The Divine Comedy (Northwestern World Classics) 9780810126725, 0810126729

The Divine Comedy marked nothing less than the arrival of vernacular Italian as a literary language—and Dante’s book is

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The Divine Comedy (Northwestern World Classics)
 9780810126725, 0810126729

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The Divine Comedy

NORTHWESTERN

WORLD

CLASSICS

Northwestern World Classics brings readers the world's greatest literature. The seriesfeatures essential new editions o f well-known works, lesser-known books that merit reconsideration, and lost classics o f fiction, drama, and poetry. Insightful commentary and compelling new translations help readers discover the joy o f outstanding writing from all regions o f the world.

Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy Translated from the Italian by Burton Raffel With an introduction by Paul J. Contino and notes by Henry L. Carrigan Jr.

f f l

Northwestern University Press ♦ Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University Press www.nupress.northwestern.edu English translation copyright © 2010 by Burton Raffel. Introduction copyright © 2010 by Paul J. Contino. Notes copyright © 2010 by Henry L. Carrigan Jr. Published 2010 by Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States o f America 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library o f Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. [Divina commedia. English] The divine comedy / Dante A lig h ieri; translated from the Italian by Burton R a ffe l; notes by Henry L. Carrigan, Jr.; introduction by Paul J. Contino. p. cm. — (Northwestern world classics) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-8101-2672-5 (cloth : alk. paper) I. Raffel, Burton. II. Carrigan, Henry L., 1954- III. Title. IV. Series: Northwestern world classics. PQ4315.R28 2010 851.1— dc22 2010010430

0 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements o f the American National Standard for Information Sciences— Permanence o f Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.

Although this work contains the universal concepts of the classical and Christian traditions, . . . [Dante] did not succeed in reconciling all of the contradictions between the two traditions, but his genius enabled him. . . to create a magnificent synthesis combining ideal and reality, the universal and the particular. — Gene Brucker, Renaissance Florence

CONTENTS

Translator’s Note Acknowledgments Introduction: The Pilgrim’s Path to Freedom

ix xvii xix

The Divine Comedy Inferno

3

Purgatorio

175

Paradiso

345

Notes

515

t r a n s l a t o r ’s n o t e

There is no definitive English version of the Commedia, although in the past century and a half there have been many translations. There are surely other reasons for translating Dante, but the absence o f a definitive English version has surely helped stimulate what can be safely called a virtual flood, at least one (very well received) by a poet who states very openly that he does not read Italian. To explain the absence of a definitive English version o f this great and world-famous poem, we need go no farther than Dante’s poetry. That is, following on a succession of florid attempts, we now have a succession of more plain-spoken versions. But Dante’s great­ ness is not a simple issue o f clarity o f expression, or breadth of intel­ lect, or virtuosic characterizations. In a poem as celebrated as the Commedia, what the English-speaking reader needs is the sweep and flow o f Dante’s poetry: this is what carries everything else. And this, I believe, is what has been lacking, and what I have here tried to supply. But how can this be done? The liquidity o f Italian, and its facility in the matter o f rhyming, are notorious, as are both the relative paucity of English rhyme words and our language’s often harsh bluntness. Let me (like Alice using her magic mirror) start by turning the matter upside down. Most readers will be familiar with William Blake’s “The Tiger,” which begins: Tiger, tiger, burning bright In the forests o f the night, What immortal hand and eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

(Note that in Blake’s time, “symmetry” was pronounced sim-a-try.) Suppose we wanted to translate this poem into French, another of the many languages which have descended from Latin. English ♦ ix ♦

tr a n s la to r ’s note

shapes itself in terms o f stress; French shapes itself in terms of linked syllables— not quite so abundant a richness as Italian, but pretty closely related to it. The impact of the stresses, in Blake’s poem, is something like the blows o f a hammer. There is no full equivalent, in French. But I gave it a try, a few years ago, when I translated the poem into French. The first quatrain, just above, became: Tigre, tigre, tout brulant Dans la foret, noir geant, A qui les doigts, de dieu, deesse, Ont fait ce tremblant habillesse?

French speakers immediately noted my coinage, habillesse, which they perfectly understood but rejected as “not French.” Indeed, French editors showed no interest in printing my translation, which appeared in an online journal. But they certainly have a point, for my translation introduces rhythms that are not entirely present, in ordinary French usage. (I would not introduce this much “infiltration”— that is, what I think are more or less maximal echoes o f Blake’s forceful stressed syllables— into the receiving language, were I translating prose, rather than poetry.) A 1993 French translation of “The Tiger” by Jonathan Robin begins: Tigre! Tigre! L’etincelle Du fond des forets de la nuit, Quel oeil, quelle main immortelle Firent ta terrible symetrie?

I was sent this version by a graduate student in comparative litera­ ture, who wondered what my reaction might be. I replied: This is a very fine rendering, quite unlike those I have been seeing for many years. Indeed, I think the translator achieves a far more “French” rhythm and rhetoric than

t r a n s l a t o r ’s note

I did. But I did not want to make Blake sound any more French than I absolutely had to. I wanted a French reader to see what an English-speaking reader saw, and above all Aiarwhat an English-speaking reader hears. In that sense, I think this translation weakens Blake in order to fit him into a French mould. That’s a tough balance to make.

Balancing languages in this way is another way o f defining the process o f translation. (I cannot keep from citing a German translator o f Shakespeare who, relying on the familial relationship between his language and ours, turned “Hark, hark, the lark” into “Horch, horch, die Laerch”) What Mr. Robin wanted to do was present Blake as if he were a French writer. But that wasn’t what Blake was. When I translated Beowulf, I could not replicate the snap and whip o f Old English’s alliterative metrics, the clustered conso­ nants. But I could suggest them, and put in enough that is more or less close to the original. When I translated Das Nibelungenlied, however, a poem that probably dates from three centuries later than Becwvlf, I had to deal with enormously important metrical and rhyming patterns which, because they are utterly intrinsic to what the poet is saying, must be followed, no matter the consequences. This was truly a tough balance to achieve. And despite its incredible, endlessly flowing terza rima stanzas, the Commedia seems to me to depend more on its lyric flow than on its perfect rhyming—a complex and difficult task even in Italian. But Dante invented this terza rima form in order to impose exactly that burden on himself, as a basic way o f maintaining poetic order across a poem almost ten thousand lines in length, a poem that has strong narrative elements but which has neither the strong narra­ tives o f other medieval poems, nor the grandly narrative themes o f Homer and Virgil. The Commedia is sometimes alluded to as an epic; I think “epic-like” might be more appropriate. Let me illustrate with, first, the famous opening lines o f Inferno, and then my translation, which tries to turn Dante’s verse into English poetry o f steadily sweet-toned lines. That is, I have sought ♦ xi ♦

t r a n s l a t o r ’s note

to evoke the poetic aspects o f the Italian, but not to attempt the utterly impossible task o f replicating Dante’s Italian. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi retrovai per una selva oscura che la diritta vita era smarita. Ah! quanto a dir qual era e cosa dura esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte che nel pensier rinova la paura! Tant’ e amara che poco e piu morte; ma per trattar del ben ch’i v’intrai, diro de altre cose ch’i v’ho scorte. Halfway along the road of this our life I woke to find myself in a wood so dark That straight and honest ways were gone, and light Was lost. O, how hard to tell the harsh Horror of that wild and brutal forest! The very thought brings back a fear so stark That bitter death itself seems not much worse. But let me tell the rest of what I met with, So the good I found is well and truly rehearsed. There are o f course many differences between the nine lines o f Dante’s Italian and my nine lines o f English. There are plainly quite obvious similarities, too, notably three triplets, end-rhymed and, in the English version, following a pattern almost exactly that of Dante: aba bcb cdc. “Forest,” “worse,” and “rehearsed” are not rime riche— but as I have said, English rhyming is inherently less strong than is Italian. A reader cannot, I hope, miss the fact that the rhymes are meant to be suggested in places where, in all truth, they do not exist. Not perhaps so obviously, the syntactic movement of the English version, and its punctuation, differ from the original. Dante’s excla­ mation mark ends line 6; the translation’s exclamation mark ends ♦ xii ♦

t r a n s l a t o r ’s note

line 5. And the English triplet form is more loosely shaped. All of Dante’s triplets, here (and almost always throughout the Commedia), are closed at the end o f the third line. Line 3, in my translation, does not truly end the third triplet, which is enjambed (“run on”) and concludes itself at the start o f line 4. Enjambment is occasionally employed in the Commedia; it occurs a good deal more often in the translation, since this manipulation of syntax is what poets in our language must rely upon, to achieve anything like Dante’s flowing Italianate lyricism. Line 6 is also enjambed. But here the transla­ tion sweeps (or tries to sweep) forward, not nearing a completed sentence until the end o f line 7. Stress-regulated tongues (English, German, Russian, etc.) cannot avoid their languages’ sometimes heavy-handedness. The syllable-regulated tongues (Italian, French, Spanish, etc.) cannot avoid their languages’ tendency toward a kind of semi-automatic “sweetness.” Poets have no choice but to work with the linguistic tools available to them. (For reasons I will not here discuss, the iambic pentameter of English is quite different from the iambic pentameter of German, though both metrical patterns are stress-regulated.) It is the style o f Dante’s poetry that I have tried to carry over into English. And style is more than simply meter and form. There are styles o f genre, styles of chronology, styles o f form and prosody, and so on. There are also a writer’s personal styles: Coleridge said that if he saw a Wordsworth poem walking alone across a desert, he would point to it and shout “Wordsworth!” I am a writer o f both poetry and prose fiction, but I try as hard as I can never to allow a transla­ tion to echo my personal style. I work hard to make each and all of my translations express the particular, personal style o f the author whose work I am re-creating. I do not think anyone reading, say, the versions I have drawn from the great Indonesian poet Chairil Anwar can possibly confuse them with, say, my versions of the Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or any of Chretien de Troyes’ long narrative poems. Perfection is plainly impossible, but as I have said it is a cardinal consideration o f every translation I have made that I, as translator, am secondary to the original author.

tr an slato r

’s note

Another way o f putting this is to say that, as a translator, I try to be as malleable as English will permit. Engaging in translation, I continually try to be as “transparent” (i.e., invisible) as a good lawyer ought to be in representing his client. I am myself a lawyer, and deeply aware that the resources and sometimes the lives of a lawyer’s clients are at stake. It is they, and not their attorney, who can lose and even fail to survive. Many o f the authors I have in this sense “represented” are dead. But their work lives on, and an author’s posthumous reputation, and the life that lives on in his work, can be damaged or heightened, just as those o f any other client. There are difficulties and wrenching turns in every transla­ tion, especially when the author’s work is as magnificent as Dante’s Commedia. But it remains the Italian text of the Commedia which controls a new translation. What other translators into English may have done or not done is irrelevant: I do not translate from other people’s translations, but from an author’s unique text. Let me illus­ trate, briefly, by noting that one reader of my manuscript wondered why, in the following passage (Inf. 1.28-30), I have to his knowledge differed from every prior English translator. Poi ch'ei posato un poco il corpo lasso, ripresi via per la piaggia diserta, si che ’1pie fermo sempre era ’1piu basso. Worn And weary, my body needed the brief advantage O f rest, but then I walked on along a barren Slope, my right foot always lower. At the edge O f the hil l. . .

Other translations, I am told, have the right foot “dragging behind the other.” I have, as I note below, worked from the Italian text edited by Giorgio Petrocchi (1966-68), as lightly modified by Charles S. Singleton (1971). And as I also note, I have a debt of gratitude to Singleton’s Commentary, in the revised 1973 edition. His analysis ♦ xiv ♦

t r a n s l a t o r ’s note

of the lines in question starts by referring to line 30 as “famously obscure” This neatly sets the stage, and Singleton proceeds to explain the “long traditions” of earlier commentators, some drawing on Aristode, some drawing on Christian dogma. He himself, in the prose rendering that accompanies the Italian text, renders line 30 as “the firm foot was always the lower.” His Commentary (p. 9) explains that the wayfarer, as he strives to climb toward the light at the summit, has to discover that he bears within him the weakness of [human beings after the Fall].. . . He can only limp toward the light he sees because in his other power, his will [represented by the left foot] he bears the wound of [Original Sin].

This being my own understanding of the poem, I have followed this great commentator, rather than the preceding translators I have not, in fact, consulted on the matter. Indeed, the question o f what sources I may have used, beyond either the Italian text or my own knowledge, seems to me a non­ issue. I have o f course read a good deal o f critical and biographical material about Dante and his Commedia. At various points in my adult life, now rather a long span, I have not only read any number of prior translations, but I have written about and reviewed some of them. Let me close by reporting that only a very few literary commen­ tators have ever misperceived the fundamental fact that the Divina Commedia is first and foremost a poem. Karl Vossler, in his magiste­ rial survey of Dante and his cultural setting, states firmly that, “as a work o f art, and only as a work o f art, the Commedia is original; only in the evolution of art did it create anything new.” Irma Brandeis elaborates but does not in any way disagree: “Poems do teach; poems lay hold of men’s lives and profoundly change them. But they do so as images of truth and by the avenues o f feeling, and not as intellectual persuasions. The Comedy is undoubtedly in this sense ♦ xv ♦

t r a n s l a t o r ’s n o t e

a poem and not a lesson.” Alan Gilbert elaborates differently, but again is in total agreement: “With an allegorical and true meaning a seeker for delight who reads poetry as poetry is not concerned. In Dante’s poem he appreciates the effect o f vivid words and harmo­ nious verse, of lively exhibition o f character in brief glimpses of many persons, the activity o f the sightseer himself, and all the quali­ ties that make the poem perpetually fascinating.” And Ernest Hatch Wilkins declares— the terms different, the sense identical: “Life pulses through the whole organism o f the Comedy, pervades its thought, glows in the hosts o f individual spirits who people it, sings in the challenge, the grace, the power o f the term rim a” To which I can only say “Amen.”

♦ xvi ♦

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I have followed Dante’s Italian text, as edited by Giorgio Petrocchi (1966—68), and lightly modified by Charles S. Singleton (1971). Singleton’s Commentary, in its revised edition (1973), has been very helpful, as has Fernando Palazzi’s Novissimo Dizionario della Lingua ItaUana (1939), most especially with its excellent lists of sinonimi. I have relied most heavily, however, on the massive four-volume Sansoni-Harrap Italian-English, English-Italian Dictionary (1970).

♦ xvii ♦

in t r o d u c t io n

:

th e

p il g r im

’s

path

to

freedom

PaulJ. Contino

Dante’s Drvina Commedia (Divine Comedy) is a classic that challenges all readers, especially those who approach it for the first time. Even in a translation as lucid and fluent as Burton Raffel’s, the poet’s references to classical literature, to the Bible and Christian theology, and to his Italian contemporaries require the help o f contextual notes, here ably supplied by Henry L. Carrigan. Moreover, the sheer audacity o f the poet’s claim— that he has traversed Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and conversed with real, historical persons in each locale— might repel the more sensitive reader. Certainly Dante is well aware o f his poetic and imaginative gifts, but his ultimate aim is readerly edification, not epic braggadocio. In the end, his glorious masterwork bespeaks humility and charity, not pride. Such humility is fostered significantly by Dante’s radical decision to write in the prosaic vernacular o f his native Italian, rather than the traditional classical Latin. Formally, the poem is incarnational in its fusing o f high matter with low style, reflecting as it does the Incarnation’sjoining of the transcendent and the human. The note of humility, o f deference to the divine, is further fostered by the poetic form that Dante invented, terza rima (aba bcb cdc). As John Freccero has observed, this rhyme scheme— notoriously difficult to sustain in English— evokes both the Trinity and, in its aural recapit­ ulations, the Incarnation and its transformational effect on subse­ quent history. With this introduction I offer an overview o f Dante’s pilgrimage. In the poem’s first line, Dante implies his desire that we join him “halfway along the road of this our life.” He uses the first person plural purposefully, situating his journey within the life that all of us share. In Dante’s understanding, our life has a clear and common ♦ xix ♦

INTRODUCTION

telos or goal: to dwell in communal, eternal beatitude with God and our fellow persons. We are made for Heaven. Heaven is our home, and Dante would like to help us get there. In its mediatory purpose, Dante’s poem shares roots with its nine-hundred-year predecessor, Saint Augustine’s Confessions. In that fifth-century classic, the middleaged Augustine, bishop o f Hippo, tells his own story of sinful exile and graced conversion, but not to flaunt the beauty o f his prose or, as with the eighteenth-century Rousseau or T V ’s daytime confes­ sionals, to display his faults before a perversely curious audience. Augustine aims to edify, not to entertain; his express purpose is to “serve” his “fellow pilgrims” to enable their own turning to God (10.4. [6]). In both the Commedia and Confessions, an older, wiser man looks back upon a younger, foolish self, and represents the voices o f both selves. In the course o f Dante’sjourney, the voices of younger pilgrim and older poet draw closer, fully uniting in the poem’s conclusion. Dante the poet begins by describing to us the kind o f person he was at the age o f thirty-five, on April 7, Holy Thursday, 1300, the date the poem commences. To the eyes o f his Florentine contempo­ raries, Dante must have appeared quite successful at this time. He was married to Gemma Donati, a woman from a prominent family, had four children, was already an accomplished poet, and, on the eve o f being elected to city government as one o f its six priors, wielded political power. In reality, he was lost. By 1300, less than two years before being condemned on trumped-up charges and exiled from Florence, he was already bereft of his spiritual moorings, meta­ phorically isolated in a dark wood, contemplating self-destruction. In the ninety-nine cantos that follow the first canto of the Inferno (which serves as prologue to the entire poem) and with the help of three indispensable guides, Dante the pilgrim recovers his direc­ tion and progresses toward a vision o f communal redemption. In the final canto o f the Paradiso, he beholds the God within whom we have our being: the Trinity, and, within it, God’s face made incar­ nate in Christ. Dante’s fallen human will is restored, made integral with the will of God: fully free, his desire is moved like a wheel by ♦ xx ♦

INTRODUCTION

the Love that moves the sun and the other stars, and he is ready to write his masterwork. Every step o f the way, he calls us to accom­ pany him on his journey. Like Augustine, who exhorts his readers to “come down that you can ascend, and make your ascent to God” (4.12.[19]), Dante must descend before he goes up. At first, Dante attempts to climb up and out o f the dark wood by himself, but he is stopped in his tracks by the successive appearance o f three beasts: a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. Dante can’t do it alone. He needs the help of other people. And the community— extended as it is beyond space and time— responds to his plight. Divine love moves Mary to help him: she asks Lucy, who asks Beatrice, who commissions Virgil. The great classical author o f the Aeneid will provide Dante with a model of civic vocation and united empire. Most important, he points Dante in the right direction: Dante must first descend— into the infernal realm o f damnation— before he can ascend the terraces of Mount Purgatory and rise to Paradise. But Virgil has his limits and can take Dante only so far: he represents the best a human being can be when endowed by native reason but bereft of divine revelation. In the earthly Paradise atop the mountain, Dante will be reunited with Beatrice, the saindy Florentine whom he first met when both were nine years o f age, and whom he has continued to love from a distance, even after her marriage to another, and her death in 1290. Beatrice will guide Dante into Heaven until, finally, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and his prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary will mediate his climactic vision of all-encompassing divine love. Why must Dante go down before he goes up? He travels “as ordered from above, and not lightly,” Virgil tells the centaur (12.87). Later, in canto 1 o f the Purgatorio, Virgil explains that Dante “seeks his freedom” (71) and “there was no other way” (62) to liberate him but to travel through Hell first. Here too the pattern is incarnational: Christ descended to our earthly state and even into Hell before rising and ascending. Further, Dante the pilgrim does not fully understand sin for what it is, and he requires this knowledge if he is to grow receptive to God’s ever-available grace. ♦ xxi ♦

INTRO D UCTIO N

Was Dante an exceptional sinner? Probably not, but, especially in the Inferno, he reveals his flaws— his tendencies toward lust, wrath, and pride. In canto 5, in the circle o f the lustful, he listens to the tale o f Francesca, eternally whirled alongside Paolo, her adulterous lover. In Francesca’s version o f their illicit affair, “Love” is entirely to blame, and the love poem they read together, a depiction o f Lancelot’s seduc­ tion o f Guinevere, serves as a “go-between” (137). Dante the pilgrim, himself an accomplished lyricist of love, swoons in sympathy. So too have many readers. But Dante the poet suggests a deficit in Dante the pilgrim’s awareness, and in ours: too easily might one be seduced into sleeping with a kinsperson’s beautiful spouse and be inclined to blame the deed on anything other than his or her own volition. The poet seeks to edify his reader through the pilgrim’s faltering example. However, Dante the poet’s task of readerly edification is complex, and the pilgrim’s encounters with the damned often raise interpre­ tive questions that invite conversation. How, for example, ought the reader respond to the pilgrim’s harsh treatment o f Filippo Argenti? After he has shoved his fellow Florentine into the sludge to be torn apart by others, Dante delights in the spectacle. Virgil praises him for this action, and the scene inspires even the remembering poet to “praise and thank our God” (8.60). Here, and near the Inferno's end, when Dante pulls Bocca’s hair (32.103-4) or breaks his promise to clear the ice from Brother Alberigo’s eyes (33.149-50), the reader wonders whether the pilgrim exhibits conformity with God’sjustice, in which the infernal punishment fits and reflects the crime, or is simply indulging his propensity toward rage at his enemies. Such moments o f face-to-face wrath must, I think, be distinguished from those prophetic interdictions which he recurrently directs at his beloved city and Church, distorted as each had become through political craving and materialist excess. Some of the souls whom Dante meets in the Inferno prove unfor­ gettable by the sheer force of their personality, so much so that the reader may feel both attracted and repelled. In addidon to Francesca, two such souls who come to mind offer rich occasions for analysis and discussion: Farinata and Ulysses. Each initially inspires our sympathy ♦ xxii ♦

IN T R O D U C T IO N

but, with further attention, one can hear in the voice of each the persis­ tent, damnable buzz of pride. Farinata, whom Dante meets in canto 10 among the heretics, seems to exemplify courage and magnanimity. As a leader of the Ghibelline political party—who sought the primacy of empire over papacy, and thus opposed Dante’s Guelphs— he kept Florence from being destroyed by his more brutal cohorts. Even in Hell, he stands erect and disdainful o f the scorching heat. But he’s imprisoned within his own ego. When his voice is interrupted by his neighbor, Cavalcante, who grieves in the mistaken belief that his son has died and sinks back into his crypt, Farinata picks up precisely where he left off, immune to his neighbor’s pain, indifferent to his existence. Later Dante meets Ulysses among the false counselors. Speaking from a flame, Ulysses tells the story of the way he burned for knowledge and experience. Well, we might observe, so did Dante, who never ceased his searching efforts of study. So, I suspect, does anyone setting out upon a reading of the Commedia, “eager to hear” what Dante saw on his journey (Par. 2.2). But note the way Ulysses embarks upon his quest: he severs himself from any relationship that would constrict him: filial, spousal, parental. Like the serpent with Eve in the Garden of Eden, he willfully manipulates his shipmates’ curiositas, their hunger for knowledge beyond communally accepted limits. Pride, the capital sin, infects the will o f every soul in Hell, such that each willfully refuses grace and chooses damnation; they “ [shove] themselves from that shore, one by one, / Like birds obeying signals from another bird’s call” (3.116-17). Minos sentences each to a particular level of the Inferno, organized around a taxonomy of sin outlined by Virgil in canto 11, and in which incontinence, or weak­ ness o f will, is understood to be a far lesser sin than willful betrayal. However, no matter its assigned place, each soul in the Inferno has been deformed by narcissism and willful isolation. Hell is popu­ lous, but it’s an image of anti-community. Frozen, dumb, perpetu­ ally chewing Satan— his three mugs a travesty of the communal Trinity—is H ell’s final, fitting emblem.

What a relief, then, to climb out of this pit, to see the stars again, and to arrive at the bracing waves that crash against the ♦ xxiii ♦

INTRODUCTION

shores of Mount Purgatory. How sad that so many readers truncate their journey at the end o f the Infemol In the rigorous ascent of Purgatory—in Dante’s geography, a solitary island in the Southern Hemisphere, situated directly opposite Jerusalem— it becomes espe­ cially clear that Dante the pilgrim’s goal is freedom. Beautiful as it is, a visit to Purgatory entails suffering— but it’s a therapeutic pain that frees one to open one’s heart to God and other people, and it stands in stark contrast to the unrepentant, suffocating suffering o f Hell. The opening cantos o f the Purgatorio provide a luminous contrast to Hell’s absence o f community. In the Inferno, the souls embark on a boat rowed by a monstrous old man and curse God, their parents, and the entire human race (In f 3.103-5), whereas the souls in Purgatory arrive on a boat piloted by an angel, singing Psalm 113 “together, in one clear voice”: “When Israel wentforth from Egypt’s land” (2.46-47). As Dante told his Veronese patron, Can Grande della Scala, the Commedia should be read in just the way this psalm has been read in the tradition o f the Church: both literally and alle­ gorically. Both poem and psalm describe a literal journey: the first, out o f Egypt; the second, through the afterlife. Allegorically, both depict individual and communal freedom from sin through grace. Given this promise o f “infinite / Goodness” (3.121-22), the Purgatorio is infused with hope: every person there knows that Heaven is his or her final destination. They address each other with courtesy: the newcomer’s first word to Dante and Virgil is “please” (2.59). They kindly request the prayers o f the living in the hope o f “reducing their [own] wait for blessedness” (6.27). All o f the creatures in Purgatory await a nuptial union with the loving Creator in Heaven. They are no longer capable o f sin, yet their final cleansing o f sin’s stain remains difficult. Those who delayed repentance while they were still alive— because o f excom­ munication (Manfred), sloth (Belacqua), unexpected death by violence (Buonconte da Montefeltro, a Ghibelline leader killed in the 1289 battle o f Campaldino, in which young Dante fought with the victorious Guelphs), or preoccupation with the cares o f leader­ ship— must endure a punitive waiting period before beginning their ♦ xxiv ♦

INTRODUCTION

task o f purgation. When the term in Antepurgatory is complete, they can ascend the three steps and walk through the gates into Purgatory proper (canto 9). The symbolism o f the three steps is crucial to an understanding of Purgatory’s purpose. The first, white step symbolizes penitence, and all souls in Purgatory are sorry for the sins they’ve committed, for the good they’ve left undone. The second step— rugged, purple-black— symbolizes confession, and all souls in Purgatory have confessed and publicly acknowledged their sins. The third step is bloodred and symbolizes satisfaction or penance— the purifying work that each soul in Purgatory sets out to accomplish on the various terraces o f the mountain. But doesn’t Christian theology teach that Christ’s blood— his life, death, and Resurrection— has already accomplished this work? Yes. But drawing upon the patristic tradition, Dante depicts these souls as desiring to respond to and cooperate with Christ’s redemp­ tion through their efforts. God, in turn, respects and fulfills the desire o f his creatures. Thus these souls freely unite their sufferings with the salvific suffering of Christ. This is best explained by Dante’s friend Forese Donati, who fasts on the terrace o f the gluttonous: “And this wild craving, as well as our pain, returns, Not once around this circle, but over and over— And though I say ‘pain,’ I ought to be saying ‘comfort,’ “For this is how, at last, we surely come To that sacred tree on which Christ exclaimed ‘O God!’ When He redeemed us, with His holy blood.” (23.70-75)

Forese is clear: on the tree o f the Cross, Christ redeemed us. Paradoxically, he describes Christ as being joyful (lieto) in his agony, as Jesus fulfills his vocation and prays Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Forese unites his own purga­ tive suffering with Christ’s, and his pain— and the pain of his fellow pilgrims in Purgatory— becomes solace. Forese also emphasizes that Christ’s death is freeing (libero). The souls in Purgatory engage in their purgative task only until the point ♦ xxv ♦

INTRODUCTION

at which they feel fully free. When a soul discerns this condition of freedom, the earth quakes in resonant joy, and the soul ascends to Heaven. Statius— who became both poet and Christian because of Virgil— explains this to Dante: “[The earth] only trembles, up here, when a soul finds It’s pure, and ready to rise, to make the ascent On high, which then causes the shout you heard. “This purity is proven only by the soul And its will— the soul feeling clean enough And thus allowing the will to make the move “To Heaven, as it wished to all along, but was blocked By the soul’s desire to accept its punishment, Set by Divine Justice, and scrape itself free “O f sin.” (21.58-67)

I f the purgative process liberates, so too does the process o f learning. In canto 16, Marco Lombardo explains that human free will is the root o f social malformation. In canto 17, the very center o f the canticle, and thus the heart o f the Commedia itself, Virgil explains that love motivates every human act and is the organizing principle o f Purgatory itself. Each o f the seven deadly sins has an apt physical practice: the proud are brought low by the stones upon their back; the envious are made blind to covetous desire; the wrathful walk through a smoky murk that images the way they clouded reason through rage; the slothful run; the covetous, face down, grasp the earth; the gluttonous fast; the lustful chastely embrace as they circle through a cleansing fire. Each terrace also offers a spiritual lesson depicted through scriptural and classical images. Each commences with an image o f Mary as model o f the virtue that counters the vice being purged: she humbly accepts Gabriel’s summons; empathizes with her hosts at Cana; mildly reproves her missing twelve-yearold son when she and her husband find him in the Temple; vigor­ ously assists her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth; gives birth in a poor Bethlehem stable; shows concern for others, not her palate, at Cana; ♦ xxvi ♦

INTRODUCTION

and remains chaste. Dante meditates upon these images and, at least on some terraces (pride, wrath, lust), partakes in the suffering, suggesting that his own propensities are being purged. But even after his passage through the flames, his purgative journey is incomplete. He beholds an elaborate pageant, which represents the Church at its best— specifically through the liturgical means by which a Catholic o f his day (and ours) would seek spiritual strength through the Word and the Eucharist— and the Church at its worst, corrupted by temporal power. Then he is reunited with Beatrice, who serves as his confessor. Dante still needs to experi­ ence the first two steps into Purgatory, penitence and confession, and Beatrice elicits these from him. Given Dante’s love for her, portrayed in the “sweet new style” o f La Vita Nuova ( The New Life [1294]), many readers are surprised at the martial severity with which Beatrice draws out Dante’s confession. However, even in the earlier work, Beatrice is presented less as an object of courtly love than o f sanctified eros who turns her lover in the proper direction, toward God. As an image o f Christ, she offers both judgment and mercy. Virgil— the dear father who departs at this juncture— seems a bit premature when, just after emerging from the flames, he declares that Dante’s will is now perfectly erect and free. Only after his tearful confession before Beatrice and subsequent cleansing in the waters o f the Lethe and Eunoe is Dante ready to enter Paradise. Many find the third part o f the Commedia to be the most arduous stretch o f the journey. In fact, Dante warns his fellow pilgrims that they might do well to stop at this point: O you who follow behind my ship, which sings As it makes its way, I know you’re eager to hear, But be careful, turn your little boat toward the shore You’ve come from, don’t risk the open sea: think Where you would be if you lost all sight of me: Hopelessly off course, wandering, lost.

No one has ever made a voyage like mine. (2.1-7) ♦ xxvii ♦

INTRODUCTION

However, Dante continues, if we are eager to eat the “angel bread o f wisdom” (11)— to plunge into a study of theology—we should continue with him into this luminous realm. The Paradiso is unapologetically and necessarily theological. But the mysteries it explores— and the communal joy it images through variations o f light, dance, smiles, and song— lend it unsurpassed beauty and oceanic depth. The theology lessons begin early, when Beatrice explains how the created world analogically reflects its Creator: “All things,” she began, “have places where they belong, And this is how the universe is formed Both by and in the semblance of Almighty God. “This ordering is how the highest of creatures, Angels and men, can see G o d ’s print in all features O f goodness, which is why this ordering was done.” (1.103-8)

Thus, Beatrice herself is analogous to Christ, much as Mary’s face is that which most resembles that o f her Son (32.86). It is crucial, however, to remember that analogy points up similarity but an even greater dissimilarity to the divine. For Dante, Beatrice is an icon, not an idol. Witness, for example, her radiant smile when Dante’s attention shifts from her to Christ (10.58-63). The Paradiso is rich in theological dialogue, and edification on one point raises questions on others. When Dante meets the first soul in Paradise, Piccarda Donati, he questions the cosmic order: how can she be content where she’s been placed in the lunar sphere, seemingly so far from God? Where’s the justice in a Heaven ordered by hier­ archy? Piccarda responds and speaks for all of the souls in Paradise: “The very essence of this blessed existence Is forever staying inside the realm of G o d’s will, By which His will and ours can join as one. “Every soul in all these circles is a joy To each and all, and everything is G o d ’s Delight, He who draws us to His will,

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“For in His will we have our peace. He Is the sea to which all things will flow, whatever It creates and also what Nature makes.” And then it was clear to me that Paradise Is anywhere in Heaven, although G od’s grace May fall in different ways in different places. (3.79-90)

People vary in the degree to which they are receptive to God’s grace (29.64-66): some, because of their human limitations, have been less receptive than others. Piccarda, for example, broke her vow under duress; Folchetto fell in love too easily (9.94-99). Even in Heaven, each personality remains particular. Yet all are equally in Heaven. Indeed, as Dante learns as he glides higher and more deeply into the Ptolemaic cosmos— from the sphere of the Moon to those of Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Fixed Stars, the Primum Mobile, and the Empyrean, true Heaven itself—every soul that appears before him does so as part o f a “command performance” for Dante’s benefit—and, by extension, for ours. The cosmos has simply condescended to meet Dante’s sensory comprehension. Beatrice explains: “The noblest of angels, basking most in G od’s Great light— consider any: Samuel, Moses, O r any John you choose, not even Mary— “Hold no place in any other heaven Than the spirits here appearing to you, nor will they Exist for any more time, or any less, “For each and all beautify the first circle, Have lives equally sweet, but always different, Depending on greater or lessened awareness of the breath “O f G o d . The spirits you saw did not appear B ec a u s e their existence is here, but simply to show Y o u r eyes what the least exalted o f angels look like.

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INTRODUCTION

“We need to speak in this way, to your organs of sense, Since such perception, and no other, prepares Itself to be understood, in the end, by your mind.” (4.28-42)

Dante’s questions continue: Why did Christ have to die on the Cross? Beatrice explains that the Fall required either human satis­ faction or divine mercy; in Christ, God chose both means o f atone­ ment (canto 7). Can human beings conform to the self-emptying model that Christ presents? Yes, implies Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa Theologica Dante studied at his local Dominican church, Santa Maria Novella, and whose theological vision infuses Dante’s poem. Thomas tells the story of Francis o f Assisi, who weds Lady Poverty, founds an order, and bears Christ’s wounds (canto 11). (Dante had also studied Franciscan theology at nearby Santa Croce.) At first, Saint Francis mistakenly thought he was called to be a soldier; indeed, the proper discernment o f gifts and vocation is one o f the Paradiso's recurring themes (8.145-48, 13.72). In fact, Dante meets many warriors in the sphere o f Mars. Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” yet the warriors unite in the form o f a cross. The reader might ask whether the image presents a contradiction or a paradox (canto 14). One of the warriors, an ancestor o f Dante’s named Cacciaguida, descends from the cross like a shooting star and greets Dante. (He calls his death in the Crusades a martyrdom [15.148]: would we?) In one of the most moving sections o f the Paradiso, Cacciaguida foretells the poet’s coming exile from Florence. That exile would begin in 1302 and force Dante to traverse Italy. He would accept the hospitality o f patrons in Verona and, in his final three years, Ravenna, where he would be reunited with his family and where his body remains interred. (During this richly productive exile, in addition to the Commedia, Dante also wrote II Convivio, his praise of philosophy; De Vulgari Eloquentia, his defense o f the vernac­ ular [both left incomplete, 1303-5]; and De Monarchia, his political manifesto [1310/1317?].) Cacciaguida affirms Dante’s vocation, whose “sacred poem” (25.1) would be both prophetic and sacra­ mental: “if at the very first taste your words are disturbing, / Later ♦ xxx ♦

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they will supply much needed food, / After they are finally digested” (17.130-32). Dante wonders whether such foreknowledge entails predestination, and a consequent stripping o f human freedom (17.37-42). Later, he raises the still timely question o f religious pluralism: What o f those who do not believe in Christ, what o f the “man . . . born near the Indus River” (19.70)? I f all are saved through Christ, how can one fathom the surprising appearance o f the Roman Trajan and the Trojan Ripheus (or, earlier, Cato) among the saints? Does their appearance offer hope that God’s providence might extend to Virgil, whom, like Dante, every reader o f the Commedia has grown to love? Dare we hope that Virgil will be among those “gath­ ered and bound / By love in a single volume, all we have found / On single pages, scattered through our world” (33.85-87)? The Paradiso raises many questions— and suggests their ultimate mystery in an astonishing image near its conclusion. Dante discerns a fiery point o f light upon which, he learns, “The heavens and every­ thing in nature/Depend” (28.41-42). Here Dante’s understanding o f the cosmos is radically inverted: this point— the luminous, loving mind o f God, and not that little threshing-floor earth— is the true center o f the universe. Dante’s attention is increasingly drawn into that central point until, through the loving mediation of the saints, the point reveals its Trinitarian, Incarnate form, and the pilgrim becomes the poet: “my mind and will whirling around / Like a wheel smoothly turning without a sound, / Spun by the Love that moves both sun and stars” (33.143-45). Wielding words with all their limi­ tations, Dante then records his ineffable vision in the Commedia, an act o f love for his fellow pilgrims.

For Further Reading Auerbach, Erich. Dante: Poet o f the Secular World. Trans. Ralph Mannheim. 1961. Reprint, New York: New York Review of Books Classics, 2007. --------- . Mimesis. Trans. Willard Trask. 1957. Reprint, Princeton, N.J.: P rin c e to n University Press, 2003.

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Augustine. Confessions. Trans. Henry Chadwick. Oxford World Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. Bemrose, Stephen. A New Life o f Dante. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2009. Bloom, Harold, ed. Dante's “The Divine Comedyn: Modem Critical Interpreta­ tions. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1986. Boyde, Patrick. Human Vices and Human Worth in Dante's "Comedy” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Cervigni, Dino S. Dante's Poetry o f Dreams. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1986. Freccero, John. Dante: The Poetics of Conversion. Ed. Rachel Jacoff. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986. Hawkins, Peter, Dante's Testaments: Essays in Scriptural Imagination. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999. Hawkins, Peter, and Rachel Jacoff, eds. The Poet's Dante: Twentieth-Century Responses. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001. Hollander, Robert. Dante: A Life in Works. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univer­ sity Press, 2001. Jacoff, Rachel. The Cambridge Companion to Dante. 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Lewis, R. W. B. Dante. Penguin Lives Series. New York: Viking, 2001. Mastrobuono, Antonio C. Dante's foumey o f Sanctification. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1990. Mazzotta, Giuseppe. Dante: Poet o f the Desert. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979. Moevs, Christian. The Metaphysics o f Dante's Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Raffa, Guy P. The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the “Divine Comedy." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Reynolds, Barbara. Dante: The Poet, the Political Thinker,; the Man. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2006. Russell, Jeffrey Burton. A History o f Heaven: The Singing Silence. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997. Scott, John A. Understanding Dante. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004. Singleton, Charles. Dante's “Commedia*: Elements of Structure. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977. Tierney, Brian. The Crisis o f Church and State, 1050-1300. 1964. Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.

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The Divine Comedy

♦ Part One ♦

Inferno

To Rabbi Dr. ZviAviner and Tsipora Aviner, for all they have done

Canto One

Halfway along the road o f this our life I woke to find myself in a wood so dark That straight and honest ways were gone, and light Was lost. O, how hard to tell the harsh Horror o f that wild and brutal forest! The very thought brings back a fear so stark That bitter death itself seems not much worse. But let me tell the rest of what I met with, So the good I found is well and truly rehearsed. I cannot say exactly how my steps Were led there, for when I left the one true road I was filled with sleep, heavy as a man can get. But once I*d reached the foot o f a hill which rose, Steep, just at the end of that valley, fear O f which had penetrated my heart, I saw That high above its shoulders there appeared Rays o f light from the star that lights the one And only road for every man on earth. And then the fear that, all night long, had run Painful across my heart, full as a lake, Began to subside a bit, as when someone Pauses, panting, having just escaped From the great depth of the sea to the safety of shore, And stands staring back at dangerous waves—

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Just so my mind, still fleeing as before, Turned round, gazing back at a narrow passage Living man had never traveled. Worn And weary, my body needed the brief advantage O f rest, but then I walked on along a barren Slope, my right foot always lower. At the edge O f the hill I meant to climb, I suddenly saw A light-footed leopard, quick and very agile, Its shaggy hide spotted all over, tawny. And there it stayed. I kept trying to scrabble By, but it always moved itself right In my face, blocking the way so I could not pass. I despaired. Then came the early morning light, The sun was climbing toward those other things Which had been with him when all those beautiful, bright, And shining bodies were set in motion by the stirring O f heavenly love, and I felt hopeful about The gay-skinned beast, knowing the time and seeing The great sweetness o f the season. I had not counted On the sudden terror I knew, seeing all At once that now a lion had come bounding In sight. He seemed to be coming toward me, his jaws Open, his head held high, impelled by a hunger So wild that even the air shrank from his claws. And then came a she-wolf, ribs showing under Her hide, appearing lean and starved, a beast Who devoured greedy souls as her rightful plunder— The very sight o f whom, so woeful, so bleak, Filled me with heavy fear, and I lost all hope O f ever ascending that towering, sunlit peak. Much like someone satisfied to grope His way to success, but when he starts to lose Afflicts his mind with tears and bitter thoughts,

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Just so that ever-pacing beast kept wounding Me, litde by little driving me back To where the sun grew silent, its light refused. As I descended lower, a man attracted My glance, appearing right in front of my face, Seeming so loathe to speak that he might have lacked Th e power. Seeing him there in that barren place I cried: “Have mercy on me, whatever you are, Only a ghost or, better, one o f my race.” He answered: “No longer a man, forever barred From your life. My parents were both Lombards, given Life in Mantua, under northern stars. “I was born late in Julius’ reign, and lived In Rome when good Augustus ruled, in the days O f those lying pagan gods, who promised false gifts. “I was a poet, and I sang Aeneas’ praise, Anchises’ son, who sailed to Rome when proud And powerful Troy was lost in leaping flames. “But you, why were you drawn to this dreary, foul Wasteland? Why not ascend the delectable mountain, Where happiness both starts and ends?” “Now “I know you—Virgil, forever generous fountain Pouring forth a mighty stream of speech!” Thus I answered, with a bashful countenance: “O honored guiding star o f poets, reached And relished by many long hours o f devotion and love, Studying from your books the lessons you teach! “You are my Master, my source and treasure trove, You alone from whom I acquired the full And beautiful style that brings me glory above “Most men. See that beast. I ran while I could. Help me flee her, O famous oracle. She makes my very veins and pulses tremble.”

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“You’ll have to take another road,” he told me, Seeing how freely and frantically I wept, “To escape this wilderness o f endless disorder, “Because this beast you complain of never lets Anyone pass her along this road, harassing And hindering them until she sees them dead, “Her nature being so malign and savage That she is never able to finish her feasting, Hungrier after she eats than before. Her passionate “Coupling breeds her with many other beasts, And will bring her even more until the Hound Arrives who will give her the painful death she needs. “He will not feed on any food found On earth, but only on wisdom, virtue, and love. His time will be announced, his birth crowned “In the stars. And he will bring salvation to humble Italy, for which the virgin Camilla, And Turnus, Euralyus, and Nisus all fell. “He’ll hunt this beast in every hole she fills Until he buries her back in Hell, out From which hateful envy had freed her to kill. “And this is why I think you must allow Yourself to follow me, and I must guide And lead you across an eternal land, where crowds “O f desperate souls will constantly shriek and cry, And you will see the souls of the ancient dead In pain, wanting another chance to die, “And see the ones who burn in fire, content At the flames, because they hope their souls will survive And ascend to the blessed, though none of them knows when. “And then, if you still wish to reach the heights, A soul worthier than me, a far more fitting Escort, will lead you, and she will become your guide,

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“For that Emperor, dwelling on high (since I, when living, rejected His law), bars The gates o f His heavenly city against me. Prince “O f all the universe, His throne stands there, And there He will rule forever, king and lord. O, how happy those He has chosen are!” And I replied: “Poet, I beg you, because O f that very God you’ve never known, in order That I can run from this evil, or those still worse, “Lead me away from this land, across its borders And into the realm you spoke of, where I will behold Saint Peter’s gates and the burning souls you spoke of.” He turned and started to walk, and I stayed close.

Canto Two

As daylight departed, heavy dark air was freeing Creatures living across the world from their weary, Laboring lives, and I was the only being On earth preparing myself for the endless, dreary Struggle, not only the path but the inner fears, Exactly as my mind will make them appear. 0 Muses, glorious powers, help me now! O memory, understanding, you who recorded Whatever I saw, reveal the breadth o f your power! 1 began: “O poet, can I hope to go forward? Before I start, O guardian and guide, Have I the strength to climb a hill so harsh? “You say that Trojan Aeneas, while still alive In human, corruptible flesh, walked these immortal Paths with a full perceptive, sensuous mind. “A God o f goodness would not close these portals To such a man, whose destiny would change The earth, father o f Rome and the world’s first ruler. “And he was chosen by Heaven itself to raise That city, and then that empire, which shone with the glory O f might and mind we know as Roman— a fame “Doubled when arms and art were blessed by the storied Heart of Paul, the Church’s father, and this city O f war and thought became all history.

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CANTO TWO

“Aeneas had learned, in the underworld, new pity And pain, knowledge he carried under the sun And made both Italy and the papal shield, “Brought to Rome, and to all living men, By Saint Paul, who opened the way to holy faith, Preparing our only road to eternal salvation. “But me, why am I here? Who made this mistake? I ’m no Aeneas; certainly, I’m no Paul. N o one, including me, thinks me so weighty. “Taking another step on this dangerous road A ll I’ll ever achieve, or reach, is folly. You’re wiser than me: explain what I do not know.” Like someone half regretting what once seemed knowledge, Intention shifted around by fresh ideas, Starting to throw all old ones overboard, I stood on that dark slope, pulled by feelings So murky they dissipated whatever I’d thought I knew, surrendering what once seemed real. “I f I have understood what you’ve just told me,” The ghost o f that gracious, mighty poet replied, “Cowardice is overwhelming your soul, “A common weakness, swinging from side to side A man’s clear vision o f honor’s noble way, As shapes and shadows deceive an animal’s eyes. “To lift you out o f this fear, let me say Just why I came to you, and what I was told That moved me, watching you so held at bay. “I stand with those whose future is still on hold, And a lady called to me, so blessed, so gracious That I offered to serve her, do whatever she ordered. “Her eyes outshone the stars in Heaven’s great space; And then she told me, sweetly, gently, her speech As soft and lovely as her angelic face:

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‘O courteous Mantuan soul, whose fame has reached To every part o f the world and will endure As long as earth itself, I come to speak ‘For my friend (no friend to Fortune), who’s now been rudely Blocked on his desert path, and cannot find His way, filled with so much fear he’s surely ‘Turning back, bewildered in heart and mind; Hearing what is said o f him in Heaven I may have waited too long to set him right. ‘Please go, and use your artful speech with him, And whatever else your craft has long since commanded, So he will be calmed, and I will be happy again. ‘I am Beatrice, who sends you on this errand; I long to return to the place I’ve come from; love Is what has moved me, given me words for this plan. ‘When I stand in front o f my gracious Lord above, I’ll often praise you to Him.’ And then she paused And said no more, and I began my response: ‘O lady o f virtuous power, Heaven’s laws, The only road by which we human beings Can rise above the moon that circles this globe, ‘Everything you command so pleases me That obedience, already fulfilled, would be slow: You speak and I obey, and both are pleased. ‘But how can you be sure that descent this low Is safe for a being like you, down in this dungeon, Far from spacious realms I know you long for?’ ‘Deep desire to know moves you so much,’ She answered, ‘that I will tell you, very briefly, Why I ’m not afraid o f a place so roughly ‘Fashioned. Have fear for nothing that cannot be O f harm to what you are. What cannot hurt Creates no apprehension in creatures like me,

CANTO TWO

“ ‘Made by God, as I am, in His grace and virtue: Whatever you suffer here I do not feel In my heart, nor am I hurt by the fires that burn you. “ 4A noble lady in Heaven takes such pity On this blockaded man I want you to guide That unyielding heavenly law must bend and yield. “ ‘She called Saint Lucy, brought her to her side, And said: “One o f your faithful needs you now, And I commend him to you. Give him your aid.” “ ‘ Saint Lucy, hating cruelty of all kinds, Rose and came to where I was at the moment, Sitting with ancient Rachel at my side, “ ‘A n d said: “Beatrice— given God’s grace, adorned With virtue— help the man who loved you so much, For your sake turning his back on the vulgar and low. “ ‘ “Can’t you hear the pitiful cries he utters? Don’t you see him fighting for his life, Overwhelmed by tides o f deadly suffering?” “ ‘N o one on earth has ever taken advice So swiftly, protecting themselves or running away: Hearing those words, I dropped right through the skies, “ ‘Left my blessed seat and immediately came To this place, trusting myself to your virtuous speech, Which honors you and those who hear what you say.’ “Having made this explanation to me, Her shining eyes looked down, wet with tears, Which made me come to you even more quickly. “And so I came, eager to do her service; I liberated you from the wild she-beast Who blocked the shorter mountain road so fiercely. “So, now: what next? Why, why are you still seated Here, cowardly clutching fear in your heart? How can you not be bold, courageous, and free,

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“When three such blessed ladies from Heaven’s court Are taking care of you, and you have been told In so many words what wonderful things are to come?” Like little flowers bent by nighttime cold, Closed against the frost, who quickly straighten Their stems and blossom again, in the sun’s good warmth, I felt my drooping courage rise again, And my heart began to beat so boldly that words Rushed to my tongue, I spoke like a just-freed man: “O the compassionate spirit who offered me help! And you, how kind you’ve been, how quickly obeying Truthful words she brought you, right from Heaven! “Your words have roused me, all my desire awakened Once more. Listening to you, I’m just as eager To go with you as I was the moment you came! “So on we go: I’ll follow wherever you lead, Your intention is mine, we are one and the same ” Those were my words. He was my Master, my teacher, And together we went the harshest, wildest way.

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Canto Three

It is through me you come to the city of sorrow, It is through me you reach eternal sadness, It is through me you join the forever-lost. Justice moved my makers’ wondrous hands; I was made by Heaven’s powers, holy, divine, Endless wisdom, primal love of man. Eternal existences preceded mine, And nothing more. I will exist forever. Give up all hope, until the end of time. These words were written, dim and darkly etched, Above a gateway. I could not understand them. “Master,” I said, “teach me the sense o f this.” He answered knowingly, as wise men can: “From this point on, abandon cowardice, All mistrust must die. This is the land “I told you we would come to, where you’d see Those men and women lost to the human mind And all its truthful work and useful reason.” Then, quiedy, he put his hand on mine, Turned and gave me a pleasant glance, and I Was comforted. He walked, I followed behind To that unknown place, where shrieks and desperate sighs, Weeping, and fervent moaning filled the starless Air; I could not keep myself from crying.



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INFERNO

All sorts o f tongues, a flood of horrible words, Much aching speech, with bursts o f furious rage, Some loud, some weak, and hands that flapped like birds, Blew in a swirling roar, forever created Anew, whirling around in that timeless air, Dark as pellets o f sand in a hurricane. Horror held my head as tight as a halter, And I said: “Master, what are these sounds? And why Are these people so afflicted, suffering in here?” And he said to me: “This is how the vilest, Sorriest o f souls have lived their lives, Neither disgraced nor ever once admired. “Mixed among them are souls thrown from on high, Angels who neither joined the Devil’s rebellion Nor stood with God. They simply stayed to the side. “Heaven rejected them as ugly, and Hell Refused to let them in its deeper parts, Outshining demons if the Devil let them dwell there.” And I said: “Master, what pain attacks their hearts, Always weeping, moaning, shrieking so loud?” He said: “I answer, but briefly. These are not artful “Souls; the lives they led were blind and hateful, And having died they’ll never die again, Which makes them jealous o f every other fate. “The world completely ignores what’s happened to them; No more do mercy and justice. Or fate. Or chance. Enough. Just look, and we will leave again.” Looking, I saw a banner whirling, flapping, Twisting past me so fast it never rested, As if there were no place or way to stop, And then behind it came a great long stretch O f people, so many I never could have believed Death had ruined, undone so many men.



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CANTO THREE

But then I recognized a face Fd seen Before, the spirit form o f a coward pope W ho quickly turned away from his task, and resigned. And suddenly I knew, and understood, That this was the wicked, wretched sect o f those Disliked by enemies of God, and by God. These scum, never alive, now wore no clothes And, naked, were stung by clouds o f wasps and flies, Goading them along their filthy road, Swarms of insects always on and beside them. Blood and tears together dripped from faces To feet, consumed by worms who writhed as they fed. And then, looking off beyond that place, I saw a cluster of people near a great river And said: “Master, let me ask, as a favor, “W ho those people are, and why they’re driven To let themselves be ferried across, as I see They are, even in light this dark and dim.” He answered me: “These are matters to be Explained by standing on that gloomy ground Where the Acheron flows, to which we now proceed.” Blushing in shame, silent, my eyes turned down, Afraid my tongue had troubled him, I willed it Silent until we reached where we were bound. And suddenly a boat, and an old man in it, Came gliding through the misty air, approaching The shore. “Ah!” he shouted. “All you wicked “Souls! Don’t wish for a Heaven you have no hope O f ever seeing! I’m here to take you over The river, to eternal darkness, to fire and cold. “And you over there, you silent, living soul, Move away from the others, those who are dead.” But when he saw I would not move, he told me:

I N FE RN O

“You’ll come, but by a different way, a different Port, not here. This boat’s not right for you, You’ll come across the river on lighter timber.” My Master told him: “Charon, this nonsense won’t do. These things were decided by those forever able To make decisions and see them done. Not you.” Then the boatman was quiet, though wheels o f flame Circled his eyes; his scraggly cheeks were still; He guided his ship into the landing place. But the waiting souls, naked and miserable, 100 Immediately went pale, their teeth chattering, Hearing so blunt an exchange of cruel talk. They cursed at God, the human race, their parents, The place where they’d been born, and the time, and the seed That gave them life and brought about their birth. Then they crowded, all o f them loudly weeping, Down to the cursed, ever-barren shore That waits for men who live as if God were sleeping. Demonic Charon, his eyes lit up like coals, Gestured them into their places, gathered them in; 110 Whoever was slow, or lingered, he beat with his oar. Like leaves that fall to the ground in our autumn season, Steadily dropping, one by one, till bare Branches can see what’s left o f their busy breeding, Exactly so the wicked seed o f Adam Were shoving themselves from that shore, one by one, Like birds obeying signals from another bird’s call. And so the dark waves took them. But before they come To the other side, and disembark, on this side Another band o f banished souls will be forming. 120 “My son,” observed my learned, courteous Master, “Those who die at the hands of an angry God Are here together, wherever their lives were passed,

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“Anxious to cross this river, ready to arrive Where they must, for heavenly justice pricks and prods them So hard that fear becomes intense desire. “ No worthy soul will ever come this way. And so, if Charon feels a need to complain, You know, by now, just what he’s really saying.” Those words said, the gloomy fields were shaken So severely that, even now, the thought O f that frightening moment makes the sweat break out. The tear-stained ground gave off a mighty blast, And blood-red lightning flashed across the sky, Overcoming every sense in my body, And I fell like a man whom sleep has suddenly grasped.

Canto Four

A massive rumbling broke my sleep, thunder So heavy I shuddered awake, as if I’d been Forcibly pulled from my prone and sudden slumber. I rose and stood, then slowly let my rested Eyes examine here and there, trying To learn what it was, this place where I had slept. And indeed, my feet were terribly close to the side O f a dark chasm, from which I heard the deafening Wail o f those sentenced to endless crying. So deep, so covered in gloomy mist! Intending To see as much as I could, I peered and saw Nothing, neither the bottom nor anything else. “Now,” said my poet guide, paler than ghosts, “Let us descend and visit this blinded world. I’ll lead the way, and you will follow close “Behind.” Aware o f his pallor, I spoke these words: “How shall I follow, if you’re afraid, you Who try to soothe my doubt, give comfort, and urge “Me on?” He answered: “The anguish I hear, truly, From down in that Darkness, paints my face with pity. My pallor is not from fear, but only rueful. “But come. The longer road needs urgency.” And so we entered, I for the very first time, The first o f Hell’s nine circles, descending slowly.

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And here there was no weeping; the only signs O f sorrow I heard were sighs that caused a gentle Trembling, stirring eternal air, yet rising N ot from tortured pain or punishment But only because there were so many, men And women and children. My Master asked this question O f me: “Don’t you mean to inquire, again, Who and what are the spirits you see in here? I want you to know, before you take a step, “These are not sinners; no matter what they deserve It can’t be enough, for none have been baptized— The gateway to Heaven in your faith’s clearest terms. “A ll those born before the coming of Christ Cannot be Christians, worshipping God as He Requires, and one of many such men am I. “These imperfections, and nothing more, no crimes Bar us from Paradise, not punished, not hurt. We have no hope, we live for our great desire.” My heart was seized by sorrow, hearing these words, Knowing how many good and worthy souls Were hung in this Limbo, left in nowhere forever. “Tell me, my Master, tell me, my worthy lord,” I started, needing to know the absolute truth About this faith which overcomes all error: “Has anyone, ever, either because o f his worth Or someone else’s, been granted that grace of God?” And he replied, understanding the words I had not spoken: “I had not been here long When I saw a person o f might and power come, Crowned with triumph, as pure as He was strong. “He took away the soul o f Adam, our father, And Abel, Adam’s son, and that of Noah, And that o f Moses, faithful giver o f laws,

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I N F ERN O

“And another father, Abraham, and the soul O f David the king, and Isaac with his father, Jacob, as well as his children and wife, Rachel, “And made them blessed, along with many others. Do understand that before this happened no long-dead Souls were taken from here. There have been no others.” We kept on walking, even while he spoke, Proceeding through a wood that seemed to be Dense with throngs o f unseen spirit folk. Nor were we far from where I’d had my sleep, And woke to tremendous thunder, when I saw a fire That forced the hemisphere of darkness to retreat. We still were a little distant from that brightness, But not so far, and in part I saw what honorable Souls inhabited that place of light, And asked: “O you who honor science and art, Tell me who earns such honor, separating Them from other souls seen in these parts?” He answered: “The honor o f their well-known fame, Still ringing across the world in your own day, Earns them grace in Heaven and comes to their aid ” Just then I heard a voice, close by me, saying: “Honor to the great and noble poet! His soul had left us, but now returns to this place.” And when these words were said, and all was still, I saw the shapes of four great spirits approaching, Not seeming either sad or pleased. My brilliant Master began to explain them to me, noting: “The one in front, his hand holding a sword, Leads the other three, for he is their lord: “He is Homer, greatest poet known. Next comes Horace, probing satiric soul. The third is Ovid, and Lucan’s the last o f all.

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“Because each one o f us confesses, proudly, To the name o f that art you heard the sole voice speaking, They show me honor, and honor among us is how “It should be.” And so I saw, and felt no grief, Seeing that shining school o f highest song, The greatest among them soaring like an eagle. They talked among themselves, but not for long, Then turned and greeted me most pleasantly, At which my Master showed a smile quite broad. They offered still greater honor, admitting me As one o f their stellar group— the sixth in height Among great wisdom in power and quantity. And so we walked on toward that glowing light, Discussing matters better left unsaid, Though speaking of them there was sheer delight. We came to the foot of a noble castle, seven Sets o f towering walls around it, circled By a beautiful stream, a running defense. We crossed as if it were ground under our feet, Then walked through each o f the seven gates, and entered Along with these sages. We came to a meadow, green And fresh, where people walked, their eyes intense And slow; they seemed authoritative and wise, Speaking little, their voices soft and gentle. Our little group then moved a bit to one side, To a bright and open place on a higher level, From which we looked across the entire sight, And there, on that green-glazed lawn, the vision was spread, The greatest spirits our world has ever known. I felt myself exalted, just seeing them. I saw Electra, who was not walking alone; Among her friends were Aeneas and Hector, and Caesar With his hawk-like eyes, fully armed.

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I NF ER NO

I saw Camilla, maiden-knight and queen O f the Amazons, and Penthesilea, and King Latinus, to one side, along with his daughter, Lavinia, And Lucius Brutus, who made the Tarquins flee, Lucretia, raped by a Tarquin, and Cornelia, Roman Matron, and (sitting alone) Saladeen. And then I saw the greatest thinker o f all, Aristotle, master o f the human mind, Sitting with his philosophical brothers, Who watched attentively the best o f their kind. Socrates was there, and Plato, seated In front o f the rest; I saw Diogenes, And Democritus, who thought the world a flea, Hopping by chance, and Thales, and Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Zeno, and Empedocles, And I saw Discorides, who collected herbs And roots, and Orpheus, and Cicero, And Seneca, the moralist o f words, Euclid, geometry’s master, and Averroes, Great commentator on Aristotle, and Galen, And Ptolemy, who put the stars in order, And Hippocrates— too many to keep in balance: My theme is huge, it insists on driving me on, Often making my telling short o f the fact. So now the group o f six is shrunken down To two. My wise leader takes me away By a different path. Peace and quiet are gone; Here the very air trembles, and there is no day.

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Canto Five

And so I left the first circle, descending through To the second, given a lesser space but causing Far deeper grief, suffering more than mere woe. Ghastly Minos stands at the gate, horrible, Snarling, scrutinizing each entrant’s record O f sins, then passing sentence by winding himself. Which he does. On hearing the miserable soul before him Confess the filthy life he’s led, Minos Quickly sees, as a connoisseur o f sin, Where in Hell this sinner truly belongs, 10 Then winds his tail around his waist, the number O f rings declaring what level he wants this soul To go down to. Many come, all wait, numb Until their turn to confess and see their sentence; They speak, they see, they tumble, one by one. “O visitor to this painful institution,” Said Minos, as soon as he saw me, interrupting The steady process o f sentence and execution, “Watch where you’re walking, and in whom you place your trust. Don’t be fooled by the look o f a wide-open gate!” 20 My leader replied: “What is the point o f this protest? “Don’t try to stop him: he’s going where he’s fated To go, matters decided by powers able To declare, then execute, with no debating”

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I N FE RN O

A n d now miserable sounds b egin to reach A n d affect me, now I am in a place where I ’m pounded By endless echoes o f crying, wailing, screaming. I ’ve com e where light w ill never again appear, A place which bellows like the sea in storms, Fighting shifting winds that cross in the air.

SO

T h e blizzards o f H ell, never less than enormous, Smash at spirits, trem endous hurricanes, Beating, knocking, spinning driven souls. By the tim e they’re thrown against the ancient stone T h ey shriek, lament, com plain, and finally curse A t Heaven’s power and its unrelenting hold. I learned that sinners blown, torm ented in bursting Gales, are those condem ned by acts o f lust, W hich m elt our reason down in desire and thirst. Just as their wings, stretched wide, hold starlings up

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In great, wide flocks fleein g freezin g weather, So those windstorms force the wicked souls Th is way, that way, down and up together. N o hope can ever ease their pain, give com fort; T h ey never rest, never suffer less. A n d just as cranes can travel, singing their songs, Extended in lines and flow in g along the air, I saw these sinners go by, w ailing their woe, Forever flung by the wind, but born e nowhere. A n d I asked: “My Master, who are these people, w hipped A n d beaten by rough, eternally rum bling air?” “T h e first you inquire about,” he said, “was g ifted In many differen t tongues, an empress o f speech A n d ruler o f many lands. Lust was a habit “So deeply set in her heart that when, as queen O f ancient Assyria, her husband died A n d she ascended to the throne, her p eop le’s leader,

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“She changed her em pire’s laws, fo r she required T h e lusts she loved to be legal, no longer crimes. H ers was the throne the sultan now occupies.

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“ D id o is next, a widow who killed herself F or another love, breaking the oath she’ d sworn T o her husband; next comes Cleopatra, the whore. “ L o o k there, at Helen, who caused a horde o f warriors T o die; then see the great Achilles, who fought W ith love, then died, fighting in its cause. “S ee Paris, see Tristan”— and then he pointed out A thousand spirits whom love had brought to death, N a m in g each as the black w ind blew them past. H e a rin g my teacher recite this long, lon g list

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O f ancient knights and ladies, I was overwhelm ed By pity, my heart confused, bewildered, dizzy. I poin ted: “Poet, I ’d gladly speak to them, T h a t pair tum bling together, who truly seem A single body floating light in this wind.” H e answered: “Wait, and you w ill see m ore clearly A s they com e closer to us. Speak in the name O f the love that binds them, and they w ill com e still nearer.” A s soon as the twisting wind bent them our way, I raised my voice: “O troubled souls, com e

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A n d speak to us, i f no Force keeps you away!” L ik e doves responding to a loving summons, W in gs stretched high and steady, wishing to land In their own, the sweetest o f nests, they chose to com e— L e a v in g D ido and all the rest o f that band O f sorrow, they glided through the evil air, F u lled by my affectionate command. “O kind and gracious living soul, who here A n d now is visiting us, in this malicious Air, we w hose blood stained everywhere:

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I N F E RN O

“I f the K in g o f the universe were sm iling on us W e’d pray to H im fo r your peace, since you show pity For our misfortune, our lovin g waywardness. “W hatever it pleases you to hear and speak, W e w ill listen and answer fo r however long T h e wind stays silent fo r us, as now it has been. “I was born in Ravenna, city on the river Po, Flow ing quietly down from the Alps, together W ith streams that jo in it, peacefully en din g in the ocean. “Love, that quickly flares in peaceful hearts,

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Captured Paolo, here, by the lovely form N ow taken from m e— by surprise, by a sword, with n o pardon. “Love, not freein g one who’s loved from loving, Brought m e such delight in loving him That, as you see, I cannot give it up. “ It was Love that guided us to a single death. H e ll’s depths await my husband, who killed us both.” Th ese were the words she blew across the wind. H ea rin g what those injured souls had known, I bowed my head, and there it stayed a moment,

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U ntil the poet asked: “W h ere are your thoughts?” W h en I could answer, I said: “O L ord ! O Lord! H ow much desire, how many loving thoughts, L e d these two to where they’ve now been brought!” A n d then I turned to them, and again I spoke In the silent wind: “Francesca, all your torments Make m e weep with sadness, and pity, too. “Please tell me: in the times o f those sweetest sighs, By what, and how, did Love declare the dark A n d doubtful, unholy desires you satisfied?” She answered me: “N o sadness afflicts the heart M ore than recalling, in times o f utter disaster, Sweetened days in which we knew no darkness.

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C A N T O FI VE

“But since you lon g to know the initial path W e wandered on, and how our love was started, I ’ ll speak as one who weeps as she tells her sadness. “O n e day we read the story o f Lancelot A n d how his love attacked and held him tight. W e were alone and unaware o f our thoughts. “ M o re than once the story forced our eyes T o meet, and as we looked our faces turned pale, But just one single m om ent hung and decided “ Us. W e read how a smile he longed fo r stayed O n her lips until the greatest o f lovers kissed them, A n d then this man, who cannot be taken away “ F rom me, kissed my mouth, his body trembling. A famous go-between had written that tale. T h a t day, ou r time fo r reading suddenly ended.” A n d as one spirit said this, the other wept. Pity overcam e me and I fainted away, A lm o st like a man m eeting his death. I fell like a corpse, and where I fell I lay.

Canto Six

Confusion and sympathy fo r the pitifu l state O f Francesca and her lover, the m ournfulness O f which was overwhelm ing, had closed my brain; W hen it returned I saw new torments and torm ented Souls in all directions around me, no matter W h ere I looked o r how I happened to bend. T h e third circle o f H ell is where I am, A place eternally accursed, with cold A n d heavy rain, steady and always the same, W ith huge hailstones, d in gy water, and snow Pouring through the gloom y atmosphere; T h e groun d is putrid, where this dow npour falls. Three-headed Cerberus, monstrous beast, roams here, A cruel creature who barks, dog-like, out O f each o f his mouths, at people half-drowned, submerged. His eyes are red, his beard is black and foul, His belly broad, there are talons on his hands; H e claws the spirits, rips at their skin, bites holes. Th ey howl like dogs, in unrelenting rain; T h ey twist from side to side, using the right To shield the left, squirm ing in w retched pain. A n d when that great worm, Cerberus, spied us H e opened all his mouths and showed his fangs; His legs and body quivered at the sight o f us.

C A N T O SIX

M y lea d er reached down, and using only his fingers Q u ickly dug dirt, then threw the filthy clumps D irectly to those greedy, drip pin g teeth. B a rk in g dogs, loud because they’re hungry, A r e starkly quiet as soon as fo o d arrives, O n ly concerned with eating, gulping, clumsy;

SO

Just so the horrid faces o f Cerberus, D em onic mouths that boom ed and roared, now soundless; T h e souls would rather be d e a f than hear that noise. W e walked on souls, lying subdued on the ground By pou n din g rain, setting ou r feet right through them, T h e ir bodies were nothing, only seem ing sound. T h e y all were lying, everywhere we moved, Except fo r one, who sat him self up, swiftly, T h e m om ent he saw us slowly com in g through. “ O you who are bein g guided, this day, through differen t

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Levels o f H ell, are you able to recognize me?” W ere his words to me: “You started when I existed.” I answered: “It may be the pain in which you writhe W h ich drives your im age away from my flailin g senses, C onfusing my m ind so it seems I ’ve never seen you. “ But tell m e who you are, and why you should be In so miserable a place, enduring such grief: T h e r e may be worse ones, but none so unpleasant to see.” H e answered: “Florence, your city, has always been marked By envy, which splits and cracks and runs all over, A n d I was caught in a gleam ing life which was darkness. “Y ou called me Ciacco the Pig, and a pig I was: M y crim e was gluttony, a ruinous sin; You see how effectively this rain has done “ Its work. I ’m miserable, but not alone: Everyone here had lived a life like mine; W e’re pu nished alike.” A n d then his answer was over.

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I N F ERN O

I said: “ Ciacco, your pain so troubles my m ind It forces tears from my eyes. But tell me, friend, I f you can, what destiny so wholly divided

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“A city can expect? W h ere w ill my p eop le end? W h o ’s right? W h o ’s wrong? H ow did this enm ity start? A n d why has this bitter struggle gone on and on?” H e told me: “L o n g years o f awful argum ent W ill lead to bloodshed; Bianchi fighters w ill drive T h e N eri out o f the city, with many dead. “T h en after the sun has passed through three whole cycles, T h e beaten party w ill com e to power again, L e d by one who has not made up his mind. “For a long, lon g time, the N eri w ill hold the city,

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R u ling with heavy hands, keeping the others Down, their tears all wasted, showing no pity. “Two m en still live by conscience, but no one bothers W ith them. G reed and jealousy and pride A re the only fires flarin g in any hearts.” H e en ded his m elancholy remarks. A n d I Continued: “Please go on teaching, give m e the g ift O f m ore invaluable speech. But you surprise me, “N o t m entioning the names o f Farinata A n d Teggio, both worthy men, and Jacopo

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Rusticucci, and A rrig o , and Mosca, “A n d others: tell m e what the g o o d m en do, A n d their names; I ’m anxious to learn i f Heaven soothes them O r H ell has sucked them in, and burns them, too.” H e answered: “T h ey are some o f the blackest souls; A dam ning range o f sins presses them lower: I f you go that far, there you can see them all. “But when you return to that sweetest w orld o f worlds, I ask you to brin g my name to livin g m en’s minds. I tell you no m ore, that’s all you’re g o in g to hear.”

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CANTO SIX

H is eyes went twisting right and left, he squinted O n c e at me, then bent his head and laid H im s e lf on the ground, am ong the other blind men. T h e n my leader told me: “H e w ill not wake A g a in until the angel blows his horn A n d H e who hates evil comes, and every one takes “T h e shape and flesh with which we m en are born, D raw ing it back from the wretched tomb where it lies, A n d all w ill hear what w ill echo forever more.” S o w e continued, walking very slowly

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T h ro u gh filthy mixtures o f drizzle and shadowy men, A llo w in g ourselves ou r thoughts o f the future we M ig h t find, and I asked: “Master, these punishments, W ill they grow, after the great and Final Judgment, O r lessen, or burn exactly as we’ve seen them?” H e answered: “G o back to the rules o f science, which you know D eclare perfection w ill grow m ore perfect with time, A n d as it is in Heaven, so too below. “A lth o u g h these wicked souls w ill never clim b T o Heaven, I think they may com e closer, perhaps, T h a n they are now, in the state and place we find them.” W e follow ed that w inding road with careful steps, Speaking a great deal m ore than I can tell you. T h e n we cam e to the place where the road is bent Downward, and there was Plutus, great lord o f Hell.

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Canto Seven

“Satan’s the Pope, Satan’s the Pope, hurray!” Plutus began, clucking like a m other hen, A n d my noble guide, who always knew what to say, Reassured me: “ D on’t let your apprehension Trou ble you: whatever power he has, H e cannot keep us from our rocky descent.” A n d then he turned to that swollen, p u ffy face A n d said: “Be quiet, dam ned, accursed w olf! Gnaw away your insides with maniacal rage. “This jo u rn ey into darkness is approved above, Its purpose is known on high, where the angel Michael Fought and vanquished Satan’s filthy hordes.” A n d just as sails filled tight by the wind collapse W h en the mast comes down, quickly turning slack, So too that savage beast was stretched on his back. A n d thus we m ade our descent to the fourth hollow, E xplorin g m ore o f this steep and dismal place W hich stuffs itself on all o f those who follow Sin. A h , G od o f Justice! W h o does this, scraping Togeth er the brand-new pains and punishments I saw? A n d why should sinning cause such wastage? As waves that break on Charybdis w hirlpool are spent In scattered fragm ents against the force they meet, So here the people circle again and again.

C A N T O SEVEN

I saw so many m ore, this time, than I ’d seen Above, p eop le on every side, howling A n d rollin g rocks, pushing with chests and bellies, Banging one another, then each one scowling H a rd at the other, rollin g back their rocks A n d shouting, “W hy so selfish?” and “W hat are you throwing SO “Away?” T h en o f f they g o on this gloom y track, R etu rn in g one by one to where they started, B an gin g together and shouting the same harsh language, After which they turn half-circle around A n d repeat the perform ance, h a lf a circle more, W ith another banging, m ore angry, ridiculous sound. And I, with almost broken heart, spoke T o m y leader: “My Master, tell me about these men. T h e tonsured ones to our left, were they priestly folk?” He answered: “T h eir minds had no focus, none o f them,

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So squinted, there in the first o f their lives, they always Overspent, no reason to guide their spending. “They m ake this m ore than clear, each o f them barking T h e m om ent he reaches the point o f the circle between them, Divided, but each man guilty in opposite parts. “The tonsured ones, their heads shaved clean and bare, W ere certainly priests, and cardinals and popes, G ripped by greed, which drove them everywhere.” I said: “Master, am ong so many, I ’d hope T o recogn ize some, at least, o f those defiled

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By the filth o f evils like these.” My Master spoke In reply: “Such thoughts are frivolous and idle: Th e in differen t life that m ade these m en obscene Has left them all the same to our human eyes. “For all eternity they’ll play this scene: When they rise from their graves, these will stand with their fists Clenched tight; those w ill have their heads shaved clean.

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I NFERN O

“T h ey lost this beautiful world by ugly giving, A n d ugly taking, which set them to this bu ffoonery— I won’t waste words, saying just what this is. “N ow see, my son, the futile m ockery O f spending a life accumulating possessions, C om petin g with Fortune and m en fo r worthless frippery: “Take all the gold still lying under the m oon, A d d all that ever was and you could not buy A m om ent o f rest fo r one o f these souls— not one.” “My Master,” I said, “now let me ask you why You speak o f Fortune, m ore o r less in passing. W h o is she, clutching so much, possessing such rights?” A n d then he answered: “O m en o f foolish minds! H ow lim ited you are, how ignorant! L et m e feed you wisdom o f a better kind. “H e who transcends knowledge, who gave their grandeur T o the skies, taught them how and where each star Must shine, dividin g light in equal shares, “Teaching each part to glow on the other parts, So too, with worldly m agnificence, H e gave A n adm inistrator and guide, instructed to barter “A n d trade these worthless worldly possessions from race T o race, from b lood lin e to bloodline, entirely hidden From the human mind, so that in tim e one race “Should rule, and another decline, everything bidden A ccord in g to her ju dgm ent, and hers alone— A n d that is forever secret, like a snake in a garden. “She cannot be resisted, she has always won: She’s firm ly in charge, ju d g e and also ruler, R eign in g as gods in their kingdom s have always done. “ H er shifts and permutations are constantly moving: Necessity requires that she act fast; M en spin at her speed, up o r down or nowhere.

C A N T O SEVEN

“T h e y ’ d like to nail her up on another cross, D espite her favors, fo r which she ought to be cheered; S h e’s criticized by those who’ve gained or lost! “B ut she has been blessed, and has no need to hear this: L ik e all the prim al creatures, she’s happy, spinning H e r astral sphere, happy in bein g blessed. “B u t now it’s tim e to visit greater sinners A n d their punishments: the stars that were high when I started A r e down: staying too long is strictly forbidden.” O n the other side o f the circle, we cam e to a hard-

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Flow in g spring that was gushing up, then pou rin g over T o a ditch that took its waters down the rocks. T h is water was blacker than purple, exceedingly dark. A n d we, alongside this gray and rushing creek, W ent down another way, but rough and jarrin g. T h is sad little brook, descending slowly from its peak, H u ge and dull, carried its water to a marsh B earing the nam e o f Styx. A n d I, seeking S om e way to see whatever m ight be there, Saw people in that swamp, naked and muddy,

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But people impossibly fierce. I stood there, staring: T h e y struck each other, using their hands as clubs, But also used heads, and chests, and even bellies, T h e ir teeth were biting and tearing out flesh in chunks. T h e g o o d Master said: “M y son, what you are seeing A r e those who were totally overcom e by rage. K n ow that what you see is as it seems: “T h e r e are indeed people under the waves, W h ose constant sighing makes bubbles com e floating up, W h ich you’ve been watching. W hat they’re trying to say, “ From down in the slime that holds them, is: ‘W e were sullen, For when w e breathed that sweetened air which the sun M ade m erry, ou r hearts were fu ll o f slothful mud:

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I N F ER NO

“ ‘N ow w e’re melancholy, and sunk in mud.’ Th is song they gurgle in their throats, so stuffed W ith slimy muck and d irt they cannot shape words.” Thus we traveled a sweeping arc around Th at filthy pool, lying between dry ground A n d the swamp, our eyes fixed on those we found Beneath the water. T h en we reached the fo o t o f a tower.

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ISO

Canto Eight

But let m e tell you, w e’d long since spied, at the top O f that tall tower— our eyes pulled by the sight— Tw o flickering lights which clearly were set so high On purpose. A n d more: two flickering signal lights, So fa r away ou r eyes could barely make them O ut, w ere sending signals back. A n d I Turned to that sea, containing the whole o f wisdom, A n d said: “W hat does this mean? A n d that one, out there, W h a t is its answer? These signals g o fro m whom “To whom ?” H e answered: “T h e waves w ill tell you. Stare

10

A n d see, i f filthy fumes don’t hide the sight, Exactly what’s com ing, you’ll soon find out from where.” No bowstring ever drove an arrow in flight, Swiftly splitting the air on either side, So fast as the little boat that I saw flying The waves, com in g at us with no one on board Except the pilot, one single man at the tiller, Shouting: “ N ow you’re caught, you wicked soul!” My Master called: “Phlegyas, Phlegyas, this time N o on e hears who needs to obey you. W e’ ll bother You only to take us straight across the m ire.” Like som eone being told how he’s deceived, Swindled hard, then sad from head to toe— That was Phlegyas, sm othering his feelings.

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I N F ER NO

My leader stepped down, boarded the little boat, T h en m otioned to m e to d o as he had done— A n d only then did it seem the boat had a cargo. As soon as my Master and I were aboard, that ancient Prow shot out on the waves, sending a wake Far stronger than most little ships w ill ever make.

30

As we went running through that stagnant place, In fron t o f m e a muddy creature arose, Saying: “W hat are you d oin g here, unfated?” I answered: “I ’ve com e, but soon enough I ’ll go. But who are you, becom e so foul and ugly?” H e said: “You see me: I weep and wail my woes.” I answered: “Stay in your w eeping and sorrow, rightly Accursed fo r your evil soul. N o t all the mud In H ell can hide you: I know you, F ilippo A rg e n ti!” H e stretched out his hands, reaching toward the boat,

40

A t which my wary Master pushed him back, Crying: “Down you go, to the other dogs!” A n d then my Master’s arms went round my neck, A n d twice he kissed me, saying: “O u traged soul, B rin gin g you to birth was a blessed act! “O n earth that fellow there was a monster o f swollen Pride; no one rem em bers him fo r a single Bit o f goodness; so now h e’s an angry soul. “ H ow many think themselves the greatest o f kings, But here w ill lie around like pigs in slime, Rem em bered fo r having indulged in horrible things!” A n d I said: “Master, what I should very much like, B efore we leave this lake behind us, is seeing H im get thoroughly stewed in this ugly brine.” H e answered: “B efore you see the shore, you’ ll see Exactly what you’ve wished for, and be satisfied. G ranting such a wish seems prop er to me.”

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CANTO EIGHT

It w asn’t lon g b efore I heard him cry out, A n d saw a m ob o f muddy people tearing A t him, fo r which I praise and thank ou r G od.

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T h e y shouted: “Filippo A rgen ti! G et him g o o d !” A n d that eccentric Florentine was biting H im self, his teeth gnawing as i f on wood. A n d there we left him; he won’t be m entioned again. M y ears bein g struck by loud and w ailing grief, I turned my eyes straight forward, staring intently. M y g o o d Master said: “You hear the sounds o f Dis, M y son. W e’re com ing nearer. This is a city O f angry m en— an enormous garrison.” I said: “N ow I make out, o f f in that valley,

70

T h e ir strange houses o f worship, painted red But look in g hot, like som ething taken from fiery “ Flames.” H e answered: “T h e fires o f H ell are red In Dis, burning as everywhere you’ve seen them, T h e eternal blood-colored hue o f these nether depths.” A n d then ou r boat arrived at the trenches, deep-dug, Surrounding that city o f sorrow; I thought the walls W ere surely made o f iron, beyond those moats. W e circled around the fortifications. “G et out!” O u r boatm an called, suddenly halting ou r m otion.

80

“ H ere is the entrance. O ut with you— and now !” U p on those towering gates, I saw m ore T h a n a thousand o f those who once had fallen from Heaven L ik e rain, calling down in angry voices: “A n d w ho is this, parading the kingdom o f death W ithou t first dying?” My knowing Master requested, W ith a quiet signal, a m eeting, alone and separate. T h e y m od ified their great contempt, a bit, D eclaring: “C om e in alone, and send that fellow Away— h e w ho dares to enter our kingdom .

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I N F E RN O

“L et him g o back the stupid way he followed, C om in g here. A h , let him try! A n d you’ ll Stay here, who led him along that darkened road.” Just think, reader, whether I was truly W orried, hearing these evilly spoken words, A fra id o f never returning alive to this world. “Beloved leader,” I cried, “You w ho’ve turned D anger to safety, seven times and m ore, A n d given m e confidence, don ’t let them lure you “Away, with me destroyed, alone as before.

100

I f the road that takes us farth er is now denied, L e t’s quickly turn around and leave as we were.” A n d that lord who led m e there, replied: “T ry T o calm your fears. N o one can detain us; O u r passage is guaranteed by O n e on high. “Just wait for m e where you are, be still, and take G o o d com fort fo r your weary spirit, feed it W ith hope: I w ill not abandon you in this place.” So o f f he goes, my father and host, a sweet A n d loving guide, and I rem ain unsure,

110

Yes and no both fighting hard, deep In my brain. I could not hear my leader’s words, But he had not stood and talked fo r very long W h en they broke away, each struggling to be the first Safely inside. T h ey locked the d o o r in my g o o d lo rd ’s Face and left him standing outside. M ovin g Slowly, he turned and cam e to where I stood. H is eyes looked at the ground, his brows seem ed shaved O f all their boldness, and he was sighing as he spoke: “W h o has refused m e this sad and painful place?” A n d to m e he said: “I ’m very angry, o f course, But don’t be dismayed, I ’m g oin g to win in the end, W hatever devices they may concoct fo r the worse.

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CANTO EIGHT

“T h is arrogance is nothing new; they’ll bend, A s they’ve done before, at a gate that’s much less secret, W h ich they can close, but still has no lock fo r defense. “Y o u ’ve seen the deadly words on that gate, written A b o ve it.— A n d already, here on its other side, I see that som eone’s com ing, unescorted T h ro u g h the circles o f Hell. H e ’ll give me what’s been denied.”

Canto Nine

T h e cowardly colors painted on me, seeing My leader shut away, quickly caused His expression to change from what it had newly been. H e stopped sharply, like a man carefully pausing T o listen; his eyes could not have led him far, For the air was dark, and the fo g incredibly dense. “But it’s been prom ised this irritation can’t bar us For long,” he began. “A t le a s t . . . O r why did she make T h e offer? O why is it taking him so lon g!” I saw at once h e’d covered up on e statement W ith the next, b egin n in g on e way, en ding another: T h e very words had changed, and I was shaken, Despite his quickness, afraid o f what the begin n in g M ight have meant. I thought o f things much worse Th an what those broken words m ight have intended. “D o spirits com e from the first and highest circle, Th at Lim b o in which the only punishment Is hope cut off, and descend to this dismal world “Beneath worlds?” I asked, and he answered: “Yes, but not often. T h e road I ’m follow in g is not the kind A n y o f us are likely to ever attempt. “But still, I did com e here another time, A scheme o f cruel sorceress Erichto, W h o sum m oned corpses back to a kind o f life.

CANTO NINE

“I ’d le ft my flesh, it seem ed to me, just a m om ent B efore, when her magic called m e across that line, D ra g g in g a spirit up from where Judas went. “T h at is the darkest o f all, the farthest down A n d farthest, too, from our Empyrean Heaven, T h a t circles us all. You’re safe; I know the road. “Th is marsh, with its almost overpow ering stench, C ircles around the dismal city o f Dis, W h e re anger alone w ill give us a proper entrance.” He said much m ore, but all I rem em ber is this, F or my attention was now exclusively drawn T o the highest tower, its peak intensely glistening, On which, in a flickering instant, three hellish Furies W e re standing, stained with blood, possessing B odies and movements like women, but wound tightly A rou n d with monstrous nine-headed snakes. T h e ir tresses, T o o , were tiny snakes, vipers, w inding A ro u n d their foreheads. My Master, most knowing, best O f m en, knew well that these were servants tied T o Hecate, the queen o f lamentation: “L o o k ,” he said. “These are Eumenides. “O n the left you see M egaera, the jealous one; A le c to is on the right, w ailing— she never Stops; Tisiphone’s the m iddle— an avenger.” He stopped. T h e ir fingernails were claws, and they tore T h e ir breasts, beating themselves with their hands, and roaring So loud I squeezed m yself close to my lord: “Call fo r Medusa! She’ ll com e and turn him to stone!” T h e y screamed in unison, staring down at me. “ Revenge on Theseus! L et him atone!” “Turn your back; don’t look, don ’t let yourself see. I f Medusa comes, and your eyes are free to perceive her, You’ll never leave here, but rem ain eternally.”

I NF ERN O

So spoke my Master, and he did not wait fo r me; H e turned m e around; not trusting my mind, he covered My face with his hands. O you who carefully

60

Have cleared your heads, and can think, consider what’s under W hat seems obscure, what’s hidden beneath this strange A n d allegorical verse, and its solemn words! A n d then, across the dim and hazy waves, T h ere cam e a smashing sound, im m ense and fearful, M aking both banks o f the Styx trem ble and shake— Exactly like a sudden gust o f terrible W ind, m ade violent by clashing cold and heat, A w ind that lashes the forest, uncontrollable, Cracking branches, which fall and are swept like leaves,

70

As everything is turned to dust and haughtily Blown, while beasts and panicked shepherds flee. H e freed my eyes, saying: “N ow let your optical Sinews swivel, and point across that ancient Scum, there where the haze is harshest o f all.” Just as frogs when facing snakes, their m ortal Enemies, w ill vanish under water, Settling into bottom muck like pebbles, I saw a thousand o r m ore ruined souls Running away from that O n e who walked across

80

T h e Styx, his feet quite dry, as i f w alking on soil. His left hand waved the heavy air, grossly Fetid, away from his face, but only in that A nnoyance displayed the smallest sign I could notice. I understood quite well that he’d been dispatched From Heaven, and so I turned to my Master, who gave me A sign: d on ’t speak a word, but bow. Alas! H e seem ed to see m e with absolute disdain! A pproach in g the gate, he waved a wand and the locks W ere opened; no one opposed him, no one com plained.



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CANTO NINE

“O you outcasts from Heaven, you villainous blockheads,” H e said, standing right in that horrible doorway. “ W h ere did you learn this insolence, this nonsense? “W h a t keeps you stupidly stubborn, straight in the face O f that W ill which nothing and no one can ever deny, A n d m ore than once has intensified your pains? “W h a t g o o d does it d o you, banging, and butting, and crying? Y ou r Cerberus tried to fight, but was dragged here in chains, A n d the scars on his throat and chin ought to rem ind you!” H e tu rned and let the filthy highway claim him

100

O n c e m ore, ign orin g us, ou r cares and concerns Clearly trifles com pared to those he was m ade for. W e walked slowly toward the city, his firm W arning, and Heaven’s powers, protecting us Against this place’s hostile citizens. W e entered without a word or sign o f resistance. T h en I, lon gin g to see what could be inside T h is great fortress, and why it was placed where it stands, B egan to inspect it, not knowing what I would find— A n d saw, all over, spreading field on field

110

O f grief, torment, cruel torture and writhing. As it is at Arles, where the R hone wallows and wheels, O r like Pola, near the river Carnaro, W h ere Italy’s surrounded, washed and cleaned, A n d the tombs face this way, and that, none in a row, So the lan d’s uneven: so this— but far m ore bitter, For here the tombs are open, and flames com e growing, Scattered, but high, heated sepulchers U ntil they glow, all burning hot, and hotter T h a n iron requires in any craft m en practice. C overs thrown back, they seem ed to steam, spouting Harsh and painful laments from people truly Suffering, flow in g from hidden, unseen mouths.

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I NF ERN O

I said: “ Master, what kind o f m en are thrown In these tombs, burning high, and what have they done T o shudder out such weeping, scream ing woe?” H e answered: “H ere are heretical teachers, and those T h ey led— every sect in the Christian world. Th ese tombs are packed, and deep er than you know: “O n e tom b to a sect, each and all here hurled O n top o f one another. T h e tem perature varies From tom b to tomb.” H e turned to the right, I followed, W alking with tombs and fortress walls on each side.

♦ 5° ♦

ISO

Canto Ten

My M aster led m e along this hidden path, T ra ilin g between high walls and glow ing tombs, A n d where my Master went I follow ed after. “O you, the height o f reason, who guide m e from gloom T o worse, as you please,” I said, “speak to me, A ppease my needs and desires. W h oever these tombs “Hold, I cannot see them. Can they be seen? T h e tombs are open, their covers are off, none closed, A n d no one standing guard that I can perceive.” He answered: “W hen all the bodies left above

10

A r e brought here from Jehosaphat, every O n e o f these tombs w ill be forever shut. “But h ere in this part o f the field bodies lie W ith souls, fo r here are Epicurus and all W h o follow ed him, buried together. I “W ill answer the question you’ve asked, and answer in full, So every satisfaction you need and require W ill lod ge inside you, and the one not asked, as well.” I said: “ G o o d Master, the only way I try T o keep my heart unknown to you is silence, A n d there were other times when you have spied me “Out.” “O Tuscan, a livin g citizen O f Florence, here in this city o f fire, speaking Most modesdy, please stop right here fo r a moment.



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I NFE RN O

“You com e from my noble country, your speech reveals you— My noble fatherland, to which, perhaps, My well-meant efforts did m ore harm than goo d .” These unexpected words, from a tomb, threw m e O f f balance, and automatically I drew Away, nearer my leader and fearin g I knew

30

N ot what. My Master said: “D o not recoil! L o o k back! Farinata’s pulled h im self high. Turn: from head to waist you’ll see him all.” I had already looked up, and met his eyes; H e was standing tall, his breast and brow so straight T h at H ell itself seem ed som ething he despised. My leader’s bold hands were quick to push m e right Between the tombs, directly to Farinata; A ll he said was: “Say what you think appropriate.” W hen I cam e to the fo o t o f the tomb, the old battler

40

L ook ed at m e fo r a bit, and then, almost Sneering, asked: “T h e names o f your ancestors?” A n d I, wanting to give him what he proposed, H eld back nothing, but told the absolute truth. L iftin g his brows, he affirm ed what I ’d lon g known: “A n d they were fiercely opposed to me, and those W h o ’d com e before me, and all the m en in my party, A n d so, twice over, I drove them to and fro.” “Driven out,” I said, “no matter how far, Both times they couldn’t stay away from Florence. Your peop le aren’t ready to acquire that art.” A n d then, right next to him, another soul Cam e out, a head showing as fa r as its beard: It seem ed to m e he was kneeling and look in g over. H e glanced to my right, and then to my left, appearing T o want a d ifferen t visitor, but fin din g N one, and finally givin g up, with tears



52 ♦

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CANTO TEN

In his eyes: “D o you com e to this gloom y prison fo r some high Achievement? T h en why have you com e alone? W h ere is My son, who once was always at your side?”

60

I answered: “N o t for myself, but from wishes on high, Have I come. H e who waits over there, and guides me, May not be som eone your G uido would have liked.” His words, and the punishment I saw him receiving, H ad clearly shown m e Cavalcanti’s father; Th is was why I spoke to him so fully. Suddenly standing up, he cried: “But why? W h at do you mean by ‘would have’? Is my son now dead? Does the sun’s sweet light no longer shine on his eyes?” But when I slighdy delayed my reply, it bothered

70

H im so much he fell flat in his tomb, A n d stayed there, active that once and then no more. But that other, noble-m inded, the spirit to whom I had come, neither flinched nor changed his expression; H e d id not move his neck or turn around, But spoke just where h e’d stopped, said what h e’d meant T o say: “I f truly they have not learned the art, T h a t pains m e m ore than lying in this bed. “But fifty lunar circlings will show you how hard A n d heavy that art can be. T h e lady o f the m oon,

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W h o rules this place, will teach you to play your part. “In case you d o return to the world, sooner O r later, tell me: W hy are the people o f Florence So cruel to all my kinfolk, crushed by your rules?” Then I replied: “T h e slaughter and total destruction W hich dyed the gently flow in g A rb ia red, Have driven my people far in that direction.” First he sighed, and then he shook his head: “Th at was not m e alone,” he said, “nor Would I have killed without some purpose ahead.

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I NF ER NO

“Yet alone was what I was, in those times before, W h en everyone agreed to destroy the city: I argued fo r Florence, though everyone wanted war.” “A h , may your seed fin d peace, eventually,” I told him, “ i f you can untie a w retched puzzle W hich tangles my m ind in tremendous difficulty. “You seem to know the future, but not what was A t the m om ent— i f I hear you right. H ow see so far A n d yet be blind to the present? You defeat my senses.” “W e see, like som eone standing in the dark,

100

T h in gs in the distance,” he said. “T h at much still shines O n us, from the highest Ruler o f us all. “ But things too close, o r still alive, we find Impossible to see. Som eone can brin g us News, but otherwise w e’re simply blind. “W hatever knowledge we have w ill be extinguished, As you well know, at exactly that m om ent in time W h en the open d o o r to the future shuts forever.” A n d then, sorry I hadn’t quickly replied T o the other, I said: “I ask you to let him know,

110

H e who fell back, that his son has not yet died, “For my hesitation had only a single cause. My m ind was occupied with that tangled mistake I presented to you and you so kindly solved.” A n d now my Master was calling m e away; Hurriedly, I requested inform ation A bou t the others sharing this punishment place. H e told me: “A thousand o r m ore have been put away In here: we have the second E m peror Frederick, A n d Cardinal O ttaviano— that’s all I w ill say.” A n d then he lay down inside. I started back T o the ancient poet, reflectin g on some o f the words Just said which dealt with truly unpleasant facts.

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C A N T O TEN

W e started off, and then as we walked he turned A n d asked: “Please tell m e why you are so disturbed?” I answered his question in clear and faithful terms. “ D o n ’t forget the solemn, prophetic commands T h a t so concern you,” the ancient poet advised. “ F or now, just listen,” and then he raised his hand: “A sweet and shining presence w ill soon m eet your eyes, She who is able to see all things with one lovely Glance, and she w ill show you the path o f your life.” H e turned to the left, and took us away from the wall. W e walked, as we had before, to the center o f the circle, A lo n g the path to a valley, far below, A n d high as we were, the stench rose up and was awful.



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ISO

Canto Eleven

A lo n g the ed ge o f a lofty ridge o f huge, N ow shattered rocks, set in a circle, we saw Below us souls most cruelly packed and fused. A n d then, h a lf overcom e by the flo o d o f raw, H orrib le stench that poured up from the abyss Below, we withdrew, m ovin g back to the tall L id o f a majestic tomb, on which I read: “ H ere inside m e is Pope Anastasius, Pu lled from the straight and honest way by Photinus.” “It would be better fo r us to delay our descent, L ettin g our senses accustom themselves to the slime In this air. Later we w ill not m ind the smell.” So spoke my Master, and I answered him: “ Please find us A way to compensate ourselves, and not Waste time.” H e said: “A greed. W e’re o f one mind.” A n d then he began: “My son, inside these stones A re three much smaller circles, each below T h e other— all exactly like the one “You’re leaving. Each circle is filled with spirits well-cursed. A n d to let the sight itself be enough fo r you, Listen to why and how these souls are forced “T o dwell here. H ated by Heaven, every conscious Sin w ill end in injustice, and each new sin, By force or fraud, creates the same result.

C A N T O ELEV EN

“ B ut since such fraud is a sin unique to men, G o d hates it more. So sinners guilty o f fraud G o farth er down, and deep er pain attacks them. “T h e first o f these circles is wholly reserved fo r those W h o are violent. Since violence is som ething done to three, N o t one, this circle is subdivided, as follows:

30

“V io le n c e is aim ed at God, and also to he W h o is violent, and also his neighbor; I speak o f them A n d their possessions, as you shall shordy see. “ V io le n ce against a neighbor can be serious, painful, O r mortal, and what he possesses is subject to ruin, T o fire, and sometimes results in other stains, “A n d so the first rin g contains all o f those m en W h o kill, predators and robbers, and torments T h em in groups, according to their sins. “V iolen t men may aim their blows at themselves,

40

A n d at what they own; accordingly, in the second Circle are those who try, too late, to repent “F or cheating themselves o f the world where you now dwell— Th ose who gam ble away and waste what they have, W h o w eep instead o f rejoicing, and end in Hell. “N o t even G o d H im se lf is protected from m an’s V iolence— hearts that deny or blaspheme G od, Contem ptible o f Nature, and all her g o o d plans. “A n d so the smallest rin g burns its mark O n sodomites and usurers, and every Person who speaks, despising G o d in his heart. “ Fraud w ill gnaw at the conscience, but a man may bury H is heart and cheat the people who believe in him — But trust’s not needed, just opportunity. “ T h is sinning slices away the soft-tied tether O f love, prepared fo r us by Nature. T h e second C ircle is therefore a nest fo r flatterers

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I NFE RN O

“A n d hypocrites and liars, and those who press Illiterate fools fo r high Church office, well-paid For their filthy work, and bawds, and all such festering

60

“Sores. Th ese p eople violate the ways O f love, as m ade by Nature, and what m an adds T o love, creating a very special faith. “A n d so in the smallest circle, the central path O f this universe, where Dis has been placed, traitors O f every kind are forever ground to dust.” I said: “Master, this explicates the form s A n d m ethods em ployed in shaping this hellish hole, Uncovers the characters o f the people it holds. “But tell me: those in the soggy marsh, am ong

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Furious winds, forever driving, and those Beaten and slashed by each oth er’s savage tongues, “H ow have they escaped this fire-lit city O f Dis, and its torments, i f they deserve G o d ’s anger? A n d i f they don’t, why are they shown no pity?” H e answered: “W hy does your m ind wander, lin gerin g H ere and there, your feet not touching the ground? W hat is your m ind hunting? Does this have some meaning? “Have you forgotten the passage in A ristotle’s

Ethics, describing the human inclinations

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Heaven detests: too wicked, too mad, too unthrottled? “A n d how, o f these, lack o f control is blam ed T h e least, and therefore receives less punishment? Consider these arguments, so clearly stated, “A n d call to m ind— rem em bering the men You’ve already seen, higher in H ell, the wrongs T h ey did in the world and now their punishment— “A n d then you’ll easily see they don ’t belon g W ith those others, and must be separated, not punished So fearfully, divine vengeance less strong.”



