1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

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

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No use. This clearly from their words collect,
Which they howl foi-th, at each extremity
Arriving of the circle, where their crime 45

Contrary' in kind disparts them. To the church
Were separate those, that with no hairy cowls
Are crown'd, both Popes and Cardinals, o'er whom
Av'rice dominion absolute maintains."

I then : " 'Mid such as these some needs must be, 50
Whom I shall recognize, that with the blot
Of tliese foul sins were stain'd." He answering thus :
" Vain thought conceiv'st thou. That ignoble life.
Which made them vile befo)-e, now makes them dark,
And to all knowledge indiscernible. 55

For ever they shall meet in this rude shock :
These from the tomb with clenched grasp shall rise.
Those with close-shaven locks. That ill they gave.
And ill they kept, hath of the beauteous world
Depriv'd, and set them at this strife, which needs 60

No labour'd phrase of mine to set if off.
Now may'st thou see, my son ! how brief, how vain,
The goods committed into fortune's hands,
For which the human race keep such a coil !
Not all the gold, that is beneath the moon, 65

Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls
Might purchase rest for one." I thus rcjoin'd :
" My guide ! of thee this also "\vould I learn ;
This fortune, that thou speak'st of, wdiat it is.
Whose talons grasp the blessings of the world?" 70

He thus : " O beings blind! what ignorance
Besets you '? Now my judgment hear and mark.
He, whose transcendent wisdom passes all,
The hea^'ens creating, gave them ruling powers
To guide them ; so that each part shines to each, 75

Their light in equal distribution pour'd.
By siinilar appointment he ordain'd
Over the world's briu'ht ima<ji;es to rule

•24 /IKLT,,

SupcriDtondoiico of a miidiiit^ linnd

And !j,'ejH'i'a! miiiistor, wliicli at due time 80

]\lay flianye tlic ejiipty vanlagcs of life

From race to race, from one to otlier's blood,

Beyond prevention of man's wisest care:

Wherefore one nation I'ises into sway,

Another languishes, e'en as her will 85

Decrees, from us eonceal'd, as in tlie grass

The serpent train. Against her nought avails

Your utmost wisdom. She Avitli foresight plans.

Judges, and carries on her reign, as theirs

The othtr poAvcrs divine. Her changes know 90

Nore intermission : by necessity

She is made swift, so frequent come Avho claim

Succession in her favours. This is she.

So execrated e'en by those, whose debt

To her is rather praise ; they wrongfully 95

With blame requite her, and with evil word ;

But she is blessed, and for that recks not :

Amidst the other primal beings glad

Rolls on her sphere, and in her bliss exults.

Now on our way pass we, to heavier woe 100

Descending : for each star is falling now.

That mounted at our entrance, and forbids

Too long our tarrying." We the circle cross'd

To the next steep, arriving at a well,

That boiling poixrs itself down to a foss 105

Sluic'd from its source. Far murkier was the wave

Than sablest grain : and we in company

Of the' inky waters, journeying by their side,

Enter'd, though l)y a different track, beneath.

Into a lake, the Stygian nam'd, expands 110

The dismal stream, when it hath reach'd the foot

Of the grey wither'd cliffs. Intent I stood

To gaze, and in the marish sunk descried

A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks

Betok'ning rage. They with their liands alone 115

Struck not, but with the head, the breast, the feet.

Cutting each other ])iecemeal Avith their fangs.

The good instructor si)ake : " Now seest thou, son !

The souls of tliosc, wlioin an^ev overcaTiic.

This too for certain know, tlmt underneath 120

TJic water dwells a multitude, whose siti'hs

Into these bubbles make the surface heave,

As thine eye tells thee wheresoe'er it turn.

Fix'd in the slime they say : ' Sad once were we

'In the sweet air made gladsome by the sun, 125

' Carrying- a foul and lazy mist within :

' Now in these mui'ky settlings are we sad.'

Such dolorous strain they gurgle in their throats.

But word distinct can utter none." Our route

Thus compass'd we, a segment widely stretch'd 130

Between the dry embankment, and the core

Of the loath'd pool, turning meanwhile our eyes

Downward on those who gul|)'d its muddy \e6s ;

Nor stop})'d, till to a tower's low base we came.


