The Divine Comedy
By Dante Alignieri
In Three Parts

















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English translation and notes by H.
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obtained from, scanned by Dan
Short, used with

MIKTEX LATEX typesetting by Josef
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Some rights reserved c

2008 Josef


Figure 1: Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a
forest dark...



MIDWAY upon the journey of our life 1

I found myself within a forest dark, 2

For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.

So bitter is it, death is little more;
But of the good to treat, which there I found,
Speak will I of the other things I saw there.

I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
So full was I of slumber at the moment
In which I had abandoned the true way.

But after I had reached a mountain’s foot, 3
At that point where the valley terminated, 4
Which had with consternation pierced my heart,

Upward I looked, and I beheld its shoulders

1The action of the poem begins on Good Friday of the year 1300, at which time Dante,
who was born in 1265, had reached the middle of the Scriptual threescore years and ten.
It ends on the first Sunday after Easter, making in all ten days.

2The dark forest of human life, with its passions, vices, and perplexities of all kinds;
politically the state of Florence with its fractions Guelf and Ghibelline.

3Bunyan, in his Pilgrim’s Progress, which is a kind of Divine Comedy in prose, says: “I
beheld then that they all went on till they came to the foot of the hill Difficulty... But the
narrow way lay right up the hill, and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called
Difficulty... They went then till they came to the Delectable Mountains, which mountains
belong to the Lord of that hill of which we have spoken before.”

4Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress – “But now in this valley of Humiliation poor Christian
was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he spied a foul fiend coming
over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid,
and to cast in his mind whether to go back or stand his ground. ...Now at the end of this
valley was another, called the valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs
go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it.”


Vested already with that planet’s rays 5
Which leadeth others right by every road.

Then was the fear a little quieted
That in my heart’s lake had endured throughout 6
The night, which I had passed so piteously

And even as he, who, with distressful breath,
Forth issued from the sea upon the shore,
Turns to the water perilous and gazes;

So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward,
Turn itself back to re-behold the pass
Which never yet a living person left. 7

After my weary body I had rested,
The way resumed I on the desert slope,
So that the firm foot ever was the lower. 8

And lo! almost where the ascent began, 9
A panther light and swift exceedingly, 10
Which with a spotted skin was covered o’er!

And never moved she from before my face,
Nay, rather did impede so much my way,
That many times I to return had turned. 11

The time was the beginning of the morning,
And up the sun was mounting with those stars 12
That with him were, what time the Love Divine

5The sun, with all its symbolical meanings. This is the morning of Good Friday. In the
Ptolemaic system the sun was one of the planets.
6The deep mountain tarn of his heart, dark with its own depth, and the shadows
hanging over it.

7Jeremiah ii. 6: “That led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of
pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man
passed through, and where no man dwelt.” In his note upon this passage Mr. Wright
quotes Spenser’s lines, Faerie Queene, I. v. 31, – “there creature never passed That back
returned without heavenly grace.”

8Climbing the hillside slowly, so that he rests longest on the foot that is lowest.

9Jeremiah v. 6: “Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the evening
shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence
shall be torn in pieces.”

10Wordly Pleasure; and politically Florence, with its factions of Bianchi and Neri.
11Pi`u volte volto. Dante delights in a play upon words as much as Shakespeare.
12The stars of Aries. Some philosophers and fathers think the world was created in


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 2: And lo! almost where the ascent began, a panther light and swift

At first in motion set those beauteous things;
So were to me occasion of good hope,
The variegated skin of that wild beast,

The hour of time, and the delicious season;
But not so much, that did not give me fear
A lion’s aspect which appeared to me. 13

He seemed as if against me he were coming
With head uplifted, and with ravenous hunger,
So that it seemed the air was afraid of him; 14

And a she-wolf, that with all hungerings 15
Seemed to be laden in her meagreness,
And many folk has caused to live forlorn!

13Ambition; and politically the royal house of France.
14Some editions read temesse, others tremesse.
15Avarice; and politically the Court of Rome, or temporal power of the Popes.

She brought upon me so much heaviness,
With the affright that from her aspect came,
That I the hope relinquished of the height.

And as he is who willingly acquires,
And the time comes that causes him to lose,
Who weeps in all his thoughts and is despondent,

E’en such made me that beast withouten peace,
Which, coming on against me by degrees
Thrust me back thither where the sun is silent 16

While I was rushing downward to the lowland,
Before mine eyes did one present himself,
Who seemed from long-continued silence hoarse. 17

When I beheld him in the desert vast,
“Have pity on me,” unto him I cried,
“Whiche’er thou art, or shade or real man!”

He answered me: “Not man; man once I was,
And both my parents were of Lombardy,
And Mantuans by country both of them.

Sub Julio was I born, though it was late, 18
And lived at Rome under the good Augustus,
During the time of false and lying gods.

A poet was I, and I sang that just
Son of Anchises, who came forth from Troy,
After that Ilion the superb was burned

But thou, why goest thou back to such annoyance?
Why climb’st thou not the Mount Delectable
Which is the source and cause of every joy?”

Now, art thou that Virgilius and that fountain 19

16Dante as a Ghibelline and Imperialist is in opposition to the Guelfs, Pope Boniface
VIII., and the King of France, Philip the Fair, and is banished from Florence, out of the
sunshine, and into “the dry wind that blows from dolorous poverty.” Cato speaks of the
“silent moon” in De Re Rustica, XXIV., Evehito luna silenti; and XL., Vites inseri luna silenti.
Also Pliny, XVI. 39, has Silens luna; and Milton, in Samson Agonistes, “Silent as the moon.”

17The long neglect of classic studies in Italy before Dante’s time.
18Born under Julius Caesar, but too late to grow up to manhood during his Imperial
reign. He florished later under Augustus.

19In this passage Dante but expresses the universal veneration felt for Virgil during the
Middle Ages, and especially in Italy. Petrarch’s copy of Virgil is still preserved in the
Ambrosian Library at Milan; and at the beginning of it he has recorded in a Latin note

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Which spreads abroad so wide a river of speech?”
I made response to him with bashful forehead.

“O, of the other poets honour and light,
Avail me the long study and great love
That have impelled me to explore thy volume!

Thou art my master, and my author thou,
Thou art alone the one from whom I took
The beautiful style that has done honour to me. 20

Behold the beast, for which I have turned back;
Do thou protect me from her, famous Sage,
For she doth make my veins and pulses tremble.”

Thee it behoves to take another road,”
Responded he, when he beheld me weeping,
”If from this savage place thou wouldst escape;

Because this beast, at which thou criest out,
Suffers not any one to pass her way,
But so doth harass him, that she destroys him;

And has a nature so malign and ruthless,
That never doth she glut her greedy will,
And after food is hungrier than before.

Many the animals with whom she weds,
And more they shall be still, until the Greyhound 21
Comes, who shall make her perish in her pain.

He shall not feed on either earth or pelf,

the time of his first meeting with Laura, and the date of her death, which, he says, “I
write in this book, rather than elsewhere, because it comes often under my eye.” In the
popular imagination Virgil became a mythical personage and a mighty magician. See the
story of Virgilius in Thom’s Early Prose Romances, II. Dante selects him for his guide, as
symbolizing human science or Philosophy. “I say and affirm,” he remarks, Convito, V. 16,
“that the lady with whom I became enamored after my first love was the most beautiful
and modest daughter of the Emperor of the Universe, to whom Pythagoras gave the
name of Philosophy.”

20Dante seems to have been already conscious of the fame which his Vita Nuova and
Canzoni had given him.

21The greyhound is Can Grande della Scala, Lord of Verona, Imperial Vicar, Ghibelline,
and friend of Dante. Verona is between Feltro in the Marca Trivigiana, and Montefeltro
in Romagna. Boccaccio, Decameron, I. 7, peaks of him as “one of the most notable and
magnificant lords that had been known in Italy, since the Emperor Frederick the Second.”
To him Dante dedicated the Paradiso. Some commentators think the Veltro is not Can
Grande, but Ugguccione della Faggiola. See Troya, Del Veltro Allegorico di Dante.

But upon wisdom, and on love and virtue;
‘Twixt Feltro and Feltro shall his nation be;
Of that low Italy shall he be the saviour, 22
On whose account the maid Camilla died,
Euryalus, Turnus, Nisus, of their wounds;

Through every city shall he hunt her down,
Until he shall have driven her back to Hell,
There from whence envy first did let her loose.

Therefore I think and judge it for thy best
Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide,
And lead thee hence through the eternal place,

Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations, 23
Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate,
Who cry out each one for the second death;

And thou shalt see those who contented are
Within the fire, because they hope to come,
Whene’er it may be, to the blessed people;

To whom, then, if thou wishest to ascend,
A soul shall be for that than I more worthy; 24
With her at my departure I will leave thee;

Because that Emperor, who reigns above,
In that I was rebellious to his law,
Wills that through me none come into his city.

He governs everywhere and there he reigns;
There is his city and his lofty throne;
O happy he whom thereto he elects!”

And I to him: “Poet, I thee entreat,
By that same God whom thou didst never know,
So that I may escape this woe and worse,

Thou wouldst conduct me there where thou hast said,
That I may see the portal of Saint Peter,
And those thou makest so disconsolate.”

Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.

22The plains of Italy, in contradistinction to the mountains; the Humilemque Italiam of
Virgil, Æneid, III. 522: “And now the stars being chased away, blushing Aurora appeared,
when far off we espy the hills obscure, and lowly Italy.”

23I give preference to the reading, Di quegli antichi spiriti dolenti.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 3: A lion’s aspect which appeared to me.

Figure 4: Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.



DAY was departing, and the embrowned air
Released the animals that are on earth 25
From their fatigues; and I the only one

Made myself ready to sustain the war,
Both of the way and likewise of the woe,
Which memory that errs not shall retrace.

O Muses, O high genius, now assist me!
O memory, that didst write down what I saw,
Here thy nobility shall be manifest!

And I began: “Poet, who guidest me,
Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient.
Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me.

Thou sayest, that of Silvius the parent, 26
While yet corruptible, unto the world
Immortal went, and was there bodily.

But if the adversary of all evil
Was courteous, thinking of the high effect
That issue would from him, and who, and what,

To men of intellect unmeet it seems not;
For he was of great Rome, and of her empire
In the empyreal heaven as father chosen;

The which and what, wishing to speak the truth,
Were stablished as the ho]y place, wherein
Sits the successor of the greatest Peter. 27

25Dante, Convito III. 2, says: “Man is called by philosophers the divine animal.”
26Æneas, founder of the Roman Empire. Virgil, Æneid, B. VI.
27“That is,” says Boccaccio, Comento, “St. Peter the Apostle, called the greater on ac

count of his papal dignity, and to distinguish him from many other holy men of the same


Upon this journey, whence thou givest him vaunt,
Things did he hear, which the occasion were
Both of his victory and the papal mantle.

Thither went afterwards the Chosen Vessel,
To bring back comfort thence unto that Faith,
Which of salvation’s way is the beginning.

But I, why thither come, or who concedes it?
I not Aenas am, I am not Paul,
Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it.

Therefore, if I resign myself to come,
I fear the coming may be ill-advised;
Thou’rt wise, and knowest better than I speak.”

And as he is, who unwills what he willed,
And by new thoughts doth his intention change,
So that from his design he quite withdraws,

Such I became, upon that dark hillside,
Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
Which was so very prompt in the beginning. 28

“If I have well thy language understood,”
Replied that shade of the Magnanimous,
“Thy soul attainted is with cowardice,

Which many times a man encumbers so,
It turns him back from honoured enterprise,
As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy.

That thou mayst free thee from this apprehension,
I’ll tell thee why I came, and what I heard
At the first moment when I grieved for thee.

Among those was I who are in suspense, 29
And a fair, saintly Lady called to me
In such wise, I besought her to command me.

Her eyes where shining brighter than the Star; 30

28Shakespear, Macbeth, IV. i: “The flighty purpose never is o’ertook, Unless the deed go

with it.”
29Suspended in Limbo; neither in pain nor in glory.
30Brighter than the star; than “that star which is brightest,” comments Boccaccio. Oth

ers say the Sun, and refer to Dante’s Canzone, beginning: “The star of beauty which doth
measure time, The lady seems, who has enamored me, Placed in the heaven of Love.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And she began to say, gentle and low, 31
With voice angelical, in her own language

“O spirit courteous of Mantua,
Of whom the fame still in the world endures,
And shall endure, long-lasting as the world;

A friend of mine, and not the friend of fortune,
Upon the desert slope is so impeded
Upon his way, that he has turned through terror,

And may, I fear, already be so lost,
That I too late have risen to his succour,
From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.

Bestir thee now, and with thy speech ornate, 32
And with what needful is for his release,
Assist him so, that I may be consoled.

Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go; 33
I come from there, where I would fain return;
Love moved me, which compelleth me to speak.

When I shall be in presence of my Lord,
Full often will I praise thee unto him.”
Then paused she, and thereafter I began:

“O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whom
The human race exceedeth all contained

31Shakespeare, King Lear, V. 3: – “Her voice was ever soft, Gentle, and low; an excellent
thing in woman.”

32This passage will recall Minerva transmitting the message of Juno to Achilles, Iliad,
II.: “Go thou forthwith to the army of the Achæans, and hesitate not, but restrain each
man with thy persuasive words, nor suffer them to drag to the sea their double-oared

33Beatrice Portinari, Dante’s first love, the inspiration of his song and in his mind the
symbol of the Divine. He says of her in the Vita Nuova: – “This most gentle lady, of whom
there has been discourse in what precedes, reached such favour among the people, that
when she passed along the way persons ran to see her, which gave me wonderful delight.
And when she was near any one, such modesty took possession of his heart, that he did
not dare to raise his eyes or to return her salutation; and to this, should any one doubt
it, many, as having experienced it, could bear witness for me. She, crowned and clothed
with humility, took her way, displaying no pride in that which she saw and heard. Many,
when she had passed said, ‘This is not a woman, rather is she one of the most beautiful
angels of heaven.’ Others said, ‘She is a miracle. Blessed be the Lord who can perform
such a marvel.’ I say, that she showed herself so gentle and so full of all beauties, that
those who looked on her felt within themselves a pure and sweet delight, such as they
could not tell in words.” – C.E. Norton, The New Life, 51, 52.

Within the heaven that has the lesser circles, 34

So grateful unto me is thy commandment,
To obey, if ’twere already done, were late;
No farther need’st thou ope to me thy wish.

But the cause tell me why thou dost not shun
The here descending down into this centre,
From the vast place thou burnest to return to.” 35

“Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly discern,
Briefly will I relate,” she answered me,
“Why I am not afraid to enter here.

Of those things only should one be afraid
Which have the power of doing others harm;
Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.

God in his mercy such created me
That misery of yours attains me not,
Nor any flame assails me of this burning

A gentle Lady is in Heaven, who grieves 36
At this impediment, to which I send thee,
So that stern judgment there above is broken.

In her entreaty she besought Lucia, 37
And said, “Thy faithful one now stands in need
Of thee, and unto thee I recommend him.”

Lucia, foe of all that cruel is,
Hastened away, and came unto the place
Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel. 38

“Beatrice” said she, “the true praise of God,
Why succourest thou not him, who loved thee so,
For thee he issued from the vulgar herd?

Dost thou not hear the pity of his plaint?
Dost thou not see the death that combats him
Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt?” 39

34The heaven of the moon, which contains or encircles the earth.
35The ampler circles of Paradise.
36Divine Mercy.
37St Lucia, emblem of enlightening Grace.
38Rachel, emblem of Divine Contemplation. See Par. XXXII. 9.
39Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt; “That is,” says Boccacio, Comento, “the sea

cannot boast of being more impetuous or more dangerous than that.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Never were persons in the world so swift
To work their weal and to escape their woe,
As I, after such words as these were uttered,

Came hither downward from my blessed seat,
Confiding in thy dignified discourse,
Which honours thee, and those who’ve listened to it.”

After she thus had spoken unto me,
Weeping, her shining eyes she turned away;
Whereby she made me swifter in my coming;

And unto thee I came, as she desired;
I have delivered thee from that wild beast,
Which barred the beautiful mountain’s short ascent.

What is it, then? Why, why dost thou delay?
Why is such baseness bedded in thy heart?
Daring and hardihood why hast thou not,

Seeing that three such Ladies benedight
Are caring for thee in the court of Heaven,
And so much good my speech doth promise thee?”

Even as the flowerets, by nocturnal chill,
Bowed down and closed, when the sun whitens them,
Uplift themselves all open on their stems;

Such I became with my exhausted strength,
And such good courage to my heart there coursed,
That I began, like an intrepid person:

“O she compassionate, who succoured me,
And courteous thou, who hast obeyed so soon
The words of truth which she addressed to thee!

Thou hast my heart so with desire disposed
To the adventure, with these words of thine,
That to my first intent I have returned.

Now go, for one sole will is in us both,
Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou.”
Thus said I to him; and when he had moved,

I entered on the deep and savage way.

Figure 5: Day was departing...

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 6: “Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go; ...”



THROUGH me the way is to the city dolent; 40
Through me the way is to eternal dole;
Through me the way among the people lost.

Justice incited my sublime Creator;
Created me divine Omnipotence,
The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

Before me there were no created things,
Only eterne, and I eternal last.
“All hope abandon, ye who enter in!”

These words in sombre colour I beheld
Written upon the summit of a gate;
Whence I: “Their sense is, Master, hard to me!”

And he to me, as one experienced:
“Here all suspicion needs must be abandoned,
All cowardice must needs be here extinct.

We to the place have come, where I have told thee
Thou shalt behold the people dolorous
Who have foregone the good of intellect.” 41

And after he had laid his hand on mine
With joyful mien, whence I was comforted,
He led me in among the secret things.

40This canto begins with a repetition of sounds like the tolling of a funeral bell: dolente...

41Aristotle says: “The good of the intellect is the highest beatitude”; and Dante in the
Convito: “The True is the good of the intellect.” In other words, the knowledge of God is
intellectual good. “It is a most just punishment,” says St. Augustine, “that man should
lose that freedom which man could not use, yet had power to keep, if he would, and that
he who had knowledge to do what was right, and did not do it, should be deprived of
the knowledge of what was right; and that he who would not do righteously, when he
had the power, should lose the power to do it when he had the will.”


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 7: “All hope abandon, ye who enter in!”

There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.

Languages diverse, horrible dialects,
Accents of anger, words of agony,
And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands,

Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
For ever in that air for ever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes.

And I, who had my head with horror bound,
Said: “Master, what is this which now I hear?
What folk is this, which seems by pain so vanquished?”

And he to me: “This miserable mode
Maintain the melancholy souls of those
Who lived withouten infamy or praise.

Commingled are they with that caitiff choir

Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.

The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair;
Nor them the nethermore abyss receives,
For glory none the damned would have from them.”

And I: “O Master, what so grievous is
To these, that maketh them lament so sore?”
He answered: “I will tell thee very briefly.

These have no longer any hope of death;
And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate.

No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.”

And I, who looked again, beheld a banner, 42
Which, whirling round, ran on so rapidly,
That of all pause it seemed to me indignant;

And after it there came so long a train
Of people, that I ne’er would have believed
That ever Death so many had undone.

When some among them I had recognised.
I looked, and I beheld the shade of him
Who made through cowardice the great refusal. 43

Forthwith I comprehended, and was certain,
That this the sect was of the caitiff wretches
Hateful to God and to his enemies.

These miscreants, who never were alive,
Were naked, and were stung exceedingly
By gadflies and by hornets that were there.

These did their faces irrigate with blood,
Which, with their tears commingled, at their feet
By the disgusting worms was gathered up.

And when to gazing farther I betook me.
People I saw on a great river’s bank;
Whence said I: “Master, now vouchsafe to me,

42This restless flag is an emblem of the shifting and unstable minds of its followers.
43Generally supposed to be Pope Celestine V.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

That I may know who these are, and what law
Makes them appear so ready to pass over,
As I discern athwart the dusky light.” 44

And he to me: “These things shall all be known
To thee, as soon as we our footsteps stay
Upon the dismal shore of Acheron.”

Then with mine eyes ashamed and downward cast,
Fearing my words might irksome be to him,
From speech refrained I till we reached the river.

And lo! towards us coming in a boat 45
An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,
Crying: “Woe unto you, ye souls depraved

Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;
I come to lead you to the other shore,
To the eternal shades in heat and frost.

And thou, that yonder standest, living soul,
Withdraw thee from these people, who are dead! 46
But when he saw that I did not withdraw,

He said: “By other ways, by other ports
Thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for passage;

44Spencer’s “misty dampe of misconceyving night.”

45Virgil, Æneid, VI., Davidson’s translation: – “A grim ferryman guards these floods
and rivers, Charon, of frightful slovenliness; on whose chin a load of gray hair neglected
lies; his eyes are flame: his vestments hang from his shoulders by a knot, with filth overgrown.
Himself thrusts on the barge with a pole, and tends the sails, and wafts over
the bodies in his iron-colored boat, now in years: but the god is of fresh and green old
age. Hither the whole tribe in swarms come pouring to the banks, matrons and men, the
souls of magnanimous heroes who had gone through life, boys and unmarried maids,
and young men who had been stretched on the funeral pile before the eyes of their parents;
as numerous as withered leaves fall in the woods with the first cold of autumn, or
as numerous as birds flock to the land from deep ocean, when the chilling year drives
them beyond sea, and sends them to sunny climes. They stood praying to cross the flood
the first, and were stretching forth their hands with fond desire to gain the further bank:
but the sullen boatman admits sometimes these, sometimes those; while others to a great
distance removed, he debars from the banks.”
And Shakespeare, Richard III., I. 4:
“I passed, methought, the melancholy flood
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.”

46Virgil Æneid, VI.:
“This is the region of Ghosts, of sleep and drowsy
Night; to waft over the bodies of the living in my Stygian boat is not permitted.”

A lighter vessel needs must carry thee.” 47

And unto him the Guide: “Vex thee not, Charon;
It is so willed there where is power to do
That which is willed; and farther question not.”

Thereat were quieted the fleecy cheeks
Of him the ferryman of the livid fen,
Who round about his eyes had wheels of flame.

But all those souls who weary were and naked
Their colour changed and gnashed their teeth together,
As soon as they had heard those cruel words.

God they blasphemed and their progenitors,
The human race, the place, the time, the seed
Of their engendering and of their birth!

Thereafter all together they drew back,
Bitterly weeping, to the accursed shore,
Which waiteth every man who fears not God.

Charon the demon, with the eyes of glede, 48
Beckoning to them, collects them all together,
Beats with his oar whoever lags behind.

As in the autumn-time the leaves fall off,
First one and then another, till the branch
Unto the earth surrenders all its spoils;

In similar wise the evil seed of Adam
Throw themselves from that margin one by one,
At signals, as a bird unto its lure. 49

So they depart across the dusky wave,
And ere upon the other side they land,
Again on this side a new troop assembles.

“My son,” the courteous Master said to me,

47The souls that were to be saved assembled at the mouth of the Tiber, where they
were received by the celestial pilot, or ferryman, who transported them to the shores of
Purgatory, as described in Purg. II.

48Dryden’s Æneid, B. VI.: – “His eyes like hollow furnaces on fire.”

49Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 160, says: – “When Dante describes the spirits falling
from the bank of Acheron ‘as dead leaves flutter from a bough,’ he gives the most perfect
image possible of their utter lightness, feebleness, passiveness, and scattering agony of
despair, without, however, for an instant losing his own clear perception that these are
souls, and those are leaves: he makes no confusion of one with the other.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 8: Charon the demon ... beats with his oar whoever lags behind.

“All those who perish in the wrath of God
Here meet together out of every land;

And ready are they to pass o’er the river,
Because celestial Justice spurs them on,
So that their fear is turned into desire.

This way there never passes a good soul;
And hence if Charon doth complain of thee,
Well mayst thou know now what his speech imports.”

This being finished, all the dusk champaign
Trembled so violently, that of that terror
The recollection bathes me still with sweat.

The land of tears gave forth a blast of wind,
And fulminated a vermilion light,
Which overmastered in me every sense,

And as a man whom sleep hath seized I fell.

Figure 9: And lo! towards us coming in a boat, an old man, hoary with the
hair of eld.



BROKE the deep lethargy within my head 50
A heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,
Like to a person who by force is wakened;

And round about I moved my rested eyes,
Uprisen erect, and steadfastly I gazed,
To recognise the place wherein I was.

True is it, that upon the verge I found me
Of the abysmal valley dolorous,
That gathers thunder of infinite ululations.

Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,
So that by fixing on its depths my sight
Nothing whatever I discerned therein.

“Let us descend now into the blind world,”
Began the Poet, pallid utterly;
“I will be first, and thou shalt second be.”

And I, who of his colour was aware,
Said: “How shall I come, if thou art afraid,
Who’rt wont to be a comfort to my fears?”

And he to me: “The anguish of the people
Who are below here in my face depicts
That pity which for terror thou hast taken.

Let us go on, for the long way impels us.”
Thus he went in, and thus he made me enter
The foremost circle that surrounds the abyss.

There, as it seemed to me from listening,

50Dante is borne across the river Acheron in his sleep, he does not tell us how, and
awakes on the brink of “the dolorous valley of the abyss.” He now enters the First Circle
of the Inferno; the Limbo of the Unbaptized, the border land, as the name denotes.


Were lamentations none, but only sighs,
That tremble made the everlasting air.

And this arose from sorrow without torment, 51
Which the crowds had, that many were and great
Of infants and of women and of men.

To me the Master good: “Thou dost not ask
What spirits these, which thou beholdest, are?
Now will I have thee know, ere thou go farther,

That they sinned not; and if they merit had,
’Tis not enough, because they had not baptism
Which is the portal of the Faith thou holdest;

And if they were before Christianity,
In the right manner they adored not God;
And among such as these am I myself

For such defects, and not for other guilt,
Lost are we and are only so far punished,
That without hope we live on in desire.”

Great grief seized on my heart when this I heard,
Because some people of much worthiness
I knew, who in that Limbo were suspended.

“Tell me, my Master, tell me, thou my Lord,”
Began I, with desire of being certain
Of that Faith which o’ercometh every error,

“Came any one by his own merit hence,
Or by another’s, who was blessed thereafter?”
And he, who understood my covert speech,

Replied: “I was a novice in this state,
When I saw hither come a Mighty One, 52
With sign of victory incoronate.

Hence he drew forth the shade of the First Parent,
And that of his son Abel, and of Noah,
Of Moses the lawgiver, and the obedient

Abraham, patriarch, and David, king,

51Mental, not physical pain; what the French theologians call “la peine du dam”, the
privation of the sight of God.
52The descent of Christ into Limbo. Neither here nor elsewhere in the Inferno does
Dante mention the name of Christ.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 10: ”For such defects, and not for other guilt, lost are we and are
only so far punished, that without hope we live on in desire.”

Israel with his father and his children,
And Rachel, for whose sake he did so much,

And others many, and he made them blessed;
And thou must know, that earlier than these
Never were any human spirits saved.”

We ceased not to advance because he spake,
But still were passing onward through the forest
The forest, say I, of thick-crowded ghosts.

Not very far as yet our way had gone
This side the summit, when I saw a fire
That overcame a hemisphere of darkness.

We were a little distant from it still,
But not so far that I in part discerned not
That honourable people held that place. 53

53The reader will not fail to observe how Dante makes the word “honor”, in its various

“O thou who honourest every art and science,
Who may these be, which such great honour have,
That from the fashion of the rest it parts them?”

And he to me: “The honourable name,
That sounds of them above there in thy life,
Wins grace in Heaven, that so advances them.”

In the mean time a voice was heard by me:
“All honour be to the pre-eminent Poet;
His shade returns again, that was departed.”

After the voice had ceased and quiet was,
Four mighty shades I saw approaching us;
Semblance had they nor sorrowful nor glad.

To say to me began my gracious Master:
“Him with that falchion in his hand behold, 54
Who comes before the three, even as their lord.

That one is Homer, Poet sovereign;
He who comes next is Horace, the satirist;
The third is Ovid, and the last is Lucan.

Because to each of these with me applies
The name that solitary voice proclaimed,
They do me honour, and in that do well.” 55

Thus I beheld assemble the fair school
Of that lord of the song pre-eminent,
Who o’er the others like an eagle soars.

When they together had discoursed somewhat,
They turned to me with signs of salutation,
And on beholding this, my Master smiled;

And more of honour still, much more, they did me, 56
In that they made me one of their own band
So that the sixth was I, ‘mid so much wit.

Thus we went on as far as to the light,
Things saying ’tis becoming to keep silent,

forms, ring and reverberate through these lines, – “orrevol, onori, orranza, onrata, onorata”!
54Dante puts the sword into the hand of Homer as a symbol of his warlike epic, which
is a Song of the Sword.
55Upon this line Boccaccio, Comento, says: – “A proper thing it is to honor every man,
but especially those who are of one and the same profession, as these were with Virgil.”
56Another assertion of Dante’s consciousness of his own power as a poet.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

As was the saying of them where I was.

We came unto a noble castle’s foot, 57
Seven times encompassed with lofty walls,
Defended round by a fair rivulet;

This we passed over even as firm ground;
Through portals seven I entered with these sages
We came into a meadow of fresh verdure.

People were there with solemn eyes and slow,
Of great authority in their countenance;
They spake but seldom, and with gentle voices.

Thus we withdrew ourselves upon one side
Into an opening luminous and lofty,
So that they all of them were visible.

There opposite, upon the green enamel,
Were pointed out to me the mighty spirits,
Whom to have seen I feel myself exalted.

I saw Electra with companions many,
‘Mongst whom I knew both Hector and Aenas,
Caesar in armour with gerfalcon eyes;

I saw Camilla and Penthesilea
On the other side, and saw the King Latinus,
Who with Lavinia his daughter sat;

I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin forth,
Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia, 58
And saw alone, apart, the Saladin. 59

When I had lifted up my brows a little,
The Master I beheld of those who know,
Sit with his philosophic family.

All gaze upon him, and all do him honour.
There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,

57This is the Noble Castle of human wit and learning, encircled with its seven scholastic
walls, the Trivium – Logic, Grammar, Rhetoric – and the Quadrivium – Arithmetic,
Astronomy, Geometry, Music. The fair rivulet is Eloquence, which Dante does not seem
to consider a very profound matter, as he and Virgil pass over it as if it were dry ground.

58In the Convito, IV. 28, Dante makes Marcia, Cato’s wife, a symbol of the noble soul:
“Per la quale Marzias’ intende la nobile anima.”

59The Saladin of the Crusades. See Gibbon, Chap. LIX. Dante also makes mention of
him, as worthy of affectionate remembrance, in the Convito, IV. 2.

Who nearer him before the others stand;

Democritus, who puts the world on chance,
Diogenes, Anaxagoros, and Thales,
Zeno, Empedocles, and Heraclitus;

Of qualities I saw the good collector,
Hight Dioscorides; and Orpheus saw I,
Tully and Livy, and moral Seneca,

Euclid, geometrician, and Ptolemy,
Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna, 60
Averroes, who the great Comment made. 61

I cannot all of them pourtray in full,
Because so drives me onward the long theme,
That many times the word comes short of fact.

The sixfold company in two divides;
Another way my sapient Guide conducts me
Forth from the quiet to the air that trembles;

And to a place I come where nothing shines.

60Avicenna, an Arabian physician of Ispahan in the eleventh century. Born 980, died

61Avverrhoes, an Arabian scholar of the twelfth century, who translated the works of
Aristotle, and wrote a commentary upon them. He was born in Cordova in 1149, and
died in Morocco, about 1200. He was the head of the Western School of philosophy, as
Avicenna was of the Eastern.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 11: After the voice had ceased and quiet was, Four mighty shades
I saw approaching us.



THUS I descended out of the first circle 62
Down to the second, that less space begirds, 63
And so much greater dole, that goads to wailing.

There standeth Minos horribly, and snarls; 64
Examines the transgressions at the entrance;
Judges, and sends according as he girds him.

I say, that when the spirit evil-born
Cometh before him, wholly it confesses;
And this discriminator of transgressions

Seeth what place in Hell is meet for it;
Girds himself with his tail as many times
As grades he wishes it should be thrust down.

Always before him many of them stand;
They go by turns each one unto the judgment;
They speak, and hear, and then are downward hurled.

“O thou, that to this dolorous hostelry
Comest,” said Minos to me, when he saw me,
Leaving the practice of so great an office,

“Look how thou enterest, and in whom thou trustest;
Let not the portal’s amplitude deceive thee.”

62In the Second Circle are found the souls of carnal sinners, whose punishment
“To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world.”

63The circles grow smaller and smaller as they descend.

64Minos, the king of Crete, so renowned for justice as to be called the Favorite of the
Gods, and after death made Supreme Judge in the Infernal Regions. Dante furnishes him
with a tail, thus converting him, after the mediaeval fashion, into a Christian demon.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 12: There standeth Minos horribly...

And unto him my Guide: “Why criest thou too? 65

Do not impede his journey fate-ordained;
It is so willed there where is power to go
That which is willed; and ask no further question.”

And now begin the dolesome notes to grow
Audible unto me, now am I come
There where much lamentation strikes upon me.

I came into a place mute of all light, 66
Which bellows as the sea does in a tempest,
If by opposing winds ’t is combated.

The infernal hurricane that never rests
Hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine;
Whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them.

65Thou, too, as well as Charon, to whom Virgil has already made the same reply, Canto

06. 022.
66In Canto 01. 060, the sun is silent; here the light is dumb.

When they arrive before the precipice,
There are the shrieks, the plaints, and the laments,
There they blaspheme the puissance divine.

I understood that unto such a torment
The carnal malefactors were condemned,
Who reason subjugate to appetite.

And as the wings of starlings bear them on
In the cold season in large band and full,
So doth that blast the spirits maledict;

It hither, thither, downward, upward, drives them;
No hope doth comfort them for evermore,
Not of repose, but even of lesser pain.

And as the cranes go chanting forth their lays,
Making in air a long line of themselves,
So saw I coming, uttering lamentations,

Shadows borne onward by the aforesaid stress.
Whereupon said I: “Master, who are those
People, whom the black air so castigates?”

“The first of those, of whom intelligence
Thou fain wouldst have,” then said he unto me,
“The empress was of many languages.

To sensual vices she was so abandoned,
That lustful she made licit in her law,
To remove the blame to which she had been led.

She is Semiramis of whom we read
That she succeeded Ninus, and was his spouse;
She held the land which now the Sultan rules.

The next is she who killed herself for love, 67
And broke faith with the ashes of Sichcaeus;
Then Cleopatra the voluptuous.”

Helen I saw, for whom so many ruthless
Seasons revolved; and saw the great Achilles, 68
Who at the last hour combated with Love

Paris I saw, Tristan; and more than a thousand 69

67Queen Dido.
68Achilles, being in love with Polyxena, a daughter of Priam, went unarmed to the
temple of Apollo, where he was put to death by Paris.
69Paris of Troy.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Shades did he name and point out with his finger,
Whom Love had separated from our life.

After that I had listened to my Teacher,
Naming the dames of eld and cavaliers,
Pity prevailed, and I was nigh bewildered.

And I began: “O Poet, willingly
Speak would I to those two, who go together,
And seem upon the wind to be so light.”

And, he to me: “Thou’lt mark, when they shall be
Nearer to us; and then do thou implore them
By love which leadeth them, and they will come.”

Soon as the wind in our direction sways them,
My voice uplift I: “O ye weary souls!
Come speak to us, if no one interdicts it.”

As turtle-doves, called onward by desire,
With open and steady wings to the sweet nest
Fly through the air by their volition borne,

So came they from the band where Dido is,
Approaching us athwart the air malign,
So strong was the affectionate appeal.

“O living creature gracious and benignant,
Who visiting goest through the purple air 70
Us, who have stained the world incarnadine,

If were the King of the Universe our friend,
We would pray unto him to give thee peace,
Since thou hast pity on our woe perverse.

Of what it pleases thee to hear and speak,
That will we hear, and we will speak to you,
While silent is the wind, as it is now.

Sitteth the city, wherein I was born, 71
Upon the sea-shore where the Po descends

70In the original, “l’aer perso”, the perse air. Dante, Convito, IV. 20, defines perse as “a

color mixed of purple and black, but the black predominates.” Chaucer’s “Doctour of

Phisike” in the Canterbury Tales, Prologue 441, wore this color.
71The city of Ravenna.

Figure 13: “O living creature gracious and benignant, who visiting goest
through the purple air...”

To rest in peace with all his retinue. 72

Love, that on gentle heart doth swiftly seize,

Seized this man for the person beautiful

That was ta’en from me, and still the mode offends me.

Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving, 73

Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly, 74

That, as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me;

72Quoting this line, Amp`ere remarks, Voyage Dantesque, p. 312: “We have only to cast
our eyes upon the map to recognize the topographical exactitude of this last expression.
In fact, in all the upper part of its course, the Po receives a multitude of affluents, which
converge towards its bed. They are the Tessino, the Adda, the Olio, the Mincio, the
Trebbia, the Bormida, the Taro; – names which recur so often in the history of the wars of
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.”

73Here the word “love” is repeated, as the word “honor” was in Canto 04. 072. The verse
murmurs with it, like the “moan of doves in immemorial elms.”

74I think it is Coleridge who says: “The desire of man is for the woman, but the desire
of woman is for the desire of man.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Love has conducted us unto one death;
Caina waiteth him who quenched our life!” 75
These words were borne along from them to us.

As soon as I had heard those souls tormented,
I bowed my face, and so long held it down
Until the Poet said to me: “What thinkest?”

When I made answer, I began: “Alas!
How many pleasant thoughts, how much desire,
Conducted these unto the dolorous pass!”

Then unto them I turned me, and I spake,
And I began: “Thine agonies, Francesca, 76
Sad and compassionate to weeping make me.

But tell me, at the time of those sweet sighs,
By what and in what manner Love conceded,
That you should know your dubious desires?”

And she to me: “There is no greater sorrow 77
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery, and that thy Teacher knows.

But, if to recognise the earliest root
Of love in us thou hast so great desire,
I will do even as he who weeps and speaks.

One day we reading were for our delight
Of Launcelot, how Love did him enthral. 78

75Caina is in the lowest circle of the Inferno, where fratricides are punished.

76Francesca, daughter of Guido da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, and wife of Gianciotto
Malatesta, son of the Lord of Rimini. The lover, Paul Malatesta, was the brother of the
husband, who, discovering their amour, put them both to death with his own hand.

77This thought is from Boethius, De Consolat. Philos., Lib. II. Prosa 4: – “In omni adversitate
fortunae, infelicissimum genus est infortunii fuisse felicem et non esse.” In the Convito,

II. 16, Dante speaks of Boethius and Tully as having directed him “to the love, that is to
the study, of this most gentle lady Philosophy.” From this Venturi and Biagioli infer that,
by the Teacher, Boethius is meant, not Virgil. This interpretation, however, can hardly be
accepted, as not in one place only, but throughout the Inferno and the Purgatorio, Dante
proclaims Virgil as his teacher, “il mio Dottore.” Lombardi thinks that Virgil had experience
of this “greatest sorrow,” finding himself also in “the infernal prison”; and that
it is to this, in contrast with his happy life on earth, that Francesca alludes, and not to
anything in his writings.
78The Romance of Launcelot of the Lake. The Romance was to these two lovers, what
Galeotto (Gallehault or Sir Galahad) had been to Launcelot and Queen Guenever. Leigh
Hunt speaks of the episode of Francesca as standing in the Inferno “like a lily in the
mouth of Tartarus.”

Alone we were and without any fear.

Full many a time our eyes together drew
That reading, and drove the colour from our faces;
But one point only was it that o’ercame us.

When as we read of the much-longed-for smile
Being by such a noble lover kissed,
This one, who ne’er from me shall be divided,

Kissed me upon the mouth all palpitating.
Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
That day no farther did we read therein.”

And all the while one spirit uttered this,
The other one did weep so, that, for pity,
I swooned away as if I had been dying,

And fell, even as a dead body falls.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 14: The infernal hurricane that never rests.



AT the return of consciousness, that closed
Before the pity of those two relations, 79
Which utterly with sadness had confused me,

New torments I behold, and new tormented
Around me, whichsoever way I move,
And whichsoever way I turn, and gaze.

In the third circle am I of the rain 80
Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy;
Its law and quality are never new.

Huge hail, and water sombre-hued, and snow,
Athwart the tenebrous air pour down amain;
Noisome the earth is, that receiveth this.

Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,
With his three gullets like a dog is barking
Over the people that are there submerged.

Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black,
And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;
He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them.

Howl the rain maketh them like unto dogs;
One side they make a shelter for the other;
Oft turn themselves the wretched reprobates.

When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm!
His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusks;

79The sufferings of these two, and the pity it excited in him. As in Shakespeare, Othello,

IV. 1: “But yet the pity of it, Iago! – O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!”
80In this third circle are punished the Gluttons. Instead of the feasts of former days,
the light, the warmth, the comfort, the luxury, and “the frolic wine” of dinner tables, they
have the murk and the mire, and the “rain eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy”; and
are barked at and bitten by the dog in the yard.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 15: When Cerberus perceived us...

Not a limb had he that was motionless.

And my Conductor, with his spans extended,
Took of the earth, and with his fists well filled,
He threw it into those rapacious gullets.

Such as that dog is, who by barking craves,
And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws,
For to devour it he but thinks and struggles,

The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed
Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders
Over the souls that they would fain be deaf

We passed across the shadows, which subdues
The heavy rain-storm, and we placed our feet
Upon their vanity that person seems.

They all were lying prone upon the earth,
Excepting one, who sat upright as soon
As he beheld us passing on before him.

Figure 16: We passed across the shadows...

“O thou that art conducted through this Hell,”
He said to me, “recall me, if thou canst;
Thyself wast made before I was unmade.”

And I to him: “The anguish which thou hast
Perhaps doth draw thee out of my remembrance,
So that it seems not I have ever seen thee.

But tell me who thou art, that in so doleful
A place art put, and in such punishment,
If some are greater, none is so displeasing.”

And he to me: “Thy city, which is full
Of envy so that now the sack runs over,
Held me within it in the life serene.

You citizens were wont to call me Ciacco; 81

81It is a question whether “Ciacco”, Hog, is the real name of this person, or a nickname.
Boccaccio gives him no other. He speaks of him, Comento, VI., as a noted diner-out in
Florence, “who frequented the gentry and the rich, and particularly those who ate and

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

For the pernicious sin of gluttony
I, as thou seest, am battered bv this rain

And I, sad soul, am not the only one,
For all these suffer the like penalty
For the like sin,” and word no more spake he.

I answered him: “Ciacco, thy wretchedness
Weighs on me so that it to weep invites me;
But tell me, if thou knowest, to what shall come

The citizens of the divided city;
If any there be just; and the occasion
Tell me why so much discord has assailed it.”

And he to me: “They, after long contention,
Will come to bloodshed; and the rustic party 82
Will drive the other out with much offence.

Then afterwards behoves it this one fall
Within three suns, and rise again the other
By force of him who now is on the coast. 83

High will it hold its forehead a long while,
Keeping the other under heavy burdens,
Howe’er it weeps thereat and is indignant.

The just are two, and are not understood there; 84
Envy and Arrogance and Avarice
Are the three sparks that have all hearts enkindled.”

Here ended he his tearful utterance;
And I to him: “I wish thee still to teach me,
And make a gift to me of further speech.

Farinata and Tegghiaio, once so worthy,

drank sumptuously and delicately; and when he was invited by them to dine, he went;
and likewise when he was not invited by them, he invited himself; and for this vice
he was well known to all Florentines; though apart from this he was a well-bred man
according to his condition, eloquent, affable, and of good feeling; on account of which he
was welcomed by every gentleman.”

82The Bianchi are called the “Parte selvaggia”, because its leaders, the Cerchi, came from
the forest lands of Val di Sieve. The other party, the Neri, were led by the Donati.
83Charles de Valois, called Senzaterra, or Lackland, brother of Philip the Fair, king of
84The names of these two remain unknown. Probably one of them was Dante’s friend
Guido Cavalcanti.

Jacopo Rusticucci, Arrigo, and Mosca, 85
And others who on good deeds set their thoughts,

Say where they are, and cause that I may know them;
For great desire constraineth me to learn
If Heaven doth sweeten them, or Hell envenom.”

And he: “They are among the blacker souls;
A different sin downweighs them to the bottom;
If thou so far descendest, thou canst see them.

But when thou art again in the sweet world,
I pray thee to the mind of others bring me;
No more I tell thee and no more I answer.”

Then his straightforward eyes he turned askance,
Eyed me a little, and then bowed his head;
He fell therewith prone like the other blind.

And the Guide said to me: “He wakes no more
This side the sound of the angelic trumpet;
When shall approach the hostile Potentate,

Each one shall find again his dismal tomb,
Shall reassume his flesh and his own figure,
Shall hear what through eternity re-echoes.”

So we passed onward o’er the filthy mixture
Of shadows and of rain with footsteps slow,
Touching a little on the future life.

Wherefore I said: “Master, these torments here,
Will they increase after the mighty sentence,
Or lesser be, or will they be as burning?”

And he to me: “Return unto thy science, 86
Which wills, that as the thing more perfect is,
The more it feels of pleasure and of pain.

Albeit that this people maledict
To true perfection never can attain,

85Of this Arrigo nothing whatever seems to be known, hardly even his name; for some
commentators call him Arrigo dei Fisanti, and others Arrigo dei Fifanti. Of these other
men of mark “who set their hearts on doing good,” Farinata is among the Heretics, Canto
X.; Tegghiaio and Rusticucci among the Sodomites, Canto XVI.; and Mosca among the
Schismatics, Canto XXVIII.

86The philosophy of Aristotle. The same doctrine is taught by St. Augustine:

“Cum fiet resurrectio carnis, et bonorum gaudia et tormenta malorum majora erunt.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Hereafter more than now they look to be.”

Round in a circle by that road we went,
Speaking much more, which I do not repeat;
We came unto the point where the descent is;

There we found Plutus the great enemy. 87

87Plutus, the God of Riches.



“PAPE Sat`an, Pape Sat`an, Aleppe!” 88
Thus Plutus with his clucking voice began;
And that benignant Sage, who all things knew,

Said, to encourage me: “Let not thy fear
Harm thee; for any power that he may have
Shall not prevent thy going down this crag”

Then he turned round unto that bloated lip,
And said: “Be silent, thou accursed wolf;
Consume within thyself with thine own rage.

Not causeless is this journey to the abyss;
Thus is it willed on high, where Michael wrought 89
Vengeance upon the proud adultery.”

Even as the sails inflated by the wind
Involved together fall when snaps the mast,
So fell the cruel monster to the earth.

Thus we descended into the fourth chasm,
Gaining still farther on the dolesome shore
Which all the woe of the universe insacks.

Justice of God, ah! who heaps up so many
New toils and sufferings as I beheld?
And why doth our transgression waste us so?

As doth the billow there upon Charybdis,

88In this Canto is described the punishment of the Avaricious and the Prodigal, with
Plutus as their jailer. His outcry of alarm is differently interpreted by different commentators,
and by none very satisfactorily. But nearly all agree, I believe, in construing the
strange words into a cry of alarm or warning of Lucifer, that his realm is invaded by some
unusual apparition.

89The overthrow of the Rebel Angels. St. Augustine says, ”Idolatria et quaelibet noxia
superstitio fornicatio est.”


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 17: “Pape Sat`an, Pape Sat`an, Aleppe!”

That breaks itself on that which it encounters,
So here the folk must dance their roundelay. 90

Here saw I people, more than elsewhere, many,
On one side and the other, with great howls,
Rolling weights forward by main force of chest. 91

They clashed together, and then at that point
Each one turned backward, rolling retrograde,
Crying, “Why keepest?” and, “Why squanderest thou?”

Thus they returned along the lurid circle
On either hand unto the opposite point,
Shouting their shameful metre evermore.

90Must dance the Ridda, a round dance of the olden time. It was a Roundelay, or singing
and dancing together. Boccaccio’s Monna Belcolore “knew better than any one how to
play the tambourine and lead the Ridda.”

91As the word honor resounds in Canto IV., and the word love in Canto V., so here
the words rolling and turning are the burden of the song, as if to suggest the motion of
Fortune’s wheel, so beautifully described a little later.

Figure 18: Rolling weights forward by main force of chest.

Then each, when he arrived there, wheeled about
Through his half-circle to another joust;
And I, who had my heart pierced as it were,

Exclaimed: “My Master, now declare to me
What people these are, and if all were clerks,
These shaven crowns upon the left of us.” 92

And he to me: “All of them were asquint
In intellect in the first life, so much
That there with measure they no spending made.

92Clerks, clerics, or clergy. Boccaccio, Comento, remarks upon this passage:
“Some maintain, that the clergy wear the tonsure in remembrance and reverence of St.
Peter, on whom, they say, it was made by certain evil-minded men as a mark of madness;
because not comprehending and not wishing to comprehend his holy doctrine, and
seeming him feverently preaching before princes and people, who held that doctrine in
detestation, they thought he acted as one out of his senses. Others maintain that the tonsure
is worn as a mark of dignity, as a sign that those who wear it are more worthy than
those who do not; and they call it corona, because, all the rest of the head being shaven, a
single circle of hair should be left, which in form of a crown surrounds the whole head.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Clearly enough their voices bark it forth,
Whene’er they reach the two points of the circle,
Where sunders them the opposite defect.

Clerks those were who no hairy covering
Have on the head, and Popes and Cardinals,
In whom doth Avarice practise its excess.”

And I: “My Master, among such as these
I ought forsooth to recognise some few,
Who were infected with these maladies.”

And he to me: “Vain thought thou entertainest;
The undiscerning life which made them sordid
Now makes them unto all discernment dim.

Forever shall they come to these two buttings;
These from the sepulchre shall rise again
With the fist closed, and these with tresses shorn.

Ill giving and ill keeping the fair world
Have ta’en from them, and placed them in this scuffle;
Whate’er it be, no words adorn I for it.

Now canst thou, Son, behold the transient farce
Of goods that are committed unto Fortune,
For which the human race each other buffet;

For all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or ever has been, of these weary souls
Could never make a single one repose.”

“Master,” I said to him, “now tell me also
What is this Fortune which thou speakest of, 93
That has the world’s goods so within its clutches?”

And he to me: “O creatures imbecile,
What ignorance is this which doth beset you?
Now will I have thee learn my judgment of her.

He whose omniscience everything transcends

93The Wheel of Fortune was one of the favorite subjects of art and song in the Middle
Ages. On a large square of white marble set in the pavement of the nave of the Cathedral
at Siena, is the representation of a revolving wheel. Three boys are climbing and clinging
at the sides and below; above is a dignified figure with a stern countenance, holding the
sceptre and ball. At the four corners are inscriptions from Seneca, Euripides, Aristotle,
and Epictetus. The same symbol may be seen also in the wheel-of-fortune windows of
many churches; as, for example, that of San Zeno at Verona.

The heavens created, and gave who should guide them, 94
That every part to every part may shine,

Distributing the light in equal measure;
He in like manner to the mundane splendours
Ordained a general ministress and guide,

That she might change at times the empty treasures
From race to race, from one blood to another,
Beyond resistance of all human wisdom.

Therefore one people triumphs, and another
Languishes, in pursuance of her judgment,
Which hidden is, as in the grass a serpent.

Your knowledge has no counterstand against her;
She makes provision, judges, and pursues
Her governance, as theirs the other gods.

Her permutations have not any truce;
Necessity makes her precipitate,
So often cometh who his turn obtains.

And this is she who is so crucified
Even by those who ought to give her praise,
Giving her blame amiss, and bad repute.

But she is blissful, and she hears it not;
Among the other primal creatures gladsome
She turns her sphere, and blissful she rejoices.

Let us descend now unto greater woe;
Already sinks each star that was ascending 95
When I set out, and loitering is forbidden.”

We crossed the circle to the other bank,
Near to a fount that boils, and pours itself
Along a gully that runs out of it.

The water was more sombre far than perse; 96
And we, in company with the dusky waves,
Made entrance downward by a path uncouth.

A marsh it makes, which has the name of Styx,

94This old Rabbinical tradition of the “Regents of the Planets” has been painted by

Raphael, in the Capella Chigiana of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.
95Past midnight.
96Perse, purple-black. See note in Canto V.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 19: They smote each other not alone with hands...

This tristful brooklet, when it has descended
Down to the foot of the malign gray shores.

And I, who stood intent upon beholding,
Saw people mudbesprent in that lagoon,
All of them naked and with angry look.

They smote each other not alone with hands,
But with the head and with the breast and feet,
Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.

Said the good Master: “Son, thou now beholdest
The souls of those whom anger overcame;
And likewise I would have thee know for certain

Beneath the water people are who sigh
And make this water bubble at the surface,
As the eye tells thee wheresoe’er it turns.

Fixed in the mire they say, ‘We sullen were
In the sweet air, which by the sun is gladdened,

Bearing within ourselves the sluggish reek;

Now we are sullen in this sable mire.’
This hymn do they keep gurgling in their throats,
For with unbroken words they cannot say it.”

Thus we went circling round the filthy fen
A great arc ’twixt the dry bank and the swamp,
With eyes turned unto those who gorge the mire;

Unto the foot of a tower we came at last.



I SAY, continuing, that long before 97
We to the foot of that high tower had come,
Our eyes went upward to the summit of it,

By reason of two flamelets we saw placed there, 98
And from afar another answer them,
So far, that hardly could the eye attain it.

And, to the sea of all discernment turned,
I said: “What sayeth this, and what respondeth
That other fire? and who are they that made it?”

And he to me: “Across the turbid waves
What is expected thou canst now discern,
If reek of the morass conceal it not.”

Cord never shot an arrow from itself
That sped away athwart the air so swift,
As I beheld a very little boat

Come o’er the water tow’rds us at that moment,
Under the guidance of a single pilot,
Who shouted, “Now art thou arrived, fell soul?”

“Phlegyas, Phlegyas, thou criest out in vain 99

97Boccaccio and some other commentators think the words “I say, continuing,” are a
confirmation of the theory that the first seven cantos of the Inferno were written before
Dante’s banishment from Florence. Others maintain that the words suggest only the
continuation of the subject of the last canto in this.

98These two signal fires announce the arrival of two persons to be ferried over the
wash, and the other in the distance is on the watch-tower of the City of Dis, answering

99Phlegyas was the father of Ixion and Coronis. He was king of the Lapithae, and
burned the temple of Apollo at Delphi to avenge the wrong done by the god to Coronis.
His punishment in the infernal regions was to stand beneath a huge impending rock,
always about to fall upon him. Virgil, Aeneid, VI., says of him: “Phlegyas, most wretched,


Figure 20: Soon as the Guide and I were in the boat...

For this once,” said my Lord; “thou shalt not have
Longer than in the passing of the slough.”

As he who listens to some great deceit
That has been done to him, and then resents it,
Such became Phlegyas, in his gathered wrath.

My Guide descended down into the boat,
And then he made me enter after him,
And only when I entered seemed it laden. 100

Soon as the Guide and I were in the boat,
The antique prow goes on its way, dividing
More of the water than ’tis wont with others.

While we were running through the dead canal,
Uprose in front of me one full of mire,

is a monitor to all and with loud voice proclaims through the shades, ‘Being warned,
learn righteousness, and not to contemn the gods.’ ”
100Virgil, Aeneid, VI.: – “The boat of sewn hide groaned under the weight, and, being
leaky, took in much water from the lake.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And said, “Who ‘rt thou that comest ere the hour?”

And I to him: “Although I come, I stay not;
But who art thou that hast become so squalid?”
“Thou seest that I am one who weeps,” he answered.

And I to him: “With weeping and with wailing,
Thou spirit maledict, do thou remain;
For thee I know, though thou art all defiled.”

Then stretched he both his hands unto the boat;
Whereat my wary Master thrust him back,
Saying, “Away there with the other dogs!”

Thereafter with his arms he clasped my neck;
He kissed my face, and said: “Disdainful soul,
Blessed be she who bore thee in her bosom.

That was an arrogant person in the world;
Goodness is none, that decks his memory;
So likewise here his shade is furious.

How many are esteemed great kings up there,
Who here shall be like unto swine in mire,
Leaving behind them horrible dispraises!” 101

And I: “My Master, much should I be pleased,
If I could see him soused into this broth,
Before we issue forth out of the lake.”

And he to me: “Ere unto thee the shore
Reveal itself, thou shalt be satisfied;
Such a desire ’tis meet thou shouldst enjoy.”

A little after that, I saw such havoc
Made of him by the people of the mire,
That still I praise and thank my God for it.

They all were shouting, “At Philippo Argenti!” 102

101Chaucer’s “sclandre of his diffame.”

102Of Philippo Argenti little is known, and nothing to his credit. Dante seems to have an
especial personal hatred of him, as if in memory of some disagreeable passage between
them in the streets of Florence. Boccaccio says of him in his Comento: “This Philippo
Argenti, as Coppo di Borghese Domenichi de’ Cavicciuli was wont to say, was a very rich
gentleman, so rich that he had the horse he used to ride shod with silver, and from this
he had his surname; he was in person large, swarthy, muscular, of marvellous strength,
and at the slightest provocation the most irascible of men; nor are any more known of his
qualities than these two, each in itself very blameworthy.” He was of the Adimari family,

And that exasperate spirit Florentine
Turned round upon himself with his own teeth.

We left him there, and more of him I tell not;
But on mine ears there smote a lamentation,
Whence forward I intent unbar mine eyes.

And the good Master said: “Even now, my Son,
The city draweth near whose name is Dis,
With the grave citizens, with the great throng.”

And I: “Its mosques already, Master, clearly 103
Within there in the valley I discern
Vermilion, as if issuing from the fire

They were.” And he to me: “The fire eternal
That kindles them within makes them look red,
As thou beholdest in this nether Hell.”

Then we arrived within the moats profound,
That circumvallate that disconsolate city;
The walls appeared to me to be of iron. 104

Not without making first a circuit wide,
We came unto a place where loud the pilot
Cried out to us, “Debark, here is the entrance.”

More than a thousand at the gates I saw
Out of the Heavens rained down, who angrily
Were saying, “Who is this that without death

Goes through the kingdom of the people dead?”
And my sagacious Master made a sign

and of the Neri faction; while Dante was of the Bianchi party, and in banishment. Perhaps
this fact may explain the bitterness of his invective.
This is the same Philippo Argenti who figures in Boccaccio’s tale. See Inf. VI. The Ottimo
Comento says of him: “He was a man of great pomp, and great ostentation, and much
expenditure, and little virtue and worth; and therefore the author says, ‘Goodness is
none that decks his memory.’ ” And this is all that is known of the “Fiorentino spirito
bizzaro”, forgotten by history, and immortalized in song.

103The word “mosques” paints at once to the imagination the City of Unbelief.

104Virgil, Aeneid, VI., Davidson’s Translation: – “Aeneas on a sudden looks back, and
under a rock on the left sees vast prisons inclosed with a triple wall, which Tartarean
Phlegethon’s rapid flood environs with torrents of flame, and whirls roaring rocks along.
Fronting is a huge gate, with columns of solid adamant, that no strength of men, nor the
gods themselves, can with steel demolish. An iron tower rises aloft; and there wakeful
Tisiphone, with her bloody robe tucked up around her, sits to watch the vestibule both
night and day.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 21: Then we arrived within the moats profound, that circumvallate
that disconsolate city; ...

Of wishing secretly to speak with them.

A little then they quelled their great disdain,
And said: “Come thou alone, and he begone
Who has so boldly entered these dominions.

Let him return alone by his mad road;
Try, if he can; for thou shalt here remain,
Who hast escorted him through such dark regions.”

Think, Reader, if I was discomforted
At utterance of the accursed words;
For never to return here I believed.

“O my dear Guide, who more than seven times
Hast rendered me security, and drawn me
From imminent peril that before me stood,

Do not desert me,” said I, “thus undone;
And if the going farther be denied us,

Let us retrace our steps together swiftly.”

And that Lord, who had led me thitherward,
Said unto me: “Fear not; because our passage
None can take from us, it by Such is given.

But here await me, and thy weary spirit
Comfort and nourish with a better hope;
For in this nether world I will not leave thee.”

So onward goes and there abandons me
My Father sweet, and I remain in doubt,
For No and Yes within my head contend.

I could not hear what he proposed to them;
But with them there he did not linger long,
Ere each within in rivalry ran back.

They closed the portals, those our adversaries,
On my Lord’s breast, who had remained without
And turned to me with footsteps far between.

His eyes cast down, his forehead shorn had he
Of all its boldness, and he said, with sighs,
“Who has denied to me the dolesome houses?”

And unto me: “Thou, because I am angry,
Fear not, for I will conquer in the trial,
Whatever for defence within be planned.

This arrogance of theirs is nothing new; 105
For once they used it at less secret gate, 106
Which finds itself without a fastening still.

O’er it didst thou behold the dead inscription;
And now this side of it descends the steep,
Passing across the circles without escort,

One by whose means the city shall be opened.” 107

105This arrogance of theirs; tracotanza, oltracotanza; Brantome’s outrecuidance; and
Spenser’s surquedrie.

106The gate of the Inferno.

107The coming of the Angel, whose approach is described in the next canto, beginning
at line 64.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 22: While we were running through the dead canal, uprose in front
of me one full of mire...



THAT hue which cowardice brought out on me, 108
Beholding my Conductor backward turn,
Sooner repressed within him his new colour.

He stopped attentive, like a man who listens,
Because the eye could not conduct him far
Through the black air, and through the heavy fog.

“Still it behoveth us to win the fight,” 109
Began he; “Else... Such offered us herself... 110
O how I long that some one here arrive!”

Well I perceived, as soon as the beginning
He covered up with what came afterward,
That they were words quite different from the first;

But none the less his saying gave me fear,
Because I carried out the broken phrase,
Perhaps to a worse meaning than he had.

“Into this bottom of the doleful conch 111
Doth any e’er descend from the first grade,
Which for its pain has only hope cut off?”

This question put I; and he answered me:
“Seldom it comes to pass that one of us
Maketh the journey upon which I go.

True is it, once before I here below

108The flush of anger passes from Virgil’s cheek on seeing the pallor of Dante’s, and he
tries to encourage him with assurances of success; but betrays his own apprehensions in
the broken phrase, “If not,” which he immediately covers with words of cheer.

109Such, or so great a one, is Beatrice, the “fair and saintly Lady” of Canto II. 53.
110The Angel who will open the gates of the City of Dis.
111Dante seems to think that he has already reached the bottom of the infernal conch,

with its many convolutions.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Was conjured by that pitiless Erictho,

Who summoned back the shades unto their bodies.
Naked of me short while the flesh had been,
Before within that wall she made me enter,
To bring a spirit from the circle of Judas;

That is the lowest region and the darkest,
And farthest from the heaven which circles all.
Well know I the way; therefore be reassured.

This fen, which a prodigious stench exhales,
Encompasses about the city dolent,
Where now we cannot enter without anger.”

And more he said, but not in mind I have it;
Because mine eye had altogether drawn me
Tow’rds the high tower with the red-flaming summit,

Where in a moment saw I swift uprisen
The three infernal Furies stained with blood,
Who had the limbs of women and their mien,

And with the greenest hydras were begirt;
Small serpents and cerastes were their tresses,
Wherewith their horrid temples were entwined.

And he who well the handmaids of the Queen
Of everlasting lamentation knew,
Said unto me: “Behold the fierce Erinnys.

This is Megaera, on the left-hand side;
She who is weeping on the right, Alecto;
Tisiphone is between;”and then was silent.

Each one her breast was rending with her nails;
They beat them with their palms, and cried so loud,
That I for dread pressed close unto the Poet.

“Medusa come, so we to stone will change him!”
All shouted looking down; “in evil hour
Avenged we not on Theseus his assault!” 112

“Turn thyself round, and keep thine eyes close shut,
For if the Gorgon appear, and thou shouldst see it,
No more returning upward would there be.”

112The attempt which Theseus and Pirithous made to rescue Proserpine from the infernal

Thus said the Master; and he turned me round
Himself, and trusted not unto my hands
So far as not to blind me with his own.

O ye who have undistempered intellects,
Observe the doctrine that conceals itself 113
Beneath the veil of the mysterious verses!

And now there came across the turbid waves
The clangour of a sound with terror fraught,
Because of which both of the margins trembled;

Not otherwise it was than of a wind
Impetuous on account of adverse heats,
That smites the forest, and, without restraint,

The branches rends, beats down, and bears away;
Right onward, laden with dust, it goes superb,
And puts to flight the wild beasts and the shepherds.

Mine eyes he loosed, and said: “Direct the nerve
Of vision now along that ancient foam,
There yonder where that smoke is most intense.”

Even as the frogs before the hostile serpent
Across the water scatter all abroad,
Until each one is huddled in the earth.

More than a thousand ruined souls I saw,
Thus fleeing from before one who on foot
Was passing o’er the Styx with soles unwet

From off his face he fanned that unctuous air,
Waving his left hand oft in front of him,
And only with that anguish seemed he weary.

Well I perceived one sent from Heaven was he,
And to the Master turned; and he made sign
That I should quiet stand, and bow before him.

Ah! how disdainful he appeared to me!
He reached the gate, and with a little rod
He opened it, for there was no resistance.

“O banished out of Heaven, people despised!”

113The hidden doctrine seems to be, that Negation or Unbelief is the Gorgon’s head
which changes the heart to stone; after which there is “no more returning upward.” The
Furies display it from the walls of the City of Heretics.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 23: Well I perceived one sent from Heaven was he...

Thus he began upon the horrid threshold;
“Whence is this arrogance within you couched?

Wherefore recalcitrate against that will,
From which the end can never be cut off,
And which has many times increased your pain?

What helpeth it to butt against the fates?
Your Cerberus, if you remember well,
For that still bears his chin and gullet peeled.”

Then he returned along the miry road,
And spake no word to us, but had the look
Of one whom other care constrains and goads

Than that of him who in his presence is;
And we our feet directed tow’rds the city,
After those holy words all confident.

Within we entered without any contest;
And I, who inclination had to see

What the condition such a fortress holds,

Soon as I was within, cast round mine eye,
And see on every hand an ample plain,
Full of distress and torment terrible.

Even as at Arles, where stagnant grows the Rhone, 114
Even as at Pola near to the Quarnaro, 115
That shuts in Italy and bathes its borders,

The sepulchres make all the place uneven;
So likewise did they there on every side,
Saving that there the manner was more bitter;

For flames between the sepulchres were scattered,
By which they so intensely heated were,
That iron more so asks not any art.

All of their coverings uplifted were,
And from them issued forth such dire laments,
Sooth seemed they of the wretched and tormented.

And I: “My Master, what are all those people
Who, having sepulture within those tombs,
Make themselves audible by doleful sighs?”

And he to me: “Here are the Heresiarchs,
With their disciples of all sects, and much
More than thou thinkest laden are the tombs.

Here like together with its like is buried;
And more and less the monuments are heated.”
And when he to the right had turned, we passed

Between the torments and high parapets.

114At Arles lie buried, according to old tradition, the Peers of Charlemagne and their
ten thousand men at arms.

115Pola is a city in Istria. “Near Pola,” says Benvenuto da Imola, “are seen many tombs,
about seven hundred, and of various forms.” Quarnaro is a gulf of the northern extremity
of the Adriatic.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 24: The three infernal Furies stained with blood...

Figure 25: The sepulchres make all the place uneven...



NOW onward goes, along a narrow path
Between the torments and the city wall,
My Master, and I follow at his back.

“O power supreme, that through these impious circles
Turnest me,” I began, “as pleases thee,
Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;

The people who are lying in these tombs,
Might they be seen? already are uplifted
The covers all, and no one keepeth guard.”

And he to me: “They all will be closed up
When from Jehoshaphat they shall return
Here with the bodies they have left above.

Their cemetery have upon this side
With Epicurus all his followers,
Who with the body mortal make the soul;

But in the question thou dost put to me,
Within here shalt thou soon be satisfied,
And likewise in the wish thou keepest silent.”

And I: “Good Leader, I but keep concealed
From thee my heart, that I may speak the less,
Nor only now hast thou thereto disposed me.”

“O Tuscan, thou who through the city of fire
Goest alive, thus speaking modestly,
Be pleased to stay thy footsteps in this place.

Thy mode of speaking makes thee manifest
A native of that noble fatherland,
To which perhaps I too molestful was.”

Upon a sudden issued forth this sound


From out one of the tombs; wherefore I pressed,
Fearing, a little nearer to my Leader.

And unto me he said: “Turn thee; what dost thou?
Behold there Farinata who has risen; 116
From the waist upwards wholly shalt thou see him.”

I had already fixed mine eyes on his,
And he uprose erect with breast and front
E’en as if Hell he had in great despite.

And with courageous hands and prompt my Leader
Thrust me between the sepulchres towards him,
Exclaiming, “Let thy words explicit be.”

As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb
Somewhat he eyed me, and, as if disdainful,
Then asked of me, “Who were thine ancestors?”

I, who desirous of obeying was,
Concealed it not, but all revealed to him;
Whereat he raised his brows a little upward.

Then said he: “Fiercely adverse have they been 117
To me, and to my fathers, and my party;
So that two several times I scattered them.”

“If they were banished, they returned on all sides,”
I answered him, “the first time and the second;
But yours have not acquired that art aright.”

Then there uprose upon the sight, uncovered
Down to the chin, a shadow at his side; 118
I think that he had risen on his knees.

116Farinata degli Uberti was the most valiant and renowned leader of the Ghibellines in
Florence. Boccacio, Comento, says: “He was of the opinion of Epicurus, that the soul dies
with the body, and consequently maintained that human happiness consisted in temporal
pleasures; but he did not follow these in the way that Epicurus did, that is by making long
fasts to have afterwards pleasure in eating dry bread; but was fond of good and delicate
viands, and ate them without waiting to be hungry; and for this sin he is damned as a
Heretic in this place.”
Farinata led to Ghibellines at the famous battle of Monte Aperto in 1260, where the Guelfs
were routed, and driven out of Florence. He died in 1264.

117The ancestors of Dante, and Dante himself, were Guelfs. He did not become a Ghibelline
till after his banishment.
118Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti, father of Dante’s friend, Guido Cavalcanti. He was of the
Guelf party; so that there are Guelf and Ghibelline buried in the same tomb.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Round me he gazed, as if solicitude
He had to see if some one else were with me,
But after his suspicion was all spent,

Weeping, he said to me: “If through this blind
Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,
Where is my son? and why is he not with thee?”

And I to him: “I come not of myself;
He who is waiting yonder leads me here,
Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had.” 119

His language and the mode of punishment
Already unto me had read his name;
On that account my answer was so full.

Up starting suddenly, he cried out: “How
Saidst thou, – he had? Is he not still alive?
Does not the sweet light strike upon his eyes?”

When he became aware of some delay,
Which I before my answer made, supine
He fell again, and forth appeared no more.

But the other, magnanimous, at whose desire
I had remained, did not his aspect change,
Neither his neck he moved, nor bent his side. 120

“And if,” continuing his first discourse,
“They have that art,” he said, “not learned aright,
That more tormenteth me, than doth this bed.

But fifty times shall not rekindled be
The countenance of the Lady who reigns here 121
Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art;

And as thou wouldst to the sweet world return,
Say why that people is so pitiless

119Guido Cavalcanti, whom Benvenuto da Imola calls “the other eye of Florence,” –
alter oculus Florentiae tempore Dantis. He was a poet of decided mark, but he seems not to
have shared Dante’s admiration for Virgil, and to have been more given to the study of
philosophy than of poetry.

120Farinata pays no attention to this outburst of paternal tenderness on the part of his
Guelfic kinsman, but waits, in stern indifference, till it is ended, and then calmly resumes
his discourse.

121The moon, called in the heavens Diana, on earth Luna, and in the infernal regions

Against my race in each one of its laws?”

Whence I to him: “The slaughter and great carnage
Which have with crimson stained the Arbia, cause 122
Such orisons in our temple to be made.”

After his head he with a sigh had shaken,
“There I was not alone,” he said, “nor surely
Without a cause had with the others moved.

But there I was alone, where every one
Consented to the laying waste of Florence,
He who defended her with open face.”

“Ah! so hereafter may your seed repose,” 123
I him entreated, “solve for me that knot,
Which has entangled my conceptions here.

It seems that you can see, if I hear rightly,
Beforehand whatsoe’er time brings with it,
And in the present have another mode.”

“We see, like those who have imperfect sight,
The things,” he said, “that distant are from us;
So much still shines on us the Sovereign Ruler.

When they draw near, or are, is wholly vain
Our intellect, and if none brings it to us,
Not anything know we of your human state.

Hence thou canst understand, that wholly dead
Will be our knowledge from the moment when
The portal of the future shall be closed.”

Then I, as if compunctious for my fault,
Said: “Now, then, you will tell that fallen one,
That still his son is with the living joined.

122In the great battle of Monte Aperto. The river Arbia is a few miles south of Siena.
The traveller crosses it on his way to Rome. In this battle the banished Ghibellines of
Florence, joining the Sienese, gained a victory over the Guelfs, and retook the city of
Florence. Before the battle Buonaguida, Syndic of Siena, presented the keys of the city to
the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral, and made a gift to her of the city and the neighboring
country. After the battle the standard of the vanquished Florentines, together with their
battle-bell, the Martinella, was tied to the tail of a jackass and dragged in the dirt.

123After the battle of Monte Aperto a diet of the Ghibellines was held at Empoli, in
which the deputies from Siena and Pisa, prompted no doubt by provincial hatred, urged
the demolition of Florence. Farinata vehemently opposed the project in a speech.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And if just now, in answering, I was dumb,
Tell him I did it because I was thinking
Already of the error you have solved me.”

And now my Master was recalling me,
Wherefore more eagerly I prayed the spirit
That he would tell me who was with him there.

He said: “With more than a thousand here I lie;
Within here is the second Frederick, 124
And the Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not.” 125

Thereon he hid himself; and I towards
The ancient poet turned my steps, reflecting
Upon that saying, which seemed hostile to me.

He moved along; and afterward thus going,
He said to me, “Why art thou so bewildered?”
And I in his inquiry satisfied him.

“Let memory preserve what thou hast heard
Against thyself,” that Sage commanded me,
“And now attend here;” and he raised his finger.

“When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet
Of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold,
From her thou’lt know the journey of thy life.”

Unto the left hand then he turned his feet;
We left the wall, and went towards the middle,
Along a path that strikes into a valley,

Which even up there unpleasant made its stench.

124Frederick II., son of the Emperor Henry VI., surnamed the Severe, and grandson of
Barbarossa. He reigned from 1220 to 1250, not only as Emperor of Germany, but also
as King of Naples and Sicily, where for the most part he held his court, one of the most
brilliant of the Middle Ages.

125This is Cardinal Ottaviano delgi Ubaldini, who is accused of saying, “If there be any
soul, I have lost mine for the Ghibellines.” Dante takes him at his word.

Figure 26: As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb...



UPON the margin of a lofty bank
Which great rocks broken in a circle made,
We came upon a still more cruel throng;

And there, by reason of the horrible
Excess of stench the deep abyss throws out,
We drew ourselves aside behind the cover

Of a great tomb, whereon I saw a writing,
Which said: “Pope Anastasius I hold, 126
Whom out of the right way Photinus drew.” 127

“Slow it behoveth our descent to be,
So that the sense be first a little used
To the sad blast, and then we shall not heed it.”

The Master thus; and unto him I said,
“Some compensation find, that the time pass not

126Some critics and commentators accuse Dante of confounding Pope Anastasius with
the Emperor of that name. It is however highly probable that Dante knew best whom
he meant. Both were accused of heresy, though the heresy of the Pope seems to have
been of a mild type. A few years previous to his time, namely, in the year 484, Pope Felix

III. and Acacius, Bishop of Constantinople, mutually excommunicated each other. When
Anastasius II. became Pope in 496, “he dared,” says Milman, Hist. Lat. Christ., I. 349, “to
doubt the damnation of a bishop excommunicated by the See of Rome: ‘Felix and Acacius
are now both before a higher tribunal; leave them to that unerring judgment.’ He would
have the name of Acacius passed over in silence, quietly dropped, rather than publicly
expunged from the diptychs. This degenerate successor of St. Peter is not admitted to the
rank of a saint. The Pontifical book (its authority on this point is indignantly repudiated)
accuses Anastasius of having communicated with a deacon of Thessalonica, who had
kept up communion with Acacius; and of having entertained secret designs of restoring
the name of Acacius in the services of the Church.”
127Photinus is the deacon of Thessalonica alluded to in the preceding note. His heresy
was, that the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Father, and that the Father was greater
than the Son. The writers who endeavor to rescue the Pope at the expense of the Emperor
say that Photinus died before the days of Pope Anastasius.


Idly;” and he: “Thou seest I think of that.

My son, upon the inside of these rocks,”
Began he then to say, “are three small circles,
From grade to grade, like those which thou art leaving

They all are full of spirits maledict;
But that hereafter sight alone suffice thee,
Hear how and wherefore they are in constraint.

Of every malice that wins hate in Heaven,
Injury is the end; and all such end
Either by force or fraud afflicteth others.

But because fraud is man’s peculiar vice,
More it displeases God; and so stand lowest
The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them.

All the first circle of the Violent is;
But since force may be used against three persons,
In three rounds ’tis divided and constructed.

To God, to ourselves, and to our neighbour can we
Use force; I say on them and on their things,
As thou shalt hear with reason manifest.

A death by violence, and painful wounds,
Are to our neighbour given; and in his substance
Ruin, and arson, and injurious levies;

Whence homicides, and he who smites unjustly,
Marauders, and freebooters, the first round
Tormenteth all in companies diverse.

Man may lay violent hands upon himself
And his own goods; and therefore in the second
Round must perforce without avail repent

Whoever of your world deprives himself,
Who games, and dissipates his property,
And weepeth there, where he should jocund be.

Violence can be done the Deity,
In heart denying and blaspheming Him,
And by disdaining Nature and her bounty.

And for this reason doth the smallest round

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Seal with its signet Sodom and Cahors, 128
And who, disdaining God, speaks from the heart.

Fraud, wherewithal is every conscience stung,
A man may practise upon him who trusts,
And him who doth no confidence imburse.

This latter mode, it would appear, dissevers
Only the bond of love which Nature makes;
Wherefore within the second circle nestle

Hypocrisy, flattery, and who deals in magic,
Falsification, theft, and simony,
Panders, and barrators, and the like filth.

By the other mode, forgotten is that love
Which Nature makes, and what is after added,
From which there is a special faith engendered.

Hence in the smallest circle, where the point is
Of the Universe, upon which Dis is seated,
Whoe’er betrays for ever is consumed.”

And I: “My Master, clear enough proceeds
Thy reasoning, and full well distinguishes
This cavern and the people who possess it.

But tell me, those within the fat lagoon, 129
Whom the wind drives, and whom the rain doth beat, 130
And who encounter with such bitter tongues, 131

128Cahors is the cathedral town of the Department of the Lot, in the South of France,
and the birthplace of the poet Cl´ement Marot and of the romance-writer Calpren`ede. In
the Middle Ages it seems to have been a nest of usurers. Matthew Paris, in his Historia
Major, under date of 1235, has a chapter entitled, Of the Usury of the Caursines, which in
the translation of Rev. J. A. Giles runs as follows: –
“In these days prevailed the horrible nuisance of the Caursines to such a degree that there
was hardly any one in all England, especially among the bishops, who was not caught
in their net. Even the king himself was held indebted to them in an uncalculable sum of
money. For they circumvented the needy in their necessities, cloaking their usury under
the show of trade, and pretending not to know that whatever is added to the principal
is usury, under whatever name it may be called. For it is manifest that their loans lie not
in the path of charity, inasmuch as they do not hold out a helping hand to the poor to
relieve them, but to deceive them; not to aid others in their starvation, but to gratify their
own covetousness; seeing that the motive stamps our every deed.”

129Those within the fat lagoon, the Irascible, Canto VII., VIII.
130Whom the wind drives, the Wanton, Canto V., and whom the rain doth beat, the Gluttonous,
Canto VI.
131And who encounter with such bitter tongues, the Prodigal and Avaricious, Canto VIII.

Wherefore are they inside of the red city
Not punished, if God has them in his wrath,
And if he has not, wherefore in such fashion?”

And unto me he said: “Why wanders so
Thine intellect from that which it is wont?
Or, sooth, thy mind where is it elsewhere looking?

Hast thou no recollection of those words
With which thine Ethics thoroughly discusses 132
The dispositions three, that Heaven abides not, –

Incontinence, and Malice, and insane
Bestiality? and how Incontinence
Less God offendeth, and less blame attracts?

If thou regardest this conclusion well,
And to thy mind recallest who they are
That up outside are undergoing penance,

Clearly wilt thou perceive why from these felons
They separated are, and why less wroth
Justice divine doth smite them with its hammer.”

“O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,
Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,
That doubting pleases me no less than knowing!

Once more a little backward turn thee,” said I,
“There where thou sayest that usury offends
Goodness divine, and disengage the knot.”

“Philosophy,” he said, “to him who heeds it,
Noteth, not only in one place alone,
After what manner Nature takes her course

From Intellect Divine, and from its art;
And if thy Physics carefully thou notest, 133
After not many pages shalt thou find,

That this your art as far as possible
Follows, as the disciple doth the master;
So that your art is, as it were, God’s grandchild.

132The Ethics of Aristotle, VII. i. “After these things, making another beginning, it must
be observed by us that there are three species of things which are to be avoided in manners,
viz. Malice, Incontinence, and Bestiality.”

133The Physics of Aristotle, Book II.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind
Genesis at the beginning, it behoves 134
Mankind to gain their life and to advance;

And since the usurer takes another way,
Nature herself and in her follower 135
Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.

But follow, now, as I would fain go on,
For quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,
And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies, 136

And far beyond there we descend the crag.”

134Genesis, i. 28: “And God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the
earth, and subdue it.”

135The constellation Pisces precedes Aries, in which the sun now is. This indicates the
time to be a little before sunrise. It is Saturday morning.

136The Wain is the constellation Charle’s Wain, or Bootes; and Caurus is the Northwest,
indicated by the Latin name of the northwest wind.

Figure 27: We drew ourselves aside behind the cover of a great tomb...



THE place where to descend the bank we came 137
Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover,
Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.

Such as that ruin is which in the flank
Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige,
Either by earthquake or by failing stay,

For from the mountain’s top, from which it moved,
Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so,
Some path ’twould give to him who was above;

Even such was the descent of that ravine,
And on the border of the broken chasm
The infamy of Crete was stretched along, 138

Who was conceived in the fictitious cow;
And when he us beheld, he bit himself,
Even as one whom anger racks within.

My Sage towards him shoutedw: “Peradventure
Thou think’st that here may be the Duke of Athens, 139
Who in the world above brought death to thee?

Get thee gone, beast, for this one cometh not
Instructed by thy sister, but he comes 140

137With this Canto begins the Seventh Circle of the Inferno, in which the Violent are
punished. In the first Girone or round are the Violent against their neighbors, plunged
more or less deeply in the river of boiling blood.

138The Minotaur, half bull, half man. See the infamous story in all the classical dictio

139The Duke of Athens is Theseus.
140Ariadne, who gave Theseus the silken thread to guide him back through the Cretan

labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur. Hawthorne has beatifully told the old story in his
Tanglewood Tales. “Ah, the bull-headed villain!” he says. “And O my good little people,
you will perhaps see, one of these days, as I do now, that every human being who suffers


In order to behold your punishments.”

As is that bull who breaks loose at the moment
In which he has received the mortal blow,
Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there,

The Minotaur beheld I do the like;
And he, the wary, cried: “Run to the passage;
While he wroth, ’tis well thou shouldst descend.”

Thus down we took our way o’er that discharge
Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves
Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden.

Thoughtful I went; and he said: “Thou art thinking
Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded
By that brute anger which just now I quenched.

Now will I have thee know, the other time
I here descended to the nether Hell,
This precipice had not yet fallen down.

But truly, if I well discern, a little
Before His coming who the mighty spoil
Bore off from Dis, in the supernal circle, 141

Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley
Trembled so, that I thought the Universe
Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think 142

The world ofttimes converted into chaos;
And at that moment this primeval crag
Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow.

But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near
The river of blood, within which boiling is
Whoe’er by violence doth injure others.”

O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,
That spurs us onward so in our short life,
And in the eternal then so badly steeps us!

I saw an ample moat bent like a bow,

anything evil to get into his nature, or to remain there, is a kind of Minotaur, an enemy of
his fellow-creatures, and separated from all good companionship, as this poor monster

141Christ’s descent into Limbo, and the earthquake at the Crucifixion.
142This is the doctrine of Empedocles and other old philosophers.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 28: Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows...

As one which all the plain encompasses,
Conformable to what my Guide had said.

And between this and the embankment’s foot
Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows, 143
As in the world they used the chase to follow.

Beholding us descend, each one stood still,
And from the squadron three detached themselves,
With bows and arrows in advance selected;

And from afar one cried: “Unto what torment
Come ye, who down the hillside are descending?
Tell us from there; if not, I draw the bow.”

My Master said: “Our answer will we make
To Chiron, near you there; in evil hour,
That will of thine was evermore so hasty.”

143The Centaurs are set to guard this Circle, as symbolizing violence, with some form of
which the classic poets usually associate them.

