The Divine Comedy (Illustrated Edition) - Dante Alighieri - ebook

The Divine Comedy (Illustrated Edition) ebook

Dante Alighieri



This carefully crafted ebook: "Divine Comedy (Complete Edition)" is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents. The Divine Comedy is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered to be the preeminent work in Italian literature and one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem's imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. The narrative describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise or Heaven, while allegorically the poem represents the soul's journey towards God. Dante draws on medieval Christian theology and philosophy, especially Thomistic philosophy and the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Consequently, the Divine Comedy has been called "the Summa in verse". In Dante's work, Virgil is presented as human reason and Beatrice is presented as divine knowledge. This edition brings to you the inimitable translation of Divine Comedy by Henry Francis Cary and is accompanied by the beautiful illustrations of Gustave Doré.

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Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy

(Illustrated Edition)

Published by


- Advanced Digital Solutions & High-Quality eBook Formatting -
2018 OK Publishing
ISBN 978-80-272-4708-0

Table of Contents

Divine Comedy
Inferno or, Hell

Divine Comedy

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

MUCH of the life of Dante Alighieri is obscure, and the known facts are surrounded by a haze of legend and conjecture. He was born in Florence in 1265, of a family noble but not wealthy. His early education is a matter of inference, but we know that he learned the art of writing verse from the poets of France and Provence, and that after he reached manhood he devoted much time to study and became profoundly learned. As a young man he saw military service and shared in the recreations of his contemporaries; and he married some time before he was thirty-two. In Dante’s day politics in Florence were exciting and dangerous; and after a few years of participation in public affairs he was condemned to death by his political enemies in 1302. He saved himself by exile, and never returned to his native town. The rest of his life was mainly spent wandering about the north of Italy, in Verona, Bologna, Pisa, Lucca, and finally Ravenna, where he died in 1321. During the years of his exile he found generous patrons in men like the heads of the Scala family in Verona and Guido Novello da Polenta in Ravenna; and at Bologna and elsewhere he was welcomed as a teacher.

In the early part of the century in which Dante was born, the literary language of Tuscany was still Latin, and not the least of his services to his country was his influence in finally establishing the dignity of Italian as a medium for great literature. He himself used Latin in at least three works: his lecture “De Aqua et Terra”; his “De Monarchâ,” in which he expounded his Political theory of the relation of the Empire and the Papacy; and his unfinished “De Vulgari Eloquentia,” containing his defense of the use of Italian. More important, however, were his two great works in the vernacular, the “Vita Nuova,” a series of poems with prose commentary, on his love for Beatrice, and the “Divina Commedia.”

The Beatrice, real or ideal, who plays so important a part in the poetry of Dante, is stated by Boccaccio to have been the daughter of Folco Portinari, a rich Florentine, and wife of the banker Simone dei Bardi. With this actual person Dante’s acquaintance seems to have been of the slightest; but, after the fashion of the chivalric lovers of the day, he took her as the object of his ideal devotion. She became for him, especially after her death in 1290, the center of a mystical devotion of extraordinary intensity, and appears in his masterpiece as the personification of heavenly enlightenment

The “Divine Comedy” was entitled by Dante himself merely “Commedia,” meaning a poetic composition in a style intermediate between the sustained nobility of tragedy, and the popular tone of elegy.” The word had no dramatic implication at that time, though it did involve a happy ending. The poem is the narrative of a journey down through Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory, and through the revolving heavens into the presence of God. In this aspect it belongs to the two familiar medieval literary types of the Journey and the Vision. It is also an allegory, representing under the symbolism of the stages and experiences of the journey, the history of a human soul, painfully struggling from sin through purification to the Beatific Vision. Other schemes of interpretation have been worked out and were probably intended, for Dante granted the medieval demand for a threefold and even fourfold signification in this type of writing.

But the “Divine Comedy” belongs to still other literary forms than those mentioned. Professor Grandgent has pointed out that it is also an encyclopedia, a poem in praise of Woman, and an autobiography. It contains much of what Dante knew of theology and philosophy, of astronomy and cosmography, and fragments of a number of other branches of learning, so that its encyclopedia character is obvious. In making it a monument to Beatrice, he surpassed infinitely all the poetry devoted to the praise of women in an age when the deification of women was the commonplace of poetry. And finally he made it an autobiography—not a narrative of the external events of his life, but of the agony of his soul.

Thus, in an altogether unique way, Dante summarizes the literature, the philosophy, the science, and the religion of the Middle Ages. Through the intensity of his capacity for experience, the splendor of his power of expression, and the depth of his spiritual and philosophic insight, he at once sums up and transcends a whole era of human history.

Hell or, The Inferno

Table of Contents
Canto I
Canto II
Canto III
Canto IV
Canto V
Canto VI
Canto VII
Canto VIII
Canto IX
Canto X
Canto XI
Canto XII
Canto XIII
Canto XIV
Canto XV
Canto XVI
Canto XVII
Canto XIX
Canto XX
Canto XXI
Canto XXII
Canto XXIV
Canto XXV
Canto XXVI
Canto XXIX
Canto XXX
Canto XXXI

Canto I

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—The writer, having lost his way in a gloomy forest, and being hindered by certain wild beasts from ascending a mountain, is met by Virgil, who promises to show him the punishments of Hell, and afterward of Purgatory; and that he shall then be conducted by Beatrice into Paradise. He follows the Roman poet.

IN the midway1 of this our mortal life,

I found me in a gloomy wood, astray

Gone from the path direct: and e’en to tell

It were no easy task, how savage wild

That forest, how robust and rough its growth,

Which to remember only, my dismay

Renews, in bitterness not far from death.

Yet to discourse of what there good befell,

All else will I relate discover’d there.

How first I enter’d it I scarce can say,

Such sleepy dullness in that instant weigh’d

My senses down, when the true path I left,

But when a mountain’s foot I reach’d, where clos’d

The valley, that had pierc’d my heart with dread,

I look’d aloft, and saw his shoulders broad

Already vested with that planet’s beam,2

Who leads all wanderers safe through every way.

Then was a little respite to the fear,

That in my heart’s recesses deep had lain,

All of that night, so pitifully pass’d:

And as a man, with difficult short breath,

Forespent with toiling, ’scap’d from sea to shore,

Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands

At gaze; e’en so my spirit, that yet fail’d

Struggling with terror, turn’d to view the straits,

That none hath pass’d and liv’d. My weary frame

After short pause recomforted, again

I journey’d on over that lonely steep,

The hinder foot3 still firmer. Scarce the ascent

Began, when, lo! a panther,4 nimble, light,

And cover’d with a speckled skin, appear’d,

Nor, when it saw me, vanish’d, rather strove

To check my onward going; that ofttimes

With purpose to retrace my steps I turn’d.

