Purgatory - Dante Alighieri - ebook

Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil continue their journey to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world. The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins or seven roots of sinfulness. Dante's Purgatory is the second book in the Divine Comedy trilogy. This book follows Dante's Inferno which inspired Dan Brown's Inferno novel, EA's computer game Dante's Inferno and an animated epic Dante's Inferno.

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Dante Alighieri






New Edition, World Classics, Epic Story

Published by Sovereign

An imprint of Max Bollinger

27 Old Gloucester St,

London WC1N 3AX

[email protected]


This Edition

First published in 2013

Author: Dante Alighieri

Editor: Max Bollinger

Translator: H. F. Cary

Copyright © 2013 Sovereign

Cover design and artwork © 2013 urban-pic.co.uk

All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The greatest care has been taken in compiling this book. However, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers or compilers for the accuracy of the information presented.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data.

A catalogue record for this book has been requested.

ISBN: 9781909904026 (pbk)

ISBN: 9781909904033 (ebk)

Bref: PTY-03





































O’er better waves to speed her rapid course

The light bark of my genius lifts the sail,

Well pleas’d to leave so cruel sea behind;

And of that second region will I sing,

In which the human spirit from sinful blot

Is purg’d, and for ascent to Heaven prepares.

Here, O ye hallow’d Nine! for in your train

I follow, here the deadened strain revive;

Nor let Calliope refuse to sound

A somewhat higher song, of that loud tone,

Which when the wretched birds of chattering note

Had heard, they of forgiveness lost all hope.

Sweet hue of eastern sapphire, that was spread

O’er the serene aspect of the pure air,

High up as the first circle, to mine eyes

Unwonted joy renew’d, soon as I ‘scap’d

Forth from the atmosphere of deadly gloom,

That had mine eyes and bosom fill’d with grief.

The radiant planet, that to love invites,

Made all the orient laugh, and veil’d beneath

The Pisces’ light, that in his escort came.

To the right hand I turn’d, and fix’d my mind

On the’ other pole attentive, where I saw

Four stars ne’er seen before save by the ken

Of our first parents. Heaven of their rays

Seem’d joyous. O thou northern site, bereft

Indeed, and widow’d, since of these depriv’d!

As from this view I had desisted, straight

Turning a little tow’rds the other pole,

There from whence now the wain had disappear’d,

I saw an old man standing by my side

Alone, so worthy of rev’rence in his look,

That ne’er from son to father more was ow’d.

Low down his beard and mix’d with hoary white

Descended, like his locks, which parting fell

Upon his breast in double fold. The beams

Of those four luminaries on his face

So brightly shone, and with such radiance clear

Deck’d it, that I beheld him as the sun.

“Say who are ye, that stemming the blind stream,

Forth from th’ eternal prison-house have fled?”

He spoke and moved those venerable plumes.

“Who hath conducted, or with lantern sure

Lights you emerging from the depth of night,

That makes the infernal valley ever black?

Are the firm statutes of the dread abyss

Broken, or in high heaven new laws ordain’d,

That thus, condemn’d, ye to my caves approach?”

My guide, then laying hold on me, by words

And intimations given with hand and head,

Made my bent knees and eye submissive pay

Due reverence; then thus to him replied.

“Not of myself I come; a Dame from heaven

Descending, had besought me in my charge

To bring. But since thy will implies, that more

Our true condition I unfold at large,

Mine is not to deny thee thy request.

This mortal ne’er hath seen the farthest gloom.

But erring by his folly had approach’d

So near, that little space was left to turn.

Then, as before I told, I was dispatch’d

To work his rescue, and no way remain’d

Save this which I have ta’en. I have display’d

Before him all the regions of the bad;

And purpose now those spirits to display,

That under thy command are purg’d from sin.

How I have brought him would be long to say.

From high descends the virtue, by whose aid

I to thy sight and hearing him have led.

Now may our coming please thee. In the search

Of liberty he journeys: that how dear

They know, who for her sake have life refus’d.

Thou knowest, to whom death for her was sweet

In Utica, where thou didst leave those weeds,

That in the last great day will shine so bright.

For us the’ eternal edicts are unmov’d:

He breathes, and I am free of Minos’ power,

Abiding in that circle where the eyes

Of thy chaste Marcia beam, who still in look

Prays thee, O hallow’d spirit! to own her shine.

Then by her love we’ implore thee, let us pass

Through thy sev’n regions; for which best thanks

I for thy favour will to her return,

If mention there below thou not disdain.”

“Marcia so pleasing in my sight was found,”

He then to him rejoin’d, “while I was there,

That all she ask’d me I was fain to grant.

Now that beyond the’ accursed stream she dwells,

She may no longer move me, by that law,

Which was ordain’d me, when I issued thence.