Figure 29: Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges...

Then touched he me, and said: “This one is Nessus, 144
Who perished for the lovely Dejanira,
And for himself, himself did vengeance take.

And he in the midst, who at his breast is gazing,
Is the great Chiron, who brought up Achilles; 145
That other Pholus is, who was so wrathful.

Thousands and thousands go about the moat
Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges
Out of the blood, more than his crime allots.”

Near we approached unto those monsters fleet;
Chiron an arrow took, and with the notch 146

144Chiron was a son of Saturn; Pholus, of Silenus; and Nessus, of Ixion and the Cloud.
145Homer, Iliad, XI. 832, “Whom Chiron instructed, the most just of the Centaurs.”
146Mr. Ruskin refers to this line in confirmation of his theory that “all great art represents

something that it sees or believes in; nothing unseen or uncredited.” The passage is as

follows, Modern Painters, III. 83: – “And just because it is always something that it sees or

believes in, there is the peculiar character above noted, almost unmistakable, in all high

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Backward upon his jaws he put his beard.

After he had uncovered his great mouth,
He said to his companions: “Are you ware
That he behind moveth whate’er he touches?

Thus are not wont to do the feet of dead men.”
And my good Guide, who now was at his breast,
Where the two natures are together joined,

Replied: “Indeed he lives, and thus alone
Me it behoves to show him the dark valley;
Necessity, and not delight, impels us.

Some one withdrew from singing Halleluja,
Who unto me committed this new office;
No thief is he, nor I a thievish spirit.

But by that virtue through which I am moving
My steps along this savage thoroughfare,
Give us some one of thine, to be with us,

And who may show us where to pass the ford,
And who may carry this one on his back;
For ’tis no spirit that can walk the air.”

Upon his right breast Chiron wheeled about,
And said to Nessus: “Turn and do thou guide them,
And warn aside, if other band may meet you.”

We with our faithful escort onward moved
Along the brink of the vermilion boiling,
Wherein the boiled were uttering loud laments.

People I saw within up to the eyebrows,
And the great Centaur said: “Tyrants are these,
Who dealt in bloodshed and in pillaging.

Here they lament their pitiless mischiefs; here

and true ideals, of having been as it were studies from the life, and involving pieces of
sudden familiarity, and close specific painting which never would have been admitted or
even thought of, had not the painter drawn either from the bodily life or from the life of
faith. For instance, Dante’s Centaur, Chiron, dividing his beard with his arrow before he
can speak, is a thing that no mortal would ever have thought of, if he had not actually
seen the Centaur do it. They might have composed handsome bodies of men and horses
in all possible ways, through a whole life of pseudo-idealism, and yet never dreamed of
any such thing. But the real living Centaur actually trotted across Dante’s brain, and he
saw him do it.”

Is Alexander, and fierce Dionysius 147
Who upon Sicily brought dolorous years.

That forehead there which has the hair so black
Is Azzolin; and the other who is blond, 148
Obizzo is of Esti, who, in truth, 149

Up in the world was by his stepson slain.”
Then turned I to the Poet; and he said,
“Now he be first to thee, and second I.”

A little farther on the Centaur stopped
Above a folk, who far down as the throat
Seemed from that boiling stream to issue forth.

A shade’ he showed us on one side alone,
Saying: “He cleft asunder in God’s bosom 150
The heart that still upon the Thames is honoured.”

Then people saw I, who from out the river
Lifted their heads and also all the chest;
And many among these I recognised. 151

Thus ever more and more grew shallower
That blood, so that the feet alone it covered;
And there across the moat our passage was.

“Even as thou here upon this side beholdest
The boiling stream, that aye diminishes,”
The Centaur said, “I wish thee to believe

That on this other more and more declines
Its bed, until it reunites itself
Where it behoveth tyranny to groan.

147Alexander of Thessaly and Dionysius of Syracuse.

148Azzolino, or Ezzolino di Romano, tyrant of Padua, nicknamed the Son of the Devil.
Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, III. 33, describes him as: – “Fierce Ezelin, that most inhuman
lord, Who shall be deemed by men a child of hell.” His story may be found in Sismondi’s
Histoire des Republiques Italiennes, Chap. XIX. He so outraged the religious sense of the
people by his cruelties, that a crusade was preached against him, and he died a prisoner
in 1259, tearing the bandages from his wounds, and fierce and defiant to the last.

149Obizzo da Esti, Marquis of Ferrara. He was murdered by Azzo, “whom he thought
to be his son,” says Boccaccio, “though he was not.” The Ottimo Comento remarks: “Many
call themselves sons, and are step-sons.”

150Guido di Monforte, who murdered Prince Henry of England “in the bosom of God,”
that is, in the church, at Viterbo.
151Violence in all its forms was common enough in Florence in the age of Dante.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Justice divine, upon this side, is goading
That Attila, who was a scourge on earth, 152
And Pyrrhus, and Sextus; and for ever milks 153

The tears which with the boiling it unseals
In Rinier da Corneto and Rinier Pazzo, 154
Who made upon the highways so much war.”

Then back he turned, and passed again the ford.

152Attila, the Scourge of God.

153Which Pyrrhus and which Sextus, the commentators cannot determine; but incline
to Pyrrhus of Epirus, and Sextus Pompey, the corsair of the Mediterranean.

154Nothing more is known of these highwaymen than that the first infested the Roman
sea-shore, and that the second was of a noble family of Florence.

Figure 30: The infamy of Crete was stretched along...



NOT yet had Nessus reached the other side, 155
When we had put ourselves within a wood,
That was not marked by any path whatever.

Not foliage green, but of a dusky colour,
Not branches smooth, but gnarled and intertangled,
Not apple-trees were there, but thorns with poison.

Such tangled thickets have not, nor so dense,
Those savage wild beasts, that in hatred hold
’Twixt Cecina and Corneto the tilled places. 156

There do the hideous Harpies make their nests,
Who chased the Trojans from the Strophades,
With sad announcement of impending doom;

Broad wings have they, and necks and faces human,
And feet with claws, and their great bellies fledged;
They make laments upon the wondrous trees.

And the good Master: “Ere thou enter farther,
Know that thou art within the second round,”
Thus he began to say, “and shalt be, till

Thou comest out upon the horrible sand;
Therefore look well around, and thou shalt see
Things that will credence give unto my speech.”

I heard on all sides lamentations uttered,
And person none beheld I who might make them,

155In this Canto is described the punishment of those who had laid violent hands on
themselves or their property.

156The Cecina is a small river running into the Mediterranean not many miles south of
Leghorn; Corneto, a village in the Papal States, north of Civita Vecchia. The country is
wild and thinly peopled, and studded with thickets, the haunts of the deer and the wild


Whence, utterly bewildered, I stood still.

I think he thought that I perhaps might think
So many voices issued through those trunks
From people who concealed themselves from us;

Therefore the Master said: “If thou break off
Some little spray from any of these trees,
The thoughts thou hast will wholly be made vain.”

Then stretched I forth my hand a little forward,
And plucked a branchlet off from a great thorn,
And the trunk cried, “Why dost thou mangle me?”

After it had become embrowned with blood,
It recommenced its cry: “Why dost thou rend me
Hast thou no spirit of pity whatsoever?

Men once we were, and now are changed to trees;
Indeed, thy hand should be more pitiful,
Even if the souls of serpents we had been.”

As out of a green brand, that is on fire
At one of the ends, and from the other drips
And hisses with the wind that is escaping;

So from that splinter issued forth together
Both words and blood; whereat I let the tip
Fall, and stood like a man who is afraid.

“Had he been able sooner to believe,”
My Sage made answer, “O thou wounded soul,
What only in my verses he has seen,

Not upon thee had he stretched forth his hand;
Whereas the thing incredible has caused me
To put him to an act which grieveth me.

But tell him who thou wast, so that by way
Of some amends thy fame he may refresh
Up in the world, to which he can return.”

And the trunk said: “So thy sweet words allure me,
I cannot silent be; and you be vexed not,
That I a little to discourse am tempted.

I am the one who both keys had in keeping 157

157Pietro della Vigna, Chancellor of the Emperor Frederick II.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Of Frederick’s heart, and turned them to and fro
So softly in unlocking and in locking,

That from his secrets most men I withheld;
Fidelity I bore the glorious office
So great, I lost thereby my sleep and pulses.

The courtesan who never from the dwelling
Of Caesar turned aside her strumpet eyes,
Death universal and the vice of courts,

Inflamed against me all the other minds,
And they, inflamed, did so inflame Augustus,
That my glad honours turned to dismal mournings.

My spirit, in disdainful exultation,
Thinking by dying to escape disdain,
Made me unjust against myself, the just.

I, by the roots unwonted of this wood,
Do swear to you that never broke I faith
Unto my lord, who was so worthy of honour;

And to the world if one of you return,
Let him my memory comfort, which is lying
Still prostrate from the blow that envy dealt it.”

Waited awhile, and then: “Since he is silent,”
The Poet said to me, “lose not the time,
But speak, and question him, if more may please thee.”

Whence I to him: “Do thou again inquire
Concerning what thou thinks’t will satisfy me;
For I cannot, such pity is in my heart.”

Therefore he recommenced: “So may the man
Do for thee freely what thy speech implores,
Spirit incarcerate, again be pleased

To tell us in what way the soul is bound
Within these knots; and tell us, if thou canst
If any from such members e’er is freed.”

Then blew the trunk amain, and afterward
The wind was into such a voice converted:
“With brevity shall be replied to you.

When the exasperated soul abandons
The body whence it rent itself away,

Figure 31: It falls into the forest...

Minos consigns it to the seventh abyss.

It falls into the forest, and no part
Is chosen for it; but where Fortune hurls it,
There like a grain of spelt it germinates.

It springs a sapling, and a forest tree;
The Harpies, feeding then upon its leaves,
Do pain create, and for the pain an outlet.

Like others for our spoils shall we return;
But not that any one may them revest,
For ’tis not just to have what one casts off.

Here we shall drag them, and along the dismal
Forest our bodies shall suspended be,
Each to the thorn of his molested shade.”

We were attentive still unto the trunk,
Thinking that more it yet might wish to tell us,
When by a tumult we were overtaken,

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 32: Fleeing so furiously, that of the forest, every fan they broke.

In the same way as he is who perceives
The boar and chase approaching to his stand,
Who hears the crashing of the beasts and branches;

And two behold! upon our left-hand side,
Naked and scratched, fleeing so furiously,
That of the forest, every fan they broke.

He who was in advance: “Now help, Death, help!”
And the other one, who seemed to lag too much,
Was shouting: “Lano, were not so alert 158

158“Lano,” says Boccaccio, Comento, “was young gentleman of Siena, who had a large
patrimony, and associating himself with a club of other young Sienese, called the
Spendthrift Club, they also being all rich, together with them, not spending but squandering,
in a short time he consumed all that he had and became very poor.” Joining
some Florentine troops sent out against the Aretines, he was in a skirmish at the parish
of Toppo, which Dante calls a joust; “and notwithstanding he might have saved himself,”
continues Boccaccio, “remembering his wretched condition, and it seeming to him
a grievous thing to bear poverty, as he had been very rich, he rushed into the thick of the
enemy and was slain, as perhaps he desired to be.”

Those legs of thine at joustings of the Toppo!”
And then, perchance because his breath was failing,
He grouped himself together with a bush.

Behind them was the forest full of black
She-mastiffs, ravenous, and swift of foot
As greyhounds, who are issuing from the chain. 159

On him who had crouched down they set their teeth,
And him they lacerated piece by piece,
Thereafter bore away those aching members.

Thereat my Escort took me by the hand,
And led me to the bush, that all in vain
Was weeping from its bloody lacerations.

“O Jacopo,” it said, “of Sant’ Andrea, 160
What helped it thee of me to make a screen?
What blame have I in thy nefarious life?”

When near him had the Master stayed his steps,
He said: “Who wast thou, that through wounds so many
Art blowing out with blood thy dolorous speech?”

And he to us: “O souls, that hither come
To look upon the shameful massacre
That has so rent away from me my leaves,

Gather them up beneath the dismal bush;
I of that city was which to the Baptist 161
Changed its first patron, wherefore he for this

Forever with his art will make it sad.
And were it not that on the pass of Arno
Some glimpses of him are remaining still,

Those citizens, who afterwards rebuilt it

159Some commentators interpret these dogs as poverty and despair, still pursuing their
victims. The Ottimo Comento calls them “poor men who, to follow pleasure and the
kitchens of other people, abandoned their homes and families, and are therefore transformed
into hunting dogs, and pursue and devour their masters.”

160Jacopo da St. Andrea was a Paduan of like character and life as Lano. “Among his
other squanderings,” says the Ottimo Comento, “it is said that, wishing to see a grand and
beautiful fire, he had one of his own villas burned.”

161Florence was first under the protection of the god Mars; afterwards under that of St.
John the Baptist. But in Dante’s time the statue of Mars was still standing on a column at
the head of the Ponte Vecchio. It was over thrown by an inundation of the Arno in 1333.
See Canto XV.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Upon the ashes left by Attila, 162
In vain had caused their labour to be done. 163

Of my own house I made myself a gibbet.”

162Florence was destroyed by Totila in 450, and never by Attila. In Dante’s time the two
seem to have been pretty generally confounded. The Ottimo Comento remarks upon this
point, “Some say that Totila was one person and Attila another; and some say that he was
one and the same man.”

163Dante does not mention the name of this suicide; Boccaccio thinks, for one of two
reasons; “either out of regard of his surviving relatives, who peradventure are honorable
men, and therefore he did not wish to stain them with the infamy of so dishonest a death,
or else (as in those times, as if by a malediction sent by God upon our city, many hanged
themselves) that each one might apply it to either he pleased of these many.”

Figure 33: There do the hideous Harpies make their nests...



BECAUSE the charity of my native place 164
Constrained me, gathered I the scattered leaves,
And gave them back to him, who now was hoarse.

Then came we to the confine, where disparted
The second round is from the third, and where
A horrible form of Justice is beheld.

Clearly to manifest these novel things,
I say that we arrived upon a plain,
Which from its bed rejecteth every plant;

The dolorous forest is a garland to it
All round about, as the sad moat to that;
There close upon the edge we stayed our feet.

The soil was of an arid and thick sand,
Not of another fashion made than that
Which by the feet of Cato once was pressed. 165

Vengeance of God, O how much oughtest thou
By each one to be dreaded, who doth read
That which was manifest unto mine eyes!

Of naked souls beheld I many herds,
Who all were weeping very miserably,
And over them seemed set a law diverse.

Supine upon the ground some folk were lying;
And some were sitting all drawn up together,
And others went about continually.

164In this third round of the seventh circle are punished the Violent against God, “In
heart denying and blaspheming him, And by disdaining Nature and her bounty.”

165When he retreated across the Libyan desert with the remnant of Pompey’s army after
the battle of Pharsalia. Lucan, Pharsalia, Book IX.: – “Foremost, behold, I lead you to the
toil, My feet shall foremost print the dusty soil.”


Figure 34: Supine upon the ground some folk were lying...

Those who were going round were far the more,
And those were less who lay down to their torment,
But had their tongues more loosed to lamentation.

O’er all the sand-waste, with a gradual fall,
Were raining down dilated flakes of fire,
As of the snow on Alp without a wind.

As Alexander, in those torrid parts 166
Of India, beheld upon his host
Flames fall unbroken till they reached the ground,

Whence he provided with his phalanxes
To trample down the soil, because the vapour
Better extinguished was while it was single;

Thus was descending the eternal heat,

166Boccaccio confesses that he does not know where Dante found this tradition of
Alexander. Benvenuto da Imola says it is a letter which Alexander wrote to Aristotle.
He quotes the passage as follows: “In India ignited vapors fell from heaven like snow. I
commanded my soldiers to trample them under foot.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Whereby the sand was set on fire, like tinder
Beneath the steel, for doubling of the dole.

Without repose forever was the dance
Of miserable hands, now there, now here,
Shaking away from off them the fresh gleeds.

“Master,” began I, “thou who overcomest
All things except the demons dire, that issued
Against us at the entrance of the gate,

Who is that mighty one who seems to heed not
The fire, and lieth lowering and disdainful,
So that the rain seems not to ripen him?”

And he himself, who had become aware
That I was questioning my Guide about him,
Cried: “Such as I was living, am I, dead

If Jove should weary out his smith, from whom
He seized in anger the sharp thunderbolt,
Wherewith upon the last day I was smitten,

And if he wearied out by turns the others
In Mongibello at the swarthy forge, 167
Vociferating, ‘Help, good Vulcan, help!’

Even as he did there at the fight of Phlegra,
And shot his bolts at me with all his might,
He would not have thereby a joyous vengeance.”

Then did my Leader speak with such great force,
That I had never heard him speak so loud:
“O Capaneus, in that is not extinguished 168

Thine arrogance, thou punished art the more;
Not any torment, saving thine own rage,
Would be unto thy fury pain complete.”

Then he turned round to me with better lip,
Saying: “One of the Seven Kings was he
Who Thebes besieged, and held, and seems to hold

God in disdain, and little seems to prize him;
But, as I said to him, his own despites

167Mount Etna, under which, with his Cyclops, Vulcan forged the thunderbolts of Jove.
168Capaneus was one of the seven kings who besieged Thebes.

Are for his breast the fittest ornaments. 169

Now follow me, and mind thou do not place
As yet thy feet upon the burning sand,
But always keep them close unto the wood.”

Speaking no word, we came to where there gushes
Forth from the wood a little rivulet,
Whose redness makes my hair still stand on end.

As from the Bulicame springs the brooklet, 170
The sinful women later share among them,
So downward through the sand it went its way.

The bottom of it, and both sloping banks,
Were made of stone, and the margins at the side;
Whence I perceived that there the passage was.

“In all the rest which I have shown to thee
Since we have entered in within the gate
Whose threshold unto no one is denied,

Nothing has been discovered by thine eyes
So notable as is the present river,
Which all the little ‘dames above it quenches.”

These words were of my Leader; whence I prayed him
That he would give me largess of the food,
For which he had given me largess of desire.

“In the mid-sea there sits a wasted land,”
Said he thereafterward,”whose name is Crete,
Under whose king the world of old was chaste.

There is a mountain there, that once was glad
With waters and with leaves, which was called Ida;
Now ’tis deserted, as a thing worn out.

Rhea once chose it for the faithful cradle
Of her own son; and to conceal him better,

169Like Hawthorne’s scarlet letter, at once an ornament and a punishment.

170The Bulicame or Hot Springs of Viterbo. Villani, Cronica, Book 1. Ch. 51, gives the
following brief account of these springs, and of the origin of the name of Viterbo: – “The
city of Viterbo was built by the Romans, and in old times was called Vigezia, and the
citizens Vigentians. And the Romans sent the sick there on account of the baths which
flow from the Bulicame, and therefore it was called Vita Erbo, that is, life of the sick, or
city of life.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Whene’er he cried, she there had clamours made. 171

A grand old man stands in the mount erect, 172
Who holds his shoulders turned tow’rds Damietta,
And looks at Rome as if it were his mirror. 173

His head is fashioned of refined gold,
And of pure silver are the arms and breast;
Then he is brass as far down as the fork.

From that point downward all is chosen iron,
Save that the right foot is of kiln-baked clay,
And more he stands on that than on the other.

Each part, except the gold, is by a fissure
Asunder cleft, that dripping is with tears, 174
Which gathered together perforate that cavern

From rock to rock they fall into this valley;
Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon they form;
Then downward go along this narrow sluice

Unto that point where is no more descending.
They form Cocytus; what that pool may be
Thou shalt behold, so here ’tis not narrated.”

And I to him: “If so the present runnel
Doth take its rise in this way from our world,
Why only on this verge appears it to us?”

And he to me: “Thou knowest the place is round
And notwithstanding thou hast journeyed far,
Still to the left descending to the bottom,

Thou hast not yet through all the circle turned.
Therefore if something new appear to us,
It should not bring amazement to thy face.”

And I again: “Master, where shall be found
Lethe and Phlegethon, for of one thou’rt silent,
And sayest the other of this rain is made?”

171The shouts and cymbals of the Corybantes, drowning the cries of the infant Jove, lest
Saturn should find him and devour him.
172The statue of Time, turning its back upon the East and looking towards Rome. Com

pare Daniel ii. 31.
173The Ages of Gold, Silver, Brass, and Iron.
174The Tears of Time, forming the infernal rivers that flow into Cocytus.

“In all thy questions truly thou dost please me,”
Replied he; “but the boiling of the red
Water might well solve one of them thou makest.

Thou shalt see Lethe, but outside this moat, 175
There where the souls repair to lave themselves,
When sin repented of has been removed.”

Then said he: “It is time now to abandon
The wood; take heed that thou come after me;
A way the margins make that are not burning,

And over them all vapours are extinguished.”

175See Purgatorio XXVIII.



NOW bears us onward one of the hard margins, 176
And so the brooklet’s mist o’ershadows it,
From fire it saves the water and the dikes.

Even as the Flemings, ’twixt Cadsand and Bruges, 177
Fearing the flood that tow’rds them hurls itself,
Their bulwarks build to put the sea to flight;

And as the Paduans along the Brenta,
To guard their villas and their villages,
Or ever Chiarentana feel the heat; 178

In such similitude had those been made,
Albeit not so lofty nor so thick,
Whoever he might be, the master made them.

Now were we from the forest so remote,
I could not have discovered where it was,
Even if backward I had turned myself,

When we a company of souls encountered,
Who came beside the dike, and every one
Gazed at us, as at evening we are wont

To eye each other under a new moon,
And so towards us sharpened they their brows
As an old tailor at the needle’s eye.

Thus scrutinised by such a family,

176In this Canto is described the punishment of the Violent against Nature; –
“And for this reason does the smallest round
Seal with its signet Sodom and Cahors.”

177Guizzante is not Ghent, but Cadsand, an island opposite L’Ecluse, where the great
canal of Bruges enters the sea. A canal thus flowing into the sea, the dikes on either
margin uniting with the sea-dikes, gives a perfect image of this part of the Inferno.

178That part of the Alps in which the Brenta rises.


Figure 35: And bowing down my face unto his own, I made reply, “Are
you here, Ser Brunetto?”

By some one I was recognised, who seized
My garment’s hem, and cried out, “What a marvel!”

And I, when he stretched forth his arm-to me,
On his baked aspect fastened so mine eyes,
That the scorched countenance prevented not

His recognition by my intellect;
And bowing down my face unto his own,
I made reply, “Are you here, Ser Brunetto?” 179

And he: “May’t not displease thee, O my son,
If a brief space with thee Brunetto Latini
Backward return and let the trail go on.”

I said to him: “With all my power I ask it;
And if you wish me to sit down with you,
I will, if he please, for I go with him.”

179Brunetto Latini, Dante’s friend and teacher.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

“O son,” he said, “whoever of this herd
A moment stops, lies then a hundred years,
Nor fans himself when smiteth him the fire.

Therefore go on; I at thy skirts will come,
And afterward will I rejoin my band,
Which goes lamenting its eternal doom.”

I did not dare to go down from the road
Level to walk with him; but my head bowed
I held as one who goeth reverently.

And he began: “What fortune or what fate
Before the last day leadeth thee down here?
And who is this that showeth thee the way?”

“Up there above us in the life serene,”
I answered him, “I lost me in a valley,
Or ever yet my age had been completed.

But yestermorn I turned my back upon it;
This one appeared to me, returning thither,
And homeward leadeth me along this road.”

And he to me: “If thou thy star do follow,
Thou canst not fail thee of a glorious port,
If well I judged in the life beautiful.

And if I had not died so prematurely,
Seeing Heaven thus benignant unto thee,
I would have given thee comfort in the work.

But that ungrateful and malignant people,
Which of old time from Fesole descended,
And smacks still of the mountain and the granite,

Will make itself, for thy good deeds, thy foe;
And it is right; for among crabbed sorbs
It ill befits the sweet fig to bear fruit.

Old rumour in the world proclaims them blind; 180
A people avaricious, envious, proud

180Villani, IV. 31, tells the story of certain columns of porphyry given by the Pisans to
the Florentines for guarding their city while the Pisan army had gone to the conquest of
Majorca. The columns were cracked by fire, but being covered with crimson cloth, the
Florentines did not perceive it. Boccaccio repeats the story with variations, but does not
think it a sufficient reason for calling the Florentines blind, and confesses that he does not
know what reason there can be for so calling them.

, Take heed that of their customs thou do cleanse thee.

Thy fortune so much honour doth reserve thee,
One party and the other shall be hungry
For thee; but far from goat shall be the grass.

Their litter let the beasts of Fesole
Make of themselves, nor let them touch the plant,
If any still upon their dunghill rise,

In which may yet revive the consecrated
Seed of those Romans, who remained there when
The nest of such great malice it became.”

“If my entreaty wholly were fulfilled,”
Replied I to him, “not yet would you be
In banishment from human nature placed;

For in my mind is fixed, and touches now
My heart the dear and good paternal image
Of you, when in the world from hour to hour

You taught me how a man becomes eternal;
And how much I am grateful, while I live
Behoves that in my language be discerned.

What you narrate of my career I write,
And keep it to be glossed with other text 181
By a Lady who can do it, if I reach her.

This much will I have manifest to you;
Provided that my conscience do not chide me,
For whatsoever Fortune I am ready.

Such handsel is not new unto mine ears;
Therefore let Fortune turn her wheel around
As it may please her, and the churl his mattock.”

My Master thereupon on his right cheek
Did backward turn himself, and looked at me;
Then said: “He listeneth well who noteth it.”

Nor speaking less on that account, I go
With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are
His most known and most eminent companions.

181The “other text” is the prediction of his banishment, Canto X. 81, and the Lady is

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And he to me: “To know of some is well;
Of others it were laudable to be silent,
For short would be the time for so much speech.

Know them in sum, that all of them were clerks,
And men of letters great and of great fame,
In the world tainted with the selfsame sin.

Priscian goes yonder with that wretched crowd, 182
And Francis of Accorso; and thou hadst seen there 183
If thou hadst had a hankering for such scurf,

That one, who by the Servant of the Servants
From Arno was transferred to Bacchiglione, 184
Where he has left his sin-excited nerves.

More would I say, but coming and discoursing
Can be no longer; for that I behold
New smoke uprising yonder from the sand.

A people comes with whom I may not be;
Commended unto thee be my Tesoro,
In which I still live, and no more I ask.”

Then he turned round, and seemed to be of those
Who at Verona run for the Green Mantle 185
Across the plain; and seemed to be among them

The one who wins, and not the one who loses.

182Priscian, the grammarian of Constantinople in the sixth century.

183Francesco d’Accorso, a distinguished jurist and Professor at Bologna in the thirteenth
century, celebrated for his Commentary upon the Code Justinian.

184Andrea de’ Mozzi, Bishop of Florence, transferred by the Pope, the “Servant of Servants,”
to Vicenza; the two cities being here designated by the rivers on which they are
respectively situated.

185The Corsa del Pallio, or foot races, at Verona; in which a green mantle, or Pallio, was the
prize. Buttura says that these foot-races are still continued (1823), and that he has seen
them more than once; but certainly not in the nude state in which Boccaccio describes
them, and which renders Dante’s comparison more complete and striking.



NOW was I where was heard the reverberation 186
Of water falling into the next round,
Like to that humming which the beehives make,

When shadows three together started forth, 187
Running, from out a company that passed
Beneath the rain of the sharp martyrdom.

Towards us came they, and each one cried out:
“Stop, thou; for by thy garb to us thou seemest
To be some one of our depraved city.”

Ah me! what wounds I saw upon their limbs,
Recent and ancient by the flames burnt in!
It pains me still but to remember it.

Unto their cries my Teacher paused attentive;
He turned his face towards me, and “Now wait,
He said; “to these we should be courteous.

And if it were not for the fire that darts
The nature of this region, I should say
That haste were more becoming thee than them.”

As soon as we stood still, they recommenced
The old refrain, and when they overtook us,
Formed of themselves a wheel, all three of them.

As champions stripped and oiled are wont to do,
Watching for their advantage and their hold,
Before they come to blows and thrusts between them,

Thus, wheeling round, did every one his visage
Direct to me, so that in opposite wise

186In this Canto the subject of the preceding is continued.
187Guidoguerra, Tegghiajo Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

His neck and feet continual journey made.

And, “If the misery of this soft place
Bring in disdain ourselves and our entreaties,”
Began one, “and our aspect black and blistered.

Let the renown of us thy mind incline
To tell us who thou art, who thus securely
Thy living feet dost move along through Hell.

He in whose footprints thou dost see me treading,
Naked and skinless though he now may go,
Was of a greater rank than thou dost think;

He was the grandson of the good Gualdrada; 188
His name was Guidoguerra, and in life
Much did he with his wisdom and his sword.

The other, who close by me treads the sand,
Tegghiaio Aldobrandi is, whose fame 189
Above there in the world should welcome be.

And I, who with them on the cross am placed,
Jacopo Rusticucci was; and truly 190
My savage wife, more than aught else, doth harm me.” 191

Could I have been protected from the fire,
Below I should have thrown myself among them,
And think the Teacher would have suffered it;

But as I should have burned and baked myself,
My terror overmastered my good will,

188The good Gualdrada was a daughter of Bellincion Berti, the simple citizen of Florence
in the olden time, who used to walk the streets “begirt with bone and leather,” as
mentioned in the Paradiso, XV. 112.

189Tegghiajo Aldobrandi was a distinguished citizen of Florence, and opposed what
Malespini calls “the ill counsel of the people,” that war should be declared against the
Sienese, which war resulted in the battle of Monte Aperto and the defeat of the Florentines.

190Jacopo Rusticucci was a rich Florentine gentleman, whose chief misfortune seems
to have been an ill-assorted marriage. Whereupon the amiable Boccaccio in his usual
Decameron style remarks: “Men ought not then to be over-hasty in getting married; on
the contrary, they should come to it with much precaution.” And then he indulges in five
octavo pages against matrimony and woman in general.

191See Macchiavelli’s story of Belfagor, wherein Minos and Rhadamanthus, and the rest
of the infernal judges, are greatly surprised to hear an infinite number of condemned
souls “lament nothing so bitterly as their folly in having taken wives, attributing to them
the whole of their misfortune.”

Which made me greedy of embracing them.

Then I began: “Sorrow and not disdain
Did your condition fix within me so,
That tardily it wholly is stripped off,

As soon as this my Lord said unto me
Words, on account of which I thought within me
That people such as you are were approaching.

I of your city am; and evermore
Your labours and your honourable names
I with affection have retraced and heard.

I leave the gall, and go for the sweet fruits
Promised to me by the veracious Leader;
But to the centre first I needs must plunge.”

“So may the soul for a long while conduct
Those limbs of thine,” did he make answer thee:
“And so may thy renown shine after thee,

Valour and courtesy, say if they dwell
Within our city, as they used to do,
Or if they wholly have gone out of it;

For Guglielmo Borsier, who is in torment 192
With us of late, and goes there with his comrades,
Doth greatly mortify us with his words.”

“The new inhabitants and the sudden gains,
Pride and extravagance have in thee engendered,
Florence, so that thou weep’st thereat already!”

In this wise I exclaimed with face uplifted;
And the three, taking that for my reply,
Looked at each other, as one looks at truth

“If other times so little it doth cost thee,”
Replied they all, “to satisfy another,
Happy art thou, thus speaking at thy will!

Therefore, if thou escape from these dark places,
And come to rebehold the beauteous stars,
When it shall pleasure thee to say, ‘I was,’

192Boccaccio, in his Comento, speaks of Guglielmo Borsiere as “a courteous gentleman
of good breeding and excellent manners”; and in the Decameron, Gior. I. Nov.8, tells of a
sharp rebuke administered by him to Messer Ermino de’ Grimaldi, a miser of Genoa.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

See that thou speak of us unto the people.”
Then they broke up the wheel, and in their flight
It seemed as if their agile legs were wings.

Not an Amen could possibly be said
So rapidly as they had disappeared;
Wherefore the Master deemed best to depart.

I followed him, and little had we gone,
Before the sound of water was so near us,
That speaking we should hardly have been heard.

Even as that stream which holdeth its own course
The first from Monte Veso tow’rds the East, 193
Upon the left-hand slope of Apennine,

Which is above called Acquacheta, ere
It down descendeth into its low bed,
And at Forli is vacant of that name,

Reverberates there above San Benedetto
From Alps, by falling at a single leap,
Where for a thousand there were room enough; 194

Thus downward from a bank precipitate,
We found resounding that dark-tinted water,
So that it soon the ear would have offended.

I had a cord around about me girt, 195

193Monte Veso is among the Alps, between Piedmont and Savoy, where the Po takes its
rise. From this point eastward to the Adriatic, all the rivers on the left or northern slope
of the Apennines are tributaries to the Po, until we come to the Montone, which above
Forl`i is called Acquacheta. This is the first which flows directly into the Adriatic, and not
into the Po. At least it was so in Dante’s time. Now, by some change in its course, the
Lamone, farther north, has opened itself a new outlet, and is the first to make its own
way to the Adriatic.

194Boccaccio’s interpretation of this line, which has been adopted by most of the commentators
since his time, is as follows: “I was for a long time in doubt concerning the
author’s meaning in this line; but being by chance at this monastery of San Benedetto,
in company with the abbot, he told me that there had once been a discussion among
the Counts who owned the mountain, about building a village near the waterfall, as a
convenient place for a settlement, and bringing into it their vassals scattered on neighboring
farms; but the leader of the project dying, it was not carried into effect; and that is
what the author says, Ove dovea per mille, that is, for many, esser ricetto, that is home and

195This cord has puzzled the commentators exceedingly. Boccaccio, Volpi, and Venturi,
do not explain it. The anonymous author of the Ottimo, Benvenuto da Imola, Buti,
Landino, Vellutello, and Daniello, all think it means fraud, which Dante had used in the

And therewithal I whilom had designed
To take the panther with the painted skin.

After I this had all from me unloosed,
As my Conductor had commanded me,
I reached it to him, gathered up and coiled

Whereat he turned himself to the right side, 196
And at a little distance from the verge,
He cast it down into that deep abyss.

“It must needs be some novelty respond,”
I said within myself, “to the new signal
The Master with his eye is following so.”

Ah me I how very cautious men should be
With those who not alone behold the act,
But with their wisdom look into the thoughts!

He said to me: “Soon there will upward come
What I await; and what thy thought is dreaming
Must soon reveal itself unto thy sight.”

Aye to that truth which has the face of falsehood,
A man should close his lips as far as may be,
Because without his fault it causes shame;

But here I cannot; and, Reader, by the notes
Of this my Comedy to thee I swear,
So may they not be void of lasting favour,

pursuit of pleasure, “the panther with the painted skin.” Lombardi is of opinion that,
“by girding himself with the Franciscan cord, he had endeavored to restrain his sensual
appetites, indicated by the panther; and still wearing the cord as a Tertiary of the Order,
he makes it serve here to deceive Geryon, and bring him up.” Biagioli understands by it
“the humility with which a man should approach Science, because it is she that humbles
the proud.” Fraticelli thinks it means vigilance; Tommaseo, “the good faith with which
he hoped to win the Florentines, and now wishes to deal with their fraud, so that it may
not harm him”; and Gabrielli Rossetti says, “Dante flattered himself, acting as a sincere
Ghibelline, that he should meet with good faith from his Guelf countrymen, and met instead
with horrible fraud.”
It will be remembered that St. Francis, the founder of the Cordeliers (the wearers of the
cord), used to call his body asino, or ass, and to subdue it with the capestro, or halter. Thus
the cord is made to symbolize the subjugation of the animal nature. This renders Lombardi’s
interpretation the most intelligible and satisfactory, though Virgil seems to have
thrown the cord into the abyss simply because he had nothing else to throw, and not with
the design of deceiving.

196As a man does naturally in the act of throwing.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Athwart that dense and darksome atmosphere
I saw a figure swimming upward come, 197
Marvellous unto every steadfast heart, 198

Even as he returns who goeth down
Sometimes to clear an anchor, which has grappled
Reef, or aught else that in the sea is hidden,

Who upward stretches, and draws in his feet.

197That Geryon, seeing the cord, ascends, expecting to find some moine d´efroqu´e, and
carry him down, as Lombardi suggests, is hardly admissible; for that was not his office.
The spirits were hurled down to their appointed places, as soon as Minos doomed them.
Inferno, V.15.

198Even to a steadfast (loyal) heart.



“BEHOLD the monster with the pointed tail, 199
Who cleaves the hills, and breaketh walls and weapons,
Behold him who infecteth all the world.”

Thus unto me my Guide began to say,
And beckoned him that he should come to shore,
Near to the confine of the trodden marble;

And that uncleanly image of deceit
Came up and thrust ashore its head and bust,
But on the border did not drag its tail.

The face was as the face of a just man,
Its semblance outwardly was so benign,
And of a serpent all the trunk beside.

Two paws it had, hairy unto the armpits;
The back, and breast, and both the sides it had
Depicted o’er with nooses and with shields.

With colours more, groundwork or broidery
Never in cloth did Tartars make nor Turks,
Nor were such tissues by Arachne laid.

As sometimes wherries lie upon the shore,

199In this Canto is described the punishment of Usurers, as sinners against Nature and
Art. See Inferno XI. 109: –
“And since the usurer takes another way,
Nature herself in her follower
Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.”
The Monster Geryon, here used as the symbol of Fraud, was born of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe,
and is generally represented by the poets as having three bodies and three heads
(these are interpreted by modern prose as meaning the three Balearic Islands – Majorca,
Minorca, and Ivica – over which he reigned). He was in ancient times King of Hesperia
or Spain, living on Erytheia, the Red Island of sunset, and was slain by Hercules, who
drove away his beautiful oxen.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

That part are in the water, part on land;
And as among the guzzling Germans there,

The beaver plants himself to wage his war;
So that vile monster lay upon the border,
Which is of stone, and shutteth in the sand.

His tail was wholly quivering in the void,
Contorting upwards the envenomed fork,
That in the guise of scorpion armed its point.

The Guide said: “Now perforce must turn aside
Our way a little, even to that beast
Malevolent, that yonder coucheth him.”

We therefore on the right side descended,
And made ten steps upon the outer verge,
Completely to avoid the sand and flame;

And after we are come to him, I see
A little farther off upon the sand
A people sitting near the hollow place.

Then said to me the Master: “So that full
Experience of this round thou bear away,
Now go and see what their condition is.

There let thy conversation be concise;
Till thou returnest I will speak with him,
That he concede to us his stalwart shoulders.”

Thus farther still upon the outermost
Head of that seventh circle all alone
I went, where sat the melancholy folk.

Out of their eyes was gushing forth their woe;
This way, that way, they helped them with their hands
Now from the flames and now from the hot soil.

Not otherwise in summer do the dogs,
Now with the foot, now with the muzzle, when
By fleas, or flies, or gadflies, they are bitten.

When I had turned mine eyes upon the faces
Of some, on whom the dolorous fire is falling,
Not one of them I knew; but I perceived

That from the neck of each there hung a pouch,
Which certain colour had, and certain blazon;

And thereupon it seems their eyes are feeding. 200

And as I gazing round me come among them,
Upon a yellow pouch I azure saw 201
That had the face and posture of a lion.

Proceeding then the current of my sight,
Another of them saw I, red as blood,
Display a goose more white than butter is. 202

And one, who with an azure sow and gravid 203
Emblazoned had his little pouch of white,
Said unto me: “What dost thou in this moat?

Now get thee gone; and since thou’rt still alive,
Know that a neighbour of mine, Vitaliano, 204
Will have his seat here on my left-hand side.

A Paduan am I with these Florentines;
Full many a time they thunder in mine ears,
Exclaiming, ‘Come the sovereign cavalier,

He who shall bring the satchel with three goats’ ”; 205
Then twisted he his mouth, and forth he thrust 206
His tongue, like to an ox that licks its nose.

And fearing lest my longer stay might vex
Him who had warned me not to tarry long,
Backward I turned me from those weary souls. 207

I found my Guide, who had already mounted
Upon the back of that wild animal,
And said to me: “Now be both strong and bold.

Now we descend by stairways such as these;
Mount thou in front, for I will be midway,
So that the tail may have no power to harm thee.”

200Their love of gold still haunting them in the other world.
201The arms of the Gianfigliacci of Florence.
202The arms of the Ubbriachi of Florence.
203The Scrovigni of Padua.
204Vitaliano del Dente of Padua.
205Giovanni Bujamonte, who seems to have had the ill-repute of being the greatest

usurer of his day, called here in irony the “soverign cavalier.”
206As the ass-driver did in the streets of Florence, when Dante beat him for singing his
verses amiss. See Sachetti, Nov. CXV.
207Dante makes as short work with these usurers, as if he had been a curious traveller
walking through the Ghetto of Rome, or the Judengasse of Frankfort.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Such as he is who has so near the ague
Of quartan that his nails are blue already,
And trembles all, but looking at the shade;

Even such became I at those proffered words;
But shame in me his menaces produced,
Which maketh servant strong before good master.

I seated me upon those monstrous shoulders;
I wished to say, and yet the voice came not
As I believed, “Take heed that thou embrace me.”

But he, who other times had rescued me
In other peril, soon as I had mounted,
Within his arms encircled and sustained me,

And said: “Now, Geryon, bestir thyself;
The circles large, and the descent be little;
Think of the novel burden which thou hast.”

Even as the little vessel shoves from shore,
Backward, still backward, so he thence withdrew;
And when he wholly felt himself afloat,

There where his breast had been he turned his tail,
And that extended like an eel he moved,
And with his paws drew to himself the air.

A greater fear I do not think there was
What time abandoned Phaeton the reins,
Whereby the heavens, as still appears, were scorched; 208

Nor when the wretched Icarus his flanks
Felt stripped of feathers by the melting wax,
His father crying, “An ill way thou takest!”

Than was my own, when I perceived myself
On all sides in the air, and saw extinguished
The sight of everything but of the monster.

Onward he goeth, swimming slowly, slowly;
Wheels and descends, but I perceive it only
By wind upon my face and from below.

I heard already on the right the whirlpool
Making a horrible crashing under us;

208The Milky Way. In Spanish El camino de Santiago; in the Northern Mythology the
pathway of the ghosts going to Valhalla.

Whence I thrust out my head with eyes cast downward.

Then was I still more fearful of the abyss;
Because I fires beheld, and heard laments,
Whereat I, trembling, all the closer cling.

I saw then, for before I had not seen it,
The turning and descending, by great horrors
That were approaching upon divers sides.

As falcon who has long been on the wing,
Who, without seeing either lure or bird,
Maketh the falconer say, “Ah me, thou stoopest,”

Descendeth weary, whence he started swiftly,
Thorough a hundred circles, and alights
Far from his master, sullen and disdainful;

Even thus did Geryon place us on the bottom,
Close to the bases of the rough-hewn rock,
And being disencumbered of our persons,

He sped away as arrow from the string.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 36: Onward he goeth, swimming slowly, slowly...



THERE is a place in Hell called Malebolge, 209
Wholly of stone and of an iron colour,
As is the circle that around it turns.

Right in the middle of the field malign
There yawns a well exceeding wide and deep,
Of which its place the structure will recount.

Round, then, is that enclosure which remains
Between the well and foot of the high, hard bank,
And has distinct in valleys ten its bottom.

As where for the protection of the walls
Many and many moats surround the castles,
The part in which they are a figure forms,

Just such an image those presented there;
And as about such strongholds from their gates
Unto the outer bank are little bridges,

So from the precipice’s base did crags
Project, which intersected dikes and moats,
Unto the well that truncates and collects them.

Within this place, down shaken from the back
Of Geryon, we found us; and the Poet
Held to the left, and I moved on behind.

Upon my right hand I beheld new anguish,
New torments, and new wielders of the lash,

209Here begins the third division of the Inferno, embracing the Eight and Ninth Circles,
in which the Fraudulent are punished.
The Eighth Circle is called Malebolge, or Evil-budgets, and consists of ten concentric
ditches, or Bolge of stone, with dikes between, and rough bridges running across them to
the centre like the spokes of a wheel. In the First Bolgia are punished Seducers, and in
the Second, Flatterers.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Wherewith the foremost Bolgia was replete.

Down at the bottom were the sinners naked;
This side the middle came they facing us,
Beyond it, with us, but with greater steps;

Even as the Romans, for the mighty host,
The year of Jubilee, upon the bridge, 210
Have chosen a mode to pass the people over;

For all upon one side towards the Castle 211
Their faces have, and go unto St. Peter’s;
On the other side they go towards the Mountain.

This side and that, along the livid stone
Beheld I horned demons with great scourges,
Who cruelly were beating them behind.

Ah me! how they did make them lift their legs
At the first blows! and sooth not any one
The second waited for, nor for the third.

While I was going on, mine eyes by one
Encountered were; and straight I said: “Already
With sight of this one I am not unfed.”

Therefore I stayed my feet to make him out,
And with me the sweet Guide came to a stand,
And to my going somewhat back assented;

And he, the scourged one. thought to hide himself,
Lowering his face, but little it availed him;
For said I: “Thou that castest down thine eyes

If false are not the features which thou bearest;
Thou art Venedico Caccianimico; 212
But what doth bring thee to such pungent sauces?” 213

210The year of Jubilee 1300.
211The castle is the Castle of St. Angelo, and the mountain Monte Gianicolo. See Barlow,
Study of Dante p. 126. Others say Monte Giordano.

212“This Caccinimico,” says Benvenuto da Imola, “was a Bolognese; a liberal, noble,
pleasant, and very powerful man.” Nevertheless he was so utterly corrupt as to sell his
sister, the fair Ghisola, to the Marquis of Este.

213In the original the word is salse. “In Bologna,” says Benvenuto da Imola, “the name
of Salse is given to a certain valley outside the city, and near to Santa Maria in Monte, into
which the mortal remains of desperadoes, usurers, and other infamous persons are wont
to be thrown. Hence I have sometimes heard boys in Bologna say to each other, by way
of insult, ‘Your father was thrown into the Salse.’ ”

Figure 37: Beheld I horned demons with great scourges, who cruelly were
beating them behind.

And he to me: “Unwillingly I tell it;
But forces me thine utterance distinct,
Which makes me recollect the ancient world.

I was the one who the fair Ghisola
Induced to grant the wishes of the Marquis,
Howe’er the shameless story may be told.

Not the sole Bolognese am I who weeps here;
Nay, rather is this place so full of them,
That not so many tongues to-day are taught

’Twixt Reno and Savena to say sipa;
And if thereof thou wishest pledge or proof,
Bring to thy mind our avaricious heart.”

While speaking in this manner, with his scourge
A demon smote him, and said: “Get thee gone
Pander, there are no women here for coin.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

I joined myself again unto mine Escort;
Thereafterward with footsteps few we came
To where a crag projected from the bank.

This very easily did we ascend,
And turning to the right along its ridge,
From those eternal circles we departed. 214

When we were there, where it is hollowed out
Beneath, to give a passage to the scourged,
The Guide said: “Wait, and see that on thee strike

The vision of those others evil-born,
Of whom thou hast not yet beheld the faces,
Because together with us they have gone.”

From the old bridge we looked upon the train
Which tow’rds us came upon the other border,
And which the scourges in like manner smite.

And the good Master, without my inquiring,
Said to me: “See that tall one who is coming,
And for his pain seems not to shed a tear;

Still what a royal aspect he retains!
That Jason is, who by his heart and cunning
The Colchians of the Ram made destitute.

He by the isle of Lemnos passed along
After the daring women pitiless
Had unto death devoted all their males.

There with his tokens and with ornate words
Did he deceive Hypsipyle, the maiden 215
Who first, herself, had all the rest deceived.

There did he leave her pregnant and forlorn;
Such sin unto such punishment condemns him,
And also for Medea is vengeance done.

With him go those who in such wise deceive;
And this sufficient be of the first valley
To know, and those that in its jaws it holds.”

214They cease going round the circles as heretofore, and now go straight forward to the
centre of the abyss.
215When the women of Lemnos put to death all the male inhabitans of the island, Hypsipyle
concealed her father Thaos, and spared his life.

We were already where the narrow path
Crosses athwart the second dike, and forms
Of that a buttress for another arch.

Thence we heard people, who are making moan
In the next Bolgia, snorting with their muzzles,
And with their palms beating upon themselves

The margins were incrusted with a mould
By exhalation from below, that sticks there,
And with the eyes and nostrils wages war.

The bottom is so deep, no place suffices
To give us sight of it, without ascending
The arch’s back, where most the crag impends.

Thither we came, and thence down in the moat
I saw a people smothered in a filth
That out of human privies seemed to flow

And whilst below there with mine eye I search,
I saw one with his head so foul with ordure,
It was not clear if he were clerk or layman.

He screamed to me: “Wherefore art thou so eager
To look at me more than the other foul ones?”
And I to him: “Because, if I remember,

I have already seen thee with dry hair,
And thou’rt Alessio Interminei of Lucca; 216
Therefore I eye thee more than all the others.”

And he thereon, belabouring his pumpkin:
“The flatteries have submerged me here below,
Wherewith my tongue was never surfeited.”

Then said to me the Guide: “See that thou thrust
Thy visage somewhat farther in advance,
That with thine eyes thou well the face attain

Of that uncleanly and dishevelled drab,

216“Allessio Interminelli,” says Benvenuto da Imola, “a soldier, a nobleman, and of gentle
manners was of Lucca, and from his descended that tyrant Castruccio who filled all
Tuscany with fear, and was lord of Pisa, Lucca, and Pistoja, of whom Dante makes no
mention, because he became illustrious after the author’s death. Alessio took such delight
in flattery, that he could not open his mouth without flattering. He besmeared everybody,
even the lowest menials.”
The Ottimo says, that in the dialect of Lucca the head “was facetiously called a pumpkin.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Who there doth scratch herself with filthy nails,
And crouches now, and now on foot is standing.

Thais the harlot is it, who replied 217
Unto her paramour, when he said, ‘Have I
Great gratitude from thee?’ – ‘Nay, marvellous’;

And herewith let our sight be satisfied.” 218

217Tha’is, the famous courtesan of Athens. Terence, The Eunuch, Act III, Sc. I: –
Thraso: “Did Tha’is really return me many thanks?”
Gnatho: “Exceeding thanks.”
Thraso: “Was she delighted, say you?”
Gnatho: “Not so much, indeed, at the present itself, as because it was given by you; really,
in right earnest, she does exult at that.”

218“The filthiness of some passages,” exclaims Landor, Pentameron, p. 15, “would disgrace
the drunkenest horse-dealer; and the names of such criminals are recorded by the
poet, as would be forgotten by the hangman in six months.”

Figure 38: Thither we came, and thence down in the moat I saw a people
smothered in a filth...

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 39: Thais the harlot is it...



O SIMON MAGUS, O forlorn disciples, 219
Ye who the things of God, which ought to be
The brides of holiness, rapaciously

For silver and for gold do prostitute,
Now it behoves for you the trumpet sound,
Because in this third Bolgia ye abide.

We had already on the following tomb
Ascended to that portion of the crag
Which o er the middle of the moat hangs plumb.

Wisdom supreme, O how great art thou showest
In heaven, in earth, and in the evil world,
And with what justice doth thy power distribute!

I saw upon the sides and on the bottom
The livid stone with perforations filled,
All of one size, and every one was round.

To me less ample seemed they not, nor greater
Than those that in my beautiful Saint John
Are fashioned for the place of the baptisers,

And one of which, not many years ago, 220

219The Third Bolgia is devoted to the Simoniacs, so called from Simon Magus, the Sorcerer
mentioned in Acts viii. 9, 18. Brunetto Latini touches lightly upon them in the
Tesoretto, XXI. 259, on account of their high ecclesiastical dignity.

220Lami, in his Deliciae Eruditorum, makes a strange blunder in reference to this passage.
He says: “Not long ago the baptismal font, which stood in the middle of Saint John’s at
Florence, was removed; and in the pavement may still be seen the octagonal shape of
its ample outline. Dante says, that, when a boy, he fell into it and was near drowning;
or rather he fell into one of the circular basins of water, which surrounded the principal
font.” Upon this Arrivabeni, Comento Storico, p. 588, where I find this extract, remarks:
“Not Dante, but Lami, staring at the moon, fell into the hole.”


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

I broke for some one, who was drowning in it; 221
Be this a seal all men to undeceive.

Out of the mouth of each one there protruded
The feet of a transgressor, and the legs
Up to the calf, the rest within remained.

In all of them the soles were both on fire;
Wherefore the joints so violently quivered,
They would have snapped asunder withes and bands.

Even as the flame of unctuous things is wont
To move upon the outer surface only,
So likewise was it there from heel to point.

“Master, who is that one who writhes himself,
More than his other comrades quivering,”
I said, “and whom a redder flame is sucking?” 222

And he to me: “If thou wilt have me bear thee
Down there along that bank which lowest lies,
From him thou’lt know his errors and himself.”

And I: “What pleases thee, to me is pleasing;
Thou art my Lord, and knowest that I depart not
From thy desire, and knowest what is not spoken.”

Straightway upon the fourth dike we arrived;
We turned, and on the left-hand side descended
Down to the bottom full of holes and narrow.

And the good Master yet from off his haunch
Deposed me not, till to the hole he brought me
Of him who so lamented with his shanks.

“Whoe’er thou art, that standest upside down,
O doleful soul, implanted like a stake,”
To say began I, “if thou canst, speak out.”

I stood even as the friar who is confessing
The false assassin, who, when he is fixed, 223

221Dante’s enemies had accused him of committing this act through impiety. He takes

this occasion to vindicate himself.
222Probably an allusion to the red stockings worn by the Popes.
223Burying alive with the head downward and the feet in the air was the inhuman pun

ishment of hired assassins, “according to justice and the municipal law in Florence,” says
the Ottimo. It was called Propagginare, to plant in the manner of vine-stocks. Dante stood
bowed down like the confessor called back by the criminal in order to delay the moment

Recalls him, so that death may be delayed.

And he cried out: “Dost thou stand there already,
Dost thou stand there already, Boniface? 224
By many years the record lied to me.

Art thou so early satiate with that wealth,
For which thou didst not fear to take by fraud
The beautiful Lady, and then work her woe?”

Such I became, as people are who stand,
Not comprehending what is answered them,
As if bemocked, and know not how to answer.

Then said Virgilius: “Say to him straightway,
‘I am not he, I am not he thou thinkest’.”
And I replied as was imposed on me.

Whereat the spirit writhed with both his feet,
Then, sighing, with a voice of lamentation
Said to me: “Then what wantest thou of me?

If who I am thou carest so much to know,
That thou on that account hast crossed the bank,
Know that I vested was with the great mantle;

And truly was I son of the She-bear, 225

of his death.

224Benedetto Gaetani, Pope Boniface VIII. This is the Boniface who frightened Celestine
from the papacy, and persecuted him to death after his resignation. “The lovely Lady”
is the Church. The fraud was his collusion with Charles II. of Naples. “He went to King
Charles by night, secretly, and with few attendants,” says Villani, VIII. Ch. 6, “and said
to him: ‘King, thy Pope Celestine had the will and the power to serve thee in thy Sicilian
wars, but did not know how: but if thou wilt contrive with thy friends the cardinals
to have me elected Pope, I shall know how, and shall have the will and the power’;
promising upon his faith and oath to aid him with all the power of the Church.” Farther
on he continues: “He was very magnanimous and lordly, and demanded great honor, and
knew well how to maintain and advance the cause of the Church, and on account of his
knowledge and power was much dreaded and feared. He was avaricious exceedingly in
order to aggrandize the Church and his relations, not being over-scrupulous about gains,
for he said that all things were lawful which were of the Church.” He was chosen Pope in
1294. Dante indulges towards him a fierce Ghibelline hatred, and assigns him his place
of torment before he is dead. He died in 1303.

225Nicholas III, of the Orsini (the Bears) of Rome, chosen Pope in 1277. “He was the
first Pope, or one of the first,” says Villani, VII. Ch. 54, “in whose court simony was
openly practised.” On account of his many accomplishments he was surnamed Il Compiuto.
Milman, Lat. Christ., Book XI. Ch. 4, says of him: “At length the election fell on John
Gaetano, of the noble Roman house, the Orsini, a man of remarkable beauty of person

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

So eager to advance the cubs, that wealth
Above, and here myself, I pocketed.

Beneath my head the others are dragged down
Who have preceded me in simony,
Flattened along the fissure of the rock.

Below there I shall likewise fall, whenever
That one shall come who I believed thou wast,
What time the sudden question I proposed.

But longer I my feet already toast,
And here have been in this way upside down.
Than he will planted stay with reddened feet;

For after him shall come of fouler deed
From tow’rds the west a Pastor without law, 226
Such as befits to cover him and me.

New Jason will he be, of whom we read 227
In Maccabees ; and as his king was pliant,
So he who governs France shall be to this one.” 228

I do not know if I were here too bold,
That him I answered only in this metre:
“I pray thee tell me now how great a treasure

Our Lord demanded of Saint Peter first,
Before he put the keys into his keeping?

and demeanor. His name, ‘the Accomplished,’ implied that in him met all the graces of
the handsomest clerks in the world, but he was a man likewise of irreproachable morals,
of vast ambition, and of great ability.” He died in 1280.

226The French Pope Clement V., elected in 1305, by the influence of Philip the Fair of
France, with sundry humiliating conditions. He transferred the Papal See from Rome to
Avignon, where it remained for seventy-one years in what Italian writers call its “Babylonian
captivity.” He died in 1314, on his way to Bordeaux. “He had hardly crossed the
Rhone,” says Milman, Lat. Christ., Book XII. Ch. 5, “when he was seized with mortal
sickness at Roquemaure. The Papal treasure was seized by his followers, especially his
nephew; his remains were treated with such utter neglect, that the torches set fire to the
catafalque under which he lay, not in a state. His body, covered only with a single sheet,
all that his rapacious retinue had left to shroud their forgotten master, was half burned
... before alarm was raised. His ashes were borne back to Carpentras and solemnly interered.”

227Jason, to whom Antiochus Epiphanes granted a “license to set him up a place for
exercise, and for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen.”

228Philip the Fair of France. “He was one of the handsomest men in the world,” says
Villani IX. 66, “and one of the largest in person, and well proportioned in every limb, – a
wise and good man for a layman.”

Truly he nothing asked but ‘Follow me.’

Nor Peter nor the rest asked of Matthias 229
Silver or gold, when he by lot was chosen
Unto the place the guilty soul had lost.

Therefore stay here, for thou art justly punished,
And keep safe guard o’er the ill-gotten money,
Which caused thee to be valiant against Charles. 230

And were it not that still forbids it me
The reverence for the keys superlative
Thou hadst in keeping in the gladsome life,

I would make use of words more grievous still;
Because your avarice afflicts the world,
Trampling the good and lifting the depraved.

The Evangelist you Pastors had in mind,
When she who sitteth upon many waters 231
To fornicate with kings by him was seen;

The same who with the seven heads was born,
And power and strength from the ten horns received, 232
So long as virtue to her spouse was pleasing.

Ye have made yourselves a god of gold and silver;
And from the idolater how differ ye,
Save that he one, and ye a hundred worship?

229Matthew, chosen as an Apostle in the place of Judas.

230According to Villani, VII. 54, Pope Nicholas III. wished to marry his niece to a nephew
of Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily. To this alliance the King would not consent, saying:
“Although he wears the red stockings, his lineage is not worthy to mingle with ours, and
his power is not hereditary.” This made the Pope indignant and, together with the bribes
of John of Procida, led him to encourage the rebellion in Sicily, which broke out a year
after the Pope’s death in the “Sicilian Vespers,” 1282.

231The Church of Rome under Nicholas, Boniface, and Clement.

232The seven heads are interpreted to mean the Seven Virtues, and the ten horns the Ten
Revelation XVII. 1-3: – “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials,
and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of
the great whore that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth have
committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the
wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness: and I
saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven
heads and ten horns.”
Revelation XVII. 12, 13: – “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, ... and shall
give their power and strength unto the beast.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Ah, Constantine! of how much ill was mother,
Not thy conversion, but that marriage dower
Which the first wealthy Father took from thee!”

And while I sang to him such notes as these.
Either that anger or that conscience stung him,
He struggled violently with both his feet.

I think in sooth that it my Leader pleased,
With such contented lip he listened ever
Unto the sound of the true words expressed.

Therefore with both his arms he took me up,
And when he had me all upon his breast,
Remounted by the way where he descended.

Nor did he tire to have me clasped to him;
But bore me to the summit of the arch
Which from the fourth dike to the fifth is passage.

There tenderly he laid his burden down,
Tenderly on the crag uneven and steep,
That would have been hard passage for the goats:

Thence was unveiled to me another valley.

Figure 40: Ye have made yourselves a god of gold and silver...



OF a new pain behoves me to make verses 233
And give material to the twentieth canto
Of the first song, which is of the submerged.

I was already thoroughly disposed
To peer down into the uncovered depth,
Which bathed itself with tears of agony;

And people saw I through the circular valley,
Silent and weeping, coming at the pace
Which in this world the Litanies assume. 234

As lower down my sight descended on them,
Wondrously each one seemed to be distorted
From chin to the beginning of the chest;

For tow’rds the reins the countenance was turned,
And backward it behoved them to advance,
As to look forward had been taken from them.

Perchance indeed by violence of palsy
Some one has been thus wholly turned awry;
But I ne’er saw it. nor believe it can be.

As God may let thee, Reader, gather fruit
From this thy reading, think now for thyself
How I could ever keep my face unmoistened,

When our own image near me I beheld
Distorted so, the weeping of the eyes
Along the fissure bathed the hinder parts.

Truly I wept, leaning upon a peak

233In the Fourth Bolgia are punished the Soothsayers – “Because they wished to see too
far before them, Backward they look, and backward make their way.”

234Processions chanting prayers and supplications.


Of the hard crag, so that my Escort said
To me: “Art thou, too, of the other fools?

Here pity lives when it is wholly dead;
Who is a greater reprobate than he
Who feels compassion at the doom divine?

Lift up, lift up thy head, and see for whom
Opened the earth before the Thebans’ eyes;
Wherefore they all cried: ‘Whither rushest thou,

Amphiaraus? Why dost leave the war?’ 235
And downward ceased he not to fall amain
As far as Minos, who lays hold on all.

See, he has made a bosom of his shoulders!
Because he wished to see too far before him
Behind he looks, and backward goes his way:

Behold Tiresias, who his semblance changed,
When from a male a female he became,
His members being all of them transformed;

And afterwards was forced to strike once more
The two entangled serpents with his rod,
Ere he could have again his manly plumes. 236

That Aruns is, who backs the other’s belly,
Who in the hills of Luni, there where grubs
The Carrarese who houses underneath,

Among the marbles white a cavern had
For his abode; whence to behold the stars
And sea, the view was not cut off from him.

And she there, who is covering up her breasts,
Which thou beholdest not, with loosened tresses,
And on that side has all the hairy skin,

Was Manto, who made quest through many lands, 237
Afterwards tarried there where I was born;

235Amphiaraus was one of the seven kings against Thebes. Foreseeing his own fate, he
concealed himself, to avoid going to the war; but his wife Eriphyle, bribed by a diamond
necklace (as famous in ancient story as the Cardinal de Rohan’s in modern), revealed his
hiding-place, and he went to his doom with the others.

236His beard. The word “plumes” is used by old English writers in this sense.
237Manto, daughter of Tiresias, who fled from Thebes, the “City of Bacchus,” when it
became subject to the tyranny of Cleon.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Whereof I would thou list to me a little.

After her father had from life departed,
And the city of Bacchus had become enslaved,
She a long season wandered through the world.

Above in beauteous Italy lies a lake
At the Alp’s foot that shuts in Germany
Over Tyrol, and has the name Benaco. 238

By a thousand springs, I think, and more, is bathed,
’Twixt Garda and Val Camonica, Pennino, 239
With water that grows stagnant in that lake.

Midway a place is where the Trentine Pastor,
And he of Brescia, and the Veronese
Might give his blessing, if he passed that way. 240

Sitteth Peschiera, fortress fair and strong, 241
To front the Brescians and the Bergamasks,
Where round about the bank descendeth lowest.

There of necessity must fall whatever
In bosom of Benaco cannot stay,
And grows a river down through verdant pastures.

Soon as the water doth begin to run
No more Benaco is it called, but Mincio,
Far as Governo, where it falls in Po.

Not far it runs before it finds a plain
In which it spreads itself, and makes it marshy,
And oft ’tis wont in summer to be sickly.

Passing that way the virgin pitiless 242
Land in the middle of the fen descried,
Untilled and naked of inhabitants;

There to escape all human intercourse,
She with her servants stayed, her arts to practise
And lived, and left her empty body there.

238Lake Benacus is now called the Lago di Garda. It is pleasantly alluded to by Claudian
in his “Old Man of Verona,” who has seen “the grove grow old coeval with himself.”
239The Pennine Alps, or Alpes Paenae, watered by the brooklets flowing into the Sarca,

which is the principal tributary of Benaco.
240The place where the three dioceses of Trent, Brescia, and Verona meet.
241At the outlet of the lake.
242Manto. Benvenuto da Imola says: “Virgin should here be rendered Virago.”

The men, thereafter, who were scattered round,
Collected in that place, which was made strong
By the lagoon it had on every side;

They built their city over those dead bones,
And, after her who first the place selected,
Mantua named it, without other omen.

Its people once within more crowded were,
Ere the stupidity of Casalodi 243
From Pinamonte had received deceit.

Therefore I caution thee, if e’er thou hearest
Originate my city otherwise,
No falsehood may the verity defraud.”

And I: “My Master, thy discourses are
To me so certain, and so take my faith,
That unto me the rest would be spent coals.

But tell me of the people who are passing,
If any one note-worthy thou beholdest,
For only unto that my mind reverts.”

Then said he to me: “He who from the cheek
Thrusts out his beard upon his swarthy shoulders
Was, at the time when Greece was void of males,

So that there scarce remained one in the cradle,
An augur, and with Calchas gave the moment,
In Aulis, when to sever the first cable.

Eryphylus his name was, and so sings
My lofty Tragedy in some part or other;
That knowest thou well, who knowest the whole of it.

The next, who is so slender in the flanks,
Was Michael Scott, who of a verity 244
Of magical illusions knew the game.

243Pinamonte dei Buonacossi, a bold, ambitious man, persuaded Alberto, Count of
Casalodi and Lord of Mantua, to banish to their estates the chief nobles of the city, and
then, stirring up a popular tumult, fell upon the rest, laying waste their houses, and
sending them into exile or to prison, and thus greatly depopulating the city.

244“Michael Scott, the Magician,” says Benvuenuto da Imola, “practised divination at
the court of Frederick II., and dedicated to him a book on natural history, which I have
seen, and in which among other things he treats of Astrology, then deemed infallible...
It is said, moreover, that he foresaw his own death, but could not escape it. He had
prognosticated that he should be killed by the falling of a small stone upon his head, and

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Behold Guido Bonatti, behold Asdente 245
Who now unto his leather and his thread
Would fain have stuck, but he too late repents.

Behold the wretched ones, who left the needle,
The spool and rock, and made them fortune-tellers;
They wrought their magic spells with herb and image.

But come now, for already holds the confines
Of both the hemispheres, and under Seville
Touches the ocean-wave, Cain and the thorns, 246

And yesternight the moon was round already;
Thou shouldst remember well it did not harm thee
From time to time within the forest deep.”

Thus spake he to me, and we walked the while.

always wore an iron skull-cap under his hood, to prevent this disaster. But entering a
church on the festival of Corpus Domini, he lowered his hood in sign of veneration, not
of Christ, in whom he did not believe, but to deceive the common people, and a small
stone fell from aloft on his bare head.”

245Guido Bonatti, a tiler and astrologer of Forl`i, who accompanied Guido di Montefeltro
when he marched out of Forl`i to attack the French “under the great oak.”

246The moon setting in the sea west of Seville. In the Italian popular tradition, the Man
in the Moon is Cain with his Thorns. The time here indicated is an hour after sunrise on
Saturday morning.



FROM bridge to bridge thus, speaking other things 247
Of which my Comedy cares not to sing, 248
We came along, and held the summit, when

We halted to behold another fissure
Of Malebolge and other vain laments;
And I beheld it marvellously dark.

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels o’er again,

For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made;

One hammers at the prow, one at the stern,
This one makes oars, and that one cordage twists,
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen;

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,
Was boiling down below there a dense pitch
Which upon every side the bank belimed.

I saw it, but I did not see within it
Aught but the bubbles that the boiling raised,
And all swell up and resubside compressed.

The while below there fixedly I gazed,
My Leader, crying out: “Beware, beware!”

247The Fifth Bolgia, and the punishment of Barrators, or “Judges who take bribes for
giving judgment.”

248Having spoken in the preceding Canto of Virgil’s “lofty Tragedy,” Dante here speaks
of his own Comedy, as if to prepare the reader for the scenes which are to follow, and
for which he apologizes in Canto XXII. 14, by repeating the proverb, “In the church with
saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons.”


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Drew me unto himself from where I stood.

Then I turned round, as one who is impatient
To see what it behoves him to escape,
And whom a sudden terror doth unman.

Who, while he looks, delays not his departure;
And I beheld behind us a black devil,
Running along upon the crag, approach.

Ah, how ferocious was he in his aspect!
And how he seemed to me in action ruthless,
With open wings and light upon his feet!

His shoulders, which sharp-pointed were and high,
A sinner did encumber with both haunches,
And he held clutched the sinews of the feet.

From off our bridge, he said: “O Malebranche, 249
Behold one of the elders of Saint Zita; 250
Plunge him beneath, for I return for others

Unto that town, which is well furnished with them.
All there are barrators, except Bonturo; 251
No into Yes for money there is changed.”

He hurled him down, and over the hard crag
Turned round, and never was a mastiff loosened
In so much hurry to pursue a thief.

The other sank, and rose again face downward; 252
But the demons, under cover of the bridge,
Cried: “Here the Santo Volto has no place! 253

249Malebranche, Evil-claws, a general name for the devils.
250Santa Zita, the Patron Saint of Lucca, where the magistrates were called Elders, or
Aldermen. In Florence they bore the name of Priors.

251A Barrator, in Dante’s use of the word, is to the State what is Simoniac is to the
Church; one who sells justice, office, or employment. Benvenuto says that Dante includes
Bontura with the rest, “because he is speaking ironically, as who should say, ‘Bontura
is the greatest barrator of all.’ For Bontura was an arch-barrator, who sagaciously led
and managed the whole commune, and gave offices to whom he wished. He likewise
excluded whom he wished.”

252Bent down in the attitude of one in prayer; therefore the demons mock him with the
allusion to the Santo Volto.

253The Santo Volto, or Holy Face, is a crucifix still preserved in the Cathedral of Lucca,
and held in great veneration by the people. The tradition is that it is the work of Nicodemus,
who sculptured it from memory.

Figure 41: From off our bridge, he said: “O Malebranche...”

Here swims one otherwise than in the Serchio; 254
Therefore, if for our gaffs thou wishest not,
Do not uplift thyself above the pitch.”

They seized him then with more than a hundred rakes;
They said: “It here behoves thee to dance covered,
That, if thou canst, thou secretly mayest pilfer.”

Not otherwise the cooks their scullions make
Immerse into the middle of the caldron
The meat with hooks, so that it may not float.

Said the good Master to me: “That it be not
Apparent thou art here, crouch thyself down
Behind a jag, that thou mayest have some screen;

And for no outrage that is done to me
Be thou afraid, because these things I know,
For once before was I in such a scuffle.”

254The Serchio flows near Lucca.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 42: They issued from beneath the little bridge...

Then he passed on beyond the bridge’s head,
And as upon the sixth bank he arrived,
Need was for him to have a steadfast front.

With the same fury, and the same uproar,
As dogs leap out upon a mendicant,
Who on a sudden begs, where’er he stops,

They issued from beneath the little bridge,
And turned against him all their grappling-irons;
But he cried out: “Be none of you malignant!

Before those hooks of yours lay hold of me,
Let one of you step forward, who may hear me,
And then take counsel as to grappling me.”

They all cried out: “Let Malacoda go;”
Whereat one started, and the rest stood still,
And he came to him, saying: “What avails it?”

“Thinkest thou, Malacoda, to behold me

Advanced into this place,” my Master said,
“Safe hitherto from all your skill of fence,

Without the will divine, and fate auspicious?
Let me go on, for it in Heaven is willed
That I another show this savage road.”

Then was his arrogance so humbled in him,
That he let fall his grapnel at his feet,
And to the others said: “Now strike him not.”

And unto me my Guide: “O thou, who sittest
Among the splinters of the bridge crouched down,
Securely now return to me again.”

Wherefore I started and came swiftly to him;
And all the devils forward thrust themselves,
So that I feared they would not keep their compact.

And thus beheld I once afraid the soldiers
Who issued under safeguard from Caprona, 255
Seeing themselves among so many foes.

Close did I press myself with all my person
Beside my Leader, and turned not mine eyes
From off their countenance, which was not good.

They lowered their rakes, and “Wilt thou have me hit him,”
They said to one another, “on the rump?”
And answered: “Yes; see that thou nick him with it.”

But the same demon who was holding parley
With my Conductor turned him very quickly,
And said: “Be quiet, be quiet, Scarmiglione;”

Then said to us: “You can no farther go
Forward upon this crag, because is lying
All shattered, at the bottom, the sixth arch.

And if it still doth please you to go onward,
Pursue your way along upon this rock; 256

255A fortified town on the Arno in the Pisan territory. It was besieged by the troops of
Florence and Lucca in 1289, and capitulated. As the garrison marched out under safeguard,
they were terrified by the shouts of the crowd, crying: “Hang them! hang them!”
In this crowd was Dante, “a youth of twenty-five,” says Benvenuto da Imola.

256Along the circular dike that separates one Bolgia from another.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Near is another crag that yields a path. 257

Yesterday, five hours later than this hour, 258
One thousand and two hundred sixty-six
Years were complete, that here the way was broken. 259

I send in that direction some of mine
To see if any one doth air himself;
Go ye with them; for they will not be vicious.

“Step forward, Alichino and Calcabrina,”
Began he to cry out, “and thou, Cagnazzo;
And Barbariccia, do thou guide the ten.

Come forward, Libicocco and Draghignazzo,
And tusked Ciriatto and Graffiacane,
And Farfarello and mad Rubicante;

Search ye all round about the boiling pitch;
Let these be safe as far as the next crag, 260
That all unbroken passes o’er the dens.”

“O me! what is it, Master, that I see?
Pray let us go,” I said, “without an escort,
If thou knowest how, since for myself I ask none.

If thou art as observant as thy wont is,
Dost thou not see that they do gnash their teeth,
And with their brows are threatening woe to us?”

And he to me: “I will not have thee fear;
Let them gnash on, according to their fancy,
Because they do it for those boiling wretches.”

257This is a falsehood, as all the bridges over the next Bolgia are broken. See Canto

XXIII. 140.
258At the close of the preceding Canto the time is indicated as being an hour after sunrise.
Five hours later would be noon, or the scriptural sixth hour, the hour of the Crucifixion.
Dante understands St. Luke to say that Christ died at this hour. Convito, IV.

23: “Luke says that it was about the sixth hour when he died; that is, the culmination of
the day.” Add to the “one thousand and two hundred sixty-six years,” the thirty-four of
Christ’s life on earth, and it gives the year 1300, the date of the Infernal Pilgrimage.
259Broken by the earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion, as the rock leading to the
Circle of the Violent, Canto XII. 45: –
“And at that moment this primeval rock
Both here and elsewhere made such over-throw.”
As in the next Bolgia Hypocrites are punished, Dante couples them with the Violent, by
making the shock of the earthquake more felt near them than elsewhere.

260The next crag or bridge, traversing the dikes and ditches.

Along the left-hand dike they wheeled about;
But first had each one thrust his tongue between 261
His teeth towards their leader for a signal;

And he had made a trumpet of his rump.

261See Canto XVIII. 75.



I HAVE erewhile seen horsemen moving camp, 262
Begin the storming, and their muster make,
And sometimes starting off for their escape;

Vaunt-couriers have I seen upon your land,
O Aretines, and foragers go forth, 263
Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run,

Sometimes with trumpets and sometimes with bells,
With kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,
And with our own, and with outlandish things,

But never yet with bagpipe so uncouth
Did I see horsemen move, nor infantry,
Nor ship by any sign of land or star.

We went upon our way with the ten demons;
Ah, savage company! but in the church
With saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons! 264

Ever upon the pitch was my intent,
To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
And of the people who therein were burned.

Even as the dolphins, when they make a sign
To mariners by arching of the back,
That they should counsel take to save their vessel,

Thus sometimes, to alleviate his pain,

262The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.

263Aretino, Vita di Dante, says, that Dante in his youth was present at the “great and
memorable battle, which befell at Campaldino, fighting valiantly on horseback in the
front rank.” It was there he saw the vaunt-couriers of the Aretines, who began the battle
with such a vigorous charge, that they routed the Florentine cavalry, and drove them
back upon the infantry.

264Equivalent to the proverb, “Do in Rome as the Romans do.”


One of the sinners would display his back,
And in less time conceal it than it lightens.

As on the brink of water in a ditch
The frogs stand only with their muzzles out,
So that they hide their feet and other bulk.

So upon every side the sinners stood;
But ever as Barbariccia near them came,
Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.

I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,
One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
One frog remains, and down another dives;

And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,
Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.

I knew, before, the names of all of them,
So had I noted them when they were chosen,
And when they called each other, listened how.

“O Rubicante, see that thou do lay
Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,”
Cried all together the accursed ones.

And I: “My Master, see to it, if thou canst,
That thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
Thus come into his adversaries’ hands.”

Near to the side of him my Leader drew,
Asked of him whence he was; and he replied:
“I in the kingdom of Navarre was born; 265

My mother placed me servant to a lord,
For she had borne me to a ribald knave,
Destroyer of himself and of his things.

Then I domestic was of good King Thibault; 266

265Giampolo, or Ciampolo, say all the commentators; but nothing more is known of him
than his name, and what he tells us here of his history.

266It is not very clear which King Thibault is here meant, but it is probably King Thibault
IV., the crusader and poet, born 1201, died 1253. His poems have been published by
L´eveque de la Ravalli`ere, under the title of Les Po´esies du Roi de Navarre; and in one of his
songs (Chanson 53) he makes a clerk address him as the Bons rois Thiebaut. Dante cites
him two or three times in his Volg. Eloq., and may have taken this expression from his
song, as he does afterwards, Canto XXVIII. 135, lo Re joves, the Re Giovane, or Young King,

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

I set me there to practise barratry,
For which I pay the reckoning in this heat.”

And Ciriatto, from whose mouth projected,
On either side, a tusk, as in a boar,
Caused him to feel how one of them could rip.

Among malicious cats the mouse had come;
But Barbariccia clasped him in his arms,
And said: “Stand ye aside, while I enfork him.”

And to my Master he turned round his head;
“Ask him again,” he said, “if more thou wish
To know from him, before some one destroy him.”

The Guide: “Now tell then of the other culprits;
Knowest thou any one who is a Latian, 267
Under the pitch?” And he: “I separated

Lately from one who was a neighbour to it;
Would that I still were covered up with him,
For I should fear not either claw nor hook!”

And Libicocco: “We have borne too much;”
And with his grapnel seized him by the arm,
So that, by rending, he tore off a tendon.

Eke Draghignazzo wished to pounce upon him
Down at the legs; whence their Decurion
Turned round and round about with evil look.

When they again somewhat were pacified,
Of him, who still was looking at his wound,
Demanded my Conductor without stay:

“Who was that one, from whom a luckless parting
Thou sayest thou hast made, to come ashore?”
And he replied “It was the Friar Gomita,

He of Gallura, vessel of all fraud, 268
Who had the enemies of his Lord in hand,
And dealt so with them each exults thereat;

from the songs of Bertrand de Born.
267A Latian, that is to say, an Italian.
268This Frate Gomita was a Sardinian in the employ of Nino de’ Visconti, judge in the

jurisdiction of Gallura, the “gentle Judge Nino” of Purgatory VIII. 53. The frauds and
peculations of the Friar brought him finally to the gallows. Gallura is the northeastern
jurisdiction of the island.

Money he took, and let them smoothly off,
As he says; and in other offices
A barrator was he, not mean but sovereign.

Foregathers with him one Don Michael Zanche 269
Of Logodoro; and of Sardinia
To gossip never do their tongues feel tired.

O me! see that one, how he grinds his teeth;
Still farther would I speak, but am afraid
Lest he to scratch my itch be making ready.”

And the grand Provost, turned to Farfarello,
Who rolled his eyes about as if to strike,
Said: “Stand aside there, thou malicious bird.”

“If you desire either to see or hear,”
The terror-stricken recommenced thereon,
“Tuscans or Lombards. I will make them come.

But let the Malebranche cease a little,
So that these may not their revenges fear,
And I, down sitting in this very place,

For one that I am will make seven come,
When I shall whistle, as our custom is
To do whenever one of us comes out.”

Cagnazzo at these words his muzzle lifted,
Shaking his head, and said: “Just hear the trick
Which he has thought of, down to throw himself!

Whence he, who snares in great abundance had,
Responded: “I by far too cunning am,
When I procure for mine a greater sadness.”

Alichin held not in, but running counter
Unto the rest, said to him: “If thou dive,
I will not follow thee upon the gallop,

But I will beat my wings above the pitch;
The height be left, and be the bank a shield

269Don Michael Zanche was Seneschal of King Enzo of Sardinia, a natural son of the
Emperor Frederick II. Dante gives him the title of Don, still used in Sardinia for Signore.
After the death of Enzo in prison at Bologna, in 1271, Don Michael won by fraud and
flattery his widow Adelasia, and became himself Lord of Logodoro, the northwestern
jurisdiction, adjoining that of Gallura.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 43: The Navarrese selected well his time...

To see if thou alone dost countervail us.”

O thou who readest, thou shalt hear new sport!
Each to the other side his eyes averted;
He first, who most reluctant was to do it.

The Navarrese selected well his time;
Planted his feet on land, and in a moment
Leaped, and released himself from their design.

Whereat each one was suddenly stung with shame,
But he most who was cause of the defeat;
Therefore he moved, and cried: “Thou art o’ertakern.”

But little it availed, for wings could not
Outstrip the fear; the other one went under,
And, flying, upward he his breast directed;

Not otherwise the duck upon a sudden
Dives under, when the falcon is approaching,
And upward he returneth cross and weary.

Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina
Flying behind him followed close, desirous
The other should escape, to have a quarrel.

And when the barrator had disappeared,
He turned his talons upon his companion,
And grappled with him right above the moat.

But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk
To clapperclaw him well; and both of them
Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.

A sudden intercessor was the heat;
But ne’ertheless of rising there was naught,
To such degree they had their wings belimed.

Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
Made four of them fly to the other side
With all their gaffs, and very speedily

This side and that they to their posts descended;
They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
Who were already baked within the crust,

And in this manner busied did we leave them.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 44: Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina flying behind him followed



SILENT, alone, and without company 270
We went, the one in front, the other after,
As go the Minor Friars along their way

Upon the fable of Aesop was directed 271
My thought, by reason of the present quarrel,
Where he has spoken of the frog and mouse;

For mo and issa are not more alike 272
Than this one is to that, if well we couple
End and beginning with a steadfast mind.

And even as one thought from another springs,
So afterward from that was born another,
Which the first fear within me double made.

Thus did I ponder: “These on our account
Are laughed to scorn, with injury and scoff
So great, that much I think it must annoy them.

If anger be engrafted on ill-will,
They will come after us more merciless
Than dog upon the leveret which he seizes,”

I felt my hair stand all on end already
With terror, and stood backwardly intent,
When said I: “Master, if thou hidest not

270In this Sixth Bolgia the Hypocrites are punished. “A painted people there below we
found, Who went about with footsteps very slow, Weeping and in their looks subdued
and weary.”

271The Fables of Aesop, by Sir Roger L’Estrang, IV.: “There fell out a bloody quarrel once
betwixt the Frogs and the Mice, about the sovereignty of the Fenns; and whilst two of
their champions were disputing it at swords point, down comes a kite powdering upon
them in the interim, and gobbles up both together, to part the fray.”

272Both words signifying “now”; mo, from the Latin modo; and issa, from the Latin ipsa;
meaning ipsa hora. “The Tuscans say mo,” remarks Benvenuto, “the Lombards issa.”


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Thyself and me forthwith, of Malebranche
I am in dread; we have them now behind us;
I so imagine them, I already feel them”

And he: “If I were made of leaded glass
Thine outward image I should not attract
Sooner to me than I imprint the inner.

Just now thy thoughts came in among my own,
With similar attitude and similar face,
So that of both one counsel sole I made.

If peradventure the right bank so slope
That we to the next Bolgia can descend.
We shall escape from the imagined chase.”

Not yet he finished rendering such opinion.
When I beheld them come with outstretched wings,
Not far remote, with will to seize upon us.

My Leader on a sudden seized me up, 273
Even as a mother who by noise is wakened,
And close beside her sees the enkindled flames,

Who takes her son, and flies, and does not stop,
Having more care of him than of herself,
So that she clothes her only with a shift;

And downward from the top of the hard bank
Supine he gave him to the pendent rock,
That one side of the other Bolgia walls.