The hour was morning’s prime, and on his way

Aloft the sun ascended with those stars,5

That with him rose, when Love divine first mov’d

Those its fair works: so that with joyous hope

All things conspir’d to fill me, the gay skin

Of that swift animal, the matin dawn

And the sweet season. Soon that joy was chas’d,

And by new dread succeeded, when in view

A lion came, ’gainst me, as it appear’d,

With his head held aloft and hunger-mad,

That e’en the air was fear-struck. A she-wolf

Was at his heels, who in her leanness seem’d

Full of all wants, and many a land hath made

Disconsolate ere now. She with such fear

O’erwhelmed me, at the sight of her appall’d,

That of the height all hope I lost. As one,

Who with his gain elated, sees the time

When all unwares is gone, he inwardly

Mourns with heart-griping anguish; such was I,

Haunted by that fell beast, never at peace,

Who coming o’er against me, by degrees

Impell’d me where the sun in silence rests.

While to the lower space with backward step

I fell, my ken discern’d the form one of one,

Whose voice seem’d faint through long disuse of speech.

When him in that great desert I espied,

“Have mercy on me!” cried I out aloud,

“Spirit! or living man! what e’er thou be!”

He answer’d: “Now not man, man once I was,

And born of Lombard parents, Mantuana both

By country, when the power of Julius yet

Was scarcely firm. At Rome my life was past

Beneath the mild Augustus, in the time

Of fabled deities and false. A bard

Was I, and made Anchises’ upright son

The subject of my song, who came from Troy,

When the flames prey’d on Ilium’s haughty towers.

But thou, say wherefore to such perils past

Return’st thou? wherefore not this pleasant mount

Ascendest, cause and source of all delight?”

“And art thou then that Virgil, that well-spring,

From which such copious floods of eloquence

Have issued?” I with front abash’d replied.

“Glory and light of all the tuneful train!

May it avail me that I long with zeal

Have sought thy volume, and with love immense

Have conn’d it o’er. My master thou and guide!

Thou he from whom alone I have deriv’d

That style, which for its beauty into fame

Exalts me. See the beast, from whom I fled.

O save me from her, thou illustrious sage!

For every vein and pulse throughout my frame

She hath made tremble.” He, soon as he saw

That I was weeping, answer’d, “Thou must needs

Another way pursue, if thou wouldst ’scape

From out that savage wilderness. This beast,

At whom thou criest, her way will suffer none

To pass, and no less hindrance makes than death:

So bad and so accursed in her kind,

That never sated is her ravenous will,

Still after food more craving than before.

To many an animal in wedlock vile

She fastens, and shall yet to many more,

Until that greyhound6 come, who shall destroy

Her with sharp pain. He will not life support

By earth nor its base metals, but by love,

Wisdom, and virtue, and his land shall be

The land ’twixt either Feltro.7 In his might

Shall safety to Italia’s plains arise,

For whose fair realm, Camilla, virgin pure,

Nisus, Euryalus, and Turnus fell.

He with incessant chase through every town

Shall worry, until he to hell at length

Restore her, thence by envy first let loose.

I for thy profit pond’ring now devise,

That thou mayst follow me, and I thy guide

Will lead thee hence through an eternal space,

Where thou shalt hear despairing shrieks, and see

Spirits of old tormented, who invoke

A second death;8 and those next view, who dwell

Content in fire,9 for that they hope to come,

Whene’er the time may be, among the blest,

Into whose regions if thou then desire

T’ ascend, a spirit worthier10 then I

Must lead thee, in whose charge, when I depart,

Thou shalt be left: for that Almighty King,

Who reigns above, a rebel to his law,

Adjudges me, and therefore hath decreed,

That to his city none through me should come.

He in all parts hath sway; there rules, there holds

His citadel and throne. O happy those,

Whom there he chooses!” I to him in few:

“Bard! by that God, whom thou didst not adore,

I do beseech thee (that this ill and worse

I may escape) to lead me, where thou saidst,

That I Saint Peter’s gate11 may view, and those

Who as thou tell’st, are in such dismal plight.”

Onward he mov’d, I close his steps pursu’d.


1 “In the midway.” The era of the poem is intended by these words to be fixed to the thirty-fifth year of the poet’s age, A. D. 1300. In this Convito, human life is compared to an arch or bow, the highest point of which is, in those well framed by nature, at their thirty-fifth year.

2 “That planet’s beam.” The sun.

3 “The hinder foot.” In ascending a hill the weight of the body rests on the hinder foot.

4 “A panther.” Pleasure or luxury.

5 “With those stars.” The sun was in Aries, in which sign he supposes it to have begun its course at the creation.

6 This passage has been commonly understood as a eulogium on the liberal spirit of his Veronese patron, Can Grande della Scala.

7 Verona, the country of Can della Scala, is situated between Feltro, a city in the Marca Trivigiana, and Monte Feltro, a city in the territory of Urbino.

8 “A second death.” “And in these days men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” Rev. ix. 6

9 The spirits in Purgatory.

10 “A spirit worthier.” Beatrice, who conducts the Poet through Paradise.

11 The gate of Purgatory, which the Poet feigns to be guarded by an angel placed there by St. Peter.

Canto II

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—After the invocation, which poets are used to prefix to their works, he shows that, on a consideration of his own strength, he doubted whether it sufficed for the journey proposed to him, but that, being comforted by Virgil, he at last took courage, and followed him as his guide and master.

NOW was the day departing, and the air,

Imbrown’d with shadows, from their toils releas’d

All animals on earth; and I alone

Prepar’d myself the conflict to sustain,

Both of sad pity, and that perilous road,

Which my unerring memory shall retrace.

O Muses! O high genius! now vouchsafe

Your aid! O mind! that all I saw hast kept

Safe in a written record, here thy worth

And eminent endowments come to proof.

I thus began: “Bard! thou who art my guide,

Consider well, if virtue be in me

Sufficient, ere to this high enterprise

Thou trust me. Thou hast told that Silvius’ sire,1

Yet cloth’d in corruptible flesh, among

Th’ immortal tribes had entrance, and was there

Sensible present. Yet if heaven’s great Lord,

Almighty foe to ill, such favour shew’d,

In contemplation of the high effect,

Both what and who from him should issue forth,

It seems in reason’s judgment well deserv’d:

Sith he of Rome, and of Rome’s empire wide,

In heaven’s empyreal height was chosen sire:

Both which, if truth be spoken, were ordain’d

And ’stablish’d for the holy place, where sits

Who to great Peter’s sacred chair succeeds.