Not so, if Dame from heaven, as thou sayst,

Moves and directs thee; then no flattery needs.

Enough for me that in her name thou ask.

Go therefore now: and with a slender reed

See that thou duly gird him, and his face

Lave, till all sordid stain thou wipe from thence.

For not with eye, by any cloud obscur’d,

Would it be seemly before him to come,

Who stands the foremost minister in heaven.

This islet all around, there far beneath,

Where the wave beats it, on the oozy bed

Produces store of reeds. No other plant,

Cover’d with leaves, or harden’d in its stalk,

There lives, not bending to the water’s sway.

After, this way return not; but the sun

Will show you, that now rises, where to take

The mountain in its easiest ascent.”

He disappear’d; and I myself uprais’d

Speechless, and to my guide retiring close,

Toward him turn’d mine eyes. He thus began;

“My son! observant thou my steps pursue.

We must retreat to rearward, for that way

The champain to its low extreme declines.”

The dawn had chas’d the matin hour of prime,

Which deaf before it, so that from afar

I spy’d the trembling of the ocean stream.

We travers’d the deserted plain, as one

Who, wander’d from his track, thinks every step

Trodden in vain till he regain the path.

When we had come, where yet the tender dew

Strove with the sun, and in a place, where fresh

The wind breath’d o’er it, while it slowly dried;

Both hands extended on the watery grass

My master plac’d, in graceful act and kind.

Whence I of his intent before appriz’d,

Stretch’d out to him my cheeks suffus’d with tears.

There to my visage he anew restor’d

That hue, which the dun shades of hell conceal’d.

Then on the solitary shore arriv’d,

That never sailing on its waters saw

Man, that could after measure back his course,

He girt me in such manner as had pleas’d

Him who instructed, and O, strange to tell!

As he selected every humble plant,

Wherever one was pluck’d, another there

Resembling, straightway in its place arose.


Now had the sun to that horizon reach’d,

That covers, with the most exalted point

Of its meridian circle, Salem’s walls,

And night, that opposite to him her orb

Sounds, from the stream of Ganges issued forth,

Holding the scales, that from her hands are dropp’d

When she reigns highest: so that where I was,

Aurora’s white and vermeil-tinctur’d cheek

To orange turn’d as she in age increas’d.

Meanwhile we linger’d by the water’s brink,

Like men, who, musing on their road, in thought

Journey, while motionless the body rests.

When lo! as near upon the hour of dawn,

Through the thick vapours Mars with fiery beam

Glares down in west, over the ocean floor;

So seem’d, what once again I hope to view,

A light so swiftly coming through the sea,

No winged course might equal its career.

From which when for a space I had withdrawn

Thine eyes, to make inquiry of my guide,

Again I look’d and saw it grown in size

And brightness: thou on either side appear’d

Something, but what I knew not of bright hue,

And by degrees from underneath it came

Another. My preceptor silent yet

Stood, while the brightness, that we first discern’d,

Open’d the form of wings: then when he knew

The pilot, cried aloud, “Down, down; bend low

Thy knees; behold God’s angel: fold thy hands:

Now shalt thou see true Ministers indeed.”

Lo how all human means he sets at naught!

So that nor oar he needs, nor other sail

Except his wings, between such distant shores.

Lo how straight up to heaven he holds them rear’d,

Winnowing the air with those eternal plumes,

That not like mortal hairs fall off or change!”

As more and more toward us came, more bright

Appear’d the bird of God, nor could the eye

Endure his splendor near: I mine bent down.

He drove ashore in a small bark so swift

And light, that in its course no wave it drank.

The heav’nly steersman at the prow was seen,

Visibly written blessed in his looks.

Within a hundred spirits and more there sat.

“In Exitu Israel de Aegypto;”

All with one voice together sang, with what

In the remainder of that hymn is writ.

Then soon as with the sign of holy cross

He bless’d them, they at once leap’d out on land,

The swiftly as he came return’d. The crew,

There left, appear’d astounded with the place,

Gazing around as one who sees new sights.

From every side the sun darted his beams,

And with his arrowy radiance from mid heav’n

Had chas’d the Capricorn, when that strange tribe

Lifting their eyes towards us: “If ye know,

Declare what path will Lead us to the mount.”

Them Virgil answer’d. “Ye suppose perchance

Us well acquainted with this place: but here,

We, as yourselves, are strangers. Not long erst

We came, before you but a little space,

By other road so rough and hard, that now

The’ ascent will seem to us as play.” The spirits,

Who from my breathing had perceiv’d I liv’d,

Grew pale with wonder. As the multitude

Flock round a herald, sent with olive branch,

To hear what news he brings, and in their haste

Tread one another down, e’en so at sight

Of me those happy spirits were fix’d, each one

Forgetful of its errand, to depart,

Where cleans’d from sin, it might be made all fair.

