1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

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

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' Of Phoebus. Call to mind from wlience we sprang: 115
*Ye were not form'd to live the life of brutes,
' But virtue to pursue and knowledge liigh.'

92 IIKTiT-.

Witli tliosc few words I s]iav])eir(l for tlio voyage

The mind of my assoc.inlcs, tliat T then

Cotdd scarcely liave withhold Ihcni. "^fo the dawn 120

Our ])oo]> wc turiiM, and for the witless Hioht

IMade our oars wings, still gaining on the left.

Each star of the' other pole night now helield,-

And ours so low, that from the ocean-floor

It rose not. Five times re-illum'd, as oft 125

Vanish'd the light from underneath the moon

Since the deep way we enter'd, when from far

Appear'd a mountain dim, loftiest metliought

Of all I e'er beheld. Joy seiz'd us straight,

But soon to mourning changed. From the new land 130

A wliirlwind sprung, and at her foremost side

Did strike the vessel. Thrice it whiri'd her round

With all the M^aves, the fourth time lifted up

The poop, and sank the prow : so fate decreed :

And over us the boomin<r billow clos'd." 135


Now upward rose the flame, and still'd its light

To speak no more, and now pass'd on with leave

From the mild poet gain'd, when following came

Another, from whose top a sound confus'd.

Forth issuing, drew our eyes that way to look. 5

As the Sicilian bull, that rightfully
ITis cries first echoed, who had shap'd its mould,
Did so rebellow, with the voice of him
Tormented, that the brazen monster seem'd
Pierc'd thi-ough with pain ; thus while no way they
found ' lb

Nor avenue immediate through the flame,
Into its language turn'd the dismal words :
But soon as they had Avon their passage forth,
Up from the point, which vibrating obey'd
Their motion at the tongue, these sounds we lieard : 15
" O thou ! to whom I now direct my voice !
That lately didst exclaim in Lombard phrase,

HELL. 93

De])art tliou, I solicit thee no more,'
Though somcwliat tardy I perchance arrive,
Let it not irk thee here to pause awhile, 20

And with me parley: lo ! it irks not me
And yet I burn. If but e'en now thou fall
Into this blind world, from that pleasant land
Of Latium, whence I draw my sum of guilt,
Tell me if those, who in liomagna dwell, 25

Have peace or war. For of the mountains there
Was I, betwixt Urbino and the height.
Whence Tyber first unlocks his miglity flood."

Leaning I listen'd yet with heedful ear,
When, as he touch'd my side, the leader thus : 30

" Speak thou : he is a Latian." My reply
Was ready, and I spake without delay :

" O spirit ! who art hidden here below !
Never was thy Romagna without war
In her proud tyrants' bosoms, nor is now : 35

But open war there left I none. The state,
Ravenna hath maintain'd this many a year,
Is steadfast. There Polenta's eagle broods.
And in his broad circumference of plume
O'ershadows Cervia. The green talons grasp 40

The land, that stood erewhile the proof so long.
And ])il'd in bloody lieap the host of France.

" The' old mastiff of Verruchio and the young,
That tore Montagna in their wrath, still make,
Where they are wont, an augre of their fangs. 45

" Lamone's city and Santerno's range
Under the lion of the snowy lair.
Inconstant partisan ! that changeth sides.
Or ever summer yields to winter's frost.
And she, whose flank is wash'd of Savio's wave, 50

As 'twixt the level and the steep she lies,
Lives so 'twixt tyrant power and liberty.

" Now tell us, I entreat thee, who art thou?
Be not more hard than others. In the world.
So may thy name still rear its forehead high." 55

Then roar'd awhile the fire, its sharpcn'd point
On either side wav'd, and tlius breath'd at last :

94 HELL.

" If I flifl tliink my answer were to one,

Wlio ever could return unto tlie world,

This flame should rest unshaken. But since ne'er, 60

If true be told me, any from this dej)th

Has found his ujnvard way, I answer thee,

Nor fear lest infamy record the words.