He from this journey, in thy song renown’d,

Learn’d things, that to his victory gave rise

And to the papal robe. In after-times

The chosen vessel2 also travel’d there,

To bring us back assurance in that faith,

Which is the entrance to salvation’s way.

But I, why should I there presume? or who

Permits it? not, Aeneas I nor Paul.

Myself I deem not worthy, and none else

Will deem me. I, if on this voyage then

I venture, fear it will in folly end.

Thou, who art wise, better my meaning know’st,

Than I can speak.” As one, who unresolves

What he hath late resolv’d, and with new thoughts

Changes his purpose, from his first intent

Remov’d; e’en such was I on that dun coast,

Wasting in thought my enterprise, at first

So eagerly embrac’d. “If right thy words

I scan,” replied that shade magnanimous,

“Thy soul is by vile fear assail’d, which oft

So overcasts a man, that he recoils

From noblest resolution, like a beast

At some false semblance in the twilight gloom.

That from this terror thou mayst free thyself,

I will instruct thee why I came, and what

I heard in that same instant, when for thee

Grief touch’d me first. I was among the tribe,

Who rest suspended,3 when a dame, so blest

And lovely, I besought her to command,

Call’d me; her eyes were brighter than the star

Of day; and she with gentle voice and soft

Angelically tun’d her speech address’d:

“O courteous shade of Mantua! thou whose fame

Yet lives, and shall live long as nature lasts!

A friend, not of my fortune but myself,

On the wide desert in his road has met

Hindrance so great, that he through fear has turn’d.

Now much I dread lest he past help have stray’d,

And I be ris’n too late for his relief,

From what in heaven of him I heard. Speed now,

And by thy eloquent persuasive tongue,

And by all means for his deliverance meet,

Assist him. So to me will comfort spring.

I who now bid thee on this errand forth

Am Beatrice;4 from a place I come

Revisited with joy. Love brought me thence,

Who prompts my speech. When in my Master’s sight

I stand, thy praise to him I oft will tell.”

She then was silent, and I thus began:

“O Lady! by whose influence alone,

Mankind excels whatever is contain’d

Within that heaven which hath the smallest orb,

So thy command delights me, that to obey,

If it were done already, would seem late.

No need hast thou farther to speak thy will;

Yet tell the reason, why thou art not loth

To leave that ample space, where to return

Thou burnest, for this centre here beneath.”

She then: “Since thou so deeply wouldst inquire,

I will instruct thee briefly, why no dread

Hinders my entrance here. Those things alone

Are to be fear’d, whence evil may proceed,

None else, for none are terrible beside.

I am so fram’d by God, thanks to his grace!

That any suff’rance of your misery

Touches me not, nor flame of that fierce fire

Assails me. In high heaven a blessed dame5

Besides, who mourns with such effectual grief

That hindrance, which I send thee to remove,

That God’s stern judgment to her will inclines.

To Lucia6 calling, her she thus bespake:

“Now doth thy faithful servant need thy aid

And I commend him to thee.” At her word

Sped Lucia, of all cruelty the foe,

And coming to the place, where I abode

Seated with Rachel, her of ancient days,

She thus address’d me: “Thou true praise of God!

Beatrice! why is not thy succour lent

To him, who so much lov’d thee, as to leave

For thy sake all the multitude admires?

Dost thou not hear how pitiful his wail,

Nor mark the death, which in the torrent flood,

Swoln mightier than a sea, him struggling holds?”

Ne’er among men did any with such speed

Haste to their profit, flee from their annoy,

As when these words were spoken, I came here,

Down from my blessed seat, trusting the force

Of thy pure eloquence, which thee, and all

Who well have mark’d it, into honour brings.”

“When she had ended, her bright beaming eyes

Tearful she turn’d aside; whereat I felt

Redoubled zeal to serve thee. As she will’d,

Thus am I come: I sav’d thee from the beast,

Who thy near way across the goodly mount

Prevented. What is this comes o’er thee then?

Why, why dost thou hang back? why in thy breast

Harbour vile fear? why hast not courage there

And noble daring? Since three maids7 so blest

Thy safety plan, e’en in the court of heaven;

And so much certain good my words forebode.”

As florets, by the frosty air of night

Bent down and clos’d, when day has blanch’d their leaves,

Rise all unfolded on their spiry stems;

So was my fainting vigour new restor’d,

And to my heart such kindly courage ran,

That I as one undaunted soon replied:

“O full of pity she, who undertook

My succour! and thou kind who didst perform

So soon her true behest! With such desire

Thou hast dispos’d me to renew my voyage,

That my first purpose fully is resum’d.

Lead on: one only will is in us both.

Thou art my guide, my master thou, and lord.”

So spake I; and when he had onward mov’d,

I enter’d on the deep and woody way.


1 “Silvius’ sire.” Æneas.

2 “The Chosen Vessel.” St. Paul.

3 The spirits in Limbo, neither admitted to a state of glory nor doomed to punishment.

4 “Beatrice.” The daughter of Folco Portinari, who is here invested with the character of celestial wisdom or theology.

5 “A blessed Dame.” The Divine Mercy.

6 “Lucia.” The enlightening Grace of Heaven; as it is commonly explained.

7 “Three maids.” The Divine Mercy, Lucia and Beatrice.

Canto III

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—Dante, following Virgil, comes to the gate of Hell; where, after having read the dreadful words that are written thereon, they both enter. Here, as he understands from Virgil, those were punished who had passed their time (for living it could not be called) in a state of apathy and indifference both to good and evil. Then, pursuing their way, they arrive at the river Acheron; and there find the old ferryman Charon, who takes the spirits over to the opposite shore; which, as soon as Dante reaches, he is seized with terror, and falls into a trance.

“THROUGH me you pass into the city of woe:

Through me you pass into eternal pain:

Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:

To rear me was the task of power divine,

Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.1

Before me things create were none, save things

Eternal, and eternal I endure.

All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

Such characters in colour dim I mark’d

Over a portal’s lofty arch inscrib’d:

Whereat I thus: “Master, these words import

Hard meaning.” He as one prepar’d replied:

“Here thou must all distrust behind thee leave;

Here be vile fear extinguish’d. We are come

Where I have told thee we shall see the souls

To misery doom’d, who intellectual good

Have lost.” And when his hand he had stretch’d forth

To mine, with pleasant looks, whence I was cheer’d,

Into that secret place he led me on.