Then one I saw darting before the rest

With such fond ardour to embrace me, I

To do the like was mov’d. O shadows vain

Except in outward semblance! thrice my hands

I clasp’d behind it, they as oft return’d

Empty into my breast again. Surprise

I needs must think was painted in my looks,

For that the shadow smil’d and backward drew.

To follow it I hasten’d, but with voice

Of sweetness it enjoin’d me to desist.

Then who it was I knew, and pray’d of it,

To talk with me, it would a little pause.

It answered: “Thee as in my mortal frame

I lov’d, so loos’d forth it I love thee still,

And therefore pause; but why walkest thou here?”

“Not without purpose once more to return,

Thou find’st me, my Casella, where I am

Journeying this way;” I said, “but how of thee

Hath so much time been lost?” He answer’d straight:

“No outrage hath been done to me, if he

Who when and whom he chooses takes, me oft

This passage hath denied, since of just will

His will he makes. These three months past indeed,

He, whose chose to enter, with free leave

Hath taken; whence I wand’ring by the shore

Where Tyber’s wave grows salt, of him gain’d kind

Admittance, at that river’s mouth, tow’rd which

His wings are pointed, for there always throng

All such as not to Archeron descend.”

Then I: “If new laws have not quite destroy’d

Memory and use of that sweet song of love,

That while all my cares had power to ‘swage;

Please thee with it a little to console

My spirit, that incumber’d with its frame,

Travelling so far, of pain is overcome.”

“Love that discourses in my thoughts.” He then

Began in such soft accents, that within

The sweetness thrills me yet. My gentle guide

And all who came with him, so well were pleas’d,

That seem’d naught else might in their thoughts have room.

Fast fix’d in mute attention to his notes

We stood, when lo! that old man venerable

Exclaiming, “How is this, ye tardy spirits?

What negligence detains you loit’ring here?

Run to the mountain to cast off those scales,

That from your eyes the sight of God conceal.”

As a wild flock of pigeons, to their food

Collected, blade or tares, without their pride

Accustom’d, and in still and quiet sort,

If aught alarm them, suddenly desert

Their meal, assail’d by more important care;

So I that new-come troop beheld, the song

Deserting, hasten to the mountain’s side,

As one who goes yet where he tends knows not.

Nor with less hurried step did we depart.


Them sudden flight had scatter’d over the plain,

Turn’d tow’rds the mountain, whither reason’s voice

Drives us; I to my faithful company

Adhering, left it not. For how of him

Depriv’d, might I have sped, or who beside

Would o’er the mountainous tract have led my steps

He with the bitter pang of self-remorse

Seem’d smitten. O clear conscience and upright

How doth a little fling wound thee sore!

Soon as his feet desisted (slack’ning pace),

From haste, that mars all decency of act,

My mind, that in itself before was wrapt,

Its thoughts expanded, as with joy restor’d:

And full against the steep ascent I set

My face, where highest to heav’n its top o’erflows.

The sun, that flar’d behind, with ruddy beam

Before my form was broken; for in me

His rays resistance met. I turn’d aside

With fear of being left, when I beheld

Only before myself the ground obscur’d.

When thus my solace, turning him around,

Bespake me kindly: “Why distrustest thou?

Believ’st not I am with thee, thy sure guide?

It now is evening there, where buried lies

The body, in which I cast a shade, remov’d

To Naples from Brundusium’s wall. Nor thou

Marvel, if before me no shadow fall,

More than that in the sky element

One ray obstructs not other. To endure

Torments of heat and cold extreme, like frames

That virtue hath dispos’d, which how it works

Wills not to us should be reveal’d. Insane

Who hopes, our reason may that space explore,

Which holds three persons in one substance knit.

Seek not the wherefore, race of human kind;

Could ye have seen the whole, no need had been

For Mary to bring forth. Moreover ye

Have seen such men desiring fruitlessly;

To whose desires repose would have been giv’n,

That now but serve them for eternal grief.

I speak of Plato, and the Stagyrite,

And others many more.” And then he bent

Downwards his forehead, and in troubled mood

Broke off his speech. Meanwhile we had arriv’d

Far as the mountain’s foot, and there the rock

Found of so steep ascent, that nimblest steps

To climb it had been vain. The most remote

Most wild untrodden path, in all the tract

‘Twixt Lerice and Turbia were to this

A ladder easy’ and open of access.

“Who knows on which hand now the steep declines?”

My master said and paus’d, “so that he may

Ascend, who journeys without aid of wine?”