" A man of arms at first, I cloth'd me then
In o-ood Saint Francis' girdle, hoping so 65

T' have made amends. And certainly my hope
Had fail'd not, but that he, whom curses light on,
The' high priest again seduc'd me into sin.
And how and wlierefore listen while I tell.
Long as this s])irit mov'd the bones and pulp 70

My mother gave me, less my deeds bespake
The nature of the lion than the fox.
All ways of winding subtlety I knew.
And with such art conducted, that the sound
Reach'd the world's limit. Soon as to that part 75

Of life I found me come, when each behoves
To lower sails and gather in the lines ;
That which before had pleased me then I rued,
And to repentance and confession turn'd;
Wretch tliat I was! and well it had bested me! 80

The chief of the new Pharisees meantime,
Waging his Avarfare near the Lateran,
Not with the Saracens or Jews (his foes
All Christians were, nor against Acre one
Had fought, nor traffic'd in the Soldan's land), 85

He his great charge nor sacred ministry
In himself, rev'ren(;'d, nor in me that cord.
Which us'd to mark with leanness whom it girded.
As in Socrate, Constantino besoughi

To cure his leprosy Sylvester's aid, 90

So me to cure the fever of his pride
This man besought : my counsel to that end
He ask'd : and I was silent : for his words
Seem'd drunken : but forthwith he thus resura'd :
'From thy heart banish fear: of all offence 95

• I hithei"to absolve thee. In return,
' Teach me my jmrpose so to execute,

HELL, 95

' That Penostrino cumber earth no more.

'Hcav'n, as tliou knoAvest, I Imve power to shut

'And o]>en : and the keys are therefore twain, 100

'Tlie which my predecessor meanly priz'd.'

" Then, yielding to tlie forceful arguments,
Of silence as more perilous I deem'd.
And answer'd : ' Father ! since thoii washest me
' Clear of that guilt wherein I now must fall, 105

'Large promise Avith performance scant, be sure,
' Shall make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.'

" When I was number'd with the dead, then came
Saint Francis for me; but a cherub dark
He met, who cried : ' Wrong me not; he is mine,
'And must below to join the wretched crew, 110

' For the deceitful counsel which he gave.
' E'er since I watch'd him, hov'ring at his hair,
' No power can the im])enitent absolve ;
'Nor to repent and will at once consist,
' By contradiction absolute forbid.' 115

Oh mis'ry ! how I shook myself, when he
Seiz'd me, and cried, ' Thou haply thought'st me not
'A disputant in logic so exact.'
To Minos down he bore me, and the judge
Twin'd eight times round his callous back the tail, 120
Which biting with excess of rage, he spake :
' This is a guilty soul, that in the fire
' Must vanish,' Hence perdition-doom'd I rove
A prey to rankling sorrow in this garb."

When he had thus fulfill'd his words, the flame 125
In dolour parted, beating to and fro.
And writhing its sharp horn. We onward went,
I and my leader, np along the rock,
Far as another arch, that overhangs

The foss, wherein the penalty is paid 130

Of those, who load them with committed sin.


Who, e'en in words unfetter'd, might at full
Tell of the wounds and blood that now I saw,

96 HELL.

Tliougli he repeated oft the tale? No toMgue

So vast a theine could equal, speech and tliought

Both iui])otcnt alike. If in one band 6

Collected, stood the people all, who e'er

Pour'd on Apulia's haj)])y soil their blood,

Slain by the Trojans, and in that long war

Wlien of the rings the nieasur'd booty made

A pile so high, as Rome's historian Avrites 10

Who errs not, with the multitude, that felt

The grinding force of Guiscard's Norman steel,

And those the rest, whose bones are gather'd yet

At Ceperano, there where treachery

Branded th' Apulian name, or where beyond 15

Thy walls, O Tagliacozzo, without arms

Tlie old Alardo conquer'd ; and his limbs

One were to show transpierc'd, another his

Clean lopt away ; a s])ectaclc like this

Were but a thing of nought, to the' hideous sight 20

Of the ninth chasm. A rundlet, that hath lost

Its middle or side stave, gapes not so wide.

As one I mark'd, torn from the cliin throughout

Down to the hinder passage : 'twixt the legs

Dangling his entrails hung, the midriff lay 25

Open to view, and wretched ventricle.

That turns th' cnglutted aliment to dross.