Here sighs with lamentations and loud moans

Resounded through the air pierc’d by no star,

That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,

Horrible languages, outcries of woe,

Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,

With hands together smote that swell’d the sounds,

Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls

Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d,

Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.

I then, with error yet encompass’d, cried:

“O master! What is this I hear? What race

Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?”

He thus to me: “This miserable fate

Suffer the wretched souls of those, who liv’d

Without or praise or blame, with that ill band

Of angels mix’d, who nor rebellious prov’d

Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves

Were only. From his bounds Heaven drove them forth,

Not to impair his lustre, nor the depth

Of Hell receives them, lest th’ accursed tribe

Should glory thence with exultation vain.”

I then: “Master! what doth aggrieve them thus,

That they lament so loud?” He straight replied:

“That will I tell thee briefly. These of death

No hope may entertain: and their blind life

So meanly passes, that all other lots

They envy. Fame of them the world hath none,

Nor suffers; mercy and justice scorn them both.

Speak not of them, but look, and pass them by.”

And I, who straightway look’d, beheld a flag,

Which whirling ran around so rapidly,

That it no pause obtain’d: and following came

Such a long train of spirits, I should ne’er

Have thought, that death so many had despoil’d.

When some of these I recogniz’d, I saw

And knew the shade of him, who to base fear2

Yielding, abjur’d his high estate. Forthwith

I understood for certain this the tribe

Of those ill spirits both to God displeasing

And to his foes. These wretches, who ne’er lived,

Went on in nakedness, and sorely stung

By wasps and hornets, which bedew’d their cheeks

With blood, that mix’d with tears dropp’d to their feet,

And by disgustful worms was gather’d there.

Then looking farther onwards I beheld

A throng upon the shore of a great stream:

Whereat I thus: “Sir! grant me now to know

Whom here we view, and whence impell’d they seem

So eager to pass o’er, as I discern

Through the blear light?” He thus to me in few:

“This shalt thou know, soon as our steps arrive

Beside the woeful tide of Acheron.”

Then with eyes downward cast and fill’d with shame,

Fearing my words offensive to his ear,

Till we had reach’d the river, I from speech

Abstain’d. And lo! toward us in a bark

Comes on an old man hoary white with eld,

Crying, “Woe to you wicked spirits! hope not

Ever to see the sky again. I come

To take you to the other shore across,

Into eternal darkness, there to dwell

In fierce heat and in ice. And thou, who there

Standest, live spirit! get thee hence, and leave

These who are dead.” But soon as he beheld

I left them not, “By other way,” said he,

“By other haven shalt thou come to shore,

Not by this passage; thee a nimbler boat

Must carry.” Then to him thus spake my guide:

“Charon! thyself torment not: so ’t is will’d,

Where will and power are one: ask thou no more.”

Straightway in silence fell the shaggy cheeks

Of him the boatman o’er the livid lake,

Around whose eyes glar’d wheeling flames. Meanwhile

Those spirits, faint and naked, color chang’d,

And gnash’d their teeth, soon as the cruel words

They heard. God and their parents they blasphem’d,

The human kind, the place, the time, and seed

That did engender them and give them birth.

Then all together sorely wailing drew

To the curs’d strand, that every man must pass

Who fears not God. Charon, demoniac form,

With eyes of burning coal, collects them all,

Beck’ning, and each, that lingers, with his oar

Strikes. As fall off the light autumnal leaves,

One still another following, till the bough

Strews all its honours on the earth beneath;

E’en in like manner Adam’s evil brood

Cast themselves one by one down from the shore,

Each at a beck, as falcon at his call.3

Thus go they over through the umber’d wave,

And ever they on the opposing bank

Be landed, on this side another throng

Still gathers. “Son,” thus spake the courteous guide,

“Those, who die subject to the wrath of God,

All here together come from every clime,

And to o’erpass the river are not loth:

For so heaven’s justice goads them on, that fear

Is turn’d into desire. Hence ne’er hath past

Good spirit. If of thee Charon complain,

Now mayst thou know the import of his words.”

This said, the gloomy region trembling shook

So terribly, that yet with clammy dews

Fear chills my brow. The sad earth gave a blast,

That, lightening, shot forth a vermilion flame,

Which all my senses conquer’d quite, and I

Down dropp’d, as one with sudden slumber seiz’d.


1 “Power,” Wisdom,” “Love,” the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

2 This is commonly understood of Celestine V, who abdicated the papal power in 1249. Venturi mentions a work written by Innocenzio Barcellini, of the Celestine order, and printed at Milan in 1701, in which an attempt is made to put a different interpretation on this passage. Lombardi would apply it to some one of Dante’s fellow-citizens, who, refusing, through avarice or want of spirit, to support the party of the Bianchi at Florence, had been the main occasion of the miseries that befell them. But the testimony of Fazio degli Uberti, who lived so near the time of our author, seems almost decisive on this point. He expressly speaks of the Pope Celestine as being in Hell.

3 “As a falcon at his call.” This is Vellutello’s explanation, and seems preferable to that commonly given: “as a bird that is enticed to the cage by the call of another.”

Canto IV

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—The Poet, being roused by a clap of thunder, and following his guide onward, descends into Limbo, which is the first circle of Hell, where he finds the souls of those, who although they have lived virtuously and have not to suffer for great sins, nevertheless, through lack of baptism, merit not the bliss of Paradise. Hence he is led on by Virgil to descend into the second circle.

BROKE the deep slumber in my brain a crash

Of heavy thunder, that I shook myself,

As one by main force rous’d. Risen upright,

My rested eyes I mov’d around, and search’d

With fixed ken to know what place it was,

Wherein I stood. For certain on the brink

I found me of the lamentable vale,

The dread abyss, that joins a thund’rous sound

Of plaints innumerable. Dark and deep,

And thick with clouds o’erspread, mine eye in vain

Explor’d its bottom, nor could aught discern.

“Now let us to the blind world there beneath

Descend;” the bard began all pale of look:

“I go the first, and thou shalt follow next.”

Then I his alter’d hue perceiving, thus:

“How may I speed, if thou yieldest to dread,

Who still art wont to comfort me in doubt?”

He then: “The anguish of that race below

With pity stains my cheek, which thou for fear

Mistakest. Let us on. Our length of way

Urges to haste.” Onward, this said, he mov’d;

And ent’ring led me with him on the bounds

Of the first circle, that surrounds th’ abyss.