My theme pursuing, I relate that ere

AVe reach'd the lofty turret's base, our eyes

Its height ascended, where two cressets hung

We mark'd, and from afar another light

Return the signal, so remote, that scarce 5

The eye could catch its beam. I turning round

To the deep source of knowledge, thus inquir'd :

" Say v/hat this n:ieans ? and what that other light

In answer set ? what agency doth this '? "

" There on the filthy waters," he replied, 10

" E'en now what next awaits us mayst thou see,
If the marsh-gender'd fog conceal it not."

Never was arrow from the cord dismiss'd,
That ran its way so nimbly through the air,
As a small bark, that through the waves I spied 15

Toward us coming, under the sole sway
Of one that ferried it, Avho cried aloud :
"Art thou arriv'd, fell sjiirit ? "— " Phlegyas, Phlegyas,
This time tliou criest in vain," my lord re])lied ;
" No longer shalt thou have us, but while o'er 20


The slimy pool we pass." As one wlio lienrs

Of some yreat wroiiL;; lie liath siistainM, ■\vliereat

Inly lie jtiiies; so ]*lil('y;yas inly pinM

In his liercc ire. My ujuide descending stepp'd

Into the skiff, and bade me enter next 25

Close at his side; nor till my entrance seem'd

The vessel freighted. Soon as l)oth emhai'k'd,

Cutting the waves, goes on the ancient jirow.

More deeply than with others it is wont.

While we our course o'er the'dead channel held. 30
One drcnch'd in mire before me came, and said ;
" Who art thou, that thou comest ere thine hour ? "

I answer'd : "Though I come, I tarry not ;
But Avho art thou, that art become so foul ? "

"One, as thou seest, who mourn :" he straight rejilied.

To Avhich I thus : " In mourning and in w^oe, 36

Curs'd spirit ! tarry thou. I know thee well.
E'en thus in filth disguis'd." Then stretch'd he forth
Hands to the bark ; Avhereof my teacher sage
Aware, thrusting him back : "Away ! down there 40
To the' other dogs ! " then, with his arms my neck
Encircling, kiss'd my cheek, and spake : " O soul
Justly disdainful ! blest was she in whom
Thou was conceiv'd ! He in the world was one
For arrogance noted ; to his memory 45

No virtue lends its lustre ; even so
Here is his shadow furious. There above
How many now hold themselves mighty kings
Who here like swine shall wallow in the mire,
Leaving behind them horrible dispraise ! " 50

I then : " Master ! him fain would I behold
Whelm'd in these dregs, before we quit the lake."

He thus : " Or ever to thy view the shore
Be offer'd, satisfied shall be that wish,
Which well deserves completion." Scarce his words 55
Were ended, when I saw the miry tribes
Set on him with such violence, that yet
For that render I thanks to God and praise.
" To Filippo Argenti : " cried they all :
And on himself the moody Florentine 60

iiKij,. 27

TnriiM liis avenfjing fmii^s. Iliin liove Aye left,
Nor speak I of liiiu nioiv. But on mine ear
Sudden a sound of lamentation smote,
Whereat mine eye unbarr'd I sent abroad.

And thus the good instructor : " Now, my son ! 65

Draws near the city, that of Dis is nam'd,
With its grave denizens, a mighty throng."

I thus : " The minarets already, Sir !
There certes in the valley I descry,

Gleaming vermilion, as if they from fire 70

Had issu'd." He replied : " Eternal fire.
That inward burns, shows them Avith ruddy flame
Illum'd; as in this nether hell thou seest."

We came within the fosses deep, that moat
This region comfortless. The walls appear'd 75

As they Avere fram'd of iron. We had made
Wide circuit, ere a ])lace Ave rcach'd, Avhcre loud
The mariner cried vehement : " Go forth !
The' entrance is here ! " Upon the gates I spied
More than a tliousand, Avho of old from heaven 80

Were hurl'd. With ireful gestures, " Who is this,"
They cried, " that Avithout death first felt, goes through
The regions of the dead '? " My sapient guide
Made sign that he for secret parley wish'd ;
Whereat their angry scorn abating, thus 85

They spake : " Come thou alone ; and let him go
Who hath so hardily enter'd this realm.
Alone return he by his Avitless Avay ;
If Avell he know it, let him prove. For thee,
Here shalt thou tarry, Avho through clime so dark 90

Hast been his escort," Now bethink thee, reader !
What cheer Avas mine at sound of those curs'd Avords.
I did believe I never should return.