Whilst eagerly I fix on him my gaze.
He ey'd me, with his hands laid his breast bare,
And cried ; " Now mark how I do rip me ! lo ! 30

How is Mohammed mangled ! before me
Walks AH weeping, from the chin his face
Cleft to the forelock ; and the others all
Whom here thou seest, while they liv'd, did sow
Scandal and schism, and therefore thus are rent. 35

A fiend is here behind, who with his sword
Hacks us thus cruelly, slivering again
Each of this ream, when Ave have compast round
The dismal way, for first our gashes close
Ere Ave re])ass before him. But say Avho 40

Art thou, that standest musing on the rock,
Haply so lingering to delay the pain

i i 1 1 i > rii iftfiili'-" ''i' ■'•^'^• - -■°^^-


Sontenc'd upon thy crimes?" — "Him death not yet," ]

My miide rejoin'd, " liath overt.'i'en, nor sin

Conducts to torment; hut, tliat lie may make 45

Full trial of your state, I who am dead

]\[ust tlu-ough the depths of hell, from orb to orb.

Conduct him. Trust my words, for they are true."

More than a hundred spirits, when tliat they heard,
Stood in the foss to mark me, through amaze 50

Forgetful of their pangs. " Thou, who perchance
Shalt shortly view the sun, this warning thou
Bear to Dolcino : bid him, if he wish not
Here soon to follow me, that with good store
Of food he arm him, lest impris'ning snows 55

Yield hira a victim to Novara's power,
No easy conquest else." With foot uprais'd
For stepping, spake Mohammed, on the ground
Then fix'd it to depart. Another shade,
Pierc'd in the throat, his nostrils miitilate 60

E'en from beneath the eyebrows, and one ear
Lopt off, who Avith the rest through wonder stood .
Gazing, before the rest advanc'd, and bar'd
His Avind-pipe, that without was all o'ersmear'd
With crimson stain. " O thou ! " said he, " whom sin 65
Condemns not, and whom erst (unless too near
Resemblance do deceive me) I aloft
Have seen on Latian ground, call thou to mind
Piero of Medicina, if again

Returning, thou behold'st the pleasant land 70

That from Vercelli slopes to Mercabo ;
And there instruct the twain, whom Fano boasts
Her Avorthiest sons, Guido and Angelo,
That if 't is giv'n us here to scftn aright
The future, they out of life's tenement 75

Shall be cast forth, and whelm'd under the waves
Near to Cattolica, through perfidy
Of a fell tyrant. 'T^vixt the Cy])rian isle
And Balearic, ne'er liath Neptune seen
An injury so foul, by pirates done 80

Or Argive crew of old. That one-eyM traitor
(Whose realm there is a spirit here were fain


98 UKLL.

His eye liad still lackM sioht of) them sliall bring

To conf vence Avith liim, then so sh:ii)e liis end,

That they sliall need not 'gainst Focara's wind 85

Offer up vow nor pray'r." I answering thus:

" Declare, as thou dost wish that I above

May carry tidings of thee, who is he.

In whom that sight doth wake such sad remembrance?"

Forthwith he laid liis hand on the cheek-bone 90

Of one, his fellow-spirit, and his jaws
Expanding, cried : " Lo ! this is he I wot of;
He speaks not for himself : tlie outcast this
Who overwhebn'd the doubt in Cicsar's mind,
Affirming that delay to men prepar'd 95

Was ever harmful. Oh ! how terrified
Methought was Curio, from whose throat was cut
The tongue, which spake that hardy word. Then one
Maim'd of each hand, uplifted in the gloom
The bleeding stumps, that they with gory spots 100

Sullied his face, and cried : " Remember thee
Of Mosca, too, I who, alas ! exclaim'd,
' The cleed once done thei-e is an end,' that prov'd
A seed of sorrow to the Tuscan race."

I added: "Ay, and death to thine own tribe." 105

Whence heaping woe on woe he hurried off.
As one grief stung to madness. But I there
Still linger'd to behold the troop, and saw
Things, such as I may fear without more proof
To tell of, but that conscience makes me firm, 110

The boon companion, avIio her strong breast-plate
Buckles on him, that feels no guilt within
And bids him on and fear not. Without doubt
I saw, and yet it seems to^pass before me,
A headless trunk, that even as the rest 115

Of the sad flock pac'd onward. By the hair
It boi-e the sever'd member, lantern-wise
Pendent in hand, which look'd at us and said,
" Woe's me ! " The spirit lighted thus himself,
And two there Avere in one, and one in two. 120

Hov/ that may be he knows who ordereth so.