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C A N T O EL EV EN

“ O shining sun, healer o f troubled vision, I ’m satisfied so well, my m ind so settled, T h a t knowledge pleases no m ore than asking questions! “ B ut let’s go back a little, to where you said T h a t Heaven’s goodness dislikes the interest charged F or m aking loans: d o unwind what you meant.” “ Philosophy,” he said, “ i f closely regarded, Considers how— not narrowly, but broadly— Nature follows pathways shown by G od, “ In understanding as well as art. O nce m ore

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In A ristotle’s Physics you w ill see, N o t many pages along, that your own high art “ Follows Nature to as great a poetic degree As it can, as students follow behind their teachers: You create G o d ’s grandchildren in your poetry! “N atu re and human labor— as Genesis teaches In its very first pages— com bine to let man live A n d thereby take his people forward. But those leeches “W h o practice usury abandon the given Path fo r another, despising N ature’s way A n d her honest pupils: gold, not G od, is their living. “N o w follow me, it’s tim e we m oved ahead, For the astral Fish are w rigglin g on the horizon A n d the D ipper is up above the Great B ear’s head— A n d there, a little farther, is the road that goes down.”

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Canto Twelve

T h e place we cam e to, leadin g down the cliff, Was a tree-lined m ountain path, and where it led to W ere sights no know ing eyes would choose to visit. L ike a landslide falling, o r else an earthquake shifting Enormous rocks, this side o f Trent, on M arco’s Slavini, or weakened support beneath the cliff, O f f mountaintops the massive boulders have run As far as the plain, bu ildin g a kind o f craggy Trail down which travelers w ill com e— A n d that was the downward path we took, ja g g e d

10

A n d steep, until at the ed ge o f our broken road, T h e Cretan m onster was lying— outrageous, mad, Conceived by M inos’ lusting w ife and a bull— A n d seeing us he snorted and bit at him self Like som eone torn by rage and anger-filled. My Master shouted at him: “O I can tell You think this man is Theseus, Duke o f Athens, W h o brought you death and sent you here to H ell! “Be gone, beast: this m an has not had lessons From your sister, who tutored Theseus b efore you m et him: H e travels here to see H e ll’s punishments.” As bulls begin to leap, at the very m om ent A deathblow greets them, then cannot take a step Forward, but plunge from side to side, so then

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CANTO TWELVE

I saw the M inotaur’s movements, and my crafty Master W a rn ed me: “Run quickly down the road, now W h en you can, while he is raging. Run, run faster!” I ran , and he followed, along our broken path, T h e stones m oving under the weight o f my feet, U nsettled debris from a ragged m ountain crash.

SO

I m used as I walked, and my Master said: “Perhaps Y ou r m in d ’s considering this avalanche, A n d especially that beast I stopped on ou r path. “ L e t m e tell you: on my other visit to H e ll’s D eep depths, no rocks had fallen, no way existed For the M inotaur to guard. But I think I can tell, “ I f my m em ory’s correct, that another visit Was made, and not much later, by H e who raided Dis and took so many from the upper circle, “ Causing trem bling and shudders in this foul place,

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A n d m aking m e believe the universe Was conscious o f love— which many people say “H as often tum bled the world in total chaos. A n d at just that mom ent, I think, these old rocks split A n d fell, and others both above and below. “ L o o k down: we’re drawing near a flow ing ditch F illed with boilin g blood, and in it, steeped In its circling, are those who injured others with violence.” O greed y blindness and rage, insane and senseless, Spurring us on in this, ou r so short life, T h e n im m olating us forever and ever! W h a t I saw, bent in an arc, was a ditch so wide It seem ed to swallow the entire plain, Exactly as I ’d been told by my learned guide, A n d between its b oilin g water and the ed ge o f the bank Centaurs were running, arm ed with bows and arrows, As they d id in the world, where they always ran to the chase.

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T h ey saw us com in g down and all o f them stopped, A n d three cam e out o f the band, headed toward us, H a n gin g back a m om ent to choose their weapons,

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T h en calling out from a distance: “W hich painful circle A re you seeking, you who com e to us from the slope? Speak from there and tell us, o r my arrows w ill pierce you.” My Master said: “I ’ll make my answer to Chiron, W h o ’s standing right beside you, fo r you have always Injured you rself by acting too fast, too strong.” H e prodded my arm, and said: “T h a t is Nessus, W h o died fo r Hercules’ wife, Dejanira, A n d with his dying b lo od avenged himself. “A n d he in the m iddle, his head bent down, is Chiron,

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M agically g ifte d centaur, wisest o f them all, W h o brought up Achilles; Pholus is the angry one. “T h ey gallop around, a thousand-centaur b rood Ready to pierce with their arrows any spirit W h o stands illegally high in this b o ilin g blood.” T h en we cam e close to these lean and nim ble racers; Chiron pulled out an arrow and, using its notch, Brushed back the beard that covered his jaws. Facing His fellows, his great, w ide m outh now fully uncovered, H e asked these centaurs: “Have you observed that the one

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W h o ’s standing back can m ove whatever he touches? “W ith the feet o f the dead, I think, this cannot be done.” A n d my g o o d leader, standing near C hiron’s breast (T h at part o f a centaur where d ifferen t natures are one), Replied: “ H e is alive, indeed, and I A lo n e am charged with showing him this darkest O f valleys, as ordered from above, and not lightly. “O n e who’d been chanting hymnals left that post T o order this new responsibility. This man and I are not thieves, just man, just ghost:

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CANTO TWELVE

“And so, because o f that Power which moves my feet A lo n g these savage roads, choose from am ong Your nim ble guards a guide fo r us, to lead us “W here a ford will let this man across Your river, seated safely on your back, For he is no spirit and cannot rise and float .” Chiron swung around to his right, and spoke T o Nessus: “Guide them along, and i f you cross A n o th er band make them stop and back off.” Then w e left him, led by ou r honest escort,

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Travelin g along a bank o f bubbling red blood, B o ilin g spirits scream ing over and over. I saw th eir faces, down to the brows above T h e ir eyes. O u r huge escort said: “These A r e tyrants, dedicated to theft and blood. “In th ere they weep fo r all their merciless deeds: T h e r e ’s Alexander, and Dionysius the cruel, W h o gave p o or Sicily such pain and grief. “That black-haired forehead is A zzolin o, who ruled A n d m urdered near Padua, and that blond-haired one

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Is O p iz z o o f Este, who up in the world “Was m urdered (smothered, they say) by his w ife’s own son.” I turned to query the poet, but he said: “N ow Y ou r prim ary guide is him, and I ’m the second.” Not fa r from there, the centaur stopped, staring A t p eop le whose heads were showing farther out O f the blood, as far as even their throats. “Th ere,” Said the centaur, poin tin g to one not in the crowd, But alone, “that one stuck his knife in the breast O f G od , a heart that still is drippin g blood.” Then I saw people protruding as far as their chests, Visible from head straight down to waist, A n d o f these I recognized many o f the best.

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T h e level o f b lo od was steadily lower; then we reached A place where only feet were being b oiled A n d dry land appeared— and this small and sandy beach Was the ford. “You can see, on this side, how the b oilin g Current keeps decreasing,” the centaur said. “ But beyond the ford it drops as d eep as the soil “Beneath, until, on the farth er side it is deepest: So little by little the punishing stream reaches T h e place where tyrants stand, groan in g their grief. “A n d there the stabbing o f holy justice teaches A ttila, once the scourge o f livin g earth, A n d Pyrrhus, and Sextus, forever m ilkin g such p eople “For tears, their hearts unlocked by b oilin g— robbers Like R in er from Corneto, and R in er from Pazzo, Two Riners who prowled on highways, m aking war O n travelers.” H e turned, and then the fo rd was crossed.

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Canto Thirteen

Nessus had not yet reached his own far shore W hen we were already deep in a pathless w ood, Showing signs o f nothing but unpeopled forest. No green leaves, only dark and dismal hues; N o healthy branches, only knotted, misshapen; N o fruits, but prickly twigs, all poison imbued. Nothing so harsh and thorny, so densely made, A fflicts the wildest beasts who hate a well-farm ed Field in Tuscan M arem m a and live in the shade O f forests. Ugly harpies nest in here, W ho drove the Trojans out o f Ionian islands, Predicting future misery and harm: Winged creatures with human necks and eyes, Great claws on their feet; feathers cover their huge Bellies; they sing sad songs in their bitterly alien Trees. M y Master said: “B efore you plunge in, Be w arned that this is the second o f these three circles,” He told me, “and here is where you’ll be until “You’re able to see the fearfu l sands. Be careful, Stay alert; the things you’re goin g to see You’d call impossible i f I declared them.” I heard from everywhere around me w eeping And cries, but did not see who could have m ade them; Uncertain, confused, I stopped, stood still on my feet.

I NF ER NO

I think my Master thought that I believed These loud, unhappy voices, from tree trunks all A round, were m ade by p eople we could not see, For then he said: “Reach out, break o f f a small Tw ig from any plant you choose, and what Your m ind suspects w ill vanish, wholly cut off.”

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I reached a little forward, slowly put out My hand, and snapped a tiny tw ig from a great Thornbush. A t once, the broken stub shouted: “W hy cripple me?” T h e stump, now saturated W ith blood, cried again: “W hy m angle me? Is pity gon e from the world, evaporated “A n d lost? W e once were men, now turned to vines A n d trees. Your hand should surely show m ore mercy, Even had we been souls o f venomous vipers.” As a green branch sizzles, lit at only one end

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A n d drip p in g sap from the oth er when heated air Escapes and carries lifeb lo o d with it, so this bent A n d broken twig tum bled out b lo od and words Together. A n d then I d rop p ed my bit o f twig A n d stood there, like a man transfixed by terror. “Injured spirit,” said my all-knowing guide, “H ad he been capable o f belief, b efore— D ealing with things no livin g man could find, “Except in my verse— believe me, h e’d never have torn o f f A twig. I u rged him on, alas, knowing H e could not im agine the truth. I may have don e wrong. “But tell him who you were, and let him make Am ends, and even refresh your reputation In the world above, to which h e’s allowed a safe “Return.” Said the bush: “In deed your sweet words break me Away from silence: let it not weigh on your ears I f I am enticed to prattle a bit, fo r your sake.

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CANTO THIRTEEN

“I’m Pier; in Frederick’s heart I had no peers. That heart was always open to me, and softly I helped him keep it closed to almost all others, “Holding his secrets and, fo r his sake, devoting My life to the glorious office in which I reveled, Sacrificing sleep and gain ing nothing. “The prostitute, watching his court from his bed, N ever turned her whorish eyes away (It’s com m on as death, how royal courts are led), “And succeeded, at last, in turning all hearts her way, A n d they, in turn, inflam ed the em p eror’s heart, A n d g r ie f was what the joys o f honor became. “Even m y m ind, playing a scornful part, B elieving death would let me escape from disdain, L et suicide make me unjust to my faithful heart. “I swear by the grow in g roots o f this tree o f pain Th at never once was I untrue to my lord, W orthy o f so much honor. I do not complain. “But i f o n e o f you goes back to the livin g world, Be g o o d to my reputation, lying in dirt From the force o f envy’s blows. L et it return.” The poet waited, then told me: “H e ’s silent. I f you wish To know m ore, be careful not to waste this time: Speak, i f you wish to learn.” T o which I answered: “Ask him, please, whatever you think he w ill find Acceptable to my heart, fo r I am now Wordless, pity overflow ing my mind.” So my Master went on: “T h e better to know just how, Freely and honestly, he can do as you ask, O

im prisoned spirit: tell him how souls are bound

“Into bushes and trees— i f this is a question you answer With pleasure. A n d i f you care to, tell us, as well, I f any such soul is ever returned to a man.”

I N FE RN O

T h e broken stub then panted, and afterward P ier’s voice becam e that flow o f air. “A b r ie f Response should be enough. W h en death has parted “T h e bu rning soul from its body, a final release From a w orld it rejected, M inos draws the ragin g Spirit to the seventh opening. It drops through trees “In this forest, fa llin g in no particular place, D ropp ed from Fortune’s in differen t hand and sprouting L ik e some unwanted grain o f wheat, which makes “Its way to a sapling; branches com e shooting out. T h en harpies feed on its young and ju icy leaves, W h ich causes pain and opens vents fo r ou r shouting. “Th ou gh we w ill com e, like others, to collect ou r bodies, N o on e can ever inhabit them once more: T h e re ’d be no justice, retaking what you were the th ief “W h o robbed. W e’ ll drag them here and hang each soulless C orpse on the branches we have grown, hung Forever in the poisoned shade o f the bushes we are.” W e waited fo r m ore from this incredible tongue, B elieving there m ight be other things to say, But attention was suddenly distracted, flu ng Away by loud and crashing noises, baying O f hounds and breaking o f branches, as i f a boar W ere b ein g hunted and heading straight ou r way. Th ey cam e at us from the left, naked and torn, R u nning so desperately hard they broke whatever T h ey ran toward, bushes, brambles, branches, roaring Loud: “Hurry, hurry, b rin g me death!” C ried the one in front. T h e other thought h im self slow: “A rcolano, you did n ’t run like this, “Fleeing from ou r defeat at the T o p p o !” Blowing A n d puffing, he fell and rolled h im self up, knotted In a bush. Behind him came a ru n ning wall

CANTO THIRTEEN

O f black-coated bitches, salivating and hot On the trail, fillin g the w ood and yipping hard, Like greyhounds tight on a leash when the grip is dropped. They set their teeth in the one w ho’ d fallen and tore him Lim b from limb, ripping o f f his flesh, T h en carrying o f f his w oeful bones to gnaw on. My leader took my hand and led m e to that bush,

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Lam enting lon g and hard, but all in vain, At the tangled, fractured shape it now was crushed to. “O Jacopo d ’A n d rea ,” it cried in pain, “W h y pick on m e fo r a screen, when you run away? W hat have I done fo r your sinful life to blam e me?” Standing over this bush, my Master said: “A n d who were you, blow ing b lo od and speech In spite o f so many disastrous wounds?” It said To us: “O souls whoVe com e in tim e to see, A n d are seeing, the indecent torture and agony

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O f having my leaves ripped up and torn from me: “Please p ile them up at this ragged bush’s feet. I cam e from Florence, which gave up Mars as its patron A n d took Saint John the Baptist. N ow Mars w ill defeat us “Over and over, his power givin g us pain. Except fo r the statue o f him we set along Th e A rn o , scraped from ashes barely rem aining “When A ttila had finished with us, for all the wrongs We d id to Mars ou r city m ight have been gone. Our citizens did not work in vain. I made A gallows out o f my house, and on it I hung.”

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Canto Fourteen

T h e love I felt fo r Florence, where I was born, M ade m e gather the broken twigs, return them T o him, already losing breath and voice. W e reached the ed ge o f the w ood, and then we went W h ere the second circle divides away from the third, A n d saw truly horrible punishments. In order to make these strange things open and clear, I ’ ll tell you we cam e to a flat and barren stretch In which no plant can grow: the w ood is a barrier W rapped like a garland around it, as the blood-filled ditch Circles around the wood. W h en we cam e to the ed ge W e stopped, not quite prepared to enter this. T h e soil was a kind o f sand, thick and dry, N o t terribly d ifferen t from the Libyan desert which Cato the Younger once walked on, at the end o f his life. But O G o d ’s awful vengeance! R eading this, You all should trem ble with fear fo r what my eyes W ere shown, dark and terrible, a bu rning brilliance! T h ere were spirits in many straggling mobs, crying O u t in total misery, who seem ed T o suffer according to d ifferen t laws, some supine, Stretched on the ground, some sitting in a h orrible form O f crouch, while others kept w alking incessantly. T h ose who could not be still were far m ore abundant,

C A N T O FOURTEEN

Those who suffered the torm ent lying down W ere fewer, but sighed and m oaned and wept louder A n d m ore frequently. But across this flattened ground, In a slow but steady tempo, they all were submitted T o a rain o f huge and bu rning flakes o f fire, Falling without any wind, like snow in the Alps.

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Just as A lexa n d er saw entire Fields, in the hottest parts o f India, sprayed By fiery bits fallin g straight from the sky, And ord ered his armies to tram p the fire where it lay, For flam es were better extinguished before they spread A n d set their entire w orld to burning, so splayed The eternal fire dropped on this ground, flam ing T h e sands themselves to burn and flare, kindling L ik e tinder lit by flint, doubling their pain. There was not a m om ent o f rest, their miserable hands

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W ere always trying to beat away the fire, W h ich always returned. Th is was their wretched dance. I said: “ M y Master, you who have won every fight, W ith the single exception o f those stubborn, frantic demons W h o stopped us at the gate o f Dis, this sight “Is strange— that great one, over there, who seems T o utterly ignore the flam es and lies Apparently untouched, scowling, supreme: “W ho is he?” T h e great one, seeing my surprise A n d hearing m e ask my guide to identify him, Shouted: “Th ou gh dead, I am what I was alive! “Jove may overwork his royal smithy, From which, in anger, he took the lightning bolt That hit me, my very last day, and quickly killed me, “And Vulcan’s assistants may fall h a lf dead, to the floor, There at his great black forge, deep in M ount Etna, As Jove keeps calling, ‘G o o d Vulcan, make m e m ore!’



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“Just as he did at Phlegra, when Hercules helped him— And Jove may hurl these daggers as hard as he can, He won’t rejoice or be much pleased with himself.” And then my Master called to the great man, His voice both louder and stronger than ever before: “Capaneus! Save yourself, if you can, “By holding back your pride; you’re punished more And more for that. Nothing but your own raging Equals the pain and sorrow you’re punished for!” Then he turned to me, with a gentler look on his face, And said: “He was one o f the seven kings Besieging Thebes; he held, and still holds, no faith “In God, whose worth he holds no higher than nothing. But as I told him, his wild and empty roaring Is worth much less, no matter how hard he clings “To himself. Now walk behind me and watch where you walk: Putting your feet on that scorching sand will burn them; Stay on the forest side.” We did not talk, Silently approaching a tiny, spurting Stream emerging out o f the wood— so brightly Red that, still, it makes me shudder and squirm. Just as the Bulicame springs produce a lightly Flowing creek which all the prostitutes share, This rivulet runs down the hot sand, its sides And bottom stone, and its margins too, squared With rock, which showed me at once that this was where We’d walk in safety, leaving the wood. “There “Has been nothing,” my Master noted, “since we entered Hell, Whose gates are always open to whoever comes, Not closed for any reason— nothing, I can tell it, “Has fascinated your eyes like this tiny flood, Trickling down from the forest and suffocating Every flame that tries to burn above it.”

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Confessing this to be true, and fascinating, I begged him, now, to offer me the food For which my appetite was freely displayed. “Out in the middle o f the sea,” he began, “there’s a land, Entirely wasted; it bears the name of Crete, And its king, who kept it chaste, held the world in his hand. “A mountain, whose name is Ida, rises boldly From that ground; once decked with water and leaves, Now silent, bare, ignored, like something too old. “Cybele, daughter of Heaven, and bearing in her womb Saturn’s son, now Jupiter, made Ida His cradle, hiding her baby’s cries with booming “Shouts in the mountain. A huge statue, none better, Stands in there, his back turned on Damiatta, His eyes staring at Rome as if in a mirror. “His head is sculpted in excellent gold, his fingers, Arms, and breast are molded in purest silver, And down to his waist he is brass; then every single “Part is hammered iron, though the foot he mostly Rests on, the right one, is baked completely of clay. But every part— the only exception is the gold— “Is split by a fissure, in which there runs, by day And night, a steady flow o f tears, the force O f which, accumulated, pushes its way “Through the cavern, then down it comes, boulder by boulder, Becoming at length the rivers Acheron, Styx, And Phlegethon, then through a channel pouring “Until— there being no farther place it can trickle To, it forms Cocytus, and you’ll see that pond For yourself, so I need no words to further predict it.” And I said: “If this is a stream flowing down From our world, and we are seeing it here, why don’t These ever-flowing tears appear on the ground

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I NF ER NO

“Above?” He answered: “Think: a circle bends, And this as you know is a circle, and you are steadily Turning left as you make your slow descent, “But never tracing the round from start to end: Thus nothing newly seen should ever spread Surprise on your face or cause you astonishment” I asked again: “Master, where do we find Phlegethon and Lethe? Nothing is said O f one, and the other shapes itself from this rain ” “Your questions always seem to me quite pleasant,” He said, “but once you’ve seen this red blood boiling, One o f your questions has surely found its answer. “Lethe you will see, but not in this soil: Lethe is where the souls can wash themselves, When a sin repented o f has been recalled.” And then he said: “Our trip to this wood is ended. Follow me, and carefully stay behind: We’ll walk on the borders, where all the flames are quenched, And this is the only pathway we can find.”

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Canto Fifteen

We continued walking along our path o f rocks A n d through the stream’s dark mist, which hung above us Like darkened canvas, h oldin g the fires back. Just as the Flem ings have done, from Wissant to Bruges, B uilding dikes where seas run up to the land, A fra id o f tides that can rise and sweep in a deluge, And as the Paduans do, all along T h e Brenta, protecting castles before the mountain Snows have m elted and poured their waters down, So too these pathways were carefully erected,

10

Although the builder, whoever he was, crafted T h em less tall and m ore than a litde less thick. We’d com e so far from the w ood that, had I looked back, I couldn’t have seen it o r even known just where To look, when we m et a group o f souls tracking Along the rocks but in the other direction, And each o f them looked and stared at us exactly As m en w ill look when the m oon is new, inspecting, Contemplating an unexpected face, W rinkling up their brows like ancient tailors Squinting down at the eye o f a needle, misplaced. Ogled like that, passing this bunch o f souls, I was recognized by on e who grasped my robe And cried out: “W h o would believe it, i f they were told!”

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I NFERN O

And I, as his arm reached out to me, looked hard At his deep-scorched face, searching across its well-baked Features and finding, part by familiar part, A man I knew: my hand went down to his cheek, And I answered his cry o f recognition: “My lord And onetime master, Brunetto, is it you I see?” And he said: “O my son, don’t be annoyed If Brunetto Latini turns himself around To walk with you a little, as the others go on.” And I said to him: “I could not wish it more! And if it’s your will to have me sit with you, How gladly I will, if my guide will wait a moment.” “O son,” he said, “one second of standing, for those O f my group, requires a hundred years o f lying Perfectly still, not brushing away the fires! “Walk on; I’ll follow along, directly behind you; And then I’ll go back and rejoin the band I came with, All o f us lamenting eternal doom.” Because there was fire in the ditch, my higher pathway Was necessary, but at least I kept my head bowed, Though higher than his, so he would not be shamed. And he said: “What fate or accident allows You here, before your final day, and who Is he who leads you, through some eternal power?” “Up there, and living in the clearest light, I lost My way, and found myself in a dangerous valley, Before I’d finished my life— and it can’t be more “Than yesterday I left that dangerous region. He came to help me along a different route To that other life, but one with a higher meaning.” He said: “I f what I know o f you is true, Simply follow your guiding star and the port You sail to, there, will be glorious for you.

C A N T O FIFTEEN

“I saw how kindly Heaven always regarded You, and had I not been taken by death I meant to play an encouraging, helpful part. “But the people from Fiesole are malevolent, Ungrateful: they live in Florence, but they worship rocks And mountains, as they did before, and they are meant “To be your enemy and hate your good works— Which makes some sense, for why should sweet-tasting kinds Blossom among such bitter, sour-apple bark? “History has always called these people blind; They’re greedy misers, envious and proud. Make sure you clean their customs out o f your mind. “Your fortune guarantees such honor that o f both Parties, one or the other is sure to resent you: Just let the grass be kept away from the goat, “And let the Fiesolan beasts feed hunger Alone, and never get close to vital roots (If anything still grows on their heap of dung), “For in those roots the Romans’ holy seed Survives— Romans staying in Florence despite The nests o f wickedness that thrived in its streets.” “If I were granted all the things that I Have wished for, you would right now be among The living, not here, away from us, in exile. “I carry, fixed forever in memory, The warm, the kind, paternal image o f you When hour by hour in that world we shared, you taught me “How a man can shape himself and his soul— For that my gratitude’s so great that, still Alive, I must express it over and over. “The things you say of my fortune I’ll write for the eyes O f a lady who understands, if I can reach her, Just how a text should be read and criticized.

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“These are matters I want you to know, old teacher, For as long as conscience is not scolding me I'm ready for Fortune, no matter if she displeases “Me. My ears have heard such words quite loudly, So I'm prepared. Fortune can spin her wheel As peasants can turn the earth with shovel and plow." My Master, to my left, turned around And, looking back, then said to me: “It’s good To hear such words, for they are truly profound.” But I did not break away from my conversation With the spirit, for I very much wanted to learn with whom He now was dwelling, and hear their reputations. He told me: “Some o f them are well worth knowing; The rest ought not to occupy our time With talk requiring many hours— or more. “In a word: when alive, they all were great men, high In the Church, o f enormous reputation and fame In a world a single sin forever defiles. “Priscian goes with those o f such wretched name, As does Francesco d’Accorso; and if you longed for The company o f such holy, but scurvy slime, “There’s also Andrea de Mozzi, a bishop so strongly Warped that the Servant o f Servants was finally forced To ship him o ff to Bacchiglione: he belonged there, “And died, left it his sin-stained body. No more, Though there is more to say: I cannot linger, Seeing in the distance a new and different smoke “Above the sands— people I don’t belong with. I f you treasure my Treasure book, in which I still live, That is all I can ask or you can give.” He turned around, seeming to me one O f those who run the green-cloth race in Verona, But the man I saw was one who wins when he runs, Not one who earns a chicken for being the slowest.

Canto Sixteen

In the place we had com e to, I could hear the b o om in g roar O f water fa llin g into the adjoining circle, S ou n d in g much like hum m ing beehives, but m ore Dem anding, when out o f a troop passing nearby, D irectly under the painful, flow ing rain, T h r e e spirits came ru n ning together, directly toward us, Each o f them shouting as they ran: “Wait, wait, You whose clothing so much resembles that which Is w orn in the wicked city from which we cam e!” 0 Lord , what wounds I saw on their bodies, recent

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A n d old, burned on arms and legs and all! R ecallin g what I saw, I feel it yet. My teacher heard their cries with close attention, T h en turned to me: “N ow we need to wait,” H e said. “For spirits like these, surely we’re meant “To act with courtesy. Except fo r the flames So freely produced in this place, I ’d say you were due T o hurry toward them, rather than them toward you.” Seeing us stop, they restarted their ancient shrieking, A n d then, when they reached us, the three o f them suddenly turned

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Themselves into a rapidly spinning wheel. As fighters w ill do, naked and thoroughly oiled, Always watching their grip, counting their points, A nd only then attacking, punching and foiling,

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INFERNO

They whirled their circles, but each o f them kept his eyes On me, turning his neck in one direction, His feet forever moving to the other side. And then: “Perhaps the miseries o f this wretched, Sandy place will shower contempt on our prayers And us,” one said, “and our black and hairless faces, “But maybe our reputations allow us to ask you Who you are, walking alive in here, Your living feet safe and secure as you pass “Through Hell. I stamp on this one’s tracks, as you see, But though he’s naked, and thoroughly peeled, he was once O f far more dignity than you’d believe: “Grandson o f old Gualdrada, he was Guido Guerra, and in his lifetime gave good advice And fought fine battles against our city’s foes. “This next one, pounding the ground behind me, was opposed To foolish fighting, and his voice should have been heard: His name was Tegghiaio Aldobrandi. “And I, put here to suffer along with them, Was Jacopo Rusticucci, and certainly My fierce, unwelcoming wife has sent me, as she bent me.” Had I been safe from the sparking fires, I would Have thrown myself right down with them, and I think My Master probably would have thought it good, But since I would have been burned and baked like brick, Fear prevailed against my goodwill, which made me Eager to celebrate and embrace them. I fixed My face and sighed: “All I feel is sadness; Your dreadful state is now so planted inside me That time alone might somehow turn it to gladness— “I did suspect, from what my Master suggested, That before too long men like the three o f you Would make their appearance. Yes, I am from Florence,

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“And I have always listened with warm affection When your works and honored names were commemorated, As they often were. I follow my Master’s direction, 60 “Hoping to find, at the end, the sweetest fruits, As he has promised, but first I am required To follow a path down to the center.” “You “And your fame,” the spirit replied, “will be safe as long As your soul guides your steps: your reputation Is sure to linger behind you. But tell us: among “The men o f our city, are courage and courtesy As strong and constant as once they were, or are they Only a memory, long gone, as we are? “Guiglielmo Borsiere, whose pains 70 Are new, for he has only recently joined us, Has given us much sorrow, with what he says.” “People new to our city, and the wealth you enjoy, O Florence, have brought you excesses, and turned you proud, And the time for weeping has come: you may be destroyed!” I cried out these words with my face turned to the clouds, And the three spirits, sensing this was my answer, Looked like men who had heard the truth pronounced. “But if, on other occasions,” they said as one, “Others are satisfied at so little cost 80 To you, you will rejoice when the speaking is done! “And if you can escape from this dismal lair And once more see the beautiful stars, when You’re happy to say, ‘Yes, I was truly there,* “Tell some stories o f us to other beings.” They broke away from their wheel and fled away, Their legs moving as rapidly as wings: No one could have said, “Amen,” in the time It took for them to vanish. And so my Master Considered we had better go on. I sighed 90

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I NF E R N O

And followed him. We had not gone very far When the water’s roar became so loud we barely Could hear each other, even as close as we were. Like that river, the first to hold its course Flowing east, along Mount Viso on a slope O f the Apennine range— known as Acquacheta, Above, before it drops to its own low bed, And when it reaches Forli ceases to own That name, too— that river comes with a roar Over San Benedetto dell’Alpe, more Than plenty for a thousand waterfalls, But all in one, just one— and there we were So close to that dark water and its roar, on the bank O f a steep, unlovely precipice, a place That soon would give us pain in our ears if we stayed. A rope-like belt was wound around my waist, A good strong cord with which, before, I had thought O f trying to tie up the many-colored beast: When I’d unwound it from my body, as my leader Asked, carefully knotted and coiled, I passed The heavy belt to him. Quickly sweeping it To his right, he flung it far o ff in the tumbling Deep o f that watery abyss, a good Distance away from the narrow edge we stood on. “By God,” I said to myself, in silence, “surely My Master’s novel signal will bring us an answer Equally strange. See how he fixes his eyes “Upon it.” But O, how careful we ought to be, Standing near someone always watching our face And more than capable o f reading our minds! He said: “So you will see, and very soon, What I await and you know only from dreams. This will be realized, and real, and soon.”

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CANTO SIXTEEN

Whenever a man declares a truth framed To wear the face o f a lie, we ought to keep Our lips tight shut, to stop a reproach, and shame. But here I cannot stay silent. Reader, I swear By every word in my Commedia (May it so remain in my readers’ favor), The thing I saw, swimming through that deep And dirty air and coming toward us, was a being Too marvelous for even a steady heart— Much like a man, sometimes, diving down To free an anchor, hooked on a rock, or something Else hidden by the depths of the sea, who’s swimming, His arms extended up, his feet drawn in.

Canto Seventeen

“Behold the beast with a sharply pointed tail, Who flies across steep mountains and smashes walls And weapons! Behold him: the world reels away “From his stench!” my leader said. And then he informed The approaching creature to make his landing close To the tip o f our barren, rocky promenade. And that filthy likeness o f fraud, lying, and deceit Came forward, his head and chest reaching the bank But with his enormous tail hanging beneath him. His face was the very image of an upright man, From his outer appearance a pleasant, kindly soul; The rest o f him was very like a dragon. He had a pair o f paws, bristly up To the armpits; his back and chest and both his sides Were dabbled with rings and complex knots and circles: No Tartar or Turk could lay out intricate lines In the cloth he wove, or splash more patterns and colors, Nor did that weaver o f weavers, Arachne, design Such webs. Like empty boats, stagnant offshore, Bows stuck on the beach, sterns in the water, Or the way far o ff among the guzzling Germans Beavers settle in to do their gnawing— So hung that worst o f all beasts against the stone Marking the boundary between our sand and his water.

C A N T O SEVENTEEN

All his long tail was quivering, unsupported, Its venomous fork twisting up in the air, Pointed like the poisonous tail o f a scorpion. My Master said: “We need to scuttle down there, Just close enough to that evil beast now lying On its belly. But we have nothing to fear.” And so we went down the curving right-hand side, Staying ten footsteps toward the edge, keeping Away from both hot sand and flaming fire. And when we had come to where the monstrous beast Was waiting, I saw, a litde farther along, People nearer the edge, all o f them seated. Here my Master said: “To give you a fuller Sense o f what this circle is truly about, Visit those people and hear their sorry clamor. “But keep your conversation very short: I’ll speak to this monster, here, when you have gone, And get him to grant us the use o f his powerful shoulders.” So I went, by myself, a little farther along The border o f the seventh circle, until I arrived At the seated people, who were miserable and moaning. Grief was almost exploding out o f their eyes; Their hands kept flitting up and down, trying To defend against hot sand, deflect fierce fires: This wasn't a great deal different from a pack o f dogs In summer, twitching their muzzles, swatting their paws, Fighting with fleas, or flies, and other bugs. Standing as close as I was, staring hard At those on whom the burning fires descend, I recognized no one's face, but what I saw Was a kind o f pouch hanging from each one’s neck, All with specific symbols and different colors— And how their eyes devoured these curious objects!

I N FE RN O

And when I walked among them, I saw something more, One yellow pouch which bore, in vivid blue, The shape and stature o f a stalking lion, and another, A little farther on, o f a reddish glow— Blood, for sure— displaying a snow-white goose, Glistening brighter even than butter. A sow Glittered on yet another pouch, which was white, But the pig was azure blue. And this man said To me: “What are you doing in this graveyard sty? “Get out! But since you’re one o f the living men, Hear that my neighbor, Vitaliano, a moneyLender from Padua, always sits to my left. “I’m still a Padua man, surrounded by Florence People, forever shouting right in my ears: ‘Let the Florentine sovereign usurer, Buiamonte, “ Appear, bearing a pouch adorned with three goats!’ ” And then he twisted his mouth and stuck out his tongue, Exactly like an ox licking its nose. But then I remembered my Master’s warning: too long A stay might offend him, and so I turned my back And quietly walked away from these wretched souls. I found my Master already seated on the hump O f our strange ferocious beast, and he said to me: “Now you need to be sturdy, fearless, tough: “Beginning here, we walk on steps like these. So climb in front: I want to be between You and that tail, which could be fatal.” As a feverish Quartan fit begins to be felt, and at The sight o f a shady spot— O much too cold!— Your body trembles all over, and your nails turn flatly White, so I became as soon as he spoke. But always, in the presence o f good masters, shame Revolts and a shaking man becomes heroic.

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I sat myself down on the beast’s great shoulders, and felt Like saying, but found myself without a voice, uBe careful to hold me tightly, and keep me on!” But he who in many critical moments Had sustained me well, as soon as I had mounted Embraced me in his arms and kept me immovable, Then said: “Geryon, time to take us down: Make your circles wide, and your descent Slow. Keep in mind that I’m not alone.” As a ship slides backward, bit by bit, angling Out o f dock, so Geryon cleared away, And when he felt completely unentangled He swung his chest around to where his tail Had been, extended that long, forked member like an eel, And with his paws pulled at the air, and sailed. Greater fear, I cannot ever believe, Was felt when Phaethon’s hands released the reins And the sky was burned, as we can look and see; Nor when frightened Icarus felt feathers Falling off, as his father’s wax was melting, And Daedalus cried: “That isn’t how to do it!” But I was out in the air, I saw and felt it All around me, and then there was nothing to see Except the beast on whose back my Master held me. He swam deliberately, circling around, Descending slowly, but all I was fit to perceive Was the wind in my face and the wind blowing from below. I could hear the whirlpool, somewhere off to my right, Below us, making a horrible, thundering roar, So I reached out my head and turned my eyes straight downward. And then I felt still more afraid o f our nose-dive, For I heard great cries of sorrow, and I saw fires, And trembling I held myself on even more closely.

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Like a falcon with outstretched wings, sailing long And seeing nothing, who makes the falconer call “By God, come down!” and down the weary bird comes, Circling slowly until it reaches the ground From which it flew, but staying away from its master, Sullen, disdainful, aware that what it had found Was nothing, so Geryon set us, right at the foot O f the steep and jagged rock, and once freed O f his heavy, two-person load, o ff he flew So quickly he seemed an arrow shot from its string.

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Canto Eighteen

Hell has a place with the name o f Malebolge, Made o f nothing but stone the color o f iron, Like the massive wall that circles all its bulging Walls. In the middle o f this melancholy Field is a huge pit, the exact nature And purpose o f which I will tell, all in good order. The strip o f land left between pit and walls Necessarily runs in a circle, the bottom O f which is clearly divided in ten long valleys. Just as moat upon moat can be seen guarding Castles, lying in circles lapped around them, That is exactly what you’d see, from above. And just as fortified castles connect, from gates To distant walls, by a series o f tiny bridges, So here a host o f rocky reefs have been made, Running from outer walls to inner pit, Crossing over every dike and moat And ending, as they began, in a wall or a hole. And here we found ourselves, dropped from the giant Back o f Geryon, and walking along the reefs, My Master to the left, and I to the right. The miseries I saw were not what I’d seen: New punishments, whipping by different fiends, New painful torments everywhere I looked.

INFERNO

We were walking high, the sinners, naked Below us, one side o f the reef flowing our way, And on the other sinners flowing against us. Just as Rome in the great Jubilee year Had carefully planned so streams o f worshippers Could only go on the bridge that Hadrian had reared Across the Tiber, with one row facing SantAngelo Casde, proceeding on to great St. Peter’s, The other facing, then going, to Mount Giordano. Up and down the gloomy reef they drove, Demons with truly ferocious horns wielding Great whips, scourging fiercely from behind— And ah! one blow was all it took to lift Their heels! By God, and not a one waited For a second stroke; a third was inconceivable. Then as I walked, my eyes were met by one O f the sinners, and immediately I said: “I’ve seen This one before, a man o f some importance.” I stopped, to peer more closely, and my gentle guide Waved me permission to retreat a bit, stare From a better angle, just to be sure I was right. That well-whipped spirit tried to hide, lowered His face, but I had spotted him correctly, And said: “O you, trying to look below you, “Unless you’ve borrowed someone else’s face You’re Venedico Caccianemico, o f Bologna, Who sold his sister to a duke. Have I got you placed?” He answered me: “I speak unwillingly, Driven by your plain and open speech, Which makes me remember the world where I once lived. “Ghisolabella was my sister, and I Delivered her to the duke, to do as he wished. That’s all, whatever dirty stories are voiced.

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“I’m not the only one here, from old Bologna; Believe me, so many o f us are here that, now, Between Saveno and Reno more o f us “Are here than live up there. Don’t ask me how I know: just think, as I suspect you’re well Aware, o f the greedy nature we famously sprout.” As he was speaking, a fiend came up from the back, Whipped him hard, and cried: “Get moving, you pimpl We haven’t got whores, down here, for you to haggle.” I rejoined my guide, and, with very few steps, We came to where a reef emerged from the bank Beneath a wall, then made a quick ascent To the ragged ridge. Then turning sharply right, We journeyed along the ridge, from rock to rock, And left those unending circles far behind us. When we arrived at ajuncture, the bank opening Wide for sinners to be admitted, my Master Said: “Stop here, and let the sight o f other “Sinners strike your eyes, souls born To be evil, whose faces you have yet to see, Since their direction has been the same as ours.” From up on that old bridge we watched them streaming Toward us, where we stood on the other side; They were, of course, driven and whipped by fiends. And my Master explained, without my needing to ask: “Do you see that great one coming through, shedding No tears, showing no sorrow, immune to pain? “How like a king he remains, for all these years! That is Jason, he who stole the Golden Fleece, a brave and crafty thief, and noble. “He sailed the Argo by Lemnos, that strange great island Where women, rejected by men because o f a curse, Responded by killing every man in the land.

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“But Jason, with gifts and clever words, wooed Their leader and won her, she who had been the first O f all, making the others act like fools. “Jason stayed nowhere, and left her alone, friendless And pregnant— sins for which he’s paying, now. Deserted Medea, too, is thus avenged. “Jason joins the ranks o f deceitful men Who prey on women— and enough for this first valley, And the sinners slowly gored by its teeth and talons.” We’d come to where our narrow ridge crossed To the second bank, arching into yet Another opening for souls who were lost. We heard them, from where we stood, sniffing and snorting, Muzzles covered, trying to breathe, beating Themselves with open palms, for here molds Encrusted the banks, from all the vapors breathed Below, stuff that stuck and clung to their noses And eyes and mouths, as a constant battle arose. The depth o f the place was steep: we could only see it By posting ourselves at the very top o f the reef Where it arched and thereby rose to its very highest. We stood and looked, and what I saw was people Steeped in dung, which seemed to me had come Plunging down from human privies above. And as my eyes went roaming across that scene, I saw one head besmirched with so much dung I could not tell if he was layman or priest. He threw me a curse: “Why are you staring at me So hard, with all these other dung-blessed fellows To look at?” “Because,” I said, “as I recall, “I’ve seen you before, with your hair a good deal drier, And you are Alessio Interminei, o f Lucca; And that explains the attraction you make for my eyes.”

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He answered, smashing his hands against his head: “Now I’ve been submerged in this stinking dung— I who always wagged a flexible tongue!” My Master intervened: “Now stretch your glance Farther along, and try to focus your eyes On the face o f that singular foul, disheveled woman “Creature, scratching at herself with her dungy Fingernails, sometimes standing up, Sometimes crouching, squatting near the ground. “That is Thais, famous whore, who told Her latest lover, when he asked how satisfied He made her: ‘Yes, you’re one o f the seven wonders!’ And that will do for exercising our eyes.”

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Canto Nineteen

O sorcerer Simon Magus, O his sorry Disciples, who take the precious things that belong By right to God and sell them for silver and gold, The only things your miserable hearts can hunger for, Now the trumpets have sounded for you all, And here you are, suffering in the third o f these tombs. We’d moved to the fourth, climbing to where the wall Supports a reef hanging directly over The ditch; we watched from there, and O what we saw! O sovereign wisdom, displaying magnificent art In Heaven, on earth, and in this place o f evil! How justly your infinite Power plays its part! Up and down the sides, and in the bottom, Were holes in the leaden-colored stone, round And all o f one size, no wider or larger, I thought, Than those that are made in my lovely San Giovanni, In Florence, to baptize innocent children into Their faith, and one o f those blessed children am I— Although, and not too many years ago, I broke a baptismal font to save a child Drowning in holy water. (That should open All men’s eyes!) The sinner’s feet stuck out From the hole, and his heavy legs as far as the calf, But nothing else: all the rest was crammed

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Inside. These feet were on fire, jerking and twitching So hard, the joints ratding, that had they been ropes O r the twine that peasants make they would have been torn. On a burning surface, thoroughly greased, flames Slide out to the very end, and here was the same Phenomenon, burning from heels to toes. 30 “Master, who is that one, twitching and writhing More than any o f the others? I f I see it rightly, H e’s also burned by a redder, flaring flame.” He said: “The bank slopes down too sharply for you. But I can carry you down, if you like, and you Can ask him in person what he did and to whom.” I said: “Whatever pleases you is pleasing To me. You are my lord, and you know your will Is mine, and you know what no one ever speaks.” We walked to the fourth flat reef, he put me on 40 His hip and down we went, moving left, Until the narrow, perforated bottom. My excellent Master did not put me down Until we came to the very hole where someone Was singing a silent requiem with his toes. “O you, whoever you are, woeful soul Planted like a stick, and upside down,” I began, “speak to me, if speech is allowed.” I stood there like the friar who gave confession To a traitor, an assassin, called back by the guilty man, 50 Set but not yet buried head-side down: I listened. He cried: “O Boniface, you came Before I expected. You— is that you, out there? The Book o f the Future lied by several years. “Were you weary, so soon, o f those lovely papal pleasures For which you were quite prepared to swindle and cheat Our Lady, the beautiful Church you desecrated?”

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I stood like someone mocked and unable to answer, Neither understanding unpleasant words Or how to frame an honest, useful response. Then Virgil said: “Quick! Tell him you Are not the one, you're not the man he thinks you!” I spoke the words he'd ordered, numb but dutiful. The spirit immediately writhed with both his feet, Then sighed and finally spoke to me, in a tearful Voice: “What is it, then, you want from me? “If you’ve come down that deep-cut bank, anxious To know my name and what I’ve done to end here Like this— yes, I was once a pope, and a bad one, “Feeding my own like a mother bear with cubs, So desperate to let them climb on Churchly ladders And fill my own purse that I fell in here, from above. “The popes who came before me, milking the Church, Are lying deep beneath me, flattened like plates, Squashed between the rocks in those narrow spaces. “And I will go down there, and be flattened, when he I thought you were dies and takes his place; I was startled, at first, unable to see your face. “But I have lain here longer, cooking my feet And lying upside down, than he will do, Planted with flickering fires burning his toes. “For after his papacy there’ll be a Frenchman, Clement, a shepherd not knowing or caring for sheep, Quite capable o f covering him and me. “He’ll be another version o f Jason, as we read O f the Maccabees, where a king bent to his weight: So this one will have, in France, the royal place.” I may have been too rash, but here is how I spoke to him, having heard his fate: “Hey, tell me how much gold Jesus demanded,

CANTO NINETEEN

"Our Lord Himself, before He gave Saint Peter The holy keys, and promised he could keep them? Surely all He said was ‘Follow me.’ “Nor did Peter and the others receive good silver Or gold from Matthew, when he was chosen to assume The office held by Judas Iscariot. “So stay where you are, your punishment isjust; Guard the illicit funds you stole, that made You bold in dealing with Charles, Duke o f Anjou. “You held those holy keys; how merrily You led your life; but because o f their holiness Those keys keep me from speaking just as I please, “Using the harsher words you ought to hang on: An avaricious pope weakens the world, Trampling the good, lifting up the depraved. “The Evangelist remembered priests o f your kind, Seeing she who sits on the rising tide, Fornicating with kings; this is she “Born with seven heads, and given ten horns, From which she draws her terrible powers; she’s strong Only as long as her power pleases her husband. “The god you made for yourself is silver and gold— And where are you different, you and worshippers O f idols? They have one, and you a hundred. “Ah, Constantine, the evil thrown in the world Was not your conversion to Christ, but the wealth and grandeur The first rich Pope and Father took from your hands!” And as I sang him this bitter song, either For stinging conscience or rousing anger, both feet Were kicking, and went on kicking hard and strong. I know my Master liked my little sermon, For I saw his contented face as I sounded out The truthful words I needed to utter. And then

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He took me in his arms, and held me directly Against his breast, and so we made our ascent In that embrace, on the path down which we’d descended. Nor did he weary himself, carrying me, But brought me up to the highest point on the arch That crossed the fourth and led to the sixth o f the reefs. And there he gently set his burden down— Gently, because the rocks were sharp, the path Too steep even for goats. I saw around me Yet another valley, different and hard.



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Canto Twenty

New punishments require o f me new verses, Bringing to my Commedia's first book, In its twentieth canto, those who have been submerged. I was ready, now, for whatever I had to hear And, deep in the depths, I knew I’d have to see, Everything soaked with infinite, painful tears. And then, along the circular valley, I saw People coming, silent but weeping, advancing At the pace o f prayers chanted in our world above. My eyes moved down their bodies, and left me amazed, Seeing bewildering distortions between Their chins and the starting point o f their chests, for their faces Were turned a hundred and eighty degrees around And all their steps were taken backward, to get Where they were going, for nothing in front was allowed. Somewhere, somehow, a stroke o f palsy might Have twisted a man completely around, but I Had never seen it, and did not believe it could be. Reader, so God may help you learn as you read These pages, stop and think for yourself whether I could have stopped from wetting my cheeks, seeing Not far from me human bodies twined Around so tears falling from their eyes Fell on their buttocks, dripping in the cleft behind.

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O yes, I wept, leaning for support on one O f the solid rocks in the reef, making my guide Say this: “You're still one o f the stupid ones? “Down here, the only living pity is dead. Is anyone more wicked than the man Regretting the righteous judgment decreed by God? “Now lift your head, stand straight and see the one For whom the earth split open in front o f the Thebans’ Eyes, and they all cried out: ‘Where are you running, “ ‘Amphiarus? Why are you leaving the war?’ He did not stop until, all unaware, He fell to Minos, who catches everyone. “See, just see, he’s made a chest o f his shoulders: He always wanted to see too far in advance, So now he looks behind him, walking backward. “Now see Tiresias, who changed appearance When a woman was made o f him, who had been a man, And he was transformed in each and every part “And for seven years was a woman. The snakes who’d started This process appeared once more; he struck them hard, And all his masculine feathers reappeared. “See Aruns, Etruscan seer, pushed into someone’s Stomach: he’s from the hills o f Luni, where grubbing Quarry workers come up, digging for food. “Aruns lived in a cave, white-marble*walled, And from there he saw the sea, and saw the stars, With nothing in the way, seeing it all. “The woman covering her breasts— which no one Sees— with her unbound hair that’s dropping down, On that side, to her other hairy parts, is Manto, “Prophetess daughter of Tiresias, who wandered The earth and settled in Mantua, where I Was born.— Please pardon me, as I ramble a while.



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CANTO TW ENTY

“After her father’s death, when Thebes, the city O f Bacchus, fell to the tyrant Creon, Manto Spent many years living where she pleased. “High in beautiful Italy, at the foot O f the Alps near the German border, above Tirol, there is a lake named Benaco. “I think there are a thousand springs, or more— Between Garda and Val Camonico, And Pennino— pouring water down to that pond, “And in that region’s center, from Pennino And Garda and Val Camonico, the bishops O f Trent, Verona, and Brescia, if they met on the road, “Could lawfully give their blessings. A beautiful fortress, Peschira, strong enough for dealing with Brescians And Bergamese, stands on its lower shore. “Here, the water which Benaco can’t hold Is obliged to run down and turn itself to a flowing River, running through miles o f bright green pastures. “But as soon as the water starts its journey down, Benaco is gone, its name is Mincio— At least to Governol, where it melts in the Po. “But not for long: soon it reaches level Ground, and swells, and becomes a marsh that often, In the heat of summer, becomes highly offensive. “Manto, untamed virgin, passed here and saw, In the marsh’s center, land where no one lived And no one had ever farmed— a natural fortress “Where human beings would not, could not, go. She and her servants remained, she practiced her arts, And finally left her empty body in that home. “Not many people lived in those barren parts, But later they came to that solid center, seeing How strong it was, surrounded by bogs and marshes.



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“They built their city over dead prophetess bones, And because she’d been the first to live in that land, They named it Mantua, meaning that and no more. “The city’s population grew quite high, Before Casoldi’s stupidity was turned On him by Pinamonte, and the city half died. “And so I warn you: whoever tells our story Differently, is a liar. Don’t you permit Such falsehood to cheat us o f our ancient glory.” I answered: “Master, whatever you tell me is true; Your words are so clear, I hold them as matters o f faith; All others are nothing but burned-out sticks o f wood. “But tell me, among the people passing by, Do you see anyone worthy o f commentary? Speak to me, please; my mind is always asking.” And then he said: “The one whose hairy cheeks Spread down and end across his well-tanned back, Once— when the war with Troy had emptied Greece “O f men, and not many more were lying in cradles— He predicted their future; together with noble Calchas He told them, at Aulis, when to cut the cables. “Eurypylus was his name, and my tragic poem At one point sings o f him, as you well know, Having made my entire poem your own. “That other one, decidedly over-thin, Was Michael Scott, who plunged himself right in To the game o f magic, and mastered all its tricks. “And there is Guido Bonatti, and also Asdente, Who wishes, now, he hadn’t left cobbling shoes For making prophecies, repenting too late. “See women dropping their needles, their weaving warps, Their spinning, in favor of telling fortunes, concocting Wicked spells with herbs and pagan drawings.

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CANTO TW ENTY

“But now let us leave, the moon has gotten his horns Into the edges of both hemispheres, even Touching, westward, the waves below Seville, “And last night the moon was already round and full— You surely remember, for last night, deep in the groves, A bright-shining moon did you no harm at all.” And so he spoke, and we went walking along.



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Canto Twenty-one

And so we walked from bridge to bridge, talking O f matters with which my Commedia does not deal, And when we came to the top o f it all, we paused, Looking to stare at Malebolge’s next hole In the ground, and hear a new kind o f crying and moaning; I saw the place was as dark as I’d been told. As in the ship-building Arsenal at Venice, In winter, the heavy adhesive tar is boiling, For making repairs on leaky, unsound ships, Unfit for the sea, for they’re not needed in those roiling Seas, so one is rebuilding his boat, and another’s Plugging sides that leak from many a voyage, And this one hammers a stern, another a prow; One is twisting rope, another makes oars; This one patches his jib and mainsail—just so, Not using fire, but only heavenly art, A thick and heavy pitch was boiling down there, Exceedingly sticky, and spreading up the parts O f the fissure. I looked, I saw, but nothing was in it Except the bubbles that boiling always produces, Swelling up and rolling down as they choose. I stared, trying to understand, but was lost, When my Master suddenly called: “Watch out, watch out!” And pulled me back from my observation post.

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I swung around, like a man eager to know What it is he needs to stay away from, Suddenly impelled to frightened motion, Looking back but not really waiting to see, And saw, coming up behind us, a black Devil running up the craggy reef. SO O what a savage, ferocious face he wore! And what cruel strength drove him into action, Light on his feet, his wings spread wonderfully broad! High on his shoulders, sharp and tall, he carried An upright sinner, one leg hung on each side, And the devil’s talons gripping him by the feet. He called, from close beside us: “O Malebranch, Here’s another slice o f corruption cake! Shove him under, and I’ll go hurrying back “For more. Lucca’s loaded: everyone takes 40 In Lucca, except maybe the boss, Bonturo: No gets turned to Yes, if these guys get paid.” He threw in the sinner, and swiveled quickly around, Dashing along that rocky path faster Than an unleashed mastiff chasing a criminal down. The sinner went under, came up, completely backward, But the devils hiding under the bridge swifdy Shouted: “This isn’t Lucca, you dumb jackass! “No swimming like that, this isn’t your local river! Unless you want to get jabbed with our grappling hooks 50 Keep yourself submerged in that nice warm pitch.” Then they stuck him with more than a hundred sharpened Points, and said: “Whatever dancing you do, Down here, is hidden, so grab at our harpoons, “If you can.” This is also the way cooks Require their staff to fork a piece of meat Deep in the cauldron, so it doesn’t float up— and gets cooked.



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My Master said: “To keep from being seen, Drop down and hide yourself behind a rock: At least you’ll have a bit of protective screening. “Don’t be afraid if I’m insulted by blockheads Like these; I know what works against black devils, I ’ve dealt with them before; it’s not a problem.” Then he walked out, beyond the point o f the bridge, And when he got to the sixth o f these banks, he needed His steady hand to establish our privileges. Whooping, barking, and baying like packs o f dogs Rushing out at some poor beggar, who flops To the ground, crying, wringing his hands, imploring God’s mercy, the devils came rushing out from their posts Under the bridge, leveling hooks in his face. He cried: “Down with your weapons, keep the peace! “Before you come at me with your waving spears Have someone come forward and hear what I have to say, And then decide your proper duty here.” They shouted as one: “Let Malacoda do it!” This one stepped out; the others stood perfecdy still; But he said, as he came, “Where does he think he is?” “Think!” said my Master. “Seeing me where I am, Think: what chance would I have had, against The mighty forces o f Hell, to safely come “This far, unless it were God’s will, and Fate’s? Let us go on— for Heaven itself decrees That I show another soul this savage place.” My Master’s words had crushed the demon’s pride; He lowered his barbarous hook to the ground and said To the others: “No one will hurt him. I have decided.” And then my leader called: “O you, sitting Down in the boulders there, come out, it’s safe. Come over here. Nowhere in Hell is forbidden

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“To us.” I scrambled out, at my quickest pace, And the blackened devils immediately pushed forward: Our uneasy truce with them seemed likely to break. I’d seen something like this before, at Caprona, A town our Florentine army had taken, and the captured Soldiers were afraid, out on the field with us. I drew as close to my leader as I could, pressing To his side, and never stopped watching the devils’ eyes, Which did not look good; I worried what would come next. They'd lowered their hooks, but one said: “Should I stick his ass?” The devil standing beside him nodded: “Sure. Give him what he came for, sharp and fast.” The demon speaking to my Master quickly Turned around: “Scarmiglione, give it A rest, give it a rest! These are our guests.” Then he spoke to the two of us: “You can’t get through Along this reef. It’s fallen into the bottom, Broken to little pieces. So, if you “Still wish to proceed, you’ll have to stay on this road For a bit. It isn’t far to a solid reef, Going your way, but it’s really not as good. “Just yesterday, in fact, but later by a whole Five hours, it’s a thousand two hundred and sixty-six Years since we lost that entire section o f road. “I’m sending some o f my men in that direction, Looking for sinners who might be taking a walk. You go with them. They won’t be breaking my orders. “Alichino, come here, and Calcabrina, And you, Cagnazzo. Barbariccia’s in charge; I’m sending ten o f you. Libicocco, “You go too, and Draghignazzo, Chiriatto, With his fangs, and Grafficane, and Farfarello, And crazy Rubicante. Take these two,

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“As long as you’re looking around the boiling glue; Make sure they both are left in a single piece When they reach the next reef; they’ll go as far as they want to.” “O Lord, Master, I don’t understand your thinking,” I said. “Let us go on alone, with no escort, I don’t want one, as long as you know the road. “I f your eyes are open, searching as they always are, Don’t you see these devils grinding their teeth? Those eyebrows are threatening. Just look at those massive spears!” He answered me: “You’ve really nothing to fear. Let them grind their teeth as much as they like: This is normal behavior for them, with their sinners.” Our escort formed a line on the bank, to the left, But before they moved they pushed their tongues past Their teeth, all facing their leader; this was a signal, And he responded with a trumpet call from his ass.

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I’ve witnessed cavalry troops shifting their camp, Or lining up for review, or thundering o ff In assault, or scrambling away from a failed attack; IVe seen horsemen, O Aretines, crossing Your lands, and raiding parties leap in motion, And tournaments beginning, and jousting take off, Sometimes with trumpets blaring, sometimes great bells, The banging o f drums, and signaling down from castles, Home-grown customs, and some from foreign lands— But never with such a weird bare bagpipe blasting Have horsemen or men on foot gone into action Or ships been summoned from land or signaled by stars! We walked along with demons, ten unattractive, Savage creatures! Still, walk with saints on your way To church, but go with drunks on the road to a tavern. That black and boiling tar was all I looked at, Trying to learn as much as I possibly could O f what went on while these people were being cooked. As dolphins, sailors say, are understood To be warning a ship it’s going down, when they arch Their backs and swim in its path, around and under, So here and there a swimmer would show his back, Easing burning pain in cooling air, Then hiding again, swift as a lightning crack.

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And just as frogs at the edge o f a pond carefully Hide their bodies, showing only their noses, Protecting feet and claws, lying warily, So sinners along the ditch approached the shore, But as soon as Barbariccia came walking up They slid away, hiding under the tar. Yet just as one frog waits, while another jumps, I saw— my heart pumps hard, remembering— A sinner preparing to leap, and then he goes, And Grafficane, the nearest demon at hand, Hooked him by his long and pitch-filled curls And hauled him up, slick and dripping like an otter. (By this time I'd learned what each o f the demons was called, Paying close attention as they were selected, And listening to their casual travel talk.) “O Rubicante, get ready to use your claws And flay him up and down, both back and front!” The demons shouted together, all at once. I said: “Master, try to learn where he’s from, This unlucky, dangling wretch his enemies Have caught.” My leader went down the bank, and approached him, Asking the question, and immediately had this answer: “The kingdom o f Navarre is where I was born. My mother was able to place me in service to a lord, “For I was fathered in her by another whoring Nobleman, an aristocrat who destroyed Himself and everything he’d owned. The household “I entered was that of an excellent king, Thibaut The Second, yet there I learned, and it’s why I’m here, The art o f selling all sorts o f Churchly offices.” Then Chiriatto, with a pair o f tusks protruding On either side o f his mouth, let the sinner Appreciate how demons could rip when they chose to:

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The mouse had been trapped by a pack o f evil cats. But Barbariccia pulled him away, locked him In his arms, and said: “I ’m going to fork him. Stand back.” And then he turned around and spoke to my Master: “So go on asking, if you like, before We get to work, tearing him a little faster.” My leader said: “Tell us: do you meet, under That tar, sinners who come from Italian lands?” His answer was: “Just now I swam with someone “Who came from a neighboring place. I wish I'd stayed With him, we’d both be safely hidden away, And neither o f us would have to be afraid “O f demons.” Libicocco shouted: “Enough!” And reaching out with his grapple he set his hook In the sinner’s arm and ripped away a muscle. Draghignazzo moved right in, looking Ready, if he could, to grab a dangling leg; Their commander whirled around, with a dirty look. With the demons under control, whether more or less so, My Master quickly asked the dangling man, Whose eyes were fixed on the deep wound in his flesh: “Who was that other swimmer you left, so sadly, When you decided to risk coming on shore?” And the answer: “That was Gomita, a Sardinian friar “From Gallura province, an accomplished crook, and more: He mastered his master’s enemies, controlled them So hard that both sides thought him a perfect whore. “He took his cash, and held them tight in his reins. This was no petty crook dabbling in silver: He went for their gold, and got it, time and again. “He swims around, down there, with old Michel Zanche, from Longodoro province; they talk About Sardinia, which sent them to Hell.

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“O God, I see that other one grinding his tusks! There's lots and lots I still could tell you, but that one, There, I’m afraid, intends to stick me in the guts.” Their commander swung around, toward Farfarello, Whose eyes were rolling wide, he was ready to strike: “Get yourself away, you chicken fellow!” uIf you want to hear, or if you'd really like,” Quivered the frightened sinner, “to meet a Tuscan Or maybe a Lombard, I'll bring them here. But make “The devils move away a little, or the men 100 I call will be afraid to show their faces— And let me tell you, I'm only one o f them, “Just sitting right here I'll whistle and bring you eight, 'Cause that’s the custom when one o f us gets out. But nothing happens when everyone’s afraid.” Hearing this speech, Cagnazzo raised his snout, Shaking his head: “Hear the nasty trick He’s trying. Anything to get himself out!” And the sinner, smart and self-satisfied, snickered: “Getting others in trouble, producing sorrow 110 And pain, are crafts I’ve mastered to total perfection.” Alichino could not stand it; opposed To letting him go, he declared: “I f you get back in, I won’t be behind you, but my wings will sure be throbbing “Right on top of your boiling tar. Let the ridge Be cleared, and the other bank serve as a screen, And then we’ll see if you, by yourself, are a winner.” O reader, here’s a sport you’ve never seen! All o f them turned to look at the opposite bank, Including he who opposed it, Alichino. 120 The man from Navarre knew when he had a chance: He dug in his heels and, swiftly turning, escaped The commander, then threw himself straight toward the tar.

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The devils cursed themselves, knowing the escape Was everyone’s fault, but especially Alichino, Who more than anyone else had set up the break. “We’ve got you,” he cried, making use o f his wings. But terror was even faster than flying. The sinner Went under, the devil swung his chest back in, No different from ducks who drop their heads and go in, Seeing a falcon swoop, and the falcon swings up, Defeated and angry, flying upward again. Calcabrina was furious; they were fooled, all right, So he went for Alichino, making sure The sinner escaped, for what he wanted was a fight, And once the damned one was safely lost in the ditch, Calcabrina dug his claws in the demon, Trying to scratch his irritated itch. But Alichino also had claws, and could use them; He was no fledgling. Both went tumbling in, Smack in the middle, flopping deep in the pitch. In an instant the heat drove them apart. But in They were, and could not get out, well-soaked in tar, Their wings were useless, heavy-hanging fins. Barbariccia, sad and angry as the others, Made four o f them fly to the bank on the other side, Pitchforks in hand, holding them out to their brothers, Down in the ditch, already cooking inside Their new-made crusts. They were reaching up to the forks As we turned and left them, no longer bent on fighting, But still half hopeless, desperately embroiled.

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Silent, alone, with no one to show us the road, We walked along, one in front and one Behind, as Francis fixed his friars’ code. I thought to myself, because o f the brawl we’d come from, O f Aesop’s old fable, describing a passenger mouse Riding a swimming frog over a pond: “Yes” and “Okay” seem no more alike than do jousting Devils and tiny animals fighting in water— I f beginning and end are carefully taken account of. We know that one thought leads the way to another, And making this comparison then led me To double the terrible fear with which I’d started. I said to myself: “Surely, the mockery They suffered will seem to them our fault, pain And insult, one on top o f the other. They’ll be “More than malicious, fiercer in the chase Than hounds appear to hares, caught up and swallowed: They’ll fly like eagles, hungry for compensation.” My hair was standing up in fear, as I followed My guide, my thoughts consumed by what was behind us, And I said: “Master, the lead we’ve got is narrow, “And they fly fast. I’m afraid. Unless you hide us, Those fearsome devils will snatch us up like mice: I feel them coming, I almost hear their wings.”



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He said: “If I were a mirror o f leaded glass Your outer appearance would come to me no faster Than I receive the clearest impressions of your mind. “Your thoughts have already mingled with mine, appearing And feeling exacdy alike, so I have combined them In a single plan: now, if the slope to our right “Can lead us toward its adjoining circular ditch, And we have time to descend, we’ll be beyond Their flying range, whether imagined or not.” He was still explaining his plan when they appeared, Wings outstretched and not very far away, Clearly intent on catching human prey. Without a word, my Master swept me up Like a mother awakened by sudden sound, who sees Fire flickering all around her, and clutches Her child, fairly flying out of the house, Not lingering a moment, the child her only Concern, although she isn’t wearing a gown— So, standing on the edge o f the rocky reef, My Master threw himself, face down, on the sloping Rock that formed one side of the adjoining ditch. Water spouting down against a miller’s Wheel, turning the heavy stones inside, Never ran so fast as it neared the paddles, As my Master flying down that bank, holding Me against his breast, not like a fellow Traveler, but like an only child. His feet had barely touched the ground below When the demons were there, right on the height above us, But we had nothing to fear. High Providence Gave those devils commanding power in the ditch Consigned to their claws, but in circles other than theirs Gave them no power at all: they could not leave it.



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We found, down there, painted people moving With slow and painful steps around their circle, Weeping as they walked, weary, brooding. All o f them wore cloaks with hoods drawn low Down to their eyes, after the fashion set By the monks o f Cluny— but these, so gilded that They shimmered underneath the golden wrapping, Were made entirely o f lead, so heavy That those inflicted by Emperor Frederick would seem Like straw. O what a painful burden for all Eternity! We turned to the left, following Them, transfixed by their desperate tears and woe. But the load they bore slowed their steps to a pace Almost like creeping, and as we walked along Our company kept changing, showing new faces. And so I said to my guide: “Please try to find us Someone with a name or a story I’d know, So my roaming eyes can see him before we go.” One o f them heard my Tuscan speech, and cried As we went past him: “Wait, hold back your steps, You who run through this darkness, and our dismal, stinking “Air! Perhaps Fm able to answer your questions.” My Master turned to me and said: “Wait, Adjust your steps to suit his slower gait.” I stopped, seeing the two behind me anxious To join me: their eyes revealed this very clearly, But a heavy weight and a narrow road delayed them. And when they reached us, both looked at me from the side O f their eyes, saying not a single word; Then turning to one another, at last they said: “He seems to be alive, I see his throat Moving. But if they are dead, how can they be Without the leaden cloaks borne by us both?”



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And then they spoke to me: wO Tuscan, in this body O f wretched hypocrites, tell us who You are, without contempt for such as we.” So I said to them: “Indeed, I was born and schooled In that great city along the beautiful Arno, And this is the only body I have ever owned. “But who are you, whose eyes distill such sorrow, Tears o f sadness running down your cheeks? What glittering punishment is this on your shoulders?” One o f them answered me: “These glowing cloaks Are made o f lead so heavy that setting them on A scale would make its joints and levers creak. “We were Happy Friars, and Bolognese; My name was Catalano, he Lodringo, And Florence chose us together, as if we were one “(Not the usual custom), to help her keep The peace, and indeed we kept the peace so exceedingly Well that bits of it are still in your city.” I started to answer: “O, you wicked friars . . . ” But I said no more, my eyes were too surprised By a man on the ground, crucified with three stakes. At the sight o f me, he twisted and turned in pain, Fairly blowing sighs into his beard, And Friar Catalano saw this display And told me: “This is Caiaphas, High Priest, Who counseled the Pharisees it was better to torture One man than toy with death for the rest o f the people. “He’s stretched out, naked, across the road, as you see, And whoever walks along here must step on him; So too with Annas, his father-in-law, set “In this same ditch, and every one o f the others Who served in that Pharisaic council, which was A seed o f evil for the Jews.” Standing, and wondering,



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Virgil tried to understand a sight That, passing here before, he had not seen: A man on a cross, crucified for all time. And then he spoke to Friar Catalano: “I f you don't mind, and an answer might be allowed, Please tell me if, on the right-hand side, there’s a way “The two o f us might leave this ditch, without Requiring a band o f black devils to bring us from here To where our road begins once more." The friar Answered: “Nearer than you might expect, you’ll find A rock construction that starts from the great encircling Wall, which also encloses all inside it, “Except that this bridge collapsed, and covers nothing. But you can climb along the broken rocks And safely make your way to the ridge at the top.” My Master stood a moment, his head bent down, Then said: “He who’s hooking sinners, back there, Did us no favor with a rather different account.” The friar replied: “I’ve heard it said, in Bologna, That the devil is blessed with vices, and one such vice, It’s said, makes him a liar, and the father o f lies.” My leader started off, taking great strides, Looking more than disturbed— distinctly angry. And I, o f course, followed my blessed guide, Leaving those heavy-burdened souls behind me.

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Now is that part o f the youthful year when the sun Begins to warm his locks, under Aquarius, And nights are already only half the day, When morning frost will copy on the ground The picture o f his white, familiar sister, But draws so weakly his picture’s quickly gone, Though peasants, running out o f food, waken To fields still covered in white, stare and curse And bang themselves on the leg, return to their houses And grumble, fumbling about. Sad and moping Wretches with no idea how to proceed, They go for another look and gather hope, Finding the world has changed to a different scene— And see how quickly!— they take their shepherd’s staff And drive their sheep to where the grass is green. So I was frightened, seeing my blessed Master Worried, his brows wrinkled and frowning, but quickly He was himself, no one could change any faster— Standing on rocks, below the broken bridge, He suddenly turned to me, with the same sweet look I’d seen, those very first moments at the foot of the mountain. First contemplating our task, in silence, he took A step toward me, opened his arms out wide, Grasped me, picked me up, and went to work.

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Like a craftsman whose second move is being decided As he starts the first, just so, as he lifted me To the top o f a sprawling, weighty rock, his eyes Were scanning the second boulder I could reach, Explaining: “There’s the next one you should climb, But test it, first, before you trust with your feet.” No one wearing a leaden cloak should try This route: we had it hard, he light and I Just pushed from behind, to keep on going higher. And if the slope had not been shorter, because O f the steeper angle on this side— I cannot Speak for him, but I’d have surely been lost. (Malebolge is built so everything stands Leaning toward the mouth o f the deepest ditch, Angling the slope on the right and the slope on the left So one is always higher, and one is lower.) We finally got to where the last o f the stones Had broken away; that part o f our journey was done. My breath was coming so hard, my lungs so empty O f air, that I no longer had a choice, I had to sit, and did, the moment I could. “Here is where you can’t afford to be lazy,” My Master said. “Lying in feather beds, Or under quilts, no one conquers fame, “Without which, once your earthly life is dead, The only traces you leave behind you are smoke Blown in the air or bubbles breaking in water. “Therefore, rise. Force your breath, restore it By that spirit which wins in every battle it fights, Unless the beaten body says ‘no more!’ “A longer ladder is waiting for us to climb: It isn’t enough to have left those others behind. If you understand me, help yourself, this time.”

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I rose and proved to myself that I could find Far more breath than I’d thought I had, and I said: “Walk on ahead: my legs are strong and my mind “Is determined.” Slowly, we worked our way up the ridge, Craggy ground, a narrow track, and steeper By far than the one we’d only recently beaten. I chattered as we went, so as not to seem Weak, and then I heard what was meant to be speech, But wasn’t. It came from the next ditch over, and was keeping Pace. I looked down, but darkness blocked my eager Eyes, which could not pierce to the bottom. So I said: “Master, might we cross to the next ditch over, “Descending down the wall? From where we are I’m hearing speech but can’t make out the words, And when I look down, all I see is murky “Darkness.” “The only proper response,” he answered, “Is doing what you ask. The question posed, My duty requires silent accomplishment.” We were at the point where the end of the reef reaches The eighth bank; we went down from there. Then It was easy to see just what was happening. All over this ditch I saw terrible serpents, Snakes so numerous, and some so strange That thinking o f them my heart tightens and tenses. Stop boasting, Libya, you home of snakes, No matter your many serpents that swim or fly, Amphibians or vipers, even taken Together with those that Ethiopia breeds, Or lands broaching that poisonous Red Sea, You cannot compete with this for malignancy. And all across this cruel, oppressive space People were running, naked, terrified, Without a hole to hide in, or any escape:

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Their hands were tied behind them, but tied with snakes, Serpent-chains that ran between their legs, Tightly knotted in front, around the waist. And right beneath where we were, under our eyes, A slithering snake caught a man, circled Itself on his neck, and faster than any scribe Can dot a single i or round an o, The stricken fellow melted down, crisped And burned to nothingness, mere ashes and dust. But after being thus destroyed, the powdered Remains, with no assistance, drew together And immediately became what they were before— Just as, the sages solemnly affirm, The Phoenix burns itself to death and is born Again from its ashes, being five centuries old, Living those five hundred years without feeding On any food except pure incense tears And balsam; its winding sheet is nard and myrrh. As anyone who blindly takes a fall, Not knowing how— perhaps a devil’s pull?— Or through some push unseen, some unfelt force, Then, rising, stares in all directions, not seeing, Not understanding the anguish he certainly feels, Then sighs, aware he will not ever be Anywhere else— that was this sinner, indeed. But O, God’s power, how endlessly harsh He reaches Down in vengeance, breaking sinners to pieces! My Master asked this man where he was from And who he was. He answered: “I’ve just rained down From Tuscany, straight to this fierce, wide-open “Mouth. I lived like the beast I am, not human, A mule. My name is Vanni Fucci the Beast. Pistoia provided me with a fitting den.”

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I said to my guide: “Don’t let him sneak away. Ask him exactly what sin shoved him into this place: I saw him, once, as a bloody man o f rage.” And the sinner, hearing me, did not hesitate. He looked at me with his soul, and turned up his face, Truthfully colored by deep and dismal shame: “Now I feel so much more pain, caught As I am in this wretched place, than when I was plucked Away from that other world where I lived my life. “I cannot refuse you the information you chose. I stand so deep in the regions o f Hell because I stole sacred objects o f silver and gold, “Though someone else had been accused, but falsely. But take no pleasure, finding me down here, And for your return from this eternal darkness “Open your ears to what I now announce: Pistoia will be the first to get rid o f the Neri; Then Florence rejuvenates her people, her ways. “But Mars will pull a darkened cloud o f a man From Val di Magra, Moiroello Malaspina, And there will be a fiercely raging storm “O f battle, at Campo Piceno, until the darkness Is torn away, and Bianchi men are hit hard, Each and all. No one will be pardoned. And I tell you this to fill your heart with sorrow!”

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His words thrown down, the thief held up his hands, Making an obscene gesture with both his thumbs And crying: “For you, O God, I aim this at you!” And then I began to like the snakes, for one O f them was quickly coiling around his neck, As if saying: “You’ve talked as much as you’re allowed to,” And another wound itself around his arms And tied him again, so tight in front, so hard, He could not shake a muscle, all movement barred. Ah— Pistoia, Pistoia! Why don’t you turn Yourself to ashes and disappear forever, You who are worse than even your evil sons? No matter where I looked in Hell’s dark circles No one was so outraged at God as him, Not even Capaneus, who fell from Thebes’ walls! He ran away, not saying another word. And then a centaur appeared, raging mad, Shouting: “Where is he? Where’s that unripe turd?” I don’t believe that even Maremma contains More snakes than those writhing on his fatty back, Up to where a centaur’s shape is a man’s. Behind his neck, draped across his shoulders, A dragon was lying, its wings open and ready, As were its deadly fire-breathing jaws.

CANTO TWENTY-FIVE

My Master told me: “This centaur is Cacus, once A habitant o f Aventine’s mountain, where He often left behind him pools o f blood. “He worked alone, ignoring his brother centaurs, Wanting to keep to himself cattle stolen From a herd Hercules was busy transporting. “His clever, sneaking thefts came to an end Under the weight o f Hercules’ club— a hundred Blows, though after ten he was good as dead.” As Virgil spoke, the centaur came running through, And just below us three spirits appeared— unnoticed By us until they looked up and cried: “And who “Are you?” At which my leader and I left o ff Our conversation, focusing our eyes On them. They were not people I recognized, But then it happened, as it does so often, That one o f the three spoke a familiar name, Asking: “Does anyone know where Cianfa is?” At which, to make sure my Master gave them his full Attention, I set my upraised finger along My nose, covering my lips: “Shh,” I did not have to say. Now, readers all, I f you cannot quite believe my story, /find it hard, and I’m the one who saw it. I was watching closely, not knowing what would happen, When suddenly a six-footed serpent attacked One o f the three, completely covering his body: The middle feet were clutching his belly, the feet In front took hold o f his arms; the snake’s sharp teeth Pierced, one side and the other, both his cheeks; The two hind feet were spread across his thighs, The reptile’s tail embedded between them, bending Up his back and protruding out behind.

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No climbing ivy was ever locked to a tree So tightly as the horrid beast had its limbs One on one with the helpless spirit’s body. And then, fastened together like melted wax, Each o f their different colors ran and joined The others, and not a color was left as it was: Like fire moving across a sheet o f paper, The flame preceded by a darkish brown, The white, soon to be black, melting away. The other two were watching, and each one cried: “O Agnelo, how much you’ve changed. O look! You’re not just one or two! O look, you’re neither!” Then the two heads were changed to one, two beings So mixed that neither one could be recognized, And both were absolutely lost. I was seeing Four arm-lengths melting into two; the thighs And legs, the belly, the chest, all became Body parts that no one would recognize. Every original shape was wiped away; It was both and neither, this wholly corrupted creature, And whatever it was, slowly it moved away. Now, just like a lizard in our season o f scorching Heat, speeding from bush to bush, almost A tiny flash o f lightning in summer sun, A fiery little snake appeared, colored Leaden blue and black, like a peppercorn, Headed straight for the bellies o f the other two, And bored into that part which, in the womb, First gives us food, then fell to the ground in front O f him, stretched out, completely motionless. The wounded spirit looked down, but did not speak; Indeed, he stood there, yawning, as if sleep, Or a fever, had suddenly attacked and transfixed him.

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He looked at the snake, the snake looked back at him, And from its mouth, as from his wound, smoke Came pouring out, and smoke was joined to smoke. Let Lucan be quiet, now, he who told O f Roman soldiers snake-bit in the deserts; Let him stay silent, and wait for what comes forth. Let Ovid also be silent, he who told O f Cadmus and Arethusa, and poetically Turned one to a snake, the other a gushing fountain. I am not jealous, for creatures face to face 100 He never transmuted, making both exchange, With quick and common consent, their very natures. And the way they made their contributions, each To each, was this: the snake forked his tail, The wounded spirit drew his feet tightly Together; his thighs and legs were pulled so hard That, in just a moment, no one could have known They’d ever existed, pressed and smooth with no mark. That which the man had lost became the shape O f the snake’s forked tail; the skin o f this new creation 110 Grew soft; the other grew tougher, and soon was hard. I saw his arms shrinking away, back To the armpits, and the serpent’s two feet, both o f them short, Growing longer with what the arms now lacked. The snake’s hind paws, twisted together, distorted Themselves and became the thing that men conceal, And in turn the wretch’s penis became two feet. While the smoke enveloping each creature newly Colored them both, stripping hair from one And growing hair where once there had been none, 120 The snake stood tall, and the spirit shrank himself lower, Neither turning away from the other’s glowing Eyes, but went on to change their muzzles. The tall one

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Pulled up most o f his face as far as the forehead, Then used the extra facial material To smooth down cheeks and sprout two ears on the sides; Material left in the middle, not tugged away, Was shaped to form a nose, and part was put On the lips, to thicken them as they ought to be made. He who was lying down pushed out a snout And drew his ears back on the head, like horns Grown by a snail, and the tongue, which had been whole, Ready to speak, forked itself like a snake’s, While the other’s tongue, once forked, melded itself Together. And at last the smoke evaporated. The spirit, now a fiery serpent, ran Away, along the sandy bottom, hissing As he went. The other opened his mouth, and spat, Then swung his brand-new shoulders around, and said To the last o f the spirits: “I’ve got Buoso running On all four legs, as I, Canifa, have done!” Thus I saw the seventh field o f vermin Change and transform— and let me excuse myself, If all that is new and unknown has sadly diverted My pen. And though my eyes were truly dazed, My mind bewildered, no one could have run Away so carefully that I could not say The third o f the spirits was Puccio Sciancato, For he alone, among those three, stayed As he’d been. The little snake was the Cavalcanti From Florence, murdered, now mourned, in the town of Gaville.

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Canto Twenty-six

Rejoice, Florence, you who've become so great That your wings are beating over lands and seas, And your name is scattered all over Hell. The thieves I came across included five from your city, Filling me with shame and raising you To no great honor or civic dignity. But i f our early morning dreams come true You’ll soon be feeling what Prato, and many other Places, are wishing and hoping will happen to you. Had it already happened, it could not be Too soon. I wish it had come, as it surely must! The older I get, the more it means to me. We left that place, climbing up the jutting Boulders down which we had come, just before, My leader and I, he first and I being pulled Behind him; we were alone among the jagged Rocks, advancing from stone to stone: no feet Could move ahead without some helping hands. I suffered, then, and now 1 suffer again, Returning my mind once more to what I saw then, But working hard at holding back my Muse, Which should not run where virtue cannot guide it. Whatever star, or something higher, has granted My gift, I cannot grudge myself that light.

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As peasants— resting on a hillside, in the season When he who lights the world hides his face The least, and at the time when flies are replaced By mosquitoes— look down across the valley where they, Perhaps, have gathered grapes, and tilled the soil, And see the air now thick with flickering flies, 30 So I looked down and saw the eighth o f these ditches Lit by so many flames that the air was shining, And where I stood and looked down, I could see the bottom. And just as the prophet Elisha, who had seen Elijah's Chariot flying to Heaven (and mocked by boys, He cursed them, in God’s name, and bears ate them), But could not track the horses that pulled it, only Watching fires flaming around them, much Like a little cloud, not floating but rising high, So here the flames kept moving along the ditch, 40 Single, apart, thieves and thefts unknown, Each furtive fire with a thief inside, well hidden. As I was standing high on the bridge o f this reef, Except that I had braced myself on a rock I would have fallen below with no one to push me. And my Master said, seeing these sights working On me: “Here the spirits are inside their flames, Each sinner wrapped in the sin which burned him on earth” “Master,” I answered, “hearing this as you say it, I feel more certain, but I already suspected 50 This was the answer, and shaped another question: “Who is it in those flames, so split on top That they seem to rise from the shared tomb o f the sons O f Oedipus, who would not share, and murdered “Each other?” He said: “Odysseus is inside, And Diomides, joined in punishment As once they were together in anger, at Troy;

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“And still they lament that Aeneas, insolent boy, Escaped their ambush, outside the gates, and galloped Off, bearing the noble seed of Rome. “And they also moan the deceit that killed Achilles, For whom his princess Deidamia still mourns; And again together they stole the sacred image “Without which Troy was lost.” “If they can speak From inside,” I said, “Master, I beg you, and beg Again, a thousand times, with the same entreaty, “Don’t make me wait until that horned fire Comes near, for you can see the desperate desire That pulls me, bending my body in that direction.” “Yours is a w orthy prayer,” he answered m e,

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But you must guard your tongue, and refrain from speech. “Let mine be the words, for I understand quite clearly Your desire; they might decline to speak With you, perhaps, for they were passionate Greeks.” And when the flame had reached a suitable place, And my Master found an appropriate time, I heard him Saying the following words: “O you who are two, “Joined in a single fire, if when I lived I deserved your goodwill, if the lines I wrote deserved Something from you, much or only a little, “In the name o f my heroic lines I beg you: Stop where you are: let either one of you tell Where he went, knowing he was doomed “To death ” The larger horn o f the ancient fire Began to shake, murmuring like someone Weary of fighting a briskly blowing wind, Then letting its tip wave back and forth, as if It were a tongue and able to speak, then suddenly Threw out a voice and said: “When I left Circe,

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“Who’d stolen more than a year o f my time, close By Gaeta (though that was long before Aeneas Had come and given it its name), it wasn't “For my young son’s sweetness, or any concern About my aged father, or the debt o f love I owed Penelope, which would have pleased her, “For nothing could conquer in me the craving to know This world we live in, learning its nature, and how To deal with either human vice or worth. “Now hear: I’d set myself on the open sea With only a single boat, and nothing but men Who had not turned and run away from me. “I was seeing shore after shore, as far as Spain, As far as Morocco, and Sardinia’s great island, And the rest o f the little worlds our sea washes. “My men and I were old and slow when we came To where the Pillars o f Hercules stood out, Marking the narrow outlet to the greater ocean, “Beyond which sailors are never supposed to go. To my right, I passed Seville, to my left I’d long Gone past the seven-hilled city o f Setta, in Morocco. “ ‘O brothers,’ I said, ‘you who came through a hundred Thousand dangers, at last reaching the West: We still have left us a tiny time to use “ ‘Our human senses, and how could such brave men Refuse this final, daring experience, Tracking the sun where no other man has been? “ ‘Think o f your origins, the people you come from: You were not made to live like wild-toothed beasts, But for the pursuit o f virtue and honest knowledge.’ “I made my men so eager, by this little oration, So hot and excited to make the voyage, I think I couldn’t have stopped them, having that inclination.

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“We swung our ship around, its back to the sun, Our oars were churning the ocean, we rowed like mad, Seeing on our left a flow o f new lands. “At night we already saw the southern pole And all its stars, and the pole we’d always known Was so low it did not emerge from the ocean floor. “The moon had waned, then waxed again, five times, Five months o f full and perfect lunar cycles Since we’d launched ourselves out on the ocean, “When suddenly a mountain appeared in the distance, Dark and seeming, to my eyes, surely the highest That I had ever seen. My men and I “Rejoiced, but immediately our happiness Was turned to grief, for out o f the new lands came A whirlwind, striking hard at the bow o f our ship. “It whirled us around three times, we and the water, And on the fourth it lifted the stern up high And drove the prow straight down, to the great delight O f Someone Else, and over our heads the sea closed.”

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Canto Twenty-seven

The flame was standing erect and motionless; He had said what he wanted to say, and with the gentle Poet's consent had quietly disappeared. But then another came up behind him, making us Turn and stare, uncertain, at the top o f his flame, From which we heard rough, jumbled sounds and confusion. The brass bull-shape o f Sicily had bellowed Like that when the man who’d shaped this monster was roasted To death inside it, as innocents would later Die: it was made to scream with its victim’s voice, Having none o f its own, and this shrieking pain Made it seem alive. So now the flame, Having itself no voice, spoke with the sounds O f fire, as the spirit within struggled to find A proper road to human words. But once His mournful message made its way to the tip, Which then transformed them into the spirit’s tongue And were spoken, vibrating like a living throat, We heard him saying: “O you to whom I speak These words, hearing you speak, just now, the language O f Lombardy, as you sent that flame away— “Although I approach you somewhat late, let my Delay not drive you off: you see it has Not stopped me, I approach you— and I am burning!

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“If you have only recently come to this darkness, Fallen from Italy, that sweetest land From which I carried here my load o f sin, “Tell me if the north has peace or war, For I am from the mountains between Urbino And the many springs from which the Tiber is born.” I was bending over, attentive to every word, When my Master tapped me on the side, and said: “It’s you who ought to answer, he speaks Italian.” And I, already prepared to answer, began My reply without the slightest hesitation: “O spirit hidden in there, Italy’s north “Is not, and never was, a peaceful place In its tyrants’ hearts; in secret, they were always At war; but when I left no one was fighting. “Ravenna is what it’s been for many years; Polenta’s eagle hovers over the city, Taking Cervia, too, under his wings. “Forli, besieged by the French for a year, fought Them o ff so fiercely the French were a bloody heap; It yields, once more, to the Ordelaffi’s green claws. “Malatesta Verrucchio, the old one and his son, Who caught Montagna and killed him, are still the rulers O f Rimini, barking and biting as they’ve always done. “Ravenna and Faenza, those cities on the Lamone And Santerno rivers, are still Mainardo’s, he Who leaps from side to side, from summer to winter. “And Cesena, that city whose banks are washed by the Savio, Because it sits between the river and a mountain, Sometimes is free and sometimes ruled by a tyrant. “Now if you please, tell us who you are. Be no more sparing than I have been to you— And thus your name will echo across the world!”

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After the fire fluttered and snuffled a while, As it had before, the point at its top moved One way and another, and then breathed out these words: 60 “If I believed that I were making an answer To someone able to walk again in the living World, this upright flame would stop its quivering, “But since no person has ever returned alive From this depth o f Hell, if what I hear is true, I answer you without a fear o f disgrace. “I was a soldier, and then a corded friar, Believing that joining the men o f Saint Francis would save me, And surely what I believed was what would have happened “Except for the Pope— may evil fall on his head!— 70 Who sent me back to the road o f my early, deadly Sins, and exactly how and why I will tell you. “When I was a form o f flesh and bone, as my mother Made me, I neither lived nor acted as lions Do: the beast I most resembled was a fox. “I knew the tricks and escapes, the secret ways, I knew them all, and I lived the way they led me, My reputation echoed all over the earth. “And when I saw that I had reached the part O f life when every man must lower the sails 80 And coil up all the ropes, that which early “On had been my delight, now stuck in my throat, And I repented, confessed, and surrendered to God. Ah misery, misery! That would have been enough. “The Pope, prince of all the new Pharisees, Was fighting a war, not far from the Vatican, But not against Turks or Jews; his enemies “Were strictly Christian— not one o f whom had gone To the Holy Land and fought to conquer Acre, Not one had bought and sold in Muslim lands— 90

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“This Pope paid no attention to holy orders, Not for himself or for me, or that sacred cord Which used to make its wearers a good deal leaner. “But just as Constantine went seeking Sylvester (The Christian hiding in a mountain cave) to cure His leprosy, so this Pope sought me for some better “Cure, afflicted with the terrible fever o f pride. He earnestly asked my advice, and I stayed quiet, Thinking he spoke like a man intoxicated. “He asked again. ‘Your heart should not mistrust me: 100 Here and now I absolve you, and so you must Instruct me how to raze these rebels to the ground. “ ‘I hold the keys to Heaven, as you know; I lock And unlock as I choose. The prior Pope chose not To allow himself the use o f these precious keys.’ “The weight o f all this solemn reasoning Brought me to think that silence was the worst o f my choices, And I said: ‘O Father, since you’ve washed away “ ‘The sin which I must now commit: Make Your promises large, but let your keeping them no Be short, and you will triumph on your holy throne.’ “As soon as I was dead, Francis came in To take me, but one o f the blackened tribe o f angels Told him: ‘Don’t take him! Don’t commit such a sin! “ ‘He has no choice but to come with us and be led To our miserable people, for he gave false advice, And ever since I’ve been hovering over his head, “ ‘For he who hasn’t repented cannot be Absolved: wanting to sin and being sorry To do it is no repentance, just contradiction.’ 120 “Lord, how sad I was! How I was pained When he grabbed me and said: ‘Maybe you didn’t think I could split hairs and play the logic game!’

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“He brought me to Minos, who coiled his tail around His beast-like back a full eight times, then bit it, So fierce and furious a rage I’d put him in, “And he said: ‘This one burns along with the frauds/ And so you see me here, eternally lost, Wrapped in bitterness and flames as I walk” Everything he wanted to say had been said, And the miserable fire trudged his winding road, Swinging and twisting the pointed flame on his head. We left that place, my guide and I, walking Along the reef until we reached the bridge Arching above the ditch where sinners are forced, At last, to pay the fee for the frauds they’ve been.



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Canto Twenty-eight

Even in straightforward prose, with no need to rhyme, Who could describe in full the horrors I saw, The blood, the wounds, repeated time after time? Any tongue that tried would surely fall short, For none o f our human languages or minds Can comprehend this ghasdy total. Even bringing together those who cried For their dead at the southern end o f our land, slain By Trojans, or others who fought the long war, and died, Leaving their weapons and rings on the bloody plain— So many rings, making so tall a pile, As Livy writes, who tells the truth in the plainest Terms— and adding those who fought the tide O f invading Saracens and Greeks, beside Our noble Robert Guiscard, and those heaped high At Ceparano, when all the southern traitors Ran, and Frenchmen won, and at Tagliacozzo, Where Alardo won by hanging back and waiting, And even showing where a sword cut through A leg, or a man who has no leg to show— Nothing equals the ninth ditch for its foulness. No barrel with its hoops knocked off, or staves Kicked in, stands as open to the air as a man I saw, broken from chin right down to his ass,

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His entrails dangling down between his legs, His liver, heart, and lungs exposed and the stinking Sack which churns what we eat and turns it to shit. While I was completely absorbed in taking him in, He looked at me and with his hands pulled open His chest, saying: “See how I rip at myself! “See a maimed and mangled Maometto! Another walks in front of me, weeping, His face now split from hair straight to chin. “And all the others you see, along with me, Were men who sowed the seeds o f scandal and schism In life, and for that are chopped and cut as you see. “A devil’s back there, who tailors us as cruelly As he can, subjecting to the slicing sword Everyone you see— for once we’ve all “Circled the length o f this dismal road, our wounds O f every kind are suddenly healed, before We make another appearance in front o f him. “But who are you, standing on the edge And watching, maybe taking your time to join us, Down here, in the punishment you richly deserve?” “He hasn’t arrived at death, no sins have sent him Here,” my Master answered, “for punishment, But only to give him the full experience, “And I, who am truly dead, have been introducing Him to the circles o f Hell, from first to last. And this is true as the fact o f my speaking to you.” Hearing him, more than a hundred o f them Had stopped, and stood in the ditch, staring at me Like a marvel, and in the process forgetting their torment. “Since you perhaps may see the sun, before Too long, tell Brother Dolcino the arms he needs Are a good supply of food, to keep him fighting

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“In the snowy hills, which otherwise will defeat him And give Pope Clement’s Novarese troops A victory they might not earn on their own.” Maometto said this to me, before He lifted his foot and resumed his weary journey. Another sinner, with a hole right through his throat, And his nose completely sliced away, as far As the ridge o f his eyebrows, and only one o f his ears Still on his head, stopped with the others, staring In wonder, opened his throat, red inside And out, and said: “O you who are here, though not Condemned for your sins, you are someone I saw “On Italy’s lands— unless the likeness deceives me And I am mistaken. I f you in fact will walk Once more on that sloping, lovely plain that runs “From Marcabo to Vercelli, remember the name O f Piero da Medicina. And let it be known To the two best men of Fano, Master Guido “And Angioello, that unless the view of the future We see down here is mistaken, they will be thrown Down from their ship, wrapped in a sack with heavy “Stones set at their feet, and left to drown Close to Cattolica. This will happen because o f The treachery o f a tyrant, Malatestino. “Neptune himself has never seen a fouler Crime, between the isles o f Majorca and Cyprus, Neither by pirates or even by the Greeks. “This tyrant rules Rimini; he has only one eye. And Rimini’s the place a sinner down here with me Wishes he had never had the sight of! “Wanting them gone, the tyrant arranged a parley, Then guaranteed that death by sea would not Concern them, nor fear o f the wildest winds o f Focara.”

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I answered him: “If you want me to carry up news O f you, show me the man you speak of, for whom The sight o f Rimini became so bitter.” And then He put out his hand and grasped the jaw o f a fellow Sinner, pulled the jaw down, and opened the mouth, Crying: “This is the man, but now he’s dumb! “It was he, when banished, who washed away great Caesar’s Doubts at crossing the Rubicon, saying A man who’s ready to act is harmed by delay.” Ah, what a shocking sight to behold: Curio, Ever daring and bold with words, had lost His tongue, hacked o ff down to the root! Then a soul, With both his hands chopped off, lifted the stumps Up high and waved them in the filthy air, Causing blood to drip all over his face, And shouted: “Remember Mosca, the fierce assassin, Who said, alas, ‘Once it’s done, it’s over,’ And used his knife, and brought disaster to Florence!” To which I added: “And the death o f all your family,” At which, now piling grief on grief, a man Crazed by his sorrows, he disappeared in the darkness. But I remained, wanting to see it all, And saw something I’d be afraid to tell Without more proof, some solid evidence. But I’ve been helped by a comforting conviction, The immunity o f courage, the sense o f protection Accompanying the fact that this did happen, And I had really seen it, and see it still: A body without a head walking along Like all the others in that gloomy mob, Holding its severed head by the hair, waving it Back and forth as if it were a lantern, While looking at us and saying, “O my! O my!”

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He fashioned out of himself a lamp for himself, And they were two in one, or one in two— A possible impossibility, Except to Him on high. At the foot o f the bridge He raised up his arm, waving his head around To bring us closer, to hear his words resound. And he said: “O see the miserable price I’m paying— O see it, you who still breathe but come to watch The dead! See if you’ve seen a thing like this! “And to give you my news, so you can tell the world, Know that I am Bertran de Born, he W ho advised Prince Henry to rebel against the king “Who was his father: I led them into that fight. Ahitophel did nothing more, with wicked Suggestions, to David and Absalom, the king “And his son. Because I separated one From the other, I carry my cut-off head, alas! Which grew and once was attached to this miserable trunk. Consider this retribution, which you see in me.”

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Canto Twenty-nine

All these people, with all their different wounds, Had left my eyes intoxicated and sleepy, Wishing only to stay where we were, and weep. But Virgil asked me: “What do you still see, Down there? What is it, still fascinating your eyes, Among these woeful, mutilated creatures? “You've witnessed similar sights, and have not cried. I f you plan to count the head of every sinner, Remember, this circle lasts for twenty-two miles— “And note, the moon is now beneath our feet, There isn’t much time for standing and gazing here, And the many other sights you need to see.” And then I answered: “If you had made it your business To ask me why I lingered there, you might Have let me linger longer. I did have a reason.” But as we spoke, my leader walked on, and I Was already following him as I made my reply: “At that particular part o f the ditch, I was staring “Because a soul o f my own blood is down there, Weeping in this darkness for his sins And the price that he has had to pay for them.” And then my Master said: “Don’t hammer at Yourself any longer, thinking only o f him; Pay attention to others, leave him where he is.

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“And I did see him, below the bridge, pointing At you and making threatening gestures with His finger. I heard him called Geri del Bello. “But at that moment you were occupied With Bertran de Born, who once held Hautefort, And you didn’t look that way until he had gone.” “O my Master, he was assassinated Most violently, yet no one has taken revenge For him, no one in all his family, which is mine. “He’s rightly indignant; and that, it seems to me clear, Is why he simply walked away, not speaking A word, and why I feel more regret than before.” So we spoke, as we walked along the reef, Until we reached a place where we could see— As much as dim light allowed— almost to the bottom O f the last cloister in Malebolge. And when We saw its unfrocked workers down in their fields Suddenly we were able to see and hear Their prayers, sad, but pointed like arrows or spears, So strange, sharpened with pity so ferocious I clapped my hands to my ears and held them off. The sights were fierce, and the smells— as if, in blazing Summer heat, all the lepers and lame, The dying, the blistered and fevered of Valdichiana Were put with those o f Maremma, and Sardinia too, All in one ditch, stinking with a single infection, The same ripe stench that rises from rotten sores. Slowly, we went down the long reef’s bank, Its last, as always staying to our left; And then my eyes could see what before had been hidden, These depths in which infallible Justice, our Lord On High’s great officer, administers Their punishment to the false ones on her list.

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I cannot believe sorrow could be greater, Even seeing A eg in a ’s p eop le sick A n d dying at Juno’s jealou s com m and, insects D ropp in g with most o f the oth er animals— T h ou gh later, as poets tell us, and truly believe, Jupiter brought the ancient peoples to life, U sing seed from tiny, crawling ants— For what I saw, across that dismal ditch, Was spirits d ro o p in g over each other, in heaps; O n e lay face down, a second spread on the shoulders O f another man, and one, sprawled on all fours, C reep in g along the ditch ’s sorrow ful road. W e walked that path in silence, step by step, W atching and listening to sick, disabled men, Far too weak to lift themselves from the ground. I saw a pair, prop ped back to back, as pots A r e set against each other to hold their warmth. From head to fo o t they were dotted with purulent sores A n d scabs, nor have I ever seen a sleepy Stable boy, only h a lf awake, C om b his master’s horse while his master waits, As I saw these two fla ilin g with their nails A t their own thick crust, tryin g with desperate fury T o scratch an itch fo r which there is no aid O r end. T h e scabs came flyin g down the way A knife peels o f f the scales o f carp o r any Large-scaled fish. “O you w ho ply your nails “T o tear yourself apart,” my leader began, Speaking to the nearest on e o f this pair, “and sometimes Turn them into pliers, you work them so hard, “T ell us i f this land is shared by any Italians— and may your nails rem ain so strong, Enduring forever as you ease your pain.”