" O my loA^'d guide ! who more than scA^en times
Security hast render'd me, and draAvn 95

From peril deep, Avhereto I stood expos'd,
Desert me not," I cried, " in this extreme.
And if our onward going be denied.
Together trace we back our steps Avith speed."

My liege, who thither had conducted me, 100

28 HELL.

Replied : " Fear not : for of our passage none

Hath ]wwer to disappoint us, by such high

Authority ])ennitted. But do thou

Expect uie here ; uieanwliile thy wearied spirit

Comfort, and feed with Icindly hope, assur'd 105

I will not leave thee in this lower world."

This said, departs the sire benevolent,
And quits nie. Hesitating I remain
At war 'twixt Avill and will not in my thoughts.

I could not hear what terms he offer'd them, 110

But they conferr'd not long, for all at once
To trial fled within. Clos'd were the gates
By those our adversaries on the breast
Of my liege lord : excluded he return'd
To me with tardy stejis. Upon the ground 115

His eyes were bent, and from his brow eras'd
All confidence, while thus with sighs he spake :
"Who hath denied me these abodes of woe?"
Then thus to me : " That I am anger'd, think
No ground of terror : in this trial I 120

Shall vanquish, use what arts they may within
For hindrance. This their insolence, not new,
Erewhile at gate less secret they display'd,
Which still is without bolt ; upon its arch
Thou saw'st the deadly scroll : and even now 125

On this side of its entrance, down the steep,
Passing the circles, unescorted, comes
One whose strong might can open us this land."


The hue, which coward dread on my pale cheeks
Imprinted, when I saw my guide tui'n back,
Chas'd that from his which newly they had worn,
And inwardly restraiu'd it. He, as one
Who listens, stood attentive: for his eye
Not far could lead him through the sable air,
And tlie thick-gath'ring cloud. " It yet behoves
We win this fight" — thus he began — " if not —

HELL. 29

Such aid to us is offer'd. — Oh, liow long

Me seonis it, ere the promisM liclp arrive ! " 10

I noted, how tlie sequel of his Avords
Clok'd their bc2;inning; for the last he spake
Agreed not with the h'rst. But not the less
]My fear was at his saying; sith I drew
To im])ort worse perchance, than that he held, 15

His mutilated speech. " Doth ever any
Into this rueful concave's extreme depth
Descend, out of the first degree, whose pain
Is depri^-ation merely of sweet hope ? "

Thus I inquiring. " Rarely," he replied, 20

" It chances, that among us any makes
This journey, which I wend. Erewhile 't is true
Once came I here beneath, conjur'd by fell
Erictho, sorceress, who comj^.ell'd the shades
Back to their bodies. No long space my flesh 25

Was naked of me, when within these walls
She made me enter, to draw forth a spirit
From out of Judas' circle. Lowest place
Is that of all, obscurest, and remov'd
P\artliest from heav'n's all-circling orb. The road 30
Full well I know : thou therefore rest secure.
That lake, the noisome stench exhaling, round
The city' of grief encompasses, which now
We may not enter without rage." Yet more
He added : but I hold it not in mind, 35

For that mine eye toward the lofty tower
Had drawn me wholly, to its burning toj).
Where in an instant I beheld uprisen
At once three hellish furies stain'd with blood :
In limb and motion feminine they seem'd ; 40

Around them greenest hydras twisting roll'd
Their volumes; adders and cerastes crept
Instead of hair, and their fierce tem2)les bound.