Ne’er ran so swiftly water through a sluice
To turn the water of any land-built mill,
When nearest to the paddles it approaches,

As did my Master down along that border,
Bearing me with him on his breast away,
As his own son, and not as a companion.

Hardly the bed of the ravine below
His feet had reached, ere they had reached the hill
Right over us; but he was not afraid;

For the high Providence, which had ordained
To place them ministers of the fifth moat,

273“When he is in a fright and hurry, and has a very steep place to go down, Virgil, has
to carry him altogether,” says Mr. Ruskin. See Canto XII.

The power of thence departing took from all.

A painted people there below we found,
Who went about with footsteps very slow,
Weeping and in their semblance tired and vanquished.

They had on mantles with the hoods low down
Before their eyes, and fashioned of the cut
That in Cologne they for the monks arc made. 274

Without, they gilded are so that it dazzles;
But inwardly all leaden and so heavy
That Frederick used to put them on of straw. 275

O everlastingly fatiguing mantle!
Again we turned us, still to the left hand
Along with them, intent on their sad plaint;

But owing to the weight, that weary folk
Came on so tardily, that we were new
In company at each motion of the haunch.

Whence I unto my Leader: “See thou find
Some one who may by deed or name be known,
And thus in going move thine eye about.”

And one, who understood the Tuscan speech
Cried to us from behind: “Stay ye your feet
Ye, who so run athwart the dusky air!

Perhaps thou’lt have from me what thou demandest.”
Whereat the Leader turned him, and said: “Wait,
And then according to his pace proceed.”

I stopped, and two beheld I show great haste

274Benvenuto speaks of the cloaks of the German monks as “ill-fitting and shapeless.”

275The leaden cloaks which Frederick put upon malefactors were straw in comparison.
The Emperor Frederick II. is said to have punished traitors by wrapping them in lead,
and throwing them into a heated caldron. I can find no historic authority for this. It
rests only on tradition; and on the same authority the same punishment is said to have
been inflicted in Scotland, and is thus described in the ballad of “Lord Soulis,” Scott’s
Ministrelsy of the Scottish Border, IV. 256: – “On a circle of stones they placed the pot, On a
circle of stones but barely nine; They heated it red and fiery hot, Till the burnished brass
did glimmer and shine. They roll’d him up in a sheet of lead, A sheet of lead for a funeral
pall, And plunged him into the caldron red, And melted him, – lead, and bones, and all.”
We get also a glimpse of this punishment in Ducange, Glo. Capa Plumbea, where he cites
the case in which one man tells another: “If our Holy Father the Pope knew the life you
are leading, he would have you put to death in a cloak of lead.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Of spirit, in their faces, to be with me;
But the burden and the narrow way delayed them.

When they came up, long with an eye askance
They scanned me without uttering a word.
Then to each other turned, and said together:

“He by the action of his throat seems living;
And if they dead are, by what privilege
Go they uncovered by the heavy stole?”

Then said to me: “Tuscan, who to the college 276
Of miserable hypocrites art come,
Do not disdain to tell us who thou art.”

And I to them: “Born was I, and grew up
In the great town on the fair river of Arno, 277
And with the body am I’ve always had.

But who are ye, in whom there trickles down
Along your cheeks such grief as I behold?
And what pain is upon you, that so sparkles?”

And one replied to me: “These orange cloaks
Are made of lead so heavy, that the weights
Cause in this way their balances to creak.

Frati Gaudenti were we, and Bolognese; 278

276Bologna was renowned for its University; and the speaker, who was a Bolognese, is

still mindful of his college.
277Florence, the bellissima e famosissima figlia di Roma, as Dante calls it, Convito, I. 3.
278An order of knighthood, established by Pope Urban IV. in 1261, under the title of

“Knights of Santa Maria.” The name Frati Gaudenti, or “Jovial Friars,” was a nickname,
because they lived in their own homes and were not bound by strict monastic rules.
Napier, Flor. Hist. I. 269, says: – “A short time before this a new order of religious
nighthood under the name of Frati Gaudenti began in Italy: it was not bound by vows
of celibacy, or any very severe regulations, but took the usual oaths to defend widows
and orphans and make peace between man and man: the founder was a Bolognese gentleman,
called Loderingo di Liandolo, who enjoyed a good reputation, and along with
a brother of the same order, named Catalano di Malavolti, one a Guelph and the other
a Ghibelline, was now invited to Florence by Count Guido to execute conjointly the office
of Podest. It was intended by thus dividing the supreme authority between two
magistrates of different politics, that one should correct the other, and justice be equally
administered; more especially as, in conjunction with the people, they were allowed to
elect a deliberative council of thirty-six citizens, belonging to the principal trades without
distinction of party.”
Farther on he says that these two Frati Gaudenti “forfeited all public confidence by their
peculation and hypocrisy.” And Villani, VII. 13: “Although they were of different parties,

Figure 45: “These orange cloaks are made of lead so heavy...”

I Catalano, and he Loderingo
Named, and together taken by thy city,

As the wont is to take one man alone,
For maintenance of its peace; and we were such
That still it is apparent round Gardingo.” 279

“O Friars,” began I, “your iniquitous...”
But said no more; for to mine eyes there rushed
One crucified with three stakes on the ground.

When me he saw, he writhed himself all over,
Blowing into his beard with suspirations;
And the Friar Catalan, who noticed this,

Said to me: “This transfixed one, whom thou seest, 280
Counselled the Pharisees that it was meet

under cover of a false hypocrisy, they were of accord in seeking rather their own private

gains than the common good.”
279A street in Florence, laid waste by the Guelfs.
280Caiaphas, the High-Priest, who thought “expediency” the best thing.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

To put one man to torture for the people.

Crosswise and naked is he on the path,
As thou perceivest; and he needs must feel,
Whoever passes, first how much he weighs;

And in like mode his father-in-law is punished 281
Within this moat, and the others of the council,
Which for the Jews was a malignant seed.”

And thereupon I saw Virgilius marvel
O’er him who was extended on the cross
So vilely in eternal banishment.

Then he directed to the Friar this voice:
“Be not displeased, if granted thee, to tell us
If to the right hand any pass slope down

By which we two may issue forth from here,
Without constraining some of the black angels
To come and extricate us from this deep.”

Then he made answer: “Nearer than thou hopest
There is a rock, that forth from the great circle 282
Proceeds, and crosses all the cruel valleys,

Save that at this ’tis broken, and does not bridge it;
You will be able to mount up the ruin,
That sidelong slopes and at the bottom rises.”

The Leader stood awhile with head bowed down;
Then said: “The business badly he recounted
Who grapples with his hook the sinners yonder.”

And the Friar: “Many of the Devil’s vices
Once heard I at Bologna, and among them,
That he’s a liar and the father of lies.”

Thereat my Leader with great strides went on,
Somewhat disturbed with anger in his looks;
Whence from the heavy-laden I departed

After the prints of his beloved feet.

281Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas.
282The great outer circle surrounding this division of the Inferno.

Figure 46: His feet had reached, ere they had reached the hill right over
us; ...

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 47: One crucified with three stakes on the ground.



IN that part of the youthful year wherein 283
The Sun his locks beneath Aquarius tempers, 284
And now the nights draw near to half the day,

What time the hoar-frost copies on the ground
The outward semblance of her sister white,
But little lasts the temper of her pen,

The husbandman, whose forage faileth him,
Rises, and looks, and seeth the champaign
All gleaming white, whereat he beats his flank,

Returns in doors, and up and down laments,
Like a poor wretch, who knows not what to do;
Then he returns and hope revives again,

Seeing the world has changed its countenance
In little time, and takes his shepherd’s crook,
And forth the little lambs to pasture drives.

Thus did the Master fill me with alarm
When I beheld his forehead so disturbed,
And to the ailment came as soon the plaster.

For as we came unto the ruined bridge
The Leader turned to me with that sweet look
Which at the mountain’s foot I first beheld. 285

283The Seventh Bolgia, in which Thieves are punished.

284The sun enters Aquarius during the last half of January, when the Equinox is near,
and the hoar-frost in the morning looks like snow on the fields, but soon evaporates. If
Dante had been a monk of Monte Casino, illuminating a manuscript, he could not have
made a more clerkly and scholastic flourish with his pen than this, nor have painted a
more beautiful picture than that which follows. The mediaeval poets are full of lovely
descriptions of Spring, which seems to blossom and sing through all their verses; but
none is more beautiful or suggestive than this, though serving only as an illustration.

285In Canto I.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

His arms he opened, after some advisement
Within himself elected, looking first
Well at the ruin, and laid hold of me.

And even as he who acts and meditates,
For aye it seems that he provides beforehand,
So upward lifting me towards the summit

Of a huge rock, he scanned another crag,
Saying: “To that one grapple afterwards,
But try first if ’tis such that it will hold thee.”

This was no way for one clothed with a cloak;
For hardly we, he light, and I pushed upward,
Were able to ascend from jag to jag.

And had it not been, that upon that precinct
Shorter was the ascent than on the other,
He I know not, but I had been dead beat.

But because Malebolge tow’rds the mouth
Of the profoundest well is all inclining,
The structure of each valley doth import

That one bank rises and the other sinks.
Still we arrived at length upon the point
Wherefrom the last stone breaks itself asunder.

The breath was from my lungs so milked away,
When I was up, that I could go no farther,
Nay, I sat down upon my first arrival.

“Now it behoves thee thus to put off sloth,”
My Master said; “for sitting upon down,
Or under quilt, one cometh not to fame,

Withouten which whoso his life consumes
Such vestige leaveth of himself on earth.
As smoke in air or in the water foam.

And therefore raise thee up, o’ercome the anguish
With spirit that o’ercometh every battle,
If with its heavy body it sink not.

A longer stairway it behoves thee mount; 286
’Tis not enough from these to have departed;

286The ascent of the Mount of Purgatory.

Let it avail thee, if thou understand me.”

Then I uprose, showing myself provided
Better with breath than I did feel myself,
And said: “Go on, for I am strong and bold.”

Upward we took our way along the crag,
Which jagged was, and narrow, and difficult,
And more precipitous far than that before.

Speaking I went, not to appear exhausted;
Whereat a voice from the next moat came forth,
Not well adapted to articulate words.

I know not what it said, though o’er the back
I now was of the arch that passes there;
But he seemed moved to anger who was speaking

I was bent downward, but my living eyes
Could not attain the bottom, for the dark;
Wherefore I: “Master, see that thou arrive

At the next round, and let us descend the wall; 287
For as from hence I hear and understand not,
So I look down and nothing I distinguish.”

“Other response,” he said, “I make thee not,
Except the doing; for the modest asking
Ought to be followed by the deed in silence.”

We from the bridge descended at its head,
Where it connects itself with the eighth bank,
And then was manifest to me the Bolgia;

And I beheld therein a terrible throng
Of serpents, and of such a monstrous kind,
That the remembrance still congeals my blood

Let Libya boast no longer with her sand;
For if Chelydri, Jaculi, and Pharae
She breeds, with Cenchri and with Ammhisbaena.

Neither so many plagues nor so malignant
E’er showed she with all Ethiopia,
Nor with whatever on the Red Sea is!

Among this cruel and most dismal throng

287The next circular dike, dividing the fosses.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 48: People were running naked and affrighted...

People were running naked and affrighted.
Without the hope of hole or heliotrope. 288

They had their hands with serpents bound behind them;
These riveted upon their reins the tail
And head, and were in front of them entwined.

And lo! at one who was upon our side
There darted forth a serpent, which transfixed him
There where the neck is knotted to the shoulders.

Nor O so quickly e’er, nor I was written,
As he took fire, and burned; and ashes wholly
Behoved it that in falling he became.

And when he on the ground was thus destroyed,
The ashes drew together, and of themselves

288Without a hiding-place, or the heliotrope, a precious stone of great virtue against
poisons, and supposed to render the wearer invisible. Upon this latter vulgar error is
founded Boccaccio’s comical story of Calandrino and his friends Bruno and Buffulmacco,
Decameron, Gior. VIII., Nov. 3.

Into himself they instantly returned.

Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year;

On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,
But only on tears of incense and amomum,
And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.

And as he is who falls, and knows not how,
By force of demons who to earth down drag him,
Or other oppilation that binds man, 289

When he arises and around him looks,
Wholly bewildered by the mighty anguish
Which he has suffered, and in looking sighs;

Such was that sinner after he had risen.
Justice of God! O how severe it is,
That blows like these in vengeance poureth down!

The Guide thereafter asked him who he was;
Whence he replied: “I rained from Tuscany
A short time since into this cruel gorge.

A bestial life, and not a human, pleased me,
Even as the mule I was; I’m Vanni Fucci, 290

289Any obstruction, “such as the epilepsy,” says Benvenuto. “Gouts and dropsies, catarrhs
and oppilations,” says Jeremy Taylor.

290Vanni Fucci, who calls himself a mule, was a bastard son of Fuccio de’ Lazzari. All
the commentators paint him in the darkest colors. Dante had known him as “a man of
blood and wrath,” and seems to wonder he is here, and not in the circle of the Violent,
or of the Irascible. But his great crime was the robbery of a sacristy. Benvenuto da Imola
relates the story in detail. He speaks of him as a man of depraved life, many of whose
misdeeds went unpunished, because he was of noble family. Being banished from Pistoia
for his crimes, he returned to the city one night of the Carnival, and was in company
with eighteen other revellers, among whom was Vanni della Nona, a notary; when, not
content with their insipid diversions, he stole away with two companions to the church of
San Giacomo, and, finding its custodians absent, or asleep with feasting and drinking, he
entered the sacristy and robbed it of all its precious jewels. These he secreted in the house
of the notary, which was close at hand, thinking that on account of his honest repute no
suspicion would fall upon him. A certain Rampino was arrested for the theft, and put to
the torture; when Vanni Fucci, having escaped to Monte Carelli, beyond the Florentine
jurisdiction, sent a messenger to Rampino’s father, confessing all the circumstances of
the crime. Hereupon the notary was seized “on the first Monday in Lent, as he was
going to a sermon in the church of the Minorite Friars,” and was hanged for the theft,
and Rampino set at liberty. No one has a good word to say for Vanni Fucci, except the

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Beast, and Pistoia was my worthy den.”

And I unto the Guide: “Tell him to stir not,
And ask what crime has thrust him here below,
For once a man of blood and wrath I saw him.”

And the sinner, who had heard, dissembled not,
But unto me directed mind and face,
And with a melancholy shame was painted.

Then said: “It pains me more that thou hast caught me
Amid this misery where thou seest me,
Than when I from the other life was taken.

What thou demandest I cannot deny;
So low am I put down because I robbed
The sacristy of the fair ornaments,

And falsely once ’twas laid upon another;
But that thou mayst not such a sight enjoy,
If thou shalt e’er be out of the dark places,

Thine ears to my announcement ope and hear:
Pistoia first of Neri groweth meagre; 291
Then Florence doth renew her men and manners;

Mars draws a vapour up from Val di Magra, 292
Which is with turbid clouds enveloped round,
And with impetuous and bitter tempest

Over Campo Picen shall be the battle;
When it shall suddenly rend the mist asunder,
So that each Bianco shall thereby be smitten

And this I’ve said that it may give thee pain.”

Canonico Crescimbeni, who, in the Comentarj to the Istoria della Volg. Poesia, II. ii., p. 99,
counts him among the Italian Poets, and speaks of him as a man of great courage and
gallantry, and a leader of the Neri party of Pistoia, in 1300. He smooths over Dante’s
invectives by remarking that Dante “makes not too honorable mention of him in the

291The Neri were banished from Pistoia in 1301; the Bianchi, from Florence in 1302.

292This vapor or lightning flash from Val di Magra is the Marquis Malaspini, and the
“turbid clouds” are the banished Neri of Pistoia, whom he is to gather about him to
defeat the Bianchi at Campo Piceno, the old battle-field of Catiline. As Dante was of the
Bianchi party, this prophecy of impending disaster and overthrow could only give him
pain. See Canto VI.



AT the conclusion of his words, the thief 293
Lifted his hands aloft with both the figs, 294
Crying: “Take that, God, for at thee I aim them.”

From that time forth the serpents were my friends;
For one entwined itself about his neck
As if it said: “I will not thou speak more;”

And round his arms another, and rebound him,
Clinching itself together so in front,
That with them he could not a motion make,

Pistoia, ah, Pistoia! why resolve not 295
To burn thyself to ashes and so perish,
Since in ill-doing thou thy seed excellest?

Through all the sombre circles of this Hell,
Spirit I saw not against God so proud,
Not he who fell at Thebes down from the walls! 296

He fled away, and spake no further word;

293The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.

294This vulgar gesture of contempt consists in thursting the thumb between the first and
middle fingers. It is the same as the ass-driver made at Dante in the street; Sacchetti, Nov.
CXV.: “When he was a little way off, he turned around to Dante, and thrusting out his
tongue and making a fig at him with his hand, said, ‘Take that.’ ”
Villani, VI. 5, says: “On the Rock of Carmignano there was a tower seventy yards high,
and upon it two marble arms, the hands of which were making the figs at Florence.”
Others say these hands were on a finger-post by the road-side.

295Pistoia is supposed to have been founded by the soldiers of Catiline. Brunetto Latini,
Tresor, I. i. 37, says: “They found Catiline at the foot of the mountains and he had his
army and his people in that place where is now the city of Pestoire. There was Catiline
conquered in battle, and he and his were slain; also a great part of the Romans were killed.
And on account of the pestilence of that great slaughter the city was called Pestoire.”
The Italian proverb says, Pistoia la ferrigna, iron Pistoia, or Pistoia the pitiless.

296Capaneus, Canto XIV. 44.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And I beheld a Centaur full of rage
Come crying out: “Where is, where is the scoffer?”

I do not think Maremma has so many 297
Serpents as he had all along his back,
As far as where our countenance begins.

Upon the shoulders, just behind the nape,
With wings wide open was a dragon lying,
And he sets fire to all that he encounters.

My Master said: “That one is Cacus, who 298
Beneath the rock upon Mount Aventine
Created oftentimes a lake of blood.

He goes not on the same road with his brothers, 299
By reason of the fraudulent theft he made
Of the great herd, which he had near to him;

Whereat his tortuous actions ceased beneath
The mace of Hercules, who peradventure
Gave him a hundred, and he felt not ten.”

While he was speaking thus, he had passed by,
And spirits three had underneath us come, 300
Of which nor I aware was, nor my Leader

Until what time they shouted: “Who are you?”
On which account our story made a halt 301
And then we were intent on them alone.

I did not know them; but it came to pass,
As it is wont to happen by some chance,
That one to name the other was compelled,

Exclaiming: “Where can Cianfa have remained?” 302
Whence I, so that the Leader might attend,
Upward from chin to nose my finger laid.

297See note in Canto XIII.
298Cacus was the classic Giant Despair, who had his cave in Mount Aventine, and stole
a part of the herd of Geryon, which Hercules had brought to Italy.

299Dante makes a Centaur of Cacus, and separates him from the others because he was
fraudulent as well as violent. Virgil calls him only a monster, a half-man, Semihominis
Caci facies.

300Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, and Puccio Sciancato.
301The story of Cacus, which Virgil was telling.
302Cianfa Donati, a Florentine nobleman. He appears immediately, as a serpent with six

feet, and fastens upon Agnello Brunelleschi.

If thou art, Reader, slow now to believe
What I shall say, it will no marvel be,
For I who saw it hardly can admit it.

As I was holding raised on them my brows,
Behold! a serpent with six feet darts forth
In front of one, and fastens wholly on him.

With middle feet it bound him round the paunch,
And with the forward ones his arms it seized;
Then thrust its teeth through one cheek and the other;

The hindermost it stretched upon his thighs,
And put its tail through in between the two,
And up behind along the reins outspread it.

Ivy was never fastened by its barbs
Unto a tree so, as this horrible reptile
Upon the other’s limbs entwined its own.

Then they stuck close, as if of heated wax
They had been made, and intermixed their colour;
Nor one nor other seemed now what he was;

E’en as proceedeth on before the flame
Upward along the paper a brown colour, 303
Which is not black as yet, and the white dies.

The other two looked on, and each of them
Cried out: “O me, Agnello, how thou changest!
Behold, thou now art neither two nor one.”

Already the two heads had one become,
When there appeared to us two figures mingled
Into one face, wherein the two were lost.

Of the four lists were fashioned the two arms, 304
The thighs and legs, the belly and the chest
Members became that never yet were seen.

Every original aspect there was cancelled;
Two and yet none did the perverted image

303Some commentators contended that in this line papiro does not mean paper, but a
lamp-wick made of papyrus. This destroys the beauty and aptness of the image, and
rather degrades “The leaf of the reed, Which has grown through the clefts in the ruins of

304These four lists, or hands, are the fore feet of the serpent and the arms of Agnello.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Appear, and such departed with slow pace.

Even as a lizard, under the great scourge
Of days canicular, exchanging hedge,
Lightning appeareth if the road it cross;

Thus did appear, coming towards the bellies
Of the two others, a small fiery serpent, 305
Livid and black as is a peppercorn.

And in that part whereat is first received
Our aliment, it one of them transfixed;
Then downward fell in front of him extended.

The one transfixed looked at it, but said naught;
Nay, rather with feet motionless he yawned,
Just as if sleep or fever had assailed him.

He at the serpent gazed, and it at him;
One through the wound, the other through the mouth
Smoked violently, and the smoke commingled.

Henceforth be silent Lucan, where he mentions
Wretched Sabellus and Nassidius,
And wait to hear what now shall be shot forth.

Be silent Ovid, of Cadmus and Arethusa;
For if him to a snake, her to fountain,
Converts he fabling, that I grudge him not;

Because two natures never front to front
Has he transmuted, so that both the forms
To interchange their matter ready were.

Together they responded in such wise,
That to a fork the serpent cleft his tail,
And eke the wounded drew his feet together.

The legs together with the thighs themselves
Adhered so, that in little time the juncture
No sign whatever made that was apparent.

He with the cloven tail assumed the figure
The other one was losing, and his skin
Became elastic, and the other’s hard.

I saw the arms draw inward at the armpits,

305This black serpent is Guercio Cavalcanti, who changes form with Buoso degli Abati.

And both feet of the reptile, that were short,
Lengthen as much as those contracted were.

Thereafter the hind feet, together twisted,
Became the member that a man conceals,
And of his own the wretch had two created.

While both of them the exhalation veils
With a new colour, and engenders hair
On one of them and depilates the other,

The one uprose and down the other fell,
Though turning not away their impious lamps,
Underneath which each one his muzzle changed.

He who was standing drew it tow’rds the temples,
And from excess of matter, which came thither,
Issued the ears from out the hollow cheeks;

What did not backward run and was retained
Of that excess made to the face a nose,
And the lips thickened far as was befitting.

He who lay prostrate thrusts his muzzle forward,
And backward draws the ears into his head,
In the same manner as the snail its horns

And so the tongue, which was entire and apt
For speech before, is cleft, and the bi-forked
In the other closes up, and the smoke ceases.

The soul, which to a reptile had been changed,
Along the valley hissing takes to flight,
And after him the other speaking sputters.

Then did he turn upon him his new shoulders,
And said to the other: “I’ll have Buoso run,
Crawling as I have done, along this road.”

In this way I beheld the seventh ballast
Shift and reshift, and here be my excuse
The novelty, if aught my pen transgress. 306

And notwithstanding that mine eyes might be
Somewhat bewildered, and my mind dismayed,
They could not flee away so secretly

306Some editions read la penna, the pen, instead of la lingua, the tongue.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

But that I plainly saw Puccio Sciancato;
And he it was who sole of three companions,
Which came in the beginning, was not changed;

The other was he whom thou, Gaville, weepest. 307

307Gaville was a village in the Valdarno, where Guercio Cavalcanti was murdered. The
family took vengeance upon the inhabitants in the old Italian style, thus causing Gaville
to lament the murder.

Figure 49: The soul, which to a reptile had been changed...



REJOICE , O Florence, since thou art so great, 308
That over sea and land thou beatest thy wings,
And throughout Hell thy name is spread abroad!

Among the thieves five citizens of thine 309
Like these I found, whence shame comes unto me,
And thou thereby to no great honour risest.

But if when morn is near our dreams are true,
Feel shalt thou in a little time from now
What Prato, if none other, craves for thee. 310

And if it now were, it were not too soon;
Would that it were, seeing it needs must be,
For ’twill aggrieve me more the more I age.

We went our way, and up along the stairs
The bourns had made us to descend before,
Remounted my Conductor and drew me.

And following the solitary path
Among the rocks and ridges of the crag,
The foot without the hand sped not at all.

Then sorrowed I, and sorrow now again,
When I direct my mind to what I saw,
And more my genius curb than I am wont,

That it may run not unless virtue guide it;

308The Eighth Bolgia, in which Fraudulent Counsellors are punished.

309Of these five Florentine nobles, Cianfa Donati, Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli
Abati, Puccio Sciancato, and Guercio Cavalcanti, nothing is known but what Dante tells
us. Perhaps that is enough.

310The disasters soon to befall Florence, and in which even the neighboring town of
Prato would rejoice, to mention no others. These disasters were the fall of the wooden
bridge of Carraia, with a crowd upon it, witnessing a Miracle Play on the Arno; the strife
of the Bianchi and Neri; and the great fire of 1304.


So that if some good star, or better thing,
Have given me good, I may myself not grudge it. 311

As many as the hind (who on the hill
Rests at the time when he who lights the world
His countenance keeps least concealed from us,

While as the fly gives place unto the gnat)
Seeth the glow-worms down along the valley,
Perchance there where he ploughs and makes his vintage

With flames as manifold resplendent all
Was the eighth Bolgia, as I grew aware
As soon as I was where the depth appeared.

And such as he who with the bears avenged him
Beheld Elijah’s chariot at departing,
What time the steeds to heaven erect uprose

For with his eye he could not follow it
So as to see aught else than flame alone,
Even as a little cloud ascending upward,

Thus each along the gorge of the intrenchment
Was moving; for not one reveals the theft,
And every flame a sinner steals away.

I stood upon the bridge uprisen to see,
So that, if I had seized not on a rock,
Down had I fallen without being pushed.

And the Leader, who beheld me so attent,
Exclaimed: “Within the fires the spirits are;
Each swathes himself with that wherewith he burns.”

“My Master,” I replied, “by hearing thee
I am more sure; but I surmised already
It might be so, and already wished to ask thee

Who is within that fire, which comes so cleft
At top, it seems uprising from the pyre
Where was Eteocles with his brother placed.” 312

He answered me: “Within there are tormented

311I may not balk or deprive myself of this good.

312These two sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices, were so hostile to each other, that,
when after death their bodies were burned on the same funeral pile, the flames swayed
apart, and the ashes separated.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Ulysses and Diomed, and thus together 313
They unto vengeance run as unto wrath.

And there within their flame do they lament
The ambush of the horse, which made the door 314
Whence issued forth the Romans’ gentle seed;

Therein is wept the craft, for which being dead
Deidamia still deplores Achilles, 315
And pain for the Palladium there is borne.” 316

“If they within those sparks possess the power
To speak,” I said, “thee, Master, much I pray,
And re-pray, that the prayer be worth a thousand,

That thou make no denial of awaiting
Until the horned flame shall hither come;
Thou seest that with desire I lean towards it.”

And he to me: “Worthy is thy entreaty
Of much applause, and therefore I accept it;
But take heed that thy tongue restrain itself.

Leave me to speak, because I have conceived
That which thou wishest; for they might disdain
Perchance, since they were Greeks, discourse of thine.” 317

When now the flame had come unto that point,
Where to my Leader it seemed time and place,
After this fashion did I hear him speak:

“O ye, who are twofold within one fire,
If I deserved of you, while I was living,
If I deserved of you or much or little

When in the world I wrote the lofty verses,

313The most cunning of the Greeks at the siege of Troy, now united in their punishment,
as before in warlike wrath.
314As Troy was overcome by the fraud of the wooden horse, it was in a poetic sense the
gateway by which Aeneas went forth to establish the Roman empire in Italy.

315Deidamia was a daughter of Lycomedes of Sycros, at whose court Ulysses found
Achilles, disguised in woman’s attire, and enticed him away to the siege of Troy, telling
him that, according to the oracle, the city could not be taken without him, but not telling
him that, according to the same oracle, he would lose his life there.

316Ulysses and Diomed together stole the Palladium, or statue of Pallas, at Troy, the
safeguard and protection of the city.
317The Greeks scorned all other nations as “outside barbarians.” Even Virgil, a Latian,
has to plead with Ulysses the merit of having praised him in the Aeneid.

Do not move on, but one of you declare
Whither, being lost, he went away to die.”

Then of the antique flame the greater horn,
Murmuring, began to wave itself about
Even as a flame doth which the wind fatigues.

Thereafterward, the summit to and fro
Moving as if it were the tongue that spake
It uttered forth a voice, and said: “When I

From Circe had departed, who concealed me
More than a year there near unto Gaeta,
Or ever yet Aenas named it so,

Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
For my old father, nor the due affection
Which joyous should have made Penelope,

Could overcome within me the desire
I had to be experienced of the world,
And of the vice and virtue of mankind;

But I put forth on the high open sea
With one sole ship, and that small company
By which I never had deserted been.

Both of the shores I saw as far as Spain,
Far as Morocco. and the isle of Sardes,
And the others which that sea bathes round about.

I and my company were old and slow
When at that narrow passage we arrived
Where Hercules his landmarks set as signals, 318

That man no farther onward should adventure.
On the right hand behind me left I Seville,
And on the other already had left Ceuta.

‘O brothers, who amid a hundred thousand
Perils,’ I said, ‘have come unto the West,
To this so inconsiderable vigil

Which is remaining of your senses still
Be ye unwilling to deny the knowledge,

318The Pillars of Hercules at the straits of Gibraltar; Abyla on the African shore, and
Gibraltar on the Spanish; in which the popular mind has lost its faith, except as symbolized
in the columns on the Spanish dollar, with the legend, Plus ultra.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Following the sun, of the unpeopled world.

Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang;
Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,
But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.’

So eager did I render my companions,
With this brief exhortation, for the voyage,
That then I hardly could have held them back.

And having turned our stern unto the morning,
We of the oars made wings for our mad flight,
Evermore gaining on the larboard side.

Already all the stars of the other pole
The night beheld, and ours so very low
It did not rise above the ocean floor.

Five times rekindled and as many quenched
Had been the splendour underneath the moon,
Since we had entered into the deep pass,

When there appeared to us a mountain, dim
From distance, and it seemed to me so high
As I had never any one beheld.

Joyful were we, and soon it turned to weeping;
For out of the new land a whirlwind rose,
And smote upon the fore part of the ship.

Three times it made her whirl with all the waters,
At the fourth time it made the stern uplift,
And the prow downward go, as pleased Another,

Until the sea above us closed again.”

Figure 50: And there within their flame do they lament...



ALREADY was the flame erect and quiet, 319
To speak no more, and now departed from us
With the permission of the gentle Poet;

When yet another, which behind it came,
Caused us to turn our eyes upon its top
By a confused sound that issued from it.

As the Sicilian bull (that bellowed first
With the lament of him, and that was right,
Who with his file had modulated it)

Bellowed so with the voice of the afflicted,
That, notwithstanding it was made of brass,
Still it appeared with agony transfixed;

Thus, by not having any way or issue
At first from out the fire, to its own language
Converted were the melancholy words.

But afterwards, when they had gathered way
Up through the point, giving it that vibration
The tongue had given them in their passage out,

We heard it said: “O thou, at whom I aim
My voice, and who but now wast speaking Lombard,
Saying, ‘Now go thy way, no more I urge thee,’ 320

Because I come perchance a little late,
To stay and speak with me let it not irk thee;
Thou seest it irks not me, and I am burning.

If thou but lately into this blind world

319The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.
320Virgil being a Lombard, Dante suggests that, in giving Ulysses and Diomed license
to depart, he had used the Lombard dialect, saying, “Issa t’ en va.”


Hast fallen down from that sweet Latian land,

Wherefrom I bring the whole of my transgression,
Say, if the Romagnuols have peace or war, 321
For I was from the mountains there between 322
Urbino and the yoke whence Tiber bursts.”

I still was downward bent and listening,
When my Conductor touched me on the side,
Saying: “Speak thou: this one a Latian is.”

And I, who had beforehand my reply
In readiness, forthwith began to speak:
“O soul, that down below there art concealed,

Romagna thine is not and never has been
Without war in the bosom of its tyrants;
But open war I none have left there now.

Ravenna stands as it long years has stood;
The Eagle of Polenta there is brooding, 323
So that she covers Cervia with her vans.

The city which once made the long resistance, 324
And of the French a sanguinary heap,
Beneath the Green Paws finds itself again;

Verrucchio’s ancient Mastiff and the new, 325
Who made such bad disposal of Montagna,
Where they are wont make wimbles of their teeth.

The cities of Lamone and Santerno 326
321The inhabitants of the province of Romagna, of which Ravenna is the capital.
322It is the spirit of Guido da Montefeltro that speaks. The city of Montefeltro lies between
Urbino and that part of the Apennines in which the Tiber rises. Count Guido was
a famous warrior, and one of the great Ghibelline leaders. He tells his own story sufficiently
in detail in what follows.
323The arms of Guido da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, Dante’s friend, and father (or
nephew) of Francesca da Rimini, were an eagle half white in a field of azure, and half
red in a field of gold. Cervia is a small town some twelve miles from Ravenna.
324The city of Forl`i, where Guido da Montefeltro defeated and slaughtered the French
in 1282. See Canto XX. A Green lion was the coat of arms of the Ordelaffi, then Lords of
325Malatesta, father and son, tyrants of Rimini, who murdered Montagna, a Ghibelline
leader. Verrucchio was their castle, near the city. Of this family were the husband and
lover of Francesca. Dante calls them mastiffs, becaue of their fierceness, making “wimbles
of their teeth” in tearing and devouring.
326The cities of Faenza on the Lamone, and Imola on the Santerno. They were ruled by
Mainardo, surnamed “the Devil,” whose coat of arms was a lion azure in a white field.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Governs the Lioncel of the white lair,
Who changes sides ’twixt summer-time and winter;

And that of which the Savio bathes the flank, 327
Even as it lies between the plain and mountain,
Lives between tyranny and a free state.

Now I entreat thee tell us who thou art;
Be not more stubborn than the rest have been,
So may thy name hold front there in the world.”

After the fire a little more had roared
In its own fashion, the sharp point it moved
This way and that, and then gave forth such breath:

“If I believed that my reply were made
To one who to the world would e’er return,
This flame without more flickering would stand still;

But inasmuch as never from this depth
Did any one return, if I hear true,
Without the fear of infamy I answer,

I was a man of arms, then Cordelier,
Believing thus begirt to make amends;
And truly my belief had been fulfilled

But for the High Priest, whom may ill betide, 328
Who put me back into my former sins;
And how and wherefore I will have thee hear.

While I was still the form of bone and pulp
My mother gave to me, the deeds I did
Were not those of a lion, but a fox.

The machinations and the covert ways
I knew them all, and practised so their craft,
That to the ends of earth the sound went forth.

When now unto that portion of mine age
I saw myself arrived, when each one ought
To lower the sails, and coil away the ropes, 329

327The city of Cesena.
328Boniface VIII., who in line 85 is called “the Prince of the new Pharisees.”
329Dante, Convito IV. 28, quoting Cicero, says: “Natural death is as it were a haven and

rest to us after long navigation. And the noble soul is like a good mariner; for he, when
he draws near the port, lowers his sails, and enters it softly with feeble steerage.”

That which before had pleased me then displeased me;
And penitent and confessing I surrendered,
Ah woe is me! and it would have bestead me;

The Leader of the modern Pharisees
Having a war near unto Lateran, 330

330This Papal war, which was waged against Christians, and not against pagan Saracens,
nor unbelieving Jews, nor against the renegades who had helped them at the siege
of Acre, or given them aid and comfort by traffic, is thus described by Mr. Norton, Travel
and Study in Italy, p. 263: –
“This ‘war near the Lateran’ was a war with the great family of Colonna. Two of the
house were Cardinals. They had been deceived in the election, and were rebellious under
the rule of Boniface. The Cardinals of the great Ghibelline house took no pains to
conceal their ill-will toward the Guelf Pope. Boniface, indeed, accused them of plotting
with his enemies for his overthrow. The Colonnas, finding Rome unsafe, had withdrawn
to their strong town of Palestrina, whence they could issue forth at will for plunder, and
where they could give shelter to those who shared in their hostility toward the Pope. On
the other hand, Boniface, not trusting himself in Rome, withdrew to the secure height of
Orvieto, and thence, on the 14th of December, 1297, issued a terrible bull for a crusade
against them, granting plenary indulgence to all, (such was the Christian temper of the
times, and so literally were the violent seizing upon the kingdom of Heaven,) granting
plenary indulgence to all who would take up arms against these rebellious sons of the
Church and march against their chief stronghold, their ‘alto seggio’ of Palestrina. They
and their adherents had already been excommunicated and put under the ban of the
Church; they had been stripped of all dignities and privileges; their property had been
confiscated; and they were now by this bull placed in the position of enemies, not of the
Pope alone, but of the Church Universal. Troops gathered against them from all quarters
of Papal Italy. Their lands were ravaged, and they themselves shut up within their
stronghold; but for a long time they held out in their ancient high-walled mountaintown.
It was to gain Palestrina that Boniface ‘had war near the Lateran.’ The great church and
palace of the Lateran, standing on the summit of the Coelian Hill, close to the city wall,
overlooks the Campagna, which, in broken levels of brown and green and purple fields,
reaches to the base of the encircling mountains. Twenty miles away, crowning the top
and clinging to the side of one of the last heights of the Sabine range, are the gray walls
and roofs of Palestrina. It was a far more conspicuous place at the close of the thirteenth
century than it is now; for the great columns of the famous temple of Fortune still rose
above the town, and the ancient citadel kept watch over it from its high rock. At length,
in September, 1298, the Colonnas, reduced to the hardest extremities, became ready for
peace. Boniface promised largely. The two Cardinals presented themselves before him at
Rieti, in coarse brown dresses, and with ropes around their necks, in token of their repentance
and submission. The Pope gave them not only pardon and absolution, but hope of
being restored to their titles and possessions. This was the ‘lunga promessa con l’attender
corto’; for, while the Colonnas were retained near him, and these deceptive hopes held out
to them, Boniface sent the Bishop of Orvieto to take possession of Palestrina, and to destroy
it utterly, leaving only the church to stand as a monument above its ruins. The work
was done thoroughly; – a plough was drawn across the site of the unhappy town, and
salt scattered in the furrow, that the land might thenceforth be desolate. The inhabitants
were removed from the mountain to the plain, and there forced to build new homes for

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And not with Saracens nor with the Jews,

For each one of his enemies was Christian,
And none of them had been to conquer Acre,
Nor merchandising in the Sultan’s land,

Nor the high office, nor the sacred orders,
In him regarded, nor in me that cord
Which used to make those girt with it more meagre;

But even as Constantine sought out Sylvester
To cure his leprosy, within Soracte,
So this one sought me out as an adept 331

To cure him of the fever of his pride.
Counsel he asked of me, and I was silent,
Because his words appeared inebriate.

And then he said: ‘Be not thy heart afraid;
Henceforth I thee absolve; and thou instruct me
How to raze Palestrina to the ground.

Heaven have I power to lock and to unlock,
As thou dost know; therefore the keys are two,
The which my predecessor held not dear.’ 332

Then urged me on his weighty arguments
There, where my silence was the worst advice;
And said I: ‘Father, since thou washest me

Of that sin into which I now must fall,
The promise long with the fulfilment short
Will make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.’

Francis came afterward, when I was dead,
For me; but one of the black Cherubim
Said to him: ‘Take him not; do me no wrong;

He must come down among my servitors,
Because he gave the fraudulent advice
From which time forth I have been at his hair;

themselves, which, in their turn, two years afterwards, were thrown down and burned
by order of the implacable Pope. This last piece of malignity was accomplished in 1300,
the year of the Jubilee, the year in which Dante was in Rome and in which he saw Guy of
Montefeltro, the counsellor of Boniface in deceit, burning in Hell.”

331Montefeltro was in the Franciscan monastery at Assisi.
332Pope Celestine V., who made “the great refusal,” or abdication of the papacy. See
note in Canto III.

For who repents not cannot be absolved,
Nor can one both repent and will at once,
Because of the contradiction which consents not.

O miserable me! how I did shudder
When he seized on me, saying: ‘Peradventure
Thou didst not think that I was a logician!’

He bore me unto Minos, who entwined
Eight times his tail about his stubborn back,
And after he had bitten it in great rage,

Said: ‘Of the thievish fire a culprit this;’
Wherefore, here where thou seest, am I lost,
And vested thus in going I bemoan me.”

When it had thus completed its recital,
The flame departed uttering lamentations,
Writhing and flapping its sharp-pointed horn.

Onward we passed, both I and my Conductor,
Up o’er the crag above another arch,
Which the moat covers, where is paid the fee

By those who, sowing discord, win their burden.



WHO ever could, e’en with untrammelled words, 333
Tell of the blood and of the wounds in full
Which now I saw, by many times narrating?

Each tongue would for a certainty fall short
By reason of our speech and memory,
That have small room to comprehend so much

If were again assembled all the people
Which formerly upon the fateful land
Of Puglia were lamenting for their blood 334

Shed by the Romans and the lingering war 335
That of the rings made such illustrious spoils, 336
As Livy has recorded, who errs not,

With those who felt the agony of blows
By making counterstand to Robert Guiscard, 337
And all the rest, whose bones are gathered still

At Ceperano, where a renegade 338

333The Ninth Bolgia, in which are punished the Schismatics, and “where is paid the fee
by those who sowing discord win their burden”; a burden difficult to describe even with
untrammelled words, or in plain prose, free from the fetters of rhyme.

334Apulia, or La Puglia, is in the southeastern part of Italy, “between the spur and the

heel of the boot.”
335The people slain in the conquest of Apulia by the Romans.
336Hannibal’s famous battle at Cannae, in the second Punic war. According to Livy,

XXII. 49, “The number of the slain is computed at forty thousand foot, and two thousand
seven hundred horse.”
337Robert Guiscard, the renowned Norman conqueror of southern Italy. Dante places
him in the Fifth Heaven of Paradise, in the planet Mars.
338The battle of Ceperano, near Monte Cassino, was fought in 1265, between Charles
of Anjou and Manfred, king of Apulia and Sicily. The Apulians, seeing the battle going
against them, deserted their king and passed over to the enemy.


Was each Apulian, and at Tagliacozzo, 339
Where without arms the old Alardo conquered,

And one his limb transpierced, and one lopped off,
Should show, it would be nothing to compare
With the disgusting mode of the ninth Bolgia.

A cask by losing centre-piece or cant
Was never shattered so, as I saw one
Rent from the chin to where one breaketh wind.

Between his legs were hanging down his entrails;
His heart was visible, and the dismal sack
That maketh excrement of what is eaten.

While I was all absorbed in seeing him,
He looked at me, and opened with his hands
His bosom, saying: “See now how I rend me;

How mutilated, see, is Mahomet;
In front of me doth Ali weeping go,
Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;

And all the others whom thou here beholdest,
Disseminators of scandal and of schism
While living were, and therefore are cleft thus.

A devil is behind here, who doth cleave us
Thus cruelly, unto the falchion’s edge
Putting again each one of all this ream,

When we have gone around the doleful road;
By reason that our wounds are closed again
Ere any one in front of him repass.

But who art thou, that musest on the crag,
Perchance to postpone going to the pain
That is adjudged upon thine accusations?”

339The battle of Tagliacozzo in Abruzzo was fought in 1268, between Charles of Anjou
and Curradino or Conradin, nephew of Manfred. Charles gained the victory by the strategy
of Count Alardo di Valleri, who, “weaponless himself, made arms ridiculous.” This
valiant but wary crusader persuaded the king to keep a third of his forces in reserve; and
when the soldiers of Curradino, thinking they had won the day, were scattered over the
field in pursuit of plunder, Charles fell upon them, and routed them.
Alardo is mentioned in the Cento Novelle Antiche, Nov. LVII., as “celebrated for his wonderful
prowess even among the chief nobles, and no less esteemed for his singular virtues
than for his courage.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

“Nor death hath reached him yet, nor guilt doth bring him,”
My Master made reply, “to be tormented;
But to procure him full experience,

Me, who am dead, behoves it to conduct him
Down here through Hell, from circle unto circle;
And this is true as that I speak to thee.”

More than a hundred were there when they heard him,
Who in the moat stood still to look at me,
Through wonderment oblivious of their torture.

“Now say to Fra Dolcino, then, to arm him, 340
Thou, who perhaps wilt shortly see the sun,
If soon he wish not here to follow me,

So with provisions, that no stress of snow
May give the victory to the Novarese, 341
Which otherwise to gain would not be easy.”

After one foot to go away he lifted,
This word did Mahomet say unto me,
Then to depart upon the ground he stretched it.

Another one, who had his throat pierced through,
And nose cut off close underneath the brows,
And had no longer but a single ear,

Staying to look in wonder with the others,
Before the others did his gullet open,
Which outwardly was red in every part,

And said: “O thou, whom guilt doth not condemn,
And whom I once saw up in Latian land,
Unless too great similitude deceive me,

Call to remembrance Pier da Medicina, 342

340Fra Dolcino was one of the early social and religious reformers in the North of Italy.
His sect bore the name of “Apostles,” and its chief, if not only, heresy was a desire to
bring back the Church to the simplicity of the apostolic times. In 1305 he withdrew with
his followers to the mountains overlooking the Val Sesia in Piedmont, where he was
pursued and besieged by the Church party, and, after various fortunes of victory and
defeat, being reduced by “stress of snow” and famine, was taken prisoner, together with
his companion, the beautiful Margaret of Trent. Both were burned at Vercelli on the 1st
of June, 1307.

341Val Sesia, among whose mountains Fra Dolcino was taken prisoner, is in the diocese
of Novara.
342A Bolognese, who stirred up dissensions among the citizens.

Figure 51: Staying to look in wonder with the others...

If e’er thou see again the lovely plain 343
That from Vercelli slopes to Marcabo,

And make it known to the best two of Fano, 344
To Messer Guido and Angiolello likewise,
That if foreseeing here be not in vain,

Cast over from their vessel shall they be,
And drowned near unto the Cattolica,
By the betrayal of a tyrant fell.

Between the isles of Cyprus and Majorca
Neptune ne’er yet beheld so great a crime
Neither of pirates nor Argolic people.

343The plain of Lombardy sloping down two hundred miles and more, from Vercelli in
Piedmont to Marcabo, a village near Ravenna.

344Guido del Cassero and Angiolello da Cagnano, two honorable citizens of Fano, going
to Rimini by invitation of Malatestino, were by his order thrown into the sea and
drowned, as here prophesied or narrated, near the village of Cattolica on the Adriatic.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

That traitor, who sees only with one eye, 345
And holds the land, which some one here with me 346
Would fain be fasting from the vision of,

Will make them come unto a parley with him;
Then will do so, that to Focara’s wind 347
They will not stand in need of vow or prayer.”

And I to him: “Show to me and declare,
If thou wouldst have me bear up news of thee,
Who is this person of the bitter vision.”

Then did he lay his hand upon the jaw
Of one of his companions, and his mouth
Oped, crying: “This is he, and he speaks not.

This one, being banished, every doubt submerged
In Caesar by affirming the forearmed
Always with detriment allowed delay.”

O how bewildered unto me appeared,
With tongue asunder in his windpipe slit,
Curio, who in speaking was so bold!

And one, who both his hands dissevered had,
The stumps uplifting through the murky air,
So that the blood made horrible his face, 348

Cried out: “Thou shalt remember Mosca also, 349
Who said, alas! ‘A thing done has an end!’
Which was an ill seed for the Tuscan people

“And death unto thy race,” thereto I added;
Whence he, accumulating woe on woe,
Departed, like a person sad and crazed.

But I remained to look upon the crowd;
And saw a thing which I should be afraid,

345Malatestino had lost one eye.
347Focara is a headland near Catolica, famous for dangerous winds, to be preserved

from which mariners offered up vows and prayers. These men will not need to do it;
they will not reach that cape.
348Curio, the banished Tribune, who, fleeing to Caesar’s camp on the Rubicon, urged
him to advance upon Rome.

349Mosca degl’Uberti, or dei Lamberti, who, by advising the murder of Buondelmonte,
gave rise to the parties of Guelf and Ghibelline, which so long divided Florence. See note
in Canto X.

Without some further proof, even to recount,

If it were not that conscience reassures me,
That good companion which emboldens man
Beneath the hauberk of its feeling pure.

I truly saw, and still I seem to see it,
A trunk without a head walk in like manner
As walked the others of the mournful herd.

And by the hair it held the head dissevered,
Hung from the hand in fashion of a lantern,
And that upon us gazed and said: “O me!”

It of itself made to itself a lamp,
And they were two in one, and one in two;
How that can be, He knows who so ordains it.

When it was come close to the bridge’s foot,
It lifted high its arm with all the head,
To bring more closely unto us its words,

Which were: “Behold now the sore penalty,
Thou, who dost breathing go the dead beholding;
Behold if any be as great as this.

And so that thou may carry news of me,
Know that Bertram de Born am I, the same 350
Who gave to the Young King the evil comfort. 351

I made the father and the son rebellious;

350Bertrand de Born, the turbulent Troubadour of the last half of the twelfth century,
was alike skilful with his pen and his sword, and passed his life in alternately singing
and fighting, and in stirring up dissension and strife among his neighbors.

351A vast majority of manuscripts and printed editions read in this line, Re Giovanni,
King John, instead of Re Giovane, the Young King. Even Boccaccio’s copy, which he wrote
out with his own had for Petrarca, has Re Giovanni. Out of seventy-nine Codici examined
by Barlow, he says, Study of the Divina Commedia, p. 153, “Only five were found with
the correct reading – re giovane... The reading re giovane is not found in any of the early
editions, nor is it noticed by any of the early commentators.” See also Ginguen, Hist. Litt.
de l’Italie, II, 486, where the subject is elaborately discussed, and the note of Biagioli, who
takes the opposite side of the question.
Henry II. of England had four sons, all of whom were more or less rebellious against
him. They were, Henry, surnamed Curt-Mantle, and called by the Troubadours and novelists
of his time “The Young King,” because he was crowned during his father’s life;
Richard Coeur-de-Lion, Count of Guienne and Poitou; Geoffroy, Duke of Brittany; and
John Lackland. Henry was the only one of these who bore the title of king at the time in

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Achitophel not more with Absalom
And David did with his accursed goadings.

Because I parted persons so united,
Parted do I now bear my brain, alas!
From its beginning, which is in this trunk.

Thus is observed in me the counterpoise.”

Figure 52: How mutilated, see, is Mahomet...

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 53: And by the hair it held the head dissevered...



THE many people and the divers wounds 352
These eyes of mine had so inebriated,
That they were wishful to stand still and weep;

But said Virgilius: “What dost thou still gaze at?
Why is thy sight still riveted down there
Among the mournful, mutilated shades?

Thou hast not done so at the other Bolge;
Consider, if to count them thou believest,
That two-and-twenty miles the valley winds,

And now the moon is underneath our feet;
Henceforth the time allotted us is brief,
And more is to be seen than what thou seest.”

“If thou hadst,” I made answer thereupon
“Attended to the cause for which I looked,
Perhaps a longer stay thou wouldst have pardoned.”

Meanwhile my Guide departed, and behind him
I went, already making my reply,
And superadding: “In that cavern where

I held mine eyes with such attention fixed,
I think a spirit of my blood laments
The sin which down below there costs so much”

Then said the Master: “Be no longer broken
Thy thought from this time forward upon him;
Attend elsewhere, and there let him remain;

For him I saw below the little bridge,
Pointing at thee, and threatening with his finger

352The Tenth and last “cloister of Malebolge,” where “Justice infallible punishes forgers,”
and falsifiers of all kinds. This Canto is devoted to the alchemists.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Fiercely, and heard him called Geri del Bello. 353
So wholly at that time wast thou impeded

By him who formerly held Altaforte, 354
Thou didst not look that way; so he departed.”
“O my Conductor, his own violent death,

Which is not yet avenged for him,” I said,

“By any who is sharer in the shame,
Made him disdainful; whence he went away,
As I imagine, without speaking to me, 355
And thereby made me pity him the more.” 356

Thus did we speak as far as the first place
Upon the crag, which the next valley shows
Down to the bottom, if there were more light.

When we were now right over the last cloister
Of Malebolge, so that its lay-brothers
Could manifest themselves unto our sight,

Divers lamentings pierced me through and through,
Which with compassion had their arrows barbed,
Whereat mine ears I covered with my hands.

What pain would be, if from the hospitals 357
Of Valdichiana, ’twixt July and September,
And of Maremma and Sardinia

All the diseases in one moat were gathered,

353Geri del Bello was a disreputable member of the Alighieri family, and was murdered
by one of the Sacchetti. His death was afterwards avenged by his brother, who in turn
slew one of the Sacchetti at the door of his house.

354Bertrand de Born.
355Like the ghost of Ajax in the Odyssey, XI. “He answered me not at all, but went to
Erebus amongst the other souls of the dead.”

356Dante seems to share the feeling of the Italian vendetta, which required retaliation
from some member of the injured family. “Among the Italians of this age,” says Napier,
Florentine Hist., I. Ch. VII., “and for centuries after, private offence was never forgotten
until revenged, and generally involved a succession of mutual injuries; vengeance was
not only considered lawful and just, but a positive duty, dishonorable to omit; and, as
may be learned from ancient private journals, it was sometimes allowed to sleep for fiveand-
thirty years, and then suddently struck a victim who perhaps had not yet seen the
light when the original injury was inflicted.”

357The Val di Chiana, near Arezzo, was in Dante’s time marshy and pestilential. Now,
by the effect of drainage, it is one of the most beautiful and fruitful of the Tuscan valleys.
The Maremma was and is notoriously unhealthy; see note in Canto XIII., and Sardinia
would seem to have shared its ill repute.

Such was it here, and such a stench came from it

As from putrescent limbs is wont to issue.
We had descended on the furthest bank
From the long crag, upon the left hand still,
And then more vivid was my power of sight

Down tow’rds the bottom, where the ministress
Of the high Lord, Justice infallible,
Punishes forgers, which she here records. 358

I do not think a sadder sight to see
Was in Aegina the whole people sick, 359
(When was the air so full of pestilence,

The animals, down to the little worm,
All fell, and afterwards the ancient people,
According as the poets have affirmed,

Were from the seed of ants restored again,)
Than was it to behold through that dark valley
The spirits languishing in divers heaps.

This on the belly, that upon the back
One of the other lay, and others crawling
Shifted themselves along the dismal road.

We step by step went onward without speech,
Gazing upon and listening to the sick
Who had not strength enough to lift their bodies.

I saw two sitting leaned against each other,
As leans in heating platter against platter,
From head to foot bespotted o’er with scabs;

And never saw I plied a currycomb
By stable-boy for whom his master waits,
Or him who keeps awake unwillingly,

As every one was plying fast the bite
Of nails upon himself, for the great rage
Of itching which no other succour had.

And the nails downward with them dragged the scab,
In fashion as a knife the scales of bream,
Or any other fish that has them largest.

358Forgers or falsifiers in a general sense.
359The plague of Aegina is described by Ovid, Metamorph. VII.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 54: I saw two sitting leaned against each other...

“O thou, that with thy fingers dost dismail thee,”
Began my Leader unto one of them,
“And makest of them pincers now and then,

Tell me if any Latian is with those 360
Who are herein; so may thy nails suffice thee
To all eternity unto this work.”

“Latians are we, whom thou so wasted seest,
Both of us here,” one weeping made reply;
“But who art thou, that questionest about us?”

And said the Guide: “One am I who descends
Down with this living man from cliff to cliff,
And I intend to show Hell unto him.”

Then broken was their mutual support,
And trembling each one turned himself to me,
With others who had heard him by rebound.

Wholly to me did the good Master gather,

360Latian, or Italian; any one of the Latin race.

Saying: “Say unto them whate’er thou wishest.”
And I began, since he would have it so:

“So may your memory not steal away
In the first world from out the minds of men,
But so may it survive ‘neath many suns,

Say to me who ye are, and of what people;
Let not your foul and loathsome punishment
Make you afraid to show yourselves to me.”

“I of Arezzo was,” one made reply, 361
“And Albert of Siena had me burned;
But what I died for does not bring me here.

’Tis true I said to him, speaking in jest,
That I could rise by flight into the air,
And he who had conceit, but little wit,

Would have me show to him the art; and only
Because no Daedalus I made him, made me 362
Be burned by one who held him as his son.

But unto the last Bolgia of the ten,
For alchemy, which in the world I practised,
Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned.”

And to the Poet said I: “Now was ever
So vain a people as the Sienese? 363
Not for a certainty the French by far.”

Whereat the other leper, who had heard me,
Replied unto my speech: “Taking out Stricca, 364

361The speaker is a certain Griffolino, an alchemist of Arezzo, who practised upon the
credulity of Albert, a natural son of the Bishop of Siena. For this he was burned; but was
“condemned to the last Bolgia of the ten for alchemy.”

362The inventor of the Cretan labyrinth. Ovid, Metamorph. VIII.: – “Great Daedalus of
Athens was the man who made the draught, and formed the wondrous plan.” Not being
able to find his way out of the labyrinth, he made wings for himself and his son Icarus,
and escaped by flight.

363Speaking of the people of Siena, Forsyth, Italy, 532, says: “Vain, flighty, fanciful, they
want the judgment and penetration of their Florentine neighbors; who, nationally severe,
call a nail without a head chiodo Sanese.”

364The persons here mentioned gain a kind of immortality from Dante’s verse. The
Stricca, or Baldastricca, was a lawyer of Siena; and Niccol`o dei Salimbeni, or Bonsignori,
introduced the fashion of stuffing pheasants with cloves, or, as Benvenuto says, of roasting
them at a fire of cloves. Though Dante mentions them apart, they seem, like the two
others named afterwards, to have been members of the Brigata Spendereccia, or Prodigal

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Who knew the art of moderate expenses,
And Niccol`

o, who the luxurious use
Of cloves discovered earliest of all
Within that garden where such seed takes root;

And taking out the band, among whom squandered
Caccia d’Ascian his vineyards and vast woods,
And where his wit the Abbagliato proffered!

But, that thou know who thus doth second thee
Against the Sienese, make sharp thine eye
Tow’rds me, so that my face well answer thee,

And thou shalt see I am Capocchio’s shade, 365
Who metals falsified by alchemy;
Thou must remember, if I well descry thee,

How I a skilful ape of nature was.”

Club, of Siena, whose extravagances are recorded by Benvenuto da Imola. This club consisted
of “twelve very rich young gentlemen, who took it into their heads to do things
that would make a great part of the world wonder.” Accordingly each contributed eighteen
thousand golden florins to a common fund, amounting in all to two hundred and
sixteen thousand florins. They built a palace, in which each member had a splendid
chamber, and they gave sumptuous dinners and suppers; ending their banquets sometimes
by throwing all the dishes, table-ornaments, and knives of gold and silver out of
the window. “This silly institution,” continues Benvenuto, “lasted only ten months, the
treasury being exhausted, and the wretched members became the fable and laughingstock
of all the world.” In honor of this club, Folgore da San Geminiano, a clever poet of
the day (1260), wrote a series of twelve convivial sonnets, one for each month of the year,
with Dedication and Conclusion.

365“This Capocchio,” says the Ottimo, “was a very subtle alchemist; and because he was
burned for practising alchemy in Siena, he exhibits his hatred to the Sienese, and gives
us to understand that the author knew him.”

Figure 55: All the diseases in one moat were gathered...

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 56: “Why is thy sight still riveted down there among the mournful,
mutilated shades?”



’TWAS at the time when Juno was enraged, 366
For Semele, against the Theban blood,
As she already more than once had shown,

So reft of reason Arthamas became, 367
That, seeing his own wife with children twain
Walking encumbered upon either hand,

He cried: “Spread out the nets, that I may take
The lioness and her whelps upon the passage;”
And then extended his unpitying claws,

Seizing the first, who had the name Learchus,
And whirled him round, and dashed him on a rock;
And she, with the other burthen, drowned herself; –

And at the time when fortune downward hurled
The Trojan’s arrogance, that all things dared,
So that the king was with his kingdom crushed,

Hecuba sad, disconsolate, and captive, 368
When lifeless she beheld Polyxena,
And of her Polydorus on the shore

Of ocean was the dolorous one aware,
Out of her senses like a dog she barked,
So much the anguish had her mind distorted;

But not of Thebes the furies nor the Trojan
Were ever seen in any one so cruel
In goading beasts, and much more human members,

As I beheld two shadows pale and naked,

366In this Canto the same Bolgia is continued, with different kinds of Falsifiers.
367Athamas, king of Thebes and husband of Ino, daughter of Cadmus.
368Hecuba, wife of Priam of Troy, and mother of Polyxena and Polydorus.


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 57: As I beheld two shadows pale and naked...

Who, biting, in the manner ran along
That a boar does, when from the sty turned loose.

One to Capocchio came, and by the nape
Seized with its teeth his neck, so that in dragging
It made his belly grate the solid bottom.

And the Aretine, who trembling had remained, 369
Said to me: “That mad sprite is Gianni Schicchi,
And raving goes thus harrying other people.”

“O,” said I to him, “so may not the other
Set teeth on thee, let it not weary thee
To tell us who it is, ere it dart hence.”

And he to me: “That is the ancient ghost
Of the nefarious Myrrha, who became
Beyond all rightful love her father’s lover.

She came to sin with him after this manner,

369Griffolino d’Arezzo, mentioned in Canto XXIX.

By counterfeiting of another’s form;
As he who goeth yonder undertook, 370

That he might gain the lady of the herd,
To counterfeit in himself Buoso Donati,
Making a will and giving it due form.”

And after the two maniacs had passed
On whom I held mine eye, I turned it back
To look upon the other evil-born.

I saw one made in fashion of a lute,
If he had only had the groin cut off
Just at the point at which a man is forked.

The heavy dropsy, that so disproportions
The limbs with humours, which it ill concocts,
That the face corresponds not to the belly,

Compelled him so to hold his lips apart
As does the hectic, who because of thirst
One tow’rds the chin, the other upward turns.

“O ye, who without any torment are,
And why I know not, in the world of woe,”
He said to us, “behold, and be attentive

Unto the misery of Master Adam; 371
I had while living much of what I wished,
And now, alas! a drop of water crave.

The rivulets, that from the verdant hills

370The same “mad sprite,” Gianni Schicchi, mentioned above. “Buoso Donati of Florence,”
says Benvenuto, “although a nobleman and of an illustrious house, was nevertheless
like other noblemen of his time, and by means of thefts had greatly increased his
patrimony. When the hour of death drew near, the sting of conscience caused him to
make a will in which he gave fat legacies to many people; whereupon his son Simon,
(the Ottimo says his nephew,) thinking himself enormously aggrieved, suborned Vanni
Schicchi dei Cavalcanti, who got into Buoso’s bed, and made a will in opposition to the
other. Gianni much resembled Buoso.” In this will Gianni Schicchi did not forget himself,
while making Simon heir; for, according to the Ottimo, he put this clause into it: “To
Gianni Schicchi I bequeath my mare.” This was the “lady of the herd,” and Benvenuto
adds, “none more beautiful was to be found in Tuscany; and it was valued at a thousand

371Messer Adamo, a false-coiner of Brescia, who at the instigation of the Counts Guido,
Alessandro, and Aghinolfo of Romena, counterfeited the golden florin of Florence, which
bore on one side a lily, and on the other the figure of John the Baptist.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Of Cassentin descend down into Arno, 372
Making their channels to be cold and moist,

Ever before me stand, and not in vain;
For far more doth their image dry me up
Than the disease which strips my face of flesh.

The rigid justice that chastises me
Draweth occasion from the place in which
I sinned, to put the more my sighs in flight.

There is Romena, where I counterfeited
The currency imprinted with the Baptist,
For which I left my body burned above.

But if I here could see the tristful soul
Of Guido, or Alessandro, or their brother,
For Branda’s fount I would Dot give the sight.

One is within already, if the raving
Shades that are going round about speak truth;
But what avails it me, whose limbs are tied?

If I were only still so light, that in
A hundred years I could advance one inch,
I had already started on the way,

Seeking him out among this squalid folk,
Although the circuit be eleven miles, 373
And be not less than half a mile across.

For them am I in such a family;
They did induce me into coining florins,
Which had three carats of impurity.”

And I to him: “Who are the two poor wretches
That smoke like unto a wet hand in winter,
Lying there close upon thy right-hand confines?”

372The upper valley of the Arno is in the province of Cassentino.
Quoting these three lines, Amp`

ere, Voyage Dantesque, 246, says: “In these untranslatable
verses, there is a feeling of humid freshness, which almost makes one shudder. I owe it
to truth to say, that the Cassentine was a great deal less fresh and less verdant in reality
than in the poetry of Dante, and that in the midst of the aridity which surrounded me,
this poetry, by its very perfection, made one feel something of the punishment of Master

373This line and line II of Canto XXIX. are cited by Gabrielle Rossetti in confirmation of
his theory of the “Principal Allegory of the Inferno,” that the city of Dis is Rome.

“I found them here,” replied he, “when I rained
Into this chasm, and since they have not turned,
Nor do I think they will for evermore.

One the false woman is who accused Joseph, 374
The other the false Sinon, Greek of Troy; 375
From acute fever they send forth such reek.”

And one of them, who felt himself annoyed
At being, peradventure, named so darkly,
Smote with the fist upon his hardened paunch.

It gave a sound, as if it were a drum; 376
And Master Adam smote him in the face,
With arm that did not seem to be less hard,

Saying to him: “Although be taken from me
All motion, for my limbs that heavy are,
I have an arm unfettered for such need.”

Whereat he answer made: “When thou didst go
Unto the fire, thou hadst it not so ready:
But hadst it so and more when thou wast coining.”

The dropsical: “Thou sayest true in that;
But thou wast not so true a witness there,
Where thou wast questioned of the truth at Troy.”

“If I spake false, thou falsifiedst the coin,”
Said Sinon; “and for one fault I am here,
And thou for more than any other demon.”

“Remember, perjurer, about the horse,”
He made reply who had the swollen belly,
“And rueful be it thee the whole world knows it.”

“Rueful to thee the thirst be wherewith cracks
Thy tongue,” the Greek said, “and the putrid water
That hedges so thy paunch before thine eyes.”

Then the false-coiner: “So is gaping wide
Thy mouth for speaking evil, as ’tis wont;

374Potiphar’s wife.

375Virgil’s “perjured Sinon,” the Greek who persuaded the Trojans to accept the wooden
horse, telling them it was meant to protect the city, in lieu of the statue of Pallas, stolen
by Diomed and Ulysses.

376The disease of tympanites is so called “because the abdomen is distended with wind,
and sounds like a drum when struck.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Because if I have thirst, and humour stuff me

Thou hast the burning and the head that aches,
And to lick up the mirror of Narcissus 377
Thou wouldst not want words many to invite thee.”

In listening to them was I wholly fixed,
When said the Master to me: “Now just look,
For little wants it that I quarrel with thee.”

When him I heard in anger speak to me,
I turned me round towards him with such shame
That still it eddies through my memory.

And as he is who dreams of his own harm,
Who dreaming wishes it may be a dream,
So that he craves what is, as if it were not;

Such I became, not having power to speak,
For to excuse myself I wished, and still
Excused myself, and did not think I did it.

“Less shame doth wash away a greater fault,”
The Master said, “than this of thine has been;
Therefore thyself disburden of all sadness,

And make account that I am aye beside thee,
If e’er it come to pass that fortune bring thee
Where there are people in a like dispute;

For a base wish it is to wish to hear it.”

377Ovid, Metamorph. III.: – “A fountain in a darksome wood, nor stained with falling
leaves nor rising mud.”

Figure 58: “That is the ancient ghost of the nefarious Myrrha...”



ONE and the selfsame tongue first wounded me, 378
So that it tinged the one cheek and the other,
And then held out to me the medicine;

Thus do I hear that once Achilles’ spear,
His and his father’s, used to be the cause
First of a sad and then a gracious boon.

We turned our backs upon the wretched valley,
Upon the bank that girds it round about,
Going across it without any speech.

There it was less than night, and less than day,
So that my sight went little in advance;
But I could hear the blare of a loud horn,

So loud it would have made each thunder faint,
Which, counter to it following its way,
Mine eyes directed wholly to one place.

After the dolorous discomfiture 379
When Charlemagne the holy emprise lost,
So terribly Orlando sounded not.

Short while my head turned thitherward I held
When many lofty towers I seemed to see,
Whereat I: “Master, say, what town is this?”

And he to me: “Because thou peerest forth
Athwart the darkness at too great a distance,
It happens that thou errest in thy fancy.

378This Canto describes the Plain of the Giants, between Malebolge and the mouth of
the Infernal Pit.

379The battle of Roncesvalles, “When Charlemagne with all his peerage fell by Fontarabia.”


Well shalt thou see, if thou arrivest there,
How much the sense deceives itself by distance;
Therefore a little faster spur thee on.”

Then tenderly he took me by the hand,
And said: “Before we farther have advanced,
That the reality may seem to thee

Less strange, know that these are not towers, but giants,
And they are in the well, around the bank,
From navel downward, one and all of them.”

As, when the fog is vanishing away,
Little by little doth the sight refigure
Whate’er the mist that crowds the air conceals,

So, piercing through the dense and darksome air,
More and more near approaching tow’rd the verge,
My error fled, and fear came over me;

Because as on its circular parapets
Montereggione crowns itself with towers, 380
E’en thus the margin which surrounds the well

With one half of their bodies turreted
The horrible giants, whom Jove menaces
E’en now from out the heavens when he thunders.

And I of one already saw the face,
Shoulders, and breast, and great part of the belly,
And down along his sides both of the arms.

Certainly Nature, when she left the making
Of animals like these, did well indeed,
By taking such executors from Mars;

And if of elephants and whales she doth not
Repent her, whosoever looketh subtly
More just and more discreet will hold her for it;

For where the argument of intellect
Is added unto evil will and power,
No rampart can the people make against it.

380Montereggione is a picturesque old castle on an eminence near Siena. Amp`ere, Vogage
Dantesque, 251, remarks: “This fortress, as the commentators say, was furnished with
towers all round about, and had none in the centre. In its present state it is still very faithfully
described by the verse, ‘Montereggion de torri si corona.’ ”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

His face appeared to me as long and large
As is at Rome the pine-cone of Saint Peter’s, 381
And in proportion were the other bones;

So that the margin, which an apron was
Down from the middle, showed so much of him
Above it, that to reach up to his hair

Three Frieslanders in vain had vaunted them;
For I beheld thirty great palms of him
Down from the place where man his mantle buckles.

“Raphael mai amech izabi almi,” 382
Began to clamour the ferocious mouth,
To which were not befitting sweeter psalms.

And unto him my Guide: “Soul idiotic,
Keep to thy horn, and vent thyself with that,
When wrath or other passion touches thee.

Search round thy neck, and thou wilt find the belt
Which keeps it fastened, O bewildered soul
And see it, where it bars thy mighty breast.”

Then said to me: “He doth himself accuse;
This one is Nimrod, by whose evil thought 383
One language in the world is not still used.

Here let us leave him and not speak in vain;
For even such to him is every language
As his to others, which to none is known.”

Therefore a longer journey did we make,
Turned to the left, and a crossbow-shot oft
We found another far more fierce and large.

381This pine-cone of bronze, which is now in the gardens of the Vatican, was found in
the mausoleum of Hadrian, and is supposed to have crowned its summit.
Amp`ere, Voyage Dantesque, 277, remarks: “Here Dante takes as a point of comparison an
object of determinate size; the pigna is eleven feet high, the giant then must be seventy
(21 meters); it performs, in the description, the office of those figures which are placed
near monuments to render it easier for the eye to measure their height.”

382“The gaping monotony of this jargon”, says Leigh Hunt, “full of the vowel a, is admirably
suited to the mouth of the vast half-stupid speaker. It is like a babble of the
gigantic infancy of the world.”

383Nimrod, the “mighty hunter before the Lord”, who built the tower of Babel, which,
according to the Italian popular tradition, was so high that whoever mounted to the top
of it could hear the angels sing.

Figure 59: “This proud one wished to make experiment of his own

In binding him, who might the master be
I cannot say; but he had pinioned close
Behind the right arm, and in front the other,

With chains, that held him so begirt about
From the neck down, that on the part uncovered
It wound itself as far as the fifth gyre go.

“This proud one wished to make experiment
Of his own power against the Supreme Jove,”
My Leader said, “whence he has such a guerdon.

Ephialtes is his name; he showed great prowess.
What time the giants terrified the gods;
The arms he wielded never more he moves.”

And I to him: “If possible, I should wish
That of the measureless Briareus 384

384The giant with a hundred hands. Aeneid, X.: “Aegaeon, who, they say, had a hundred

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

These eyes of mine might have experience.”

Whence he replied: “Thou shalt behold Antaeus
Close by here, who can speak and is unbound, 385
Who at the bottom of all crime shall place us.

Much farther yon is he whom thou wouldst see,
And he is bound, and fashioned like to this one,
Save that he seems in aspect more ferocious.”

There never was an earthquake of such might
That it could shake a tower so violently,
As Ephialtes suddenly shook himself

Then was I more afraid of death than ever,
For nothing more was needful than the fear,
If I had not beheld the manacles.

Then we proceeded farther in advance,
And to Antaeus came, who, full five ells
Without the head, forth issued from the cavern.

“O thou, who in the valley fortunate, 386
Which Scipio the heir of glory made,
When Hannibal turned back with all his hosts,

Once brought’st a thousand lions for thy prey,
And who, hadst thou been at the mighty war
Among thy brothers, some it seems still think

The sons of Earth the victory would have gained:
Place us below, nor be disdainful of it,
There where the cold doth lock Cocytus up.

Make us not go to Tityus nor Typhoeus; 387

arms and a hundred hands, and flashed fire from fifty mouths and breasts; when against
the thunder-bolts of Jove he on so many equal bucklers clashed; unsheathed so many
swords.” He is supposed to have been a famous pirate, and the fable of the hundred
hands arose from the hundred sailors that manned his ship.

385The giant Antaeus is here unbound, because he had not been at “the mighty war”
against the gods.

386The valley of the Bagrada, one of whose branches flows by Zama, the scene of Scipo’s
great victory over Hannibal, by which he gained his greatest renown and his title of
Africanus. Among the neighboring hills, according to Lucan, Pharsalia, IV., the giant
Antaeus had his cave.

387Aeneid, VI.: “Here too you might have seen Tityus, the foster-child of all-bearing
earth, whose body is extended over nine whole acres; and a huge vulture, with her
hooked beak, pecking at his immortal liver.” Also Odyssey, XI., in similar words.

This one can give of that which here is longed for;
Therefore stoop down, and do not curl thy lip.

Still in the world can he restore thy fame;
Because he lives, and still expects long life,
If to itself Grace call him not untimely.”

So said the Master; and in haste the other
His hands extended and took up my Guide, –
Hands whose great pressure Hercules once felt.

Virgilius, when he felt himself embraced,
Said unto me: “Draw nigh, that I may take thee;”
Then of himself and me one bundle made.

As seems the Carisenda, to behold 388
Beneath the leaning side, when goes a cloud
Above it so that opposite it hangs;

Such did Antaeus seem to me, who stood
Watching to see him stoop, and then it was
I could have wished to go some other way.

But lightly in the abyss, which swallows up
Judas with Lucifer, he put us down;
Nor thus bowed downward made he there delay,

But, as a mast does in a ship, uprose.

Typhoeus was a giant with a hundred heads, like a dragon’s, who made war upon the
gods as soon as he was born. He was the father of Geryon and Cerberus.

388One of the leaning towers of Bologna.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 60: “This one is Nimrod, by whose evil thought one language in
the world is not still used.”

Figure 61: But lightly in the abyss, which swallows up Judas with Lucifer,
he put us down; ...



IF I had rhymes both rough and stridulous, 389
As were appropriate to the dismal hole
Down upon which thrust all the other rocks, 390

I would press out the juice of my conception
More fully; but because I have them not,
Not without fear I bring myself to speak;

For ’tis no enterprise to take in jest,
To sketch the bottom of all the universe,
Nor for a tongue that cries Mamma and Babbo. 391

But may those Ladies help this verse of mine,
Who helped Amphion in enclosing Thebes, 392
That from the fact the word be not diverse.

O rabble ill-begotten above all,
Who’re in the place to speak of which is hard,
’Twere better ye had here been sheep or goats!

When we were down within the darksome well,
Beneath the giant’s feet, but lower far,
And I was scanning still the lofty wall,

Heard it said to me: “Look how thou steppest,
Take heed thou do not trample with thy feet
The heads of the tired, miserable brothers!”

389In this Canto begins the Ninth and last Circle of the Inferno, where Traitors are punished.
“Hence in the smallest circle, at the point of all the Universe, where Dis is seated,
whoe’er betrays forever is consumed.”

390The word thrust is here used in its architectural sense, as the thrust of a bridge against

its abutments, and the like.
391Still using the babble of childhood.
392The Muses; the poetic tradition being that Amphion built the walls of Thebes by

the sound of his lyre; and the prosaic interpretation, that he did it by his persuasive


Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me
And underfoot a lake, that from the frost
The semblance had of glass, and not of water.

So thick a veil ne’er made upon its current
In winter-time Danube in Austria,
Nor there beneath the frigid sky the Don,

As there was here; so that if Tambernich 393
Had fallen upon it, or Pietrapana,
E’en at the edge ’twould not have given a creak.

And as to croak the frog doth place himself
With muzzle out of water, – when is dreaming
Of gleaning oftentimes the peasant-girl, –

Livid, as far down as where shame appears,
Were the disconsolate shades within the ice,
Setting their teeth unto the note of storks.

Each one his countenance held downward bent:
From mouth the cold, from eyes the doeful heart
Among them witness of itself procures.

When round about me somewhat I had looked,
I downward turned me, and saw two so close,
The hair upon their heads together mingled.

“Ye who so strain your breasts together, tell me,”
I said.”who are you; “and they bent their necks,
And when to me their faces they had lifted,

Their eyes, which first were only moist within,
Gushed o’er the eyelids, and the frost congealed
The tears between, and locked them up again.

Clamp never bound together wood with wood
So strongly; whereat they, like two he-goats,
Butted together, so much wrath o’ercame them.

And one, who had by reason of the cold
Lost both his ears, still with his visage downward,
Said: “Why dost thou so mirror thyself in us?

If thou desire to know who these two are, 394

393Tambernich is a mountain of Sclavonia, and Pietrapana another near Lucca.
394These two “miserable brothers” are Alessandro and Napoleone, sons of Alberto degli
Alberti, lord of Falterona in the valley of the Bisenzio. After their father’s death they

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 62: Were the disconsolate shades within the ice...

The valley whence Bisenzio descends

Belonged to them and to their father Albert.
They from one body came, and all Caina 395
Thou shalt search through, and shalt not find a shade
More worthy to be fixed in gelatine;

Not he in whom were broken breast and shadow
At one and the same blow by Arthur’s hand; 396
Focaccia not; not he who me encumbers 397

So with his head I see no farther forward,
And bore the name of Sassol Mascheroni; 398

quarrelled, and one treacherously slew the other.
395Caina is the first of the four divisions of this Circle, and takes its name from the first

396Sir Mordred, son of King Arthur.
397Focaccia was one of the Cancellieri Bianchi, of Pistoia, and was engaged in the affair

of cutting off the hand of his half-brother. See note in Canto VI. He is said also to have
killed his uncle.
398Sassol Mascheroni, according to Benvenuto, was one of the Toschi family of Florence.

Well knowest thou who he was, if thou art Tuscan.

And that thou put me not to further speech,
Know that I Camicion de’ Pazzi was, 399
And wait Carlino to exonerate me.”

Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
Purple with cold; whence o’er me comes a shudder,
And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.

And while we were advancing tow’rds the middle,
Where everything of weight unites together,
And I was shivering in the eternal shade,

Whether ’twere will, or destiny, or chance,
I know not; but in walking ‘mong the heads
I struck my foot hard in the face of one.

Weeping he growled: “Why dost thou trample me?
Unless thou comest to increase the vengeance
of Montaperti, why dost thou molest me?” 400

And I: “My Master, now wait here for me,
That I through him may issue from a doubt;
Then thou mayst hurry me, as thou shalt wish.”

The Leader stopped; and to that one I said
Who was blaspheming vehemently still:
“Who art thou, that thus reprehendest others?”

“Now who art thou, that goest through Antenora 401
Smiting,” replied he, “other people’s cheeks,
So that, if thou were living, ’twere too much?”

He murdered his nephew in order to get possession of his property; for which crime he
was carried through the streets of Florence nailed up in a cask, and then beheaded.

399Camicion de’ Pazzi of Valdarno, who murdered his kinsman Ubertino. But his crime
will seem small and excusable when compared with that of another kinsman, Carlino
de’ Pazzi, who treacherously surrendered the castle of Piano in Valdarno, wherein many
Florentine exiles were taken and put to death.

400The speaker is Bocca degli Abati, whose treason caused the defeat of the Guelfs at
the famous battle of Montaperti in 1260. See note in Canto X. “Messer Bocca degli Abati,
the traitor,” says Malispini, Storia, Ch. 171, “with his sword in hand, smote and cut off
the hand of Messer Jacopo de’ Pazzi of Florence, who bore the standard of the cavalry of
the Commune of Florence. And the knights and the people, seeing the standard down,
and the treachery, were put to rout.”

401The second division of the Circle, called Antenora, from Antenor, the Trojan prince,
who betrayed his country by keeping up a secret correspondence with the Greeks. Virgil,
Aeneid, I. 242, makes him founder of Padua.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 63: Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him...

“Living I am, and dear to thee it may be,”
Was my response, “if thou demandest fame,
That ‘mid the other notes thy name I place.”

And he to me: “For the reverse I long;
Take thyself hence, and give me no more trouble;
For ill thou knowest to flatter in this hollow.”

Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him,
And said: “It must needs be thou name thyself,
Or not a hair remain upon thee here.”

Whence he to me: “Though thou strip off my hair,
I will not tell thee who I am, nor show thee,
If on my head a thousand times thou fall.”

I had his hair in hand already twisted,
And more than one shock of it had pulled out,
He barking, with his eyes held firmly down,

When cried another: “What doth ail thee, Bocca?

Is’t not enough to clatter with thy jaws,
But thou must bark? what devil touches thee?”

“Now,” said I, “I care not to have thee speak,
Accursed traitor; for unto thy shame
I will report of thee veracious news.”

“Begone,” replied he, “and tell what thou wilt,
But be not silent, if thou issue hence,
Of him who had just now his tongue so prompt;

He weepeth here the silver of the French;
‘I saw,’ thus canst thou phrase it, ‘him of Duera 402
There where the sinners stand out in the cold.’ 403

If thou shouldst questioned be who else was there,
Thou hast beside thee him of Beccaria, 404
Of whom the gorget Florence slit asunder;

Gianni del Soldanier, I think, may be 405
Yonder with Ganellon, and Tebaldello 406
Who oped Faenza when the people slep

Already we had gone away from him,
When I beheld two frozen in one hole,
So that one head a hood was to the other;

And even as bread through hunger is devoured,
The uppermost on the other set his teeth,
There where the brain is to the nape united.

Not in another fashion Tydeus gnawed 407
The temples of Menalippus in disdain,
Than that one did the skull and the other things.

402Buoso da Duera of Cremona, being bribed, suffered the French cavalry under Guido
da Monforte to pass through Lombardy on their way to Apulia, without opposing them
as he had been commanded.

403There is a double meaning in the Italian expression sta fresco, which is well rendered
by the vulgarism, left out in the cold, so familiar in American politics.
404Beccaria of Pavia, Abbot of Vallombrosa, and Papal Legate at Florence, where he was

beheaded in 1258 for plotting against the Guelfs.
405Gianni de’ Soldanieri, of Florence, a Ghibelline, who betrayed his party.
406The traitor Ganellon, or Ganalon, who betrayed the Christian cause at Roncesvalles,

persuading Charlemagne not to go to the assistance of Orlando. See note in Canto XXXI.
Tebaldello de’ Manfredi treacherously opened the gates of Faenza to the French in the

407Tydeus, son of the king of Calydon, slew Menalippus at the siege of Thebes and was
himself mortally wounded.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 64: When I beheld two frozen in one hole...

“O thou, who showest by such bestial sign
Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating,
Tell me the wherefore,” said I, “with this compact,

That if thou rightfully of him complain,
In knowing who ye are, and his transgression,
I in the world above repay thee for it,

If that wherewith I speak be not dried up.”



HIS mouth uplifted from his grim repast, 408
That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
Of the same head that he behind had wasted

Then he began: “Thou wilt that I renew
The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already
To think of only, ere I speak of it;

But if my words be seed that may bear fruit
Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.

I know not who thou art, nor by what mode
Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine
Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.

Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino, 409

408In this Canto the subject of the preceding is continued.