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“We are Italians, the two o f us, but now H ow could you tell?” replied the wretched man, W eeping. “But who are you, asking that question?” My Master said: “I am taking him through A ll the levels o f H ell, one by one: T h e highest o f spirits directed that this be done.” Movement dislodged them from their mutual propping, A n d both o f them turned to me, trem bling, along W ith others who had overheard us talking. My gracious Master drew close to me; his voice

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Was low: “Tell them whatever you want them to know.” A n d so I spoke, as he had wished m e to: “To keep your m em ory from fa d in g away, Slipping out o f the minds o f livin g men, Preserving thoughts o f you fo r many suns, “Tell m e who you are, and where you are from ; Y ou r punishment, disgusting and obscene, Must not prevent you from revealing yourself to me.” “I am fro m A rezzo,” one o f them told me; “A lb e r o o f Siena had m e burned

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A live, but what I died fo r didn’t bring me here. “O f course, I really did tell him — it was just a jo k e — ‘I th in k I know how a man could fly through the air,’ A n d he was lively enough, though his brain was slow, “And asked m e to teach him how. A n d simply because I cou ld not make him Daedalus, he got His father, a bishop, to burn m e fo r breaking the law. “But M inos, who makes no mistakes, sent me here T o this last o f ten ditches because, in the world up there, I practiced alchemy.” So I said to the poet: “Now tell me, has there ever been a people So stupidly proud o f themselves as those o f Siena? Even the French can’t match them, not by far!”



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O n e o f the other leprous ones, hearing This, replied: “Take Stricca o f f that list; H e certainly knew the cheapest way to kiss “His m oney good-bye. A n d N iccolo, too, who’s famous For fin d in g expensive ways o f cookin g with cloves— Siena’s the perfect place fo r playing such games. “A n d also the fools’ brigade, a fin e collection In which Caccia d ’A scono threw away A fortune, and Abbagliato excelled at inspection. “T o put a name on the man w ho thus agrees W ith you about Siena, look at me A litde harder, and with an effo rt you’ll see “T h e faded face o f your friend, Capocchio, W h o used alchemic art to falsify metal, A n d i f I see you straight, you’ll surely recall T h e finest ape o f nature you’ve ever known.”



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Canto Thirty

When Juno was angry at Semele (and with cause), A n d angry at everyone o f her Th eban blood, She often showed that anger: the Th eban ’s brotherin-law, Atham as, threw his son From a cliff, down on a rock, m ade to think T h e child was a lion ’s cub. T h en his wife, with their other Child, threw herself from the same tall brink, D row n in g them both. Juno had m ade him insane, A n d as she fell he was still calling fo r links O f rope, woven in nets, to trap the three

10

W ild beasts, “one lioness and two small cubs. H urry,” he cried, “two are at liberty!” When Fortu ne’s wheel had spun the darin g Trojans D ow n, and Priam the king was dead, and his kingdom T oo, destroyed forever, and Hecuba, His w retched wife, captive o f the conquering Greeks, Saw h er daughter, Polyxena, floating In th e sea, and her son, Polydorus, also Dead, lyin g on the shore, madness O vertook her, sorrow so w ru ng her heart She went running up and down and barked like a dog. But absolutely no fury, whether from Thebes O r Troy, has ever m atched the cruelty, Tearin g human limbs from human bodies,

♦ 149 ♦

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I N FE RN O

As the creatures I saw, ashen pale, running A s w ild as pigs released fro m the sty. O n e Drove at Capocchio, attacking his neck, In which it fixed its tusks, d ra ggin g along Its captive, letting his belly be scraped and scratched A s it pulled him this way and that on the rocky ground.

so

T h e alchemist from A re zzo was left, shaking In fear. “T h at was G ianni Schicchi, the m im ic, T h a t beast. A n d that was how he mangles us.” “A h ,” I said. “Tell me, to keep the other O n e ’s teeth from attacking you, who that one Is, b efore it dashes away.” “T h a t is “T h e wicked soul o f Myrrha, from ancient Cyprus, W h o tricked her father, one dark night, into m aking Love to her, but all unknown to him. “Th is falsification is very like what Gianni

40

Schicchi did, pretending to be a dying Rich man, im itating his voice and manners “A n d m aking a w ill in the rich m an’s name, leaving H im , the thief, in legal possession o f things H e wanted, especially a fam ous mare.” A n d when that pair o f rabid pigs had gone T h e ir way— I ’d carefully tracked them, up to that tim e— I turned my attention to some o f the others, born T o crim e, and there was one whose body rem inded M e o f a lute, swelling out around T h e m iddle, his skinny legs h a lf out o f sight. His heavy belly, packed with ill-digested Stuff, hung totally out o f tune with his face, Yet pulled his lips apart like those afflicted W ith diseases in their lungs— flushed and always Thirsty, one lip curling down toward the chin, T h e other curling upward, open and panting.

♦ 150 ♦

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CANTO T H IR TY

“O you who are here, down in this wretched hole, But have no need to suffer, which makes no sense,” H e said to us, “now feast your eyes: behold

60

“T h e m isery o f Master Adam . W hatever I wanted was m ine, w hile I was still alive, A n d now, alas, a drop o f water would be Heaven. “T h e little brooks, trickling down the sides O f Casentino’s hills, so beautifully green, K e ep in g their banks so cool and soft— my m ind “Is always rehearsing their im age, and not in vain, For that picture desiccates m e far m ore keenly T h a n the wicked disease forever stealing my face. “This rig id justice that has fallen on m e

70

Is subde enough to make use o f the place where I sinned, Ensuring my sighs and moans keep a steady pace. “A nd th ere it is— Rom ena— where I faked T h e golden coins o f Florence, stamped with Saint John, W h ich counterfeiting caused my body to be burned. “But i f I could see, here beside me, the miserable Souls o f A llesandro o r his brother, G uido, o r his other brothers, I ’d give up “A ll thought o f a burbling fountain! I f the ragin g souls D ow n here are truthful, one has already come.

80

But what can I do? My legs are tightly bound. “I f I w ere only light enough to m ove O n e inch in every hundred years, I'd be out O n the road, crawling along, trying to find him “Here, w here horribly crippled people abound, N o m atter the circle’s eleven miles around, A n d maybe h a lf a m ile o r so across. “They’re the ones who sent m e to live down here; T h ey ’re the ones who talked m e into coining Florins diluted one-eighth by copper or brass.”

♦ 151 ♦

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I N F ERN O

I said to him: “W h o are the miserable wretches Sm oking like the hands o f a man washing in winter, Lyin g to your right in the narrow space betw een you?” “ I found them there, and they haven’t m oved an inch,” H e answered, “since I cam e rain in g down this slope, N o r w ill they, I think, till we m eet the end o f all hope. “O n e is the lady who lied, and accused young Joseph; T h e oth er is Sinon, the lying G reek who assured the Trojans A bou t the w ooden horse. It’s their burning fever “Th at smells.” T h en one o f the pair, perhaps displeased

100

A t bein g discussed in such highly doubtful terms, Gave him a vigorous punch in his d ro o p in g belly; T h e blow resounded as i f a drum had been struck. T h en Master A d am hit back, right in the face, W ith a sweep o f his arm, striking no less hard, A n d saying: “Aha! T h ou gh I ’m not free to walk, My legs pin ned to the ground by this belly o f m ine, I still have an arm easy enough to reply.” T h en Sinon spoke: “W h en you were brought to the fire, You couldn’t m ove your arms, tied to your side—

110

But how you swung them, ham m ering fake coins!” T h e fat one answered: “Bound fo r the fire? Right. But not a reliable witness, back in Troy, W hen you volunteered your advice about the horse.” “I f I was lying, your coins were just as false,” Said Sinon, “and that’s the only sin I ’m here for, But you’ve got a list lon ger than any d e vil’s!” “Liar, just keep the horse in m ind,” the grossly Swollen fat man countered, “you swore by all T h e gods, and every soul on earth knows it!” “May your m outh becom e so parched and dry,” said the Greek, “T h at your tongue splits and cracks, and filthy water Puffs up your belly so far that to you it seems

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CANTO T H IR T Y

“Like a hedge.” T h e counterfeiter replied: “Your mouth Is open and gaping because you suffer from fever, A n d me, yes, I'm thirsty, and in a bad m ood, “But your fever’s burning you up and your head is aching, A n d i f you were asked to lick Narcissus* m irror, A n d die, why! that’s an o ffe r you’d take.” I stood there, listening intently to every word,

130

But my Master told me: “K eep on with what you’re doing A n d , pretty soon, I ’ll pick a quarrel with you!” H earin g him speaking to m e so angrily, I turned to face him, feelin g a rush o f such shame T h a t it circles, down to this day, in my memory. Like a person dream ing som ething painful and, still D ream ing, wishes it were nothing m ore T h a n a dream, desiring that which is, but w illin g It not to be what is, is how I felt, U nable to speak, wanting to excuse * M yself, which is what I did, not knowing what I was doin g. “Greater faults,” my Master said, “H ave been washed away by shame. Yours was not T h a t bad. So forgive yourself and don’t be sad. “Keep in m in d that I am always beside you, A n d i f it ever happens again that you A re close to people saying such things, try N o t to hear, fo r wanting to hear is the w rong thing to do.”

♦ *53 ♦

140

Canto Thirty-one

That same tongue, it had been, first stinging me So sharp that both my cheeks were burning, and then Speaking words that, like a salve, cured me, Just as I have heard it said o f Achilles’ Spear, and also that o f his father: first A g ift o f sadness, and later one o f gladness. W e turned our backs to that miserable ditch, clim bing U p to the bank that circles it all around, W alking away with no one speaking a word. H ere it was less than day, and less than night,

10

A n d I could not see ahead, so dim m ed was my sight, But then a horn blasted so hard that I could Have mistaken it fo r thunder, but unusually loud; My eyes were turned that way, tracing the sound, T ryin g to see only in that direction. A fte r the battle that ended badly, when the H oly G rail was lost to Charlem agne, Roland Could not have blasted his horn so terribly. I hadn't been watching fo r long when I seem ed to see, In that murky light, a host o f towers, extrem ely H igh, and I said: “Master, please tell m e this city’s “ Nam e.’’ H e answered: “Because you’re trying to p eer From too far off, in this darkness, your w andering eyes Im agine they see what, truly, isn’t there.



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CANTO THIRTY-ONE

“W hen you com e closer, your eyes w ill function better, A n d you will be aware how ocular sense Is confused by distance. Push on a little harder.” He took my hand, affectionately, and said: “ But before we g o on, ensuring that you see N o th in g too uncom fortably strange, these

30

“A re not towers but enorm ous giants, every O n e o f whom is in the ditch, buried From navel down all around the bank.” A n d as it is, when mists begin to disappear A n d little by litde vision is slowly clearer, Figures and shapes start to appear in the air, So as I cam e through the murky atmosphere A n d nearer and nearer to the ed ge o f the ditch, error Floated away, replaced by terrible fear, For like the fo rt o f M ontereggione,

40

W h ich crowns its circle o f walls with towers, so here O u t o f the pit em erged one-half the bodies O f h orrible giants, towering high, but still T h reaten ed from above by Jove, with thundering frowns For those he once, from on high, threw to the ground. And I could already make out the face o f the closest O n e, and his shoulders, his chest, and much o f his stomach, A n d also, down his sides, his muscled arms. Surely Nature, when she abandoned the art O f m aking such tremendous creatures, did well, R em ovin g pow erful forces from the hands o f Mars. And though she feels no sorrow, creating whales A n d elephants, the man whose m ind can think M ore subtly w ill see that justice and right have prevailed, For when the thinking powers o f human brains A re tools o f malicious will and enorm ous strength, Sm aller creatures like men have no defense.

♦ x55 ♦

50

I N FE RN O

Th is gian t’s face, I thought, was as broad and long As the soaring pine tree o f Saint Peter’s church in Rome, A n d these proportions I saw in all his bones.

60

A n d the bank, which fo r him was like the fig leaves on A dam A n d Eve, showed us so much o f him from the navel O n up, that three tall Dutchm en stretching high W ou ld have tried in vain to pull his hair. From the level Just below the neck, where m en buckle T h e ir coats, I saw fu ll seven meters o f him. “Raphel max amecche zabi almi, ” H is fierce mouth began to shout, since sweeter, M ore loving songs would not have fitted that throat. A n d then my Master addressed him: “Stupid fool,

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Blow your horn when em otion boils in your belly, W h eth er it’s rage o r any oth er passion! “Feel around your neck, and you’ ll find the strap T h at keeps you in your place, O creature o f confusion! L o o k down and see it lying across your chest.” A n d then he told me: “H e opens his mouth and accuses H im self. H e is N im rod , whose evil thought Caused Babel and kept us from having one single language. “L e t’s leave him alone: speaking’s a waste o f time, For all our languages are as dark fo r him

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As his must forever be to the rest o f us.” W e turned to the left and walked about as far As a crossbow shot, and there we found the next one, L a rger still and a great deal m ore ferocious. I d o not know what majestic hand had bound him, A n d cannot tell you, but his right arm lay chained behind him, T h e left arm chained in front, and the links o f this Great shackle were wound around his neck the whole Way down, and yet the uncovered part was com posed O f merely five links. “Th is arrogant fellow,” said



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CANTO THIRTY-ONE

My guide, “decided to test his strength against T h e powers o f A lm igh ty Jove, and as you can see Received the reward he deserved. H e ’s Poseidon’s son, “And his name is Ephialtes. T h e gods were afraid, For he and his brother were strong. But A p o llo killed him, A n d these arms he used to swing won’t m ove again.” A nd then I said: “ I f I could, I would wish to see T h e immensity o f Briareus, with a hundred A rm s and fifty hands— another son “O f Poseidon ” H e answered me: “Close by, you’ll see

100

Antaeus, unbound, with whom we’re able to speak. H e ’ll brin g us where the guiltiest must go. “But the one you wish to see is much farth er away, H e looks like this one, w earing the same strong chains, But seems much m ore ferocious, to ju d g e by his face.” At this, Ephialtes gave his body a shake, A n d no gigantic earthquake could sway a tower A s this insulted giant rattled his chains. Then I was m ore than ever afraid o f death, A n d nothing else was needed but this sight and sound,

no

I f I had not been aware o f how he was kept In place. W e proceeded along the curving ground U n til we reached Antaeus, almost eight meters H igh , from navel to shoulders, without counting His head. “O you,” my Master began, “on that scene A lo n g the Bagradas, where Scipio won his glory, A s H annibal turned his back, adm itting defeat, “You treated a thousand lions like so many dogs, You, who had you been there with your brothers, T h e sons o f Earth m ight well have beaten the gods, “And many believe the war could have been won— B ring us down, not scorning this simple request, T o the frig id cold o f freezin g Lake Cocytus.



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I N FE RN O

“D o not ob lige us to speak with Titys o r Typhon: T h is man can give you exactly what you desire. Accordingly, bend down, don’t curl your lips. “Th is p o e t’s alive; i f fam e is still your prize, H e ’ ll have the years, he can d o it easily, Given the w ill o f G od who endures on high.” Antaeus extended hands that Hercules

150

H a d grip p ed and at last defeated, picked up my Master, E ager to cooperate. A n d V irgil, he W h o led me, said: “C om e here, so I can take you W ith me.” A n d then he w rapped two form s into one, M akin g o f us an easily handled bundle. T h e leaning Garisenda tower, in B ologna, As you stand on the leaning side and a cloud comes floating Straight at that place, is what he resem bled to me, W atching that giant body stooping down, A n d at that m om ent wishing we could go Som e other way, no m atter how hard the road! But we were whisked and set down as i f by feathers, R igh t on the ground that opens its fatal throat A n d swallows Lu cifer and Judas together; T h en the giant stood up like the tow ering mast on a boat.

♦ 158 ♦

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Canto Thirty-two

I f I were w ritin g a harsh and crashing poem , A p p rop riate to this dismal pit on which T h e heavy rocks above are pressing down, I m ight be better at squeezing sap from this C onception, but lacking all such skills 1 write W ith lively trepidation as I begin, Since draw ing pictures o f the bottom o f the world is no light A ffa ir, and certainly not fo r a prissy tongue T h a t relishes words like m om m a dear or daddy. May all the Muses help my poem , as once

10

T h e y aided A m p h ion in w alling Thebes, So facts and verses fit together as one. O you above all others created, being C on fin ed in such a place, beyond all words, But better off, in this world, as goats o r sheep! We stood in silent darkness, a great deal lower T h an the giant’s feet, and my attention still caught By the towering height o f the wall surrounding us. Then som eone spoke to me: “Take care where you walk; Watch your step, don’t stamp on the wretched heads O f ou r weary brothers below you, who have trouble enough.” And so I turned and saw before me, spread Beneath my feet, a lake so utterly frozen It looked much m ore like glass than the ice it was.

♦ 159 ♦

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IN FERN O

Austrian w inter has never frozen over T h e Danube, nor have the coldest skies o f Russia H arden ed the Don, like this which we discovered: Had M ount Tam bura fallen on it, fro m A pu a’s Alps, or the peak o f Pietrapana, nothin g W ou ld have creaked, not even close to the shore.

so

Exactly as frogs w ill prop their snouts out O f the water, the better to croak (in that season when peasant W om en often dream o f their harvest work), Just so the m iserable souls are ashen, below T h e face, where shame’s bright color appears; their teeth G o chattering on the ice, like storks sin gin g A n d all the heads were facin g downward, mouths Showing how cold they were, eyes displaying T h e w oefu l m isery deep in their hearts. A rou n d A bout m e I looked, fo r a bit, then happening

40

T o glance straight down, I saw two heads fitted So tight that even their hair was interm ixed. “Tell me, you whose chests are squeezed together,” I asked, “who are you?” T h ey tilted their heads, A n d when their faces were look in g up at m ine T h eir eyes, which earlier had been moist within, Began drip p in g down to their lips, tears T h a t the icy cold then froze, tying them closer: Two boards were never clam ped so tightly together— A n d then, like a pair o f goats, they butted at one Another, overcom e by furious anger. T h en one who had lost both ears to the terrible frost Spoke to me, his head still facin g down: “W h y are you staring at us with so much interest? “These two, i f you want to know, were heirs to Count A lb erti, who ow ned the Bisenzio valley; they fought A bou t the inheritance and killed each other.

♦ 160 ♦

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CANTO TH IR TY-TW O

“Th ey cam e from one mother, and in all this part o f Caina L o o k as hard as you like, you'll never find Tw o better fo r fix in g in ice, frozen together.

60

“N ot even M ordred, pierced to the heart by one stroke From A rth u r’s enchanted sword; not even Focaccia, W h o assassinated his cousin; not even this one, “W hose ugly head com pletely blocks my view: H e's Sassol Mascheroni, and i f you're from Florence You’ve heard his story many times before. “And to keep you from m aking m e talk much more, know T h a t I was Cam iscion d e’ Pazzi: when my cousin C arlin o comes, they’ ll look at m e m ore kindly.” Afterw ard I saw a thousand faces,

70

Pu rple with cold; it still can make m e shiver, A n d always will, when I see a frozen pond. And as we were m oving toward the center, in which Universal gravity collects, A n d I was shivering in that eternal chill, By chance, perhaps, or Fate, o r even Fortune— W h o knows?— but while I was w alking am ong these heads I gave a hard kick to one, right in the face. He cried with pain and sorrow: “W hy are you stamping O n me? Unless you’re here to heighten vengeance

80

For my treason at M ontaperti, why do you hurt me?” I said to my guide: “Master, wait fo r m e here; 1 need to be perfectly clear about this fellow; Th at over, hurry me as much as you like.” My guide stood still, and I said to this frozen soul, W h o’ d steadily thrown the vilest curses at me: “W h o d o you think you are, insulting others?” “Hey, who are you, stamping through Antenora,” He answered, “ kicking som eone’s cheeks harder Than livin g people d o to one another?”

♦ 161 ♦

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INFERNO

“Yes, I'm alive, and i f you cherish your memory,” I answered him, “and what you want is fam e, I ’m able to put you with the others I ’ll name.” H e said to me: “I want the opposite. N ow get away from here, and leave me alone: You haven’t a clue as to flattery, down h ere!” T h en I bent and grabbed him by the nape o f his neck, A n d said: “Either you vom it up your name, O r you’ll be frozen down here without any h air!” A n d then he said: “M ake m e bald, go on!

100

I won’t tell you or show you who I am— Bang my head another thousand times!” I had already twisted my hand in his hair A n d taken out m ore than just one chunk, H e howling, but with his eyes kept fixedly Down, when another one shouted: “N ow what’s with you, Bocca? C hew ing ou r ears o f f isn’t enough. You have to bark? W h at d e v il’s beating at you?” “A h !” I said. “ I ’m finished talking to you, Disgusting traitor! I ’ll carry news o f you,

110

A ll right, but in the nam e o f your foul shame.” “ G et out o f here,” he answered, “say what you like. But i f it’s true, and you leave, don ’t forget This on e right here, so ready and anxious to talk. “H e ’s down here, paying fo r all the silver the French Paid him. So you can say, i f you want to, ‘In the ice W h ere traitors are frozen, I saw Buosa, o f Duera.’ “A n d i f they ask, ‘W h o else d id you see down there?’ O n your other side you’ve got Beccheria, the abbot Beheaded in Florence. A n d not much farther on “T h e re ’s G ianni d e ’ Soldaneri, the turncoat, and also Ganelon, and Tebaldello, who secretly O pen ed the city’s gates, while Faenza slept.”

♦ 162 ♦

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CANTO TH IRTY-TW O

W e had already left him when I saw, Frozen together in a single pit, two So close that the head o f one was a h oo d fo r the other, A n d as the starving gnaw at bread the upper Sinner set his teeth in the other's head, R igh t where the brain links to the nape o f the neck: T h is was how Tydeus, m ortally struck By Menalippus, killed him in turn, then ate A s much o f his brain as he could, slobbering, sucking. “O you who use so beasdy a sign to show H a tred fo r him at whom your teeth are gnawing, T e ll m e why,” I said, “with this agreem ent: “I f you are ju stified in treating him T h is way, i f I know your name, and what he did, In the world above you still have a chance to win, I f that with which I'm speaking does not give in.”

Canto Thirty-three

T h e sinner lifted his mouth from his anim al feast, W ip in g it back and forth, in order to clean it, O n the hair o f the head his m outh had just been eating. H e began: “You’re asking m e to repeat my hopeless Sorrow, the thought o f which compresses my heart Even before my words are fram ed and spoken. “But i f those dismal words can play the part O f seeds, grow in g the fruit o f total disgrace For this monster, you’ ll see m e speak and weep from the start. “I do not know you, o r why you’re here from the place

10

You live in, but it seems to me, as I hear you speak, You truly must have com e from ou r Florentine state. “A n d I was Count U golino: a fact you need. A n d this thing here was Archbishop Ruggieri. A n d now I ’ll tell you how we cam e to be “This close. It starts with my stupidity, Trusting this liar, who soon destroyed my life: These are details that need no m ore from me. “But what you cannot have heard, be sure you w ill N ow learn— the incredibly cruel death I met— T h e rest is fo r you to ju dge; I w ill speak and be still. “T h e Tower o f H u n ger’s loft, not hard to get to, But hard to leave alive, was given its name In my honor (though many m ore w ill still be sent there).

♦ 164 ♦

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CANTO THIRTY-THREE

“ I ’d been there several m oons (which I ’d seen through a slit) W h en I was given a dream that ripped away T h e dark veils in which all futures are hidden. “A hunter, master o f the hounds he follow ed, was chasing Wolves and their cubs, up on the lofty range O f mountains which block the view from Lucca to Pisa.

so

“ H is hounds were lean and eager, and very well trained, Gualandi leading the pack, along with Lafranchi A n d Sismondi: in Pisa these are all g o o d names. “ T h e run had not been long, but I thought both father A n d sons were weary, and it seem ed to m e I saw T h e fangs o f dogs catching one and the other. “A n d when I awoke that m orning, just before dawn, I heard my children, all o f whom were with me, A sleep but crying, desperate for bread, all hungry. “Y o u would be harsh indeed i f you did not feel

40

W ith me, my heart sick with the future I saw— But what can ever affect you, i f you d o not weep “A t this? T h en they awoke, and the tim e approached W h en our fo o d was usually brought, and the children and I H ad all o f us dream ed our dreams, and ou r hearts were wrenched. “A n d then I heard, below, the d o o r b ein g nailed T ig h t closed, the horrible tower shut, and no one Said a w ord as I looked at my children’s faces. “ I could not weep, my m ind and heart were stony. T h ey cried. A n d then my little Anselm inquired O f me: ‘Father, you look awful. W hy?’ “ M y stony heart could hear, but could not cry, N o t all that day, nor on the night that followed, U ntil next m orning, when the sun was shining. “A s a slender ray o f light cam e through the w indow A n d into ou r dismal cell, and I saw from their faces W hat they were seeing, look in g at me, sorrow



1 65



50

I NF E R N O

“M ade m e lift my hands and bite them both, W hich they could only understand as caused By hunger, and quickly all fou r o f the children rose

60

“A n d said: ‘Father, we would feel less pain I f you would simply eat us. W e were clothed In this miserable flesh by you: it’s yours again.’ “T h en I was calm, to keep from m aking them sadder. T h at day, and the next, none o f us spoke a word. O cruel earth, why d id n ’t you open fo r us? “A n d later, fou r days later, little G addo T h rew h im self on the floor, stretched out flat, A n d said: ‘O Father, why, O why can’t you help me?’ “A n d then he died. A n d ju st as clearly as you

70

See me, I saw the oth er three fall dead, O n e after the other, on the fifth o f those days, and the sixth. “Starved to blindness, I g ro p ed on the flo o r fo r their corpses, C allin g to them, fo r two days after they died, A n d then starvation did m ore than g r ie f had done.” A n d with these words, his eyes began to roll, A n d he bent his head, seizing the skull with his teeth, W h ich grip p ed the miserable bone like the jaws o f a d o g A h , Pisa! Disgrace o f those am ong the Latinate People who still say si fo r “yes”— since we

80

Italians are slow to punish, let the islands O f Capria and G orgon a m ove about A n d block the river A rn o right at its mouth, So the water floods back and all your peop le drown! Count U go lin o having com m itted wrongs, Putting the castles you depend on at risk, Does not excuse torture o f little children, So young as they were. O m odern city o f Thebes! U gu iccione and Brigata were innocent, As were the other two, whom I ’ve nam ed above.

♦ 166 ♦

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CANTO THIRTY-THREE

T h en we walked on, to where the ice has harshly Surrounded differen t people, faces not Tu rn ed down, but in reverse— bent straight up, So frozen tears w ill keep them all from weeping; Sorrows, forced back by icy eyes, g o inward, A n d this, in turn, heightens the pain o f grief, For the very first tears w ill freeze and form a knot T h a t like a crystal fencing-mask fends tears, A n d fills the entire cup under the eyebrow. A n d though all feelin g had now been frozen out O f my face, as i f the frost had shaped a callus Across the fron t o f my head, I suddenly felt A wind, and turned to my Master and asked: “W h o O r what can make a breeze in this place? Isn’t A ir forever motionless down here?” He answered: “Soon enough we’ll com e to where Y ou r eyes w ill answer that question fo r you, seeing T h e cause that pushes along this rush o f air.” And on e o f the sinners planted deep in the freezin g Lake cried out to us: “O cruel souls, For whom this station’s the last o f us you’ll see, “L ift this rigid mask away from my frozen Face, so before my tears turn icy once m ore, Som e o f the suffering deep in my heart can be born e “Away.” I answered: “Tell me, first, who you are, A n d then I may help, i f you deserve it. I ’ll gladly Scrape you clean— o r let m e share your part “O f H ell.” “I am Brother A lb erigo, H e w ho signaled death by calling fo r fruit, A nd the fruits I ’ve earned are paid me, one by one.” “Ah,” I said. “I had not heard o f your death.” H e answered: “W h at my body is doing, up there, I’m not perm itted to know. It’s not happened yet?

I N F ER NO

“This Ptolem ea is often allowed to shelter A soul b efore the final strings o f life A re cut by fatal Atropos. Perhaps I can better “Persuade you to rem ove the ice from my eyes i f I let You know that a soul revealed to be a traitor Can be taken away from its body, and then be sent “Down here, this bein g done by assigning a devil

ISO

T o take the soul out and throw it to H ell, then ru lin g T h at body him self, until it's finally dead. “T h e soul comes plu nging into this icy pool, A n d fo r all I know the one en joying the winter Behind m e is still w alking in the world, as you do. “T h at is som ething you would not know, new As you are to H ell. He's Branca d ’O ria; he too Is a m urderer; it’s been a lo n g tim e since he went “In the ice.” “You're lying, I think,” I said to him. “For Branca d'O ria's not the least bit dead,

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A n d eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and dresses him self.” “In M alebranche,” he said, “the ditch next A bove us, M ichel Zanche— the man he m urdered— H ad not yet com e down, he too leaving a devil “In charge o f what had been his own body, nor had O n e o f Branca's family, who helped him arrange T h e assassination, and surely w ill be placed “Alongside Branca. N ow clean my eyes with your hand, O p en them once m ore.” W hich I did not do: Rudeness to him was courtesy, in truth! G enoa breeds such men, with its corruption A n d utter ignorance o f decent habits. H ow can g o o d men allow this? It ought to be scattered T o dust. Just think: here is Brother A lb erigo, A n d a G enoese with such a rotten soul T h at he gets to take his icicle bath in this hole, But his body's alive, and walks the earth above this.



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Canto Thirty-four

“ ‘I see the royal banners carried toward us/ So look ahead,” my Master told me, “tell me I f you see him com ing ” Like the breath O f the densest o f fogs, blowing in and out, O r when ou r part o f the world, where winds are com m on, G oes dark, and a fa r-o ff m ill wheel spins about, Exactly some such structure was what I saw. A n d then, because o f the wind, I drew back and stepped B ehin d my Master, the only shelter I had. By now w e’d com e— I ’m almost afraid to write this!—

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T o where the souls were entirely under cover, Som e showing through, like glass wrapped around straw, Some lyin g down, some in a standing posture, O n e with the feet on top, one with the head, A nother, like a bow, doubled on himself. When w e had gon e sufficiently far, and my Master Th ou gh t it was tim e to show m e the creature, once A n angel, now no longer lovely at all, He m ade me stop and carefully stepped to the side, A n d said: “H ere at last is Satan himself, A n d this is the place fo r you to show your strength.” Don’t ask me, reader, how frozen and faint I felt: I cannot w rite it, because no matter what words I used, or how many, none would be sufficient.

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I N F ER NO

I did not die, I did not rem ain in that world. Just ask yourself, i f you have a m ind to work with, In what condition I was, not dead, not alive! T h e em peror o f this depressing realm Stood in the ice, bu ried up to his chest, A n d I am taller, com pared to a giant, than he is,

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But yet, no giant’s arms can com pare to his— W hich tells you, at once, how huge his body is, Sustaining such lim bs on either side o f his chest! I f ever his beauty could match the ugliness I saw, and he lifted arrogant brows at his Maker, I understand how sorrow was born that day. A n d what a w onder it was, staring at his face, For I saw three heads, each with a face o f its own! T h ere was one in front, brilliantly red, and the other Two were in the m idd le o f each shoulder,

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A n d large enough to jo in the fron t one at the sides, A n d the three were set together below the comb. T h e head on the right was yellow, m ixed with white, A n d to m e the one on the left looked very like People who com e fro m where the N ile flows down. W ings sprang out from under each o f his heads, Enormous wings, huge as fitted such A bird, larger than any sails I saw A t sea. T h ere were no feathers; they looked to me Like bat wings. A n d Satan flapped them, brisk and free, A n d each o f them m ade a wind, so he sent out three, Thus keeping frozen Cocytus g o o d and hard. His six eyes w ept together, and each o f his Six chins was covered with tears and bloody foam . Each o f his mouths was g rin d in g a sinner, caught In its teeth, as farm ers crush up hem pen stalks: Thus Satan could b rin g keen sorrow to three at once.

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CANTO THIRTY-FOUR

But bitin g by the center head was nothing, C om pared to what the D evil’s claws were doing, Stripping away lon g swaths o f sinner skin.

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“T h a t on e in front,” said my Master, “who has it worst, Is Judas Iscariot: his head’s inside; A n d see his legs go kicking far and wide. “T h e oth er two, their heads both dangling down, A r e Brutus, hanging from that great black muzzle: H e wriggles and writhes, but never says a word. “T h e oth er is Cassius: see how his muscles are showing, W ith his skin all gone. But night’s returning, we need T o leave, fo r now there’s nothing m ore to see.” As he preferred, my arms went around his shoulders,

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A n d tim in g his m ovem ent absolutely right, W a itin g fo r all the wings to be op en ed wide, H e grasped at Satan’s huge and shaggy sides, A n d down he went, clutching the heavy hair, S lid in g over the frozen, uneven surface. W hen we had reached the point where Satan’s hip Bulges, his haunch thickening even broader, My leader, working skillfully, but hard, Swung his head around to where his legs H a d been, like som eone intending to clim b back up,

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A n d I was afraid he meant to return us to Hell. “H old on,” my Master told me, out o f breath A n d panting, “fo r these are the only kind o f stairs W e’ ll clim b on, leaving so much evil behind us.” Then he went through an op en in g in the rock, A n d carefully set me, sitting, just at the edge, Th en very slowly, in my direction, stepped On past me. I lifted my eyes, thinking I saw T h e D evil exactly where I had left him, but thought I saw him , now, with his legs where his heads should be—



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I NF ER NO

A n d if, ju st then, I truly was bew ildered, W e’ll let that be said by the very dullest minds, T h ose who cannot im agine the point we were clim bin g Past. “G et up,” my Master said. “O u r road Is terribly hard to travel, and very long. T h e sun is already halfway up from dawn.” W e weren’t, just then, standing in a palace hall, But deep in one o f nature’s cellars, with a flo o r H ard to walk on and very little light. “B efore I pull m yself out o f this dim dungeon,”

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I said to my Master, once I was back on my feet, “Give m e what knowledge I need to be free o f my errors. “W h ere is the ice? A n d Satan, down there, how com e H e ’s upside down? A n d tell m e how the sun, In so short a time, has gon e from night to m orning?” H e answered me: “You still believe yourself T h ere on the oth er side o f the center, where I grasped T h e hair o f that evil worm which bores through the world. “W h ile I was g oin g down, that’s where you were, But when I spun m yself around you went

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Across the center o f the earth, to which weight is bent. “A n d now you’re underneath that hem isphere Across from all the vast dry land which G o d Created, and Jerusalem, the center o f that world, “W h ere that M an who lived and died, sinless, was killed. Your feet are set on top o f a little disc, T h e other face o f what we call Judecca. “It’s m orning, here, and over there it’s night, A n d he who gave us his hair to clim b like a ladder Is still set as he was, and has always been. “This is where he came, when he fell from Heaven, A n d the earth, which used to project all the way there, Was so afraid that it put the sea between us,

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CANTO THIRTY-FOUR

“A n d cam e across, to rest in our hemisphere, A n d having run away from Satan, rushing H ard, it left that em pty space fo r us.” D ow n there, and very far away from Satan, A s distant as the trem endous width o f his tomb, W e found an invisible place by tracing its sound, A n d went upstream by that rippling little brook, F ollow ing the path that it has cut in the rock O n its w inding way, easing gendy down. My lea d er and I follow ed that unknown road, W h ic h showed us how to return to the shining world, N o r did we stop fo r a moment, n eed in g no rest, C lim b in g steadily, he in the lead, I next, A scen d in g so far that through a circular hole I cou ld see a few o f the beautiful things in Heaven. A n d then we came out, and saw the stars again.

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♦ Part Two ♦

Purgatorio

To Shlomo Meshulam Zusia Pride

Canto One

Pushing out the little boat o f my Im agin in g, in better waters, I raise T h e sails, leaving cruel seas behind. A n d what I ’ll sing, this second time, is that kingdom W h e re tarnished human souls are pu rified O f sin, burned clean and given the sacred right O f Heaven. T h e corpse o f poetry should be A live, again, O holy Muses, since I A m yours; now let C alliop e provide That harm ony which so deflated the pride O f Pierus’ daughters, wretchedly defeated By goddesses whose music they had defied. Th e sweet glow o f oriental sapphire B egan to appear in a sky so clear, so bright, T h at it quickly spread and soon was everywhere; It lit in my tired eyes the sense o f delight, As I returned from the heavy, oppressive air O f death that had so saddened my heart and eyes. The constellation o f Venus filled the air W ith love, everything to the east was smiling, A n d Pisces follow ed, hidden in her cheerful glare. When I turned to the other pole, look in g to my right, I saw fou r stars unknown since A dam and Eve, The entire sky delighting in the sight

PU RGATORIO

O f those lost and shining bodies, never seen In our northern lands, though glow in g in Paradise, O u r b r ie f and beautiful hom e, before we sinned. W h en I turned away from those w onderful stars, my eyes G lanced up fo r a m om ent at our northern pole, W h ere the D ipper and its Great Bear were out o f sight,

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A n d standing nearby I saw an old man, alone, His d ign ified appearance deserving respect A s great as that which any son should show A father. H is beard was full, its black well streaked W ith white, exactly like the hair on his head, Two heavy strands o f which fell to his breast. Bright beams from the holy stars, all fou r o f them, A d orn ed his face with such light, glow ing, intense, T h at it seem ed the sun was right in fron t o f him. “W h o can you be, com in g here against

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T h e flow o f that dark stream, escaping eternal Prison?” he said, shaking that honorable beard. “W h o led you this way? W h at did you use fo r a lamp, E m erging out o f the folds o f darkest night, W hich blackens forever all the depths o f Hell? “Have the laws o f that abyss been broken so lightly? O r has Heaven changed some program , lettin g you two D am ned souls com e here, to my little rocky island?” T h en my leader cam e closer and signaled, with his hands A n d words, that the m an deserved the deepest o f bows A n d a head bent low in respect. A n d then he answered: “It was not my own decision. A lady cam e down From Heaven, and asked me, prayerfully, to guide him , A n d o f course I quickly agreed to stay by his side. “But since you prefer fu ller detail o f our strange A lliance, spelled out truthfully and plain, I cannot brin g m yself to deny your wishes.

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C A N T O ONE

“T h is m an has not seen his final evening, But cam e quite close, pushed by his foolishness, A n d not much tim e was left, he stood on the brink.

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“Just as I said, Heaven gave m e a mandate T o help him escape, and there was no other way T h a n this road along which I have had to take him. “I ’ve shown him the p eople G o d has sent below, A n d now I plan, O Cato, to show him those W h o free themselves, redeem ed while in your hands. “It w ould take too long to tell you what I ’ve done, A n d how, but Heaven on high has sent m e strength T o lead him where, at last, he can see and hear you. “Finally, you can receive him, and approve his quest.

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H e seeks his freedom — and who, O Cato, knows better T h a t life in chains is worse than no life left? “D eath was hardly bitter, in Utica, W h en you sought it, knowing that what you were leaving behind Was ashes and dust, com pared to what you would find. “W e have not broken eternal rules, fo r he Is still alive, and M inos cannot chain me, For I am o f that circle where the purest eyes “O f M arcia, your wife, constantly pray to you, O hallow ed heart, to com e and stay with her.

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For love o f her, grant us your blessing, your grace. “Let us g o through the seven realms you rule. A n d I w ill speak to her o f your graciousness, I f you w ill allow your nam e to be heard below.” “W hen I was in the living world,” he replied, “M arcia so pleased my eyes that everything She asked o f m e she received. But now she resides “Across the evil river, on the other side, A n d I cannot be m oved by her, according to laws M ade when I cam e from there. I f a lady on high

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PURGATORIO

“Requests this o f you, and gives you her aid, I ’m m ore T h an satisfied, you need no flattery: It is enough that you ask m e with her support. “Permission is granted. W rap him in fresh green reeds, As a hum ble waistband; make sure to cleanse his face O f whatever filth remains from the flames o f evil: “C om in g into the presence o f angels, whose place Is Heaven, a man should have his eyes wide open A n d clear, free o f any mist or defacement. “This litde island, right at the ed ge o f its shores,

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Just where the waves beat down, is rich in reeds, G row in g out o f the softest mud. N o other “Plant can survive down there, fo r plants with leaves A re battered too hard, broken by crashing waves. Enough: now you have heard as much as you need “T o hear. T h e sun w ill show you the easiest way T o clim b the mountain. It’s rising as I speak. L e t me wish you farewell. G o forth in peace.” H e vanished. A n d silendy I rose to my feet, A n d stood near my Master, staying as close as I could,

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My eyes focused exclusively on him. “My son,” he said, “ follow in my footsteps. L e t us turn and g o back, fo r the lowland slopes Dow n as far as this little island goes.” Dawn was already conqu ering the day’s First hours, which fled, and even from afar I could tell that sunlight was dancing over waves. T h e only peop le on the plain were us, Like a traveler hunting a road h e’s somehow lost A n d until h e’s on it seems com pletely uncertain. W h en we reached the shore, where spray and mist can fight W ith the sun, for here the breeze w on’t blow it away A n d the sun w on’t win until it climbs up higher,



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C A N T O ONE

M y Master reached down and gently pressed his hands A gainst the grasses scattered on the beach, A n d I, knowing exactly what he planned, B ent toward him my cheeks, tear-stained from what I ’d seen, A n d he passed his dam pened hands across my face, Restoring my skin to the color it had always been. A n d then we walked along the em pty sand, N e a r a sea which no man saw and returned, Sunk to the bottom , like Ulysses and all his men. T h e n , to please old Cato, he plucked a reed A n d wound it round my waist— and what a wonder! T h e m om ent he pulled it out, it was instantly R eborn , as whole and com plete as we had seen it.

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Canto Two

T h e sun had already d ip p ed to the horizon (T h e m eridian circle o f which, at its highest point, Covers Jerusalem), and night, running T h e opposite circle, was leaving behind it the Ganges, B earing as it ran the scales which drop From its hands as it wins the endless struggle with daylight. A n d in the place where I was, the rosy cheeks O f Aurora, the dawn, were grow in g older, and orange, H er color as she ages and fills the sky. W e still were g oin g alon g the ocean shore,

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Much like p eop le thinkin g while they walk, Hearts in m otion, bodies still where they were. A n d there! as Mars appears, glow in g red Across the vapors spread around it at dawn, H u n g in the west, above the ocean floor, Just so a light was crossing the sea— and may I see it a second tim e!— m ovin g at speeds N o earthly flight, to this day, has ever achieved, A n d when I looked away fo r a m om ent, to query M y Master, in only those seconds I saw it had grow n Even bigger and brighter, and went on growing. Th en , on each side o f whatever it was, there appeared U nknown things, both white, and underneath it, Little by little, I saw another whiteness.

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CANTO TWO

My Master said nothing until the pair o f things, W h iter than even before, were clearly wings, A n d he could recogn ize the holy being W h o steered it: “K n eel dow n!” he cried. “Bow down! This Is G o d ’s own angel. Clasp your hands in prayer. O ministers o f G od are often here. “See how he disdains all human devices, D eclin in g oars, and n eedin g no other sails, O n this longest o f journeys, than the wings on which he rides. “See how carefully they’re pointed at Heaven, B eating the air with feathers so sublime T h a t nothing affects them, unlike the m ortal kind.” T h en as the heavenly bird came nearer and nearer It seem ed to take on a glow forever brighter, A n d my eyes no longer tolerated such brightness, A n d I had to look down. T h at holy vessel came T o shore with such incredible lightness, so swift, T h a t the water underneath it rem ained untouched. T h e heavenly steersman, standing at the stern, Seem ed to have G o d ’s grace written on him; T h e cargo h e’ d brought was m ore than a hundred spirits.

“When Israel wentforth from, Egypt's land” T h e y all were singing together, in one clear voice, A n d sang the entire psalm as it is written. And then the steersman blessed them, signing the cross, A n d each and all threw themselves on the shore, A n d the bird flew o f f as swiftly as it had come. The multitude that rem ained was busily staring Th is way and that, as people do with sights N ew to their eyes, trying to see what they are. By now the sun had thoroughly conquered the sky, Shooting bright day all over, and Capricorn H ad fled away, past the m eridian line,

PU RGATORIO

A n d those who were new to this desert turned to us, A n d asked: “ Please, i f you know the way, show us W hich road w ill lead us up the m ountain.” H e spoke

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T o them, my Master: “You think we know this location, Perhaps, but truly, we are pilgrim s, exactly Like all o f you. W e cam e here barely a m om ent “O r two before you, traveling on d ifferen t paths, Roads so rough and hard to travel that, indeed, C lim bing the m ountain w ill seem like strolling on grass.” W atching m e closely, this crowd o f spirits perceived M y breathing, and knew that I was still alive; T h e shock and w onder suddenly turned them pale, A n d just as a m essenger w ill hold the eyes

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O f people who know by the olive branch he bears Th at his news is good , these fortunate spirits tried T o get close to me, pushing and shoving, almost As i f forgettin g why they were even there, C lim bing the m ountain to reach what their lives had lost. O n e o f them approached me, I saw, intending T o em brace me, with such a show o f great affection Th at I was m oved to spread out my arms fo r him. O em pty im age, outside show o f a being! I threw my arms around him , and again, and again,

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A n d each tim e saw them returning, empty, to me. Surely he saw, I think, m y wonderm ent, For the spirit smiled, slowly m ovin g back, A n d I follow ed after, not seeing what he meant. Speaking gently, he told m e to stay where I was, A n d then I knew him , and quickly asked him to stay A mom ent, so he and I would be able to talk. H e answered: “Exacdy as I loved you, alive, So now I love you, fre e d o f my human body; I ’ll stay. But you— where are you going, and why?”

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CANTO TWO

“M y Casella,” I said, “to earn the right, W h en I'm dead, to make this jo u rn ey once again. But you, how lon g were you w aiting to make this flight?'' H e said to me: “I suffer no punishment, For the angel takes w hoever the angel likes: I'v e waited three months fo r him to change his judgm ent. “H e ’s taken, most peacefully, whoever he wanted, A ctin gju sdy, as angels always do. H o w could I protest what Heaven sent me? “I went to that shore where the river T ib er turns

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T o salt and enters the ocean, and there he came A n d in the kindest fashion gathered m e in. “H e's flying, now, back to where I was waiting, F or souls are always drawn to that place, when H ell H as not been decreed to be their destination.” I said: “ I f nothing about the new law, in here, W ip es away the songs o f love you used T o sing, and calm my longings, O may I hear one, “O n ce more, to ease and com fort my soul— bruised, A s is my body, frayed by the hard and bitter

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Journey I have been making. My heart is weary.”

“O love, that always argues in my mind ” H e sang, b egin n in g the song so very sweetly T h a t his music still resounds, deep inside me. My Master and I, and everyone who was there, Seem ed to be so pleased that nothing else C ou ld possibly concern them. W hat we were hearing Kept us so attentive, fixed our minds So fully, that we were shocked and deeply surprised By Cato, that worthy old man, who burst in, crying: “What's this, you lazy spirits? W hat carelessness, W hat lingering? H u rry up the mountain, Strip away the filth that keeps G od from you!”



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PURGATORIO

As pigeon doves, picking at wheat o r at clim bing Herbs, quietly gathered together fo r a meal, W ill abandon fo o d without their usual pride A n d strutting, scatter because o f what frightens them m ore, N o m atter how cherished a banquet they were enjoying, Self-preservation always their most im portant A ffa ir, so I then saw new-landed souls R unning from music, hurrying toward the hillside L ike people dashing away, unsure in their minds Just where— and we too hurried away from there.

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Canto Three

D espite the pilgrim s’ sudden flight, sending Frightened souls across the plain, heading Tow ard the m ountain where justice w ould pick and probe A t them , I stayed close to my faithful com panion A n d guide: how could I manage, except with him A t my side? W h o would take m e up the mountain? H e seem ed to me dissatisfied with him self— But O , how purest consciences are stung By tiny faults, bitter on noble tongues! W h e n he allowed his steps to go without hurry

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(W h ich sucks the honor out o f all we do), It fre ed my mind, victim to haste and worry, T o open, enlarge its focus: I turned, view in g W hat we confronted, a truly massive m ountain T ow erin g up to the sky, as i f out o f the ocean. T h e sun had clim bed and was blazing right behind us, But its rays were broken by an im age o f myself, lying Dark on the ground in fron t o f where I stood. I turned m yself swiftly back, seeing just one Such figu re o f darkness, afraid I was now alone, A n d terrified he m ight have abandoned me. A n d he, my com fort, said: “You still don't trust me?” H e turned completely around and faced m e directly: “D on't you believe I'm with you, and rem ain your guide?

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PURGATORIO

“It's evening, now, in the place where my body is buried, W ith which, when I was alive, I cast a shadow As you do. It lies in Naples, rem oved from Brindisi, “W h ere I died. A n d now that I have no shadow, why Should you be m ore surprised than watching the sky But seeing no heavenly spheres obstructing each other?

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“Th ese bodies were m ade by G od, they endure troubles, A n d heat, and frost— but we are not in form ed H ow this is accomplished; H e does not want us to know. “You have to be mad, h oping that human reason Can ever unravel the infinite things H e does, T h re e Persons simultaneously only One. “Be satisfied, O humans, with Reality, For had you ever been able to see and know It all, why bother with G od in M ary’s womb? “You’ve seen what happens to m en pursuing Truth

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W ith nothing m ore than their minds, the lon gin g they suffer, For all eternity their reason useless. “ I ’m speaking, here, o f Aristotle, o f Plato, A n d many others.” T h ere he bent his head A n d then was silent, but clearly still agitated. M eanwhile we walked to the very fo o t o f the mountain, A n d found the rocky slope impossibly steep: T h e quickest legs could never make this ascent! A lo n g the coast from L erici to L a Turbie T h e most deserted, ruined path is a staircase, O p en and smooth, com pared to a clim b like this. “ But how can we tell,” my Master wondered, thinking A loud, “where these rocky slopes may bend, So som eone can clim b them without the help o f wings?” H e lowered his head, searching fo r a path not blocked By boulders, trying to im agine some workable way, As I was using my eyes to explore the rocks,

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CANTO THREE

When I saw, to my left, a group o f souls apparently Coming our way, but moving their feet so slowly They seemed to come no closer. “Master,” I said, “L ift your eyes and look. Here are those W ho may very well assist us, if you’re unable, By digging deep in your mind, to find one yourself.” He looked and saw them; I could feel the relief he felt: “Yes, let’s go and ask them, they walk quite slow. But you, my good son, be firm in remaining hopeful.” Yet after we had taken a thousand steps, Those souls were still as far away from us As strong-armed men can easily throw a stone— And suddenly they squeezed themselves against T h e hard rocks o f the cliff, stood packed together Like those who stare around them, doubting themselves. “O you who have ended well, spirits chosen By God,” Virgil began, “in the name o f that peace I believe you all can soon expect to enjoy, “Tell us where they bend, these mountain slopes, So feet may find their way. A man o f knowledge Regrets the loss o f time far more than most.” As little sheep emerge from their closed-in pasture, First one, a second, a third, the others standing Shy, their timid eyes turned down, muzzles On the ground; whatever the first one does, the rest Do too, huddling against it if it happens to stop, Simple, quiet, never knowing why, So I saw the leader o f that happy pilgrim Flock began to move in our direction, His face modest, his movement dignified. They followed. When those in front could see the sunlight Stopped by my body, and a shadow stretched to my right All the way from me to the rocky cliff,

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They halted, edging back a little, and all The others behind them behaved in much the same way, Not knowing why, except that sheep are faithful. “Without your having to ask,” said my Master, “I confess That what you’re seeing is truly a human body, Blocking the sun’s bright rays from reaching the ground. “Don’t be surprised, for how could he be here, Trying to climb this wall o f rock, without The power that comes from Heaven, and nowhere else?” And then, as one, that blessed group replied: “Then turn away from us, and go ahead,” And they waved the backs o f their hands, in a silent sign. But one o f them spoke to me: “Whoever you be, Turn and look at my face as you walk away; Think if you’ve seen me, in that other place.” I looked most carefully, passing by him: He was blond, and handsome, like someone born a lord, But with one eyebrow split by an enemy sword. I said, in all humility, that— alas— I ’d never seen him. He said: “So see me now,” And showed me another wound, high on his chest, Then said, smiling: “I am Manfred, Empress Constance’s grandson. That said, please let me ask you, Once you are back in the world, to visit my lovely “Daughter, mother o f Alfonso, Aragon’s king, And James and Frederick, both o f them kings o f Sicily. And tell her, no matter what else is said, the truth: “Once two swords had fatally pierced my body I gave myself, weeping but willingly, To Him who always pardons what comes to Him freely. “My sins were horrible and many, but infinite Goodness possesses such wide, embracing arms That it enfolds all souls who seek its comfort.

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“Pope Clement sent a bishop to hunt me down, But had that bishop ever read G od’s words, And truly understood them, my body’s bones “Would still be lying under the river Calore’s Bridge, near Benevento, guarded by the heavy Stones the soldiers put there, one by one. “Dug up and scattered abroad, since Clement cursed me, They’re washed by the rain and blown about by the wind, N ot even allowed to be blessed by burning candles. “But human curses cannot dig a grave T o o deep for Eternal Love to find and save us, As long as hope can blossom with any green. “But truly, a man who dies while separated From Holy Church, no matter his final repentance, Is forced to remain on this side o f Heaven for thirty “Times the years he lived outside the Church— Although that law provides a way to shorten His sentence, if living souls give him their prayers. “Try to help me to Heaven, and make me smile Today, by telling my gracious daughter you’ve seen me And heard how much her warmest prayers are needed— Those o f us here can be helped by the world, if it tries.”

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Canto Four

W h en a num ber o f b odily senses receive Pleasure o r pain, and what has been felt centers O u r soul on these sensations alone, it seems T h at the soul suspends its interest in anything else, W hich is the opposite o f that false b e lie f T h at m ore than one soul is exactly what is in us. However, when som ething heard o r som ething seen Strikes the soul and holds it hard, tim e Goes by, and a man so g rip p ed cannot perceive it, Since d ifferen t senses are either feelin g o r noting

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Perception, to in form the entire soul, the latter T ie d to the current o f feeling, the form er free. A n d I experienced this in genuine form , Listening to M an fred with absolute wonder, For the sun had clim bed no less than fifty degrees A n d I had never noticed, when suddenly T h e spirits clim bing behind called out to us, As one: “H ere is what you were look in g fo r!” A farm er fork in g up a clump o f thorns In that season when grapes are ripening, grow in g dark, W ill fin d h im self presented with a b igger hole T h an that narrow gap through which my leader clim bed, A n d I behind him, but only he and I, For that was when the group o f souls split away.

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A man can walk up to San Leo, and down To Noli, and climb Bismantova to the top, With just his feet, but here you have to fly— That is, with the beating wings and fluttering feathers O f high desire, with a man like my Master to follow, H e who gave me hope and lit up my soul. We climbed inside the jagged split in the rock, Closely squeezed on either side, hands And feet working hard at the ground beneath us. Then we came to the upper edge o f the cliff, Standing now out on an open slope: “My Master,” I said, “tell me which way to go.” He answered me: “Keep on walking upward; Just stay behind me, climbing this same mountain Until some better guide appears to us.” The top was so high I simply could not see it, And the slope was even steeper than a line drawn From the center o f a circle to any o f its quadrants. And I was tired as I began to speak: “O gentle father, turn and look, see Where I will be i f you keep going on.” “My son,” he said, “just pull yourself this far,” Pointing out a ledge a little above us, Running, on this side, all around the mountain. His words summoned energy enough For me to crawl on all fours until I reached him, And the ledge at last was solid under my feet. Both o f us sat down, turning to the east, The way that we’d been climbing, for looking back At the road behind you helps you help yourself. First I looked at the shores, far down below, And then I raised my eyes to the sun, surprised To see it coming at us from the left.

PURGATORIO

The poet saw that I was stupefied At the sight o f Phoebus’ glimmering chariot Passing between the north and us, and spoke At once: “I f Castor and Pollux, in Gemini, Were now together with that burning mirror, Which sheds its light both up and down, what you “Would see, my son, would be the Zodiac, Aglow, turning closer to the Bears (Unless our sun was straying from its road). “To understand why this is so, focus Yourself and imagine Zion, and this great mountain, So placed on our earth that they have a common horizon “But different hemispheres. Thus you’ll see That the road Phaethon had to drive, but could not, Must necessarily wind past this mountain “On one flank, whenever it passes that one, over There, on the other. Phaethon did not know this, But you, using your mind, can see it right.” “O f course, my Master,” I said. “I ’ve never been able To understand, though now I do, how little I knew: my mind had never thoroughly grasped “The fact that celestial motion’s middle circle (Astronomy now calls it the Equator), Always running between our sun and winter— “For the reasons you have told me— departs from here And goes north, as far as the ancient Hebrews could tell, Only seeing the sun from their tropical home. “But if you please, right now I ’d rather know How much farther we’ll climb: my eyes can’t reach Even the end o f this high slope we’re on.” He answered: “Climbing this mountain begins as a feat O f strength, even near the start, but it grows Easier, the higher a man can go.

C A N T O FOUR

“ By the time it seems no more than a pleasant stroll, As hard as floating downstream in a boat, You’ll be approaching the final part o f this road— “A n d having reached it, you can certainly hope T o rest and recover your breath. I can say no more: What I have said is exacdy how much I know.” W hen he said these words, and as he paused, Someone spoke, from close by: “O f course, it may Be necessary to rest long before then!” Both o f us turned, the moment we heard that voice, And saw to our left a tremendous boulder, unseen By either o f us, before this traveler spoke. We walked over there, and saw a group o f people Lying about in the shade behind the rock, Like lazy folk, determined to keep things easy. A n d one o f them, not lazy so much as tired, Had wound his arms around his pulled-up knees, Hs face turned down, hanging low between them. “O my, Master,” I said, “come have a look at this one, Making himself a picture o f laziness Worse than if sloth itself was his little sister!” T h e man then turned toward us, paying attention, Slowly lifting his head above his leg: “Then you go up, so brave and so courageous!” But now I knew him, and even afflicted by shortage O f breath I walked a little closer, and when 1 stood at his side he halfway lifted his head, Saying: “Have you seen— here, for a change, Tell me the truth— how the sun is driving his carriage Across the sky and always on your left?” His all-too>familiar laziness, including These words, moved my lips to a smile, but I said: “Belacqua, I can’t be sorry for you, not now.

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“But tell me: why are you sitting here? Is an escort Coming to fetch you? O r have you only fallen Back to the life I saw you leading before?” He said: “O brother, what good can I find, up there? The angel o f God, sitting in front o f the gate, Won’t let me in, not even for punishment. “Before that happens the heavens must spin me around Outside it, for at least as long as I lived my life, For I felt no sorrow till just before the end, “And so it must be, unless good prayers can help me, Rising to God from a heart that lives in His grace. What good would mine be? None will get to Heaven.” And now the poet was climbing again, in front O f me, and saying: “Keep on. See the sun Touched by the equatorial line; from the edge O f the shore, night comes in to the land o f Morocco.”

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Canto Five

I’d left those careless, indifferent souls behind, Following my Master’s steady feet, When one back there, pointing his finger at me, Called out: “See, to the left o f him, below, You cannot see the sun’s bright rays behind him— And certainly he acts like a man who’s alive!” I turned around as he began to speak, And saw them staring, astonished, up at me, And only me, casting shadows on rocks. “Why is your mind so tangled and wound around,” My Master said, “that it ties your feet and slows them Down? Why does it matter, what’s whispered down there? “Just follow me and let the people talk: Stand as steady as a tower, which doesn’t shake Its top whenever the winds decide to blow. “A man whose mind is distracted lets thought after thought Keep him from getting where he wants to go: They hammer each other down; nothing can grow.” What could I possibly say, except “I ’m coming”? And as I said it, my face broke out in that color Which sometimes makes a man worthy o f pardon. Meanwhile, a little bit ahead o f us, People were crossing our path, coming from the left, Singing Psalm Fifty-one, the Miserere.

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But when they saw the rays o f the sun blocked By my body o f solid, living flesh, they stopped Their singing, ending with a long, hoarse “O !” And two o f them, acting as messengers, Came running over, bursting with urgent questions: “Tell us more o f who and what you are!” My Master said: “You may return to the people W ho sent you, and tell them that, indeed, this man Is honestly alive, his flesh is real. “If, as I suppose, seeing his shadow Made you stop in your path, what else can you need To know? Honor his presence; that may be useful “To you.” No lightning flashes have I seen, Splitting early evening sky, or August Clouds as the sun slips down, go rapidly Like these excited messengers to their group, And, wheeling around, brought them back toward us, Like troopers galloping, their reins hung loose. “Here are many people swarming to us, Coming to ask you favors,” my poet said. “But walk ahead, and listen as we go.” “O soul,” they called as they ran, “you who will know Your bliss while wearing the body in which you were born, We beg you to wait a little while for us. “See if any faces are known to you, So you can carry news o f him back there. Ah, why are you leaving? O why won’t you stop and hear us? “Truly, we each were taken by violent death, Sinners all until the very end, When Heaven’s light showed us the way to grace “And we, repenting and begging for pardon, left Our lives in entire peace with God, who lets Us feel the sadness o f not yet seeing His face ”

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C A N T O FI VE

I said: “I have been looking carefully, But recognizing no one. I f I can truly Do anything to please you, newborn spirits, “Tell me, and by that peace which I pursue, Following a guide like mine from world To world, you may be certain I'll surely do it.” Then one replied: “Each o f us trusts your word, Without the slightest need for an oath, if all That blocks the way is lack o f power, not will. “So I, who speak for myself and ahead o f the others, Beg you, if you're in the region from Ravenna To little Ancona, on the Adriatic coast, “Let holy prayers be said for my salvation In Fano town, as a sacred courtesy To help me purge away my grievous sins. “ My home was there. But the bone-deep wounds that let My life's hot blood go spilling away were given Me in the heart o f Paduan lands, just where “I thought myself completely safe and secure. Azzo o f Este did it, he who hated Me beyond all reason, for being in his way. “I ran from his assassins, but took the wrong path And stumbled into the marshes. The other direction Would have saved me, I'd still be alive. But alas, “The reeds and canes so tied my feet that I fell, And there I saw, in the middle o f muck and weeds, A growing pool o f blood that poured from my veins ” Another one spoke: “O living man, whatever Desire draws you up the mountain, may you have it: And may you help me, with gracious prayers to our Lord! “I came from Montefeltro; I am Buonconte. Neither my widow nor anyone else will help me, So here I am, deserted and walking alone.”

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A n d then I asked him: “W hat bad luck, what display O f force took you so far from the battle site T h a t no one has found the groun d you m ade your grave?” “A h !” he answered. “A stream from the Apennines, T h e re called the Archiano, crosses deep In the valley, and I, already m ortally stabbed “ In the throat, cam e staggering down to where that river Changes its name, bleed in g my way across T h e plain, run ning I knew not where. I lost “My sight, but b efore I lost the power o f speech

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I m anaged to say ‘Mary,’ and then I died, A n d lay there, with no one around m e o r at my side. “I ’m tellin g the truth, tell this to those still alive. T h e angel o f G o d descended fo r me, and he W h o comes from H ell protested, ‘You’re robbing me! M‘For ju st one tiny tear-drop b efore he died, You’re stealing away all the eternal part O f him ! A ll right: I w ill deal with what’s le ft!’ “O f course you know how water rises fro m the ground, A n d just as soon as it reaches colder regions,

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T h e air condenses it, and form s a vapor. “H e jo in e d his need fo r evil (which looks fo r m ore) W ith his evil m ind, and with powers devils are born with, H e started stirring vaporous mists and clouds. “W h en the sun had set, he brought in clouds o f fog, C overin g valleys leading up to the mountains A n d filled the air above them with frozen winds “So the well-charged air was forced to shed its water. Rain poured down, and what the land refused T o hold was driven into gulleys, in which “It fo rm ed great torrents, greater than any river, W h ich swelled the royal A rn o into a ragin g Stream that nothing on earth could restrain. Finding

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“My frozen body, the Archiano swept it Into the greater river, and broke the cross My dying arms had carefully made across “My chest, as pain, at last, had overcome me. I was rolled along the banks, and the river's bottom, Then wrapped and covered in trash its raging had won." “Please, when you have returned to the world, and rested From this long and difficult journey,” whispered Another spirit, “remember me. I “Am Pia, a lady from Siena, which made me. Nello o f Maremma was he who unmade me, As he well knows, who put a ring on my maiden Finger, wedding me to him forever.”

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Canto Six

W h en a gam e o f zara, played with three dice, is over, T h e party breaks up but the loser stays, spinning T h e dice again and again, rethinking his throws. Th ose who leave follow after the winner, O n e walking in front, one pu lling his shirt from behind, O n e waiting to catch his attention, w alking beside him. T h e w inner won’t stop, but listens to one o r another, Dismissing each with a touch o f his hand, which all know Is farewell, and thus he protects h im self from the crowd. A n d so I proceeded, working through the m ob

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O f spirits, look in g this way, then that, o fferin g Promises to earn my freed o m again. O n e was the A retine, killed by the furious Hands o f G h in o di Tacco, taking revenge, A n d another who drow ned, run ning away fro m a war. H ere was Federigo Novello, b eg gin g For his life, hands outstretched, and the m urdered son O f g o o d Marzucco, who forgave the m urdering one. I saw C ount Orso, whose soul was split from his body By spite and envy, and not, everyone says, Because o f any crim e, fo r none was com m itted. Pierre de la Brosse had m et the same death— and M arie O f Brabant, who arranged his execution, had better R epent while she can, or end in a much worse circle.

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C A N T O SI X

A s soon as I was free o f all the spirits, W h o prayed only that those still livin g should pray F or them, reducing their wait fo r blessedness, I began: “O Master o f m ine, I find on a page O f your Aeneid a flat denial that prayer C an change the final decrees o f Heaven. But praying

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“ For exactly this is what these spirits seek. Is there no hope fo r them? A re their prayers a waste O f breath? Have I failed to understand your statement?” H e answered me: “W hat I have written is clear, A n d truly, none o f these spirits is praying in vain— I f you view these matters soundly, in a larger sphere. “ For the highest state o f justice is never threatened W h en burning adoration satisfies, In an instant, the worthy pleas o f spirits here; “A n d the passage you speak o f affirm s H eaven’s denial,

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For that case deals with a pagan soul, at a time W h en prayer as a whole was disconnected from God. “But d o not leave a matter so deep, so high In doubt, until you’ve heard what she w ill say— She, the light that glows between truth and the mind. “You may not understand: I speak o f Beatrice. You w ill see her, there at the peak o f this mountain, A n d she w ill smile on you, forever glad.” I said: “M y lord, let us m ove on, and faster, For I am not as weary as I was before, A n d I see, by now, the m ountain’s begun to cast “A shadow.” “Surely, we w ill proceed in daylight,” H e answered, “at least, as far as we are able; But the situation is not what you suppose it. “T h e sun, now hidden behind this ragged slope, So you no longer block his rays, w ill have to Return on the other side, before you arrive there.

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PURGATORIO

“ But look: see that soul, sitting all A lon e, he who is look in g toward us. H e W ill show us which is the best and quickest road.”

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W e walked toward him. O noble L om bard soul, H ow wondrous d ig n ified you seem ed, disdainful, Your eyes m oving so scrupulously and slow! H e did not o ffe r us a single word, But let us continue, givin g us the gaze O f a lion lying down and quietly waiting. Yet V irg il approached, asking him which way T o the peak m ight be the best fo r us. T h e question G ot no answer; the herm it simply inquired W h ere we cam e from , what place in the world we had held.

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M y ever-courteous, gentle leader began: “Mantua . . . ” and the deeply reclusive spirit Rose from where he’d been seated and cam e directly Toward V irgil, exclaim ing: “O Mantua soul! I ’m Sordello, Mantua b o rn !” T h ey em braced each other. A h , slave-land Italy, hom e o f grief, A ship sailing in tempests, but without a pilot, N o princess o f provinces, but only a whorehouse! O n ly hearing the sweet sound o f his native Land, that noble soul had been so eager

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T o give his fellow citizen a joyous W elcom e— and now those who are still alive C annot live without fighting: they gnaw each other, Even shut in a m oat o r behind a wall. Miserable country, look around the shores O f your seas, and then p eer into your heart: See i f you fin d peace in any part. W h at was the point o f m ending Justinian’s legal Bridle, i f now no one sits in the saddle? O u r shame would be less, without those polished laws!

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C A N T O SIX

A h , p eop le ought to be pious, devout, letting Caesar sit on the horse and hold the reins, I f they fu lly understand what G od set down For them. Be careful! Th is beast’s gone savage, since no o n e ’s R id in g it, correcting it with spurs, A n d no one walks beside it, h olding the bridle. O G erm an Em peror A lbert, who deserted her, L ettin g her run however she happened to please W h en you were chosen to sit on that high-arched seat, D ivine justice ought to fall from the stars

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O n you and all your blood! May it be bitter, A n d strange, and fearful to whoever takes that throne! You, and your father too, have stayed away, K ept up there by greed, as ou r shores were wasted, L ettin g the Em pire’s garden turn to a desert. See Montagues and Capulets, M onaldi, A n d Filippeschi, you who didn’t care! See them already wretched, livin g in fear! Com e, you cruel lord, com e see the state O f your nobles, help them lick their flow ing wounds;

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See gracious Santafiora in its new darkness! C om e see your widowed Rome, which weeps all alone, C ryin g by day and crying by night: wMy Caesar! W h y am I abandoned in my own hom e?” C om e see your happy people, loving each other! A n d i f no pity fo r us can m ove you, come, Behold, and be shamed by what’s becom e o f your name. A n d i f I ’m allowed, O Jove supreme— you W h o suffered cru cifixion on earth, and fo r us— I ask you where your eyes are turned to, now? O r are you planning, you and those who assist you, D eep in thought, planning some secret blessing W hich we on earth are forever unable to see?

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For all the cities in Italy are swarm ing W ith tyrants, and every single country fellow W h o tries to help us becom es another Marcellus. A n d you, my Florence, rejoice that this digression Om its all talk o f you, because o f your people, W h o have resourceful depths that they can depend on. Many men in other cities have justice

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A t heart, but never get to shooting the arrow; Your people walk with freed om set on their lips. Many g o o d men refuse the public burden, But Florence's p eople need no civic summons T o rush to your side, crying: “I'll take it o n !” Rejoice, rejoice, forever with g o o d reason, Rich, at peace, livin g deep in wisdom! I f I speak the truth, your actions w on’t conceal it. Athens and Sparta, who drafted the ancient laws, W ere people devoted to every civic art,

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Except that livin g well was not a part O f their lives, com pared to you, who draw up laws So subtle that what you weave in the m onth o f O ctober By m iddle N ovem ber has frayed and fallen to the ground. H ow many times you’ve changed ( i f we can rem em ber) Laws, and coinage, public offices, A n d customs, and altered your citizens as well! But i f you think quite hard, and focus clearly, You’ll see a sick old wom an insom niac W h o cannot sleep but numbly goes on trying T o pacify pain by rollin g from side to side.

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Canto Seven

A fte r the greetings, m erry and courteous, H a d been repeated three, then fou r times over, S ord ello stepped back and said: “You, who are you?” “L o n g before a single worthy soul C am e to this mountain, seeking to com e to G od, M y bones were buried by Ottavian. “I am V irgil, and the only sin T h a t cost m e Heaven is that I died without faith.” T h is was how my Master answered him. L ik e som eone w ho suddenly sees, directly in front

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O f him, a thing too wonderful to be true, W h o believes, and doesn’t, saying, “This is . . . this isn’t . . . ” Just so he seemed. A n d then he lowered his brow A n d very humbly approached V irg il once more, Em bracing him, as inferiors must, below T h e arms: “O glory o f all, where Latin was spoken, W h o showed us the power our languages could evoke, W hose praises still are sung by the city that bore me, “H ow do I deserve to stand before you? I f I am worthy to hear your words, tell me I f you have com e from H ell, and from which circle?” “I cam e through every circle in that m ournful Realm ,” said V irgil, “before I entered here. Heaven’s pow er im pelled me to make this journey.

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“I did not do or fail to do, but learned T o o late the truths that would have earned me the sight O f that holy Sun fo r which you also yearn. “T h ere is a place, down there, not saddened by torments O r pain, but simply by darkness, where you hear no w eeping O r lamentation, but only perpetual sighs.

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“There's where I stay, alon g with innocent children, Snatched away by death ’s sharp teeth before T h e ir souls were baptized, saved from O rigin al Sin. “A n d there I am, with virtuous pagans who never A cqu ired three holy virtues— faith, hope, A n d Christian love— granted by grace o f G od. “But i f you have know ledge and w illin gly share it, show us T h e straightest, fastest path that we can g o on, T o where G o d ’s Purgatory truly begins.” Sordello answered: “N o perm anent place exists

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For us; I can g o up, and also around; I ’ll be your guide, as fa r as I am allowed. “But see how the sun is rapidly goin g down, A n d clim bing at night is totally out o f the question; A t this point, a place to rest becom es im portant. “A company o f souls is o f f to the right; W ith your permission, I w ill take you there, A n d I suspect they’ ll greet you with great delight.” “D o I hear correctly?” V irg il responded. “H e W h o wishes to clim b at night would be stopped? O r would he

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Find that clim bing at night was beyond his power?” G o o d Sordello drew a lin e in the ground W ith his finger: “D o you see? O nce the sun’s gon e down You would not step across this line I drew you— “N o t that any other force o r power Th an darkness itself would stop you from goin g up: It strips your will, and leaves it impotent.

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“ Th ere*d be no problem i f anyone turned around A n d went back, o r walked about the slopes o f the mountain A s the endless, black horizon kept day away.”

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M y leader replied, almost shaking his head In wonder: “Lead us on, to the place you m entioned, W h ere we can take delight in tim e well spent.” W e*d walked only a very litde while W h en I saw the hill was open inside, just as Valleys let earthly mountains descend into hollows. “ W e ’ll go,” said Sordello, “ to where the rocky slope Becomes a soft and com fortin g bosom, and there W e ’ ll wait until the dawn, in darkness o r sleep.” T h e r e was a sm ooth but slanting path, leading

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Straight to the hollow, where its upper ed ge Pretty much seem ed to die away. G old A n d the finest silver, scarlet scale and whitest Lead, shining bits o f Indian wood, Fresh green emerald, just when the gem is cut— A ll these would seem o f duller hue than the simple Grass and flowers sprouting in that valley, Just as smaller is always surpassed by bigger. N o t only had Nature been busily painting down there, But taking the sweetness o f a thousand scents

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She’d blended them all in a blur o f unknown savor. Sitting on that grass, and singing Salve,

Regina, I witnessed souls I ’d not been able T o see, outside the bounds o f that hidden valley. “W e ’ ll let the sinking sun descend to its nest,” Sordello began, he who had brought us there, “Before I b rin g you down to where they are. “L o o k in g from this ledge, you’ll see much better A n d be better acquainted with everyone down there, Than i f you were already one o f the group.

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“T h e one who’s sitting highest, look in g as i f H e ’d always neglected to do what should have been done, A n d does not m ove his lips with the others’ song, “ H e was Em peror Rudolf, who could have healed T h e wounds and sorrows by which ou r country was slain; A n y attempt at salvation, now, is too late. “T h e other one, who seems to be o fferin g com fort, Ruled Bohem ian lands, where waters well up W hich the M oldau brings to the Elba, the Elba to the sea: “ His nam e was Ottakar, and even as a child

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H e could have beaten bearded Wenceslas, His son, who prefers to feed on sloth and lust. “A n d that one, with his narrow nose, who acts Like a counselor to the one w ho’s pleasantly m ild, Was running away when he died, a disgrace to France: “Just look at him, see how he beats at his chest! A n d the m ild one, H en ry the Fat, look at him resting His cheek in the palm o f his hand, where it sleeps and sighs. “T h e y ’re father and father-in-law to Philip the Fair, Know n as the plague o f France, whose foul life

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A n d vices they know, and m ourn, in eternal grief. “T h e one who looks so strong, who harm onizes His singing with that other, whose nose fills H is face, was brave in war, and in everything wise, “And i f the boy sitting behind him had com e T o be king, after his father died, Spain W ould have flowered, excellence flow in g from one to the other, “W hich no one could say o f those other heirs, James A n d Frederick, who did becom e kings, who did rule realms, But could not flower, fo r the seed was ruined: “Goodness rarely flows to the spreading branches O f a fam ily tree, fo r G o d who gives it decrees T h at since the g ift is His, humans must ask it.

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C A N T O SEVEN

“ M y words are meant fo r the big-nosed one no less T h an fo r Peter, down there, singing and standing beside him: Both Provence and Apu lia have suffered and grieved. “N o matter the plant, you cannot count on the seed: T h e measure can even be taken from each o f their wives, W hose boasts about their husbands are signs o f their breeding. “ See H en ry the T h ird o f England, he o f the simple L ife, sitting over there, alone: H is branches did better, ru lin g as kings on their own. “H e who sits on the ground, lowest o f all A n d look in g up, is W illiam , a marquis and known A s Long-Sword; he ruled in M ontferrat, but his wars M ade his own and many other cities mourn.”

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Canto Eight

N ow the hour had com e which stirs the hearts O f seafaring men, saying farewell to the best O f friends, pu lling in ropes, and setting off; Dusk, the hour piercing pilgrim s' chests W ith love, just gon e from hom e and hearing bells Th at seem to m ourn a dying day, not men; A n d then I began not to hear what my ears were telling, Staring at one o f the souls, newly standing, W hose hands seem ed to explain the art o f listening. His palms were clasped, and liftin g both his hands

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H e fixed his eyes on the distant East, as i f D eclaring to G od, “N oth in g else can matter.” H e sang “Te lucis ante, before day’s gone,” W ith such devotion, his voice so incredibly sweet Th at nothing rem ained o f my m ind, his words were all. A n d then the others, with equal devotion and sweetness, Sang along with him the entire song, T h eir eyes, too, fixed on Heaven’s wheels. (Focus your eyes, reader, it won’t be lon g B efore you know the entire truth, so thinly Veiled that those who enter need not be strong.) A n d then I saw that noble band o f believers Stand, as quiet as i f com pletely expectant, T h eir faces pale, in wholly hum bled stances.

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CANTO EIGHT

A n d I saw two angels flying from above, Each o f them w ielding a broken-pointed sword Set on fire and flam ing through the skies. T h e ir clothing was green, pure as newly opened Leaves, and trailing out behind them, whipping, Flapping against the wake o f great green wings.

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O n e landed and took up a post not far above us; T h e other came down and stood on the opposite ledge, C ontain ing those below exactly between them. I had no trouble seeing their bright blond hair, But their faces confused my eyes, which could not focus, Like senses overwhelm ed, dazzled by excess. “T h e y ’ve both com e from M ary’s bosom,” Sordello Said, “guards who protect this valley, because O f the serpent w ho’ll soon be m aking his appearance.” A n d I, without the slightest knowledge o f this serpent’s

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Path, turned around, filled with fear, A n d squeezed against my Master’s trusty shoulders. S ord ello went on: “It’s tim e that we go down T o where the great spirits are, and speak with them: T h e y ’ ll be exceedingly pleased that you have found them.” I think I ’d taken three steps, no more, and was there, A n d watching a spirit intently watching me, Staring as i f he surely knew m e from before. T h e air was grow in g darker, now, but not So dark that, both to his eyes and mine, it was clear W e’d seen what had not been visible from the spot W e ’ d been on. H e cam e toward me, and I to him: N ob le Judge N ino, how happy it made me, seeing You where you were, and not where I had been! Greetings o f every kind flowed at this m eeting, A n d then he asked: “Tell m e how long you’ve been A t the fo o t o f the mountain, crossing the fa r-o ff waters?”



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“O,” I told him, “I cam e from the gloom y depths Just this m orning, still livin g the first o f my lives, But m aking these journeys here w ill earn m e the next one.”

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I m ade this answer cheerfully unawares, But as soon as they heard me, both he, and also Sordello, Stepped back, like people suddenly bewildered; T h ey turned, Sordello to V irgil, and N in o aside T o one o f those who were seated: “G et up, Currado! C om e see what G od, in H is grace, has brought us!” he cried. T h en he turned to me: “In the nam e o f that rare blessing, Bestowed on you by H im whose prim al purpose Is so well hidden that no one ever knows it, “W h en you’ve returned to the other side o f those

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Great waters, tell my Giovanna to pray For me, there where the innocent are noticed. “I do not think her m other loves me, since T h e m ou rn ing tim e is over and she is a w ife A ga in — but troubled, alas! fo r her newfound prince “May be a pauper. She shows how wom en are flighty In love, the fire lasting only while T h e touch o f a hand, o r a lon gin g look o f the eye, “Can feed it. H er tom b would have m ore dignity W ith a strutting rooster perched above it, the sign O f my clan, instead o f the slinking viper that he “A n d his people display” His face was stamped with that righteous Indignation, useful when carefully dam pened, But glow in g deep and hot in the human heart. My eager eyes were suddenly searching high In the slowest part o f the sky, where constellations Revolve like the center o f a wheel, nearest the axle.

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CANTO EIGHT

M y Master said: “Son, what are you watching?” I answered: “Th ose three burning torches, lighting T h e pole so that it seems alive with fire.”

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H e told me: “T h e four bright stars you saw this m orning A r e sunken low, across on the other side, A n d these have com e up to take the others’ places.” A n d as he said this, Sordello, excited, turned him About, his finger pointin g out what he should see: “ Behold! T h ere he comes, our enem y!” N e a r the place where the litde valley had N o wall, no ridge, there was indeed a snake, Perhaps the kind that visited Eve, and gave her B itter food. Slipping through grass and flowers,

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It flicked its head around, from tim e to time, Lick in g its back like a beast preening its hide. I d id not see them, and therefore cannot say H ow or exactly when Heaven’s hawks Descended, but I certainly saw them both in motion. H e a rin g their bright green wings plow through the air, T h e snake im m ediately fled; the angels turned back, Both o f them standing at their posts again. C urrado, who’d m oved close to the ju dge, w ho’d called In such excitement, ignored the angels, staring

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Steadily at me, wholly absorbed. “Just as you hope that light which leads you high W ill find you w illin g to bend and thus acquire W hat’s needed to clim b toward that enam eled sky,” H e began, “I hope you may know, and now w ill tell me, News o f Villafranca, in the M agra valley, For I was a great man, once, in those lands. My name “Was Currado Malaspina. N o t the old one, My father’s father, but I ’m descended from him. I loved my people; that love is perfected here.”

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PURGATORIO

“O !” I exclaim ed. “I ’ve never walked in your lands, But is there any place in Europe where your fam ily’s N am e w ill not be honored and renowned? “A n d the fam e which honors your house is always directed W herever your fam ily ruled, and those who led it, So he w ho’s never been there always knows you, “A n d I swear, in the name o f my return above, Your honored p eople are not about to lose T h e ir glorious wealth or throw away their swords. “ Both Nature and custom have granted your people glory: Wickedness may lead some people far astray, But yours ignores what’s evil, and goes the right way.” H e said: “ Enough. K now that before the Ram Has seven times returned to the place he stands in, Stam ping all fou r feet in his heavenly lands, “These gracious words o f yours w ill be fixed forever In your head, nailed in place by what is stronger Th an what m en use o r what men say, unless T h e path that justice follows is somehow arrested.”



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Canto Nine

Tithon u s’ mistress, goddess o f the m oon, had left H e r lover’s arms, and could be seen, white A gainst the eastern balcony, her forehead B rillian dy bright, sparkling with gems set In the shape o f that cold and silent creature, striking A t men with its tail, and usually causing death. A n d where we were, that night, darkness had taken T h e first two steps by which she always ascends, A n d the third was already arching its wings, when I, H a vin g in m e som ething o f ancient Adam ,

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A n d defeated by sleep, lay m yself down on the grass W here the five o f us had been sitting, and there I slept. A t the hour when swallows begin their somber songs, N o t much before dawn, perhaps recalling all T h e miseries they’d known, as Philom ena, A n d when our mind, free fo r the m om ent o f the body, Thinks less o f flesh, escapes the intellect A n d sees, sometimes, m ore o f things divine, I dream ed, and thought I saw an eagle flying H igh, on golden wings spread out wide, Readying itself to swoop. I seemed T o be where Ganym ede was caught by an eagle, C arried off, his comrades left behind, A n d taken, now im m ortal, where the gods were meeting.



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A n d I thought to myself: “Perhaps this eagle strikes Just here, and nowhere else, fo r nothing is ripe Enough unless it comes from this place here.” It wheeled around and around, I seem ed to see, T h en swept to the groun d like an awful thunderbolt A n d brought m e up to the fire, bu rning as far

SO

As the m oon, and the eagle and I were both consumed, A n d the heat I im agined seem ed to scorch me so That, o f course, it broke my sleep and I awoke. Much like the young A chilles shaking him self Awake, his eyes staring about, not knowing W h ere he was, after his m other had stolen H im away, still sleeping in her arms, C arrying him from C hiron to Skyros, from where, Later, the Greeks cam e and brought him home.— A n d so I too was shaken, as sleep faded

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Slowly from my face and pallor replaced it, Like som eone terrified, frozen by fear. T h e only person near m e was my com fort, my leader; I saw that the sun was two hours high in the sky; My face was turned toward the sea, but where was I? “D on't be afraid,” my Master told me. “ Be C onfident, as you have been, fo r all Is well. T h erefo re rejoice, and keep you rself stron g “N ow you have arrived at Purgatory, A n d you can see, up there, the c liff G od placed A rou n d it, and where it splits, the entrance-way. “N o t long ago, with dawn just turning to day— Your soul was sleeping inside you— am ong the flowers D ecorating the ground where you lay a lady “A ppeared, saying: ‘I am Lucy. L et me Take up this man, sleeping here, fo r I W ill help him g o much faster, on his way.’



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CANTO NINE

“S ordello stayed where he was; so did the others. She lifted you, and as the daylight flowered U p the mountain she went, and I followed.

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“H e re was where she put you, but first she showed me, She o f the beautiful eyes, the cleft and its gateway; She and your sleep then disappeared, together.” A n d like a hesitant man who’s reassured, H is fear changing to confidence, as he Is suddenly told the truth, so too was I Transform ed, and when my leader saw m e free O f worries and cares, he started up the c liff A n d , I behind him, went clim bing high again. Reader, surely you see how I have heightened

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My subject, and you w ill hardly be surprised If, now, I keep things at such artistic heights. W e cam e much closer, reaching a vantage point From which we saw that what, at first, had seemed Simply a cleft, a break in a solid wall, C on tain ed a gate, three painted steps before it, Each o f differen t colors, and a person in charge O f the gate, who so far had not said a word. A n d as I looked, m ore and m ore intently, I saw that he was seated on the topmost

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Step, his face shining too bright fo r me. A n d in his hands he held a naked sword, R eflecting rays o f light in our direction W hich so confused m e that I had to look away. “T ell m e where you’re from . W hat do you want?” H e began. “W h ere is the escort who brought you here? Be careful. A pproaching m e can be dangerous.” “A lady from Heaven, who fully understands These things,” my Master then replied, “not long A g o instructed us: ‘G o to that gate.* ”

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PURGATORIO

“A n d may her words have shown you a very g o o d way,” T h e gate-keeper said, now courteous and polite. “ In that case, com e to ou r steps; com e toward the gate.” T h en we approached. T h e first o f the steps was white A n d highly polished marble, so crystal clear T h at it showed me, like a m irror, just as I am. T h e second step was purple, almost black, Its stone was rough and seem ed to be burnt, cracked In both directions, across and down its length. T h e third and highest was hard and tightly packed,

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Like the purple and crystal stones o f Egypt, flam ing R ed as b lo od spurting from a vein. Seated on the threshold, the angel o f G od Planted both his feet on this third stone, W hich as far as I could tell was adamant. My leader led me, and I cam e w illingly along, U p the steps, and said: “Ask him, humbly, T o open that which, now, is tightly locked.” I threw m yself at his holy feet, devoudy B eggin g fo r m ercy’s sake to let me in,

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But first, three times pou n din g on my breast, Using the point o f his sword he drew seven P ’s on my forehead: “Be sure to wash away These little wounds, once you’ve com e inside.” His clothes were colored like ashes, o r d irt that’s dry As it’s dug from the earth; from underneath his garments H e drew a pair o f keys, one o f gold, T h e other o f silver. Inserting, first, the whiter O ne, and after that the gold, he opened T h e lock, and I was happy to see him at work. “I f it should happen that one o f these keys fails, N ot turning properly inside the lock,” H e told us, “this corrid or w ill then stay closed.

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CANTO NINE

“O n e is worth m ore than the other, but the silver requires G reater skill and wisdom to unlock the door, For this key disentangles the knot o f sin. “ Peter gave them to me, and told m e mistakes In op en in g are not as bad as in closing, A s long as people g o down on their knees before me.” A n d then he pushed at the sacred door, saying

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A s it opened: “Enter. But I need to tell you: beware, For he who looks back must go outside again.” A n d when the pivot-pegs on that sacred door, M ade o f rin g in g metal, and very strong, Tu rn ed in the hinges, the roar was not as loud As w hen the Rom an treasury was sacked By Caesar, nor were they so reluctant to turn, Fightin g until their only defender was lost. I b e n t my head at the very first tones, and thought I heard Te Deum laudamus, sung in a voice Perfectly blended with that sweetest music. It fe lt as i f what I was hearing were the sounds O f people singing while an organ played, W h e n fo r a m om ent the words com e suddenly clear, A n d just as quickly blur and fade away.

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Canto Ten

W hen we had crossed the threshold o f that gate So often unused, fo r souls have fallen in love W ith evil, m aking the crooked way seem straight, I heard the creaking hinges groan once m ore— A n d had I turned to watch, what decent excuse W ould serve fo r such an inexcusable fault? My leader and I were clim bing up another K in d o f fissured rock, this one bendin g L eft, then right, like water rollin g up A n d down. “H ere,” my leader told me, “a bit

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O f skill is required, staying close to the side T h at pulls away.” Th is guaranteed us little Progress; the sinking m oon descended back T o bed, and was fast asleep before, tired A n d worn, w e’d reached the end o f that n eedle’s eye. But we were out in the open, fo r the m ountain receded, A n d finally free o f that endless slippery track. I felt too weary to continue on, my leader Was not quite sure which way we needed to go, So we stopped to rest fo r a while, at a level spot T h at seem ed m ore solitary than a desert road, For from its edge, the side facing on empty Space, to where the steep rock rose straight up A gain , it was only the width o f three human body-

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Lengths. I f I looked to the left, or looked to the right, A n d as far as my eye could see, this narrow ledge Seem ed never to change, neither in shape nor size. W e were still sitting, and had not taken a step, W h en I realized that the wall o f rock behind us (Far too steep fo r anyone to clim b)

SO

W as snow-white marble, covered with such carvings T h a t Nature herself, not only Polycletus, W ou ld surely be ashamed, and could not compete. T h e angel Gabriel, com ing to earth with G od's D ecree to Mary, op en in g Heaven once m ore A n d announcing peace, appeared on that wall before us, So true and delicate a carving I could not Believe this gende face was only stone, A n d not the heavenly angel himself, about T o part his lips and greet our H oly Mother,

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W h o also appeared, she who open ed the key A n d brought us her Son, bearer o f endless love: Every inch o f her bein g seem ed to be saying “I am Your servant, Lord ,” all exact A n d clear as any message stamped in wax. “ D o not fix your eyes on just one im age,” Said my sweet Master, standing to my left, T h e side on which we humans bear ou r hearts. A n d so I shifted my attention, seeing Beyond ou r H oly Mother, shifting my eyes T o the other side, on which my Master stood, A n d there I saw another tale, set In white rock, and in order to see it better I stepped In front o f V irgil, my eyes wanting it all. Carved in the marble, I saw the oxen drawing T h e ark o f the covenant, too sacred fo r those N o t authorized, by G od himself, to touch.



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People were standing in front, and everyone Was placed in one o f seven choirs, so vivid O n e sense said, “N o,” the other said, “Yes, they’re singing.”

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So too I saw the very perfu m e o f incense, A ga in confusing both my eyes and my nose, D isagreeing in themselves with “ N o ” and “Yes.” A n d there was David, in fron t o f the blessed ark, T h e humble Psalmist dancing high and hard, Less than a king, in m en’s eyes, but more, in G o d ’s. Across from him , posed at a palace window, Was Michal, daughter o f one king, w ife o f another, Shown as a queen, look in g down, and scornful. A n d then my feet m oved m e on, closer

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T o yet another tale I noticed, farther Away than Michal and gleam ing white beyond her. T h ere was the story o f R om e’s great prince, the em peror Trajan, who interrupted warfare to set Justice on those who had m urdered a w idow ’s son. (For this, much later, Pope G regory took him from H ell A n d saved his soul.) A t Trajan’s bridle was the w eeping W om an, poor, and wracked by desperate grief, A n d all about them was a crowd o f m ounted warriors, Horses rearing and tram pling; above them, the em p eror’s

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Banners waved in the wind, black eagles on gold. A n d in the m iddle o f this, the miserable woman Seem ed to be saying: “M y lord, brin g m e vengeance For my m urdered son, whose death has stabbed my heart.” A n d he seem ed to say: “Yes, but wait till I Return.” She answered, w renching out her words In enorm ous pain: “O lord, what i f you die?” T o this he replied: “W h oever takes my place W ill do it instead.” She said: “Is that a g o o d deed, W hich you forget and leave fo r your replacement?”

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CANTO TEN

H e said: “Be reassured. I must do my duty Before I go. Justice demands this o f me, A n d pity tells m e to stay until it’s done.” G o d , who never beheld anything new, Created all these visible words, fresh T o us because, am ong the living, they were never Spoken. W h ile I was enchanted, my eyes fixed O n these depictions o f high humility, A n d because o f their M aker wondrous sights to see, T h e poet suddenly m urm ured: “H ere com e many

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People, their footsteps fa llin g very slowly. T h ey w ill send us on ou r way to the heights.” M y eyes, happy to gaze at whatever was new A n d gave them pleasure to watch, turned to him A n d weren’t inclined to make their m ovem ent slow! But reader, you’re now about to hear the form In which our sacred debts o f sin are paid; D on’t let my description turn away g o o d thoughts. Pay no attention to how these debts are paid, But only think o f what can follow payment,

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W hich cannot last longer than the Day o f Judgment. I began: “Master, I see what’s m oving toward us, But how can what I see be human beings? My eyes are doin g their best— but what are these?” H e answered me: “T h e harsh nature o f T h e ir punishment makes them bend and squat; A t first, my eyes rebelled, not seeing what “T h e y were. But watch them closely, use your eyes T o separate those stones from that which lies Beneath them. See how all are beating their breasts ” O haughty Christians, miserable and weary, Driven by sickness riotin g in your mind, Placing eternal trust in what walks backward,

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PU RGATORIO

Unable to see that human beings are worms, B orn to create angelic butterflies T h a t fly to G o d ’s ju dgm en t, n eedin g no other protection. W hy do you let your m ind soar into Heaven, Since what you truly are is im perfect insects, Just as the worm must wait to com e into being? As heavy beams that hold up roofs o r ceilings A re sometimes decorated with figurines W hose knees are carved, connected with their chests, A n d clearly aren’t real, but all the same M ake p eop le’s stomachs uneasy when they see them, Just so I saw them bent, when I looked again. Som e were ben din g m ore than others, according T o the weight o f what was loaded on their backs, A n d he who was bent by the greatest suffering Seem ed to say, as he wept, “I can do no m ore.”



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Canto Eleven

“ O ou r Father, whose place is high in Heaven, N o t fixed or held in the sky, but there ascending Because o f Your love fo r the first o f Your creations, “ M ay Your name be praised by every living Creature, and also Your virtues, fo r You deserve Such gratitude fo r all the emanations “Y o u send us. May Your kingdom 's peace com e down T o us, who are not strong enough by ourselves, A n d can not take it, n o matter how we strive. “Just as Your angels sacrifice their wills T o You, singing Hosannah, m en as well Should bend their wills to Yours, and sing Hosannah. “G ive us, this day, ou r daily grace, without which M en go backwards, here in this bitter desert, Forced to go back, although they struggle fo r more. “A n d just as we forgive to all m en the wrongs W e have endured, may You in loving kindness Pardon us, in spite o f all our sins. “O u r powers are weak, and easily overcome: D o not oblige us to fight our ancient foe, But free us from him, who tries to w oo us with evil. “A n d this last prayer, dear Lord, we do not make For ourselves, who are not in need, but for the sake O f those behind us, as we rise to Your face.”

PURGATORIO

Praying fo r themselves and fo r us, as they Proceeded, bent beneath the weight on their backs, Th ese spirits trudged along, as sometimes in dreams W e find ourselves, but their burdens were real, not A ll equal, but exhausting; they circled Purgatory's First level, ridd in g themselves o f earthly mists.

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I f all these spirits invariably pray fo r us, W hat can be done fo r them, by w ord o r deed, By those rooted in grace and charity? H ow noble, indeed, i f we were w orking to help them Wash away their earthly stains, be pure A n d shining, rise through stars and skies to Heaven. wA h , so justice and pity can soon relieve you O f all these burdens, and you may spread your wings As you desire, and make your way on high, “Point out fo r us which is the shortest way

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T o the stairs, and i f there is m ore than one, show us T h e one that slopes less steeply, fo r he who walks “Beside me, here, carrying the weight O f A d a m ’s flesh, in which h e’s been w rapped since birth, Is forced, against his will, to clim b at m oderate “Speeds.” It was not clear to us, after My leader’s words, which one o f the spirits answered H im , but here is what we heard: “C om e “W ith us along this bank, to your right, and there You’ll find the only passage a man who is still A live w ill fin d it possible to climb. “A n d i f I weren’t stopped by this stone, beating Down my arrogant neck, so my face is always Turned toward the ground, I ’d have a look at that man “W h o is still alive, and whom you have not named, A n d see i f I already know him, and make him R egret and pity this heavy burden o f mine.

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C A N T O EL EV EN

“ I was Italian, the son o f a noble Tuscan: My father was G u iglielm o Aldobrandesco, But how can I tell i f you even know that name?

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“ M y family's ancient blood, and their reckless deeds, Swelled m e into such arrogance that, ign orin g A ll men's com m on mother, I felt such scorn “ F or every man alive that it hurried me T o my death, as those o f Siena know, and every C hild in Cam pagnatico. I am “ O m berto, and deadly arrogance hurt me A n d my entire family, dragged down T o utter m isfortune and desperate calamity. “A n d this is why I carry such a weight,

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A n d w ill bear it till G od is com pletely satisfied, Repenting in my death, instead o f my life.” I had stooped, bendin g my face to hear him, But another o f them, not the one who had spoken, Twisted h im self around, in spite o f the burden H e bore, and saw me, and knew me, and m anaged to call me, Struggling to keep his eyes fixed on my face, As I, bent over, was walking along beside them. “ O ,” I said to him , “you're Oderisi, Born and honored in Gubbio, and celebrated

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In that art which Paris calls ‘ illum ination.’ ” “Brother,” he said, “ fo r miniatures with really V ivid color, see Franco B olognese’s Work: he should be honored— and I, a little. “ It would have been better fo r me, no doubt, had I N o t been so gracious, my heart’s deepest desire B eing excellence in all my art. “T h a t much pride can only be paid fo r here, N o r would I be placed this high except that, knowing My sinful power, I turned m yself toward G od.

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PURGATORIO

“O, the em pty glory o f earthly power! H ow briefly fam e can grow to the top— but it never Lasts, and what comes after can be barbarous “ Indeed! Cim abue thought he could hold it, But now it’s G iotto w ho’s celebrated, and the other M an has little left, i f anything. “O n e G u ido thus takes the joyous voice o f fam e A n d the next one gives it up. A n d som eone may A lready be born w ho’ll chase G uido away. “ Shouts o f worldly fam e are nothing m ore

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T h an a passing breath o f wind, blow ing here, T h en there, changing its nam e from place to place. “Suppose you get to be old, b efore you discard Your flesh, how much m ore fam e w ill g o with your name, A fte r a thousand years, i f ‘Pappy’ and ‘M am m y’ “W ere still on your tongue when you died? A n d a thousand years, C om pared with life eternal, is like an eyelid Flutter com pared with the slowest stars in the skies. “H e who drags his feet, in fron t o f me, Was once a nam e on every Tuscan tongue,

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A n d now, in Siena— which city he ruled when Florence “Seem ed entirely ruined, and then was entirely A rrog a n t again, and now is a w hore— W h ere in all Siena w ill you hear a whisper “O f him? H um an reputation’s the color O f grass, which comes and grows, and soon the sun, W h o makes it sprout from the ground, w ill turn it brown.” A n d I replied: “Your truthful words encourage Humility, and ease a great swelling. But who Is the man you spoke of, just a m om ent ago?” H e said: “H e is Provenzan Salvani, W h o ’s here because, in arrogance, he tried T o set his hands on every bit o f Siena.

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“ So that’s what he did, and ever since his death H e ’s been w orking hard. D oin g too much, O n earth, makes you pay like that, up here.” I asked: “I f a spirit waits too long, when alive, A n d dies without repenting, and there are no prayers T o smooth his pathway here (after he waits “ In death as lon g as he lived in sin), how

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C ou ld a man like Provenzan be allowed T o enter Purgatory?” H e answered me: “ W h e n living in glorious sin, to the very fullest, H e gladly set h im self in the marketplace A t Siena, b eggin g passersby fo r money “ T o fre e a dear friend from Charles’ Spanish jails, A n d shameful as b eggin g must be, day by day H e endured it, humbly, trem bling in every vein. “I can ’t say m ore, and darkness covers my words, But it won’t be long before your earthly neighbors Show you the way to understand what I say— Provenzan had earned the right to com e here.”

