. Purg.
G. VIII. 133. and G. XIX. 140.

Dolcino, tlie fanatic, is burned. H. G. XXVIII. 53.

1308 The Emperor Albert I. murdered. Purg. G. VI. 98. and Par. G.
XIX. 114.

Gorso Donati, Dante's political enemy, slain. Purg. G. XXIV. 81.
He seeks an asylum at Verona, under the roof of the Signori della
Scala. Par, G. XVII. 69. He wanders, about this time, over va-
rious parts of Italy. See his Gonvito. He is at Paris twice ; and,
as one of the early commentators reports, at Oxford.

1309 Gharles II. king of N.aplcs, dies. Par. G. XIX. 125.



1310 The Order of the Templars abolished. Purg. C. XX. 94.

1313 The Emperor Henry of Liixembiirg, by whom he lind hoped to be
restored to Florence, dies. I'lir. C. XVII. <S0. and XXX. l.'!5.

He takes refuge at Ravenna with Giiido Novello da I'olcnta.

1314 Pope Clement V. dies. II. C XIX. 86. and Par. C. XXVII. 53. and
XXX. 141.

Philip IV. of France dies. Purg. C VII. 108. and Par. C. XIX. 117

Ferdinand IV. of Spain, dies. Par. C XIX. 122.

Giacopo da Carrara defeated by Can Grande. Par. C. IX. 45.

131G John XXII. elected Pope. Par. C. XXVII. 53.

1321 Jnly. Dante dies at Ravenna, of a complaint brought on by disap-
pointment at his failure in a negotiation which he had been con-
ducting with the Venetians, for his patron Guido Novello da

His obsequies are sumptuously performed at Ravenna by Guido,
who himself died in the ensuing year.



In the midway of this our mortal life,

I found me in a gloomy wood, astray

Gone from the i)ath direct : and e'en to tell

It were no easy task, how savage wild

That forest, how robust and rough its growth, 5

Which to remember only, my dismay

Renews, in bitterness not far from death.

Yet to discourse of Avhat there good befell.

All else will I relate discover'd there.

How first I entcr'd it I scarce can say, 10

Such sleepy dulness in that instant weigh'd
My senses down, when the true path I left,
But when a mountain's foot I reach'd, where clos'd
The valley, tliat had pierc'd my heart with dread,
I look'd aloft, and saw his shoulders broad 15

Already vested with that planet's beam,
Who leads all wanderers safe through every way.

Then was a little respite to the fear.
That in my heart's recesses deep had lain,
All of that night, so jntifuUy ])ass'd : 20

And as a man, with difficult short breath,
Forespent with toiling, 'scap'd from sea to shore,
Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands
At gaze ; e'en so my spirit, that yet fail'd
Struggling with terror, turu'd to view the straits, 25


That none liath pass'd and liv'd. My weary frame

After slioi't i)aiise reeoinfurted, again

I journey'd on over that lonely steep,

The hinder foot still firmer. Scarce the ascent

Began, when, lo ! a panther, nimble, light, 30

And cover'd with a speckled skin, ajipear'd,

Nor, when it saw me, yanish'd, rather strove

To check my onward going ; that ofttimes

With purpose to retrace my steps I turn'd.

The hour was morning's prime, and on his way 35

Aloft the sun ascended with those stars.
That with him rose, when Love divine first mov'd
Those its fair works : so that with joyous hope
All things conspir'd to fill me, the gay skin
Of that swift animal, the matin dawn 40

And the sweet season. Soon that joy was chas'd,
And by new dread succeeded, when in view
A lion came, 'gainst me, as it api^ear'd,
With his head held aloft and hunger-mad,
That e'en the air was fear-struck. A she-wolf 45

Was at his heels, who in her leanness seem'd
Full of all wants, and many a land hath made
Disconsolate ere now. She with such fear
O'erwhelmed me, at the sight of her appall'd,
That of the height all hope I lost. As one, 50

Who with his gain elated, sees the time
When all unwares is gone, he inwardly
Mourns with heart-griping anguish ; such was I,
Haunted by that fell beast, never at jieace.
Who coming o'er against me, by degrees 65

ImpelI'd me where the sun in silence rests.