409Count Ugolino della Ghererardesca was Podest`a of Pisa. “Raised to the highest offices
of the republic for ten years,” says Napier, Florentine History, I. 318, “he would soon
have become absolute, had not his own nephew, Nino Visconte, Judge of Gallura, contested
this supremacy and forced himself into conjoint and equal authority; this could
not continue, and a sort of compromise was for the moment effected, by which Visconte
retired to the absolute government of Sardinia. But Ugolino, still dissatisfied, sent his
son to disturb the island; a deadly feud was the consequence, Guelph against Guelph,
while the latent spirit of Ghibellinism, which filled the breasts of the citizens and was
encouraged by priest and friar, felt its advantage; the Archbishop Ruggiero Rubaldino
was its real head, but he worked with hidden caution as the apparent friend of either
chieftain. In 1287, after some sharp contests, both of them abdicated, for the sake, as it
was alleged, of public tranquillity; but, soon perceiving their error, again united, and,
scouring the streets with all their followers, forcibly re-established their authority. Ruggieri
seemed to assent quietly to this new outrage, even looked without emotion on the
bloody corpse of his favorite nephew, who had been stabbed by Ugolino; and so deep
was his dissimulation, that he not only refused to believe the murdered body to be his
kinsman’s, but zealously assisted the Count to establish himself alone in the government,
and accomplish Visconte’s ruin.”


-Divine Comedy, Inferno

And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop;
Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbour.

That, by effect of his malicious thoughts
Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
And after put to death, I need not say;

But ne’ertheless what thou canst not have heard,
That is to say, how cruel was my death,
Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.

A narrow perforation in the mew, 410
Which bears because of me the title of Famine,
And in which others still must be locked up,

Had shown me through its opening many moons
Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
Which of the future rent for me the veil.

This one appeared to me as lord and master,
Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see. 411

With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well trained, 412
Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfianchi
He had sent out before him to the front.

After brief course seemed unto me forespent
The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes
It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.

When I before the morrow was awake,
Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons
Who with me were, and asking after bread.

Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not,
Thinking of what my heart foreboded me,
And weep’st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?

They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh
At which our food used to be brought to us,

410“The remains of this tower,” says Napier, Florentine History, I. 319, note, “still exist
in the Piazza de’ Cavalieri, on the right of the archway as the spectator looks toward the
clock.” According to Buti it was called the Mew, “because the eagles of the Commune
were kept there to moult.”

411Monte San Giuliano, between Pisa and Lucca.
412The hounds are the Pisan mob; the hunters, the Pisan noblemen here mentioned; the
wolf and whelps, Ugolino and his sons.

And through his dream was each one apprehensive;

And I heard locking up the under door 413
Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word
I gazed into the faces of my sons.

I wept not, I within so turned to stone;
They wept; and darling little Anselm mine
Said: ‘Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?’

Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made
All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,
Until another sun rose on the world.

As now a little glimmer made its way
Into the dolorous prison, and I saw
Upon four faces my own very aspect,

Both of my hands in agony I bit,
And, thinking that I did it from desire
Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,

And said they: ‘Father, much less pain ’twill give us
If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us
With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.’

I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.
That day we all were silent, and the next.
Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open

When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo
Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,
Saying, ‘My father, why dost thou not help me?’

And there he died; and, as thou seest me,
I saw the three fall, one by one, between
The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,

Already blind, to groping over each,
And three days called them after they were dead;
Then hunger did what sorrow could not do.”

413It is a question whether in this line chiavar is to be rendered nailed up or locked. Villani
and Benvenuto say the tower was locked, and the keys thrown into the Arno; and I
believe most of the commentators interpret the line in this way. But the locking of a
prison door, which must have been a daily occurrence, could hardly have caused the
dismay here portrayed, unless it can be shown that the lower door of the tower was
usually left unlocked.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 65: “As now a little glimmer made its way...”

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,
The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,
Which, as a dog’s, upon the bone were strong.

Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people
Of the fair land there where the Si doth sound, 414
Since slow to punish thee thy neighbours are,

Let the Capraia and Gorgona move, 415
And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno

414Italy; it being an old custom to call countries by the affirmative particle of the language.

415Capraia and Gorgona are two islands opposite the mouth of the Arno. Amp`ere,
Voyage Dantesque, 217, remarks: “This imagination may appear grotesque and forced if
one looks at the map, for the isle of Gorgona is at some distance from the mouth of
the Arno, and I had always thought so, until the day when, having ascended the tower
of Pisa, I was struck with the aspect which the Gorgona presented from that point. It
seemed to shut up the Arno. I then understood how Dante might naturally have had this
idea, which had seemed strange to me, and his imagination was justified in my eyes. He
had not seen the Gorgona from the Leaning Tower, which did not exist in his time, but
from some one of the numerous towers which protected the ramparts of Pisa. This fact

Figure 66: “Threw himself down outstretched before my feet...”

That every person in thee it may drown!

For if Count Ugolino had the fame

Of having in thy castles thee betrayed, 416

Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons. 417

Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes!

Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata,

alone would be sufficient to show what an excellent interpretation of a poet travelling is.”

416Napier, Florentine History, I. 313: “He without hesitation surrendered Santa Maria a
Monte Fuccechio, Santa Croce, and Monte Calvole to Florence; exiled the most zealous
Ghibellines from Pisa, and reduced it to a purely Guelphic republic; he was accused
of treachery, and certainly his own objects were admirably forwarded by the continued
captivity of so many of his countrymen, by the banishment of the adverse fraction, and
by the friendship and support of Florence.”

417Thebes was renowned for its misfortunes and grim tragedies, from the days of the
sowing of the dragon’s teeth by Cadmus, down to the destruction of the city by Alexander,
who commanded it to be utterly demolished, excepting only the house in which the
poet Pindar was born. Moreover, the tradition runs that Pisa was founded by Pelops, son
of King Tantalus of Thebes, although it derived its name from “the Olympic Pisa on the
banks of the Alpheus.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 67: “I saw the three fall, one by one...”

And the other two my song doth name above!

We passed still farther onward, where the ice
Another people ruggedly enswathes,
Not downward turned, but all of them reversed.

Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
And grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
Turns itself inward to increase the anguish;

Because the earliest tears a cluster form,
And, in the manner of a crystal visor,
Fill all the cup beneath the eyebrow full.

And notwithstanding that, as in a callus,
Because of cold all sensibility
Its station had abandoned in my face,

Still it appeared to me I felt some wind;
Whence I: “My Master, who sets this in motion?

Is not below here every vapour quenched?” 418

Whence he to me: “Full soon shalt thou be where
Thine eye shall answer make to thee of this,
Seeing the cause which raineth down the blast.”

And one of the wretches of the frozen crust
Cried out to us: “O souls so merciless
That the last post is given unto you,

Lift from mine eyes the rigid veils, that I
May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart
A little, e’er the weeping recongeal.”

Whence I to him: “If thou wouldst have me help thee
Say who thou wast; and if I free thee not,
May I go to the bottom of the ice.”

Then he replied: “I am Friar Alberigo; 419
He am I of the fruit of the bad garden,
Who here a date am getting for my fig.” 420

“O,” said I to him, “now art thou, too, dead?”
And he to me: “How may my body fare
Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.

Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea, 421

418[JN] – In those times, people used to believe that wind is caused by swamp vapours,
thus this seemingly strange remark.

419Friar Alberigo, of the family of the Manfredi, Lords of Faenza, was one of the Frati
Gaudenti, or Jovial Friars, mentioned in Canto XXIII. The account which the Ottimo gives
of his treason is as follows: “Having made peace with certain hostile fellow-citizens, he
betrayed them in this wise. One evening he invited them to supper, and had armed retainers
in the chambers round the supper-room. It was in summer-time, and he gave
orders to his servants that, when after the meats he should order the fruit, the chambers
should be opened, and the armed men should come forth and should murder all the
guests. And so it was done. And he did the like the year before at Castello delle Mura
at Pistoia. These are the fruits of the Garden of Treason, of which he speaks.” Benvenuto
says that his guests were his brother Manfred and his (Manfred’s) son. Other commentators
say they were certain members of the Order of Frati Gaudenti. In 1300, the date of
the poem, Alberigo was still living.

420A Rowland for an Oliver.

421This division of Cocytus, the Lake of Lamentation, is called Ptolomaea from Ptolomeus,
1 Maccabees xvi. 11, where “the captain of Jericho inviteth Simon and two of his
sons into his castle, and there treacherously murdereth them”; for “when simon and his
sons had drunk largely, Ptolomee and his men rose up, and took their weapons, and came
upon Simon into the banqueting-place, and slew him, and his two sons, and certain of
his servants.”

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

That oftentimes the soul descendeth here
Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it. 422

And, that thou mayest more willingly remove
From off my countenance these glassy tears,
Know that as soon as any soul betrays

As I have done, his body by a demon
Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it,
Until his time has wholly been revolved.

Itself down rushes into such a cistern;
And still perchance above appears the body
Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.

This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down;
It is Ser Branca d’ Oria, and many years 423
Have passed away since he was thus locked up.”

“I think,” said I to him, “thou dost deceive me;
For Branca d’ Oria is not dead as yet,
And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes.”

“In moat above,” said he, “of Malebranche,
There where is boiling the tenacious pitch,
As yet had Michel Zanche not arrived,

When this one left a devil in his stead
In his own body and one near of kin,
Who made together with him the betrayal.

But hitherward stretch out thy hand forthwith,
Open mine eyes;” – and open them I did not,
And to be rude to him was courtesy.

Ah, Genoese! ye men at variance 424
With every virtue, full of every vice
Wherefore are ye not scattered from the world

Or perhaps from Ptolemy, who murdered Pompey after the battle of Pharsalia.
422Of the three Fates, Clotho held the distaff, Lachesis spun the thread, and Atropos cut

423Ser Branco d’Oria was a Genoese, and a member of the celebrated Doria family of
that city. Nevertheless he murdered at table his father-in-law, Michel Zanche, who is
mentioned Canto XXII.

424This vituperation of the Genoese reminds one of the bitter Tuscan proverb against
them: “Sea without fish; mountains without trees; men without faith; and women without

For with the vilest spirit of Romagna 425
I found of you one such, who for his deeds
In soul already in Cocytus bathes,

And still above in body seems alive!

425Friar Alberigo.



“VEXILLA Regis prodeunt Inferni 426
Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,”
My Master said,“if thou discernest him.”

As, when there breathes a heavy fog, or when
Our hemisphere is darkening into night,
Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,

Methought that such a building then I saw;
And, for the wind, I drew myself behind
My Guide, because there was no other shelter.

Now was I, and with fear in verse I put it,
There where the shades were wholly covered up,
And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.

Some prone are Iying, others stand erect,
This with the head, and that one with the soles;
Another, bow-like, face to feet inverts.

When in advance so far we had proceeded,
That it my Master pleased to show to me
The creature who once had the beauteous semblance,

He from before me moved and made me stop,
Saying: “Behold Dis, and behold the place
Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself”

How frozen I became and powerless then,
Ask it not, Reader, for I write it not,
Because all language would be insufficient.

426The fourth and last division of the Ninth Circle, the Judecca, – “the smallest circle, at
the point of all the Universe, where Dis is seated.”
The first line, “The banners of the king of Hell come forth,” is a parody of the first line of
a Latin hymn of the sixth century, sung in the churches during Passion week, and written
by Fortunatus, an Italian by birth, but who died Bishop of Poitiers in 600.


Figure 68: The Emperor of the kingdom dolorous from his mid-breast forth
issued from the ice...

I did not die, and I alive remained not;
Think for thyself now, hast thou aught of wit,
What I became, being of both deprived.

The Emperor of the kingdom dolorous
From his mid-breast forth issued from the ice,
And better with a giant I compare

Than do the giants with those arms of his;
Consider now how great must be that whole,
Which unto such a part conforms itself.

Were he as fair once, as he now is foul,
And lifted up his brow against his Maker,
Well may proceed from him all tribulation.

O, what a marvel it appeared to me,
When I beheld three faces on his head! 427

427The Ottimo and Benvenuto both interpret the three faces as symbolizing Ignorance,

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

The one in front, and that vermilion was;

Two were the others, that were joined with this
Above the middle part of either shoulder,
And they were joined together at the crest;

And the right-hand one seemed ’twixt white and yellow
The left was such to look upon as those
Who come from where the Nile falls valley-ward. 428

Underneath each came forth two mighty wings,
Such as befitting were so great a bird;
Sails of the sea I never saw so large.

No feathers had they, but as of a bat
Their fashion was; and he was waving them,
So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.

Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed.
With six eyes did he weep, and down three chins
Trickled the tear-drops and the bloody drivel.

At every mouth he with his teeth was crunching
A sinner, in the manner of a brake,
So that he three of them tormented thus.

To him in front the biting was as naught
Unto the clawing, for sometimes the spine
Utterly stripped of all the skin remained.

“That soul up there which has the greatest pain,”
The Master said, “is Judas Iscariot;
With head inside, he plies his legs without.

Of the two others, who head downward are,
The one who hangs from the black jowl is Brutus;
See how he writhes himself, and speaks no word.

And the other, who so stalwart seems, is Cassius.
But night is reascending, and ’tis time 429
That we depart, for we have seen the whole.”

As seemed him good, I clasped him round the neck,
And he the vantage seized of time and place,

Hatred, and Impotence. Others interpret them as signifying the three quarters of the then

known world, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
428Aethiopia; the region about the Cataracts of the Nile.
429The evening of Holy Saturday.

And when the wings were opened wide apart,

He laid fast hold upon the shaggy sides;
From fell to fell descended downward then
Between the thick hair and the frozen crust.

When we were come to where the thigh revolves
Exactly on the thickness of the haunch,
The Guide. with labour and with hard-drawn breath.

Turned round his head where he had had his legs,
And grappled to the hair, as one who mounts,
So that to Hell I thought we were returning.

“Keep fast thy hold, for by such stairs as these,”
The Master said, panting as one fatigued,
“Must we perforce depart from so much evil.”

Then through the opening of a rock he issued,
And down upon the margin seated me;
Then tow’rds me he outstretched his wary step.

I lifted up mine eyes and thought to see
Lucifer in the same way I had left him;
And I beheld him upward hold his legs.

And if I then became disquieted,
Let stolid people think who do not see
What the point is beyond which I had passed.

“Rise up,” the Master said, “upon thy feet;
The way is long, and difficult the road,
And now the sun to middle-tierce returns.” 430

It was not any palace corridor
There where we were, but dungeon natural,
With floor uneven and unease of light.

“Ere from the abyss I tear myself away,
My Master,” said I when I had arisen?
“To draw me from an error speak a little;

Where is the ice? and how is this one fixed

430The canonical day, from sunrise to sunset, was divided into four equal parts, called
in Italian Terza, Sesta, Nona, and Vespro, and varying in length with the change of season.
“These hours,” says Dante, Convito, III. 6, “are short or long ... according as day and night
increase or diminish.” Terza was the first division after sunrise; and at the equinox would
be from six till nine. Consequently mezza terza, or middle tierce, would be half past seven.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Thus upside down? and how in such short time

From eve to morn has the sun made his transit?”
And he to me: “Thou still imaginest
Thou art beyond the centre, where I grasped
The hair of the fell worm, who mines the world.

That side thou wast, so long as I descended;
When round I turned me, thou didst pass the point
To which things heavy draw from every side,

And now beneath the hemisphere art come
Opposite that which overhangs the vast
Dry-land, and ‘neath whose cope was put to death 431

The Man who without sin was born and lived.
Thou hast thy feet upon the little sphere
Which makes the other face of the Judecca

Here it is morn when it is evening there;
And he who with his hair a stairway made us
Still fixed remaineth as he was before.

Upon this side he fell down out of heaven;
And all the land, that whilom here emerged,
For fear of him made of the sea a veil,

And came to our hemisphere; and peradventure
To flee from him, what on this side appears 432
Left the place vacant here, and back recoiled”

A place there is below, from Beelzebub
As far receding as the tomb extends,
Which not by sight is known, but by the sound

Of a small rivulet, that there descendeth 433
Through chasm within the stone, which it has gnawed
With course that winds about and slightly falls.

The Guide and I into that hidden road
Now entered, to return to the bright world;
And without care of having any rest

432The Mountain of Purgatory, rising out of the sea at a point directly opposite
Jerusalem, upon the other side of the globe. It is an island in the South Pacific Ocean.

433This brooklet is Lethe, whose source is on the summit of the Mountain of Purgatory,
flowing down to mingle with Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon, and form Cocytus. See
Canto XIV.

We mounted up, he first and I the second,
Till I beheld through a round aperture
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;

Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars. 434

434It will be observed that each of the three divisions of the Divine Comedy ends with
the word “Stars,” suggesting and symbolizing endless aspiration. At the end of the Inferno
Dante “rebeholds the stars”; at the end of the Purgatorio he is “ready to ascend to
the stars”; at the end of the Paradiso he feels the power of “that Love which moves the
sun and other stars.” He is now looking upon the morning stars of Easter Sunday.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Figure 69: To return to the bright world...

Figure 70: Rebehold the stars.



Alighieri, or simply Dante
(May 14/June 13, 1265 – September
13/14, 1321), was an Italian poet from Florence. His central work, the Commedia
(Divine Comedy), is considered the greatest literary work composed
in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. In Italian
he is known as “the Supreme Poet” (il Sommo Poeta). Dante, Petrarch and
Boccaccio are also known as “the three fountains” or “the three crowns”.
Dante is also called “the Father of the Italian language”. The first biography
written on him was by his contemporary Giovanni Villani (1276 –


Dante Alighieri was born in 1265, between May 14 and June 13, under the
name “Durante Alighieri.”

His family was prominent in Florence, with loyalties to the Guelphs,
a political alliance that supported the Papacy and which was involved in
complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman

Dante pretended that his family descended from the ancient Romans
(Inferno, XV, 76), but the earliest relative he can mention by name is Cacciaguida
degli Elisei (Paradiso, XV, 135), of no earlier than about 1100.
Dante’s father, Alighiero di Bellincione, was a White Guelph (see Politics
section) who suffered no reprisals after the Ghibellines won the Battle of
Montaperti in the mid 13th century. This suggests that Alighiero or his
family enjoyed some protective prestige and status.

The poet’s mother was Bella degli Abati. She died when Dante was
7 years old, and Alighiero soon married again, to Lapa di Chiarissimo
Cialuffi. It is uncertain whether he really married her, as widowers had
social limitations in these matters. This woman definitely bore two children,
Dante’s brother Francesco and sister Tana (Gaetana).


Dante fought in the front rank of the Guelph cavalry at the battle of
Campaldino (June 11, 1289). This victory brought forth a reformation of
the Florentine constitution. To take any part in public life, one had to be
enrolled in one of “the arts”. So Dante entered the guild of physicians and
apothecaries. In following years, his name is frequently found recorded as
speaking or voting in the various councils of the republic.

When Dante was 12, in 1277, he was promised in marriage to Gemma
di Manetto Donati, daughter of Messer Manetto Donati. Contracting marriages
at this early age was quite common and involved a formal ceremony,
including contracts signed before a notary. Dante had already fallen
in love with another girl, Beatrice Portinari (known also as Bice). Years after
Dante’s marriage to Gemma he met Beatrice again. He had become
interested in writing verse, and although he wrote several sonnets to Beatrice,
he never mentioned his wife Gemma in any of his poems.

Dante had several children with Gemma. As often happens with significant
figures, many people subsequently claimed to be Dante’s offspring;
however, it is likely that Jacopo, Pietro, Giovanni, Gabrielle Alighieri, and
Antonia were truly his children. Antonia became a nun with the name of
Sister Beatrice.


Not much is known about Dante’s education, and it is presumed he studied
at home. It is known that he studied Tuscan poetry, at a time when the
Sicilian School (Scuola poetica siciliana), a cultural group from Sicily, was
becoming known in Tuscany. His interests brought him to discover the
Occitan poetry of the troubadours and the Latin poetry of classical antiquity
(with a particular devotion to Virgil).

During the “Secoli Bui” (Dark Ages), Italy had become a mosaic of
small states, Sicily being the largest one, at the time under the Angevine
dominations, and as far (culturally and politically) from Tuscany as Occitania
was: the regions did not share a language, culture, or easy communications.
Nevertheless, we can assume that Dante was a keen up-to-date
intellectual with international interests.

At 18, Dante met Guido Cavalcanti, Lapo Gianni, Cino da Pistoia, and
soon after Brunetto Latini; together they became the leaders of Dolce Stil
Novo (“The Sweet New Style”). Brunetto later received a special mention
in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, XV, 28), for what he had taught Dante. “Nor
speaking less on that account, I go With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are His most
known and most eminent companions”. Some fifty poetical components by

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

Dante are known (the so-called Rime, rhymes), others being included in
the later Vita Nuova and Convivio. Other studies are reported, or deduced
from Vita Nuova or the Comedy, regarding painting and music.

When he was nine years old he met Beatrice Portinari, daughter of
Folco Portinari, with whom he fell in love “at first sight”, and apparently
without even having spoken to her. He saw her frequently after age 18,
often exchanging greetings in the street, but he never knew her well –
he effectively set the example for the so-called “courtly love”. It is hard
now to understand what this love actually comprised, but something extremely
important for Italian culture was happening. It was in the name of
this love that Dante gave his imprint to the Stil Novo and would lead poets
and writers to discover the themes of Love (Amore), which had never been
so emphasized before. Love for Beatrice (as in a different manner Petrarch
would show for his Laura) would apparently be the reason for poetry and
for living, together with political passions. In many of his poems, she is
depicted as semi-divine, watching over him constantly.

When Beatrice died in 1290, Dante tried to find a refuge in Latin literature.
The Convivio reveals that he had read Boethius’s De consolatione
philosophiae and Cicero’s De amicitia.

He then dedicated himself to philosophical studies at religious schools
like the Dominican one in Santa Maria Novella. He took part in the disputes
that the two principal mendicant orders (Franciscan and Dominican)
publicly or indirectly held in Florence, the former explaining the doctrine
of the mystics and of Saint Bonaventure, the latter presenting Saint
Thomas Aquinas’ theories.

This “excessive” passion for philosophy would later be criticized by
the character Beatrice, in Purgatorio, the second book of the Comedy.


Dante, like most Florentines of his day, was embroiled in the Guelph-
Ghibelline conflict. He fought in the battle of Campaldino (June 11, 1289),
with the Florentine Guelphs against Arezzo Ghibellines, then in 1294 he
was among the escorts of Charles Martel d’Anjou (son of Charles of Anjou)
while he was in Florence.

To further his political career, he became a pharmacist. He did not intend
to actually practice as one, but a law issued in 1295 required that nobles
who wanted public office had to be enrolled in one of the Corporazioni
delle Arti e dei Mestieri, so Dante obtained admission to the apothecaries’
guild. This profession was not entirely inapt, since at that time books were

sold from apothecaries’ shops. As a politician, he accomplished little, but
he held various offices over a number of years in a city undergoing political

After defeating the Ghibellines, the Guelphs divided into two factions:
the White Guelphs (Guelfi Bianchi) – Dante’s party, led by Vieri dei Cerchi

– and the Black Guelphs (Guelfi Neri), led by Corso Donati. Although initially
the split was along family lines, ideological differences rose based
on opposing views of the papal role in Florentine affairs, with the Blacks
supporting the Pope and the Whites wanting more freedom from Rome.
Initially the Whites were in power and kicked out the Blacks.
In response, Pope Boniface VIII planned a military occupation of Florence.
In 1301, Charles de Valois, brother of Philip the Fair king of France,
was expected to visit Florence because the Pope had appointed him peacemaker
for Tuscany. But the city’s government had treated the Pope’s ambassadors
badly a few weeks before, seeking independence from papal
influence. It was believed that Charles de Valois would eventually have
received other unofficial instructions. So the council sent a delegation to
Rome to ascertain the Pope’s intentions. Dante was one of the delegates.


Boniface quickly dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to
remain in Rome. At the same time (November 1, 1301), Charles de Valois
entered Florence with Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed
much of the city and killed many of their enemies. A new Black Guelph
government was installed and Messer Cante dei Gabrielli di Gubbio was
appointed Podest`a of Florence. Dante was condemned to exile for two
years, and ordered to pay a large fine. The poet was still in Rome, where
the Pope had “suggested” he stay, and was therefore considered an absconder.
He did not pay the fine, in part because he believed he was not
guilty, and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the
Black Guelphs. He was condemned to perpetual exile, and if he returned
to Florence without paying the fine, he could be burned at the stake.

The poet took part in several attempts by the White Guelphs to regain
power, but these failed due to treachery. Dante, bitter at the treatment
he received from his enemies, also grew disgusted with the infighting and
ineffectiveness of his erstwhile allies, and vowed to become a party of one.
At this point, he began sketching the foundation for the Divine Comedy,a
work in 100 cantos, divided into three books of thirty-three cantos each,
with a single introductory canto.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

He went to Verona as a guest of Bartolomeo I della Scala, then moved
to Sarzana in Liguria. Later, he is supposed to have lived in Lucca with
Madame Gentucca, who made his stay comfortable (and was later gratefully
mentioned in Purgatorio, XXIV, 37). Some speculative sources say
that he was also in Paris between 1308 and 1310. Other sources, even less
trustworthy, take him to Oxford.

In 1310, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg, marched
5,000 troops into Italy. Dante saw in him a new Charlemagne who would
restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also
re-take Florence from the Black Guelphs. He wrote to Henry and several
Italian princes, demanding that they destroy the Black Guelphs. Mixing
religion and private concerns, he invoked the worst anger of God against
his city, suggesting several particular targets that coincided with his personal
enemies. It was during this time that he wrote the first two books of
the Divine Comedy.

In Florence, Baldo d’Aguglione pardoned most of the White Guelphs
in exile and allowed them to return; however, Dante had gone too far in
his violent letters to Arrigo (Henry VII), and he was not recalled.

In 1312, Henry assaulted Florence and defeated the Black Guelphs, but
there is no evidence that Dante was involved. Some say he refused to
participate in the assault on his city by a foreigner; others suggest that
he had become unpopular with the White Guelphs too and that any trace
of his passage had carefully been removed. In 1313, Henry VII died, and
with him any hope for Dante to see Florence again. He returned to Verona,
where Cangrande I della Scala allowed him to live in a certain security
and, presumably, in a fair amount of prosperity. Cangrande was admitted
to Dante’s Paradise (Paradiso, XVII, 76).

In 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola (the military
officer controlling the town) to grant an amnesty to people in exile,
including Dante. But Florence required that as well as paying a sum of
money, these exiles would do public penance. Dante refused, preferring
to remain in exile.

When Uguccione defeated Florence, Dante’s death sentence was commuted
to house arrest, on condition that he go to Florence to swear that
he would never enter the town again. Dante refused to go. His death
sentence was confirmed and extended to his sons.

Dante still hoped late in life that he might be invited back to Florence
on honourable terms. For Dante, exile was nearly a form of death, stripping
him of much of his identity.

Of course it never happened. Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited
him to Ravenna in 1318, and he accepted. He finished the Paradiso, and

died in 1321 (at the age of 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic
mission to Venice, perhaps of malaria contracted there. Dante was
buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San
Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice in 1483, took care of his
remains by building a better tomb.

On the grave, some verses of Bernardo Canaccio, a friend of Dante,
dedicated to Florence:

parvi Florentia mater amoris

Florence, mother of little love

Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante’s exile, and made repeated
requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at
Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the
bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was
built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been
empty ever since, with Dante’s body remaining in Ravenna, far from the
land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate
l’altissimo poeta – which roughly translates as “Honour the most exalted
poet”. The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting
Virgil’s welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending
eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L’ombra sua torna, ch’era dipartita
(“his spirit, which had left us, returns”), is poignantly absent from
the empty tomb.




(February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was
an American poet whose works include “Paul Revere’s Ride”, “A Psalm
of Life”, “The Song of Hiawatha”, “Evangeline”, and “Christmas Bells”.
He also wrote the first American translation of Dante Alighieri’s “Divine
and was one of the five members of the group known as the
Fireside Poets. Longfellow was born and raised in the region of Portland,
Maine. He attended university at an early age at Bowdoin College
in Brunswick, Maine. After several journeys overseas, Longfellow settled
for the last forty-five years of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807, to Stephen and Zilpah (Wadsworth)
Longfellow in Portland, Maine, and grew up in what is now known
as the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. His father was a lawyer, and his
maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, Sr., was a general in the American
Revolutionary War. He was named after his mother’s brother Henry
Wadsworth, a Navy lieutenant who died only three years earlier.

Longfellow’s siblings were Stephen, Elizabeth, Anne, Alexander, Mary,
Ellen, and Samuel. Henry was enrolled in a dame school at the age of only
three and by age six was enrolled at the private Portland Academy. In
his years there, he earned a reputation as being very studious and became
fluent in Latin. He printed his first poem – a patriotic and historical four
stanza poem called “The Battle of Lovell’s Pond” – in the Portland Gazette on
November 17, 1820. He remained at the Portland Academy until the age
of fourteen.

In the fall of 1822, the 15-year old Longfellow enrolled at Bowdoin
College in Brunswick, Maine alongside his brother Stephen. His grandfather
was a founder of the college and his father was a trustee. There,


Longfellow met Nathaniel Hawthorne, who would later become his lifelong
friend. He boarded with a clergyman for a time before rooming on
the third floor of what is now Maine Hall in 1823. He joined the Peucinian
Society, a group of students with Federalist leanings. In his senior year,
Longfellow wrote to his father about his aspirations:

“I will not disguise it in the least... the fact is, I most eagerly
aspire after future eminence in literature, my whole soul burns
most ardently after it, and every earthly thought centres in it...
I am almost confident in believing, that if I can ever rise in the
world it must be by the exercise of my talents in the wide field
of literature.”

He pursued his literary goals by submitting poetry and prose to various
newspapers and magazines. Between January 1824 and his graduation
in 1825, he had published nearly 40 minor poems. About 24 of
them appeared in the short-lived Boston periodical The United States Literary


After graduating in 1825, he was offered a job as professor of modern languages
at his alma mater. The story, possibly apocryphal, is that an influential
trustee, Benjamin Orr, had been so impressed Longfellow’s translation
of Horace that he was hired under the condition that he travel to Europe
to study French, Spanish and Italian. Whatever the motivation, he began
his tour of Europe in May 1826 aboard a ship named Cadmus. His time
abroad would last three years and cost his father an estimated $2,604.24.
He traveled to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, back to France, then England
before returning to the United States in mid-August 1829. Longfellow was
saddened to learn his favorite sister Elizabeth had died of tuberculosis at
the age of 20 that May while he was abroad.

On August 27, 1829, he wrote to the president of Bowdoin that he was
turning down the professorship because he considered the $600 salary
“disproportionate to the duties required.” The trustees raised his salary
to $800 with an additional $100 to serve as the college’s librarian, a post
which required one hour of work per day. During his years at the college,
he wrote textbooks in French, Italian, and Spanish and a travel book,
Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea. On September 14, 1831, he married
Mary Storer Potter, a childhood friend from Portland. The couple settled
in Brunswick, though the two were not happy there.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno

In December 1834, Longfellow received a letter from Josiah Quincy
III, president of Harvard College, offering him a position as the Smith
Professorship of Modern Languages with the stipulation that he spend
a year or so abroad. In October 1835, during the trip, his wife Mary had
a miscarriage about six months into her pregnancy. She did not recover
and died after several weeks of illness at the age of 22 on November 29,
1835. Longfellow had her body embalmed immediately and placed into a
lead coffin inside an oak coffin which was then shipped to Mount Auburn
Cemetery near Boston. Three years later, he was inspired to write “Footsteps
of Angels” about their love.

When he returned to the United States in 1836, Longfellow took up
the professorship at Harvard University. He was required to live in Cambridge
to be close to the campus and moved in to the Craigie House in the
spring of 1837. The home, built in 1759, had once been the headquarters
of George Washington during the seige of Boston in July 1775. Longfellow
began publishing his poetry, including “Voices of the Night” in 1839
and Ballads and Other Poems, which included his famous poem “The Village
Blacksmith”, in 1841.


Longfellow began courting Frances “Fanny” Appleton, the daughter of
a wealthy Boston industrialist, Nathan Appleton. At first, she was not
interested but Longfellow was determined. In July 1839, he wrote to a
friend: “victory hangs doubtful. The lady says she will not! I say she
shall! It is not pride, but the madness of passion.” During the courtship,
he frequently walked from Harvard to her home in Boston, crossing the
Boston Bridge. That bridge was subsequently demolished and replaced in
1906 by a new bridge, which was eventually renamed as the Longfellow
Bridge. Longfellow continued writing, however, and in the fall of 1839
published Hyperion, a book of travel writings discussing his trips abroad.

After seven years, Fanny finally agreed to marriage, and they were
wed in 1843. Nathan Appleton bought the Craigie House, overlooking
the Charles River, as a wedding present to the pair.

His love for Fanny is evident in the following lines from Longfellow’s
only love poem, the sonnet “The Evening Star”, which he wrote in October,
1845: “O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus! My morning and my evening
star of love!”

He and Fanny had six children: Charles Appleton (1844-1893), Ernest
Wadsworth (1845-1921), Fanny (1847-1848), Alice Mary (1850-1928), Edith

(1853-1915) – who married Richard Henry Dana III, son of Richard Henry
Dana, and Anne Allegra (1855-1934).

When the younger Fanny was born on April 7, 1847, Dr. Nathan Coo-
ley Keep administered ether as the first obstetric anesthetic in the United
States to Fanny Longfellow. A few months later, on November 1, 1847, the
poem “Evangeline” was published for the first time.

On June 14, 1853, Longfellow held a farewell dinner party at his Cambridge
home for his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne as he prepared to move
overseas. Shortly after, Longfellow retired from Harvard in 1854, devoting
himself entirely to writing. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of
Laws from Harvard in 1859.


Longfellow was a devoted husband and father with a keen feeling for
the pleasures of home. But each of his marriages ended in sadness and

On a hot July day, while Fanny was putting a lock of a child’s hair
into an envelope and attempting to seal it with hot sealing wax, her dress
caught fire causing severe burns. She died the next day, aged 44, on July 10,
1861. Longfellow was devastated by her death and never fully recovered.
The strength of his grief is still evident in these lines from a sonnet, “The
Cross of Snow” (1879), which he wrote eighteen years later to commemorate
her death:

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast

These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes

And seasons, changeless since the day she died.


In March 1882, Longfellow went to bed with severe stomach pain. He
endured the pain for several days with the help of opium before he died
surrounded by family on Friday, March 24, 1882. He had been suffering
from peritonitis.

He is buried with both of his wives at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge,
Massachusetts. In 1884 he was the first and only American poet
for whom a commemorative sculpted bust was placed in Poet’s Corner of
Westminster Abbey in London.

-Divine Comedy, Inferno


Longfellow often used allegory in his work. In “Nature”, death is depicted
as bedtime for a cranky child.


Contemporary writer Edgar Allan Poe wrote to Longfellow in May 1841
of his “fervent admiration which [your] genius has inspired in me” and
later called him “unquestionably the best poet in America”. However,
after Poe’s reputation as a critic increased, he publicly accused Longfellow
of plagiarism in what has been since termed by Poe biographers as “The
Longfellow War”. His assessment was that Longfellow was “a determined
imitator and a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people”, specifically
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson.

Margaret Fuller judged him “artificial and imitative” and lacking force.
Poet Walt Whitman also considered Longfellow an imitator of European
forms, though he praised his ability to reach a popular audience as “the
expressor of common themes – of the little songs of the masses.”


Longfellow was the most popular poet of his day. He was such an admired
figure in the United States during his life that his 70th birthday in
1877 took on the air of a national holiday, with parades, speeches, and the
reading of his poetry. He had become one of the first American celebrities.

His work was immensely popular during his time and is still today,
although some modern critics consider him too sentimental. His poetry
is based on familiar and easily understood themes with simple, clear, and
flowing language. His poetry created an audience in America and contributed
to creating American mythology.




(January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883) was a French artist,
engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Dor´e worked primarily with wood engraving
and steel engraving.


Dor´e was born in Strasbourg and his first illustrated story was published
at the age of fifteen. Dor´e began work as a literary illustrator in Paris.

e commissions include works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton
and Dante.
In 1853 Dor´e was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This commission
was followed by additional work for British publishers, including
a new illustrated English Bible. Dor´e also illustrated an oversized edition
of Edgar
Poe’s “The Raven”, an endeavor that earned him 30,000
francs from publisher Harper and Brothers in 1883.

Dor´e’s English Bible (1866) was a great success, and in 1867 Dor´e had a
major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation
of the Dor´

e Gallery in New Bond Street. In 1869, Blanchard Jerrold,
the son of Douglas William Jerrold, suggested that they work together
to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had gotten the
idea from The Microcosm of London produced by Rudolph Ackermann,
William Pyne, and Thomas Rowlandson in 1808. Dor´e signed a five-year
project with the publishers Grant&Co. that involved his staying in London
for three months a year. He was paid the vast sum of £10,000 a year
for his work.

The book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in
1872. It enjoyed commercial success, but the work was disliked by many
contemporary critics. Some critics were concerned with the fact that Dore´
appeared to focus on poverty that existed in London. Dor´e was accused by
the Art Journal of “inventing rather than copying.” The Westminster Review
claimed that “Dor´

e gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest
external features are set down.” The book was also a financial success,


and Dor´e received commissions from other British publishers. Dor´e’s later
works included Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton’s Paradise
Lost, Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The
Comedy. His work also appeared in the Illustrated London News.
Dor´e continued to illustrate books until his death in Paris in 1883. He is
buried in the city’s P`

ere Lachaise Cemetery.

In “Pickman’s Model”, author H. P. Lovecraft’s praises Dor´e: “There’s
something those fellows catch – beyond life – that they’re able to make us
catch for a second. Dor´e had it. [Sidney] Sime has it.”

– For a partial list of Dor´e’s works see WikiPedia.


















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English translation and notes by H.
obtained from
Scans of illustrations by P.
obtained from, scanned by Dan
Short, used with

MIKTEX LATEX typesetting by Josef
Nygrin, in Jan & Feb 2008.

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Some rights reserved c

2008 Josef


Figure 1: The beauteous planet, that to love incites, was making all the
orient to laugh...



TO run o’er better waters hoists its sail 1
The little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel;

And of that second kingdom will I sing
Wherein the human spirit doth purge itself,
And to ascend to heaven becometh worthy.

Let dead Poesy here rise again,
O holy Muses, since that I am yours,
And here Calliope somewhat ascend, 2

My song accompanying with that sound,
Of which the miserable magpies felt 3
The blow so great, that they despaired of pardon.

Sweet colour of the oriental sapphire,

1The Mountain of Purgatory is a vast conical mountain, rising steep and high from the
waters of the Southern Ocean, at a point antipodal to Mount Sion in Jerusalem. In Canto

III. 14, Dante speaks of it as
“The hill
That highest tow’rds the heaven uplifts itself”;
and in Paradiso, XXVI. 139, as
“The mount that rises highest o’er the wave.”
Around it run seven terraces, on which are punished severally the Seven Deadly Sins.
Rough stairways, cut in the rock, lead up from terrace to terrace, and on the summit is
the garden of the Terrestrial Paradise. The Seven Sins punished in the Seven Circles are,
-1. Pride; 2. Envy; 3. Anger; 4. Sloth; 5. Avarice and Prodigality; 6. Gluttony; 7. Lust.
The threefold division of the Purgatorio, marked only by more elaborate preludes, or by
a natural pause in the action of the poem, is, – 1. From Canto I. to Canto IX.; 2. From
Canto IX. to Canto XXVIII.; 3. From Canto XXVIII. to the end. The first of these divisions
describes the region lying outside the gate of Purgatory; the second, the Seven Circles of
the mountain; and the third, the Terrestrial Paradise on its summit.
2The Muse “of the beautiful voice,” who presided over eloquence and heroic verse.

3The nine daughters of Pierus, king of Macedonia, called the Pierides. They challenged
the Muses to a trial of skill in singing, and being vanquished were changed by
Apollo into magpies.


That was upgathered in the cloudless aspect
Of the pure air, as far as the first circle, 4

Unto mine eyes did recommence delight
Soon as I issued forth from the dead air,
Which had with sadness filled mine eyes and breast.

The beauteous planet, that to love incites, 5
Was making all the orient to laugh,
Veiling the Fishes that were in her escort.

To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind
Upon the other pole, and saw four stars 6
Ne’er seen before save by the primal people. 7

Rejoicing in their flamelets seemed the heaven.
O thou septentrional and widowed site,
Because thou art deprived of seeing these!

When from regarding them I had withdrawn,
Turning a little to the other pole,
There where the Wain had disappeared already,

I saw beside me an old man alone, 8
Worthy of so much reverence in his look,
That more owes not to father any son.

A long beard and with white hair intermingled
He wore, in semblance like unto the tresses,
Of which a double list fell on his breast.

The rays of the four consecrated stars
Did so adorn his countenance with light,
That him I saw as were the sun before him.

4The highest heaven.
5The planet Venus.
6The stars of the Southern Cross. Figuratively the four cardinal virtues, Justice, Pru

dence, Fortitude, and Temperance. See Canto XXXI. 106: – “We here are Nymphs, and in
the Heaven are stars.” The next line may be interpreted in the same figurative sense.
7By the “primal people” Dante does not mean our first parents, but “the early races
which inhabited Europe and Asia,” says Dr. Barlow, Study of Dante.

8Cato of Utica. “Pythagoras escapes, in the fabulous hell of Dante,” says Sir Thomas
Browne, Urn Burial IV., “among that swarm of philosophers, wherein, whilst we meet
with Plato and Socrates, Cato is found in no lower place than Purgatory.” In the description
of the shield of Aeneas, Aeneid, VIII.1 Cato is represented as presiding over the good
in the Tartarean realms: “And the good apart, Cato dispensing laws to them.” This line
of Virgil may have suggested to Dante the idea of making Cato the warden of Purgatory.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“Who are you? ye who, counter the blind river, 9
Have fled away from the eternal prison?”
Moving those venerable plumes, he said: 10

“Who guided you? or who has been your lamp
In issuing forth out of the night profound,
That ever black makes the infernal valley?

The laws of the abyss, are they thus broken?
Or is there changed in heaven some council new,
That being damned ye come unto my crags?”

Then did my Leader lay his grasp upon me,
And with his words, and with his hands and signs, so
Reverent he made in me my knees and brow;

Then answered him: “I came not of myself;
A Lady from Heaven descended, at whose prayers
I aided this one with my company.

But since it is thy will more be unfolded
Of our condition, how it truly is,
Mine cannot be that this should be denied thee.

This one has never his last evening seen,
But by his folly was so near to it
That very little time was there to turn.

As I have said, I unto him was sent
To rescue him, and other way was none
Than this to which I have myself betaken.

I’ve shown him all the people of perdition
And now those spirits I intend to show
Who purge themselves beneath thy guardianship.

How I have brought him would be long to tell thee.
Virtue descendeth from on high that aids me
To lead him to behold thee and to hear thee.

Now may it please thee to vouchsafe his coming;
He seeketh Liberty, which is so dear,
As knoweth he who life for her refuses.

Thou know’st it; since, for her, to thee not bitter

9The “blind river” is Lethe, which by sound and not by sight had guided them through
the winding cavern from the centre of the earth to the surface. Inferno XXXIV.
10His beard. Dante uses the same expression, Inferno XX.

Was death in Utica, where thou didst leave
The vesture, that will shine so, the great day.

By us the eternal edicts are not broken;
Since this one lives, and Minos binds not me; 11
But of that circle I, where are the chaste 12

Eyes of thy Marcia, who in looks still prays thee,
O holy breast, to hold her as thine own;
For her love, then, incline thyself to us.

Permit us through thy sevenfold realm to go;
I will take back this grace from thee to her,
If to be mentioned there below thou deignest.”

“Marcia so pleasing was unto mine eyes
While I was on the other side,” then said he,
“That every grace she wished of me I granted;

Now that she dwells beyond the evil river,
She can no longer move me, by that law
Which, when I issued forth from there, was made.

But if a Lady of Heaven do move and rule thee,
As thou dost say, no flattery is needful;
Let it suffice thee that for her thou ask me.

Go, then, and see thou gird this one about
With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face, 13
So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom,

For ’twere not fitting that the eye o’ercast
By any mist should go before the first
Angel, who is of those of Paradise.

This little island round about its base
Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it,
Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze;

No other plant that putteth forth the leaf,
Or that doth indurate, can there have life,
Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks.

Thereafter be not this way your return;
The sun, which now is rising, will direct you

11See Inferno V.
12See Inferno IV.
13A symbol of humility.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

To take the mount by easier ascent.”

With this he vanished; and I raised me up
Without a word, and wholly drew myself
Unto my Guide, and turned mine eyes to him.

And he began: “Son, follow thou my steps;
Let us turn back. for on this side declines
The plain unto its lower boundaries.”

The dawn was vanquishing the matin hour
’Which fled before it, so that from afar
I recognised the trembling of the sea

Along the solitary plain we went
As one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.

As soon as we were come to where the dew
Fights with the sun, and, being in a part
Where shadow falls, little evaporates, 14

Both of his hands upon the grass outspread
In gentle manner did my Master place;
Whence I, who of his action was aware,

Extended unto him my tearful cheeks;
There did he make in me uncovered wholly
That hue which Hell had covered up in me.

Then came we down upon the desert shore
Which never yet saw navigate its waters
Any that afterward had known return.

There he begirt me as the other pleased
O marvellous! for even as he culled
The humble plant, such it sprang up again 15

Suddenly there where he uprooted it.

14Some commentators interpret Ove adorezza, by “where the wind blows.” Put the
blowing of the wind would produce an effect exactly opposite to that here described.
15Aeneid VI.: “When the first is torn off; a second of gold succeeds; and a twig shoots
forth leaves of the same metal.”

Figure 2: I saw beside me an old man alone...



ALREADY had the sun the horizon reached 16
Whose circle of meridian covers o’er
Jerusalem with its most lofty point,

And night that opposite to him revolves
Was issuing forth from Ganges with the Scales
That fall from out her hand when she exceedeth;

So that the white and the vermilion cheeks 17
Of beautiful Aurora, where I was,
By too great age were changing into orange.

We still were on the border of the sea,
Like people who are thinking of their road,
Who go in heart and with the body stay;

And lo! as when, upon the approach of morning,
Through the gross vapours Mars grows fiery red
Down in the West upon the ocean floor,

Appeared to me – may I again behold it! –
A light along the sea so swiftly coming,
Its motion by no flight of wing is equalled;

From which when I a little had withdrawn
Mine eyes, that I might question my Conductor,
Again I saw it brighter grown and larger.

Then on each side of it appeared to me
I knew not what of white, and underneath it.

16It was sunset at Jerusalem, night on the Ganges, and morning at the Mountain of
Purgatory. The sun being in Aries, the night would “come forth with the scales,” or the
sign of Libra, which is opposite Aries. These scales fall from the hand of night, or are not
above the horizon by night, when the night exceeds, or is longer than the day.

17Boccaccio, Decamerone Prologue to the Third Day, imitates this passage : “The Aurora,
as the sun drew nigh, was already beginning to change from vermilion to orange.”


Little by little there came forth another.

My Master yet had uttered not a word
While the first whiteness into wings unfolded;
But when he clearly recognised the pilot,

He cried: “Make haste, make haste to bow the knee!
Behold the Angel of God! fold thou thy hands!
Henceforward shalt thou see such officers!

See how he scorneth human arguments, 18
So that nor oar he wants, nor other sail
Than his own wings, between so distant shores.

See how he holds them pointed up to heaven,
Fanning the air with the eternal pinions,
That do not moult themselves like mortal hair!”

Then as still nearer and more near us came
The Bird Divine, more radiant he appeared
So that near by the eye could not endure him,

But down I cast it; and he came to shore
With a small vessel, very swift and light,
So that the water swallowed naught thereof,

Upon the stern stood the Celestial Pilot;
Beatitude seemed written in his face,
And more than a hundred spirits sat within.

“In exitu Israel de Aegypto!”

They chanted all together in one voice,
With whatso in that psalm is after written.

Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
And he departed swiftly as he came.

The throng which still remained there unfamiliar
Seemed with the place, all round about them gazing,
As one who in new matters makes essay.

On every side was darting forth the day
The sun, who had with his resplendent shafts
From the mid-heaven chased forth the Capricorn,

When the new people lifted up their faces

18Argument used in the sense of means, or appliances, as in Inferno XXXI.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Towards us, saying to us: “If ye know,
Show us the way to go unto the mountain.”

And answer made Virgilius: “Ye believe
Perchance that we have knowledge of this place,
But we are strangers even as ourselves

Just now we came, a little while before you;
Another way, which was so rough and steep,
That mounting will henceforth seem sport to us.”

The souls who had, from seeing me draw breath,
Become aware that I was still alive,
Pallid in their astonishment became;

And as to messenger who bears the olive
The people throng to listen to the news,
And no one shows himself afraid of crowding,

So at the sight of me stood motionless
Those fortunate spirits, all of them, as if
Oblivious to go and make them fair.

One from among them saw I coming forward,
As to embrace me, with such great affection,
That it incited me to do the like.

O empty shadows, save in aspect only!
Three times behind it did I clasp my hands,
As oft returned with them to my own breast!

I think with wonder I depicted me;
Whereat the shadow smiled and backward drew;
And I, pursuing it, pressed farther forward.

Gently it said that I should stay my steps;
Then knew I who it was, and I entreated
That it would stop awhile to speak with me.

It made reply to me: “Even as I loved thee
In mortal body, so I love thee free;
Therefore I stop; but wherefore goest thou?”

“My own Casella! to return once more 19
There where I am, I make this journey,” said I;

19Casella was a Florentine musician and friend of Dante, who here speaks to him with
so much tenderness and affection as to make us regret that nothing more is known of

“But how from thee has so much time be taken?”

And he to me: “No outrage has been done me,
If he who takes both when and whom he pleases
Has many times denied to me this passage,

For of a righteous will his own is made.
He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken 20
Whoever wished to enter with all peace;

Whence I, who now had turned unto that shore 21
Where salt the waters of the Tiber grow,
Benignantly by him have been received.

Unto that outlet now his wing is pointed,
Because for evermore assemble there
Those who tow’rds Acheron do not descend.”

And I: “If some new law take not from thee
Memory or practice of the song of love,
Which used to quiet in me all my longings,

Thee may it please to comfort therewithal
Somewhat this soul of mine, that with its body
Hitherward coming is so much distressed.” 22

“Love, that within my mind discourses with me,”

Forthwith began he so melodiously,
The melody within me still is sounding.

My Master, and myself, and all that people
Which with him were, appeared as satisfied
As if naught else might touch the mind of any;

We all of us were moveless and attentive
Unto his notes; and lo! the grave old man,
Exclaiming: “What is this, ye laggard spirits

What negligence, what standing still is this?
Run to the mountain to strip off the slough,
That lets not God be manifest to you.”

Even as when, collecting grain or tares,

20The first three months of the year of Jubilee, 1300.

21The sea-shore of Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber, where the souls of those who were
saved assembled, and were received by the Celestial Pilot, who transported them to the
island of Purgatory.

22This is the first line of the second canzone of the Convito.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

The doves, together at their pasture met,
Quiet, nor showing their accustomed pride,

If aught appear of which they are afraid,
Upon a sudden leave their food alone,
Because they are assailed by greater care;

So that fresh company did I behold
The song relinquish, and go tow’rds the hill,
As one who goes, and knows not whitherward;

Nor was our own departure less in haste.

Figure 3: Then as still nearer and more near us came the Bird Divine...

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 4: “In exitu Israel de Aegypto!” they chanted all together in one



INASMUCH as the instantaneous flight
Had scattered them asunder o’er the plain,
Turned to the mountain whither reason spurs us,

I pressed me close unto my faithful comrade,
And how without him had I kept my course?
Who would have led me up along the mountain?

He seemed to me within himself remorseful;
O noble conscience, and without a stain,
How sharp a sting is trivial fault to thee!

After his feet had laid aside the haste
Which mars the dignity of every act,
My mind, that hitherto had been restrained,

Let loose its faculties as if delighted,
And I my sight directed to the hill
That highest tow’rds the heaven uplifts itself 23

The sun, that in our rear was flaming red,
Was broken in front of me into the figure
Which had in me the stoppage of its rays;

Unto one side I turned me with the fear
Of being left alone, when I beheld
Only in front of me the ground obscured.

“Why dost thou still mistrust?” my Comforter
Began to say to me turned wholly round;
“Dost thou not think me with thee, and that I guide thee?

’Tis evening there already where is buried
The body within which I cast a shadow;

23So in Paradiso, XXVI. 139: – “The mount that rises highest o’er the sea.”


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

’Tis from Brundusium ta’en, and Naples has it. 24

Now if in front of me no shadow fall,
Marvel not at it more than at the heavens,
Because one ray impedeth not another

To suffer torments, both of cold and heat,
Bodies like this that Power provides, which wills
That how it works be not unveiled to us.

Insane is he who hopeth that our reason
Can traverse the illimitable way,
Which the one Substance in three Persons follows!

Mortals, remain contented at the Quia; 25
For if ye had been able to see all,
No need there were for Mary to give birth;

And ye have seen desiring without fruit,
Those whose desire would have been quieted,
Which evermore is given them for a grief.

I speak of Aristotle and of Plato,
And many others”; – and here bowed his head,
And more he said not, and remained disturbed.

We came meanwhile unto the mountain’s foot;
There so precipitate we found the rock,
That nimble legs would there have been in vain.

’Twixt Lerici and Turbia, the most desert, 26
The most secluded pathway is a stair
Easy and open, if compared with that.

24The tomb of Virgil is on the promontory of Pausilippo, overlooking the Bay of Naples.
The inscription upon it is: – “Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere; tenet nunc Parthenope;
cecini pascua, rura, duces.” – “Mantua gave birth to me, the Calabrians took me, now
Naples holds me; I sang of pastures [the Eclogues], country [the Georgics] and leaders
[the Aeneiad].”
“The epitaph,” says Eustace, Classical Tour, I. 499, “which, though not genuine, is yet ancient,
was inscribed by order of tile Duke of Pescolangiano, then proprietor of the place,
on a marble slab placed in the side of the rock opposite the entrance of tile tomb, where
it still remains.”

25Be satisfied with knowing that a thing is, without asking why it is. These were distinguished
in scholastic language as the Demonstratio quia and the Demonstratio propter

26Places on the mountainous sea-side road from Genoa to Pisa, known as the Riviera di

“Who knoweth now upon which hand the hill
Slopes down,” my Master said, his footsteps staying,
“So that who goeth without wings may mount?”

And while he held his eyes upon the ground
Examining the nature of the path,
And I was looking up around the rock,

On the left hand appeared to me a throng
Of souls, that moved their feet in our direction,
And did not seem to move, they came so slowly.

“Lift up thine eyes,” I to the Master said;
“Behold, on this side, who will give us counsel,
If thou of thine own self can have it not.”

Then he looked at me, and with frank expression
Replied: “Let us go there, for they come slowly,
And thou be steadfast in thy hope, sweet son.”

Still was that people as far off from us, 27
After a thousand steps of ours I say,
As a good thrower with his hand would reach,

When they all crowded unto the hard masses
Of the high bank, and motionless stood and close,
As he stands still to look who goes in doubt.

“O happy dead! O spirits elect already!”
Virgilius made beginning, “by that peace
Which I believe is waiting for you all,

Tell us upon what side the mountain slopes,
So that the going up be possible,
For to lose time irks him most who most knows.”

As sheep come issuing forth from out the fold
By ones and twos and threes, and the others stand
Timidly, holding down their eyes and nostrils,

And what the foremost does the others do,
Huddling themselves against her, if she stop,
Simple and quiet and the wherefore know not;

So moving to approach us thereupon
I saw the leader of that fortunate flock,

27After they had gone a mile, they were still a stone’s throw distant.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Modest in face and dignified in gait.

As soon as those in the advance saw broken
The light upon the ground at my right side,
So that from me the shadow reached the rock,

They stopped, and backward drew themselves somewhat;
And all the others, who came after them,
Not knowing why nor wherefore, did the same.

Without your asking, I confess to you
This is a human body which you see,
Whereby the sunshine on the ground is cleft.

Marvel ye not thereat, but be persuaded
That not without a power which comes from Heaven
Doth he endeavour to surmount this wall.”

The Master thus; and said those worthy people:
“Return ye then, and enter in before us,”
Making a signal with the back o’ the hand

And one of them began: “Whoe’er thou art,
Thus going turn thine eyes, consider well
If e’er thou saw me in the other world.”

I turned me tow’rds him, and looked at him closely;
Blond was he, beautiful, and of noble aspect,
But one of his eyebrows had a blow divided.

When with humility I had disclaimed
E’er having seen him, “Now behold!” he said,
And showed me high upon his breast a wound.

Then said he with a smile: “I am Manfredi, 28
The grandson of the Empress Costanza; 29
Therefore, when thou returnest, I beseech thee

Go to my daughter beautiful, the mother 30
Of Sicily’s honour and of Aragon’s,
And the truth tell her, if aught else be told.

28Manfredi, king of Apulia and Sicily, was a natural son of the Emperor Frederick the
Second. He was slain at the battle of Benevento, in 1265; one of the great and decisive
battles of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Guelph or Papal forces being commanded by
Charles of Anjou, and the Ghibellines or Imperialists by Manfredi.

29Constance, wife of the Emperor Henry the Sixth.
30His daughter Constance, who was married to Peter of Aragon, and was the mother
of Frederic of Sicily and of James of Aragon.

After I had my body lacerated
By these two mortal stabs, I gave myself
Weeping to Him, who willingly doth pardon.

Horrible my iniquities had been;
But Infinite Goodness hath such ample arms,
That it receives whatever turns to it.

Had but Cosenza’s pastor, who in chase 31
Of me was sent by Clement at that time,
In God read understandingly this page,

The bones of my dead body still would be
At the bridge-head, near unto Benevento,
Under the safeguard of the heavy cairn.

Now the rain bathes and moveth them the wind,
Beyond the realm, almost beside the Verde, 32
Where he transported them with tapers quenched. 33

By malison of theirs is not so lost
Eternal Love, that it cannot return,
So long as hope has anything of green.

True is it, who in contumacy dies
Of Holy Church, though penitent at last,
Must wait upon the outside this bank

Thirty times told the time that he has been
In his presumption, unless such decree
Shorter by means of righteous prayers become.

See now if thou hast power to make me happy,
By making known unto my good Costanza
How thou hast seen me, and this ban beside,

For those on earth can much advance us here.”

31The Bishop of Cosenza and Pope Clement the Fourth.

32The name of the river Verde reminds one of the old Spanish ballad, particularly when
one recalls the fact that Manfredi had in his army a band of Saracens: – “Rio Verde, Rio
Verde, Many a corpse is bathed in thee, Both of Moors and eke of Christians, Slain with
swords most cruelly.”

33Those who died “in contumely of holy Church,” or under excommunication, were
buried with extinguished and inverted torches.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 5: On the left hand appeared to me a throng of souls...



WHENEVER by delight or else by pain,
That seizes any faculty of ours,
Wholly to that the soul collects itself,

It seemeth that no other power it heeds;
And this against that error is which thinks
One soul above another kindles in us. 34

And hence, whenever aught is heard or seen
Which keeps the soul intently bent upon it,
Time passes on, and we perceive it not,

Because one faculty is that which listens,
And other that which the soul keeps entire;
This is as if in bonds, and that is free.

Of this I had experience positive
In hearing and in gazing at that spirit;
For fifty full degrees uprisen was

The sun, and I had not perceived it, when
We came to where those souls with one accord
Cried out unto us: “Here is what you ask.”

A greater opening ofttimes hedges up
With but a little forkful of his thorns
The villager, what time the grape imbrowns,

Than was the passage-way through which ascended
Only my Leader and myself behind him,
After that company departed from us.

One climbs Sanleo and descends in Noli, 35

34Plato’s doctrine of three souls: the Vegetative in the liver; the Sensative in the heart;
and the Intellectual in the brain.
35Sanleo, a fortress on a mountain in the duchy of Urbino; Noli, a town in the Genoese
territory, by the sea-side; Bismantova, a mountain in the duchy of Modena.


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And mounts the summit of Bismantova,
With feet alone; but here one needs must fly;

With the swift pinions and the plumes I say
Of great desire, conducted after him
Who gave me hope, and made a light for me.

We mounted upward through the rifted rock,
And on each side the border pressed upon us,
And feet and hands the ground beneath required.

When we were come upon the upper rim
Of the high bank, out on the open slope,
“My Master,” said I, “what way shall we take?” 36

And he to me: “No step of thine descend;
Still up the mount behind me win thy way,
Till some sage escort shall appear to us.”

The summit was so high it vanquished sight,
And the hillside precipitous far more
Than line from middle quadrant to the centre. 37

Spent with fatigue was I, when I began:
“O my sweet Father! turn thee and behold
How I remain alone, unless thou stay!”

“O son,” he said, “up yonder drag thyself,”
Pointing me to a terrace somewhat higher,
Which on that side encircles all the hill.

These words of his so spurred me on, that I
Strained every nerve, behind him scrambling up,
Until the circle was beneath my feet.

Thereon ourselves we seated both of us
Turned to the East, from which we had ascended,
For all men are delighted to look back.

To the low shores mine eyes I first directed,
Then to the sun uplifted them, and wondered
That on the left hand we were smitten by it.

36Like Christian going up the hill Difficulty in Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress: “I looked
then after Christian to see him go up the hill, where I perceived he fell from running to
going, and from going to clambering upon his hands and knees, because of the steepness
of the place.”

37More than forty-five degrees.

The Poet well perceived that I was wholly
Bewildered at the chariot of the light,
Where ’twixt us and the Aquilon it entered.

Whereon he said to me: “If Castor and Pollux 38
Were in the company of yonder mirror,
That up and down conducteth with its light,

Thou wouldst behold the zodiac’s jagged wheel 39
Revolving still more near unto the Bears,
Unless it swerved aside from its old track.

How that may be wouldst thou have power to think,
Collected in thyself, imagine Zion
Together with this mount on earth to stand,

So that they both one sole horizon have,
And hemispheres diverse; whereby the road 40
Which Phaeton, alas! knew not to drive,

Thou’lt see how of necessity must pass
This on one side, when that upon the other, 41
If thine intelligence right clearly heed.”

“Truly, my Master,” said I, “never yet
Saw I so clearly as I now discern,
There where my wit appeared incompetent,

That the mid-circle of supernal motion,
Which in some art is the Equator called
And aye remains between the Sun and Winter,

For reason which thou sayest, departeth hence
Tow’rds the Septentrion, what time the Hebrews 42
Beheld it tow’rds the region of the heat.

But, if it pleaseth thee, I fain would learn
How far we have to go; for the hill rises

38If the sun were in Gemini, or if we were in the month of May, you would see the sun
still farther to the north.

39Rubecchio – jagged wheel – is generally rendered red or ruddy. But Jacopo dalla Lana
says: “Rubecchio in the Tuscan tongue signifies an indented mill-wheel.” This interpretation
certainly renders the image more distinct. The several signs of the Zodiac are so
many cogs in the great wheel; and the wheel is an image which Dante more than once
applies to the celestial bodies.

40The Ecliptic.
41This, the Mountain of Purgatory; and that, Mount Zion.
42The Seven Stars of Ursa Major, the North Star.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Higher than eyes of mine have power to rise.

And he to me: “This mount is such, that ever
At the beginning down below ’tis tiresome,
And aye the more one climbs, the less it hurts.

Therefore, when it shall seem so pleasant to thee,
That going up shall be to thee as easy
As going down the current in a boat,

Then at this pathway’s ending thou wilt be;
There to repose thy panting breath expect;
No more I answer; and this I know for true.”

And as he finished uttering these words,
A voice close by us sounded: “Peradventure
Thou wilt have need of sitting down ere that.”

At sound thereof each one of us turned round,
And saw upon the left hand a great rock,
Which neither I nor he before had noticed.

Thither we drew; and there were persons there
Who in the shadow stood behind the rock,
As one through indolence is wont to stand.

And one of the, who seemed to me fatigued,
Was sitting down, and both his knees embraced,
Holding his face low down between them bowed.

“O my sweet Lord,” I said, “do turn thine eye
On him who shows himself more negligent
Then even Sloth herself his sister were.”

Then he turned round to us, and he gave heed,
Just lifting up his eyes above his thigh,
And said: “Now go thou up, for thou art valiant.”

Then knew I who he was; and the distress,
That still a little did my breathing quicken,
My going to him hindered not; and after

I came to him he hardly raised his head,
Saying: “Hast thou seen clearly how the sun
O’er thy left shoulder drives his chariot?”

His sluggish attitude and his curt words
A little unto laughter moved my lips;

Then I began: “Belacqua, I grieve not 43

For thee henceforth; but tell me, wherefore seated
In this place art thou? Waitest thou an escort?
Or has thy usual habit seized upon thee?”

And he: “O brother, what’s the use of climbing?
Since to my torment would not let me go
The Angel of God, who sitteth at the gate.

First heaven must needs so long revolve me round
Outside thereof, as in my life it did,
Since the good sighs I to the end postponed,

Unless, e’er that, some prayer may bring me aid
Which rises from a heart that lives in grace;
What profit others that in heaven are heard not?”

Meanwhile the Poet was before me mounting,
And saying: “Come now; see the sun has touched
Meridian, and from the shore the night

Covers already with her foot Morocco.”

43“He loved also in life,” says Arrivabene, Commento Storico, 584, “a certain Belacqua,
an excellent maker of musical instruments.”
Benvenuto da Imola says of him: “He was a Florentine who made guitars and other
musical instruments. He carved and ornamented the necks and heads of the guitars with
great care, and sometimes also played. Hence Dante, who delighted in music, knew him
intimately.” This seems to be all that is known of Belacqua.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 6: We mounted upward through the rifted rock...

Figure 7: And saw upon the left hand a great rock...



I HAD already from those shades departed, 44
And followed in the footsteps of my Guide,
When from behind, pointing his finger at me,

One shouted: “See, it seems as if shone not
The sunshine on the left of him below,
And like one living seems he to conduct him

Mine eyes I turned at utterance of these words,
And saw them watching with astonishment
But me, but me, and the light which was broken!

“Why doth thy mind so occupy itself,”
The Master said, “that thou thy pace dost slacken?
What matters it to thee what here is whispered?

Come after me, and let the people talk;
Stand like a steadfast tower, that never wags
Its top for all the blowing of the winds;

For evermore the man in whom is springing
Thought upon thought, removes from him the mark,
Because the force of one the other weakens.”

What could I say in answer but “I come”?
I said it somewhat with that colour tinged
Which makes a man of pardon sometimes worthy.

Meanwhile along the mountain-side across
Came people in advance of us a little,

44There is an air of reality about this passage, like some personal reminiscence of street
gossip, which gives perhaps a little credibility to the otherwise incredible anecdotes of
Dante told by Sacchetti and others; – such as those of the ass-driver whom he beat, and
the black-smith whose tools he threw into the street for singing his verses amiss, and the
woman who pointed him out to her companions as the man who had been in Hell and
brought back tidings of it.


Singing the Miserere verse by verse.

When they became aware I gave no place
For passage of the sunshine through my body,
They changed their song into a long, hoarse “Oh!”

And two of them, in form of messengers,
Ran forth to meet us, and demanded of us,
“Of your condition make us cognisant.”

And said my Master: “Ye can go your way
And carry back again to those who sent you,
That this one’s body is of very flesh.

If they stood still because they saw his shadow,
As I suppose, enough is answered them;
Him let them honour, it may profit them.”

Vapours enkindled saw I ne’er so swiftly
At early nightfall cleave the air serene, 45
Nor, at the set of sun, the clouds of August,

But upward they returned in briefer time,
And, on arriving, with the others wheeled
Tow’rds us, like troops that run without a rein.

“This folk that presses unto us is great,
And cometh to implore thee,” said the Poet;
“So still go onward, and in going listen.”

“O soul that goest to beatitude
With the same members wherewith thou wast born,”
Shouting they came, “a little stay thy steps.

Look, if thou e’er hast any of us seen,
So that o’er yonder thou bear news of him;
Ah, why dost thou go on? Ah, why not stay?

Long since we all were slain by violence,
And sinners even to the latest hour;
Then did a light from heaven admonish us,

45Some editions read in this line mezza notte – midnight –, instead of prima notte – early
Of meteors Brunetto Latini, Tresor, I Pt. 3, Ch. 107, writes: “Likewise it often comes to
pass that a dry vapour, when it has mounted so high that it takes fire from the heat which
is above, falls, when thus kindled, towards the earth, until it is spent and extinguished,
whence some people think it is a dragon or a star which falls.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

So that, both penitent and pardoning, forth
From life we issued reconciled to God,
Who with desire to see Him stirs our hearts.”

And I: “Although I gaze into your faces,
No one I recognize; but if may please you
Aught I have power to do, ye well-born spirits,

Speak ye, and I will do it, by that peace
Which, following the feet of such a Guide,
From world to world makes itself sought by me.”

And one began: “Each one has confidence
In thy good offices without an oath,
Unless the I cannot cut off the I will;

Whence I, who speak alone before the others, 46
Pray thee, if ever thou dost see the land
That ’twixt Romagna lies and that of Charles,

Thou be so courteous to me of thy prayers
In Fano, that they pray for me devoutly,
That I may purge away my grave offences.

From thence was I; but the deep wounds, through which
Issued the blood wherein I had my seat,
Were dealt me in bosom of the Antenori, 47

There where I thought to be the most secure;
’Twas he of Este had it done, who held me
In hatred far beyond what justice willed.

But if towards the Mira I had fled, 48
When I was overtaken at Oriaco,
I still should be o’er yonder where men breathe.

I ran to the lagoon, and reeds and mire
Did so entangle me I fell, and saw there

46This is Jacopo del Cassero of Fano, in the region between Romagna and the kingdom
of Naples, then ruled by Charles de Valois (Charles Lackland). He was waylaid and
murdered at Oriago, between Venice and Padua, by Azzone the Third of Este.

47Among the Paduans, who are called Antenori, because their city was founded by An-
tenor of Troy. Brunetto Latini, Tresor, I. Ch. 39, says: “Then Antenor and Priam departed
thence, with a great company of people, and went to the Marca Trevisana, not far from
Venice, and there they built another city which is called Padua, where lies the body of
Antenor, and his sepulchre is still there.”

48La Mira is on the Brenta, or one of its canals, in the fen-lands between Padua and

A lake made from my veins upon the ground.”

Then said another: “Ah, be that desire
Fulfilled that draws thee to the lofty mountain,
As thou with pious pity aidest mine.

I was of Montefeltro, and am Buonconte; 49
Giovanna, nor none other cares for me; 50
Hence among these I go with downcast front.”

And I to him: “What violence or what chance
Led thee astray so far from Campaldino, 51
That never has thy sepulture been known?”

“Oh,” he replied, “at Casentino’s foot
A river crosses named Archiano, born
Above the Hermitage in Apennine. 52

There where the name thereof becometh void 53
Did I arrive, pierced through and through the throat,
Fleeing on foot, and bloodying the plain;

There my sight lost I, and my utterance
Ceased in the name of Mary, and thereat
I fell, and tenantless my flesh remained.

Truth will I speak, repeat it to the living;
God’s Angel took me up, and he of hell

49Buonconte was a son of Guido di Montefeltro, and lost his life in the battle of Cam

paldino in the Val d’Arno. His body was never found; Dante imagines its fate.
50The wife of Buonconte.
51Amp´ere, Voyage Dantesque, p. 241, thus speaks of the battle of Campaldino: “In this

plain of Campaldino, now so pleasant and covered with vineyards, took place, on the
11th of June, 1289, a rude combat between the Guelphs of Florence and the fuorusciti Ghibellines,
aided by the Aretines. Dante fought in the front rank of the Florentine cavalry;
for it must needs be that this man, whose life was so complete, should have been a soldier,
before being a theologian, a diplomatist, and poet. He was then twenty-four years
of age. He himself described this battle in a letter, of which only a few lines remain. ‘At
the battle of Campaldino,’ he says, ‘the Ghibelline party was routed and almost wholly
slain. I was there, a novice in arms; I had great fear, and at last great joy, on account of the
divers chances of the fight.’ One must not see in this phrase the confession of cowardice,
which could have no place in a soul tempered like that of Alighieri. The only fear he had
was lest the battle should be lost. In fact, the Florentine’s at first seemed beaten; their
infantry fell hack before the Aretine cavalry; but this first advantage of the enemy was
its destruction, by dividing its forces. These were the vicissitudes of the battle to which
Dante alludes and which at first excited his fears, and then caused his joy.”

52The Convent of Camaldoli.
53Where the Archiano loses its name by flowing into the Arno.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Shouted: ‘O thou from heaven, why dost thou rob me?

’Thou bearest away the eternal part of him,
For one poor little tear, that takes him from me;
But with the rest I’ll deal in other fashion!’

Well knowest thou how in the air is gathered
That humid vapour which to water turns,
Soon as it rises where the cold doth grasp it.

He joined that evil will, which aye seeks evil,
To intellect, and moved the mist and wind
By means of power, which his own nature gave;

Thereafter when the day was spent, the valley
From Pratomagno to the great yoke covered 54
With fog, and made the heaven above intent,

So that the pregnant air to water changed;
Down fell the rain, and to the gullies came
Whate’er of it earth tolerated not;

And as it mingled with the mighty torrents,
Towards the royal river with such speed
It headlong rushed, that nothing held it back.

My frozen body near unto its outlet
The robust Archian found, and into Arno
Thrust it, and loosened from my breast the cross 55

I made of me, when agony o’ercame me;
It rolled me on the banks and on the bottom,
Then with its booty covered and begirt me.”

“Ah, when thou hast returned unto the world,
And rested thee from thy long journeying,”
After the second followed the third spirit,

“Do thou remember me who am the Pia;
Siena made me, unmade me Maremma;
He knoweth it, who had encircled first,

Espousing me, my finger with his gem.”

54The “great yoke” is the ridge of the Apennines.
55His arms crossed upon his breast.

Figure 8: Meanwhile along the mountain-side across came people in advance
of us a little, singing the Miserere verse by verse..

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 9: “...I fell, and tenantless my flesh remained.”

Figure 10: “Do thou remember me who am the Pia...”



WHENE’ER is broken up the game of Zara, 56
He who has lost remains behind despondent,
The throws repeating, and in sadness learns;

The people with the other all depart;
One goes in front, and one behind doth pluck
And at his side one brings himself to mind;

He pauses not, and this and that one hears;
They crowd no more to whom his hand he stretches,
And from the throng he thus defends himself.

Even such was I in that dense multitude,
Turning to them this way and that my face,
And, promising, I freed myself therefrom.

There was the Aretine, who from the arms 57
Untamed of Ghin di Tacco had his death, 58
And he who fleeing from pursuit was drowned. 59

56Zara was a game of chance, played with three dice.

57Messer Benincasa of Arezzo, who, while Vicario del Podesta’, or Judge, in Siena,
sentenced to death a brother and a nephew of Ghino di Tacco for highway robbery. He
was afterwards an Auditor of the Ruota in Rome, where, says Benvenuto, “one day as he
sat in the tribunal, in the midst of a thousand people, Chino di Tacco appeared like Scuola,
terrible and nothing daunted; and having seized Benincasa, he plunged his dagger into
his heart, leaped from the balcony, and disappeared in the midst of the crowd stupefied
with terror.”

58This terrible Ghino di Tacco was a nobleman of Asinalunga in the territory of Siena;
one of those splendid fellows, who, from some real or imaginary wrong done them, take
to the mountains and highways to avenge themselves on society. He is the true type
of the traditionary stage bandit, the magnaminous melodramatic hero, who utters such
noble sentiments and commits such atrocious deeds.

59Cione de’ Tarlati of Pietramala, who, according to the Ottimo, after the fight at Bibbiena,
being pursued by the enemy, endeavoured to ford the Arno, and was drowned.
Others interpret the line differently, making him the pursuing party. But as he was an
Aretine, and the Aretines were routed in this battle, the other rendering is doubtless the


There was imploring with his hands outstretched
Frederick Novello, and that one of Pisa 60
Who made the good Marzucco seem so strong.

I saw Count Orso; and the soul divided 61
By hatred and by envy from its body,
As it declared, and not for crime committed,

Pierre de la Brosse I say; and here provide 62
While still on earth the Lady of Brabant,
So that for this she be of no worse flock!

As soon as I was free from all those shades
Who only prayed that some one else may pray,
So as to hasten their becoming holy,

Began I: “It appears that thou deniest,
O light of mine, expressly in some text,
That orison can bend decree of Heaven;

And ne’ertheless these people pray for this.
Might then their expectation bootless be
Or is to me thy saying not quite clear?”

And he to me: “My writing is explicit,
And not fallacious is the hope of these,
If with sane intellect ’tis well regarded;

For top of judgment doth not vail itself, 63

true one.

60Federigo Novello, son of Ser Guido Novello of Casentino, slain by one of the Bostoli.
“A good youth,” says Benvenuto, “and therefore Dante makes mention of him.” The
Pisan who gave occasion to Marzucco, to show his fortitude was Marzucco’s own son,
Farinata degli Scoringiani. He was slain by Beccio da Caproni, or, as Benvenuto asserts,
declaring that Boccaccio told him so, by Count Ugolino. His father, Marzucco, who had
become a Franciscan friar, showed no resentment at the murder, but went with the other
friars to his son’s funeral, and in humility kissed the hand of the murderer, extorting from
him the exclamation, “Thy patience overcomes my obduracy.” This was an example of
Christian forgiveness which even that vindictive age applauded.

61Count Orso was a son of Napoleone d’Acerbaja, and was slain by his brother-in-law
(or uncle) Alberto.

62Pierre de la Brosse was the secretary of Philip le Bel of France, and suffered at his
hands a fate similar to that which befell Pier de la Vigna at the court of Frederick the
Second. See note in Inferno XIII. Being accused by Marie de Brabant, the wife of Philip, of
having written love-letters to her, he was condemned to death by the king in 1276. Benvenuto
thinks that during his residence in Paris Dante learned the truth of the innocence
of Pierre de la Brosse.

63The apex juris, or top of judgment; the supreme decree of God.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Because the fire of love fulfils at once
What he must satisfy who here installs him.

And there, where I affirmed that proposition,
Defect was not amended by a prayer,
Because the prayer from God was separate.

Verily, in so deep a questioning
Do not decide, unless she tell it thee,
Who light ’twixt truth and intellect shall be.

I know not if thou understand; I speak
Of Beatrice; her shalt thou see above,
Smiling and happy, on this mountain’s top.”

And I: “Good Leader, let us make more haste,
For I no longer tire me as before;
And see, e’en now the hill a shadow casts.”

“We will go forward with this day” he answered,
“As far as now is possible for us;
But otherwise the fact is than thou thinkest.

Ere thou art up there, thou shalt see return
Him, who now hides himself behind the hill,
So that thou dost not interrupt his rays.

But yonder there behold! a soul that stationed
All, all alone is looking hitherward;
It will point out to us the quickest way.”

We came up unto it; O Lombard soul,
How lofty and disdainful thou didst bear thee,
And grand and slow in moving of thine eyes!

Nothing whatever did it say to us,
But let us go our way, eying us only
After the manner of a couchant lion;

Still near to it Virgilius drew, entreating
That it would point us out the best ascent;
And it replied not unto his demand,

But of our native land and of our life
It questioned us; and the sweet Guide began:
“Mantua,” – and the shade, all in itself recluse,

Rose tow’rds him from the place where first it was.

Saying: “O Mantuan, I am Sordello 64
Of thine own land!” and one embraced the other.

Ah! servile Italy, grief’s hostelry!
A ship without a pilot in great tempest!
No Lady thou of Provinces, but brothel!

That noble soul was so impatient, only
At the sweet sound of his own native land,
To make its citizen glad welcome there;

And now within thee are not without war
Thy living ones, and one doth gnaw the other
Of those whom one wall and one fosse shut in!

Search, wretched one, all round about the shores
Thy seaboard, and then look within thy bosom,
If any part of thee enjoyeth peace!

What boots it, that for thee Justinian
The bridle mend, if empty be the saddle?
Withouten this the shame would be the less.

Ah! people, thou that oughtest to be devout,
And to let Caesar sit upon the saddle,
If well thou hearest what God teacheth thee,

Behold how fell this wild beast has become,
Being no longer by the spur corrected,
Since thou hast laid thy hand upon the bridle.

O German Albert! who abandonest 65
Her that has grown recalcitrant and savage,
And oughtest to bestride her saddle-bow,

64This has generally been supposed to be Sordello the Troubadour. But is it he? Is it
Sordello the Troubadour, or Sordello the Podest`a of Verona? Or are they one and the
same person? After much research, it is not easy to decide the question, and to “Single
out Sordello, compassed murkily about with ravage of six long sad hundred years.”

65Albert, son of the Emperor Rudolph, was the second of the house of Hapsburg who
bore the title of King of the Romans. He was elected in 1298, but never went to Italy to be
crowned. He came to an untimely and violent death, by the hand of his nephew John, in
1308. This is the judgment of Heaven to which Dante alludes.
His successor was Henry of Luxembourg, Dante’s “divine and triumphant Henry,” who,
in 1311, was crowned at Milan with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, il Sacro Chiodo, as it is
sometimes called, from the plate of iron with which the crown is lined, being, according
to tradition, made from a nail of the Cross. In 1312, he was again crowned with the
Golden Crown at Rome, and died in the following year.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

May a just judgment from the stars down fall
Upon thy blood, and be it new and open,
That thy successor may have fear thereof;

Because thy father and thyself have suffered,
By greed of those transalpine lands distrained,
The garden of the empire to be waste.

Come and behold Montecchi and Cappelletti, 66
Monaldi and Fillippeschi, careless man! 67
Those sad already, and these doubt-depressed!

Come, cruel one! come and behold the oppression
Of thy nobility, and cure their wounds,
And thou shalt see how safe is Santafiore! 68

Come and behold thy Rome, that is lamenting,
Widowed, alone, and day and night exclaims,
“My Caesar, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Come and behold how loving are the people;
And if for us no pity moveth thee,
Come and be made ashamed of thy renown!

And if it lawful be, O Jove Supreme!
Who upon earth for us wast crucified,
Are thy just eyes averted otherwhere?

Or preparation is ’t, that, in the abyss
Of thine own counsel, for some good thou makest
From our perception utterly cut off?

For all the towns of Italy are full
Of tyrants, and becometh a Marcellus 69
Each peasant churl who plays the partisan!

My Florence! well mayst thou contented be
With this digression, which concerns thee not,
Thanks to thy people who such forethought take!

66See Inferno V.4. The two noble families of Verona, the Montagues and Capulets,
whose quarrels have been made familiar to the English-speaking world by Romeo and

67Families of Orvieto.
68Santafiore is in the neighbourhood of Siena, and much infested with banditti.
69Not the great Roman general who took Syracuse, after Archimedes had defended it

so long with his engines and burning-glasses, but a descendant of his, who in the civil
wars took part with Pompey and was banished by Caesar.

Many at heart have justice, but shoot slowly,
That unadvised they come not to the bow,
But on their very lips thy people have it!

Many refuse to bear the common burden;
But thy solicitous people answereth
Without being asked, and crieth: “I submit.”

Now be thou joyful, for thou hast good reason;
Thou affluent, thou in peace, thou full of wisdom!
If I speak true, the event conceals it not.

Athens and Lacedaemon, they who made
The ancient laws, and were so civilized,
Made towards living well a little sign

Compared with thee, who makest such fine-spun
Provisions, that to middle of November
Reaches not what thou in October spinnest.

How oft, within the time of thy remembrance,
Laws, money, offices, and usages
Hast thou remodelled, and renewed thy members?

And if thou mind thee well, and see the light,
Thou shalt behold thyself like a sick woman,
Who cannot find repose upon her down,

But by her tossing wardeth off her pain.



AFTER the gracious and glad salutations
Had three and four times been reiterated,
Sordello backward drew and said, “Who are you?”

“Or ever to this mountain were directed
The souls deserving to ascend to God,
My bones were buried by Octavian.

I am Virgilius; and for no crime else
Did I lose heaven, than for not having faith;”
In this wise then my Leader made reply.

As one who suddenly before him sees
Something whereat he marvels, who believes
And yet does not, saying, “It is! it is not!”

So he appeared; and then bowed down his brow,
And with humility returned towards him,
And, where inferiors embrace, embraced him.

“O glory of the Latians, thou,” he said,
“Through whom our language showed what it could do
O pride eternal of the place I came from,

What merit or what grace to me reveals thee?
If I to hear thy words be worthy, tell me
If thou dost come from Hell, and from what cloister.”

“Through all the circles of the doleful realm,
Responded he, “have I come hitherward;
Heaven’s power impelled me, and with that I come.

I by not doing, not by doing, lost
The sight of that high sun which thou desirest,
And which too late by me was recognized.


A place there is below not sad with torments, 70
But darkness only, where the lamentations
Have not the sound of wailing, but are sighs.

There dwell I with the little innocents
Snatched by the teeth of Death, or ever they
Were from our human sinfulness exempt.