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Canto Twelve

Side by side, like a pair o f oxen, yoked, I walked together with that burdened soul As lon g as my gentle teacher allowed m e to. But when he told me, “Leave him , now, and proceed, For here it is better that each man journeys on W ith sail and oars com pletely o f his own,” I straightened my back and walked as a man should walk, Th ou gh in my m ind all my thoughts Rem ained bowed down and shrunk to a very low height. I was now in m otion, happily follow in g after

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My Master, and both o f us were showing how light W e were, striding past the burdened spirits, W h en he told me: “Turn your eyes to the ground, and help Your jo u rn ey be peaceful and calm by look in g down A n d seeing what it is you’re w alking on.” As we rem em ber the buried dead, and stones A re set in the church’s floor, to help us recall Just what they looked like, worked with, and what they were, A n d seeing such reminders, m en w eep fo r them, there, M em ory pricking only faithfu l hearts, Just so I saw (but carved with heavenly skill) A host o f well-rem em bered mortals on the flo o r O f that ledge, ju ttin g out from the mountainside, A n d the only pathway I could possibly walk on:

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CANTO TWELVE

I saw G o d ’s noblest creation, Lucifer, Lovelier than any H e made, as he came fa llin g From Heaven, faster than any lightning bolt. I saw the giant Briareus (now look in g to my right), Struck by Jupiter’s bolt and lying heavy O n the ground, frozen in death’s unbreakable chill.

so

I saw A pollo, I saw Athena and Mars, W earin g arm or and gathered about their father, L o o k in g at giants’ scattered limbs, all around. I saw N im rod at the fo o t o f the Tower o f Babel, T h e thing he built, look in g bewildered, but approved By the people o f Sinar, who worked with him, and were proud. O N iobe, how sadly my eyes could see you, Pictured along the roadway, seven dead children T o your right, and seven m ore o f the same to your left. O Saul, lying dead on Gilboa, killed

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By your own hand on your own sword, and thereafter T h a t mountain never felt either rain o r dew. O crazed Arachne, I saw you already h a lf A spider, hanging down from the shreds o f the work You wove, and M inerva resented, which brought you death. O Rehoboam , Solom on’s haughty son A n d heir, not look in g kingly, but rid in g o f f In terror, though no one is shown to be in pursuit! T h a t hard and stone-paved road also showed me Alcm aeon, repaying his m other who’d sold His father fo r the price o f a pretty string o f stones. A n d I was shown how Sennacherib’s sons, Inside the temple, turned on their father and killed him, For he had broken faith with A lm ighty God. It showed Q ueen Tomyris, o f Scythia, and the cruel Slaughter o f Cyrus, whose head she hacked off, saying: “ I ’ ll fill this head with what you wanted: blood.”



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PU RGATORIO

A n d it showed Assyrians ru n ning w ildly away, W h en Judith killed their leader, H olofernes, Displaying Assyrian corpses, after that slaughter.

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I saw Troy in ashes, and Trojans huddled in ruins: O Ilion, now low and humble, our path Portrayed in fu ll your horrors, your broken strength! W hat master o f brush and pencil drew and shaped Each man and everything he w ore in detail So perfect that every subtle genius would gape A n d wonder? Corpses seem ed dead, and the livin g seemed Alive. H e who witnessed the scenes I walked on, B ending to look, saw nothing that I did not. N ow haughty humans, proudly on display,

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O children o f Eve, be careful, look away, D on ’t bend your faces and see your evil ways! W e’d circled farth er around the mountain, and the day H ad used up m ore o f its allotted tim e Th an I had realized, so occupied Was my m ind, when he who always looked ahead As he clim bed, instructed me: “L ift up your eyes: K eep walking half-blind and you’ ll lose your sense o f direction. “ L o o k there, an angel appears to be com in g toward us, A n d the sixth o f the maidens serving the noble sun

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Is com in g hom e from her work, which now is done. “Reverence should be on your face and in your bearing, So the angel may be m oved to send us up: This day w ill never dawn again: rem em ber!” Accustom ed as I was to all his warnings O n never losing time, I knew he was not C oncerned that I would do anything wrong. T h e beautiful creature approached us, all in white A n d a face that shone with the delicate, tender light O f the first shim m ering m orn in g star. H e opened

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CANTO TWELVE

W id e his arms, and then spread out his wings, Saying: “Com e. It isn’t fa r to the steps, A n d from here on you’ ll have an easy climb. “ T h is is a summons not many m en are offered: O human race, born to fly on high, H ow can the slightest breeze blow dust in your eyes?” H e led us to where the rock was split, and there H e tapped m e on the forehead, with his wings, A n d then he prom ised m e my jou rn ey was secure. A n d just as clim bing the hill, in Florence, the church

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A bove the Rubaconte bridge, supporting A n d gu id in g the peaceful, well-ruled city, the steep C lim b is eased by stairs (bu ilt in a cleft A t a time when public records were safe, and tax-men W ere never given to stealing from the people), M a k in g one difficu lt side accessible Still leaves, to right and left, pressing high rock. A n d as we walked to the stairs, “Beati pauperes “ Spiritu, blessed are the p o o r In spirit,” was bein g sung so sweetly no words

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Can possibly describe it. A h , entrances In here are incredibly unlike those In Hell: here you enter to songs o f praise, Down there the sounds are fierce laments and cries. A n d now we were goin g up the holy stairs, A n d it seem ed to m e that I was very much lighter T h an I ’ d been before, even though I was clim bing, A n d I said: “Master, tell me, what weight has now Been lifted o f f me, so I can walk and walk A n d never feel tired at all?” H e answered me: “W h en all the rest o f the P ’s your forehead still wears A re taken away, faded on e by one, As the first already is, you’ll find your feet

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PURGATORIO

“So fully conquered by true goodw ill, not only W ill they becom e im m une to weariness, But asking them to g o higher w ill seem delightful.” T h en I did what people do, suspecting Som ething unknown is on their heads, seeing T h e signs that others make, enjoying the sight. You call on your hand to help, searching around For what no eyes can ever find on their own, But fingers can locate and recognize. Spreading out my right-hand fingers, I counted O n ly six o f the letters that the angel with keys H ad traced with his sword tip across the width o f my brow, A n d watching this, my wise leader smiled.



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Canto Thirteen

N o w w e had reached the top o f the stairs, where F or the second tim e we saw a reduction in size O f that mountain we climb, to make us purified. A terrace, in that place, winds around T h e hill, as we had seen before, but with tighter Curves, fo r now the mountain has lost some ground. T h e r e were no shadows, nor any images O r decorations, but only the op en road, D eserted, and livid tints in the heavy stone. “W a itin g here fo r people to give us directions,”

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T h e poet observed, “may take too long, and make us L ose much tim e we cannot a ffo rd to spend.” From the head o f the stairs, he fix ed his eyes on the sun, A n d m aking his right side the center fo r calculation, Brought around his left. “N ow it is done,” H e said. “O sweet and heavenly light, you face me A ro u n d to the right. I put my trust in you A n d take your sign fo r the guidance we need in this place. “You warm the world, pou rin g down your light: Given no reason to doubt your advice, your shining Beams should always be our honest guide.” W e had taken perhaps a thousand steps, W alking along at a quick and cheerful pace, Driven by a ready supply o f goodw ill,

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PU RGATORIO

W h en suddenly we heard, flyin g toward us, T h e unseen voices o f spirits, pleasantly o fferin g Seats at the banquet table o f heavenly love. T h e first o f the voices sweeping by us declared: “Th ey have no m ore wine.” It swept right over our heads A n d on behind us, repeating this declaration.

SO

A n d before its echoes had died away, past hearing, A n oth er announced, cryin g out loud as it came, “I am Orestes,” but this voice too did not stay. “O father,” I said, “what are all these voices?” A n d even as I asked, there was more, A third one! “Love those who d o bad things to you ” My Master answered: “T h e sin scourged in this circle Is envy, and so the lashes that com pose T h e whip are woven together from love. W hat holds “T h e whip from striking must therefore be the opposite

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Sound. I believe that you w ill hear it, before You reach the passageway o f pardon. But let “Your steady eyes be focused in this air, A n d right in fron t o f you, behold! T h ere W ill be people, all o f them seated along the rock.” A n d then I op en ed my eyes, fix ed and wide, A n d there in fron t o f m e I could suddenly find Spirits w earing cloaks the color o f stone. A n d when we’d walked a little farther on, I heard m ore cries: “Mary, pray fo r us!” T h en “M ichael!” and “Peter!” and “A ll the saints in H eaven!” T h ere cannot be a man livin g in This world, so bitter and hard that his heart would not Be pierced by pity, seeing what I saw then, For when I came closer, and their condition becam e Com pletely clear, tears o f pitiful g r ie f W ere w ru ng from my eyes. As fa r as I could see,

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CANTO THIRTEEN

Each o f these spirits was wrapped in coarsest horsehair, A n d each supported another, who leaned on his shoulder, A n d all were supported by the bank o f rock

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B eh in d them. Just as the blind who own nothing L in e up in churches, on pardoning days, b eggin g For pennies, one m an’s head sunk on another’s Shoulder, so pity can’t be slow, nor only For the way their words may sound, but also For their appearance, pleading quite as much. A n d just as the sun does nothing fo r their eyes, So too the spirits here, in the place I speak of, Receive no blessing from the light o f Heaven, F or their eyelids had been sealed by an iron wire,

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A s the eyes o f untam ed hunting hawks are stitched up tight, For otherwise it screams, and the noise is frightful. W a lk in g by, it seem ed offensive to me T h a t I should be look in g at them, and not be seen, A n d so I turned to my wise and ready advisor. H e knew what I wanted to say before my lips Could fram e it, and did not wait fo r m e to speak, Saying: “Yes, talk to them, but let it be brief.” W e were walking, V irg il and I, on the outer Side o f the bank; no fence was around it,

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A n d careless feet could make fo r a fatal fall. A n d there on the inner side were all T h e prayerful spirits, who through those hideous seams W ere squeezing out hot tears that bathed their cheeks. I turned and spoke: “O people, sure to see T h e heavenly light which you so deeply desire T h a t there is nothing else in your heart or mind, “For there grace w ill swiftly wash the scum O ut o f your conscience, and the stream o f m em ory W ill com e flow in g down, equally clear and sweet,

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PURGATORIO

“Tell m e— fo r it w ill be welcom e to me, and dear— I f any soul am ong you comes from Italian Lands, I m ight be useful, knowing that.” “O, my brother, everyone here now lives In the truthful city o f G od; but what you spoke o f Is where we lived as pilgrim s in that other world.” I thought this answer cam e from farther along Th an where we were, so I turned my face to that side, Intending to make m yself heard to those down the road. A n d there, am ong the rest, I saw one spirit

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W h o seem ed to be waiting— and i f you w onder how I knew: much like the blind, its chin was lifted. “Spirit,” I said, “you who restrain yourself In order to go higher, i f you were the one who gave me A n answer: where are you from , o r what is your name? “I cam e from Siena,” she said, “and here with these others I repair the wicked life I led down there, I weep to H im so H e can give us H im self. “I wasn’t a sage (which surely wasn’t my name), A n d whatever harm ed others gave me much greater pleasures

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Th an my own g o o d fortune, wealthy as I was. “Because you just m ight think I ’m tellin g you lies, Listen: let m e tell you how, as I W ent down my arc o f years, I turned quite mad. “My own townsmen were fighting a fierce battle Against their enemies, in Tuscany, N ea r Colle, and I prayed to G od to d o as H e willed. “My p eople were crushed and turned around in the bitter Steps o f retreat, and I, seeing their flight, Was filled to an insanity o f delight— “So much that I boldly turned up my face and screamed A t G od: ‘N ow I ’m finished with fearin g you!’— As the blackbird did, thinking w inter was over.

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CANTO THIRTEEN

“I tried to make peace with G od, near the end O f my life, but still no penitence fo r the rest O f my days could possibly have canceled my debt “ E xcept fo r Peter Pettinaio, the hermit, W h o prayed like a saint fo r me, after my death, G rieving, in charity, fo r my sinful soul. “ But who are you, who comes inqu iring into

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O u r existence, standing with eyes unsewn, It seems to me, and speaking with livin g breath?” “M y eyes,” I said, “w ill some day be closed up here, But not fo r long: they haven’t much offen ded By look in g at others enviously. I fear “ M uch m ore the torments down below, fo r which M y soul trembles and makes me hold my breath; I already feel the heavy weight o f those stones.” A n d then she said: “But who has brought you here A m o n g us, i f you expect to return down there?”

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“ H e who is with me, and has not said a word. “Yes, I ’m alive. A n d you, chosen spirit, A r e you requesting that once I ’m back on earth I

seek out the people still alive who m ight pray

“F o r you?” “O, what I ’m hearing is so unheard of,” She answered, “ it must be a sign o f G o d ’s great love For you. Pray fo r me, sometimes; that would be helpful. “ But please, in the name o f whatever you m ost crave, I f ever you set your feet on Tuscan soil, Seek those o f my family, and restore my name. “Y ou ’ll see them with that people so hopelessly vain T h ey trust in the pid dlin g port o f Talam one, far Less likely even than faith in underground rivers— But there the would-be sailors are even worse off.”

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Canto Fourteen

“Just who is this, circling our m ountain before Death has given him the power o f flight, O n e who, at will, opens and closes his eyes?” MW h o he is I cannot say, but I know H e ’s not alone. Since you are closer, ask him, But gently, and then w e’ ll see what he w ill answer.” T h ere they were, on my right, this pair o f spirits, L ea n in g toward each other, and talking about me. T h en they tilted back their heads, and one spoke: “O soul, still attached to your body, and g oin g

10

O n toward Heaven, fo r the sake o f charity C om fort us by saying where you com e from “A n d who you are, fo r we are truly astounded By the grace you must have been granted to make these rounds, Certainly som ething no one has seen before.” I said: “Starting in Falterona, a petty Stream flows through the m iddle o f Tuscany, A n d ru n ning a hundred miles never tires it. “Th is body was born along its banks. But why Waste words in givin g you my name, fo r as yet M in e is a name not very widely known.” “ I f I ’ve correctly pierced your somewhat cloudy Words,” the man w ho’d spoken to m e replied, “T h e litde stream you m ention is indeed the A rn o ”

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CA N T O FOURTEEN

T h e other one asked him: “But why did he conceal T h a t river's name, as people often do W h en required to speak o f very unpleasant things?” T h e spirit (asked to explain my pleasant w ording) C orrectly replied: “I don ’t know. But it seems to m e fine T h a t the name o f such a miserable valley should die.

30

“From its very beginning, high in the rugged A lp in e ranges (from which all Sicily Is separated), where so much water collects “T h a t no other place in the world can match it, this stream Pours down again what the sky takes from the sea (From which the w orld’s rivers draw what flows “ In them ), and there, in that valley, virtue no longer Exists, fled from like a snake. W hether From local m isfortune, or evil habits that urge “T h e m on, these wretched people have m od ified

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T h e ir very nature so com pletely they seem L ik e animals that Circe m ight have in her pasture. “T h is stream starts o f f weakly, flow ing down O n filthy hogs; none o f them are better For human fo o d than the acorns they love to eat. “D escending farther, it’s greeted by snarling curs, G row ling loud and fierce, but never biting; T h e river shrugs and twists away its snout. “So on it goes. A n d the bigger this river grows, T h e m ore this cursed, ill-fated swollen ditch Discovers that dogs have now been replaced by wolves. “D ropping down through m ore ravines and gorges, It finds them fu ll o f foxes so practiced at fraud T h ey ’re not afraid o f ever bein g caught. “I w ill not stop my tongue, although another Sitting here can hear m e— a frien d who ought T o rem em ber how clearly and well I know the future.

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PURGATORIO

“I see your grandson, then becom e a hunter O f savage wolves along the riverside, Wolves now crazed with fear on every side;

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“ H e sells their flesh even before they die, T h en butchers them like outworn ju n g le beasts; H e kills, and kills, but murders his hon or best. “Leavin g their sorrow ing land, h e’s covered with blood; T h ere w ill not be groves o f trees, as once there were, For a thousand years, i f ever these slopes are rew ooded.” Just as open announcem ent o f serious dam age Makes waves o f sorrow appear in a listener’s face, W ith no connection to where the dam age is from , So I saw the other soul, who had turned,

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T h e better to hear, was first disturbed, then sad, O nce h e’d fully processed what he had heard. W hat one had said, and how the other looked, M ade me wish to know their worldly names, A n d I asked, softening my query with appropriate prayers, A t which the spirit w ho’d been the first to speak Replied: “N ow you wish m e to d o fo r you Exactly what you refused to do fo r me. “But G od so clearly wishes His grace to shine In you, that I cannot brin g m yself to hold back:

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T h erefore be it known that I was G uido del Duca. “Envy b oiled so hot, ragin g in my blood, Th at any tim e another man was glad You would have seen m e bu rnin g purple and red. “A n d as I have sown, so have I harvested. O human beings, why are your hearts so set Against the sharing o f knowledge and division o f work? “This other soul is Rinieri, hon or and glory O f the house o f Calboli, where since his tim e no one Has m ade h im self heir o f much beyond his gold,

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C A N T O FOURTEEN

“ For which others have suffered, outside that family, Between the river Po and the mountains, or the sea A n d Reno, stripped o f the virtues necessary “For work or play within these boundaries So overgrown with poisonous weeds that d ig g in g T h em out can’t happen till years and years go by. “W h e re are the likes o f L izio da Valbona, A r r ig o M ainardi, Pier Traversaro, G uido Carpigna? O men o f Rom agna, all bastards now! “W h e n w ill a Fabbro take root again in Bologna?

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W hen, in Faenza, a Bernardin di Fosco, Grown from a lowly plant, but a noble flower? “ D o n ’t wonder, Tuscan, seeing m e weep, rem em bering G u ido da Praia, and U go lin d ’A zzo, W h o came to dwell in ou r land, and Federigo “ T ign oso, along with those who came with him, T h e Traversaro house and the Anastagni, Both these noble fam ilies without an heir— “ O , the ladies and the knights, the pains A n d joys to which both love and courtesy

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Drew us on, where hearts have now gone bad. “ O you o f Bertinoro, why have you stayed, Since those who made you worthy are all o f them gone, A n d everyone else has run like mad from corruption? “ Bagnacaval’s a town that’s doin g well W ith no noblem en; Castrocaro isn’t, A n d C on io’s worse, though its noble line still exists. “T h e Pagani w ill be all right, whenever Mainardo, T h e ir devil, leaves us— but leaves his reputation, Alas, and they w ill never be free o f that. “O U golin o f Fantolini, your name A t least is safe, because no m ore can com e A n d darken in degeneracy a fam ily

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PURGATORIO

“O n ce great. But you, Tuscan, g o on your way. I 'd rather be weeping, now, than continue this talk, For all the things I've said have pained my heart.” W e knew that these kind souls could hear us leaving, A n d knew, because o f their silence, our path was the right one, A n d left them, feelin g confident o f the road. W alking along, com pletely alone, a voice Cam e at us, crackling like lightning splitting the air: “Everyone who knows m e is sure to kill m e!” G row ling over us, and passing behind, It fled like thunder dying in the distance W h en suddenly the clouds are torn apart. But just as soon as our ears had a m om ent o f peace, A n oth er swept down, smashing like a clap O f heavy sky-play, resum ing its roarin g thunder: ttI am Princess Aglauros, who was turned to stone!” A n d after that, I took a step, but not Forward; I went to the side, to be close to the poet. T h e air around us was suddenly calm and quiet, A n d then he told me: “Th at was the hard, tough muzzle M eant to keep a man where he belongs. “ But you bite at the bait, and so the ancient enemy Has you on his hook, and pulls you in, A n d then no m uzzle o r lure is worth a thing. “H ere the heavens are calling, circling around you Showing o f f their bright eternal splendor, A n d all your eyes can see is the puny earth, So H e who watches it all abruptly strikes you.”

Canto Fifteen

Just as, between the end o f what we call m orn in g A n d the start o f what we call the day, the sun’s Stellar movements seem like a child playing, So to o from afternoon to night, which I, w riting T h is poem , experience now, there where I was M id n igh t had already fallen. W e were goin g Straight toward where the sun was setting, its light Striking us directly in the face, For we had circled that far around the mountain, A n d I felt the weight o f our star’s brightness, its splendor

10

Heavy on my forehead as never before, O verw helm ed by the w onder o f all I had N o t known. I raised my hands above my eyebrows, C reating fo r m yself a livin g shield Against the pou rin g brightness o f too much light, Just as those rays g o leaping away from water O r a m irror, angling themselves up higher, they com e down A t exacdy that angle, drop pin g away from a fallin g Stone, as science and experim ents Have shown, dim inishing its line o f m ovem ent As it goes, and always, over and over, the same, So it seem ed to m e that the light reflected T h ere in fron t o f m e was rising up O nce m ore and striking me, and my eyes objected.

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PURGATORIO

“N ow what is that, my gentle father, I cannot Shield away,” I said, “and seems to me As i f it must be m oving in our direction?” “D on ’t be surprised,” he answered, “ that the heavenly fam ily Still continues to dazzle your senses. You’re seeing A messenger from the sky who w ill lead us higher.

SO

“You’ll soon be able to see these things and instead O f suffering such distress, you w ill becom e Rich with delight, as Nature m eant you to be.” W e came to where the blessed angel was waiting, A n d his voice was joyfu l: “Now, i f you com e this way, You’ll fin d these stairs ascend at a gentler pace.” W e left him, and were goin g higher, when “Blessed are T h e m erciful, Beati misericordes,” Was sung from behind us, and “Rejoice, you who have w on !” My Master and I, and only the two o f us,

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W ere using the stairs, and I thought, while we were walking, I ’ d use this tim e to advantage, and learn from him, So facin g around, I asked: “T h e spirit from Rom agna Spoke o f ‘division’ and ‘sharing,’ but what did he mean By these words?” H e answered me: “H e knows the dangers “A n d has seen the dam age caused by his own worst fault; N o wonder, I think, he aims his harshest scolding Th ere, so other men have less to w eep for. “Because a m an’s desires are apt to focus O n profits lost because o f the need to share, Envy puffs and blows, and heightens yearning. “But i f the highest love o f all burned In your heart, pulling you toward the kingdom o f G od, Th at sour envy would have no room in your thoughts. “Thus, the m ore who say ‘ours’ rather than ‘m ine,’ T h e m ore everyone holds o f H eaven’s goodness, T h e greater love you share fo r all m ankind.”

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C A N T O FIFTEEN

“ M y hunger fo r knowledge is now less satisfied,” I said, “than i f I had never asked the question, A n d the m ore doubt collects in my troubled mind.

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“ H o w can it possibly be that som ething good , O w n ed by many more, w ill make that many R icher than i f the num ber o f owners was fewer?” H e answered me: “Because you’re fixed on b e lie f O n ly in worldly terms, and nothing m ore, W hen heavenly light shines down, all you see “Is darkness. T h a t infinite, indescribable goodness H igh above us rushes toward love as rays O f light com e flow ing toward a shining body. “ It gives o f itself as much as it finds o f bu rning

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Desire, so however far it stretches its love Eternal truth w ill grow and flowers the more. “A n d the greater the num ber o f loving souls, up above, T h e m ore they love that goodness, and let love flourish; O n e reflects to the other, like light in a mirror. “A n d i f my little sermon can’t ease your hunger, You’ll com e to Beatrice, and she w ill soon completely Release you from this and every other yearning, “Just as two o f your seven wounds have vanished. Work, and work hard, to cure the other five,

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W hich are only healed by the aching pain they require.” I was about to answer, “I ’m satisfied,” W h en I saw w e’d com e another circle higher A n d my eagerly staring eyes kept m e silent. W hat I found m yself seem ing to see, in a sudden, Ecstatic vision, was a temple, and A group o f people, and then a woman about T o jo in them, plainly as tender and loving as A m other: “M y son,” she said, “why have you done this T o us? H ere we are, your father and I,

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“As sad as we could be, searching fo r you.” A n d then she was silent, and because o f that Everything I ’d seem ed to see was gone. A n d then another wom an appeared, the tears Washing down her cheeks clearly the kind O f angry g r ie f fed by resentment against Som e person, and she said: “My husband, i f you are truly L o rd o f Athens, this great and beautiful city, W h ere every knowledge sparkles, and which the gods “Fought one another fo r the right to name, avenge

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Y ou rself on those daring arms which em braced our daughter— 0 Pisistratus!” His answer seem ed to m e gentle A n d kind, with every appearance o f thoughtful calm: “W hat should we d o to those who wish to harm us, I f he who clearly loves us is sentenced to death?” A n oth er vision: people bu rning with anger, Stoning to death a youth with an an gel’s face, Constantly shouting to each other: “K ill him , kill him !” A n d then I saw him falling, death already Pressing him down to the ground, and still his eyes

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W ere m aking gates fo r him, straight into Heaven, Tortured, yes, but praying our L o rd on high T o forgive those who were killin g him , his face Filled with that look which always unlocks pity. A n d when my soul returned to matters outside it, Th in gs that have their own reality, 1 knew my errors were not im agined, but true. My leader, w ho’d seen m e acting as i f sleep H ad just now gone, and I was not yet fully Awake, asked me: “W h at’s w rong with you, unable “T o control yourself, w alking h a lf a league W ith your eyes veiled, and your legs wobbling, shaky Like som eone overcom e by w ine o r sleep?”

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C A N T O FIFTEEN

“Sweet father o f mine, i f you w ill listen to me I 'll tell you,” I said, “the things that appeared to be Right here, when my legs were staggering under me.” H e said: “I f you wore a hundred masks over Your face, whatever you were thinking, no matter H ow slight it was, would not be hidden from me. “You saw these things fo r a reason— so there would be

ISO

N o m ore excuses, you’d open your heart to the waters O f peace, which pour from the eternal fountain. “I did not ask what ailed you, like som eone staring Down with unknowing eyes at a body lying Unconscious. My question was simply meant, instead, “T o restore strength to your clearly fa ilin g legs: Th is is how we prod the indolent, Sluggards at m aking use o f their waking time.” Quietly, we walked on through the evening, T ryin g to see as far forw ard as ou r eyes Could reach, against the late beams, shining bright. T h en bit by bit, smoke rolled down in sheets, As i f we were bein g w rapped in the darkest night, N o r was there any place fo r us to hide. It took away our eyes and the air we breathed.



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Canto Sixteen

T h e glow ering darkness o f H ell, or nighttim e stripped O f stars, an em pty sky hidden by mists A n d clouds, as dark as darkness can be— but this Th ick smoke so covered over my face, bitterly V eilin g my sight so hard that its harsh sharpness M ade m e unable even to open my eyes, Biting and bu rning every tim e I tried. A n d so my wise and trusty leader came T o my side, o fferin g m e his shoulder fo r a guide. A n d as a blind man always stays behind

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W h o ever leads him, to keep from straying o r striking Som ething hurtful, o r perhaps som ething fatal, Just so I m ade my way through foul and bitter Air, listening to my leader, as he Repeated: “Watch out, don ’t separate from me.” I heard voices, each o f them seem ing to pray T o the Lam b o f G od, which takes sins away, For peace and fo r mercy . "Agnus Dei, Lam b “O f G od,” was always what they started to say; T h ey shared each word, and spoke each word in rhythm, N o disagreem ent seem ing to exist am ong them. “Master, are these the voices o f spirits I hear?” I asked. H e answered me: “You’ve understood; T h ey loosen the knot o f anger as they go.”

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CANTO SIXTEEN

“But who are you, cutting through our smoke A n d speaking o f us like people who still think O f tim e as it is measured in life on earth?” O n e o f the voices had suddenly asked us this question. My Master told me: “Answer him, and ask I f this is the road fo r goin g up the mountain.” I said: “O creature cleansing yourself in order T o return as pure as you were to H im who made you, You’ ll hear a marvel i f you stay behind me.” “I ’ll follow you as far as I ’m allowed to,” H e answered, “and since the smoke w ill keep us from seeing, W e’ ll use ou r ears, instead, to stay to geth er” T h en I began: “W rapped in livin g flesh, which death Unravels, and in which my soul is now em bedded, I ’ve com e here after seeing the anguish o f Hell. “Since G o d has given m e enough o f His grace T o w ill that I should see his eternal domains, In ways com pletely unknown to men o f my time, “D o not conceal from m e the man you were B efore death, but tell me. A n d tell m e too i f this road Is the right one, and let your words becom e ou r escort.” “I was a Lom bard, and a knight, and my nam e was Marco. I knew the ways o f the world, and valued virtue, W hich the w orld has ceased to care fo r any more. “Your feet are on the right path fo r goin g up.” Saying that much, he added: “May I b eg you T o pray fo r me, once you have gone back up?” I told him: “I solem nly com m it my faith T o d oin g what you ask o f me. But a doubt W ill burst inside me, unless I can clear it out. “It was foolish, at first, but now it’s doubled in size: T h e words you’ve said have flatly nailed it down, Taken with som ething else I lay alongside it.

PURGATORIO

“As you have told me, the world has been abandoned By every virtue; it’s pregnant with the weight O f m alice it bears, and wrapped in a blanket o f sin. “But what I wish you’d explain to me is the reason For this, so I may see it and show it to men, For some lay the blam e on H ell and some on Heaven.** H e sighed deeply, but pain and sorrow bent this In to “uhh!” fo r pure pity. A n d then he began: “Brother, how blind is the world, and how clearly you “C om e from it! You livin g people attribute every Event to Heaven, as i f the heavenly powers Necessarily took charge o f whatever goes on. “W ere things like that, you livin g people would lose Free will, and how could justice make you jo y fu l O r evil brin g you sorrow, grief, and pain? “Heaven motivates and moves you into Actions, but not them all. Suppose it were all: You’re given minds, you know what’s good , what’s evil. “So you have free will, and no matter how tired it grows From struggling with passions, hard to keep controlled, A m ind well-nourished w ill in the end take control. “A stronger power, a better nature, take charge O f this free will; these heavenly forces create Your mind, which Heaven alone cannot control. “A n d so, i f the world you know has gone astray, You are the cause, search in you rself fo r bad faith— A n d I w ill light a path fo r you to explore. “T h e simple little soul, knowing nothing, Com es from the hands o f H im who, b efore it is born, Contem plates it with love, em ergin g like “A child, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, But never forgettin g its delighted Maker, W hose stamp is on it as it turns to delight.

CANTO SIXTEEN

“T h e first o f the tastes it takes is small, a trifle, But then, i f it lacks a restraint, o r a careful guide, It is seduced, and goes running after more. “Thus it was necessary fo r laws to hold us Back, and to have a ruler able to see A t least the tower o f the heavenly city. “T h e re are laws, yes— but who enforces them? T h e flo ck ’s shepherd is too often one T o whom reflection and reason are wholly unknown. “T h erefo re the people are shown only a leader

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Struggling fo r what delights him, thoughtless, greedy, A grubbing pig who thinks o f nothing but eating. “H ow easy, then, to see how wicked guidance Gave birth to the evils o f which the world is guilty, A n d not some inherent evil in the hearts o f men. “N o b le Rome, which fashioned a world o f goodness, Was ruled by two suns, the em peror and the pope, O n e fo r the earthly road, one fo r G o d ’s. “ N ow one has quenched the other; the em peror’s sword Belongs to the pope, and these together in one

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Make useful forw ard m otion exceedingly hard. “N o w that they’re jo in e d , one has no fear o f the other. Is that hard to believe? Just look at what has been done, For every plant is known by what it grows. “In Lombardy, well watered by the Po A n d the A dige, courtesy and m erit Existed, until ou r Frederick bowed to the Pope. “Any degenerate fellow can go there, now, A n d never worry fo r having to m eet and be shamed By truly g o o d men, or even com e anywhere near one. “But three old men, and good, are still there, in whom O u r ancient times should scold the new, though all A re impatient, wishing G od would take them to a better

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PURGATORIO

“Place: Currado da Palazzo, the g o o d Gherado, and, lastly, G uido da Castel, W h o ’s better called, in the French fashion, a simple “Lom bard. So now proclaim it: confou nding itself, B ecom ing two in one, the Rom an Church Has fallen in mud, befou lin g both Church and State.” “O my Marco,” I said, “ how well you argue!

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A n d this explains fo r m e why the L evite line W ere not allowed to inherit, as the priestly do. “But which Gherado d o you mean, who sets us a m odel By which we can know the ancient ways, now gone, A n d thus reproach this age o f barbarous men?” “Your words are either meant to deceive me, or else As a test,” he answered. “You, speaking to me In Tuscan, tell m e you’ve never heard o f Gherado? “Th at is the only nam e by which I know him, Unless I add his daughter’s, which is Gaia. N ow G od be with you, I cannot com e any farther. “D o you see the white light already shining through T h e smoke? T h e sun is setting, and the angel has come, A n d I must leave you, before he sees m e here.” H e turned around, and nothing I said would be heard.

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Canto Seventeen

Rem em ber, reader, i f ever in the mountains A fo g surprised you, so thick you could not see Except, like a mole, by feelin g through your skin, A n d how, when the dense wetness o f mist begins T o thin, the round face o f the sun can be seen Between the shredding vapors, but only weakly, A n d then you’ ll quickly understand just how, A t first, I came to see the sun once more, A lready started down the sky to its setting. A n d so, my feet follow in g those o f my faithful

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Master, I em erged from a fo g o f that kind, As the last rays were dying on the low-lying shores. O you, im agination, who now and then Steal us out o f ourselves, so we never see W h a t’s there, although a thousand trumpets are blaring, W hat moves you, i f our senses feed you nothing? A light moves you, shaped up high in Heaven, By itself o r by a w ill that shines it down. A print appeared in my im agination O f she whose unholy deed turned her from woman T o bird, the nightingale that loves to sing, And this so crowded my m ind in on itself Th at whatever m ight have com e to it from outside Was never received, not a single thing.

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PURGATORIO

A n d in this state o f high fantasy cam e raining A man bein g hung, his face contemptuous, W ild and savage, even as he was dying, A n d all around him I saw great Ahasuerus, A n d Esther, his wife, and M ordecai, the just, W hose speech and deeds alike were always blameless.

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A n d when what I had im agined burst, by itself, As bubbles do, d rop p in g the water o f which T h e y ’re made, which puddles beneath them on the ground, My vision suddenly conjured up a girl, Lavinia, w eeping and crying: wO m other and queen, W hy kill you rself to keep from losing me? “N ow you have truly lost Lavinia! A n d I am the one who mourns, mother, for your Ruin, still expectin g another to follow.” As sleep is broken, when sudden bright new streaks

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O f light beat down on shuttered eyes, but lingers, H a lf ruptured, quivering before it dies, Just so the pictures in my m ind were swept Away at once, the m om ent a light struck My face, brighter than any we see in this world. N o t knowing exactly where I was, by then, I was turning to see when I heard “This is the way”— A n d that voice pulled me from every other concern, A n d made m e so desire to see the creature W h o spoke those words, that n othing would satisfy My yearning but seeing that bein g face to face. But as the sun, too bright, can make us unable T o see, working against the purpose o f light, So, now, my powers o f sight began to fail me. “This,” said my leader, uis a heavenly spirit, com e T o show us the ascending road, without our asking, Using its own light to hide itself.

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C A N T O SEVENTEEN

“Thus it treats us as one man does another, For he who sees a need and waits to be asked Has already set himself for malignant denial. “Now let our feet accept this invitation, Trying to climb before the darkness falls, For then we’d have to halt, waiting for sunrise.” We turned, together, toward the stairway the spirit Had shown us, but I had barely set my feet On the very first step when it seemed to me I could feel A moving wing stroking past my face And heard “Beati pacifici, may the peaceful Be blessed, for they have abandoned evil anger.” The last rays o f the sun, before nighttime Drops, were already so high that stars began To appear all over the sky above our heads. “O my strength,” I silently asked myself, “Why are you fading away?” For I could feel My legs already so weak they no longer moved. And where we stood, at that point, was where the stairs, Too, had stopped, this being the edge o f our next Circle; we were anchored as ships are, reaching shore. And I stood there, listening, trying in vain to hear Whatever might be heard on this new level. And then I turned to my Master, asking him: “My sweet father, tell me which o f our sins Is purged, here in the circle where we have been? Our feet may be halted, but don’t hold back your words.” He said to me: “Loving goodness, but not Loving enough, is here invigorated; Lazy oars begin to row again. “But so that you may understand more plainly Still, pay close attention, and you will gain Some excellent fruit while standing here and waiting

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PURGATORIO

“N either H e who makes, o r he that’s created, My son,” he began, “ has ever lived without love, Natural o r mental; and this you know. “Natural love can never contain an error, But the m ind can be led astray by an evil aim O r either too much o r else too little force. “As long as it aims at G od, ou r prim al goodness, A n d fo r lesser goals strives with proper caution, It cannot be the cause o f wicked pleasure; “But when it is aim ed toward evil, o r even toward g o o d

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But either goin g too fast o r else too slow, T h e creature is guilty o f sin against his Creator. “But understand that in every virtue you Possess, and in everything you ever do Th at merits punishment, the seed is always “Love. But since the concern o f love is forever T h e g o o d o f its subject, which cannot be turned away, Every creature’s protected from hating itself; “A n d since we cannot conceive o f His creatures cut Away from G o d and standing alone, all creatures

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Cannot possibly live in hatred o f Him . “A nd so— i f I ’ve m ade the prop er distinctions— the evil W e love derives from ou r neighbor, and in your clay Is born and lives in three quite differen t ways. “First, there’s the man who aspires to excellence By pressing down his neighbor: only this yearning Makes him strive to pull his neighbor to the ground. “T h en there’s the m an with power, favor, and honor, A n d so afraid o f losing these when someone Climbs above him, that he hates what once he loved. “A n d there’s the man who, outraged at being insulted, Lusts fo r the chance o f taking revenge, and rushes Into wicked plans fo r hurting another.

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C A N T O SEVENTEEN

“From here, these three distorted forms of love Are wept for. But now I wish to tell you the other, Which rushes toward goodness, but uses faulty modes. “They muddle about, knowing there is goodness In which their minds can rest, and they wish to have it, All o f them struggling to find what’s so desired. “I f tepid love draws you in, viewing Or even possessing it, you need to repent, Then come to this circle, and are punished as you deserve. “Yet another kind of goodness makes no man happy, It is not happiness, it lacks the essence, The fruit, the roots of every honest good. “Abandoning yourself to love o f this sort Is wept for above this circle, and in three more, But exactly how these different levels are ordered I will not say: this you will learn by yourself.”

Canto Eighteen

My learned Master com pleted his observations A n d looked at my face, both lon g and hard, to see I f I was satisfied with his explications; A n d I, now thirsting fo r newer inform ation, Said nothing, but thought to myself: “Perhaps h e’d be A nnoyed i f I went on with this questioning.” But my faithfu l father, who knew m e well and could see My high desire and tim id hesitation, Spoke, and I took courage and dared to speak: “Master, the light you o ffe r has so op en ed my eyes

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T h at I can see, both clear and bright, exactly W hat your comm ents distinguish and well describe. “Accordingly, my father so dear and sweet, Please talk to m e o f love— the basis, you say, O f all we do, both fo r g o o d and evil.” “A llo w your lucid m ind to follow my way,” H e said, “and you w ill see the obvious errors T h e blind who lead the blind have plainly made. “For the brain is fashioned not to hesitate In loving, and quick to respond to all that is pleasing, Active as soon as pleasure comes and awakes it. “Som ething clearly real, which your brain perceives, Is drawn and displayed as an im age inside you, which swiftly Captures your m in d ’s attention, and it longs to see it

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CANTO EIGHTEEN

“A gain . O nce caught in this way, the m in d ’s longing Is what we know as love, and Nature ensures Th at pleasure feeds on pleasure, and love grows stronger. “T h en just as fire is m ade to always grow higher, Findin g what it lives on by reaching upward, A n d, like all things, fashioned to stay alive, “Just so the captured m ind reaches desire, A spiritual movement, and cannot ever rest U ntil whatever is loved w ill make it rejoice. “You may already perceive that people who bless A ll love unthinkingly, always consider It good , have never learned the truth, or guessed it, “Perhaps because its substance strikes the sight So well. But not all pictures are actually good, As prints may be bad, although the wax is right.” “T h e words you speak,” I said, “and my m ind, which could not Be better taught, reveal love as it is— Yet knowledge leaves me even m ore in doubt, “Because i f love approaches from the outside, A n d we can only walk as humans do, It makes no differen ce whether we go right “O r wrong.” “Reason takes me as far,” he said, “As I can tell you. T o com e still farther, only Wait for Beatrice, fo r this is a matter o f faith. “Every existing form , distinct from simple Substance, yet still created out o f substance, Holds w ithin itself some special gift, “Observed only in action, not otherwise shown T o ou r senses, just as life is demonstrated In plants by the fact that green-colored leaves are growing. “Therefore, am ong the things that no man knows Is when and from where his first conscious awareness Came, or the first waves o f desire, which are there

PU RGATORIO

“In you as the need to make honey is planted in bees. A n d all these powerful, prim al urges deserve N o praise o r blame, com pletely beyond our reach.

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“T o hold our other wills in prop er service, A n d guide these prim al needs, you’re born with a power T h at stands at the door, and either opens o r shuts it. “This is the capability which measures A n d weighs possible actions, deciding for O r against a love that’s wicked or one that’s glorious. “Th ose who have driven their minds as deep as thought goes Exposed this G od-given freedom o f human will, A n d thus brought ethical reason into the world. “Accordingly, each love you feel has grow n

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Because it must, but you are endowed with knowledge A n d power to let it burn o r sm other the fire. “This noble inner faculty has been called, By Beatrice, freed om o f the will: rem em ber This, i f she chooses to speak o f these matters with you.” T h e m oon, retreating almost as far as m idnight, A n d shaped like a bucket o f coals that keep on glowing, M ade stars and starlight seem thinner than they were, A n d it swept its way across the sky on paths T h e sun lights, and people in Rom e see it,

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As it sets, between Sardinia A n d Corsica. Th at noble spirit, whose birthplace Is better known than any Mantuan town, H ad put aside the burden I ’d lain on him, A n d I, granted clear and honest answers T o all my questions, walked on like som eone h a lf Awake and h a lf asleep, when suddenly My drowsiness was broken away from me By people running up the circle behind us, M oving fast and not the least bit quiet.

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CANTO EIGHTEEN

Bacchic orgies up and down Greek river Banks brought full-voiced crowds, and turned a night H a lf on its head, but i f Bacchus' town O f Th ebes required m ore noise, these I saw Stream ing around that circle were that kind o f sight, A rousting cavalry o f love and the absolute need T o d o what was right. It took no tim e at all For them to reach us, they ran uphill so sprightly, A n d the pair in fron t were shouting, tears in their eyes: “M ary ran up the hills, in the m orning, to Judah”—

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“A nd Caesar, putting down the Gauls, took Marseilles and ran to Spain like a thunderbolt.” “Faster, faster, let no time be lost For lack o f love,” cried the ones in back, “ Struggling toward goodness can still rejuvenate grace.” “O you people, in whom acute fervor, N ow may indeed make up fo r your careless waste O f time, your lukewarm work in doin g g o o d deeds, “Th is livin g man who's with m e (and I tell you the truth) Wishes to ascend, as soon as sunlight returns:

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Can you tell us, please, which way we ought to turn?” These words were spoken by my guide and Master, A n d one o f the spirits replied: “As we com e past you, Follow our steps and you w ill find the opening. “W e are so swollen with the need to keep m oving W e cannot stop. Forgive us, please, i f the penance Th at we perform appears to you like rudeness. “I was the abbot o f old San Zeno, in Verona, U nder the rule o f worthy Frederick Barbrossa, W h o destroyed M ilan; the people there are still moaning. “A n d som eone on earth, with a fo o t in the grave, w ill soon Be m oaning fo r what h e’s done to that monastery, Saddened not only by what he did as abbot,

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PURGATORIO

“ But also because o f his son, born in shame A n d sick in body, twisted in mind, but given T h e power his father had, an unlawful sh eph erd” I cannot say i f he stopped talking, or went on, H e ran so fast and had gone so far along, But that's what I heard, and am glad I still recall. T h en he who offered support whenever I n eeded it,

ISO

Said: “N ow look: here com e two m ore, biting Laziness in all its assorted forms.” Th ey trailed the pack, declaring: “T h e people fo r whom T h e R ed Sea op en ed were lon g since dead before T h e fields o f Jordan becam e a H ebrew home. “A n d those who follow ed Aeneas only so far, Unable to finish what he both began and ended, Lived the rest o f their lives, and knew no glory.” A n d then, when these spirits ran so far ahead T h a t not a one o f them could still be seen, A differen t train o f thought rose up w ithin me, From which were born a horde o f others, none A like, and back and forth I went, from one T o another, then closed my eyes, and let my m ind Transmute these wanderings, allowed them to dream.

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Canto Nineteen

A t the hou r when heat, left over from the day, chilled A n d overcom e by Earth, and also Saturn, N o lon ger warms the coldness o f the m oon (A tim e when fortune-tellers see in the East Aquarius leaving and Pisces arrive, just B efore dawn, by a path that won’t stay dark fo r long), A stam m ering woman appeared to me, in a dream, H er feet unbalanced, eyes horribly crossed, C om plexion dull, hands plainly cut off. I stared at her, and just as sunlight warms C old arms and legs made colder by the night, My glance allowed her to loosen her tongue, A n d not lo n g after made her body straight, Took away her dazed expression, changing H er pallid face just as love would have m ade it. W arm ed and restored, able to speak again, She began to sing so beautifully I could not Easily have turned my eyes away. She sang: “I am that sweet Siren who causes Sailors to lose their way, out on the ocean, A lread y lost in the pleasure o f hearing my song. “I turned Ulysses completely o f f his course, Just by my song, and whoever has a night W ith m e can't leave, so perfectly satisfied!”

PURGATORIO

She had not tim e to close her lips when a lady A p p ea red beside me, holy and crisply determ ined; T h e Siren lost her poise, and started to fade. “O V irgil, V ir g il!” the lady said, harshly A n d with spirit, “W h o is this?” A n d V irg il came, A ll his attention bent toward the holy spirit.

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H e caught the Siren, and tore her clothes com pletely Down the front, showing m e her belly, W hich woke me up, so horribly she smelled. I turned my eyes away, and my g o o d Master Said: “I ’ve called you at least three times. Stand up A n d come. W e’ll find the place where you can climb.” I rose, and all the circles o f the sacred M ountain were already filled with bright daylight, A n d we traveled with the sun at our back. As I walked behind my leader, my brows were bent

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Like som eone carrying a heavy load o f thought, Tu rning h im self into h a lf the arch o f a bridge, W hen I heard: “Th is way, here’s the passage”— softly Spoken, and in a charitable voice not heard H ere in these regions inhabited by men. T h e an gel’s wings were spread, and he seem ed like a swan, Shepherding us with the kindest o f words, showing T h e way upward between the walls o f hard rock. H e fanned his wings, and in a gentle rush O f air declared that those who m ourned “would be blessed” A n d consolation awarded to their souls. “W h at’s gone wrong, that you keep staring at the ground?” My gu ide suddenly said to me, not long A fte r w e’ d clim bed a bit above the angel. I answered: “I walk with fearful steps, still seized By that strange vision, which keeps pulling m e to it, So I cannot stop m yself from thinking about it ”

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CANTO NINETEEN

H e said: “N ow you have seen the ancient witch M ourned on the three last circles o f this sacred mountain. A n d you’ve seen what a man must do to be free o f her.

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“ Enough! N ow beat your heels on the ground, and wheel Your eyes around, look at the lure our eternal K in g spins in the sky with his m ighty spheres,” Just as a hunting hawk w ill first look down, A lerted by its master’s call, then stretch Toward the ground, swooping on its unsuspecting Prey. A n d so d id I: up I went A s high as rocks could take a knowing climber, U ntil I arrived at the place where circling begins. I reached the fifth o f these circles wrapped on the mountain,

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A n d saw people stretched on the ground, all weeping, Lying with every face pressed to the earth. “H ere I lie, prostrate in this dust,” I heard them saying, speaking with sighs so deep T h e ir words could almost not be understood. “O G o d ’s chosen, you whose suffering is made Less difficu lt by justice, and also by hope, Turn us to the straight way up these slopes.” “ I f you have come, free from the need to lie O n your face, you’ ll find the road as fast as you can

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By keeping to the right your g o o d right hands.” Thus the p oet’s question, and the answer received From very near where we were; the speaker’s face C ould not b e seen, but I recognized his speech, Th en turned and m et my leader’s eyes with mine. H e signaled his consent with a happy sign, Knowing, as he did, what I desired. Th en freed to d o exactly as I wished I approached, and stood above the penitent soul W hose words, a m om ent before, had drawn me to him,



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PURGATORIO

A n d said: “O spirit, in whom this w eeping ripens T h e essence o f what’s required to com e to G od, For my sake suspend a m om ent your greater concern. “Tell m e who you were and why you lie O n your faces, and what, i f anything, I m ight O btain fo r you, when I return to the world.” H e answered: “You will be told why Heaven has us Turn our backs to G od, but first: I O n ce sat on the throne Peter had occupied. “Between Sestri Levant and Chiavari

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Flows a deep stream, and from there my fam ily draws Its name and title: we are counts o f Lavagna. “In a little m ore than a m onth as pope, I learned H ow that great mantle presses on the man who must hold it Away from filth; everything else is like feathers! “A n d my conversion, ah G od! was late, but I, B ecom ing Shepherd o f Rome, then realized O u r lives were false, filled with corruption and lies. “I saw that there the heart did not beat calmly, Nor, from that life, could one rise still higher,

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A n d thus this love o f G o d arose in me. “T ill then I ’d been a miserable soul, entirely Greedy, never concerned with what’s divine, A n d now, you see, I ’m punished fo r taking that road. “W hat avarice leads to, you can see right here, In this thorough pu rging o f bitter downturned souls— Th is m ountain applies no penalty m ore bitter. “Just as our ever-busy eyes were never L ifte d on high, fixed on the earth and its worms, So heavenly Justice grinds them down in that dust. “Just as avarice plucked out anything go o d W e m ight have done fo r love, and our works were lost, So here we lie in ju stice’s power, which holds us

♦ 272 ♦

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CA N TO NINETEEN

“Tigh tly captive, unable to m ove fo r as long As our G od o f M ercy and goodness wishes to keep us Lyin g completely spread on the ground at His will.” I had knelt, because I wished to speak with him, But as I began he knew, from the sound o f my voice, A n d nothing else, o f the reverence I ’ d offered. “Why,” he said, “ have you gon e down on your knees?”

ISO

I answered: “Because o f who you were, my soul Drove m e into showing proper respect.” “ Straighten your legs and rise at once, brother!” H e said. “D on’t make that mistake. You and I A n d all o f us are servants o f our God. “A n d i f you’ve ever heard the Gospels declare Th at all o f us are called to the L a m b ’s m arriage Supper, you’re likely to understand my words. “ G o on, now. I wish you to stay no longer Th an this. Your presence keeps m e from shedding tears That ripen my love fo r G od, as you have spoken. “ I have a niece in your world, her name is Alagia; She herself is good, but some in ou r fam ily May lead her to evil, showing her wicked deeds. She is the only one rem aining to me.”

♦ 273 ♦

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Canto Twenty

This shows how weaker wills cannot prevail W h en figh tin g stronger ones: against my w ill I'd taken back the sponge, but alas, it stayed T o o dry. W e clim bed, my leader and I, rem aining Always close to the rocky walls, in their free Spaces, as one hugs the walls o f fortifications, For people p ou rin g evil out o f their eyes, D rop by drop renew ing what fills the world, Tend to com e close to the ed ge on the other side. I curse you, ancient w o lf o f endless greed,

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You who eat m ore o f your fellow beasts, Driven by your belly, which cannot ever be filled. O Heaven, believed by us down here, below you, T o be the irresistible force o f change, W hen do we see H im who w ill take her away? Thus we went on, but ou r steps were short and slow, A n d the spirits we walked by claim ed my attention, hearing their Pitifu l weeping, their sorrowful moans, their groaning, A n d by chance I heard on e calling wO sweet M ary!” From ahead o f us, as i f he were a woman In labor, calling out in pain, and then he Continued: “H ow p o o r you were is easy to see From the shabby bu ildin g you cam e to, delivering A t last the sacred burden you carried deep

♦ 274 ♦

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CANTO TW ENTY

“Inside you." A n d then I heard: “O g o o d Fabricius, You chose to do right, and live in poverty, Scorning the riches o f great iniquity.” Th ese words gave m e so much g o o d pleasure that I struggled Ahead, h oping to know and converse with the spirit W h o seem ed to m e to be the one who’d uttered

30

Such words. T h e voice went on to describe the largesse Saint Nicolas threw to three young girls, in the dark, A bou t to be sold fo r gold, givin g them dowries For m arriage. “O spirit who speaks so well o f goodness, Tell me who you were,” I said, “and why O nly you recall such deeds in your speech. “You r words w ill not be wasted, i f I m anage to spend T h e rest o f my days back in the livin g world, A lo n g that very short road flyin g to its end.” H e said: “I ’ ll tell you, not fo r consolation

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From the livin g world, but fo r the grace Still shining in you, who wear a living face. “ I was the root o f that evil fam ily tree, So shrouding in darkness all Christian lands that decent Harvests rarely occur, wherever my fam ily “ Still rules. But now the harshly treated men O f Flanders w ill summon all their native strength, A n d I pray to G od to give them their revenge. “My name, up there, was Hugh Capet; from m e Cam e Ph ilip after Philip, and then came Louis A fte r Louis, all o f them rulers o f France. “I was the son o f a butcher who lived in Paris, A n d when the ancient royal line died out (Except fo r one, a cloistered, gray-clad monk), “My hands had won an iron grip on the reins Th at ruled the land, possessing such great power (N ew ly acquired), and so many newfound friends,

♦ 275 ♦

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PURGATORIO

“Th at when I died, w idow ing the crown, T h ey dutifully prom oted my son to the throne, A n d after that French kings were born, one “By one. For as lon g as the great dowry o f Provence H ad not deprived my fam ily o f all its shame, It did not matter— indeed, it caused no evil. “Force and falsehood made us absolute robbers, A n d then, as i f they were m aking a kind o f amends, Picardy and N orm andy were forcibly taken, “A n d Gascony. Italian lands were attractive T o Charles, who m ade his amends by defeating, then killing, Conradin, and drivin g Saint Thom as to Heaven. “ Soon, I can see, very soon indeed, A n oth er Charles w ill descend on Italy, From France, to spread his reputation by deeds “O f battle. H e ’ ll brin g few m en at arms, except T h e treacherous tools em ployed by Judas, and rip Fat, lazy Florence open, and take it all, “N o t gain in g land, but pilin g up sin and shame— T h e heaviest weight o f all, fo r a man like him, W ith little respect fo r our Lord: h e’ll g o to his grave “In no way repentant. Charles o f Naples, captive In a ship, m anaged to sell his daughter fo r the finest Price, haggling like a pim p with whores. “O greed, greed, how much you’ve harm ed my race, Drawing them all into your sorry train, Unable to care even fo r their own flesh! “Perhaps the future w ill show us somewhat better, W hen Philip the Fair comes ridin g into Alagna, W ith the V icar o f Christ, Boniface, in chains. “It seems to me like a second killin g o f Christ, M ocked once m ore, with vin egar and gall, H u n g between a pair o f living thieves.

CANTO TW ENTY

“I can see the cruel new Pilate, not satisfied, A ctin g on his own and persecuting, G reedily destroying the Knights o f Templar. wO Lord, my Lord, when w ill I rejoice, Seeing at last the revenge that is still concealed But sweetens Your anger, a mighty, holy secret? “W h a t I had said, and you heard, o f the H oly Ghost’s Sole bride, which led you to turn and com e to m e For fu rth er details and explanations, w ill be “T h e answer to all the prayers we utter here,

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As lon g as daylight lasts, fo r when it turns dark W e take up, instead, exactly the opposite tone, “ R em em berin g Pygm alion, whose fiercely w ild Lusting fo r gold, and more, and m ore, m ade him A traitor, a thief, and then a parricide; “ R em em berin g also the misery o f miser Midas, born out o f his greedy request T h at everything be gold: men laugh at that. “A n d each o f us recalls that old fool, Achan, Stealing forbidden booty, until Joshua's

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A n g e r seems to be biting at him again. “ T h en we accuse Sapphira and her husband, who cheated T h e Church; we praise how H eliodorus was beaten For trying to loot the Tem ple; we celebrate “T h e infam y o f Polymestor, who killed For gold; and we end by crying: ‘Crassus, tell us H ow gold tastes, now that your mouth is stuffed “ ‘W ith money?’ A t times we speak, one low, one loud, How ever ou r feelings m ove us, often with passion, O ften mild. W hatever I ’ve said in this crowded “Place, before, I have not spoken alone. But as it happened, today was a tim e when no one Else had raised his voice and made a sound.”

♦ 277 ♦

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PURGATORIO

W e’d passed him by and continued on our journey, Tryin g to m ove alon g this holy road As fast, this day, as we were allowed to go, W hen I felt the m ountain shake, as i f som ething H ad fallen, and I suddenly felt the kind o f chill T h at catches a man w alking to his death. Surely Delos shook less hard when Juno Refused Latona a birthplace on earth, and Jove Raised that island out o f the sea, and A p o llo Was born. A cry rose up on every side, A n d my Master quickly drew me toward him, quietly Saying: “D o not be afraid, fo r I w ill guide you.” I heard “ Gloria in excelsis Deo, G lory to G od on H igh ,” from voices close by me, Sim pler to follow in that enorm ous cry. W e did not move, suspended where we stood, As the shepherds had been, the first to hear that song, A n d so we stayed until the shaking was over A n d so was the song. T h en we went up our sacred Path, watching the prostrate penitents, A lready back to their usual complaints. I f my m em ory serves m e well, I had never known A lack o f knowledge battering at my m ind So fiercely, and I h a lf desperate with wanting to know. A n d now, because we went so fast, I could N o t even think o f stopping to ask, nor Was I able to see anything there. A n d so I walked, uncertain but trying somehow to know.

Canto Twenty-one

T h a t natural thirst which nothing can ever fully Sate, except the water o f grace the p o or Samaritan wom an asked for, was becom ing m ore A n d m ore o f a torm ent fo r me, and as I hurried A fte r my leader, the spirit-cluttered road Caused m e sorrow, although I knew the justice O f their pain— and there! It was just as Saint Luke writes O f Christ appearing to two men w alking along, Moments after H e rose from His burial cave. A spirit appeared to my Master and me, com ing

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From behind, as we paused to watch the multitude A t ou r feet, and we did not see him until he spoke, Saying: “O my brothers, may G o d give you peace.” W e turned at once, and V irg il answered, carefully Speaking the prop er words fo r such an occasion: “May the blessed court o f Heaven, which holds m e forever In exile, set you am ong them, there, in eternal Peace.” But “H ow !” the soul said, as we resumed O u r rapid pace: “I f you are spirits that G od W ill not allow in Heaven, who has brought you As far as this, along his blessed road?” My teacher replied: “I f you w ill look at the marks Th at this man bears, put there by an angel, You’ll see that he indeed w ill be with the blessed.

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PURGATORIO

“But since the goddess weavers, who spin both day A n d night, have not yet woven his fabric o f fate, Spun and loaded on distaffs fo r everyone, “ His soul— m ade sister to yours, by G od, and to m ine— C ou ld not have m ade this jou rn ey all alone, U nable as he is to see as we do.

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“So I was brought from the deep pits o f H ell T o be his guide, and I w ill take him onward A s fa r as my teaching and knowledge w ill let m e go. “ But tell me, i f you know, why the m ountain Seem ed to crumble, just now, and everyone here A p p ea red to call out, from the very top on down?” By asking this, he threaded the eye o f the needle O f my desire, and thereby gave m e hope A n d put my heart a little m ore at ease. T h e spirit answered: “N oth in g whatever is allowed,

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H ere, in any way disorderly O r out o f step with the customs o f the mountain. “N o seasonal or any other changes Exist: whatever Heaven takes from here Is m erely a cause, and never anything more. “T h erefore there is no rain, no hail, nor snow O r dew, no white and frozen frost comes closer T h an the little staircase m ade o f just three steps. “Clouds, i f heavy or i f light, do not appear; N o ligh tn in g flashes, nor any rainbows, which often Float about, always facing the sun. “A n d the dry windy vapors leaking from earth C an’t com e beyond the highest o f those three steps, W h ere Saint Peter’s angel always rests his feet. “ Low er down, the m ountain may trem ble a bit, But those windy vapors out o f the earth can’t reach T h is high, make anything shake, though I don’t know why.



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CANTO TWENTY-ONE

“It only trembles, up here, when a soul finds It’s pure, and ready to rise, to make the ascent O n high, which then causes the shout you heard. “T h is purity is proven only by the soul A n d its w ill— the soul feelin g clean enough A n d thus allow ing the w ill to make the move “T o Heaven, as it wished to all along, but was blocked By the soul’s desire to accept its punishment, Set by D ivine Justice, and scrape itself free “O f sin. A n d I, lying in pain, here, For h a lf a thousand years or m ore, finally Felt I was free to honestly wish fo r Heaven. “A n d this was the cause o f the m ountain shaking, and the pious Spirits, prone as I was, singing praises T o G od — may H e soon brin g them all above!” A n d so he spoke. A n d since our pleasure in drin k in g Becomes still greater, at times when thirst is deep, I have no words to explain what his words gave me. M y wise teacher declared: “N ow I see T h e snare that tangles you up, and how you get free, W hy there is trem bling, and how you rejoice together. “A n d now, i f you please, tell m e who you are, A n d why you’ve been lying here fo r so many years: L e t me hear these things told in your words.” “W h en g ood Titus ruled in Rom e, with the help O f our L o rd in Heaven he took revenge fo r the wounds O f Christ, which pou red the b lo od that Judas sold, “I earned some fam e and honor, which lasts longer For poets than fo r kings,” the spirit replied, “But nothing I learned brought m e to the truth o f Christ. “So sweet was my voice, reading aloud my verse, Th at Romans loved me, though I was from Milan, A n d honored m e with m yrtle on my brows.

PURGATORIO

“ M en on earth still speak my name: Statius. I sang o f Thebes, and then o f great Achilles, But did not live to com plete my AchiUeid. “T h e sparks o f poetic flam e which drew m e on, Just as that same poetic fire warm ed m ore Th an a thousand others, was V ir g il’s great Aeneid, “W h ich was, in poetry, both my m other A n d my nurse; without the Aeneid I C ould never have written a thing o f any worth. “T o have been alive and walked on the earth when V irg il

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D id— O, and i f I could, I ’d give up A n oth er astral year b efore my ascent!” H ea rin g this, V irg il turned to m e W ith a look that needed no words, saying “Be silent.” But w ill alone won’t stop a human being, Since laughter and tears are deeply interwoven, Follow ing hard on em otions which spring them forth, A n d when they’re truthful have little to do with the will. Th ou gh all I did was smile, it was like a wink; T h e spirit was silent, a m om ent, then stared hard

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A t my eyes, where what is expressed can best be seen: “May your great labor end in goodness,” he said. “But why, just now, did I see on your face the flash O f a m eaningfu l smile, concealing as much as it said?” N ow I ’d m anaged to hang m yself both ways, O n e asking only silence, the other b eggin g For speech. I sighed, and my Master understood My situation. “D on ’t be afraid,” he told me, “O f speaking, as lon g as you speak the truth and tell him W hat, so earnestly, he longs to hear.” I spoke: “Perhaps you were surprised, ancient Spirit, to see that irrepressible smile. But let m e heap w onder on wonder, and take you still higher.

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CANTO TWENTY-ONE

“T h is man who guides my eyes, as I try to climb, Is that V irg il from whom you drew the sacred power T o sing your songs o f men, and also o f gods. “I f you thought my smile had any other m eaning L e t it blow with the wind, and simply believe My smile arose only because o f your words.” N ow he was already stooping to wrap his arms A rou n d my teacher’s feet, but V irg il said: “Brother, no, fo r I am a spirit like you.” Statius rose: “Take it as a measure O f the love burning in me, fo r you and your verse, M aking m e forget ou r emptiness A n d deal with shadows as i f they were things on earth.”

Canto Twenty-two

N ow we had left the angel far behind, H e who had shown us the way we had to climb, A n d also w iped one o f my foreh ead’s signs Away, saying that he who longs fo r G o d ’s Tru e justice is blessed, and afterwards intoned “ Sitiunt, Thirst,” and om itted all the rest. A n d I, feelin g lighter than before, Followed without much e ffo rt this pair o f noble Poets, w alking upward with quick, light steps, W h en V irg il said: “Love, which always comes From virtue and goodness, earns love in return, Even when the only sign o f its flam e “Is outward. A n d thus, b egin n in g with the hour W hen Juvenal descended to us, in the L im b o O f H ell, and revealed your affection fo r me, my fondness “For you, in return, at once becam e m ore fixed, M ore firm than I have felt fo r anyone Unseen: now, in your company, how short “Th ese stairs w ill seem! But tell m e— and as a friend, Please pardon m e i f overconfidence Stretches my reins, talk to me like a frien d— “H ow could greed find its place in your heart, Given the great g o o d sense and wisdom your art Gave you, w orking so diligently and hard?”

CANTO TW ENTY-TW O

Statius was m oved to smile, fo r a m om ent, and then Said this in reply: “Every w ord o f yours, For me, becom es at once a precious token. “But truly, sometimes things take on a look T h a t falsely colors them as what they are not, Thus raising doubts that require explanation. “Y ou r question, I see, springs out o f your b e lief T h a t I was avaricious in my worldly life, K n ow in g the ways o f the people I lived with and liked. “ So let me assure you that avarice was wholly A lien to me, and my gross im m oderation Was thoroughly punished, here, fo r thousands o f moons. “A n d were it not that I had straightened out M y ways, listening well as you exclaim ed, W orried, I think, about our human nature— “ ‘Accursed craving fo r money, what is there, in This world, you don’t lead human beings to?’— W ithout you, I m ight be tilting heavy weights “ In H ell. I saw that always op en in g wide My hands, and flapping gold away, could be sinful, A n d I repented fo r that and other sins. “O n Judgment Day, how many w ill rise with their sinful Heads shaved clean, too ignorant to repent, W hether in life o r at this very last hour! “A sin which tries to beat away another, In du lging in an exactly opposite sin, Loses exactly twice as much, up here. “A n d so i f I, to purge m yself o f lavish Spending, live with those who are guilty o f greed, M y punishment’s doubled! Sin cannot succeed.” “W h en your Thebaid sings o f Jocasta’s double sorrow, T h e sinful m other o f sons who kill one another,” Said he who sang, in his Georgies, pastoral wonders,

PU RGATORIO

“Judging by what the Muse has helped you write, T h a t the faith without which goodness w ill not suffice H a d not yet reached you; you were not one who believed.

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“ I f that is true, tell m e what sun o r candle B urned darkness away so you could set your sails T o follow H e who fished fo r the souls o f men.” Statius answered: “In my b egin n in g I was sent In the direction o f Parnassus, by you. You taught m e T o sing in its caves, and you lit the pathway to G od. “You were just like a m an who goes out at night, But carries his lantern behind him, and sees no light, W h ile those who follow behind him learn to be wise, “W h en you wrote: ‘N ow the centuries are renewed,

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Justice returns, along with the first age o f man, A n d a brand new race is sent to us, by Heaven.' “T h rou gh you, I becam e a poet; through you, a Christian. But so you can better see what I have sketched, L e t m e stretch out a hand and add som e color. “T h e w orld had already been im pregnated by the sole Tru th fu l faith, the seeds bein g sown by apostles T h e eternal realm had joyously sent to Rom e, “A n d what these new preachers were saying seem ed to be so Entwined with those sacred words o f yours that, slowly,

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I began to g o where they preached, and cam e to know them. “T o m e these men appeared so intensely holy Th at, when D om itian persecuted all Christians, T h e ir cries were echoed by m ine, although in secret. “A n d du rin g the rest o f the tim e I lived on earth T h ey had my assistance, and all their holy work M ade m e contemptuous o f all other sects. “A n d so, before my Thebaid had taken T h e Greeks to the rivers o f Thebes, I had m yself baptized, But fear made me rem ain a secret Christian,

♦ 286 ♦

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CANTO TWENTY-TWO

“A n d fo r many years I was outwardly a pagan: A n d fo r bein g lukewarm I had to g o around T h e fourth o f H e ll’s circles fo r m ore than fou r hundred years. “N o w you, who lifted fo r m e the covering, H id in g away the splendid blessings I speak of: W h ile we have tim e to spare, as we clim b these steps, “T e ll me, where is Terence, poet o f ancient Tim es, and com ic Caecilius, and Plautus, A n d Varius— tell me, i f you know, “ I f they are dam ned, and where.” “As I am, and Persius,

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A n d many others, along with that Greek the Muses Suckled m ore than any other poet, “W e dwell in the first circle o f that blind dungeon, A n d we frequently speak o f M ount Parnassus, where O u r nursing mothers dwell, and always have. “ Euripides is with us, and Antiphon, Simonides, Agathon, and other Greeks who once had laurels on their brows. “A n d there you see many o f your own people, Antigone, D eifile, and A rgia,

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Ismene, still as sad as she used to be. “You ’ll see the woman, Hypsipyle, she who L e ft a child unguarded, her prince’s son, K illed on the grass by a snake; and Tiresias’ daughter, “A n d Thetis, A chilles’ mother, and Deidam ia A n d her sisters.” A n d then both poets walked In silence, now freed o f stairs and walls o f rock, A n d gazing about. Four o f the sun’s handmaids W ere gone, and the fifth was busy keeping the flames O f the chariot-pole on high, when my teacher said: “ I think it best to have our right shoulders Turned so we can follow the outer edge O f the mountain, carefully tracing its natural curve ”

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PURGATORIO

This rule had served us well, so on we went, W ith little concern o f losing ou r way, because O f Statius, w ho’d heard my leader’s plan, and assented. T h ey walked in front, and I was alone, behind them, My eager ears taking in their discussion O f ou r com m on craft, and never interrupting. But this sweet conversation was broken o f f

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By a tree we found, grow in g in the m iddle o f the road, W ith fru it o f an o d o r delicate and sweet, A n d just as a fir tree’s branches grow sharply short T h e higher they go, this tree had grow n exactly T h e other way, to keep all clim bers out. A stream o f clear water fell, to our left, from the high Rocks m arking the inner ed ge o f ou r road, A n d splashed itself straight on the leaves below it. My two poets walked over, close to the tree, A n d then a voice cried from inside the leaves:

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“You ’ll have no fruit to eat, not from this tree.” A n d said more: “M ary took the w edding feast Much m ore to heart, wanting its h on or complete, T h a n what she would put in her mouth, which now w ill speak “O n high, fo r you. Rom an wom en were not Dismayed by drin k in g only water, and Daniel Scorned the kingly fo o d on his table, and was wise. “T h e very first age o f man was lovely as gold; H u n ger was satisfied to the fu ll with acorns, A n d thirst regarded every stream as sweet. “ H on ey and locusts were the only fo o d T h a t John the Baptist fed on, alone in the desert, A n d thus he rose to greatness, achieved his glory, As you can readily read in the G ospel fo r yourself.”

♦ 288 ♦

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Canto Twenty-three

W h ile my eyes were searching through the thick Green leaves, just like the man who throws away His life, watching fo r birds, hunting all day, My m ore than father said: “My son, now It is tim e to leave, fo r the hours w e’ve been given A re carefully allocated, and cannot be spent “T o o freely.” I turned my face, and quickly walked, Once more, behind a pair o f sages whose talk Was o f a sort that m ade my goin g easy. A n d suddenly I heard tearful voices singing

10

“O pen my lips, Lord,” their words rin gin g In my ears with both sweetness and pain. “O, sweet father, what is this I hear?” I began, and then he answered: “Th ese may be spirits Freeing themselves from the hard-tied knot o f their sins.” Just as pilgrim s, w alking deep in thought, May not always stop when strangers are met A lo n g the road, but certainly turn and look, A n d so a crowd o f lively souls, pious A n d silent, came from behind, and sweeping past us Turned their faces and stared at us in wonder. T h e ir eyes were deep as hollow pits, and dark, T h eir faces were pale, wasted so com pletely That skin acquired its shape from the bones underneath.

♦ 289 ♦

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PURGATORIO

I doubt that Erysichthon, who ended by eating H im self, saw his skin so withered at the end By relentless hunger, as these w ell-dried hides. I thought to myself, in silence: “ H ere are the Jews O f Jerusalem, defeated by Rom e, so high Besieged that a m other spiked and ate her ch ild !”

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T h e sockets o f their eyes were rings, without any jewels: People who think a face spells OMO, “man,” Tw o eyes and a nose, would easily find the M. W h o would believe, not know ing the cause, that a tree D ropping sprinkles o f water and a scent o f fru it C ould kindle the kind o f desire theirs must be? N ow I was w ondering at their intense starvation, T h e ir gauntness, their sorry, scaling skin, none O f which, as yet, I ’d understood o r been shown— A n d then! From the rin ged depths in his head, one

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O f the spirits suddenly stared at me, stared hard, A n d cried out loud: “O I ’ve been given a blessing!” I never could have known him, just seeing his face, But I heard in his voice what his countenance suppressed, H eld trapped inside him, tethered in invisible ways. A n d this little spark flared my m em ory awake, A n d I suddenly saw what the m an had looked like before, A n d recognized the face o f Forese Donati. “A h, please don ’t quarrel with the scabby scales on my face,” H e begged, “nor my skin, and the parched sparseness My entire body shows. But in the nam e “O f truth, do tell me about yourself, and who T h e spirits are, over there, escorting you— But please don’t leave until you’ve spoken to m e!” “Your face, which I ’ve already wept for, when you died, Gives me, now, no weaker reason fo r tears, Seeing how strangely twisted it is,” I replied.

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“So tell me, in God's own name, what sliced you down? Don’t make me speak when I am overwhelmed, For no one, preoccupied, can ever speak well." And then he said: “Virtue flows, by the wisdom O f God, from Heaven into the water, and then To the tree back there, and I keep growing thinner. “All these people you see here, weeping, sing To sanctify themselves from gluttony, From appetite gone wild. We seek salvation. “The scent o f fruit, and the spray formed on bright green Leaves by the water’s constant splashing, bring us Ravenous desire for food and drink. “And this wild craving, as well as our pain, returns, Not once around this circle, but over and over— And though I say ‘pain,’ I ought to be saying ‘comfort,* “For this is how, at last, we surely come To that sacred tree on which Christ exclaimed ‘O God!’ When He redeemed us, with His holy blood.” And I said to him: “Forese, from the day You left for a better life, until today, Five full years have not gone spinning by. “And if your power for worldly sin was broken Only after your death— a sorrow renewing Our link to God— and not by you, still alive, “How have you come up here, ascending so high? I ’d fully expected to find you down below, Where years o f sinning require years o f woe.” He said: “She who brought me to drink the sweetest Joys o f wormwood, here, is my loving wife, Who wept a torrent o f tears, the day I died, “And her devout and passionate prayers, and her sighs, Have lifted me up, beyond the slope where they wait And freed me from all the circles lying between.

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“For she is far m ore precious to G od than I am, A n d though I loved her truly, she’s His beloved, For now she spends h erself in works o f goodness— “For the brazen, barbarous wom en o f Barbagia, In Sardinia, are far m ore m odest than those In the city where I left her, far-fallen Florence. “O, my sweet brother, what can you ask m e to say? L o o k in g into the future, I already see— A n d the hour w ill not be lon g in com ing, I believe— “W h en priests in our pulpits w ill forbid Florence’s lewd

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A n d insolent wom en from goin g about the streets, T h e ir breasts bare well below the nipples. “W ere there ever barbarian women, o r Turks, W h o n eeded heavy discipline— by priests O r by law— to keep them decently covered? But such “Disgraceful creatures, should they realize For sure what quick-handed Heaven has ready fo r them, T h e y ’d now be ready to open their mouths and howl! “A n d i f our future knowledge does not betray me, T h ey w ill be m oaning lon g b efore a boy

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W h o now loves lullabies w ill be grow in g a beard. “A h, my brother! I ’ve answered your questions, now answer M ine, fo r as you see w e’re all, not m e A lon e, staring at the shadow you cast.” A n d I answered him: “B rin gin g back to m ind W hat you have been to me, and I to you, Still leaves the m em ory harsh, in the here and now. “H e whom I follow — starting not many days A g o , when the sun’s sister was high in the sky— Has turned me away from that life we led. H e “Has been my guide all through the deep night O f those who are truly dead, and I have rem ained In this true flesh, always w alking behind him.

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“ H e ’s given me help and com fort all through those realms, A n d helped m e climb, circle by circle, this mountain W hich straightens you, when your life has made you crooked. “A n d he has pledged h im self to guide me as high As the heavenly realm where Beatrice stays, and he Can g o no higher, and I w ill be left without him. “ H e who has told m e this is V irgil,” I said. A n d then I pointed to Statius: “A nd this is that other Spirit fo r whom , not very lon g ago, This m ountain shook, freein g him from himself.”

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Canto Twenty-four

Speaking did not make us slower, nor Did w alking hinder speech: we went on swiftly, Much as a ship when a favoring w ind is blowing. A n d those pale spirits, who almost seem ed twice dead, Continued to stare at me, their dark, deep eyes Contem plating my status as one o f the living. A n d I continued what I had just been saying: “Th is second spirit probably goes much slower T h an he might, perhaps fo r the oth er spirit’s sake. “But tell me, Forese, i f you’re able, where is

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Your sister, Piccarda? A n d am ong the people you walk with, Tell m e i f there are others I ought to know.” “I cannot say it was on account o f her beauty O r her many g o o d deeds, but my sister, in jo y fu l delight, N ow stands on the peak o f Olympus, w earing a crown.” Th at was the first thing he said. A n d then he went on: “H ere, we can nam e each other, since our faces A re so severely distorted by years o f fastin g “T h at one,” and he pointed his finger, “ is Bonagiunta— Bonagiunta from Lucca; and the face you see Just beyond him, m ore distorted than most, “Was one who, as pope, held H oly Church in his arms; H e was born in Tours; and now he’s pu rging o f f T h e eels he used to eat, stewed in wine.”

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He went on naming others, one by one, And those who’d been named seemed perfectly content; On this account I saw not a single dark look. I saw Ubaldin de la Pila, and Bishop Bonifazio (Wealthy, self-indulgent shepherd to many), So driven by hunger they bit and chewed on the air. I saw Messer Marchese, o f Forli, who once Drank wine at his leisure, without the thirst he felt now, And for all his drinking had never had enough. But as I watched and then appraised them all, More impressed by one than another, I favored He o f Lucca, who also seemed to know me. But he was mumbling, and the only word I caught Was “Gentucca,” or so I thought, watching him As one by one, Justice plucked his sins. “O soul,” I said, “you whom I see longing To talk to me, let me hear your words, And we shall each o f us be satisfied.” “There is a woman, born, but not yet married,” He said, “who’ll make my city pleasing to you, No matter the malice held against it, by many. “You will leave here, and take my prophecy with you: I f you think my mumbling neither worthy nor right, The course o f events will let you see more clearly. “But tell me whether the man I see right here Produced those new and widely welcomed poems, Beginning: ‘Ladies, you who understand love.’ ” I answered him: “I am one who, moved By Love, carefully listens, then makes a poem, Fashioned in the mode that Love has chosen.” “O brother,” he said, “now my eyes are opened And I see what kept Guittone, Lentini, and me From reaching the sweet new style I hear in your poems!



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“My vision’s now clear. I see that you and your friends Write poems that closely follow whatever Love says, Which surely did not happen to us, when we wrote, “And anyone who thinks there’s more o f a difference Will only see exacdy what I just said.” And then, as if well pleased, he said no more. Just as birds who winter along the Nile Sometimes fly as flocks, in full formation, Sometimes go faster, strung out in a line, So too the souls around us lost their patience (Light-footed, given their leanness and great desire) And ran ahead, turning their faces away. And like a man who’s weary from heavy running And lets his companions pass him, reduced to walking Until his panting chest returns to normal, Just so Forese let his holy flock Go by him, and then came up behind me, saying: “How long do you think it will be, before I see you “Again?” “I ’ve no idea how long I ’ll live,” I answered, “but however long until I come, It won’t be soon enough; I’ll long for that shore, “Since the place where I must spend the rest o f my years Is being stripped, from day to day, o f all goodness, And seems prepared to end as a squalid ruin ” “Now go,” he said; “I see Corso Donati, Worst o f them all, tied to the tail o f a beast Running toward that valley which no one escapes. “At every step the beast runs faster and faster, Till Corso is beaten and smashed to pieces, and it leaves His corpse where it falls, hideously undone. “The constellations will not revolve for long,” He said, his eyes turned to the heavens, “before You understand what I cannot put in words.

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“Stay back here; time on the mountain is precious, And if I give up too much ground, walking As you walk, my loss becomes immense.” Just as a horseman sometimes charges out O f a cavalry troop, breaking away in order To claim high honor for being first into battle, So he left us, stepping out with great strides, And I remained on our road, along with the two Who were among the great commanders o f our world. And when he had gone so far ahead that my eyes 100 Needed help from my mind to follow him (My mind, which had always lingered on him and his words), I saw another tree, not much farther On, around a bend I had barely turned— A spirited tree, its branches heavy with fruit. And I saw people beneath it, raising their hands And crying to the leaves, but nothing I could follow, Like little children, yearning, forever foolish, Who beg and beg, though he to whom they wave Ignores them, openly holding up what they crave; 110 They try, and they try, never making their case. Then suddenly they left, as if they had learned. And now we reached this great tree, which turns away So many tears, so many desperate prayers. “Keep on walking, do not come too close: There is a tree, not distant, from which Eve ate, And this is a sprout, grown from out o f its flesh.” An unknown voice said this to us, from the branches, And Virgil, Statius, and I, close together, Went on, keeping our feet on the upward path. 120 “Remember,” said the voice, “those accursed centaurs, Shaped out o f clouds, who when their bellies were full Used their double chests to fight with Theseus,

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“And also those o f the Jewish army, too soft To keep from drinking when thirsty, and Gideon would not Keep them, marching his men on to Midian.” So we walked carefully by, staying close To the edge o f the road, hearing o f gluttonous sins, Always followed by well-earned pains and woes. And then, the three o f us spread out along An empty road, we walked a thousand paces Or more, silent, each o f us lost in thought. “Why are you here, you three, so lost in thought?” Suddenly said a voice, making me jump Like a frightened beast, or a skittish, rearing horse. I lifted my head, trying to see who it was— And no one looking into a blazing furnace O f metal or glass has seen redness more glowing Than him I saw. And he said: “He who’s intent On going up, must make a turn right here. This is the road for those who long for peace.” His face had wiped away my power o f sight, And so I walked along behind my teachers, As a blind man steers himself by what he hears. And like a breeze in May, announcing dawn, Stirring up sweet fragrances that come From flowers and grass, I felt a wind o f that sort Blowing right across my forehead and into My hair, and I could easily tell how this Sweet wind was moving, bringing the scent o f ambrosia. And then I heard: “Blessed are those so glowing With grace that the love o f appetite can’t light Too high a fire in their hearts, which only hunger After what is proper and what is right.”

Canto Twenty-five

It was now an hour when nothing stopped us from climbing, For the sun had gone past noon and left that spot To Taurus, and the opposite, midnight, to Scorpio. Thus, like people pushed ahead by desire, Who never stop, whatever the effort required O r obstacle presented, picking their way, We three entered the passage that led us higher, One by one walking the steps o f those stairs, So narrow no one could climb them, side by side. And just as a baby stork lifts its wings, Anxious to fly, but finds itself afraid To leave the nest, and lowers them again, So was I, yearning to ask a question, Ready, then not, almost starting to speak, Then holding back, just as quickly quenched As kindled. But my sweet father never flinched O r let me suffer. He said: “Fire the arrow You’re holding, your bow stretched to the very iron.” And then, confident now, I opened my mouth And began: “How can anyone grow lean, In a place where no one feels the urge to feed?” “I f you had called to mind Meleager,” He said, “who died, though far away, when his mother Burned prophetic firewood, your doubt would be over.

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“A n d i f you think how every m ovem ent you make Is instantly duplicated by your m irror image, T h at which seems so hard would seem to you simple. “ But so that you can feel relieved o f this problem , H ere is ou r Statius, and I call on him, asking T h at he assume the role o f healing your wounds.”

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“T o dare an explanation o f eternity,” Said Statius, “ in your presence, my only excuse Must be that when you ask, I cannot deny you.” H e started: “ If, my son, your m ind welcomes My words, and contemplates them, this exposition W ill show you how to understand what you ask. “ B lood in its perfect state is never consumed T o the end by thirsty veins, but left behind, As fo o d unfinished is taken o f f the table, “A cqu iring in the heart a form ative power

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(Applicable to all the body's parts), W ith b lo od flow in g in the veins, to be those components. “Digested once m ore, it descends where decency Requires that we be silent, and when leaving there Becom es the sperm that, in the m other's body, “M ingles in the uterus with m aternal B lood— that b lo od quiescent, but sperm active, Because o f the perfect place from which it comes, “A n d once that fusion begins to operate, First it coagulates, and then it makes denser T h e m atter which it had first created. This active “Power becom in g now a sort o f soul, M ore or less like a plant, the differen ce being Th at this is still grow in g and the plant can go no further. “N ow this spirit begins to m ove and feel, Much like a sea-sponge, and then it starts to make Organs, fo r the powers o f which it holds the seeds.

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“Now, my son, it expands and distends that power Given it by the heart o f the progenitor, Where Nature provides whatever these organs need. “But how it changes from animal to human You've yet to be told— and this is exactly where Averroes, wiser than you, tripped, “Teaching that whatever the brain in question, the soul Could not be part o f the mind, for looking at all The possible locations he found there were none. “Now open your breast to the truth you’re about to hear: Understand this: once the brain is fully Formed and perfected inside the fetus, He “Who gives life to us all, delighted by Nature’s art, Turns and breathes down a brand-new spirit, filled With all o f human possibility, “And this new spirit takes into itself The active substance it finds, creating a soul Alive, emotional, and independent. “And to keep you from marveling too much at my words, Consider the heat o f the sun, making wine By joining with the juice that flows in the vine. “And then, when Fate has wound out all its thread, That soul’s released from the body, carrying with it Inceptive powers, human but also divine, “Most o f the other faculties now mute, But memory, and intellect, and will Acting far more acutely than ever before. “With no hesitation, entirely on its own, It falls, most marvelously, to one o f the banks, And there, for the first time, sees the road it’s on. “As soon as that place has absorbed and taken it in, The soul’s generative power shines, accounting For form and quantity, and colors adorn it,

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“From rays o f the sun. As air, moisture-laden, Takes on the different hues reflecting on it, So too the air around it takes on rainbow shades. “And then the atmosphere about it assumes Forms newly stamped upon it by the soul Halted on that bank. And then, like flames “Following their fire wherever it goes, No matter where it flickers, the new form The spirit possesses follows it all around. “Because the soul gives this form its appearance, We call it a ‘shade,’ which promptly gives shapes to all The bodily organs and senses, including sight. “This is how we speak, and how we laugh, And how we make the tears and moans you’ve now Been able to hear, all around the mountain. “Depending on how the desires, and other emotions, Develop in us, the shade adjusts its form— And this, at last, is the cause o f your confusion.” By then our walk had carried us up as high As the final circle, and so we turned to the right And busied ourselves with other, more pressing concerns, For here the bank breaks out in flames, and the edge O f the terrace shoots an upward blast that bends The fires backward, clearing just one o f the paths. We had no choice but to advance on that safer side, Proceeding in single file, one at a time. At the edge I feared I might fall, but I also feared The fire. My leader said: “Keep your eyes From straying, watch each step you take. Mistakes Are easily made, walking through this place.” And then I heard “Listen, great God of Mercy” Sung from deep inside the leaping flames, And I was absorbed in the singing, as I was with my steps.



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And then I saw spirits walking through the fire, And that too caught my eyes, and kept me glancing Up and down, without any fear o f danger. And when they’d finished singing the hymn, I heard Them cry, like Mary, “I have no knowledge o f men.” And then, softly, they began the hymn again. And this time, when they finished, they cried, “Diana Stayed in the woods, and when her nymph, Helice, Succumbed to Venus, Diana drove her out.” Then they sang once more, and then they cried That married men and women were also chaste, As virtue and sacred marriage both require. Proceeding as they do gives them, I think, Protection from the fire burning around them: Undergoing such treatment, and such a diet, Is the way to heal the last o f our wounds as men.

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Canto Twenty-six

And as we made our way along the edge, One by one, my good Master saying To me: “Be careful, let my advice save you,” The sun was already shining over my right Shoulder, its beams changing the whole face O f the West, and what was azure quickly became White, and my shadow made the eternal flames Still more glowing, and even this much o f a change Made many shades take notice as they went their way. And this was why, at first, they began to speak O f me, beginning to say to one another: “That one does not look like a proper shade,” And some o f them approached me, as close as they could, Careful not to leave the fiery regions Where they were being burned, well and correctly. wO you who walk behind the other two, Not lazy but probably from high respect, Answer a question from me, who burns and thirsts— “And I am not the only one your words Would aid: these others yearn much worse for water Than those in India or Ethiopia. “Tell us how you become a wall, blocking The sun— as if your life has not yet stopped And you have somehow eluded death’s great net.”

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This was what he said, and I would have replied Except that now an even stranger thing Swung my attention o ff to the other side: Down the middle o f the burning road Came people facing exacdy the other way, And I had no choice but to watch and silently wait. I saw the spirits hurrying from all Directions, kissing one, then kissing another, Never stopping, barely saying a word O f greeting— much like ants in their dark holes, Antennas quickly rubbed against each other, Testing for success— or a better road? As soon as their friendly, rapid greeting ends, The spirits go off, shouting as they run, Each attempting to shout the loudest: “Sodom And Gomorrah I” the new arrivals cry, And the others: “Queen Pasiphae hid in a wooden Cow, so the beautiful bull could be tricked and come “To her.” And then, like cranes, some o f them flying To the Riphean mountains, some to the sands (those shy O f the frost), the others avoiding the heat o f the sun, So one group goes along, the other leaves, All weeping, once again resuming their chants And whatever shout the group has all agreed on. And those who, before, had wanted to hear from me, Came closer to me, once more, and I could see From their faces how eager they were to hear me speak. Having now heard twice what they wanted to know, I began: “O souls, certain o f eternal peace, But not yet when, my limbs are not out yonder, “Either ripe or green, but here with me, With all their flowing blood and moving joints. I have been granted this living journey through

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“Your world by the grace o f a lady, in Heaven above, To keep me from being as blind as I was, below. But before you rise to the highest o f all desires, “God's Heaven, filled with love and perfect shelter, Forever growing greater and spread so wide— And may you soon be there, well-satisfied— “Tell me, so I can write it, still, in ordered Lines, just who you were on earth, before, And what that crowd is, departing the other way." Like mountain people, wild and rough, knowing Nothing and staring, stupefied and dumb, At city streets, completely over-awed, So were the faces o f every spirit I saw. But when they understood, they lost their stupor, As elevated hearts will always do: “How blessed you are,” said the man who’d questioned me first, “Sailing into our land to learn, firsthand, How to properly die, returning to earth! “Those who ran the other way offended By crying at Caesar’s victory celebration ‘O Queen!’ for his suspected assignation “With a king. So now they run off, crying ‘Sodom!’ Rebuking themselves as once they’d shouted at him, Their shame assisting the process o f burning o ff sin. “But we were hermaphrodites, two sexes in one, Not following laws prescribed for every human, Indulging appetite like beasts, not men, “So when we leave these others we call out the name O f she who bestialized herself in the shape O f a wooden cow, to brand ourselves with disgrace. “Now you know what we do, and how we sinned. There are not hours enough to tell you our names, N or could I honestly say who all o f us were.

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“But I can surely repeat my name, once again: I am Guido Guinizzelli, a poet Come this far on the mountain because I repented “In tim e” As Lycurgus sorrowed for the sudden death O f his son, and the sorrow his wife’s two sons then felt, As he wanted to kill their mother, so I was struck, But lighter, hearing my father, father o f other Poets, naming himself—he who sang Sweet and easy rhymes o f love before us. But because o f the fire I could not approach more closely, 100 And stood, silent and thoughtful, not speaking, not hearing, Looking steadily and long at Guido. And when my eyes had drunk in enough, I offered Myself, fully ready to be at his service, Swearing an oath that forces a man to believe you. He spoke to me: “Your words make such an impression On me, glowing so deep and clear in my mind, That even Lethe cannot darken such signs. “But if what you swore, just now, is the truth, tell me Why, in your face as well as your words, you show 110 Yourself to think o f me so wonderfully well.” And then I answered: “Your verses will last as long As our modern ways, singing such graceful songs That even their very ink will always belong “In our hearts.” “O brother, over there,” and he pointed ahead, “You’ll see Daniel Arnaut, who worked our tongue With better craft than I have ever done. “He turned out love poems, romances carved in prose, And conquered us all— and those who praise Giraud De Borneil as truly the best are idiots, 120 “Opening their ears to gossip rather than truth, Shutting their minds and framing their opinions Before they hear the voices o f art and reason.

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“That’s how it used to be with old Guittone, Automatically praised, the winner o f prizes And only him, until the truth broke through. “Well: if you’ve been granted so much grace That you can put your feet in that sacred cloister Where Christ himself is abbot, as well as Savior, “Say an ‘Our Father’ or two on my behalf— Which is all we really need, who have come this far, Unable to sin again, as we did before.” And then, perhaps to give his place to someone Just behind him, he disappeared in the fire Like a fish suddenly dropping down to the bottom. I moved a little closer to the spirit he’d pointed Out, and told him there was already a place For his name, written large in my grateful desire. He answered graciously, in his Provencal tongue: “You speak such words o f sweet and gracious respect That I cannot deny so courteous a request. “Yes, I ’m Arnaut, a man o f laughter and tears; My penitent mind remembers all my follies, And my heart can see Heaven’sjoys appearing. “So let me pray that by that same great grace Which brings you here so high, when the time arrives You’ll also think for a moment o f my great pain.” And then he hid in the purifying fire.



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Canto Twenty-seven

As when the first o f its gleaming rays shine down, There where He who made it poured out His blood, And in Spain the river Ebro flickers in moonlight And the waves o f the Ganges lie scorching under high noon, We saw the sun ready to disappear As God's glad angel appeared to us. He stood On an outside edge, away from the roaring flames, And sang “Blessed are the wise in the world,” And his voice was more alive than ours when we sang it. And then he spoke to us: “O holy souls, You can’t go further, until these flames bite you. Walk in, and hear the singing on the other side.” He was standing close to us. And I became, Hearing these words, a man about to be buried, Head first, in a funeral pit. I stared at the flames, Bending forward, peering over clasped hands, Vividly recalling every man I ’d ever seen, tied to a stake and burning. Both my escorts turned toward me, and my Master Spoke: “My son, there may be pain, in there, But nothing mortal. You will not die in these fires. “Remember! Remember! And if I guided you well, When we rode down on the monster Geryon’s back, What will I do, this far away from Hell?

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“Believe, as you must, and will, that in the belly O f these flames, staying a thousand years, or more, No single hair on your head will turn bald and be lost. “And if, perhaps, you think I ’m trying to trick you, Come up closer and make a critical test— Use your own hands, held at the hem o f your shirt. “Come; try it; don’t be driven by fear. Turn toward me and step in, stay safe and sure!” And I was still as a stone, knowing I was wrong. Seeing how stubborn I was, my head so hard, His words showed displeasure: “You see, my son? This wall now stands between Beatrice and you.” Just as Pyramus, dying, heard his lover’s Name, and opened his eyes, and looked at her, His blood staining white mulberry leaves forever, So I, my stubborn heart now softened, turned To my wise leader, having heard the name Always springing up in my mind, and he Stood shaking his head, and said: “What now? You’d rather Simply stay on this side?” And then he gave me The kind o f smile we show a child won over By an apple. After which he asked Statius, who’d walked Between us, to bring up the rear, then entered the flames, And I, as so often before, went behind him. As soon as I was inside, I could have cooled Myself by diving into molten glass: So fiery measureless was the heat I was in. My sweet-tempered father, wanting to offer me solace, Continued to talk about Beatrice, as we went on our way, Saying: “I feel I already can see her eyes.” Our steps were guided by a voice, singing On the other side, and we, following Close as we could, came out as the song rose higher:

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“Now come to me, you souls, blessed by my Father!” This voice emerged from a light shining so brightly My eyes were overwhelmed, and I could not look. “Th e sun is setting,” the voice went on, “night Is coming. Don't stop right here, hurry on Before the west can give you no more light.” O ur path went so straight up, right through the rock, That every step I took was blocking rays O f the dying sun, sinking lower and lower. The steps we were able to take were few, and hasty, And my guides and I could see my shadow was gone, The sun had set, dropping down behind us. But before the horizon’s vast sweep had lost its delicate Shades, assuming one dark blackness, night Taking control o f everything in sight, We each had chosen a rocky step as our bed, For with the darkness the mountain’s law descended, Leaving us not able to climb, nor wanting To. Like leaping mountain goats, swift And certain-footed up and down the peaks, But after they’ve been fed turn quiet and peaceful, Lying still in the shade, while in the sunburned Ground the shepherd stands on guard, leaning Down on his staff, protecting his flock as they sleep; Or as a herdsman, living out in the fields, Spends the night watching over his beasts, Guarding against a wild attack, and their scattering— And so we were just then, all three o f us, I the peaceful goat, they the shepherds, The high rocks framing, up and down, our fence. Even the outside sky was hard to see, But a tiny hole gave me a glimpse o f the stars, Somehow shining clearer, and larger by far.



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G azing up, and m ullin g around in my m ind, I fell into sleep— and slumber, we often find, Knows the news even before it happens. It seem ed to m e that at the hour when Venus Burns most bountifu lly out o f the east, A n d her very first rays begin to shine on the mountain, I saw in a dream a young and beautiful lady Gaily g o in g through a garden, gatherin g Flowers and singing, and I understood her words: “W h oever wants to know my name, listen:

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I am Leah, Laban's daughter, using My lovely hands to fashion a pretty garland. “I bring these flowers so I can adore my face In the m irror, but Rachel, my sister, never leaves it, Sitting there all day, adm iring her beauty, “ H er shining eyes, which give her just as much pleasure As I find here, decorating m yself W ith my hands; she likes to see, I like to do.” But now the splendid glow announces dawn, G ratifyin g pilgrim s, who know they’ve com e

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A n o th er day’s distance closer to where they’re at home, A n d night’s dark shadows melt away on all sides, A n d fo r me, sleep went with them. A n d so I rose, A n d found my two great Masters already awake. “T h e sweetest fruits o f happiness, which livin g M en are always seeking, first here, then there, Today w ill feed your appetite fo r peace.” V irg il spoke exactly these words to me, A n d no one could ever give a better gift: N o pleasure could match the glow o f my M aster’s words. I longed so terribly to reach the peak T h at each and every step along ou r way Seem ed to grow the feathers my flight required.

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CANTO TWENTY-SEVEN

When every step had been taken, the climb complete, We stood together at the very top, And Virgil looked at me, long and hard, Then said: “My son, you've seen the transient fires O f earth, and eternal flames; and now you’ve climbed Past my powers o f sight, my command expires. “My mind and understanding have brought you this far; Now you must be taken where your heart leads you; The steepest paths are behind you, and the narrow roads. “Keep watching the sun, shining on your face; See the growing grass, the flowers, the youngest Trees, which grow from this ground without any seeds. “Until those beautiful eyes, whose weeping led me To your side, have opened in sheer delight, spend As many hours as you like in these bright sights. “Expect no words or signals from me. You are free, You stand upright, your judgment is healthy and whole; Not following your own desires would be wrong: And so I crown you, and now you do as you please.”



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Canto Twenty-eight

I was already starting to hunt in and around T h is heavenly forest, so green, so dense, that my eyes W ere fittin g themselves to this d ifferen t day, and these grounds; W ithout waiting, not knowing what I would find, I m oved slowly, slowly over open fields E xhalin g p erfu m e as i f the earth were smiling. A soft breeze blew so steady I knew I would feel it Forever the same, running across my face W ithout any pressure, spun like a gentle reel, M aking branches quiver, all o f them shaken

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Tow ard the part o f this perfect, holy place W h ere the first shadows o f the sacred m ountain were draped, Yet never quivering hard enough to displace A n y little birds, perched on high A n d forever singing, secure on a trem bling space, G reeting m orn in g hours, newly arrived, W ith the fullest o f joy, songs am ong the leaves Th at beat out gentle rhythms fo r musical rhymes, Like the pines o f the great Chiassi forest, trees Th at m urm ur just so sweetly whenever ancient Aeolus decides to release the southeast breeze. A lthough my pace stayed slow, by now my steps H ad taken m e so far in the timeless w ood T h a t I could not look back and see where I ’ d entered,

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CANTO TW ENTY-EIGHT

And there! I was stopped by a flowing stream, which I could Not cross, its litde current strong enough To bend the grasses growing along its shore. The purest waters we see, in this world where we pass Our lives, seem always strangely dirtied, but this Was water to peer through, much like tempered glass, Hiding nothing, although it runs in darkness O f never-changing shadows, unbroken by beams O f moonlight or a single passing light from the sun. My feet stayed where they were, but even this stream Could not restrain my eyes, which stared across At a beautiful mixture o f freshly fashioned leaves— And then there suddenly appeared a wondrous Sight, driving away at once all other Thoughts: a lady by herself, strolling Along and picking flowers one by one— The shining colors painted across her path— Singing lovely songs with every step. “Ah, fair lady, you who warm yourself With Venus’ light (if I may believe the mere Appearance, supposed to show us the heart inside), “Please come closer to this stream, so I,” I said, “standing here on the opposite shore, May not only hear your song but know your words. “You make me think o f the goddess Proserpine When her mother lost her to Pluto, while she plucked Sicilian flowers and sang as you sing now.” Then like a lady, dancing, who starts a spin By keeping her feet close to one another And close to the ground, one foot before the other, She swung around and faced me, blossoms and flowers And all, lowering her eyes like A virgin girl, modestly complying

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With my request and drawing slightly closer, So now the sweetness o f her voice reached me And also her words, and I could understand them. Standing where the waterside grass was barely Washed by the stream, she gave me a further gift, Directing toward me the glow o f her lovely eyes. I find it hard to believe that even Venus, Accidentally pierced by Cupid’s arrows As she bent to kiss him, and suddenly caught by his magic, Could shine so bright. This girl was smiling from The other bank, her hands arranging the many Colors this sacred ground gave forth, needing No seeds. The water kept us three steps apart, But even the Hellespont, without a way For angry Xerxes to cross it, and thoroughly hated By amorous Leander, trying to swim The swelling waves from Sestos to Abydus, Was not as repellent as this little stream to me. “You and the others,” she said, “are new to this place, And may be wondering why I smile in this holy Spot, chosen to be a nest for your race; “You hesitate and show uncertainty. But the psalm that sings the Lord’s delight at His Creation may open your eyes and let you see. “And you, leader for those behind you to follow, You called to me; if you ask more, I ’m here To answer and tell you whatever you want to know.” “The sound o f the water, here,” I said, “and the forest, Seem to contradict some information I have recendy heard on matters like this.” She said: “I ’ll tell you exactly what is making You wonder, and how this comes to be, and the mist Created in your mind will be cleared away.