While to the lower space with backward step
I fell, my ken discern'd the form of one.
Whose voice seem'd faint through long disuse of speech.
When him in that great desert I espied, 60

" Have mercy on me ! " cried I out aloud,
" Spirit ! or living man ! whate'er thou be ! "

He answer'd : " Now not man, man once I was,
And born of Lombard parents, Mantuans both
By country, wlien the power of Julius yet 65

Was scarcely firm. At Rome my life was past

Beneath the mild Augustus, in the time

Of fabled deities and false. A bard

"Was I, and made Anehises' u]»right son

The subject of my song, who came from Troy, 7C

When the flames prey'd on Ilium's haughty towers.

Hut thou, say wherefore to such perils i)ast

Keturn'st thou ? wherefore not this pleasant mount

Ascendest, cause and source of all delight ? "

"And art thou then that Virgil, that well-spring, 75

From which such cojnous floods of eloquence

Have issued ? " I with front abash'd rei)lied.

"Glory and light of all the tuneful train !

May it avail me, that I long with zeal

Have sought thy volume, and Avith love immense 80

Have conn'd it o'er. My master thou and guide !

Thou he from whom alone I have deriv'd

That style, which for its beauty into fame

Exalts me. See the beast, from whom I fled.

O save me from her, thou illustrious sage! 85

For every vein and pulse throughout my frame

She hath made tremble." He, soon as he saw

That I was weeping, answer'd, " Thou must needs

Another way pursue, if thou Avouldst 'scape

From out that savage wilderness. This beast, 90

At whom thou criest, her way will suffer none

To pass, and no less hindrance makes than death:

So bad and so accursed in her kind.

That never sated is her ravenous will.

Still after food more craving than before. 95

To many an animal in wedlock vile

She fastens, and shall yet to many more,

Until that greyhound come, who shall destroy

Her with sharp jtain. He Avill not life support

By earth nor its base metals, but by \ove, 100

Wisdom, and virtue, and his land shall be

The land 'twixt either Feltro. In his might

Shall safety to Italia's plains arise.

For whose fair realm, Camilla, virgin pure,

Nisus, Euryalus, and Turnus fell. 105


lie witli incessant chase througli every town
Sliall worry, until he to hell at length
Kestore her, thence hy envy first let loose.
I for thy profit })on(rring' now devise,
Tliat thou inayst follow nie, and I thy guide 110

Will lead thee hence through an eternal space,
Where thou shalt hear despairing slirieks, and see
Spirits of old tormented, who invoke
A second death ; and those next view, who dwell
Content in fire, for that tliey hope to come, 115

Whene'er the time may he, among the blest,
Into whose regions if thou then desire
T' ascend, a spirit worthier than I
Must lead thee, in whose charge, when I dej^art,
Thou shalt be left : for that Almighty King, 120

Who reigns above, a rebel to his law.
Adjudges me, and therefore hath decreed,
That to his city none through me shoiild come.
He in all parts hath sway ; there rules, there holds
His citadel and throne, O happy those, 125

Whom there he chooses ! " I to liim in few :
" Bard ! by that God, whom thou didst not adore,
I do beseech thee (that this ill and worse
I may escape) to lead me, where thou saidst.
That I Saint Peter's gate may view, and tliose 130

Who, as thou tell'st, are in such dismal jjlight."
Onward he mov'd, I close his stej^s pursu'd.


Now was the day departing, and the air,
Imbrown'd with shadows, from their toils releas'd
All animals on earth ; and' I alone
Prepar'd myself the conflict to sustain.
Both of sad ]uty, and that perilous road,
Wliicli my unerring memory shall retrace.