He knowing well the miserable hags
Who tejid the queen of endless woe, thus spake : 45

"Mark thou each dire Erinnys. To the left
This is MegaM-a ; on the riglit liand she,
Who wails, Alecto : and Tisiphone

30 HK1,L.

r th' midst." Tliis said, in silciict.' lie rcinaiii'd

Their breast tliey eacli one elawing tore ; tlieniselves 50

STUOtc ■svith tlieir ])alnis, and sucli shrill clamour ruis'd,

That to the bard I clung, suspicion-bound.

" Hasten Medusa : so to adamant

Him shall Ave change ; " all looking down exclaim'd.

" E'en ■\vhen by Theseus' might assail'd, we took 55

No ill revenge." "Turn thyself round, and keep

Thy count'nance liid ; for if the Gorgon dire

Be shown, and thou shouldst view it, thy return

Upwards would be for ever lost." This said,

Himself my gentle master turn'd me round, 60

Nor trusted he my hands, but with his own

He also hid me. Ye of intellect

Sound and entire, mark well the lore conceal'd

Under close texture of the mystic strain !

And now there came o'er the jierturbed waves 65

Loud-crashing, terrible, a sound that made
Either shore tremble, as if of a wind
Impetuous, from conflicting vapours sprung,
That 'gainst some forest driving all its might,
Plucks off the branches, beats them down and hurls 70
Afar ; then onward passing proudly sweeps
Its whirlwind rage, while beasts and shepherds fly.

Mine eyes he loos'd, and spake : "And now direct
Thy visual nerve along that ancient foam,
Tliere, thickest where the smoke ascends." As frogs 75
Before their foe the serpent, through the wave
Ply swiftly all, till at the ground each one
Lies on a heap ; more than a thousand spirits
Destroy'd, so saw I fleeing before one
Who pass'd with unwet feet the Stygian sound. 80

He, from his face removing the gross air,
Oft his left hand forth stretch'd, and secm'd alone
By that annoyance wearied. I perceiv'd
That he was sent from heav'n, and to my guide
Turn'd me, who signal made that I should stand 85

Quiet, and bend to him. Ah me ! how full
Of noble anger seem'd he ! To the gate
He came, and with his wand touch'd it, whereat

HELL. 31

Open Avitliout impediment it flew.

" Outcasts of lieav'n ! O abject race and scorn'd ! " 90
Beo'an he on the liorrid grunsel standino-,
"Whence doth this wikl excess of insolence
Lodge in }-ou ? wherefore kick you 'gainst that will
Ne'er frustrate of its end, and -wliich so oft
Hath laid on you enforcement of j^our ])angs? 95

AVhat ])rofits at the fays to but the horn ?
Your Cerberus, if ye remember, hence
Bears still, peel'd of their hair, his tliroat and maw."

This said, he turn'd back o'er the filthy way,
And syllable to us spake none, but wore 100

The semblance of a man by other care
Beset, and keenly press'd, than thought of him
Who in his presence stands. Then we our steps
Toward tliat teriitory mov'd, secure

After the hallow'd words. We unoppos'd 105

There enter'd ; and my mind eager to learn
What state a fortress like to that might hold,
I soon as enter'd throw mine eye around,
And see on every part wide-stretching space
Keplete with bitter pain and torment ill. 110

As where Rhone stagnates on the plains of Aries,
Or as at Pola, near Quarnaro's gulf.
That closes Italy and laves her bounds,
The place is all thick spread with sepulchres ;
So was it here, save what in horror here 115

Excell'd : for 'midst the graves were scattered flames,
Wherewith intensely all throughout they burn'd.
That iron for no craft there hotter needs.

Their lids all hung suspended, and beneath
From them forth issuM lamentable moans, 120

Such as the sad and tortur'd well might raise.

I thus : " Master ! say who are these, interr'd
Within these vaults, of whom distinct we hear
The dolorous sighs?" He answer thus return'd :
" The arch-heretics are here, accomi^anied 12?

By every sect their followers ; and much more,
Than thou believest, tonibs are fi-eighted : like
^Vith like is buried ; and the monuments


Are (lilTcrc'iil in (li'y;i'{'es of licit." This said,

He U) tlu; riglit hand tiiniing, (Jii we )»assM 130

Betwixt the alllicted uud the rivm2)aits high.