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CANTO TW ENTY-EIGHT

“Our Greatest Goodness, He alone who pleases Himself, made man good, and meant for goodness, And placed him here as a token o f endless peace. “Man’s mistakes soon drove him out o f Eden: His own errors brought him tears and pain In place o f honest joy and sweet amusement. “Because o f all the rain and other storms Sweeping up from the earth below, driven By heat, which causes constant flux and worry, “This mountain was made to soar high in the sky, Free o f earthly turbulence and preserving Peace in this garden, ensuring the safety o f men. “And then, because earth’s swirling air circles Below (except when interruptions occur), These circles being Nature’s basic movement, “All that endless motion reaches to where This mountain towers, brushing against its air And causing vibrations in forests thick with trees, “And anything growing contains a potency That reacts in tune with such movement, filling the air With seeds, the air sweeping them round and round, “And the rest o f the earth, given their natural strength And the state o f the sky and weather, impregnates itself (Although it may seem to be a seedless process). “You also ought to know that these holy fields You stand in are always ripe with seeds and fruit; Some flourish, here, that elsewhere are never seen. “And the water you’ve seen is not distilled from moisture Carried in the air, condensed and freed by cold, As streams are always changing the force they flow with: “This water spouts from a steady, constant fountain Which God has endowed with the power to fill again In exactly the quantity it is always losing.

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“On one side, this fountain pours a holiness Completely destroying all memory o f sin, On the other restoring memory o f good deeds. “Thus one side is Lethe, and the name o f the other side Is Eunoe— but nothing happens unless you first Drink Lethe water, and then the water o f Eunoe, “With a savor sweeter than anything man can taste. And though your thirst may possibly be quenched In full, now that I ’ve answered all your questions, “Let me add a bit o f extra knowledge, For I do not think my early words will be made Unwelcome by saying more than I ’d said I would. “The poets o f the Golden Age, in a steady Happiness, perhaps as tall as Parnassus, Described their dreams o f a place exactly like this. “It was here that human roots grew innocently; Here it is always spring, there are no seasons; Here is the nectar flowing in all their poems.” And hearing that, I turned around and faced My pair o f poets, and saw their grateful smiles On hearing the lady’s final words, and my eyes Swung back at once to the lovely, smiling lady.

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Canto Twenty-nine

She began to sing as soon as she finished speaking, And sang like a lady passionately in love: “Blessed is the being whose sins are wiped away!” And then, like the nymphs who, all alone, would gaily Walk in the darkest woods, some o f them wanting To see what was there, some simply avoiding the sun, She began to go where the stream had come from, staying On the bank, and I on my side went with her, Carefully matching her little steps with mine. Before a hundred paces, she and I Together, both the river banks went swinging Around, and I was facing east again. Nor had we gone much farther in our new direction When the lady abruptly turned to me, and said: “Now, my brother, look and listen.” And O! At that very moment a sudden beam o f light Came sweeping through the forest, everywhere glowing, So brilliantly intense I thought it was lightning. But lightning is fading even as it burns, And this remained, turning still more brilliant, And I asked myself: “What in G od’s name is this?” The sweetest melody went running through The resplendent air, and honest passion made me Condemn the recklessness that Eve had shown,

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A woman bound to Heaven and earth, alone A n d given life not very lon g ago, Refusing to linger under any restriction— A n d O, i f only she had trusted ou r G o d I would have sooner been shown these indescribable, W ondrous delights, and relished them much longer.

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As I walked on am ong a fullness o f early Fruits, utterly enraptured by eternal Delight, but still desiring more, the air In front o f us, under the thick green boughs, Seem ed to becom e a kind o f bu rning fire, Its sweet sounds, now, were plainly songs. O holy virgins, whatever hunger, cold, O r nights o f prayer I suffered through fo r you, H ere was surely your payment in return. So it is right that H elicon ’s many streams

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Pour forth fo r m e and Urania’s now my Muse, She and her ch oir helping m e make hard thoughts Rhyme. A n d farth er on a little, what seem ed to be seven G olden trees m ight well have been an illusion Caused by the lengthy spaces still between T h e trees and us— and yet, as I cam e closer, C om m on objects capable o f fo o lin g O u r senses had not deceived us, seen in the distance, For the part o f our minds which shows us how to reason D eterm ined they were candlesticks, and they were, A n d as the chanting declared it, “Hosannah! H osannah!” T h e candelabrum was fla rin g so high and intense T h at it must have been brighter even than the m oon In a clear, m id-m onth m idnight sky. Full O f wondrous appreciation, I turned to my G o o d V irgil, and he looked back with a face flo od ed By w onder no less am azed than mine. A n d then



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CANTO TWENTY-NINE

I lifted my eyes again, and stared at the height O f these walking candles, coming toward us so slowly That new-wed brides stepping away from the altar Would have outraced them. But the lady scolded me: “Why so intent on living candles walking, Ignoring the living people who walk behind them?” And then I looked, and saw them behind the candles, Walking as if they followed their lords, and all In white so pure that earth has never seen it. The water to my left was painting my moving Image, reflecting me to my eyes like a mirror, Whenever I chose to turn that way and look. When I reached a point on my side o f the river bank Where only water separated me From the fire, I walked more slowly, the better to see, And watched the flames come forward, leaving the air Behind them looking as if it were painted and these living Candles seemed like brushes in some painter’s hands, So overhead the sky seemed streaked with seven Bands, colored like the sun’s great bow Or Diana’s girdle, eternal goddess o f the moon. Waving like banners, the bands went back beyond My sight, those the farthest away about Thirty feet apart, as well as I saw them. And under the beautiful sky that I’ve described Came four and twenty elders, walking in pairs, Lilies crowning their heads and all their voices Singing, borrowing some o f Gabriel’s words To Mary: “You are the blessed o f Adam’s daughters, Your beauties honored for all eternity.” And when these chosen people had passed beyond The flowers and fresh-grown greens on the bank to my right, Just as in the heavens star comes after

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Star, so next there appeared four livin g creatures, Fully w inged and feathered, and crow ned in green, T h eir feathers as fu ll o f eyes as herdsman Argus. Reader, I haven’t the tim e o r space to truly Describe them, given the strict requirem ents o f my poem , W hich w ill not allow m e to wander in luxury— But g o read Ezekiel, he who saw them Flying out o f the frozen north, along W ith winds, and clouds, and fire, and just as he Describes them, there they were, except fo r the wings,

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A n d those you’ll fin d in the Gospel o f John, who agrees W ith m e and contradicts Ezekiel. A n d in the space these creatures created, there rolled A triumphant, two-wheeled chariot, pulled By a harness buckled around a g r iffin ’s neck, Each o f his wings stretched high, one in the sky Between the m iddle band, and the other between T h re e bands to the left and three to the right, carefully Splitting none. H is wings were stretched so high T h ey were gon e from sight; his bird-like parts were gold

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A n d the rest were white, interm ixed with red. Rom e would not be alone in never boasting A chariot so splendid fo r Africanus O r Augustus, fo r even the sun cannot surpass it— Th at flam in g car once swerving down as the sun-god’s Son could not control it, and Earth prayed Jove T o destroy it, which Jove, with his secret powers, did. A lo n g the right wheel were three gay ladies dancing A circular round, one o f them so red In the face that no one could have seen her, had she been In the fire. A n oth er lady seem ed to be made, In her flesh and bones, o f the purest em erald, A n d the third was as white as snow when it first falls down.



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CANTO TW ENTY-NINE

A n d the leading dancer was first the white one, and then T h e lady in red, and whoever served as leader Sang a song that set the others’ tempo. A lo n g the left wheel were fou r m ore festive ladies, Dressed in purple, all o f them led by the one A m o n g them whose head boasted three bright eyes. A n d behind these groups o f dancers were two old men,

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N o t dressed the same but both alike in how T h e y looked and walked, venerable and solemn; O ne o f them plainly belonged to the fellowship O f H ippocrates, form ed by Nature herself For the benefit o f those closest to her heart; But the other just as clearly belonged to a differen t Profession, b earin g a sharp and shining sword T h a t frightened me, though I stood on the other side O f the stream. A n d then I saw fou r humble men, A n d w alking behind them a single old fellow, his face

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Keen, although he seem ed to be asleep. These seven men were dressed like those before them, But there were no lilies wrapped around their heads: T h e y did wear garlands, but made, instead, o f roses And m any other flowers colored red: L o o k in g at them from not very far away You’ d swear that everything above their eyes Was burning. A n d when this chariot cam e across From me, a massive thunderbolt exploded, W h ich seem ed to stop the marchers and those b efore them

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R ight in their tracks, as i f on higher order.



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Canto Thirty

W hen the G reat D ipper hung motionless in the west (N ever having known, at first, rising O r setting, nor ever covered by anything But sin), thus m aking the entire procession aware O f its duties; just as the Little D ipper guides H elm sm en gu id in g their ship to port, these honest Celebrants, those w ho’d com e between T h e g riffin and the chariot, turned T h e ir faces toward that cart as i f they were seeing Peace itself, and like a voice from Heaven

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O n e o f them sang out, three times, “O come, C om e from Lebanon, my holy brid e!” A n d then the others sang along with him Like souls rising from their tombs at the Last Judgment, singing ‘‘H allelujah” with newborn Voices; a vast host o f angels appeared, Ministers o f life eternal, singing “O com e, com e! our Blessed O n e !” all o f them Lou dly callin g while they were throw ing flowers H igh in the air and everywhere around T h e chariot: “Th row me lilies, then lilies again!” Som etim es I have seen the eastern skies Turn rosy colored when the day begins, W h ile the rest o f Heaven is lit by the clearest light,

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CANTO T H IR TY

A n d when the sun appears his face is clouded, So subdued by vapors that a human eye Can stare directly at it and stare a lon g time. Thus, inside a cloud o f flowers thrown By angel hands and fa llin g into the chariot A n d on the ground around it, I was able to see

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A lady with an olive crown and a veil o f white, W earin g a mantle so green that it shim m ered bright, As i f painted with livin g flame. I recogn ized her, A n d my soul, lon g accustomed to trem ble in H er presence, overcom e with awe I could not Defy, and still too stunned to try, too frightened, Began to feel the enorm ous strength o f ancient Love, and despite not having seen her eyes I sensed mysterious powers shining. A n d the m om ent I felt her lofty, em pow ered virtue strike me,

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A s in my youth it had done so many times Before, piercing through me, I turned to my left, A s confident as a little child who runs Straight to his mother, when overcom e by fright O r swept away by distress, and I said to V irgil: “T h e re isn’t a single d rop o f whatever b lo od Still flows in my veins that isn’t shaking from fear: I recogn ize the signs o f that ancient fire.” But V irg il had disappeared, Statius and I W ere alone— V irgil, my sweetest father, to whom For the sake o f my salvation I had given m yself— A n d even the loss that fell on our long-lost m other C ou ld not prevent the waters o f w eeping from pouring, H eavy and dark, down my dew-washed cheeks. “Dante! V irg il having gone away Must not be a reason fo r weeping; this can’t be a day For your tears, which must be shed in a better cause.”



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Just like an adm iral, carefully w alking to stern A n d bow, better to view the other ships In his fleet and encourage his men to try their best, So I, standing to the left o f the chariot A n d turning, having heard my name called out (T h e only reason that nam e is recorded here), Saw that the lady w ho’d first appeared to me Fully veiled, under the angels’ display, Was shining her eyes at me, across the flow ing Water. Despite the veil draped on her head, Surrounded by the leaves that M inerva wore, Both o f which in part obscured my view, She stood proudly, m aintaining her royal posture A n d speaking like som eone excruciatingly careful T o save her warmest words fo r the last: “ See m e “As I am, fo r indeed, indeed, I am Beatrice. W hy did you think the m ountain worth your climbing? D idn’t you know that here all m en are happy?” My eyes fell; I was staring down at the water, But there I saw my reflection, so I stared at the grass, Feeling the heavy weight o f shame on my forehead. Just as a child sees his m other as harsh, So she seem ed to me, fo r stern compassion Presents itself with a bitter taste. She stood In silence, and suddenly the angels sang, “My refuge is in you, O Lord,” but did N o t sing the entire psalm, stopping at “a spacious “ Place.” A n d I was like the snow, in Italy’s Hills, frozen on the branches o f trees As thick as rafters and beams, blown and congealed By Slavic winds, then as it melts dripping Th rou gh itself, i f the sunless land has brightened, As fire inside a candle, bu rning it down,

CANTO T H IR T Y

A n d I shedding no m ore tears, not sighing T h ere in the midst o f singing harm onized W ith the m urm uring o f great celestial spheres, Y et hearing sweet angelic voices soften My pain, virtually saying to my beloved Beatrice, “Lady, why do you hit him so hard?” T h e ice that was frozen tight around my heart Was turned into breath and moisture, and my agony Roared up from my chest and through my mouth and eyes. A n d standing straight on her side o f the chariot, Beatrice

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Spoke the follow in g words to the angels, W hose singing had taken pity on me: “Days “W ithout end, everlasting, see you on guard, So neither night nor sleep allows the world T o take a step unseen by your watchful eyes, “A n d therefore what I answer is m ore concerned Th at he who stands there w eeping must understand W hat I say, so sin and sorrow are measured the same. “ N o t simply by the w orking o f N ature’s great wheels, A im in g every single seed to some end

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D eterm ined by stars shining at its birth, “But through the enorm ity o f G o d in H is grace Som e will attain to altitudes so high Th at we no lon ger track them with our eyes— “A n d one such was this m an’s new life on earth, So all g o o d inclinations, all predictions, Should wonderfully be proved in the life he lives. “Yet land im properly sown, and never tilled, But blessed with soil o f enormous power and strength, W ill turn itself m ore terribly rank and foul. “For a time, the sight o f my face was enough to sustain him: By showing him my youthful eyes I led him W ith me, m oving toward a goal o f goodness.

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“But as soon as I approached the holy threshold O f my second age, and changed from that life to this, H e turned away from me, givin g him self “T o others. W h en I rose up from flesh to spirit, Beauty and virtue grew to new heights in me, But I m eant much less to him , no longer pleasing, “A n d he turned his steps to a path that held no truth,

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Follow ing fraudulent idols that prom ise goodness, But never pay their accounts when payment's due. “N o r did it help to send him dream -like guidance, O r any other message: I tried, and tried T o pull him back, but he paid so little attention! “H e had fallen so far that reason was useless A n d possible paths to salvation were so reduced Th at only showing him H ell had a chance to work. “A n d so I went to those dreaded gates and b egged T h e man who becam e his guide to lead him here, My prayers o ffere d with much shedding o f tears. “G o d ’s high decrees would be broken i f he had crossed Lethe's darkness, and drunk from those waters and been cleansed, W ithout some show o f solemn, sad repentance, A n d m ore than a little p ou rin g forth o f tears."



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Canto Thirty-one

“O you on the other side o f this sacred stream,” She spoke once m ore, now addressing me W ith the point o f her words (though even the edge o f that blade H ad struck m e as sharp enough), and with no delay: “Speak, speak, say i f this is true, For such an accusation needs you to confess.” My senses were so disordered that I could not speak, My words died in my throat, which started to move But sickened and died b efore a word could escape. She was not patient, and said: “W hat are you thinking?

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Give m e an answer; the sadness you rem em ber Has not yet been destroyed by L eth e’s water.” Confusion and fear, interm ingled, forced My mouth to utter so feeble a “yes” that only W atching eyes could possibly hear my answer. Just as a crossbow snaps its cord and breaks T h e bow, when som eone tries to shoot too hard, A n d the arrow actually strikes with lessened force, So I was cracking under that heavy load, Sighs and tears gushing from my mouth A n d eyes, and my voice too weak to make its way out. A n d then she said to me: “A lon g that road W h ere your desire fo r m e led to adoring Goodness beyond which no one can ever go,

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“W ere there ditches too deep to cross, chains too strong T o break, so you were forced to give up hope O f g oin g on, o f ever reaching your goal? “A n d what attractions, what desirable motions, W ere displayed fo r you on other foreheads, causing You to dither and dally in courting them?”

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A fte r heaving a heavy sigh, I barely H ad breath to answer; even my lips could scarcely Shape the few words I finally m anaged to say, W eepin g as I spoke: “Th in gs I could see Gave me m ore pleasure, no matter how false, than a face I had lost forever, and so I was led astray.” She said: “H ad you been silent or refused to make Such a confession, your sins would not have rem ained Unknown— not to such an all-seeing Judge! “But once the accusation o f sin bursts

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From the sinner’s own cheek, the court I dwell in turns T h e grindstone away from h on ing its terrible blade. “But nevertheless, now that you bear the shame O f your errors, and i f you hear the Sirens sing A n oth er tim e you may resist, and be stronger. “Leave o f f your tears, this sowing o f virtue to come, A n d listen as I tell you how my buried Flesh truly should have led you. N oth in g “In art or Nature has ever pleased you m ore Th an the beautiful parts o f which my earthly body Was form ed, now gone, dry and scattered to dust— “A n d once that highest beauty died, and failed you, W hat equally m ortal other thing should have claim ed you, Drawn you into another fu tile desire? “Indeed, feelin g the very first dart from deceitful Creatures, you ought to have roused yourself and followed Me, no longer capable o f deceit.



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CANTO THIRTY-ONE

“You should not thus have overloaded your wings, W aiting fo r fu rth er arrows, as baby birds O r fledglings are in the habit o f doing, allow ing

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“T h e hunter to shoot a second time, o r a third, W h ile those whose plum age is feathered and fully grow n A r e aware o f nets and archers bendin g their bows.” As children stand, ashamed and perfectly dumb, T h e ir eyes turned toward the ground, their ears still open, R ecogn izin g their wrongs, entirely repentant, So I stood. A n d then she said: “Since listening Pains you, lift your chin and your eyes w ill show you T h e g r ie f you need to look at, again and again ” Sturdy oak-tree roots cannot be so stubborn,

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N o matter whether winds are blow ing hard From the north, o r howling in from A frica, As I, obeying, slowly raised my chin. I heard and understood the venom in H e r words, but m anaged to face her, inch by inch. And when at last my eyes were able to see her, W h a t they saw was that the angels, older In Heaven than m en on earth, no lon ger were throwing Flowers and, m ore confusing still, Beatrice H a d turned away, and instead o f watching me

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Was staring at the griffin , a double being. Seeing her on the other bank, her eyes Still veiled, she seem ed to m e to rise far higher T h an her early self, lovely as that had been. And then and there the sting o f repentance stabbed A t m e so hard that what I had always most A d ored was now the thing I hated worst O f all, a knowledge so fiercely biting my heart That I fell to the ground, senseless. A n d what I became, Thereafter, she knows, who led me to that door.

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A n d when my heart had quickened and I was restored, I saw, hovering above me, the lady I 'd found in the woods, saying: “ H o ld on to me! “ H old o n !” I lay in a river up to my throat A n d she was pu llin g m e along as she floated A b ove the water, light as a weaver’s shuttle. A n d when she brought m e close to that blessed shore I heard “Cleanse me, cleanse me,” so sweetly sung My m ind cannot recall it, the words are gone. This lovely lady spread her arms, w rapped them A ro u n d my head and gently pu lled it down, A n d I had no choice but drank some o f that water. She drew m e out, well bathed, then drew m e toward Four pretty wom en, dancing on that shore, Each o f whom extended an arm and em braced me. “H ere we are nymphs; in Heaven we are stars. B efore Beatrice ever descended to earth It was arranged that we would be her attendants. “W e’ ll lead you to her presence. T h ere is joyous light O n her face, but the three you’ve witnessed dancing to the right O f the chariot can see much d eep er and w ill open your eyes.” Singing and dancing, they brought m e to the g riffin , W h ere Beatrice was standing, turned toward us and aware T h a t we were approaching, but watching only the griffin . “L o o k as much as you like,” they said to me, “ N ow that we have brought you b efore the jew els From which, once, Love shot his arrows at you.” A thousand longings bu rning hotter than fires Fixed my attention on those brilliant eyes, T h ou gh what she saw was only the wondrous g riffin . T h at two-fold creature, changing fro m one existence T o another, was glow in g inside like the sun G leam ing its reflection out o f a m irror.

CANTO THIRTY-ONE

Reader, consider how I must have m arveled, Seeing the incredible g riffin standing still But reflectin g in its im age two differen t selves. A n d while my soul, am azed but also joyous, Was tasting nourishment which o f itself Keeps breedin g hunger fo r that self, the other T h re e, displaying the higher order to which

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T h ey clearly belonged, cam e dancing in our direction, Every m ovem ent angelic, and this was their song: “Beatrice, turn, turn your blessed eyes Tow ard this faithful soul, who in order to reach you Has walked so many miles, filled with desire. “A n d we ourselves ask you to be so kind A s to let him see your lips, so he may know T h e second beauty hidden deep inside you.” O the splendor, eternal livin g light! W h o eve r has let h im self grow pale beside Parnassus, L a in in its shadows, drunk its water o f delight, Should never set his m ind the impossible task O f showing you as you were when you first appeared In openness, in that place where you’ve been basked By the harm ony o f Heaven, shaded by no fear.

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Canto Thirty-two

So fixed and attentively I stared, my eyes Q u enching ten lon g years o f thirst, that not A n oth er bodily sense o f m ine was alive. A n d my eyes themselves were protected, on either side, By a wall o f indifference— trawling m e in with the same O ld net and the same enticing, saintly smile— W h en suddenly I had to turn to my left As the three angelic goddesses exclaim ed “Your attention must not be so fix ed !” Hum an vision, after watching the sun,

10

Turns away and is left with no sight at all, Blinking, blind, until the eyes adjust. But once I was able to see the lesser sight (Lesser, that is, com pared to the m ore im portant Vision from which I ’d been ob liged to withdraw), I saw the heavenly forces had swung right-face A rou n d and were com ing back, look in g into T h e sun and the seven flarin g candlesticks. As a troop o f soldiers, holding up their shields, W ill whirl about to save itself, but its banner Spins faster than the m en who are still alive, Just so the sacred militia, leading the way, H ad all gone past the three o f us before T h e chariot, Cross on high, began to make

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Its turn, the ladies posted at its wheels A n d the g riffin hauling the entire blessed cargo, N o feather ruffled, his movements strong and easy. T h e lovely lady w ho’d drawn m e through the crossing, Followed (along with Statius and m e) the slower In n er wheel, which naturally spun the least.

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A n d as we walked beside the spreading trees, Em ptied because o f she who’d trusted the snake, A n angelic song set our steady pace. W e had advanced about the length o f three Bow shots, arrows freed from their pulled-back string, W h en the chariot stopped, and Beatrice cam e down to the ground. F orm ing a circle around a tree stripped, Below, o f every leaf, and twig, and flower, Everyone seem ed to be m urm uring A d a m ’s name. T h is was a tree whose upper branches reached out

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Farther and farther, the higher they went, so even M en o f India would have adm ired the sight. “O you are blessed, griffin , fo r keeping your beak Away from this tree, although its fru it is sweet T o the taste, fo r it twists the stomach o f those who eat it.” So they all cried as they circled around the tree, A n d the g riffin said: “Thus we preserve the seed O f every form o f justice and righteousness.” A n d he took the Cross, m ade from the w ood o f this tree, A n d pulled it across to the well-plucked trunk and tied it There, returned to where it first had com e from . L ik e plants in our world, when the sun turns warm and bright, M in glin g with what descends from celestial light In that grow in g season we on earth call spring, A n d everything begins to sprout, renewed Each in its color and size, before the sun Moves on, swinging under other stars,

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PURGATORIO

Just so the tree, at first its branches bare, Swelled out, taking on a color m ore Like violets than crim son roses. A n d then T h ey sang a hymn I could not understand, N o t sung on earth, nor was I able to hear A ll o f their beautiful song and how it ended. I f I were able to show how A rgu s’ hundred Eyes were lulled asleep by Mercury, W h o then could kill the pitiless watchman, O then, Like a painter working from a m odel— m yself!— I ’d make a portrait o f how I fell asleep. L et those who are able paint it as they please, But I m ove on to when I woke from sleep— Or, rather, sleep was torn away by brightness A n d a voice calling, “G et up. W hat are you doing?” Just as Peter and John and James, view ing H igh on the m ountain that sacred tree with fruit A n d blossoms— that fru it which even angels are greedy T o eat, creating endless w edding feasts In Heaven— and those aposdes fell down and slept U ntil they heard a w ord soft spoken, a word W hich even slumbers deep er than sleep have broken, A n d Elijah and Moses were gone, and Jesus’ clothes H ad somehow changed their color— that’s how I awoke, Seeing standing over m e the gentle W om an who had becom e my guide when I roam ed, A t first, along that forest stream. A n d I said, N o t sure I understood: “But where is Beatrice?” She answered: “Th ere, under the tree’s new growth, Sitting on its hardened roots. Beyond her, “ See? T h ere are the others, ascending behind T h e griffin , singing even sweeter songs, W ith words richer and m ore profound.” A n d i f

CANTO TH IRTY-TW O

She went on speaking I do not know, fo r my eyes W ere seeing Beatrice, and I was lost to this world, Shut away from other cares and concerns. She sat alone on the open ground, as i f left A s a guard fo r the chariot, which I had seen the g riffin T ie to the flow ering tree. T h e seven nymphs W ere standing in a circle around her, carrying In their hands the lights that neither the winds From the north nor those from the south can ever extinguish. “ H ere,” said Beatrice, “ fo r a little while, you w ill live

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As a man o f the woods, but you w ill be, together W ith me, forever a citizen o f Rom an “Christ. A n d now, fo r that world livin g in evil, Turn your eyes to the chariot, and when you return T o that world, be careful to w rite what you w ill see.” A n d I, entirely sworn to her commands, Devoted in body and soul, assigned my m ind A n d my eyes to this and everything else she m ight ask. N ever with such a speed did fire descend From a heavy cloud, fa llin g out o f the highest

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Celestial regions where distance comes to an end: I saw Jove’s bird swooping down through the tree, Peelin g away the bark and all the newborn Leaves, and all the flowers, and slam m ing fu ll force Directly into the chariot, which plunged and reeled Like a ship struck by a sudden storm, beaten By waves, first leaning leeward, then to larboard. A n d then I saw a fox ju m p in g into T h e once-trium phant cart, a beast so lean It appeared to be starved o f all g o o d nourishment. But my lady reprim anded him fo r his filthy Sins, forcin g him to stagger o f f As fast as fleshless bones would let him go.

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A n d then from where it had flown before, I saw T h e eagle swooping down and into the chariot, D ropp in g feathers all over, and a voice was heard From Heaven, speaking heavily, with heartfelt Sorrow: “O my little chariot, what A n awful cargo is loaded in your belly!” A n d then it seem ed to m e the earth split open,

ISO

R ight between the two wheels, and I saw a dragon Shoving its tail straight up and through the chariot. But pu llin g back that evil tail, as wasps W ithdraw their stinger, it smashed the ch ariot’s bottom , T h en went along its way, cheerful, happy. A ll that was left o f the cart, by now, was covered W ith feathers, as grass grows out along bare ground (But perhaps the eagle offered his plumes in homage?), A n d even the wheels, one after the other, were overGrown with grass, the process over and done with

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As quickly as sighs w ill open and close a mouth. N ow totally transform ed, the sacred device Sprouted heads, three on the barren pole A n d one in each o f the four corners— a horn O n each o f these fou r foreheads, but the three on the pole Given pairs o f horns, like oxen. N o one W ith human eyes has seen such a monster before. I saw a half-dressed whore perched on top O f this ruin, secure as a fortress high on a mountain; H e r eyes were flickering, idly back and forth, A n d then I saw a giant standing beside her, As i f to ward o f f possible other suitors; Like birds pecking, they kissed and kissed again. But when her lusting, w andering eyes turned In my direction, her savage, fierce protector F logged her up and down, from head to foot,



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A n d then, insanely suspicious, w ild with anger, H e yanked away the monster's ropes and tugged it D eep in the forest— far enough to block My view o f either whore o r monster, newborn.

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Canto Thirty-three

“O Lord, the heathen have come,” the ladies began T o sing, three or fou r in alternating Voices, sweet, with w eeping woven in. A n d Beatrice, sighing with compassion, listened, So deeply m oved by the holy words o f the psalm Th at M ary at the Cross was hardly m ore A ffected . But when the other virgins bent T h e ir ranks fo r her, she stood on her feet, erect, A n d answered them, her body seem ing on fire: M‘You w ill not see me,’ said Jesus, ‘in a little while,

10

O my beloved sisters,’ and then he said: ‘A n d then, in a little while, you’ll see me again.’ ” A t which she placed all seven o f them in front, A n d only waving her hand she set behind her T h e gracious lady, and me, and the p oet w ho’d stayed. T h en she walked on, and it seem ed to m e she hadn’t Taken ten fu ll steps when she turned around; My eyes felt the heavy im pact o f hers; A n d with the calmest o f glances she told me, “C om e here In front, so when I want to speak to you You’ll be precisely placed and able to hear.” A n d when I walked beside her, as I knew I should do, She said: “My brother, now that I ’m with you, tell m e W hy you haven’t inquired what’s false, what’s true?”

♦ 340 ♦

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CANTO THIRTY-THREE

Like people speaking, reverentially, T o those who rank above them, who do not allow T h e ir fullest voice to venture out from their lips, So I, speaking with carefully dam pened speech, Began my answer: “My lady, surely you know W h at I need, as well as what is best fo r me.”

30

She said: “B egin n in g right now, I want you to throw Away your sense o f shame, and also your fear, So you can start to speak like one who knows, “A n d not like a dreamer. H ear me: what was broken Was, and no longer is— but let that sinner Trust that the vengeance o f G o d cannot be blocked. “ T h e eagle that left its feathers strewn in the chariot W ill not be left forever without an heir, W hich m ade it a monster, and afterwards what a monster “ Feeds on. For I see the truth, and I speak it to you;

40

T h ere are already stars com in g closer, Stars that nothing can hinder and nothing w ill stop, “W h ich in the year o f fifteen hundred ten A n d five, as messengers o f G od, w ill kill Th at thieving woman, along with the giant who sins “W ith her. Perhaps my prediction, dark as the Sphinx’s Words, or those o f the goddess Them is, w ill hardly Persuade you, since all predictions deaden the mind, “But it w ill soon be witty water-nymphs W h o ravel out this tangled puzzle, fin d in g Its answer and not destroying sheep or fodder. “ Pay attention, and later teach these words Exacdy as I ’ve said them, to those whose lives A re always led as a race that ends in death. “A n d write so carefully, when you set my words O n your page, that whoever reads w ill see what you’ve seen O f that tree that twice has grow n here, twice been burned.

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PURGATORIO

“W h oever steals from that tree, o r breaks o f f branches, Is guilty o f blasphemy, an act against G od, W h o created that tree because it was what H e wanted.

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“A n d the soul o f the first o f us who ate o f that tree Has yearned and suffered five thousand years and m ore, Punished by H im whose fru it was stolen and eaten. “Your m ind would have to be asleep, seeing N o special reason that tree has grow n so tall, A n d every upper branch is longer than the one “Before. A n d i f your struggling brain was awake, N o t washed by p etrifyin g waters o f the Elsa, O r totally discolored by dullness, you’d make “A connection— knowing just what you ought to know—

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Between the ban G od set on that tree, in eternal Justice, and the high m orality you also “O u ght to know. But I see your m ind has gon e stony, Petrified, discolored, so the sparkling light O f my words has left you dazed and utterly blind, “So let me ask that you carry this o f f inside you, So i f you never w rite it, you still can tell it, As the p ilg rim ’s staff is w rapped with palm from the H oly “Land, to prove he’s been there.” “As wax preserves T h e seal,” I said, “solid and keeping its shape,

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Just so you’ve put a p erfect seal in my brain. “ But why should your words, exactly what I ’ve lon ged for, Be far above my strained, im perfect eyes, So that they lose every tim e they try?” “ So you can understand,” she said, “the school O f thought you’ve follow ed, and learn whether its rules A re capable o f adjusting to follow mine, “A n d also to let you see how distant and differen t Your way has been, as Heaven itself is high, Very distant from earth, and rapidly spinning.”

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T o which I replied: “I do not rem em ber ever Drawing away from you, nor have I a sense O f gu ilt fo r such behavior: my conscience is cle a r” “A n d i f you cannot recall it,” she said with a smile, “R em ind yourself that earlier today You drank the water o f Leth e— and just as fire “Can be suspected when smoke is seen, this failure O f recall clearly supports the conclusion that somewhere Else your w ill is guilty but you w on’t face it. “ But from now on my words w ill be so bare

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A n d simple that your unpolished eyes w ill see T h e ir m eaning clear and plain, even to you.” Reaching its noontim e peak, the sun appears T o m ove m ore slowly around its great m eridian Circle, shifting its route a bit to the left O r right, like som eone escorting a group o f people W h o stops and stares, seeing som ething different, Inspecting tracks o r bits and pieces lying O n the ground, and this was when the seven ladies Stopped where a pale gray shade ended— the kind

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C old m ountain streams are draped in, beneath green leaves A n d dark boughs. In fron t o f these ladies I seem ed to see T h e m ighty Euphrates and Tigris pour from a single Source, and then like friends depart slowly: “O light, O glory o f every human being, W hat waters are these, spouting from a single source, T h en running separately away from itself?” I asked, and Beatrice answered: “Inquire o f Matelda; She w ill tell you.” But the lovely lady I ’d found Answered as i f in self-defense, w orried She m ight be accused: “I told him all this, and more, A n d surely even L eth e’s potent waters Can’t turn such inform ation out o f his m ind ”

♦ 343 ♦

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Beatrice said: “Perhaps some greater care Has stripped away his memory, as it often Does, d im m in g the eyes o f the m ind. But there “ Is Eunoe, the river o f m ind-restoring water. Take him to it, and as you like to do, Reanim ate his m ind and end this swoon.” Courteous souls make no excuses, preferrin g

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T o do as others wish, obeyin g as soon As the wish is spoken o r otherwise revealed. A n d so the pretty lady did, leading M e away, and in a very wom anly Fashion saying to Statius: “You com e with him .” O reader, i f I had the space to tell you M ore, I'd sing som ething about that sweetest Drink, no quantity o f which could ever End my thirst, but because the pages m eant For this canto are already filled, my art prevents me, A ffir m in g limits I am forced to meet. Th ose holiest o f waters returned m e to life, Recovered like new trees which quickly grow N ew branches and new leaves. I ’ d been purified, Ready to rise where sanctified souls can go.

♦ 344 ♦

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♦ Part Three ♦

Paradiso

To Yehuda Yair Pride

Canto One

T h e G lory o f H e who m ade and moves it all Penetrates the entire universe, G low ing in one part m ore, in another less. A n d though I saw where most o f His brightness falls, W hat I have seen cannot be represented Here, fo r those who have entered Heaven, and descended, Have com e so close to what our minds desire Th ey sink far in, and bury their knowledge, their power, So deep that m em ory cannot recover A th in g But I w ill try, truly, to present

10

W hatever remains in my m ind o f that holy kingdom , A n d make it the substance o f this song I w ill sing. O g o o d A p ollo, fo r this final labor Make m e a vessel fully worthy o f you— A ll you ever ask, fo r granting your laurel. A single peak o f Parnassus has been enough, As far as I ’ve gone, but now I will need the other For this final arena, all that remains. Broach me down to the heart, and deep in there Breathe as you did, p eelin g Marsyas* skin Piece by piece from every one o f his limbs. O power divine, i f you lend m e yourself so I Can draw together the recollected shadows O f that blessed realm, printed in my m ind,

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PARADISO

Y ou 'll see m e com e to the fo o t o f your beloved Tree, and you can crown m e with the leaves Th at your blessing, and my subject, both deserve. Father, so seldom are these laurels taken In celebration o f either king or poet (A flaw and also a scandal in human nature),

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T h at you, O Delphic deity, should be Delighted whenever anyone actually longs For these deep green, these lovely mountain fronds. Tin y sparks can produce a noble flame: Perhaps the honor shown m e may lead beyond My grave, b rin gin g better voices to your shrine. T h e world's great lam p appears before m en’s eyes Th rou gh differen t passageways, but when it comes O n the route attaching three crosses to fou r great circles, It travels better and join s with superior stars,

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A n d the soft wax o f the world is m ore successfully Stamped and controlled. W e almost always knew It was m ornings m ade on that channel, com ing through Above, and evenings down here below: all O u r hemisphere on high was white, but dark O n earth— and thus I saw Beatrice turn T o the left, look in g toward the sun, and harder By far than any eagle has ever done. A n d even as another ray w ill often Flow from the first and then g o running back, Like a pilgrim wishing he was allowed to g o home: So watching her, what my eyes beheld came flow ing Into my m ind and m ade my actions follow Hers, we both unusually fixed on the sun— For much is granted us, there, that no one on earth Is perm itted to do, since where we were was the place Intended to be the eternal hom e o f men.

♦ 35° ♦

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C A N T O ONE

But I could not lin ger fo r long, though not so short Th at I hadn’t found the sun a sparkling ball, Much like iron fresh from the fire, and molten;

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But abruptly I thought I saw one day grow n O u t o f another, as i f H e who has that power H ad decorated Heaven with another sun. Beatrice was still standing, look in g up, A n d her eyes were fixed as steady as before; My eyes looked lower, and all I saw was her. Just as Glaucus chewed grass and becam e a sea-god, Livin g in oceans where only fish have survived, So silently watching Beatrice I was changed In inner ways no words can ever describe:

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Transcending a given humanity, alive Yet m ore, is a state that those who achieve such grace W ill recognize. A n d whether this was just T h e last-created part o f my being, O Love T h at rules in Heaven, and lifted m e with Your light, You know. But when the eternal spheres, eagerly Tu rn in g fo r love o f You, quickened my sense O f the harm ony You give them, and forever guide, I felt so much o f the skies flam ing with light Poured down by the sun that neither river nor rain

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C ould ever make a lake this gloriously wide. Sound so new to my ears, and brightness so great, Drove m e into a yearning to understand W hat force had m ade them and why they were thus created. T h en she who was able to see m e as I saw m yself Began to quiet my frantically struggling m ind; O p en in g her lips, she spoke before I could fram e A question: “You’re overw helm ing yourself with false A n d foolish conjuring, preventing what your eyes W ould see i f you did not struggle so hard fo r triumph.

♦ 35 1 ♦

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PARADISO

“You think yourself on earth, which is not where you are— L igh tn in g flashing out o f its flam in g sphere N ever goes faster than you, right now, returning “T o Heaven.” She sm iled as she o ffere d these b rie f words, Freeing m e from my first uncertainty, But I fell at once into another quandary, A n d said: “I was already at ease on that matter, But I find m yself astonished, now, at how I Can possibly m ove faster than these light bodies.” A fte r a soft, benevolent sigh, her eyes

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Exam ined m e in a m anner rather like A m other with a w ildly raving child. “A ll things,” she began, “ have places where they belong, A n d this is how the universe is form ed Both by and in the semblance o f A lm igh ty G od. “This ord erin g is how the highest o f creatures, A ngels and men, can see G o d ’s print in all features O f goodness, which is why this orderin g was done. “Accordingly, all creatures take their own Direction, each as its nature inclines, adhering

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Either m ore or less to how they were born, “A nd on the great sea o f being, differen t ports Attract them, each pursuing paths their inborn Instincts have given them to lead along “T h e ir way. O n e sends fire up to the m oon; A n oth er stirs m otivation in m ortal hearts; A n oth er unites the earth, and holds it together. “These bows are never aim ed solely at nonIntelligent beings but also at those who are blessed Both with intelligence and love. G o d “In H is Providence has ordained all this, and its light Ensures perpetual peace and eternal quiet In that part o f the sky where the fastest-spinning sphere



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C A N T O ONE

“ Is turning. A n d now the power o f H is great bow Is sweeping us along, as i f by decree, T o a place that must be joyfu l, fo r H e shoots no other “Arrow s. O f course, just as artistic form Is often not what the artist meant to shape (W h en what he works with refuses to bend into place), “ S o too a creature sometimes changes course,

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Endowed as it is with the power to swerve away A n d send itself in a new and differen t direction, “Just as we have often seen great fire D rop down from clouds, not up, so prim al attention Can bend toward earth, misled by lying pleasures. “It seems to me, i f my understanding is right, Y ou r rising up should be no greater surprise T h a n seeing a m ountain stream flow down to the base. “W h a t should cause wonder would be i f you, freed O f all that held you down, refused to rise— A s if, on earth, no sound rose up from fires.” She watched the heavens again, quiet and peaceful.

♦ 353 ♦

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Canto Two

O you who follow behind my ship, which sings As it makes its way, I know you’re eager to hear, But be careful, turn your little boat toward the shore You’ve com e from , don ’t risk the open sea: think W h ere you would be i f you lost all sight o f me: Hopelessly o f f course, wandering, lost. N o one has ever made a voyage like mine. M in erva blows m e a wind, A p o llo ’s my guide, A n d all nine Muses show me which way to go. You other few who sometimes lift your necks

10

For the angel bread o f wisdom, and take it as the best O f fo od , which no man can eat too much, com m it Your ships to the deep and salty water, plow ing B ehind me, knowing these waves w ill soon turn smooth, A n d my prow w ill never lead you astray. Th ose proud A n d glorious sailors who crossed the sea with Jason, A n d saw their leader turning up earth with fiery O xen, were not as am azed as you w ill be. T h e innate, everlasting thirst fo r the hom e O f G od w hirled our company away, Alm ost as fast as stars spin in the sky. Beatrice was look in g up, and my eyes were on her, A n d in roughly the tim e a crossbow arrow strikes, Flies, and is freed from the catch, I found m yself where

♦ 354 ♦

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CANTO TWO

A n extraordinary thing pulled my eyes In its direction, and she from whom my m ind C ou ld never conceal a thought, turned to me, Every bit as delighted as she was lovely: “ L e t G o d be m ade aware o f your gratitude,” She said, “H e who has brought us here to the m oon.”

30

I felt that we were now inside a cloud— Bright, dense, solid, and polished clean, Like a diam ond gleam ing in the rays o f the sun. T h is eternal pearl was open to us, receiving O u r presence as water receives a shaft o f light, Perm itting this penetration which leaves it whole. I f I were a body— and here, reader, we need T o forget all earthly dimensions and instead conceive O f a body jo in in g itself to another body— W h a t flam in g desire should burn in us to see

40

T h at endless Essence in which, at last, we’ ll be A llow ed to glim pse how we have jo in e d ourselves T o G od. Th at which faith makes us believe W e’ ll see— not merely shown but understood O f itself, just like the very first truth we believe. I told her: “M y lady, as fully as I am able I am indeed enormously grateful to H im W h o has swept m e up and away from the m ortal world. “ But tell me, please, what are the marks on this m oon, D irty spots which those on earth who watch Th is planet link to the marks placed on Cain “ By G od?” She sm iled a bit, then said: “I f m ortal Judgm ent makes mistakes, in matters where keys O f m ortal sense cannot unlock the door, “ Surely by now you ought not feel the sting O f surprise, seeing— as you have— that reason’s W ings, spread by the senses, are often too short.

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PARADISO

“But tell m e what you yourself believe o f these marks.” I said: UI think what seems to us distinct A n d separate results from rare o r heavy matter.” She answered: “A n d now you’ ll see how utterly Impossible that is, as I w ill explain A n d you w ill understand, i f you listen to me. “C ounting out from the m oon, the eighth o f our spheres Shines many lights, which both in size and brilliance A re plainly visible as different. But i f thickness “A n d rarity alone were the only causes O f difference, each o f the lights would show us the presence O f a single quality, but in differen t proportions. “Yet every quality is m ade by exact A n d form al rules, which w ould be broken apart (W ith one exception) i f what you say were true. “Further: i f rarity were the cause o f the darkness You ask about, either the rest o f the m oon W ould be deficient, lacking all the way through, “O r else, like lean and fat distributed In a body, the m oon would certainly exhibit Th ese changes, like pages turned throughout a book. “A quality-deficient m oon would be Revealed by the sun in eclipse, when its light shines through— As happens when light is shone through any object. “ But nothing deficient is shown. T h en density, Your other assertion, is the only leg you stand on. I f that collapses, both your theories are gone. “ N ow i f this rarity is not transmitted Throughout, there must be a point at which an opposing Force can interfere and keep it from m oving— “But that force, then, would send back rays o f its own, Just as glass reflects a color, when hiding B ehind the glass in a secret coating o f lead.

CANTO TWO

“You m ight reply that this would be a ray D im m er and harder to see, since its reflection Must com e from farth er back and a greater distance. “ L e t m e save you the trouble, fo r experim ent (W h ich your world likes to rely on as a fountainH ead) w ill contradict you, i f you try it. “You’ ll need three mirrors. Set two o f them an equal Distance away, and have the third, m ore distant Still, between the others and facin g you. “Station yourself, and have a light at your back,

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A b le to shine in each o f the m irrors, which then W ill all reflect their rays straight to your eyes. “Although the m ore distant m irror w ill send you less light, You’ll see at once that each maintains a brightness Com pletely equal. Thus distance is irrelevant. “A n d you— as beneath the sun’s warm rays the snow U nder the surface loses both the cold A n d the color which once it had— you, left “W ith no m ind to work with, I w ill now m old with light So wholly alive that when you glance at it

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Th is new-m olded light w ill quiver, as i f just hit. “ Peace is the highest heaven, containing a revolving Body, which as it turns determ ines the being O f everything it holds inside it. T h e follow in g “ Heaven, with many things to view, sends out Th at being, em ploying assorted essences D ifferen t from itself, but held within it. “O th er circling heavens em ploy a host O f distinctions, accomplishing the various tasks T h at such distinctions were given, with these results “In mind. Proceeding, as you see, from level T o level, these organs o f the universe Take from above and then distribute below.

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PARADISO

“Pay close attention, now, to how I make My way from here to the truth you lon g for, so when Th is route is fo r you, you’ll know just how it bends “A n d turns. For the holy spheres to use their power, A n d to move, just as metalworkers beat A n d ham m er hot iron, blessed movers are needed: “For heavens to be so beautiful, with all

ISO

T h e ir lights, the im m ense m ind that spins them around Must first envision beauty, and heavens draw “From His image. A n d as the soul inside your dust Goes to differen t parts o f your body, resolved A n d adapted to assorted possibilities, “So too D ivine Intelligence spreads Its goodness (m ultiplied by means o f stars), Forever circling around its unity. “D ifferent powers blend and jo in themselves W ith precious bodies it has animated, A n d there they stay, as life remains in you. “Because o f the joyous nature from which it stems, Th is m ingled power shines from inside the body, As delight w ill glow in an eager, livin g student. “A nd that’s what makes apparent differences Between one light and then some other light— N o t rarity o r denseness. A n d this produces By itself, and its pow er impels, both dark and light.”

♦ 358 ♦

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Canto Three

T h a t sun which, in the beginning, had burned my breast W ith love, had now disclosed the beauty o f truth, T h e sweetness that comes from endless trial and testing, A n d in order to adm it that correction and show my certain Faith, I began to raise my head (but not T o o high) to speak my words while m ore erect, W h en I found m yself in the grip o f a sudden vision, So passionately attractive that my eyes were fixed A n d I had lost the faintest thought o f confession. A s i f through polished and transparent glass,

10

O r clear, motionless water not so deep W e cannot see straight to the bottom (even T h e outline o f our face, reflected, is weak), Like pearls worn against a white forehead, Seen no brighter than a fadin g streak, S o suddenly I saw faces eager T o speak— but unlike Narcissus, p eerin g in a stream, W h o fell in love with himself, they were not real T o me. B elieving they were m irrored faces I turned my glance away, wanting to see W h o they m ight be, and looked, and saw not a thing. A n d then I turned back, and found m yself in the light O f my sweet and sm iling guide, whose holy eyes W ere glowing, and watching me. “D on ’t be surprised,”

♦ 359 ♦

20

PARADISO

She said, “that I smile, becom in g aware o f the childish Nature o f your m ind, still unable T o trust its weight to the truth it thinks it believes, “But turns you away, as it used to, toward emptiness. W hat you are seeing are souls, substantial, real, Banished here fo r not fu lfillin g their vows.

SO

“T h erefo re you ought to speak with them, and listen, A n d believe, because the honest light which does Fulfill them won't allow their turning aside.” A n d I im m ediately turned to the spirit who seem ed Most anxious to speak, and began like a man h im self C onfused by far too much desire: “O wellc r e a t e d soul, you in the halo o f eternal L ife, w ho knows that sweetness which, never tasted, Is never understood, I ’d appreciate “Your saying your nam e and also how you cam e

40

T o be here, and where that is.” A n d she, with sm iling Eyes, readily and quickly replied: “O u r kindness never closes its doors to proper Desire, any m ore than H e who wishes A ll around H im could be like Him self. “In the world you still belong to I was a nun, A n d i f you search a bit in your memory, My having acquired m ore beauty w ill not conceal me, “A n d you w ill recogn ize that I am Piccarda, Your cousin by m arriage, positioned here in the slowest Sphere, along with others equally blessed. “A ll our em otions flare into bein g solely A t the H oly Ghost’s great pleasure, and we Rejoice at bein g am ong those thus selected. “Th is destination, which may not seem a high one, Has com e to us because, in each o f our lives, W e neglected vows, and voided them at times.”

♦ 360 ♦

50

CANTO THREE

A n d then I answered: “Your wondrous appearance lights Your face with a glow divine, so heavenly bright Th at m em ory finds you hard to recognize, “A n d so at first I could not bring you to mind. But what you’ve told m e helps, and now I find it Alm ost easy to summon up your features. “ But tell me: although you’re surely happy here, D o you wish to be in some nobler place, seeing M ore o f G od, and becom ing dear to H im ?” She and the others around her smiled a bit, But she answered m e so joyfu lly she seem ed T o burn like a wom an in love fo r the very first time: “Brother, heavenly love has the power to calm A ll other desire, m aking us wish no m ore Th an what we have, and no other thirst at all. “T o long fo r any higher place would take O u r hearts away from H im , and we would break His harmony by wishing fo r anything else. “A n d you will understand that sacred love Is needed fo r this existence, we cannot live W ithout it. That, you must know, is the nature o f love. “ T h e very essence o f this blessed existence Is forever staying inside the realm o f G o d ’s will, By which His w ill and ours can jo in as one. “ Every soul in all these circles is a jo y T o each and all, and everything is G o d ’s Delight, H e who draws us to His will, “ For in H is w ill we have our peace. H e Is the sea to which all things will flow, whatever It creates and also what Nature makes.” A n d then it was clear to m e that Paradise Is anywhere in Heaven, although G o d ’s grace May fall in different ways in different places.

PARADISO

But just as when w e’ve eaten enough from one plate, W e keep ou r appetite fo r another, and we ask, A n d what we want is granted, and we say “ thank you,” So by body language and speech I thanked her For showing m e the fabric she was weaving, For which the final work on the loom was waiting. “T h e rule decrees, in your world below,” she went on, “T h a t a perfect life and high worth brin g wom en higher In Heaven, which requires life in a nunnery, “Shut away so they wake and sleep with Christ,

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A holy husband who accepts all w om en’s vows, I f their love is the kind it gives H im pleasure to have. “F leeing the world, and com in g to H im as a girl, I

took on nun’s clothes and the veil, and prom ised my life

T o Saint Clare, whose Franciscan order I went to live in. “My brother (fo r m en are m ore accustomed to evil T h an g o o d ) stole m e away from the cloister’s sweetness— A n d G od alone knows what my life became, “A n d which this shining soul standing beside m e— Saint Constance, burning with all the light o f our sphere—

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Understands from knowledge o f herself “Exactly what I say o f me. She too Was a nun, and the sacred shadow o f the veil was lifted From her head much as it was from me. “ But even returned to the world, against her w ill A n d in violation o f custom, the veil rem ained O n her heart, a tie from which she could never be freed. “Th is glow stems from the daughter o f R oger the Second, E m peror o f Naples, the w ife o f H en ry the Sixth, A n d the m other o f Frederick the Second, the last o f these N orm an

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“ Rulers.” So she spoke and then began T o sing Ave Maria, and as she sang She vanished, like a heavy object m oving

♦ 362 ♦

CANTO THREE

T h ro u gh dark water. My eyes went after, as far As they could, then turned, after they lost her, to the mark O f my greater desire, givin g Beatrice back M y entire attention. But her glance flashed like lightning A n d at first my eyes were dazzled, and I had to look T o the side, which affected my m ind as well as my sight, M aking it hard to resume my questioning.

Canto Four

Given two choices o f food , equally distant A n d equally good , a man whose w ill is completely Free would starve to death before he could eat Either, as would a lam b standing between Two packs o f hungry wolves, and paralyzed By fear, or a hunting d o g standing between Two deer. Accordingly, since I was silent, Pu lled by doubts o f equal strength, I was neither Proud nor sorry, fo r necessity is a tyrant. I did not speak, but wore desire on my face, Q uestioning by appearance and in w arm er colors T h an I could ever have spoken, had I been able. Beatrice understood, as Daniel had, D eciphering Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, saving T h at king from himself, avoiding the wrath o f G od, A n d so she said: “I see quite clearly how one Desire fights with another, and your concern Instead o f pushing you forw ard stifles your breath. “You argue with yourself: ‘I f good w ill persists, W h at justice is there i f som eone else’s violence Diminishes the m erit I deserve?’ “A n d more: I f souls in fact return to the heavens, As Plato thought, and after all he Was correct, but was no Christian— this makes you doubt.

C A N T O FOUR

“ Th ese are the questions, o f equal strength, that constantly Push at you, and I w ill begin with the one T h at clearly gives you the bitterest cause fo r rancor. “ T h e noblest o f angels, basking most in G o d ’s Great light— consider any: Samuel, Moses, O r any John you choose, not even M ary—

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“ H o ld no place in any other heaven Th an the spirits here appearing to you, nor w ill they Exist fo r any m ore time, o r any less, “ For each and all beautify the first circle, Have lives equally sweet, but always different, D epending on greater o r lessened awareness o f the breath “O f G od. T h e spirits you saw did not appear Because their existence is here, but simply to show Your eyes what the least exalted o f angels look like. “W e need to speak in this way, to your organs o f sense,

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Since such perception, and no other, prepares Itself to be understood, in the end, by your mind. “A n d it is for this reason that Scripture lowers Itself to levels your m ind can deal with, assigning Hands and feet to G od, to teach you more, “A n d also why H oly Church shows you Gabriel In human form , and Michael, and Raphael, W h o reopened Tobit’s old eyes, to see his son. “W h at Plato’s Tim aeus argues fo r is som ething D ifferent from what you’ve seen today; he thinks As he feels, which gives his words an uncertain ring. “A n d what he says is that a soul returns T o one particular star, which gave it birth, From which it was taken and given a life on earth. “But this may not in fact be the sense o f his words, But only the sound, and what he truly meant May be m ore logical, as well as different.

♦ 365 ♦

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PARADISO

“I f he wanted to say that what the star receives Is both the hon or and the shame o f their lives, Perhaps his bow has hit some sort o f truth. “His words were never fu lly understood But vastly struck most o f the world, falsely Labelin g Jove and Mars and Mercury. “T h e other problem you have is less venomous; It is evil, yes, but without the power to lead you Away from m e and G o d ’s own sacred truth. “For m ortal eyes to see ou r holy justice As harsh is a m atter o f how we ju d g e ou r faith, N o t a trouble that brings us to heresy. “But since your m ind is able to com prehend T h e nature o f heavenly truth, viewed at this level, You can be satisfied: I w ill make you content. “W h en violence occurs, and he who is innocent Is only passive, not showing G o d ’s truth to them, N o one involved can be excused from sin. “For the non-participant w ill is not thereby Redeem ed, behaving as nature does with fire, B urning the same n o m atter how many times “It is blown aside. B ending much or little, Force is what rules it, as the spirits here have told you Themselves, free to rejoin their convent, but the road “N o t taken. H ad their wills stayed firm and entire, Like Lawrence bu rning on a Rom an grill, O r Mucius o fferin g his hand to the fire, “T h at would have set them back on the road along which T h e y ’d been pulled, the m om ent they were fre e— H ow rarely power o f w ill that firm can be seen! “A n d by these words, i f you have taken them in As you should, an argum ent that could have been hard T o deal with ought to be stopped before it begins.

C A N T O FOUR

“ But now another problem lies across Your path, one that by yourself you could not Deal with, even after exhausting yourself. “ Clearly, I have set in your m ind this solid Fact: no blessed soul can lie, close As it always is and w ill be to Prim al Truth. “A t this point, Piccarda would protest, insisting T h at Constance never let go o f her love for the veil, A n d this m ight seem in contradiction to me. “ Many, many times, brother, it has happened, A n d most unwillingly, that escape from danger Makes what never should have been done the only open “Road, as when Alcm aeon, hearing his father’s Prayers, killed his mother, hardening his heart A n d doin g what piety urged, though pity pardoned. “A t this point you must realize quite clearly Th at force blends itself with our human will, W hich does not excuse what cannot be properly done. “A perfected w ill never consents to evil, But im perfect wills agree, driven by fear T h at non-consent m ight lead to wrongs much worse. “ Thus, what Piccarda says o f Constance refers T o perfected will, and I address the other: Thus both o f us speak truly as well as together.” Th ese were the rippling waves, the sacred river Flowing from that Fountain, that spring o f every Truth, and I had answers to both my questions. “O beloved o f G od, the Prim al Lover, O divine one,” I said, “whose words are engulfing, Both w arm ing me and so enlightening “T h a t even the depths o f my affection cannot Repay you, kindness fo r kindness, and so I must leave Your reward to H im who sees and responds to all.

PARADISO

“A t last I see that nothing can satisfy O u r minds unless His truth has shone its shining Ligh t upon it: His truth is all and the end. “A n d there the m ind can rest, like a beast in its den, As soon as it comes that far— and it can, it can, O r else our every desire is em pty and in vain. “W e’re born with lon gin g fo r H im , it sprouts at the fo ot

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O f His truth exactly like budding, thrusting shoots, N ature u rgin g our clim b from height to height. “A n d this, my gracious lady, gives m e the courage T o ask you, with infinite reverence, about A n o th er truth which deeply confuses me. “I wish to ask i f vows a man has left A ll u n fu lfilled are ever counterbalanced O n your scales by the goodness o f his oth er works.” T h en Beatrice looked at me with eyes so steeped In sparkling love, and so divine that I Was suddenly empty, drained, and my downcast eyes W ere nearly too weak to keep me on my feet.

♦ 368 ♦

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Canto Five

“You feel the warmth I send you: do not be surprised T h at this is a love exceedin g anything known O n earth, a glow that com pletely conquers your eyes. “ T h is stems from vision so heavenly perfect that the m om ent It senses som ething worthy it im m ediately sends O n e o f its messengers (which are will and mind). “ I see at once its eternal light shining In your head, a glow that exclusively and always Kindles the flames o f love. Tem ptation o f any “ O th er kind can never be m ore than a leftover Shred o f that light, badly misunderstood, But nevertheless still shining through. Now: “You wish to know i f vows never fu lfilled Can be compensated for by worthy deeds, Ensuring a soul’s right to eternal peace.” Beatrice began this canto with just these words, A n d clearly bein g som eone who, once well-started, G oes on, continued with her holy speech: “T h e greatest g ift that G od, in infinite bounty, Bestowed on His creation, and the quality Most like His goodness, as well as what H e prizes, “Was freed om o f will, granted only to creatures O f intelligence— exclusively fo r them, N o others thus endowed. Now: base

PARADISO

“Your lin e o f reasoning on this plain fact, A n d you w ill see the exalted worth o f a vow, Since G o d concurs with you in this sacred act— “C losing a contract entered into by H im A n d you; free w ill becom es a treasure converted T o a sacrifice, voluntarily offered.

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“W hat com pensation could ever be sufficient I f what you intend as your offerin g, in the name O f virtue, was not obtained by virtuous ways? “This is the basic answer I give your question. Yet H oly Church can give a dispensation— W h ich may seem contradictory to what I ’ve told you, “But you had better stay at the table longer, For this tough fo o d you’re asking your stomach to swallow Can only be digested with the help o f what follows. “O p en your m ind to the truths I ’ ll now reveal,

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A n d hold them hard, fo r he who listens but keeps N o th in g o f what h e’s heard has learned nothing. “T h e essence o f this sacrifice divides In two: first, the substance o f what is prom ised, A n d second the covenant itself. Th is latter “Is only canceled when what was prom ised is done, A n d so my words have been extrem ely precise, N o r w ill I change them. W hat I ’ve ju st said is why “T h e Jews were forced to o ffe r sacrifices, T h ou gh what they laid on G o d ’s high altar could sometimes

50

Be differen t from what they’d brought before, as you know. “T h e other, the substance o f what is prom ised and agreed to, C an be exchanged fo r som ething else, creating N o th in g sinful. L et no one think that he “ H im s e lf is free to decide that a heavy load Can now be traded o f f fo r som ething else: T h a t is a ju d gm en t fo r H oly Church alone.

♦ 370 ♦

C A N T O F I VE

“ N o r can we all engage in riotous changes, W h en the load that’s com in g o f f your back is a stone A n d what takes its place is less than a stone and a half!

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“Accordingly, burdens so great that no scale Can hold them cannot be replaced by anything A t all: that which is prom ised must be paid. “ N o m ortal man should risk a careless vow; Prom ise in faith, and not like a silly fool, A s Jephthah was, not understanding how “ It would be i f what he first saw was his daughter. H e should Have confessed he was w rong, not follow ed folly with slaughter. T h e Greeks’ great leader, Agam em non, was another “Such fool, who prom ised the loveliest child to be born

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T h at year to the goddess Diana, and his beautiful daughter Iphigenia wept fo r her beauty, as others “ D id too. Christians, guard your tongues, be temperate, D on ’t blow in every wind, light as a feather, D on ’t think that water itself can wash away sin. “T h e re are guides to follow: Testaments both N ew A n d O ld, and the Shepherd o f H oly Church. You Can rely on these to lead you to salvation. “ I f g reed and lust call out an evil road, Stand like men, rather than weak-kneed sheep,

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So the Jews am ong you can’t laugh at the faith you hold! “ D on ’t behave like the silly lam b that leaves Its m other’s milk, ru n ning up and down A n d playing foolish games, like a warrior-sheep!” T h is is exactly as Beatrice told it to me. A n d then she turned us toward the highest heaven, T h at part o f our world filled with the brightness o f living. H e r sudden silence and very differen t appearance Im posed a curb on my eager m ind, and I Stayed quiet, not posing questions already shaped



371



90

PARADISO

For asking. A n d like an arrow that hits the target B efore the bowstring stops its hum m ing, so we Swept swiftly into the second heaven, M ercury’s Realm. I could see the delight in my lady’s eyes As she found herself in that heaven’s glow, brighter Across the entire planet because o f her presence. A n d i f the star so altered its face and smiled, O what effect did she have on me, who by My nature am open to every sort o f change! Like fish in a calm and peaceful pool, who swarm

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Toward anything that enters their pure, still water, T h in k in g it looks like som ething they can eat, So I could see fa r m ore than a thousand brilliant Creatures drawn toward us, each on e calling: “Ah! H ere comes som eone w ho’ll heighten our loves.” In all o f them, as these spirits cam e nearer and nearer, W e saw that each and every one was full O f delight, radiating shining brightness. N ow think, reader, were this b egin n in g to g o N o farther, how you would feel a desperate lon gin g

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For more, an anguished need to know where I ’m going, But surely you can see fo r yourself how I lon g T o hear whatever they choose to tell m e about T h e ir existence, when my eyes allow m e to see them. “O happy born,” one o f them said, “whom Heaven Allows to glim pse the eternal thrones without H aving to end the endless war o f your life: “W e spirits are lit by the light that runs through Heaven, A n d so, i f you want enlightenm ent from us, Seat yourself wherever you may like.” Thus spoke the holy soul, and Beatrice added: “You may speak com pletely without fear, T h e ir words will be like G o d ’s, spoken right here.”

♦ 372 ♦

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C A N T O F I VE

“ I see quite well how you use your own bright light As a nest, and from there shoot it out your eyes, Sparkling because, as you speak, you smile with delight. “But I know nothing o f who you are, or just why, O honored spirit, you’re placed on this planet, veiled T o m ortal sight by an even greater brilliance.” T h ese were my words, addressed to the glow in g light W h ich first had spoken to me, and then it was brighter Still, shining with obvious delight. Just as the sun conceals itself with a fine Display o f light, when its heat has burned away T h e m oderating mists that begin the day, T h e holy creature, in heightened joy, regressed Still deep er down in the rays o f its own bright light A n d from that shut-in place it swiftly did W h at jo y requires, a song which you’ll hear next.

♦ 373 ♦

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Canto Six

“A fte r Constantine reversed the course O f the Rom an Eagle, set by old Aeneas L o n g before (he who m arried Lavinia), “For hundreds and hundreds o f years that bird o f G od Stayed at the edge o f Europe, in Constantinople, N o t far from where it was born, in the mountains near Troy, “A n d kept the world beneath the shadow o f its holy W ings, passing its rule from hand to hand Until, thus changing, it finally cam e to me. “ I w ho was Emperor, now am Justinian,

10

A n d I was m oved by Prim al Love, which I felt, T o cleanse the laws o f much that was useless and vain. “L o n g before I took on this com plex task I believed that Christ had a single nature, not two, A n d felt secure and at peace with this as my faith, “ But our blessed Pope, Agapetus the First, O u r pastor o f pastors, showed m e by his words T h at G od and Christ were separate, yet one. “I trusted him, and chose his faith as mine, A n d I still see as clearly as you that every C ontradiction is both false and true. “As soon as I had my feet m arching to the C hurch’s Beat, G o d ’s eternal grace was pleased T o inspire m e with this noble task, to which

♦ 374 ♦

20

C A N T O SIX

“I dedicated myself, while Belisarius W aged my wars, fo r Heaven’s right hand was clasped In his, and this was a sign fo r m e to abstain. “N ow you know who I am, but there must be A sequel o f sorts to such an answer as this, So you can see what cause and reason impels

SO

“ T h e p eople who hold the Eagle high, as well As those who fight against its dom inating Rule. Consider how much reverence “ It earns, and what devotion it has deserved, B egin n in g with Pallas, that Latin kin g who served Aeneas, and died fighting fo r Rom an rule. “You know that Aeneas’ sons m oved the center O f the kingdom to Alba, where it stayed three hundred Years and m ore, once Roman champions won it. “You also know the wrongs o f seven kings,

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From the Sabine wom en to the rape o f Lucretia, w inning Away kingdom s here and there around them. “You know how the Eagle served the famous Romans— Against that Gaul, Brennus, and G reek Pyrrhus, Against the rest, princes and all the others, “B rin gin g fam e to Torquato, and Quinctius Fabius Maxim us (who saved the Romans from H an n ib al’s Arm s): these are names I gladly remember. “T h a t Eagle hum bled the Arabs who follow ed after Hannibal, crossing the Alps and com in g down W h ere you, O river Po, go tum bling along. “ U n der those rocks Pom pey and Scipio, Both very young, experienced great triumphs, But those under the hills where you were born “ Found it bitter. Later, almost when all O f Heaven wished to bring its peace to the world, Julius Caesar won the surrender o f Rome.

♦ 375 ♦

50

PARADISO

“ Rem em ber the Eagle’s conquests from the river Var Even as fa r as the Rhine, and the rivers Isere A n d L o ire and Seine saw it, and all the valleys o f the R hone.

60

“W hat the Eagle accomplished when it em erged From Ravenna, leaping across the Rubicon, Was a fligh t no pen o r tongue can truly describe: “ It swung its armies around toward Spain, and then T o Durazzo, and hit Pharsalia so hard that pain Was felt even as fa r as the glow in g Nile. “Aeneas had started from Antandros and the river Somois, W h ere H ecto r is buried; so too the Eagle now m oved A n d shook its feathers, doin g Ptolem y “N o good . A n d then it fell on Juba like lightning,

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A n d sw inging around, headed west, where it heard T h e battlefield trumpets o f Ptolem y’s supporters. “A n d what it did to those who fought still lon ger You’ ll hear Brutus and Cassius how ling in H ell, A n d Antony at M odena, his brother at Perugia. “A n d the tears it m ade in C leopatra’s eyes Flowed on and on; she could not escape, though she tried, T h en let a viper bite her, and quickly died. “Augustus carried the Eagle to the R ed Sea’s shore, A n d together with him it brought such peace to the w orld

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Th at Janus’ doors o f war were closed and then locked. “T h at Eagle which forces m e to speak, and what It did b efore and was goin g to d o again Th rou gh ou t the m ortal world it ruled and controlled, “ Seems wholly obscure and insignificant I f seen (with unbiased eyes and genuine A ffe c tio n ) as it was in the hands o f the third Em peror, “ Because that livin g Justice with which I ’m infused Gave that third em peror the glory o f revenge In the nam e o f G od and H is im m ortal anger.

♦ 376 ♦

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C A N T O SIX

“ N ow see, to your amazement, what I'll tell you: T h e Eagle pounced on Jerusalem, and in T h e hands o f Titus, in revenge fo r the death o f Christ, “ Destroyed that Jewish city. A n d a Lom bard attack O n Rom e was revenged by the Em peror Charlem agne, M arching under the Eagle’s outspread wings. “Now, given what I ’ve told you, ju d g e fo r yourself Th ose o f whom I have spoken, and their offenses, For these are the root and causes o f your misfortunes. “Y ou r Guelphs are waving against the Roman Eagle

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T h e flevr de lis o f France, and the other party Takes the Eagle and waves it fo r its own. “Th ese Ghibellines should find another banner, For m arching under the Eagle is never fit For men in differen t to justice; this young K in g Charles “ O f Naples had better not attack the Eagle W ith Guelphine swords: let him be afraid O f claws that stripped the hides o f f greater lions. “ H ow many times have sons wept bitter tears For their father’s sins; this king should never believe

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G od will change his banner from eagles to lilies! “Now : T h ere is an abundance o f excellent spirits, H ere on this little planet, worthy souls O n earth but always hungry fo r honor and fame, “A n d somewhat errant desire o f this sort, clim bing T o the heavens, necessarily brings to this grace A smaller measure o f true love. But our delight “ In fin din g ourselves rewarded equally, W hatever we have done o r failed to do, Allows us to see that no one here is greater “ O r lesser. Th is livin g Justice so sweetens our love, Fastens itself so firm ly within us, that nothing Can ever bend us astray in evil directions.

♦ 377 ♦

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PARADISO

“A wider range o f voices sounds sweetest music; W ith such diversity our harmonies A re always rich and sweet, here in these skies. “A n d inside this pearl there shines the light o f a steward O f Provence whose name was Rom eo, who worked Beautiful deeds, but was given little reward. “Yet those who worked against him have little to laugh

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About, which shows that men who slander goodness Have truly set themselves on evil paths. “His king's fou r daughters each becam e a queen, A ll arranged by this m an o f humble birth A n d nothing m ore than a pilgrim , when he’d com e to Provence. “T h en lying words turned his king against him, D em anding accounts fo r everything he’d spent. Th is faithfu l steward w ho’d paid back five and seven “For ten, was p o o r and old but left with his pack O n his back, and i f the world could know what a heart Was in this roamer, b eggin g the bread he now lacked, T h ey ’d pile up praise on praise, and never stop.”



378



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Canto Seven

Hail, holy God of hosts, Your brilliant, wondrous glow Shines on these blessed stars! A n d so I saw that b ein g dance and sing, Tu rning around to his m elody’s rhythm, under T h e double light o f heavenly knowledge and grace, H e and the others m oving to the words in their dance— A n d then like the swiftest sparks they suddenly Veiled themselves from me, in the vague distance. I hesitated, saying to myself, “Speak

10

T o her, speak! Speak to my lady, who quenches My thirst with the sweetened drops that fall from her lips!” But that reverent soul which wholly masters m ine Even at the sound o f a part o f her name, Bent me over like a sleepy man. N o r did she leave me like this fo r very long, B egin n in g with the glow o f a radiant smile T h at could have thrilled a man bu rning in fire: “You heard my explanation— infallible, O f course— that honest vengeance may be jusdy avenged, A n d that has stirred you into a b o g o f thought, “ From which I ’ll quickly free your m ind— and you Must listen, fo r what I am about to tell you W ill brin g you the g ift o f a great and glorious teach in g

♦ 379 ♦

20

PARADISO

“By not enduring restraints on human will, M eant fo r his own good , Adam , who was never Born, condem ned h im self and all his children. “H e caused the whole o f hum ankind to lie For centuries in sickness and enorm ous error, U ntil at last, at His own pleasure, the W ord “O f G o d descended and simply by H is eternal L ove reunited men with their Maker, From whom, since Adam , we had estranged ourselves. “Turn your attention, now, to what I ’m saying: A ll humankind, back once m ore with their Maker, H ad been created pure and good , but m ade “T h e choice o f banishment from Paradise A n d G od, turning itself away from the only Road to Heaven, truth, and a life that sustains it. “A n d thus the punishment inflicted on T h e Cross, i f measured by what we humans had done, Was wholly just and proper, and even more. “But still, nothing was ever as great a w rong I f we consider the person who suffered such pain, H e who, willingly, had becom e one “O f us. Thus, one action has differen t results, His death pleasing to G od and to the Jews, A n d causing the earth to tremble, and Heaven to open. “By now, you should not have to strain, hearing It said that a just vengeance, after the fact, Was justly revenged by a court that saw clearly. “A h, but I see your m ind tangling itself In a knot that runs from thought to thought, and help Is needed and w ill be gratefully received. “You say: ‘Yes, I understand what I hear, But why G od wanted human redem ption to appear O nly in this one fo rm — that is beyond me.’

C A N T O SEVEN

“ But this decree, brother, has been buried away From eyes which have not seen and fully known W hat those whom flames o f love have burned have learned

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“ T o see. However, since many humans blindly A im at this target, attaining neither success N o r knowledge, I ’ll tell you why this path was the best. “ D ivin e Goodness, rejecting all m alice and envy, Burns inside with such intensity, Sparkling so bright that it spreads eternal beauty, “A n d what so swiftly is sent can never com e T o an end, because what it produces bears T h e eternal im print, a stamp nothing removes. “ T h a t which it showers down so freely depends

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O n nothing, is ruled by nothing, not affected By any secondary power, subject “ O n ly to G od, fo rm ed by H im , and delightful T o H im , fo r the Sacred Fire irradiating A ll things is most alive in what It’s most like. “ Such splendid gifts have given human beings Im m ense advantages, so i f one fails A ll his great nobility falls with him. “T h e single thing destroying m an’s great gifts A n d m aking him unlike the H oly Goodness

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Is sin, which masks away most o f Its light, “A n d nobility w ill never return, unless Its em ptied place is stuffed with punishment A n d just and proper pains, and fu ll atonement. “H um an seed was com pletely stained by sin, A n d its gifts were swept away, as Eve and A dam W ere quickly hurried out o f Paradise, “ N o r could humans recover— i f you put your m ind Properly to work— by any road O th er than one o f the two possible fords:

♦ 381 ♦

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PARADISO

“Either G o d H im self, out o f purest mercy, W ou ld choose to pardon your sin, o r man himself, W ithout assistance, would atone fo r his prim al folly. “N ow fix your m ind deep in the endless abyss O f G od's eternal wisdom; hold my words As tightly as you are able. T h e human race “Is totally incapable o f m aking A tonem ent solely by human means, having Proven it cannot humbly accept G o d ’s word, “T ryin g to clim b straight up to forbidden fruit.

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A n d this is why man cannot possibly A chieve atonement, i f left to his own devices. “Accordingly, G o d alone, and as H e chose, could brin g man back to fullness o f life — Th at is, by choosing either road, or both. “But since the d o er o f deeds thinks better o f what H e does fo r himself, and thus displays m ore O f the goodness o f H im who opens this heavenly door, “T h e D ivine Goodness, im printing bounty on the world, D ecided to m ove on all its many roads,

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D elighted to lift you back and d o G o d ’s work. “ Between the final night and the first breaking O f day, there never has been, or ever w ill be, A deed m ore glorious fo r either o f them, “For had G o d simply granted H is forgiveness, T h e g ift would be smaller than, as H e did, givin g H im se lf in order that man could live again, “A nd every other way o f raising him up C ou ld not be worth as much as letting His Son Hum ble H im se lf by descending into our flesh. “ Now: to satisfy your every wish, L e t m e return and clarify the nature O f a certain place, and let you see it as clearly



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C A N T O SEVEN

“A s I do. You say: ‘I see there is water, and fire, A n d earth and air, yet all the things they make Decay, corrupted almost as soon as they’re made. “ ‘A n d all these things were m ade o f G o d ’s creation. But i f what I have said has been truthfully spoken, T h ey ought to be exem pt from fatal corruption.’ “ T h e angels, brother, and the unstained planet you stand on,

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Surely, it can be said, have been created Just as they are, their entire bein g made; “ B u t the com ponent parts you m ention are that, and no m ore— They, and every thing containing them, Have been m olded out o f already created matter. “T h a t matter, yes, was certainly created, A s were these stars we see circling beyond Your earth. It is also true that all the birds “A n d beasts and plants have been shaped by power drawn From both the sweeping rays o f light and the w hirling M ovem ent high in the holy sky. But men “A r e m ade directly by the H ighest Goodness, W ith nothing interm ediate, and H e loves Th is creature o f His, and wants it forever more. “A n d starting from here, now you can see your own Eternal resurrection, thinking how G od First m ade your human flesh, just H e alone C reating both the parents o f everyone.”



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Canto Eight

T h e world once had a dangerous habit, believin g Th at beautiful Venus, w heeling around her starry Circle, shone down rays o f passionate love. O u r ancient ancestors not only honored T h e goddess, chanting prayers at her altar, but gave her Sacrifices, and in her holy name H on o red D ione, her mother, and Cupid, her son, O f whom it was told, over and over, that he H ad sat in D io n e’s lap, w earing a bib. A n d they chose her name, the goddess with whom I b egin Th is canto, fo r the star the sun is always w ooing, Rising in fron t o f her, then setting behind. I had not noticed we were ascending into T h at star, but once within it my lady gave me M ore than proof, fo r her beauty shone still more. A n d as we see a spark inside a flam e, A n d hear a voice w ithin a voice when one Keeps h old in g a note and the other leaves and returns, So I saw inside that shining star O th er lanterns circling fast or slow, A ccording, I thought, to their own inner glow. Icy clouds, w hether we see them o r not, Can send their winds swiftly down to the ground, But still they’ ll seem obstructed and slow to one

CANTO EIGHT

W h o sees those holy lights approaching us, Falling away from circles that first were known T o start with Seraphim, angels on high. A n d inside the lights that first grew near we heard

Hosannah sung as I had never heard it Sung before, and always wanted to hear

so

A ga in . T h en one came very near, alone, A n d said: “A ll o f us are ready, whenever You wish, to brin g you pleasure and make you rejoice. “ W e spin one circle, we and our princes, and make O n e circling, having one single thirst, as you O n ce said, when you were in the world, ‘You w‘W hose minds m ove the great third star.’ O u r love Is so abundant that, in order to please you, A m odest interruption w ill still seem sweet.” O n ce I ’d raised my eyes, most reverently,

40

Toward my lady, and she had let m e know Th at she consented, I could be sure o f it, I turned to the light which had prom ised m e so much, A n d: “But who are you?” I bluntly uttered, My voice had born e clear marks o f great affection. A n d as I spoke I saw the spirit grow stronger A n d brighter, which made m e happy— yet another N ew jo y added onto the spirit’s happy glow. Thus changed, he told me: “I did not belong to the world For long, and had my time gone on much longer Much that was hopelessly w rong would surely have happened. “ M y jo y is kept from you, so brightly w rapped A rou n d m e are its brightly gleam ing folds, Th at I am like some creature bundled in golden “ Silk. You loved me, when I cam e to your city, A n d fo r g o o d reason: i f I had rem ained below I would have shown you its fruit, not merely its leaves.

♦ 385 ♦

50

PARADISO

“Provence, on the left bank o f the river R hone Just after it swells with that smaller water, Sorgue, Was waiting fo r m e to com e and assume its throne,

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“As did that corner o f Italy hold in g Barf, Gaeta, and Gatona, right where Tron to’s Waters and L ir i’s g o gushing down to the sea. “T h e crown o f Hungary, that land watered By the Danube once it passes G erm an shores, Was already gleam ing on my forehead. A n d beautiful “Sicily— on the g u lf from Pelorus to Pachynus, W h ere it’s not Etna that darkens both land and water, But sulfur b o ilin g out o f the earth because “O f the sun’s warm rays— there too I knew they would want

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Kings who were born, like me, from Charles o f A n jou A n d Rudolph o f Hapsburg, i f Palerm o had never risen, “Crying, ‘K ill the French!’ So evil lordship, From tim e eternal, embitters p o o r people, and the crown Ended, instead o f on me, on the head o f Peter “O f A ragon. H ad my father’s heir, my brother Robert, anticipated such troubles, he would Have shunned Catalan g reed and poverty, “A n d surely Robert, or som eone, anyone else Should take these heavy problem s in hand and keep

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His fully loaded ship from sinking. H is stingy “ N ature— not his from an open-handed father— W ill need a lot o f help from high officials N o t hungry to squeeze wealth out o f their people.” A n d I answered him: “Because I believe the deep D elight your words inspire in me, my lord, T h ere where goodness has its start and end, “Is what you also see, even as I glim pse it myself, my pleasure even greater, As is my delight that you see it while you see G od.

♦ 386 ♦

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CANTO EIGHT

“ You ’ve m ade m e very glad. A n d now, since Your words have inspired my question, please tell m e how T h e sweetest seed can grow a bitter fruit.” H e said: “I f I can make a certain truth Clear to you, you’ll keep yourself facing T h a t question as now you hold your back quite straight. “ G o d ’s goodness, spreading itself, is both controlling A n d satisfying, in all the realms through which You climb; its guardianship has power and strength. “ For the nature o f things, provided by that M in d

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W h ich o f itself is perfect, is accom panied By deep concern fo r everything’s well-being; “W henever this m ighty bow is pulled and shot Its arrows fall where they are m eant to, and when, Much like arrows aim ed at earthly targets. “ I f this were not the case, the heavens through which You pass would produce effects that have no guidance, A n d none would becom e works o f art, but ruins, “ W h ich cannot happen unless the minds that move Th ese stars m ight be defective— and more: the Prim al

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M in d could not have m ade them perfect. Should I “Continue to show you why this truth is right?” “N o,” I said. “For Nature to tire o f her duty A n d not supply what’s n eedfu l can’t be the truth.” A n d then he went on: “N ow tell me: would life on earth Be worse fo r human beings i f they lived without A community?” “Yes,” I answered, “and I ask “ For no p ro o f!” “A nd can that be, unless the men O n earth g o differen t ways, do d ifferen t duties? Hardly, since Master A ristotle agrees “ So closely with you.” A n d having argued this far, H e ended: “It has to be that the roots o f your different Lives are necessarily unlike:

♦ 387 ♦

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PARADISO

“O n e man is born G reek Solon, another Xerxes, O n e Melchisidech, a king and priest, and another H e who flew through the air and lost his son. “Constantly m oving, Nature acts as a seal O n m ortal wax, and works its art very well, But does not distinguish one doorway from another. “A n d so it happens that Esau d iffered from Jacob,

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From the m om ent they were seeds, and Romulus Was born o f a parent so p o o r that they said Mars “Was his father. A nature spawned would always becom e Like those who spawned it, i f these were m ortal matters A lon e, and were not governed by D ivine decree. “Now: what was behind you has com e in front. A n d wanting you to know what jo y you brin g me, I ’ll wrap you up in a corollary: Nature “C on fron ted with discordant happenings T h at chance intrudes on her path, like every created B eing in foreign waters does not do well. “A n d i f the world down there would pay attention T o the fine foundation she always sets in place, A n d work as she wants, people would always be good. “But when you twist a soul born to swing A sword into the Church, and turn a born M aker o f holy sermons into a king, Your track is sure to g o straight o f f the road.”



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Canto Nine

W h en your Charles M artel had clarified my mind, My dear Clemance, he told m e all the deceits Destined to fall on his descendants, then added: “ Be silent, and let the years g o on their way.” A n d so there’s nothing m ore that I can say Except that the wrongs you suffer w ill lon g be m ourned. T h a t sacred spirit had already turned its life Back to the Sun which fills it with light, our G od, W hose endless Goodness is m ore than enough fo r us all. O deluded souls, O unbelieving creatures, Twisting your hearts away from such Goodness, your eyes A n d m ind fixed on such foolish vanities! A n d there! A n oth er splendid light left Its fellows and came toward me, showing plainly It wanted to please m e by shining even m ore brightly. Beatrice was watching m e closely, as she’d been before, A n d her eyes showed m e clearly how she approved My desire. T h en the light came near, and I spoke: “A h , blessed spirit, reward m e quickly, i f You can, with p r o o f that what is in my m ind Can be reflected in the light outside you.” A n d then the light, still a stranger to me, Spoke from the depths inside it, from which I ’d heard It singing, its words rin gin g with compassion and kindness:

PARADISO

“In that part o f the sinful soil o f Italy Between the flow in g streams o f Brenta and Piave A n d R ialto’s island, there rises a hill o f no “Great height, from which a firebrand cam e down, A ttacking in all directions. H e and I Grew from the same two parents; I was his sister,

30

“Cunizza, and he was A zzolin o, my brother. I am as you see me, glow ing with light, because I was wholly overcom e by this star’s brightness. “But I gladly hum or myself, discussing my fate A n d how it came about, it doesn’t annoy me, W hich m ight seem od d to your com m on herd on earth. “Im m ense fam e lingers on this precious Jewel o f our heaven, this spirit close to me; B efore that fades away there w ill surely be “Five centennial years— at least. Consider:

40

Shouldn’t a man be trying fo r excellence, N o t fam e, so this life leads to another existence? “But the crowd in Treviso, shut in by the Tagliam ento A n d A d ige, w on’t think about this. Even Smashed to the ground, they never think o f repentance. “But soon it w ill happen that marshy Padua W ill stain the water that bathes Vicenza, because H er p eop le have no hearts and cannot do “W hat needs to be done. T h e C agnano join s the Sile A t Treviso, where R izzardo rules, his head held high, But the spider net to catch him is bein g woven. “Feltre will soon regret its bishop’s crim e, Takin g in refugees, then handing them over T o grisly deaths, fouler than prison cells: “O nly a vat o f im m ense proportions could hold T h e b lo od o f those who were slaughtered, and w hoever’s told T o measure it, ounce by ounce, w ill be weary and bored,

♦ 39° ♦

50

CANTO NINE

“ But these are the kinds o f gifts this gentle priest Likes to o ffe r those in power, and the beasts O f Feltre live at this level. But Heaven at least

60

“ Is look in g down, and G od w ill give His judgm ent, Seeing such conduct in m irrors high in H is sky, A n d sanctioning these words I ’ve had to speak.” T h e n she fell silent. It seem ed to m e she was called Away, set to turning once again O n the wheel she’d been in before. T h e other spirit O f whom she’d spoken had not said a word, But now began to seem like a glow in g Persian Ruby, standing where the sun could strike it. T h ere, in the heavens, rejoicing produces gleams

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A s smiles w ill do, below, where inner sadness Spreads its darkness fo r all the world to see. “ G od sees everything,” I said, “and a glim pse O f you, O blessed spirit, jo in s with H im , So you can see my inner wishes at will. “T h en how can your voice be so delightful, jo in e d W ith singing from these other pious lights (W ith Seraphim ’s six wings spread out behind you), “A n d yet I am not joyous o r satisfied? I f I were inside you, as you are in me,

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I would not keep you so lon g from what you desired.” A n d he began: “T h e M editerranean Sea, W h ich circles the world, pours water into valleys, T h e largest o f which extends so far that the sun “W ill rise, then later set on its shores, shaping A m eridian where, earlier in the day, It made no m ore than a simple, straight horizon. “ I lived on that coast, between the Spanish Ebro A n d our great M agra, which partly, along its way, Is the border between your Tuscany and Genoa.



391



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PARADISO

“Th at same sun rises and falls on B ougie and on Marseilles, the city where I was born and raised, W h ere Rom an navies once fought and many men died. “T o those who knew me, my nam e was Folchetto, a well-known Poet whose words are im printed in this heaven, As it has been forever im printed in me. “Dido, daughter o f Belus, whose lust did w rong T o Sichaeus, her buried husband, and also to Creusa, Dead w ife o f Aeneas, burned no m ore than I did, “B efore I becam e a priest— no m ore than Phyllis,

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Trickily betrayed by D em ophon, O r Hercules, lusting in vain fo r Iole. “It’s not that we repent; we smile instead, Yet not because we’ve sinned— all that’s forgotten— But only fo r the Power that preordained “A n d foresaw. H ere we consider art, adorned By intensities o f love, and on that G o o d W hich brings the world below to the world above. “But now, in order to let you leave us, bearing Away desires born and fu lfilled in this sphere,

110

I need to go a g o o d deal further. H ere “Beside me, sparkling bright as sunbeams over Clear, calm water, is a spirit, and you wish to know W h o it may be. T h erefore, let m e inform you “Th at this is Rahab, savior o f Joshua, A n d she has been jo in e d with us at the highest level, Sealed forever, at rest and at hom e in our world. “This heaven, in which the shadow o f your earth Sharpens into a point, took her up A h ead o f any other soul in the trium ph “O f Christ, when H ell was opened and souls were freed. A n d she is worthy in deed o f such a place, C elebrating what Christ’s two hands had made,



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CAN TO NINE

“ For she had celebrated, long before, T h e very first triumph o f Joshua in the H oly Land (although the Pope has forgotten that war). “ Florence— your own city, founded by Satan, W h o turned his back to the very G od who m ade him, Providin g a road fo r Death, now wet with tears— “Florence produces and shares the evils o f wealth,

130

Scattering golden sin like accursed flowers, H elp in g to make a w o lf o f G o d ’s own shepherd. “T h is is why the Gospel, and the great ones who study Its pages, are now deserted, and papal law Has replaced the one and only W ord o f G od. “ T h is is just what cardinals and popes Have wanted. Nazareth has no place in their thoughts, T h ere where Gabriel spread his wings fo r Mary. “ But the Vatican, and other chosen and sacred Areas o f Rom e, entom bing the saintly Soldiery that follow ed Peter, w ill be Soon liberated from papal adultery.”

♦ 393 ♦

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Canto Ten

W atching H is son, with all the love the O n e A n d the O th er eternally breathe forth, the Prim al, Indescribable Power fashioned all Th at moves in any man’s m ind and anywhere In the universe, accomplishing this with such C lear order that he who sees it always tastes O f God. So jo in me, reader, raise your eyes T o the stars circling above us, right at the point W h ere on e o f those ever-turning wheels strikes Another, and begin to look, most yearningly,

10

A t that Master’s art, who so much loves what H e ’s m ade Th at even H e cannot stop adm iring. See how, from there, that shining oblique circle, W hich carries all the planets, branches away In order to satisfy this world which depends O n them, and i f their orbits were not twisted that way Much o f the heavens’ power m ight be in vain, A n d almost all the strength in this world would fade. A n d i f that circle d rifted in either direction Most o f the natural order o f things on earth, A n d in the heavens above, would be im perfect. N ow stay seated, reader, right in your chair, T h in k in g hard about these stern predictions— I f happiness means m ore to you than exhaustion.

♦ 394 ♦

20

C A N T O TEN

I ’ve set the table fo r you; now feed yourself, Because the subject o f this written discourse Demands, and I must obey, all my attention. N atu re’s highest-ranking servant, the sun, Im prints our world with power, and uses light T o measure out fo r us the m ovem ent o f tim e—

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Since he is locked together with what I ’ve described— Was w hirling through its heavenly spirals, always A p p ea rin g a little sooner every day. A n d I was with him, no m ore aware o f the way I ’d com e to be there than any man can tell you T h e first thing he thinks, before he thinks at all! Beatrice, o f course, had carried us up, ascending From g o o d to better so deftly and swift that time Becam e irrelevant: we arrived. H ow glow ing that light would have to have been, inside

40

Itself, fo r as I entered the sun I saw it, N o t in terms o f color, but only o f light! T ry in g to em ploy the cleverest words, the most practiced Arts, still nothing I said would help you see it— But you can lon g to, and you can surely believe it. A n d i f im agination cannot reach So high, no one ought to be surprised, For livin g eyes have never seen a light Brighter than the sun. W e’d reached the fourth O f ou r Father’s fellowships, one H e pleases By showing how H e exhales and propagates. A n d Beatrice told me: “Express your gratitude, Give thanks to H im , star o f the angels, grateful His grace has raised you to this visible sun.” N o m ortal heart could be m ore prepared fo r prayer A n d devotion, rendering m yself to our Lord, A n d thanking H im fo r His abundant grace;

♦ 395 ♦

50

PARADISO

H er words released m e into grateful worship, Swerving all my love toward H im , not her, Beatrice eclipsed to human oblivion. N o r was she troubled, sm iling at where I ’d com e to, T h e splendor o f her happy eyes thinking Many things, while my m ind thought o f O ne. I saw a host o f flashing lights, m ore vivid A n d glow ing than the sun, shaping a crown o f themselves, W ith us at the center, their voices even sweeter Th an bright. Just so when the air is heavy, Diana, Latona’s daughter, sometimes seems to wear A halo o f misty light wound round her m oon. Heaven’s court, from which I ’ve now returned, Gleams with many gems too precious, too fine, Ever to be seen outside that glorious kingdom , A n d such a treasure was the song o f the lights. W h oever does not wish to fly so high Can sit and wait fo r news from those who can’t speak. Th en, after singing and circling three times around us, Th ese fiery lights, like stars revolving from one Fixed pole to another, suddenly seem ed to becom e N o t ladies freed from a dance, but those who pause In silence, waiting, all o f them listening to catch N ew notes b rin gin g them into another song. A n d com ing from one o f them, I heard: “Because T h e shining rays o f grace, by which true love Is ignited, and which the act o f loving increases, “G litter in you, and in so many forms, T h at you have been led from bottom to top o f stairs T h at no one descends, except to clim b them again, “W hichever one o f us refuses you T h e wine in his flask, quenching your thirst fo r knowledge, Is no m ore entitled than water refusing to flow

CANTO TEN

“T o the sea. You wish to know the names o f the plants T h a t make these garlands, spread so devotedly A ro u n d this lovely lady, who readies you “ For Heaven. I was a lamb in the holy flock led By D om inic along that road where grazin g Sheep grow fat, unless they lose their way. “ M y neighbor, here beside my right hand, is my brother A n d master, Albertus Magnus o f C ologne, and I A m Thom as Aquinas (my father was Count o f A qu ino). “T o name the rest o f us fo r you, let your eyes

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Follow along behind my words, as I lead you A rou n d this blessed wreath. T h e next o f these lights “ Is Gratian, who took the laws o f Church and State A n d wove them into one so well that here In Paradise he is deeply appreciated. “T h e next who adorns our choir is Peter Lom bard, W h o like the p o o r widow Luke describes, offered H is treasured wisdom to enrich ou r H oly Church. “T h e fifth o f our lights, most beautiful o f all, Is Solom on, who breathes o f love so deeply

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T h a t your entire world, below, seeks “ H is words, within which they find so lofty a mind, Given wisdom so deep, that i f the truth Is true no second vision has seen such light. “ Close to him is Dionysius, Saint Paul’s Convert, who saw beyond the human flesh A ll the angelic orders and the tasks they are bound to. “ Inside the next little light is Spanish Orosius, Cham pion o f Christian times, whose history O f Rom an days was helpful to Saint Augustine. “ I f your eyes have follow ed me from light to light, W atching m e identify and praise, Your thirst is already aching for the one w ho’s eighth.

♦ 397 ♦

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PARADISO

“Seeing the fu ll o f G o d ’s Goodness, the sainted soul Displays the vain deceptions o f this world T o any and all prepared to hear his words. “T h e body from which this soul was driven lies In Ciel d ’O ro, Lom bardy, Boethius’ Path from exile to m artyrdom and peace. “Flam ing still further, see Isidore o f Seville, A n d B ede o f England, and Richard o f Saint Victor, W hose contem plation reached beyond the m ind “O f man. A n d this twelfth light, com pleting the circle, Glows from a spirit whose somber thoughts would often See death as com in g too slow, fo r what he wanted “Was Heaven: this eternal light was Siger De Brabant, who lectured in Paris’ Latin Quarter, Stating truths not many wanted to hear.” Just as at the hour o f matin prayers, when T h e Bride o f G od rises to sing the praises O f her groom , L o rd Christ, one vocal line strikes T h e other, like bells clin king ting! ting! so sweetly T h at any soul thus well-inclined is drawn A n d driven, swelling with love o f G od — so I saw T h e glorious choral circle swing and turn From m ode to m ode, delight and harmony Impossible fo r anyone on earth T o know, sung only where jo y is heavenly.

Canto Eleven

O m ortal indifference! Your reasoning Is upside down and false, and no matter how hard You beat your wings your m ind can never rise. M en grin d away at law, or d ig in ancient M edical books; some run toward priesthood, some run Toward dom ination, by force o r lying deeds; Som e steal, o r practice other worldly business, Disappearing into fleshly pleasures O r dedicating themselves to indolence— A n d there I was, free o f all this, high

10

In Heaven along with Beatrice, and gloriously Received by her, as I have revealed in my story. A n d after each o f the lights had reached its starting Point in the circle, it stopped, standing as straight A n d firm as a candle lighting a room . A n d from Inside the candle from which I'd first heard speech, Its light seem ing to smile when suddenly It brightened, I heard Thom as Aquinas again: “ I p eer into Eternal Light, and glim m er W ith its shining beams and seem to glow, So too I see your thoughts and thus I know “Just why you think them. You are uncertain, and wish My words were simpler, less open to doubt, explicit, My language less likely to fly well over your head

♦ 399 ♦

20

PARADISO

“W hen I say, as I did, ‘G razing sheep grow fat,’ A n d also, ‘N o second vision has seen such light’: A n d here, careful distinctions are surely needed. “T h e Providence which governs the world, gu id in g W ith wisdom so deep that probing human eyes Can never reach as far as the one true light: “This is so the Church, the Bride o f Christ, W edded by His blood and fervent cries U pon the Cross, can walk forever secure “In her holy ways, rem aining faithful to H im , Always supported by two high princes ordained By G od to assist her, Saint D om inic and Saint Francis “Francis, com pletely angelic in utter devotion, A n d D om inic, so wise even on earth Th at he lived in a glow o f angelic light. T h e ir worth “Is so much the same that speaking o f one o r the other W h at’s said remains the same, fo r both their lives, From start to end, had only one direction. “ Between the Top in o river and that nam ed Chiascio, Flow ing down Saint U b a ld ’s chosen hill, A fertile slope hangs from the Apennines, “L o fty mountains creating cold and heat For Perugia, with the worst o f both saved fo r places Closest to craggy rocks, stony and steep. “A n d on this slope, just where it levels the most, A human sun once rose above the world, Just as the real one rises, eastward to the Ganges. “So those who speak o f Francis’ sacred birth-hom e M ight well declare it Dayspring, although fo r short W e nam e it, in our earthly tongue, Assisi. “N o t too lon g into his earthly life, he caused T h e w orld to strengthen a bit, len ding it some O f his inborn virtue and power, fo r still quite young

C A N T O EL E V E N

“H e fought a war against his father, in the name O f a sacred lady, Poverty, which most men Shun as desperately as death itself,

60

“A n d in front o f H oly Church, Assisi's bishop, A n d openly to his father, they were wed as one, A n d every day he loved her m ore than before. “T h e lady's first husband had lon g been back in Heaven, A n d she had lived fo r eleven hundred years Scorned and ignored, no one w illin g to love her. “ N o r had it helped when Caesar, who terrified T h e world, had found her, safe in a fisherm an’s hut, For the man, with nothing to lose, fearlessly opened “ H is d o o r when the em peror knocked. M ary wept

70

W ith her, at the fo o t o f the Cross, when she kept her pride But won not one jo t m ore, no matter what. “ Perhaps my words are still not spoken clearly: In everything I ’ve said, all I ’ve told Is a tale o f two lovers, Francis and Poverty. “T h e harm ony they shared, and the happiness, Basing holy thought on their blessedness, T h e ir love and wonder, and the tender glances they shared— “ Exactly as it was with Francis* first Disciple, Bernard, who suddenly bared his feet

80

But never could run as fast as the wondrous peace “ H e followed. W hat unknown wealth! W hat flow ering riches! Egidius learned to share it, as did Sylvester, Both g room and bride showering them with delight. “T h en Francis, as father and master, led them wherever H e sought to, lady and grow in g fam ily with him, A lready w earing the loose-hung rope o f their Order. “H is heart would never sink, rem em bering what Pietro Bernardone, his father, had been, N o r did he care that courtiers laughed at his clothes:



401



90

PARADISO

“Facing the pope, he stated his stern and difficu lt Case, and virtually forced a reluctant p o n tiff T o make Saint Francis’ Rule a Churchly Order. “T h en after his horde o f followers swelled behind him — A flock livin g such wondrous lives that only In Heaven can their glory be properly sung— “T h e ir ch ief shepherd was finally crowned, this time In writing, with the fu ll support o f H oly Church, by yet another Rom an Pope. “A n d when, thirsting fo r Christian m artyrdom ,

100

H e stood before the proud Sultan o f Egypt, Preaching in the nam e o f Christ and those “W h o follow ed His road, and found both ruler and people T o o weak in understanding, he turned back T o the richer harvest o f souls in Italy, “A nd then to a place o f rocky harshness, between T h e T ib er and A rn o rivers, where Christ gave him T h e seal o f His wounds, both on hands and feet, “W h ich stayed fo r two years. T h en H oly G od, who had lifted H im to such goodness, drew him up to H im self,

110

Rew arding Francis fo r a life so w onderfully lowly. “H e left his lady to those who were his lawful Heirs, com m en din g them to care fo r her A n d love her, as he did, with utter faithfulness, “A nd leaving her bosom , his noble soul gladly Flew out, returning to what was truly his home, Leavin g his body, as he had ordered, naked “O n the ground. Just think what worthiness is needed T o becom e the steersman o f Peter’s bark, keeping It sailing straight, no matter how high the sea. “Such was D om inic, my O rd e r’s father, Showing you that he who follows behind him Has filled the holds o f his ship with perfect goods.