O Muses ! O high genius ! now vouchsafe
Your aid ! O mind ! that all I saw hast kept
Safe in a written record, here thy worth


And eminent endowments come to proof. 10

I tluis bei^an : " Hard ! tliou wlio art my gMiide,
Consider Avell, if virtue be in me
Sufficient, ere to this liij^'li enterprise
Thou trust me. Tliou hast tohl tliat Silvius' sire,
Yet clotird in corruptible flesh, among 15

Th' immortal tribes had entrance, and was there
Sensibly present. Yet if heaven's great Lord,
Almighty foe to ill, such favour shew'd.
In contemplation of the high effect,

Both what and who from liim should issue forth, 20

It seems in reason's judgment well deserv'd :
Sith he of Rome, and of Rome's empire wide,
In heaven's empyreal height was chosen sire :
Both which, if truth be s])oken, were ordain'd
And 'stablish'd for the holy ])lace, where sits 25

Who to great Peter's sacred chair succeeds.
He from this journey, in thy song renown'd,
Learn'd things, that to his victory gave rise
And to the papal robe. In after-times
Tlie chosen A'essel also travel'd there, 30

To bring us back assurance in that faith,
Which is the entrance to salvation's way.
But I, why should I there presume ? or who
Permits it? not iEneas I nor Paul.

Myself I deem not worthy, and none else 35

Will deem me. I, if on this voyage then
I I venture, fear it will in folly end.
I Thou, who art wise, better my meaning knoAv'st,
I 'J'han I can speak." As one, who unresolves
I What he hath late resolv'd, and with new thoughts 40
I Changes his purpose, from his first intent
J Remov'd ; e'en such was I on that dun coast,
I Wasting in thought my ejiterprise, at first
I So eagerly embrac'd. " If right tliy words
I I scan," replied that shade magnanimous, 45

I " Thy soul is by vile fear assail'd, which oft
i So overcasts a man, that he recoils
\ From noblest resolution, like a beast
i At some false semblance in the twilight gloom.


Tliat from tliis tovror llion niayst free thyself, 50

I will insrnu't tlico why I came, and what
I lieard in that sanio histant, when for thee
Grief tonch'd me first. I was among the tribe,
Who rest suspended, when a dame, so blest
And lovely, I besoiight her to command, 55

Call'd me ; her eyes were brighter than the star
Of day ; and she wuth gentle voice and soft
Angelically tun'd her speech address'd :
' courteous shade of Mantua ! thou whose fame
Yet lives, and shall live long as nature lasts ! 60

' A friend, not of my fortune but myself,
' On the wide desert in his road has met
' Hindrance so great, that he through fear has turn'd.
'Now much I dread lest he past help have stray'd,
' And I be ris'n too late for his relief, 65

' From Avhat in heaven of him I heard. Speed now,
' And by thy eloquent ])ersuasive tongue,
' And by all means for his deliverance meet,
'Assist him. So to me will comfort spring.
' I Avho now bid thee on this eri-and forth 70

' Am Beatrice ; * from a place I come
' Revisited wath joy. Love brought me thence,
' Who prompts my speech. When in my Master's sight
' I stand, thy praisti to him I oft will tell.'
' " She then was silent, and I thus began : 75

'O Lady! by whose influence alone,
' ]\Iankind excels Aviiatever is contain'd
' Within that heavi.'u which hath the smallest orb,
' So thy command delights me, that to obey,
' If it w^ere done already, would seem late. 80

' No need hast thou farther to speak thy will ;
' Yet tell the reason, why thou art not loth
' To leave that ample space, where to return
* Thou burnest, for this centre here beneath.'

" She then : 'Since thou so deeply -svoiddst inquire, 85
' I will instruct thee briefly, Avhy no dread
' Hinders my entrance here. Those things alone

* Ixise thia word, as it is pronounced in tlie Italian, as consisting of four
syllables, of which tlie third is a long one.


'Arc to bo fear'd, wlienoe ovil may j^roceed,

'None else, for none are terrible beside.

'I am so franiM ])y God, tlianks to bis grace! 90

' Tbat any suff'rance of your misery

' Toiiclies me not, nor flame of tbat fierce fire

'Assails me. In bigb beaven a blessed dame

' Besides, wbo mourns witb sucb eifectual grief

' Tbat liindranc^, wbicb I send tbee to remove, 95

'Tbat God's stern judgment to ber will inclines.