Now by a secret pathway -vve proceed,

Between the Avails, that.heni the region round,

And the tormented souls : my master first,

I close behind his steps. "Virtue su])reme !"

I thus began ; " Avho through these am])le orbs 5

In circuit lead'st me, even as thou will'st,

S]ieak thou, and satisfy my wish. May those,

Who lie Avithin these sepulchres, be seen ?

Already all the lids are rais'd, and none

O'er them keeps watch." He thus in answer s])ake 10

" They shall be closed all, Avhat-time they hci-e

From Josaphat return'd shall come, and bring

Their bodies, which above they now have left.

The cemetery on this part obtain

With Jlpicurus all his followers, 15

Who Avith the body make the spirit die.

Here therefore satisfaction shall be soon

Both to the question ask'd, and to the wish.

Which thou conceal'st in silence." I replied :

*' I keep not, guide belov'd ! from thee my heart 20

Secreted, but to shun vain length of AA^ords,

A lesson erew^hile taught me by thyself."

" O Tuscan ! thou Avho through the city of fire
Alive art jjassing, so discreet of speech !
Here please thee stav awhile. Thy utterance 25

Declares the place ol thy nativity
To be that noble land, Avitli Avhich perchance
I too severely dealt." Sudden that sound
Forth issu'd from a vault, Avhereat in fear
I somcAvhat closer to my leader's side 30

Ap})roaching, he thus spake : " What dost thou V Turn.
Lo, Farinata, there ! Avho hath himself
Ujtlifted: from his girdle upwards all


iiKix. 33 \

Expos'd beliokl liiin." On liis face was mine !

Already fix'd ; his breast and forehead there 35 ;

Erecting, seeni'd as in liigli scorn he held |

E'en hell. Between the sepulchres to liim \

My guide thrust me with fearless hands and prompt, 1

This warning added : " See thy words be clear! " ;

lie, soon as there I stood at the tomb's foot, 40 !

Ey'd me a space, then in disdainful mood |

Address'd me: "Say, what ancestors were thine?" 1

I, willing to obey him, straight reveal'd |

The whole, nor kept back aught: whence he, his brow I

Somewhat uplifting, cried : "Fiercely Avere they 45 5

Adverse to me, my party, and the blood ;

From whence I sprang : twice therefore I abroad
Scatter'd them." " Though driv'n out, yet they each time \
From all i)arts," answer'd I, " return'd ; an art \

Which yours have shown, tliey are not skill'd to learn." ';

Then, peering forth from the unclosed jaw, 51

Rose from his side a shade, high as the chin.
Leaning, methought, upon its knees uj^rais'tl.
It look'd around, as eager to explore

If there were other with me ; but perceiving 55

That fond imagination quench'd, with tears
Thus spake : " If thou through this blind }irison go'st.
Led by thy lofty genius and profound, I

Where is my son? and wherefore not with tliee?" ?

I straight rejilied : "Not of myself I come, (50

By him, who there expects me, through this clime
Conducted, whom perchance Guide thy son \

Had in contempt." Already had. liis words
And mode of punishment read me his name,
Whence I so fully answer'd. He at once 65 ;

Exclaim'd, up starting, " How ! said'st thou he had.^ ]

No longer lives he ? Strikes not on his eye I

The blessed daylight?" Then of some delay ^

1 made ere my reply aware, dov/n fell
Supine, not after forth a])i)ear'd he more. 70

Meanwhile the other, great of soul, near whom
1 yet was station'd, chang'd not count'nance stern,
Nor mov'd the neck, nor bent his ribbed side.


"And if," continuing the first discourse,

" They in this art," lie cried, " small skill have shoAvn, 75

Tiiat doth torment me more e'en than this bed.

But not yet fifty times shall he relum'd

Her aspect, who reigns here Queen of this realm,

Ere thou shalt know the full weight of that art.

So to the pleasant world mayst thou return, 80

As thou shalt tell me, why in all their laws,

Against my kin this people is so fell?"