♦ 402 ♦

120

C A N T O EL EV EN

“ However, his flock has turned to greediness A n d gold, and so has necessarily G on e wild, scattered in search o f earthly treasures. “ H is sheep still wander from their patriarch, Ever and ever m ore distant, rem ote; rejoin ing T h e ir flock, they find they have no m ilk to give. “T h e re are a few still h eedin g their shepherd's words, H o ld in g his warnings dear— but a very few: T h e cloth fo r their cowls is only a bundle o r two. “A n d now, unless my speech has been weak and unclear, A n d i f you have listened well and understood me, A n d i f my words can be recalled to m ind, “Y ou 'll have at least a part o f what you desired, For you w ill see how my O rd er is whittled away, A n d you w ill understand what this m eant to say: ‘T h e flock w ill fatten, unless they wander astray.'”

♦ 403 ♦

ISO

Canto Twelve

As soon as the blessed flam e had spoken its final W ord, the wheel o f holy lights o f which It was part began to move again, nor had it C om pleted a fu ll circle when a second wheel Fell into place around it, blending m ovem ent W ith m ovem ent and song with song, music so sweet It far surpassed both song and poetry H eard in this world, m aking our Sirens, our Muses, A p p ea r like m ere reflections o f higher splendor. T h ey seem ed much like a pair o f flexible bows,

10

Parallel in placement and in color, Bent across a delicate cloud, as Juno Signals Iris, the rainbow goddess— the one Outside born o f the inner, like gentle Echo, Eternally wandering nymph consum ed by love Exactly as the sun w ill burn up vapors— A n d the heavens prepare this earth fo r the covenant G od m ade with Noah, prom ising no m ore floods: Just so this pair o f garlands, com posed o f roses Th at never fade, kept m aking circles around us, T h e outer always perfectly matched to the inner. A n d then, when dancing and all the celebration O f song and blazing fire— light with light, R ejoicing and m ild— came to a sudden stop,

♦ 404 ♦

20

CA N TO TWELVE

A greea b ly jo in e d (as eyes must always be Both opened and closed together, one and the same, Accordant with the pleasure o f he who moves them), A voice was heard, sounding from inside O n e o f the lights that were newly come, and I felt Myself, in turning toward it, much like a compass

SO

N e e d le swinging toward a star. It began: “G o d ’s love, which makes m e shine, leads m e to speak O f that other leader— he who has spoken so well “O f mine. W h ere one is praised, so too should the other, So that the battles they fought, their cause the same, May jo in together the glory won by them both. “Christ's army, arm ed again at H is dear cost, Was m oving behind the banner o f Constantine, But slowly, neither large nor wholly trusting, “W h en the Emperor, who reigns forever, took steps

40

T o save Christ’s army (for the grace o f Christ, N o t fo r its merits) and thus, as you have heard, “ B rin g two great champions to assist His bride, A n d by their deeds, and by their words, rally A n d bring together His scattered, straying people. “ Sweet Zephyr, rising in a westward part O f Europe (not too far from a coast beaten By waves, behind which the sun, weary from “ Its lon g jou rn ey o f return, may hide from men), A n d blowing, puffs out new green leaves with which, Each year, spring w ill dress the world again, “A n d there sits Calaruega, fortunate town, Protected by the royal shield o f Castile, O n which the lion is both subject and k in g “A n d there this ardent lover o f our Christian Faith was b o m , this holy cham pion, kind T o his Christian friends, fierce to all his foes.

♦ 4°5 ♦

50

PARADISO

“H is m ind, from the very m om ent o f birth, was so full O f the powers o f livin g virtue that, fro m the womb, H e made his m other a prophetess. A t “T h e baptismal font, where the m arriage o f m an and G o d ’s O w n faith took place, each bestowing on T h e other reciprocal salvation, his godm other, “Speaking his consent to sacred baptism, Saw in a dream the w onderful fru it destined T o spring from him and all his heirs. A n d so “T h at he m ight in name, as well as spirit, bear T h e mark o f what he was, a heavenly spirit Descended, draw ing his name from Dominus. “A n d D om inic he was. So I speak o f him As a worker in the vineyard, chosen by Christ H im se lf to do G o d ’s work in the earthly garden. “H ow clearly he could be seen as Christ’s own frien d A n d messenger! For the very first love he showed Was the first o f Christ’s beatitudes, ‘blessed “ ‘In spirit are the poor.’ H is nurse would fin d him Lyin g on the ground, silent but awake, As i f to say ‘I have com e fo r this.’ “A n d his father’s nam e— O truly!— was Felice, A n d his m other was truly Giovanna, a name From Hebrew: ‘H ere is the very grace o f ou r L ord .’ “N o t destined fo r secular thought, in the intellectual W orld where m en all lon g to be doctors and lawyers, But only concerned to seek G o d ’s holy manna, “H e quickly becam e a leading theologian, A n d then a laborer in the vineyard o f G od O n earth, pru ning and cleaning so grapes could grow. “A nd dealing with the vicar o f G od, in Rome, W h ere blessed concern fo r the righteous p o o r had once Been strong, but now was slack— a sickness not

CA N TO TWELVE

“ O f the office, but only o f the man then seated In that chair— he never plundered or paid A part o f the price in return, o r oiled his way “ T o a fat appointm ent, o r sought a tenth o f the tithes Paid by the poor; he only asked fo r license T o fight, in this straying world, fo r eternal right. “T h e n fully em pow ered to found his new Order, granted Apostolic rules, he swept like a rushing Stream overflow ing its banks, advancing “Against the dried-out thorns o f heresy,

100

Striking hard, with heavy hands, wherever Resistance was strong, and heresies were worse. “A n d from his labors many smaller streams Poured out, watering the Catholic garden, K eep in g its shrubs alive, green, and in order. “ I f one o f the Church’s chariot wheels was this, R ollin g on in defense o f our m other on earth A n d steadily w in n in g battles on the w orld’s hard turf, “ W h o could doubt the w orth o f that other wheel, So nobly turning?— he o f whom ou r Thom as

110

So courteously spoke, b efore I cam e to jo in you. “ But the upper part o f this circlin g wheel is not So sound as once it was, the crust on the topmost R im o f this barrel replaced by m old and dust. “T h e house he founded, starting straight and walking In his footsteps, has turned itself so far A rou n d that now the fron t fo o t’s m oving back, “A n d soon w e’ ll see a harvest produced by this bad Farming, where even the weeds w ill be com plaining T h a t the bins they used to lie in cannot be found. “Nonetheless, I say that som eone searching Th rou gh our book w ill fin d a page inscribed: ‘I am exactly what I always was’—

♦ 4°7 ♦

120

PARADISO

“But not in any house headed by U b ertin o o r Acquasparta, one Running from the rules, the other refining. “I am the livin g soul o f Bonaventura From Bagnorea, who in high office never Ign ored ou r necessary fo od , but forever “W orked fo r G od. Illum inato is here, A n d Augustine, two o f the first o f the shoeless P oor wearing the cord that tied them to G od. “H u gh o f Saint V ictor is also here with them, A n d Peter, devourer o f books, and Peter o f Spain, W hose twelve-part book o f logic still shines on earth, “A n d Nathan the Prophet, and the Bishop o f Bishops, John Chrysostom, and England's Anselm , and the Rom an Rhetorician, Donatus, whose Ars

“Grammatica was the first, and Rabanus, A n d here beside m e A b b o t Joachim O f Calabria, scholar and also prophet. “I have been m oved to celebrate so fine A cham pion by Brother Th om as— his exciting W ords o f praise and his warm words o f good w ill— As everyone here has surely been m oved as well.”

Canto Thirteen

W h o e v e r wants to rightly understand W hat I was seeing— and while I ’m speaking let him H o ld the im age hard as solid rock— Must im agine fifteen stars lighting Fifteen differen t parts o f the earth, so bright A n d clear no air can block them, no matter how thick; L e t him im agine the Dipper, choosing to linger N ight and day, here in ou r skies, not leaving Even with the turning o f the Pole; L e t him im agine the Little D ipp er’s mouth,

10

Starting exactly at the tip o f the axle O n which the first o f the starry circles spins— Both Dippers m aking o f themselves two heavenly Signs, like those that A riadn e, M inos’ Daughter, m ade when she felt the chill o f death, T h e rays o f each sign shining inside the other, A n d both revolving carefully so one Goes first and the other follows after— and then H e ’ ll have at least a shadow o f the constellation As it is, and see the double dance Sw inging around the point where I was stationed, A n d what I was seeing far beyond what we Can see, just as the speed o f heavenly m otion Far exceeds the flow o f sluggish river



409



20

PARADISO

Chiana. T h ey sang no Bacchics, there, no pagan Hymns, but the three in one, each heavenly person T h e same and different, and human nature in one. T h ey sang and circled, all com pleted, and then Th ose holy lights directed themselves to us, R ejoicin g while they floated, each duty done.

30

T h e silence am ong these harm onious souls was broken By Thom as Aquinas, the light who’d shown m e the stunning L ife o f a man o f poverty: “O n e “O f the straws is now well threshed and ground, and its grain Has been garnered, so in the nam e o f charity A n d love I ’m called to thresh the other. You believe in “T h e chest from which a rib was taken, in order T o make the beautiful face whose appetite For forbidden fru it cost the world so dearly, “A n d that oth er chest, pierced by a spear, which b efore

40

A n d after gave us all such satisfaction— T h e y ’ve beaten the weight o f sin, and all o f it since “W hatever light our human nature’s allowed Was first breathed in us by that great Power W hich fo rm ed each o f the two o f whom I ’ve spoken. “A n d you fin d it hard to understand what I meant W h en I said the righteousness o f Solom on, T h e fifth o f our lights, w ill never be seen again. “N ow open your eyes to how I answer your w onder A n d you w ill see how your b e lie f and my words M eet and becom e the truth, like a circle’s center. “ L ife which cannot die, like angels or souls, A n d that which dies, are nothing but the glow O f G o d ’s own gift, H is love fo r all H e begets: “T h a t livin g light which pours from the shining star A bove us is never disconnected from Its source, because that love which o f its goodness

♦ 410 ♦

50

CANTO THIRTEEN

“ Gathers those rays together never intends T h e nine orders o f angels w ill be separated, For everything is reflected from H im , eternal

60

“A n d One. T h at love descends to us, in its prim al Might, from deed to d eed grow in g so great Th at only m inor actions rem ain undone. “ I mean, by these actions, the generated things Nature produces, plants and animals, As well as those with no seed, the minerals. “T h e wax that Nature thus employs on earth Can vary, and so G o d ’s stamp w ill not com e shining T h rou gh the same, but differen t from tim e to time. “Thus we see that plants o f identical species

70

W ill bear a better crop, o r sometimes a worse one, A n d all o f you are born with differen t minds. “ I f the wax were properly m olded, and the highest heavens Set at the very peak o f their power, the signs O f G o d ’s own handiwork would be shining brightly. “ But Nature is always somewhat o f f the mark, As fallible as a man who practices art W ith a hand that’s never steady, almost shaking. “ W h en G o d ’s supremely burning love takes charge, Im printing the prim al Power’s vision, always

80

Clear, then utter perfection occurs. A n d thus, “O nce, dirt was made, com pletely fit For the m aking o f a perfect human creature; thus T h e holy V irg in was given a child to bear; “ So I agree: human nature never Was what those two people are, nor ever W ill be capable o f m atching them. “W ere I to stop my argum ent here, you’d ask: ‘H ow then was Solom on without an equal?’ Th ose would probably be your very first words.



41 1



90

PARADISO

“But think a bit about what’s not apparent; Consider who Solom on was, and why he asked H is question, given the opportunity. “I have not identified the man as a king, W h ich he was, seeking wisdom so he m ight be A kin g worthy o f his high position, “N o t so he could learn how many messenger A n gels were working, here above, or whether A n absolute premise plus a conditional premise “Produces a positive conclusion, or i f m otions

100

Exist that have no cause, o r i f a triangle Inside a sem icircle must have a right angle. “W h erefore, taking this with my earlier words, Royal wisdom is in deed what a king Must always seek— and there you have my m eaning! “A n d i f you lift your practiced eyes to this, You ’ll see quite clearly a king was all I meant, For there are many kings, but g o o d ones scarce. “Tackle my remarks with this in m ind A n d they w ill stand quite well, i f set beside

110

O u r first father and H e who cam e to save us. “A n d let this forever be like lead on your feet, Forcing you to g o slowly, like som eone weary, Saying ‘yes’ or ‘n o’ when neither is clear. “A man who either concurs o r disagrees W ithou t some plain distinctions is a fallen fool, A n d pretty low even at that level, “ For hasty ju d gm en t often bends to what’s wrong, A n d having m ade a foolish choice the fo ol H olds on, letting his fo olery tie up his mind. “This is much worse than sailing after the truth In vain (returning differen t but not enlightened), Fishing fo r what you haven’t the art to find.

♦ 4 12 ♦

120

CANTO THIRTEEN

“ O p e n proofs o f this, fo r the world to see, Include Parmenides, Melissus, and Bryson (W h o labored to square the circle, futilely), “A n d others: Sabellius, and Arius, A ll goin g but never knowing where, seeing Scriptures as i f on a sword blade’s distorted picture. “ But ordinary people, too, must guard

ISO

T h e ir ju dgm ent, not like those who count up ears O f corn before the field is ripe. For I “ H ave seen, all winter through, bushes o f thorn C overed with small but savage knives, hard A n d fierce, but now comes summer, and then they’re roses “A ll over. A n d I have seen a ship sail far, Straight and swift, and on course, but once in the harbor Down she goes, sinking like a stone. “ L e t not Mrs. Judy and Mister John, S eeing one man steal but another before T h e altar with offerings, think one is sinful, T h e oth er’s in Heaven— fo r people rise and fall.”

♦ 4 i 3 *

140

Canto Fourteen

From center to rim , from rim to center, water In rounded containers will m ove two d ifferen t ways, D ep en d in g whether it’s ja rred from inside o r out. This d rop p ed into my m ind as the shining Saint Aquinas suddenly fell silent, and I Knew why it had d rop p ed into my m ind: he A n d Beatrice spoke from the same perspective, and my m ind Reacted the same to both, and indeed she Was pleased to address the lights, as soon as he stopped: “This man, who is still alive, is in urgent need,

10

But still says n oth in g o f it, as yet silent Either in word o r thought, fa ilin g to d ig “A t the root o f another truth. Tell him i f the light N ow blossom ing inside you w ill be as bright Eternally and stay with you. Tell him, “Too, i f it does rem ain, and you becom e Visible once m ore, just how your sight W ill also rem ain the same, not burn away.” It was as it always is with grow in g delight, W h ich tugs and pulls: those dancing in glorious rings H eighten their pleasure, raising their voices and singing; H earin g B eatrice’s swift, devout request T h e sacred circles showed a heightened jo y Both in revolving dances and marvelous songs.

♦ 414 ♦

20

C A N T O FOURTEEN

W h o e v e r laments our dying on earth in order T o live in Heaven has never been there and seen T h e eternal rain o f grace, which refreshes all souls. A n d the O n e and Two and Th ree, forever alive A n d rulin g eternally as Th ree, and Two, A n d O ne, unlim ited but lim iting

SO

A ll things, were voiced three times by each o f these spirits, Always in such songs that anyone C ould feel fully rewarded fo r what they had done. A n d from the divinest light o f the smaller circle I heard a m odest voice, perhaps like that O f the angel who spoke to beloved M other Mary, Responding: “For as lon g as Paradise Is feasting, we w ill shine our love around us As i f it were a robe fo r us to wear. “T h a t brightness stems from the love that burns in our hearts,

40

A love that comes from ou r flam in g vision o f G od, A ll o f which defines what grace we know “ Beyond what's given. W earing ou r glorious, blessed Flesh once more, we w ill be better fo r being C om plete and m ore acceptable to G od, “ For whatever unearned light supreme Goodness Chooses to shed on us w ill grow, and we W ill be m ore worthy to have His eyes see us. “O u r vision o f H im w ill necessarily Increase, our love (kin dled by that vision) W ill grow, and this w ill make the light you see “Even stronger. A coal, once lit, flares up, But later its whitened glow clearly outshines it, H elp in g it guard its visibility, “A n d so shall the light surrounding us be lessened, C om pared to the glow o f our flesh, still buried on earth, A n d none o f that m ore powerful gleam ing be hard



4*5

*

50

PARADISO

“For us to endure, fo r all the b od y’s organs W ill then be m ade incredibly strong fo r all T h e pleasures we w ill fin d delightful.*’ T h e long A n d instant “Amen!** that eagerly follow ed from each O f the choruses showed how truly they yearned For their dead and bu ried bodies, perhaps not reaching Just on their own b e h a lf but also fo r T h e ir mothers, and fathers, and all the many others T h e y ’ d loved before they turned to eternal flames. A n d suddenly, there was an even brightness A ll around, a fu rth er splendor like A newly lit and glow ing horizon, as i f night Was com ing and lights were flickerin g high in the sky, N ew er and brighter, a sight both strangely real A n d yet not truly real. A n d I began T o see new substances I had n ot known C reating a heavenly ring beyond the first Two cosmic circum ferences I ’d com e to know. O true shining o f the H oly Spirit! H ow swiftly, how incandescent it leapt to my sight, Com pletely defeating my eyes, which could not bear it. But Beatrice appeared to me, so beautiful A n d shining that she as I then saw her was forced T o be one o f those heavenly sights lost T o my m ind. T h en my eyes regained the power O f raising themselves, and I saw that I was alone W ith my lady, and raised, now, to a higher level O f bliss, fo r seeing the glow in g smile o f the star A n d how I thought its gleam far redder than before, I clearly understood that I had been Raised to that heaven which was Mars. A n d with all my heart, A n d that silent speech shared in com m on by us all, I lit a prop er sacrificial fire

C A N T O FOURTEEN

O n G od's own altar within me, and the flam es in my breast H ad not yet expired when I knew my o fferin g Was suitable and was accepted, because W rap p ed in a pair o f rays I was shown such glow ing Splendor that I exclaim ed: “O Helios, G od in the sun, H e gloriously adorns them !” Forever distinct, even am ong great lights A n d small ones, hung between the universe's Poles, our galaxy’s brightness baffles our wise men: S o these starry beams pierce to the depths

100

O f Mars, angling into that ancient symbol Sometimes shaped by a circle’s crossing diameters. Y et here my m em ory defeats my brain, For that Cross was such a flashing sign o f Christ Th at worthy comparisons escape my m ind; But he who lifts his cross and follows Christ Forgives me, all the same, fo r what I omit, Seeing Christ flash in that brightest o f mornings. Lights were m oving from arm to arm o f the Cross, A n d from top to bottom , sparkling pow erfully

lio

W hen one light m et another and went passing by, A s we on earth see aspects o f human bodies— Straight, or at angles; fast, and slow; lon g A n d short— all changing, all m aking their way under T h e sun, sometimes forcin g its rays to flicker A s bodies com e flittin g between bright sunlight and shade Fashioned artfully to protect them against T h a t glare. Like violins and harps, strung W ith many harm onic strings that jin g le sweetly In the ears o f one who cannot decipher their tune, A m elody began to appear to me From lights assembled around the Cross, and it caught me, A lthough the sense o f their hymn com pletely escaped me.

♦ 4 * 7 *

120

PARADISO

I knew they were singing in glorious praise, fo r I heard “Resurrection” and “conquer,” words pronounced For ears with knowledge o f nothing, but g o on hearing. A n d love so overcam e m e that never before In all my life had anything whatever T ie d and bound m e with cords o f such great sweetness. D o I seem to g o too far, givin g subordinate Rank to those beautiful eyes, which gave m e such pleasure A n d peace, simply by letting m e see them? But he W h o knows the livin g signs o f every beauty, Shining with greater strength the higher their source, A n d recalls that from where I was I had not returned T o those eyes, may find it possible to excuse m e For what I have just accused me, fo r I may refuse A sin therein— and holy pleasure's excluded, Because the higher you rise, it’s purer and purer.

♦ 418 ♦

ISO

Canto Fifteen

G en tle willingness (in which God-seeking L ove always melts itself, as lust A n d g reed end in hatred and wickedness) Im p osed silence on all the holy lights, Q u ietin g the sacred strings which G o d ’s Right hand will sometimes loosen, sometimes tighten. H o w can creatures be d e a f to righteous prayer W hen, in order to lead m e into b eg gin g it O f them, one and all turn suddenly silent? H o w prop er that he should m ourn eternally

10

W h o, fo r desire having a m ortal end, Deprives h im self o f such enduring love! A s sudden fire, from tim e to time, comes shooting Across a cloudless sky, and contemplative A n d peaceful eyes w ill track a brilliant descent, A pparen dy watching a star change its location, Except no star was seen where the fire began, A n d none has been lost, the fire quickly gon e— So too from the right-hand side o f the souls’ form ation O n e light shot out from its brilliant, gleam ing station A n d darted directly down to the fo o t o f their Cross, Sparkling quickly along the marked-out base, G lidin g straight across the radial line Like fire coursing in back o f alabaster.



419



20

PARADISO

T h e shade o f Anchises, Aeneas’ father, m ight so Have been reaching out ( i f V irg il has told it right) For his son, seeing him there in Elysium: “O b lo od o f my own, O bountiful grace o f G od, T o whom has Heaven’s gate been ever opened Twice, but only you, but only you?”

SO

So the light spoke, and after a m om ent o f silence I turned my eyes to my lady, once again, A n d felt am azem ent everywhere I looked, Seeing her eyes blazing with such a smile Th at it seem ed as i f my sight had reached so far T h at nothing went farther, neither Paradise N o r my pride. A n d then the spirit, a jo y fu l sight A n d sound, added words to those he spoke A t first, but his speech too difficu lt and deep, I understood nothing: he did not intend my confusion,

40

But spoke just as he had to, his ideas and reasons H igh above the level o f m ortal humans. But when the bow o f his burning, G od ly affection Bent a little looser, his speech descended T o a level our human understanding could decipher, A n d the very first thing that I m ade sense o f was: “Blessed Be Thou , O T h re e and O ne, fo r Your graciousness T o this still livin g seed o f m in e!” A n d then H e went on: “My happy but deeply distant hunger— W hich stems from constant reading in that great book O f the future, where neither black nor white, once inscribed, “Can ever be altered— has been satisfied, my son, By you, to whom I speak from inside this light. Convey my thanks to her who gave you wings “A n d flight. N ow you believe that the thoughts in your m ind A re brought to m e by G od, who in everything Is first, as greater numbers are built on smaller,

♦ 420 ♦

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C A N T O FIFTEEN

“A n d believin g as you do, you d o not inquire W h o I may be, and why you see m e m ore joyous T h an others am ong this celebrating crowd.

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“ Y ou believe the truth, fo r both the small and great O f our lives look into that m irror, before T h ey think, and see there what w ill be their thought. “ Y et so that holy love (which I perceive In eternal vision, and because o f which I thirst W ith sweet desire) can be satisfied, “ L e t your positive, bold, delighted voice Be heard, sounding out your willingness, A ffirm in g your desire to hear my answer, “ L o n g since decreed!” I turned toward Beatrice, who heard

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B efore I spoke and sm iled so openly T h at the wings o f my desire spread and I broke In to speech: “Love and intelligence, as soon As you witnessed G o d in all H is power, fell Into perfect balance in each and every one “ O f you, because the sun which showed you G o d ’s light, W ith which you glow, so balances its shining Warmth that no comparisons can be made. “ But desire and capability in livin g M en— fo r reasons you do not need to be told—

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A re expressed by d ifferen t feathers on different wings, “A n d I, a m ere m ortal, am aware o f that im balance In me, and so the only words I can speak A r e my gratitude fo r your paternal welcome. “ But still I b eg you, livin g gem in this So preciously bejeweled Cross, to feed My hunger by telling m e your worldly name.” “ O my livin g le a f and branch, who brought me D elight even as I waited, I Was your root.” T h at was how he began. H e went on:

♦ 421 ♦

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PARADISO

“H e who gave your fam ily its name, fo r a hundred Years o r m ore has been on the mountain's first circle, A stone on his back, unable to give up pride: “H e was my son and your grandfath er’s father. H ow g o o d It would be i f you, still mortal, can send up prayers O n his b eh a lf and shorten his labor there. “Florence was then inside her ancient circle O f walls (and still relies on its old abbey Bells, fo r the tim e o f day), peaceful, sober, “Chaste. People mattered, not their clothing,

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W h eth er bejeweled, o r crowned, or ornam ented— N o t a sash was valued m ore than its wearer. “N o r did the birth o f a daughter panic her father, For m arriage times were not absurdly early, A n d neither side would make a dowry too high. “N o house was built too large fo r peop le to live in, A n d no one, as yet, furnished his hom e like some Assyrian Sardanapalus— high fancy, “H igh waste. Rom e was still a m ore resplendent City, but having now surpassed that ancient

110

Wonder, Florence w ill fall equally fast. “I ’ve seen B ellincione Berti, a first-rate man, W earin g a simple leather belt, clasped In bone; his w ife would leave her m irror, her face “Unpainted. A n d I saw the like o f noble de N erli A n d del Vecchio wearing unlined leather, and their wives H appily hold in g and plying their spindles and staffs. “A h, what happy women! Both o f them knew Exactly where they’d be buried, and neither was forced T o flee her bed because the French were com ing. “O n e sat, at night, on loving watch at the cradle, C om fortin g her child with those baby words A ll parents love to use. T h e other, turning

♦ 422 ♦

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C A N T O FIFTEEN

“ H er staff to draw out threads, would tell her fam ily A n d maids ancient tales o f wondrous Trojans, A n d the fou nding o f Fiesole, and that o f Rome. “A n arrogant, nasty Chiangella was wholly unknown, O r a pow erful work o f corruption like Salterello— A ll marvels, as Cincinnatus or m other C ornelia “A r e now. I was born as my m other cried out to M ary

130

A n d into calm existence in a sweet abode, A n d a city whose citizens were as g o o d as their words, “ B aptized in your ancient Baptistry, I becam e both Christian and man, and there I was named Cacciaguida: fo r my w ife had com e to me “ From the Po valley (where my nam e cam e from ). M oronto Cacciaguida was my noble brother, A s was Eliseo, both Guelphs and m ore than once exiled. “ I follow ed E m peror Conrad, K in g o f Naples; I served him both lon g and well, and he honored m e W ith the g ift o f royal knighthood. H e led the Second “ Crusade, and I fought, as he did, against the unjust Laws enacted by the same usurping People, supported by priests, who have stripped away “Y ou r rights. Th ese foul and shameless people, in the end, Relieved m e o f my m ortal life in that place O f deceit where love is used as excuse fo r debasing Souls; martyred, this was where I ascended.”

♦ 423 ♦

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Canto Sixteen

O our pathetic nobility o f blood! Whip up noise exalting yourself, make others Join you, here on earth where affections droop: Don’t ever expect I’ll be surprised. Up there In Heaven, where the thirst for glory’s not led Astray, I too believed and gloried in you. Yet you’re a pretense o f splendor, fading away, Needing constant additions every day, Or time’s scissors will snip you shorter and shorter. And using that word, “you,” first spoken in Rome, Though those o f that city, today, prefer the word’s Familiar form, I began to speak once more— At which my Beatrice, having stepped aside, Smiled, reminding me o f the lady who coughed, Hearing Guinevere’s beginning stumble. And so I began: “You are truly my father; You give me courage to speak as boldly as I like; You raise me so high that I am far more than I! “So many streams are filling my mind with gladness That in itself it delights at being able To bear the weight o f so much joy and not break “Apart. Please tell me, dear source o f my beginning, Who were those, in turn, from whom you sprung, And how you spent your early, childhood days.



424^

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CANTO SIXTEEN

“T e ll m e about the flock who dwelt in Florence, H ow large it was, and who o f all those men W ere worthy o f high acclaim and seats o f power.” A s a coal w ill com e to life and flare, when wind Is blow ing across it, so I saw that light G low ing from my gentle flattery,

30

A n d as it went on grow in g m ore beautiful T o see, he answered m e with a sweeter, m ilder Voice, but not with the words we speak today: “ Starting that day on which we praise the angel's Annunciation o f Christ’s com ing, to the day I was born from my mother, and she who now is sainted “ In Heaven was free o f her burden, the star we call Mars Has turned its circle five hundred, and fifty, and thirty Years, rekindling itself at the L io n ’s paw. “ M y ancestors were born, as I was, in that ward,

40

T h e city’s outmost, where first a runner arrived In your yearly race fo r blessed Saint John. Enough “A b ou t them, no m ore is needed o f who they happened T o be, and where they were before they cam e here: Silence is worth much m ore than unbecom ing “ Speech. A ll those livin g between the old statue O f Mars and the Baptistry, in those times, and able T o carry arms, were a fifth o f those now alive. “ But its citizenry, now m ixed with m en from little Villages, both here, and there, and there, W ere honest natives all the way down to our workmen. “ O how much better it would be i f the people I speak o f were from some other place nearby, U p the coast to the north, o r to the south, “ Rather than living with us, so we must endure T h e stench o f Baldo Aquilone, and the reek O f B onifazio, forever d ig g in g in trash.



4 25



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PARADISO

“If those the most degenerate had not Had ties to emperors (disloyal there, as well), Like fond mothers-in-law with favors to sell, “How could any among them live in our city— Money-changers, traders in rotten goods, Grandsons o f those who elsewhere begged for their living. “And Montemurlo castle would still belong To the counts of Guidi, and the Cerchi might return To Acone, and maybe the Buondelmonti would go “Away. Mixing one sort o f people with another Is always a mark o f trouble for any city, Like loading too much food on a human body, “For blinded bulls more often fall on their faces Than little blind lambs, and sometimes a single sword Will make more cuts, and better ones, than five. “Look at ancient Luna, and Urbisaglia, Wrecked and ruined, or see how old Sinigaglia Or Chiusi are following after them, “Then hearing that well-established families go down Will seem like nothing difficult or strange, Since cities too are born, and live, and die. “Everything you do begins and ends, As you will, too, though there are things that last Longer and seem eternal; but lives are short. “And just as the moon, revolving high in the heavens, Washes and then uncovers shores, so Florence Is lifted and dropped by Fortune: accordingly “It should not seem extraordinary if I Now speak o f noble Florentines whose fame Was great, yet time has hidden away their names. “I saw the Ughi, I saw the Catellini, The Fillippi, Greci, Alberichi, Ormanni— Shining citizens, already gone,

CANTO SIXTEEN

“A n d I've seen great ones, great as the ancients o f Rome, A m o n g them d e ll’A rca along with della Sannella, A n d Soldanieri and A rd in gh i, and also Bostichi. “ N e w rustics, the Cerchi, live above Saint Peter’s Gate— but treason and treachery already So weigh them down that they’ll be exiled too, “A lo n g with the Ravignani, who gave us Count Guido, W h o decorated h im self with another name, Becom e the proudly noble Bellincione. “ D ella Pressa already knew the pleasures

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O f ruling, and the G alligaio clan had risen Into knighthood, com plete with sword and saddle. “ T h ose born o f Vair had also won their stripes, Like those o f Sacchetti, Giuochi, Fifanti, Barucci, A n d G alli— shamed by the grossest o f civic frauds. “ T h e tree o f Calfucci had already grow n great branches, As had the Sizii and also the Arrigu cci, A ll turned noble, risen to seats o f distinction. “ H ow great I ’ve seen them, famous fam ilies undone By pride! A n d by the golden balls painted

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Across their shining shields, parading the city! “A s were the ancestors o f those who keep N ew bishops away, so they can d ig and grow rich O n moneys pou rin g in fo r H oly Church. “ By then w e’d seen that breed o f underlings Suddenly fierce as dragons, when rulers flee, As others show their teeth— o r purses— and smile, “A ll born o f peasants, which did not please U bertin Donato, w ho’d already m arried high, but scowled W h en his father-in-law opened the d o o r to more. “ T h e Caponsacchi, from Fiesole, were already Down in our marketplace, and our citizenry A lready included Giuda and Infangato.

♦ 427 *

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PARADISO

“And let me mention something incredible, now, But true: the city walls had a gateway named For the della Pera clan— and who knows them, now? “Everyone flying the banner o f Ugo, baron O f Tuscany (whose name and lofty standing Stay fresh, because we celebrate his feast), “Had knighthoods and many special privileges— But one, whose ancestry goes back to the start, Is currently wearing the stripes o f anti-noble “Reform. We had the Gualterotti, and also The Importuni, and the quarter these families lived in Would be much quieter, now, except for new neighbors. “The noble Amfdei— source o f all your tears Because, for honest reasons, they began a great feud, Which now has ended your easy life in Florence— “Were then much honored, along with their followers. O Buondelmonte, you who started it all By leaving your bride at the altar, for which you were murdered! “Many would be delighted, who now are unhappy, If when your family first approached our city God had drowned you all in the waters o f Ema! “But your death was proper, at the base o f the ruined statue O f Mars, close to the end o f the Ponte Vecchio: A sacrifice to that God, in the name o f peace. “I, and these I ’ve named, and others as well, Have witnessed Florence blessed with peace, and with no Excuse for anything to cry about. “Along with these families, I saw her people so famous, So fair to all, that the lily on her flag Was never upside down, as it was later, Turned red when Florence gave up her peaceful advantage.”

Canto Seventeen

As Phaethon still worries fathers, knowing his fate Once he came to his mother, having been teased And needing to ask if the Sun was really his father, Just so was I, as Beatrice could easily see, And so could my great-great-grandfather’s light, Already changing its place to be nearer to me. And so my lady instructed: “Let your desire Break into flame, as it ought to appear, Properly framed by the stamp you bear inside you. “Not that we who dwell here can truly learn From your words, but for you to grow accustomed to stating Desire, so we can better quench your thirst.” “O my dear beginning, who are raised so high That just as human minds can tell no pair O f obtuse angles hiding in a triangle, “So you, who see that Point where everything That's ever been is now, see plainly there Things that have not happened, and may never be. “As I was traveling with Virgil, and going Up the mountain which heals sick souls, and also While descending through the world o f the dead, “I heard heavy, weighted words about My life in the future, although I feel myself Solidly set against the blows o f chance,

PARADISO

“Leaving me well prepared to hear whatever Fortune may be ready to bring me: an arrow Expected does not travel quite so swiftly.” This is what I said to that same light Which, earlier, had spoken to me, and as Beatrice Wished and explained so well, I plainly confessed What I wanted. Paternal love then gave me back None o f the roundabout tales our ancestors Foolishly let themselves be tangled among, Before the Lamb o f God was killed, He Who wiped away sins; I had a clear and precise Reply, both sealed and revealed by a gentle smile: “Chance events, inscrolled only in the book O f your world, are clearly portrayed, of course, in God’s Eternal vision. But none of these accidental “Matters are therefore any more guaranteed Than the fate o f a ship, seen by human eyes As it makes its way to the sea, along a stream. “And so, just as harmonic sweetness reaches The ear, played on the keys of an organ, I see Plainly the future being prepared for you. “Hippolytus was cursed by his father, and forced To flee from Athens because o f a treacherous queen: So you will be obliged to leave Florence. “This has been decreed, and long since plotted, And soon will be brought about by the pope in Rome, Where every day Christ is bought and sold. “As usual, the injured person will leave To angry shouts o f guilt, but truth will bring Revenge, and— too late!— your innocence will be seen. “Everything you love the most will be left Behind you: this is the first o f the arrows shot From exile’s bow. There will be many more.

♦ 430 ♦

SO

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C A N T O SEVENTEEN

“You will experience the bitter taste O f bread from some other hand, and how narrow and hard The stairs become in someone else’s house. “And what will mostly weigh your shoulders down Will be the wicked, stupid people in these towns, Gathering around you, all ungrateful, “Wholly insane and godless, with blasphemous tongues Directed at you, though after not too long They, not you, will all be blushing in shame. “Their words and actions will be sufficient proof O f their brutish behavior, your reputation being Well served by making yourself a party o f one. “Your very first shelter, resting place, and inn, Will come from the courtesy o f that great Lombard, Bartolomeo, o f the Scaliger clan, “Who’ll show you such care and kindness, that as between You two the usual primacy o f asking And giving will be reversed: you’ll never ask “Before he gives. And there you’ll meet Can Grande, Your host’s younger brother, who from his birth Was guided by Mars: his deeds were bound to be famous. “No one yet awards him much attention, Because he’s still so young, the heavenly stars Revolving around him for only nine brief years. “But before the Gascon pope deceives great Henry, Some sparks o f his power are sure to appear, someone Noting his indifference to gold, and how “He works until he drops. His generosity Will become so famous that even his enemies Will unlock their tongues in order to praise him. You “Can look forward to him and all the good things he’ll do. He will transform a multitude of men, Rich will be poor, and poor will be rich, because

♦ 431 ♦

60

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PARADISO

“O f him. A n d you w ill carry off, written In your m ind, but never tell”— and then he told O f events so past b e lie f that reading o f them W ould not b e convincing. “Son,” he added, “these A re com m entaries on what you've heard. Watch out For traps hidden behind a few short years. “A n d yet, d o n ’t envy those who live around you, For you w ill live a great deal longer than it takes For their treacheries and wickedness to be found “A n d punished.” A n d when the holy spirit showed

too

By a sudden silence that he was finished laying Interlaced threads across the web I ’d given H im , I began, like a man in serious doubt, W h o longs to have the advice o f som eone whose eyes A re w ide open, who loves the truth and tries to use it: “I understand, my father, how like a gallopin g Steed tim e dashes at me, delivering A blow much harder to those who don ’t expect it, “So it helps to arm m yself with knowledge o f the future, A n d even i f I lose the city I love

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My poem s w ill keep m e from losing the rest o f the world. “ I have lon g since learned, in the bitter world below, A n d on the m ountain from whose beautiful summit My lady’s eyes carried m e up to the heavens, “A n d then across them, from planet to planet, I have com e T o understand things, which i f I repeat them W ill put a sour taste in many mouths, “A n d i f I tell the truth, but timidly, I dread losing my reputation with those W h o will, in time, look back and call us ancient.” Th at light in whom, from the m om ent I saw it sparkle, I treasured the smile I found, was now flashing As i f it were a golden m irror in the sun,

♦ 432 ♦

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C A N T O SEVENTEEN

A n d then it replied: “A clouded conscience, whether From som eone else’s shame, o r its own, w ill surely Feel your words are far too harsh. But just “T h e same, carefully putting aside all falsehood, Show everything you’ve seen just as you’ve seen it, A n d let them scratch wherever it happens to itch. “A n d i f at the very first taste your words are disturbing,

130

Later they w ill supply much needed food , A fte r they are finally digested. T h e alarm “You sound w ill m ove much like the wind, beating Hardest against the highest peaks it finds, A n d this w ill bring you honor o f no little worth. “A n d accordingly, the souls that you’ve been shown Inside these wheels, and on the m ountain, and in T h e miserable depths, were all people well-known, “ For the minds o f those who hear you w ill not be convinced By stories told without a visible base O f fact, or founded in dark, mysterious tales, N o r absent some p r o o f that m en can see and test.”

♦ 433 ♦

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Canto Eighteen

That blessed mirror of God was already enjoying (And lost) only in its own thoughts, and I Was testing mine, toughening bitter with sweet, When the lady leading me to God declared: “Change your way of thinking, become aware That I am close to Him who eases all wrongs.” The loving sound o f she who was my comfort Led me to turn, and the love I saw in her holy Eyes I cannot even begin to show you, Not simply because I doubt that I have the words, But because my mind cannot go so far back On itself, absent the guidance o f God Himself. All I'm able to tell o f that moment is this: While I was looking at her I found my affection Liberated from every other desire, So long as Eternal grace (shining directly On Beatrice) kept me content with this reflected Glow from that beloved beautiful face. Then conquering me with the light o f her smile, she told me: “Turn back again and listen, for Paradise Is not reflected only in my eyes.” Sometimes, here on this earth, great emotion Shines so brightly through the eyes that the mind Is overwhelmed and fully preoccupied,

♦ 434 ♦

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CANTO EIGHTEEN

A n d after I turned so it was fo r me, For the fiery glow in that light made m e see H ow much he still wished to say to me. H e began: “ H e re on this fifth level o f the heavenly tree— W hose life is always grow in g down from the top, A n d grows forever, never shedding its leaves—

30

“W e have blessed spirits whose reputations were great L o n g b efore they rose to Heaven, and every Poet ought to overflow with their richness. “ So look, now, at the arms o f the sacred Cross: W h oever I name w ill act thereon, at once, Exactly like lightning flashing through a cloud.” A n d even as he uttered Joshua’s name I saw a light dashing along the Cross, But I did not hear the name before the light H a d come. T h e name o f Judas Maccabaeus

40

Was sounded, and yet another flam e went right A rou n d the arms o f the Cross, spun by delight. So too fo r Charlem agne and Roland, as I Paid close attention to both those flashing lights, As the hunter’s eye follows a falcon flying. T h en came W illiam o f O range, and Renoart, A n d great Duke G od frey o f Bouillon, as I watched them Travel the Cross, and R obert Guiscard, the Norm an. A n d then my ancestor’s soul, he who had spoken T o me, m oved about and m ingled with other Lights, proving h im self a master singer. I turned to my right, to see o r hear from Beatrice W hat action or words m ight be my com ing duty— A n d stared, seeing her eyes incredibly clear A n d filled with such great jo y that I thought her beauty H ad never before appeared so wondrous, not even T h at very last tim e when she had dazzled me.

♦ 435 ♦

50

PARADISO

And like a man becoming aware of his virtue Growing from day to day, and the feeling o f delight In doing well increasing in him, too, I understood my steady circling around The heavens surely had swung me to a higher arc, For otherwise I couldn’t have seen that beautiful Sight. And another change, just like what passes Swiftly over a lady’s pale face, ridding Herself from the weight o f a momentary shame, Was suddenly confronting my eyes when I turned Again, and witnessed Jupiter’s pure whiteness, As the sixth o f the stars drew me into itself. And I saw in that planet’sjoyous torch an immense Sparkling o f the love it burned with, framing Right in front o f my eyes the words o f a language. Just as birds, flying up from the shore, As if celebrating together the food they’d come for, Gather themselves in a circle or some other shape, So inside the lights these holy creatures sang As they flew, and in their flying the flock traced Alphabetical forms, now D, now /, Now L. They began by singing tunes o f their own, But then, as each became part o f a letter, They were silent a moment, breaking o ff their music. O Holy Muses— who give good men o f genius Glory, and make their fame extend forever, As also they, through you, make cities and kingdoms Eternal— fill me with yourself so I May reproduce what they drew, as my mind sees it: Let your strength glow in these brief lines o f mine! As flying they portrayed themselves in five Times seven vowels and consonants, I noted Each letter as each was displayed for me to see.

CANTO EIGHTEEN

I saw, were the first nouns and verbs, The first o f the words their bodies drew in the air, And the last were “ y o u w h o d o t h e j u d g i n g o n e a r t h ” And then, portraying the T in the final word They lingered, and to me, against the gold o f that letter, Jupiter appeared to be pure silver. And then I saw more lights come dropping down On top o f the T, and staying there, and singing, I think, o f that Goodness which draws them all to It. And after that, as beating at burning logs Produces showers o f sparks (in which dull men See omens and signs of future things to come), More than a thousand lights ascended, high Or low as the Sun that lends them light decides, And once they’d risen they too came to that T And stayed for an allotted moment, after Which I saw the head o f a Roman Eagle, Gleaming in that glorious flaming design. The artist who works there needs no help or guidance, For He Himself guides all, and we recognize In Him that power which shapes all birds’ nests. The rest o f the holy spirits, apparently Content with forming a lily above the Tt Moved just a little and finished the whole design. O Jupiter, how sweet your many shining Jewels, showing me that earthly justice Comes to us from Heaven, which you embody! And so I pray God’s mind, from which you take Your movement and your power, to turn Its eyes On human avarice, a filth that hides Your rays, complementing the dirty buying And selling conducted in the temple itself, Whose very walls were formed by miracles “lo ve

j u s t ic e

,”

♦ 437 ♦

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PARADISO

And martyrdom. O God’s good soldiers, looking At you I pray for all who’ve gone astray Down there, led by the purest o f false examples. Once upon a time we made war with swords, But now we battle, first here, then there, by taking Away the sacraments never denied By the Lord. A pope who condemns, then frees for money, Forgets both Peter and Paul, for though they died For the vineyard you are ruining, they’re still alive. But you’ll say only: “Saint John’s golden money Is all I desire— that Baptist who lost his head Because o f a harlot’s dance— so fills my mind That neither Paul nor Peter is meant for me.”



438



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Canto Nineteen

The beautiful image those interknitted souls Were making, rejoicing in the sweetness they’d woven, Appeared in front o f me with outstretched wings; Each o f them seemed a tiny ruby on which A single ray o f sunlight was meant to shine, Kindling a glow reflected straight in my eyes. And now what I need to tell you has never been told Or written, nor in any way recorded, Nor has it ever been hinted in fantasy, For I saw and I heard the Eagle open its beak And its voice say “Me” and “Mine,” although the sense O f its words was truly “We” and “Us.” Its speech Began: “I am here exalted in a glory Mere desire can never achieve or surpass, For I have always been both just and godly “And left, down there on earth, so glorious A memory that even the wicked praise me, Though do not even try to do as I’ve done.” The single heat o f these words burned from many Embers, just as from a multitude O f loves only one sound appeared in these words. And then I answered: “O eternal flowers O f delight, who fashion all your fragrances So I can sense them as if they were just one,

♦ 439 ♦

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PARADISO

“Free me, by your speaking, from the pangs o f endless Deprivation, feeding only my hunger; Nothing on earth has ever offered this food. “I keep in mind that when God’sJustice uses Another heavenly realm as its mirror, you Will still be seeing clearly, with nothing veiled. “And you are equally aware how closely I will listen, as you address this question By which I have been starved for many years.” Just as a hunting falcon, unhooded, turns This way and that, flapping his wings, and showing His eagerness, and making himself seem smart And ready, just so, as I watched, did that Eagle emblem, Woven o f praise for God’s great grace, in hymns That all in Heaven love and deeply rejoice in. And then it began: “He who has spun His compass, Circling out the edges and ends o f the world, Marking out whatever He meant to hide “Or reveal, could not have stamped His authority On the universe and not ensured that His word Would stay on, infinitely accessible. “And this is shown by that early proud one, highest O f creatures, but too impatient to wait for light, And so great Lucifer fell to the earth, unripened, “Proving that every lesser creature is a bowl Too small to hold the whole of that infinite Good, Measuring in terms o f Itself, and all “That there is. All human vision must radiate From His mind, and cannot by itself re-create What gave it life, seeing more than it sees; “Human creatures, like every being on earth, Lack sufficient power to reach such depths, Given only glimpses o f God and His mind.

♦ 440 ♦

SO

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CANTO NINETEEN

“Accordingly, what you on earth perceive O f Eternal Justice is like look in g into the sea, T h e depths o f which are closed to the human eye:

60

“ Standing on the shore, you’re able to see Its bottom , but out on the waves it’s all concealed, Still there, but far too d eep a reality. “ N o light exists except what shines, perfectly Clear, from a height where there are no clouds: what we see As light may be darkness, either ou r shadow or evil “ Itself. A n d thus you behold the hid in g place, Closing livin g Justice to your human eyes A n d from all the questions you’ve asked but could not answer. “You ’ve said: ‘A man may be born near the Indus river,

70

W h ere no one can tell him anything o f Christ, N either by speech, or reading or even writing, “ ‘A n d yet whatever he wants and whatever he does Is good , as fa r as human eyes can see, N o t sinning in any way in all his life. “ ‘H e dies, never baptized, never reaching Faith— and how can Eternal Justice condem n him? Is this justice? H e knows no belief: is this sin?’ “ But who are you, sitting a thousand miles Away and passing solem n ju d gm en t with eyes

80

Totally lacking power to see that far? “Y et here you are, posing m e subtle questions! W ithout the Scriptures to guide your every step W hat a marvelous riot o f questions you’d have! “ O earthly creatures! O such coarseness o f m ind! T h e Prim al W ill, which is very Goodness Itself, Has never changed or left Itself behind. “A ll who guide their steps in harmony W ith It are right, but no created g o o d Pulls It this way o r that: It shines; we receive.”

♦ 441 ♦

90

PARADISO

Much as a stork goes flying around her nest, Finished with feed in g her chicks, and like a nestling L o o k in g up at the m other who just now fed it, So I becam e, and raised the lids o f my eyes, As that blessed im age raised and lowered its wings, U rged and im pelled by all the voices inside it. A n d as it circled, it sang: “Just as my song Sounds in your ears, not understanding a thing, So Judgm ent Eternal appears to you m ere mortals.” But after the H oly Spirit’s bu rning flames

100

D ied down, and still rem aining inside the sign W hich helped establish the Romans’ sacred name, T h e Eagle spoke again: “Th is place, this height, Has never been reached without b e lie f in Christ, B efore o r after H e was crucified. “A n d yet there are many crying out His name W h o at the Day o f Judgm ent w ill be farther away From H im than he who has never heard o f Christ. “A n d the heathen w ill dam n such em pty breeds o f Christian, O n the Day when the two assemblies are separated,

lio

O n e in eternal riches, the other with nothing. “W h at w ill the Persians say to your sorry kings, Seeing that final open book whose w riting Records every single one o f their crimes? “Austria’s A lb e rt w ill also have set that pen In m otion, having invaded Bohemia, planning A kingdom , producing instead a desert. In France, “Meanwhile, Philip the Fair, n eedin g gold T o keep up his army, counterfeited coins. It did him no good: his horse reared at a boar “A n d killed its rider. G o d ’s book w ill show you pride So ram pant that neither Scots nor Englishmen Can keep themselves from invading the oth er side.

♦ 442 ♦

120

CANTO NINETEEN

“You ’ll see the lewd and feeble lives o f the kings O f Spain and Bohemia, neither o f whom could strive For much o f anything, knowing nothing “O f courage. T h e Jerusalem Cripple, K in g o f Naples, W ill be recorded at level ‘on e’ fo r goodness, Level ‘one thousand’ fo r all the evil he’s done. “Y ou ’ll read o f the greed, and also the cowardice

ISO

O f Frederick, K in g o f volcanic Sicily, Th at island where Anchises ended a lon g life— “ Frederick’s lam e existence recorded in lines O nly able to list his endless evils, His greed, his foulness, in tightly com pacted style; “A n d the dirty deeds his uncle and brother were proud of, W ill not be difficu lt to understand— C orru pting noble names and a pair o f crowns. “P ortu gal’s king w on’t be hard to find, o r N orw ay’s Either, and Urosh o f feeble Serbia, W h o m inted Venetian gold with baser stuff. “H ow happy H ungary would be, i f she gave up Falling down! A n d blessed Navarre, i f only She could build walls stretching over mountains! “ L e t it be believed that the Greeks o f Cyprus M ourn and grieve fo r their lands, ruled by beasts W h o are poisoners, and quick to kill with knives, Busily w recking all their p eop le’s lives.”

♦443 ♦

140

Canto Twenty

W hen he who lights the entire world goes down A n d out o f our hemisphere, and day is gone O n every side, our sky, which he alone H ad lit, suddenly reappears with the brightness O f a thousand stars, but all o f them still lit W ith reflected rays from that star we no lon ger see. A n d I was rem inded o f this changing sky W h en that best symbol o f the world, and the best o f its leaders, Closed its blessed beak, done with speaking. Im m ediately the whole o f those livin g lights

10

Shone m ore brightly, and then began to sing Songs that have d rop p ed from my feeble memory. O sweet love o f G od, which hides itself In a smile, how warm ly you shone in that fluting music, Blown from nothing m ore than the breath o f sacred Thought! W hen the glittering, precious gems em bedded In Jupiter im posed a silence upon Th is chorus o f angelic chimes, I seem ed to hear T h e rustling sounds o f a river fallin g straight From one rock to another, dem onstrating T h e overflow ing source from which it fell. A n d as the sound o f a lute w ill take its shape From the instrument’s neck, or a p u ff o f air from the tip O f the tube it fills, so the Eagle, not m aking

♦444 *

20

CANTO TW ENTY

M e wait, m urm ured up through its throat— the sound Starting as i f from hollow depths, then turning Into a voice, which spoke these words my waiting H ea rt was so eager to hear I w rote them in T h at beating flesh, and there I store them away U ntil that heart stops beating. A n d this is how

30

H e began: “T h e part o f m e that in m ortal eagles Sees and suffers the sun— this is what You now must see in me, and exclusively, “For am ong the fires I use to form my shape Th ose that sparkle in the single visible Eye in this head are by far the most im portant. “A n d the fire that glows in the m iddle o f my eye, T h e op en in g in the iris, is David, once cantor T o the H oly Ghost, bearing the ark from town “ T o town. A n d now he understands that his song

40

Is great because o f the wisdom with which it was done, Given him by G od, as a prop er reward. “ O f the five fires arching above my eye, T h e nearest to my beak is Trsyan, em peror A n d consoler to the widow who lost her son: “ H e too is now aware, from both his life ’s Sweetness and the dimness o f his years in Lim bo, H ow much a soul can lose, not follow in g “Christ. N ext highest on this arc is old K in g H ezikiah, to whom Isaiah told His death would be soon, and who prayed and prayed fo r m ore— “A n d won it. N ow he understands that eternal Judgm ent never changes, but penitence Can turn today to tomorrow, and thus postpone it. “T h en there’s Em peror Constantine, who meant well By givin g Rom e to the popes, and m aking him self A Grecian ruler; his favor has turned into evil.

♦ 445 ♦

50

PARADISO

“Yet he has learned that g o o d intention lifts A soul to Heaven, and would so even should His g ift result in destruction o f all the world.

60

“ See, on the downward arc, W illiam the G o o d O f Naples, whose p eople m ourn his death, fo r Charles A n d Frederick, o f Sicily and Naples, are alive. “ N ow he has seen how passionately kings O f righteous ways are loved by Heaven, his fiery Glow forever showing he knows what that means, “Down in a world that has gon e astray, which Pays no attention to Ripheus, a holy Trojan W h o shines as the fifth fire in this sacred circle. “N ow he sees much m ore o f Heaven’s grace

70

T h an those on earth can ever know, although His eyes cannot pierce to the very bottom .” Like a lark sweeping up in the air, A t first singing, and then suddenly quiet, Satisfied by the sweetness o f its song, It seem ed to m e that printed im age was made By Eternal D elight (which shapes, at its own decision, A ll things bound to be what they’re m eant to becom e). A n d yet, although my doubts and m isgivings still seem ed T o m e like color in tinted glass, silence

80

W ould have been too hard, and so I blurted: “H ow can such things happen?” T h e words spurted O u t o f my mouth, forced by im m ense pressure. A n d at once I saw a burst o f dazzling lights. A n d then the blessed symbol, its eye blazing O nce again, gave m e an answer designed T o pull m e away from suspense and blunt amazement: “I see that you believe my words because You hear me saying them, but can’t understand: B elief is not enough, when you know no cause.

♦ 446 ♦

90

CANTO TW ENTY

“You seem like som eone well acquainted with names W h o cannot see the inner essences U ntil som ebody carefully explains them. “ T h e kingdom o f Heaven is vanquished, and in pain From violent, passionate love and bu rning hope, W hich overcom e the living w ill o f G od — “ N o t in the way that one man wins from another, But overcom e because it wishes to be, Thus vanquished by its own enduring kindness. “T h e first light in my eyebrow, as well as the fifth,

100

Astonish you, seeing the realm o f angels Decorated with souls who lived in filth. “ But they did not leave their bodies, as you believe, As nonbelievers, but as Christians strong In their faith, one believing before, one after “ T h e C rucifixion. H e cam e right out o f Lim bo, W h ere vapid g o o d intentions won't save a soul: But this was his reward fo r livin g hope. “ In prayers he’d asked that G o d raise him to Heaven; His prayers drew on the power o f that livin g hope,

lio

So m aking his elevation truly effective. “Th is glorious spirit, returned to flesh and bones, Th ou gh not fo r long, believed in H im and believed His b e lie f would continue to help him, creating a fire “O f glow in g heat and faith in which, when he died A second time, he fu lly deserved to rejoice In Heaven, and up to Heaven he came. T h e other “ H ad lived his entire life, through a grace too deep For anyone to know its source, in loving Righteousness, his every deed and thought “Filled to the brim. Proceed in g from that grace, By the Grace o f G od, Dam ian saw a vision O f m an’s final redem ption, and fully believed,

♦447 ♦

120

PARADISO

“N ever thereafter suffering from ancient heathen Stench, reprim anding all his fellows W h o still believed in pagan perversity. “T h e three virtues you saw, beside the third C hariot wheel, represented— a thousand Years b efore its invention— baptism’s worth. “O predestination, how distant and dark are your roots

130

T o the vision o f those who cannot see, in its Entirety, the Prim al Cause o f us all. “You, you mortals, stop indulging yourselves In ju d g in g what you’ve never understood, For we see G od and cannot nam e the chosen. “A n d to us our ignorance is truly delightful, For goodness, to us, is now goodness refined A n d sharpened, until G o d ’s w ill is ou r only guide.” T o clear away my human short-sightedness, So I was adm inistered, by the holy image, T h e sweetest m edicine a soul can receive. A n d just as a g o o d accompanist eases His lute behind a singer’s music, m aking T h e song m ore pleasing to the ear, I still Rem em ber how, as the Eagle went on speaking, I saw the blessed pair o f lights o f whom H e spoke (much like two eyes w inking in tune) Sparkle and quiver in the wake o f that holy teaching.



448



140

Canto Twenty-one

O n c e again I turned my eyes to my lady’s Face, and fixed my m ind as I did my sight, D rawing away from whatever else m ight H ave caught me. She did not smile. “But i f I had smiled,” She said, “you would have been like Semele, Burned to ashes by the power o f what she loved, “ Because my beauty, accentuated at every Step along the ways to the highest Heaven, Keeps growing, as you’ve seen, the higher we go, “A n d were it unleashed would be intensely resplendent,

10

A n d as it flared, all your human senses W ould be like boughs shattered by lightning bolts. “ N ow w e’ve com e to Saturn, the seventh splendor, Lying under L e o ’s burning breast, T h e rays from which intensify its powers. “ L e t your m ind follow the path o f your eyes, So they can serve as m irrors to the glow ing signs A n d images you’ll see in that same glass.” Th ose who truly know how I fed on the sight O f her blessed face, swinging back to her A fte r other leading and instructive guides, W ould recogn ize how gratefully I gave M yself to whatever actions she advised, Balancing one pleasure with what satisfied

♦ 449 ♦

20

PARADISO

My guide. Saturn, who ruled the earth in its age O f gold, bu rning wickedness o f all kinds, C ircled around our world as a shining crystal W ith in which I saw, gleam ing as i f bright sunlight Shone upon it, a ladder rising so high T h a t with only my sight I could not follow behind it.

30

A n d I saw, as well, such a splendor o f lights Descending its steps that every light in Heaven, I thought, seem ed to be pou rin g down along it. Just as jackdaw-crows, in the chill o f dawn, W arm their feathers by clustering together (A habit form ed by natural custom), some T h en flying off, never returning, others Spinning around, back to where they’d started, Still others lazily circling, high in the air— This was how it seem ed those radiant lights

40

W ere moving, almost a straggling throng, sparkling Every time they cam e to an orderly stop. A n d the one who halted nearest to us becam e So exceedingly bright that I said to myself: “Your love Sparkles clearly, O adm iring light. But she “W hose face signals the how and when o f my speech O r silence has not spoken, and I, against My w illin g desire, d o better not to speak.” T h en she, seeing what was in my silence By means o f the sight o f H e who sees all things, Instructed me: “Free your warm desire.” A n d then I spoke: “I am not worthy o f your answer, In and o f myself, but she who asks me T o ask has given m e permission, and so, “O blessed life, hidden in the glow O f your delight, please me by saying why You’ve stationed yourself so close to me, and why

♦ 450 ♦

50

CANTO TWENTY-ONE

“ In Saturn’s great wheel the music o f Paradise, Devoutly sweet in all the circles o f Heaven, Has suddenly gon e silent in my ears.”

60

“Y ou r hearing, like your sight, is that o f mortals,” It answered. “This explains what you think is silence, As it explains why Beatrice no longer smiles. “A n d I came down the steps o f the sacred ladder, As far as I ’ve come, only to welcom e you W ith speech and with the light in which I ’m wrapped. “ N o r was it warm er love which hurried m e down, But simply that love must burn m ore quickly up there, Exactly as the flames help make it clear “ T o you— but the love, the caritas, we swift

70

Attendants o f the W isdom that rules the world A re given, is a fact that you can easily see.” “A n d I see clearly,” I said, “O holy light, H ow flourishing and free the love in this place Obeys the laws o f eternal Providence. “ But still I find it hard to understand W hy you, and not some other am ong your fellows— Just you alone!— were chosen fo r this office.” I hadn’t spoken the last o f these words when the light Spun itself in a circle and then went swinging

80

A rou n d itself with the speed o f a spinning millstone. A n d then the love inside it em erged once more: “A light o f G od is pointed right at me, Piercing what I ’ve w rapped around myself, “A n d this power, jo in e d to the vision which I possess, Raises m e so high above m yself T h at I see the H oly Essence from which it comes. “T h is is the source o f delight with which I burn, For the clarity o f my vision has now been turned As high as that o f the flames with which I burn.

♦ 451 ♦

90

PARADISO

“But even the most enlightened o f all the angels, H e who watches G od with exquisite patience, Could not give your question a proper answer, “For what you ask is buried so deep in the bottomless G u lf o f all the decrees that G od has made Th at any other vision than His would be blind. “A n d when you return to your m ortal world, bring This answer with you, fixed in your human mind, So men no longer presume to question such things. “M inds are clear, where we are now, but blinded

100

By the smoke below. Heaven has been made to shine As earth can never do, so how can you find “T h at which is darkness to us?” These scolding words Drove me to back away, so all I asked, Most humbly, was who this light had been, in my world. “N o t very far from your native land, between Italy’s two shores, tower such crags Th at thunder can only be heard far beneath them. “Th is hump o f land bears the name o f Catria; A holy monastery lies below it,

110

O nce dedicated solely to sacred worship.” So this light began the third o f its speeches, A n d then went on: “W h ile I was serving G od In those walls, my worship becam e so deep and strong “T h at I ate, all year, nothing but Lenten food, W hich carried me through heat and winter frosts, Happily steeped in nothing but contemplation. “T h at cloister yielded these heavens abundant harvests, But now has turned so barren that its many failures W ill soon require the knowledge o f all the world. “A n d in that place I was called Peter Damiano, A n d in O u r Lady’s house on the Adriatic Shore I was differently known as Peter the Sinner.

♦ 452 ♦

120

CANTO TWENTY-ONE

“ I hadn’t much m ortal life rem aining when they hunted M e down and clapped upon m e that sacred cap W hich travels along from bad to very much worse. “O n ce, Saint Peter and that great vessel o f the H oly Spirit, Saint Paul, barefoot souls, and lean, A te whatever was found, when fo o d was needed. “T h e so-called pastors today are so fat and round

130

T h a t one on each side is required to hold them straight, A n d yet another must walk behind with their trains. “ Even ridin g ladies* palfreys, they soften T h e ir saddles with leather cloaks, so two beasts are ridin g O n a single hide. O patience, how do you abide it!** T h ese words seem ed to bring down a virtual shower O f glow ing lights, descending from step to step A n d whirling, m ore beautiful at every turn. Surrounding the light I was with, they stopped, then uttered A cry so incredibly loud that nothing in our w orld Is like it, nor did I know what m eaning was meant, For the thunder struck m e so hard I fell to the ground.

♦ 453 ♦

140

Canto Twenty-two

Stupefied, amazed, I turned to my guide, Like a little child who always comes running back T o the person in whom it regularly confides, A n d Beatrice, like a m other who swiftly assists H er pale and gasping son by the sound o f her voice, W hich tends to restore a sense o f order in the child, Told me: “D on ’t you know that you’re in Heaven? D on’t you know that Heaven is sanctified A n d everything that happens here is right? “N ow you can see m ore clearly how my smile,

10

Precedin g the song, would surely have swept you away, Seeing how the song alone has m oved you. “A n d had you com prehended their prayers’ m eaning, You would have learned the vengeance you’re goin g to see Before you com e to the day you die. T h e sword “O f G od, swung from on high, slices neither T o o soon o r too late, except in the m ind o f one Awaiting death either in fear o r desire. “But now look back at the other lights, am ong whom I know you w ill find many illustrious souls: Turn your attention to them, as I have advised.” D oin g as she pleased, I turned my eyes A n d saw a hundred delightful spheres bustling Togeth er to make themselves lovely, by means o f their lights.

♦ 454 ♦

20

CANTO TWENTY-TWO

I stood like som eone hold in g back his inner Desires and urges, and no one fearin g that much W ill ever dare to fram e a question. A n d then T h e largest, brightest shining o f all those pearls Approached me, knowing I wanted to know its name A n d birth, and wanting to satisfy me. A n d from

SO

Inside that light I heard: “I f you could see, As I can, all the affection burning am ong us, You surely would have been able to tell us your thoughts. “But rather than delay your lofty goal By m aking you wait, T il give you an answer to exactly Ease the w orry pressing on your mind. “T h a t mountainside where the town o f Cassino lies, Years ago was occupied, along Its summit, by people unaware and deceived, “A n d I was the first to carry up those slopes

40

T h e nam e o f H im who brought us, on this earth, Th at truth which so tremendously exalts us. “ I ’m Benedict, and lit by much heavenly grace I drew every surrounding town away From ungodly worship, always foul and seductive. “ T h ese flam ing lights around me were m editative Men, ignited by that warmth which causes T h e growth o f sacred fru it and holy flowers. “ H ere is Macarius, here is Romuald, H oly brothers o f m ine who never left T h e cloisters, keeping firm and steady hearts.” A n d then I said: “T h e fondness you’ve dem onstrated In speaking to me, as well as the fin e appearance I ’ve seen, and considered, in all your flow ing passions, “ Have swollen my trust and confidence, as the sun W ill swell a budding rose when it’s tim e to open Its fullest, ripest bloom . Accordingly,

♦ 455 ♦

50

PARADISO

“I b e g you, Father, to let me know i f I A m worthy enough fo r so great a grace that I May see you in your shape, as it is uncovered.”

60

H e answered: “Brother, this exalted desire W ill only be fu lfilled in the last and highest Sphere, where all desires are satisfied, “Including mine. Th ere, every desire Is ripened, complete, and satisfied. O nly T h ere is every part where it always was, “Because there are no boundaries, it’s not a place, A n d this in fin ite ladder o f ours goes all the way, W hich tells you why you cannot see its whole length. “O u r Patriarch, Jacob, was able to see it stretch

70

T h e entire way from earth to Heaven, when H e saw it carrying angels from top to bottom . “But no one, now, lifts his fo o t and bothers W ith clim bing from earth; I founded a holy Order, But my rules are wholly ignored, and totally worthless. “Walls which used to contain a sacred abbey Have turned into caves and dens, and monks’ cloth hoods A re sacks stuffed with stinking, rotten flour. “But the practice o f heavy usury is nowhere N ear so repugnant to G od as the fruitful stealing

80

O f H oly Church funds, which monks find madly appealing, “N o matter what H oly Church possesses, all O f it is meant fo r the worthy poor, who need it So badly, not fo r oneself, or family, or worse. “Hum an beings are m ade so utterly weak Th at a splendid m ortal start drops to the earth Faster than oak trees sprout an acorn crop. “Peter began his work with no silver, no gold, A n d I began m ine with prayers and fasting, and Francis Gathered in his O rd er with humility;

♦ 456 ♦

90

CANTO T W E N T Y -T W O

“ T h in k how each o f us once m ade a start, T h en look where every O rd er has strayed, and see W hite changing to black. Nevertheless, “G o d ’s intervention, turning the Jordan River Away, and pushing back the wide R ed Sea, W ere truly miracles like nothing we “C ou ld make.” So he spoke, and drew him self back T o the other lights, and then his group closed tight A n d swept straight up, as i f a whirlwind had struck. W ith barely a sign, my sweetest lady urged m e

100

A fte r them, and up the ladder I went, H er powers overcom ing my tim id heart; N o r have we ever seen, on this earth o f ours, M ounting up and clim bing down by the laws O f Nature, a flight as fast as mine. A n d on T h a t flight, reader— a triumph so devout That, wishing my return, I beat my breast A n d weep fo r my many sins— you couldn’t pull out A finger, suddenly burned by fire, as fast As my eyes beheld the sign that follows Taurus,

110

T h e Bull, and just as quickly was drawn into it. O glorious stars, O light in which G od throws His mighty power, and from which I take— For whatever it may be worth— my own m in d ’s glow, W ith you there rose, hiding at your side, Th at light which fathers every human life. It circled with you when I first breathed the air O f Tuscany, and when I was granted the grace O f com in g into that circle whereby you wheel A round, I found myself assigned a place W ith you! A n d now my soul devoutly yearns Toward you, hoping it w ill be granted power Sufficient fo r this arduous labor I make.

♦457 ♦

120

PARADISO

“C om in g so near the highest, most blessed face,” Said Beatrice, “you need to keep your eyes both clear A n d sharp. Accordingly, before you travel “Farther in, look down and see the im m ense Great world I ’ve already placed beneath your feet, In order that your m ortal heart, grateful “T o the greatest extent it can muster, can o ffe r its beating

ISO

Joy to the all-triumphant throngs which gather A n d circle about this round and glorious ether.” I sent my sight back to each o f the seven Spheres, and com paring them to this little globe W e live on, I could not keep from smiling. I give This advice: whoever sees this earth as it is, Insignificant at best, hoping For places better by far, has chosen best. I saw Latona’s daughter, the m oon, lit W ithout those shadowy spots which m ade m e think,

140

Once, that she was dense, and an oddity In the skies. H yperion: your son’s face I m anaged to bear, watching how the mothers O f other planets m oved around him, in phases. I saw great Jove as he intervened with Saturn A n d Mars, his son, and understood at last H ow they changed and interchanged positions. My eyes took in all seven planets, their size, T h e ir speed o f movement, and yet how differently A n d far apart each o f them was located. T h e tiny threshing flo o r o f the earth, which creates O u r fierceness, appeared from hills to river inlets As I circled the sky beside the G em in i twins. A n d then I turned back and saw those beautiful eyes.



458



150

Canto Twenty-three

L ik e a bird hidden in g o o d and cherishing leaves, A fte r a night in her nest with her sweet and new-hatched Young (night conceals these things from us!), W h o waits with great affection fo r the sun to rise So she can see her chicks, then fly to find Food fo r their beaks, anticipating dawn A s she perches on a branch, m ore than pleased W ith all her hard and loving labor, watching T h e sky, awaiting the light— so was my lady Standing, upright and heedful, not look in g at

10

T h e horizon but at the zenith, under which T h e sun (viewed from earth) would not m ove quickly, So I, seeing how she waited and how much She longed for, decided to wish for som ething other Th an what was desired, m ore than content with hope. But I did not have to wait fo r her, or fo r long, As we saw the entire sky turning m ore A n d m ore resplendent. A t which my Beatrice said: “ H ere you can see the armies o f Christ’s great triumph, A n d all the fru it and grain fo r you to rejoice in, Harvested from eternally circling stars!” I thought her face had now becom e a fire, A n d in her eyes I saw such fullness o f jo y T h at this was a sight I cannot hope to describe.

♦ 459 ♦

20

PARADISO

Just as the calmest and clearest o f skies, at fu ll m oon, Shows the triple goddess, Diana, sm iling A m o n g eternal nymphs who make up her train, I saw a hundred thousands o f lights shining A bove a sun which lit them all, as ours O n earth lights everything we see in the sky,

SO

A n d in the livin g light o f this glow ing star T h ere burned the brilliance o f eternal Existence, So bright I had to turn away my eyes. 0 Beatrice, my dearest, sweetest guide, who said T o me: “Th at which totally subdues you Is a power against which nothing and no one can stand. “T h ere is all the wisdom, and all the strength, T h at opened the roads between our earth and Heaven, For which the ancients longed, and waited through time.” As lightning breaks away from a hanging cloud,

40

A cqu irin g substance that clouds can never hold, A n d though it does not wish to, it falls on earth, Just so my mind, constantly dilating, Grew so large with what this display was m aking Th at it left itself behind. I rem em ber nothing. “O pen your eyes and look at what I am: You’ve seen such things that now you have the power T o endure every effect o f my open smile.” 1 felt like a dream er who abruptly wakes, his dream Forgotten, struggling, but totally in vain, T o capture what’s lost forever, gone from his mind, A n d then I heard this offer, deserving such grateful Reward that nothing w ill ever be able to erase it O ut o f that heavenly book where the past is recorded. Th ou gh every p oet’s tongue that Polyhymnia T h e Muse, and her sister Muses, ever enriched W ith their sweetest m ilk m ight com e to my side and assist me,

♦ 460 ♦

50

CANTO TWENTY-THREE

It would not total a thousandth part o f the truth, Singing songs o f that holy smile and how It lit that clear and saintly face— So, now,

60

T h is sacred poem , portraying Paradise, Must leap and cross to another, differen t side, Much like a man whose road, he suddenly finds, H as collapsed. But he who considers the weighty them e A n d the m ortal shoulder struggling underneath it, W on't criticize o r blam e i f this load creates Som e trembling. This is no voyage fo r a little boat, These waters which my courageous prow keeps splitting, N o r any task fo r a pilot easy on himself. “ W h y has my face so fascinated you

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Th at you w ill not turn and see the beautiful garden B loom ing under the shafts o f Christ's great light? “ This, right here, is the Rose o f Mary, where T h e W ord o f G od was incarnated in flesh, A n d here are lilies whose perfu m e showed the right road." So said Beatrice. A n d I, always ready T o take her advice, once m ore surrendered m yself T o a battle in which her eyes were always supreme. A s when the rays o f the sun m ight suddenly pour Th rou gh a broken cloud, and I whose eyes had been covered

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By shade, would see an entire m eadow o f flowers, So I saw great crowds o f splendors, lit by light G low ing from above, flashing warm and bright, But I could not see from where that light was falling. O gracious Power, who fashions such fitting displays, It was You, clim bing high in the sky so my eyes, Useless when You shine, could see by these rays! M a ry’s beautiful flower, to which I pray M orn in g and evening, com pletely clasped my m ind A n d helped me focus exclusively on the highest

♦ 461 ♦

90

PARADISO

Flame; both my eyes were stamped with the substance A n d universal extent o f that livin g star, C on qu erin g high in the heavens as it conquered on earth. A brilliant light came down from the sky, then shaped A circular crown and wrapped it all around her, A fte r which it circled and spun in her name. “W hatever song sounds sweetest, here below, A n d draws to itself all listening souls, would seem Like a broken cloud bellow ing thunder, com pared “To the sound o f that lyre, enthroned with a shining sapphire, W hich pours out everlasting music that coats Th is brightest o f heavens with pure sapphiric delight. “I am angelic love; it is I who circle T h e most supreme o f all joys, constantly blown T o us from that wom b where ou r Desire stayed “Before H e was born, and I w ill trace this path Eternally, O Lady o f Heaven, until You follow your Son, and enter, and consecrate “T h e greatest o f spheres.” A n d then it sealed itself A n d all the other lights sounded out M ary’s name. T h e royal mantle around T h e great revolving spheres, burning brighter A n d faster because o f the breath o f G o d and His works, Was still so high above me, its inner bank So distant, that from the position I held no human Eye could see it. A n d so my feeble vision C ould never hope, at this distance, to follow the leaping, Soaring flames, filled with desire fo r G od A n d forever striving to reach and m erge with H im , O ffsp rin g o f M ary and star o f all the world. As babies, finished nursing at their m other’s breast, Reach up to touch the m other’s face, flo o d ed W ith glow in g love and eternal appreciation,

CANTO TWENTY-THREE

So all the bu rning lights o f surrounding souls Reached up as high as their shining flames could glow, Clearly showing me how they loved and adored Mary. A n d still where I could see them, the lights Sang “Mary, Q u een o f Heaven” so sweetly that my Delight remains forever with me. For O W h a t wealth, in abundant heaps, is stored in the treasure Chests o f the lights, riches beyond b e lief For those who, here below, were perfect tillers A n d sowers o f men! Th is is where they live A n d rejoice in what was harvested by tears In the Babylonian exile, where gold was forsaken. W h o ever holds the keys to such a glory Can triumph, here, along with the Son o f G o d A n d His Mother, Mary, jo in in g the heavenly souls O f both ou r testaments, forever adoring.

Canto Twenty-four

“O brotherh ood o f the elect, chosen fo r the great Banquet with the blessed Lamb, H e W h o feeds you, with all your desires satisfied: “ Since by the grace o f G od this man has tasted T h e kinds o f fo o d that fall from your board, not n eedin g First to be called from below fo r a sentence o f death, “Fix your m inds on this m an’s warm -hearted lon gin g A n d sprinkle drops on him, you who drink Forever from that fountain where what H e thinks “Flows down.” So Beatrice spoke. A n d those jo y fu l souls W ove themselves as circles fixed on poles, Flam ing like comets spinning across the sky. A n d like the pattern o f rollin g wheels and gears In a clock, perceived by a careful, watchful eye, T h e large ones barely move, the small ones fly, So these cheerful carols went, dancing D ifferen t ways, some slow, some faster than I C ould follow, each displaying their rich enjoyment. T h e one who seem ed to m e most w onderful Produced a fire o f such rich pleasure that none O f all those thousands burned with brighter joy; It spun a circle round Beatrice, three times, singing A song so utterly divine that my m ind Cannot sing it back so I can write

CANTO TWENTY-FOUR

T h a t music, my pen leaping so I cannot use it— For human im agination, as well as our words, Cannot deal with the depths that Heaven unfolds. “O holy sister, you who pray to us W ith such devotion, it is your bu rning em otion Th at loosens m e away from my beautiful sp h ere”

SO

O n ce it had broken its dance and singing, the blessed Sphere blew these words direcdy to M y lady, speaking exactly as I have said. She spoke: “O Peter, eternal light o f the greatness W hich led ou r L o rd to leave you the keys o f it all, H e who carried down this w onderful joy, “ Test this man, in matters serious O r light, as you please, about the Faith which let you W alk upon the waters o f the sea. “ W h eth er he loves and hopes and believes in what

40

Is right cannot be dark to you, fo r your vision Sees the records o f everything that is “O r was, since this realm has chosen faith As the path o f true and worthy citizenship. H e needs to speak it, thus to g lorify it.” Even as a student prepares himself, But does not speak until the teacher asks T h e question (only fo r approval, never For decision), even as she was talking I sum m oned A ll my thoughts and reasons, so I could be ready For such an exam iner and such a confession. “ Speak, g o o d Christian, declare what beliefs you profess,” H e began. “W hat is faith?” A t which I faced T h e holy light from which these questions came, T h en turned to Beatrice, who im m ediately Assured me by a look that I should pour From the waters held in my inner fountain. “ May the grace

♦ 465 ♦

50

PARADISO

“A llow in g m e to make my confession to the C hurch’s H igh comm ander,” I began, “give me T h e power to fram e my thoughts as they should be expressed.” A n d then I continued: “As Paul’s truthful pen W rote o f it, Father— he who together with you G uided R om e to a prop er path— faith “Is com posed o f everything you hope for, and proved By what you have not seen. This, I believe W ith him , is fa ith ’s essential nature.” A n d then I heard: “Your sense o f things is right, provided You also understand, in full, why H e term ed it substance, but then labeled it proof.” I answered: “T h e d eep er things that, here, allow m e T o view them as they are, are so com pletely H idd en from those below, that only hope “Can make it possible fo r them to see A t all; hope is the only foundation they know For belief, and so it deserves the nam e o f substance. “A n d starting from this belief, all we can use Is reason, never seeing anything m ore, A n d so w e’re forced to call it evidence.” A n d then I heard: “I f all they learned, below, As doctrine, was perceived as true as you have told it, T h e re ’d be no room fo r sophists’ mental tricks.” These words were spoken by that brightly burning Love, which then continued: “Th is passes the test For prop er metal, the weight is clearly right, “ But tell m e i f you have it in your purse.” I said: “I certainly do, round and bright A n d m inted too true fo r any doubter’s m ind.” That most profound o f lights, eternally shining, T h en spoke again: “A n d how has it com e to you, Th is deeply beloved gem? W h ere is it from ?”

CANTO TWENTY-FOUR

I answered him: “T h e plentiful rain o f the H oly Spirit, which spreads itself across the O ld A s well as the N ew o f our Testaments, has long since “ Seem ed to m e a syllogism so tightly Fram ed that nothing else can ever com pare with Its truth: all the rest are simply ob tu se” A n d then I heard: “These propositions, new A n d old, which you believe are so conclusive, W h at makes you take these words as som ething divine?” I said: “ P r o o f o f the truths I believe in is revealed

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By the works and deeds that follow ed after: Nature N ever needed to beat an anvil or heat “ H o t iron.” H e answered: “But tell me, what guarantees Th ese miracles had happened? T h e thing that needs T o be proved is, stricdy, the thing that makes you believe.” “ I f the world had turned to Christianity,” I said, “without these miracles, that W ou ld be a m iracle a hundred times “As great, fo r you apostles entered the field W ith empty stomachs, sowing a w onderful plant,

lio

A fru itfu l vine gone w ild and becom e a thorn.” T h is said and done, the entire sacred court Rang out, in words and dancing, in our great TeDeum, As those who are high in Heaven always sing it. T h e lofty light, who had led m e from branch to branch, E xam ining each, now turned his hand to the last O f the leaves he wanted to turn and inspect, and went on: “T h e Grace so gallantly lin kin g itself with your m ind Has each tim e opened your lips in response to my questions A n d helped you answer each and all quite right, “So I approve everything I ’ve heard So far. N ow tell me exactly what you believe A n d how the truths you hold becam e your beliefs.”

120

PARADISO

“O holy Father, whose visionary faith L e d you to what you expected to see, you W ere not the oldest, but you were the first to enter “T h e sepulcher o f Christ. You want m e to state My beliefs exactly as they com e to my ready Tongue, and also to explain their origins. “Th is is my answer: I believe in G o d as one

ISO

A n d eternal, who does not need to move in order T o m ove the heavens with love as well as desire, “ Beliefs I base on proofs both physical A n d metaphysical, but also because O f all the truths rained down from Moses on “T o the Prophets, and through to the Psalms, and then on T o the Gospels, and what you w rote yourself when the b u rn in g H oly Spirit sanctified your soul. “A n d I believe in three Eternal Persons, A ll o f one essence, so ‘on e’ and ‘three’ have meanings

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Both singular and plural, ‘ is’ and ‘are’ “A t once. Now, in the deep, divine state T o which I ’ve been brought, my m ind is entirely stamped A n d sealed, many times over, with evangelical “Truth. It all starts here, this is the spark Th at expands and becom es a livin g flame, which then Like a star in the heavens continues to shine in me.” Just as the master listens to words which please him, Th en, hearing it all, throws his arms around T h e servant b rin gin g him such welcome news, Th at apostolic light sang benedictions O n m e— he who had given m e permission T o speak— and I stood silent; he circled three times A rou n d me, happy to hear my truthful speech.

150

Canto Twenty-five

Som e day, perhaps, this sacred poem , involving Heaven and earth (fo r both o f them have kept M e lean fo r many, many years), may end T h e cruel harshness shutting m e away From the lovely sheepfold where, as a lamb, I lay Asleep. T h e wolves who war on that beautiful place K eep m e out as a dangerous man. But I ’ve changed My voice and fleece, so I ’d return as a poet, A ccepting a wreath at the same baptismal font W h ich brought me into the Faith where G od can count us

10

O n e o f His— as, much later, in the name O f that Faith, Peter circled around my brow. A n d then a light came m oving toward us, leaving T h e circle from which Peter had come, first-fruit O f priests and the very first o f the popes Christ left us. A t which my lady, utterly delighted, Told me: “L ook ! Look ! T h ere is James, T h e light that leads pilgrim s, below, to Galicia.” A s when a dove flies down and perches near Its mate, each extending itself fo r the sake O f the other, circling, cooing, lavishing love, Just so I saw how one exceedingly great A n d glorious prince o f our Faith was received by another, Each o f them fed by G od, and praising that food.

♦ 469 ♦

20

PARADISO

But after congratulations were over and done, W ithout a word both o f them swung toward me! T h ey burned so bright that my eyes were overcome. A sm iling Beatrice said to this second light: “Illustrious life, who celebrated the openH anded grace o f our heavenly court, create

30

“Resounding hope across this great, high place, As you know how, you who were one o f the three Jesus kept about H im self, in His grace.” James said these com fortin g words, addressed to me: “L ift your head, and be sure you assure yourself, For whoever comes to us from the m ortal world “Must certainly expect to ripen in our rays.” A t this I raised my eyes as far as the hills— Eyes which the weight o f those mountains had bent, a m om ent Before. “Because our eternal King, o f His grace,

40

Wishes you to face His princes in His Most secret court, and before the tim e o f your death, “You, view in g the truth that surrounds this court, Must strengthen hope in yourself and many others, For hope is what the m ortal soul desires: “Tell them what this truly is, and how U p here your m ind has opened and readily flowered.” This was the second light, speaking again. A n d that compassionate lady, she who guided My feathered wings upon this lofty flight, Anticipated my answer, and spoke like this: “T h ere is no child o f our Church M ilitant W ith better reason fo r hope, and it is written In the Sun, whose rays shine on Christ’s great army. “So you have been perm itted to go from Egypt Down there to Jerusalem on high, to see Before your warfare on earth has been completed.

♦ 470 ♦

50

CANTO TWENTY-FIVE

“Tw o m ore questions— not asked by this prince fo r his own Knowledge, but because you seek to report these truths, O nce you’ve returned to earth— I leave to you,

60

“For they w ill present no problems and w ill not lead T o arrogance: you may make your answers, A n d may G o d ’s grace let James be easy with you.” L ik e a student speaking, after his teacher queries, W ell-prepared and w illing, w onderfully skilled, W ishing to prove how much he really knows: “H op e,” I said, “ is the glorious future your heart Expects is com ing, trust produced by the grace O f God, a m atter o f faith and not o f your worth. “ T h is comes to m e from all the stars in the heavens,

70

But David, supreme singer o f holy psalms, Was the first to feed m e drops o f this sacred essence. “ ‘Th ose who know Your nam e w ill trust in You,’ His psalm sings— but also he who does N o t know You, i f he shares my kind o f faith. “ O James, you too fed m e with your Epistle, A n d drawing on you both I overflow A n d pour out showers o f grace I owe to my fathers.” W h ile I spoke, deep inside that light A flash erupted, sudden and over and over,

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W ith the force and brightness o f lightning in the skies. A n d then these words em erged: “This love, which goes on Burning in me, flames up toward that power W hich follow ed m e to m artyrdom and out “ O f life, and wishes that I speak it to you, So clearly delighted, and I am also delighted, Tellin g you what hope w ill surely brin g you.” I said: “T h e Testaments, both O ld and New, Show us signs o f which souls am ong us G od takes For His friends, and I take this from the prophet Isaiah,

♦ 471 ♦

90

PARADISO

“W h o says that those so chosen w ill be bright o f soul A n d beautiful in body, fo r this eternal Land, in which all life w ill always be sweet. “A n d your com rade, John, telling how the chosen W ill shine, draws this revelation’s picture Even m ore in detail.” A fte r I ended My speech, but not lon g after, we heard, from above us, “W ill Trust in You,” after Isaiah, and all T h e caroling, dancing lights m ade their answer. T h en one am ong them shone so bright that, one

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Such crystal in the constellation o f Cancer, A n d winter would have a m onth o f unbroken daylight. A n d as a happy virgin rises and jo in s in T h e dancing, only to hon or the bride, not Propelled by any vanity, so I C ould see the suddenly brightened, splendid light C om e toward the pair who were singing and dancing a song W on derfully prop er fo r a bu rning love Like theirs, and took part in their singing and circlin g around, A n d my lady, silent as i f she were a bride,

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Slowly turned her face along with them. “H e who came just now was John, well-loved By Jesus, and he is the one chosen, from T h e Cross, to take G o d ’s mother, Mary, to his hom e.” So said Beatrice, and no m ore, but neither B efore nor after did she take her eyes Away from those she’d been watching all along. Like a man struggling to focus his eyes on the sun, O n ly slightly eclipsed, but loses his sight Com pletely because o f what he attempted, so I H ad becom e, staring fixedly at that fire, U ntil it said: “W hy do you dazzle your eyes, T ryin g to see what simply isn’t here?

♦ 472 ♦

120

CANTO TWENTY-FIVE

“ By now my body is earth in the earth, and there It w ill stay with all the others, until our numbers Replace the fallen angels now in H ell. “A ll that rose to Heaven is what you see; T h e rest remains in the cloister where I lie. Take this knowledge back with your m ortal sight.” A n d after these words the flam in g circle was silent, A s was the sweetly blended sound they’d made, C ircling around, three breaths m ixed together— Cut o f f as i f by a whistle calling a stop, Because o f fatigue o r unexpected danger T o oars happily striking placid water. A n d O, what a com m otion occu rred in my m ind W hen I turned to look toward Beatrice once m ore, and my eyes W ere blind, although I stood quite close to where I knew she was, but bliss was everywhere.

♦ 473 ♦

ISO

Canto Twenty-six

A n d as I stood, uncertain, concerned because o f My vanished sight, the brilliantly glow in g light W hich had quenched it breathed another message, and I Listened intently: “U ntil you regain your sense O f sight, burned away by watching me, Make up fo r your loss by rightly reasoned speech. “So: we begin. T ell us where your soul W ould like to g o — and constantly keep in m ind Th at your eyes have been bewildered, but you are not blind: “T h e lady gu id in g you along this divine

10

Journey has in her look that selfsame power a

Possessed by Ananias, who restored the sight “O f Paul.” I answered: “A n d at her pleasure, later O r sooner, let my eyes be cured, fo r it was through Th at d o o r that her fire reached me, and I still burn. “A ll the goodness I speak, to satisfy This court, is nothing but the A , B, C O f the scripture taught m e by Love, out loud or low.” T h e voice that, a m om ent before, had freed m e from fear, A fte r my dazzled eyes gave up their sight, Pushed m e to speak with care and m ore to the point, Saying: “ Surely, you need to em ploy a finer Sieve. Tell us, please, who helped you aim Your arrow toward the target you’ve described.”

♦ 474 ♦

20

CANTO TW E N T Y -S IX

I said: “Philosophic reasoning, A n d authority sent down from here: Love O f that kind has rightly made an impression on me; “G oodness, because it is good, can stimulate T h e fires o f love, i f its goodness is understood A n d i f its quality is sufficiently good.

30

“ So love must be especially stirred in the m ind T o make its m ovem ent toward that highest Essence, G od, so supreme that any g o o d “ O utside H im must have been shone by one o f His rays: Indeed, no one can possibly discover T h e truths on which this p r o o f is based without H im . “ I fin d these truths have opened when my m ind Can clearly understand the prim al love O f the eternal substances o f ou r universe: “ T h e ever-truthful Creator makes this plain,

40

Speaking to Moses about H im self: ‘I W ill give you the power to see the differen ce “ ‘Between what’s g o o d and what’s not.’ A n d you yourself Said this to me, begin n in g your great pronouncement, Better than any statement on this mysterious “ Realm on high.” A n d I heard: “Your human reason, A n d all supporting authorities, have trained you T o o ffe r your highest love to G od, but I need “ T o know i f you are aware o f other ropes Pu llin g you toward H im , so you can declare H ow many sharp teeth you have, grippin g this love.” T h e sacred intention o f this eagle o f Christ Wasn’t much o f a secret; in fact, I could easily Tell in what direction he meant to lead me. A n d so I started over: “A ll o f those bites A ble to turn the heart to G od are com bined In the love I feel in my heart: the very existence

♦ 475 ♦

50

PARADISO

“O f this world, and my own life upon it, together W ith death as H e endured it, in order that I M ight live, and the hope that every believer join s in,

60

“As I do, alon g with the vital knowledge I spoke o f B efore— all these have drawn m e away from the sea O f wrong-headed love and placed me on the shore “O f g o o d love. I love the leaves the Garden o f Eden Grows according to the extent o f the g o o d G od has blown on them, in that sacred w ood.” T h e m om ent I fell silent, the sweetest o f songs Soared and echoed across the heavenly skies, A n d my lady jo in e d in: “Holy, Holy, H oly!” A n d just as piercing light w ill break up sleep,

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T h e visual sense quickly running to m eet T h e dazzling gleam bursting through the eye, A n d the newly conscious sleeper shuns what he sees, So unfam iliar, after a sudden waking, U ntil his m ind is alert enough to save him, Just so all im perfections were blown from my eyes By Beatrice, who chased them away with the pow erful light O f her eyes, which shone fo r m ore than a thousand miles; My sight was better than ever before. A m azed By a fourth light I had not known was with us,

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I asked my lady what it was doin g there. She said: “Inside its rays the very first soul W hich the Prim al Power ever created is peerin g Out, with loving glances, at its G od and M a k er” Like leafy branches high at the top o f a tree, B ending when a wind blows by, then rising W ith their innate power to m eet their desire, So I, h a lf stupefied, listened while she spoke, A n d then was overwhelm ed by my own desire T o speak to this light. Taking confidence



476



90

CANTO TWENTY-SIX

I said: “O fru it never unripe, the only Fruit created mature, O ancient father T o whom all brides are daughters, and daughters-in-law, WI beg, with all the devotion you deserve, T h a t you speak with me; you see what I desire, But I will not tell it, so I can hear you first ” N o w and then an anim al under a blanket W ill fidget, and its em otions are easy to read, For that which is w rapped around it moves with its thoughts; A n d much like that, the first o f those with souls

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Showed me, through his covering, how wholly Joyous he had com e to give m e pleasure. A n d then I heard: “W ithout your words I know Your wish m ore clearly than what you think you hold Most dear and certain, fo r I can now behold it, “ Im aged in that truthful m irror which makes O f itself a clear reflection o f everything else, Though nothing shines back whatever is seen in that place. “You wish to hear how lon g it has been since G od Put m e in that lofty garden where

110

Th is lady schooled you to clim b the highest o f stairs, “A n d how lon g that garden rem ained my eyes’ delight, A n d the truthful cause o f G o d ’s great wrath, and what words I used, what language, and how I ever made it. “Now, my son, it was not tasting fruit From the tree that sent me into so lon g an exile, But simply and solely passing the boundaries. “ Down there in that place from which your lady withdrew V irgil, I spent four thousand three hundred and two O f the sun’s annual circlings, and I longed to be here; “ D u rin g my tim e on earth, I saw the sun Return to all the lights along his path N ineteen hundred and thirty times. T h e tongue

♦ 477 ♦

120

PARADISO

“I spoke in had gone com pletely out o f use B efore the people o f N im ro d tried to build T h e Tower o f Babel— a futile, impossible task, “Since given the changeability o f human Beings, shifting along with the heavens, nothing M en make, based on m ortal reason, can endure “Forever. Nature arranges that men can speak,

130

But in what language, this or that o r the other, Is none o f N ature’s concerns: choose what you like. “B efore I fell into the agony O f H ell, G od — Goodness Supreme, who brings me Joy— was known, on earth, by the name o f Jehovah; “Later they nam ed him E lohim — quite proper, For human proceedings are like leaves on a branch, Each one falls off, soon replaced by another. “ I lived in innocence, on that m ountain near T h e sea, fo r a matter o f hours, and then my pure A n d guiltless existence turned to gu ilt and fear, A n d passing into H ell, I tried to endure.”

♦ 478*

140

Canto Twenty-seven

“ G lory to the Father, the Son, the H oly Ghost!” Paradise sang as one. “G lory!” A n d the sweetness o f their song was intoxicating. I seem ed to be seeing the entire universe As it smiled, and the rapture I felt continued on, Fed in m e by both the sound and sight. O , the jo y ! O, sublime delight! O, a life com posed o f love and peace! O wealth without desire, completely safe! I saw four torches bu rning in front o f me,

10

A n d that which I had seen at first becam e A thing o f far m ore strength and clarity, B ecom ing what Jupiter would be, i f he A n d Mars were birds, and each was w earing feathers By which the other had always been known. A n d after T h e Power which, in that place, assigns duties A n d offices, had im posed silence on all T h e blessed choirs, on every side, I heard Peter once more: “D o not be surprised i f my color Changes, fo r even as I speak these choirs W ill change their colors with me, and also fo r me. “ H e who, on earth, has usurped my place — my place!

My place— my place, which in the view o f G o d ’s O w n son lies vacant— because there is no Pope.

♦ 479 ♦

20

PARADISO

“Th is man has changed my burial ground to a bloody, Stinking sewer, and now the hostile one, H e who fell from here, can live in com fort “A n d be happy th e re ” A n d that reddish hue which paints T h e clouds, evening and m orning, because the sun Is across from them, then washed all over Heaven.

so

A n d as a virtuous woman, knowing herself Sinless, learning o f another wom an’s Fall— only hearing it— turns shy and bashful, So that color flared on Beatrice’s face, As I believe that all o f Heaven suffered W h en Christ, the L o rd o f Heaven, was dying in pain. As Peter continued to speak, his voice becam e So d ifferen t from its proper self that the change I ’d seen in his face was truly not any greater: “Christ’s wife, the Church, was fed on my blood, and that

40

O f Linus, and that o f Cletus, but never was meant T o function for the gathering in o f gold— “But solely to gain this happy life in Heaven. Sixtus, and Pius, Calixtus and Urban, shed T h eir blood, dying in persecution and tears, “A n d never d id any o f us intend that a part O f Christian believers would live in papal favor, W ith another part treated as i f they were pagans, “N o r that the sacred keys given to me W ould becom e a sign waving on m ilitary Banners, war directed at baptized men, “ N o r that I be inscribed on seals, sold For the granting o f lying papal favors! H ow often I blush, and feel m yself discolored with shame. “O u r sight from here shows us rapacious wolves, Dressed in shepherds’ clothing and tending pastures: O G o d ’s defenders, lying in bed, asleep!