' To Lucia calling, ber sbe tbus bespake :

" Now dotb tby faitbful servant need tby aid,

" And I commend bim to tbee." At ber word

' Sj)ed Lucia, of all cruelty tbe foe, 100

' And coming to tbe place, wbere I abode

' Seated witb Racbel, ber of ancient days,

' Sbe tbus address'd me : " Tbou true praise of God !

"Beatrice ! Avby is not tby succour lent

"To bim, wbo so mucb lov'd tbee, as to leave 105

" For tby sake all tbe multitude admires ?

" Dost tbou not bear bow pitiful bis wail,

" Nor mark tbe deatb, Avbicb in tbe torrent flood,

"Swoln migbtier tban a sea, bim struggling holds?"

'Ne'er among men did any witb sucb speed 110

' Haste to tbeir profit, flee from tbeir annoy,

' As when tbese words were sj^oken, I came bere,

' Down from my blessed seat, trusting tbe force

' Of tby pure eloquence, wbicb tbee, and all

' Wbo well bavc mark'd it, into bonour brings.' 115

"Wben sbe bad ended, ber brigbt beaming eyes
Tearful sbe turn'd aside ; wbereat I felt
Redoubled zeal to serve tbee. As sbe will'd,
Tbus am I come : I sav'd tbee from tbe beast,
Wbo tby near way across tbe goodly mount 120

Prevented. Wbat is tbis comes o'er tbee tben ?
Wby, wby dost tbou bang back ? wby in tby breast
Harbour vile fear? wby bast not courage tbere
And noble daring ? Since tbree maids so blest
•Tby safety plan, e'en in tbe court of heaven; 125

And so mucb certain good my words forebode."

As florets, by tbe frosty air of night



Bont (lo-\v7i and closM, wlioii day lias blancli'd tlicir leaves,

Kise all unfolded on their s])ii'y stems ;

So was my fainting vigour new restoi'M, 130

And to my heart sueh kin<lly eoui'age ran,

That I as one undaunted soon replied :

"O full of ])ity she, who undertook

My succour ! and thou kind who didst perform

So soon her true behest ! With such desire 135

Thou hast dispos'd me to renew my voyage,

That my first purpose fully is resum'd.

Lead on : one only will is in us Loth.

Thou art my guide, my master thou, and lord,"

So spake I ; and when he had onward raov'd, 140

I enter'd on the deep and woody way.


" Through me you pass into the city of woe :

Through me you j^ass into eternal pain :

Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd :

To rear me was the task of power divine, 5

Su])reniest wusdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things

Eternal, and eternal I endure.

All hojte abandon ye who enter here."

Sueh characters in colour dim I mark'd 10

Over a portal's lofty arch inscrib'd :
Vv^hereat I thus : " Mastei", these words import
Hard meaning." He as one prejjar'd replied :
" Here thou must all distrust behind thee leave ;
Here be vile fear extinguish'd. We are come 15

Where I have told thee we shall see the souls
To misery doom'd, who intellectual good
Have lost." And wlien his hand lie had stretch'd forth
To mine, with ])leasant looks, whence I was cheer'd,
Into that secret ])lace he led me on. -0

Here sighs with lamentations and loud moans
Besounded through the air pierc'd by no star,


That e'en I wept at entering. Various tongues,

Horrible languages, outcries of woe.

Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse, 25

With hands togetlier smote that swell'd the sounds,

Made uj) a tuniult, that for eA'er whirls

Kound through that air with solid darkness staiu'd,

Like to the sand that in the whirlwind Hies.

I then, with error yet encompass'd, cried : 30

" O master ! what is this I hear V what race
Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?"

He thus to me : " This miserable fate
Suffer the wretched souls of those, who liv'd
Without or praise or blame, with that ill band 35

Of angels mix'd, who nor rebellious prov'd
Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves

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