Here, as mine ear could note, no plaint was heard

Except of sighs, that made th’ eternal air

Tremble, not caus’d by tortures, but from grief

Felt by those multitudes, many and vast,

Of men, women, and infants. Then to me

The gentle guide: “Inquir’st thou not what spirits

Are these, which thou beholdest? Ere thou pass

Farther, I would thou know, that these of sin

Were blameless; and if aught they merited,

It profits not, since baptism was not theirs,

The portal1 to thy faith. If they before

The Gospel liv’d, they serv’d not God aright;

And among such am I. For these defects,

And for no other evil, we are lost;

Only so far afflicted, that we live

Desiring without hope.” So grief assail’d

My heart at hearing this, for well I knew

Suspended in that Limbo many a soul

Of mighty worth. “O tell me, sire rever’d!

Tell me, my master!” I began through wish

Of full assurance in that holy faith,

Which vanquishes all error; “say, did e’er

Any, or through his own or other’s merit,

Come forth from thence, whom afterward was blest?”

Piercing the secret purport2 of my speech,

He answer’d: “I was new to that estate,

When I beheld a puissant one3 arrive

Amongst us, with victorious trophy crown’d.

He forth the shade of our first parent drew,

Abel his child, and Noah righteous man,

Of Moses lawgiver for faith approv’d,

Of patriarch Abraham, and David king,

Israel with his sire and with his sons,

Nor without Rachel whom so hard he won,

And others many more, whom he to bliss

Exalted. Before these, be thou assur’d,

No spirit of human kind was ever sav’d.”

We, while he spake, ceas’d not our onward road,

Still passing through the wood; for so I name

Those spirits thick beset. We were not far

On this side from the summit, when I kenn’d

A flame, that o’er the darken’d hemisphere

Prevailing shin’d. Yet we a little space

Were distant, not so far but I in part

Discover’d, that a tribe in honour high

That place possess’d. “O thou, who every art

And science valu’st! who are these, that boast

Such honour, separate from all the rest?”

He answer’d: “The renown of their great names

That echoes through your world above, acquires

Favour in heaven, which holds them thus advanc’d.”

Meantime a voice I heard: “Honour the bard

Sublime! his shade returns that left us late!”

No sooner ceas’d the sound, than I beheld

Four mighty spirits toward us bend their steps,

Of semblance neither sorrowful nor glad.

When thus my master kind began: “Mark him,

Who in his right hand bears that falchion keen,

The other three preceding, as their lord.

This is that Homer, of all bards supreme:

Flaccus the next in satire’s vein excelling;

The third is Naso; Lucan is the last.

Because they all that appellation own,

With which the voice singly accosted me,

Honouring they greet me thus, and well they judge.”

So I beheld united the bright school

Of him the monarch of sublimest song,4

That o’er the others like an eagle soars.

When they together short discourse had held,

They turn’d to me, with salutation kind

Beck’ning me; at the which my master smil’d:

Nor was this all; but greater honour still

They gave me, for they made me of their tribe;

And I was sixth amid so learn’d a band.

Far as the luminous beacon on we pass’d

Speaking of matters, then befitting well

To speak, now fitter left untold. At foot

Of a magnificent castle we arriv’d,

Seven times with lofty walls begirt, and round

Defended by a pleasant stream. O’er this

As o’er dry land we pass’d. Next through seven gates

I with those sages enter’d, and we came

Into a mead with lively verdure fresh.

There dwelt a race, who slow their eyes around

Majestically mov’d, and in their port

Bore eminent authority; they spake

Seldom, but all their words were tuneful sweet.

We to one side retir’d, into a place

Open and bright and lofty, whence each one

Stood manifest to view. Incontinent

There on the green enamel of the plain

Were shown me the great spirits, by whose sight

I am exalted in my own esteem.

Electra5 there I saw accompanied

By many, among whom Hector I knew,

Anchises’ pious son, and with hawk’s eye

Caesar all arm’d, and by Camilla there

Penthesilea. On the other side

Old King Latinus, seated by his child

Lavinia, and that Brutus I beheld,

Who Tarquin chas’d, Lucretia, Cato’s wife

Marcia, with Julia6 and Cornelia there;

And sole apart retir’d, the Soldan fierce.7

Then when a little more I rais’d my brow,

I spied the master of the sapient throng,8

Seated amid the philosophic train.

Him all admire, all pay him rev’rence due.

There Socrates and Plato both I mark’d,

Nearest to him in rank; Democritus,

Who sets the world at chance,9 Diogenes,

With Heraclitus, and Empedocles,

And Anaxagoras, and Thales sage,

Zeno, and Dioscorides well read

In nature’s secret lore. Orpheus I mark’d

And Linus, Tully and moral Seneca,

Euclid and Ptolemy, Hippocrates,

Galenus, Avicen, and him who made

That commentary vast, Averroes.10

Of all to speak at full were vain attempt;

For my wide theme so urges, that ofttimes

My words fall short of what bechanc’d. In two

The six associates part. Another way

My sage guide leads me, from that air serene,

Into a climate ever vex’d with storms:

And to a part I come where no light shines.


1 “Portal.” “Porta della fede.” This was an alteration made in the text by the Academicians della Crusca, on the authority, as it would appear, of only two manuscripts. The other reading is, “parte della fede,” “part of the faith.”

2 “Secret purport.” Lombardi well observes that Dante seems to have been restrained by awe and reverence from uttering the name of Christ in this place of torment; and that for the same cause, probably, it does not occur once throughout the whole of this first part of the poem.

3 “A puissant one.” Our Savior.

4 “The monarch of sublimest song.” Homer.

5 Daughter of Atlas, and mother of Dardanus, founder of Troy.

6 “Julia.” The daughter of Julius Cæsar, and wife of Pompey.

7 “The Soldan fierce.” Saladin, or Salaheddin, the rival of Richard Cœur de Lion.

8 “The master of the sapient throng.” “Maestro di color che sanno.” Aristotle.

9 “Who sets the world at chance.” Democritus, who maintained the world to have been formed by the fortuitous concourse of atoms.

10 Averroes, called by the Arabians Ibn Roschd, translated and commented on the works of Aristotle.

Canto V

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—Coming into the second circle of Hell, Dante at the entrance beholds Minos the Infernal Judge, by whom he is admonished to beware how he enters those regions. Here he witnesses the punishment of carnal sinners, who are tossed about ceaselessly in the dark air by the most furious winds. Among these, he meets with Francesca of Rimini, through pity at whose sad tale he falls fainting to the ground.