There dwell I among those who the three saintly 71
Virtues did not put on, and without vice
The others knew and followed all of them. 72

But if thou know and can, some indication
Give us by which we may the sooner come
Where Purgatory has its right beginning.”

He answered: “No fixed place has been assigned us;
’Tis lawful for me to go up and round;
So far as I can go, as guide I join thee.

But see already how the day declines,
And to go up by night we are not able;
Therefore ’tis well to think of some fair sojourn.

Souls are there on the right hand here withdrawn;
If thou permit me I will lead thee to them,
And thou shalt know them not without delight.”

“How is this?” was the answer; “should one wish
To mount by night would he prevented be
By others? or mayhap would not have power?”

And on the ground the good Sordello drew
His finger, saying, “See, this line alone
Thou couldst not pass after the sun is gone;

Not that aught else would hindrance give, however,
To going up, save the nocturnal darkness;
This with the want of power the will perplexes.

We might indeed therewith return below,
And, wandering, walk the hill-side round about,
While the horizon holds the day imprisoned.”

Thereon my Lord, as if in wonder, said:

70Limbo, Inferno IV. 25, the “foremost circle that surrounds the abyss.”
71The three Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope, and Charity.
72The four Cardinal Virtues – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“Do thou conduct us thither, where thou sayest
That we can take delight in tarrying.”

Little had we withdrawn us from that place,
When I perceived the mount was hollowed out
In fashion as the valleys here are hollowed.

“Thitherward,” said that shade, “will we repair,
Where of itself the hill-side makes a lap
And there for the new day will we await.”

’Twixt hill and plain there was a winding path
Which led us to the margin of that dell,
Where dies the border more than half away

Gold and fine silver, and scarlet and pearl-white,
The Indian wood resplendent and serene,
Fresh emerald the moment it is broken,

By herbage and by flowers within that hollow
Planted, each one in colour would be vanquished,
As by its greater vanquished is the less.

Nor in that place had nature painted only,
But of the sweetness of a thousand odours
Made there a mingled fragrance and unknown.

”Salve Regina,” on the green and flowers
There seated, singing, spirits I beheld,
Which were not visible outside the valley.

“Before the scanty sun now seeks his nest,”
Began the Mantuan who had led us thither,
“Among them do not wish me to conduct you.

Better from off this ledge the acts and faces
Of all of them will you discriminate,
Than in the plain below received among them

He who sits highest, and the semblance bears
Of having what he should have done neglected,
And to the others’ song moves not his lips,

Rudolph the Emperor was, who had the power 73

73Rudolph of Hapsburg, first Emperor of the house of Austria was crowned at Aixla-
Chapelle, in 1273. “It is related,” says Voltaire, Annales de L’Empire, I. 306, “that, as
the imperial sword, which they pretended was that of Charlemagne, could not be found,
several lords made this defect in the formalities a pretext for not taking the oath of alle

To heal the wounds that Italy have slain,
So that through others slowly she revives.

The other, who in look doth comfort him,
Governed the region where the water springs,
The Moldau bears the Elbe, and Elbe the sea.

His name was Ottocar; and in swaddling-clothes 74
Far better he than bearded Winceslaus 75
His son, who feeds in luxury and ease.

And the small-nosed, who close in council seems 76
With him that has an aspect so benign, 77
Died fleeing and disflowering the lily;

Look there, how he is beating at his breast!
Behold the other one, who for his cheek
Sighing has made of his own palm a bed;

giance. He seized a crucifix; This is my sceptre, he said, and all paid homage to him. This
single act of firmness made him respected, and the rest of his conduct showed him to be
worthy of the Empire.”
He would not go to Rome to be crowned, and took so little interest in Italian affairs, that
Italy became almost independent of the Empire, which seems greatly to disturb the mind
of Dante. He died in 1291.

74Ottocar the Second, king of Bohemia, who is said to have refused the imperial crown.
He likewise refused to pay homage to Rudolph, whom he used to call his maˆitre d’h´otel
declaring he had paid his wages and owed him nothing. Whereupon Rudolph attacked
and subdued him. According to Voltaire, Annales de l’Empire, I. 306, “he consented to pay
homage to the Emperor as his liege-lord, in the island of Kamberg in the middle of the
Danube, under a tent whose curtains should be closed to spare him public mortification.
Ottocar presented himself covered with gold and jewels; Rudolph, by way of superior
pomp, received him in his simplest dress; and in the middle of the ceremony the curtains
of the tent fell, and revealed to the eyes of the people and of the armies, that lined the
Danube, the proud Ottocar on his knees, with his hands clasped in the hands of his conqueror,
whom he had often called his maˆitre d’h´

otel and whose Grand-Seneschal he now
became. This story is accredited, and it is of little importance whether it be true or not.”
But the wife was not quiet under this humiliation, and excited him to revolt against
Rudolph. He was again overcome, and killed in battle in 1278.

75This Winceslaus, says the Ottimo, was “most beautiful among all men; but was not a
man of arms; he was a meek and humble ecclesiastic, and did not live long.” Why Dante
accuses him of living in luxury and ease does not appear.

76Philip the Third of France, surnamed the Bold (1270-1285). Having invaded Catalonia,
in a war with Peter the Third of Aragon, both by land and sea, he was driven back,
and died at Perpignan during the retreat.

77He with the benign aspect, who rests his cheek upon his hand, is Henry of Navarre,
surnamed the Fat, and brother of “Good King Thibault,” Inferno XXII. An old French
chronicle quoted by Philalethes says, that, “though it is a general opinion that fat men
are of a gentle and benign nature, nevertheless this one was very harsh.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Father and father-in-law of France’s Pest 78
Are they, and know his vicious life and lewd,
And hence proceeds the grief that so doth pierce them.

He who appears so stalwart, and chimes in, 79
Singing, with that one of the manly nose, 80
The cord of every valour wore begirt;

And if as King had after him remained
The stripling who in rear of him is sitting; 81
Well had the valour passed from vase to vase

Which cannot of the other heirs be said.
Frederick and Jacomo possess the realms,
But none the better heritage possesses.

Not oftentimes upriseth through the branches
The probity of man; and this He wills
Who gives it, so that we may ask of Him.

Eke to the large-nosed reach my words, no less 82
Than to the other, Pier, who with him sings;
Whence Provence and Apulia grieve already 83

The plant is as inferior to its seed,
As more than Beatrice and Margaret 84
Costanza boasteth of her husband still. 85

Behold the monarch of the simple life, 86

78Philip the Fourth of France, surnamed the Fair, son of Philip the Third, and son-inlaw
of Henry of Navarre (1285-1314).

79Peter the Third of Aragon (1276-1285), the enemy of Charles of Anjou and competitor
with him for the kingdom of Sicily. He is counted among the Troubadours, and when
Philip the Bold invaded his kingdom, Peter launched a song against him, complaining
that “flower de luce kept him sorrowing in his house”, and calling on the Gascons for

80Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily and Naples (1265).
81Philip the Third of Aragon left four sons, Alfonso, James, Frederick, and Peter.
Whether the stripling here spoken of is Alfonso or Peter does not appear.

82It must be remembered that these two who are singing together in this Valley of
Princes were deadly foes on earth; and one had challenged the other to determine their
quarrel by single combat.

83These kingdoms being badly governed by his son and successor, Charles the Second,
called the Lame.
84Daughters of Raymond Berenger the Fifth, Count of Provence ; the first married to

St. Louis of France, and the second to his brother, Charles of Anjou.
85Constance, daughter of Manfredi of Apulia, and wife of Peter the Third of Aragon.
86Henry the Third (1216-1272).

Harry of England, sitting there alone;
He in his branches has a better issue.

He who the lowest on the ground among them
Sits looking upward, is the Marquis William, 87
For whose sake Alessandra and her war 88

Make Monferrat and Canavese weep.”

87The Marquis of Monferrato, a Ghibelline, was taken prisoner by the people of
Alessandria in Piedmont, in 1290, and, being shut up in a wooden cage, was exhibited to
the public like a wild beast. This he endured for eighteen months, till death released him.
A bloody war was the consequence between Alessandria and the Marquis’s provinces of
Monferrato and Canavese.

88The city of Alessandria is in Piedmont, between the Tanaro and the Bormida, and not
far from their junction. It was built by the Lombard League, to protect the country against
the Emperor Frederick, and named in honour of Pope Alexander the Third, a protector of
the Guelphs. It is said to have been built in a single year, and was called in derision, by
tile Ghibellines, Alessandria della Paglia (of the Straw); either from the straw used in the
bricks, or more probably from the supposed insecurity of a city built in so short a space
of time.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 11: So he appeared; and then bowed down his brow...

Figure 12: There seated, singing, spirits I beheld...



’TWAS now the hour that turneth back desire
In those who sail the sea, and melts the heart,
The day they’ve said to their sweet friends farewell,

And the new pilgrim penetrates with love, 89
If he doth hear from far away a bell
That seemeth to deplore the dying day,

When I began to make of no avail
My hearing, and to watch one of the souls
Uprisen, that begged attention with its hand.

It joined and lifted upward both its palms,
Fixing its eyes upon the orient,
As if it said to God, “Naught else I care for.”

“Te lucis ante” so devoutly issued
Forth from its mouth, and with such dulcet notes,
It made me issue forth from my own mind.

And then the others, sweetly and devoutly,
Accompanied it through all the hymn entire,
Having their eyes on the supernal wheels.

Here, Reader, fix thine eyes well on the truth,
For now indeed so subtile is the veil,
Surely to penetrate within is easy.

I saw that army of the gentle-born
Thereafterward in silence upward gaze,
As if in expectation, pale and humble;

And from on high come forth and down descend,
I saw two Angels with two flaming swords,
Truncated and deprived of their points.

89The word “pilgrim” is here used by Dante in a general sense, meaning any traveller.


Green as the little leaflets just now born
Their garments were, which, by their verdant pinions
Beaten and blown abroad, they trailed behind.

One just above us came to take his station,
And one descended to the opposite bank,
So that the people were contained between them.

Clearly in them discerned I the blond head;
But in their faces was the eye bewildered,
As faculty confounded by excess.

“From Mary’s bosom both of them have come,”
Sordello said, “as guardians of the valley
Against the serpent, that will come anon.”

Whereupon I, who knew not by what road,
Turned round about, and closely drew myself,
Utterly frozen, to the faithful shoulders.

And once again Sordello: “Now descend we
’Mid the grand shades, and we will speak to them;
Right pleasant will it be for them to see you.”

Only three steps I think that I descended,
And was below, and saw one who was looking
Only at me, as if he fain would know me.

Already now the air was growing dark,
But not so that between his eyes and mine
It did not show w hat it before locked up.

Tow’rds me he moved, and I tow’rds him did move;
Noble Judge Nino! how it me delighted, 90
When I beheld thee not among the damned!

No greeting fair was left unsaid between us;
Then asked he: “How long is it since thou camest
O’er the far waters to the mountain’s foot?”

“Oh!” said I to him, “through the dismal places
I came this morn; and am in the first life,
Albeit the other, going thus, I gain.”

90Nino de’ Visconti of Pisa, nephew of Count Ugolino, and Judge of Gallura in Sardinia.
Dante had known him at the siege of Caprona, in 1290, where he saw the frightened
garrison march out under safeguard. Inferno XXI. It was this “gentle Judge,” who hanged
Friar Gomita for peculation. Inferno XXII.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And on the instant my reply was heard,
He and Sordello both shrank back from me,
Like people who are suddenly bewildered.

One to Virgilius, and the other turned
To one who sat there, crying, “Up, Currado!
Come and behold what God in grace has willed!”

Then, turned to me: “By that especial grace
Thou owest unto Him, who so conceals
His own first wherefore, that it has no ford,

When thou shalt be beyond the waters wide,
Tell my Giovanna that she pray for me, 91
Where answer to the innocent is made.

I do not think her mother loves me more,
Since she has laid aside her wimple white,
Which she, unhappy, needs must wish again. 92

Through her full easily is comprehended
How long in woman lasts the fire of love,
If eye or touch do not relight it often.

So fair a hatchment will not make for her
The Viper marshalling the Milanese 93
A-field, as would have made Gallura’s Cock.” 94

In this wise spake he, with the stamp impressed
Upon his aspect of that righteous zeal
Which measurably burneth in the heart.

My greedy eyes still wandered up to heaven,
Still to that point where slowest are the stars
Even as a wheel the nearest to its axle.

And my Conductor: “Son, what dost thou gaze at

91His daughter... still young and innocent.

92His widow married Galeazzo de’ Visconti of Milan, “and much discomfort did this
woman suffer with her husband,” says the Ottimo, “so that many a time she wished
herself a widow.”

93The Visconti of Milan had for their coat of arms a viper; and being on the banner, it
led the Milanese to battle.

94The arms of Gallura. “According to Fara, a writer of the sixteenth century,” says
Valery, Voyage en Corse et en Sardaigne, II. 37, “the elegant but somewhat chimerical historian
of Sardinia, Gallura is a Gallic colony; its arms are a cock; and one might find some
analogy between the natural vivacity of its inhabitants and that of the French.” Nino
thinks it would look better on a tombstone than a viper.

Up there?” And I to him: “At those three torches 95
With which this hither pole is all on fire.”

And he to me: “The four resplendent stars
Thou sawest this morning are down yonder low,
And these have mounted up to where those were.”

As he was speaking, to himself Sordello
Drew him, and said, “Lo there our Adversary
And pointed with his finger to look thither.

Upon the side on which the little valley
No barrier hath, a serpent was; perchance
The same which gave to Eve the bitter food.

’Twixt grass and flowers came on the evil streak,
Turning at times its head about, and licking
Its back like to a beast that smoothes itself

I did not see, and therefore cannot say
How the celestial falcons ’gan to move,
But well I saw that they were both in motion.

Hearing the air cleft by their verdant wings,
The serpent fled, and round the Angels wheeled,
Up to their stations flying back alike.

The shade that to the Judge had near approached
When he had called, throughout that whole assault
Had not a moment loosed its gaze on me.

“So may the light that leadeth thee on high
Find in thine own free-will as much of wax
As needful is up to the highest azure,” 96

Began it, “if some true intelligence
Of Valdimagra or its neighbourhood 97
Thou knowest, tell it me, who once was great there.

95These three stars are the Alphae of Euridanus, of the Ship, and of the Golden Fish;
allegorically, if any allegory be wanted, the three Theological Virtues, Faith, Hope, and
Charity. The four morning stars, the Cardinal Virtues of active life, are already set; these
announce the evening and the life contemplative.

96In the original al sommo smalto – to the highest enamel; referring either to the Terrestrial
Paradise, enamelled with flowers, or to the highest heaven enamelled with stars.
The azure-stone, pierre d’azur, or lapis lazuli, is perhaps a fair equivalent for the smalto,
particularly if the reference be to the sky.

97The valley in Lunigiana, through which runs the Magra, dividing the Genoese and
Tuscan territories.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Currado Malaspina was I called; 98
I’m not the elder, but from him descended;
To mine I bore the love which here refineth.”

“O,” said I unto him, “through your domains
I never passed, but where is there a dwelling
Throughout all Europe, where they are not known?

That fame, which doeth honour to your house,
Proclaims its Signors and proclaims its land,
So that he knows of them who ne’er was there.

And, as I hope for heaven, I swear to you
Your honoured family in naught abates
The glory of the purse and of the sword.

It is so privileged by use and nature,
That though a guilty head misguide the world, 99
Sole it goes right, and scorns the evil way.”

And he: “Now go; for the sun shall not lie
Seven times upon the pillow which the Ram 100
With all his four feet covers and bestrides,

Before that such a courteous opinion
Shall in the middle of thy head be nailed
With greater nails than of another’s speech,

Unless the course of justice standeth still.” 101

98Currado or Conrad Malaspina, father of Marcello Malaspina, who six years later sheltered
Dante in his exile. It was from the convent of the Corvo, overlooking the Gulf of
Spezia, in Lunigiana, that Frate Ilario wrote the letter describing Dante’s appearance in
the cloister.

99Pope Boniface the Eighth.

100Before the sun shall be seven times in Aries, or before seven years are passed.

101With this canto ends the first day in Purgatory, as indicated by the description of
evening at the beginning, and the rising of the stars in line 89. With it closes also the first
subdivision of this part of the poem, indicated, as the reader will not fail to notice, by the
elaborate introduction of the next canto.

Figure 13: Hearing the air cleft by their verdant wings, the serpent fled...



THE concubine of old Tithonus now 102
Gleamed white upon the eastern balcony,
Forth from the arms of her sweet paramour;

With gems her forehead all relucent was,
Set in the shape of that cold animal 103
Which with its tail doth smite amain the nations,

And of the steps, with which she mounts, the Night
Had taken two in that place where we were, 104
And now the third was bending down its wings;

When I, who something had of Adam in me, 105
Vanquished by sleep, upon the grass reclined,
There were all five of us already sat.

Just at the hour when her sad lay begins
The little swallow, near unto the morning,
Perchance in memory of her former woes,

And when the mind of man, a wanderer
More from the flesh, and less by thought imprisoned,
Almost prophetic in its visions is,

In dreams it seemed to me I saw suspended

102“Dante begins this canto,” says Benvenuto da Imola, “by saying a thing that was
never said or imagined by any other poet, which is, that the aurora of the moon is the
concubine of Tithonus. Some maintain that he means the aurora of the sun; but this
cannot be, if we closely examine the text.” This point is elaborately discussed by the
commentators. I agree with those who interpret the passage as referring to a lunar aurora.
It is still evening; and the hour is indicated a few lines lower down.

103As the sun was in Aries, and it was now the fourth day after the full moon, the
Scorpion would be rising in the dawn which precedes the moon.

104This indicates the time to be two hours and a half after sunset, or half past eight
o’clock. Two hours of the ascending night are passed, and the third is half over.
This circumstantial way of measuring the flight of time is Homeric.

105Namely, his body.


An eagle in the sky, with plumes of gold,
With wings wide open, and intent to stoop,

And this, it seemed to me, was where had been 106
By Ganymede his kith and kin abandoned,
When to the high consistory he was rapt.

I thought within myself, perchance he strikes
From habit only here, and from elsewhere
Disdains to bear up any in his feet.

Then wheeling somewhat more, it seemed to me,
Terrible as the lightning he descended,
And snatched me upward even to the fire. 107

Therein it seemed that he and I were burning,
And the imagined fire did scorch me so,
That of necessity my sleep was broken.

Not otherwise Achilles started up,
Around him turning his awakened eyes,
And knowing not the place in which he was,

What time from Chiron stealthily his mother 108
Carried him sleeping in her arms to Scyros,
Wherefrom the Greeks withdrew him afterwards,

Than I upstarted, when from off my face
Sleep fled away; and pallid I became,
As doth the man who freezes with affright.

Only my Comforter was at my side,
And now the sun was more than two hours high,
And turned towards the sea-shore was my face.

“Be not intimidated,” said my Lord,
“Be reassured, for all is well with us;
Do not restrain, but put forth all thy strength.

Thou hast at length arrived at Purgatory;

106Mount Ida.

107To the region of fire. Brunetto Latini, Tresor, Ch. CXIII., says “After the environment
of the air is seated the fourth element: this is an orb of fire, which extends to the moon
and surrounds this atmosphere in which we are. And know that above the fire is in the
first place the moon, and the other stars, which are all of the nature of fire.”

108To prevent Achilles from going to the siege of Troy, his mother Thetis took him from
Chiron, the Centaur, and conceded him in female attire in the court of Lycomedes, king
of Scyros.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

See there the cliff that closes it around;

See there the entrance, where it seems disjoined.
Whilom at dawn, which doth precede the day,
When inwardly thy spirit was asleep
Upon the flowers that deck the land below,

There came a Lady and said: ‘I am Luc´ia; 109
Let me take this one up, who is asleep;
So will I make his journey easier for him.’

Sordello and the other noble shapes 110
Remained; she took thee, and, as day grew bright,
Upward she came, and I upon her footsteps.

She laid thee here; and first her beauteous eyes
That open entrance pointed out to me;
Then she and sleep together went away.”

In guise of one whose doubts are reassured,
And who to confidence his fear doth change,
After the truth has been discovered to him,

So did I change; and when without disquiet
My Leader saw me, up along the cliff
He moved, and I behind him, tow’rd the height.

Reader, thou seest well how I exalt
My theme, and therefore if with greater art
I fortify it, marvel not thereat.

Nearer approached we, and were in such place,
That there, where first appeared to me a rift
Like to a crevice that disparts a wall,

I saw a portal, and three stairs beneath,
Diverse in colour, to go up to it,
And a gate-keeper, who yet spake no word.

And as I opened more and more mine eyes,
I saw him seated on the highest stair,
Such in the face that I endured it not.

And in his hand he had a naked sword,
Which so reflected back the sunbeams tow’rds us,
That oft in vain I lifted up mine eyes.

109Luc´ia, the Enlightening Grace of heaven. Inferno II.
110Nino and Conrad.

“Tell it from where you are, what is’t you wish?”
Began he to exclaim; “where is the escort?
Take heed your coming hither harm you not!”

“A Lady of Heaven, with these things conversant,”
My Master answered him, “but even now
Said to us, ‘Thither go; there is the portal.’ ”

“And may she speed your footsteps in all good,”
Again began the courteous janitor;
“Come forward then unto these stairs of ours.”

Thither did we approach; and the first stair 111
Was marble white, so polished and so smooth,
I mirrored myself therein as I appear.

The second, tinct of deeper hue than perse, 112
Was of a calcined and uneven stone,
Cracked all asunder lengthwise and across.

The third, that uppermost rests massively,
Porphyry seemed to me, as flaming red
As blood that from a vein is spirting forth.

Both of his feet was holding upon this
The Angel of God, upon the threshold seated,
Which seemed to me a stone of diamond.

Along the three stairs upward with good will
Did my Conductor draw me, saying: “Ask
Humbly that he the fastening may undo.”

Devoutly at the holy feet I cast me,
For mercy’s sake besought that he would open,
But first upon my breast three times I smote.

Seven P’s upon my forehead he described
With the sword’s point, and, “Take heed that thou wash
These wounds, when thou shalt be within,” he said.

Ashes, or earth that dry is excavated,
Of the same colour were with his attire,
And from beneath it he drew forth two keys.

One was of gold, and the other was of silver; 113

111The first stair is Confession; the second, Contrition; and the third, Penance.
112Purple and black. See note in Inferno V.
113The golden key is the authority of the confessor; the silver, his knowledge.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

First with the white, and after with the yellow,
Plied he the door, so that I was content.

“Whenever faileth either of these keys
So that it turn not rightly in the lock,”
He said to us, “this entrance doth not open.

More precious one is, but the other needs
More art and intellect ere it unlock,
For it is that which doth the knot unloose.

From Peter I have them; and he bade me err
Rather in opening than in keeping shut,
If people but fall down before my feet.”

Then pushed the portals Of the sacred door,
Eclaiming: “Enter; but I give you warning
That forth returns whoever looks behind.”

And when upon their hinges were turned round
The swivels of that consecrated gate,
Which are of metal, massive and sonorous,

Roared not so loud, nor so discordant seemed
Tarpeia, when was ta’en from it the good
Metellus, wherefore meagre it remained. 114

At the first thunder-peal I turned attentive,
And “Te Deum laudamus” seemed to hear 115
In voices mingled with sweet melody.

Exactly such an image rendered me
That which I heard, as we are wont to catch,
When people singing with the organ stand;

For now we hear, and now hear not, the words.

114When Caesar robbed the Roman treasury on the Tarpejan hill, the tribune Metellus
strove to defend it; but Caesar, drawing his sword, said to him, “It is easier to do this
than to say it.”

115The hymn of St. Ambrose, universally known in the churches as the Te Deum.

Figure 14: The concubine of old Tithonus now gleamed white upon the
eastern balcony...

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 15: And snatched me upward even to the fire.

Figure 16: I saw a portal, and three stairs beneath...



WHEN we had crossed the threshhold of the door 116
Which the perverted love of souls disuses,
Because it makes the crooked way seem straight,

Re-echoing I heard it closed again;
And if I had turned back mine eyes upon it,
What for my failing had been fit excuse?

We mounted upward through a rifted rock,
Which undulated to this side and that,
Even as a wave receding and advancing.

“Here it behoves us use a little art,”
Began my Leader, “to adapt ourselves
Now here, now there, to the receding side.”

And this our footsteps so infrequent made,
That sooner had the moon’s decreasing disk 117
Regained its bed to sink again to rest,

Than we were forth from out that needle’s eye;
But when we free and in the open were
There where the mountain backward piles itself,

I wearied out, and both of us uncertain
About our way, we stopped upon a plain
More desolate than roads across the deserts.

From where its margin borders on the void,
To foot of the high bank that ever rises,

116In this canto is described the First Circle of Purgatory, where the sin Pride is punished.

117It being now Easter Monday, and the fourth day after the full moon, the hour here
indicated would be four hours after sunrise. And as the sun was more than two hours
high when Dante found himself at the gate of Purgatory (Canto IX.), he was an hour and
a half in this needle’s eye.


A human body three times told would measure;

And far as eye of mine could wing its flight,
Now on the left, and on the right flank now,
The same this cornice did appear to me.

Thereon our feet had not been moved as yet,
When I perceived the embankment round about,
Which all right of ascent had interdicted, 118

To be of marble white, and so adorned
With sculptures, that not only Polycletus, 119
But Nature’s self, had there been put to shame.

The Angel, who came down to earth with tidings
Of peace, that had been wept for many a year,
And opened Heaven from its long interdict,

In front of us appeared so truthfully
There sculptured in a gracious attitude,
He did not seem an image that is silent.

One would have sworn that he was saying, “Ave”; 120
For she was there in effigy portrayed
Who turned the key to ope the exalted love,

And in her mien this language had impressed,
“Ecce ancilla Dei,” as distinctly 121
As any figure stamps itself in wax.

Keep not thy mind upon one place alone,”
The gentle Master said, who had me standing
Upon that side where people have their hearts;

Whereat I moved mine eyes, and I beheld
In rear of Mary, and upon that side
Where he was standing who conducted me,

Another story on the rock imposed;
Wherefore I passed Virgilius and drew near,

118Which was so steep as to allow of no ascent; dritto di salita being used in the sense of
right of way.

119Polycletus, the celebrated Grecian sculptor, among whose works one, representing
the body-guard of the king of Persia, acquired such fame for excellence as to be called
“the Rule.”

120Luke I. 28: “And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail, thou that art highly
favoured, the Lord is with thee.”
121Luke I. 38: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

So that before mine eyes it might be set.

There sculptured in the self-same marble were
The cart and oxen, drawing the holy ark,
Wherefore one dreads an office not appointed. 122

People appeared in front, and all of them
In seven choirs divided, of two senses
Made one say “No,” the other, “Yes, they sing.”

Likewise unto the smoke of the frankincense,
Which there was imaged forth, the eyes and nose
Were in the yes and no discordant made.

Preceded there the vessel benedight,
Dancing with girded loins, the humble Psalmist, 123
And more and less than King was he in this.

Opposite, represented at the window
Of a great palace, Michal looked upon him, 124
Even as a woman scornful and afflicted.

I moved my feet from where I had been standing,
To examine near at hand another story
Which after Michal glimmered white upon me.

There the high glory of the Roman Prince 125
Was chronicled, whose great beneficence
Moved Gregory to his great victory; 126

’Tis of the Emperor Trajan I am speaking;
And a poor widow at his bridle stood,
In attitude of weeping and of grief.

1222 Samuel VI. 6, 7: “And when they came to Nachon’s threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth
his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of
the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error; and there he
died by the ark of God.”

1232 Samuel VI. 14: “And David glanced before the Lord with all his might; and David
was girded with a linen ephod.”

1242 Samuel VI. 16: “And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal,
Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and daii mg
before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.”

125This story of Trajan is told in nearly the same words, though in prose, in the Fiore
di Filosofi, a work attributed to Brunetto Latini. See Nannucci, Manuale della Letteratura
del Primo Secolo, III. 291. It may be found also in the Legenda Aurea, in the Cento Novelle
Antiche, Nov. 67, and in the Life of St. Gregory, by Paulus Diaconus.

126Gregory’s “great victory” was saving the soul of Trajan by prayer.

Around about him seemed it thronged and full
Of cavaliers, and the eagles in the gold
Above them visibly in the wind were moving.

The wretched woman in the midst of these
Seemed to be saying: “Give me vengeance, Lord,
For my dead son, for whom my heart is breaking”

And he to answer her: “Now wait until
I shall return.”And she: “My Lord,” like one
In whom grief is impatient, “shouldst thou not

Return?” And he: “Who shall be where I am
Will give it thee.” And she: “Good deed of others
What boots it thee, if thou neglect thine own?”

Whence he: “Now comfort thee, for it behoves me
That I discharge my duty ere I move;
Justice so wills, and pity doth retain me.”

He who on no new thing has ever looked
Was the creator of this visible language,
Novel to us, for here it is not found.

While I delighted me in contemplating
The images of such humility,
And dear to look on for their Maker’s sake,

“Behold, upon this side, but rare they make
Their steps,” the Poet murmured, “many people,
These will direct us to the lofty stairs.”

Mine eyes, that in beholding were intent
To see new things, of which they curious are,
In turning round towards him were not slow.

But still I wish not, Reader, thou shouldst swerve
From thy good purposes, because thou hearest
How God ordaineth that the debt be paid;

Attend not to the fashion of the torment,
Think of what follows; think that at the worst
It cannot reach beyond the mighty sentence.

“Master,” began I, “that which I behold
Moving towards us seems to me not persons,
And what I know not, so in sight I waver.”

And he to me: “The grievous quality

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Of this their torment bows them so to earth,
That my own eyes at first contended with it;

But look there fixedly, and disentangle
By sight what cometh underneath those stones;
Already canst thou see how each is stricken.”

O ye proud Christians! wretched, weary ones!
Who, in the vision of the mind infirm
Confidence have in your backsliding steps,

Do ye not comprehend that we are worms,
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly
That flieth unto judgment without screen?

Why floats aloft your spirit high in air?
Like are ye unto insects undeveloped
Even as the worm in whom formation fails!

As to sustain a ceiling or a roof,
In place of corbel, oftentimes a figure
Is seen to join its knees unto its breast,

Which makes of the unreal real anguish
Arise in him who sees it, fashioned thus
Beheld I those, when I had ta’en good heed.

True is it, they were more or less bent down,
According as they more or less were laden;
And he who had most patience in his looks

Weeping did seem to say, “I can no more!”

Figure 17: To be of marble white, and so adorned with sculptures...



“OUR Father, thou who dwellest in the heavens,
Not circumscribed, but from the greater love
Thou bearest to the first effects on high, 127

Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence
By every creature, as befitting is
To render thanks to thy sweet effluence.

Come unto us the peace of thy dominion,
For unto it we cannot of ourselves,
If it come not, with all our intellect.

Even as thine own Angels of their will
Make sacrifice to thee, Hosanna singing,
So may all men make sacrifice of theirs.

Give unto us this day our daily manna,
Withouten which in this rough wilderness
Backward goes he who toils most to advance.

And even as we the trespass we have suffered
Pardon in one another, pardon thou
Benignly, and regard not our desert.

Our virtue, which is easily o’ercome,
Put not to proof with the old Adversary,
But thou from him who spurs it so, deliver.

This last petition verily, dear Lord,
Not for ourselves is made, who need it not,
But for their sake who have remained behind us.”

Thus for themselves and us good furtherance
Those shades imploring, went beneath a weight
Like unto that of which we sometimes dream,

127The angels, the first creation or effects of the divine power.


Unequally in anguish round and round
And weary all, upon that foremost cornice,
Purging away the smoke-stains of the world

If there good words are always said for us,
What may not here be said and done for them,
By those who have a good root to their will?

Well may we help them wash away the marks
That hence they carried, so that clean and light
They may ascend unto the starry wheels!

“Ah! so may pity and justice you disburden
Soon, that ye may have power to move the wing,
That shall uplift you after your desire,

Show us on which hand tow’rd the stairs the way
Is shortest, and if more than one the passes,
Point us out that which least abruptly falls;

For he who cometh with me, through the burden
Of Adam’s flesh wherewith he is invested,
Against his will is chary of his climbing.”

The words of theirs which they returned to those
That he whom I was following had spoken,
It was not manifest from whom they came,

But it was said: “To the right hand come with us
Along the bank, and ye shall find a pass
Possible for living person to ascend.

And were I not impeded by the stone,
Which this proud neck of mine doth subjugate,
Whence I am forced to hold my visage down,

Him, who still lives and does not name himself,
Would I regard, to see if I may know him
And make him piteous unto this burden.

A Latian was I, and born of a great Tuscan; 128
Guglielmo Aldobrandeschi was my father;

128Or Italian. The speaker is Omberto Aldobrandeschi, Count of Santafiore, in the
Maremma of Siena. “The Counts of Santafiore were, and are, and almost always will
be at war with the Sienese,” says the Ottimo. In one of these wars Omberto was slain,
at the village of Campagnatico. “The author means,” continues the same commentator,
“that he who cannot carry his head high should bow it down like a bulrush.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

I know not if his name were ever with you.

The ancient blood and deeds of gallantry
Of my progenitors so arrogant made me
That, thinking not upon the common mother,

All men I held in scorn to such extent
I died therefor, as know the Sienese,
And every child in Campagnatico.

I am Omberto; and not to me alone
Has pride done harm, but all my kith and kin
Has with it dragged into adversity.

And here must I this burden bear for it
Till God be satisfied, since I did not
Among the living, here among the dead.”

Listening I downward bent my countenance;
And one of them, not this one who was speaking,
Twisted himself beneath the weight that cramps him,

And looked at me, and knew me, and called out,
Keeping his eyes laboriously fixed
On me, who all bowed down was going with them.

“O,” asked I him, “art thou not Oderisi,
Agobbio’s honour, and honour of that art
Which is in Paris called illuminating?” 129

“Brother,” said he, “more laughing are the leaves
Touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese; 130
All his the honour now, and mine in part.

In sooth I had not been so courteous
While I was living, for the great desire
Of excellence, on which my heart was bent.

Here of such pride is paid the forfeiture;
And yet I should not be here, were it not
That, having power to sin, I turned to God.

O thou vain glory of the human powers,
How little green upon thy summit lingers,

129The art of illuminating manuscripts, which was called in Paris alluminare, was in Italy
called miniare. Hence Oderigi is called by Vasari a miniatore, or miniature-painter.
130Franco Bolognese was a pupil of Oderigi, who perhaps alludes to this fact in claiming
a part of the honour paid to the younger artist.

If ’t be not followed by an age of grossness!

In painting Cimabue thought that he
Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other’s fame is growing dim.

So has one Guido from the other taken 131
The glory of our tongue, and he perchance
Is born, who from the nest shall chase them both. 132

Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath
Of wind, that comes now this way and now that,
And changes name, because it changes side.

What fame shalt thou have more, if old peel off
From thee thy flesh, than if thou hadst been dead
Before thou left the pappo and the dindi, 133

Ere pass a thousand years? which is a shorter
Space to the eterne, than twinkling of an eye
Unto the circle that in heaven wheels slowest. 134

With him, who takes so little of the road 135
In front of me, all Tuscany resounded;
And now he scarce is lisped of in Siena,

Where he was lord, what time was overthrown 136
The Florentine delirium, that superb
Was at that day as now ’tis prostitute.

Your reputation is the colour of grass
Which comes and goes, and that discolours it
By which it issues green from out the earth.”

And I: “Thy true speech fills my heart with good
Humility, and great tumour thou assuagest;
But who is he, of whom just now thou spakest?”

131Probably Dante’s friend, Guido Cavalcanti, Inferno X.; and Guido Guinicelli, Purgatorio
132Some commentators suppose that Dante here refers to himself. He more probably is
speaking only in general terms, without particular reference to any one.

133The babble of childhood; pappa for pane, bread, and dindi for danari, money.
Halliwell, Dic. of Arch. and Prov. Words: “DINDERS, small coins of the Lower Empire,
found at Wroxeter.”

134The revolution of the fixed stars, according to the Ptolemaic theory, which was also

Dante’s, was thirty-six thousand years.
135“Who goes so slowly,” interprets the Ottimo.
136At the battle of Monte Aperto. See note in Inferno X.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“That,” he replied, “is Provenzan Salvani, 137
And he is here because he had presumed
To bring Siena all into his hands.

He has gone thus, and goeth without rest
E’er since he died; such money renders back
In payment he who is on earth too daring.”

And I: “If every spirit who awaits
The verge of life before that he repent,
Remains below there and ascends not hither,

Unless good orison shall him bestead,
Until as much time as he lived be passed,
How was the coming granted him in largess?”

“When he in greatest splendour lived,” said he,
“Freely upon the Campo of Siena,
All shame being laid aside, he placed himself;

And there to draw his friend from the duress
Which in the prison-house of Charles he suffered,
He brought himself to tremble in each vein.

I say no more, and know that I speak darkly;
Yet little time shall pass before thy neighbours
Will so demean themselves that thou canst gloss it. 138

This action has released him from those confines.”

137A haughty and ambitious nobleman of Siena, who led the Sienese troops at the battle
of Monte Aperto. Afterwards, when the Sienese were routed by the Florentines at the
battle of Colle in the Val d’ Eisa, (see note in Purgatorio XIII.) he was taken prisoner “and
his head was cut off,” says Villani, VII. 31, “and carried through all the camp fixed upon
a lance. And well was fulfilled the prophecy and revelation which the devil had made
to him, by means of necromancy, but which he did not understand; for the devil, being
constrained to tell how he would succeed in that battle, mendaciously answered, and
said: ‘Thou shalt go forth and fight, thou shalt conquer not die in the battle, and thy
head shall be highest in the camp.’ And he, believing from these words that he should
be victorious, and believing that he should be lord over all did not put a stop after ‘not’
(vincerai no, morrai – thou shalt conquer not, thou shalt die). And therefore it is great
folly to put faith in the devil’s advice. This Messer Provenzano was a great man in Siena
after his victory at Monte Aperto, and led the whole city, and all the Ghibelline party of
Tuscany made him their chief, and he was very presumptuous in his will.”
The humility which saved him was his seating himself at a little table in the public square
of Siena, called the Campo, and begging money of all passers to pay the ransom of a
friend who had been taken prisoner by Charles of Anjou, as here narrated by Dante.

138A prophecy of Dante’s banishment and poverty and humiliation.

Figure 18: Those shades imploring, went beneath a weight...



ABREAST, like oxen going in a yoke, 139
I with that heavy-laden soul went on,
As long as the sweet pedagogue permitted; 140

But when he said, “Leave him, and onward pass,
For here ’tis good that with the sail and oars,
As much as may be, each push on his barque;”

Upright, as walking wills it, I redressed
My person, notwithstanding that my thoughts
Remained within me downcast and abashed.

I had moved on, and followed willingly
The footsteps of my Master, and we both
Already showed how light of foot we were,

When unto me he said: “Cast down thine eyes;
’Twere well for thee, to alleviate the way,
To look upon the bed beneath thy feet.”

As, that some memory may exist of them
Above the buried dead their tombs in earth 141
Bear sculptured on them what they were before;

Whence often there we weep for them afresh,
From pricking of remembrance, which alone
To the compassionate doth set its spur;

So saw I there, but of a better semblance

139In the first part of this canto the same subject is continued, with examples of pride
humbled, sculptured on the pavement, upon which the proud are doomed to gaze as
they go with their heads bent down beneath their heavy burdens, – “So that they may
behold their evil ways.”

140In Italy a pedagogue is not only a teacher, but literally a leader of children, and goes
from house to house collecting his little flock, which he brings home again after school.
141Tombs under the pavement in the aisles of churches, in contradistinction to those
built aloft against the walls.


In point of artifice, with figures covered
Whate’er as pathway from the mount projects.

I saw that one who was created noble 142
More than all other creatures, down from heaven
Flaming with lightnings fall upon one side. 143

I saw Briareus smitten by the dart 144
Celestial, lying on the other side,
Heavy upon the earth by mortal frost.

I saw Thymbraeus, Pallas saw, and Mars, 145
Still clad in armour round about their father,
Gaze at the scattered members of the giants.

I saw, at foot of his great labour, Nimrod, 146
As if bewildered, looking at the people
Who had been proud with him in Sennaar. 147

O Niobe! with what afflicted eyes
Thee I beheld upon the pathway traced
Between thy seven and seven children slain! 148

O Saul! how fallen upon thy proper sword 149

142The reader will not fail to mark the artistic structure of the passage from this to the
sixty-third line. First there four stanzas beginning, “I saw;” then four beginning, “O;”
then four beginning, “Displayed;” and then a stanza which resumes and unites them all.

143Luke X. 18: “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

144Iliad, I. 403: “Him of hundred hands, whom the gods call Briareus. and all men
Aegaeon.” See note in Inferno XXI.
He was struck by the thunderbolt of Jove, or by a shaft of Apollo, at the battle of Flegra.
“Ugly medley of sacred and profane, of revealed truth and fiction!” exclaims Venturi.

145Thymbraeus, a surname of Apollo, from his temple in Thymbra.
146Nimrod, who “began to be a mighty one in the earth,” and his “tower whose top may
reach unto heaven.” See also note in Inferno XXXI.
147Lombardi proposes in this line “together” instead of “proud”; which Biagioli thinks
is “changing beautiful diamond for a bit of lead; a stupid is he who accepts the change.”

148Homer, Iliad, XXIV. 604 makes them but twelve. “Twelve children perished in her
halls, six daughters and six blooming sons; these Apollo slew from his silver bow, enraged
with Niobe; and those Diana, delighting in arrows, because she had deemed herself
equal to the beautiful-checked Latona. She said that Latona had borne only two, but
she herself had borne many ; nevertheless those, though but two, exterminated all these.”
But Ovid, Metamorph., VI., says: – “Seven are my daughters of a form divine, With seven
fair sons, an indefective line.”

1491 Samuel XXXI. 4, 5: “Then said Saul unto his armour-bearer, Draw thy sword and
thrust me through therewith, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and
abuse me. But his armour-bearer would not, for he was sore afraid; therefore Saul took
a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell ,

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Didst thou appear there lifeless in Gilboa,
That felt thereafter neither rain nor dew! 150

O mad Arachne! so I thee beheld 151
E’en then half spider, sad upon the shreds
Of fabric wrought in evil hour for thee!

O Rehoboam! no more seems to threaten 152
Thine image there; but full of consternation
A chariot bears it off, when none pursues!

Displayed moreo’er the adamantine pavement
How unto his own mother made Alcmaeon 153
Costly appear the luckless ornament;

Displayed how his own sons did throw themselves
Upon Sennacherib within the temple, 154
And how, he being dead, they left him there;

Displayed the ruin and the cruel carnage
That Tomyris wrought, when she to Cyrus said, 155
“Blood didst thou thirst for, and with blood I glut thee!”

likewise upon his sword, and died with him.”
1502 Samuel I. 21: “Ye mountain of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain

upon you.”
151Arachne, daughter of Idmon the dyer of Colophon.
152In the revolt of the Ten Tribes. 1 Kings XII. 18: “Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram,

who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died; therefore
King Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.”

153Amphiaraus, the soothsayer, foreseeing his own death if he went to the Theban war,
concealed himself, to avoid going. His wife Eriphyle, bribed by a “golden necklace set
with diamonds,” betrayed to her brother Adrastus his hiding-place, and Amphiaraus,
departing, charged his son Alcmeon to kill Eriphyle as soon as he heard of his death.

154Isaiah XXXVII. 38: “And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch
his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, smote him with the sword; and
they escaped into the land of Armenia, and Esarhaddon, his son, reigned in his stead.”

155Herodotus, Book I. Ch. 214, Rawlinson’s Tr.: “Tomyris, when she found that Cyrus
paid no heed to her advice, collected all the forces of her kingdom, and gave him battle
Of all the combats in which the barbarians have engaged among themselves, I reckon this
to have been the fiercest...
The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed, and Cyrus himself fell, after
reigning nine and twenty years. Search was made among the slain, by order of the queen,
for the body of Cyrus, and when it was found, she took skin, and filling it full of human
blood, dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, saying, as she thus insulted the corse, ‘I live
and have conquered thee in fight, and yet by thee am I ruined; for thou tookest my son
with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give thee thy fill of blood.’ Of the many
different accounts which are given of the death of Cyrus, this which I have followed
appears to be the most worthy of credit.”

Displayed how routed fled the Assyrians
After that Holofernes had been slain, 156
And likewise the remainder of that slaughter

I saw there Troy in ashes and in caverns; 157
O Ilion! thee, how abject and debased,
Displayed the image that is there discerned!

Whoe’er of pencil master was or stile,
That could portray the shades and traits which there
Would cause each subtile genius to admire?

Dead seemed the dead, the living seemed alive;
Better than I saw not who saw the truth,
All that I trod upon while bowed I went.

Now wax ye proud, and on with looks uplifted,
Ye sons of Eve, and bow not down your faces
So that ye may behold your evil ways!

More of the mount by us was now encompassed,
And far more spent the circuit of the sun,
Than had the mind preoccupied imagined,

When he, who ever watchful in advance
Was going on, began: “Lift up thy head,
’Tis no more time to go thus meditating

Lo there an Angel who is making haste
To come towards us; lo, returning is
From service of the day the sixth handmaiden, 158

With reverence thine acts and looks adorn,
So that he may delight to speed us upward;
Think that this day will never dawn again.”

I was familiar with his admonition
Ever to lose no time; so on this theme

156After Judith had slain Holofernes. Judith XV. I: “And when they that were in the tents
heard, they were astonished at the thing that was done. And fear and trembling fell upon
them, so that there was no man that durst abide in the sight of his neighbour, but, rushing
out altogether, they fled into every way of the plain and of the hill country...
Now when the children of Israel heard it, they all fell upon them with one consent, and
slew them unto Chobai.”

157This tercet unites the “I saw”, “O” and “Displayed” of the preceding passage, and
binds the whole as with a selvage.
158The sixth hour of the day, or noon of the second day.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

He could not unto me speak covertly.

Towards us came the being beautiful
Vested in white, and in his countenance
Such as appears the tremulous morning star.

His arms he opened, and opened then his wings;
“Come,” said he, “near at hand here are the steps,
And easy from henceforth is the ascent.”

At this announcement few are they who come!
O human creatures, born to soar aloft,
Why fall ye thus before a little wind?

He led us on to where the rock was cleft;
There smote upon my forehead with his wings,
Then a safe passage promised unto me.

As on the right hand, too ascent the mount
Where seated is the church that lordeth
O’er the well-guided, above Rubaconte, 159

The bold abruptness of the ascent is broken
By stairways that were made there in the age
When still were safe the ledger and the stave,

E’en thus attempered is the bank which falls
Sheer downward from the second circle there
But on this, side and that the high rock graze

As we were turning thitherward our persons.
”Beati pauperes spiritu,” voices 160
Sang in such wise that speech could tell it not.

Ah me! how different are these entrances
From the Infernal! for with anthems here
One enters, and below with wild laments.

We now were hunting up the sacred stairs,
And it appeared to me by far more easy

159Florence is here called ironically “the well-guided” or well governed. Rubaconte is
the name of the most easterly of the bridges over the Arno, and takes its name from
Messer Rubaconte, who was Podest`a of Florence in 1236, when this bridge was built.
Above it on the hill stands the church of San Miniato. This is the hill which Michael
Angelo fortified in the siege of Florence. In early times it was climbed by stairways.

160Matthew V. 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
It must be observed that all the Latin lines in Dante should be chanted with an equal
stress on each syllable, in order to make them rhythmical.

Than on the plain it had appeared before.

Whence I: “My Master, say, what heavy thing
Has been uplifted from me, so that hardly
Aught of fatigue is felt by me in wlaking?”

He answered: “When the P’s which have remained
Still on thy face almost obliterate
Shall wholly, as the first is, be erased,

Thy feet will be so vanquished by good will,
That not alone they shall not feel fatigue,
But urging up will be to them delight.”

Then did I even as they do who are going
With something on the head to them unknown,
Unless the signs of others make them doubt,

Wherefore the hand to ascertain is helpful,
And seeks and finds, and doth fulfill the office
Which cannot be accomplished by the sight;

And with the fingers of the right hand spread
I found but six the letters, that had carved
Upon my temples he who bore the keys;

Upon beholding which my Leader smiled.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 19: O mad Arachne!



WE were upon the summit of the stairs, 161
Where for the second time is cut away
The mountain, which ascending shriveth all

There in like manner doth a cornice bind
The hill all round about, as does the first,
Save that its arc more suddenly is curved

Shade is there none, nor sculpture that appears;
So seems the bank, and so the road seems smooth
With but the livid colour of the stone. 162

“If to inquire we wait for people here,”
The Poet said, “I fear that peradventure
Too much delay will our election have.”

Then steadfast on the sun his eyes he fixed.
Made his right side the centre of his motion, 163
And turned the left part of himself about.

“O thou sweet light! with trust in whom I enter 164
Upon this novel journey, do thou lead us,”
Said he, “as one within here should be led.

Thou warmest the world, thou shinest over it;

161The Second Circle, or Cornice, where is punished the sin of Envy; of which St. Augustine
says: “Envy is the hatred of another’s felicity; in respect of superiors, because
they are not equal to them; in respect of inferiors, lest they should be equal to them; in
respect of equals, because they are equal to them. Through envy proceeded the fall of the
world, and the death of Christ.”

162The livid colour of Envy.

163The military precision which Virgil faces to the right is Homeric. Biagioli says that
Dante expresses it “after his own fashion, that is, entirely new and different from mundane

164Boethius, Cons. Phil., V. Met. 2: “Him the Sun, then, rightly call, – God who sees and
lightens all.”


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

If other reason prompt not otherwise,
Thy rays should evermore our leaders be!”

As much as here is counted for a mile,
So much already there had we advanced
In little time, by dint of ready will;

And tow’rds us there were heard to fly, albeit
They were not visible, spirits uttering
Unto Love’s table courteous invitations,

The first voice that passed onward in its flight,
“Vinum non habent,” said in accents loud, 165
And went reiterating it behind us.

And ere it wholly grew inaudible
Because of distance, passed another, crying,
“I am Orestes!” and it also stayed not. 166

“O,” said I, “Father, these, what voices are they?”
And even as I asked, behold the third,
Saying: “Love those from whom ye have had evil! 167

And the good Master said: “This circle scourges
The sin of envy, and on that account
Are drawn from love the lashes of the scourge. 168

The bridle of another sound shall be;
I think that thou wilt hear it, as I judge,
Before thou comest to the Pass of Pardon. 169

But fix thine eyes athwart the air right steadfast,
And people thou wilt see before us sitting,
And each one close against the cliff is seated.”

Then wider than at first mine eyes I opened;

165John II. 3: “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They
have no wine.” Examples are first given of the virtue opposite the vice here punished.
These are but “airy tongues that syllable men’s names;” and it must not be supposed that
the persons alluded to are actually passing in the air.

166The name of Orestes is here shouted on account of the proverbial friendship between
him and Pylades. When Orestes was condemned to death, Pylades tried to take his place,
exclaiming, “I am Orestes.”

167Matthew V. 44: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do
good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute

168See Canto XIV. 147.
169The next stairway leading from the second to the third circle.

I looked before me, and saw shades with mantles
Not from the colour of the stone diverse.

And when we were a little farther onward
I heard a cry of, “Mary, pray for us!”
A cry of, “Michael, Peter, and all Saints!” 170

I do not think there walketh still on earth
A man so hard, that he would not be pierced
With pity at what afterward I saw.

For when I had approached so near to them
That manifest to me their acts became,
Drained was I at the eyes by heavy grief.

Covered with sackcloth vile they seemed to me,
And one sustained the other with his shoulder,
And all of them were by the bank sustained.

Thus do the blind, in want of livelihood,
Stand at the doors of churches asking alms,
And one upon another leans his head

So that in others pity soon may rise,
Not only at the accent of their words,
But at their aspect, which no less implores.

And as unto the blind the sun comes not
So to the shades, of whom just now I spake,
Heaven’s light will not be bounteous of itself;

For all their lids an iron wire transpierces,
And sews them up, as to a sparhawk wild
Is done, because it will not quiet stay.

To me it seemed, in passing, to do outrage,
Seeing the others without being seen;
Wherefore I turned me to my counsel sage.

Well knew he what the mute one wished to say,
And therefore waited not for my demand,
But said: “Speak, and be brief, and to the point.”

I had Virgilius upon that side
Of the embankment from which one may fall,
Since by no border ’tis engarlanded;

170The Litany of All Saints.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Upon the other side of me I had
The shades devout, who through the horrible seam
Pressed out the tears so that they bathed their cheeks.

To them I turned me, and, “O people, certain,”
Began I, “of beholding the high light,
Which your desire has solely in its care,

So may grace speedily dissolve the scum
Upon your consciences, that limpidly
Through them descend the river of the mind,

Tell me, for dear ’twill be to me and gracious,
If any soul among you here is Latian, 171
And ’twill perchance be good for him I learn it.”

“O brother mine, each one is citizen
Of one true city; but thy meaning is,
Who may have lived in Italy a pilgrim.”

By way of answer this I seemed to hear
A little farther on than where I stood,
Whereat I made myself still nearer heard.

Among the rest I saw a shade that waited
In aspect, and should any one ask how,
Its chin it lifted upward like a blind man.

“Spirit,” I said, “who stoopest to ascend,
If thou art he who did reply to me,
Make thyself known to me by place or name.

“Sienese was I,” it replied, “and with
The others here recleanse my guilty life,
Weeping to Him to lend himself to us.

Sapient I was not, although I Sapia 172
Was called, and I was at another’s harm
More happy far than at my own good fortune.

171Latian for Italian.

172A Sienese lady living in banishment at Colle, where from a tower she witnessed the
battle between her townsmen and the Florentines. “Sapia hated the Sienese,” says Benvenuto,
“and placed herself at a window not far from the field of battle, waiting the issue
with anxiety, and desiring the rout and ruin of her own people. Her desires being verified
by the entire discomfiture of the Sienese, and the death of their captain,” (Provenzan
Salvani, see note in Canto XI.) “exultant and almost beside herself, she lifted her bold face
to heaven, and cried, ‘Now, O God, do with me what thou wilt, do me all the harm thou
canst; now my prayers are answered, and I die content.’ ”

And that thou mayst not think that I deceive thee,
Hear if I was as foolish as I tell thee.
The arc already of my years descending,

My fellow-citizens near unto Colle
Were joined in battle with their adversaries,
And I was praying God for what he willed.

Routed were they, and turned into the bitter
Passes of flight; and I, the chase beholding,
A joy received unequalled by all others;

So that I lifted upward my bold face
Crying to God, ‘Henceforth I fear thee not,’ 173
As did the blackbird at the little sunshine.

Peace I desired with God at the extreme
Of my existence, and as yet would not
My debt have been by penitence discharged,

Had it not been that in remembrance held me
Pier Pettignano in his holy prayers, 174
Who out of charity was grieved for me.

But who art thou, that into our conditions
Questioning goest, and hast thine eyes unbound
As I believe, and breathing dost discourse?”

“Mine eyes,” I said, “will yet be here ta’en from me,
But for short space ; for small is the offence
Committed by their being turned with envy.

Far greater is the fear, wherein suspended
My soul is, of the torment underneath,
For even now the load down there weighs on me.” 175

173The warm days near the end of January are still called in Lombardy i giorni della merla,
the days of the blackbird; from an old legend, that once in the sunny weather a blackbird
sang, “I fear thee no more; O Lord, for the winter is over.”

174Peter Pettignano, or Pettinajo, was a holy hermit, who saw visions and wrought miracles
at Siena. Forsyth, Italy, 149, describing the festival of the Assumption in that city
in 1802, says: – “The Pope had reserved for this great festival the Beatification of Peter,
a Sienese comb-maker, whom the Church had neglected to canonize till now. Poor Peter
was honoured with all the solemnity of music, high-mass, and officiating cardinal, a
florid panegyric, pictured angels bearing his tools to heaven, and combing their own hair
as they soared; but he received five hundred years ago a greater honour than all, a verse
of praise from Dante.”

175Dante’s besetting sin was not envy, but pride.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And she to me: “Who led thee, then, among us
Up here, if to return below thou thinkest?”
And I: “He who is with me, and speaks not;

And living am I; therefore ask of me,
Spirit elect, if thou wouldst have me move
O’er yonder yet my mortal feet for thee.” 176

“O, this is such a novel thing to hear,
She answered, “that great sign it is God loves thee;
Therefore with prayer of thine sometimes assist me

And I implore, by what thou most desirest,
If e’er thou treadest the soil of Tuscany,
Well with my kindred reinstate my fame.

Them wilt thou see among that people vain
Who hope in Talamone, and will lose there 177
More hope than in discovering the Diana; 178

But there still more the admirals will lose.” 179

176On the other side of the world.

177Talamone is a seaport in the Maremma, “many times abandoned by its inhabitants,”
says the Ottimo, “on account of the malaria. The town is utterly in ruins; but as the
harbour is deep, and would be of great utility if the place were inhabited, the Sienese
have spent much money in repairing it many times, and bringing in inhabitants; it is of
little use, for the malaria prevents the increase of population.” Talamone is the ancient
Telamon, where Marius landed on his return from Africa.

178The Diana is a subterranean river, which the Sienese were in search of for many years
to supply the city with water. “They never have been able to find it,” says the Ottimo,
“and yet they still hope.” In Dante’s time it was evidently looked upon as an idle dream.
To the credit of the Sienese be it said, they persevered, and finally succeeded in obtaining
the water so patiently sought for. The Pozzo Diana, or Diana’s Well, is still to be seen at
the Convent of the Carmen.

179The admirals who go to Talamone to superintend the works will lose there more than
their hope, namely, their lives.

Figure 20: “This circle scourges the sin of envy...”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 21: “Sapient I was not, although I Sapia was called...”



“WHO is this one that goes about our mountain, 180
Or ever Death has given him power of flight,
And opes his eyes and shuts them at his will?”

“I know not who, but know he’s not alone;
Ask him thyself, for thou art nearer to him,
And gently, so that he may speak, accost him.”

Thus did two spirits, leaning tow’rds each other, 181
Discourse about me there on the right hand;
Then held supine their faces to address me.

And said the one: “O soul, that, fastened still
Within the body, tow’rds the heaven art going,
For charity console us, and declare

Whence comest and who art thou; for thou mak’st us
As much to marvel at this grace of thine
As must a thing that never yet has been.”

And I: “Through midst of Tuscany there wanders
A streamlet that is born in Falterona, 182

180The subject of the preceding canto is here continued. Compare the introductory lines

with those of Canto V.
181These two spirits prove to be Guido del Duca and Rinieri da Calboli.
182A mountain in the Apennines, north-east of Florence, from which the Arno takes its

rise. Amp`ere, Voyage Dantesque, p. 246, thus describes this region of the Val d’ Arno.
“Farther on is another tower, the tower of Porciano, which is said to have been inhabited
by Dante. From there I had still to climb the summits of the Falterona. I started towards
midnight in order to arrive before sunrise. I said to myself, ‘How many times the poet,
whose footprints I am following, has wandered in these mountains! It was by these little
alpine paths that he came and went, on his way to friends in Romagna or friends in
Urbino, his heart agitated with a hope that was never to be fulfilled’. I figured to myself
Dante walking with a guide under the light of the stars, receiving all the impressions
produced by wild and weather-beaten regions, steep roads, deep valleys, and the accidents
of a long and difficult route, impressions which he would transfer to his poem. It


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And not a hundred miles of course suffice it;

From thereupon do I this body bring.
To tell you who I am were speech in vain,
Because my name as yet makes no great noise.”

“If well thy meaning I can penetrate
With intellect of mine,” then answered me
He who first spake, “thou speakest of the Arno.”

And said the other to him: “Why concealed
This one the appellation of that river,
Even as a man doth of things horrible?”

And thus the shade that questioned was of this
Himself acquitted: “I know not; but truly
’Tis fit the name of such a vallev perish:

For from its fountain-head where is so pregnant
The Alpine mountain whence is cleft Peloro
That in few places it that mark surpasses 183

To where it yields itself in restoration
Of what the heaven doth of the sea dry up.
Whence have the rivers that which goes with them,

Virtue is like an enemy avoided
By all, as is a serpent, through misfortune
Of place, or through bad habit that impels them;

On which account have so transformed their nature
The dwellers in that miserable valley,
It seems that Circe had them in her pasture.

’Mid ugly swine, of acorns worthier

is enough to have read this poem to be certain that its author has travelled much, has
wandered much. Dante really walks with Virgil. He fatigues himself with climbing, he
stops to take breath, he uses his hands when feet are insufficient. He gets lost, and asks
the way. He observes the height of the sun and stars. In a word, one finds the habits and
souvenirs of the traveller in every verse, or rather at every step of his poetic pilgrimage.
“Dante has certainly climbed the top of the Falterona. It is upon this summit, from which
all the Valley of the Arno is embraced, that one should read the singular imprecation
which the poet has uttered against this whole valley. He follows the course of the river,
and as he advances marks every place he comes to with fierce invective. The farther he
goes, the more his hate redoubles in violence and bitterness. It is a piece of topographical
satire, of which I know no other example.”

183The Apennines, whose long chain ends in Calabria, opposite Cape Peloro in Sicily.

Than other food for human use created, 184
It first directeth its impoverished way.

Curs findeth it thereafter, coming downward,
More snarling than their puissance demands, 185
And turns from them disdainfully its muzzle.

It goes on falling, and the more it grows,
The more it finds the dogs becoming wolves, 186
This maledict and misadventurous ditch.

Descended then through many a hollow gulf,
It finds the foxes so replete with fraud, 187
They fear no cunning that may master them.

Nor will I cease because another hears me;
And well ’twill be for him, if still he mind him
Of what a truthful spirit to me unravels.

Thy grandson I behold, who doth become 188
A hunter of those wolves upon the bank
Of the wild stream, and terrifies them all.

He sells their flesh, it being yet alive;
Thereafter slaughters them like ancient beeves
Many of life, himself of praise, deprives.

Blood-stained he issues from the dismal forest;
He leaves it such, a thousand years from now 189
In its primeval state ’tis not re-wooded.”

As at the announcement of impending ills
The face of him who listens is disturbed,
From whate’er side the peril seize upon him;

So I beheld that other soul, which stood
Turned round to listen, grow disturbed and sad,

184The people of Casentino.
185The people of Arezzo.
186The Florentines.
187The Pisans.
188At the close of these vituperations, perhaps to soften the sarcasm by making it more

general, Benvenuto appends this note: “What Dante says of the inhabitants of the Val d’
Arno might be said of the greater part of the Italians, nay, of the world. Dante, being once
asked why he had put more Christians than Gentiles into Hell, replied, ‘Because I have
known the Christians better.’ ”

189Florence, the habitation of these wolves, left so stripped by Fulcieri, on his retiring
from office, that it will be long in recovering its former prosperity.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

When it had gathered to itself the word.

The speech of one and aspect of the other
Had me desirous made to know their names,
And question mixed with prayers I made thereof,

Whereat the spirit which first spake to me
Began again: “Thou wishest I should bring me
To do for thee what thou’lt not do for me;

But since God willeth that in thee shine forth
Such grace of his, I’ll not be chary with thee;
Know, then, that I Guido del Duca am.

My blood was so with envy set on fire, 190
That if I had beheld a man make merry,
Thou wouldst have seen me sprinkled o’er with pallor.

From my own sowing such the straw I reap!
O human race! why dost thou set thy heart
Where interdict of partnership must be?

This is Renier; this is the boast and honour 191
Of the house of Calboli, where no one since 192
Has made himself the heir of his desert.

And not alone his blood is made devoid,
’Twixt Po and mount, and sea-shore and the Reno, 193
Of good required for truth and for diversion; 194

190Guido del Duca of Brettinoro, near Forl`i, in Romagna; nothing remains but the name.
He and his companion Rinieri were “gentlemen of worth, if they had not been burned up
with envy.”

191On worldly goods, where selfishness excludes others; in contrast with the spiritual,
which increase by being shared. See Canto XV. 45.

192Rinieri da Calboli. “He was very famous,” says the Ottimo, and history says no more.
In the Cento Novelle Antiche, Nov. 44, Roscoe’s Tr., he figures thus: – “A certain knight was
one day entreating a lady whom he loved to smile upon his wishes, and among other delicate
arguments which he pressed upon her was that of his own superior wealth, elegance,
and accomplishments, especially when compared with the merits of her own liege-lord,
‘whose extreme ugliness, madam,’ he continued, ‘I think I need not insist upon.’ Her
husband, who overheard this compliment from the place of his concealment, immediately
replied, ‘Pray, sir, mend your own manners, and do not vilify other people.’ The
name of the plain gentleman was Lizio di Valbona, and Messer Rinieri da Calvoli that of
the other.”

193In Romagna, which is bounded by the Po, the Apennines, the Adriatic, and the river
Reno, that passes near Bologna.
194For study and pleasure.

For all within these boundaries is full
Of venomous roots, so that too tardily
By cultivation now would they diminish.

Where is good Lizio, and Arrigo Manardi,
Pier Traversaro, and Guido di Carpigna, 195
O Romagnuoli into bastards turned? 196

When in Bologna will a Fabbro rise?
When in Faenza a Bernardin di Fosco, 197
The noble scion of ignoble seed? 198

Be not astonished, Tuscan, if I weep
When I remember, with Guido da Prata,
Ugolin d’ Azzo, who was living with us, 199

Frederick Tignoso and his company
The house of Traversara, and th’ Anastagi, 200
And one race and the other is extinct. 201

195Of Lizio and Manardi the Ottimo says: “Messer Lizio di Valbona, a courteous gentleman,
in order to give a dinner at Forl`i, sold half his silken bedquilt for sixty florins.
Arrigo Manardi was of Brettinoro; he was a gentleman full of courtesy and honour, was
fond of entertaining guests, made presents of robes and horses, loved honourable men,
and all his life was devoted to largess and good living.”
The marriage of Riccardo Manardi with Lizio’s daughter Caterina is the subject of one of
the tales of the Decameron, V.4. Pietro Dante says, that, when Lizio was told of the death
of his dissipated son, he replied, “It is no news to me, he never was alive.”

196Of Pier Traversaro the Ottimo says: “He was of Raverina, a man of most gentle
blood;” and of Guido di Carpigna: “He was of Montefeltro... Most of the time he lived at
Brettinoro, and surpassed all others in generosity, loved for the sake of loving, and lived

197“This Messer Fabbro,” says the Ottimo, “was born of low parents, and lived so generously
that the author Dante says there never was his like in Bologna.”

198The Ottimo again: “This Messer Bernardino, son of Fosco, a farmer, and of humble
occupation, became so excellent by his good works, that he was an honour to Faenza;
and he was named with praise, and the old grandees were not ashamed to visit him, to
see his magnificence, and to hear his pleasant jests.”

199Guido da Prata, from the village of that name, between Faenza and Forl`i, and Ugolin
d’ Azzo of Faenza, according to the same authority, though “of humble birth, rose to such
great honour, that, leaving their native places, they associated with the noblemen before

200Frederick Tignoso was a gentleman of Rimini, living in Brettinoro. “A man of great
mark,” says Buti, “with his band of friends.” According to Benvenuto, “he had beautiful
blond hair, and was called tignoso (the scurvy fellow) by way of antiphrase.” The Ottimo
speaks of him as follows: “He avoided the city as much as possible, as a place hostile to
gentlemen, but when he was in it, he kept open house.”

201Ancient and honourable families of Ravenna. There is a story of them in the Decameron,
Gior. V. Nov. 8, which is too long to quote. Upon this tale is founded Dryden’s

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

The dames and cavaliers, the toils and ease
That filled our souls with love and courtesy,
There where the hearts have so malicious grown!

O Brettinoro! why dost thou not flee,
Seeing that all thy family is gone, 202
And many people, not to be corrupted?

Bagnacaval does well in not begetting
And ill does Castrocaro, and Conio worse, 203
In taking trouble to beget such Counts.

Will do well the Pagani, when their Devil 204
Shall have departed; but not therefore pure
Will testimony of them e’er remain.

O Ugolin de’ Fantoli, secure
Thy name is, since no longer is awaited
One who, degenerating, can obscure it!

But go now, Tuscan, for it now delights me
To weep far better than it does to speak,
So much has our discourse my mind distressed.”

We were aware that those beloved souls
Heard us depart; therefore, by keeping silent,

poem of Theodore and Honoria.

202Brettinoro, now Bertinoro, is a small town in Romagna, between Forl`i and Cesena,
in which lived many of the families that have just been mentioned. The hills about it are
still celebrated for their wines, as its inhabitants were in old times for their hospitality.
The following anecdote is told of them by the Ottimo, and also in nearly the same words
in the Cento Novelle Antiche, Nov. 89: – “Among other laudable customs of the nobles of
Brettinoro was that of hospitality, and their not permitting any man in the town to keep
an inn for money. But there was a stone column in the middle of the town,” (upon which
were rings or knockers, as if all the front-doors were there represented), “and to this,
as soon as a stranger made his appearance, he was conducted, and to one of the rings
hitched his horse or hung his hat upon it; and thus, as chance decreed, he was taken to
the house of the gentleman to whom the ring belonged, and honoured according to his
rank. This column and its rings were invented to remove all cause of quarrel among the
noblemen, who used to run to get possession of a stranger, as now-a-days they almost
run away from him.”

203Towns in Romagna. “Bagnacavallo, Castrocaro, and Conio,” says the Ottimo, “were
all habitations of courtesy and honour. Now in Bagnocavallo the counts are extinct; and
he (Dante) says it does well to produce no more of them because they had degenerated
like those of Conio and Castrocaro”.

204The Pagani were Lords of Faenza and Imola. The head of the family, Mainardo,
was surnamed “the Devil.” – See note in Inferno XXVII. His bad repute will always be a
reproach to the family.

They made us of our pathway confident.

When we became alone by going onward,
Thunder, when it doth cleave the air, appeared
A voice, that counter to us came, exclaiming:

“Shall slay me whosoever findeth me!” 205
And fled as the reverberation dies
If suddenly the cloud asunder bursts.

As soon as hearing had a truce from this,
Behold another, with so great a crash,
That it resembled thunderings following fast:

“I am Aglaurus, who became a stone!” 206
And then, to press myself close to the Poet,
I backward, and not forward, took a step.

Already on all sides the air was quiet;
And said he to me: “That was the hard curb
That ought to hold a man within his bounds;

But you take in the bait so that the hook
Of the old Adversary draws you to him,
And hence availeth little curb or call.

The heavens are calling you, and wheel around you, 207
Displaying to you their eternal beauties,
And still your eye is looking on the ground;

Whence He, who all discerns, chastises you.”

205These voices in the air proclaim examples of envy.

206Aglauros through envy opposed the interview of Mercury with her sister Herse, and
was changed by the god into stone. – Ovid, Metamorph., I.

207The falconer’s call or lure, which he whirls round in the air to attract the falcon on
the wing.



AS much as ’twixt the close of the third hour 208
And dawn of day appeareth of that sphere
Which aye in fashion of a child is playing,

So much it now appeared, towards the night,
Was of his course remaining to the sun;
There it was evening, and ’twas midnight here;

And the rays smote the middle of our faces,
Because by us the mount was so encircled,
That straight towards the west we now were going

When I perceived my forehead overpowered
Beneath the splendour far more than at first,
And stupor were to me the things unknown,

Whereat towards the summit of my brow
I raised my hands, and made myself the visor
Which the excessive glare diminishes.

As when from off the water, or a mirror,
The sunbeam leaps unto the opposite side,
Ascending upward in the selfsame measure

That it descends, and deviates as far
From falling of a stone in line direct,

208In this canto is described the ascent to the Third Circle of the mountain. The hour
indicated by the peculiarly Dantesque introduction is three hours before sunset, or the
beginning of that division of the canonical day called Vespers. Dante states this simple
fact with curious circumlocution, as if he would imitate the celestial sphere in this scherzoso
movement. The beginning of the day is sunrise; consequently the end of the third
hour, three hours after sun-rise, is represented by an arc of the celestial sphere measuring
forty-five degrees. The sun had still an equal space to pass over before his setting.
This would make it afternoon in Purgatory, and midnight in Tuscany, where Dante was
writing the poem.


(As demonstrate experiment and art,) 209

So it appeared to me that by a light
Refracted there before me I was smitten;
On which account my sight was swift to flee.

“What is that, Father sweet, from which I cannot
So fully screen my sight that it avail me,”
Said I, “and seems towards us to be moving?”

“Marvel thou not, if dazzle thee as yet
The family of heaven,” he answered me;
“An angel ’tis, who comes to invite us upward.

Soon will it be, that to behold these things
Shall not be grievous, but delightful to thee
As much as nature fashioned thee to feel.”

When we had reached the Angel benedight,
With joyful voice he said: “Here enter in
To stairway far less steep than are the others.”

We mounting were, already thence departed,
And “Beati misericordes” was 210
Behind us sung, “Rejoice, thou that o’ercomest!” 211

My Master and myself, we two alone
Were going upward, and I thought, in going,
Some profit to acquire from words of his;

And I to him directed me, thus asking:
“What did the spirit of Romagna mean,
Mentioning interdict and partnership?”

Whence he to me: “Of his own greatest failing
He knows the harm; and therefore wonder not
If he reprove us, that we less may rue it

Because are thither pointed your desires
Where by companionship each share is lessened,
Envy doth ply the bellows to your sighs.

209From a perpendicular.
210Matthew V. 7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;” – sung by the
spirits that remained behind. See note in Canto XII.

211Perhaps an allusion to “what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” Revelation II. 7: “To
him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the
paradise of God” And also the “hidden manna,” and the “morning star,” and the “white
raiment,” and the name not blotted “out of the book of life.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

But if the love of the supernal sphere
Should upwardly direct your aspiration,
There would not be that fear within your breast;

For there, as much the more as one says Our,
So much the more of good each one possesses,
And more of charity in that cloister burns.”

“I am more hungering to be satisfied,”
I said, “than if I had before been silent,
And more of doubt within my mind I gather.

How can it be, that boon distributed
The more possessors can more wealthy make
Therein, than if by few it be possessed?”

And he to me: “Because thou fixest still
Thy mind entirely upon earthly things,
Thou pluckest darkness from the very light.

That goodness infinite and ineffable
Which is above there, runneth unto love,
As to a lucid body comes the sunbeam.

So much it gives itself as it finds ardour,
So that as far as charity extends,
O’er it increases the eternal valour.

And the more people thitherward aspire,
More are there to love well, and more they love there,
And, as a mirror, one reflects the other.

And if my reasoning appease thee not,
Thou shalt see Beatrice; and she will fully
Take from thee this and every other longing.

Endeavour, then, that soon may be extinct,
As are the two already, the five wounds
That close themselves again by being painful.”

Even as I wished to say, “Thou dost appease me,”
I saw that I had reached another circle,
So that my eager eyes made me keep silence.

There it appeared to me that in a vision
Ecstatic on a sudden I was rapt,
And in a temple many persons saw;

And at the door a woman, with the sweet

Behaviour of a mother, saying: “Son, 212
Why in this manner hast thou dealt with us?

Lo, sorrowing, thy father and myself
Were seeking for thee;” – and as here she cease
That which appeared at first had disappeared.

Then I beheld another with those waters
Adown her cheeks which grief distils whenever
From great disdain of others it is born,

And saying: “If of that city thou art lord, 213
For whose name was such strife among the gods
And whence doth every science scintillate,

Avenge thyself on those audacious arms
That clasped our daughter, O Pisistratus,” 214
And the lord seemed to me benign and mild

To answer her with aspect temperate:
“What shall we do to those who wish us ill,
If he who loves us be by us condemned?”

Then saw I people hot in fire of wrath, 215
With stones a young man slaying, clamorously
Still crying to each other, “Kill him! kill him!”

And him I saw bow down, because of death
That weighed already on him, to the earth,
But of his eyes made ever gates to heaven,

Imploring the high Lord, in so great strife,
That he would pardon those his persecutors,

212Luke II. 48: “And his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thou dealt with us?
behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”

213The contest between Neptune and Minerva for the right of naming Athens, in which
Minerva carried the day by the vote of the women. This is one of the subjects which
Minerva wrought in her trial of skill with Arachne. – Ovid, Metamorph., VI.

214Pisistratus, the tyrant of Athens, who used his power so nobly as to make the people
forget the usurpation by which he had attained it. Among his good deeds was the collection
and preservation of the Homeric poems, which but for him might have perished. He
was also the first to found a public library in Athens. This anecdote is told by Valerius
Maximus, Fact. ac Dict., VI. I.

215The stoning of Stephen. Acts VII. 54: “They gnashed on him with their teeth. But
he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven. ... Then they cried
out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and
cast him out of the city, and stoned him. ... And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud
voice, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

With such an aspect as unlocks compassion.

Soon as my soul had outwardly returned
To things external to it which are true,
Did I my not false errors recognize. 216

My Leader, who could see me bear myself
Like to a man that rouses him from sleep,
Exclaimed: “What ails thee, that thou canst not stand?

But hast been coming more than half a league
Veiling thine eyes, and with thy legs entangled
In guise of one whom wine or sleep subdues?”

“O my sweet Father, if thou listen to me,
I’ll tell thee,” said I, “what appeared to me,
When thus from me my legs were ta’en away.”

And he: “If thou shouldst have a hundred masks
Upon thy face, from me would not be shut
Thy cogitations, howsoever small.

What thou hast seen was that thou mayst not fail
To ope thy heart unto the waters of peace
Which from the eternal fountain are diffused.

I did not ask, ‘What ails thee?’ as he does
Who only looketh with the eyes that see not
When of the soul bereft the body lies,

But asked it to give vigour to thy feet;
Thus must we needs urge on the sluggards, slow
To use their wakefulness when it returns.”

We passed along, athwart the twilight peering
Forward as far as ever eye could stretch
Against the sunbeams serotine and lucent;

And lo! by slow degrees a smoke approached
In our direction, sombre as the night,
Nor was there place to hide one’s self therefrom.

This of our eyes and the pure air bereft us.

216He recognizes it to be a vision, but not false, because it symbolized the truth.

Figure 22: Then saw I people hot in fire of wrath, with stones a young man



DARKNESS of hell, and of a night deprived 217
Of every planet under a poor sky, 218
As much as may be tenebrous with cloud,

Ne’er made unto my sight so thick a veil,
As did that smoke which there enveloped us,
Nor to the feeling of so rough a texture;

For not an eye it suffered to stay open;
Whereat mine escort, faithful and sagacious,
Drew near to me and offered me his shoulder.

E’en as a blind man goes behind his guide,
Lest he should wander, or should strike against
Aught that may harm or peradventure kill him,

So went I through the bitter and foul air,
Listening unto my Leader, who said only,
“Look that from me thou be not separated.”

Voices I heard, and every one appeared 219
To supplicate for peace and misericord
The Lamb of God who takes away our sins.

Still “Agnus Dei” their exordium was;
One word there was in all, and metre one,
So that all harmony appeared among them.

“Master,” I said, “are spirits those I hear?”

217The Third Circle of Purgatory, and the punishment of the Sin of Pride.
218Poor, or impoverished of its stars by clouds. The same expression is applied to the
Arno, Canto XIV. 45, to indicate its want of water.

219In the Litany of the Saints: –
“Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the word, spare us, O Lord.”
“Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.”
“Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!”


And he to me: “Thou apprehendest truly,
And they the knot of anger go unloosing.”

“Now who art thou, that cleavest through our smoke
And art discoursing of us even as though
Thou didst by calends still divide the time?” 220

After this manner by a voice was spoken;
Whereon my Master said: “Do thou reply,
And ask if on this side the way go upward.”

And I: “O creature that dost cleanse thyself
To return beautiful to Him who made thee,
Thou shalt hear marvels if thou follow me.”

“Thee will I follow far as is allowed me,”
He answered; “and if smoke prevent our seeing,
Hearing shall keep us joined instead thereof.”

Thereon began I: “With that swathing band
Which death unwindeth am I going upward,
And hither came I through the infernal anguish.

And if God in his grace has me infolded,
So that he wills that I behold his court
By method wholly out of modern usage,

Conceal not from me who ere death thou wast,
But tell it me, and tell me if I go
Right for the pass, and be thy words our escort.”

“Lombard was I, and I was Marco called; 221

220Still living the life temporal, where time is measured by the calendar.

221Marco Lombardo, was a Venetian nobleman, a man of wit and learning and a friend
of Dante. “Nearly all that he gained,” says the Ottimo, “he spent in charity. ... He visited
Paris, and, as long as his money lasted, he was esteemed for his valour and courtesy. Afterwards
he depended upon those richer than himself, and lived and died honourably.”
There are some anecdotes of him in the Cento Novelle Antiche Nov. 41, 52, hardly worth
It is doubtful whether the name of Lombardo is a family name, or only indicates that
Marco was an Italian, after the fashion then prevalent among the French of calling all
Italians Lombards. See Note 124.
Benvenuto says of him that he “was a man of noble mind, but disdainful, and easily
moved to anger.”
Buti’s portrait is as follows: “This Marco was a Venetian, called Marco Daca; and was
a very learned man, and had many political virtues, and was very courteous, giving to
poor noblemen all that he gained, and he gained much; for he was a courtier, and was
much beloved for his virtue, and much was given him by the nobility; and as he gave to

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

The world I knew, and loved that excellence,
At which has each one now unbent his bow.

For mounting upward, thou art going right.”
Thus he made answer, and subjoined: “I pray thee
To pray for me when thou shalt be above.”

And I to him: “My faith I pledge to thee
To do what thou dost ask me; but am bursting
Inly with doubt, unless I rid me of it.

First it was simple, and is now made double
By thy opinion, which makes certain to me,
Here and elsewhere, that which I couple with it. 222

The world forsooth is utterly deserted
By every virtue, as thou tellest me,
And with iniquity is big and covered;

But I beseech thee point me out the cause,
That I may see it, and to others show it;
For one in the heavens, and here below one puts it.”

A sigh profound. that grief forced into Ai!
He first sent forth, and then began he: “Brother,
The world is blind, and sooth thou comest from it!

Ye who are living every cause refer
Still upward to the heavens, as if all things
They of necessity moved with themselves.

If this were so, in you would be destroyed
Free will, nor any justice would there be
In having joy for good, or grief for evil.

The heavens your movements do initiate,
I say not all; but granting that I say it,
Light has been given you for good and evil,

And free volition; which, if some fatigue
In the first battles with the heavens it suffers,

those who were in need, so he lent to all who asked. So that, coming to die, and having
much still due to him, he made a will, and among other bequests this, that whoever owed
him should not be held to pay the debt, saying, ‘Whoever has, may keep.’ ”
Portarelli thinks that this Marco may be Marco Polo the traveller; but this is inadmissible,
as he was still living at the time of Dante’s death.

222What Guido del Duca has told him of the corruption of Italy, in Canto XIV.

Afterwards conquers all, if well ’tis nurtured. 223

To greater force and to a better nature, 224
Though free, ye subject are, and that creates
The mind in you the heavens have not in charge.

Hence, if the present world doth go astray,
In you the cause is, be it sought in you;
And I therein will now be thy true spy.

Forth from the hand of Him, who fondles it
Before it is, like to a little girl
Weeping and laughing in her childish sport,

Issues the simple soul, that nothing knows,
Save that, proceeding from a joyous Maker,
Gladly it turns to that which gives it pleasure.

Of trivial good at first it tastes the savour;
Is cheated by it, and runs after it,
If guide or rein turn not aside its love.

Hence it behoved laws for a rein to place,
Behoved a king to have, who at the least
Of the true city should discern the tower.

The laws exist, but who sets hand to them?
No one; because the shepherd who precedes
Can ruminate, but cleaveth not the hoof; 225

Wherefore the people that perceives its guide
Strike only at the good for which it hankers, 226
Feeds upon that, and farther seeketh not.

Clearly canst thou perceive that evil guidance
The cause is that has made the world depraved,
And not that nature is corrupt in you.

Rome, that reformed the world, accustomed was
Two suns to have, which one road and the other, 227

223Ptolemy says, “The wise man shall control the stars;” and the Turkish proverb, “Wit
and a strong will are superior to Fate.”
224Though free, you are subject to the divine power which has immediately breathed
into you the soul, and the soul is not subject to the influence of the stars, as the body is.
225Leviticus XI. 4: “The camel because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof: he

is unclean to you.” Dante applies these words to the Pope as temporal sovereign.
226Worldly goods.
227The Emperor and the Pope; the temporal and spiritual power.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Of God and of the world, made manifest.

One has the other quenched, and to the crosier
The sword is joined, and ill beseemeth it
That by main force one with the other go,

Because, being joined, one feareth not the other;
If thou believe not, think upon the grain,
For by its seed each herb is recognized.

In the land laved by Po and Adige, 228
Valour and courtesy used to be found,
Before that Frederick had his controversy; 229

Now in security can pass that way
Whoever will abstain, through sense of shame,
From speaking with the good, or drawing near them.

True, three old men are left, in whom upbraids
The ancient age the new, and late they deem it
That God restore them to the better life:

Currado da Palazzo, and good Gherardo, 230
And Guido da Castel, who better named is,
In fashion of the French, the simple Lombard:

Say thou henceforward that the Church of Rome,
Confounding in itself two governments,
Falls in the mire, and soils itself and burden.”