When at the bridge's foot direct he stood,

HELL. 99

His arm aloft lie rearVl, tlnustinir tlio head

Full in our view, that nearer we niiixht hear

The words, whicli thus it utter'd : "Now behold 125

This grievous torment, thou, who breathing go'st

To spy the dead ; behold if any else

Be terrible as this. And that on earth

Thou mayst bear tidings of me, know that I

Am Bertrand, he of Born, who gave King John 130

The counsel mischievous. Father and son

I set at mutual war. For Absalom

And David more did not Ahitophel,

S]iurring them on maliciously to strife.

For parting those so closely knit, my brain 135

Parted, alas ! I carry from its source,

That in this trunk inhabits. Thus the law

Of retribution fiercely works in me."


So were mine eyes inebriate with view

Of the vast multitude, whom various wounds

Disfigui-'d, that they long'd to stay and weep.

But Virgil rous'd me: "What yet gazest on ?
Wherefore doth fasten yet thy sight below 5

Among the maim'd and miserable sliades?
Thou hast not shewn in any chasm beside
This weakness. Know, if thou Avouldst number them
That two and twenty miles the valley winds
Its circuit, and already is the moon 10

Beneath our feet : the time permitted now
Is short, and more not seen remains to see."

"If thou," I straight replied, "hadst weigh'd the cause
For Avhich I look'd, thou hadst perchance excus'd
The tarrying still." ]My leader part pursu'd 15

His Avay, the while I follow'd, answering him,
And adding thus : " Within that cave I deem,
Wliereon so fixedly I held my ken,
There is a spirit dwells, one of my blood.
Wailing the crime that costs liim now so dear." 20


Tlicu spake my master : " Let thy soul no more
Afflict itself for liim. Direct elsewhere
Its thouo'ht, and leave him. At the briflg-e's foot
I mark'd how he did point with menacin<2f look
At thee, and heard him by the others nam'd 25

Geri of Bello. Thou so wholly then
Wert busied with his spirit, who once rnl'd
The towers of Hautefort, that thou iookedst not
That way, ere he was gone." — " O guide belov'd !
His violent death yet unaveng'd," said I, 30

" By any, who are partners in his shame,
Made him contemptuous : therefore, as I think,
He pass'd me speechless by ; and doing so
Hath made me more compassionate his fate."

So Ave discours'd to where the rock first show'd 35

The other valley, had more light been there,
E'en to the lowest depth. Soon as we came
O'er the last cloister in the dismal rounds
Of Malebolge, and the brotherhood

Were to our view expos'd, then many a dart 40

Of sore lament assail'd me, headed all
With points of thrilling ]')ity, that I clos'd
Both ears against the volley Avith mine hands.

As were the torment, if each lazar-house
Of Valdichiana, in the sultry time 45

'Twixt July and September, with the isle
Sardinia and Marennna's pestilent fen.
Had heap'd their maladies all in one foss
Together ; such was here the torment : dire
The stench, as issuing steams from fester'd limbs. 50

We on the utmost shore of the long rock
Descended still to leftward. Tiien my sight
Was livelier to explore the depth, wherein
The minister of the most mighty Lord,
All-searching .Justice, dooms to punishment 55

The forgers noted on her dread record.

More rueful was it not methinks to see
The nation in ^gina droop, what time
Each living thing, e'en to the little worm,
All fell, so full of malice was the air 60

HELL. 1"!