FROM the first circle I descended thus

Down to the second, which, a lesser space

Embracing, so much more of grief contains

Provoking bitter moans. There, Minos stands

Grinning with ghastly feature: he, of all

Who enter, strict examining the crimes,

Gives sentence, and dismisses them beneath,

According as he foldeth him around:

For when before him comes th’ ill fated soul,

It all confesses; and that judge severe

Of sins, considering what place in hell

Suits the transgression, with his tail so oft

Himself encircles, as degrees beneath

He dooms it to descend. Before him stand

Always a num’rous throng; and in his turn

Each one to judgment passing, speaks, and hears

His fate, thence downward to his dwelling hurl’d.

“O thou! who to this residence of woe

Approachest?” when he saw me coming, cried

Minos, relinquishing his dread employ,

“Look how thou enter here; beware in whom

Thou place thy trust; let not the entrance broad

Deceive thee to thy harm.” To him my guide:

“Wherefore exclaimest? Hinder not his way

By destiny appointed; so ’tis will’d

Where will and power are one. Ask thou no more.”

Now ’gin the rueful wailings to be heard.

Now am I come where many a plaining voice

Smites on mine ear. Into a place I came

Where light was silent all. Bellowing there groan’d

A noise as of a sea in tempest torn

By warring winds. The stormy blast of hell

With restless fury drives the spirits on

Whirl’d round and dash’d amain with sore annoy.

When they arrive before the ruinous sweep,

There shrieks are heard, there lamentations, moans,

And blasphemies ’gainst the good Power in heaven.

I understood that to this torment sad

The carnal sinners are condemn’d, in whom

Reason by lust is sway’d. As in large troops

And multitudinous, when winter reigns,

The starlings on their wings are borne abroad;

So bears the tyrannous gust those evil souls.

On this side and on that, above, below,

It drives them: hope of rest to solace them

Is none, nor e’en of milder pang. As cranes,

Chanting their dol’rous notes, traverse the sky,

Stretch’d out in long array: so I beheld

Spirits, who came loud wailing, hurried on

By their dire doom. Then I: “Instructor! who

Are these, by the black air so scourg’d?” — “ The first

’Mong those, of whom thou question’st,” he replied,

“O’er many tongues was empress. She in vice

Of luxury was so shameless, that she made

Liking be lawful by promulg’d decree,

To clear the blame she had herself incurr’d.

This is Semiramis, of whom ’tis writ,

That she succeeded Ninus her espous’d;

And held the land, which now the Soldan rules.

The next in amorous fury slew herself,

And to Sicheus’ ashes broke her faith:

Then follows Cleopatra, lustful queen.”

There mark’d I Helen, for whose sake so long

The time was fraught with evil; there the great

Achilles, who with love fought to the end.

Paris I saw, and Tristan; and beside

A thousand more he show’d me, and by name

Pointed them out, whom love bereav’d of life.

When I had heard my sage instructor name

Those dames and knights of antique days, o’erpower’d

By pity, well-nigh in amaze my mind

Was lost; and I began: “Bard! willingly

I would address those two together coming,

Which seem so light before the wind.” He thus:

“Note thou, when nearer they to us approach.

Then by that love which carries them along,

Entreat; and they will come.” Soon as the wind

Sway’d them toward us, I thus fram’d my speech:

“O wearied spirits! come, and hold discourse

With us, if by none else restrain’d.” As doves

By fond desire invited, on wide wings

And firm, to their sweet nest returning home,

Cleave the air, wafted by their will along;

Thus issu’d from that troop, where Dido ranks,

They through the ill air speeding; with such force

My cry prevail’d by strong affection urg’d.

“O gracious creature and benign! who go’st

Visiting, through this element obscure,

Us, who the world with bloody stain imbru’d;

If for a friend the King of all we own’d,

Our pray’r to him should for thy peace arise,

Since thou hast pity on our evil plight.

If whatsoe’er to hear or to discourse

It pleases thee, that will we hear, of that

Freely with thee discourse, while e’er the wind,

As now, is mute. The land,1 that gave me birth,

Is situate on the coast, where Po descends

To rest in ocean with his sequent streams.

“Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt,

Entangled him by that fair form, from me

Ta’en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still:

Love, that denial takes from none belov’d,

Caught me with pleasing him so passing well,

That, as thou see’st, he yet deserts me not.

Love brought us to one death: Caina2 waits

The soul, who spilt our life.” Such were their words;

At hearing which downward I bent my looks,

And held them there so long, that the bard cried:

“What art thou pond’ring?” I in answer thus:

“Alas! by what sweet thoughts, what fond desire

Must they at length to that ill pass have reach’d!”

Then turning, I to them my speech address’d.

And thus began: “Francesca!3 your sad fate

Even to tears my grief and pity moves.

But tell me; in the time of your sweet sighs,

By what, and how love granted, that ye knew

Your yet uncertain wishes?” She replied:

“No greater grief than to remember days

Of joy, when mis’ry is at hand! That kens

Thy learn’d instructor. Yet so eagerly

If thou art bent to know the primal root,

From whence our love gat being, I will do,

As one, who weeps and tells his tale. One day

For our delight we read of Lancelot,4

How him love thrall’d. Alone we were, and no

Suspicion near us. Ofttimes by that reading

Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue

Fled from our alter’d cheek. But at one point

Alone we fell. When of that smile we read,

The wished smile, rapturously kiss’d

By one so deep in love, then he, who ne’er

From me shall separate, at once my lips

All trembling kiss’d. The book and writer both

Were love’s purveyors. In its leaves that day

We read no more.” While thus one spirit spake,

The other wail’d so sorely, that heartstruck

I through compassion fainting, seem’d not far

From death, and like a corpse fell to the ground.


1 “The land.” Ravenna.

2 “Caïna.” The place to which murderers are doomed.

3 “Francesca.” Francesca, the daughter of Guido da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, was given by her father in marriage to Gianciotto, son of Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, a man of extraordinary courage, but deformed in his person. His brother Paolo, who unhappily possessed those graces which the husband of Francesca wanted, engaged her affections; and being taken in adultery, they were both put to death by the enraged Gianciotto.

4 “Lancelot.” One of the Knights of the Round Table, and the lover of Ginevra, or Guinever, celebrated in romance. The incident alluded to seems to have made a strong impression on the imagination of Dante, who introduces it again, in the Paradise, Canto xvi.

Canto VI

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—On his recovery, the Poet finds himself in the third circle, where the gluttonous are punished. Their torment is, to lie in the mire, under a continual and heavy storm of hail, snow, and discolored water; Cerberus, meanwhile barking over them with his threefold throat, and rending them piecemeal. One of these, who on earth was named Ciacco, foretells the divisions with which Florence is about to be distracted. Dante proposes a question to his guide, who solves it; and they proceed toward the fourth circle.