228Lombardy and Romagna.
229The dissension and war between the Emperor Frederick the Second and Pope Gregory
the Ninth.

230Currado (Conrad) da Palazzo of Brescia; Gherardo da Camino of Treviso; and Guido
da Castello of Reggio. Of these three the Ottimo thus speaks: – “Messer Currado was
laden with honour during his life, delighted in a fine retinue, and in political life in the
government of cities, in which he acquired much praise and fame.”
“Messer Guido was assiduous in honouring men of worth, who passed on their way to
France, and furnished many with horses and arms, who came hither-ward from France.
To all who had honourably consumed their property, and returned more poorly furnished
than became them, he gave, without hope of return, horses, arms, and money.”
”Messer Gherardo da Camino delighted not in one, but in all noble things, keeping constantly
at home.”
He farther says, that his fame was so great in France that he was there spoken of as the
“simple Lombard,” just as, “when one says the City, and no more, one means Rome.”
Benvenuto da Imola says that all Italians were called Lombards by the French. In the
Histoire et Cronique du petit Jehan de Saintr´e, Fol. 219, Ch. IV., the author remarks: “The fifteenth
day after Saintr´e’s return, there came to Paris two young, noble, and brave Italians,
whom we call Lombards.”

“O Marco mine,” I said, “thou reasonest well;
And now discern I why the sons of Levi
Have been excluded from the heritage.

But what Gherardo is it, who, as sample
Of a lost race, thou sayest has remained
In reprobation of the barbarous age?”

“Either thy speech deceives me, or it tempts me,”
He answered me, “for speaking Tuscan to me,
It seems of good Gherardo naught thou knowest.

By other surname do I know him not,
Unless I take it from his daughter Gaia. 231
May God be with you, for I come no farther.

Behold the dawn, that through the smoke rays out,
Already whitening; and I must depart –
Yonder the Angel is – ere he appear.”

Thus did he speak, and would no farther hear me.

231“This Gherardo,” says Buti, “had daughter, called, on account of her beauty, Gaja;
and so modest and virtuous was she, that through all Italy was spread the fame of her
beauty and modesty.”
The Ottimo, who preceded Buti in point of time, gives a somewhat different and more
equivocal account. He says: “Madonna Gaia was the daughter of Messer Gherardo da
Camino; she was a lady of such conduct in amorous delectations, that her name was
notorious throughout all Italy; and therefore she is thus spoken of here.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 23: “Thee will I follow far as is allowed me,” he answered; “and if
smoke prevent our seeing, hearing shall keep us joined instead thereof.”

Figure 24: “Lombard was I, and I was Marco called...”



REMEMBER, Reader, if e’er in the Alps 232
A mist o’ertook thee, through which thou couldst see 233
Not otherwise than through its membrane mole,

How, when the vapours humid and condensed
Begin to dissipate themselves, the sphere
Of the sun feebly enters in among them,

And thy imagination will be swift
In coming to perceive how I re-saw
The sun at first, that was already setting.

Thus, to the faithful footsteps of my Master
Mating mine own, I issued from that cloud
To rays already dead on the low shores.

O thou, Imagination, that dost steal us
So from without sometimes, that man perceives not,
Although around may sound a thousand trumpets,

Who moveth thee, if sense impel thee not?
Moves thee a light, which in the heaven takes form,
By self, or by a will that downward guides it.

Of her impiety, who changed her form 234
Into the bird that most delights in singing,
In my imagining appeared the trace;

And hereupon my mind was so withdrawn
Within itself, that from without there came

232The trance and vision of Dante, and the ascent to the Fourth Circle, where the sin of
Sloth is punished.
233Poor, or impoverished of its stars by clouds. The same expression is applied to the
Arno, Canto XIV. 45, to indicate its want of water.
234In this vision are represented some of the direful effects of anger, beginning with the
murder of Itys by his mother, Procne, and her sister, Philomela.


Nothing that then might be received by it.

Then reigned within my lofty fantasy
One crucified, disdainful and ferocious
In countenance, and even thus was dying.

Around him were the great Ahasuerus,
Esther his wife, and the just Mordecai,
Who was in word and action so entire.

And even as this image burst asunder
Of its own self, in fashion of a bubble
In which the water it was made of fails,

There rose up in my vision a young maiden 235
Bitterly weeping, and she said: “O queen,
Why hast thou wished in anger to be naught?

Thou’st slain thyself, Lavinia not to lose;
Now hast thou lost me; I am she who mourns,
Mother, at thine ere at another’s ruin.”

As sleep is broken, when upon a sudden
New light strikes in upon the eyelids closed,
And broken quivers ere it dieth wholly,

So this imagining of mine fell down
As soon as the effulgence smote my face,
Greater by far than what is in our wont.

I turned me round to see where I might be,
When said a voice, “Here is the passage up;”
Which from all other purposes removed me,

And made my wish so full of eagerness
To look and see who was it that was speaking,
It never rests till meeting face to face;

But as before the sun, which quells the sight,
And in its own excess its figure veils,
Even so my power was insufficient here.

“This is a spirit divine, who in the way
Of going up directs us without asking
And who with his own light himself conceals.

235Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus and Queen Amata, betrothed to Turnus. Amata,
thinking Turnus dead, hanged herself in anger and despair.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

He does with us as man doth with himself;
For he who sees the need, and waits the asking,
Malignly leans already tow’rds denial.

Accord we now our feet to such inviting,
Let us make haste to mount ere it grow dark;
For then we could not till the day return.”

Thus my Conductor said; and I and he
Together turned our footsteps to a stairway,
And I, as soon as the first step I reached

Near me perceived a motion as of wings
And fanning in the face, and saying, “Beati
Pacifi, who are without ill anger.” 236

Already over us were so uplifted
The latest sunbeams, which the night pursues,
That upon many sides the stars appeared.

“O manhood mine, why dost thou vanish so?”
I said within myself; for I perceived
The vigour of my legs was put in truce.

We at the point were where no more ascends
The stairway upward, and were motionless,
Even as a ship, which at the shore arrives;

And I gave heed a little, if I might hear
Aught whatsoever in the circle new;
Then to my Master turned me round and said:

“Say, my sweet Father, what delinquency
Is purged here in the circle where we are?
Although our feet may pause, pause not thy speech.”

And he to me: “The love of good, remiss 237
In what it should have done, is here restored;
Here plied again the ill-belated oar;

But still more openly to understand,
Turn unto me thy mind, and thou shalt gather
Some profitable fruit from our delay.

“Neither Creator nor a creature ever,

236Matthew V. 9: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of
237Sloth. See note 115 in Inferno VII.

Son,” he began, “was destitute of love
Natural or spiritual; and thou knowest it.

The natural was ever without error;
But err the other may by evil object,
Or by too much, or by too little vigour.

While in the first it well directed is, 238
And in the second moderates itself,
It cannot be the cause of sinful pleasure;

But when to ill it turns, and, with more care
Or lesser than it ought, runs after good,
’Gainst the Creator works his own creation.

Hence thou mayst comprehend that love must be
The seed within yourselves of every virtue,
And every act that merits punishment.

Now inasmuch as never from the welfare
Of its own subject can love turn its sight,
From their own hatred all things are secure;

And since we cannot think of any being
Standing alone, nor from the First divided,
Of hating Him is all desire cut off.

Hence if, discriminating, I judge well,
The evil that one loves is of one’s neighbour,
And this is born in three modes in your clay.

There are, who, by abasement of their neighbour,
Hope to excel, and therefore only long
That from his greatness he may be cast down;

There are, who power, grace, honour, and renown
Fear they may lose because another rises,
Thence are so sad that the reverse they love;

And there are those whom injury seems to chafe,
So that it makes them greedy for revenge,
And such must needs shape out another’s harm.

This threefold love is wept for down below; 239
Now of the other will I have thee hear,

238The first, the object; the second, too much or too little vigour.
239The sins of Pride, Envy, and Anger. The other is Sloth, or lukewarmness in well-
doing, punished in this circle.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

That runneth after good with measure faulty.

Each one confusedly a good conceives
Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it;
Therefore to overtake it each one strives.

If languid love to look on this attract you,
Or in attaining unto it, this cornice,
After just penitence, torments you for it.

There’s other good that does not make man happy;
’Tis not felicity, ’tis not the good
Essence, of every good the fruit and root.

The love that yields itself too much to this
Above us is lamented in three circles; 240
But how tripartite it may be described,

I say not, that thou seek it for thyself.”

240The sins of Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust.



AN end had put unto his reasoning 241
The lofty Teacher, and attent was looking
Into my face, if I appeared content;

And I, whom a new thirst still goaded on,
Without was mute, and said within: “Perchance
The too much questioning I make annoys him.”

But that true Father, who had comprehended
The timid wish, that opened not itself,
By speaking gave me hardihood to speak.

Whence I: “My sight is, Master, vivified
So in thy light, that clearly I discern
Whate’er thy speech importeth or describes

Therefore I thee entreat, sweet Father dear,
To teach me love, to which thou dost refer
Every good action and its contrary.”

“Direct,” he said, “towards me the keen eyes
Of intellect, and clear will be to thee
The error,of the blind, who would be leaders

The soul, which is created apt to love,
Is mobile unto everything that pleases,
Soon as by pleasure she is waked to action.

Your apprehension from some real thing
An image draws, and in yourselves displays it
So that it makes the soul turn unto it.

And if, when turned, towards it she incline,
Love is that inclination; it is nature,

241The punishment of the sin of Sloth.


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Which is by pleasure bound in you anew 242

Then even as the fire doth upward move
By its own form, which to ascend is born,
Where longest in its matter it endures, 243

So comes the captive soul into desire,
Which is a motion spiritual, and ne’er rests
Until she doth enjoy the thing beloved.

Now may apparent be to thee how hidden
The truth is from those people, who aver
All love is in itself a laudable thing,

Because its matter may perchance appear
Aye to be good; but yet not each impression
Is good, albeit good may be the wax.”

“Thy words, and my sequacious intellect,”
I answered him, “have love revealed to me;
But that has made me more impregned with doubt;

For if love from without be offered us,
And with another foot the soul go not, 244
If right or wrong she go, ’tis not her merit.”

And he to me: “What reason seeth here,
Myself can tell thee; beyond that await
For Beatrice since ’tis a work of faith.

Every substantial form, that segregate
From matter is, and with it is united,
Specific power has in itself collected,

Which without act is not perceptible,
Nor shows itself except by its effect,
As life does in a plant by the green leaves.

But still, whence cometh the intelligence
Of the first notions, man is ignorant,
And the affection for the first allurements,

242Bound or taken captive by the image of pleasure presented to it. See Canto XVII. 91.

243The region of Fire. Brunetto Latini, Tresor, Ch. CVIII.: “After the zone of the air is
placed the fourth element. This is an orb of fire without any moisture, which extends as
far as the moon, and surrounds this atmosphere in which we are. And know that above
the fire is first the moon, and the other stars, which are all of the nature of fire.”

244If the soul follows the appetitus naturalis, or goes not with another foot than that of

Which are in you as instinct in the bee
To make its honey; and this first desire
Merit of praise or blame containeth not.

Now, that to this all others may be gathered, 245
Innate within you is the power that counsels,
And it should keep the threshold of assent.

This is the principle, from which is taken
Occasion of desert in you, according
As good and guilty loves it takes and winnows. 246

Those who, in reasoning, to the bottom went,
Were of this innate liberty aware,
Therefore bequeathed they Ethics to the world.

Supposing, then, that from necessity
Springs every love that is within you kindled,
Within yourselves the power is to restrain it.

The noble virtue Beatrice understands
By the free will; and therefore see that thou
Bear it in mind, if she should speak of it.”

The moon, belated almost unto midnight, 247
Now made the stars appear to us more rare,
Formed like a bucket, that is all ablaze,

And counter to the heavens ran through those paths
Which the sun sets aflame, when he of Rome 248
Sees it ’twixt Sardes and Corsicans go down;

And that patrician shade, for whom is named
Pietola more than any Mantuan town, 249
Had laid aside the burden of my lading; 250

Whence I, who reason manifest and plain
In answer to my questions had received,
Stood like a my in drowsy reverie.

245“This” refers to the power that counsels, or the faculty of Reason.
246Accepts, or rejects like chaff.
247Near midnight of the Second Day of Purgatory.
248The moon was rising in the sign of the Scorpion, it being now five days after the full;

and when the sun is in is sign, it is seen by the inhabitants of Rome to sit between the

islands of Corsica and Sardinia.
249Virgil, born at Pietola, near Mantua.
250The burden of Dante’s doubts and questions, laid upon Virgil.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

But taken from me was this drowsiness
Suddenly by a people, that behind
Our backs already had come round to us.

And as, of old, Ismenus and Asopus 251
Beside them saw at night the rush and throng,
If but the Thebans were in need of Bacchus,

So they along that circle curve their step, 252
From what I saw of those approaching us,
Who by good-will and righteous love are ridden.

Full soon they were upon us, because running
Moved onward all that mighty multitude,
And two in the advance cried out, lamenting,

“Mary in haste unto the mountain ran, 253
And Caesar, that he might subdue Ilerda, 254
Thrust at Marseilles, and then ran into Spain.”

“Quick! quick! so that the time may not be lost
By little love!” forthwith the others cried,
“For ardour in well-doing freshens grace!”

“O folk, in whom an eager fervour now
Supplies perhaps delay and negligence,
Put by you in well-doing, through lukewarmness,

This one who lives, and truly I lie not,
Would fain go up, if but the sun relight us;
So tell us where the passage nearest is.”

These were the words of him who was my Guide;
And some one of those spirits said: “Come on
Behind us, and the opening shalt thou find;

So full of longing are we to move onward,
That stay we cannot; therefore pardon us,
If thou for churlishness our justice take.

251Rivers of Boeotia, on whose banks the Thebans crowded at night to invoke the aid of
Bacchus to give them rain for their vineyards.

252The word falcare, in French faucher, here translated “curve”, is a term of equitation,
describing the motion of the outer fore-leg of a horse in going round in a circle. It is the
sweep of a mower’s scythe.

253Luke I. 39: “And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill-country with haste.”
254Caesar on his way to subdue Ilerda, now Lerida, in Spain, besieged Marseilles, leaving
there part of his army under Brutus to complete the work.

I was San Zeno’s Abbot at Verona, 255
Under the empire of good Barbarossa, 256
Of whom still sorrowing Milan holds discourse

And he has one foot in the grave already, 257
Who shall erelong lament that monastery,
And sorry be of having there had power,

Because his son, in his whole body sick,
And worse in mind, and who was evil-born,
He put into the place of its true pastor.”

If more he said, or silent was, I know not
He had already passed so far beyond us;
But this I heard, and to retain it pleased me.

And he who was in every need my succour
Said: “Turn thee hitherward; See two of them
Come fastening upon slothfulness their teeth.”

In rear of all they shouted: “Sooner were
The people dead to whom the sea was opened,
Than their inheritors the Jordan saw; 258

255Nothing is known of this Abbot, not even his name. Finding him here, the commentators
make bold to say that he was “slothful and deficient in good deeds.” This is like
some of the definitions in the Crusca, which, instead of the interpretation of a Dantesque
word, give you back the passage in which it occurs.

256This is the famous Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who, according to the German
popular tradition, is still sitting in a cave in the Kipphaliser mountains, waiting for something
to happen, while his beard has grown through the stone-table before him. In 1162
he burned and devastated Milan, Brescia, Piacenza, and Cremona. He was drowned in
the Salef in Armenia, on his crusade in 1190, endeavouring to ford the river on horseback
in his impatience to cross. His character is thus drawn by Milman, Lat. Christ., Book VIII.
Ch. 7, and sufficiently explains why Dante calls him “the good Barbarossa”: –
“Frederick was a prince of intrepid valour, consummate prudence, unmeasured ambition,
justice which hardened into severity, the ferocity of a barbarian somewhat tempered
with a high chivalrous gallantry; above all, with a strength of character which subjugated
alike the great temporal and ecclesiastical princes of Germany; and was prepared to assert
the Imperial rights in Italy to the utmost. Of the constitutional rights of the Emperor,
of his unlimited supremacy, his absolute independence of; his temporal superiority over,
all other powers, even that of the Pope, Frederick proclaimed the loftiest notions. He
was to the Empire what Hildebrand and Innocent were to the Popedom. His power was
of God alone; to assert that it was bestowed by the successor of St. Peter was a lie, and
directly contrary to the doctrine of St. Peter.”

257Alberto della Scala, Lord of Verona. He made his natural son, whose qualifications for
the office Dante here enumerates, and the commentators repeat, Abbot of the Monastery
of San Zeno.

258Numbers XXXII. II, 12: “Surely none of the men that came out of Egypt, from twenty

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And those who the fatigue did not endure
Unto the issue, with Anchises’ son, 259
Themselves to life withouten glory offered.”

Then When from us so separated were
Those shades, that they no longer could be seen,
Within me a new thought did entrance find,

Whence others many and diverse were born
And so I lapsed from one into another
That in a reverie mine eyes I closed,

And meditation into dream transmuted. 260

years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and
unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me; save Caleb the son of Jephunneh
the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun; for they have wholly followed the Lord.”

259The Trojans who remained with Acestes in Sicily, instead of following Aeneas to Italy.
Aeneid, V.: “They enroll the matrons for the city, and set on shore as many of the people
as were willing, – souls that had no desire of high renown.”

260The end of the Second Day.

Figure 25: “O folk, in whom an eager fervour now supplies perhaps delay
and negligence...”



IT was the hour when the diurnal heat 261
No more can warm the coldness of the moon,
Vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn 262

When geomancers their Fortuna Major 263
See in the orient before the dawn
Rise by a path that long remains not dim, 264

There came to me in dreams a stammering woman 265
Squint in her eyes, and in her feet distorted,
With hands dissevered and of sallow hue.

I looked at her; and as the sun restores
The frigid members which the night benumbs,
Even thus my gaze did render voluble

Her tongue, and made her all erect thereafter
In little while, and the lost countenance
As love desires it so in her did colour

When in this wise she had her speech unloosed,
She ’gan to sing so, that with difficulty
Could I have turned my thoughts away from her

261The ascent to the Fifth Circle, where Avarice is punished. It is the dawn of the Third
262Brunetto Latini, Tresor, Ch. CXI: “Saturn, who is sovereign over all, is cruel and
malign and of a cold nature.”

263Geomancy is divination by points in the ground, or pebbles arranged in certain figures,
which have peculiar names. Among these is the figure called the Fortuna Major,
which by an effort of imagination can also be formed out of some of the last stars of
Aquarius, and some of the first of Pisces.

264Because the sun is following close behind.

265This “stammering woman” of Dante’s dream is Sensual Pleasure, which the imagination
of the beholder adorns with a thousand charms. The “lady saintly and alert” is
Reason, the same that tied Ulysses to the mast, and stopped the ears of his sailors with
wax that they might not hear the song of the Sirens.


“I am,” she sang, “I am the Siren sweet
Who mariners amid the main unman
So full am I of pleasantness to hear

I drew Ulysses from his wandering way
Unto my song, and he who dwells with me
Seldom departs so wholly I content him.”

Her mouth was not yet closed again, before
Appeared a Lady saintly and alert
Close at my side to put her to confusion.

“Virgilius, a Virgilius! who is this?”
Sternly she said; and he was drawing near
With eyes still fixed upon that modest one.

She seized the other and in front laid open,
Rending her garments, and her belly showed me;
This waked me with the stench that issued from it.

I turned mine eyes, and good Virgilius said:
“At least thrice have I called thee; rise and come;
Find we the opening by which thou mayst enter.”

I rose; and full already of high day
Were all the circles of the Sacred Mountain,
And with the new sun at our back we went.

Following behind him, I my forehead bore
Like unto one who has it laden with thought,
Who makes himself the half arch of a bridge,

When I heard say, “Come, here the passage is,”
Spoken in a manner gentle and benign,
Such as we hear not in this mortal region.

With open wings, which of a swan appeared,
Upward he turned us who thus spake to us
Between the two walls of the solid granite.

He moved his pinions afterwards and fanned us,
Affirming those qui lugent to be blessed,
For they shall have their souls with comfort filled 266

“What aileth thee, that aye to earth thou gazest?”
To me my Guide began to say, we both

266“That is,” says Buti, “they shall have the gift of comforting their souls.” Matthew V. 4:
“Blessed are they thatmourn; for they shall be comforted.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Somewhat beyond the Angel having mounted.

And I: “With such misgiving makes me go
A vision new, which bends me to itself,
So that I cannot from the thought withdraw me.”

“Didst thou behold,” he said, “that old enchantress,
Who sole above us henceforth is lamented? 267
Didst thou behold how man is freed from her?

Suffice it thee, and smite earth with thy heels,
Thine eyes lift upward to the lure, that whirls
The Eternal King with revolutions vast.”

Even as the hawk, that first his feet surveys,
Then turns him to the call and stretches forward,
Through the desire of food that draws him thither,

Such I became, and such, as far as cleaves
The rock to give a way to him who mounts,
Went on to where the circling doth begin.

On the fifth circle when I had come forth,
People I saw upon it who were weeping,
Stretched prone upon the ground, all downward turned.

”Aedhaesit pavemento anima mea,” 268
I heard them say with sighings so profound,
That hardly could the words be understood.

“O ye elect of God, whose sufferings
Justice and Hope both render less severe,
Direct ye us towards the high ascents.”

“If ye are come secure from this prostration,
And wish to find the way most speedily,
Let your right hands be evermore outside.”

Thus did the Poet ask, and thus was answered
By them somewhat in front of us; whence I
In what was spoken divined the rest concealed,

And unto my Lord’s eyes mine eyes I turned;
Whence he assented with a cheerful sign
To what the sight of my desire implored.

267The three remaining sins to be purged away are Avarice, Gluttony. and Lust.
268Psalms CXIX. 25: “My soul cleaveth unto the dust; quicken thou me according to thy

When of myself I could dispose at will,
Above that creature did I draw myself,
Whose words before had caused me to take note,

Saying: “O Spirit, in whom weeping ripens
That without which to God we cannot turn,
Suspend awhile for me thy greater care.

Who wast thou, and why are your backs turned upwards
Tell me, and if thou wouldst that I procure thee
Anything there whence living I departed.”

And he to me: “Wherefore our backs the heaven
Turns to itself, know shalt thou; but beforehand
Scias quod ego fui successor Petri. 269

Between Siestri and Chiaveri descends
A river beautiful, and of its name
The title of my blood its summit makes.

A month and little more essayed I how
Weighs the great cloak on him from mire who keeps it,
For all the other burdens seem a feather.

Tardy, ah woe is me! was my conversion;
But when the Roman Shepherd I was made,
Then I discovered life to be a lie.

I saw that there the heart was not at rest,
Nor farther in that life could one ascend;
Whereby the love of this was kindled in me.

Until that time a wretched soul and parted
From God was I, and wholly avaricious;
Now, as thou seest, I here am punished for it

What avarice does is here made manifest
In the purgation of these souls converted,
And no more bitter pain the Mountain has.

Even as our eye did not uplift itself
Aloft, being fastened upon earthly things,

269“Know that I am the successor of Peter.” It is Pope Adrian the Fifth who speaks.
He was of the family of the Counts of Lavagna, the family taking its title from the river
Lavagna, flowing between Siestri and Chiaveri, towns on the Riviera di Genova. He was
Pope only thirty-nine days, and died in 1276. When his kindred came to congratulate
him on his election, he said, “Would that ye came to a Cardinal in good health, and not
to a dying Pope.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

So justice here has merged it in the earth.

As avarice had extinguished our affection
For every good, whereby was action lost,
So justice here doth hold us in restraint,

Bound and imprisoned by the feet and hands;
And so long as it pleases the just Lord
Shall we remain immovable and prostrate.”

I on my knees had fallen, and wished to speak;
But even as I began, and he was ’ware,
Only by listening, of my reverence,

“What cause,” he said, “has downward bent thee thus?”
And I to him: “For your own dignity,
Standing, my conscience stung me with remorse.”

“Straighten thy legs, and upward raise thee, brother,”
He answered: “Err not, fellow-servant am I 270
With thee and with the others to one power.

If e’er that holy, evangelic sound,
Which sayeth neque nubent, thou hast heard, 271
Well canst thou see why in this wise I speak.

Now go; no longer will I have thee linger,
Because thy stay doth incommode my weeping,
With which I ripen that which thou hast said.

On earth I have a grandchild named Alagia, 272
Good in herself, unless indeed our house
Malevolent may make her by example,

And she alone remains to me on earth.”

270Revelation XXII. 10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See
thou do it not, I am thy fellow-servant.”

271Matthew XXII. 30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage,
but are as the angels in heaven.” He reminds Dante that here all earthly distinctions
and relations are laid aside. He is no longer “the spouse of the Church.”

272Madonna Alagia was the wife of Marcello Malespini, that friend of Dante with
whom, during his wanderings he took refuge in the Lunigiana, in 1307.

Figure 26: With open wings, which of a swan appeared, upward he turned
us who thus spake to us between the two walls of the solid granite.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 27: What avarice does is here made manifest in the purgation of
these souls converted, and no more bitter pain the Mountain has.



ILL strives the will against a better will; 273
Therefore, to pleasure him, against my pleasure 274
I drew the sponge not saturate from the water.

Onward I moved, and onward moved my Leader,
Through vacant places, skirting still the rock,
As on a wall close to the battlements;

For they that through their eyes pour drop by drop
The malady whichall the world pervades,
On the other side too near the verge approach.

Accursed mayst thou be, thou old she-wolf,
That more than all the other beasts hast prey,
Because of hunger infinitely hollow!

O heaven, in whose gyrations some appear
To think conditions here below are changed,
When will he come through whom she shall depart? 275

Onward we went with footsteps slow and scarce,
And I attentive to the shades I heard
Piteously weeping and bemoaning them;

And I by peradventure heard “Sweet Mary!”
Uttered in front of us amid the weeping
Even as a woman does who is in child-birth;

And in continuance: “How poor thou wast
Is manifested by that hostelry 276

273In this canto the subject of the preceding is continued, namely, the punishment of
Avarice and Prodigality.

274To please the speaker, Pope Adrian the Fifth, (who, Canto XIX. 139, says, “Now go,
no longer will I have thee linger,”) Dante departs without further question, though not
yet satisfied.

275This is generally supposed to refer to Can Grande della Scala. See Inferno I. Note 101.
276The inn at Bethlehem.


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Where thou didst lay thy sacred burden down.”

Thereafterward I heard: “O good Fabricius, 277
Virtue with poverty didst thou prefer
To the possession of great wealth with vice.”

So pleasurable were these words to me
That I drew farther onward to have knowledge
Touching that spirit whence they seemed to come.

He furthermore was speaking of the largess
Which Nicholas unto the maidens gave, 278
In order to conduct their youth to honour.

“O soul that dost so excellently speak,
Tell me who wast thou,” said I, “and why only
Thou dost renew these praises well deserved?

Not without recompense shall be thy word,
If I return to finish the short journey
Of that life which is flying to its end.”

And he: “I’ll tell thee, not for any comfort
I may expect from earth, but that so much
Grace shines in thee or ever thou art dead.

I was the root of that malignant plant 279
Which overshadows all the Christian world,
So that good fruit is seldom gathered from it;

But if Douay and Ghent, and Lille and Bruges
Had Power. soon vengeance would be taken on it;
And this I pray of Him who judges all.

277The Roman Consul who rejected with disdain the bribes of Pyrrhus, and died so poor
that he was buried at the public expense, and the Romans were obliged to give a dowry
to his daughters. Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 8, calls him “powerful in poverty.” Dante also extols
him in the Convito, IV. 5.

278This is St. Nicholas, patron saint of children, sailors, and travellers.

279If we knew from what old chronicle Dante derived his knowledge of French history,
we might possibly make plain the rather difficult passage which begins with this line. The
spirit that speaks is not that of the King Hugh Capet, but that of his father, Hugh Capet,
Duke of France and Count of Paris. He was son of Robert the Strong. Pasquier, Rech. de
La France, VI. I, describes him as both valiant and prudent, and says that, “although he
was never king, yet was he a maker and unmaker of kings,” and then goes on to draw an
elaborate parallel between him and Charles Martel.
The “malignant plant” is Philip the Fair. He was defeated at the battle of Courtray, 1302,
known in history as the battle of the Spurs of Gold, from the great number found on the
field after the battle. This is the vengeance imprecated upon him by Dante.

Hugh Capet was I called upon the earth;
From me were born the Louises and Philips, 280
By whom in later days has France been governed.

I was the son of a Parisian butcher, 281
What time the ancient kings had perished all, 282
Excepting one, contrite in cloth of gray.

I found me grasping in my hands the rein
Of the realm’s government, and so great power
Of new acquest, and so with friends abounding,

That to the widowed diadem promoted
The head of mine own offspring was, from whom 283
The consecrated bones of these began.

So long as the great dowry of Provence 284
Out of my blood took not the sense of shame,
’Twas little worth, but still it did no harm.

Then it began with falsehood and with force
Its rapine; and thereafter, for amends, 285
Took Ponthieu, Normandy, and Gascony.

280For two centuries and a half, that is, from 1060 to 1316, there was either a Louis or a
Philip on the throne of France. The succession was as follows: – Philip I. the Amorous 1060,
Louis VI. the Fat-1108, Louis VII. the Young -1137, Philip II. Augustus -1180, Louis

VIII. the Lion -1223, Louis IX. the Saint -1226, Philip III. the Bold -1270, Philip IV. the
Fair -1285, Louis X. -1314
281It is doubtful whether this passage is to be taken literally or figuratively.
282When the Carlovingian race were all dead but one. And who was he? The Ottimo

says it was Rudolph, who became a monk and afterwards Archbishop of Rheims. Benvenuto
gives no name, but says only “a monk in poor, coarse garments.” Buti says the
same. Daniello thinks it was some Friar of St. Francis, perhaps St. Louis, forgetting that
these saints did not see the light till some two centuries after the time here spoken of.
Others say Charles of Lorraine; and Biagioli decides that it must be either Charles the
Simple, who died a prisoner in the castle of P´eronne, in 922; or Louis of Outre-Mer, who
carried to England by Hugh the Great, in 936. The Man in Cloth of Grey remains as great
a mystery as the Man in the Iron Mask.

283Hugh Capet was crowned at Rheims, in 987. The expression which follows shows
clearly that it is Hugh the Great who speaks, and not Hugh the founder of the Capetian

284Until the shame of the low origin of the family was removed by the marriage of
Charles of Anjou, brother of Saint Louis, to the daughter of Raimond Berenger, who
brought him Provence as her dower.

285Making amends for one crime by committing a greater. The particular transaction
here alluded to is the seizing by fraud and holding by force these provinces in the time
of Philip the Fair.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Charles came to Italy, and for amends 286
A victim made of Conradin, and then 287
Thrust Thomas back to heaven, for amends. 288

A time I see, not very distant now,
Which draweth forth another Charles from France, 289
The better to make known both him and his.

Unarmed he goes, and only with the lance
That Judas jousted with; and that he thrusts
So that he makes the paunch of Florence burst. 290

He thence not land, but sin and infamy, 291
Shall gain, so much more grievous to himself
As the more light such damage he accounts.

The other, now gone forth, ta’en in his ship, 292
See I his daughter sell, and chaffer for her
As corsairs do with other female slaves.

What more, O Avarice, canst thou do to us,
Since thou my blood so to thyself hast drawn,
It careth not for its own proper flesh?

That less may seem the future ill and past,
I see the flower-de-luce Alagna enter, 293
And Christ in his own Vicar captive made.

I see him yet another time derided;
I see renewed the vinegar and gall,

286Charles of Anjou.

287Curradino, or Conradin, son of the Emperor Conrad IV., a beautiful youth of sixteen,
who was beheaded in the square of Naples by order of Charles of Anjou, in 1268. Endeavouring
to escape to Sicily after his defeat at Tagliacozzo, he was carried to Naples
and imprisoned in the Castel dell’ Uovo.

288Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor of the Schools, died at the convent of Fossa
Nuova in the Campagna, being on his way to the Council of Lyons, in 1274. He is supposed
to have been poisoned by his physician, at the instigation of Charles of Anjou.

289Charles of Valois, who caigne into Italy by invitation of Boniface the Eighth, in 1301.
290By the aid of Charles of Valois the Neri party triumphed in Florence, and the Bianchi
were banished, and with them Dante.
291There is an allusion here to the nickname of Charles of Valois, Senzaterra, or Lack-

292Charles the Second, son of Charles of Anjou. He went from France to recover Sicily
after the Sicilian Vespers. In an engagement with the Spanish fleet under Admiral Rugieri
d’Oria, he was taken prisoner. Dante says he sold his daughter, because he married her
for a large sum of money to Azzo the Sixth of Este.

293The flower-de-luce is in the banner of France.

And between living thieves I see him slain.

I see the modern Pilate so relentless, 294
This does not sate him, but without decretal
He to the temple bears his sordid sails!

When, O my Lord! shall I be joyful made
By looking on the vengeance which, concealed,
Makes sweet thine anger in thy secrecy?

What I was saying of that only bride
Of the Holy Ghost, and which occasioned thee
To turn towards me for some commentary,

So long has been ordained to all our prayers
As the day lasts; but when the night comes on,
Contrary sound we take instead thereof.

At that time we repeat Pygmalion, 295
Of whom a traitor, thief, and parricide
Made his insatiable desire of gold;

And the misery of avaricious Midas, 296
That followed his inordinate demand,
At which forevermore one needs but laugh.

The foolish Achan each one then records, 297
And how he stole the spoils; so that the wrath
Of Joshua still appears to sting him here.

Then we accuse Sapphira with her husband, 298

294Suppression of the Order of the Knights Templars, in 1307-1312. See Milman, Lat.
Christ., Book XII. Ch. 2, and Villani, VIII. 92, who says the act was committed per cupidigia
di guadagnare – for love of gain; and says also: “The king of France and his children had
afterwards much shame and adversity, both on account of this sin and on account of the
seizure of Pope Boniface.”

295The brother of Dido and murderer of her husband.

296The Phrygian king, who, for his hospitality to Silenus, was endowed by Bacchus with
the fatal power of turning all he touched to gold. The most laugh able thing about him
was his wearing ass’s ears, as a punishment for preferring the music of Pan to that of

297Joshua VII. 21: “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two
hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted
them, and took them; and behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and
the silver under it.”

298Acts V. I, 2: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain
part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

We laud the hoof-beats Heliodorus had, 299
And the whole mount in infamy encircles

Polymnestor who murdered Polydorus.
Here finally is cried: ’O Crassus, tell us, 300
For thou dost know, what is the taste of gold?’

Sometimes we speak, one loud, another low,
According to desire of speech, that spurs us
To greater now and now to lesser pace.

But in the good that here by day is talked of,
Erewhile alone I was not; yet near by 301
No other person lifted up his voice.”

From him already we departed were,
And made endeavour to o’ercome the road
As much as was permitted to our power,

When I perceived, like something that is falling,
The mountain tremble, whence a chill seized on me,
As seizes him who to his death is going.

Certes so violently shook not Delos, 302
Before Latona made her nest therein
To give birth to the two eyes of the heaven.

Then upon all sides there began a cry,
Such that the Master drew himself towards me,
Saying, “Fear not, while I am guiding thee.”

“Gloria in excelsis Deo,” all 303

299The hoof-beats of the miraculous horse in the Temple of Jerusalem, when Heliodorus,
the treasurer of King Seleucus, went there to remove the treasure. 2 Maccabees III. 25: “For
there appeared unto them an horse with a ternble rider upon him, and adorned with a
very fair covering, and he ran fiercely, and smote at Heliodors with his forefeet, and it
seemed that he that sat upon the horse had complete harness of gold.”

300Lucinius Crassus, surnamed the Rich. He was Consul with Pompey, and on one
occasion displayed his vast wealth by giving an entertainment to the populace, at which
the guests were so numerous that they occupied ten thousand tables. He was slain in a
battle with the Parthians, and his head was sent to the Parthian king, Hyrodes, who had
molten gold poured down its throat.

301This is in answer to Dante’s question, line 35: – “And why only Thou dost renew
these praises well deserved?”

302An island in the Aegean Sea, in the centre of the Cyclades. It was thrown up by an
earthquake, in order to receive Latona, when she gave birth to Apollo and Diana, the Sun
and the Moon.

303Luke II. 13, 14: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly

Were saying, from what near I comprehended,
Where it was possible to hear the cry.

We paused immovable and in suspense;
Even as the shepherds who first heard that song,
Until the trembling ceased, and it was finished.

Then we resumed again our holy path,
Watching the shades that lay upon the ground,
Already turned to their accustomed plaint.

No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,

As meditating then I seemed to have;
Nor out of haste to question did I dare,
Nor of myself I there could aught perceive;

So I went onward timorous and thoughtful.

host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good
will toward men.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 28: Watching the shades that lay upon the ground...



THE natural thirst, that ne’er is satisfied 304
Excepting with the water for whose grace
The woman of Samaria besought, 305

Put me in travail, and haste goaded me
Along the encumbered path behind my Leader
And I was pitying that righteous vengeance;

And lo! in the same manner as Luke writeth 306
That Christ appeared to two upon the way
From the sepulchral cave already risen,

A shade appeared to us, and came behind us,
Down gazing on the prostrate multitude,
Nor were we ware of it, until it spake,

Saying, “My brothers, may God give you peace!”
We turned us suddenly, and Virgilius rendered
To him the countersign thereto conforming 307

Thereon began he: “In the blessed council,
Thee may the court veracious place in peace,
That me doth banish in eternal exile!”

304This canto is devoted to the interview with the poet Statius, whose release from punishment
was announced by the earthquake and the outcry at the end of the last canto.

305John IV. 14,U 115: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never
thirst ... The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come
hither to draw.”

306Luke XXIV. 13-15: “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called
Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together
of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed
together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.”

307Among the monks of the Middle Ages there were certain salutations, which had their
customary replies or countersigns. Thus one would say, “Peace be with thee!” and the
answer would be, “And with thy spirit!” Or, “Praised be the Lord!” and the answer,
“World without end!”


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“How,” said he, and the while we went with speed,
“If ye are shades whom God deigns not on high,
Who up his stairs so far has guided you?”

And said my Teacher: “If thou note the marks 308
Which this one bears,and which the Angel traces
Well shalt thou see he with the good must reign.

But because she who spinneth day and night 309
For him had not yet drawn the distaff off,
Which Clotho lays for each one and compacts,

His soul, which is thy sister and my own,
In coming upwards could not come alone,
By reason that it sees not in our fashion.

Whence I was drawn from out the ample throat
Of Hell to be his guide,and I shall guide him
As far on as my school has power to lead.

But tell us, if thou knowest, why such a shudder
Erewhile the mountain gave, and why together
All seemed to cry, as far as its moist feet?”

In asking he so hit the very eye
Of my desire, that merely with the hope
My thirst became the less unsatisfied.

“Naught is there,” he began, “that without order 310
May the religion of the mountain feel,
Nor aught that may be foreign to its custom.

Free is it here from every permutation;
What from itself heaven in itself receiveth 311
Can be of this the cause, and naught beside;

Because that neither rain, nor hail, nor snow,
Nor dew, nor hoar-frost any higher falls

308The letters upon Dante’s forehead.

309Lachesis. Of the three Fates – Clotho prepared and held the distaff, Lachesis spun the
thread, and Atropos cut it.
“These,” says Plato, Republic, X., “are the daughters of Necessity – Fates – Lachesis,
Clotho, and Atropos; who, clothed in white robes, with garlands on their heads, chant
to the music of the Sirens; Lachesis the events of the Past, Clotho those of the Present,
Atropos those of the Future.”

310Nothing unusual ever disturbs the religio loci – the sacredness of the mountain.
311This happens only when the soul, that came from heaven, is received back into
heaven; not from any natural causes affecting earth or air.

Than the short, little stairway of three steps. 312

Dense clouds do not appear, nor rarefied,
Nor coruscation, nor the daughter of Thaumas, 313
That often upon earth her region shifts;

No arid vapour any farther rises
Than to the top of the three steps I spake of,
Whereon the Vicar of Peter has his feet.

Lower down perchance it trembles less or more,
But, for the wind that in the earth is hidden
I know not how, up here it never trembled.

It trembles here, whenever any soul
Feels itself pure, so that it soars, or moves
To mount aloft, and such a cry attends it.

Of purity the will alone gives proof,
Which, being wholly free to change its convent,
Takes by surprise the soul, and helps it fly.

First it wills well; but the desire permits not,
Which divine justice with the self-same will 314
There was to sin, upon the torment sets.

And I, who have been lying in this pain
Five hundred years and more, but just now felt
A free volition for a better seat.

Therefore thou heardst the earthquake, and the pious
Spirits along the mountain rendering praise
Unto the Lord, that soon he speed them upwards.”

So said he to him; and since we enjoy
As much in drinking as the thirst is great,
I could not say how much it did me good.

And the wise Leader: “Now I see the net
That snares you here, and how ye are set free,
Why the earth quakes, and wherefore ye rejoice.

Now who thou wast be pleased that I may know;
And why so many centuries thou hast here

312The gate of Purgatory, which is also the gate of Heaven.
313Iris, one of the Oceanides, the daughter of Thaumas and Electra; the rainbow.
314The soul in Purgatory feels as great a desire to be punished for a sin, as it had to

commit it.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Been Iying, let me gather from thy words.”

“In days when the good Titus, with the aid 315
Of the supremest King, avenged the wounds
Whence issued forth the blood by Judas sold,

Under the name that most endures and honours,
Was I on earth,” that spirit made reply,
“Greatly renowned, but not with faith as yet.

My vocal spirit was so sweet, that Rome
Me, a Thoulousian, drew unto herself, 316
Where I deserved to deck my brows with myrtle.

Statius the people name me still on earth;
I sang of Thebes, and then of great Achilles;
But on the way fell with my second burden.

The seeds unto my ardour were the sparks
Of that celestial flame which heated me,
Whereby more than a thousand have been fired;

Of the Aeneid speak I, which to me
A mother was, and was my nurse in song;
Without this weighed I not a drachma’s weight.

And to have lived upon the earth what time 317
Virgilius lived, I would accept one sun
More than I must ere issuing from my ban.”

These words towards me made Virgilius turn
With looks that in their silence said, “Be silent!”
But yet the power that wills cannot do all things;

For tears and laughter are such pursuivants
Unto the passion from which each springs forth,

315The siege of Jerusalem under Titus, surnamed the “Delight of Mankind,” took place
in the year 70. Statius, who is here speaking, was born at Naples in the reign of Claudius,
and had already become famous “under the name that most endures and honours,” that
is, as a poet. His works are the Silvae or miscellaneous poems; the Thebaid, an epic in
twelve books; and the Achilleid, left unfinished. He wrote also a tragedy, Agave, which is

316Statius was not born in Toulouse, Dante supposes, but in Naples, as he himself states
in his Silvae, which work was not discovered till after Dante’s death. The passage occurs
in Book III. Eclogue V. Landino thinks that Dante’s error may be traced to Placidus Lactantius,
a commentator of the Thebaid, who confounded Statius the poet of Naples with
Statius the rhetorician of Toulouse.

317Would be willing to remain another year in Purgatory.

In the most truthful least the will they follow.

I only smiled, as one who gives the wink;
Whereat the shade was silent, and it gazed
Into mine eyes, where most expression dwells;

And, “As thou well mayst consummate a labour
So great,” it said, “why did thy face just now
Display to me the lightning of a smile?” 318

Now am I caught on this side and on that;
One keeps me silent, one to speak conjures me,
Wherefore I sigh, and I am understood.

“Speak,” said my Master, “and be not afraid
Of speaking, but speak out, and say to him
What he demands with such solicitude.”

Whence I: “Thou peradventure marvellest,
O antique spirit, at the smile I gave;
But I will have more wonder seize upon thee.

This one, who guides on high these eyes of mine,
Is that Virgilius, from whom thou didst learn
To sing aloud of men and of the Gods.

If other cause thou to my smile imputedst,
Abandon it as false, and trust it was
Those words which thou hast spoken concerning him.”

Already he was stooping to embrace
My Teacher’s feet; but he said to him: “Brother,
Do not; for shade thou art, and shade beholdest.”

And he uprising: “Now canst thou the sum
Of love which warms me to thee comprehend,
When this our vanity I disremember,

Treating a shadow as substantial thing.”

318Petrarca uses the same expression – il lampeggiar dell’ angelico riso, the lightning of the
angelic smile.



ALREADY was the Angel left behind us, 319
The Angel who to the sixth round had turned us,
Having erased one mark from off my face;

And those who have in justice their desire
Had said to us, “Beati,” in their voices, 320
With “sitio,” and without more ended it

And I, more light than through the other passes,
Went onward so, that without any labour
I followed upward the swift-footed spirits;

When thus Virgilius began: “The love
Kindled by virtue aye another kindles,
Provided outwardly its flame appear.

Hence from the hour that Juvenal descended 321
Among us into the infernal Limbo,
Who made apparent to me thy affection,

My kindliness towards thee was as great
As ever bound one to an unseen person,
So that these stairs will now seem short to me.

But tell me, and forgive me as a friend,
If too great confidence let loose the rein,
And as a friend now hold discourse with me;

How was it possible within thy breast
For avarice to find place, ’mid so much wisdom

319The ascent to the Sixth Circle, where the sin of Gluttony is punished.
320Matthew V. 6: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for
they shall be filled.”

321The satirist Juvenal, who flourished at Rome during the last half of the first century
of the Christian era, and died at the beginning of the second, aged eighty. He was a
contemporary of Statius, and survived him some thirty years.


As thou wast filled with by thy diligence?”

These words excited Statius at first
Somewhat to laughter; afterward he answered:
“Each word of thine is love’s dear sign to me.

Verily oftentimes do things appear
Which give fallacious matter to our doubts,
Instead of the true causes which are hidden!

Thy question shows me thy belief to be
That I was niggard in the other life,
It may be from the circle where I was;

Therefore know thou, that avarice was removed
Too far from me; and this extravagance
Thousands of lunar periods have punished.

And were it not that I my thoughts uplifted,
When I the passage heard where thou exclaimest,
As if indignant, unto human nature,

‘To what impellest thou not, O cursed hunger
Of gold, the appetite of mortal men?’
Revolving I should feel the dismal joustings. 322

Then I perceived the hands could spread too wide
Their wings in spending, and repented me
As well of that as of my other sins;

How many with shorn hair shall rise again 323
Because of ignorance, which from this sin
Cuts off repentance living and in death!

And know that the transgression which rebuts
By direct opposition any sin
Together with it here its verdure dries.

Therefore if I have been among that folk
Which mourns its avarice, to purify me,
For its opposite has this befallen me.”

“Now when thou sangest the relentless weapons

322The punishment of the Avaricious and Prodigal. Inferno VII. 26: – “With great howls
rolling weights forward by main force of chest.”
323Dante says of the Avaricious and Prodigal, Inferno VII. 56: – “These from the sepulchre
shall rise again with the fist closed, and these with tresses shorn.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Of the twofold affliction of Jocasta,” 324
The singer of the Songs Bucolic said,

“From that which Clio there with thee preludes, 325
It does not seem that yet had made thee faithful
That faith without which no good works suffice.

If this be so, what candles or what sun
Scattered thy darkness so that thou didst trim
Thy sails behind the Fisherman thereafter?” 326

And he to him: “Thou first directedst me
Towards Parnassus, in its grots to drink,
And first concerning God didst me enlighten.

Thou didst as he who walketh in the night,
Who bears his light behind, which helps him not,
But wary makes the persons after him,

When thou didst say: ‘The age renews itself,
Justice returns, and man’s primeval time,
And a new progeny descends from heaven.’

Through thee I Poet was, through thee a Christian;
But that thou better see what I design,
To colour it will I extend my hand.

Already was the world in every part
Pregnant with the true creed, disseminated
By messengers of the eternal kingdom;

And thy assertion, spoken of above,
With the new preachers was in unison;
Whence I to visit them the custom took.

Then they became so holy in my sight,
That, when Domitian persecuted them,
Not without tears of mine were their laments;

And all the while that I on earth remained,
Them I befriended, and their upright customs
Made me disparage all the other sects.

324Her two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, of whom Statius sings in the Thebaid, and to
whom Dante alludes by way of illustration, Inferno XXVI. 54. See also the Note.
325Statius begins the Thebaid with an invocation to Clio, the Muse of History, whose
office it was to record the heroic actions of brave men.
326Saint Peter.

And ere I led the Greeks unto the rivers
Of Thebes, in poetry, I was baptized,
But out of fear was covertly a Christian,

For a long time professing paganism;
And this lukewarmness caused me the fourth circle 327
To circuit round more than four centuries.

Thou, therefore, who hast raised the covering
That hid from me whatever good I speak of,
While in ascending we have time to spare,

Tell me, in what place is our friend Terentius, 328
Caecilius, Plautus, Varro, if thou knowest;
329 Tell me if they are damned, and in what alley.”

“These, Persius and myself, and others many,” 330
Replied my Leader, “with that Grecian are 331
Whom more than all the rest the Muses suckled,

In the first circle of the prison blind;
Ofttimes we of the mountain hold discourse
Which has our nurses ever with itself

Euripides is with us, Antiphon, 332
Simonides, Agatho, and many other 333
Greeks who of old their brows with laurel decked.

There some of thine own people may be seen,

327The Fourth Circle of Purgatory, where Sloth is punished.
328Some editions read in this line, instead of nostro amico, nostro antico – our ancient Terence;
but the epithet would be more appropriate to Plautus, who was the earlier writer.

329Plautus, Caecilius, and Terrence, the three principal Latin dramatists; Varro, “the
most learned of the Romans,” the friend of Cicero, and author of some five hundred
volumes, which made St. Augustine wonder how he who wrote so many books could
find time to read so many; and how he who read so many could find time to write so

330Persius, the Latin satirist.
332Antiphon was a tragic and epic poet of Attica, who was put to death by Dionysius

because he would not praise the tyrant’s writings. Some editions read Anacreon for Antiphon.

333Simonides, the poet of Cos, who won a poetic prize at the age of eighty, and is said
to be the first poet who wrote for money.
Agatho was an Athenian dramatist, of whom nothing remains but the name and a few
passages quoted in other writers.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Antigone, Deiphile and Arg`ia, 334
And there Ismene mournful as of old.

There she is seen who pointed out Langia; 335
There is Tiresias’ daughter, and there Thetis, 336
And there Deidamia with her sisters.” 337

Silent already were the poets both,
Attent once more in looking round about,
From the ascent and from the walls released;

And four handmaidens of the day already 338
Were left behind, and at the pole the fifth
Was pointing upward still its burning horn,

What time my Guide: “I think that tow’rds thee
Our dexter shoulders it behoves us turn,
Circling the mount as we are wont to do.”

Thus in that region custom was our ensign;
And we resumed our way with less suspicion
For the assenting of that worthy soul

They in advance went on, and I alone
Behind them, and I listened to their speech,
Which gave me lessons in the art of song

But soon their sweet discourses interrupted
A tree which midway in the road we found, 339
With apples sweet and grateful to the smell edge

And even as a fir-tree tapers upward
From bough to bough, so downwardly did that;

334Some of the people that Statius introduces into his poems – Antigone, daughter of
Oedipus; Deiphile, wife of Tideus; Arg`ia, her sister, wife of Polynices; Ismene, another
daughter of Oedipus, who is here represented as still lamenting the death of Atys, her

335Hypsipile, who pointed out to Adrastus the fountain of Langia, when his soldiers
were perishing with thirst on their march against Thebes.

336Of the three daughters of Tiresias only Manto is mentioned by Statius in the Thebaid.
But Dante places Manto among the Soothsayers, Inferno XX. 55, and not in Limbo. Had
he forgotten this?

337Thetis, the mother of Achilles, and Deidamia, the daughter of Lycomedes. They are

among the personages in the Achilleid of Statius.
338Four hours of the day were already passed.
339This tree of Temptation sprung from the tree of Knowledge, as Dante says of the next,

in Canto XXIV. 117. It is meant only to increase the torment of the starving souls beneath
it, by holding its fresh and dewy fruit beyond their reach.

I think in order that no one might climb it

On that side where our pathway was enclosed
Fell from the lofty rock a limpid water,
And spread itself abroad upon the leaves.

The Poets twain unto the tree drew near,
And from among the foliage a voice
Cried: “Of this food ye shall have scarcity.”

Then said: “More thoughtful Mary was of making
The marriage feast complete and honourable,
Than of her mouth which now for you responds;

And for their drink the ancient Roman women
With water were content; and Daniel
Disparaged food, and understanding won.

The primal age was beautiful as gold;
Acorns It made with hunger savorous,
And nectar every rivulet with thirst.

Honey and locusts were the aliments
That fed the Baptist in the wilderness;
Whence he is glorious, and so magnified

As by the Evangel is revealed to you.”



THE while among the verdant leaves mine eyes 340
I riveted, as he is wont to do
Who wastes his lifc pursuing little birds,

My more than Father said unto me: “Son
Come now; because the time that is ordained us
More usefully should be apportioned out.”

I turned my face and no less soon my steps
Unto the Sages, who were speaking so
They made the going of no cost to me;

And lo! were heard a song and a lament,
“Labia mea, Domine,” in fashion 341
Such that delight and dolence it brought forth.

“O my sweet Father, what is this I hear?”
Began I; and he answered: “Shades that go
Perhaps the knot unloosing of their debt.”

In the same way that thoughtful pilgrims do,
Who, unknown people on the road o’ertaking,
Turn themselves round to them, and do not stop,

Even thus, behind us with a swifter motion
Coming and passing onward, gazed upon us
A crowd of spirits silent and devout.

Each in his eyes was dark and cavernous,
Pallid in face, and so emaciate
That from the bones the skin did shape itself.

I do not think that so to merest rind

340The punishment of the sin of Gluttony.
341Psalms LI. 15: “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy


Could Erisichthon have been withered up 342
By famine, when most fear he had of it.

Thinking within myself I sald: “Behold,
This is the folk who lost Jerusalem,
When Mary made a prey of her own son.”

Their sockets were like rings without the gems;
Whoever in the face of men reads omo 343
Might well in these have recognised the m.

Who would believe the odour of an apple,
Begetting longing, could consume them so,
And that of water, without knowing how?

I still was wondering what so famished them,
For the occasion not yet manifest
Of their emaciation and sad squalor;

And lo! from out the hollow of his head
His eyes a shade turned on me, and looked keenly;
Then cried aloud: “What grace to me is this?”

Never should I have known him by his look;
But in his voice was evident to me
That which his aspect had suppressed within it.

This spark within me wholly re-enkindled
My recognition of his altered face,
And I recalled the features of Forese. 344

“Ah, do not look at this dry leprosy,”
Entreated he, “which doth my skin discolour,
Nor at default of flesh that I may have;

342Erisichthon the Thessalian, who in derision cut down an ancient oak in the sacred
groves of Ceres. He was punished by perpetual hunger, till, other food failing him, at last
lie gnawed his own flesh.

343In this fanciful recognition of the word omo (homo, man) in the human face, so written
as to place the two o’s between the outer strokes of the m, the former represent the eyes,
and the latter the nose and cheekbones.

344Forese Donati, the brother-in-law and intimate friend of Dante. “This Forese,” says
Buti, “was a Citizen of Florence, and was brother of Messer Corso Donati, and was very
gluttonous; and therefore the author feigns that he found him here, where the Gluttons
are punished.”
Certain vituperative sonnets, addressed to Dante, have been attributed to Forese. If authentic,
they prove that the friendship between the two poets was not uninterrupted. See
Rossetti, Early Italian Poets, Appendix to Part II.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

But tell me truth of thee, and who are those
Two souls, that yonder make for thee an escort;
Do not delay in speaking unto me.”

“That face of thine, which dead I once bewept,
Gives me for weeping now no lesser grief,”
I answered him, “beholding it so changed!

But tell me, for God’s sake, what thus denudes you?
Make me not speak while I am marvelling,
For ill speaks he who’s full of other longings.”

And he to me: “From the eternal council
Falls power into the water and the tree
Behind us left, whereby I grow so thin.

All of this people who lamenting sing,
For following beyond measure appetite
In hunger and thirst are here re-sanctified.

Desire to eat and drink enkindles in us
The scent that issues from the apple-tree,
And from the spray that sprinkles o’er the verdure;

And not a single time alone, this ground
Encompassing, is refreshed our pain, –
I say our pain, and ought to say our solace, –

For the same wish doth lead us to the tree
Which led the Christ rejoicing to say Eli, 345
When with his veins he liberated us.” 346

And I to him: “Forese, from that day
When for a better life thou changedst worlds,
Up to this time five years have not rolled round.

If sooner were the power exhausted in thee
Of sinning more, than thee the hour surprised
Of that good sorrow which to God reweds us,

How hast thou come up hitherward already?
I thought to find thee down there underneath, 347

345The same desire that sacrifice and atonement may be complete.
346Matthew XXVII. 46: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?”

347Outside the gate of Purgatory, where those who had postponed repentance till the
last hour were forced to wait as many years and days as they had lived impenitent on
earth, unless aided by the devout prayers of those on earth. See Canto IV.

Where time for time doth restitution make.”

And he to me: “Thus speedily has led me
To drink of the sweet wormwood of these torments,
My Nella with her overflowing tears; 348

She with her prayers devout and with her sighs
Has drawn me from the coast where one where one awaits,
And from the other circles set me free.

So much more dear and pleasing is to God
My little widow, whom so much I loved,
As in good works she is the more alone;

For the Barbagia of Sardinia
By far more modest in its women is
Than the Barbagia I have left her in.

O brother sweet, what wilt thou have me say?
A future time is in my sight already,
To which this hour will not be very old,

When from the pulpit shall be interdicted
To the unblushing womankind of Florence
To go about displaying breast and paps. 349

What savages were e’er, what Saracens,
Who stood in need, to make them covered go,
Of spiritual or other discipline?

But if the shameless women were assured
Of what swift Heaven prepares for them, already
Wide open would they have their mouths to howl;

For if my foresight here deceive me not,
They shall be sad ere he has bearded cheeks
Who now is hushed to sleep with lullaby.

O brother, now no longer hide thee from me;
See that not only I, but all these people
Are gazing there, where thou dost veil the sun.”

348Nella, contraction of Giovanna, widow of Forese. Nothing is known of this good
woman but the name, and what Forese here says in her praise.

349Sacchetti, the Italian novelist of the fourteenth century, severely criticises the fashions
of the Florentines, and their sudden changes, which he says it would take a whole volume
of his stories to enumerate. In Nov. 178, he speaks of their wearing their dresses “far
below their arm-pits,” and then “up to their ears.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Whence I to him: “If thou bring back to mind
What thou with me hast been and I with thee,
The present memory will be grievous still.

Out of that life he turned me back who goes
In front of me, two days agone when round
The sister of him yonder showed herself,”

And to the sun I pointed. “Through the deep
Night of the truly dead has this one led me,
With this true flesh, that follows after him.

Thence his encouragements have led me up,
Ascending and still circling round the mount
That you doth straighten, whom the world made crooked.

He says that he will bear me company,
Till I shall be where Beatrice will be;
There it behoves me to remain without him.

This is Virgilius, who thus says to me,”
And him I pointed at; “the other is
That shade for whom just now shook every slope 350

Your realm, that from itself discharges him.”


Figure 29: A crowd of spirits silent and devout.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 30: My recognition of his altered face, and I recalled the features of



NOR speech the going, nor the going that 351
Slackened; but talking we went bravely on,
Even as a vessel urged by a good wind.

And shadows, that appeared things doubly dead,
From out the sepulchres of their eyes betrayed
Wonder at me, aware that I was living.

And I, continuing my colloquy, 352
Said: “Peradventure he goes up more slowly
Than he would do, for other people’s sake.

But tell me, if thou knowest, where is Piccarda; 353
Tell me if any one of note I see
Among this folk that gazes at me so.”

“My sister, who, ’twixt beautiful and good,
I know not which was more, triumphs rejoicing
Already in her crown on high Olympus.”

So said he first, and then: “Tis not forbidden
To name each other here, so milked away
Is our resemblance by our dieting.

This,” pointing with his finger, “is Buonagiunta, 354

351Continuation of the punishment of Gluttony.
352Continuing the words with which the preceding canto closes, and referring to Statius.
353Picarda, sister of Forese and Corso Donati. She was a nun of Santa Clara, and is

placed by Dante in the first heaven of Paradise, which Forese calls “high Olympus.” See
Paradiso III. 48, where her story is told more in detail.

354Buonagiunta Urbisani of Lucca is one of the early minor poets of Italy, a contemporary
of Dante. Rossetti, Early Italian Poets, 77, gives some specimens of his sonnets and
canzoni. All that is known of him is contained in Benvenuto’s brief notice: “Buonagiunta
of Urbisani, an honourable man of the city of Lucca, a brilliant orator in his mother
tongue, a facile producer of rhymes, and still more facile consumer of wines; who knew
our author in his lifetime, and sometimes corresponded with him.” Tiraboschi also men


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Buonagiunta, of Lucca; and that face
Beyond him there, more peaked than the others,

Has held the holy Church within his arms; 355
From Tours was he, and purges by his fasting
Bolsena’s eels and the Vernaccia wine.” 356

He named me many others one by one;
And all contented seemed at being named,
So that for this I saw not one dark look.

I saw for hunger bite the empty air
Ubaldin dalla Pila, and Boniface, 357
Who with his crook had pastured many people.

I saw Messer Marchese, who had leisure 358
Once at Forl`i for drinking with less dryness,
And he was one who ne’er felt satisfied.

But as he does who scans, and then doth prize
One more than others, did I him of Lucca,
Who seemed to take most cognizance of me.

He murmured, and I know not what Gentucca 359
From that place heard I, where he felt the wound 360
Of justice, that doth macerate them so.

“O soul,” I said, “that seemest so desirous
To speak with me, do so that I may hear thee,

tions him, Storia della Lett., IV. 397: “He was seen by Dante in Purgatory punished among
the Gluttons, from which vice, it is proper to say, poetry did not render him exempt.”
355Pope Martin the Fourth, whose fondness for the eels of Bolsena brought his life to a
sudden close, and his soul to this circle of Purgatory.
356The Lake of Bolsena is in the Papal States, a few miles northwest of Viterbo, on the
road from Rome to Siena.
357Ubaldin dalla Pila was a brother of the Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, mentioned
Inferno X. 120, and father of the Archbishop Ruggieri, Inferno XXXIII. 14.
358Messer Marchese da Forl`i, who answered the accusation made against him, that “he
was always drinking,” by saying, that “he was always thirsty.”

359A lady of Lucca with whom Dante is supposed to have been enamoured. “Let us
pass over in silence,” says Balbo, Life and Times of Dante, II. 177, “the consolations and
errors of the poor exile.” But Buti says: “He formed an attachment to a gentle lady, called
Madonna Gentucca, of the family of Rossimpelo, on account of her great virtue and modesty,
and not with any other love.” Benvenuto and the Ottimo interpret the passage differently,
making gentucca a common noun – gente bassa, low people. But the passage which
immediately follows, in which a maiden is mentioned who should make Lucca pleasant
to him, seems to confirm the former interpretation.

360In the throat of the speaker, where he felt the hunger and thirst of his punishment.

And with thy speech appease thyself and me.”

“A maid is born, and wears not yet the veil,”
Began he, “who to thee shall pleasant make
My city, howsoever men may blame it.

Thou shalt go on thy way with this prevision;
If by my murmuring thou hast been deceived,
True things hereafter will declare it to thee.

But say if him I here behold, who forth
Evoked the new-invented rhymes, beginning,
Ladies, that have intelligence of love?” 361

And I to him: “One am I, who, whenever
Love doth inspire me, note, and in that measure
Which he within me dictates, singing go.”

“O brother, now I see,” he said, “the knot
Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held 362
Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.

I do perceive full clearly how your pens
Go closely following after him who dictates,
Which with our own forsooth came not to pass;

And he who sets himself to go beyond,
No difference sees from one style to another;”
And as if satisfied, he held his peace.

Even as the birds, that winter tow’rds the Nile,
Sometimes into a phalanx form themselves,
Then fly in greater haste, and go in file;

In such wise all the people who were there,
Turning their faces, hurried on their steps,
Both by their leanness and their wishes light.

361A canzone of the Vita Nuova, beginning, in Rossetti’s version, Early Italian Poets, p.255:
“Ladies that have intelligence in love,
Of mine own lady I would speak with you;
Not that I hope to count her praises through,
But, telling what I may, to ease my mind.”

362See Inferno V. 4. Jacopo da Lentino, or “the Notary,” was a Sicilian poet who flourished
about 1250, in the later days of the Emperor Frederick the Second. Crescimbeni,
Hist. Volg. Poesia, III. 43, says that Dante “esteemed him so highly, that he even mentions
him in his Comedy, doing him the favour to put him into Purgatory.” Tassoni, and others
after him, make the careless statement that he addressed a sonnet to Petrarca. He died
before Petrarca was born.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And as a man, who weary is with trotting,
Lets his companions onward go, and walks,
Until he vents the panting of his chest;

So did Forese let the holy flock
Pass by, and came with me behind it, saying,
“When will it be that I again shall see thee?”

“How long,” I answered, “I may live, I know not;
Yet my return will not so speedy be,
But I shall sooner in desire arrive;

Because the place where I was set to live
From day to day of good is more depleted,
And unto dismal ruin seems ordained.”

“Now go,” he said, “for him most guilty of it
At a beast’s tail behold I dragged along
Towards the valley where is no repentance.

Faster at every step the beast is going,
Increasing evermore until it smites him,
And leaves the body vilely mutilated.

Not long those wheels shall turn,” and he uplifted
His eyes to heaven, “ere shall be clear to thee
That which my speech no farther can declare.

Now stay behind; because the time so precious
Is in this kingdom, that I lose too much
By coming onward thus abreast with thee.”

As sometimes issues forth upon a gallop
A cavalier from out a troop that ride,
And seeks the honour of the first encounter,

So he with greater strides departed from us;
And on the road remained I with those two,
Who were such mighty marshals of the world. 363

And when before us he had gone so far
Mine eyes became to him such pursuivants
As was my understanding to his words,

Appeared to me with laden and living boughs
Another apple-tree, and not far distant,

363Virgil and Statius.

From having but just then turned thitherward. 364

People I saw beneath it lift their hands,
And cry I know not what towards the leaves,
Like little children eager and deluded,

Who pray, and he they pray to doth not answer,
But, to make very keen their appetite,
Holds their desire aloft, and hides it not

Then they departed as if undeceived;
And now we came unto the mighty tree
Which prayers and tears so manifold refuses.

“Pass farther onward without drawing near;
The tree of which Eve ate is higher up, 365
And out of that one has this tree been raised.”

Thus said I know not who among the branches;
Whereat Virgilius, Statius, and myself
Went crowding forward on the side that rises.

“Be mindful,” said he, “of the accursed ones 366
Formed of the cloud-rack, who inebriate
Combated Theseus with their double breasts;

And of the Jews who showed them soft in drinking,
Whence Gideon would not have them for companions 367
When he tow’rds Midian the hills descended.”

Thus, closely pressed to one of the two borders,
On passed we, hearing sins of gluttony,
Followed forsooth by miserable gains;

364Dante had only so far gone round the circle, as to come in sight of the second of these

trees, which from distance to distance encircle the mountain.
365In the Terrestrial Paradise on the top of the mountain.
366The Centaurs, born of Ixion and the Cloud, and having the “double breasts” of man

and horse, became drunk with wine at the marriage of Hippodamia and Pirithous, and
strove to carry off the bride and the other women by violence. Theseus and the rest of the
Lapithae opposed them, and drove them from the feast. This famous battle is described
at great length by Ovid, Met. XII.

367Judges VII. 5,6: “So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said
unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth,
him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to
drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were
three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Then set at large upon the lonely road,
A thousand steps and more we onward went,
In contemplation, each without a word.

“What go ye thinking thus, ye three alone?”
Said suddenly a voice, whereat I started
As terrified and timid beasts are wont.

I raised my head to see who this might be,
And never in a furnace was there seen
Metals or glass so lucent and so red

As one I saw who said: “If it may please you 368
To mount aloft, here it behoves you turn;
This way goes he who goeth after peace.”

His aspect had bereft me of my sight,
So that I turned me back unto my Teachers,
Like one who goeth as his hearing guides him.

And as, the harbinger of early dawn,
The air of May doth move and breathe out fragrance,
Impregnate all with herbage and with flowers,

So did I feel a breeze strike in the midst
My front, and felt the moving of the plumes
That breathed around an odour of ambrosia,

And heard it said: “Blessed are they whom grace
So much illumines, that the love of taste
Excites not in their breasts too great desire,

Hungering at all times so far as is just.”

368The Angel of the Seventh Circle.

Figure 31: People I saw beneath it lift their hands...



NOW was it the ascent no hindrance brooked, 369
Because the sun had his meridian circle
To Taurus left, and night to Scorpio; 370

Wherefore as doth a man who tarries not,
But goes his way, whate er to him appear,
If of necessity the sting transfix him,

In this wise did we enter through the gap,
Taking the stairway, one before the other,
Which by its narrowness divides the climbers.

And as the little stork that lifts its wing
With a desire to fly, and does not venture
To leave the nest, and lets it downward droop,

Even such was I, with the desire of asking
Kindled and quenched, unto the motion coming
He makes who doth address himself to speak.

Not for our pace, though rapid it might be,
My father sweet forbore, but said: “Let fly
The bow of speech thou to the barb hast drawn”

With confidence I opened then my mouth,
And I began: “How can one meagre grow
There where the need of nutriment applies not?”

“If thou wouldst call to mind how Meleager 371

369The ascent to the Seventh Circle of Purgatory, where the sin of Lust is punished.

370When the sign of Taurus reached the meridian, the sun, being in Aries, would be two
hours beyond it. It is now two o’clock of the afternoon. The Scorpion is the sign opposite

371Meleager was the son of Oeneus and Althaea, of Calydon. At his birth the Fates were
present and predicted his future greatness. Clotho said that he would be brave; Lachesis,
that he would be strong; and Atropos, that he would live as long as the brand upon the
fire remained unconsumed.


Was wasted by the wasting of a brand,
This would not,” said he, “be to thee so sour;

And wouldst thou think how at each tremulous motion
Trembles within a mirror your own image:
That which seems hard would mellow seem to thee

But that thou mayst content thee in thy wish
Lo Statius here; and him I call and pray
He now will be the healer of thy wounds.”

“If I unfold to him the eternal vengeance,”
Responded Statius, “where thou present art,
Be my excuse that I can naught deny thee.”

Then he began: “Son, if these words of mine
Thy mind doth contemplate and doth receive,
They’ll be thy light unto the How thou sayest.

The perfect blood, which never is drunk up 372
Into the thirsty veins, and which remaineth
Like food that from the table thou removest,

Takes in the heart for all the human members
Virtue informative, as being that
Which to be changed to them goes through the veins

Again digest, descends it where ’tis better
Silent to be than say; and then drops thence
Upon another’s blood in natural vase.

There one together with the other mingles,
One to be passive meant, the other active
By reason of the perfect place it springs from; 373

And being conjoined, begins to operate,
Coagulating first, then vivifying
What for its matter it had made consistent.

372The dissertation which Dante here puts into the mouth of Statius may be found also
in a briefer prose form in the Convito, IV. 21. It so much excites the enthusiasm of Varchi,
that he declares it alone sufficient to prove Dante to have been a physician, philosopher,
and theologian of the highest order; and goes on to say: “I not only confess, but I swear,
that as many times as I have read it, which day and night are more than a thousand,
my wonder and astonishment have always increased, seeming every time to find therein
new beauties and new instruction, and consequently new difficulties.”

373The heart, where the blood takes the “virtue informative,” as stated in line 40.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

The active virtue, being made a soul 374
As of a plant, (in so far different,
This on the way is, that arrived already,)

Then works so much, that now it moves and feels 375
Like a sea-fungus, and then undertakes
To organize the powers whose seed it is.

Now, Son, dilates and now distends itself
The virtue from the generator’s heart,
Where nature is intent on all the members.

But how from animal it man becomes
Thou dost not see as yet; this is a point
Which made a wiser man than thou once err

So far, that in his doctrine separate
He made the soul from possible intellect, 376
For he no organ saw by this assumed.

Open thy breast unto the truth that’s coming,
And know that, just as soon as in the foetus
The articulation of the brain is perfect,

The primal Motor turns to it well pleased 377
At so great art of nature, and inspires
A spirit new with virtue all replete,

Which what it finds there active doth attract
Into its substance, and becomes one soul,
Which lives, and feels, and on itself revolves.

And that thou less may wonder at my word,
Behold the sun’s heat, which becometh wine,
Joined to the juice that from the vine distils.

Whenever Lachesis has no more thread, 378

374The vegetative soul, which in man differs from that in plants, as being in a state of

development, while that of plants is complete already.
375The vegetative becomes a sensitive soul.
376“This was the opinion of Averroes,” says the Ottimo, “which is false, and contrary to

the Catholic faith.” In the language of the Schools, the Possible Intellect, intellectus possibilis,
is the faculty which receives impressions through the senses, and forms from them
pictures or phantasmata in the mind. The Active Intellect, intellectus agens, draws from
these pictures various ideas, notions, and conclusions. They represent the Understanding
and the Reason.

378When Lachesis has spun out the thread of life.

It separates from the flesh, and virtually
Bears with itself the human and divine;

The other faculties are voiceless all;
The memory, the intelligence, and the will
In action far more vigorous than before.

Without a pause it falleth of itself
In marvellous way on one shore or the other; 379
There of its roads it first is cognizant.

Soon as the place there circumscribeth it,
The virtue informative rays round about,
As, and as much as, in the living members.

And even as the air, when full of rain,
By alien rays that are therein reflected,
With divers colours shows itself adorned,

So there the neighbouring air doth shape itself
Into that form which doth impress upon it
Virtually the soul that has stood still.

And then in manner of the little flame,
Which followeth the fire where’er it shifts,
After the spirit followeth its new form.

Since afterwards it takes from this its semblance,
It is called shade; and thence it organizes
Thereafter every sense, even to the sight.

Thence is it that we speak, and thence we laugh;
Thence is it that we form the tears and sighs,
That on the mountain thou mayhap hast heard.

According as impress us our desires
And other affections, so the shade is shaped,
And this is cause of what thou wonderest at.”

And now unto the last of all the circles
Had we arrived, and to the right hand turned,
And were attentive to another care.

There the embankment shoots forth flames of fire,
And upward doth the cornice breathe a blast
That drives them back, and from itself sequesters.

379Either upon the shores of Acheron or of the Tiber.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Hence we must needs go on the open side,
And one by one; and I did fear the fire
On this side, and on that the falling down.

My Leader said: “Along this place one ought
To keep upon the eyes a tightened rein,
Seeing that one so easily might err.”

“Summae Deus clementiae,” in the bosom 380
Of the great burning chanted then I heard,
Which made me no less eager to turn round;

And spirits saw I walking through the flame;
Wherefore I looked, to my own steps and theirs
Apportioning my sight from time to time.

After the close which to that hymn is made,
Aloud they shouted, “Virum non cognosco;” 381
Then recommenced the hymn with voices low.

This also ended, cried they: “To the wood
Diana ran, and drove forth Helice 382
Therefrom, who had of Venus felt the poison.”

Then to their song returned they; then the wives
They shouted, and the husbands who were chaste.
As virtue and the marriage vow imposes.

And I believe that them this mode suffices,
For all the time the fire is burning them;
With such care is it needful, and such food,

That the last wound of all should be closed up.

380“God of clemency supreme;” the church hymn, sung at matins on Saturday morning,
and containing a prayer for purity.

381Luke I. 34: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a

382Helice, or Callisto, was a daughter of Lycaon king of Arcadia. She was one of the
attendant nymphs of Diana, who discarded her on account of an amour with Jupiter, for
which Juno turned her into a bear. Arcas was the offspring of this amour. Jupiter changed
them to the constellations of the Great and Little Bear.

Figure 32: And now unto the last of all the circles had we arrived...

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 33: And spirits saw I walking through the flame...

Figure 34: For all the time the fire is burning them...



WHILE on the brink thus one before the other 383
We went upon our way, oft the good Master
Said: “Take thou heed! suffice it that I warn thee.”

On the right shoulder smote me now the sun,
That, raying out, already the whole west 384
Changed from its azure aspect into white.

And with my shadow did I make the flame
Appear more red; and even to such a sign
Shades saw I many, as they went, give heed.

This was the cause that gave them a beginning
To speak of me; and to themselves began they
To say: “That seems not a factitious body!” 385

Then towards me, as far as they could come,
Came certain of them, always with regard
Not to step forth where they would not be burned.

“O thou who goest, not from being slower
But reverent perhaps, behind the others,
Answer me, who in thirst and fire am burning.

Nor to me only is thine answer needful;
For all of these have greater thirst for it
Than for cold water Ethiop or Indian.

Tell us how is it that thou makest thyself
A wall unto the sun, as if thou hadst not
Entered as vet into the net of death.”

Thus one of them addressed me, and I straight

383The punishment of the sin Lust.
384It is near sunset, and the western sky is white, as the sky always is in the neighbourhood
of the sun.
385A ghostly or spiritual body.


Should have revealed myself, were I not bent

On other novelty that then appeared.
For through the middle of the burning road
There came a people face to face with these,
Which held me in suspense with gazing at them.

There see I hastening upon either side
Each of the shades, and kissing one another
Without a pause, content with brief salute.

Thus in the middle of their brown battalions
Muzzle to muzzle one ant meets another
Perchance to spy their journey or their fortune.

No sooner is the friendly greeting ended,
Or ever the first footstep passes onward,
Each one endeavours to outcry the other;

The new-come people: “Sodom and Gomorrah!”
The rest: “Into the cow Pasiphae enters, 386
So that the bull unto her lust may run!”

Then as the cranes, that to Riphaen mountains 387
Might fly in part, and part towards the sands,
These of the frost, those of the sun avoidant,

One folk is going, and the other coming,
And weeping they return to their first songs,
And to the cry that most befitteth them;

And close to me approached, even as before,
The very same who had entreated me,
Attent to listen in their countenance.

I, who their inclination twice had seen
Began: “O souls secure in the possession,
Whene’er it may be, of a state of peace,

Neither unripe nor ripened have remained
My members upon earth, but here are with me
With their own blood and their articulations.

I go up here to be no longer blind;
A Lady is above, who wins this grace, 388

386Pasiphae, wife of Minos, king of Crete, and mother of the Minotaur.
387The Riphaean mountains are in the north of Russia. The sands are the sands of the

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Whereby the mortal through your world I bring.

But as your greatest longing satisfied
May soon become, so that the Heaven may house you 389
Which full of love is, and most amply spreads,

Tell me, that I again in books may write it,
Who are you, and what is that multitude
Which goes upon its way behind your backs?”

Not otherwise with wonder is bewildered
The mountaineer, and staring round is dumb,
When rough and rustic to the town he goes,

Than every shade became in its appearance;
But when they of their stupor were disburdened,
Which in high hearts is quickly quieted,

“Blessed be thou, who of our border-lands,”
He recommenced who first had questioned us,
“Experience freightest for a better life.

The folk that comes not with us have offended
In that for which once Caesar, triumphing,
Heard himself called in contumely, ‘Queen.’ 390

Therefore they separate, exclaiming, ‘Sodom!’
Themselves reproving, even as thou hast heard,
And add unto their burning by their shame.

Our own transgression was hermaphrodite;
But because we observed not human law,
Following like unto beasts our appetite,

In our opprobrium by us is read,
When we part company, the name of her
Who bestialized herself in bestial wood. 391

Now knowest thou our acts, and what our crime was;
Wouldst thou perchance by name know who we are,
There is not time to tell, nor could I do it.

Thy wish to know me shall in sooth be granted;

389The highest heaven. Paradiso XXVII.

390In one of Caesar’s triumphs the Roman soldiery around his chariot called him

“Queen;” thus reviling him for his youthful debaucheries with Nicomedes, king of Bithy

391The cow made by Daedalus.

I’m Guido Guinicelli, and now purge me, 392
Having repented ere the hour extreme.”

The same that in the sadness of Lycurgus 393
Two sons became, their mother re-beholding,
Such I became, but rise not to such height,

The moment I heard name himself the father
Of me and of my betters, who had ever
Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of love;

And without speech and hearing thoughtfully
For a long time I went, beholding him,
Nor for the fire did I approach him nearer.

When I was fed with looking, utterly
Myself I offered ready for his service,
With affirmation that compels belief.

And he to me: “Thou leavest footprints such
In me, from what I hear, and so distinct,
Lethe cannot efface them, nor make dim.

But if thy words just now the truth have sworn,
Tell me what is the cause why thou displayest
In word and look that dear thou holdest me?”

And I to him: “Those dulcet lays of yours
Which, long as shall endure our modern fashion,
Shall make for ever dear their very ink!”

“O brother,” said he, “he whom I point out,”
And here he pointed at a spirit in front,
”Was of the mother tongue a better smith.

Verses of love and proses of romance, 394

392Guido Guinicelli, the best of the Italian poets before Dante, flourished in the first half
of the thirteenth century. He was a native of Bologna, but of his life nothing is known.
His most celebrated poem is a Canzone on the Nature of Love, which goes far to justify the
warmth and tenderness of Dante’s praise.

393Hypsipyle was discovered and rescued by her sons Eumenius and Thoas, (whose
father was the “bland Jason,” as Statius calls him,) just as King Lycurgus in his great grief
was about to put her to death for neglecting he care of his child, who through her neglect
had been stung by a serpent. Statius, Thebaid, V. 949, says it was Tydeus who saved
Hypsipyle: – “But interposing Tydeus rushed between, and with his shield protects the
Lemnian queen.”

394In the old Romance languages the name of prosa was applied generally to all narrative
poems, and particularly the monorhythmic romances.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

He mastered all; and let the idiots talk,
Who think the Lemosin surpasses him. 395

To clamour more than truth they turn their faces,
And in this way establish their opinion,
Ere art or reason has by them been heard.

Thus many ancients with Guittone did, 396
From cry to cry still giving him applause,
Until the truth has conquered with most persons.

Now, if thou hast such ample privilege
’Tis granted thee to go unto the cloister
Wherein is Christ the abbot of the college,

To him repeat for me a Paternoster,
So far as needful to us of this world,
Where power of sinning is no longer ours.”

Then, to give place perchance to one behind,
Whom he had near, he vanished in the fire
As fish in water going to the bottom.

I moved a little tow’rds him pointed out,
And said that to his name my own desire 397
An honourable place was making ready.

He of his own free will began to say:

“Tan m’ abellis vostre cortes deman,
Que jeu nom’ puesc ni vueill a vos cobrire;

395Gerault de Berneil of Limoges, born of poor parents, but a man of talent and learning,
was one of the most famous Troubadours of the thirteenth century. The old Provencal
biographer, quoted by Raynouard, Choix de Po´esies, V. 166, says: “He was a better
poet than any who preceded or followed him, and was therefore called the Master of the
Troubadours. ... He passed his winters in study, and his summers in wandering from
court to court with two minstrels who sang his songs.” According to Nostrodamus he
died in 1278. Notwithstanding his great repute, Dante gives the palm of excellence to
Arnaud Daniel, his rival and contemporary. But this is not the general verdict of literary

396Fra Guittone d’Arezzo. See Canto XXIV. Note 56.

397Venturi has the indiscretion to say: “This is a disgusting compliment after the manner
of the French; in the Italian fashion we should say, ‘You will do me a favour, if you will
tell me your name.’ ” Whereupon Biagioli thunders at him in this wise: “Infamous dirty
dog that you are, how can you call this a compliment after the manner of the French?
How can you set off against it what any cobbler might say? Away! and a murrain on

Jeu sui Arnaut, que plor e vai chantan; 398
Consiros vei la passada folor,
E vei jauzen lo jorn qu’ esper denan.

Ara vos prec, per aquella valor
que vos guida al som de l’escalina,
sovenha vos a temps de ma dolor!” 399

Then hid him in the fire that purifies them.

398Arnaud Daniel, the Troubadour of the thirteenth century, whom Dante lauds so
highly, and whom Petrarca calls “the Grand Master of Love,” was born of a noble family
at the castle of Ribeyrac in P´erigord. Millot, Hist. des Troub., II. 479, says of him: “In all
ages there have been false reputations, founded on some individual judgment, whose
authority has prevailed without examination, until at last criticism discusses, the truth
penetrates, and the phantom of prejudice vanishes. Such has been the reputation of Arnaud

399So pleases me your courteous demand,
I cannot and I will not hide me from you.
I am Arnaut, who weep and singing go;
Contrite I see the folly of the past,
And joyous see the hoped-for day before me.
Therefore do I implore you, by that power
Which guides you to the summit of the stairs,
Be mindful to assuage my suffering!



AS when he vibrates forth his earliest rays, 400
In regions where his Maker shed his blood, 401
(The Ebro falling under lofty Libra,

And waters in the Ganges burnt with noon,)
So stood the Sun; hence was the day departing,
When the glad Angel of God appeared to us.

Outside the flame he stood upon the verge,
And chanted forth, “Beati mundo corde,” 402
In voice by far more living than our own.

