1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

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

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So here, from heel to point, glided the flames.

" Master ! say who is he, than all the rest
Glancing in fiercer agony, on whom
A ruddier flame doth prey?" I thus inquir'd. 35

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

I then : " As pleases thee to me is best.
Thou art my lord ; and know'st that ne'er I quit 40

Thy will : what silence hides that knowest thou."
Thereat on the fourth pier we came, we turn'd,
And on our left descended to the depth,
A narrow strait and jDerforated close.
Nor from his side my leader set me down, 45

Till to his orifice he brought, whose limb
Quiv'ring express'd his pang. " Whoe'er thou art.
Sad spirit ! thus revers'd, and as a stake
Driv'n in the soil ! " I in these Avords began,
" If thou be able, utter forth thy A^oice." 50

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

He shouted : " Ha ! already standest there?
Already standest there, O Boniface ! 55

By many a year the writing play'd me false.

ITil •nrfwi'Mlfliillill ■■ MiiN - -

HELL. 65

80 early <lost tliou surfeit with the wealth,
For whicli thou fearetlst not in o-uile to take
The lovely lady, and then mangle her ? "

I felt as those who, piercing not the drift 60

Of answer made them, stand as if expos'd
In mockery, nor know what to re]»ly.
When Yirgil thus admonish'd : " Tell him quick,
I am not he, not he, whom thou believ'st."

And I, as Avas enjoinVl me, straight replied. 65

That heard, the spirit all did wrench liis feet,
And sighing next in woeful accent spake :
" What then of me requirest ? If to know
So much imports thee, who I am, that thou
Hast therefore down the bank descended, learn 70

That in the mighty mantle I Avas rob'd,
And of a she-bear was indeed the son.
So eager to advance my Avhelps, that there
My having in my purse above I stow'd,
And here myself. Under my head are dragg'd 75

The rest, my predecessors in the guilt
Of simony. Stretch'd at their length they lie
Along an opening in the rock. 'Midst them
I also low shall fall, soon as he comes.
For whom I took thee, Avhen so hastily 80

I question'd. But already longer time
Hath pass'd, since my souls kindled, and I thus
Upturn'd have stood, than is his doom to stand
Planted with fiery feet. For after him,
One yet of deeds more ugly shall arrive, 85

From forth the Avest, a shej)herd Avdthout law.
Fated to cover both his form and mine.
He a ncAV Jason shall be call'd, of Avhom
In Maccabees Ave read ; and favour such-
As to that priest his king indulgent shoAv'd, 90

Shall be of France's monarch shoAvn to him."

I knoAv not if I here too far jn-esum'd, I

But in this strain I ansAver'd : " Tell me now, |

What treasures from St. Peter at the first i

Our Lord demanded, when he put the keys 95 ^

Into his charge ? Surely he ask'd no more

66 HELL.

But, Follow \ne ! ' Nor Peter nor the rest

Or gold or silver of JMatlliias took,

When lots were east ii]»on the forfeit ]»lace

Of the condemned soul. A1)i(]e thou then ; 100

Thy punishment of right is merited :

And look thou well to that ill-gotten coin,

Wliich against Charles thy hardihood inspir'd.

If reverence of the keys restrain'd nie not,

Which thou in ha])])ier time didst hold, I yet 105

Severer speech might use. Your avarice

Overcasts the world with mourning, under foot

Treading the good, and raising bad men up.

Of shepherds, like to you, th' Evangelist

Was ware, when her, who sits i;j)on tlie waves, 110

With kings in filthy whoredom he beheld.

She who with seven heads tower'd at her birth,

And from ten horns her proof of gloiy drew,

Long as her spouse in virtue took delight.

Of gold and silver ye have made your god, 115

Diff'ring wherein from the idolater.

But he that worships one, a hundred ye ?

Ah, Constantine ! to how^ much ill gave birth,

Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower.

Which the first wealthy Father gain'd from thee ! " 120

Meanwhile, as thus I sung, he, whether wrath
Or conscience smote him, violent upsprang
Spinning on either sole. I do believe
My teacher well was pleas'd, with so comi:»os'd
A lip, he iisten'd ever to the sound 125

Of the true words I iitter'd. In both arms
He caught, and to his bosom lifting me
Upward retrac'd the Avay of his descent.