MY sense reviving, that erewhile had droop’d

With pity for the kindred shades, whence grief

O’ercame me wholly, straight around I see

New torments, new tormented souls, which way

Soe’er I move, or turn, or bend my sight.

In the third circle I arrive, of show’rs

Ceaseless, accursed, heavy, and cold, unchang’d

For ever, both in kind and in degree.

Large hail, discolour’d water, sleety flaw

Through the dun midnight air stream’d down amain:

Stank all the land whereon that tempest fell.

Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange,

Through his wide threefold throat barks as a dog

Over the multitude immers’d beneath.

His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard,

His belly large, and claw’d the hands, with which

He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs

Piecemeal disparts. Howling there spread, as curs,

Under the rainy deluge, with one side

The other screening, oft they roll them round,

A wretched, godless crew. When that great worm1

Descried us, savage Cerberus, he op’d

His jaws, and the fangs show’d us; not a limb

Of him but trembled. Then my guide, his palms

Expanding on the ground, thence filled with earth

Rais’d them, and cast it in his ravenous maw.

E’en as a dog, that yelling bays for food

His keeper, when the morsel comes, lets fall

His fury, bent alone with eager haste

To swallow it; so dropp’d the loathsome cheeks

Of demon Cerberus, who thund’ring stuns

The spirits, that they for deafness wish in vain.

We, o’er the shades thrown prostrate by the brunt

Of the heavy tempest passing, set our feet

Upon their emptiness, that substance seem’d.

They all along the earth extended lay

Save one, that sudden rais’d himself to sit,

Soon as that way he saw us pass. “O thou!”

He cried, “who through the infernal shades art led,

Own, if again thou know’st me. Thou wast fram’d

Or ere my frame was broken.” I replied:

“The anguish thou endur’st perchance so takes

Thy form from my remembrance, that it seems

As if I saw thee never. But inform

Me who thou art, that in a place so sad

Art set, and in such torment, that although

Other be greater, more disgustful none

Can be imagin’d.” He in answer thus:

“Thy city heap’d with envy to the brim,

Ay that the measure overflows its bounds,

Held me in brighter days. Ye citizens

Were wont to name me Ciacco.2 For the sin

Of glutt’ny, damned vice, beneath this rain,

E’en as thou see’st, I with fatigue am worn;

Nor I sole spirit in this woe: all these

Have by like crime incurr’d like punishment.”

No more he said, and I my speech resum’d:

“Ciacco! thy dire affliction grieves me much,

Even to tears. But tell me, if thou know’st,

What shall at length befall the citizens

Of the divided city;3 whether any just one

Inhabit there: and tell me of the cause,

Whence jarring discord hath assail’d it thus?”

He then: “After long striving they will come

To blood; and the wild party from the woods4

Will chase the other5 with much injury forth.

Then it behoves, that this must fall,6 within

Three solar circles;7 and the other rise

By borrow’d force of one, who under shore

Now rests.8 It shall a long space hold aloof

Its forehead, keeping under heavy weight

The other oppress’d, indignant at the load,

And grieving sore. The just are two in number,9

But they neglected. Av’rice, envy, pride,

Three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all

On fire.” Here ceas’d the lamentable sound;

And I continu’d thus: “Still would I learn

More from thee, farther parley still entreat.

Of Farinata and Tegghiaio10 say,

They who so well deserv’d, of Giacopo,11

Arrigo, Mosca,12 and the rest, who bent

Their minds on working good. Oh! tell me where

They bide, and to their knowledge let me come.

For I am press’d with keen desire to hear,

If heaven’s sweet cup or poisonous drug of hell

Be to their lip assign’d.” He answer’d straight:

“These are yet blacker spirits. Various crimes

Have sunk them deeper in the dark abyss.

If thou so far descendest, thou mayst see them.

But to the pleasant world when thou return’st,

Of me make mention, I entreat thee, there.

No more I tell thee, answer thee no more.”

This said, his fixed eyes he turn’d askance,

A little ey’d me, then bent down his head,

And ’midst his blind companions with it fell.

When thus my guide: “No more his bed he leaves,

Ere the last angel-trumpet blow. The Power

Adverse to these shall then in glory come,

Each one forthwith to his sad tomb repair,

Resume his fleshly vesture and his form,

And hear the eternal doom re-echoing rend

The vault.” So pass’d we through that mixture foul

Of spirits and rain, with tardy steps; meanwhile

Touching, though slightly, on the life to come.

For thus I question’d: “Shall these tortures, Sir!

When the great sentence passes, be increas’d,

Or mitigated, or as now severe?”

He then: “Consult thy knowledge; that decides

That as each thing to more perfection grows,

It feels more sensibly both good and pain.

Though ne’er to true perfection may arrive

This race accurs’d, yet nearer then than now

They shall approach it.” Compassing that path

Circuitous we journeyed, and discourse

Much more than I relate between us pass’d:

Till at the point, where the steps led below,

Arriv’d, there Plutus, the great foe, we found.


1 “When that great worm, descried us … he opened his jaws.” In Canto xxxiv. Lucifer is called “The abhorred worm, that boreth through the world.”

2 “Ciriaco.” So called from his inordinate appetite; “ciacco,” in Italian, signifying a pig. The real name of this glutton has not been transmitted to us.

3 “The divided city.” The city of Florence, divided into the Bianchi and Neri factions.

4 The wild party from the woods.” So called, because it was headed by Veri de’ Cerchi, whose family had lately come into the city from Acona, and the woody country of the Val di Nievole.

5 “The other.” The opposite party of the Neri, at the head of which was Corso Donati.

6 “This must fall.” The Bianchi.

7 “Three solar circles.” Three years.

8 “Of one, who under shore now rests.” Charles of Valois, by whose means the Neri were replaced.

9 “The just are two in number.” Who these two were, the commentators are not agreed. Some understand them to be Dante himself and his friend Guido Cavalcanti.

10 “Of Farinata and Tegghiaio.” See Canto x. and notes, and Canto xvi. and notes.

11 “Giacopo.” Giacopo Rusticucci. See Canto xvi. and notes.

12 “Arrigo, Mosca.” Of Arrigo, who is said by the commentators to have been of the noble family of the Fifanti, no mention afterward occurs. Mosca degli Uberti, or de’ Lamberti, is introduced in Canto xxviii.