Then: “No one farther goes, souls sanctified,
If first the fire bite not; within it enter,
And be not deaf unto the song beyond.”

When we were close beside him thus he said;
Wherefore e’en such became I, when I heard him,
As he is who is put into the grave.

Upon my clasped hands I straightened me,
Scanning the fire, and vividly recalling 403
The human bodies I had once seen burned.

Towards me turned themselves my good Conductors,
And unto me Virgilius said: “My son,
Here may indeed be torment, but not death.

Remember thee, remember! and if I

400The description of the Seventh and last Circle continued.

401When the sun is rising at Jerusalem, it is setting on the Mountain of Purgatory; it is
midnight in Spain, with Libra in the meridian, and noon in India. “A great labyrinth of
words and things,” says Venturi, “meaning only that the sun was setting!” and this time
the “dolce pedagogo” Biagioli lets him escape without the usual reprimand.

402Matthew V. 8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
403With the hands clasped and turned palm downwards, and the body straightened
backward in attitude of resistance.


On Geryon have safely guided thee, 404
What shall I do now I am nearer God?

Believe for certain, shouldst thou stand a full
Millennium in the bosom of this flame,
It could not make thee bald a single hair.

And if perchance thou think that I deceive thee,
Draw near to it, and put it to the proof
With thine own hands upon thy garment’s hem.

Now lay aside, now lay aside all fear,
Turn hitherward, and onward come securely;”
And I still motionless, and ’gainst my conscience! 405

Seeing me stand still motionless and stubborn,
Somewhat disturbed he said: “Now look thou, Son,
’Twixt Beatrice and thee there is this wall.”

As at the name of Thisbe oped his lids 406
The dying Pyramus, and gazed upon her,
What time the mulberry became vermilion,

Even thus, my obduracy being softened,
I turned to my wise Guide, hearing the name
That in my memory evermore is welling.

Whereat he wagged his head, and said: “How now?
Shall we stay on this side?” then smiled as one
Does at a child who’s vanquished by an apple.

Then into the fire in front of me he entered,
Beseeching Statius to come after me,
Who a long way before divided us. 407

When I was in it, into molten glass
I would have cast me to refresh myself,
So without measure was the burning there!

And my sweet Father, to encourage me,

404Inferno XVII.
405Knowing that he ought to confide in Virgil and go forward.
406The story of the Babylonian lovers, whose trysting-place was under the white

mulberry-tree near the tomb of Ninus, and whose blood changed the fruit from white
to purple, is too well known to need comment. Ovid, Met. IV., Eusden’s Tr.: “At Thisbe’s
name awaked, he opened wide his dying eyes; with dying eyes he tried on her to dwell,
but closed them slow and died.”

407Statius had for a long while been between Virgil and Dante.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Discoursing still of Beatrice went on,
Saying: “Her eyes I seem to see already!”

A voice, that on the other side was singing,
Directed us, and we, attent alone
On that, came forth where the ascent began.

“Venite, benedicti Patris mei,” 408

Sounded within a splendour, which was there
Such it o’ercame me, and I could not look.

“The sun departs,” it added, “and night cometh;
Tarry ye not, but onward urge your steps,
So long as yet the west becomes not dark.”

Straight forward through the rock the path ascended
In such a way that I cut off the rays
Before me of the sun, that now was low.

And of few stairs we yet had made assay,
Ere by the vanished shadow the sun’s setting
Behind us we perceived, I and my Sages.

And ere in all its parts immeasurable
The horizon of one aspect had become,
And Night her boundless dispensation held,

Each of us of a stair had made his bed;
Because the nature of the mount took from us
The power of climbing, more than the delight.

Even as in ruminating passive grow
The goats, who have been swift and venturesome
Upon the mountain-tops ere they were fed,

Hushed in the shadow, while the sun is hot,
Watched by the herdsman, who upon his staff
Is leaning, and in leaning tendeth them;

And as the shepherd, lodging out of doors,
Passes the night beside his quiet flock,
Watching that no wild beast may scatter it,

Such at that hour were we, all three of us,
I like the goat, and like the herdsmen they,

408Matthew XXV. 34: “Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye
blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the

Begirt on this side and on that by rocks.

Little could there be seen of things without;
But through that little I beheld the stars
More luminous and larger than their wont. 409

Thus ruminating, and beholding these,
Sleep seized upon me – sleep, that oftentimes
Before a deed is done has tidings of it. 410

It was the hour, I think, when from the East
First on the mountain Citherea beamed, 411
Who with the fire of love seems always burning;

Youthful and beautiful in dreams methought
I saw a lady walking in a meadow,
Gathering flowers; and singing she was saying:

“Know whosoever may my name demand
That I am Leah, and go moving round
My beauteous hands to make myself a garland.

To please me at the mirror, here I deck me,
But never does my sister Rachel leave
Her looking-glass, and sitteth all day long.

To see her beauteous eyes as eager is she,
As I am to adorn me with my hands;
Her, seeing, and me, doing satisfies.”

And now before the antelucan splendours
That unto pilgrims the more grateful rise,
As, home-returning, less remote they lodge,

The darkness fled away on every side, 412
And slumber with it; whereupon I rose,
Seeing already the great Masters risen.

409Evening of the Third Day of Purgatory.

410The vision which Dante sees is a foreshadowing of Matilda and Beatrice in the Terrestrial
Paradise. In the Old Testament Leah is a symbol of the Active Life, and Rachel of
the Contemplative; as Martha and Mary are in the Testament, and Matilda and Beatrice in
the Divine Comedy. “Happy that house,” says Saint Bernard, “and blessed is that congregation,
where Mara still complaineth of Mary.” Dante says in the Convito, IV. 17: “Truly
it should be known that we can have in this life two felicities, by following two different
and excellent roads, which lead thereto; namely, the Active life and the Contemplative.”

411Venus, the morning star, rising with the constellation Pisces, two hours before the
412The morning of the Fourth Day of Purgatory.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“That apple sweet, which through so many branches 413
The care of mortals goeth in pursuit of,
To-day shall put in peace thy hungerings.”

Speaking to me, Virgilius of such words
As these made use; and never were there guerdons
That could in pleasantness compare with these.

Such longing upon longing came upon me
To be above, that at each step thereafter
For flight I felt in me the pinions growing.

When underneath us was the stairway all
Run o’er, and we were on the highest step,
Virgilius fastened upon me his eyes,

And said: “The temporal fire and the eternal,
Son, thou hast seen, and to a place art come
Where of myself no farther I discern.

By intellect and art I here have brought thee;
Take thine own pleasure for thy guide henceforth;
Beyond the steep ways and the narrow art thou.

Behold the sun, that shines upon thy forehead;
Behold the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs
Which of itself alone this land produces.

Until rejoicing come the beauteous eyes
Which weeping caused me to come unto thee,
Thou canst sit down, and thou canst walk among them.

Expect no more or word or sign from me;
Free and upright and sound is thy free-will,
And error were it not to do its bidding;

Thee o’er thyself I therefore crown and mitre!”


Figure 35: Youthful and beautiful in dreams methought I saw a lady walking
in a meadow...



EAGER already to search in and round 414
The heavenly forest, dense and living-green,
Which tempered to the eyes the new-born day,

Withouten more delay I left the bank,
Taking the level country slowly, slowly
Over the soil that everywhere breathes fragrance.

A softly-breathing air, that no mutation
Had in itself, upon the forehead smote me
No heavier blow than of a gentle wind,

Whereat the branches, lightly tremulous,
Did all of them bow downward toward that side
Where its first shadow casts the Holy Mountain;

Yet not from their upright direction swayed,
So that the little birds upon their tops
Should leave the practice of each art of theirs;

But with full ravishment the hours of prime,
Singing, received they in the midst of leaves,
That ever bore a burden to their rhymes,

Such as from branch to branch goes gathering on
Through the pine forest on the shore of Chiassi, 415
When Eolus unlooses the Sirocco.

Already my slow steps had carried me
Into the ancient wood so far, that I
Could not perceive where I had entered it

And lo! my further course a stream cut off, 416

414The Terrestrial Paradise.
415Chiassi is on the sea-shore near Ravenna. “Here grows a spacious pine forest,” says
Covino, Descr. Geog., p. 39, “which stretches along the sea between Ravenna and Cervia.”
416The river Lethe.


Which tow’rd the left hand with its little waves
Bent down the grass that on its margin sprang

All waters that on earth most limpid are
Would seem to have within themselves some mixture
Compared with that which nothing doth conceal,

Although it moves on with a brown, brown current
Under the shade perpetual, that never
Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon.

With feet I stayed, and with mine eyes I passed
Beyond the rivulet, to look upon
The great variety of the fresh may.

And there appeared to me (even as appears
Suddenly something that doth turn aside
Through very wonder every other thought)

A lady all alone, who went along 417
Singing and culling floweret after floweret,
With which her pathway was all painted over.

“Ah, beauteous lady, who in rays of love
Dost warm thyself, if I may trust to looks,
Which the heart’s witnesses are wont to be,

May the desire come unto thee to draw
Near to this river’s bank,” I said to her,
“So much that I might hear what thou art singing.

Thou makest me remember where and what
Proserpina that moment was when lost
Her mother her, and she herself the Spring.”

As turns herself, with feet together pressed
And to the ground, a lady who is dancing,
And hardly puts one foot before the other,

On the vermilion and the yellow flowerets
She turned towards me, not in other wise
Than maiden who her modest eyes casts down;

417This lady, who represents the Active life to Dante’s waking eyes, as Leah had done
in his vision, and whom Dante afterwards, Canto XXXIII. 119, calls Matilda, is generally
supposed by the commentators to be the celebrated Countess Matilda, daughter of Boniface,
Count of Tuscany, and wife of Guelf, of the house of Suabia. Of this marriage Villani,

IV. 21, gives a very strange account, which, if true, is a singular picture of the times.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

And my entreaties made to be content,
So near approaching, that the dulcet sound
Came unto me together with its meaning

As soon as she was where the grasses are
Bathed by the waters of the beauteous river,
To lift her eyes she granted me the boon.

I do not think there shone so great a light
Under the lids of Venus, when transfixed
By her own son, beyond his usual custom!

Erect upon the other bank she smiled,
Bearing full many colours in her hands.
Which that high land produces without seed.

Apart three paces did the river make us;
But Hellespont, where Xerxes passed across,
(A curb still to all human arrogance,) 418

More hatred from Leander did not suffer
For rolling between Sestos and Abydos,
Than that from me, because it oped not then.

“Ye are new-comers; and because I smile,”
Began she, “peradventure, in this place
Elect to human nature for its nest,

Some apprehension keeps you marvelling;
But the psalm Delectasti giveth light 419
Which has the power to uncloud your intellect.

And thou who foremost art, and didst entreat me,
Speak, if thou wouldst hear more; for I came ready
To all thy questionings, as far as needful.”

“The water,” said I, “and the forest’s sound,
Are combating within me my new faith
In something which I heard opposed to this.” 420

Whence she: “I will relate how from its cause

418When Xerxes invaded Greece he crossed the Hellespont on a bridge of boats with an
army of five million. So say the historians. On his return he crossed it in in a fishing-boat
almost alone, – “a warning to all human arrogance.”

419Psalm XCII. 4: “For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph
in the works of thy hands.”
420Canto XXI. 46: – “Because that neither rain, nor hail, nor snow, nor dew, nor hoarfrost
any higher falls than the short, little stairway of three steps.”

Proceedeth that which maketh thee to wonder,

And purge away the cloud that smites upon thee.
The Good Supreme, sole in itself delighting,
Created man good, and this goodly place
Gave him as hansel of eternal peace.

By his default short while he sojourned here; 421
By his default to weeping and to toil
He changed his innocent laughter and sweet play.

That the disturbance which below is made
By exhalations of the land and water,
(Which far as may be follow after heat,)

Might not upon mankind wage any war,
This mount ascended tow’rds the heaven so high,
And is exempt, from there where it is locked. 422

Now since the universal atmosphere
Turns in a circuit with the primal motion
Unless the circle is broken on some side,

Upon this height, that all is disengaged
In living ether, doth this motion strike
And make the forest sound, for it is dense;

And so much power the stricken plant possesses
That with its virtue it impregns the air,
And this, revolving, scatters it around;

And yonder earth, according as ’tis worthy
In self or in its clime, conceives and bears
Of divers qualities the divers trees;

It should not seem a marvel then on earth,
This being heard, whenever any plant
Without seed manifest there taketh root.

And thou must know, this holy table-land
In which thou art is full of every seed,
And fruit has in it never gathered there.

The water which thou seest springs not from vein
Restored by vapour that the cold condenses,
Like to a stream that gains or loses breath

421Only six hours, according to Adam’s own account in Paradiso XXI. 139.
422Above the gate described in Canto IX.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

But issues from a fountain safe and certain,
Which by the will of God as much regains
As it discharges, open on two sides.

Upon this side with virtue it descends,
Which takes away all memory of sin;
On that, of every good deed done restores it.

Here Lethe, as upon the other side
Eunoe, it is called; and worketh not
If first on either side it be not tasted.

This every other savour doth transcend;
And notwithstanding slaked so far may be
Thy thirst, that I reveal to thee no more,

I’ll give thee a corollary still in grace,
Nor think my speech will be to thee less dear
If it spread out beyond my promise to thee.

Those who in ancient times have feigned in song
The Age of Gold and its felicity,
Dreamed of this place perhaps upon Parnassus.

Here was the human race in innocence;
Here evermore was Spring, and every fruit;
This is the nectar of which each one speaks.”

Then backward did I turn me wholly round
Unto my Poets, and saw that with a smile 423
They had been listening to these closing words;

Then to the beautiful lady turned mine eyes.

423Virgil and Statius smile at this allusion to the dreams of poets.

Figure 36: Already my slow steps had carried me into the ancient wood so
far, that I could not perceive where I had entered it...



SINGING like unto an enamoured lady 424
She, with the ending of her words, continued:

“Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata.” 425

And even as Nymphs, that wandered all alone
Among the sylvan shadows, sedulous
One to avoid and one to see the sun,

She then against the stream moved onward, going
Along the bank, and I abreast of her,
Her little steps with little steps attending

Between her steps and mine were not a hundred, 426
When equally the margins gave a turn,
In such a way, that to the East I faced.

Nor even thus our way continued far
Before the lady wholly turned herself
Unto me, saying, “Brother, look and listen!”

And lo! a sudden lustre ran across
On every side athwart the spacious forest,
Such that it made me doubt if it were lightning.

But since the lightning ceases as it comes,
And that continuing brightened more and more,
Within my thought I said, “What thing is this?”

And a delicious melody there ran
Along the luminous air, whence holy zeal
Made me rebuke the hardihood of Eve;

For there where earth and heaven obedient were,

424The Terrestrial Paradise and the Apocalyptic Procession of the Church Triumphant.
425Psalm XXXII. I: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
426Counted together, their steps were not a hundred in all.


The woman only, and but just created,
Could not endure to stay ’neath any veil;

Underneath which had she devoutly stayed,
I sooner should have tasted those delights
Ineffable, and for a longer time.

While ’mid such manifold first-fruits I walked
Of the eternal pleasure all enrapt,
And still solicitous of more delights,

In front of us like an enkindled fire
Became the air beneath the verdant boughs,
And the sweet sound as singing now was heard.

O Virgins sacrosanct! if ever hunger,
Vigils, or cold for you I have endured,
The occasion spurs me their reward to claim!

Now Helicon must needs pour forth for me,
And with her choir Urania must assist me, 427
To put in verse things difficult to think.

A little farther on, seven trees of gold
In semblance the long space still intervening
Between ourselves and them did counterfeit;

But when I had approached so near to them
The common object, which the sense deceives, 428
Lost not by distance any of its marks,

The faculty that lends discourse to reason 429
Did apprehend that they were candlesticks, 430
And in the voices of the song “Hosanna!”

427The Muse of Astronomy, or things celestial, represented as crowned with stars and
robed in azure.
428The general form which objects may have in common, and by which they resemble
each other.

429The faculty which lends discourse to reason is apprehension, or the faculty by which
things are first conceived. See Canto XVIII. 22: – “Your apprehension from some real
thing animage draws, and in yourselves displays it, so that it makes the soul turn unto

430Revelation I. 12, 20: “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And, being
turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks. ... And the seven candlesticks. ... are the seven
Some commentators interpret them as the seven Sacraments of the Church; others, as the
seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Above them flamed the harness beautiful,
Far brighter than the moon in the serene
Of midnight, at the middle of her month.

I turned me round, with admiration filled,
To good Virgilius, and he answered me
With visage no less full of wonderment.

Then back I turned my face to those high things,
Which moved themselves towards us so sedately,
They had been distanced by new-wedded brides.

The lady chid me: “Why dost thou burn only
So with affection for the living lights,
And dost not look at what comes after them?”

Then saw I people, as behind their leaders,
Coming behind them, garmented in white,
And such a whiteness never was on earth.

The water on my left flank was resplendent,
And back to me reflected my left side,
E’en as a mirror, if I looked therein.

When I upon my margin had such post
That nothing but the stream divided us,
Better to see I gave my steps repose;

And I beheld the flamelets onward go,
Leaving behind themselves the air depicted,
And they of trailing pennons had the semblance,

So that it overhead remained distinct
With sevenfold lists, all of them of the colours
Whence the sun’s bow is made, and Delia’s girdle. 431

These standards to the rearward longer were
Than was my sight; and, as it seemed to
Ten paces were the outermost apart.

Under so fair a heaven as I describe
The four and twenty Elders, two by two, 432

431Delia or Diana, the moon; and her girdle, the halo, sometimes seen around it.

432Revelation IV. 4: “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon
the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on
their heads crowns of gold.”
These four and twenty elders are supposed to symbolize here the four and twenty books
of the Old Testament. The crown of lilies indicates the purity of faith and doctrine.

Came on incoronate with flower-de-luce.

They all of them were singing: “Blessed thou 433
Among the daughters of Adam art, and blessed
For evermore shall be thy loveliness.”

After the flowers and other tender grasses
In front of me upon the other margin
Were disencumbered of that race elect,

Even as in heaven star followeth after star,
There came close after them four animals, 434
Incoronate each one with verdant leaf.

Plumed with six wings was every one of them,
The plumage full of eyes; the eyes of Argus
If they were living would be such as these.

Reader! to trace their forms no more I waste
My rhymes; for other spendings press me so,
That I in this cannot be prodigal.

But read Ezekiel, who depicteth them 435
As he beheld them from the region cold
Coming with cloud, with whirlwind, and with fire;

And such as thou shalt find them in his pages,
Such were they here; saving that in their plumage
John is with me, and differeth from him. 436

The interval between these four contained
A chariot triumphal on two wheels, 437

433The salutation of the angel to the Virgin Mary. Luke I. 28: “Blessed art thou among
women.” Here the words are made to refer to Beatrice.
434The four Evangelists, of whom the four mysterious animals in Ezekiel are regarded
as symbols.

435Ezekiel I. 4: “And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great
cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst
thereof, as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof
came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the
likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And
their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and
they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.”

436In Revelation IV. 8, they are described as having “each of them six wings;” in Ezekiel,
as having only four.

437The triumphal chariot is the Church. The two wheels are generally interpreted as
meaning the Old and New Testaments; but Dante, Paradiso XII. 106, speaks of them as St.
Dominic and St. Francis.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Which by a Griffin’s neck came drawn along; 438
And upward he extended both his wings

Between the middle list and three and three, 439
So that he injured none by cleaving it
So high they rose that they were lost to sight;

His limbs were gold, so far as he was bird,

And white the others with vermilion mingled.
Not only Rome with no such splendid car
E’er gladdened Africanus, or Augustus,
But poor to it that of the Sun would be, – 440

That of the Sun, which swerving was burnt up
At the importunate orison of Earth,
When Jove was so mysteriously just 441

Three maidens at the right wheel in a circle 442
Came onward dancing; one so very red
That in the fire she hardly had been noted.

The second was as if her flesh and bones
Had all been fashioned out of emerald;
The third appeared as snow but newly fallen.

And now they seemed conducted by the white,
Now by the red, and from the song of her
The others took their step, or slow or swift.

Upon the left hand four made holiday 443

438The Griffin, half lion and half eagle, is explained by all the commentators as a symbol
of Christ, in his divine and human nature.
Didron, in his Christian Iconography, interprets it differently. He says, Millington’s Tr.,

1.458: – “The mystical bird of two colours is understood in the manuscript of Herrade
to mean the Church; in Dante, the bi-formed bird is the representative of the Church,
the Pope. The Pope, in fact, is both priest and king; he directs the souls and governs the
persons of men he reigns over things in heaven. The Pope, then, is but one single person
in two natures, and under two forms; he is both eagle and lion. In his character of Pontiff
or as an eagle, he hovers in the heavens, and ascends even to the throne of God to receive
his commands; as the lion or king he walks upon the earth in strength and power.”
439The wings of the Griffin extend upward between the middle list or trail of splendour

of the seven candles and the three outer ones on each side.
440The golden chariot of the sun, which Phaeton had leave to drive for a day.
441In smiting Phaeton with a thunderbolt.
442The three Theological or Evangelical Virtues, Charity, Hope, and Faith.
443The four Cardinal Virtues, Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. They are

clothed in purple to mark their nobility. Prudence is represented with three eyes, as
looking at the past, the present, and the future.

Vested in purple, following the measure
Of one of them with three eyes in her head.

In rear of all the group here treated of 444
Two old men I beheld, unlike in habit,
But like in gait, each dignified and grave.

One showed himself as one of the disciples 445
Of that supreme Hippocrates, whom nature
Made for the animals she holds most dear;

Contrary care the other manifested,
With sword so shining and so sharp, it caused 446
Terror to me on this side of the river.

Thereafter four I saw of humble aspect, 447
And behind all an aged man alone 448
Walking in sleep with countenance acute.

And like the foremost company these seven
Were habited; yet of the flower-de-luce
No garland round about the head they wore,

But of the rose, and other flowers vermilion;
At little distance would the sight have sworn
That all were in a flame above their brows.

And when the car was opposite to me
Thunder was heard; and all that folk august
Seemed to have further progress interdicted,

There with the vanward ensigns standing still.

444St. Luke and St. Paul.
445St. Luke is supposed to have been a physician; a belief founded on Colossians IV. 14,
“Luke, the beloved physician.” The animal that nature holds most dear is man.
446The sword with which St. Paul is armed is a symbol of warfare and martyrdom; “I
bring not peace, but a sword.” St. Luke’s office was to heal; St. Paul’s to destroy.
447The four Apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude, writers of the Canonical Epistles. The
red flowers, with which their foreheads seem all aflame, are symbols of martyrdom.

448St. John, writer of the Apocalypse; here represented as asleep; as if he were “in the
spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind him a great voice as of a trumpet.” Or perhaps
the alluslon may be to the belief of the early Christians that John did not die, but was
sleeping till the second coming of Christ.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 37: The four and twenty Elders, two by two, came on incoronate
with flower-de-luce.

Figure 38: Three maidens at the right wheel in a circle came onward dancing...



WHEN the Septentrion of the highest heaven 449
(Which never either setting knew or rising,
Nor veil of other cloud than that of sin,

And which made every one therein aware
Of his own duty, as the lower makes
Whoever turns the helm to come to port)

Motionless halted, the veracious people,
That came at first between it and the Griffin,
Turned themselves to the car, as to their peace.

And one of them, as if by Heaven commissioned,
Singing, “Veni, sponsa, de Libano” 450
Shouted three times, and all the others after.

Even as the Blessed at the final summons
Shall rise up quickened each one from his cavern,
Uplifting light the reinvested flesh.

So upon that celestial chariot
A hundred rose ad vocem tanti senis, 451
Ministers and messengers of life eternal.

449In this canto Beatrice appears.
The Seven Stars, or Septentrion of the highest heaven, are the seven lights that lead the
procession, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, by which all men are guided safely in things
spiritual, as the mariner is by the Septentrion, or Seven Stars of the Ursa Minor, two of
which are called the “Wardens of the Pole,” and one of which is the Cynosure, or Pole Star.
These lights precede the triumphal chariot, as in our heaven the Ursa Minor precedes, or
is nearer the centre of rest, than the Ursa Major or Charles’s Wain.
In the Northern Mythology the God Thor is represented as holding these constellations
in his hand.

450Song of Solomon IV. 8: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from
451At the voice of so venerable an old man.


They all were saying, “Benedictus qui venis,” 452
And, scattering flowers above and round about,

“Manibus o date lilia plenis.” 453

Ere now have I beheld, as day began,
The eastern hemisphere all tinged with rose,
And the other heaven with fair serene adorned;

And the sun’s face, uprising, overshadowed
So that by tempering influence of vapours
For a long interval the eye sustained it;

Thus in the bosom of a cloud of flowers
Which from those hands angelical ascended,
And downward fell again inside and out,

Over her snow-white veil with olive cinct
Appeared a lady under a green mantle, 454
Vested in colour of the living flame.

And my own spirit, that already now
So long a time had been, that in her presence 455
Trembling with awe it had not stood abashed, 456

452The cry of the multitude at Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Matthew XXI. 9: “Blessed is

he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
453Aeneid, VI. 833: “Give me lilies in handfuls; let me scatter purple flowers.”
454It will be observed that Dante makes Beatrice appear clothed in the colours of the

three Theological Virtues described in Canto XXIX. 121. The white veil is the symbol of
Faith; the green mantle, of Hope; the red tunic, of Charity. The crown of olive denotes
wisdom. This attire somewhat resembles that given by artists to the Virgin. “The proper
dress of the Virgin,” says Mrs. Jameson, Legends of the Madonna, Introd., LIII., “is a close,
red tunic, with long sleeves, and over this a blue robe or mantle. Her head ought to be

455Beatrice had been dead ten years at the date of the poem, 1300.

456Fully to understand and feel what is expressed in this line, the reader must call to
mind all that Dante says in the Vita Nuova of his meetings with Beatrice, and particularly
the first, which is thus rendered by Mr. Norton in his New Life of Dante, p.20: –
“Nine times now, since my birth, the heaven of light had turned almost to the same point
in its gyration, when first appeared before my eyes the glorious lady of my mind, who
was called Beatrice by many who did not know why they thus called her. She had now
been in this life so long, that in its course the starry heaven had moved toward the east
one of the twelfth parts of a degree; so that about the beginning of her ninth year she
appeared to me, and I near the end of my ninth year saw her. She appeared to me clothed
in a most noble colour, a becoming and modest crimson, and she was girt and adorned in
the style that became her extreme youth. At that instant, I say truly, the spirit of life, which
dwells in the most secret chamber of the heart, began to tremble with such violence, that
it appeared fearfully in the least pulses, and, trembling, said these words: Ecce deus fortior

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Without more knowledge having by mine eyes,
Through occult virtue that from her proceeded
Of ancient love the mighty influence felt.

As soon as on my vision smote the power
Sublime, that had already pierced me through
Ere from my boyhood I had yet come forth,

To the left hand I turned with that reliance
With which the little child runs to his mother,
When he has fear, or when he is afflicted,

To say unto Virgilius: “Not a drachm
Of blood remains in me, that does not tremble;
I know the traces of the ancient flame.” 457

But us Virgilius of himself deprived
Had left, Virgilius, sweetest of all fathers,
Virgilius, to whom I for safety gave me:

Nor whatsoever lost the ancient mother 458
Availed my cheeks now purified from dew,
That weeping they should not again be darkened.

“Dante, because Virgilius has departed
Do not weep yet, do not weep yet awhile;
For by another sword thou need’st must weep.”

E’en as an admiral, who on poop and prow
Comes to behold the people that are working
In other ships. and cheers them to well-doing,

Upon the left hand border of the car,
When at the sound I turned of my own name,
Which of necessity is here recorded,

I saw the Lady, who erewhile appeared
Veiled underneath the angelic festival,
Direct her eyes to me across the river.

Although the veil, that from her head descended,
Encircled with the foliage of Minerva,

me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi! – ‘Behold a god, stronger than I, who, coming, shall rule
me!’ ”
457Dante here translates Virgil’s own words, as he has done so many times before –
Aeneid, IV. 23: Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae.
458The Terrestrial Paradise lost by Eve.

Did not permit her to appear distinctly,

In attitude still royally majestic
Continued she, like unto one who speaks,
And keeps his warmest utterance in reserve:

“Look at me well; in sooth I’m Beatrice!
How didst thou deign to come unto the Mountain?
Didst thou not know that man is happy here?”

Mine eyes fell downward into the clear fountain,
But, seeing myself therein, I sought the grass,
So great a shame did weigh my forehead down.

As to the son the mother seems superb,
So she appeared to me; for somewhat bitter
Tasteth the savour of severe compassion.

Silent became she, and the Angels sang
Suddenly, “In te, Domine, speravi:” 459
But beyond pedes meos did not pass.

Even as the snow among the living rafters
Upon the back of Italy congeals,
Blown on and drifted by Sclavonian winds,

And then, dissolving, trickles through itself
Whene’er the land that loses shadow breathes,
So that it seems a fire that melts a taper;

E’en thus was I without a tear or sigh,
Before the song of those who sing for ever
After the music of the eternal spheres.

But when I heard in their sweet melodies
Compassion for me, more than had they said,
“O wherefore, lady, dost thou thus upbraid him?”

The ice, that was about my heart congealed,
To air and water changed, and in my anguish
Through mouth and eyes came gushing from my breast.

She, on the right-hand border of the car
Still firmly standing, to those holy beings
Thus her discourse directed afterwards:

459Psalm XXXI. 11, 8: “In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust. ... Thou hast set my feet in a
large room.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“Ye keep your watch in the eternal day,
So that nor night nor sleep can steal from you
One step the ages make upon their path;

Therefore my answer is with greater care,
That he may hear me who is weeping yonder,
So that the sin and dole be of one measure.

Not only by the work of those great wheels,
That destine every seed unto some end,
According as the stars are in conjunction,

But by the largess of celestial graces,
Which have such lofty vapours for their rain 460
That near to them our sight approaches not,

Such had this man become in his new life
Potentially, that every righteous habit
Would have made admirable proof in him;

But so much more malignant and more savage
Becomes the land untilled and with bad seed,
The more good earthly vigour it possesses.

Some time did I sustain him with my look;
Revealing unto him my youthful eyes,
I led him with me turned in the right way.

As soon as ever of my second age
I was upon the threshold and changed life, 461
Himself from me he took and gave to others.

When from the flesh to spirit I ascended,
And beauty and virtue were in me increased,
I was to him less dear and less delightful;

And into ways untrue he turned his steps,
Pursuing the false images of good,
That never any promises fulfil;

Nor prayer for inspiration me availed,
By means of which in dreams and otherwise
I called him back, so little did he heed them.

460Which are formed in such lofty regions, that they are beyond human conception.
461Beatrice died in 1290, at the age of twenty-five.

So low he fell, that all appliances 462
For his salvation were already short,
Save showing him the people of perdition.

For this I visited the gates of death,
And unto him, who so far up has led him,
My intercessions were with weeping borne.

God’s lofty fiat would be violated,
If Lethe should be passed, and if such viands
Should tasted be, withouten any scot

Of penitence, that gushes forth in tears.”

462How far these self-accusations of Dante were justified by facts, and how far they
may be regarded as expressions a sensitive and excited conscience, we have no means
of determining. It is doubtless but simple justice to apply to him the words which he
applies to Virgil, Canto III. 8.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 39: “Look at me well; in sooth I’m Beatrice!...”



“O THOU who art beyond the sacred river,” 463
Turning to me the point of her discourse, 464
That edgewise even had seemed to me so keen,

She recommenced, continuing without pause,
“Say, say if this be true; to such a charge,
Thy own confession needs must be conjoined.”

My faculties were in so great confusion,
That the voice moved, but sooner was extinct
Than by its organs it was set at large.

Awhile she waited; then she said: “What thinkest?
Answer me; for the mournful memories
In thee not yet are by the waters injured.”

Confusion and dismay together mingled
Forced such a Yes! from out my mouth, that sight
Was needful to the understanding of it.

Even as a cross-bow breaks, when ’tis discharged
Too tensely drawn the bowstring and the bow,
And with less force the arrow hits the mark,

So I gave way beneath that heavy burden,
Outpouring in a torrent tears and sighs,
And the voice flagged upon its passage forth.

Whence she to me: “In those desires of mine
Which led thee to the loving of that good,
Beyond which there is nothing to aspire to,

463In this canto Dante, having made confession of his sins, is drawn by Matilda through
the river Lethe.

464Hitherto Beatrice has directed her discourse to her attendant hand-maidens around
the chariot. Now she speaks directly to Dante.


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

What trenches lying traverse or what chains 465
Didst thou discover, that of passing onward
Thou shouldst have thus despoiled thee of the hope?

And what allurements or what vantages
Upon the forehead of the others showed,
That thou shouldst turn thy footsteps unto them?” 466

After the heaving of a bitter sigh,
Hardly had I the voice to make response,
And with fatigue my lips did fashion it

Weeping I said: “The things that present were
With their false pleasure turned aside my steps,
Soon as your countenance concealed itself.”

And she: “Shouldst thou be silent, or deny
What thou confessest, not less manifest
Would be thy fault, by such a Judge ’tis known

But when from one’s own cheeks comes bursting forth
The accusal of the sin, in our tribunal
Against the edge the wheel doth turn itself 467

But still, that thou mayst feel a greater shame
For thy transgression, and another time
Hearing the Sirens thou mayst be more strong,

Cast down the seed of weeping and attend; 468
So shalt thou hear, how in an opposite way
My buried flesh should have directed thee.

Never to thee presented art or nature
Pleasure so great as the fair limbs wherein
I was enclosed, which scattered are in earth.

And if the highest pleasure thus did fail thee
By reason of my death. what mortal thing
Should then have drawn thee into its desire?

Thou oughtest verily at the first shaft
Of things fallacious to have risen up

465As in a castle or fortress.
466As one fascinated and enamoured with them.
467The sword of justice is dulled by the wheel being turned against its edge. This is the

usual interpretation; but a friend suggests that the allusion may be to the wheel of St.
Catherine, which is studded with sword-blades.
468The grief which is the cause of your weeping.

To follow me, who was no longer such.

Thou oughtest not to have stooped thy pinions downward
To wait for further blows, or little girl, 469
Or other vanity of such brief use.

The callow birdlet waits for two or three,
But to the eyes of those already fledged,
In vain the net is spread or shaft is shot.” 470

Even as children silent in their shame
Stand listening with their eyes upon the ground,
And conscious of their fault, and penitent;

So was I standing; and she said: “If thou
In hearing sufferest pain, lift up thy beard
And thou shalt feel a greater pain in seeing.”

With less resistance is a robust holm
Uprooted, either by a native wind
Or else by that from regions of Iarbas, 471

Than I upraised at her command my chin;
And when she by the beard the face demanded,
Well I perceived the venom of her meaning.

And as my countenance was lifted up,
Mine eye perceived those creatures beautiful 472
Had rested from the strewing of the flowers;

And, still but little reassured, mine eyes
Saw Beatrice turned round towards the monster,
That is one person only in two natures.

Beneath her veil, beyond the margent green,

469There is a good deal of gossiping among the commentators about this little girl or
Pargoletta. Some suppose it to be the same as the Gentucca of Canto XXIV. 37. Others
think the allusion is general. The Ottimo says: “Neither that young woman, whom in his
Rime he called Pargoletta, nor that Lisetta, nor that other mountain maiden, nor this one,
nor that other.” In all this unnecessary confusion one thing is quite evident. As Beatrice
is speaking of the past, she could not possibly allude to Gentucca, who is spoken of as
one who would make Lucca pleasant to Dante at some future time. Upon the whole,
the interpretation of the Ottimo is the most satisfactory, or at all events the least open to

470Proverbs I. 17: “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.”
471Iarbas, king of Gaetulia, from whom Dido bought the land for building Carthage.
472The angels described in Canto XXX. 20, as “Scattering flowers above and round


-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

She seemed to me far more her ancient self
To excel, than others here, when she was here.

So pricked me then the thorn of penitence,
That of all other things the one which turned me
Most to its love became the most my foe.

Such self-conviction stung me at the heart
O’erpowered I fell, and what I then became
She knoweth who had furnished me the cause.

Then, when the heart restored my outward sense,
The lady I had found alone, above me 473
I saw, and she was saying, “Hold me, hold me.”

Up to my throat she in the stream had drawn me,
And, dragging me behind her, she was moving
Upon the water lightly as a shuttle.

When I was near unto the blessed shore,
“Asperges me,” I heard so sweetly sung, 474
Remember it I cannot, much less write it

The beautiful lady opened wide her arms,
Embraced my head, and plunged me underneath,
Where I was forced to swallow of the water.

Then forth she drew me, and all dripping brought
Into the dance of the four beautiful, 475
And each one with her arm did cover me.

“We here are Nymphs, and in the Heaven are stars;
Ere Beatrice descended to the world,
We as her handmaids were appointed her.

We’ll lead thee to her eyes; but for the pleasant
Light that within them is, shall sharpen thine
The three beyond, who more profoundly look.” 476

Thus singing they began; and afterwards
Unto the Griffin’s breast they led me with them,

474Psalms LI. 7: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be

whiter than snow.”
475The four attendant Nymphs on the left of the triumphal chariot.
476These four Cardinal Virtues lead to Divine Wisdom, but the three Evangelical Virtues

quicken the sight to penetrate more deeply into it.

Where Beatrice was standing, turned towards us. 477

“See that thou dost not spare thine eyes,” they said;
“Before the emeralds have we stationed thee, 478
Whence Love aforetime drew for thee his weapons.”

A thousand longings, hotter than the flame,
Fastened mine eyes upon those eyes relucent,
That still upon the Griffin steadfast stayed.

As in a glass the sun, not otherwise
Within them was the twofold monster shining, 479
Now with the one, now with the other nature. 480

Think, Reader, if within myself I marvelled,
When I beheld the thing itself stand still,
And in its image it transformed itself.

While with amazement filled and jubilant,
My soul was tasting of the food, that while
It satisfies us makes us hunger for it,

Themselves revealing of the highest rank
In bearing, did the other three advance,
Singing to their angelic saraband. 481

“Turn, Beatrice, O turn thy holy eyes,”
Such was their song, “unto thy faithful one,
Who has to see thee ta’en so many steps.

477Standing upon the chariot still; she does not alight till line 36 of the next canto.

478The colour of Beatrice’s eyes has not been passed over in silence by the commentators.
Lani, in his Annotazioni, says: “They were of a greenish blue, like the colour of the
sea.” Mechior Messirini, who thought he had discovered a portrait of Beatrice as old as
the fourteenth century, affirms that she had “splendid brown eyes.” Dante here calls them
emeralds; upon which the Ottimo comments thus: “Dante very happily introduces this
precious stone, considering its properties, and considering that griffins watch over emeralds.
The emerald is the prince of all green stones; no gem nor herb has greater greenness;
it reflects an image like a mirror; increases wealth; is useful in litigation and to orators;
is good for convulsions and epilepsy; preserves and strengthens the sight; restrains lust;
restores memory; is powerful against phantoms and demons; calms tempests; stanches
blood, and is useful to soothsayers.”

479Monster is here used in the sense of marvel or prodigy.

480Now as an eagle, now as a lion. The two natures, divine and human, of Christ are
reflected in Theology, or Divine Wisdom. Didron, who thinks the Griffin a symbol of the
Pope, applies this to his spiritual and temporal power: “As priest he is the eagle floating
in the air; as king he is a lion walking on the earth.”

481The Italian Caribo, like the English Carol or Roundelay, is both song and dance. Some
editions read in this line “dancing,” instead of “singing.”

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

In grace do us the grace that thou unveil
Thy face to him, so that he may discern
The second beauty which thou dost conceal.”

O splendour of the living light eternal!
Who underneath the shadow of Parnassus
Has grown so pale, or drunk so at its cistern,

He would not seem to have his mind encumbered
Striving to paint thee as thou didst appear,
Where the harmonious heaven o’ershadowed thee,

When in the open air thou didst unveil?

Figure 40: Embraced my head, and plunged me underneath, where I was
forced to swallow of the water.



SO steadfast and attentive were mine eyes 482
In satisfying their decennial thirst, 483
That all my other senses were extinct,

And upon this side and on that they had
Walls of indifference, so the holy smile
Drew them unto itself with the old net

When forcibly my sight was turned away
Towards my left hand by those goddesses,
Because I heard from them a “Too intently!”

And that condition of the sight which is
In eyes but lately smitten by the sun
Bereft me of my vision some short while;

But to the less when sight re-shaped itself,
I say the less in reference to the greater
Splendour from which perforce I had withdrawn,

I saw upon its right wing wheeled about
The glorious host returning with the sun
And with the sevenfold flames upon their faces.

As underneath its shields, to save itself,
A squadron turns, and with its banner wheels,
Before the whole thereof can change its front,

That soldiery of the celestial kingdom
Which marched in the advance had wholly passed us
Before the chariot had turned its pole.

Then to the wheels the maidens turned themselves,

482A mystical canto, in which is described the tree of the forbidden fruit, and other
wonderful and mysterious things.

483Beatrice had been dead ten years.


And the Griffin moved his burden benedight,
But so that not a feather of him fluttered.

The lady fair who drew me through the ford
Followed with Statius and myself the wheel
Which made its orbit with the lesser arc.

So passing through the lofty forest, vacant
By fault of her who in the serpent trusted,
Angelic music made our steps keep time.

Perchance as great a space had in three flights
An arrow loosened from the string o’erpassed, 484
As we had moved when Beatrice descended.

I heard them murmur altogether, “Adam!”
Then circled they about a tree despoiled 485
Of blooms and other leafage on each bough.

Its tresses, which so much the more dilate
As higher they ascend, had been by Indians 486
Among their forests marvelled at for height.

“Blessed art thou, O Griffin, who dost not 487
Pluck with thy beak these branches sweet to taste,
Since appetite by this was turned to evil.”

After this fashion round the tree robust
The others shouted; and the twofold creature:
“Thus is preserved the seed of all the just.”

And turning to the pole which he had dragged,
He drew it close beneath the widowed bough,
And what was of it unto it left bound. 488

484A disfrenata saetta, an uncurbed arrow, like that which Pandarus shot at Menelaus,
Iliad, IV. 124: “The sharp-pointed arrow sprang forth, eager to rush among the crowd.”

485Genesis II. 16: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest
thereof, thou shalt surely die.”
Some commentators suppose that Dante’s mystic tree is not only the tree of knowledge
of good and evil, but also a symbol of the Roman Empire.

486Virgil, Georgics, II. 123: “The groves which India, nearer the ocean, the utmost skirts
of the globe, produces, where no arrows by their flight have been able to surmount the
airy summit of the tree; and yet that nation is not slow at archery.”

487Christ’s renunciation of temporal power.

488The pole of the chariot, which was made of this tree, he left bound to the tree. Buti
says: “This chariot represents the Holy Church, which is the congregation of the faithful,
and the pole of this chariot is the cross of Christ, which he bore upon his shoulders, so

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

In the same manner as our trees (when downward
Falls the great light, with that together mingled
Which after the celestial Lasca shines) 489

Begin to swell, and then renew themselves,
Each one with its own colour, ere the Sun
Harness his steeds beneath another star:

Less than of rose and more than violet 490
A hue disclosing, was renewed the tree
That had erewhile its boughs so desolate.

I never heard, nor here below is sung,
The hymn which afterward that people sang,
Nor did I bear the melody throughout.

Had I the power to paint how fell asleep
Those eyes compassionless, of Syrinx hearing, 491
Those eyes to which more watching cost so dear,

Even as a painter who from model paints
I would portray how I was lulled asleep;

that the author well represents him as dragging the pole with his neck.” The statement
that the cross was made of the tree of knowledge, is founded on an old legend. When
Adam was dying, he sent his son Seth to the Garden of Paradise to bring him some drops
of the oil of the mercy of God. The angel at the gate refused him entrance, but gave him
a branch from the tree of knowledge, and told him to plant it upon Adam’s grave; and
that, when it should bear fruit, then should Adam receive the oil of God’s mercy. The
branch grew into a tree, but never bore fruit till the passion of Christ; but “of a branch of
this tree and of other wood,” says Buti, “the cross was made, and from that branch was
suspended such sweet fruit as the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then Adam and
other saints had the oil of mercy, inasmuch as they were taken from Limbo and led by
Christ into eternal life.”

489In the month of February, when the sun is in the constellation of the Fishes. Dante
here gives it the title of the Lasca – the Roach or Mullet.
490The red and white of the apple-blossoms is symbolical of the blood and water which
flowed from the wound in Christ’s side. At least so thinks Vellutelli.

491The eyes of Argus, whom Mercury lulled asleep by telling him the story of Syrinx,
and then put to death.
Ovid, Met., I., Dryden’s Tr.: –
“While Hermes piped, and sung, and told his tale,
The keeper’s winking eyes began to fail,
And drowsy slumber on the lids to creep
Till all the watchman was at length asleep.
Then soon the god his voice and song supprest,
And with his powerful rod confirmed his rest;
Without delay his crooked falchion drew,
And at one fatal stroke the keeper slew.”

He may, who well can picture drowsihood.

Therefore I pass to what time I awoke,
And say a splendour rent from me the veil
Of slumber, and a calling: “Rise, what dost thou?”

As to behold the apple-tree in blossom 492
Which makes the Angels greedy for its fruit,
And keeps perpetual bridals in the Heaven,

Peter and John and James conducted were,
And, overcome, recovered at the word
By which still greater slumbers have been broken,

And saw their school diminished by the loss
Not only of Elias, but of Moses,
And the apparel of their Master changed;

So I revived, and saw that piteous one 493
Above me standing, who had been conductress
Aforetime of my steps beside the river,

And all in doubt I said, “Where’s Beatrice?”
And she: “Behold her seated underneath
The leafage new, upon the root of it.

Behold the company that circles her;
The rest behind the Griffin are ascending
With more melodious song, and more profound.”

And if her speech were more diffuse I know not,
Because already in my sight was she
Who from the hearing of aught else had shut me.

Alone she sat upon the very earth,
Left there as guardian of the chariot
Which I had seen the biform monster fasten.

Encircling her, a cloister made themselves
The seven Nymphs, with those lights in their hands 494
Which are secure from Aquilon and Auster.

492The Transfiguration. The passage in the Song of Solomon, II. 3, “As the apple-tree
among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons,” is interpreted as referring
to Christ; and Dante here calls the Transfiguration the blossoming of that tree.

494The seven Virtues holding the seven golden candlesticks, or the seven gifts of the
Holy Spirit.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

“Short while shalt thou be here a forester,
And thou shalt be with me for evermore
A citizen of that Rome where Christ is Roman.

Therefore, for that world’s good which liveth ill,
Fix on the car thine eyes, and what thou seest.
Having returned to earth, take heed thou write.”

Thus Beatrice; and I, who at the feet
Of her commandments all devoted was,
My mind and eyes directed where she willed.

Never descended with so swift a motion
Fire from a heavy cloud, when it is raining
From out the region which is most remote,

As I beheld the bird of Jove descend 495
Down through the tree, rending away the bark,
As well as blossoms and the foliage new,

And he with all his might the chariot smote, 496
Whereat it reeled, like vessel in a tempest
Tossed by the waves, now starboard and now larboard.

Thereafter saw I leap into the body
Of the triumphal vehicle a Fox, 497
That seemed unfed with any wholesome food.

But for his hideous sins upbraiding him,
My Lady put him to as swift a flight
As such a fleshless skeleton could bear.

Then by the way that it before had come,
Into the chariot’s chest I saw the Eagle
Descend, and leave it feathered with his plumes. 498

And such as issues from a heart that mourns,
A voice from Heaven there issued, and it said:

495The descent of the eagle upon the tree is interpreted by Buti as tile persecution of the
Christians by the Emperors. The rending of the bark of the tree is the “breaking down
of the constancy and fortitude of holy men”; the blossoms are “virtuous examples or
prayers,” and the new leaves, “the virtuous deeds that holy men had begun to do, and
which were interrupted by these persecutions.”

496Buti says: “This descent of the eagle upon the chariot, and the smiting it, mean the
persecution of the Holy Church and of the Christians by the Emperors, as appears in the
chronicles down to the time of Constantine.”

497The Fox is Heresy.
498The gift of Constantine to the Church.

“My little bark, how badly art thou freighted!”

Methought, then, that the earth did yawn between
Both wheels, and I saw rise from it a Dragon, 499
Who through the chariot upward fixed his tail,

And as a wasp that draweth back its sting,
Drawing unto himself his tail malign,
Drew out the floor, and went his way rejoicing

That which remained behind, even as with grass
A fertile region, with the feathers, offered
Perhaps with pure intention and benign,

Reclothed itself, and with them were reclothed
The pole and both the wheels so speedily,
A sigh doth longer keep the lips apart.

Transfigured thus the holy edifice
Thrust forward heads upon the parts of it,
Three on the pole and one at either corner. 500

The first were horned like oxen; but the four
Had but a single horn upon the forehead;
A monster such had never yet been seen!

Firm as a rock upon a mountain high,
Seated upon it, there appeared to me
A shameless whore, with eyes swift glancing round, 501

And, as if not to have her taken from him,
Upright beside her I beheld a giant; 502
And ever and anon they kissed each other.

But because she her wanton, roving eye
Turned upon me, her angry paramour

499Mahomet. Revelation XII. 3: “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and,
behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon
his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the

500“These seven heads,” say the Ottimo and others, “denote the seven deadly sins.” But
Biagioli, following Buti, says: “There is no doubt that these heads and the horns represent
the same that we have said in Canto XIX. of the Inferno – namely, the ten horns, the Ten
Commandments of God; and the seven heads, the Seven Sacraments of the Church.”
Never was there a wider difference of interpretation. The context certainly favours the

501Pope Boniface the Eighth.
502Philip the Fourth France. For his character see Canto XX. Note 43.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Did scourge her from her head unto her feet. 503

Then full of jealousy, and fierce with wrath,
He loosed the monster, and across the forest
Dragged it so far, he made of that alone 504

A shield unto the whore and the strange beast.

503This alludes to the maltreatment of Boniface by the troops of Philip at Alagna. See
Canto XX. Note 87.

504The removal of the Papal See from Rome to Avignon.
The principal points of the allegory of this canto may be summed up as follows. The
triumphal chariot, the Church; the seven Nymphs, the Virtues Cardinal and Evangelical;
the seven candlesticks, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; the tree of knowledge, Rome; the
Eagle, the Imperial power; the Fox, heresy; the Dragon, Mahomet; the shameless whore,
Pope Boniface the Eighth; and the giant, Philip the Fair of France.

Figure 41: Seated upon it, there appeared to me a shameless whore, with
eyes swift glancing round...



“Deus venerunt gentes,” alternating 505
Now three, now four, melodious psalmody
The maidens in the midst of tears began;

And Beatrice, compassionate and sighing,
Listened to them with such a countenance,
That scarce more changed was Mary at the cross.

But when the other virgins place had given 506
For her to speak, uprisen to her feet
With colour as of fire, she made response:

“Modicum, et non videbitis me;
Et iterum, my sisters predilect,
Modicum, et vos videbitis me.”

Then all the seven in front of her she placed;
And after her, by beckoning only, moved
Me and the lady and the sage who stayed. 507

So she moved onward; and I do not think
That her tenth step was placed upon the ground,
When with her eyes upon mine eyes she smote,

And with a tranquil aspect, “Come more quickly,”
To me she said, “that, if I speak with thee,
To listen to me thou mayst be well placed.”

As soon as I was with her as I should be,

505In this canto Dante is made to drink of the river Eunoe, the memory of things good.
Psalm LXXIX., beginning: “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy
temple have they defiled.” The three Evangelical and four Cardinal Virtues chant this
psalm, alternately responding to each other. The Latin words must be chanted, in order
to make the lines rhythmical, with an equal emphasis on each syllable.

506When their singing was ended.
507Dante, Matilda, and Statius.


She said to me: “Why, brother, dost thou not
Venture to question now, in coming with me?”

As unto those who are too reverential,
Speaking in presence of superiors,
Who drag no living utterance to their teeth,

It me befell, that without perfect sound
Began I: “My necessity, Madonna,
You know, and that which thereunto is good.”

And she to me: “Of fear and bashfulness
Henceforward I will have thee strip thyself,
So that thou speak no more as one who dreams.

Know that the vessel which the serpent broke 508
Was, and is not; but let him who is guilty
Think that God’s vengeance does not fear a sop. 509

Without an heir shall not for ever be 510
The Eagle that left his plumes upon the car,
Whence it became a monster, then a prey;

For verily I see, and hence narrate it,
The stars already near to bring the time,
From every hindrance safe, and every bar,

Within which a Five-hundred, Ten, and Five, 511
One sent from God, shall slay the thievish woman
And that same giant who is sinning with her.

And peradventure my dark utterance,

508Is no longer what it was. Revelation XVII. 8: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is

509In the olden time in Florence, if an assassin could contrive to eat a sop’ of bread and
wine at the grave of the murdered man, within nine days after the murder, he was free
from the vengeance of the family; and to prevent this they kept watch at the tomb. There
is no evading the vengeance of God in this way. Such is the interpretation this passage
by all the old commentators.

510The Roman Empire shall not always be without an Emperor, as it was then in the eyes
of Dante, who counted the “German Albert,” Alberto Tedesco, as no Emperor, because he
never came into Italy. See the appeal to him, Canto VI. 96, and the malediction, because
he suffered “The garden of the empire to be waste.”

511The Roman numerals making DVX, or Leader. The allusion is Henry of Luxemburgh,
in whom Dante placed his hopes of the restoration of the Imperial power. He was the
successor of the German Albert of the preceding note, after an interregnum of one year.
He died in 1312, shortly after his coronation in Rome. See Canto VI. Note 97.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Like Themis and the Sphinx, may less persuade thee, 512
Since, in their mode, it clouds the intellect;

But soon the facts shall be the Naiades 513
Who shall this difficult enigma solve,
Without destruction of the flocks and harvests.

Note thou; and even as by me are uttered
These words, so teach them unto those who live
That life which is a running unto death;

And bear in mind, whene’er thou writest them,
Not to conceal what thou hast seen the plant,
That twice already has been pillaged here. 514

Whoever pillages or shatters it,
With blasphemy of deed offendeth God,
Who made it holy for his use alone.

For biting that, in pain and in desire 515
Five thousand years and more the first-born soul
Craved Him, who punished in himself the bite.

Thy genius slumbers, if it deem it not
For special reason so pre-eminent
In height, and so inverted in its summit 516

And if thy vain imaginings had not been
Water of Elsa round about thy mind, 517

512Themis, the daughter of Coelus and Terra, whose oracle was famous in Attica, and
who puzzled Deucalion and Pyrrha by telling them that, in order to repeople the earth
after the deluge, they must throw “their mother’s bones behind them.”
The Sphinx, the famous monster born of Chimaera, and having the head of a woman, the
wings of a bird, the body of a dog, and the paws of a lion; and whose riddle “What animal
walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three at night?” so puzzled
the Thebans, that King Creon offered his crown and his daughter Jocasta to any one who
should solve it, and so free the land of the uncomfortable monster; a feat accomplished
by Oedipus apparently without much difficulty.

513The Naiades having undertaken to solve the enigmas of oracles, Themis, offended,
sent forth a wild beast to ravage the flocks and fields of the Thebans; though why they
should have been held accountable for the doings of the Naiades is not very obvious.

514First by the Eagle, who rent its bark and leaves; then by the giant, who bore away the

chariot which had been bound to it.
515The sin of Adam, and the death of Christ.
516Widening at the top, instead of diminishing upward like other trees.
517The Elsa is a river in Tuscany, rising in the mountains near Colle, and flowing north

ward into the Arno, between Florence and Pisa. Its waters have the power of incrusting
or petrifying anything left in them. “This power of incrustation,” says Covino, Descriz.

And Pyramus to the mulberry, their pleasure, 518

Thou by so many circumstances only
The justice of the interdict of God
Morally in the tree wouldst recognize.

But since I see thee in thine intellect
Converted into stone and stained with sin,
So that the light of my discourse doth daze thee,

I will too, if not written, at least painted,
Thou bear it back within thee, for the reason
That cinct with palm the pilgrim’s staff is borne.” 519

And I: “As by a signet is the wax
Which does not change the figure stamped upon it,
My brain is now imprinted by yourself

But wherefore so beyond my power of sight
Soars your desirable discourse, that aye
The more I strive, so much the more I lose it?”

“That thou mayst recognize,” she said, “the school 520
Which thou hast followed, and mayst see how far
Its doctrine follows after my discourse,

And mayst behold your path from the divine
Distant as far as separated is
From earth the heaven that highest hastens on.”

Whence her I answered: “I do not remember

Geog. dell’ Italia, “is especially manifest a little above Colle, where a great pool rushes
impetuously from the ground.”

518If the vain thoughts thou hast been immersed in had not petrified thee, and the pleasure
of them stained thee; if thou hadst not been “Converted into stone and stained with

519The staff wreathed with palm, the cockle-shell in the hat, and the sandal-shoon were
all marks of the pilgrim, showing he had been beyond sea and in the Holy Land.
In the Vita Nuova, Mr. Norton’s Tr., p.71, is this passage: “Moreover, it is to be known that
the people who travel in the service of the Most High are called by three distinct terms.
Those who go beyond the sea, whence often they bring back the palm, are called palmers.
Those who go to the house of Galicia are called pilgrims, because the burial-place of St.
James was more distant from his country than that of any other of the Apostles. And
those are called romei who go to Rome.”

520How far Philosophy differs from Religion. Isaiah IV. 8: “For my thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are
higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

That ever I estranged myself from you,
Nor have I conscience of it that reproves me.”

“And if thou art not able to remember,”
Smiling she answered, “recollect thee now
That thou this very day hast drunk of Lethe;

And if from smoke a fire may be inferred,
Such an oblivion clearly demonstrates
Some error in thy will elsewhere intent.

Truly from this time forward shall my words
Be naked, so far as it is befitting
To lay them open unto thy rude gaze.”

And more coruscant and with slower steps
The sun was holding the meridian circle, 521
Which, with the point of view, shifts here and there

When halted (as he cometh to a halt,
Who goes before a squadron as its escort,
If something new he find upon his way)

The ladies seven at a dark shadow’s edge,
Such as, beneath green leaves and branches black,
The Alp upon its frigid border wears.

In front of them the Tigris and Euphrates 522
Methought I saw forth issue from one fountain,
And slowly part, like friends, from one another.

“O light, O glory of the human race!
What stream is this which here unfolds itself
From out one source, and from itself withdraws?”

For such a prayer, ’twas said unto me, “Pray
Matilda that she tell thee;” and here answered,
As one does who doth free himself from blame,

The beautiful lady: “This and other things
Were told to him by me; and sure I am
The water of Lethe has not hid them from him.”

And Beatrice: “Perhaps a greater care,
Which oftentimes our memory takes away,

521Noon of the Fourth Day of Purgatory.
522Two of the four rivers that watered Paradise. Here they are the same as Lethe and
Eunoe, the oblivion of evil, and the memory of good.

Has made the vision of his mind obscure.

But Eunoe behold, that yonder rises;
Lead him to it, and, as thou art accustomed,
Revive again the half-dead virtue in him.”

Like gentle soul, that maketh no excuse,
But makes its own will of another’s will
As soon as by a sign it is disclosed,

Even so, when she had taken hold of me,
The beautiful lady moved, and unto Statius
Said, in her womanly manner, “Come with him.”

If, Reader, I possessed a longer space
For writing it, I yet would sing in part
Of the sweet draught that ne’er would satiate me;

But inasmuch as full are all the leaves
Made ready for this second canticle,
The curb of art no farther lets me go.

From the most holy water I returned
Regenerate, in the manner of new trees
That are renewed with a new foliage,

Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars. 523

523The last word in this division of the poem, as in the other two, is the suggestive word

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Figure 42: From the most holy water I returned... Pure and disposed to
mount unto the stars.



Alighieri, or simply Dante
(May 14/June 13, 1265 – September
13/14, 1321), was an Italian poet from Florence. His central work, the Commedia
(Divine Comedy), is considered the greatest literary work composed
in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. In Italian
he is known as “the Supreme Poet” (il Sommo Poeta). Dante, Petrarch and
Boccaccio are also known as “the three fountains” or “the three crowns”.
Dante is also called “the Father of the Italian language”. The first biography
written on him was by his contemporary Giovanni Villani (1276 –


Dante Alighieri was born in 1265, between May 14 and June 13, under the
name “Durante Alighieri.”

His family was prominent in Florence, with loyalties to the Guelphs,
a political alliance that supported the Papacy and which was involved in
complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman

Dante pretended that his family descended from the ancient Romans
(Inferno, XV, 76), but the earliest relative he can mention by name is Cacciaguida
degli Elisei (Paradiso, XV, 135), of no earlier than about 1100.
Dante’s father, Alighiero di Bellincione, was a White Guelph (see Politics
section) who suffered no reprisals after the Ghibellines won the Battle of
Montaperti in the mid 13th century. This suggests that Alighiero or his
family enjoyed some protective prestige and status.

The poet’s mother was Bella degli Abati. She died when Dante was
7 years old, and Alighiero soon married again, to Lapa di Chiarissimo
Cialuffi. It is uncertain whether he really married her, as widowers had
social limitations in these matters. This woman definitely bore two children,
Dante’s brother Francesco and sister Tana (Gaetana).


Dante fought in the front rank of the Guelph cavalry at the battle of
Campaldino (June 11, 1289). This victory brought forth a reformation of
the Florentine constitution. To take any part in public life, one had to be
enrolled in one of “the arts”. So Dante entered the guild of physicians and
apothecaries. In following years, his name is frequently found recorded as
speaking or voting in the various councils of the republic.

When Dante was 12, in 1277, he was promised in marriage to Gemma
di Manetto Donati, daughter of Messer Manetto Donati. Contracting marriages
at this early age was quite common and involved a formal ceremony,
including contracts signed before a notary. Dante had already fallen
in love with another girl, Beatrice Portinari (known also as Bice). Years after
Dante’s marriage to Gemma he met Beatrice again. He had become
interested in writing verse, and although he wrote several sonnets to Beatrice,
he never mentioned his wife Gemma in any of his poems.

Dante had several children with Gemma. As often happens with significant
figures, many people subsequently claimed to be Dante’s offspring;
however, it is likely that Jacopo, Pietro, Giovanni, Gabrielle Alighieri, and
Antonia were truly his children. Antonia became a nun with the name of
Sister Beatrice.


Not much is known about Dante’s education, and it is presumed he studied
at home. It is known that he studied Tuscan poetry, at a time when the
Sicilian School (Scuola poetica siciliana), a cultural group from Sicily, was
becoming known in Tuscany. His interests brought him to discover the
Occitan poetry of the troubadours and the Latin poetry of classical antiquity
(with a particular devotion to Virgil).

During the “Secoli Bui” (Dark Ages), Italy had become a mosaic of
small states, Sicily being the largest one, at the time under the Angevine
dominations, and as far (culturally and politically) from Tuscany as Occitania
was: the regions did not share a language, culture, or easy communications.
Nevertheless, we can assume that Dante was a keen up-to-date
intellectual with international interests.

At 18, Dante met Guido Cavalcanti, Lapo Gianni, Cino da Pistoia, and
soon after Brunetto Latini; together they became the leaders of Dolce Stil
Novo (“The Sweet New Style”). Brunetto later received a special mention
in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, XV, 28), for what he had taught Dante. “Nor
speaking less on that account, I go With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are His most
known and most eminent companions”. Some fifty poetical components by

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

Dante are known (the so-called Rime, rhymes), others being included in
the later Vita Nuova and Convivio. Other studies are reported, or deduced
from Vita Nuova or the Comedy, regarding painting and music.

When he was nine years old he met Beatrice Portinari, daughter of
Folco Portinari, with whom he fell in love “at first sight”, and apparently
without even having spoken to her. He saw her frequently after age 18,
often exchanging greetings in the street, but he never knew her well –
he effectively set the example for the so-called “courtly love”. It is hard
now to understand what this love actually comprised, but something extremely
important for Italian culture was happening. It was in the name of
this love that Dante gave his imprint to the Stil Novo and would lead poets
and writers to discover the themes of Love (Amore), which had never been
so emphasized before. Love for Beatrice (as in a different manner Petrarch
would show for his Laura) would apparently be the reason for poetry and
for living, together with political passions. In many of his poems, she is
depicted as semi-divine, watching over him constantly.

When Beatrice died in 1290, Dante tried to find a refuge in Latin literature.
The Convivio reveals that he had read Boethius’s De consolatione
philosophiae and Cicero’s De amicitia.

He then dedicated himself to philosophical studies at religious schools
like the Dominican one in Santa Maria Novella. He took part in the disputes
that the two principal mendicant orders (Franciscan and Dominican)
publicly or indirectly held in Florence, the former explaining the doctrine
of the mystics and of Saint Bonaventure, the latter presenting Saint
Thomas Aquinas’ theories.

This “excessive” passion for philosophy would later be criticized by
the character Beatrice, in Purgatorio, the second book of the Comedy.


Dante, like most Florentines of his day, was embroiled in the Guelph-
Ghibelline conflict. He fought in the battle of Campaldino (June 11, 1289),
with the Florentine Guelphs against Arezzo Ghibellines, then in 1294 he
was among the escorts of Charles Martel d’Anjou (son of Charles of Anjou)
while he was in Florence.

To further his political career, he became a pharmacist. He did not intend
to actually practice as one, but a law issued in 1295 required that nobles
who wanted public office had to be enrolled in one of the Corporazioni
delle Arti e dei Mestieri, so Dante obtained admission to the apothecaries’
guild. This profession was not entirely inapt, since at that time books were

sold from apothecaries’ shops. As a politician, he accomplished little, but
he held various offices over a number of years in a city undergoing political

After defeating the Ghibellines, the Guelphs divided into two factions:
the White Guelphs (Guelfi Bianchi) – Dante’s party, led by Vieri dei Cerchi

– and the Black Guelphs (Guelfi Neri), led by Corso Donati. Although initially
the split was along family lines, ideological differences rose based
on opposing views of the papal role in Florentine affairs, with the Blacks
supporting the Pope and the Whites wanting more freedom from Rome.
Initially the Whites were in power and kicked out the Blacks.
In response, Pope Boniface VIII planned a military occupation of Florence.
In 1301, Charles de Valois, brother of Philip the Fair king of France,
was expected to visit Florence because the Pope had appointed him peacemaker
for Tuscany. But the city’s government had treated the Pope’s ambassadors
badly a few weeks before, seeking independence from papal
influence. It was believed that Charles de Valois would eventually have
received other unofficial instructions. So the council sent a delegation to
Rome to ascertain the Pope’s intentions. Dante was one of the delegates.


Boniface quickly dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to
remain in Rome. At the same time (November 1, 1301), Charles de Valois
entered Florence with Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed
much of the city and killed many of their enemies. A new Black Guelph
government was installed and Messer Cante dei Gabrielli di Gubbio was
appointed Podest`a of Florence. Dante was condemned to exile for two
years, and ordered to pay a large fine. The poet was still in Rome, where
the Pope had “suggested” he stay, and was therefore considered an absconder.
He did not pay the fine, in part because he believed he was not
guilty, and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the
Black Guelphs. He was condemned to perpetual exile, and if he returned
to Florence without paying the fine, he could be burned at the stake.

The poet took part in several attempts by the White Guelphs to regain
power, but these failed due to treachery. Dante, bitter at the treatment
he received from his enemies, also grew disgusted with the infighting and
ineffectiveness of his erstwhile allies, and vowed to become a party of one.
At this point, he began sketching the foundation for the Divine Comedy,a
work in 100 cantos, divided into three books of thirty-three cantos each,
with a single introductory canto.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

He went to Verona as a guest of Bartolomeo I della Scala, then moved
to Sarzana in Liguria. Later, he is supposed to have lived in Lucca with
Madame Gentucca, who made his stay comfortable (and was later gratefully
mentioned in Purgatorio, XXIV, 37). Some speculative sources say
that he was also in Paris between 1308 and 1310. Other sources, even less
trustworthy, take him to Oxford.

In 1310, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg, marched
5,000 troops into Italy. Dante saw in him a new Charlemagne who would
restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also
re-take Florence from the Black Guelphs. He wrote to Henry and several
Italian princes, demanding that they destroy the Black Guelphs. Mixing
religion and private concerns, he invoked the worst anger of God against
his city, suggesting several particular targets that coincided with his personal
enemies. It was during this time that he wrote the first two books of
the Divine Comedy.

In Florence, Baldo d’Aguglione pardoned most of the White Guelphs
in exile and allowed them to return; however, Dante had gone too far in
his violent letters to Arrigo (Henry VII), and he was not recalled.

In 1312, Henry assaulted Florence and defeated the Black Guelphs, but
there is no evidence that Dante was involved. Some say he refused to
participate in the assault on his city by a foreigner; others suggest that
he had become unpopular with the White Guelphs too and that any trace
of his passage had carefully been removed. In 1313, Henry VII died, and
with him any hope for Dante to see Florence again. He returned to Verona,
where Cangrande I della Scala allowed him to live in a certain security
and, presumably, in a fair amount of prosperity. Cangrande was admitted
to Dante’s Paradise (Paradiso, XVII, 76).

In 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola (the military
officer controlling the town) to grant an amnesty to people in exile,
including Dante. But Florence required that as well as paying a sum of
money, these exiles would do public penance. Dante refused, preferring
to remain in exile.

When Uguccione defeated Florence, Dante’s death sentence was commuted
to house arrest, on condition that he go to Florence to swear that
he would never enter the town again. Dante refused to go. His death
sentence was confirmed and extended to his sons.

Dante still hoped late in life that he might be invited back to Florence
on honourable terms. For Dante, exile was nearly a form of death, stripping
him of much of his identity.

Of course it never happened. Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited
him to Ravenna in 1318, and he accepted. He finished the Paradiso, and

died in 1321 (at the age of 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic
mission to Venice, perhaps of malaria contracted there. Dante was
buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San
Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice in 1483, took care of his
remains by building a better tomb.

On the grave, some verses of Bernardo Canaccio, a friend of Dante,
dedicated to Florence:

parvi Florentia mater amoris

Florence, mother of little love

Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante’s exile, and made repeated
requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at
Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the
bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was
built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been
empty ever since, with Dante’s body remaining in Ravenna, far from the
land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate
l’altissimo poeta – which roughly translates as “Honour the most exalted
poet”. The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting
Virgil’s welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending
eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L’ombra sua torna, ch’era dipartita
(“his spirit, which had left us, returns”), is poignantly absent from
the empty tomb.




(February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was
an American poet whose works include “Paul Revere’s Ride”, “A Psalm
of Life”, “The Song of Hiawatha”, “Evangeline”, and “Christmas Bells”.
He also wrote the first American translation of Dante Alighieri’s “Divine
and was one of the five members of the group known as the
Fireside Poets. Longfellow was born and raised in the region of Portland,
Maine. He attended university at an early age at Bowdoin College
in Brunswick, Maine. After several journeys overseas, Longfellow settled
for the last forty-five years of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807, to Stephen and Zilpah (Wadsworth)
Longfellow in Portland, Maine, and grew up in what is now known
as the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. His father was a lawyer, and his
maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, Sr., was a general in the American
Revolutionary War. He was named after his mother’s brother Henry
Wadsworth, a Navy lieutenant who died only three years earlier.

Longfellow’s siblings were Stephen, Elizabeth, Anne, Alexander, Mary,
Ellen, and Samuel. Henry was enrolled in a dame school at the age of only
three and by age six was enrolled at the private Portland Academy. In
his years there, he earned a reputation as being very studious and became
fluent in Latin. He printed his first poem – a patriotic and historical four
stanza poem called “The Battle of Lovell’s Pond” – in the Portland Gazette on
November 17, 1820. He remained at the Portland Academy until the age
of fourteen.

In the fall of 1822, the 15-year old Longfellow enrolled at Bowdoin
College in Brunswick, Maine alongside his brother Stephen. His grandfather
was a founder of the college and his father was a trustee. There,


Longfellow met Nathaniel Hawthorne, who would later become his lifelong
friend. He boarded with a clergyman for a time before rooming on
the third floor of what is now Maine Hall in 1823. He joined the Peucinian
Society, a group of students with Federalist leanings. In his senior year,
Longfellow wrote to his father about his aspirations:

“I will not disguise it in the least... the fact is, I most eagerly
aspire after future eminence in literature, my whole soul burns
most ardently after it, and every earthly thought centres in it...
I am almost confident in believing, that if I can ever rise in the
world it must be by the exercise of my talents in the wide field
of literature.”

He pursued his literary goals by submitting poetry and prose to various
newspapers and magazines. Between January 1824 and his graduation
in 1825, he had published nearly 40 minor poems. About 24 of
them appeared in the short-lived Boston periodical The United States Literary


After graduating in 1825, he was offered a job as professor of modern languages
at his alma mater. The story, possibly apocryphal, is that an influential
trustee, Benjamin Orr, had been so impressed Longfellow’s translation
of Horace that he was hired under the condition that he travel to Europe
to study French, Spanish and Italian. Whatever the motivation, he began
his tour of Europe in May 1826 aboard a ship named Cadmus. His time
abroad would last three years and cost his father an estimated $2,604.24.
He traveled to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, back to France, then England
before returning to the United States in mid-August 1829. Longfellow was
saddened to learn his favorite sister Elizabeth had died of tuberculosis at
the age of 20 that May while he was abroad.

On August 27, 1829, he wrote to the president of Bowdoin that he was
turning down the professorship because he considered the $600 salary
“disproportionate to the duties required.” The trustees raised his salary
to $800 with an additional $100 to serve as the college’s librarian, a post
which required one hour of work per day. During his years at the college,
he wrote textbooks in French, Italian, and Spanish and a travel book,
Outre-Mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea. On September 14, 1831, he married
Mary Storer Potter, a childhood friend from Portland. The couple settled
in Brunswick, though the two were not happy there.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio

In December 1834, Longfellow received a letter from Josiah Quincy
III, president of Harvard College, offering him a position as the Smith
Professorship of Modern Languages with the stipulation that he spend
a year or so abroad. In October 1835, during the trip, his wife Mary had
a miscarriage about six months into her pregnancy. She did not recover
and died after several weeks of illness at the age of 22 on November 29,
1835. Longfellow had her body embalmed immediately and placed into a
lead coffin inside an oak coffin which was then shipped to Mount Auburn
Cemetery near Boston. Three years later, he was inspired to write “Footsteps
of Angels” about their love.

When he returned to the United States in 1836, Longfellow took up
the professorship at Harvard University. He was required to live in Cambridge
to be close to the campus and moved in to the Craigie House in the
spring of 1837. The home, built in 1759, had once been the headquarters
of George Washington during the seige of Boston in July 1775. Longfellow
began publishing his poetry, including “Voices of the Night” in 1839
and Ballads and Other Poems, which included his famous poem “The Village
Blacksmith”, in 1841.


Longfellow began courting Frances “Fanny” Appleton, the daughter of
a wealthy Boston industrialist, Nathan Appleton. At first, she was not
interested but Longfellow was determined. In July 1839, he wrote to a
friend: “victory hangs doubtful. The lady says she will not! I say she
shall! It is not pride, but the madness of passion.” During the courtship,
he frequently walked from Harvard to her home in Boston, crossing the
Boston Bridge. That bridge was subsequently demolished and replaced in
1906 by a new bridge, which was eventually renamed as the Longfellow
Bridge. Longfellow continued writing, however, and in the fall of 1839
published Hyperion, a book of travel writings discussing his trips abroad.

After seven years, Fanny finally agreed to marriage, and they were
wed in 1843. Nathan Appleton bought the Craigie House, overlooking
the Charles River, as a wedding present to the pair.

His love for Fanny is evident in the following lines from Longfellow’s
only love poem, the sonnet “The Evening Star”, which he wrote in October,
1845: “O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus! My morning and my evening
star of love!”

He and Fanny had six children: Charles Appleton (1844-1893), Ernest
Wadsworth (1845-1921), Fanny (1847-1848), Alice Mary (1850-1928), Edith

(1853-1915) – who married Richard Henry Dana III, son of Richard Henry
Dana, and Anne Allegra (1855-1934).

When the younger Fanny was born on April 7, 1847, Dr. Nathan Coo-
ley Keep administered ether as the first obstetric anesthetic in the United
States to Fanny Longfellow. A few months later, on November 1, 1847, the
poem “Evangeline” was published for the first time.

On June 14, 1853, Longfellow held a farewell dinner party at his Cambridge
home for his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne as he prepared to move
overseas. Shortly after, Longfellow retired from Harvard in 1854, devoting
himself entirely to writing. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of
Laws from Harvard in 1859.


Longfellow was a devoted husband and father with a keen feeling for
the pleasures of home. But each of his marriages ended in sadness and

On a hot July day, while Fanny was putting a lock of a child’s hair
into an envelope and attempting to seal it with hot sealing wax, her dress
caught fire causing severe burns. She died the next day, aged 44, on July 10,
1861. Longfellow was devastated by her death and never fully recovered.
The strength of his grief is still evident in these lines from a sonnet, “The
Cross of Snow” (1879), which he wrote eighteen years later to commemorate
her death:

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast

These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes

And seasons, changeless since the day she died.


In March 1882, Longfellow went to bed with severe stomach pain. He
endured the pain for several days with the help of opium before he died
surrounded by family on Friday, March 24, 1882. He had been suffering
from peritonitis.

He is buried with both of his wives at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge,
Massachusetts. In 1884 he was the first and only American poet
for whom a commemorative sculpted bust was placed in Poet’s Corner of
Westminster Abbey in London.

-Divine Comedy, Purgatorio


Longfellow often used allegory in his work. In “Nature”, death is depicted
as bedtime for a cranky child.


Contemporary writer Edgar Allan Poe wrote to Longfellow in May 1841
of his “fervent admiration which [your] genius has inspired in me” and
later called him “unquestionably the best poet in America”. However,
after Poe’s reputation as a critic increased, he publicly accused Longfellow
of plagiarism in what has been since termed by Poe biographers as “The
Longfellow War”. His assessment was that Longfellow was “a determined
imitator and a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people”, specifically
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson.

Margaret Fuller judged him “artificial and imitative” and lacking force.
Poet Walt Whitman also considered Longfellow an imitator of European
forms, though he praised his ability to reach a popular audience as “the
expressor of common themes – of the little songs of the masses.”


Longfellow was the most popular poet of his day. He was such an admired
figure in the United States during his life that his 70th birthday in
1877 took on the air of a national holiday, with parades, speeches, and the
reading of his poetry. He had become one of the first American celebrities.

His work was immensely popular during his time and is still today,
although some modern critics consider him too sentimental. His poetry
is based on familiar and easily understood themes with simple, clear, and
flowing language. His poetry created an audience in America and contributed
to creating American mythology.




(January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883) was a French artist,
engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Dor´e worked primarily with wood engraving
and steel engraving.


Dor´e was born in Strasbourg and his first illustrated story was published
at the age of fifteen. Dor´e began work as a literary illustrator in Paris.

e commissions include works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton
and Dante.
In 1853 Dor´e was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This commission
was followed by additional work for British publishers, including
a new illustrated English Bible. Dor´e also illustrated an oversized edition
of Edgar
Poe’s “The Raven”, an endeavor that earned him 30,000
francs from publisher Harper and Brothers in 1883.

Dor´e’s English Bible (1866) was a great success, and in 1867 Dor´e had a
major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation
of the Dor´

e Gallery in New Bond Street. In 1869, Blanchard Jerrold,
the son of Douglas William Jerrold, suggested that they work together
to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had gotten the
idea from The Microcosm of London produced by Rudolph Ackermann,
William Pyne, and Thomas Rowlandson in 1808. Dor´e signed a five-year
project with the publishers Grant&Co. that involved his staying in London
for three months a year. He was paid the vast sum of £10,000 a year
for his work.

The book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in
1872. It enjoyed commercial success, but the work was disliked by many
contemporary critics. Some critics were concerned with the fact that Dore´
appeared to focus on poverty that existed in London. Dor´e was accused by
the Art Journal of “inventing rather than copying.” The Westminster Review
claimed that “Dor´

e gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest
external features are set down.” The book was also a financial success,


and Dor´e received commissions from other British publishers. Dor´e’s later
works included Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton’s Paradise
Lost, Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The
Comedy. His work also appeared in the Illustrated London News.
Dor´e continued to illustrate books until his death in Paris in 1883. He is
buried in the city’s P`

ere Lachaise Cemetery.

In “Pickman’s Model”, author H. P. Lovecraft’s praises Dor´e: “There’s
something those fellows catch – beyond life – that they’re able to make us
catch for a second. Dor´e had it. [Sidney] Sime has it.”

– For a partial list of Dor´e’s works see WikiPedia.


















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English translation and notes by H.
obtained from
Scans of illustrations by P.
obtained from, scanned by Dan
Short, used with

MIKTEX LATEX typesetting by Josef
Nygrin, in Jan & Feb 2008.

Some rights reserved c

2008 Josef




Some rights reserved c

2008 Josef




THE glory of Him who moveth everything 1
Doth penetrate the universe, and shine
In one part more and in another less.

Within that heaven which most his light receives
Was I, and things beheld which to repeat
Nor knows, nor can, who from above descends;

Because in drawing near to its desire

1Dante’s theory of the universe is the old one, which made the earth a stationary
central point, around which all the heavenly bodies revolved.
Speaking of the order of the Ten Heavens, Dante says, Convito, II. 4: “The first is that
where the Moon is; the second is that where Mercury is; the third is that where Venus is;
the fourth is that where the Sun is; the fifth is that where Mars is; the sixth is that where
Jupiter is; the seventh is that where Saturn is; the eighth is that of the Stars; the ninth is
not visible, save by the motion mentioned above, and is called by many the Crystalline –
that is, diaphanous, or wholly transparent. Beyohd all these, indeed, the Catholics place
the Empyrean Heaven; that is to say, the Heaven of flame, or luminous; and this they
suppose to be immovable, from having within itself, in every part, that which its matter
demands. And this is the cause why the Primum Mobile has a very swift motion; from
the fervent longing which each part of that ninth heaven has to be conjoined with that
Divinest Heaven, the Heaven of Rest, which is next to it, it revolves therein with so great
desire, that its velocity is almost incomprehensible; and quiet and peaceful is the place of
that supreme Deity, who alone doth perfectly see himself.”
These Ten Heavens are the heavens of the Paradiso; nine of them revolving about the
earth as a central point, and the motionless Empyrean encircling and containing all.
It must be observed, however, that the lower spheres in which the spirits appear, are
not assigned them as their places or dwellings. They show themselves in these different
places only to indicate to Dante the different degrees of glory which they enjoy, and to
show that while on earth they were under the influence of the planets in which they here
The threefold main division of the Paradiso, indicated by a longer prelude, or by a natural
pause in the action of the poem, is: –

  1. From Canto I. to Canto X.
  2. From Canto X. to Canto XXIII.
  3. From Canto XXIII. to the end.

Our intellect ingulphs itself so far,

That after it the memory cannot go.
Truly whatever of the holy realm
I had the power to treasure in my mind
Shall now become the subject of my song.

O good Apollo, for this last emprise
Make of me such a vessel of thy power
As giving the beloved laurel asks!

One summit of Parnassus hitherto
Has been enough for me, but now with both
I needs must enter the arena left.

Enter into my bosom, thou, and breathe
As at the time when Marsyas thou didst draw
Out of the scabbard of those limbs of his.

O power divine, lend’st thou thyself to me
So that the shadow of the blessed realm
Stamped in my brain I can make manifest,

Thou’lt see me come unto thy darling tree,
And crown myself thereafter with those leaves
Of which the theme and thou shall make me worthy.

So seldom, Father, do we gather them
For triumph or of Caesar or of Poet,
(The fault and shame of human inclinations,)

That the Peneian foliage should bring forth
Joy to the joyous Delphic deity,
When any one it makes to thirst for it.

A little spark is followed by great flame;
Perchance with better voices after me
Shall prayer be made that Cyrrha may respond! 2

To mortal men by passages diverse
Uprises the world’s lamp; but by that one
Which circles four uniteth with three crosses, 3

With better course and with a better star
Conjoined it issues, and the mundane wax 4

2A town at the foot of Parnassus, dedicated to Apollo, and here used for Apollo.
3That point of the horizon where the sun rises at the equinox; and where the Equator,
the Zodiac, and the equinoctial Colure meet, and form each a cross with the Horizon.
4The world is as wax, which the sun softens and stamps with his seal.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

Tempers and stamps more after its own fashion.

Almost that passage had made morning there 5
And evening here, and there was wholly white
That hemisphere, and black the other part,

When Beatrice towards the left-hand side
I saw turned round, and gazing at the sun;
Never did eagle fasten so upon it!

And even as a second ray is wont
To issue from the first and reascend,
Like to a pilgrim who would fain return,

Thus of her action, through the eyes infused
In my imagination, mine I made,
And sunward fixed mine eyes beyond our wont.

There much is lawful which is here unlawful
Unto our powers, by virtue of the place
Made for the human species as its own.