♦ 480 ♦

50

CANTO TWENTY-SEVEN

“Usurists from Cahors and Gascony A re ready to drink our blood! O g o o d beginning, W h at a disgusting end you’re fa llin g into! “A n d yet I still believe H igh Providence, Supporter o f Scipio’s defense o f Rome, W ill not delay too long, and com e to our aid. “A n d you, my son, because o f your bodily flesh, W ill return to earth, open your mouth and say These things, which I have not attem pted to hide.” Just as our air, in this world, freezes and flakes In floating, frozen bits, when the astral horn O f Capricorn touches the sun and winter Is born, so I saw the decoration O f Heaven’s ether, flaking up beside Trium phant vapors lin gerin g in that place. M y eyes were watching how they appeared, as they rose, Until the distance between us increased so far Th at human sight could not g o beyond it. A n d then my lady, seeing m e liberated From staring upward, declared: “L e t your eyes L o o k down, so you can see how far you’ve spun “A roun d.” I knew, from what I had seen before, Th at I had traveled a whole astral division, Swung through an arc from its m iddle down to its end, So I could see from there, beyond Cadiz, Ulysses’ w ild frolic, and the other side Showed m e the shore where Europa sweetly m ounted T h e bull, and surely I would have seen still more, Except the sun was swiftly proceedin g beneath My feet, already passing a constellation Away. My lovesick mind, always courting My lady, was pushing hard to bring my eyes Back to her again, and i f either art

PARADISO

O r nature ever shaped a device to trap O u r eyes, with a painter’s brush o r human flesh, A n d thereby take possession o f a brain, W hatever was m ade would seem like nothing, next to T h e sacred light glow in g at me whenever I turned and saw her sm iling face. A n d her look H appily granted m e such power that it pulled m e O u t o f G em ini, L ed a ’s Nest, A n d threw m e into the Prim um M obile, the swift N inth Heaven. Th is was all so u niform ly

100

Lively and sublime I could not tell W hat region Beatrice had chosen for me. But she, Seeing my desire to know, and sm iling W ith such delight that G o d H im se lf seem ed T o rejoice at her face, she explained to me: “T h e nature “O f the universe, which holds together the quiet Center, and rapidly swings the rest around it, Begins right here: this is the starting point, “N o r d o these heavens possess any location Except in the m ind o f G od, who creates the love

110

T h at spins them around and the power they rain down. “Th is Prim um M obile is set in a circle, com posed O f light and love, like all the heavens, and H e A lon e, who set these circles, understands them. “Th is star’s m otion does not depend on the others, W hich all are synchronized with this great center— As in arithm etic, ten has a h a lf “A n d a fifth. A n d now you can see just why the roots O f tim e grow in such a flower-pot, A n d take their leaves from each and all the others. “O greed, you who sink these mortals so deep In your depths that none down there can ever lift His eyes and let them escape your waves! T h e power

♦ 482 ♦

120

C ANTO TW ENTY-SEVEN

“O f w ill blossoms well in human beings, But rain that never ceases turns g o o d plums T o garbage, b efore they ripen into g o o d fruit! “In n ocen ce and faith are inherent only In little children, but then they all g o flying Away before their cheeks are covered with fuzz. “ T h is one, as lon g as he lisps, observes the holy

iso

Fasts, but once his tongue is his own he gobbles W hatever he gets whatever the season; and that one, “ Still lisping, loves and obeys his mother, but once H e speaks like a man, can cheerfully look forw ard T o when she lies, silent, down in the ground. “ So the innocent white skin o f a child Turns black, seeing Circe, daughter o f that star W hich brings us m orning and later leaves us in the dark. “T o you this does not seem remarkable, For earth has no one who can govern it, A n d thus the human fam ily leaves the right path. “But before the snow o f January’s winter Has m elted into spring (using the wretched, U ncorrected human calendar), “ Th ese stars w ill shine so bright that the storm, so lon g Awaited, w ill break, and turn the prows around T o where the sterns now are, and the fleet w ill steer straight, A n d excellent fru it w ill follow after the flower.”

♦ 483 ♦

140

Canto Twenty-eight

O nce we miserable mortals* present life H ad been denounced, and plain truth been declared By she who delights my m ind with Paradise, Like som eone seeing in a m irror a torch L it behind him, before h e’s seen o r thought O f it, who turns to see i f this reflection Is real and the glass is telling the truth, and sees T h at this is truth, like songs keeping their beat— Just so my m em ory retains the p r o o f T h at I indeed had stood and gazed straight

10

Into those beautiful eyes, and im m ediately Love rop ed m e in, and my glance becam e his cord. But when I turned aside, my eyes were struck By identical visions o f this revolving sphere— As anyone meets, staring into its circle. A n d what I saw was a Point that radiated Ligh t so intense that the eye burned by that blaze Is ob liged to close; no eyes can hold that gaze. A n d no m atter how small a star may seem, i f sighted From earth, it would seem no m ore than a m ere com panion M oon, i f set in the sky beside that light. A n d what appears to be a halo seems T o paint itself around that light, where the mist T h at carries its rays is m ore than usually dense,



484



20

CANTO TW ENTY-EIGHT

T h e circle o f fire at that distance from the Point W h irlin g so fast it could not help but be swifter T h a n even the Prim um M obile, swiftest o f stars. A n d around that circle o f fire another whirled, A n d then a third, and after the third a fourth, A n d a fifth after the fourth, and then a sixth, A n d then the seventh, spreading out so wide T h at Iris, the rainbow, Juno's messenger, W ould be too narrow across, stretched to hold it. A n d then cam e the eighth, and then the ninth, each N ow m oving slower, every position taking it Farther and farther from the central Point, A lthough the closest to that center burned W ith the purest spark— apparently, I thought, Because that center was truth, and distance blurred it. M y lady, who saw me absorbed and in high suspense, T old me: “T h e heavens and everything in nature D epend on that single fiery Point. Just see “T h e circle nearest to it, and understand T h at what propels its lightning m otion is the burning Love which comes from that Point and spurs it on." A n d I answered her: “I f indeed the universe W ere arranged in the order visible in those circles, W hat I see b efore m e would be right, and enough. “ But in the sensuous world, nine planets and a sun, T h e constellations circling most divinely A re those the most rem ote, not those near the center. “A n d therefore, i f I ’m to find what I most require, H ere in this angelic, wondrous temple, W hose walls are only love and light, I need “T o hear some better explanation o f why T h e m odel and its copy have different rules, Since puzzling by m yself I find no answer."

PARADISO

“A n d i f your fingers cannot readily U ntie this knot, you should not be surprised— H ow tight it’s grown, never bein g tried !” So said my lady, and then continued: “Take hold O f what I ’m about to tell you, i f you’re truly hungry, A n d use it freely to sharpen an uncertain mind. “T h e physical spheres are either narrow o r wide, A ccord in g to how much power they contain— Som e m ore, some less— spread through all their parts. “Greater goodness produces greater welfare; G reater bodies, therefore, work much greater G ood , provided all their parts are in place. “ So this great Prim um M obile, a strength which pulls T h e entire universe behind it, is shaped By the deepest love and the most extensive wisdom. “Accordingly, i f you measure size by degrees O f power, and not by m ere appearance, tracing A ll the circles you’ve already seen “You’ ll find a wondrous correspondence o f greater T o larger, and also o f small to lesser, properly Measuring each in terms o f its wisdom and power.” Just as all the airy hemispheres Stay calm and brilliant, when Boreas, the wind god, Puffs from only the m iddle o f his cheeks, D riving away and dissolving all obscuring Mists, and m aking the heavens smile on us W ith all the beauties shining from everywhere, So calm and clear was I, after my lady Furnished such a logical reply, A n d truth was as plain as a star bright in the sky. A n d when she stopped speaking, fo r a mom ent, all T h e circles sparkled like molten iron, beaten O n an anvil, each spark staying well within

CANTO TW ENTY-EIGHT

T h e path o f its flam in g ring, but they flew in such flocks Th at there were many, many m ore than even D oubling a chessboard, square after square, w ill brin g you. A n d I heard Hosannah rin gin g from choirs all over, Down the line to the Point which fixes them there, T h e eternal place where they w ill always remain. T h e n she who saw the questioning thoughts in my m ind Declared: “W hat you’ve seen in these first circles A re Seraphim and Cherubim , swiftly “ C irclin g in their fixed, unending order, By which they show themselves to the center as well As they can— and they can, i f they see with exaltation. “ T h e other angels revolving around them are Thrones, So known since lesser angels ride on them (T h e very first triad was closed, when G o d m ade the world). “A n d you should know they all experience Delight, proportional to the depth o f their sight In seeing the Truth where every m ind finds rest. “A n d this w ill show you how it is that blessedness Com es to be based in that act o f vision— not O n loving, fo r that can safely follow after. “W orth, to which G o d ’s grace and their prop er wills Give birth, is the measure o f that vision, and thus T h e steps go flow in g on forever. T h e second “Triad, flow ering out o f this eternal Fountain (which even A ries can’t stop), Every evening sings Hosannah in three “ Distinctive melodies, founded in the three Orders o f bliss contained in each o f the triads. This hierarchy thus holds divinities “As follows: Dom inations, which take com m and; T h en Powers, taking action; the third is Wisdom , Capable o f judgm ent. T h e next to last

PARADISO

“A re Principalities, which govern nations, A n d then Archangels, dancing another circle; A n d finally a circle o f celebrating “Angels. A ll these orders are look in g up; Downward is where they conquer— pu lling toward G od, A n d pu lling upward to G od, but always pulling. “T h e A reopagite, Dionysius o f Athens, Intently contem plated all these orders, Set them apart and nam ed them; I have follow ed him. “But later, G regory im posed a d ifferen t Sequence. Yet after his death, he open ed his eyes In Heaven, and then and there laughed at himself. “But there is no m iracle in an earthly m ortal Seeing such secret truths; don ’t be surprised. Paul, in Heaven, sent him this inform ation, A n d told him even m ore, and op en ed his eyes.”



488



130

Canto Twenty-nine

F or the tim e it takes the sun, in Aries, and the m oon, In Libra, to be at opposite horizons A t just the same mom ent, and from the instant they hang In balance, held in place by the sky above, A n d then start shifting, first one and then the other, Exchanging hemispheres— for exactly that long, Just that, a smile decorating her face, Beatrice said nothing, staring fixedly A t the Point that forced my helpless eyes to close. A n d then she began: “N ow I w ill tell you, without Your asking, what you wish to hear, fo r I Have seen, in the m ind o f G od, all wishes and thoughts. “T h e re was not anything H e wished to gain— Impossible!— but simply to say, fram ed In His own resplendence, ‘N ow exist!' A n d in “ H is Eternity, far beyond all time, Surpassing boundaries o f every kind, His pleasure was to open Eternal Love “ Into loves that were new. N o r was H e lying inert, B efore o r after, fo r this was not the m om ent W hen he was m oving upon the waters. W hat came “Into being was born without defect— form A n d matter, com bined (as in the heavens) so pure, As a three-stringed bow can shoot its trio o f arrows.

PARADISO

“A s rays shine through glass o r am ber or crystal, Passing in and through and out at once, N eith er n eedin g nor using time, so “T h is triple creation came forth as a ray from G od, Simultaneous in all its being, H aving no distinctions and no beginning.

30

“Forms were m ade fo r every substance, and order Was instantly ordained; those o f pure action, Like angels, ranked at the top o f the universe; “ Brute matter, having only potential, ranked lowest; Potential and action were tightly tied together, Im m ovably fixed in the m iddle, where your earth belongs. “Jerom e has written that angels came into being L o n g before the rest o f the universe, Created first and independently, “But the truth I tell was written by those who recorded

40

T h e H oly Testament, as you can see I f you look hard and in the right places; and reason, “Too, helps affirm it, not agreein g Th at movers, specifically created fo r m oving, W ould have been left deficient so long, lacking “Essential perfection. N ow you see where and when A n d how angels were m ade— and once again, T h re e o f your burning questions are thoroughly quenched. “T h en rapidly, before you can count to twenty, Some part o f the angels, probably a tenth, Sinned, and fell, shaking your earth ’s foundations. “T h e others stayed and began their occupations W ith extraordinary delight, as you have seen, A n d they w ill go on circlin g fo r the rest o f time. “T h e first to fall, and origin ator o f this crim e, Fell from pure pride; you have seen him chained By all the weight o f the world. Th ose you see here

♦ 490 ♦

50

CANTO TW ENTY-NINE

“W ere modest enough to see at once that they came From God, because o f His gracious goodness, which made them Ready to w ield an intelligence that great;

60

“T h erefo re their vision was illum inated by grace, A n d they were awarded their worth: G od had created Angels with wills o f their own, com pletely established. “ D o not doubt fo r a m om ent that receiving grace Is in itself high m erit— be assured o f that— T o the same d egree as love is open toward it. “A t this Point, assuming you have garnered and stored My words, you should be able to contemplate them W ell enough by yourself, with no m ore help. “ But because your schools, on earth, have long proclaim ed

70

T h at angels, by nature, have w ill and thus are able T o understand and remember, I ’ll say a bit more, “ So you can see how the purity o f truth Is m uddled and brought to disorder, down there, by dubious Teaching. N ow these angelic creatures, since first “ T h e y knew and rejoiced in the face o f G od, have never Turned their eyes in any other direction, A n d G od sees everything, and never deceives, “ So angelic sight is never disturbed by objects N o t seen before, and no rem em brance is needed

80

W h en all is continuous and interruptions “ N ever occur. Down there, men dream , not sleeping, N either thinking they tell truth or lies (Although the form er is better, the latter worse). “ Men d o not care to follow down a single Philosophical path— transfixed, as you are, By dramatic moments, which quickly throw you o f f “T h e track! Heaven isn’t so angry on this Account as it is when m en ignore the Gospels Or, even worse, turn them on their heads.

♦ 491 ♦

90

PARADISO

“M en never think o f all the b lo od that is shed, Sowing our truth in the world, o r that it is better T o humbly follow Christ, which pleases G od. “Everyone struggles to exceed the rest, inventing Truths fo r himself, and preachers deal with these, Saying nothing about the H oly Gospels. “O n e says that at the C ru cifixion the m oon Turned itself around and blocked the sun A n d light could not be seen in Jerusalem— “A n d he lies, fo r the light needed no help, and hid

100

By itself, and the eclipse was felt in India A n d Spain, and not am ong the Jews alone. “T h ere aren’t as many inhabitants in Florence As the num ber o f these fables shouted, each year, From pulpits here and there and everywhere, “A n d the innocent sheep, know ing nothing at all, C om e hom e from the pasture swollen with w ind and lies, Yet no one can be excused simply because “ H e ’s blind. Christ did n ’t tell his first adherents: ‘Go, and preach your fancy tales to the w orld’;

no

H e told them only truths, and when they were sent “T o preach, truths were all that came from their lips, So they could fight as advocates o f the faith, W ield in g the Gospels as their sword and lance. “But now, men preach with tales and jokes, and play T h e buffoon, and so, after a hearty laugh, T h ey pat themselves on the back and call it a day. “A n d yet the kind o f bird nesting in their thoughts Com es from the Devil, and i f only people could see it T h e y ’d understand the kind o f pardons they’ve bought. “T h e earth has sprouted, out o f all this, so much Folly that people flock to any belief, Asking no proof, but crediting all speakers.



492



120

CANTO T W E N T Y -N IN E

“Egyptian monks, whose business is herding pigs, D o well on this, and so do pigs o f other Fashion, paying their way with coins m inted “ N ow here. But enough o f this digression, spin Your eyes back to the one and only true path A n d shorten the road still left fo r you to travel. “A n d i f you look at the truths Daniel revealed,

130

You’ ll find that, counting angels, he never reaches A n yth in g like a final, precise amount: “ T h e d iffe rin g natures am ong them are hugely, impossibly Greater than any human speech o r m ortal C oncept could ever conceive as a num ber in total. “A n d the Prim al Ligh t shining down on them all Is received in just as many d ifferen t ways As are the infinite splendors that Ligh t displays. “Accordingly, the m ind must lead the way, A n d act, and only then does the sweetness o f love Grow, yet all the different loves are enough “ F or G od. A n d behold! See how the height and breadth O f His Eternal Goodness, which m ade itself So many reflections, seen by so many creatures, Remains the single O ne it has always been.”

♦ 493 ♦

140

Canto Thirty

Perhaps six thousand miles away, the sixth H ou r is glowing, and in this world o f ours T h e shadow’s sloping down to the far horizon, Just as the sky’s m iddle, deep above us, Glows with the m orning, and all the stars are lost T o sight, not bright enough to see at this depth, A n d as the dawn comes on, the heavens shut o f f T h e ir lights, on e at a time, until the best A n d fairest am ong those sights is finally gone. N oth in g seems differen t about the Point, surrounded

10

By its lights, forever playing around it, A lm ost closed in by what it in fact encloses, A n d bit by bit shut away from my sight, So there was nothing to see, and love ob liged me T o turn and see my Beatrice, forever bright. A n d even i f all I ’ve said o f her, before, W ere somehow compressed to a single phrase, how slight A reward it would seem for her eternal glory: T h e beauty I saw not only exceeds the sight I saw but makes me honestly believe T h at only H e who m ade it can truly see A n d enjoy it. H aving com e this far, and reached Th is sudden admission, I feel m yself defeated W orse than any com ic o r tragic poet,

♦ 494 ♦

20

CANTO TH IR TY

For ju st as the sun most strongly affects the eyes W h ich see it, so too my m em ory o f her smile (H o w sweet!) makes m em ory d rop right out o f my mind. In this life, and on the day I saw her Face the very first time, and until today, My songs in her praise have never been cut away,

30

But now my jo u rn ey makes m e desist from tracing, In the words o f this poem , the endless glow o f her beauty: A ll artists reach their limits; I too must face this. A n d even leaving her to a trum pet call Lou der than what I sound, as I decide to end My struggles with these unpleasant facts, all M y words are weaker than hers, her voice and actions Th ose o f a fluent leader: “N ow we have com e Away from that pure light, the greatest star “ In the heavens, a thinking brightness, fu ll o f love—

40

T h e love o f truthful goodness, filled with a jo y Transcending any and every kind o f sweetness. “H ere you’ll see the armies o f Paradise, W h o beat back Satan and temptation, and see O n e soldier as, at the Day o f Judgment, he’ll be.” L ik e a rapid flash o f lightning, disturbing the sense O f sight, taking away from the eyes any Chance o f seeing even the clearest objects, I was suddenly surrounded by a brilliant Light, w rapping m e in the dusky film O f brightness, unable to see a single thing. “T h e love that calms these heavens always welcomes Such moments o f greeting, taking them into themselves In order to better arrange the candle for its flames.” As soon as these few words arrived inside me I understood that I had risen above My ordinary powers, my visual senses

♦ 495 ♦

50

PARADISO

H aving been set to such new brightness that no light, Now, could dazzle my eyes and make me blind, My vision so strong it was able to take any sight

60

It saw. I could see the shape o f a glow in g river, Reddish yellow, flow in g between two banks Painted with the scene o f a marvelous spring. Brilliant sparks were blow ing into the air, D ropping into the flowers, here, and here A n d everywhere, like rubies set in gold. A n d then, as i f the perfum es m ade them drunk, Th ey threw themselves deep in the vortex o f w onderfu l water, A n d as one drop p ed down, another had flown to replace it. “Th is intense desire enflam ing, pushing at you

70

T o learn m ore, and m ore, about the things you’re seeing Pleases m e the stronger it urges you on, “But before a thirst so im m ense can ever be quenched You need to accept a drink o f this water.” Th is said, Th at sun illum inating my eyes went on: “Th is river, and the jew els it receives A n d prom ptly sends back, and the smiles you see in the grass, A re anticipations, still shadowy, o f their truth— “N o t that what you’re seeing is immature, But you are w orking with defective tools,

80

Because your vision has not reached the heights.” N o tiny child, sleeping past its time, wakes A n d suddenly plunges its face at its m other’s Breast, starving fo r milk, moves any faster Th an I, ben din g down to that river, flow ing Th ere so we may be im proved, desperate T o make my eyes a source o f better mirrors. A n d even as my eyebrows tasted the stream It seemed, to my changing sense o f sight, that the river I had seen had now becom e a lake.

90

CANTO TH IR T Y

A n d then, just as people w earing masks Seem to change into som eone else i f they take Away the disguise they’d hidden behind, so I T h e n witnessed flowers and sparks in such a display T h at nothing I had seen in both the courts O f Heaven could possibly match it. O splendor o f G od, A llo w in g m e to have seen the high triumph O f Heaven’s truth, give me, now, the power T o tell exactly how my eyes received this! T h e Ligh t in Heaven can make its beholder share

100

His peace, not d oin g anything m ore than shining A n d perm ittin g souls to see their high Creator. It spreads itself in a circle immensely wide, So broad that even the sun could never make A belt o f it, wound around its waist. Yet this whole display is m ade by a ray, reflected From the Prim um M o b ile’s summit, its potency A n d its m oving existence born com pletely from T h a t place. A n d as a hillside can see itself Reflected in water at its base, as i f

110

A d m irin g how it looks, covered with flowers A n d grass, so I saw, above the Light, A rou n d and around, m ore than a thousand levels O f souls w ho’d won return to their hom e above. A n d i f the lower levels o f this spread-out Rose, which I could not see, hold light so grand, H ow huge the upper levels and leaves must be! M y eyes refused to deal with width and length So vast, m ore than content with quantities O f joy, savoring perfect quality: For there, distance makes no difference, with G od A lon e in total supremacy, no earthly Laws undoing or changing His sacred plans.

♦497 ♦

120

PARADISO

Beatrice drew me into the yellow o f T h a t everlasting place, which slanted upward, Swelling, exh alin g perfu m ed scents o f praise T o the sun, which makes perpetual spring. She burst Into speech: “ Look ! H ere you can see white-mantled Robes fillin g this w onderful place! See “T h e immensity o f this, ou r city, spread So wide! See seats so filled that not much space Is left fo r future souls to occupy! “A n d in that great chair, on which you have fixed your eyes Because o f the crown already set above it, B efore you finally com e to this feast o f love “This chair w ill becom e the seat o f exalted Henry, A n em peror on earth, who w ill give his life T ryin g too soon to put your Italy right. “T h e grasping, sinful g reed in fectin g you Has m ade you like a little child dying O f hunger but pushing away the breast that can feed him. “And he who governs from the papal throne, Pretending help and support fo r blessed Henry, In secret w ill walk a different, hostile road. “ But G o d w ill not endure that p o p e forever, A n d he w ill g o where Simon Magus already Dwells, and that unholy m agician w ill be Forced still farth er down, as he deserves.”

Canto Thirty-one

I had been shown one sacred army, in the form O f a snow-white rose, consecrated to Christ W hen H e had sacrificed His blood, but the other A rm y o f Paradise, the angels who fly, A n d see, and sing the glory o f H im who loves them, A n d the endless goodness m aking that glory great, L ik e a swarm o f bees, who first cover Themselves with flowers, and then return to where T h e ir work w ill give them nectar, which gives them honey, T h e angel host was com ing down inside

10

T h e petals adorning this greatest o f roses, then flying Up to where their love will always reside. A ll their faces glow ed with living flam e; T h eir wings were gold; and every other part Was o f a whiteness snow can never attain. Descending into the rose, rank after rank Th ey o ffere d peace and burning love, the honey Drawn from the flowers by their beating wings. T h e vision o f splendor was not in any way blocked By so vast a multitude, flying between T h e glory above and the gleam ing rose, because T h e Light o f G o d has such authority, Piercing through the universe, that nothing Can ever interfere, or block its rays.

♦ 499 ♦

20

PARADISO

This stable, joyous kingdom, where ancient and modern Souls filled the base o f the rose, aiming Both their eyes and their love in the same direction: 0 threefold light, poured from a single star, Glorious and bright for them to see And be gratified, shine down on all our earthly Catastrophes! Barbarians, coming Out o f the north, where high Callisto appears, Sometimes along with her son, the Little Bear, Were stupefied, seeing mighty Rome And the Lateran papal palace rising above Tall buildings— but I who had risen to the eternal, Completely out o f worldly time, born In stormy Florence, arriving in this place Where everyone was just and all were sane, Think o f what amazement I must have felt! Indeed, this wondering sight, and the joy it gave me, Left me able neither to hear nor speak. And like a pilgrim, restored to his senses, being Inside the temple to which he had sworn he’d come, Looking high and low, already hoping That on his return he can tell it as it was, So I directed my eyes, now high, now low, Then circling, trying to be sure I’d seen them all. The faces I saw were totally given to love, Adorned by God’s light and by their own smiles, Their every movement blessed by dignity. 1 had now seen and more or less understood The overall arrangement of Paradise, My careful examination never pausing, And turned back to my lady with renewed concern, Wanting to ask her questions on matters still Uncertain in my mind. That is, I expected

♦ 500 ♦

SO

40

50

CANTO THIRTY-ONE

To see her but found the situation changed: I saw, instead o f her, an older man Dressed like all the other rejoicing souls, His eyes and cheeks beaming a happiness Wonderfully kind, and his entire being Exactly that o f a gentle, caring father. And I asked, immediately: “Where has she gone?” And he said: “In order to bring you to your final Desire, Beatrice took me from my place. “Look at the circle third from the highest level, And there you’ll see her, seated on the throne Where she belongs, earned by her zealous faith.” Not saying a word, I lifted my eyes and saw her, Wearing the crown that now had formed above her, Basking in the glow o f God’s great Light. Here on earth, the farthest rumbling sky, Thundering above us, is not as distant, Even looking from the depths o f the sea, As Beatrice, there, was far away from me. This did not matter: her image came straight to my eyes, Not blurred by what there might have been between us. I prayed: “O lady, in whom my hope stays strong, You who in the cause of my salvation Left your footprints in Limbo: I here acknowledge “The many things I ’ve seen, manifesting Your grace and virtue, things which show your power As well as your excellence. It is you who’ve been “The cause o f freeing me from bondage, showing Me the paths that lead to liberty; I thank you for everything that you bestowed. “May I remain protected by your grandeur, So that my soul, which you have now restored, Will still please you when it leaves my body.”



501



60

70

80

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And she, however distant she might have seemed, Smiled, looking down at me, and then Turned her attention back to eternity's source. The holy old one spoke: “To be sure your journey Is completed in perfection," he said, “a cause To which I was led by prayer and sacred love, “Let your eyes go flying through this garden, For these are sights to help you ready yourself Before you ascend along God’s love and light. “And the Virgin, Heaven’s Queen, for whom my love Forever burns, will offer certain grace, For I am Bernard, her faithful worshipper." Like some pilgrim coming from as far Away as Croatia, to see the holy image O f our Lord’s sweaty face, but cannot believe it, But says to himself for as long as they let him look: “Jesus Christ, my Lord, and one and only God, could this be truly how You looked?"— Just so was I, seeing that symbol o f love, Who even in this world, in prayer and thought, Could find for himself a taste o f Heaven’s peace. “My God-graced son," he began, “this joyous existence Will never be yours if the only sight your eyes Are allowed is what can be seen, here at the base. “Look up at higher circles, even the farthest Away, until at last you see the Queen, To whom this realm is devoted, and which she rules." I raised my eyes— and as, in the morning, all The horizon’s eastward stretch outshines the west, To which the sun will finally decline, As if, then, I followed my eyes from valley To mountain peak, I saw one region, out At the edge, shining brighter than all the rest

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Together. And as we await that chariot-pole O f the sun, just at the point we know it will glow (Which Phaethon missed), the light we see goes lower, So close and far that bright red fire had grown In the middle, and at the same moment all o f those Bright flames, on either side, were burning lower. And there in the middle, wings outstretched, I saw More than a thousand angels in a joyful feast, Each distinct in its glow and the craft it belonged to. And there I saw, a smiling witness to Their games and songs, beauty the joy o f which Shone in the eyes of every other saint, And if I spoke as well as I can imagine, I would not dare to trace for you the very Smallest part o f her delightfulness. Seeing how my eyes were fixed on that glow Which he completely adored, Bernard turned His eyes to her with such an ardent show O f love that my eyes joined him, both o f us burning.

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His love set on she who pleased him, that famous Voice o f contemplation began to teach, Beginning with these holy words: “Eve, “Who sits so lovely at the Virgin’s feet, Opened the wound o f sin, and pierced it; the Virgin Has shut it again, and then anointed it over. “Arranged in sacred order, three tiers below her, Are Rachel (Benjamin and Joseph’s mother), Who sits alongside Beatrice, as you can see. “Then Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and Moabite Ruth, She the great-grandmother o f David (psalmist Singer who sinned and cried, in sorrow, ‘O God, “ ‘Have mercy on me!’)— and so, you will notice, rank By rank they descend, as I sound each name, going Down the rose, from petal to petal. And from “The seventh rank, as you’ve seen before, are Hebrew women, in proper order, seated Between and among the flower’s branches and leaves, “According to the clarity with which They saw Christ’s coming, a natural divider Along the sacred staircase. On this side, “You see, where all the petals have had time To ripen, are those who truly believed in Christ’s Coming, though none o f them knew when. The side

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“Across from them, where the semicircles have open Spaces, are those who saw Him come, and believed In who He was. All down the entire side “Belonging to Heaven's Queen, with all the seats Beneath her, a glorious partition is framed. Also seated opposite to Mary “Is John the Baptist, a great, forever holy Preacher, who first endured the desert, then suffered Both martyrdom and then two years in Hell. “Below him, all the way down to here, from circle To circle, are seats allotted to Benedict And Francis and Augustine, and many others. “And now reflect on the providential thought Behind this, for these two sacred divisions of faith Will ultimately fill this garden, in equal “Numbers. Mark the presence, down the row Right between the dividing line, o f those Who have no claim o f their own, to be seated here, “But depend on others, under certain conditions, For these are souls absolved o f their sins before They’d reached the age that gives true power o f choice: “You see this in their faces, very clearly, And also by the childish voices you’ll hear, Watching well and taking time to listen. “And now you’re puzzled, and your perplexity Is silent. But I will untie the hardened knot Your subtle thoughts have wound so tightly around you. “Inside this realm there are no accidents, Nor can casual events take place, Banned forever, like sorrow, thirst, and hunger. “Whatever you find in Paradise has been fixed In place by eternal law; everything fits Like rings perfectly matched to fingers. Every

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“Soul comes hurrying up to this place and into True life; it’s new to all, and everything is As it ought to be, for all are free o f sin. “The King who gives this realm eternal peace, Living entirely in love and delight, Has guaranteed that no one here will ever “Want more: He who created the minds of each And every soul, gives them grace as He Alone desires: all is as it must be. “Enough. Holy Scripture provides a stark Example, in that pair o f twins barking In anger at each other, even in the womb. “Just as different men are born with different Colors o f hair, so God sees them as different, And grants them grace exactly as He chooses, “And regardless o f their merit (acquired only After birth), they fit in different heavenly Order, established by God in the souls He creates. “Our childish years depend on our parents’ faith, As well as the innocence with which we’re born, To make us candidates for salvation; later, “In days before the coming o f Christ the Lord, Males required circumcision to lift Their innocent, untried wings as high as this. “But once His grace descended onto earth, Faith and Christian-perfect baptism Replaced the older laws, and innocence “Alone was not enough. Now look at the face That most resembles Christ, for only her luminous Features can ever prepare you to look at Him.” I saw such wondrous happiness come raining Down on her, carried by holy minds Created to fly across that lofty place,

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That everything I’d seen before could neither So exalt and hold me in admiration Nor show me anything so like the Lord Himself. And Gabriel, the angel who brought her God’s news, singing “Hail Mary, blessed with grace,” Came once more and spread his wings before her. The choirs of Heaven, from every side, repeated What he’d sung, and every face I could see Seemed still more luminous in joy than I Had known them. “O holy father,” I asked, “for my sake Standing here below, which is not your place, For you have been allotted a sweeter seat, “Tell me the name o f that angel, peering with Such joy into the eyes o f our Virgin Queen, Expressing such love he appears truly on fire?” Thus I gladly returned to his holy teaching, He who drank the beauty o f Mary exactly As our morning star takes light from the sun. He answered: “Courage and grace, as much o f each As ever can be in either angel or man, Are all in him, and this we wish to be so, “For he is the angel who carried the sacred palm To Mary, when God’s great son wished to announce That He would assume the burden o f our flesh. “As I continue talking, turn to using Your eyes, take note of the noble patricians o f this Most just and pious empire. Those two, sitting “Up there, above, extremely happy to be Next to our Virgin Empress, might almost be Considered roots o f this rose: he who sits “Beside her, on her left, is that father o f all Humanity, he whose bold taste o f forbidden Fruit has left his children with a bitter

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“Taste. To the right, Saint Peter, ancient father O f Holy Church, to whom our Lord commended The keys to this flowering, beautiful rose. Beside him “Sits Saint John, who saw, before his death, The difficult times o f the Church, a beautiful bride Won by a lance and a handful o f nails, and on “His other side sits that leader o f the Jews, Under whose rule that ungrateful, fickle, stubborn People survived by eating manna. Facing “Peter is Anna, Mary’s mother, so pleased With watching her daughter she never moves her eyes, Singing Hosannah all the while. Across from “The greatest father o f any family sits Saint Lucy, she whose words moved your lady To help you, when you were contemplating ruin. “But now, since time is rapidly falling on you, We’ll stop right here, as all good tailors do, Cutting out the cloth they’ll soon be sewing, “And we will turn our eyes to that Highest Love, So that in contemplating Him you may cut As deep as a man may go in the depths o f His brilliance. “But in case you fall back, flapping your wings and thinking You’re really flying forward, remember: grace May only be achieved by prayer— grace “From our mother Mary, she who is able to aid you. Follow me with your affection, in order To keep your heart from wandering from my words.” And then he began to speak this holy prayer:

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“Virgin Mary, true daughter o f your Son, Humbler and higher than any other creature, Immutably chosen by eternal God, “You who so ennobled human beings That even the high Creator did not scorn us, Taking on flesh that He Himself had made. “His love was kindled, once again, inside Your womb, and then the eternal warmth o f that love Unfolded endless peace in this flower. And you “Are our glowing noontime torch o f charity, As down below in the world o f mortals you are The living fountain-spring o f hope. Lady “So great, so open and helpful to human prayer That, in truth, whoever longs for grace and does not Seek you, his hope will fly without any wings. “In loving kindness you not only give to those Who appeal to you, but many times you help Long before the needful seek you out. “In you there is mercy, in you there is pity, in you There is an abundance o f kindness, and all that is good In every human creature can be found in you. “And now this man, who has seen spiritual Existence from the very bottom hole O f the world to here, one life at a time, is begging

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“You, with your splendid, glorious grace, for power Enough to raise his eyes still higher, when he comes, At last, face to face with final salvation. “And I who have never burned this eagerly For things o f my own, offer these prayers direcdy To you, hoping they may be sufficient to move you “To set him free o f every lingering cloud O f his mortality, which you can do, Leaving him open to see the Height o f Joy. “And let me also pray you, my Queen, you Who can do all things that please you, to keep his emotions Whole, after a vision so enormous, “Preserving him from the risks o f human excitement. Now see! Beatrice and countless others among us Clasp their hands to you, joined in my prayer!” The Virgin’s eyes, beloved and honored by God, Showed us how she followed the prayer, and showed How gratified she was by pious devotion. And then her eyes turned straight to the Sacred Light, To which no other creature, we believe, Has access so immediate and clear. And I, who was coming close to the end o f all Desires, felt a final urge to approach That satisfaction, as in God’s name I ought to. Bernard was winking and waving to me, smiling, Wanting me to look up, but all by myself I was already where he wanted to guide me, Because my vision had opened ever wider, And more and more was finding its way through The rays o f that great Light, Itself the truth. But after this my vision surpassed all words, For human speech cannot express what I saw, And here my memory fails me, all overloaded.



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Like someone sleeping, seeing what he dreams, Yet waking has only an imprint o f passionate feeling, Recalling nothing more, his memory blank— And so with me, my vision almost entirely Gone, only the sweetness it distilled In my heart still hovers there, deep inside me. So too the sun opens fallen snow; So too the ancient Sibyl’s prophecies Were carried off by the wind, and forever lost. O Light o f Lights, raised incredibly high, Far beyond our vision, remind my mind At least a little o f how You appeared to me, And give my tongue enough o f the power it needs To leave behind me just a single spark O f Your glory for future generations to see; Giving something back to my memory And thus resounding a little, here in my lines, More o f Your eternal triumph can be seen. The living ray I endured was surpassingly keen, And had I turned my eyes away I believe I would have been completely overpowered. And I remember needing a boldness conceived By God, to hold me steady until my eyes Had met and merged into that Infinite Goodness. O overflowing grace, letting me dare To set my vision straight into that Light Eternal, where I surrendered all my sight! And in those depths I could see, gathered and bound By love in a single volume, all we have found On single pages, scattered through our world— Creatures as well as events unplanned, actions, Results, everything fused so perfectly That what I can tell is no more than a simple fraction.

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I think I must have seen the universal Form o f this great knot, for my joy increases Simply because I hear myself saying this. For me, that moment marks a greater oblivion Than five and twenty centuries have worked On Neptune’s surprise, seeing Argo, the ship First built, casting shadows on the sea. My mind, Suspended, stared at that light, not moving, attentive, As the sight it watched warmed it like a fire, For in that light you become completely unable Even to think o f turning away, much less Agreeing another sight is worth the seeing: Our will seeks goodness, and each and every goodness Has been collected into that light, and is perfect, So goodness outside that light is always defective. And here my words will fail me more seriously, Even in what I recall, than a baby whose tongue Still babbles, drinking milk at his mother’s breast, But not because I was seeing more than one sight, Staring into that living light, which never Changes, is always as it was before, But caused by my sight, becoming stronger as I stared, and as that light shifted inside me So I went on growing stronger. And then In the depths o f that gleaming light I saw three circles, Each the same size but o f very different colors, Each reflected in both the others, just As a single shining rainbow is mirrored in any Other, and the third o f the circles seemed to me A fire blown from the others, equally. O how limited are our words, and how feebly My mind can see! And this description, compared To that sight, would be dignified if I termed it puny.

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O eternal light, alone in Yourself, Only You understand You, and You, with that knowledge And insight, see, and smile at, and love Yourself! And as I stared and stared at these circling circles, All three conceived and appearing in You as light Reflected, after some time it began to seem As if the image o f our race and kind Were visible inside that light, each Assigned its proper color, and on this my eyes Were focused. Like the mathematician trying With all his knowledge to measure the length o f a circle, And not succeeding, unable to find the guiding Principle, just so was I at this sight, Wanting to understand how true our image Might be to the circle, and exactly how it was placed. But my wings were far too weak for that flight, except That when the thought in my mind reached inside The light, searing beams blew at my mind. My reverie began to dissolve, its power Draining, my mind and will whirling around Like a wheel smoothly turning without a sound, Spun by the Love that moves both sun and stars.

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Inferno Canto One 1 Halfway along the road of this our life A reference to the biblical lifespan o f threescore and ten (seventy) years. The poem opens on the Thursday night before Good Friday in 1300 and ends the following Thursday. Since he was born in 1265, Dante was thirty-five years old, his life halfway through that biblical span. Notice that Dante also sets up his experience as the experience of all humanity—“our life”—thus inviting his readers to think of hisjourney as theirjourney as well. 2 wood so dark Dante’s great poem opens with a reference to the typical medieval motif of pilgrimage or journey. In the Commedia, Dante the pilgrim is an Everyman whose own experience is meant to reflect the road we all must travel on our spiritualjourneys. Like any of us, Dante awakes to find that he has veered off the straight road to Love and Grace and is lost in a dark place that the sun does not illuminate. In the Inferno, the shadows of light and darkness symbolize the brightness of Reason and the gloom of Error and Sin. In the darkness of the wood of Error, which represents worldliness, Dante is terrified of the wildness and brutality of the forest (lines 4-6). In spite of his fears, he proceeds on his journey through this wood in order to once again find the light, where the Good, or his salva­ tion from his errors and sins, dwells. 9 So the good I found is weU and truly rehearsed Dante must first tell about the horrifying and terrible scenes he encounters so that the reader can truly grasp the joyousness of the salvation that he achieves in the Paradiso. 1$ thefoot ofa hill The mount of Joy which Dante must ascend. Out of this dark forest rises this mount that offers Dante a way out. The sun illumines this hill (“Rays of light from the star that lights the one / And only road for every man on earth”; lines 17-18), and Dante’s fears subside briefly, for he believes he has found the one true road out of the darkness.

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30 my right foot always lower The literal translation would be: “So that the fixed, or firm, foot was always the lower.” As Dante begins to climb the mount, he must drag his rear foot up to the level of his forward foot. Symbolically, the right foot represents his love for the world. His stronger foot, the one planted firmly in the world, impedes him from climbing quickly and surely to his goal. In Augustine’s terms, the pilgrim’s lust, or concupiscence, for the things of this world keep drawing him back to this world (the dark wood). Thus, he must drag this foot upward if he hopes to climb this mount out of this darkness of lust and error and ascend to the salvation and love that await him at the end of his journey. See also the Translator’s Note for a discussion of this passage. 32-56 A light-footed leopard . . . The leopard is the first of three beasts that Dante encounters (lines 45-50), and the poet takes these images from Jeremiah 5:6. These three beasts—the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf—symbolize respectively the specific sins of lust, pride, and greed. Most critics now agree that the beasts refer to the three divisions of Hell: the leopard represents fraud and stands over the eighth and ninth circles of Hell (cantos 28-34), where the sin of fraud is punished. The lion (line 45) represents violence, punished in the seventh circle of Hell (cantos 12-17). The she-wolf stands for incontinence or concupiscence, punished in circles two through five (cantos 5-8) of Hell. 38-41 The sun was climbing. . . by the stirring/ Of heavenly love In medi­ eval tradition, the constellation Aries, which is in conjunction with the sun during the spring equinox, was thought to be in conjunction with the sun when God (“heavenly love”) created the world. Since Dante awakes early on the morning of Good Friday, his new life begins at dawn (rebirth) in the season of Easter (resurrection). 59-60 driving me back/To where the sun grew silent Dante’s encounter with the leopard, lion, and she-wolf causes him to lose ground on his journey, and he retreats to a place comparable to the dark wood of line 2. 66 Only a ghost or, better, one ofmy race Dante is standing in a place where the “sun grew silent” (line 60) and where he has lost the ability to use reason to distinguish reality from illusion. 67-75 No longer a man . . . And powerful T)roy was lost in leaping flames The figure whom Dante has been trying to make out identifies himself as the poet Virgil, who was born during the reign of Julius Caesar and ♦ 516 >

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who, of course, recorded the heroic deeds of Aeneas, son of Anchises, in the Aeneid. Since Dante cannot alone traverse the terrain guarded by the leopard, lion, and she-wolf, he needs a guide who will help lead him as far as the mount of Purgatory. Virgil symbolizes Reason and Wisdom and acts as Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatory in order to help him understand his sins, renounce them, and transcend this world of sin and sinners, reaching the realm of Divine Love in Paradise. Dante the poet’s use of Virgil as Dante the pilgrim’s guide reflects the honor and tradi­ tion in which Virgil was held by Italy in the Middle Ages. As the author of Italy’s founding epic, Virgil was the “honored guiding star of poets” (line 82) and also served as a model for Dante the poet in his own writing and in his understanding of the national epic: “You are my Master, my source and treasure trove” (line 85). Virgil’s Aeneid also contains an account o f Aeneas’s descent into Hell. Moreover, Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue contains a vague prophecy of the coming of Christ. In this way, Virgil becomes something of a mediator between the classical world and the Christian world. Although many have read Dante’s poem as simply a theological epic of sin and redemption, Virgil’s presence—as well as the other classical allusions that Dante weaves into his magnificent poem—makes the poem more complicated than simply a religious one. The Divine Comedy is the greatest example of the intersection of the classical view of humanity and the Christian view of humanity. 91 You’ll have to take another road Virgil tells Dante that the pilgrim must proceed on hisjourney on a path that leads him away from the beasts and “across an eternal land, where crowds / Of desperate souls will constantly shriek and cry,/And you will see the souls of the ancient dead/In pain, wanting another chance to die” (lines 114-17). Dante must understand the nature of sin, repudiate sin, and atone for it. Throughout the Inferno, Dante will see sinners punished in ways that fit their sins, and he will slowly begin to understand sin in Hell. With Virgil still at his side, Dante the pilgrim will move up the mount of Purgatory and witness the penance that sinners do for their sins. 107 the virgin Camilla The courageous daughter of King Metabus; she was killed while fighting the Trojans {Aeneid 11). 108 Tlimus, Eurafyus, and Nisus Turnus was king of the Rutulians, killed by Aeneas in a duel {Aeneid 12). Euralyus and Nisus were young Trojan comrades-in-arms who died in a raid on the Rutulians’ camp.

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122 A soul worthier than me In Dante's theological structure, only a soul who has experienced Christian salvation is worthy to enter Paradise. Virgil, who lived before the time of Christ and has not experienced this Christian salvation, thus cannot accompany Dante to Paradise. Virgil can only guide Dante through Hell and Purgatory, but a new guide, who symbolizes Grace, Love, and Revelation, in the figure of Beatrice, must guide Dante to Paradise. 124 that Emperor, dwelling on high Since Virgil is not a Christian and lives before the advent of Christianity, the only way he can describe the Supreme Authority of the Universe is by likening that figure to the Roman emperor, who in Virgil’s time was the Supreme Authority of the Universe. 135 Saint Petery sgates This does not refer to the gates of Heaven or Para­ dise. In Purgatorio 9, Saint Peter guards the gate of Purgatory, and although the reference here is ambiguous and much debated by critics, it may refer to that gate. The three gates that appear in thisjourney are the gate of Hell (canto 3), the gate of Dis (canto 8), and the gate of Purgatory (mentioned above). Canto Two 5 not only the path but the innerfears Dante the pilgrim prepares for his journey. There is no turning back now for him. The word translated here as “inner fears” is often translated as “pity,” which is a major theme in the Commedia. In the Inferno, Dante must learn to pity ( and then a corded friar . . . Guido joined the Franciscan order in 1296. The pope on whose head Guido calls down evil is Boniface VIII. 80-81 when every man must lower the sails/And coil up aU the ropes Guido uses the image of a voyage to describe his arrival at old age. Compare his voyage with the voyage of Odysseus in canto 26, and Dante’s own voyage in The Divine Comedy. Dante’s pilgrimage is the only one of these three that will succeed through its recognition of wrongdoing by Reason and its redemption through Divine Love. 85-90 The Pope, prince of aU the new Pharisees . . . The long-standing feud between Pope Boniface VIII and the Colonna family erupted into an open conflict in 1297. When the Colonna family walled themselves in their castle in Penestrino (now Palestrina), Guido suggested to Boniface that he offer them amnesty. When the Colonnesi surrendered according to these conditions, the pope, who had no intention of keeping his promise of amnesty, burned down their castle. Thus, rather than his enemies being either “Turks or Jews,” against whom other popes had fought Crusades, Boniface’s “enemies/Were strictly Christian.” These Christians had neither fought against the Saracens when the latter conquered Acre in 1291 nor disobeyed the edict that forbade trading in “Muslim lands.” 94-96 just as Constantine went seeking Sylvester . . . During the persecu­ tion of Christians by Constantine, Pope Sylvester I (314-35) took refuge in the caves of Mount Soracte, near Rome. According to legend, Constantine developed leprosy and sought out Sylvester, who arrived and cured the emperor and converted him to Christianity. In return, the emperor gave Sylvester the the so-called Donation of Constantine. (See also Inf. 19.115-17.) ♦ 573 ♦

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104-5 The prior Pope chose not/ To allow himselfthe use of theseprecious keys Celestine V abandoned the papacy (“these precious keys”) when Boniface deceived him. See cantos 3 and 19. 112-17 Francis came in/To take me> hut one of the blackened tribe of angels ... Since Guido had been a Franciscan friar, Saint Francis comes to take him to Heaven, but one of the black angels snatches Guido from Francis to take him to Hell for the sin of fraudulently counseling (“he gave false advice”) Boniface regarding the Colonnesi. The Cherubim were the eighth order of angels, and some of them were changed into demons as punish­ ment for their rebellion against God. They are punished in the eighth bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell. 118-20 For he who hasn't repented cannot be/Absolved. . . Guido cannot be absolved of his sin since he is not truly contrite about it. 124 Minos See canto 5.

Canto IWenty-eight 7-12 Even bringing together those who cried. . . In order to represent the grand scope of the bloodied and mutilated souls he meets in the ninth bolgia, Dante alludes to all the bloodiest wars in which the Romans have been involved. “The long war” refers to the wars between the Romans and the Samnites (343-290 b.c.e.). The Second Punic War (216 b.c.e.), in which the Romans fought against Hannibal and were defeated at Cannae, resulted in the loss of so many Roman lives that, according to Livy, Hannibal was able to gather three bushels of gold rings from the dead and deliver them to the Senate at Carthage. 15 Robert Guiscard From 1059 until 1080, Guiscard, a noble Norman adventurer, fought against the schismatic Greeks and Saracens for the Church in southern Italy. He also fought for the Church of the East, initi­ ated a military campaign against Pope Gregory VII (1084), and died at seventy while still engaged in fighting. Dante places him with the warriors for God in the Heaven of Mars in Paradiso 18. 16-18 At Ceparano, when all the southern traitors/Ran . . . In 1266, the army of Manfred, king of Sicily, was charged with defending the pass at Ceparano against the armies of Charles of Anjou. The Italians, perhaps

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under pressure from the pope, betrayed Manfred and allowed Charles to pass unharmed. Charles defeated and killed Manfred in the battle at Benevento. At the battle of Tagliacozzo, Charles, using a strategy suggested to him by Alardo (Alard de Valery), outflanked and defeated Manfred’s nephew, Conradin. 31 See a maimed and mangled Maometto! Muhammad (570-632), the founder of Islam. According to a legend popular in Dante’sday, Muhammad was once a Christian cardinal who had his sights on the office of pope. He left the Christian religion and formed his own religion, thus creating the schism between Christianity and Islam. The popular legend accounts for Muhammad’s place in the bolgia of the schismatics. Because he fostered schism in life, Muhammad’s punishment is to be cut from his “chin right down to his ass” (line 24). 32 Another walks in front of me Ali (600-661), the first follower of Muhammad, married the prophet’s daughter, Fatima. He eventually succeeded Muhammad, assuming the caliphate in 656 and ruling until his assassination in 661. 35-39 men who sowed the seeds of scandal and schism . . . This bolgia is reserved for those who in life were responsible for fostering either scandal or schism in religion or politics. They are punished appropriately by a devil who “tailors us as cruelly/As he can” by slicing them from head to toe, much as these sinners have done to others in life. In death, these sinners are torn apart just as in life they tore apart others. 56-60 tell Brother Dolcino the arms he needs. . . In 1300 Brother Dolcino took over a religious sect called the Apostolic Brothers that Pope Clement V banned as heretical in 1305. The Apostolic Brothers preached a return to the practices of the earliest Christian communities, which included the sharing of common property and the sharing of women. When Clement V banned them, the sect retreated to a location in the hills between Novara and Vercelli. After a year, their supplies ran out and they succumbed to starvation. In 1307, Brother Dolcino and his “Sister in Christ,” Margaret Trent, were burned at the stake. 73-74 From Marcabo to Vercelli, remember the name/Of Piero da Medicina Piero da Medicina was a member of the Biancucci family, whose family was driven from Romagna in 1287. He then turned his attention to political intrigue and to turning the houses of Polenta and Malatesta against each ♦ 575 ♦

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other. Marcabo and Vercelli are the easternmost and westernmost towns in old Romagna. 75-90 thetwo bestmenofFano, Master Guido/AndAngioeUo,.. Malatestino of Rimini, in hopes of annexing the city of Fano, invited two of the city’s leaders, Guido del Cassero and Angioello di Carignano, to a conference at La Cattolica, a point on the Adriatic midway between Fano and Rimini. When he met them aboard their ship, Malatestino had the two thrown overboard, “wrapped in a sack with heavy/Stones set at their feet, and left to drown.” The victims need not fear the “wildest winds of Focara,” the dangerous winds that threatened to destroy the boats of approaching sailors and through which mariners prayed for safe passage. 97-102 It was he, when banished, who washed away great Caesar’s/Doubts . . . Banished from Rome and Pompey, Caius Scribonius Curio joined forces with Caesar and advised him to cross the Rubicon, which flows near Rimini. Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, the boundary between Gaul and the Roman Republic, led to the Roman Civil War. 106-8 Remember Mosca, the fierce assassin . . . In canto 6, Dante asked Ciacco about Mosca, referring to Mosca as a man who did good works. Dante now encounters Mosca, whose good deeds have been canceled by his treachery and his murderous ways. When Buondelmonte dei Buondelmonti, who was engaged to the daughter of Lambertuccio degli Amidei, broke off his engagement to the girl in favor of a girl from the Donati family, he insulted the honor of the Amidei family. Mosca counseled that Buondelmonte be killed, and the Amidei acted upon his counsel. This murder started the bloody feud between the Ghibellines and Guelphs. 134-36 Know that I am Bertran de Bom... Bertran de Born (1140-1215), lord of Hautefort, was one of the greatest of the Provencal troubadours whose lyrics dealt chiefly with political topics. He ended his days in a Cistercian monastery near Hautefort. His most famous poem deals with the death of young Prince Henry. Bertran advised Prince Henry—called the “Young King” because he was crowned during his father’s lifetime— to rebel against his father, Henry II. Bertran is punished in Hell by having his head cut off from his body. According to a biographical passage attached to his poetry, King Henry asked Bertran, after having taken the poet pris­ oner, whether he had need of all his wits. Bertran replied by saying that he had lost all his wits when the Young King died. In this canto, Bertran’s wits are separated physically from his body. ♦ 576 ♦

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137-38 Ahitophel did nothing more. . . to David and Absalom In 2 Samuel 15-17, one of David’s trusted counselors turns against him and advises David’s son, Absalom, to rebel against his father. The rebellion ends in tragedy as Absalom, while riding a mule and running away from his father, catches his head in the limbs of an oak tree, accidentally hanging himself. Dante compares the rebellion of son against father in this story with the rebellion of son against father in Bertran’s poem. Canto Twenty-nine 9 this circle lasts for twenty-two miles Another example of the figurative imagery of Dante’s geography. 10 the moon is now beneath ourfeet If the moon is at their feet, then the sun is directly overhead, which means that it is approximately noon on Holy Saturday. 27-36 1heard him called Geri del Bello . . . Geri del Bello was first cousin of Dante’s father. He became entangled in a quarrel with the Sacchetti family of Florence, and he was likely murdered by one of the Sacchettis. Clan law in Dante’s time obliged kinsmen of the slain to seek vengeance, but at the time of Dante’s writing, his father’s cousin’s death had not been avenged. 29 Bertran de Bom See canto 28. 48-49 Valdichiana... Maremma, andSardinia Valdichianaand Maremma are marshy areas in Tuscany famous, along with the swamps of Sardinia, for breeding malaria. Dante mentions Maremma in canto 25 as a swamp infested with serpents. 58-69 I cannot believe sorrow could be greater,/Even seeing Aegina*s people sick . . . Angry that the nymph Aegina had seduced Jupiter, Juno sent a plague upon the island named for Aegina. All the animals and humans died until only one man, Aeacus, Aegina’s son byJupiter, remained alive. He petitioned his father for help, and Jupiter responded by repopulating the island by turning ants into men. The Aeginians have since been called Myrmidons, which comes from the Greek word for “ant.” Dante uses Ovid’s Metamorphoses (7.523-660) as his source. The imagery of the ants

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foreshadows the piling up of body upon body in the next several lines of the canto. 109-20 I am from Arezzo . . . Griffolino da Arezzo convinced a rather gullible Sienese, Albero (Alberto da Siena), that Arezzo could teach him how to fly. Albero paid Arezzo a princely sum, but when he discovered that Arezzo had tricked him, he denounced him to the bishop of Siena as an alchemist and a magician. Griffolino is not punished in the same bolgia with the sorcerers, however; his sin is the falsification of silver and gold through alchemy. 121-22 has there ever been a people/So stupidly proud of themselves as those ofSiena? The rivalry between Florence and Siena resulted in the Sienese becoming the butt of many Florentine jokes. 125-52 Stricca . . . Niccolo . . . Caccia dAscono . .. Abbagliato These four Sienese were members of a club called the Spendthrifts’ Brigade, a group of young Sienese nobles who spent their money recklessly. Stricca is prob­ ably Stricca di Giovanni dei Salimbeni of Siena. Niccolo, who was possibly Stricca’s brother, introduced cloves, an expensive spice during Dante’s time, to the Sienese. Caccia d’Ascono was another member of the Spend­ thrifts, who squandered his inheritance. Abbagliato is Bartolomeo dei Folcacchieri, a political official until 1300, who also belonged to this club. 156-59 Thefadedface ofyourfriend, Capocchio . . . Some early commen­ tators identify Capocchio as a skilled draftsman and impersonator. He was likely a Florentine friend of Dante’s from his student days. In 1293, Capocchio was burned at the stake for alchemy.

Canto Thirty 1-12 WhenJuno was angry at Semele (and with cause) . . . Jupiter had an affair with Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, king of Thebes, and she bore him a son, Bacchus. Incensed at her husband’s behavior, Juno swore to seek revenge against Semele by punishing her and her family. Juno caused lightning to strike Semele, and she caused Semele’s brother-in-law, King Athamas (husband of Semele’s sister, Ino), to go insane. As a result of his insanity, Athamas killed his son, Learchus. Ino drowned herself and her other son, Melicertes. Dante’s source is Ovid’s Metamorphoses (4.512ff.).

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13-21 When Fortune’s wheel had spun the daring Ttojans/Down, and Priam __ After the fall of Troy, the Greeks carried Hecuba, wife of Priam, king o f Troy, back to Greece as their slave. On her trip, however, she witnessed the death of her daughter, Polyxena, and discovered the corpse of her son, Polydorus, lying unburied on the shore of Thrace. These events drove her insane, and according to Dante, she “barked like a dog" in her insanity. Dante takes this story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (13.568ff.), though Ovid does not mention Hecuba turning into a dog. 31 The alchemistfrom Arezzo was left This is Griffolino Arezzo, the alche­ mist in 29.109-20, and companion to Capocchio. 32 Gianni Schicchi, the mimic A member of the Florentine Cavalcanti family, Schicchi was a talented mimic. Lines 40-46 describe Schicchi’s “falsification”: When Buoso di Donati died, his son, Simone, convinced Schicchi to impersonate the elder Donati and dictate a will. Simone kept his father’s death a secret. Schicchi disguised himself, took Buoso’s place on the deathbed, and dictated his will to the notary as if Buoso were still alive. Taking advantage of the situation, Schicchi willed himself a portion of Buoso’s fortune, including a “famous mare.” Buoso di Donati may be the Buoso of canto 25; see the entry for 25.140-41. 37-39 The wicked soul of Myrrha, from ancient Cyprus . . . Overcome with incestuous craving for her father, King Cinryas of Cyprus, Myrrha disguised herself and slipped into his bed. After a night of passionate love, her father discovered her and threatened to kill her. Myrrha escaped and wandered about until in their pity for her the gods turned her into a myrrh tree. Adonis, the son of the union between father and daughter, was born out of the trunk of the tree. Dante takes this story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, book 10. 61-75 The misery of Master Adam . . . Although many commentators do not agree about Adam’s birthplace, others believe that he was not Italian. All agree that Adam was a counterfeiter from Brescia who, with the encouragement of the counts Guidi of Romena, counterfeited gold florins and caused a currency crisis in northern Italy. He was burned at the stake in 1281. 65 OfCasentirw’shiUs Casentino is a mountainous region from which the headwaters of the Arno flow.

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74 The golden coins of Florence, stamped ivith SaintJohn Gold florins were stamped with an image of John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. 77-80 Souls of AUesand.ro or his brother,/Guido, or his other brothers . . . The four Conti Guidi (Guido, Allesandro, Aghinolfo, and Ildebrando), the lords of Romena who induced Adam to commit his crime. Thirsty as he is, Adam would give up “All thought of a burbling fountain” if he could see these men in Hell. The fountain to which Adam refers is a spring that once flowed near Romena. Only one of the Conti “has already come”; Guido (d. 1292) is the only one of the group who died before 1300. 97 One is the lady who lied, and accusedyoungJoseph In the Joseph narra­ tive in Genesis 39, the wife of the pharaoh, Potiphar, tried to seduce the young Israelite servant in her husband’s court. When he refused her seduc­ tions, she accused him falsely of trying to seduce her. 98-99 The other is Sinon, the lying Greek who assured the Trojans/About the wooden horse A Greek prisoner of the Trojans, Sinon persuaded them into taking the Wooden Horse (canto 26) into the walls of the city of Troy (see Aeneid 2). 128 Narcissus* mirror The pool of Narcissus. According to the myth, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He stared at his reflection so constantly that he eventually died; he was changed into a flower that lived by the pool. Canto Thirty-one 4-6 Just as I have heard it said of Achilles9/Spear . . . Dante compares Virgil’s hurtful and angry words at the end of canto 30 with his Master’s more comforting words at the beginning of this canto. He alludes to the spear of Peleus, Achilles’ father, which could wound and then magically heal and cure the wounds. Achilles inherited his father’s magic lance, and Dante uses this lance as an image to describe the way that Virgil’s words first wound and then comfort. The story comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (13.l7lff.). 11-15 And I could not see ahead, so dimmed was my sight. . . Compare the weakness of Dante’s vision here with the dimness of his eyesight at the beginning of canto 20. ♦ 580 ♦

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16-18 After the battle that ended badly... Roland/ Could not have blasted his horn so terribly In the French epic La Chanson de Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew, Roland, protected the rear of his uncle’s army as it marched through the Pyrenees on its return from the war against the Saracens. When the Saracen army attacked Roland’s troops, he was too proud to blow his horn to call for help. Instead, he waited until defeat was at hand and then blew such a ferocious blast that Charlemagne heard it eight miles away. Charlemagne did not respond to the blast, however, because one of his own men, the traitorous Ganelon, advised him against responding. 20-22 In that murky light, a host of towers, extremely/High . . . Compare Dante's request—“Master, please tell me this city’s/Name”—with his questions about Dis in cantos 7 and 9. Here we are entering the ninth circle of Hell, where giants stand at its boundary, and where the sins of complex fraud (heresy, violence, fraud) are punished. As in canto 7, which is guarded by the Fallen Angels, this circle contains those who have rebelled against their gods. Once again Dante sinuously combines pagan and Christian mythology in this circle. The giants, or Titans, except for Antaeus, rebelled against Jupiter, and Nimrod, the famous giant in the Hebrew Bible, helped build the Tower of Babel in a quest to undermine God’s power and authority. The Fallen Angels of canto 7, of course, rebelled against God under Lucifer’s direction. Envy and pride are the base of the sins punished in this ninth circle of Hell. 40-42 like the fort of Montereggione . . . Built in 1213, this enormous castle in Val d’Elsa, situated on hill about eight miles northwest of Siena, was surrounded by fourteen high towers. Dante compares the giants to these towers. 44-45 Threatenedfrom above byJove, with thunderingfrowns... For their rebellion against Heaven, Jove punished the Titans by hurling lightning bolts at them (see also canto 14 and the entry for 14.51-66). Even here in Hell, these giants continue to fear Jove’s punishment. 49-57 Surely Nature, when she abandoned the art/Of making such tremen­ dous creatures, did well. . . Dante congratulates Nature on giving up the creation of the race of giants, for if Mars, the god of war, had access to these “powerful forces,” they would have overcome the human race. Notice here that Nature continues to create gigantic, powerful animals such as elephants and whales. Such creatures, however, lack rational powers. Reason alone does not make the giants a dangerous race, though. It is ♦ 581 ♦

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“when the thinking powers of human brains / Are tools of malicious will and enormous strength” that the giants threaten humanity. Dante here emphasizes the difference between simple and complex fraud. In the former, a malicious will combines with reason, but complex fraud is distin­ guished by the combination of reason, evil will, and violence (enormous strength). 59 As the soaringpine tree ofSaint Peter’s church in Rome The bronze pine tree was originally part of a fountain that stood inside of the Basilica of S l Peter’s during Dante’s time. It stood about thirteen feet high. Measuring the giant’s face according to such dimensions produces some fantastically enormous creatures, and once again Dante uses this device as a poetic rather than literal measurement. 63 three taU Dutchmen stretching high The inhabitants of Friesland in the Netherlands were famous for their tremendous height. 67 “Raphel mai amecche zabi almi” Gibberish uttered by Nimrod. The construction of the Tower of Babel results in the confusion of languages. 77-81 He is Nimrod, whose evil thought/Caused Babel. . . Nimrod, the first king of Babylon, is supposed to have built the Tower of Babel, which he tried to climb to Heaven. Before God punishes humanity for its role in building the tower and trying to usurp the powers of Heaven, one common language existed. After the Tower of Babel falls, God punishes humankind by creating confusion among many languages. In Hell, Nimrod is punished by the confusion of his own tongue (“all our languages are as dark for him”) and understanding. Although the biblical account in Genesis 11 neither mentions Nimrod nor attributes gigantic status to him, he is an example of the towering pride that causes individuals to betray God. 94 his name is Ephialtes The son of Neptune and Iphimedia. He and his brother, Otus, attempted to pile Mount Ossa on Mount Olympus and Mount Pelion on Mount Ossa. Apollo killed the brothers and brought order back to Olympus. 98-99 The immensity ofBriareus with a hundred/Arms andfifty hands The son of Uranus and Tellus (Earth), Briareus was one of the giants who rebelled against the Olympian gods. In book 2 of the Thebaid, Statius describes Briareus as immensus, while Virgil in book 10 of the Aeneid describes him as having one hundred arms and fifty hands.

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101 Antaeus, unbound, with whom we're able to speak The son of Neptune and Tellus (Earth), Antaeus is unbound because he did notjoin the Titans in their rebellion against the gods. Every time he touched his mother, his strength grew and he was reputed to be invincible. Hercules killed him by holding him in mid-air and strangling him. Lucan, in book 4 of the Pharsalia, describes Antaeus’s great feats at hunting. If Antaeus hadjoined the Titans in their rebellion, they might have been able to overthrow the gods (lines 118-20). 116-17 Along the Bagradas, where Scipio won his glory . . . The valley of Zama where Antaeus hunted lions so proficiently and fiercely was the same location where Scipio later defeated Hannibal. 123 To thefrigid cold offreezing Lake Cocytus The final pit of Hell. 124 Titys or Typhon Both members of the race of Titans. Titys incurred Jupiter’s wrath for his rape of Diana, and Typhon incurred Jupiter’s anger for his rebellion against the gods. Both are buried under Mount Etna. 136-38 The leaning Garisenda tower, in Bologna . . . Garisenda is the shorter of two towers in Bologna, built in 1110. It appears to be falling when a cloud passes against its leaning side.

Canto Thirty-two 1-9 If I were writing a harsh and crashing poem . . . As Dante the poet records Dante the pilgrim’sjourney through the lowest and darkest regions of Hell, he trembles with fear and calls on the Muses for help in writing the rest of the verses. 10-11 May all the Muses help my poem, as once/They aided Amphion in walling Thebes According to the legend, Amphion, the son of Jupiter and Antiope, played his lyre so gracefully that he charmed the stones of Mount Cithaeron into forming the walls of Thebes. The Muses inspired him in his task. 27 the Don The headwaters of the Don River are in Russia, so that its waters are always full of ice. Dante and Virgil are now on the outer ring of Cocytus.

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28-29 Had Mount Tambura fallen on it, from Apua’s/Alps, or the peak of Pietrapana Some commentators locate Mount Tambura (or Tambernic) east of Slavonia, while others concede that the location of the mountain is unknown. Pietrapana is a mountain in northwest Tuscany that was known in ancient times as Pietra Apuana and is today known as Pania della Croce. 41-60 I saw two headsfitted/So tight. .. Alessandro and Napoleone were the sons of Count Alberto degli Alberti, who owned part of the Bisenzio Valley near Florence. They inherited a castle in the valley, but they disliked each other so much that they fought over their inheritance and eventually killed each other. Alessandro belonged to the Guelphs, and Napoleone belonged to the Ghibellines. 58-60 in all this part of Caina . . . Named after Cain, who killed his brother Abel, this ring of ice where the pilgrims find each other is the outer boundary of Cocytus. In this division of the ninth circle, those sinners who murdered other family members are being punished. 61-62 Not even Mordred, pierced to the heart by one stroke . . . Mordred, King Arthur’s traitorous nephew, tried to kill his uncle. Arthur pierced him through his heart with his “enchanted sword,” and when he withdrew the sword, a shaft of sunlight passed through the gaping wound. The story comes from the Old French romance Lancelot de Lac, which is the same story that Francesca claims led to her downfall (canto 5). 62-63 not even Focaccia, / Who assassinated his cousin A member of the Cancellieri family of Pistoia. He murdered his cousin, Detto de’ Cancellieri, which led to a great feud in which many members of his family, already divided in the Whites and the Blacks, killed each other. The Florentines attempted to intervene in Pistoian affairs; as a consequence, the feud between the rival political parties was introduced into Florence as well. 65 Sassol Mascheroni A member of the Toschi family of Florence. Although he was a guardian of one of his nephews, he murdered the nephew in order to get his inheritance. 68-69 I was Camiscion de9Pazzi: when my cousin/Cariino comes Alberto Camiscion de’ Pazzi murdered his relative Ubertino. Cariino de’ Pazzi, Camiscion’s cousin, is still alive while Dante is talking to Camiscion. Cariino was responsible for defending the castle of Piantravigne for the

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Whites against the Blacks. Taking a bribe from the enemy, he surrendered it to them. Camiscion is telling Dante that when Carlino arrives in Hell his relative will be punished even more harshly—in a lower region of Hell— than he for his political treason. 73-74 And as we were moving toward the center, in which/Universal gravity collects The bottom of Hell is at the center of the earth, which is the center of all gravity. The gravity of evil and sin tie individuals to the earth and weigh them down. The journey toward the consciousness of sin, and the acknowledgment of sin through guilt, is a downward journey. Once individuals understand the gravity of their sins, they can begin thejourney upward toward salvation. 81 my treason at Montaperti Bocca degli Abati, a Ghibelline, was fighting with the Guelphs at Montaperti. When he cut off the hand of a Florentine standard-bearer, the Guelphs were defeated. Bocca (named in line 107) is guilty of political treason. 88 Antenora The pilgrims have left Caina and have nowentered the second division of Cocytus, Antenora. This region is named after Antenora, the Trojan warrior who betrayed his city to the Greeks. Thus, those punished in this region committed treason against their city, country, or political party. 107 Bocca See the entry for line 81. 117 Buosa,ofDuera Buosa da Duera was a leader of the Ghibelline party o f Cremona. In 1265, Charles of Anjou marched against Naples. Manfred sent troops under the command of Buosa to prevent the French attack, but Buosa took a bribe from the French armies, allowing them to pass and defeat the city. 119-20 Beccheria, the abbot/Beheaded in Florence Tesauro de’ Beccheria of Pavia was abbot of Vallombrosa and papal legate to Alexander IV in Tuscany. He was tortured and beheaded in Florence in 1258 by the Guelphs because he secretly plotted against them with Ghibellines whom they had expelled. 121 Gianni de* Scldaneri, the turncoat A Florentine Ghibelline who in 1265 deserted his party and joined the Guelphs.

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122-23 Ganelon, and TebaldeUo, who secretly/Opened the city’sgates Ganelon betrayed Roland to the Saracens (see canto 31). On November 13, 1280, Tebaldello de’ Zambrasi of Faenza opened his city’s gates so that the Bolognese Guelphs could attack the Ghibelline family of the Lambertazzi, who in 1274 had fled from Bologna and taken refuge in Faenza. 130-32 Tydeus, mortally struck/By Menalippus . . . In Statius’s Thebaid (bk. 8), Tydeus, one of the Seven Against Thebes, kills Menalippus in battle. Mortally wounded by Menalippus, Tydeus orders Amphiarus to bring Menalippus’s head to him, whereby he begins to gnaw on the head in great rage.

Canto Thirty-three 1-90 The sinner lifted his monthfrom his animalfeast. . . Ugolino, count of Donoratico, recounts his story in the first half of this canto. When the pilgrims encounter him, he is chewing on the head of the man who betrayed him, Archbishop Ruggieri. 13-14 I was Count Ugolino . . . Archbishop Ruggieri Ugolino della Gherardesca was a member of a noble Pisan family. In 1275, he was exiled from the city by the Ghibelline leaders, who accused him of conspiring against them with the Guelphs. By 1284, Ugolino had returned to Pisa and was reinstated to a position of political power by the Guelphs. He soon betrayed the Guelph party, aligning himself with the Ghibellines. In 1288, Ugolino conspired with Archbishop Ruggieri to gain control of Pisan politics, ousting Ugolino’s grandson, Nino Visconti, from power. Ruggieri took advantage of the political weakness of the city, betraying Ugolino and throwing him, his sons, and grandsons into the “Tower of Hunger” (line 22). Ugolino and his family eventually starved to death. Ugolino and Ruggieri stand at the boundary between Antenora and Ptolemea. Ugolino is being punished in Antenora for betraying his country and Ruggieri in Ptolemea (see the entry for lines 91-93) for betraying his associate. The law of divine retribution is at work here, for Ugolino, denied food in life by Ruggieri, is sustaining himself here in Hell by gnawing on the one who denied him sustenance. 22 The Tower of Hunger In 1289, when Guido of Montefeltro took command of the Pisan forces, the keys to the prison that housed Ugolino

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and his sons were thrown into the river, and the prisoners were left to starve. 28-36 A hunter, master ofthe hounds hefollowed, was chasing... Ugolino’s dream of his betrayal and death at the hands of Ruggieri. Ruggieri is “master of the hounds” who, along with the Gualandi, Lafranchi, and Sismondi, leading families of Pisa, is chasing Ugolino and his family (“Wolves and their cubs”), eventually capturing and killing them. “The lofty range /Of mountains,” or the Monte San Giuliano, lies between Lucca and Pisa, thus blocking each city’s view of the other. This is most likely an allusion to the Tower of Hunger in which Ugolino and his family died. 38 /heard my children, all ofwhom were with me,/Asleep but crying, desperate fo r bread The suffering of children is one of the great themes of Western literature, from Job to Dostoevsky’s parable of the “Grand Inquisitor” in The Brothers Karamazov. It is the great theme of this canto. 50 my little Anselm Anselmuccio was the younger of his grandsons, prob­ ably around fifteen at the time. 60 all four of the children rose Ugolino’s two sons—Gaddo and Uguiccione—and his two grandsons—Anselmuccio and Brigata. 67 Gaddo One of Ugolino’s sons. 75 starvation did more than griefhad done This passage is one of the most controversial in the Inferno. Some commentators interpret this verse to mean that Ugolino simply died of starvation rather than of grief over his dead children and grandchildren. Others have interpreted this to mean that Ugolino resorted to cannibalism; his hunger was stronger than his grief, so he ate his children. This second interpretation is warranted by the opening lines of the canto, where Ugolino is munching on the head of Ruggieri. However, cannibalism is not a sin of complex fraud but of bestiality, so it would be punished in the seventh circle rather than in the ninth. 79-90 Ah, Pisa! Disgrace of those among the Latinate . . . Dante here rebukes Pisa for not coming to the aid of Ugolino’s children and grand­ children. He suggests that the islands of Capria and Gorgona, which lie in the Tyrrhenian Sea, not far from the mouth of the Arno River, “block the river Arno right at its mouth” so all the people of Pisa will drown. By



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calling Pisa the “modern city of Thebes,” Dante is alluding to the many stories of hate, vengeance, and bloodshed associated with Thebes. See cantos 14, 20, 25, 30, and 32. 80 People who still say si for “yes" Italians. 89 Uguiccione and Brigata Uguiccione was Ugolino’s son, and Brigata was his grandson. 91-93 Then we walked on, to where the ice has harshly/Surrounded different people. .. The pilgrims have now entered the third division of Cocytus, Ptolemea. This region is named after Ptolemy, the captain of Jericho who had Simon, his father-in-law, and two of his sons killed while they were eating (1 Macc. 16:11-17). This region might also be named for Ptolemy XII, the Egyptian king who killed Pompey after welcoming the Roman emperor hospitably into his territory. Individuals who have betrayed their guests are punished in this division of Cocytus. 103-4 Who/Or what can make a breeze in this place? In Dante’s time, scientists believed that varying degrees of heat produced wind and breezes. Since there is no heat in this place, Dante is amazed that he feels a sudden breeze. Virgil tells him that he will soon discover the source of this wind, the flapping of Lucifer’s great wings. 118-20 I am Brother Alberigo . . . Alberigo di Ugolino dei Manfredi was a native of Faenza and one of the Jovial Friars. In 1284, Alberigo’s brother, Manfred, hit him during an argument. Pretending to let this pass, Alberigo invited Manfred and his son, Alberghetto, to dinner the following year. When Alberigo commanded his servants to bring in the fruit, his men murdered Manfred and his son. “Friar Alberigo’s bad fruit” became a proverbial saying. 124-26 This Ptolemea is often allowed to shelter. . . Under certain circum­ stances, according to Church doctrine, a living person may lose his soul before he dies through acts of treachery. A devil then inhabits the body on earth until its natural death. Atropos is the Fate who cuts the thread of life. 137-48 Branca d’Oria . . . A Ghibelline from Genoa, Branca invited his father-in-law, Michel Zanche (canto 22), for dinner and killed him and his companions and then cut them in pieces. Although this act of betrayal

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occurred in 1275, Branca did not die until 1325; according to Alberigo, Branca’s soul—and the soul of his nephew who helped him carry out the murders—fell to Ptolemea even before Michel Zanche’s soul fell to the bolgia of the barrators.

Canto Thirty-four 1 “/ see the royal banners carried toward us.” The hymn Vexilla Regis Prodeunt was written in the sixth century by Venantius Fortunatus, bishop o f Poitiers. This hymn celebrates the Holy Cross and is part of the liturgy o f Good Friday; it is sung during the unveiling of the Cross. In Dante’s parodic version, the banners do not cover the Cross and announce the coming of Good Friday but belong to Lucifer, who uses them to generate winds like those from a windmill. 11-15 To where the souls were entirely under cover. . . The sinners in this fourth division of Cocytus, Judecca (line 117; named after Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus of Nazareth), are immobile and silent. Being trapped in the ice represents an appropriate punishment for the icy condition of these sinners’ souls, for any warmth they once felt toward God or their fellow human creatures has now been smothered. 17-18 the creature, once/An angel9 now no longer lovely at all Lucifer (Satan) was once God’s fairest angel. His pride led him to lead a rebellion against God; God expelled Lucifer from Heaven for his betrayal of the heavenly realm and cast him to his own realm, where he is now fixed in the ice. 38-45 For I saw three heads, each with aface of its own! . . . Throughout his journey, Dante has encountered many perversions of the Trinity. The three animals of canto 1—she-wolf, leopard, and lion—are perverse paral­ lels to the three women—Mary, Lucy, Beatrice—who will lead Dante on hisjourney from the depths of sin to the heights of redemption. The three­ headed and three-mouthed Lucifer brings to mind another creature, Cerberus, the three-mouthed hound of Hell (canto 6). The three heads that Dante sees each has a face of its own, and each face is a different color: red, yellow, black. Some commentators have interpreted the three colors as representing the three known continents—Africa, Asia, Europe. A more plausible interpretation is that the colors symbolize the quali­ ties that oppose the qualities of the Trinity. In canto 3 (lines 5-6), those ♦ 589 ♦

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qualities are listed as “wisdom,” “Heaven’s powers” (i.e., divine omnipo­ tence), and “primal love.” Thus, ignorance (black) opposes wisdom; impotence (yellow) opposes divine omnipotence; and hate or envy (red) opposes primal love. 46-50 Wings sprang outfrom under each of his heads... Once a beautiful angel with wings covered in plumage, Lucifer is now but a parody of the angelic. His enormous wings are stripped of their feathers and have the appearance of bat wings (a common depiction of the Devil’s wings in the Middle Ages). 55 Each of his mouths was grinding a sinner Compare the image of Cerberus in canto 6. The three sinners in Lucifer’s mouth committed the greatest sins against the Church (Judas) and the State (Brutus and Cassius) by betraying their leaders. 61-63 That one in front.. . has it worst. . . Judas Iscariot suffers greater punishment than the other two sinners in Lucifer’s mouth because he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. His position in Lucifer’s mouth is similar to that of the simonists in canto 19 (“his legs go kicking far and wide”). 65 Brutus Cassius cunningly persuaded Marcus Brutus to join the political intrigue against Julius Caesar and to participate in Caesar’s assassination. 67 Cassius Caius Cassius Longinus led the conspiracy against Caesar. By observing “how his muscles are showing,” Dante seems here to confuse him with Lucius Cassius, whom Cicero described (Catiline 3) as huge and sinewy. 68 night’s returning It is now Saturday evening. 96 The sun is already halfway up from dawn It is approximately between the canonical hours of prime (6 a .m .) and tierce (9 a .m .), or about 7:30 a .m . As the pilgrims have climbed through the earth’s center and passed from the Northern into the Southern Hemisphere, they have moved ahead twelve hours. 108 The hair ofthat evil worm Compare 6.22: “that great worm, Cerberus.”

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112-26 And now you're underneath that hemisphere . . . Lucifer fell head first from Heaven to the Southern Hemisphere and then through to the earth’s center, where he remains trapped. The Southern Hemisphere was once covered with land, but when Lucifer fell through it, the land shifted beneath the sea and emerged in the Northern Hemisphere (“our hemisphere’’). The Southern Hemisphere remains under water except for an “empty space,” which is the mount of Purgatory, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere and which is directly opposite from Jerusalem in the Northern Hemisphere. ISO that rippling little brook Lethe. In classical mythology, Lethe is the river of forgetfulness, from which souls drank before they were born. Here the stream flows down from Purgatory, where it washes away the memory o f sin from those souls who are undergoing purification. 139 And then we came out, and saw the stars again In the beauty and symmetry of The Divine Comedy, each canticle ends with the word “stars.” (Though in Raffel’s translation, the Purgatorio ends with the ascendant “Ready to rise where sanctified souls can go,” in the Italian the final word is stelle.) Dante moves ever upward toward God and the divine realm, and the stars are shining symbols of hope and virtue. Dante and Virgil emerge from Hell at the foot of Mount Purgatory on the morning of Easter Sunday.

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Canto One I-7 Pushing out the little boat . . . Having left the “cruel seas” of Hell behind him, Dante now opens this canticle with an invocation that pleads for “better waters” as he pushes his “little boat” out into them. Such mari­ time imagery permeates the Commedia, for Dante will allude to “my ship” at the beginning of the Paradiso (canto 2). The boat symbolizes thejourney that Dante is about to undertake in Purgatory, and it also represents the entire poem—the Commedia—that Dante is composing about this experi­ ence. As he points out, he will “sing,” in this second canticle, about that “Kingdom /Where tarnished human souls are purified of sin.” 7-12 The corpse of poetry should he/Alive, again . . . Compare Dante’s invocation in the Inferno (2.7-9). There, Dante feels unworthy of his task and thus calls upon the “glorious powers” of the Muses to aid him in writing his poem. In this invocation, however, he appears to have more confidence in his poetic powers. At the same time, he lets Calliope know that he is not calling on her so that he might defy her powers as Pierus’s daugh­ ters did. He approaches the Muses humbly while at the same time recog­ nizing that his poetic gift has grown into a “little boat” (line 1). Because he wrote of dead souls in the Inferno, lines 7-8 likely refer to that canticle. Notice, however, that these lines hint of resurrection—“corpse . . . should be/Alive”—and thus hint at the more positive outlook of the Purgatorio. 9 Calliope According to Greek mythology, the greatest of all the Muses, who presides over epic poetry. II-12 Of Pierus9daughters, wretchedly defeated/By goddesses whose music they had defied The Pierides were the nine daughters of Pierus, king of Emathia in Macedonia. King Pierus unwisely named his daughters the nine Muses. The daughters challenged the Muses to a singing contest, and Pierus’s daughters sang the praises of the Titans, who had attempted to overthrow Jupiter (see Inf. 31). Calliope defeated the Pierides in the ♦ 592 ♦

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contest, and as punishment the Pierides were turned into magpies. Dante’s source is Ovid’s Metamorphoses 5.294-678. 13—21 The sweet glow of oriental sapphire . . . Notice here the palpable difference between the opening gloom of the Inferno and the brightness and “cheerful glare” that opens this canticle. Dante and Virgil have come out of the oppressive airs of Hell and can now gaze up into the heavens once again. As many commentators have pointed out, the pilgrims’ move­ ment toward the heavens is the beginning of the end of The Divine Comedy, for from this moment forward they will be moving ever upward to the paradise of Heaven. Much as Dante’s eyes were stunned by the oppressive darkness of Hell, “the sense of delight” is now lit in his “tired eyes” by the beauty of the heavens. 19—21 The constellation of Venus filled the air . . . Dante and Virgil are looking upon the eastern horizon where the sun, the symbol of Christ, is now rising. Venus, the planet of love, “fill[s] the air” with her light, so bright that it outshines Pisces (“hidden in her cheerful glare”). 23 I sawfour stars unknown since Adam and Eve The Garden of Eden was located at the top of Mount Purgatory. When Adam and Eve were expelled and banished from this Earthly Paradise, they inhabited the lands of the Northern Hemisphere where the stars of the southern sky would be invis­ ible. Some commentators observe that Dante invented these four stars or that some traveler he met pointed out the existence of these stars— known as the Southern Cross—to Dante. The four stars represent the four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. Dante’s mourning over the loss of the Earthly Paradise foreshadows his great joy when he arrives at the entrance to the Earthly Paradise in canto 27. 30 Where the Dipper and its Great Bear were out of sight Ursa Mzyor, or the Great Bear, is near the North Pole and not visible in the Southern Hemisphere. 31-75 And standing nearby I saw an old man, alone . . . This section of canto 1 introduces the great Stoic philosopher Cato (Marcus Porsius Cato Uticensis, 95-46 b.c.e.), whom Cicero (De Officiis), Virgil (Aeneid 8.670), Lucan (Pharsalia 2.380-90), and Dante (Convivio 4 and De Monorchia 2) all praise for his great virtuous acts. In his Convivio, Dante asks: “And what earthly man is more worthy to represent God himself than Cato? Certainly none ” Because of his virtue, Cato guards the anteroom of ♦ 593 ♦

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Purgatory. During his life, Cato sided with Pompey against Caesar in the civil wars of 49 b .c .e . When Caesar emerged victorious at Pharsalia, Cato joined Metellus Scipio and fought against Caesar in North Africa. Caesar’s armies defeated Cato and Scipio at the battle of Thapsus, conquering all of Africa except Utica. Rather than give in to Caesar, Cato committed suicide. According to legend, he spent the night prior to his suicide reading Plato’s Phaedo, which examines the immortality of the soul. Why is Cato the guardian of Purgatory rather than in the wood of the suicides (In f 13)? Dante regarded Cato as the ideal illustration of an individual who gave up his life for political freedom. Since the souls in Purgatory seek spiritual freedom, Cato, who represents a combination of spiritual and civil freedom, functions as an ideal guardian. Dante also draws his image of Cato from Virgil’s Aeneid, book 7, where Cato acts as the lawgiver to the virtuous in Elysium. 32-33 His dignified appearance deserving respect... Notice the transition from the glory and radiance of the stars to the dazzling visage of Cato. Dante uses the father/son image not only to illustrate the veneration that a son owes his father for the wisdom the father passes along but also to refer to the father/son relationship illustrated by Jesus and his father. Notice the comparison of the radiance of the son with the radiance of the sun in lines 38-39, “Adorned his face with such light, glowing, intense, / That it seemed the sun was right in front of him,” carrying along the images of bright radiance that characterize the opening of Purgatory. 34-35 His beard wasfull, its black well streaked/With white Cato’s beard appropriately symbolizes the blend of light and darkness of Purgatory. Purgatory is neither the total darkness of Hell nor the pure light of Paradise. Moreover, the souls in Purgatory are not fully cleansed from the dark stains of sin. 37-39 Brigjht beamsfrom the holy stars, allfour of them . . . See the entry’ for line 23 above, regarding the four stars. Dante continues the theme of radiance and brilliance. Some commentators have compared the Cato of these lines to Moses and his reception of the tablets of law in Exodus, where Moses’ face is illumined by God’s glory. 41 that dark stream Dante and Virgil have followed this little stream, which flows out of Lethe into Cocytus, from Hell and on to the mount of Purgatory (see Inf. 34.127-34).

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73 Utica After Carthage, Utica was North Africa’s second-largest city. Virgil refers here to Cato’s suicide in Utica. Cato’s death “was hardly bitter” since Cato knew he was leaving behind a city in shambles and that he could not honorably live as a citizen of an empire ruled by Caesar. 77 Minos See Inferno 5. 79 Marcia Cato’s second wife, whom he gave to his friend Hortentius in 56 b .c .e . On Hortentius’s death, Marcia asked Cato to once again take her as his wife. Dante’s source for this story is Lucan, Pharsalia 2.326ff. In his Convivio (4.28), Dante uses this episode as an allegory of the soul’s return to God. Dante also mentions Marcia as being one of the virtuous souls residing in Limbo (described in Inf. 4). 89 according to laws Although the exact sense of this line is unclear, many commentators have interpreted it to refer to the harrowing of Hell that results in Cato’s rescue from Limbo and his separation from his wife, Marcia. Although he can go no farther with Dante and Virgil on their journey, these “laws” prevent him from being carried back to Limbo. 90-93 If a lady on high/Requests this ofyou . . . Pm more/Than satisfied. .. Given Virgil’s summary of the pilgrims’ journey up until now, and the intervention of the “lady on high” on Dante’s behalf, Cato tells Virgil that he is satisfied enough to permit the two to pass along this lower portion of Mount Purgatory. 94 Wrap him in fresh green reeds In Inferno 16, Dante discards the cord with which he had hoped to snare the leopard. Now, in order to proceed, Dante must wrap himself in reeds, a symbol of humility, that replace the cord, a symbol of self-confidence. 106-8 The sun will show you the easiest way/To climb the mountain . . . When Dante first emerged from Hell, he stared at the brilliance of the sky; he then turned his attention to the radiance of Cato’s face. He has yet to notice the mountain—the mount of Purgatory or the mountain of salvation—at the foot of which he and Virgil now stand and which he must ascend. Here the bright sun at which he has been staring now illumines the path he is to follow up the mountain. 127-29 Bent toward him my cheeks, tear-stained . . . To make Dante pure for his journey up the mountain, Virgil wipes away the tears that Dante

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had shed in Hell. Some have observed that Virgil is thus wiping away the last remnants of filth that Dante had accumulated in Hell. 132 Sunk to the bottom, like Ulysses and all his men See Inferno 26. When Ulysses and his sailors attempt to sail past the boundaries of the known world—through the Pillars of Hercules and out into the South Atlantic— they sink and drown in a storm not far from an island with a dark moun­ tain. Dante finds himself on what must be the same island; while Ulysses illustrates human arrogance and pride, Dante’s humility will allow him to make hisjourney successfully. 133-36 Then, to please old Cato, he plucked a reed. . . The rebirth o f the reed here is based on a story in book 6 of Virgil’s Aeneid. When Aeneas prepares for his journey into the underworld, the Sibyl tells him that he must pick a golden bough to take with him as kind of passport. As soon as Aeneas picks the bough, a new one springs to take its place. As many commentators have pointed out, the story of Aeneas’s successful voyage provides an illustration of the forthcoming successful voyage of Dante. The rebirth of the reed also symbolizes the change in the landscape in which Dante and Virgil find themselves. The radiant light, the cool waters, and the green plants signify the rebirth that accompanies salvation. Canto Two 1-6 The sun had already dipped to the horizon... In contrast to the Inferno, where Dante and Virgil traveled in the dark, the action of the Purgatorio takes place in the daylight and so Dante refers frequently to the time of day. Here it is sunrise in Purgatory. According to Dante’s cosmography, Jerusalem was the center of the known world, and Purgatory was directly opposite it. The Ganges in India represented the farthest eastern point of the world, while the Pillars of Hercules, west of Spain, represented the farthest western point. These four points all shared a common horizon, so that when the sun is rising in Jerusalem, it is midnight on the Ganges. Dante refers to the night constellation of Libra—“Bearing as it ran the scales which drop”—as an indication of the continual process of night evolving into day. 7 And in theplace where I was, the rosy cheeks Contrast Dante’s rosy cheeks here with his tear-stained cheeks at the end of canto 1. His cheeks repre­ sent a new beginning. In addition, Dante’s cheeks here recall the radiant ♦ 596 ♦

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visage of Cato in canto 1, as well as Dante’s own shiny cheeks as he stares at the brilliant lights of the stars in the opening scenes of canto 1. 12 Hearts in motion, bodies stiU where they were Dante is restless to move on with hisjourney. As much as his heart brims with desire to move forward, his body does not yet know which direction to take. 15—14 as Mars appears, giowing red/Across the vapors spread around it at dawn One of the significant differences between the Inferno and the Purgatorio is Dante’s emphasis on astronomy and cosmography. Here Dante alludes once more to the brightness of the planets at dawn, the paths which those planets traverse, and the impact that the sight of these planets has on individuals. Dante opens many of the cantos in the Purgatorio with allusions to the sky. Here he uses the brightness of Mars to symbolize the radiance of the angel now appearing to the pilgrims. 31-32 See how he disdains aUhuman devices,/Declining oars Compare this angel who will ferry the Blessed to Purgatory with Charon, the oarsman who carries sinners, the Damned, across the river Acheron into Hell (Inf. 3). Notice also here that the angel flies along the same path that Ulysses and his sailors traveled on their ill-fated voyage. Whereas Ulysses “rowed like mad” (Inf. 26.125), the angel “[beats] the air with feathers so sublime/That nothing affects them” (lines 35-36). 40-42 That holy vesselcame/ To shorewith such incredible lightness, soswift... See Inferno 3, where Charon predicts that a lighter and swifter vessel will carry Dante to Purgatory. The boat does not touch the water beneath it because the souls of the saved that it carries have no weight. 46 “When Israel went forth from Egypt’s land” This opening line of Psalm 114 celebrates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. Psalm 114 is a part of a complex of hymns in the biblical book of Psalms (Psalms 113-18) often called the “Egyptian Hallel” that are sung in connection with the great festivals. Psalms 113-14 are sung before meals at Passover, and Psalms 115-18 after meals at the same festival. Liberation from oppressive slavery is the great theme of the Exodus, and the Exodus is the central event of the Hebrew Bible. Christians interpret the Exodus as foreshadowing Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, where the souls of individuals are liberated from their sin and misery. In the Purgatorio, Dante moves from the oppression and lack of knowledge of sin to the freedom of grace and

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knowledge. Some commentators have even pointed out that Exodus provides the pattern of action of the entire Divine Comedy. 47 They aU were singing together, in one clear voice Contrast the actions of the inhabitants of this boat with those in Charon’s boat in Hell {Inf. 3). The souls of the sinners in Charon’s boat loudly curse their families, God, and their fellow humans in a cacophonous litany of shouts. Here the inhabitants sing all of Psalm 114 with a unified, clear voice. 55-56 By now the sun had thoroughly conquered the sky... The sun is now getting stronger as the day begins, and Capricorn, which at sunrise lies ninety degrees from the horizon, is now invisible. 67-75 this crowd of spirits perceived/My breathing, and knew that I was still alive . . . Because of his breathing, the souls in Purgatory recognize Dante as a living being and their curiosity is so aroused that they almost forget why they are there. The crowd gathers around Dante as if he were some messenger bearing good news. 71 Of people who know by the olive branch he bears According to medi­ eval legend, messengers bearing good news of victory or peace carried an olive branch to symbolize the good news they carried. This practice had its origins in ancient Rome. 76-84 One ofthem approached me, I saw, intending/ To embrace me... Just as the souls in Purgatory recognize Dante as a living being, Dante forgets that the souls here are not living bodies, as he tries fruitlessly three times to embrace this shade. Dante throws his arms around this shadow only to see them “returning, empty, to me.” Although Dante tried to embrace this figure out of affection, he does not recognize the soul until it starts speaking (lines 85-86). 91 CaseUa Not much is known of Casella beyond what this canto reveals. He was a good friend of Dante’s, a musician and singer from either Florence or Pistoia, and set some of Dante’s poetry to music. He most likely provided the music for Dante’s ballad “Love that in my mind discourses to me,” which appears in the third book of Dante’s Convivio. Dante recognizes Casella only when he speaks because he best knows Casella as a singer. 96 Vve waited three monthsfor him to change hisjudgment Casella has been waiting on the banks of the Tiber for the angel-pilot to allow him to cross.

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In 1300, theJubilee year, Pope Boniface VIII granted a plenary indulgence to pilgrims who participated in a pilgrimage to Rome. The papal declara­ tion does not mention any special indulgences to the souls of the dead, but Dante appears to be following a common belief that the declaration did grant such indulgences. If such is the case, however, why hasn’t Casella already crossed the Tiber? No explanation is ever given, though Casella calls the angel's action just and refuses to “protest what Heaven sent me” (lines 98-99). 100-101 I went to that shore where the river Tiber turns/ To salt and enters the ocean Ostia is the Roman seaport where the Tiber enters the sea. Here all souls who have not been damned wait to cross over onto the island o f Mount Purgatory so that they can begin their climb to Heaven. Since salvation can be reached only in the true Church, which is in Rome, it is appropriate that these souls gather at Ostia, the port nearest Rome. 108 calm my longings Dante asks Casella to sing one of the songs of love that Casella used to sing so beautifully. Worn out and “frayed by the hard and bitter/Journey I have been making” (lines 110-11), Dante seeks an end to his restlessness and comfort for his bruised soul. Dante’s words echo Augustine’s famous teaching that “our hearts are restless until they rest in God” ( Confessions 1). Casella’s song may be aesthetically pleasing, but it is only a foretaste of the great glory that Dante will experience in the presence of God. 112 mO love, that always argues in my mind” Casella sings the first verse of the second canzone of the ballad “Love that in my mind discourses to me,” which Dante comments on in the third book of his Convivio. 115-17 My Master and I, and everyone who was there... Dante, Virgil, and all the souls on the banks of the Tiber are so entranced by Casella’s song that they have forgotten and neglected their sole purpose: to begin their journey through Purgatory and, for some, to attain Heaven. It is no acci­ dent that Dante uses music here as that art which captures an audience, for the intricate beauty of music provides an aesthetic pleasure that comes too close to the enjoyment of God’s beauty. Thus, in medieval legends the “music of the spheres” is indeed heavenly music, associated with God and the angels and their activity in Heaven. 120 Cato, that worthy old man... burst in While the souls are lost in their enjoyment of Casella’s singing, Cato bursts onto the scene to chastise them ♦ 599 ♦

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for their attention to the things of this world and forgetting their purpose on the banks of the Tiber. Consumed by Casella’s melodious music, the souls have neglected their journey to God, and Cato appears suddenly to remind them of the journey ahead, encouraging them to “Hurry up the mountain” and “Strip away the filth that keeps God from you” (lines 122-23). Some commentators have compared Cato to Moses, who, upon coming down Mount Sinai after an encounter with Yahweh, discovers his followers worshipping a golden calf rather than their God. Much as Moses rebukes his followers for accepting an idol that is not divine, Cato reprimands the gathered souls for substituting this earthly pleasure for the sweetness of Divine Love that they will experience upon reaching the summit of Mount Purgatory.

Canto Three 4-6 I stayed close to myfaithful companion . . . Dante gratefully acknowl­ edges Virgil’s presence and his own dependence on Virgil during this journey. 7 He seemed to me dissatisfied with himself Virgil’s reactions to sin provide a commendable model for Dante. The “purest consciences” are stung by tiny faults and even small sins become “bitter on noble tongues” (lines 8-9). Although born before the time of Christ, Virgil nevertheless feels acutely the burden of moral shortcomings and the guilt and repentance that accompany them. 14 a truly massive mountain As in the opening of the Inferno (1.13-14), Dante once again finds himself confronted by a mountain he wishes to climb. 16 The sun had climbed and was blazing right behind us The sun is now behind the pilgrims as they look up at the mountain. Dante sees his shadow, and seeing only one shadow (lines 17, 19-20), fears that Virgil has aban­ doned him and that he is now alone to make this journey. The image of Dante’s shadow begins here, and his shadow distinguishes him from all the other souls in Purgatory. The shadow symbolizes the earthly desires which follow all individuals and to which these individuals are always attached. 25-27 in the place where my body is buried. . . According to Virgil’s biog­ raphers, Suetonius and Donatus, Augustus ordered that Virgil’s body be ♦ 600 ♦

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disinterred and removed from its burial place at Brindisi, where he died in 19 b .c .e ., and buried in Naples. Virgil’s comments foreshadow the case o f Manfred (lines 127-32), whose body was also disinterred and buried elsewhere. In Antepurgatory, the theme of the separation of body and soul recurs often. On the Last Day, the soul will be reunited with the body. 28 now that I have no shadow Virgil’s explanation of his lack of a shadow touches upon the lack of shadows that Dante will encounter here in Purgatory. The poet Statius will give a fuller account of the diaphanous body in canto 25. 31-45 These bodies were made by God... Virgil begins a long, anguished, and agitated speech about the frustrations of not being able to see the Beatific Vision that will provide illumination of those mysteries that cannot be penetrated by reason alone. Human Reason can never unravel the infinite mysteries of God, such as the Trinity or the Incarnation. Like Aristotle and Plato, both consigned to Limbo, Virgil will never be able to benefit from the Divine Revelation given to humanity by God. Humans must be satisfied with the reality (quia, or “that which is”), for their Reason can indeed provide an explanation for facts; however, God’s Revelation, not Reason, illumines God’s mysteries. The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas, from whom Dante takes much of his theology, taught that Reason and Revelation do go hand in hand; Reason can carry humans to a certain point in their quest for knowledge, but Revelation takes over after Reason has reached its limits. 49 Along the coast from Lerici to La Titrbie These two Italian towns sit at the eastern and western boundaries, respectively, of Liguria. Lerici is south of Genoa, near La Spezia, and La Turbie is between Monaco and Nice. The mountains between these towns are steep andjagged and almost impossible to climb. Climbing those rugged mountains is smooth and easy compared to climbing Mount Purgatory. 55-57 He lowered his head, searchingfor a path not blocked... While Virgil is trying to use his reason to “imagine some workable way” to start the climb up the mountain, Dante is looking around them to see what path might lie open to them. Because he is looking around him and not inside himself for a solution, he spies a group of souls coming their way. Most commentators have interpreted Dante’s openness to the world around him as an expression of his faith and trust. This group, the excommunicated,

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moves its feet so slowly that they seem not to be making any forward move­ ment at all. 79-84 As little sheep emergefrom their closedrin pasture. .. This group o f excommunicated souls are like sheep gone astray without a shepherd, one sheep blindly following the other. Just as in life they had chosen to spurn spiritual guidance, in Purgatory these sheep-like souls have no shepherd. They move along simply and quietly without knowing why or in what direc­ tion to travel. Yet, this slow movement that lacks reason is the virtue o f faith as Thomas Aquinas defines it and as Virgil points out in his earlier admonition (line 37). 88-93 When those in front could see the sunlight. . . The excommunicated souls are surprised to see Dante’s shadow and all shrink some at the sight of this living being in their realm. Just as one soul reacts to Dante’s shadow by recoiling, the others react “in much the same way,/Not knowing why, except that sheep are faithful.” 101-2 Then turn awayfrom us, and go ahead . . . Realizing that Dante is a living being, they urge him to go on ahead by using a traditional Italian sign of waving the back of their palms at the pilgrims. Some commenta­ tors have pointed out that when Italians wish to welcome an individual they extend the palm of their hands, but when they wish the individual to depart, they gesture with the backs of their hands. 108 with one eyebrow split by an enemy sword If Manfred’s body is a diaph­ anous body (Purg. 25), it is not clear why his body still carries such scars in the afterlife. 112 I am Manfred Manfred (1232-66), the son of Frederick II, became king of Sicily. He belonged to the Ghibelline party and had been excom­ municated by two different popes, Alexander IV and Urban IV. Urban especially disliked Manfred and offered Manfred’s throne first to Louis IX and, when he refused, to Charles of Anjou. Charles led a brutal and vicious campaign against Manfred and killed Manfred at the battle of Benevento. Charles refused to give Manfred a proper burial because of Manfred s excommunicated state. He ordered Manfred’s army to bury their leader’s body by filing by the body and dropping stones upon it, thus forming a memorial. Pope Clement IV later ordered Manfred’s body disinterred and thrown on the banks of the Verde River outside the kingdom of Naples.