Canto VII

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—In the present Canto, Dante describes his descent into the fourth circle, at the beginning of which he sees Plutus stationed. Here one like doom awaits the prodigal and the avaricious; which is, to meet in direful conflict, rolling great weights against each other with mutual upbraidings. From hence Virgil takes occasion to show how vain the goods that are committed into the charge of Fortune; and this moves our author to inquire what being that Fortune is, of whom he speaks: which question being resolved, they go down into the fifth circle, where they find the wrathful and gloomy tormented in the Stygian lake. Having made a compass round great part of this lake, they come at last to the base of a lofty tower.

“AH me! O Satan! Satan!”1 loud exclaim’d

Plutus, in accent hoarse of wild alarm:

And the kind sage, whom no event surpris’d,

To comfort me thus spake: “Let not thy fear

Harm thee, for power in him, be sure, is none

To hinder down this rock thy safe descent.”

Then to that sworn lip turning, “ Peace!” he cried,

“Curs’d wolf! thy fury inward on thyself

Prey, and consume thee! Through the dark profound

Not without cause he passes. So ’t is will’d

On high, there where the great Archangel pour’d

Heav’n’s vengeance on the first adulterer proud.”

As sails full spread and bellying with the wind

Drop suddenly collaps’d, if the mast split;

So to the ground down dropp’d the cruel fiend.

Thus we, descending to the fourth steep ledge,

Gain’d on the dismal shore, that all the woe

Hems in of all the universe. Ah me!

Almighty Justice! in what store thou heap’st

New pains, new troubles, as I here beheld!

Wherefore doth fault of ours bring us to this?

E’en as a billow, on Charybdis rising,

Against encounter’d billow dashing breaks;

Such is the dance this wretched race must lead,

Whom more than elsewhere numerous here I found,

From one side and the other, with loud voice,

Both roll’d on weights by main forge of their breasts,

Then smote together, and each one forthwith

Roll’d them back voluble, turning again,

Exclaiming these, “Why holdest thou so fast?”

Those answering, “And why castest thou away?”

So still repeating their despiteful song,

They to the opposite point on either hand

Travers’d the horrid circle: then arriv’d,

Both turn’d them round, and through the middle space

Conflicting met again. At sight whereof

I, stung with grief, thus spake: “O say, my guide!

What race is this? Were these, whose heads are shorn,

On our left hand, all sep’rate to the church?”

He straight replied: “In their first life these all

In mind were so distorted, that they made,

According to due measure, of their wealth,

No use. This clearly from their words collect,

Which they howl forth, at each extremity

Arriving of the circle, where their crime

Contrary’ in kind disparts them. To the church

Were separate those, that with no hairy cowls

Are crown’d, both Popes and Cardinals, o’er whom

Av’rice dominion absolute maintains.”

I then: “Mid such as these some needs must be,

Whom I shall recognize, that with the blot

Of these foul sins were stain’d.” He answering thus:

“Vain thought conceiv’st thou. That ignoble life,

Which made them vile before, now makes them dark,

And to all knowledge indiscernible.

Forever they shall meet in this rude shock:

These from the tomb with clenched grasp shall rise,

Those with close-shaven locks. That ill they gave,

And ill they kept, hath of the beauteous world

Depriv’d, and set them at this strife, which needs

No labour’d phrase of mine to set if off.

Now may’st thou see, my son! how brief, how vain,

The goods committed into fortune’s hands,

For which the human race keep such a coil!

Not all the gold, that is beneath the moon,

Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls

Might purchase rest for one.” I thus rejoin’d:

“My guide! of thee this also would I learn;

This fortune, that thou speak’st of, what it is,

Whose talons grasp the blessings of the world?”

He thus: “O beings blind! what ignorance

Besets you? Now my judgment hear and mark.

He, whose transcendent wisdom passes all,

The heavens creating, gave them ruling powers

To guide them, so that each part shines to each,

Their light in equal distribution pour’d.

By similar appointment he ordain’d

Over the world’s bright images to rule.

Superintendence of a guiding hand

And general minister, which at due time

May change the empty vantages of life

From race to race, from one to other’s blood,

Beyond prevention of man’s wisest care:

Wherefore one nation rises into sway,

Another languishes, e’en as her will

Decrees, from us conceal’d, as in the grass

The serpent train. Against her nought avails

Your utmost wisdom. She with foresight plans,

Judges, and carries on her reign, as theirs

The other powers divine. Her changes know

Nore intermission: by necessity

She is made swift, so frequent come who claim

Succession in her favours. This is she,

So execrated e’en by those, whose debt

To her is rather praise; they wrongfully

With blame requite her, and with evil word;

But she is blessed, and for that recks not:

Amidst the other primal beings glad

Rolls on her sphere, and in her bliss exults.

Now on our way pass we, to heavier woe

Descending: for each star is falling now,

That mounted at our entrance, and forbids

Too long our tarrying.” We the circle cross’d

To the next steep, arriving at a well,

That boiling pours itself down to a foss

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

Than sablest grain: and we in company

Of the’ inky waters, journeying by their side,

Enter’d, though by a different track, beneath.

Into a lake, the Stygian nam’d, expands

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

Of the grey wither’d cliffs. Intent I stood

To gaze, and in the marish sunk descried

A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks

Betok’ning rage. They with their hands alone

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

Cutting each other piecemeal with their fangs.

The good instructor spake; “Now seest thou, son!

The souls of those, whom anger overcame.

This too for certain know, that underneath

The water dwells a multitude, whose sighs

Into these bubbles make the surface heave,

As thine eye tells thee wheresoe’er it turn.

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

In the sweet air made gladsome by the sun,

Carrying a foul and lazy mist within:

Now in these murky settlings are we sad.”

Such dolorous strain they gurgle in their throats.

But word distinct can utter none.” Our route

Thus compass’d we, a segment widely stretch’d

Between the dry embankment, and the core

Of the loath’d pool, turning meanwhile our eyes

Downward on those who gulp’d its muddy lees;

Nor stopp’d, till to a tower’s low base we came.


1 “Pape Satan, Pape Satan, aleppe;” words without meaning.

Canto VIII

Table of Contents

ARGUMENT.—A signal having been made from the tower, Phlegyas, the ferryman of the lake, speedily crosses it, and conveys Virgil and Dante to the other side. On their passage, they meet with Filippo Argenti, whose fury and torment are described. They then arrive at the city of Dis, the entrance whereto is denied, and the portals closed against them by many Demons.

MY theme pursuing, I relate that ere

We reach’d the lofty turret’s base, our eyes

Its height ascended, where two cressets hung

We mark’d, and from afar another light