(And aftorwarrl, ns ]inr(ls of yore have told,

The ancient ])eo]>le were restor'd anew

From seed of emmets) than was here to see

Tlie s])irits, tliat Languisli'd tlirough the mnrky vale

ITp-pil'd on many a stack. Confus'd they lay, G5

One o'er the belly, o'er the shoulders one

Roll'd of another ; sideling crawl'd a third

Along the dismal ]iathway. Step by step

We journey'd on, in silence looking round

And list'ning those discas'd, who strove in vain 70

To lift their forms. Then two I mark'd, that sat

Propp'd 'gainst each other, as two brazen pans

Set to retain the heat. From head to foot,

A tetter bark'd them round. N"or saw I e'er

Groom currj-ing so fast, for whom his lord 75

Impatient waited, or himself perchance

Tir'd with long watching, as of these each one

Plied quickly his keen nails, through furiousness

Of ne'er abated pruriency. The crust

Came drawn from underneath in flakes, like scales 80

Scra])'d from the bream or fish of broader mail,

" O thou, who with thy fingers rendest off
Thy coat of proof," thus spake my guide to one,
" And sometimes makest tearing pincers of them,
Tell me if any born of Latian land 85

Be among these within : so may thy nails
Serve thee for everlasting to this toil."

"Both are of Latium," weeping he replied,
" Whom tortur'd thus thou seest : but who art thou
That hast inquir'd of us?" To whom my guide : 90

"One that descend with this man, who yet lives,
Fi'om rock to rock, and show him hell's abyss."

Then started they asunder, and each turn'd
Trembling toward us, with the rest, whose ear
Those words redounding struck. To me my liege 95

Address'd him: " Speak to them whate'er thou list."

And I therewith began : " So may no time
Filch your remembrance from the thoughts of men
In th' upper world, but after many suns
Survive it, as ye tell ine, who ye are, 100


l02 TIKT,L.

And of what rnce yo como. Your jdinisliincnt,

Unseemly and disgustful in its kind,

Deter you not from o])eninjj thus much to me."

" Arezzo was my dwelliua'," answer'd one,
"And me Albero of Sienna broutrht 105

To die hy fire ; hut that, for Avhicli I died.
Leads me not liere. True is in sjiort I told him,
That I had learn'd to wing my flight in air.
And he admiring mucli, as he was void
Of wisdom, will'd me to declare to liim 110

The secret of mine art : and only hence.
Because I made him not a ])a3dalus,
Prevail'd on one sujipos'd liis sire to burn me.
But Minos to this chasm last of the ten,
For that I ]iractis'd alchemy on earth, 115

Has doom'd me. Him no subterfuge eludes."

Then to the bard I spake : " Was ever race
Light as Sienna's? Sure not France herself
Can show a tribe so frivolous and vain."

The other leprous spirit heard my words, 120

And thus rcturn'd : " Be Stvicca from this charge
Exempted, he who knew so tcm])'rately
To lay out fortune's gifts ; and Niccolo
Who first the spice's costly luxury

Discover'd in that garden, whei'e such seed 125

Roots deepest in the soil : and be that troop
Exempted, with whom Cacciaof Asciano
Lavish'd his vineyards and wide-spreading woods,
And his rare wisdom Abbagliato sliow'd
A spectacle for all. That thou inayst know 130

Who seconds thee against the Siennese
'l"'hus gladly, bend this Avay thy sharpen'd sight,
That well my face may answer to thy ken ;
So shalt thou see I am Capocchio's ghost.
Who forg'd transmuted metals by the power 135

Of alchemy ; and if I scan thee right.
Thus needs must "svell remendei' liow I aped
Creative nature by my subtle art."



What time resentment burn'd in Juno's breast

For Semele against the Theban blood,

As more than once in dire mischance Avas rued,

Such fatal frenzy seiz'd on Athamas,

That he his spouse beholding with a babe 5

Laden on either arm, " Spread out," he cried,

*' The meshes, that I take the lioness

And the young lions at the pass : " then forth

Stretch'd he his merciless talons, grasping one,

One helpless innocent, Learchus nam'd, 10

Whom swinging down he dasli'd upon a rock.

And wdth her other burden self-destroy'd

The hapless mother plung'd : and Avhen the pride

Of all-presuming Troy fell from its height.

By fortune overwhelm'd, and the old king 15

With his realm perish'd, then did Hecuba,

A wretch forlorn and ca])tive, when she saw

Polyxena first slaughter'd, and her son,

Her Polydorus, on the wild sea-beach

Next met the mourner's view, then reft of sense 20

Did she run barking even as a dog ;

Such mighty power had grief to wrench her soul.