Nor weary of his weight he press'd me close,
Till to the summit of the rock we came, 130

Our passage from the fourth to the fifth pier.
His cherish'd burden there gently he plac'd
Upon the rugged rock and steep, a })ath
Not easy for the clamb'ring goat to mount.

Thence to my view another vale appear'd. 135

HELL. 67


And now the verse proceeds to toi-nients new,

Fit argument of this the twentietli strain

Of the fii'st song, whose awful tlienie records

The spirits whehn'd in woe. Earnest I look'd

Into the depth, that oi)en'd to my view, 5

Moisten'd with tears of anguish, and beliekl

A tribe, that came along the hollow vale,

In silence weeping : such their step as walk

Quires chanting solemn litanies on earth.

As on them more direct mine eye descends, 10

Each wonderously seem'd to be revers'd
At the neck-bone, so that the countenance
Was from the reins averted : and because
None might before him look, they were compell'd
To' advance with backward gait. Thus one perhaps 15
Ilath been by force of palsy clean transpos'd.
But I ne'er saw it nor believe it so.

Now, reader ! think within thyself, so God
Fruit of thy reading give thee ! how I long
Could keep my visage dry, when I beheld 20

Near me our form distorted in such guise.
That on the hinder parts fall'n from the face
The tears down-streaming roll'd. Against ii rock
I leant and wept, so that my guide exclaim'd :
" What, and art thou too witless as the rest ? 25

Here pity most doth show herself alive.
When she is dead. What guilt exceedeth his.
Who with Heaven's judgment in his passion strives?
Raise up thy head, raise up, and see the man.
Before whose eyes earth gap'd in Thebes, when all 30
Cried out, ' Amphiaraus, whither rushest ?
' Why leavest thou the war ? ' He not the less
Fell ruining far as to Minos down.
Whose gra])ple none eludes. Lo ! how he makes
The breast his shoulders, and who once too far 35

Before him wish'd to see, now backward looks,
And treads reverse his patli. Tiresias note,
Who semblance chang'd, when woman he became

68 HELL.

Of male, througli every liinl) transfonuM, and then
Once more behovM liiiii willi liis rod to strike 40

The two entwining serpents, ere the plumes,
That mark'd tlie better sex, mii^Iit slioot again.

" Ai-iuis, with i-ere liis belly I'aein;^, comes.
On Liiiii's mountains 'midst the marl)les white,
AVliere delves Can-ara's hind, who wons beneatli, 45

A cavern was his dwelling, wlience the stars
And main-sea wide in boundless view he held.

" The next, Avhose loosen'd tresses overspread
Her bosom, which thou seest not (for each liair
On that side grows) was Manto, she who search'd 50

Through many i-egions, and at length her seat
Fix'd in my native land, whence a short space
My words detain thy audience. When her sire
From life departed, and in servitude

The city dedicate to Bacchus mourn'd, 55

Long time she went a wand'rer through the Avorld.
Aloft in Italy's delightful land
A lake there lies, at foot of that proud Alp,
That o'er tlie Tyrol locks Germania in,
Its name Benacus, which a thousand rills, 60

Methinks, and more, water between the vale
Camonica and Garda and the height
Of Apennine remote. There is a spot
At midway of that lake, where he who bears
Of Trento's flock the past'ral staff, with him 65

Of Brescia, and the Veronese, might each
Passing that Avay his benediction give.
A garrison of goodly site and strong
Peschiera stands, to awe with front oppos'd
The Bergamese and Brescian, whence the shore 70

More slope each way descends. There, whatsoev'er
Benacus' bosom holds not, tumbling o'er
Down falls, and winds a river flood beneath
Through the green pastures. Soon as in his course
The steam makes head, Benacus then no more 75

They call the name, but Mincius, till at last
Reaching Governo into Po he falls.
Not far his course hath run, when a wide flat

HELL. 69

It finds, which overstretching as a marsli

It covers, pestilent in suniiner oft. 80

Ilencc' journeying, tlie savage maiden saw

'Midst of tlie fen a territory waste

And naked of inliabitants. To shun

All human converse, here she with lier slaves

Plying her arts remain'd, and liv'd, and left 85

Her body tenantless. Thenceforth the ti'ihes.