And while with looks directed to the ground

The meaning of the pathway he explor’d,

And I gaz’d upward round the stony height,

Of spirits, that toward us mov’d their steps,

Yet moving seem’d not, they so slow approach’d.

I thus my guide address’d: “Upraise thine eyes,

Lo that way some, of whom thou may’st obtain

Counsel, if of thyself thou find’st it not!”

Straightway he look’d, and with free speech replied:

“Let us tend thither: they but softly come.

And thou be firm in hope, my son belov’d.”

Now was that people distant far in space

A thousand paces behind ours, as much

As at a throw the nervous arm could fling,

When all drew backward on the messy crags

Of the steep bank, and firmly stood unmov’d

As one who walks in doubt might stand to look.

“O spirits perfect! O already chosen!”

Virgil to them began, “by that blest peace,

Which, as I deem, is for you all prepar’d,

Instruct us where the mountain low declines,

So that attempt to mount it be not vain.

For who knows most, him loss of time most grieves.”

As sheep, that step from forth their fold, by one,

Or pairs, or three at once; meanwhile the rest

Stand fearfully, bending the eye and nose

To ground, and what the foremost does, that do

The others, gath’ring round her, if she stops,

Simple and quiet, nor the cause discern;

So saw I moving to advance the first,

Who of that fortunate crew were at the head,

Of modest mien and graceful in their gait.

When they before me had beheld the light

From my right side fall broken on the ground,

So that the shadow reach’d the cave, they stopp’d

And somewhat back retir’d: the same did all,

Who follow’d, though unweeting of the cause.

“Unask’d of you, yet freely I confess,

This is a human body which ye see.

That the sun’s light is broken on the ground,

Marvel not: but believe, that not without

Virtue deriv’d from Heaven, we to climb

Over this wall aspire.” So them bespake

My master; and that virtuous tribe rejoin’d;

“Turn, and before you there the entrance lies,”

Making a signal to us with bent hands.

Then of them one began. “Whoe’er thou art,

Who journey’st thus this way, thy visage turn,

Think if me elsewhere thou hast ever seen.”

I tow’rds him turn’d, and with fix’d eye beheld.

Comely, and fair, and gentle of aspect,

He seem’d, but on one brow a gash was mark’d.

When humbly I disclaim’d to have beheld

Him ever: “Now behold!” he said, and show’d

High on his breast a wound: then smiling spake.

“I am Manfredi, grandson to the Queen

Costanza: whence I pray thee, when return’d,

To my fair daughter go, the parent glad

Of Aragonia and Sicilia’s pride;

And of the truth inform her, if of me

Aught else be told. When by two mortal blows

My frame was shatter’d, I betook myself

Weeping to him, who of free will forgives.

My sins were horrible; but so wide arms

Hath goodness infinite, that it receives

All who turn to it. Had this text divine

Been of Cosenza’s shepherd better scann’d,

Who then by Clement on my hunt was set,

Yet at the bridge’s head my bones had lain,

Near Benevento, by the heavy mole

Protected; but the rain now drenches them,

And the wind drives, out of the kingdom’s bounds,

Far as the stream of Verde, where, with lights

Extinguish’d, he remov’d them from their bed.

Yet by their curse we are not so destroy’d,

But that the eternal love may turn, while hope

Retains her verdant blossoms. True it is,

That such one as in contumacy dies

Against the holy church, though he repent,

Must wander thirty-fold for all the time

In his presumption past; if such decree

Be not by prayers of good men shorter made

Look therefore if thou canst advance my bliss;

Revealing to my good Costanza, how

Thou hast beheld me, and beside the terms

Laid on me of that interdict; for here

By means of those below much profit comes.”


When by sensations of delight or pain,

That any of our faculties hath seiz’d,

Entire the soul collects herself, it seems

She is intent upon that power alone,

And thus the error is disprov’d which holds

The soul not singly lighted in the breast.

And therefore when as aught is heard or seen,

That firmly keeps the soul toward it turn’d,

Time passes, and a man perceives it not.

For that, whereby he hearken, is one power,

Another that, which the whole spirit hash;

This is as it were bound, while that is free.

This found I true by proof, hearing that spirit

And wond’ring; for full fifty steps aloft

The sun had measur’d unobserv’d of me,

When we arriv’d where all with one accord

The spirits shouted, “Here is what ye ask.”

A larger aperture ofttimes is stopp’d

With forked stake of thorn by villager,

When the ripe grape imbrowns, than was the path,

By which my guide, and I behind him close,

Ascended solitary, when that troop

Departing left us. On Sanleo’s road

Who journeys, or to Noli low descends,

Or mounts Bismantua’s height, must use his feet;

But here a man had need to fly, I mean