Bet ne'er the Furies or of Thebes or Troy

With such fell cruelty were seen, their goads

Infixing in the limbs of man or beast, 25

As now two pale and naked ghost I saw

Thatgnarling wildly scam])er'd, like the swine

Excluded from his stye. One reach'd Capocchio,

And in the neck-joint sticking dee]) his fangs,

Dragg'd him, that o'er the solid i>avement rubb'd 150

His belly stretch'd out prone. The other shape.

He of Arezzo, there left trembling, s])ake ;

" That sprite of air is Schicchi ; in like mood

Of random mischief vent he still his spite."

To wdiom I answ'ring : " Oh ! as thou dost hope, 35
The other may not flesh its jaws on thee.
Be patient to inform us, who it is.
Ere it speed hence." — " That is the ancient soul

104 IIKLL.

Of wrctcliod iMyn-lia," lie ro]ilio<l, " wlio l>iini\l

AVitli most uiilioly ilaiiie for lioi' own sii-e, 40

And a false slmpe assuming, so performVl

The deed of sin ; e'en as tlie otlier tliere,

Tiiat onward passes, dar'd to counterfeit

Donati's features, to feign'd testament

The seal affixing, that himself might gain, 45

For his own share, the lady of the herd."

When vanish'd the two furious shades, on whom
Mine eye was held, I turn'd it back to view
The other cursed sjtirits. One I saw

In fashion like a lute, had but the groin 50

Been sevcr'd, where it meets the forked part.
Swoln dro])sy, disi)roportioning the limbs
With ill-converted moisture, tliat the ])aunch
Suits not the visage, opeu'd wide his lips
Gasping as in the hectic man for drought, 55

One towards the chin, the other upward curl'd.

" O ye, who in this world of misery.
Wherefore I know not, are exempt from pain,"
Thus he began, " attentively regard

Adamo's woe. When living, full supply GO

Ne'er lack'd me of what most I coveted ;
One drop of water now, alas ! I crave.
The rills, that glitter down the grassy slopes
Of Casentino, making fresh and soft

The banks whereby they glide to Arno's stream, (;5

Stand ever in my view; and not in vain ;
For more the pictur'd semblance dries me xip,
]\[uch more than the disease, which makes the flesh
Desert these shrivel'd cheeks. So from tlie ])lace.
Where I transgress'd, stern justice urging me, 7^

Takes means to qiiicken more my lab'ring sighs.
There is Romena, where I falsified
The metal with the Baptist's form imprest,
For which on earth I left my body burnt.
But if I here might see the sorrowing soul '55

Of Guido, Alessandro, or their brother.
For Branda's limpid s]iring I would not change
The welcome sight. One is e'en now within,

• HELL. 105

If truly tlio mad s])irits tell, that round

Are waiul'rhig. [Jut wherein besteads mc tliat i* 80

My limbs are fetter'd. Were I but so light,

That I each hundred years might move one inch,

I had set forth already on this path,

Seeking him out amidst the shapeless crew,

Altiiough eleven miles it wind, not more 85

Than half of one across. They brouglit me down

Among this tribe ; induc'd by them I stamji'd

The florens with three carats of alloy."

" Who are that abject pair," I next inquir'd,
*' That closely bounding thee ui)on thy right 90

Lie smoking, like a band in winter steei)'d
In the chiirstream?" — "When to this gulf I dropt,"
He answer'd, "here I found them ; since that hour
They have not turn'd, nor ever shall, I ween.
Till time hath run his course. One is that dame 95

The false accuser of the Hebrew youth ;
Sinon the other, tliat false Greek from Troy.
Sharj:) fever drains the reeky moistness out,
In such a cloud ujistcam'd." When that he heard,
One, gall'd ]-)erchance to be so darkly nam'd, 100

With clench'd hand smote him on the braced i)aunch.
That like a drum resounded : but forthwith
Adamo smote him on the face, the blow
Iieturning M'ith his arm, that seeni'd as hard.

"Though my o'erweighty limbs have ta'en from me
The ])Ower to move," said he, " I iiave an arm 106

At libei'ty for such em]>loy." To \\hom
Was a.iswer'd : " Wlien thou wentest to the fire.

Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Vision : or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri → online text (page 8 of 37)