Who round were scatter'd, gatli'ring to tliat ])lace

Assembled ; for its strength was great, enclos'd

On all ])arts l)y the fen. On those dead bones

They rear'd themselves a city, for her sake, 90

Calling it Mantua, who first chose the spot,

Nor ask'd another omen for the name.

Wherein more numerous the people dwelt,

Ere Casalodi's madness by deceit

Was wrong'd of Pinamonte. If thou hear 95

Henceforth another origin assign'd

Of that my country, I forewarn thee now,

That falsehood none beguile thee of the truth."

I answer'd : " Teacher, I conclude thy words
So certain, that all else shall be to me 100

As embers lacking life. But no%v of these,
Who here proceed, instruct me, if thou see
Any that merit more especial note.
For thereon is my mind alone intent." 104

He straight replied: " That spirit, from whose cheek
The beard sweeps o'er his shoulders brown, what time
Gv;rcia was emptied of her males, that scarce
Tiie cradles were su])plied, the seer was he
In Aulis, who with Calchas gave the sign
When first to cut the cable. Him they nam'd 110

Euryj)ilus : so sings my tragic strain.
In which majestic measure well thou know'st,
Who know'st it all. That other, round the loins
So slender of his shape, was Michael Scot,
Practis'd in ev'ry slight of magic wile. 115

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

70 IIETJ.,

" See next tlic wretches, who tlie neeclle left,
The shuttle and the spindle, and became 120

Diviners : baneful witcheries they wrought
With images and herbs. ]>ut onward now :
For now doth Cain with fork of thorns confine
On either heniisjihere, touching the wave
]5eneath the towers of Seville. Yesternight 125

The moon was round. Thou mayst remember well :
For she good service did thee in the gloom
Of the deep wood." This said, both onward mov'd.


Thus we from bridge to bridge, with other talk,

The which my drama cares not to rehearse,

Pass'd on; and to the summit reaching, stood

To view another gap, within the round

Of Malcbolge, other bootless pangs. 5

Marvellous darkness shadow'd o'er the place.

In the Venetians' arsenal as boils
Through wintry months tenacious pitch, to smear
Their unsound vessels ; for th' inclement time
Sea-faring men restrains, and in that while 10

His bark one builds anew, another stops
The ribs of his, that hath made many a voyage ;
One hammers at the prow, one at the poop ;
This shapeth oars, that other cables twirls,
The mizen one repairs and main-sail rent 15

So not by force of fire but art divine
Boil'd here a glutinous thick mass, that round
Lim'd all the shore beneath. I that beheld.
But therein nought distinguish'd, save the surge,
Rais'd by the boiling, in one mighty swell 20

Heave, and by turns subsiding and fall. While there
I tix'd my ken below, " Mark ! mark ! " my guide
Exclaiming, drew me towards him from the jjlace,
Wherein I stood. I turn'd myself as one.
Impatient to behold that whicla beheld 25

He needs must shun, whom sudden fear unmans,

HELL, 71

That lie his flight delays not for the view.
Behind me I diseeni'd a devil black,
That running up advanc'd along the rock.
'Ah! what fierce cruelty his look bespake ! 30

In act how bitter did he seem, with wings
Buoyant outstretch'd and feet of nimblest tread !
His shoulder proudly eminent and sharp
Was with a sinner charg'd ; by either hannch
He held him, the foot's sinew griping fast. 35

" Ye of our bridge ! " he cried, " keen-talon'd fiends !
Lo ! one of Santa Zita's elders ! Ilim
Whelm ye beneath, while I retnrn for more.
That land hath store of such. All men are there,
Except Bonturo, barterers : of 'no' 40

For lucre there an ' aye ' is quickly made."