Not long I bore it, nor so little while
But I beheld it sparkle round about
Like iron that comes molten from the fire;

And suddenly it seemed that day to day
Was added, as if He who has the power
Had with another sun the heaven adorned.

With eyes upon the everlasting wheels
Stood Beatrice all intent, and I, on her
Fixing my vision from above removed,

Such at her aspect inwardly became
As Glaucus, tasting of the herb that made him 6
Peer of the other gods beneath the sea.

To represent transhumanise in words
Impossible were; the example, then, suffice
Him for whom Grace the experience reserves.

5“This word almost,” says Buti, “gives us to understand that it was not the exact moment
when the sun enters Aries.”

6Glaucus, changed to a sea-god by eating of the salt-meadow grass.
“As Glaucus,” says Buti, “was changed from a fisherman to a sea-god by tasting of the
grass that had that power, so the human soul, tasting of things divine, becomes divine.”

If I was merely what of me thou newly 7
Createdst, Love who governest the heaven,
Thou knowest, who didst lift me with thy light!

When now the wheel, which thou dost make eternal 8
Desiring thee, made me attentive to it
By harmony thou dost modulate and measure, 9

Then seemed to me so much of heaven enkindled
By the sun’s flame, that neither rain nor river
E’er made a lake so widely spread abroad.

The newness of the sound and the great light
Kindled in me a longing for their cause,
Never before with such acuteness felt;

Whence she, who saw me as I saw myself,
To quiet in me my perturbed mind,
Opened her mouth, ere I did mine to ask,

And she began: “Thou makest thyself so dull
With false imagining, that thou seest not
What thou wouldst see if thou hadst shaken it

Thou art not upon earth, as thou believest;
But lightning, fleeing its appropriate site, 10
Ne’er ran as thou, who thitherward returnest.”

If of my former doubt I was divested
By these brief little words more smiled than spoken,
I in a new one was the more ensnared;

And said: “Already did I rest content
From great amazement; but am now amazed
In what way I transcend these bodies light.”

7Whether I were spirit only. One of the questions which exercised the minds of the
Fathers and the Schoolmen was, whether the soul were created before the body or after
it. Origen, following Plato, supposes all souls to have been created at once, and to await
their bodies. Thomas Aquinas combats this opinion, Sum. Theol., I. Quaest. CXVIII. 3,
and maintains, that “creation and infusion are simultaneous in regard to the soul.” This
seems also to be Dante’s belief.

8It is a doctrine of Plato that the heavens are always in motion, seeking the Soul of the
World, which has no determinate place; but is everywhere diffused.
9The music of the spheres.

10The region of fire. Brunetto Latini, Tresor, Ch. CVIII.: “After the zone of the air is
placed the fourth element. This is an orb of fire without any moisture, which extends as
far as the moon, and surrounds this atmosphere in which we are. And know that above
the fire is first the moon, and the other stars, which are all of the nature of fire.”

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh,
Her eyes directed tow’rds me with that look
A mother casts on a delirious child;

And she began: “All things whate’er they be
Have order among themselves, and this is form,
That makes the universe resemble God.

Here do the higher creatures see the footprints
Of the Eternal Power, which is the end
Whereto is made the law already mentioned.

In the order that I speak of are inclined
All natures, by their destinies diverse,
More or less near unto their origin;

Hence they move onward unto ports diverse
O’er the great sea of being; and each one
With instinct given it which bears it on.

This bears away the fire towards the moon;
This is in mortal hearts the motive power
This binds together and unites the earth.

Nor only the created things that are
Without intelligence this bow shoots forth,
But those that have both intellect and love.

The Providence that regulates all this
Makes with its light the heaven forever quiet,
Wherein that turns which has the greatest haste. 11

And thither now, as to a site decreed,
Bears us away the virtue of that cord
Which aims its arrows at a joyous mark.

True is it, that as oftentimes the form
Accords not with the intention of the art,
Because in answering is matter deaf,

So likewise from this course doth deviate
Sometimes the creature, who the power possesses,
Though thus impelled, to swerve some other way,

(In the same wise as one may see the fire
Fall from a cloud,) if the first impetus

11The Empyrean, within which the Primum Mobile revolves “with so great desire that
its velocity is almost incomprehensible.”

Earthward is wrested by some false delight.

Thou shouldst not wonder more, if well I judge,
At thine ascent, than at a rivulet
From some high mount descending to the lowland.

Marvel it would be in thee, if deprived
Of hindrance, thou wert seated down below,
As if on earth the living fire were quiet.” 12

Thereat she heavenward turned again her face.

12Convito, 111. 2: “The human soul, ennobled by the highest power, at is by reason,
partakes of the divine nature in the manner of an eternal Intelligence; because the soul
is so ennobled by that sovereign power, and denuded of matter; that the divine light
shines in it as in an angel; and therefore man has been called by the philosophers a divine



O YE, who in some pretty little boat, 13
Eager to listen, have been following
Behind my ship, that singing sails along,

Turn back to look again upon your shores;
Do not put out to sea, lest peradventure,
In losing me, you might yourselves be lost.

The sea I sail has never yet been passed;
Minerva breathes, and pilots me Apollo, 14
And Muses nine point out to me the Bears.

Ye other few who have the neck uplifted
Betimes to th’ bread of Angels upon which 15

13The Heaven of the Moon, in which are seen the spirits of those who, having taken
monastic vows, were forced to violate them.
In Dante’s symbolism this heaven represents the first science of the Trivium. Convito, II.

14: “I say that the heaven of the Moon resembles Grammar; because it may be compared
therewith; for if the Moon be well observed, two things are seen peculiar to it, which are
not seen in the other stars. One is the shadow in it, which is nothing but the rarity of its
body, in which the rays of the sun cannot terminate and be reflected as in the other parts.
The other is the variation of its brightness, which now shines on one side, and now upon
the other, according as the sun looks upon it. And Grammar has these two properties;
since, on account of its infinity, the rays of reason do not terminate in it in any special
part of its words; and it shines now on this side, and now on that, inasmuch as certain
words, certain declinations, certain constructions, are in use which once were not, and
many once were which will be again.”
For the influences of the Moon, see Canto III. Note 30.
The introduction to this canto is at once a warning and an invitation.
14In the other parts of the poem “one summit of Parnassus” has sufficed; but in this
Minerva, Apollo, and the nine Muses come to his aid, as wind, helmsman, and compass.

15The bread of the Angels is Knowledge or Science, which Dante calls the “ultimate
perfection.” Convito, I. 1: “Everything, impelled by the providence of its own nature,
inclines towards its own perfection; whence, inasmuch as knowledge is the ultimate perfection
of our soul, wherein consists our ultimate felicity, we are all naturally subject to
its desire. ... O blessed those few who sit at the table where the bread of the Angels is


One liveth here and grows not sated by it,

Well may you launch upon the deep salt-sea
Your vessel, keeping still my wake before you
Upon the water that grows smooth again.

Those glorious ones who unto Colchos passed 16
Were not so wonder-struck as you shall be,
When Jason they beheld a ploughman made!

The con-created and perpetual thirst 17
For the realm deiform did bear us on,
As swift almost as ye the heavens behold.

Upward gazed Beatrice, and I at her;
And in such space perchance as strikes a bolt 18
And flies, and from the notch unlocks itself,

Arrived I saw me where a wondrous thing
Drew to itself my sight; and therefore she
From whom no care of mine could be concealed,

Towards me turning, blithe as beautiful,
Said unto me: “Fix gratefully thy mind
On God, who unto the first star has brought us.”

It seemed to me a cloud encompassed us,
Luminous, dense, consolidate and bright
As adamant on which the sun is striking.

Into itself did the eternal pearl
Receive us, even as water doth receive
A ray of light, remaining still unbroken.

16The Argonauts, when they saw their leader Jason ploughing with the wild bulls of
Aeetes, and sowing the land with serpents’ teeth.

17This is generally interpreted as referring to the natural aspiration of the soul for
higher things; characterized in Purgatorio XXI. 1, as
“The natural thirst that ne’er is satisfied,
Excepting with the water for whose grace
The woman of Samaria besought.”
But Venturi says that it means the “being borne onward by the motion of the Primum
Mobile, and swept round so as to find himself directly beneath the moon.”

18As if looking back upon his journey through the air, Dante thus rapidly describes it
an inverse order, the arrival, the ascent, the departure; the striking of the shaft, the flight,
the discharge from the bow-string. Here again we are reminded of the arrow of Pandarus,
Iliad, IV. 120.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

If I was body, (and we here conceive not
How one dimension tolerates another,
Which needs must be if body enter body,)

More the desire should be enkindled in us
That essence to behold, wherein is seen
How God and our own nature were united.

There will be seen what we receive by faith,
Not demonstrated, but self-evident
In guise of the first truth that man believes.

I made reply: “Madonna, as devoutly
As most I can do I give thanks to Him
Who has removed me from the mortal world.

But tell me what the dusky spots may be
Upon this body, which below on earth
Make people tell that fabulous tale of Cain?” 19

Somewhat she smiled; and then, “If the opinion
Of mortals be erroneous,” she said,
“Where’er the key of sense doth not unlock,

Certes, the shafts of wonder should not pierce thee
Now, forasmuch as, following the senses,
Thou seest that the reason has short wings.

But tell me what thou think’st of it thyself.”
And I: “What seems to us up here diverse, 20
Is caused, I think, by bodies rare and dense.”

And she: “Right truly shalt thou see immersed
In error thy belief, if well thou hearest
The argument that I shall make against it.

Lights many the eighth sphere displays to you 21
Which in their quality and quantity
May noted be of aspects different.

If this were caused by rare and dense alone,
One only virtue would there be in all

19Cain with his bush of thorns.

20The spots in the Moon, which Dante thought were caused by rarity of density of the
substance of the planet. Convito, II. 14: “The shadow in it, which is nothing but the rarity
of its body, in which the rays of the sun cannot terminate and be reflected, as in the other

21The Heaven of the Fixed Stars.

Or more or less diffused, or equally.

Virtues diverse must be perforce the fruits
Of formal principles; and these, save one,
Of course would by thy reasoning be destroyed.

Besides, if rarity were of this dimness 22
The cause thou askest, either through and through
This planet thus attenuate were of matter,

Or else, as in a body is apportioned
The fat and lean, so in like manner this
Would in its volume interchange the leaves.

Were it the former, in the sun’s eclipse
It would be manifest by the shining through,
Of light, as through aught tenuous interfused.

This is not so; hence we must scan the other,
And if it chance the other I demolish,
Then falsified will thy opinion be.

But if this rarity go not through and through,
There needs must be a limit, beyond which
Its contrary prevents the further passing,

And thence the foreign radiance is reflected,
Even as a colour cometh back from glass,
The which behind itself concealeth lead. 23

Now thou wilt say the sunbeam shows itself
More dimly there than in the other parts,
By being there reflected farther back.

From this reply experiment will free thee
If e’er thou try it, which is wont to be
The fountain to the rivers of your arts.

Three mirrors shalt thou take, and two remove
Alike from thee, the other more remote
Between the former two shall meet thine eyes.

Turned towards these, cause that behind thy back
Be placed a light, illuming the three mirrors

22Either the diaphanous parts must run through the body of the Moon, or the rarity
and density must be in layers one above the other.
23As in a mirror, which Dante elsewhere – Inferno XXIII 25 – calls impiombato vetro –
leaded glass.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

And coming back to thee by all reflected.

Though in its quantity be not so ample
The image most remote, there shalt thou see
How it perforce is equally resplendent.

Now, as beneath the touches of warm rays
Naked the subject of the snow remains 24
Both of its former colour and its cold,

Thee thus remaining in thy intellect,
Will I inform with such a living light,
That it shall tremble in its aspect to thee. 25

Within the heaven of the divine repose 26
Revolves a body, in whose virtue lies
The being of whatever it contains.

The following heaven, that has so many eyes, 27
Divides this being by essences diverse,
Distinguished from it, and by it contained.

The other spheres, by various differences,
All the distinctions which they have within them
Dispose unto their ends and their effects.

Thus do these organs of the world proceed,
As thou perceivest now, from grade to grade
Since from above they take, and act beneath

Observe me well, how through this place I come
Unto the truth thou wishest, that hereafter
Thou mayst alone know how to keep the ford

The power and motion of the holy spheres,
As from the artisan the hammer’s craft,
Forth from the blessed motors must proceed.

24The subject of the snow is what lies under it; “the mountain that remains naked,”
says Buti. Others give a scholastic interpretation to the word, defining it “the cause of
accident,” the cause of colour and cold.

25Shall tremble like a star. “When a man looks at the stars,” says Buti, “he sees their
effulgence tremble, and this is because their splendour scintillates as fire does, and moves
to and fro like the flame of the fire.” The brighter they burn, the more they tremble.

26The Primum Mobile, revolving in the Empyrean, and giving motion to all the heavens
beneath it.
27The Heaven of the Fixed Stars. Greek Epigrams, III. 62: – “If I were heaven, with all
the eyes of heaven would I look down on thee.”

The heaven, which lights so manifold make fair,
From the Intelligence profound, which turns it. 28
The image takes, and makes of it a seal.

And even as the soul within your dust
Through members different and accommodated
To faculties diverse expands itself,

So likewise this Intelligence diffuses
Its virtue multiplied among the stars.
Itself revolving on its unity.

Virtue diverse doth a diverse alloyage
Make with the precious body that it quickens,
In which, as life in you, it is combined.

From the glad nature whence it is derived,
The mingled virtue through the body shines,
Even as gladness through the living pupil.

From this proceeds whate’er from light to light
Appeareth different, not from dense and rare:
This is the formal principle that produces, 29

According to its goodness, dark and bright.”

28The Intelligences, ruling and guiding the several heavens (receiving power from
above, and distributing it downward, taking their impression from God and stamping
it like a seal upon the spheres below), according to Dionysius the Areopagite are as
follows:– The Seraphim – Primum Mobile, The Cherubim – The Fixed Stars, The Thrones

– Saturn, The Dominions – Jupiter, The Virtues – Mars, The Powers – The Sun, The Principalities
– Venus, The Archangels – Mercury, The Angels – The Moon.
29The principle which gives being to all created things.



THAT Sun, which erst with love my bosom warmed, 30
Of beauteous truth had unto me discovered,
By proving and reproving, the sweet aspect.

And, that I might confess myself convinced
And confident, so far as was befitting,
I lifted more erect my head to speak.

But there appeared a vision, which withdrew me
So close to it, in order to be seen,
That my confession I remembered not.

Such as through polished and transparent glass,
Or waters crystalline and undisturbed,
But not so deep as that their bed be lost,

Come back again the outlines of our faces
So feeble, that a pearl on forehead white
Comes not less speedily unto our eyes;

Such saw I many faces prompt to speak,

30The Heaven of the Moon continued. Of the influence of this planet, Buti, quoting
the astrologer Albumasar, says: “The Moon is cold, moist, and phlegmatic, sometimes
warm, and gives lightness, aptitude in all things, desire of joy, of beauty, and of praise,
beginning of all works, knowledge of the rich and noble, prosperity in life, acquisition of
things desired, devotion in faith, superior sciences, multitude of thoughts, necromancy,
acuteness of mind in things, geometry, knowledge of lands and waters and of their measure
and number, weakness of the sentiments, noble women, marriages, pregnancies,
nursings, embassies, falsehoods, accusations; the being lord among lords, servant among
servants, and conformity with every man of like nature, oblivion thereof, timid, of simple
heart, flattering, honourable towards men, useful to them, not betraying secrets, a multitude
of infirmities and the care of healing bodies, cutting hair, liberality of food, chastity.
These are the significations (influences) of the Moon upon the things it finds, the blame
and honour of which, according to the astrologers, belong to the planet; but the wise man
follows the good influences, and leaves the bad; though all are good and necessary to the
life of the universe.”


So that I ran in error opposite
To that which kindled love ’twixt man and fountain. 31

As soon as I became aware of them,
Esteeming them as mirrored semblances,
To see of whom they were, mine eyes I turned,

And nothing saw, and once more turned them forward
Direct into the light of my sweet Guide,
Who smiling kindled in her holy eyes.

“Marvel thou not,” she said to me, “because
I smile at this thy puerile conceit,
Since on the truth it trusts not yet its foot,

But turns thee, as ’tis wont, on emptiness.
True substances are these which thou beholdest,
Here relegate for breaking of some vow.

Therefore speak with them, listen and believe;
For the true light, which giveth peace to them,
Permits them not to turn from it their feet.”

And I unto the shade that seemed most wishful
To speak directed me, and I began,
As one whom too great eagerness bewilders:

“O well-created spirit, who in the rays
Of life eternal dost the sweetness taste
Which being untasted ne’er is comprehended.

Grateful ’twill be to me, if thou content me 32
Both with thy name and with your destiny.”
Whereat she promptly and with laughing eyes:

“Our charity doth never shut the doors
Against a just desire, except as one
Who wills that all her court be like herself.

I was a virgin sister in the world;
And if thy mind doth contemplate me well,
The being more fair will not conceal me from thee,

31Narcissus mistook his shadow for a substance; Dante, falling into the opposite error,
mistakes these substances for shadows.
32Your destiny; that is, of yourself and the others with you.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

But thou shalt recognise I am Piccarda, 33
Who, stationed here among these other blessed,
Myself am blessed in the slowest sphere.

All our affections, that alone inflamed
Are in the pleasure of the Holy Ghost,
Rejoice at being of his order formed;

And this allotment, which appears so low,
Therefore is given us, because our vows
Have been neglected and in some part void.”

Whence I to her: “In your miraculous aspects
There shines I know not what of the divine,
Which doth transform you from our first conceptions.

Therefore I was not swift in my remembrance;
But what thou tellest me now aids me so,
That the refiguring is easier to me.

But tell me, ye who in this place are happy,
Are you desirous of a higher place,
To see more or to make yourselves more friends?”

First with those other shades she smiled a little;
Thereafter answered me so full of gladness,
She seemed to burn in the first fire of love:

“Brother, our will is quieted by virtue
Of charity, that makes us wish alone
For what we have, nor gives us thirst for more.

If to be more exalted we aspired,
Discordant would our aspirations be
Unto the will of Him who here secludes us;

Which thou shalt see finds no place in these circles,
If being in charity is needful here,
And if thou lookest well into its nature;

Nay, ’tis essential to this blest existence
To keep itself within the will divine,

33Piccarda was a sister of Forese and Corso Donati, and of Gemma, Dante’s wife. She
was a nun of Santa Clara, and was dragged by violence from the cloister by her brother
Corso Donati, who married her to Rosselin della Tosa. As she herself says: – “God knows
what afterward my life became.” It was such that she did not live long. For this crime the
“excellent Baron,” according to the Ottimo, had to do penance in his shirt.

Whereby our very wishes are made one;
So that, as we are station above station
Throughout this realm, to all the realm ’tis pleasing,
As to the King, who makes his will our will.

And his will is our peace; this is the sea
To which is moving onward whatsoever
It doth create, and all that nature makes.”

Then it was clear to me how everywhere
In heaven is Paradise, although the grace
Of good supreme there rain not in one measure

But as it comes to pass, if one food sates,
And for another still remains the longing,
We ask for this, and that decline with thanks,

E’en thus did I; with gesture and with word,
To learn from her what was the web wherein
She did not ply the shuttle to the end.

“A perfect life and merit high in-heaven
A lady o’er us,” said she, “by whose rule
Down in your world they vest and veil themselves,

That until death they may both watch and sleep
Beside that Spouse who every vow accepts
Which charity conformeth to his pleasure.

To follow her, in girlhood from the world
I fled, and in her habit shut myself,
And pledged me to the pathway of her sect.

Then men accustomed unto evil more
Than unto good, from the sweet cloister tore me;
God knows what afterward my life became.

This other splendour, which to thee reveals
Itself on my right side, and is enkindled
With all the illumination of our sphere,

What of myself I say applies to her;
A nun was she, and likewise from her head
Was ta’en the shadow of the sacred wimple.

But when she too was to the world returned
Against her wishes and against good usage,
Of the heart’s veil she never was divested.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

Of great Costanza this is the effulgence, 34
Who from the second wind of Suabia
Brought forth the third and latest puissance.”

Thus unto me she spake, and then began
“Ave Maria” singing, and in singing
Vanished, as through deep water something heavy.

My sight, that followed her as long a time
As it was possible, when it had lost her
Turned round unto the mark of more desire,

And wholly unto Beatrice reverted;
But she such lightnings flashed into mine eyes,
That at the first my sight endured it not;

And this in questioning more backward made me.

34Constance, daughter of Roger of Sicily. She was a nun at Palermo, but was taken
from the convent and married to the Emperor Henry V., son of Barabarossa and father of
Frederic II. Of these “winds of Suabia,” or Emperors of the house of Suabia, Barbarossa
was the first, Henry V. the second, and Frederic II. the third, and, as Dante calls him in
the Convito, IV. 3, “the last of the Roman Emperors,” meaning the last of the Suabian line.

Figure 1: “But thou shalt recognise I am Piccarda...”



BETWEEN two viands, equally removed 35
And tempting, a free man would die of hunger 36
Ere either he could bring unto his teeth.

So would a lamb between the ravenings
Of two fierce wolves stand fearing both alike;
And so would stand a dog between two does.

Hence, if I held my peace, myself I blame not,
Impelled in equal measure by my doubts,
Since it must be so, nor do I commend. 37

I held my peace; but my desire was painted
Upon my face, and questioning with that
More fervent far than by articulate speech.

Beatrice did as Daniel had done 38
Relieving Nebuchadnezzar from the wrath
Which rendered him unjustly merciless,

And said: “Well see I how attracteth thee
One and the other wish, so that thy care
Binds itself so that forth it does not breathe.

Thou arguest, if good will be permanent,

35The Heaven of the Moon continued.

36Montaigne says: “If any one should place us between the bottle and the bacon (entre
la bouteille et le jambon), with an equal appetite for food and drink, there would doubtless
be no remedy but to die of thirst and hunger.”

37“A similitude,” says Venturi, “of great poetic beauty, but of little philosophic soundness.”

38When he recalled and interpreted the forgotten dream of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel

11. 10: “The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon
the earth that can show the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that
asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that
the king requireth: and there is none other that can show it before the king except the
gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

The violence of others, for what reason
Doth it decrease the measure of my merit?

Again for doubting furnish thee occasion
Souls seeming to return unto the stars,
According to the sentiment of Plato. 39

These are the questions which upon thy wish
Are thrusting equally; and therefore first 40
Will I treat that which hath the most of gall.

He of the Seraphim most absorbed in God, 41
Moses, and Samuel, and whichever John
Thou mayst select, I say, and even Mary,

Have not in any other heaven their seats,
Than have those spirits that just appeared to thee,
Nor of existence more or fewer years;

But all make beautiful the primal circle,
And have sweet life in different degrees,
By feeling more or less the eternal breath.

They showed themselves here, not because allotted
This sphere has been to them, but to give sign
Of the celestial which is least exalted.

To speak thus is adapted to your mind,
Since only through the sense it apprehendeth
What then it worthy makes of intellect. 42

On this account the Scripture condescends
Unto your faculties, and feet and hands
To God attributes, and means something else;

And Holy Church under an aspect human
Gabriel and Michael represent to you,

39Plato, Timaeus, Davis’s Tr., says: – “And after having thus framed the universe, he
allotted to it souls equal in number to the stars, inserting each in each. ... And he declared
also, that after living well for the time appointed to him, each one should once more
return to the habitation of his associate star, and spend a blessed and suitable existence.”

40The word “thrust,” pontano, is here used in its architectural sense, as in Inferno XXXII.

3. There it is literal, here figurative.
41Che pi`u s’ india – that most in-God’s himself. As in Canto IX. 81, Si io m’intuassi come
tu t’immii – “if I could in-thee myself as thou dost in-me thyself”; and other expressions
of a similar kind.

42The dogma of the Peripatetics, that nothing is in Intellect which was not first in Sense.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

And him who made Tobias whole again. 43

That which Timaeus argues of the soul 44
Doth not resemble that which here is seen,
Because it seems that as he speaks he thinks. 45

He says the soul unto its star returns,
Believing it to have been severed thence
Whenever nature gave it as a form 46

Perhaps his doctrine is of other guise
Than the words sound, and possibly may be
With meaning that is not to be derided.

If he doth mean that to these wheels return
The honour of their influence and the blame,
Perhaps his bow doth hit upon some truth.

This principle ill understood once warped
The whole world nearly, till it went astray
Invoking Jove and Mercury and Mars. 47

The other doubt which doth disquiet thee 48
Less venom has, for its malevolence
Could never lead thee otherwhere from me.

That as unjust our justice should appear
In eyes of mortals, is an argument
Of faith, and not of sin heretical.

But still, that your perception may be able
To thoroughly penetrate this verity,
As thou desirest, I will satisfy thee.

43Raphael, “the affable archangel,” of whom Milton says, Par. Lost V. 220: – “Raphael,
the sociable spirit, that deigned to travel with Tobias, and secured his marriage with
the seven-times-wedded maid.” Dante says cause in the son are called in this line Tobia,
because in the Vulgate both father and Tobias.

44Plato’s Dialogue, entitled Timaeus, the name of the philosopher of Locri.
45Plato means it literally, and the Scriptures figuratively.
46When it was infused into the body, or the body became informed with it.
47Joachim di Flora, Dante’s “Calabrian Abbot Joachim,” the mystic of the twelfth cen

tury, says in his Exposition of the Apocalypse: “The deceived Gentiles believed that the
planets to which they gave the names of Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mercury, Mars, the Moon,
and the Sun, were gods.”

48Stated in line 20: –
“The violence of others, for what reason
Doth it decrease the measure of my merit?”

If it be violence when he who suffers
Co-operates not with him who uses force,
These souls were not on that account excused;

For will is never quenched unless it will,
But operates as nature doth in fire
If violence a thousand times distort it.

Hence, if it yieldeth more or less, it seconds
The force; and these have done so, having power
Of turning back unto the holy place.

If their will had been perfect, like to that
Which Lawrence fast upon his gridiron held,
And Mutius made severe to his own hand,

It would have urged them back along the road
tab Whence they were dragged, as soon as they were free;
But such a solid will is all too rare.

And by these words, if thou hast gathered them
As thou shouldst do, the argument is refuted
That would have still annoyed thee many times.

But now another passage runs accross
Before thine eyes, and such that by thyself
Thou couldst not thread it ere thou wouldst be weary.

I have for certain put into thy mind
That soul beatified could never lie.
For it is near the primal Truth,

And then thou from Piccarda might’st have heard
Costanza kept affection for the veil,
So that she seemeth here to contradict me.

Many times, brother, has it come to pass,
That, to escape from peril, with reluctance
That has been done it was not right to do,

E’en as Alcaemon (who, being by his father 49
Thereto entreated, his own mother slew)
Not to lose pity pitiless became.

At this point I desire thee to remember
That force with will commingles, and they cause

49Alcmaeon, who slew his mother Eriphyle to avenge his father Amphiaraus the soothsayer.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

That the offences cannot be excused.

Will absolute consenteth not to evil;
But in so far consenteth as it fears,
If it refrain, to fall into more harm

Hence when Piccarda uses this expression,
She meaneth the will absolute, and I
The other, so that both of us speak truth.”

Such was the flowing of the holy river
That issued from the fount whence springs all truth;
This put to rest my wishes one and all.

“O love of the first lover, O divine,” 50
Said I forthwith, “whose speech inundates me
And warms me so, it more and more revives me,

My own affection is not so profound
As to suffice in rendering grace for grace;
Let Him, who sees and can, thereto respond.

Well I perceive that never sated is
Our intellect unless the Truth illume it,
Beyond which nothing true expands itself.

It rests therein, as wild beast in his lair,
When it attains it; and it can attain it;
If not, then each desire would frustrate be.

Therefore springs up, in fashion of a shoot,
Doubt at the foot of truth; and this is nature,
Which to the top from height to height impels us.

This doth invite me, this assurance give me
With reverence, Lady, to inquire of you
Another true, which is obscure to me.

I wish to know if man can satisfy you
For broken vows with other good deeds, so
That in your balance they will not be light.”

Beatrice gazed upon me with her eyes 51

50Beatrice, beloved of God; “that blessed Beatrice, who lives in heaven with the angels
and on earth with my Soul.”

51It must not be forgotten, that Beatrice is the symbol of Divine Wisdom. Dante says,
Convito, III. 15: “In her countenance appear things which display some of the pleasures
of Paradise;” and notes particularly “the eyes and smile.” He then adds: “And here it

Full of the sparks of love, and so divine,
That, overcome my power, I turned my back

And almost lost myself with eyes downcast.

should be known that the eyes of Wisdom are its demonstrations, by which the truth is
most clearly seen; and its smile the persuasions, in which is displayed the interior light of
Wisdom under a veil; and in these two things is felt the exceeding pleasure of beatitude,
which is the chief good in Paradise. This pleasure cannot exist in anything here below,
except in beholding these eyes and this smile.”



“IF in the heat of love I flame upon thee 52
Beyond the measure that on earth is seen,
So that the valour of thine eyes I vanquish,

Marvel thou not thereat; for this proceeds
From perfect sight, which as it apprehends
To the good apprehended moves its feet.

Well I perceive how is already shining
Into thine intellect the eternal light,
That only seen enkindles always love;

And if some other thing your love seduce,
’Tis nothing but a vestige of the same,
Ill understood, which there is shining througe.

Thou fain wouldst know if with another service
For broken vow can such return be made
As to secure the soul from further claim.”

This Canto thus did Beatrice begin;
And, as a man who breaks not off his speech,
Continued thus her holy argument:

“The greatest gift that in his largess God

52The Heaven of Mercury, where are seen the spirits of those who for the love of fame
achieved great deeds. Of its symbolism Dante says, Convito, II. 14: “The Heaven of Mercury
may be compared to Dialectics, on account of two properties – for Mercury is the
smallest star of heaven, since the quantity of its diameter is not more than two thousand
and thirty-two miles, according to the estimate of Alfergano who declares it to be
one twenty-eighth part of the diameter of the Earth, which is six thousand and fifty-two
miles. The other property is, that it is more veiled by the rays of the Sun than any other
star. And these two properties are in Dialectics – for Dialectics are less in body than any
Science since in them is perfectly compiled and bounded as much doctrine as is found in
ancient and modern Art; and it is more veiled than any Science, inasmuch as it proceeds
by more sophistic and probable arguments than any other.”


Creating made, and unto his own goodness
Nearest conformed, and that which he doth prize

Most highly, is the freedom of the will,
Wherewith the creatures of intelligence
Both all and only were and are endowed.

Now wilt thou see, if thence thou reasonest,
The high worth of a vow, if it he made
So that when thou consentest God consents:

For, closing between God and man the compact,
A sacrifice is of this treasure made,
Such as I say, and made by its own act.

What can be rendered then as compensation?
Think’st thou to make good use of what thou’st offered,
With gains ill gotten thou wouldst do good deed.

Now art thou certain of the greater point;
But because Holy Church in this dispenses,
Which seems against the truth which I have shown thee,

Behoves thee still to sit awhile at table,
Because the solid food which thou hast taken
Requireth further aid for thy digestion.

Open thy mind to that which I reveal,
And fix it there within; for ’tis not knowledge,
The having heard without retaining it.

In the essence of this sacrifice two things
Convene together; and the one is that
Of which ’tis made, the other is the agreement.

This last for evermore is cancelled not
Unless complied with, and concerning this
With such precision has above been spoken.

Therefore it was enjoined upon the Hebrews
To offer still, though sometimes what was offered
Might be commuted, as thou ought’st to know.

The other, which is known to thee as matter, 53
May well indeed be such that one errs not
If it for other matter be exchanged.

53That which is sacrificed, or of which an offering is made.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

But let none shift the burden on his shoulder
At his arbitrament, without the turning
Both of the white and of the yellow key; 54

And every permutation deem as foolish,
If in the substitute the thing relinquished,
As the four is in six, be not contained. 55

Therefore whatever thing has so great weight
In value that it drags down every balance,
Cannot be satisfied with other spending.

Let mortals never take a vow in jest;
Be faithful and not blind in doing that,
As Jephthah was in his first offering, 56

Whom more beseemed to say, ‘I have done wrong,
Than to do worse by keeping; and as foolish
Thou the great leader of the Greeks wilt find, 57

Whence wept Iphigenia her fair face,
And made for her both wise and simple weep,
Who heard such kind of worship spoken of.’

Christians, be ye more serious in your movements;
Be ye not like a feather at each wind,
And think not every water washes you.

Ye have the Old and the New Testament,
And the Pastor of the Church who guideth you
Let this suffice you unto your salvation.

If evil appetite cry aught else to you,
Be ye as men, and not as silly sheep, 58
So that the Jew among you may not mock you.

54Without the permission of Holy Church, symbolized by the two keys; the silver key

of Knowledge, and the golden key of Authority.
55The thing substituted must be greater than the thing relinquished.
56Judges XI. 30: “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt

without fail deliver the children of Ammon into my hands then it shall be that whatsoever
cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the
children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, I will offer it up for a burnt-offering. ...
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to
meet him with timbrels and with dances; and she was his only child: besides her he had
neither son nor daughter.”

58Dante, Convito, I. 11: “These should be called sheep, and not men; for if one sheep
should throw itself down a precipice of a thousand feet, all the others would follow, and

Be ye not as the lamb that doth abandon
Its mother’s milk, and frolicsome and simple
Combats at its own pleasure with itself.”

Thus Beatrice to me even as I write it;
Then all desireful turned herself again
To that part where the world is most alive. 59

Her silence and her change of countenance
Silence imposed upon my eager mind,
That had already in advance new questions;

And as an arrow that upon the mark
Strikes ere the bowstring quiet hath become,
So did we speed into the second realm.

My Lady there so joyful I beheld,
As into the brightness of that heaven she entered, 60
More luminous thereat the planet grew;

And if the star itself was changed and smiled, 61
What became I, who by my nature am
Exceeding mutable in every guise!

As, in a fish-pond which is pure and tranquil,
The fishes draw to that which from without
Comes in such fashion that their food they deem it;

So I beheld more than a thousand splendours
Drawing towards us, and in each was heard:
“Lo, this is she who shall increase our love.”

And as each one was coming unto us,
Full of beatitude the shade was seen,
By the effulgence clear that issued from it. 62

Think, Reader, if what here is just beginning
No farther should proceed, how thou wouldst have

if one sheep, in passing along the road, leaps from any cause, all the others leap, though
seeing no cause for it. And I once saw several leap into a well, on account of one that
that had leaped in, thinking perhaps it was leaping over a wall; notwithstanding thatthe
shepherd, weeping and wailing, opposed them with arms and breast.”

59Towards the Sun, where the heaven is brightest.
60The Heaven of Mercury.
61Brunetto Latini, Tresor, I., Ch. 3, says, the planet Mercury “is easily moved according

to the goodness or malice of the planets to which it is joined.” Dante here represents
himself as being of a peculiarly mercurial temperament.
62The joy of spirits in Paradise is shown by greater brightness.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

An agonizing need of knowing more;

And of thyself thou’lt see how I from these
Was in desire of hearing their conditions,
As they unto mine eyes were manifest.

“O thou well-born, unto whom Grace concedes
To see the thrones of the eternal triumph,
Or ever yet the warfare be abandoned,

With light that through the whole of heaven is spread
Kindled are we, and hence if thou desirest
To know of us, at thine own pleasure sate thee.”

Thus by some one among those holy spirits 63
Was spoken, and by Beatrice: “Speak, speak
Securely, and believe them even as Gods.”

“Well I perceive how thou dost nest thyself
In thine own light, and drawest it from thine eyes,
Because they coruscate when thou dost smile,

But know not who thou art, nor why thou hast,
Spirit august, thy station in the sphere
That veils itself to men in alien rays.” 64

This said I in direction of the light
Which first had spoken to me; whence it became
By far more lucent than it was before.

Even as the sun, that doth conceal himself
By too much light, when heat has worn away
The tempering influence of the vapours dense,

By greater rapture thus concealed itself
In its own radiance the figure saintly,
And thus close, close enfolded answered me

In fashion as the following Canto sings.

63The spirit of Justinian.

64Mercury is the planet nearest the Sun, and being thus “veiled with alien rays,” is
only visible to the naked eye at the time of its greatest elongation, and then but for a few
minutes. Dante, Convito, II. 14, says, that Mercury “is more veiled by the rays of the Sun
than any other star.” And yet it will be observed that in his planetary system he places
Venus between Mercury and the Sun.

Figure 2: So I beheld more than a thousand splendours...



“AFTER that Constantine the eagle turned 65
Against the course of heaven, which it had followed
Behind the ancient who Lavinia took,

Two hundred years and more the bird of God 66
In the extreme of Europe held itself, 67
Near to the mountains whence it issued first;

And under shadow of the sacred plumes
It governed there the world from hand to hand,
And, changing thus, upon mine own alighted.

Caesar I was, and am Justinian, 68
Who, by the will of primal Love I feel,
Took from the laws the useless and redundant; 69

65The Heaven of Mercury continued. In the year 330, Constantine, after his conversion
and baptism by Sylvester, removed the seat of empire from Rome to Byzantium, which
received from him its more modern name of Constantinople. He called it also New Rome;
and, having promised to the Senators and their families that they should soon tread again
on Roman soil, he had the streets of Constantinople strewn with earth which he had
brought from Rome in ships. The transfer of the empire from west to east was turning
the imperial eagle against the course of heaven, which it had followed in coming from
Troy to Italy with Aeneas, who married Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, and was the
founder of the Roman Empire.

66From 324, when the seat of empire was transferred to Constantinople by Constantine,
to 527, when the reign of Justinian began.

67The mountains of Asia, between Constantinople and the site of Troy.

68Caesar, or Kaiser, the general title of all the Roman Emperors. The character of Justinian
is thus sketched by Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Ch. XLIII: – “The Emperor was easy of
access, patient of hearing, courteous and affable in discourse, and a master of the angry
passions, which rage with such destructive violence in the breast of a despot. ...”

69Of the reform of the Roman Laws, by which they were reduced from two thousand
volumes to fifty, Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Ch. XLIV, says: “The vain titles of the victories
of Justinian are crumbled into dust; but the name of the legislator is inscribed on a
fair and everlasting monument. Under his reign, and by his care, the civil jurisprudence
was digested in the immortal words of the code, the pandect, and the institutes; the public


And ere unto the work I was attent,
One nature to exist in Christ, not more, 70
Believed, and with such faith was I contented.

But blessed Agapetus, he who was 71
The supreme pastor, to the faith sincere
Pointed me out the way by words of his.

Him I believed, and what was his assertion
I now see clearly, even as thou seest
Each contradiction to be false and true.

As soon as with the Church I moved my feet,
God in his grace it pleased with this high task
To inspire me, and I gave me wholly to it,

And to my Belisarius I commended 72
The arms, to which was heaven’s right hand so joined
It was a signal that I should repose.

Now here to the first question terminates
My answer; but the character thereof
Constrains me to continue with a sequel,

In order that thou see with how great reason
Men move against the standard sacrosanct,
Both who appropriate and who oppose it.

Behold how great a power has made it worthy
Of reverence, beginning from the hour
When Pallas died to give it sovereignty. 73

reason of the Romans has been silently or studiously transfused into the domestic institutions
of Europe, and the laws of Justinian still command the respect or obedience of
independent nations. Wise or fortunate is the prince who connects his own reputation
with the honour and interest of a perpetual order of men.”

70The heresy of Eutyches, who maintained that only the Divine nature existed in Christ,
not the human; and consequently that the Christ crucified was not the real Christ, but a

71Agapetus was Pope, or Bishop of Rome, in the year 515, and was compelled by
King Theodotus the Ostrogoth, to go upon an embassy to the Emperor Justinian at Constantinople,
where he refused to hold any communication with Anthimus, Bishop of Trebizond,
who, against the canon of the Church, had been transferred from his own see to
that of Constantinople.

72Belisarius, the famous general, to whom Justinian gave the leadership of his armies
in Africa and Italy. In his old age he was suspected of conspiring against the Emperor’s
life; but the accusation was not proved.

73The son of Evander, sent to assist Aeneas, and slain by Turnus.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

Thou knowest it made in Alba its abode 74
Three hundred years and upward, till at last
The three to three fought for it yet again. 75

Thou knowest what it achieved from Sabine wrong 76
Down to Lucretia’s sorrow, in seven kings
O’ercoming round about the neighboring nations;

Thou knowest what it achieved, borne by the Romans
Illustrious against Brennus, against Pyrrhus, 77
Against the other princes and confederates.

Torquatus thence and Quinctius, who from locks 78
Unkempt was named, Decii and Fabii, 79
Received the fame I willingly embalm;

It struck to earth the pride of the Arabians,
Who, following Hannibal, had passed across
The Alpine ridges, Po, from which thou glidest;

Beneath it triumphed while they yet were young
Pompey and Scipio, and to the hill 80
Beneath which thou wast born it bitter seemed;

74In Alba Longa, built by Ascanius, son of Aeneas, on the borders of the Alban Lake.

The period of three hundred years is traditionary, not historic.
75The Horatii and Curatii.
76From the rape of the Sabine women, in the days of Romulus, the first of the seven

kings of Rome, down to the violence done to Lucretia by Tarquinius Superbus, the last of

77Brennus was the king of the Gauls, who, entering Rome unopposed, found the city
deserted, and the Senators seated in their ivory chairs in the Forum, so silent and motionless
that his soldiers took them for the statues of gods. He burned the city and laid siege
to the Capitol, whither the people had fled for safety, and which was preserved from surprise
by the cackling of the sacred geese in the Temple of Juno. Finally Brennus and his
army were routed by Camillus, and tradition says that not one escaped. Pyrrhus was a
king of Epirus, who boasted his descent from Achilles, and whom Hannibal called “the
greatest of commanders.” He was nevertheless driven out of Italy by Curius, his army of
eighty thousand being routed by thirty thousand Romans; whereupon he said that, “if he
had soldiers like the Romans, or if the Romans had him for a general he would leave no
corner of the earth unseen, and no nation unconquered.”

78Titus Manlius, surnamed Torquatus, from the collar – torques – which he took from a
fallen foe; and Quinctius, surnamed Cincinnatus, or “the curly haired.”

79Three of the Decii – father, son, and grandson – sacrificed their lives in battle at different
times for their country. The Fabii also rendered signal services to the state, but
are chiefly known in history through one of their number, Quinctius Maximus, surnamed
Cunctator, or the Delayer, from whom we have “the Fabian policy.”

80The hill of Fiesole, overlooking Florence, where Dante was born. Fiesole was destroyed
by the Romans for giving refuge to Catiline and his fellow conspirators.

Then, near unto the time when heaven had willed 81
To bring the whole world to its mood serene,
Did Caesar by the will of Rome assume it.

What it achieved from Var unto the Rhine,
Isere beheld and Saone, beheld the Seine,
And every valley whence the Rhone is filled;

What it achieved when it had left Ravenna,
And leaped the Rubicon, was such a flight
That neither tongue nor pen could follow it.

Round towards Spain it wheeled its legions;
Towards Durazzo, and Pharsalia smote 82
That to the calid Nile was felt the pain.

Antandros and the Simois, whence it started, 83
It saw again, and there where Hector lies,
And ill for Ptolemy then roused itself. 84

From thence it came like lightning upon Juba; 85
Then wheeled itself again into your West, 86
Where the Pompeian clarion it heard.

From what it wrought with the next standard-bearer 87
Brutus and Cassius howl in Hell together,
And Modena and Perugia dolent were; 88

Still doth the mournful Cleopatra weep
Because thereof, who, fleeing from before it,
Took from the adder sudden and black death.

81The birth of Christ.
82Durazzo in Macedonia, and Pharsalia in Thessaly.
83Antandros, a city, and Simois, a river, near Troy, whence came the Roman eagle with

Aeneas into Italy.
84It was an evil hour for Ptolemy, when Caesar took from him the kingdom of Egypt,
and gave it to Cleopatra.

85Juba, king of Numidia, who protected Pompey, Cato, and Scipio after the battle of
Pharsalia. Being conquered by Caesar, his realm became a Roman province, of which
Sallust the historian was the first governor. Milton, Sams. Agon., 1695: – “But as an eagle
his cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.”

86Towards Spain, where some remnants of Pompey’s army still remained under his
two soirs. When these were subdued the civil war was at an end.
87Octavius Augustus, nephew of Julius Caesar. At the battle of Philippi lie defeated
Brutus and Cassius, and established the Empire.
88On account of the great slaughter made by Augustus in his battles with Mark Antony
and his brother Lucius, in the neighbourhood of these cities.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

With him it ran even to the Red Sea shore;
With him it placed the world in so great peace,
That unto Janus was his temple closed. 89

But what the standard that has made me speak
Achieved before, and after should achieve
Throughout the mortal realm that lies beneath it,

Becometh in appearance mean and dim,
If in the hand of the third Caesar seen 90
With eye unclouded and affection pure,

Because the living Justice that inspires me
Granted it, in the hand of him I speak of,
The glory of doing vengeance for its wrath. 91

Now here attend to what I answer thee;
Later it ran with Titus to do vengeance 92
Upon the vengeance of the ancient sin.

And when the tooth of Lombardy had bitten 93
The Holy Church, then underneath its wings
Did Charlemagne victorious succor her.

Now hast thou power to judge of such as those
Whom I accused above, and of their crimes, 94
Which are the cause of all your miseries.

To the public standard one the yellow lilies 95
Opposes, the other claims it for a party,
So that ’tis hard to see which sins the most.

Let, let the Ghibellines ply their handicraft

89Augustus closed the gates of the temple of Janus as a sign of universal peace, in the

year of Christ’s birth.
90Tiberius Caesar.
91The crucifixion of Christ, in which the Romans took part in the person of Pontius

92The destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, which avenged the crucifixion.
93When the Church was assailed by the Lombards, who were subdued by Charle


94Referring back to line 31: –
“In order that thou see with how great reason
Men move against the standard sacrosanct,
Both who appropriate and who oppose it.”

95The Golden Lily, or Fleur-de-lis of France. The Guelfs, uniting with the French, opposed
the Ghibellines, who had appropriated the imperial standard to their own party

Beneath some other standard; for this ever
Ill follows he who it and justice parts.

And let not this new Charles e’er strike it down, 96
He and his Guelfs, but let him fear the talons
That from a nobler lion stripped the fell.

Already oftentimes the sons have wept
The father’s crime; and let him not believe
That God will change His scutcheon for the lilies. 97

This little planet doth adorn itself 98
With the good spirits that have active been,
That fame and honour might come after them;

And whensoever the desires mount thither,
Thus deviating, must perforce the rays
Of the true love less vividly mount upward.

But in commensuration of our wages
With our desert is portion of our joy,
Because we see them neither less nor greater.

Herein doth living Justice sweeten so
Affection in us, that for evermore
It cannot warp to any iniquity.

Voices diverse make up sweet melodies
So in this life of ours the seats diverse
Render sweet harmony among these spheres;

And in the compass of this present pearl
Shineth the sheen of Romeo, of whom
The grand and beauteous work was ill rewarded.

But the Provencals who against him wrought,
They have not laughed, and therefore ill goes he
Who makes his hurt of the good deeds of others.

Four daughters, and each one of them a queen,
Had Raymond Berenger, and this for him
Did Romeo, a poor man and a pilgrim;

And then malicious words incited him

96Charles II. of Apulia, son of Charles of Anjou.
97Change the imperial eagle for the lilies of France.
98Mercury is the smallest of the planets, with the exception of the Asteroids, being

sixteen times smaller than the Earth.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

To summon to a reckoning this just man,
Who rendered to him seven and five for ten.

Then he departed poor and stricken in years,
And if the world could know the heart he had,
In begging bit by bit his livelihood,

Though much it laud him, it would laud him more.”



“Osanna sanctus Deus Sabaoth, 99
Superillustrans claritate tua

Felices ignes horum malahoth!”

In this wise, to his melody returning,
This substance, upon which a double light 100
Doubles itself, was seen by me to sing,

And to their dance this and the others moved, 101
And in the manner of swift-hurrying sparks
Veiled themselves from me with a sudden distance.

Doubting was I, and saying, “Tell her, tell her,” 102
Within me, “tell her,” saying, “tell my Lady,”
Who slakes my thirst with her sweet effluences;

And yet that reverence which doth lord it over
The whole of me only by B and ICE, 103
Bowed me again like unto one who drowses.

Short while did Beatrice endure me thus;
And she began, lighting me with a smile
Such as would make one happy in the fire:

“According to infallible advisement,
After what manner a just vengeance justly
Could be avenged has put thee upon thinking,

But I will speedily thy mind unloose;

99“Hosanna, holy God of Sabaoth, illuminating with thy brightness the happy fires of
these realms.” Dante is still in the planet Mercury, which receives from the sun six times
more light and heat than the earth.

100By Substance is here meant spirit or angel.
101The rapidity of the motion of the flying spirits is beautifully expressed in these lines.
102Namely, the doubt in his mind.
103Bice, or Beatrice.


-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

And do thou listen, for these words of mine
Of a great doctrine will a present make thee.

By not enduring on the power that wills
Curb for his good, that man who ne’er was born,
Damning himself damned all his progeny;

Whereby the human species down below
Lay sick for many centuries in great error,
Till to descend it pleased the Word of God

To where the nature, which from its own Maker
Estranged itself, he joined to him in person
By the sole act of his eternal love.

Now unto what is said direct thy sight;
This nature when united to its Maker,
Such as created, was sincere and good; 104

But by itself alone was banished forth
From Paradise, because it turned aside
Out of the way of truth and of its life.

Therefore the penalty the cross held out,
If measured by the nature thus assumed,
None ever yet with so great justice stung,

And none was ever of so great injustice,
Considering who the Person was that suffered,
Within whom such a nature was contracted.

From one act therefore issued things diverse;
To God and to the Jews one death was pleasing;
Earth trembled at it and the Heaven was opened.

It should no longer now seem difficult
To thee, when it is said that a just vengeance
By a just court was afterward avenged.

But now do I behold thy mind entangled
From thought to thought within a knot, from which
With great desire it waits to free itself

Thou sayest, ‘Well discern I what I hear;
But it is hidden from me why God willed
For our redemption only this one mode.’

104Sincere in the sense of pure.

Buried remaineth, brother, this decree
Unto the eyes of every one whose nature
Is in the flame of love not yet adult.

Verily, inasmuch as at this mark
One gazes long and little is discerned,
Wherefore this mode was worthiest will I say.

Goodness Divine, which from itself doth spurn
All envy, burning in itself so sparkles
That the eternal beauties it unfolds.

Whate’er from this immediately distils 105
Has afterwards no end, for ne’er removed
Is its impression when it sets its seal.

Whate’er from this immediately rains down
Is wholly free, because it is not subject
Unto the influences of novel things.

The more conformed thereto, the more it pleases;
For the blest ardour that irradiates all things
In that most like itself is most vivacious.

With all of these things has advantaged been 106
The human creature; and if one be wanting,
From his nobility he needs must fall.

’Tis sin alone which doth disfranchise him,
And render him unlike the Good Supreme,
So that he little with its light is blanched,

105Dante here discriminates between the direct or immediate inspirations of God, and
those influences that come indirectly through the stars. In the Convito, VII. 3, he says
“The goodness of God is received in one manner by disembodied substances, that is, by
the Angels (who are without material grossness, and as it were diaphanous on account
of the purity of their form), and in another manner by the human soul, which, though in
one part it is free from matter, in another is impeded by it; (as a man who is wholly in the
water, except his head, of whom it cannot be said he is wholly in the water nor wholly
out of it;) and in another manner by the animals, whose soul is all absorbed in matter,
but somewhat ennobled; and in another manner by the metals, and in another by the
earth; because it is the most material, and therefore the most remote from and the most
inappropriate or the first most simple and noble virtue, which is solely intellectual, that
is, God.”

106Convito, VII. 3: “Between the angelic nature, which is an intellectual thing, and the
human soul there is no step, but they are both almost continuous in the order of gradation.
... Thus we are to suppose and firmly to believe, that a man may be so noble, and of
such lofty condition, that he shall be almost an angel.”

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

And to his dignity no more returns,
Unless he fill up where transgression empties
With righteous pains for criminal delights.

Your nature when it sinned so utterly
In its own seed, out of these dignities
Even as out of Paradise was driven,

Nor could itself recover, if thou notest
With nicest subtilty, by any way,
Except by passing one of these two fords:

Either that God through clemency alone
Had pardon granted, or that man himself
Had satisfaction for his folly made.

Fix now thine eye deep into the abyss
Of the eternal counsel, to my speech
As far as may be fastened steadfastly!

Man in his limitations had not power
To satisfy, not having power to sink
In his humility obeying then,

Far as he disobeying thought to rise;
And for this reason man has been from power
Of satisfying by himself excluded.

Therefore it God behoved in his own ways
Man to restore unto his perfect life
I say in one, or else in both of them.

But since the action of the doer is
So much more grateful, as it more presents
The goodness of the heart from which it issues,

Goodness Divine, that doth imprint the world,
Has been contented to proceed by each
And all its ways to lift you up again;

Nor ’twixt the first day and the final night
Such high and such magnificent proceeding
By one or by the other was or shall be;

For God more bounteous was himself to give
To make man able to uplift himself,
Than if he only of himself had pardoned;

And all the other modes were insufficient

For justice, were it not the Son of God
Himself had humbled to become incarnate.

Now, to fill fully each desire of thine,
Return I to elucidate one place,
In order that thou there mayst see as I do.

Thou sayst: ‘I see the air, I see the fire,
The water, and the earth, and all their mixtures
Come to corruption, and short while endure;

And these things notwithstanding were created;
Therefore if that which I have said were true,
They should have been secure against corruption.’

The Angels, brother, and the land sincere 107
In which thou art, created may be called
Just as they are in their entire existence;

But all the elements which thou hast named,
And all those things which out of them are made,
By a created virtue are informed.

Created was the matter which they have;
Created was the informing influence
Within these stars that round about them go.

The soul of every brute and of the plants
By its potential temperament attracts
The ray and motion of the holy lights;

But your own life immediately inspires
Supreme Beneficence, and enamours it
So with herself, it evermore desires her.

And thou from this mayst argue furthermore
Your resurrection, if thou think again
How human flesh was fashioned at that time

When the first parents both of them were made.”

107The Angels, and the Heavens, and the human soul, being immediately inspired by
God, are immutable and indestructible. But the elements and the souls of brutes and
plants are controlled by the stars, and are mutable and perishable.



THE world used in its peril to believe 108
That the fair Cypria delirious love 109
Rayed out, in the third epicycle turning; 110

Wherefore not only unto her paid honour
Of sacrifices and of votive cry
The ancient nations in the ancient error,

But both Dione honoured they and Cupid,
That as her mother, this one as her son,
And said that he had sat in Dido’s lap; 111

And they from her, whence I beginning take, 112
Took the denomination of the star

108The ascent to the Third Heaven, or that of Venus, where are seen the spirits of Lovers.
Of this Heaven Dante says, Convito, II. 14: – “The Heaven of Venus may be compared to
Rhetoric for two properties; the first is the brightness of its aspect, which is most sweet to
look upon, more than any other star; the second is its appearance, now in the morning,
now in the evening. And these two properties are in Rhetoric, the sweetest of all the sciences,
for that is principally its intention. It appears in the morning when the rhetorician
speaks before the face of his audience; it appears in the evening, that is, retrograde, when
the letter in part remote speaks for the rhetorician.” For the influences of Venus, see Canto

IX. Note 33.
109In the days of “the false and lying gods,” when the world was in peril of damnation
for misbelief. Cypria, or Cyprigna, was a title of Venus, from the place of her birth,

110The third Epicycle, or that of Venus, the third planet, was its supposed motion from
west to east, while the whole heavens were swept onward from east to west by the motion
of the Primum Mobile. In the Convito, II. 4, Dante says: “Upon the back of this circle (the
Equatorial) in the Heaven of Venus, of which we are now treating, is a little sphere, which
revolves of itself in the heaven, and whose orbit the astrologers call Epicycle.” And again,

II. 7: “All this heaven moves and revolves with its Epicycle from east to west, once every
natural day; but whether this movement be by any Intelligence, or by the sweep of the
Primum Mobile, God knoweth; in me it would be presumptuous to judge.”
111Cupid in the semblance of Ascanius.
112Venus, with whose name this canto begins.


That wooes the sun, now following, now in front. 113

I was not ware of our ascending to it;
But of our being in it gave full faith
My Lady whom I saw more beauteous grow.

And as within a flame a spark is seen,
And as within a voice a voice discerned,
When one is steadfast, and one comes and goes,

Within that light beheld I other lamps
Move in a circle, speeding more and less,
Methinks in measure of their inward vision. 114

From a cold cloud descended never winds,
Or visible or not, so rapidly 115
They would not laggard and impeded seem

To any one who had those lights divine
Seen come towards us, leaving the gyration
Begun at first in the high Seraphim. 116

And behind those that most in front appeared
Sounded “Osanna!” so that never since
To hear again was I without desire.

Then unto us more nearly one approached,
And it alone began: “We all are ready
Unto thy pleasure, that thou joy in us.

We turn around with the celestial Princes, 117
One gyre and one gyration and one thirst,
To whom thou in the world of old didst say,

‘Ye who, intelligent, the third heaven are moving;’ 118

113Brunetto Latini, Tresor, I. Ch. 3, says that Venus “always follows the sun, and is
beautiful and gentle, and is called the Goddess of Love.” Dante says, it plays with or
caresses the sun, “now behind and now in front.” When it follows, it is Hesperus, the
Evening Star; when it precedes, it is Phosphor, the Morning Star.

114The rapidity of the motion of the spirits, as well as their brightness, is in proportion
to their vision of God. Compare Canto XIV. 40: – “Its brightness is proportioned to the
ardour, the ardour to the vision; and the vision equals what grace it has above its worth.”

115Made visible by mist and cloudrack.
116Their motion originates in the Primum Mobile, whose Regents, or Intelligences, are

the Seraphim.
117The Regents, or Intelligences, of Venus are the Principalities.
118This is the first line of the first canzone in the Convito, and in his commentary upon

it, II. 5, Dante says: “In the first place, then, be it known, that the movers of this heaven

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

And are so full of love, to pleasure thee
A little quiet will not be less sweet.”

After these eyes of mine themselves had offered 119
Unto my Lady reverently, and she
Content and certain of herself had made them,

Back to the light they turned, which so great promise
Made of itself, and “Say, who art thou?” was
My voice, imprinted with a great affection.

O how and how much I beheld it grow 120
With the new joy that superadded was
Unto its joys, as soon as I had spoken!

Thus changed, it said to me: “The world possessed me 121
Short time below; and, if it had been more,
Much evil will be which would not have been.

My gladness keepeth me concealed from thee,
Which rayeth round about me, and doth hide me
Like as a creature swathed in its own silk.

Much didst thou love me, and thou hadst good reason;
For had I been below, I should have shown thee
Somewhat beyond the foliage of my love.

That left-hand margin, which doth bathe itself 122

are substances separate from matter, that is, Intelligences, which the common people call
Angels.” And farther on, II. 6: “It is reasonable to believe that the motors of the Heaven
of the Moon are of the order of the Angels; and those of Mercury are the Archangels; and
those of Venus are the Thrones.” It will be observed, however, that in line 34 he alludes
to the Principalities as the Regents of Venus; and in Canto IX. 6i, speaks of the Thrones as
reflecting the justice of God: – “Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call them, From
which shines out on us God Judicant;” thus referring the Thrones to a higher heaven than
that of Venus.

119After he had by looks asked and gained assent from Beatrice.
120The spirit shows its increase of joy by increase of brightness.
121The spirit who speaks is Charles Martel of Hungary, the friend and benefactor of

Dante. He was the eldest son of Charles the Lame (Charles II. of Naples and of Mary of
Hungary). He was born in 1272, and in 1291 married the “beautiful Clemence,” daughter
of Rudolph of Hapsburg, Emperor of Germany. He died in 1295, at the age of twenty-
three, to which he alludes in the words, “The world possessed me Short time below.”

122That part of Provence, embracing Avignon, Aix, Arles, and Marseilles, of which his
father was lord, and which he would have inherited had he lived. This is “the great
dowry of Provence,” which the daughter of Raymond Berenger brought to Charles of
Anjou in marriage, and which is mentioned in Purgatorio XX. 61, as taking the sense of
shame out of the blood of the Capets.

In Rhone, when it is mingled with the Sorgue,
Me for its lord awaited in due time,

And that horn of Ausonia, which is towned 123
With Bari, with Gaeta and Catona,
Whence Tronto and Verde in the sea disgorge.

Already flashed upon my brow the crown
Of that dominion which the Danube waters 124
After the German borders it abandons;

And beautiful Trinacria, that is murky 125
’Twixt Pachino and Peloro, (on the gulf 126
Which greatest scath from Eurus doth receive,)

Not through Typhceus, but through nascent sulphur, 127
Would have awaited her own monarchs still,
Through me from Charles descended and from Rudolph, 128

If evil lordship, that exasperates ever
The subject populations, had not moved
Palermo to the outcry of ‘Death! death!’ 129

And if my brother could but this foresee, 130
The greedy poverty of Catalonia
Straight would he flee, that it might not molest him;

123The kingdom of Apulia in Ausonia, or Lower Italy, embracing Bari on the Adriatic,
Gaeta in the Terra di Lavoro on the Mediterranean, and Crotona in Calabria; a region
bounded on the north by the Tronto emptying into the Adriatic, and the Verde (or Gangliano)
emptying into the Mediterranean.

124The kingdom of Hungary.

125Sicily, called of old Trinacria, from its three promontories Peloro, Pachino, and

126Pachino is the south-eastern promontory of Sicily, and Peloro the northeastern. Between
them lies the Gulf of Catania, receiving with open arms the east wind. Horace
speaks of Eurus as riding the Sicilian seas.”

127Both Pindar and Ovid speak of the giant Typhoeus, as struck by Jove’s thunderbolt,
and lying buried under Aetna. Virgil says it is Enceladus, a brother of Typhoeus. Charles
Martel here gives the philosophical, not the poetical, cause of the murky atmosphere of
the bay.

128Through him from his grandfather Charles of Anjou, and his father-in-law the Emperor

129The Sicilian Vespers and revolt of Palermo, in 1282.

130Robert, Duke of Calabria, third son of Charles II. and younger brother of Charles
Martel. He was King of Sicily from 1309 to 1343. He brought with him from Catalonia
a band of needy adventurers, whom he put into high offices of state, “and like so many
leeches,” says Biagioli, “they filled themselves with the blood of that poor people, not
dropping off so long as there remained a drop to suck.”

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

For verily ’tis needful to provide,
Through him or other, so that on his bark 131
Already freighted no more freight be placed.

His nature, which from liberal covetous 132
Descended, such a soldiery would need
As should not care for hoarding in a chest.” 133

“Because I do believe the lofty joy
Thy speech infuses into me, my Lord,
Where every good thing doth begin and end 134

Thou seest as I see it, the more grateful
Is it to me; and this too hold I dear,
That gazing upon God thou dost discern it.

Glad hast thou made me; so make clear to me,
Since speaking thou hast stirred me up to doubt,
How from sweet seed can bitter issue forth.”

This I to him; and he to me: “If I
Can show to thee a truth, to what thou askest
Thy face thou’lt hold as thou dost hold thy back.

The Good which all the realm thou art ascending 135
Turns and contents, maketh its providence
To be a power within these bodies vast

And not alone the natures are foreseen
Within the mind that in itself is perfect,
But they together with their preservation.

131Sicily already heavily laden with taxes of all kinds.

132Born of generous ancestors, he was himself avaricious.

133Namely, ministers and officials who were not greedy of gain.

134In God, where all things are reflected as in a mirror. Rev. XXI. 6: “I am Alpha and
Omega; the beginning and the end.” Buti interprets thus: “Because I believe that thou
seest my joy in God, even as I see it, I am pleased; and this also is dear to me, that thou
seest in God, that I believe it.”

135Convito, III. 14: “The first agent, I that is, God, sends his influence into some things
by means of direct rays, and into others by means of reflected splendour. Hence into
the Intelligences the divine light rays out immediately; in others it is reflected from these
Intelligences first illuminated. But as mention is here made of light and splendour, in
order to a perfect understanding, I will show the difference of these words, according to
Avicenna. I say, the custom of the philosophers is to call the Heaven light, in reference
to its existence in its fountain head; to call it ray, in reference to its passing from the
fountainhead to the first body, in which it is arrested; to call it splendour, in reference to
its reflection upon some other part illuminated.”

For whatsoever thing this bow shoots forth
Falls foreordained unto an end foreseen,
Even as a shaft directed to its mark.

If that were not, the heaven which thou dost walk
Would in such manner its effects produce,
That they no longer would be arts, but ruins.

This cannot be, if the Intelligences
That keep these stars in motion are not maimed,
And maimed the First that has not made them perfect.

Wilt thou this truth have clearer made to thee?”
And I: “Not so; for ’tis impossible
That nature tire, I see, in what is needful.”

Whence he again: “Now say, would it be worse
For men on earth were they not citizens?” 136
“Yes,” I replied; “and here I ask no reason.”

“And can they be so, if below they live not
Diversely unto offices diverse?
No, if your master writeth well for you.” 137

So came he with deductions to this point;
Then he concluded: “Therefore it behoves
The roots of your effects to be diverse.

Hence one is Solon born, another Xerxes, 138
Another Melchisedec, and another he
Who, flying through the air, his son did lose.

Revolving Nature, which a signet is
To mortal wax, doth practise well her art,
But not one inn distinguish from another; 139

Thence happens it that Esau differeth 140

136If men lived isolated from each other, and not in communities.

137Aristotle, whom Dante in the Convito, III. 5, calls “that glorious philosopher to whom
Nature most laid open her secrets;” and in Inferno IV. 131, “the master of those who

138The Jurist, the Warrior, the Priest and the Artisan are here typified in Solon, Xerxes,
Melchisedec, and Daedalus.
139Nature, like death, makes no distinction between palace and hovel. Her gentlemen
are born alike in each, and so her churls.

140Esau and Jacob, though twin brothers, differed in character, Esan being warlike and
Jacob peaceable. Genesis XXV. 27: “And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter,
a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

In seed from Jacob; and Quirinus comes 141
From sire so vile that he is given to Mars.

A generated nature its own way
Would always make like its progenitors,
If Providence divine were not triumphant.

Now that which was behind thee is before thee;
But that thou know that I with thee am pleased,
With a corollary will I mantle thee.

Evermore nature, if it fortune find
Discordant to it, like each other seed
Out of its region, maketh evil thrift; 142

And if the world below would fix its mind
On the foundation which is laid by nature,
Pursuing that, ’twould have the people good.

But you unto religion wrench aside 143
Him who was born to gird him with the sword,
And make a king of him who is for sermons;

Therefore your footsteps wander from the road.”

141Romulus, called Quirinus, because he always carried a spear (quiris), was of such
obscure birth, that the Romans, to dignify their origin, pretended he was born of Mars.

142Convito, III. 3: “Animate plants have a very manifest affection for certain places, according
to their character; and therefore we see certain plants rooting themselves by the
water-side, and others upon mountainous places, and others on the slopes and at the foot
of the mountains, which, if they are transplanted, either wholly perish, or live a kind of
melancholy life, as things separated from what is friendly to them.”

143Another allusion to King Robert of Sicily. Villani, XII. 9, says of him: “This king
Robert was the wisest king that had been known among Christians for five hundred
years, both in natural ability and in knowledge, being a very great master in theology,
and a consummate philosopher.” And the Postillatore of the Monte Cassino Codex: “This
King Robert delighted in preaching and studying, and would have made a better monk
than king.”

Figure 3: “Much didst thou love me, and thou hadst good reason...”



BEAUTIFUL Clemence, after that thy Charles 144
Had me enlightened, he narrated to me
The treacheries his seed should undergo; 145

But said: “Be still and let the years roll round;”
So I can only say, that lamentation
Legitimate shall follow on your wrongs.

And of that holy light the life already
Had to the Sun which fills it turned again,
As to that good which for each thing sufficeth.

Ah, souls deceived, and creatures impious,
Who from such good do turn away your hearts,
Directing upon vanity your foreheads!

And now, behold, another of those splendours
Approached me, and its will to pleasure me
It signified by brightening outwardly.

The eyes of Beatrice, that fastened were
Upon me, as before, of dear assent
To my desire assurance gave to me.

“Ah, bring swift compensation to my wish,
Thou blessed spirit,” I said, “and give me proof

144The Heaven of Venus is continued in this canto. The beautiful Clemence here addressed
is the daughter of the Emperor Rudolph, and wife of Charles Martel. Some
commentators say it is his daughter, but for what reason is not apparent, as the form
of address would rather indicate the wife than the daughter; and moreover, at the date
of the poem, 1300, the daughter was only six or seven years old. So great was the affection
of this “beautiful Clemence” for her husband, that she is said to have fallen dead on
hearing the news of his death.

145Charles the Lame, dying in 1309, gave the kingdom of Naples and Sicily to his third
son, Robert, Duke of Calabria, thus dispossessing Carlo Roberto (or Caroberto) son of
Charles Martel and Clemence, and rightful heir to the throne.


That what I think in thee I can reflect!”

Whereat the light, that still was new to me, 146
Out of its depths, whence it before was singing,
As one delighted to do good, continued:

“Within that region of the land depraved 147
Of Italy, that lies between Rialto
And fountain heads of Brenta and of Piava,

Rises a hill, and mounts not very high, 148
Wherefrom descended formerly a torch
That made upon that region great assault.

Out of one root were born both I and it;
Cunizza was I called, and here I shine 149
Because the splendour of this star o’ercame me. 150

146Unknown to me by name.

147The region here described is the Marca Trivigiana, lying between Venice (here indicated
by one of its principal wards, the Rialto) and the Alps, dividing Italy from Germany.

148The hill on which stands the Castello di Romano, the birthplace of the tyrant
Ezzelino, or Azzolino, whom, for his cruelties, Dante punished in the river of boiling
blood, Inferno XII. Before his birth his mother is said to have dreamed of a lighted torch,
as Hecuba did before the birth of Paris, Althaea before the birth of Meleager, and the
mother of St. Dominic before the birth of “The amorous paramour of Christian Faith, the
athlete consecrate kind to his own and cruel to his foes.”

149Cunizza was the sister of Azzolino di Romano. Her story is told by Rolandino, Liber
Chronicorum, in Muratori, Rer. Ital. Script., VIII. 173. He says that she was first married
to Richard of St. Boniface; and soon after had an intrigue with Sordello, as already mentioned,
Purgatorio VI. Note 74. Afterwards she wandered about the world with a soldier
of Treviso, named Bonius, “taking much solace,” says the old chronicler, “and spending
much money,” – multa habendo solatia, et maximas faciendo expensas. After the death of Bonius,
she was married to a nobleman of Braganzo; and finally and for a third time to a
gentleman of Verona.
The Ottimo alone among the commentators takes up the defence of Cunizza, and says:
“This lady lived lovingly in dress, song, and sport; but consented not to any impropriety
or unlawful act; and she passed her life in enjoyment, as Solomon says in Ecciesiastes,” –
alluding probably to the first verse of the second chapter, “I said in my heart, Go to now,
I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure; and, behold, this is also vanity.”

150Of the influences of the planet Venus, quoting Albumasar, as before, Buti says:
“Venus is cold and moist, and of phlegmatic temperament, and signifies beauty, liberality,
patience, sweetness, dignity of manners, love of dress and ornaments of gold and silver,
humility towards friends, pride and adjunction, delectation and delight in singing and
use of ornaments, joy and gladness, dancing, song with pipe and lute, bridals, ornaments
and precious ointments, cunning in the composition of songs, skill in the game of chess,
indolence, drunkenness, lust, adultery, gesticulations, and lasciviousness of courtesans,
abundance of perjuries, of lies and all kinds of wantonness, love of children, delight in
men, strength of body, weakness of mind, abundance of food and corporal delights, ob

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

But gladly to myself the cause I pardon 151
Of my allotment, and it does not grieve me,
Which would perhaps seem strong unto your vulgar.

Of this so luculent and precious jewel, 152
Which of our heaven is nearest unto me,
Great fame remained; and ere it die away

This hundredth year shall yet quintupled be.
See if man ought to make him excellent,
So that another life the first may leave!

And thus thinks not the present multitude
Shut in by Adige and Tagliamento, 153
Nor yet for being scourged is penitent.

But soon ’twill be that Padua in the marsh 154
Will change the water that Vicenza bathes,
Because the folk are stubborn against duty;

And where the Sile and Cagnano join 155
One lordeth it, and goes with lofty head, 156
For catching whom e’en now the net is making.

servance of faith and justice, traffic in odoriferous merchandise; and as was said of the
Moon, all are not found in one man, but a part in one, and a part in an other, according
to Divine Providence; and the wise man adheres to the good, and overcomes the others.”

151Since God has pardoned me, I am no longer troubled for my past errors, on account
of which I attain no higher glory in Paradise. She had tasted of the waters of Lethe, and
all the ills and errors of the past were forgotten.

152The spirit of Folco, or Folchetto, of Marseilles, as mentioned later in this canto; the famous
Troubadour whose renown was not to perish for five centuries, but is small enough
now, save in the literary histories of Millot and the Benedictines of St. Maur.

153The Marca Trivigiana is again alluded to, lying between the Adige, that empties into
the Adriatic south of Venice, and the Tagliamento to the north-east, towards Trieste. This
region embraces the cities of Padna and Vicenza in the south, Treviso in the centre, and
Feltro in the north.

154The rout of the Paduans near Vicenza, in those endless quarrels that run through
Italian history like the roll of a drum. Three times the Paduan Guelphs were defeated by
the Ghibellines – in 1311, in 1314, and in 1318 – when Can Grande della Scala was chief of
the Ghibelline league. The river stained with blood is the Bacchiglione, on which Vicenza

155In Treviso, where the Sile and Cagnano unite.

156Riccardo da Camino, who was assassinated while playing at chess. He was a son of
the “good Gherardo,” and brother of the beautiful Gaja, mentioned Purgatorio XVI. 40.
He succeeded his father as lord of Treviso; but carried on his love adventures so openly
and with so high a hand, that he was finally assassinated by an outraged husband. The
story of his assassination is told in the Hist. Cartusiorum in Muratori, XII. 784.

Feltro moreover of her impious pastor
Shall weep the crime, which shall so monstrous be 157
That for the like none ever entered Malta. 158

Ample exceedingly would be the vat
That of the Ferrarese could hold the blood,
And weary who should weigh it ounce by ounce,

Of which this courteous priest shall make a gift 159
To show himself a partisan; and such gifts
Will to the living of the land conform. 160

Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call them, 161
From which shines out on us God Judicant,
So that this utterance seems good to us.”

Here it was silent, and it had the semblance
Of being turned elsewhither, by the wheel
On which it entered as it was before.

The other joy, already known to me,
Became a thing transplendent in my sight,
As a fine ruby smitten by the sun. 162

Through joy effulgence is acquired above, 163

157A certain bishop of the town of Feltro in the Marca Trivigiana, whose name is doubtful;
but who was both lord spiritual and temporal of the town, broke faith with certain
gentlemen of Ferrara, guilty of political crimes, who sought refuge and protection in his
diocese. They were delivered up, and executed in Ferrara. Afterward the Bishop himself
came to a violent end, being beaten to death with bags of sand.

158Malta was a prison on the shores of Lake Bolsena, where priests were incarcerated
for their crimes. There Pope Boniface VIII. imprisoned the Abbot of Monte Cassino for
letting the fugitive Celestine V. escape from his convent.

159This “courteous priest” was a Guelph, and showed his zeal for his party in the persecution
of the Ghibellines.

160The treachery and cruelty of this man will be in conformity to the customs of the

161Above in the Crystalline Heaven, or Primum Mobile, is the Order of Angels called
Thrones. These are mirrors reflecting the justice and judgments of God.

162The Balascio (in French rubi balais) is supposed to take its name from the place in the
East where it was found. The mystic virtues of this stone are thus enumerated by Mr.
King, Antique Gems, p. 419 : “The Balais Ruby represses vain and lascivious thoughts
appeases quarrels between friends, and gives health of body. Its powder taken in water
cures diseases of the eyes, and pains in the liver. If you touch with this gem the four
corners of a house, orchard, or vineyard, they will be safe from lightning, storms, and

163Joy is shown in heaven by greater light, as here on earth by smiles, and as in the
infernal regions the grief of souls in torment is by greater darkness.

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

As here a smile; but down below, the shade
Outwardly darkens, as the mind is sad.

“God seeth all things, and in Him, blest spirit, 164
Thy sight is,” said I, “so that never will
Of his can possibly from thee be hidden;

Thy voice, then, that for ever makes the heavens
Glad, with the singing of those holy fires
Which of their six wings make themselves a cowl, 165

Wherefore does it not satisfy my longings?
Indeed, I would not wait thy questioning
If I in thee were as thou art in me.”

“The greatest of the valleys where the water 166
Expands itself,” forthwith its words began,
“That sea excepted which the earth engarlands,

Between discordant shores against the sun 167
Extends so far, that it meridian makes
Where it was wont before to make the horizon.

I was a dweller on that valley’s shore
’Twixt Ebro and Magra that with journey short 168
Doth from the Tuscan part the Genoese.

With the same sunset and same sunrise nearly
Sit Buggia and the city whence I was, 169
That with its blood once made the harbour hot. 170

Folco that people called me unto whom 171

164In Him thy sight is; in the original, tuo veder s’inluia – thy sight in-Himself.
165The Seraphim, clothed with six wings, as seen in the vision of the Prophet Isaiah VI.

2: “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face,
and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”
166The Mediterranean, the greatest of seas, except the ocean, surrounding the earth.
167Extending eastward between Europe and Africa. Dante gives the length of the

Mediterranean as ninety degrees. Modern geographers make it less than fifty.
168Marseilles, about equidistant from the Ebro, in Spain, and the Magra, which divides

the Genoese and Tuscan territories. Being a small river, it has but a short journey to make.
169Buggia is a city in Africa, on nearly the same parallel of longitude as Marseilles.
170The allusion here is to the siege of Marseilles by a portion of Caesar’s army under

Tribonius, and the fleet under Brutus.

171Folco, or Folchetto, of Marseilles (Folquet de Marseilles) was a noted Troubadour, who
flourished at the end of the twelfth century. He was the son of a rich merchant of Marseilles,
and after his father’s death, giving up business for pleasure and poetry, became
a frequenter of courts and favourite of lords and princes. Among his patrons are men

My name was known; and now with me this heaven
Imprints itself, as I did once with it;

For more the daughter of Belus never burned, 172
Offending both Sichaeus and Creusa,
Than I, so long as it became my locks,

Nor yet that Rodophean, who deluded 173
was by Demophoon, nor yet Alcides, 174
When Iole he in his heart had locked.

Yet here is no repenting, but we smile,
Not at the fault, which comes not back to mind,
But at the power which ordered and foresaw.

Here we behold the art that doth adorn
With such affection, and the good discover
Whereby the world above turns that below.

But that thou wholly satisfied mayst bear
Thy wishes hence which in this sphere are born,
Still farther to proceed behoveth me.

Thou fain wouldst know who is within this light
That here beside me thus is scintillating,
Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water.

Then know thou, that within there is at rest 175
Rahab, and being to our order joined,
With her in its supremest grade ’tis sealed.

Into this heaven, where ends the shadowy cone
Cast by your world, before all other souls
First of Christ’s triumph was she taken up. 176

Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven,

tioned King Richard of England, King Alfonso of Aragon, Count Raymond of Toulouse,
and the Sire Barral of Marseilles.
172Dido, queen of Carthage. The Ottimo says “He seems to mean, that Folco loved indifferently
married women, virgins, and widows, gentle and simple.”
173Phillis of Thrace, called Rodopeia from Mount Rodope near which she lived, was
deserted by her Athenian lover Demophoon.
174Hercules was so subdued by love for Iole, that he sat among her maidens spinning
with a distaff.
175Rahab, who concealed the spies of Joshua among the flax-stalks on the roof of her
house. Joshua, II. 6.
176The first soul redeemed when Christ descended into Limbo. “The first shall be last,
and the last first.”

-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

Even as a palm of the high victory
Which he acquired with one palm and the other, 177

Because she favoured the first glorious deed
Of Joshua upon the Holy Land,
That little stirs the memory of the Pope.

Thy city, which an offshoot is of him 178
Who first upon his Maker turned his back,
And whose ambition is so sorely wept,

Brings forth and scatters the accursed flower 179
Which both the sheep and lambs hath led astray
Since it has turned the shepherd to a wolf

For this the Evangel and the mighty Doctors 180
Are derelict, and only the Decretals
So studied that it shows upon their margins.

On this are Pope and Cardinals intent;
Their meditations reach not Nazareth,
There where his pinions Gabriel unfolded 181

But Vatican and the other parts elect
Of Rome, which have a cemetery been
Unto the soldiery that followed Peter

Shall soon be free from this adultery.”

177The Crucifixion. If any one is disposed to criticise the play upon words in this beautiful
passage, let him remember the Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram edificabo ecclesiam

178The heathen Gods were looked upon by the Christians as demons. Hence Florence
was the city of Satan to Dante in his dark hours, when he thought of Mars; but in his better
moments, when he remembered John the Baptist, it was “the fairest and most renowned
daughter of Rome.”

179The Lily on the golden florin of Florence.

180To gain the golden florin the study of the Gospels and the Fathers was abandoned,
and the Decretals, or books of Ecclesiastical Law, so diligently conned, that their margins
were worn and soiled with thumb-marks. The first five books of the Decretals were
compiled by Gregory IX., and the sixth by Boniface VII.

181A prophecy of the death of Boniface VIII. in 1303, and the removal of the Holy See to
Avignon in 1305.



LOOKING into his Son with all the Love 182
Which each of them eternally breathes forth
The Primal and unutterable Power

Whate’er before the mind or eye revolves
With so much order made, there can be none
Who this beholds without enjoying Him.

Lift up then, Reader, to the lofty wheels
With me thy vision straight unto that part

182The Heaven of the Sun, “a good planet and imperial,” says Brunetto Latini. Dante
makes it the symbol of Arithmetic. Convito, II. 14: “The Heaven of the Sun may be compared
to Arithmetic on account of two properties; the first is, that with its light all the
other stars are informed; the second is, that the eye cannot behold it. And these two
properties are in Arithmetic, for with its light all the sciences are illuminated, since their
subjects are all considered under some number, and in the consideration thereof we always
proceed with numbers; as in natural science the subject is the movable body, which
movable body has in it ratio of continuity, and this has in it ratio of infinite number. And
the chief consideration of natural science is to consider the principles of natural things,
which are three, namely, matter, species, and form; in which this number is visible, not
only in all together, but, if we consider well, in each one separately. Therefore Pythagoras,
according to Aristotle in the first book of his Physics, gives the odd and even as the
principles of natural things, considering all things to be number. The other property of
the Sun is also seen in number, to which Arithmetic belongs, for the eye of the intellect
cannot behold it, for number considered in itself is infinite; and this we cannot comprehend.”

In this Heaven of the Sun are seen the spirits of theologians and Fathers of the Church;
and its influences, according to Albumasar, cited by Buti, are as follows: “The Sun signifies
the vital soul, light and splendour, reason and intellect, science and the measure
of life; it signifies kings, princes and leaders, nobles and magnates and congregations
of men, strength and victory, voluptuousness, beauty and grandeur, subtleness of mind,
pride and praise, good desire of kingdom and of subjects, and great love of gold, and
affluence of speech, and delight in neatness and beauty. It signifies faith and the worship
of God, judges and wise men, fathers and brothers and mediators; it joins itself to men
and mingles among them, it gives what is asked for, and is strong in vengeance, that is to
say, it punishes rebels and malefactors.”


-Divine Comedy, Paradiso

Where the one motion on the other strikes, 183

And there begin to contemplate with joy
That Master’s art, who in himself so loves it
That never doth his eye depart therefrom.

Behold how from that point goes branching off
The oblique circle, which conveys the planets, 184
To satisfy the world that calls upon them

And if their pathway were not thus inflected,
Much virtue in the heavens would be in vain,
And almost every power below here dead.

If from the straight line distant more or less
Were the departure, much would wanting be
Above and underneath of mundane order.

Remain now, Reader, still upon thy bench,
In thought pursuing that which is foretasted,
If thou wouldst jocund be instead of weary.

I’ve set before thee; henceforth feed thyself,
For to itself diverteth all my care
That theme whereof I have been made the scribe.

The greatest of the ministers of nature, 185
Who with the power of heaven the world imprints
And measures with his light the time for us,

With that part which above is called to mind 186
Conjoined, along the spirals was revolving, 187
Where each time earlier he presents himself

And I was with him; but of the ascending
I was not conscious, saving as a man
Of a first thought is conscious ere it come;

And Beatrice, she who is seen to pass

183Where the Zodiac crosses the Equator, and the motion of the planets, which is parallel
to the former, comes into apparent collision with that of the fixed stars, which is parallel
to the latter.

184The Zodiac, which cuts the Equator obliquely.
185The Sun.
186The Sun in Aries, as indicated in line 9; that being the sign in which the Sun is at the

vernal equinox.
187Such is the apparent motion of the Sun round the earth, as he rises earlier and earlier
in Spring.