" The slaughtei- and great havoc," I replied,
" That colour'd Arbia's flood with crimson stain —
To these impute, that in our hallow'd dome Sft

Such orisons ascend." Sighing he shook
The head, then thus resum'd : " In that affray
I stood not singly, nor without just cause
Assuredly should with the rest have stirr'd ;
But singly there I stood, when by consent 90

Of all, Florence had to the ground been raz'd,
The one Avho openly forbad the deed."

" So may thy lineage find at last repose,"
I thus adjur'd him, " as thou solve this knot,
Which now involves my mind. If right I hear, 95

Ye seem to view beforehand, that which time
Leads with him, of the present uninforni'd."

" We view, as one who hath an evil sight,"
He ansAver'd, " plainly, objects far remote :
So much of his large spendour yet imparts 100

The' Almighty Ruler ; but when they approach
Or actually exist, our intellect
Then wholly fails, nor of your human state
Except what others bring us know wa aught.
Hence therefore mayst thou understand, that all 105

Our knowledge in that instant shall expire,
When on futurity the portals close."

Then conscious of my fault, and by remorse
Smitten, I added thus : " Now shalt thou say
To him there fallen, that his offspring still 110

Is to the living join'd ; and bid him know,
That if from answ^er silent I abstain'd,
'Twas that my thought was occupied intent

HELL. 35

Upon that error, which thy hel{) hatli solv'd."

But now niy master summoning me back 115

I heard, and witli more eager haste besought
The spirit to inform nie, who with him
Partook liis lot. He answer thus return'd :
" More than a thousand M'ith me here are laid.
Within is Frederick, second of that name, 120

And the Lord Cardinal, and of the rest
I speak not." He, this said, from sight withdrew.
But I my steps towards the ancient bard
Keverting, ruminated on the words

Betokening rae such ill. Onward he mov'd, 125

And thus in going question'd : " Whence the' amaze
That holds thy senses wrapt?" I satisfied
The' inquiry, and the sage enjoin'd me straight :
" Let thy safe memory store what thou hast heard
To thee importing harm ; and note thou this," 130

With his rais'd finger bidding me take heed,
" When thou shalt stand before her gracious beam,
Whose bright eye all sur^-eys, she of thy life
The future tenour will to thee unfold."

Forthwith he to the left hand turn'd his feet : 135

We left the wall, and tow'rds the middle space
Went by a path, that to a valley strikes ;
Which e'en thus high exhal'd its noisome steam.


Upon the utmost verge of a high bank,

By craggy rocks environ'd round, we came.

Where woes beneath more cruel yet were stow'd :

And here to shun the horrible excess

Of fetid exhalation, npward cast 5

From the profound abyss, behind the lid

Of a great monument we stood retir'd.

Whereon this scroll I mark'd : " I have in charge

Pope Anastasius, whom Photinus drew

From the right jiath." — Ere our descent behoves 10

We make delay, that somewhat first the sense.

36 Hicij,.

To tlie dire brcntli accustom'd, afterwai'd
Regnvd it not." My master thus ; to whom
Answering I spake: "Some eoniiiensation find
That tlie time |)ast not wholly lost." lie then : 15

" Lo ! how my thoughts s'en to thy wishes tend !
My son ! within these ]-o(!l<s," he thus began,
" Are three close circles in gradation plac'd,
As these Avhich now thou Ica^'st. Each one is full
Of sj)irits accurs'd ; but that the sight alone 20

Hereafter may suffice thee, listen how
And for Avhat cause in durance they abide.
" Of all malicious act abhorr'd in lieaven,
The end is injury ; and all such end

Either by force or fraud works other's woe 25

But fraud, because of man peculiar evil,
To God is more displeasing ; and beneath
The fraudulent are therefore doom'd to' endure
Severer pang. The violent occupy

All the first circle ; and because to force 30

Three persons are obnoxious, in three rounds
Hach within other sep'rate is it fram'd.
To God, his neighbour, and himself, by man
Force may be oifer'd ; to himself I say
And his possessions, as thou soon shaft hear 35

At full. Death, violent death, and painful wounds
Upon liis neighbour he inflicts ; and wastes
By devastation, ])illage, and the flames,
His substance. Slayers, and each one that smites
In malice, plund'rei's, and all robbers, hence 40

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