Him dashing down, o'er the rough rock he turn'd,
Nor ever after thief a mastiff loos'd
Sped with like eager haste. That other sank
And forthwith writing to the surface rose. 45

But those dark demons, shrouded by the bridge,
Cried " Here the hallow'd visage saves not : here
Is other swimming than in Serchio's wave.
Wherefore if thou desire we rend thee not,
Take heed thou mount not o'er the pitch." This said,
They grapi»led him with more than hundi'ed hooks, 51
And shouted : " Cover'd thou must sport thee here ;
So, if thou canst, in secret mayst thou filch."
E'en thus the cook bestirs him, with his grooms,
To thrust the flesh into the caldron down 55

With flesh-hooks, that it float not on the top.

Me then my guide bespake : " Lest they descry,
That thou art here, behind a craggy rock
Bend low and screen thee ; and whate'er of force
Be offer'd me, or insult, fear thou not : 60

For I am well advis'd, who have been erst
In the like fra}'." Beyond the bridge's head
Therewith he jjass'd, and reaching the sixth pier,
Behov'd him then a forehead terror-jDroof.

With storm and fury, as when dogs rush forth 65

Upon the poor man's back, who suddenly

72 HELL.

From Avlionco lie standctli iiiiikcs liis suit ; so riishVl

Those from l)eTiontli tlie arcli, and npiiiist liim

Their weapons all tliey ])ointod. He aloud :

"Be none of you ouli-a<;eous : ere your time 70

Dare seize me, come forth from amongst you one,

Who liaving lieard my words, decide he then

If he shall tear these limbs." They shouted loud,

" Go, MaLacoda ! " Whereat one advanc'd.

The others standing firm, and as lie came, 75

" AYhat may this turn avail him ?" ho exclaim'd.

"Believ'st thou, Malaeoda! I had come
Thus far from all your skirmishing secure,"
My teacher answered, " without Avill divine
And destiny ]iro]iitious? Pass we then 80

For so Heaven's ]»leasure is, that I should lead
Another through this savage wilderness."

Forthwith so fell liis ])ride, that he let drop
The instrument of torture at his feet.
And to the rest exclaim'd : " We have no power 85

To strike him." Then to mc my guide : " O thou !
Who on the bridge among the crags dost sit
Low crouching, safely noAv to me return."

I rose, and towards him moved Avith speed : the fiends
Meantime all forward drew : me terror seiz'd 90

Lest they should break the compact they had made.
Thus issuing from C'aprona, once I saw
Th' infantry dreading, lest his covenant
The foe should break ; so close he henim'd them round.

I to my leader's side adher'd, mine eyes 95

With fixt and niotionless observance bent
On their imkindly visage. They their hooks
Protruding, one the other thus bespake :
" Wilt thou I touch him on the hip ? " To whom
Was answer'd : " Even so ; nor miss thy aim." 100

But he, who Avas in conf'rence with my guide,
Turn'd rapid round, and thus the demon spake :
" Stay, stay thee, Scarmiglione ! " Then to us
He added : " Further footing to your step
This rock affords not, shiver'd to the base 105

Of the sixth arch. But would you still proceed,

HELL. 73

Up by tliis cavern go : not distant far,

Another rock will yield you passage safe.

Yesterday, later by five hours than now,

Twelve hundred threescore years and six l>ad fill'd 110

The circuit of their course, since here the way

Was broken. Thitherward I straight dispatch

Certain of these my scouts, Avho shall espy

If any on the surface bask. With them

Go ye : for ye shall find them nothing fell. 115

Come Alichino forth," witli that he cried, j

" And Calcabrina, and Cagnazzo thou ! |

The troop of ten let Barbariccia lead. |

With Libicocco Di-aghinazzo haste, ■

Fang'd Ciriatto, Grattiacane fierce, 120 j

And Farfarello, and mad Rubicant.

Search ye around the bubbling tar. For these, 1

In safety lead them, where the other crag i

Uninterrupted traverses the dens." ;

I then : " O master ! what a sight is there ! 125 \

Ah ! without escort, journey we alone.
Which, if thou know the way, I covet not.
Unless thy prudence fail thee, dost not mark
How they do gnarl ui)on us, and their scowl
Threatens us present tortures ? " He replied : 130

" I charge tliee fear not : let them, as they will,
Gnarl on : 't is but in token of their spite
Against the souls, who mourn in torment steep'd."

To leftward o'er the pier they turn'd ; but each
Had fii'st between his teeth prest close the tongue, 135
Toward their leader for a signal looking,
Wliich he with sound obscene trhmiphant gave.


It hath been heretofore my chance to see
Horsemen with martial order shifting camp,
To onset sallying, or in muster rang'd.
Or in retreat sometimes outstretch'd for fiight
Light-armed scjuadrons and lleet foragers

74 IIRI,L,

Scoiirino; tliy jiluins, Arezzo ! liavo I soon,

And clasliing tounianionts, and lilting jousts,

Now with the sound of trumpets, now of bells,

Tabors, or signals made fi-om castled heights,

And M'itli inventions multifoi'm, our own, 10

Or introduc'd from foreign land ; but ne'er

To such a strange rccoi'der I beheld,

In evolution moving, horse nor foot,

Nor shi]), that tack'd by sign from land or star.

With the ten demons on our way we went ; 15

Ah fearful company! but in the church
With saints, with gluttons at the tavern's mess.

Still earnest on the pitch I gaz'd, to mark
All things whate'er the chasm contain'd, and those
Who bnrn'd within. As dolphins, that, in sign 20

To mariners, heave high their arched backs.
That thence forewarn'd they may advise to save
Their threaten'd vessel ; so, at intervals.
To ease the pain his back some sinner show'd.
Then hid more nimbly than the lightning glance. 25

E'en as the frogs, that of a wat'ry moat
Stand at the brink, with the jaws only out,
Their feet and of the trunk all else concealed,
Thus on each part the sinners stood, but soon
As Barbariccia was at hand, so they 30

Drew back under the wave. I saw, and yet
My heart doth stagger, one, that waited thus,
As it befalls that oft one frog remains.
While the next springs away : and Graffiacan,
Who of the fiends was nearest, grappling seiz'd 35

His clotted locks, and dragg'd him sprawling ujx
That he appear'd to me an otter. Each
Already by their names I knew, so well
When they were chosen, I observ'd, and mark'd
How one the other call'd. "ORubicant! 40

See that his hide thou with thy talons flay,"
Shouted together all the cursed crew.

Then I : " Inform thee, master ! if thou may.
What wretched soul is this, on whom their hands
His foes have laid." My leader to his side 45

Appronoli'd, nnrl whence lie cnnic inquirVl, to whom

Was answer'd tiius : "Born in Navarre's domain

My motlier plac'd me in a lord's retinue,

For she had borne me to a losel vile,

A spendthrift of his substance and himself. f)0

The good king- Thibault after that I serv'd.

To peculating here my thoughts were turn'd.

Whereof I give account in tliis dire heat."

Straight Ciriatto. from whose mouth a tusk
Issued on either side, as from a boar, 55

Kipt him with one of these. 'Twixt evil claws
The mouse had fall'n : but Barbariccia cried,
Seizing him with both arms : " Stand thou apart,
While I do fix him on my prong trans])ierc'd."
Then added, turning to my guide his face, 60

"Inquire of him, if more thou wish to learn,
Ere he again be rent." My leader thus :
" Then tell us of the partners in thy guilt ;
Knowest thou any sprung of Latian land
Under the tar ? "— " I pa'rted," he replied, 65

"But now from one, who sojourn'd not far thence;
So were I under shelter now Avith him !
Nor hook nor talon then should scare me more." —

" Too long we suffer," Libicocco cried,
Then, darting forth a prong, seiz'd on his arm, 70

And mangled bore away the sinewy part.
Ilim Draghinazzo by his thighs beneath
Would next have caught, whence angrily their chief.
Turning on all sides round, with threat'ning brow
Restrain'd them. When their strife a little ceas'd, 75
Of him, who yet was gazing on his wound,
My teacher thus without delay inquir'd :
"Who was the spirit, from whom by evil hap
Parting, as thou has told, thou cam'st to shore?" —

" It was the friar Gomita," he rejoin'd, 80

" He of Gallura, vessel of all guile.
Who had his master's enemies in hand.
And us'd them so that they commend liim well.
Money he took, and them at large dismiss'd.
So he reports : and in each other charge 85

76 IIEI.L.

Committed to liis kcejiinc;, pl.iyM tlic part

Of barterer to the heiglit : with liiiu cldtli liord

The chief of Logodoro, Miclicl Zaiiclic.

Sardinia is a theme, whereof their tongue

Is never weary. Out ! abis ! l)ehold 90

That other, how lie grins ! More would I say,

But tremble lest he mean to maul me sore."

Their cai)tain then to Farfarello turning,
Who roU'd his moony eyes in act to strike,
Rebuk'd him thus : » Oi'f ! cursed bird ! avaunt ! "— 95

"If ye desire to see or hear," he thus
Quaking with dread resum'd, " or Tuscan spirits
Or Lombard, I will cause them to appear.
Meantime let these ill talons bate their fury,
So that no vengeance they may fear from them, 100

And I, remaining in this self-same place,
Will for myself but one, make sev'n appear,
When my shrill whistle shall be heard ; for so
Our custom is to call each other up."

Cagnazzo at that word deriding grinn'd, 105

Then wagg'd the head and spake : " Hear his device,
Mischievous as he is, to plunge him down."

Whereto he thus, who fail'd not in rich store
Of nice-wove toils ; " Mischief forsooth extreme,
Meant only to ])rocure myself more woe ! " 110

No longer Alichino then refrain'd.
But thus, the rest gainsaying, him bespake :
*' If thou do cast thee dow^n, I not on foot
Will chase thee, but above the pitch will beat
My plumes. Quit we the vantage ground, and let 115
The bank be as a shield, that we may see
If singly thou prevail against us all."

Now, reader, of new s])ort expect to hear !

They each one turn'd liis eyes to tlie' other shore,
He first, who was the hardest to persuade. 120

The spirit of Navarre chose well his time,
Planted his feet on land, and at one leap
Escaping disappointed their resolve.

Them quick resentment stung, but him the most,
Who was the cause of failure ; in pursuit 125

HELL. 77

He tlierefore sped, exclaiming; " Tliou art cauglit."

But little it avatlVl : terror outstrippM
His following flight: the other ])lung\l beneath,
And he 'with upward pinion rais'd his breast :
E'en thus the water-fowl, when she ])erceives 130

The falcon near, dives instant down, while he
Enrag'd and spent retires. That nicjckery
In Calcabrina fury stirr'd, who flew
After him, with desire of strife inflam'd ;
And, for the barterer had 'scap'd, so turn'd 135

His talons on his comrade. O'er the dyke
In grapple close they join'd ; but the' other prov'd s

A goshawk able to rend well'liis foe; '.

And in the boiling lake both fell. The heat ?

Was um|)ire soon between them, but in vain 140

To lift themselves tliey strove, so fast were glued
Their pennons. Barbariccia, as the rest,
That chance lamenting, four in flight disjiatch'd
From the' other coast, with all their weapons ai'm'd.
They, to their post on each side s])eedily 1-45

Descending, stretch'd their hooks toward the fiends,
Who flounder'd, inly burning from their scars :
And we departing left them to that broil.


In silence and in solitude Ave went.
One first, the other following his steps.
As minor friars journeying on tlieir road.

The present fray had turn'd my thoughts to muse
Upon old ^Esop's fable, where he told 5

What fate unto the mouse and frog befell.
For language hath not sounds more like in sense,
Than are these chances, if the origin
And end of each be heedfully com])ar'd.
And as one thought bursts from another forth, 10

So afterward from that another sprang.
Which added doubly to my former fear.
For thus I reason'd : " These throuu'h us have been

78 HKLL.

So foil'd, with loss ;m(l Jiiock'ry so complete,

As needs iiitist stini^ llieiu sore. If aii^vr then 15

]>e to their evil will eoiijuiiiM, more fell

They shall ])iirsue us, than the savau;e hound

Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri → online text (page 6 of 37)