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Compare the removal of Manfred’s body with the reference to the similar removal of Virgil’s body in lines 25-27. 112-13 Empress/Constance Constance (1154-98) was the wife of Henry V I and the mother of Frederick II. 114-16 visit my lovely/Daughter, mother ofAlfonso, Aragon’sking,/AndJames and Frederick, both of them kings ofSicily Manfred’s daughter, Constance, is named for her grandmother. Her sons Alfonso, James, and Frederick are the kings of Aragon and Sicily, respectively. 121 My sins mere horrible and many According to his enemies, Manfred murdered his father, his brother, and two of his nephews and attempted to murder another of his nephews. 124 Pope Clement sent a bishop to hunt me down Most commentators iden­ tify this bishop as either Bartolomeo Pignatelli or Tommaso d’Agni, both archbishops of Cosenza. This archbishop ordered that Manfred’s grave be dug up and his body moved outside of Naples. 125 had that bishop ever read God’s words Some commentators suggest that Manfred here refers to John 6:37: “Him who comes to me I will not cast out.” 132 Not even ttUowed to be blessed by burning candles During the burial of the bodies of the excommunicated, the funeral candles were first snuffed out and then carried upside down. 135 As long as hope can blossom with any green Green is the color that symbolizes hope. In spite of the sordid circumstances of his death and burial as an excommunicated soul, Manfred never relinquishes his faith and hope. The placement of Manfred’s body on the banks of the river Verde is symbolic, since verde means “green” in Italian. 138-39 Is forced to remain on this side of Heavenfor thirty/Times the years he lived outside the Church The number thirty may be a reference to the period of grace—thirty days—that canon law allows before excommunica­ tion becomes effective. 141 if living souls give him their prayers The doctrine of intercessory prayer, or prayer on behalf of others, is one of the central themes of the Purgatorio. In traditional Catholic doctrine, faithful souls on earth can offer ♦ 603 ♦

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prayers on behalf of those in Purgatory, helping these souls in Purgatory to move along in their journey toward the purification of their souls. To that end, Manfred asks Dante to tell Manfred’s daughter, Constance, how much he needs her warmest prayers. Compare Manfred’s request that Dante take this message to Constance to the often shameful requests of the souls in Hell that Dante tell no living soul about their actions. Canto Four 1-14 When a number ofbodUy senses receive . . . Dante refutes Aristotle’s view of the multiple soul in these lines. Plato taught that the soul was tripar­ tite (appetitive, courageous, rational) and that the degree to which one portion of the soul was in ascendancy over another part dictated an indi­ vidual’s place in the Republic. Aristotle taught that humans have multiple souls arranged according to a hierarchy. Each individual possesses a vege­ tative soul, a sentient soul, and a rational soul. The vegetative soul governs growth; the sentient soul controls movement and sense-experience; the rational soul exercises control over an individual’s capacity to reason. Thomas Aquinas drew upon Aristotle’s ideas and argued that the soul is a unity which possesses three faculties—vegetative, sensitive, intellectual— which he calls virtues or powers (see Summa Theologica I, 76, 3; I-II, q. 37, a. I). According to Aquinas, when the soul is drawn to one or the other o f these powers, it neglects the others. As Dante illustrates in the opening lines to this canto, “time / Goes by” when one power of the soul grips an individual, distracting that person from the other faculties of the soul. In his conversations with Manfred and Casella in the previous cantos, Dante himself has been distracted from the purpose of hisjourney so much that he even loses track of time. 15 For the sun had climbed no less thanfifty degrees The sun travels fifteen degrees every hour, so it is now three hours and twenty minutes since sunrise, or about 9:20 a .m . 18 “Here is what you were lookingfor!” The spirits cry out the answer to the question that Virgil asked in 3.76-77. With this, the lengthy distrac­ tion of the philosophical musings ends, and the pilgrims begin to move forward. 25-26 San Leo... N oli... Bismantova San Leo is a town in the territory of Urbino and is on an exceedingly steep and rugged hill near San Marino. ♦ 604 ♦

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Noli is a town on the coast of Liguria and can be reached over land only by a steep descent from the mountains behind the town. Bismantova is a town on the steep mountain of the same name about twenty miles south of Reggio. In medieval times, Bismantova was strongly fortified and could be reached only by a single labyrinthine path. 27 buthereyou have tofly Dante recognizes the difficulty of the ascent in Purgatory and wishes for wings to carry him over these steep and jagged mountain passes. In Purgatory, he will continue to climb, since his sins still weigh him down and bind him to earth. By the time he reaches Paradise, however, he will develop the “beating wings and fluttering feathers” (line 28) that allow him to fly from one heavenly sphere to another. 42 From the center of a circle to any of its quadrants Since the angle of the quadrant is ninety degrees, and a half quadrant is forty-five degrees, the slope is steeper than forty-five degrees. 61 CastorandPollux, in Gemini According to mythology,Jupiter, disguised as a swan, raped Leda. She then gave birth to these twin brothers, Castor and Pollux; when they died, Jupiter placed them in this constellation among the stars. 68 Zion Jerusalem. Virgil reminds Dante of the goal of his journey, the heavenlyJerusalem. 71 Phaethon Apollo, god of the sun, gave his son, Phaethon, permis­ sion to drive the chariot of the sun across the sky. When Phaethon lost control of the chariot, thereby endangering all the heavens and earth, Jupiter struck down Phaethon with a thunderbolt. Dante has already mentioned this story in Inferno 17.107, and he will do so again in Purgatorio 29.115-17 and Paradiso 31.126. As some commentators have pointed out, Dante mentions Castor and Pollux and Phaethon so closely here to illus­ trate the potential successes and failures of the pilgrims’ journey. While the twin brothers’ closeness to the sun illustrates the potential success of thejourney, Phaethon’s failure illustrates the dismal end that may come to those who stray from the path and the goal of the journey. 93-95 thefinal part ofthis road... Only at the end of the road will Dante be able to rest. Dante here draws upon Augustine’s teaching that the rest­ less heart does not rest until it rests in God.

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98-99 u0 f course, it may/Be necessary to rest long before then/* The sardonic response of this spirit contradicts Virgil and Dante’s lofty philo­ sophical discourse, introducing the souls of the indolent, represented by Belacqua. 123 Belacqua A friend of Dante’s from Florence, Belacqua was famous for his laziness and for his skill at making musical instruments, especially lutes. 133-34 unless good prayers can help me . . . Once again Dante empha­ sizes the theme of intercessory prayer. Here, Belacqua points out that only prayers that rise from a “heart that lives in His grace” are efficacious to those in Purgatory. 137-39 See the sun. . . In Purgatory, the sun has reached the meridian, so that it is noon there. Night isjust coming (6:00 p .m .) to Morocco, which for Dante is the westernmost edge of the world. Canto Five 7-21 / turned around as he began to speak . . . As Dante and Virgil begin their ascent, the spirits of the indolent cry out in astonishment that Dante casts a shadow on the rocks; they recognize him as a living creature and not one of them. Hearing them and seeing them point a finger at him, Dante turns around, distracted by these spirits. Virgil scolds Dante for being distracted by these souls and for forgetting the purpose of their journey. At Virgil’s scolding, Dante blushes. 24 Miserere The opening word of Psalm51: “Have mercy on me ” Psalm 51 is a penitential psalm whose singer prays for purification and forgiveness. 29 Came running over, bursting with urgent questions The action of this canto moves rapidly, as opposed to the activity in the circle of the indolents in canto 4. Even the language here illustrates the urgency of move­ ment and discussion in this canto. 37-42 No lightningflashes have I seen . . . Once again, the speedy move­ ment of this canto is reflected in the images of lightning and cavalry charge (“troopers galloping”) that Dante uses to describe the movement of these souls.

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64 Then one replied Although he is not named in the canto, the speaker here isJacopo del Cassero. In 1296, as podesta (mayor) of Bologna, Jacopo opposed the vicious and ruthless actions of Azzo VIII of Este and frus­ trated Azzo’s plans to take over the city. Knowing his life was in danger, Jacopo escaped Bologna in 1298, fleeing to Milan in hopes of procuring a similar post there. On his journey, Azzo’s assassins murdered him at Oriago (Oriaco), a town on the river Brenta between Venice and Padua. 68-71 if you’re in the regionfrom Ravenna . .. Fano, Jacopo del Cassero’s birthplace, was located in the March of Ancona, south of Romagna and north of the kingdom of Naples, which was ruled by Charles of Anjou. 70-72 Let holy prayers he saidfor my salvation . . . Another reference to the power of intercessory prayer. Notice the differences between the souls in Purgatory who ask Dante to take their stories back to their communities so that individuals may pray for them, while the souls in Hell ask Dante not to share their plights with their communities because they are ashamed of their actions. 75 in the heart ofPaduan lands Jacopo thought he would be safe in Padua. According to legend, the Paduans descended from Antenor, son of Priam, who betrayed Troy to the Greeks and who later founded the city of Padua. An entire division of Cocytus is named for Antenor because of his betrayal of Troy {Inf 32.88) 77 Azzo of Este Azzo VIII, marquis of Este, lord of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio, died in 1308. According to legend, he suffocated his own father, Obizzo, with a pillow. Dante mentions Azzo in an attack on corrupt princes in his De Vulgari Eloquentia (1.12.38) and likely in the Inferno (12.112 and 18.56). 88 I camefrom Montefeltro; I am Buonconte The son of Guido of Montefeltro (Inf 27), Buonconte led the Ghibellines of Arezzo against the Guelphs of Florence in 1289 at the battle of Campaldino. Buonconte was killed in the battle and his body never found. 95 Archiano A tributary of the Arno. 104-8 The angel of God descendedfor me . . . See Inferno 27. Buonconte’s father, Guido of Montefeltro, strove to take the correct steps to assure his salvation. However, he did not repent sincerely and thus was cast into Hell. Buonconte, on the other hand, waited until the last moment to repent, but ♦ 607 ♦

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cried tears of contrition (“just one tiny tear-drop before he died”) that indicated sincere repentance. As some commentators have pointed out, the son’s salvation mocks the vain efforts of his father. 132-36 I/Am Pia . . . Although many commentators remain uncertain about the identity of this woman, many believe that she is Pia de’ Tolomei of Siena, wife of Nello della Pietra de’ Pannocchieschi. The cause of Pia’s death is uncertain. According to some stories, Nello threw her out of a window to her death because he suspected her of adultery; according to others, she died in some mysterious way; according to others, Nello killed her so that he could marry the Countess Margherita degli Aldobrandeschi, the widow of Guy of Montfort. Contrast Pia’s story and the style in which she tells it to the story of Francesca (Inf. 5) and the style in which Francesca tells Dante her story. Canto Six 13-14 the Aretine, killed by thefurious/Hands of Ghino di Tacco Benincasa da Laterina was a judge from Arezzo. Driven by revenge for a death sentence that Benincasa had handed down to a relative—it may have been Ghino’s father or brother—Ghino di Tacco disguised himself, entered Benincasa’s courtroom, and killed the judge, escaping with his head. Boccaccio mentions Ghino di Tacco in the Decameron (10.10) as a noto­ rious thief and highwayman. 15 And another who drowned Guccio Tarlati da Pietramala drowned in the Arno following the battle of either Campaldino or Montaperti. According to many commentators, it is uncertain whether Guccio was being chased by his enemy or whether he was chasing his enemy at the time of his death. 16 Federigo Novello Killed in 1291 by the Guelph Bostoli d’Arezzo in a battle in the Casentino, Federigo was the son of Count Guido Novello. 17-18 the murdered son/Ofgood Marzucco Farinata, a doctor of law and son of Messer Marzucco degli Scornigiani of Pisa. A Franciscan Friar Minor, Marzucco demonstrated his goodness by forgiving the murderer of his son. 19 Count Orso The son of Napoleone dell’Acerbaia, Orso was brutally killed by his cousin Alberto di Mangona. Alberto’s father, Alessandro, and ♦ 608 ♦

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his brother, Napoleone, killed each other and are punished as traitors in Caina (Inf. 32.55-58). 22-24 Pierre de la Brosse... andMarie/OfBrabant... Pierre de la Brosse was surgeon and chancellor of Philip III of France. Marie of Brabant falsely accused him of treason, and he was hanged in 1278. According to some accounts, Pierre’s treachery involved the attempted seduction of the queen, Marie. More convincing to most commentators is the account of events in which Philip accuses Pierre of corresponding with Philip’s enemy, Alfonso X; in this account, Marie is responsible for giving instructions to forge the letters that incriminate Pierre. 25-48 As soon as I wasfree of all the spirits. . . In this passage Dante the pilgrim questions Virgil at length about the nature of prayer and its effi­ cacy. Dante reminds his teacher that Virgil’s account of Aeneas’sjourney to Hades in his Aeneid (6.373-76) explores this subject; the Aeneid contains a flat denial that intercessory prayer can change the decrees of Heaven. In Virgil’s story, Aeneas encounters the shade of Palinurus, a drowned sailor, who petitions the Sibyl for passage. Since Palinurus’s body remains unburied, the Sibyl denies him passage and tells him to stop dreaming that his prayers can alter the decrees of the gods. With this story in mind, Dante wonders whether his own intercessory prayers on behalf of the souls he meets in Purgatory are efficacious or merely a waste of breath. Virgil replies that none of the souls in Purgatory seeks such petitions in vain, for they utter their prayers with burning adoration. Virgil attributes the inefficacious nature of Palinurus’s prayers to their pagan context when prayer as a whole was disconnected from God. Virgil advises Dante not to continue to doubt the efficacy of intercessory prayer, for Beatrice will eventually illumine his mind about this matter. 45 She, the light that glows between truth and the mind Between the truth (the nature of prayer) and the mind (Dante’s rational mind) stands Beatrice, who provides the light of Grace that will reveal to the pilgrim the nature and efficacy of prayer. Because Beatrice bestows Grace on the pilgrim, she is able to lead him farther along the way than Virgil, whose understanding of prayer is limited to, and cannot go beyond, Reason. 49-50 My lord, let us move on, and faster/For I am not as weary as I was before The mention of Beatrice spurs Dante to move faster toward his goal.

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51-75 the mountain's begun to cast/A shadow... But the situation is not what you suppose it ... Since the pilgrim and Virgil are ascending the eastern slope of Mount Purgatory, and the sun has moved to the other side o f the “ragged slope,” the pilgrim no longer casts ashadow. This makes him appear asjust another shade rather than as a living creature; thus, Sordello looks toward them but does not see them approaching him. Sordello (12001269) was one of Italy’s most distinguished poets, born in Goito, about ten miles from Mantua. He chose to write his poems in Provencal rather than Italian and became Italy’s most famous troubadour. In 1227, Sordello secretly married Otta, a member of the Strasso family with whom he was living in Ceneda, about fifteen miles from Treviso. When the family discov­ ered this marriage, he and Otta fled to Treviso. In Treviso, Sordello lived with Ezzelino III da Romano, whose sister, Cunizza, Sordello had previ­ ously abducted for political reasons. From 1227 to 1229, Sordello had an affair with Cunizza, who was married to Count Ricciardo di San Bonifazio. When her brother, Ezzelino, discovered the liaison, Sordello had to flee from Treviso. He entered the service of Charles of Anjou in Provence and helped Charles take possession of Sicily. As a reward, Charles shared the distribution of fiefs of Sicily with Sordello. Sordello’s most famous planh, or lament, on the death of Blacatz, a poet and one of the barons of Count Raymond Berengar IV, urges the princes of Europe to eat the dead mans heart in order to gain courage and to be motivated by noble actions. The recognition generated by Sordello’s famous planh is most likely the reason that Dante places Sordello here and assigns him the task of introducing the princes of Europe in canto 7. Dante refers to Sordello in De Vulgari Eloquentia 1.15. 61-62 O noble Lombard soul,/How wondrous dignified you seemed, dis­ dainful This description of Sordello is reminiscent of the description of the noble and disdainful Farinata—a figure also mired in political contro­ versy—in Inferno 10.22-51. 66 Ofa lion lying down and quietly waiting A reference toJudah in Genesis 49:9-10, where Judah is described as “couched as a lion” and quietly waiting. In Genesis, Judah holds “the scepter . . . until he comes to whom it belongs.” That is, Judah is waiting to transfer the kingship (the scepter) to David, the rightful king of Israel and Judah. Most interpretations of the biblical story understand Judah and David as forerunners of Christ, the king who is to rule the world. The association of Sordello with Judah

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foreshadows Sordello’s role in announcing symbolically the coming of Christ in his introduction of the princes of Europe in canto 7. 67-151 Yet Virgil approached, asking him which way . . . For the rest of this canto, Dante the poet holds forth in a long apostrophe regarding his love for Italy in spite of its contentious past and present. When Virgil asks Sordello for directions, the latter does not answer that question but simply inquires from what place the travelers have come and what posi­ tion they held in the world. When Virgil identifies himself as a citizen of Mantua, Sordello jumps up from his seated position, strides over to Virgil, and embraces Virgil, exclaiming that he (Sordello), too, is from Mantua. Immediately after the two Mantuans recognize their common heritage and embrace each other in the love that one countryman feels for another, Dante the poet launches into a lament over “slave-land Italy, home of grief.” While Sordello’s and Virgil’s brief loving embrace represents the power of love in the universe, Dante mourns over the lack of love in an Italy where “those who are still alive/Cannot live without fighting: they gnaw each other,/Even shut in a moat or behind a wall.” 83 theygnaw each other Other translations have “they are at each other’s throats ” Such actions provide a startling contrast to Sordello and Virgil’s embrace in line 75. 88-89 Justinian’s legal/Bridle Justinian was emperor of Constantinople from 527 to 565. The “bridle” refers to the Corpus Iuris Civilis, the Roman legal code thatJustinian wrote. 89-96 ifnow no one sits in the saddle... These lines refer to the confusion in medieval thought regarding the role of Roman law in a state ruled by a non-Roman noble. The king of Germany was the feudal head of the terri­ torial nobility who represented the invaders and conquerors of Italy, while the emperor of Rome was the traditional champion of Roman law and civilization, which represented Italian hopes and goals. Since the king of Germany and the emperor of Rome were the same person, Italians could regard him as representative of either of these tendencies, and as a result conflict over power and authority often arose in medieval Italy. 97-98 0 German Emperor Albert . . . Albert of Hapsburg was elected emperor of Rome in 1298. Because he had to attend to unfinished busi­ ness in Germany, Albert had to delay his coronation in Milan, and he never came to Italy (“deserted her,/Letting her run however she happened ♦ 611 ♦

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to please”). In 1308, Albert’s nephew assassinated him, and Albert was succeeded by Henry VII. 106-7 Montagues and Capulets, Monaldi, /And Filippeschi The Capulets— the anti-imperial Guelph party in Cremona—opposed the Montagues, or Montecchi, party. Although both parties were influential during Dante s life, both parties’ power was considerably weakened by the end of the thirteenth century. The Monaldi (Guelphs) and Filippeschi (Ghibellines) were opposing families in Orvieto. The latter were expelled from the city in 1312. Dante uses these two pairs of families to represent the invidious and destructive political strife that characterized Italy both on the family level and the party level. I l l Santafiom A county in the Sienese Maremma that the powerful Ghibelline Aldobrandeschi family (see canto 11) ruled from the ninth century to the beginning of the fourteenth century. By Dante’s time, the counts of Santafiora had lost much of their power to Guelph rulers. 118 OJove supreme Dante the poet never uses the name of Christ except in the Paradiso, so here he uses the pagan equivalent. 126 MarceUus Probably refers to Marcus Claudius Marcellus, one of three Roman consuls named Marcellus. A supporter of Pompey, Marcellus vocif­ erously opposed Caesar and his rule. In his Pro Marcello, Cicero narrates Caesar’s pardoning of Marcellus at the senate’s instigation. Later, one o f his own attendants murdered Marcellus. 139 Athens and Sparta The two Greek cities where civil law originated; Solon drafted the civil law codes in Athens, while Lycurgus drafted the civil law codes in Sparta. Canto Seven 3-9 Ton, who are you?” ... Sordello once again inquires about the iden­ tities of these two travelers. Virgil answers for the pair, though his expla­ nation focuses on his own identity; he does not identify the background of Dante the pilgrim in his reply. Virgil provides the circumstances of his death and burial, and he explains that the only reason that he is not in Heaven is that he “died without faith.”

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6 Ottoman Octavian, the emperor Augustus, was the first Roman emperor (63 b .c .e .-14 c .e .). 12 “This is . .. this isn't. . . ” This statement reflects the ambivalence that Sordello feels about Virgil; it also serves to introduce the ambivalent char­ acter of the valley of the princes. 21-37 If you have come from HeU, and from which circle . . . Sordello is so humbled by Virgil’s appearance that he apparently has not heard the explanation of Virgil’s origins that Virgil hasjust offered (lines 4-9). In his response to Sordello, Virgil describes Limbo in detail from his own view­ point as an exile, one of the “virtuous pagans who never/Acquired . . . faith, hope,/And Christian love.” Virgil remarks that Heaven’s power has impelled him to make this journey, even though he has learned too late the truths that would have enabled him to see Heaven. Virgil has no hope of ever leaving Limbo permanently for the realm of Heaven. Sordello, on the other hand, can hope, because of the grace of God, to leave behind his own temporary Limbo in Antepurgatory. Virgil describes Limbo as a state characterized by the absence of grace and the inefficacy of good works without that grace. Thus, even innocent children, unbaptized before death and not cleansed from Original Sin, must abide in Limbo. Therefore, souls in Limbo are not afflicted by torments equal to their sins but simply sigh eternally in the darkness that will never be lighted by God’s grace. 40-45 No permanentplace exists... Here Sordello describes the ways that souls can move around in Antepurgatory. These souls are not restricted to a particular place but can move freely during the time that the sun illumines the realm. However, they cannot move around at night, in the absence of the sun. Sordello’s comments serve to reinforce the earlier reference to the “holy Sun” (line 27) and the association of God and the sun. God’s grace illumines the path to Paradise and without the light of the sun (God), such movement is impossible. As long as they keep these guidelines regarding movement in Antepurgatory in mind, Sordello can guide Virgil. Notice that Sordello seems to ignore Dante the pilgrim alto­ gether in his address to Virgil, perhaps because Sordello is so familiar with and so influenced by Virgil’s status as a poet. 49 uDo I hear correctly?" Virgil, still trying to understand the principles governing movement in Antepurgatory, seems not to hear Sordello’s final words regarding a company of souls off to the right to whom Sordello wishes to take the travelers. Many commentators point to Virgil’s lack of ♦ 613 >

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attention to Sordello’s words as parallel to Sordello’s own lack of attention to Virgil’s words in lines 7-8. 52-57 Good Sordello drew a line in the ground . . . Many commentators point out that Sordello’s act resembles Jesus’ mysterious act of writing on the ground in the Gospel of John 8:6-8: “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” Although the connections between Jesus’ act and Sordello’s act are not readily apparent, a glance at John 8:12 clari­ fies the resemblance: after having freed the foreign woman taken in adul­ tery from herjudges and executors, Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 66 Valleys let earthly mountains descend into hollows This line empha­ sizes the similarity between Antepurgatory and Dante the poet’s earthly reality. 82-83 Salve,/Regina This antiphon, which calls upon the Virgin Mary for aid, is sung after vespers. Dante the pilgrim had “not been able / To see” (lines 83-84) the souls singing it, colorless against the beauty of the valley where they sit on the grass. As they sing the hymn, these souls mimic the daily habits of a Christian community on earth. Appropriately, the hymn’s subjects are exile and pilgrimage; it provides a liturgical connec­ tion between earthly believers praying for salvation after death and the souls in this valley who are already dead and already saved but yearning and waiting to enter Paradise. The words of the Solve Regina reflect this connection: “to thee we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears . . . and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” 88 Lookingfrom this ledge The ledge from which the pilgrims look down into the valley recalls the hill in Elysium from which Anchises points out to Aeneas the exemplary figures who will carry out noble deeds on behalf of the Roman Empire and establish its eminence in the world (Aeneid 6.674). 91-136 The one who's sitting highest. . . Sordello here begins his presen­ tation of the princes in the valley. This is the third list of individuals presented thus far in the Commedia, and the description of individuals grows more specific in each list. See Inferno 4 (Limbo) and 5 (the lustful) for the earlier lists.

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94 Emperor Rudolf Rudolf of Hapsburg (1218-91), the son of Albert IV and the first emperor of the house of Austria, attended to political affairs within Germany and failed to bring Italy into the larger, more unified, empire. Ottakar II (see the next entry) opposed Rudolf’s election to emperor in 1273, but the latter defeated Ottakar, winning Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola from Ottakar. 100 Ottakar Ottakar II, king of Bohemia from 1253 to 1278, who pledged himself to Rudolf, his enemy, for a few short years before rebelling once again against Rudolf and being killed near Vienna in 1278. 101 Wenceslas Wenceslas IV (1270-1305) succeeded his father, Ottakar II, as king of Bohemia in 1278. The Bohemian of Paradiso 19.125 is a refer­ ence to Wenceslas. 103 And that one, with his narrow nose Philip III the Bold, king of France (1245-85), was called le Camus because of his snub nose. The son of Louis IX and nephew of Charles of Anjou, Philip married Isabella, the daughter of James I of Aragon. His son, Philip IV, or Philip the Fair, succeeded him. Peter of Aragon defeated Philip IV in 1285 during the massacre of the French in Sicily. 107 Henry the Fat King of Navarre from 1270 to 1274, Henry succeeded his brother, Thibaut II. In spite of his being the “mild one,” Henry had a reputation as a violent ruler. He died in 1274 when he was suffocated by his own fat. 109 Philip the Fair Son of Philip III the Bold and son-in-law of Henry the Fat, Philip the Fair was called the Plague of France because of his viciousness and corruption. Opposing the papacy, he held Pope Boniface VIII prisoner at Agnani, persecuted the Order of the Templars in order to obtain their wealth, and burned the Templars’ leader at the stake in Paris. He died in 1314. Dante shows contempt for Philip the Fair—although Philip is not always mentioned by name—throughout the Commedia (Purg. 20.85-96, 32.148-60 [“a giant,” 152], 33.34-45 [“that sinner,” 35]; Par. 19.118). 112 The one who looks so strong Peter III of Aragon (1236-85), the husband of Constance, Manfred’s daughter, succeeded Charles of Anjou, becoming king of Sicily in 1282.

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113-14 that other, whose nosefiUs/Hisface Charles I of Anjou (1226—85), supporter of the Guelphs, defeated Manfred in Benevento in 1266 to become king of Sicily and Naples. He later lost the throne to Peter III. Although these two kings were fierce enemies, Dante depicts them as singing in harmony. Charles married Beatrix, daughter of Count Raymond Berengar IV of Provence, in 1246, becoming count of Provence. He married Margaret of Burgundy in 1268 following Beatrix’s death in 1267. 115 the boy sitting behind him Most likely Alfonso III of Aragon, Peter I l l ’s eldest son, who reigned from 1285 to 1291. 118-20 James/And Frederick . . . James II of Aragon and Frederick II o f Sicily, the second and third sons of Peter III of Aragon. These kings “could not flower” because of their long dispute over the rightful ownership o f the kingdom of Sicily, and neither of the sons possessed the goodness of their father (“the seed was ruined”). 124-26 My wordsare meantfor the big-nosedoneno less/ThanfarPeter... A reference to Charles I, who stands beside Peter III. The poet compares Charles’s son, Charles II, to the sons of Peter III. In each case, the sons lack the wisdom, virtue, and goodness of the father and are lesser rulers than their fathers. The sufferings of the townspeople of Provence and Apulia under Charles II demonstrate his lack of leadership. 128-29 The measure can even be takenfrom each oftheir wives__ Margaret of Burgundy and Beatrix of Provence were the wives of Charles I of Anjou, and Constance, daughter of Manfred, was the wife of Peter III of Aragon. Many commentators have pointed out that Dante compares the fathers, sons, mothers, and wives of these two families in these ten lines (119-29) to point out that fathers often fail to produce a son worthy of the father. 130 See Henry the Third of England Although frequently praised by his contemporaries for his piety, Henry III (1216-72) is criticized by Sordello for his laziness and cowardice. Henry’s son, Edward I, established long­ standing reforms in English law. Here Henry is sitting alone, apart from the other kings. Some commentators believe that he sits alone because his lands were not part of the Roman Empire; others point to Henry’s modesty as a reason for his solitude; still others observe that his piety prevented him from enacting his responsibilities to his kingdom and that he is thus set apart from the others who were so consumed by their political affairs that they didn’t think about their spiritual welfare. ♦ 616 ♦

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134-36 William, a marquis . . . Surnamed “Long-Sword,” William VII was marquis of Montferrat and Canavese from 1254 to 1292. Once an ally of Charles I, William turned against Charles and led a number of cities, including Alessandria, against Charles. Sometimes these cities rebelled against William, and in 1290, Alessandria rose against him. He failed to suppress the rebellion, and his enemies captured him and put him on public display in an iron cage for seventeen months, until his death in 1292. Although William’s son, John I, tried to avenge his father’s death, he failed. Canto Eight 1-6 Now the hour had come which stirs the hearts . . . As dusk and the hour of compline (6:00 p .m .) approach, sailors and pilgrims yearn for the home they have left behind. During this time, these individuals lose sight of the goals of their journey. Here, the souls of the princes both yearn for their spiritual home—Heaven—and for the earthly homes they have left behind. 7-24 And then I began not to hear what my ears were telling . . . The pilgrim becomes mesmerized by a figure standing below him in the valley. Transfixed by this figure, Dante the pilgrim loses himself in the words of the song that this figure is singing. Dante’s sensory reactions move from sight to sound and back to sight as he watches the “noble band of believers” expectantly waiting for the appearance of the angels. 13 He sang “Te lucis ante, before day’s gone" An early Christian hymn written by Ambrose, bishop of Milan (339-97), usually sung at compline, the Te lucis ante is a prayer for protection from temptation, particularly in the form of evil dreams (“May dreams be kept away/And the specters of the night;/And our enemies repress /Lest our bodies be polluted”). The singing of the hymn foreshadows the battle between the angels and the serpent. 15 nothing remained of my mind, his words were aU The pilgrim’s ecstatic attitude here is reminiscent of his ecstatic stance in Purgatorio 2.112-17, as he listens to Casella’s song. 19-21 (Focusyoureyes, reader...) Here, Dante the poet offers an authorial aside, inviting the reader to interpret the narrative in a symbolic fashion. ♦ 617 ♦

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Dante addresses the reader in much the same way in Inferno 9.61-63, where the poet invites those of sound intellect to consider “what’s hidden beneath this strange /And allegorical verse.” In canto 9 of the Inferno the angel comes to open the gates of Dis, which represents the harrowing of Hell, the first coming of Christ. Here, the angels arrive to protect individuals against the serpent, a symbol of temptation, and a harbinger of the second coming of Christ that occurs after his birth, life, and Resurrection and prior to his coming to judge humanity. During his second coming, Christ comes into individuals’ hearts to help them overcome temptation and lead them toward salvation. The third coming of Christ is acted out symboli­ cally in canto 30 of the Purgatorio, when Beatrice arrives to judge her lover on the mount of Purgatory. 25-30 And I saw two angelsflyingfrom above . . . The beginning of this section recalls the characteristic rhetorical strategy of the biblical book of Revelation, in which the poet, John of Patmos, reports his visions o f angels and their missions to various church communities in Palestine. The green clothing of the angels symbolizes hope. Each angel carries a brokenpointed sword, which most commentators interpret as a symbol of God’s justice tempered with mercy. Some commentators read the broken swords to mean that the results of the battle have already been decided and that only the thrust of the sword and not its deadly edge is needed to defeat the enemy. The swords are also “Set on fire” and, as such, recall the flaming swords of the angels who guard the Garden of Eden following the expul­ sion of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. 37 “They’ve both come from Mary’s bosom” The word “bosom” is a trans­ lation of the Italian grembo (womb). Thus, the line in the original reads, “both come from the womb of Mary” (ambo vengon del grembo di Maria) and suggests the birth of Christ. (See the entry for Purg. 7.82, for the line from the Salve Regina: “show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus”) 41 filled with fear Although Dante the pilgrim is afraid of the coming serpent—because he does not know from which direction the creature is coming—the rest of the inhabitants of the valley of the princes are unafraid. Most critics have read Dante’s fear as a symbol of hourly caution against temptation that Christians must take, for they never know when and where temptation might raise its head. 53 NobleJudge Nino The son of Giovanni Visconti and the grandson of Count Ugolino della Gherardesca (Inf. 33), Nino Visconti (d. 1296) shared ♦ 618 ♦

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the office of podesta in Pisa with Count Ugolino from 1285-88. He married Beatrice of Este, and they had a daughter, Giovanna. Forced to leave Pisa after disagreements with Ugolino, he joined the Guelphs and fought against the Ghibelline forces occupying Pisa. In 1293, he became captain o f the Guelphs and eventually a citizen of Genoa. Nino figures briefly in Inferno 22.81-87, as a part of the story of his assistant, Fra Gomita. 60 But making thesejourneys Dante the pilgrim has come from the dark­ ness and gloom of Hell earlier that same morning, and Dante tells Nino that his pilgrimage through this Purgatory will assure that he earns the reward of entrance into Paradise. 61-63 I made this answer cheerfully unawares... Sordello and others step back in bewilderment when they realize that Dante casts no shadow (see Purg. 6.57). They have failed to recognize Dante as a living person rather than as spirits like themselves. 71 tell my Giovanna to pray Nino’s daughter by Beatrice of Este. She was born around 1291, and when she was five years old, Pope Boniface VIII made her the guardian of the town of Volterra. She lived with her mother in Ferrara and Milan, and then married Rizzardo da Camino, lord of Treviso, but after his death in 1312, Giovanna lived a life of poverty. In 1328, the commune of Florence awarded her a pension on account of her father’s faith and loyalty to Florence and the Guelphs, for the injuries and aggravations the Ghibellines had inflicted on her, and as compensation for all the material goods of which the Ghibellines had deprived her. Nino asks Dante to have Giovanna pray for him since Nino is sure that his wife, Beatrice, has forgotten him in her new marriage. 73 I do not think her mother loves me Nino upbraids his wife for marrying so soon after his death, using Beatrice as a model of flighty women whose heads are turned by money and for whom the fire of love lasts only as long as there is a physical presence of another to stoke that fire. Daughter of Obizzo II d’Este and sister of Azzo VIII, Beatrice married Galeazzo Visconti in June 1300, soon after Nino’s death, and lived with him in Milan, from which they were expelled in 1302; she lived with Visconti in poverty until his death in 1328. She eventually returned to Milan when her son, Azzo, became lord of Milan. Many translations include the reference to Beatrice’s giving up the “white veils” of mourning and Nino’s reproach that the poverty of her marriage to Visconti will soon have her wishing that she had not given up these white veils of widowhood. ♦ 619 ♦

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76 She shows how women are flighty In biblical literature, inconstant women are frequently symbols either of Israel’s inability to adhere to the one God who has chosen Israel (Hosea) or of the Church’s inability to adhere to Christ, the Church’s spouse (Ephesians; 2 Corinthians). Some critics have pointed out that Beatrice could also represent the human soul, much as Cato’s widow does in Dante’s Convixno (4.28, 13). 80-81 With a strutting roosterperched above it . .. “Gallura’s rooster” (“the strutting rooster”) is prominently displayed on Nino’s coat of arms. The coat of arms of the Milanese Visconti—into which Beatrice marries after she abandons Nino—features the “slinking viper.” Since a woman’s tomb would traditionally be adorned with her husband’s coat of arms, Nino reproaches Beatrice for her marriage to Galeazzo. The “slinking viper” anticipates the serpent which is to appear soon, and the rooster symbol­ izes Christ and his Resurrection, for in announcing the dawn, the rooster (Christ) chases away the phantoms of the night. 86-87 In the slowest part of the sky . . .

The South Pole.

89-93 Those three burning torches. . . The four stars that Dante had seen in the morning are now almost out of sight as these new stars come to take their place. Dante the pilgrim is now drawing close to Purgatory to begin his ascent of the mountain of God. The lights that have accompanied him through Antepurgatory are beginning to dim, and these new stars direct his actions toward God rather than toward others. These three torches, or stars, represent the three theological virtues—faith, hope, and charity— and take the place of the four stars that represent the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. 96 Behold! There he comes, our enemy! The Devil, the enemy of all human­ kind, appears in the form of a snake. 99 Perhaps the kind that visited Eve The mention of the snake recalls Eve in the primal garden and her conversations with the crafty creature, while the early reference to the angels in this canto (line 37) recalls Mary, the new Eve. 100-108 Slipping through grass and flowers . . . Much as in the primal garden—the Garden of Eden—the snake slides through the natural world of beauty. The valley represents our world, in which temptation visits us much like the snake, gliding slowly and often unseen through the beauty

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of our lives. The angels are pure action and motion, representing God’s grace in action. The battle between the snake and the angels illustrates the dualism of light and darkness that so characterizes the valley of the princes. 109 Currado Currado II (d. 1294), the son of Federigo I, marquis of Villafranca, and grandson of Currado I, “the old one” (line 118), and a member of the powerful Ghibelline family of Malaspina. 114 that enameled sky Either the summit of the mount of Purgatory or to the Empyrean. The word “enameled” (smalto, translated by Raffel as “glazed”) also appears in Inferno 4.118 (il verde smalto), where it describes the lustrous green grass on which the “mighty shades,” including Electra, Hector, and Aeneas, are seated. 116 Magra valley After Dante’sexile from Florence in 1306, Franceschino, another of Currado I’s grandsons, hosted Dante in Lunigiana, the site of the Magra valley. 122-32 Is there any place in Europe where your family’s/Name will not be honored . . . Dante praises the Malaspina family for their virtues and points out that the family name is honored throughout a corrupt Europe for their generosity and humility. 130 Both Nature and custom have grantedyour people glory The Malaspina family’s habitual good actions result from a combination of the sustained practice of virtue (compare Aristotle’s moral virtues) and the natural disposition toward good given them by God. 131 Wickedness may lead some people far astray A reference perhaps to Satan or to Pope Boniface VIII, who represents the corrupt face of the papacy. 133-39 Know that before the Ram... Currado’s prophecy of Dante’s exile. Currado predicts that before the sun returns seven times, or seven years, to the constellation of Aries (the Ram), Dante will experience the gener­ osity of the Malaspinas about which he has only heard. In 1306, Dante indeed takes refuge with the Malaspinas. Some critics have pointed out that the sexual imagery of the Ram that ends this canto anticipates the erotic imagery that opens the next canto.

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Canto Nine 1-9 Tithonus’ mistress, goddess of the moon . . . The indirect discourse of this canto signals a poetic transition between Dante the pilgrim’s activi­ ties in Antepurgatory in the previous cantos and his continuing journey up the mount of Purgatory in the following cantos. See lines 70-72 of this canto for Dante the poet’s aside about the nature of poetic art and his aspirations for this poem to achieve the heights of the great poetic artistry achieved by the classical poets such as Virgil. These first nine lines extend the classical myth of Aurora, goddess of the dawn and daughter of the sun, in an attempt to establish the temporal order of events in this section of the Purgatorio. The references to darkness and dawn also set the stage for Dante’s dream and provide an explanation of the time of night in which Dante finds himself. There is some controversy among interpreters about the exact time to which these lines refer. Some accept the first three lines as a reference to Aurora, who had left the arms of her lover and whose forehead is “Brilliantly bright,” and a sign of the dawn. According to this reading, Dante falls asleep at dawn. The majority of critical opinion, however, interprets these opening lines as a reference to the place and time where Dante and Virgil find themselves (“where we were”) in Purgatory. Thus, “darkness had taken/The first two steps . . ./And the third was already arching its wings.” Since night is divided into twelve hours, six prior to midnight and six after midnight, these lines indicate that it is now about 9:00 p .m . in Purgatory when Dante the pilgrim is “defeated by sleep” (line 11). The “eastern balcony” refers to the dawn in Italy (where Dante the poet is writing), where it is about 5:00 a .m . 1 Tithonus Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Tithonus, the brother of Priam, and married him. She asked the gods to provide her husband the gift of immortality but failed to ask them to grant him the gift of eternal youth. When he began to grow old, feeble, and frail, she turned him into a cicada. 5 In the shape of that cold and silent creature A reference to the constella­ tion Scorpio, which faces Aurora as she rises. See also the similarities of this “cold and silent creature” to Minos in canto 5 of the Inferno, the bestial creature who judges sinners, wrapping his tail around these shades and casting them into the eternal death of various regions of Hell. 8 Thefirst two steps by which she always ascends About 8:30 or 9:00 at night.

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9 arching its wings This reference foreshadows the swallows (line 13) and the eagle (lines 19ff.) about which Dante dreams. 10 Having in me something ofancient Adam Adam is the primal man, who symbolizes the weakness of the flesh in Christian mythology. Dante’s flesh, like Adam’s, is weak, and he needs rest. 12 thefive of us Virgil, Dante the pilgrim, Sordello, Nino, and Currado. 13-15 At the hour when swallows begin their somber songs . . . In classical mythology, KingTereus rapes his sister-in-law, Philomena (Philomela), and cuts out her tongue so that she can’t report this act to her sister, Procne, Tereus’s wife. Philomena manages to report the rape to Procne, however, by weaving a tapestry depicting the rape. Furious, Procne plots with her sister to take revenge on her husband, and the two women kill Procne’s infant son and serve his cooked flesh to Tereus, the boy’s father. Infuriated when he learns what he has eaten, Tereus chases the women with an ax in an attempt to kill them; before he can murder them, though, they are all three turned into birds: Philomena into a nightingale; Procne into a swallow; Tereus into a hoopoe. Dante alters the myth slightly, for he here has Philomena as a swallow and later (Purg,; 17.19-21) depicts Procne as a nightingale. Ovid’s Metamorphoses (6.423-674) is Dante’s primary source for this myth, but he likely referred as well to Virgil’s Eclogues, 6.78-81, and Virgil’s Georgies, 4.15 and 511-15. 13-18 At the hour.. ./Not much before dawn. . . This passage introduces the first of the pilgrim’s three dreams or visions that occurjust before dawn (see cantos 19 and 27). According to ancient and medieval lore, dreams that take place during the early morning hours just prior to dawn are prophetic. In lines 16-18, the pilgrim meditates on the conflict between the flesh and the intellect. Dante’s dream, and his description of it, is full of sensual imagery, butjust before he wakes he realizes the inability of the flesh to make it on its own beyond the earthly realms. The last searing images (lines 30-33) instruct Dante the pilgrim that he must journey through fire to reach the Earthly Paradise. The dream signals the end of his journey through Antepurgatory and the beginning of his journey to the gates of Purgatory. 19-20 I sawan eagleflying/High, ongolden wings The eagle (already antic­ ipated by the “arching ... wings” of line 9) anticipates the real Lucy (Saint Lucia), whom Dante meetsjust after he awakes from his dream (line 55).



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22 Ganymede Ganymede, son of Tros, the king of Troy, was reputed to be the most beautiful mortal on earth. Jove was so taken by Ganymede’s beauty thatJove took the form of an eagle and abducted the beautiful boy, carrying him to Olympus to make him eternal cup-bearer to the gods. As some critics have pointed out, Ganymede’s story parallels the canto’s opening story of Tithonus, whom Aurora kidnapped and took to the realm of the gods. These two stories, then, report violent erotic acts that suddenly transport humans to a divine realm. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.155-61, and Virgil, Aeneid 5.332-39. 24 where the gods were meeting “Meeting” (consistoro) is an ecclesiastical term that Dante here uses to connect Jove to the Christian God. 30-31 And brought me up to the fire, burning as far/As the moon In the cosmology of Dante’s time, the sphere of fire, surrounding the air, stretched to the moon. 34-39 Much like the youngAchilles shaking himself... Dante awakes from his dream not in the lush green valley of Antepurgatory but at the gates of Purgatory, just as the young Achilles awoke in a new and unfamiliar land: Frightened that Achilles would be dragged off to fight in the Trojan War, his mother, Thetis, whisked him away from his tutor, Chiron, while he was sleeping and escaped to the distant island of Skyros. There she dressed him as a girl so he would not be discovered. He grew up among the women in the court of King Lycomedes until Ulysses and Diomides, on their way to fight the Trojan War, tricked him, uncovered his identity, and persuaded him to join them in fighting the war. According to Virgil, Ulysses and Diomides are consigned to Hell for this crime (Inf. 26.61-63). See Statius, Achilleid 1.104-241. 44 the sun was two hours higjh in the sky After 8 a .m . on Easter Monday. 50 the cliff God placed The gates of Purgatory. 55 I am Lucy According to legend, Saint Lucy (Lucia) of Syracuse plucked out her eyes when a persistent suitor expressed his admiration of her eyes. For this act of magnanimous charity, God rewarded Lucy with a pair of even more beautiful eyes; she is the patron saint of those who suffer from defects of sight or from impaired vision. She symbolizes illuminating Grace and intercedes here (as she did in Inf. 2.100-108) to help Dante along hisjourney.

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70-72 Reader, surely you see how I have heightened . . . In this direct address, Dante the poet reminds his readers that his poem will now climb to artistic heights that match the exalted heights of Purgatory. As some critics have suggested, the poet may be preparing his reader for the three steps he is getting ready to climb; or he may be pointing to the complex structure of the terraces of Purgatory itself. 77-84 a person in charge . . . This angel guarding the narrow gate of Purgatory recalls the two angels of canto 8. He holds a naked sword in his hand, a symbol of divine authority and divine judgment, and the sun (a symbol of God) flashes so brilliantly off the blade that Dante the pilgrim has to look away. This angel, with his flaming sword, recalls also the Cherubim who stand outside the gates of Eden—the Earthly Paradise—guarding the entrance to Eden from the primal couple who have been expelled from this paradise (Gen. 3:24). As some critics have suggested, this angel, too, stands outside of Eden, for the Earthly Paradise stands at the top of the mount of Purgatory. This angel also acts as a priest confessor, which is evident from the rest of the canto. 86 Where is the escort who brought you here? Much like Cato in the Purgatorio (1.43) and Minos in the Inferno (5.19), this guardian advises the pilgrim and Virgil to be aware of who is guiding them along their path. Are they prepared to go through his gate, and are they armed with the Grace to make this journey? When Virgil assures the angel that Lucy (“A lady from Heaven,” line 88) has instructed them to proceed to this gate, the angel becomes “courteous and polite” (line 92). 94-102 Thefirst ofthe steps was white... These three steps symbolize the sacrament of repentance. The first step, made of highly polished marble, is “like a mirror” in which the pilgrim can see his reflection. The first step represents the act of self-examination in which the sinner sees himself in the depths of his sinfulness and acknowledges that sinfulness. The second step, rough and “almost black,” represents the act of contrition in which the sinner would, after the self-examination of the first step, confess the emotional disruption that sin has brought to his life. The third step— “flaming/Red as blood spurting from a vein”—represents penance, the satisfaction of a sinner’s debts by works. The red color also suggests, of course, the blood that Christ shed in redeeming sins. 103-5 Seated on the threshold, the angel of God... This passage builds on Matthew 16:18-19, in which Christ calls Peter the rock (petrus) upon which ♦ 625 ♦

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the Church will be built. Here, the angel sits upon stone (pietra) which is adamantine rock, symbolizing the firmest of foundations. The angel's association with Peter becomes clear in lines 117-27. Just as Peter holds the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, the angel holds the keys to Purgatory. I l l three times pounding on my breast The traditional sign of repentance, this act is accompanied by the phrase mea culpa, mea culpa, maxima mea culpa. 112-14 Usingthepoint ofhis swordhe drewseven/P’son myforehead... The P stands for peccatum, the Latin word for sin. The seven P’s represent the seven deadly sins (pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust). In order to wash away these sins, Dante must, like all other penitents, make this journey through the seven terraces of Purgatory and thus cleanse himself successively of each of these seven sins. 115-16 His clothes were colored like ashes... The gray and ashen color of the angel’s clothes represents humility and a contrite heart. 117-26 He drew a pair of keys, one ofgold,/The other ofsilver... The keys represent the angel’s ecclesiastical authority. The angel acts as the divinely ordained priest confessor who, dressed in the garments appropriate to the sacrament of penance, holds the keys to the kingdom through which Dante must pass on hisjourney to Paradise. The silver key symbolizes the wisdom of the confessor and counselor in discerning the depth of the sinner’s sin and the confessor’s skill in offering the appropriate absolution for the sin (“disentangling] the knot”). Using this key requires “Greater skill and wisdom." The gold key, which is worth more than the silver key, symbol­ izes the priest confessor’s authority to absolve the sinner; this authority is given to the priest by God and thus the priest becomes the mediator of the divine act of forgiveness. 127 Peter gave them to me The angel makes clear that his ecclesiastical authority has been given to him by his association with Peter. The pilgrim’s meeting with the angel here foreshadows the pilgrim’s meeting with Peter in Paradise. 132 For he who looks hack must go outside again In both biblical and clas­ sical mythology, looking back represents a weak resolve on the part of the individual to embrace a new life. In Genesis 19:24ff., God delivers Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah as God destroys the city, on the

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condition that they will not look back. Fleeing the destruction, Lot’s wife looks back and immediately turns into a pillar of salt. In this story, the act o f looking back is a sign of an attachment to the wickedness of the city. In classical myth, Orpheus is permitted to lead Eurydice out of Hades as long as he does not look back. As they are escaping the underworld, Orpheus turns back to see how Eurydice is progressing, and she vanishes. 133-38 the pivotrpegs on that sacred door. . . Rusty from lack of use (see also Purg,: 10.1-4, which describes the shutting of the same door), the door to Purgatory creaks open. Dante contrasts this sound to the sound of the opening of the door of the Roman treasury after Caesar defeated Metellus. Metellus attempted to prevent Caesar from crossing the Rubicon and from entering the temple of Saturn, on the Tarpeian Rock, where the Roman treasury was located. Caesar defeated Metellus and captured the treasury. In his Pharsalia (3.153-68), Lucan describes the deafening echoes in the rock when the doors to the treasury were opened after Metellus’s defeat. 140 Te Deum laudamus “We Praise Thee, O God,” is a hymn of thanks­ giving, composed by Ambrose, bishop of Milan (339-97 c .e .), that cele­ brates the mystery of the Trinity. Some interpreters have pointed out that the lines of the hymn—“When Thou hadst overcome the sting of death, Thou didst open to believers the Kingdom of Heaven” (Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum)—are most appropriate to the angel’s opening of the gates of Purgatory. 143 Of people singing while an organ played Some commentators have suggested that Dante here translates the loud grating of the opening of the gate to Purgatory as a sweet sound, combining the strains of organ music and the people’svoices, because of the kingdom into which the gate opens. Canto Ten 2-3 For souls havefallen in love/ With evil.. . For Dante, love is the force that provides order in the universe. Love rightly ordered results in good works; love that is disordered leads to sin and evil. Of course, the Commedia climaxes with Dante’s famous paean to the “Love that moves both sun and stars” (Par. 33.145) and reflects the classical, established by Aristotle, and the medieval belief that love was the highest ordering principle of

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the cosmos. Since individuals often express their love through disorder— that is, through love of the flesh and evil—the gate to Purgatory is “often unused.” Virgil will provide a longer discourse about love in the Purgatorio (17.103ff.), where he will stress that souls in Purgatory must redirect their love so that it is in order with Divine Love. 5-6 And had I turned to watch . . . Dante has listened well to the angels warning about the consequences of looking back (holding onto the earthly life of sin and corruption) in the previous canto (9.131-32). 7-15 My leader and / were climbing up. . . The path through the terraces of Purgatory is narrow and difficult. Dante contrasts the narrow entrance into Purgatory, which only some souls can enter, with the wide entrance to Hell, which many souls can enter. The “needle’s eye” recallsJesus* words to his disciples in Matthew 19:24: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven ” 13-15 the sinking moon descended . . . The moon has set. Because it has been four days since the full moon (Inf. 20.127), the moon now sets three hours after the sunrise. The “sun was two hours high” (9.44) when Dante and Virgil came to the gate of Purgatory, and the moon has set before they “reached the end of that needle’s eye”; their journey has taken them over an hour to complete. 20-24 So westopped to restfor a while, at a level spot... is the first terrace, occupied by the prideful.

This solitary place

31 snow-white marble, covered with such carvings Dante encounters cor­ rective examples to the sins being purged at the entrance to each of the terraces of Purgatory. These examples are often presented in pictorial designs, and here the corrective examples are in sculpted carvings that are more beautiful than any Greek sculptor could carve. Since the sin of pride is being purged in this first terrace, the carvings depict the virtue of humility. 32 Polycletus A contemporary of Phidias, Polycletus (452-412 b .c .e .) was a Greek sculptor whose work was celebrated by Aristotle, Cicero, Pliny, Quintilian, and many Italian poets prior to Dante. Just as Phidias was the master of sculpting beautiful images of the gods, Polycletus was the master of portraiture and sculpting beautiful images of humans. These carvings

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that Dante encounters here at the entrance to the first terrace are exam­ ples of Divine Art that are superior to the beauty of both Nature’s and Polycletus’s art. 34-45 The angel Gabriel, coming to earth with God’s/Decree to Mary... As will be the case in each of the corrective examples that Dante the pilgrim encounters in Purgatory, the first of the examples is drawn from the life of Mary, the mother of God. In this case, the episode from Mary’s life is the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), in which the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is bearing God’s son in her womb. She accepts this message from the angel with great humility, accepting God’s will completely for her life. 35 opening Heaven once more Between the time of Adam’s Fall in the Garden of Eden and the Annunciation of the Redeemer, Heaven was closed to humankind. During this period of time (sometimes translated as “the long interdict”), all souls who died and were destined for Heaven went to Limbo (Inf. 4.52-63). At the Annunciation, this decree was lifted, and Heaven was open once more. 41-42 she who opened the key... In Revelation 3:7, Mary is called the “key of David,” and in giving birth to Christ, she “opened the key” that brought to humankind the endless love of God through Christ. 44 I am your servant, Lord In Luke 1:38, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Ecce ancilla Dei) is Mary’s humble response to Gabriel’s announce­ ment that she is the virgin carrying God’s son. 52-69 And there I saw another tale . . . The second carving that Dante sees depicts the story of King David and his transporting of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1-17). After David leads the Israelites in victory over the Philistines, he directs them to transport the ark to Jerusalem from the house of Abinadab. During the journey, the oxen pulling the cart carrying the ark stumble and Uzzah, one of Abinadab’s sons, reaches out and touches the ark to steady it. God strikes Uzzah dead immediately (“The ark of the covenant, too sacred for those / Not autho­ rized, by God himself, to touch”). David eventually brings the ark into Jerusalem, dancing before it in humility and worship as it enters the city. According to Dante, David’s “dancing high and hard” made him “Less than a king, in men’s eyes, but more, in God’s.”

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68 Michal David’s first wife, Michal, the daughter of King Saul, watched David’s dance with disgust and reproached him for it. God later punished her by making her infertile (2 Kings 6:23). 73-93 There wasthe story ofRome’sgreatprince, the emperor/ TYujan... On his way to battle, the Roman emperor Trajan (98-117 c .e.) stopped to listen to the story of a poor widow who mourns her murdered son and begs Trajan to bring herjustice. According to the medieval Fiore di Filosofi and in John the Deacon’s Sancti Gregorii Magni Vita ( The Life o f Saint Gregory), Saint Gregory (pope from 590 to 604 c.e.) wept over Trajan’s soul and prayed that the pagan Trajan might be brought back to life, have a chance to repent, and receive God’s grace. In this story of the power of intercessory prayer, an angel tells Gregory that his prayer has been granted but never to utter such a prayer again. Dante mentions this incident again in Paradiso 20.44-45. 94-96 God, who never beheld anything new . . . Although nothing is ever new to God, in God’s infinite wisdom, God animates these carvings so that Dante is seeing vividly as for the first time. The vivacious presence of the figures in these carvings speaks loudly to Dante as if these people were living creatures. In lines 103-5, Dante remarks that he gains immense pleasure at gazing at these new sights not only because they entertain him but because they teach him a lesson about sin and its purgation. 106-11 But reader, you’re now about to hear theform ... Dante the poet is about to describe the forms of punishment by which sinners are purged of their sins. However, he reminds his readers that they should focus not on the punishment or the deed but only on what follows the punishment of the sin. Paradise follows the purgation of sins. Moreover, Purgatory will not last beyond the Day of Judgment, for on that day each soul will be reunited with its body and consigned to Heaven or Hell. Presumably the souls in Purgatory will be consigned to Heaven. 112-20 Master, I see what’s moving toward us. . . These are the prideful, who must atone for their sins of pride by bending under the weights of stones. Because they stood with an arrogant posture in life, these indi­ viduals’ stature is bent low by these stones. 121-29 O haughty Christians, miserable and weary . . . Dante the poet addresses his readers who continue to place “eternal trust in what walks backward”; that is, he addresses those who cling to earthly vices (walking backward refers to moral corruption) and refuse to recognize their ability

NOTES TO PU R G A T O R IO

to be transformed. In harsh terms, Dante reminds his readers that humans are worms whose destiny it is to die, and as a consequence, humans have no reason to be prideful. However, the image of the transformation of worms into angelic butterflies provides a central image in the Purgatorio. Perfection is possible and is represented by weightlessness, which allows the soul to fly to Paradise. Once the proud souls in this first terrace of Purgatory complete their penance, the stones will be lifted from their necks and they will move closer to the weightlessness of perfection. Canto Eleven 1-21 O our Father, whoseplace is high in Heaven... The first seven tercets o f this canto paraphrase the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4) with a focus on humility. Many critics have suggested that these seven tercets represent the seven terraces of Purgatory, the seven sins that are purged in Purgatory, and the seven virtues that oppose those sins. However, the strong emphasis on humility makes it clear that the paraphrase centers solely on the prideful and the virtue for which they strive. 1—3 O ourfather, whose place is high in Heaven . . . God is limitless and boundless but chooses to reign in Heaven because of God’s love of the angels and the heavens (“first of Your creations”). 4-6 May Your name bepraised by every living/Creature... Dante adds the phrases “every living/Creature” and “all the emanations” to the original “hallowed be thy name” as a way of indicating the humility of all creation before God. Some critics point out that these verses recall the Laudes creaturarum of Saint Francis, who is often considered the greatest example of humility in the Middle Ages. 7-9 May Your kingdom's peace come doitm . . . Many consider these lines to be Dante the poet’s own plea for humility. A notably proud man, Dante recognizes that he is not strong enough by himself to give up his pride, no matter how hard he strives. He realizes that even he must ask for God’s help. 13-15 Give us, this day, our daily grace, without which/Men go backwards... “Daily grace” is most often translated “daily manna” (which is the way the Italian reads). This translation captures in a clearer fashion the theme of the Exodus, which is the central motif of Antepurgatory (Purg. 2.46). Just ♦ 631 ♦

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as in the Exodus, individuals need sustenance as they wander through the desert; here in this desert they will need the spiritual sustenance of daily manna. 20 our ancientfoe The Devil. 22-24 And this last prayer, dear Lord, we do not make . . . Those in Purgatory do not need prayer to protect them from the Devil and his evil ways, for they are not tempted by sin and need not pray for deliverance from evil. They do pray for those left behind on earth. 28-30 their burdens were real... Each soul suffers according to the depth and seriousness of his sin (“not/All equal, but exhausting”). 31-35 If aU these spirits invariably pray for us . . . Much as the souls in Purgatory pray for those who are still living, those souls “rooted in grace and charity” should pray for the souls in Purgatory in order to help them “Wash away their earthly stains” and begin the journey toward perfec­ tion and the rise toward Paradise. For the image of washing away sins, see Purgatorio 9.113-14. 37-38 soon relieve you/Of all these burdens, and you may spread your wings The image of wings and flight, so central to the Purgatorio, appears again. See 10.121-29. 43-44 carrying the weigjht/OfAdam’sflesh Dante the pilgrim is himself weighed down like the souls in Purgatory. 52 if I weren’t stopped by this stone If the speaker’s punishment weren’t so heavy, he might be able to raise his eyes and look at Dante the pilgrim. 59 Guiglielmo Aldobrttndesco The count of Santafiora, a village near Siena, hated the Sienese so much that he allied himself with the Florentine Guelphs. 67 Omberto In 1259, Omberto, the second son of Guiglielmo Aldobrandesco, was killed, either in the battle near Campagnatico or by Sienese assassins who murdered him in his sleep. 78 As I, bent over, was walking along beside them As he passes along several of the terraces, Dante identifies particularly with three sins: pride, wrath, and lust. On each of those terraces, he participates in, or somehow



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sympathizes with, the punishment of the sinners. So, here he walks as if bearing a heavy weight. In canto 13, Dante admits that his own worst sin is pride (lines 137-38). Even when he rises from the bent posture of the prideful, his thoughts “Remained bowed down and shrunk to a very low height” (12.7-9). 79-80 Oderisi/Bom and honored in Gubbio Oderisi (1240-99?) was a famous illuminator of manuscripts and miniaturist, and his fame brought him great pride in his work. Benvenuto comments on Oderisi’s great vanity. Vasari points out that Boniface VIII employed Oderisi to illuminate manu­ scripts in the papal library, but that Franco Bolognese, Oderisi’s student, was a better artist. In lines 82-84, Oderisi states, perhaps relinquishing some of his pride, that Bolognese paints miniatures with really vivid color and that Bolognese should be honored more than he (Oderisi) should. 83 Franco Bolognese Little information exists about this artist other than that he was Oderisi’s pupil and that he received commissions from Pope Boniface VIII. 91 O, the empty glory of earthly power! Individuals can quickly become famous for their achievements, but that fame is fleeting and is quickly surpassed by others. Only if the age following the one in which one’s fame is achieved produces nothing of value might fame endure. 94 Cimabue Cenni de Pepo, known as Giovanni Cimabue (1240-1302), began the break with the Byzantine tradition of art and was the teacher of the great Florentine painter Giotto of Bondone. 95 Giotto Giotto of Bondone (1266-1337), Cimabue’s famous pupil, became one of the great painters of nature and is often called the father of modern painting. Many attribute the famous portrait of Dante, of whom he was a personal friend, in the Bargello in Florence to Giotto. 97-99 One Guido... Dante refers to two Florentine poets in these lines, measuring his own poetic artistry against these two writers. The first Guido is Guido Cavalcanti (1259-1300), to whom Dante refers in his Vita Nuova as his “first friend.” Dante meets Cavalcanti’s father in Hell (see Inf 10.52-60). The second is Guido Guinizzelli (1230-76), a Bolognese poet whom Dante in Purgatorio 26.97-99 calls the “father of other/Poets . . . who sang/Sweet and easy rhymes of love before us.” According to Dante, Cavalcanti’s poetry has surpassed Guinizzelli’s poetry.



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106-8 And a thousandyears... See Psalm 90:4 (89:4 in the Vulgate): “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” 116-17 Of grass, which comes and grows . . . Again, see Psalm 90:5—6 (89:5-6 in the Vulgate): “in the morning they are like the grass which grows up. In the morning it flourishes, and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and it withers” 121-23 He is Provenzan Salvani . . . Provenzan Salvani (1220-69) was the Ghibelline chief in Siena. After the battle of Montaperti in 1260, he tried to destroy Florence but was defeated by Farinata degli Uberti {Inf. 10.91-93). He started to lose power after the battle of Benevento in 1266, and he was killed by the Florentine Cavolino de Tolomei at the battle of Colle di Val d’Elsa in 1269. 136 Charles Charles of Anjou. Charles threatened to put to death a friend of Provenzan’s who was a prisoner in one of Charles’sjails. In spite of his lofty station, Provenzan sat in the market square in Siena and begged alms for a month, acquiring the necessary funds—ten thousand gold florins— in time to pay to have his friend released. 139-41 I can’t say more . . . Oderisi’s prophecy of Dante’s exile from Florence (1302). Dante will soon know what it is like to live on the charity of others. See Purgatorio 17. 142 Provenzan had earned the right to come here Provenzan was allowed to come immediately into Purgatory rather than waiting in Antepurgatory until he was prepared to enter Purgatory. Canto Twelve 2 that burdened soul Oderisi. 3 my gentle teacher Pedagago, or instructor of small boys, is the Italian word here translated as “teacher.” Virgil is a humble guide and teacher who instructs Dante the pilgrim with great patience. The yoked oxen in line 1 also represent the patience and humility with which Dante, and Oderisi, walk with Virgil.

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5-6 For here it is better that each man journeys on/With sail and oars completely of his own Just as he did in canto 1 of the Purgatorio, Dante compares hisjourney to a sea voyage. The seajourney recalls Ulysses (Inf 26), who undertakes hisjourney with such pride in himself that his voyage is destined to fail from the start. If Dante undertakes his journey with humility, however, he will most certainly reach his destination. 16-17 As we remember the buried dead, and stones/Are set in the church's floor The examples of pride are cut into the stone of the terrace like memo­ rial stones in a church floor, so that they must be viewed with the head bent low, in a position of humility. Also, many of the souls on the terrace, buried under the weight of the stones, cannot raise their eyes or heads. 22-63 A host of well-remembered mortals on the floor . . . This series of carvings presents thirteen examples of the sin of pride and its devas­ tating consequences, drawn alternately from both classical and biblical literature. As most interpreters have observed, this section is composed of twelve tercets, each beginning with the letters U, O, and M, respectively. This acrostic is carried over into the thirteenth tercet, forming turn, the Italian word for “man.” In these passages Dante cleverly illustrates that pride is such a common sin that “man” (humanity) is identical with pride. Dante’s use of this medieval Latin rhetorical device also demonstrates his own pride in his craft and confirms his own contention that pride is the sin of which he is most guilty. 28 Briareus One of the giants who fought againstJupiter (see Inf. 31.98) and the Olympian gods; Jupiter struck him dead with a thunderbolt beneath Mount Etna. 31-32 Apollo... Athena and Mars... Apollo, also known as Thymbraeus (Aeneid 3.112; Georgies 4.323), Athena, and Mars are staring at the bodies and limbs of the fallen giants. Hercules and the gods defeated the giants and scattered their limbs across the earth. See Statius, Thebaid 1.643, 699; 3.513, 638; and 4.515; and Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.150-51. 34 Nimrod In Genesis 10:10, Nimrod is the giant who built the Tower of Babel on the plain of Shinar (Sinar). See also Inferno 31.77-78 and Paradiso 26.125-26. 37 Niobe The daughter of Tantalus and Dione, and the wife of Amphion, king of Thebes. Proud of her seven sons and seven daughters, Niobe

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boasted that she was more fertile and a better mother than the goddess Latona, whose only two children were Apollo and Diana. In order to punish Niobe’s pride, Apollo killed her seven sons, and Diana killed her seven daughters. Jupiter turned Niobe into stone, even though her tears continued to flow ceaselessly. Ovid’s Metamorphoses 6.182-312 is Dante’s source for the story. 40 Saul The first king of Israel, Saul disobeyed God by sparing a life and allowing the ban on taking booty from a conquered tribe to be violated (1 Sam. 15:3-11). Saul’s proud actions led to the defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines and to his ultimate death by his own hand. Saul killed himself on Mount Gilboa, and Saul’s successor, David, lamented his death by crying out that neither dew nor rain should fall any longer on the moun­ tain (2 Sam. 1:21). 43 Arachne The daughter of Idmon of Colophon, Arachne was so proud of her skill as a weaver that she challenged the goddess Minerva to a weaving contest. Arachne wove such a perfect and beautiful cloth that Minerva ripped it up in a fit of jealous rage. Arachne hung herself, but Minerva loosened the rope, turning it into a cobweb and Arachne into a spider. Dante’s source is Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.1-145. (See also Inf. 17.18.) 46 Rehoboam The son of Solomon who succeeded to the throne after his father’s death. Lacking the political wisdom of his father and possessing the pride of his new office, Rehoboam boasted that he would impose even heavier taxes on the people of Israel than his father had. The people of Israel revolted, and Rehoboam fled toJerusalem. Rehoboam’s actions split the kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms, commencing the lengthy demise of the nation. See 1 Kings 12:18. 50 Alcmaeon The son of Amphiarus the soothsayer (Inf. 20.34) and Eriphyle. According to legend, Amphiarus foresaw his death in the batde of Thebes, and he hid himself so that he would not have to go to war. Polynices bribed Eriphyle with a “pretty string of stones” (line 51) so that she would reveal her husband’s hiding place. When Polynices discovered Amphiarus, the latter was forced to go into battle, where he died. Before he went to war, though, Amphiarus asked his son, Alcmaeon, to seek vengeance; Alcmaeon then killed his mother as revenge for his father’s death. Dante’s source for this story is Statius, Thebaid 2.265-305.

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52 Sennacherib The king of Assyria from 705 to 681 b .c .e ., Sennacherib attacked the Israelites and their king, Hezekiah. Although outnumbered, the Israelites defeated Sennacherib when the angel of the Lord intervened on their behalf, and he fled. His sons later killed him as he worshipped false gods. See 2 Kings 19:36-37 and Isaiah 37:37-38. 55-56 Queen Tomyris, ofScythia... Cyrus of Persia (560-529 b .c .e .) killed the son of Tomyris (or Thamyris), queen of the Massagetae, in Scythia. To avenge the death of her son and to punish Cyrus’s bloodthirsty act, Tomyris cut off his head and plunged it into a basin of blood, commanding him to drink his fill. Dante takes Tomyris’s words almost literally from the story in Orosius (Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri Septem 2.7.6), which comes from Justin, through Herodotus. 59 Holofemes The general of the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar’s army, Holofernes attacked the Israelite city of Bethulia, setting up his king as the one true God. The beautiful widowjudith came to Holofernes’ tent under the pretense of sleeping with him. Instead, she cut off his head and placed it on a pole outside his tent. When the Assyrians saw the head of their leader, they fled the city and the Israelites were delivered from Holofernes and Assyria. See Judith 10-15. 62 O Ilion, now low and humble In the Aeneid, Troy, or Ilion, is the classic example of a proud city brought low by its pride. 70-72 Now haughty humans, proudly on display . . . Dante the poet addresses humankind, the “children of Eve,” in a mocking way. The polem­ ical tone picks up the tone of Purgatorio 10.121-29. 79-81 an angel appears to be coming toward us. . . The angel of humility. The hours of the day are often represented as handmaidens; thus, six hours have now passed since their day began at 6 a .m .; it is now noon on Easter Monday. As some commentators have pointed out, time is under­ stood here in terms of service, or humility and submission. In Purgatorio 10.44, the word handmaiden (ancilla) refers to Mary, the prime example of humility. 93 from here on you’ll have an easy climb The climb up the mountain of Purgatory will become much easier once the first and heaviest of all sins, pride, has been purged from the brow of the pilgrim.

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98 He tapped me on theforehead, with his wings The angel brushes against the pilgrim’s forehead, thus erasing the first P, which stands for the sin of pride (Purg,; 9.112-14). 100-105 the church/Above the Rubaconte bridge . . . Rubaconte’s bridge was named after the chief magistrate in Florence. The church, San Miniato al Monte, overlooks Florence, the river Arno, and Rubaconte’s bridge. The reference to the “well-ruled city” is ironic. Dante here refers to two scandals of his time. The first involved Niccola Acciaiuoli, a Florentine Guelph, who along with Baldo d’Aguglione, a Ghibelline judge, destroyed a public ledger to cover up a fraudulent transaction. In the second scandal, Durante de’ Chiaramontesi, the overseer of salt distribution in Florence, cheated the public by keeping a little portion of each bushel of salt for himself. When he was discovered, he was beheaded, and his family was disgraced. 109-10 Be&ti pauperes / Spiritu “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). Toward the end of his journey on each terrace, Dante hears one of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Here, he hears the angel uttering the first of the Beatitudes, which praises humility, an essential virtue in overcoming pride. 118 Master, tell me, what weight Dante the pilgrim does not realize that the angel has removed the P from his brow and must learn from Virgil that this “weight” has been lifted. 130 You call onyour hand to help Although Dante cannot see that the first P has been removed, he can feel that only six P’s remain on his forehead. As some critics have observed, such action foreshadows canto 13, which involves blindness as the penance for envy. Canto Thirteen 5-6 The hill, as we had seen before, but with tighter/Curves As the pilgrims move up the mountain (“hill”), the circles grow smaller and smaller. 7-8 There were no shadows, nor any images/Or decorations, but only the open road There are no figures carved into stone as there were in the terrace of the prideful.

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13-15 he fixed his eyes on the sun,/And making his rigjht side the center far calculation . . . It is now past noon. The pilgrims are always facing the sun as they circle the terrace and thus move counterclockwise, the correct direction to travel through Purgatory. See 5.22-23. 16-21 O sweet and heavenly ligfU__ I put my trust in you... In Purgatory, Virgil continually addresses the sun, asking the sun to guide them. The sun represents Natural Reason, which is adequate for this portion of the journey. However, as they move beyond Purgatory, the sun’s sweet light will be replaced by the sweetness and divine light of God’s Grace. 26 The unseen voices ofspirits In this terrace, there are no visible demon­ strations either of the sin of envy or the virtue of love which is its opposite. Instead, these “unseen voices” serve as examples of love (charity). 29 They have no more wine Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the first example o f love proclaimed by these disembodied voices. They allude to John 2:1-10, which tells the story of Jesus performing his first miracle. When the guests at a wedding in Cana run out of wine, Jesus’ mother, concerned with the happiness of the guests at the feast, cries out to her son to supply the guests with more wine by changing the water into wine. 33 Orestes Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, killed his mother, Clytemnestra, as an act of revenge for his mother’s murder of his father. Orestes was condemned to death for this murder. In an act of generosity and friend­ ship, Orestes’ friend Pylades identified himself as Orestes in order to sacri­ fice himself in Orestes’ place. Orestes would not allow his friend to make such a sacrifice and asserted his identity. The two argued, each claiming “I am Orestes.” This is an example of double charity. Dante most likely drew this story from Cicero, De Amicitia 8.24. 36 “Love those who do bad things to you ” The third voice calls out this central teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). This voice is quieter than the previous two, perhaps out of respect for the fact that these are the words of Jesus. 38-39 the lashes that compose/The whip are woven togetherfrom love The lashes are the voices that Dante hears on this terrace, and the voices afflict the blind souls of the envious by crying out examples of charity and the love of others.

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42 the passageway ofpardon This is the entrance at which the angel will brush off the second P from Dante’s brow and permit him into the third terrace. 50-51 “Mary, prayfor us!”/Then “Michael!” and “Peter!” and UAU the saints in Heaven!” These souls are chanting the litany of the saints, invoking the prayers of those souls who are most free of envy. 61-62 Just as the blind who own nothing/Line up in churches, on pardoning days, begging/For pennies On certain days of the year, indulgences were sold and pardons were given to the faithful. Large numbers of people attended (“line[d] up” for) the ceremonies held on these days. 70-72 For their eyelids had been sealed . . . Dante uses an image from falconry. Falconers captured birds and sewed shut their eyes in order to domesticate and train them more easily. In much the same way, the envious have their eyes “sealed by an iron wire,” for these souls cannot bear to see the good fortune of others. The hot tears that squeeze through these “hideous seams” (line 83) of these souls recalls Dante’s own “tears of pitiful grief” that are wrung from his eyes when he first sees the pitiful condition of the envious (lines 50-57). 89 the stream of memory Lethe (Purg. 31.94-102 and 33.96), which erases the memory of past sins. 94-96 0, my brother, everyone here now lives/In the truthful city of God . . . Dante has now reached that part of Purgatory where there is no longer any concern with the things of the earth. Here everyone is a citizen of the one true city, the city of God or the heavenlyJerusalem. 106 “I camefrom Siena” she said Sapia, the paternal aunt of Provenzan Salvani (Purg. 11), was the wife of Ghinibaldo Saracini. She envied her nephew’s rise to power, and hated her fellow Sienese neighbors. She likely witnessed her nephew’s defeat at Colle in the Val d’Elsa in 1269 and rejoiced in this downfall of the Sienese Ghibellines. Sapia is one of two women penitents who speak in Purgatory; the other is la Pia in canto 5. In the Inferno, Francesca da Rimini is the only woman among the damned souls to speak. 117 Near CoUe, and I prayed to God to do asHe willed Sapia prayed that the Florentine Guelphs, aided by the French troops of Charles d’Anjou, would

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defeat the Sienese Ghibellines led by her nephew, Provenzan Salvani, and Count Guido Novello at the present Colie di Val d’Elsa in Tuscany. 120 Was fitted to an insanity of delight While Envy despises the good fortunes of others, it also revels in others’ misfortunes. 123 the blackbird According to a popular fable, the blackbird abhors cold weather and goes into hiding during winter, As the fable goes, some sunlit days trick him into coming out of hiding and into thinking spring has arrived. Upon his emergence, he makes fun of all the other birds and cries out: M I do not fear you, O Lord, for winter is over.” 127 Peter Pettinaio A comb merchant—he sold the combs used to card wool—Peter Pettinaio was well known for his honesty (he would not sell a defective comb) and piety. A member of the Franciscan order, he died in 1289—according to some, he was 109 years old—and the Sienese senate established an annual festival in his honor in 1328. His intercessory prayers (petitions) on behalf of Sapia lessen her punishment. Notice that his name reflects the “penitence” of line 125 and the prayer (“prayed like a saint”) o f line 128. 138 I alreadyfeel the heavy zveight ofthose stones Dante confesses that pride is his own worst sin, which has been purged on the terrace through which he has already passed. Consequently, he does not expect to spend much time here among the envious with his eyes sewn shut. 147 Pray far me> sometimes In Antepurgatory various sinners had asked Dante to tell their families and friends to pray for them when he returned to earth. Here, Sapia appears to ask Dante—perhaps because she recog­ nizes that he is closer to God than she—to pray for her himself. 152 Talamone A small Tuscan seaport which the Sienese bought in 1303 from the abbot of San Salvatore. They hoped to build a seaport that would rival Genoa or Pisa and spent considerable sums of money to complete the project. The attempt to build the harbor failed miserably, for as soon as it was dredged, the port filled again with silt. The muddy and marshy conditions of this hoped-for port created a malaria-infested swamp. 153 underground rivers The Sienese believed that an underground river, called Diana, existed, and they spent considerable amounts of money in their attempts to locate it.

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154 the would-be sailors are even worse off Those overseeing the project will lose not only their money but also their lives to malaria. Canto Fourteen 1-6 who is this. . . The canto opens with a dialogue between two spirits who cannot see the person about whom they are talking. These two spirits are not identified until much later in the canto: Guido del Duca (line 81) and Rinieri da Calboli (line 88). 16-17 Startingin Falterona, apetty/Streamflows through themiddle ofTiiscany The Arno, the “petty/Stream,” has its source on Mount Falterona in the Apennines. Some critics observe that Dante follows the Arno as a way of condemning the cities by which it flows. 31-33 From its very beginning. .. From its source on Mount Falterona in the Apennines (the “rugged/Alpine ranges”) to the sea just below Pisa, the Arno flows over a hundred miles. The Apennines are cut off from Pelorus, a mountain in northeastern Sicily. The Apennines can be viewed as a single mountain range that is cut off by the Straits of Messina, which separate Sicily from the rest of Italy. 37-38 virtueno longer/Exists The chief characteristic of the cities through which the Arno flows is a lack of virtue and an embrace of vice. Beginning with line 43, the river flows among various types of animals, and the river is compared in line 48 to an animal that “twists away its snout.” 42 Circe The daughter of Helios, god of the sun, Circe was an enchant­ ress who had the power to transform men into animals (Aeneid 7.12-25). 44-45 On filthy hogs . . . The Arno begins in Casentino, whose citizens are hogs who love to eat acorns rather than human food. 46 snarling curs The Arno descends into Arezzo, a Ghibelline city whose motto was “a boar is often caught by a small cur.” The citizens of Arezzo are likened to dogs. 51 Discovers that dogs have now been replaced by wolves The wolves are the greedy Florentines.

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53 foxes After descending through the gorge of Pietra Golfolina, the Arno flows through Pisa, whose inhabitants are foxes “practiced at fraud.” 55-57 I will not stop my tongue, although another/Sitting here can hear me... The speaker is Guido del Duca, and he refers to his partner in conversa­ tion, Rinieri da Calboli. 58 your grandson Rinieri’s grandson, Fulcieri da Calboli, was the chief magistrate of Florence in 1303. Infamous for his cruelty, he inspired fear among the Guelphs as well as the Ghibellines. 81 Guido del Duca Guido del Duca, a Ghibelline, was possibly the son of Giovanni del Duca of Bertinoro. He was a magistrate in Rimini and other cities in Italy in the thirteenth century. He was forced to flee Bertinoro in 1218. 88 Rinieri Guido’s partner in conversation, Rinieri de’ Paolucci da Calboli, was an illustrious member of the Guelph Paolucci family of Forli. He was chief magistrate of Faenza (1247), Parma (1252), and Ravenna (1265). He died in Forli in 1296. 92-93 Between the river Po and the mountains, or the sea/And Reno The speaker defines the boundaries of Romagna: the river Po to the north, the Apennines to the south, the river Reno to the west, and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Guido and Rinieri are citizens of Romagna. 97-111 Where are the likes o f... These verses are modeled on a familiar medieval literary trope, the ubi sunt (“where are they?”). This formula lists the worthy and honorable men of the past. 97-99 Lizio da Valbona . . . Lizio da Valbona was a Guelph who aided Rinieri against the Ghibellines. Boccaccio mentions him in Decameron 5.4. Arrigo Mainardi was a Ghibelline and friend of Guido del Duca. He and Guido were captured and imprisoned by the Faentines in 1170. Pier Traversaro was a Ghibelline, a friend of Emperor Frederick II, and a magistrate of Ravenna. Guido di Carpigna was a Guelph chief magistrate in Ravenna in 1251. Each of these lines pairs Guelph and Ghibelline, like Guido del Duca and Rinieri, in such a way that is free of envy. 100-101 Fabbro . . . Bemardin di Fosco Fabbro de’ Lambertazzi was a Ghibelline leader of Bologna. He was magistrate in Faenza in 1230 and

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held this office in several other Italian cities. Bernardin di Fosco was from humble origins but through his own merits gained acceptance by the nobility of his own city of Faenza. He was magistrate in Siena in 1249 and in Pisa in 1248. He helped defend Faenza against Emperor Frederick II. 104 Guido da Praia, and Ugolin d’Azzo Guido da Prata appears to have been an important landholder from the area around Ravenna, for his name is found in various documents from 1222, 1225, and 1228, but little else is known. Ugolin d’Azzo was member of the Ubaldini family and an affluent landowner. Many of Ugolin’s family members are scattered through Hell and Purgatory: Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini (Inf. 10.120), Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini (Inf. 33.14) and Ubaldin de la Pila (Purg. 24.28). Ugolin was married to the daughter of Provenzan Salvani, Beatrice Lancia. 105 Federigo Little is known of Federigo di Tignoso other than that he appears to have been a nobleman of Rimini with a reputation for wealth, generosity, and hospitality. 107 The Traversaro house and the Anastagni Two of the most powerful Ghibelline families in Ravenna. The Traversaro clan, whose most famous member was Pier Traversaro (line 98), was the most powerful of the two groups. The Anastagni were also active in Ravenna up until 1258. The fortunes of both houses declined, though, for they were without heirs. 112 Bertinoro A small town southeast of Forli famous for its hospitality. It was the home of Guido del Duca. 115 Bagnacaval Located between Imola and Ravenna, Bagnacaval became the stronghold of the Ghibellines, under the control of the Malvinci, after they had expelled the Guelphs from Ravenna. The Malvinci family was dying out in 1300. 116-17 Castrocaro . .. Como Castrocaro, a village near Forli, and Conio, near Imola, were both fortress towns in Romagna. 118-19 ThePaganiuriU beall right, wheneverMainardo/Their devil, leavesus The Pagani were a powerful Ghibelline family of Faenza. Mainardo Pagano da Susinana, known as “The Demon” because of his cruelty and political cunning, ruled Faenza in 1291.

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121-24 Ugolin of Fantolini. . . The Guelph leader Ugolino de’ Fantolini was chief magistrate of Faenza in 1253. Both his sons died—Ottaviano in 1282 and Fantolino in 1291—childless. Thus, his good works and worthi­ ness could not be destroyed by any actions on the part of his heirs. 131 cracklinglike lightningsplitting the air The examples of envy punished, like the examples of charity in canto 13, are called out by invisible voices in the air. 132 “Everyone who knows me is sure to kill me!9* The first voice belongs to Cain, who, after killing his brother, Abel, cries out: “I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer upon the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me” (Gen. 4:13-14). 139 IamPrincessAglauros The second voice belongs to Aglauros, daughter o f Cecrops, king of Athens. Envious of her sister’s love for Mercury, she tried to prevent the couple from seeing each other and was turned to stone. Dante’s source for the story is Ovid, Metamorphoses 2.737-832. 145-46 Butyou bite at the bait, and so the ancient enemy/Hasyou on his hook In spite of all these examples of envy punished, humans will never change their ways, according to Virgil. They will always “bite at the bait” of sin and be reeled in like a fish on a hook to commit the sin. The ancient enemy is the Devil. Canto Fifteen 1-9 Just as, between the end of what we call morning. . . In Purgatory it is three hours before sunset, or 3:00 p .m . In Italy, where Dante is “writing / This poem,” it is midnight. The mirror images introduced in these lines are central to this canto. These lines presage the coming of evening and the pilgrim’s next dream. 10 And I felt the weight of our star's brightness, its splendor Although the pilgrim does not yet see the angel, he is dazzled by the brightness of her light coming toward him. 16-21 Just as those rays go leaping away from water . . . Dante the poet here describes a fundamental law of optics: the angle of the incidence of light is equal to its angle of reflection. It is not clear what purpose these

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comments play here; Dante also refers to the laws of optics in his Convivio 2.13.26. 34 the blessed angel This angel welcomes Dante to the steps leading to the next terrace, occupied by the wrathful. 38 Be&ti misericordes Now that Dante has passed beyond the terrace of the envious, he hears the voices proclaiming the fifth Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy" (Matt. 5:7). Dante chooses the Beatitude that refers to mercy since none of them refers specifically to charity. 39 “Rejoice, you who have won!” Some commentators see in these words a reflection of the ending of the Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:12). 43-44 The spiritfrom Romagna/Spoke of “division9*and “sharing99 A refer­ ence to Guido del Duca’s question in canto 14: “O human beings, why are your hearts so set/ Against the sharing of knowledge and division of work?” (lines 86-87). 46 his own worstfault Envy. 49-50 Because a man’s desires are apt to focus/On profits lost Humans desire earthly goods, which diminish when shared; heavenly goods only grow more valuable when shared. 52-57 But if the highest love of all burned/In your heart. . . According to Augustine, “the possession of goodness is not lessened by being shared: it is increased when it has many possessing it in one link and league of charity” (City of God 15.5). Here Virgil stresses that the more God’s love is shared, the more that each one who shares it will possess. Sharing God’s love in no way diminishes it; it increases it. 61-63 How can it possibly be . . . The pilgrim is confused by Virgil’s explanation. 67-75 goodness/High above us rushes toward love as rays/Oflight... God’s goodness is directed toward those who are prepared to receive it. The mention of the rays of light recalls lines 16-21; here Dante is likely refer­ ring to the notion of affinity: like attracts like. The light reflected here is the light of God’s love. ♦ 646 ♦

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79-81 Just as two of your seven wounds have vanished . . . Two of Dante the pilgrim’s P’s—representing the sins of pride and envy—have been removed from his forehead, leaving five more to be purged. Virgil informs Dante that the P representing the sin of envy has been removed by the angel of charity. 83 When I sawwed come another circle higher The third terrace, occupied by the wrathful. 86 Ecstatic vision Dante now has an ecstatic vision in which he sees the three examples of the virtue contrary to the sin being punished on the terrace. On the third terrace the sin is wrath, and the contrary virtue is meekness. As on all the previous terraces, the first example of meekness is Mary, the mother of Jesus. 89-93 My son . . . why have you done this. . . Having attended a Passover feast in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph leave to return to their home. They travel for an entire day and realize that Jesus is not in the company with them. When they return to Jerusalem, they find him in the Temple sitting with the learned men and the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Although Mary could have rebukedJesus for worrying his parents, she speaks to him gently and without anger. This story is found in Luke 2:40-48. 94-105 And then another woman appeared . . . The second speaker in Dante’s vision is the wife of Pisistratus, the benevolent ruler of Athens from 560 to 527 b .c .e . According to legend, he calmed his wife’s anger over seeing her daughter embraced in public by a suitor her parents had not approved by saying: “If we slay those who love us, what shall we do with those who hate us?” Also embedded in these lines is the story of the founding of Athens. According to legend, both Neptune and Athena wanted to name the newly founded capital. They had a contest to see which of them could offer the gift most useful to humanity. Neptune struck the ground with his trident, causing water to come forth; Athena planted an olive tree, and the gods declared that her gift was more useful to humankind. Dante’s source for this story is Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.70-82. 106-14 Another vision . . . The third example of meekness is the life of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by stoning, Stephen nevertheless asked God to forgive his accusers in his final dying moments. See Acts 7:54-60. ♦ 647 ♦

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117 I knew my errors were not imagined, but true Although the three parts of Dante’s vision are not objectively real, they nevertheless contain divine truth. As some interpreters have observed, these visions may reflect Dante’s sense of his larger “vision,” the poem as a whole. 131-32 No more excuses, you'd openyour heart to the waters... These waters of peace flow from the “eternal fountain” of God and will quench any thirst for wrath. The three examples of meekness flowed into the pilgrim’s heart with these peaceful waters. 139 Quietly, we walked on through the evening These lines reflect the opening of this canto. Since it is now vespers (evening) around 6 p .m ., the pilgrims have been traveling on this same terrace for three hours, always facing the sun. 142 Then bit by bit, smoke rolled down in sheets The darkness creates suspense, but this line also describes part of the punishment of the wrathful that the pilgrim will witness. Canto Sixteen 9 offering me his shoulderfar a guide On this terrace the black smoke is so pungent and thick, and comparable to the darkness he encountered in Hell, that the pilgrim is unable to open his eyes. Leading the way through the smoke, Virgil offers his shoulder to the pilgrim to help guide the pilgrim through the darkness. 13 Foul and bitter The word sozzo, translated here as “foul,” appears frequently in the Inferno but this is the only time it appears in the Purgatorio. 15 “Watch out, don't separatefrom me” Apparently Virgil has no trouble seeing in this acrid smoke. This smoke represents the bitter, filthy, and smoky passion of wrath which blinds the human mind to reason. Since Virgil can see through this smoke and can guide the pilgrim, he repre­ sents Reason. 16-21 I heard voices, each of them seeming to pray/To the Lamb of God . . . The voices of the wrathful raise their voices in singing the Agnus Dei from the liturgy of the Mass. This prayer asks the “Lamb of God, who takes

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away the sins of the world” to “have mercy on us” and to “grant us peace.” Jesus, the Lamb of God, is meek and benevolent. The words Agnus Dei appear at the beginning of each of the three sentences of the prayer. Here the wrathful sing in unison, in concord, as opposed to the disunity and discord that their wrath caused on earth. 25 who are you Just as canto 14 opened with a question (“who is this?”), this canto opens with a question asked by a soul whom the pilgrim cannot see. In both instances, the figures who reveal themselves wish to teach the pilgrim lessons. 27 time as it is measured in life on earth Dante is a living man who uses a calendar to measure time in days and weeks. Such a measurement of time is meaningless to the occupants of Purgatory, however, since they measure their movements by the intensity of their penance. 46 I was a Lombard, and a knight, and my name was Marco Not much is known about Marco; most interpreters speculate that he was a noble from the region of Treviso (lower Lombardy), and that he was generous, though sometimes stubborn. 47-48 / knew the ways of the world, and valued virtue,/Which the world has ceased to carefor any more Marco aimed at virtues that the world no longer practices nor strives to achieve. 51 prayfor me, onceyou havegone back up Just as Sapia asked Dante to pray for her in canto 13, Marco asks Dante to pray for him. Marco doesn’t want the pilgrim to wait until Dante’s return to earth to pray for him, however; he asks that Dante pray for him as soon as Dante arrives in Heaven. 63 For some lay the blame on HeU and some on Heaven The beginning of an important theological discussion about the nature of evil and corrup­ tion and the role of human free will as a source of such corruption. This line offers two explanations of the source of evil: either the stars and the heavens cause evil or humankind itself is the source of evil. Other transla­ tions use “on the earth” or simply “below” rather than “Hell” to indicate the source of corruption within humanity. Notice in line 67 that Marco recognizes Dante as “living.” 71 Free wiU, and how could justice make you joyful If there were no free will, the punishment for wrongdoing or reward for virtuous acts would be

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inequitable and unjust. As this ongoing discussion will make clear, justice depends on human agency and will. See Boethius, Consolation ofPhilosophy 5.2.1-127. 73-78 Heaven motivates and moves you into/Actions, hut not them all . . . The stars or the heavens have a small amount of influence on human behavior (in medieval thought, the stars affected individual’s appetites), but human beings possess intellect and free will and thus an understanding of good and evil. Individuals bear the responsibility of acting in a virtuous manner or in a vicious one. Dante draws on Aquinas’s Summa Theologica II-II, q. 95, a. 5. 79-83 A strongerpower... Human beings are created by God, not by the stars. Thus, humans cannot blame their evil actions on the movements of the heavens; God created them with free will, and if the world has gone astray, then the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of human agency. 85-93 The simple little soul, knowing nothing. . . In these verses, Marco emphasizes that, in spite of the corruption of humanity, humans are bom innocent, but they need guidance from the very start. As in ancient philos­ ophy, the soul has the capacity to understand, but it has not yet arrived at understanding. The soul inclines itself toward the Highest Good, but without guidance, does not know where to locate this Good. Thus, the soul turns to “a trifle” (a trivial good) in its search for the Highest Good, which is God. The present state of evil in the world results from the lack of good guidance toward this understanding of the difference between good and evil. 94-96 Thus it was necessaryfor laws to hold us . . . To achieve the kind of understanding necessary for a virtuous society, laws are necessary in guiding human beings toward understanding. Even more important, a ruler who can allow humans to glimpse the city of God must rule over this earthly city. 98-102 Theflock’s shepherd is too often one... The kind of leader human beings need is one who can both reflect on the Scriptures and understand them but who can also use judgment in discriminating between earthly and spiritual powers. The shepherd to whom Dante refers lacks those qual­ ities, especially the judgment to discern the difference between the two powers; the leader who desires to have power in both realms is not only a “grubbing pig” but also one who cannot guide human beings to a correct ♦ 650 ♦

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understanding of the nature of good and evil. Through Marco, Dante offers his ongoing critique of papal power; this corrupt shepherd is Pope Boniface VIII. 107 two suns, the emperor and the pope In most medieval accounts, the empire and the papacy are represented by the sun and the moon, respec­ tively. As some modern scholars have pointed out, the idea of the king’s two bodies arises in the Middle Ages. However, Dante protested that the empire could not be simply a reflection of the light of the papacy; if the empire were simply a reflection of the papacy’s light, then the two king­ doms—the temporal and the spiritual—would not be properly separated. See Dante’s De Monarchia 3.4. 114 every plant is known by what it grows The mixture of temporal and spiritual power has produced seeds of corruption; the plants that grow from these seeds are similarly corrupt, and individuals can recognize these plants from the kind of fruit they bear. 115-16 In Lombardy, well watered by the Po/And the Adige This region is characterized by the corruption of its citizens. According to Marco, corrupt individuals can now go to Lombardy with no worry of ever meeting or being put to shame by any truly good men. 117 Frederick bowed to the Pope Frederick II was king of Naples and Sicily from 1215 to 1250. Dante regarded him as the last emperor of the Romans. Frederick engaged in struggles with three successive popes: Honorius III, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV. 121 three old men, and good Three virtuous men still live in Lombardy. 124-25 Currado da Palazzo, the good/Gherado, and, lastly, Guido da Castel Currado da Palazzo was a Guelph from Brescia who was chief magistrate in Florence in 1276 and in Piacenza in 1288. He was well known for his civility and his loyalty to his state. Gherado da Camino (1240-1306) was the son of Biaquino da Camino and India da Camposampiero. He was the captain-general of Treviso from 1283 until his death. Dante praises Gherado as an example of true nobility in Convivio 4.14.12. Dante lauds Guido da Castel (b. 1235) as the “candid Lombard” in Convivio 4.16.6. Born of the Guelph Roberti family of Reggio Emilia, Guido seems to have been a vernacular poet and hosted Dante during Dante’s exile.

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131-32 why the Levite line/ Were not allowed to inherit In Numbers 18:2024, the sons of Levi are charged with overseeing the Temple. They are prohibited from inheriting property and thus corrupting their spiritual tasks with temporal concerns. 140 Gaia Gherado’s daughter by his second wife, Chiara della Torre of Milan, Gaia married Tolberto da Camino, a relative, and died in 1311. According to many medieval sources, she was a beautiful young woman admired for her virtue. According to others, however, Gaia was a promis­ cuous young woman who often acted as a pimp for her brother, Rizzardo, as long as he returned the favor by securing young men for her. 142 the white light already shining through It is near sunset. 143 the angel has come The angel of meekness who will remove the third P from the pilgrim’s forehead. Canto Seventeen 1-6 reader... The reader of the poem will accompany the pilgrim in the first two tercets of this canto through the thick fogs on this mountain. In this canto Dante the poet addresses the reader, delivering through Virgil a speech on the value of love as the force that moves all of human actions (lines 85-139). This speech appears at exactly the halfway point o f the Purgatorio and at the center of the entire Commedia. Given the central impor­ tance to the entire poem of love as the action that moves the earth and the stars, this discourse appears appropriately at the heart of the Commedia. 3 like a mole, byfeeling through your skin A mole is blind, or can see only very dimly through the protective membrane that covers its eyes. 8-9 the sun once more/Already started down the sky to its setting It is about 6 p .m . on Easter Monday, the pilgrims’ second day on the mountain of Purgatory. 10-11 myfeet following those of myfaithful/Master, I emergedfrom a fog of that kind Now that the pilgrim is out of the thick smoke and fog, he no longer needs to hold onto Virgil’s shoulder for guidance; he can walk side by side—as the reader does with the pilgrim through this canto—with Virgil.

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13 imagination Since Dante has experienced a number of visions that contain lessons regarding virtue and vice, he seeks to explain the nature and function of the imagination and the power of fantastic {fantasia) visions. Many translations use the word “fantasy” in this line and in line 19 of this canto, where others use the words interchangeably. In this trans­ lation, “imagination” is used to signal that inner power that shapes our experience of external objects. 16-17 Whatmovesyou, ifour sensesfeedyou nothing?/A light movesyou, shaped up high in Heaven Dante here seeks to answer the question begun in line 13. How does the imagination function if it does not combine the move­ ment of sense and reason? Here he offers two possible explanations for the visions that occur in the human imagination. On the one hand, the light of the stars—“A light moves you”—influences imagination; although formed in the heavens by God, the influence of the stars has no direct relationship to God’s power moving a person and does not reflect a vision motivated by divine influence. On the other hand, the light that is “shaped up high in Heaven” reflects God’s will being shown downward into humanity. This kind of vision represents God’s influence on the person. Dante’s vision of the examples of meekness was this kind of vision, and the vision of wrath punished that he is about to experience also fits this model. 19-21 A print appeared in my imagination The first of three examples of wrath punished. Dante again refers to the story of Procne, who killed her son and fed him to his father because she was angry over her husband’s rape of her sister. Because of this wrathful act, she was turned into a night­ ingale. Compare Purgatorio 9.15. 26-30 A man being hung, hisface contemptuous... The second example of wrath punished is Haman, the minister to King Ahasuerus of Persia. Angry that Mordecai would not pay him homage, Haman convinced the king to order a decree condemning to death all of the Jews in Persia. A gallows was built especially for Mordecai. However, Esther—whom the king, not knowing Esther was Jewish nor Mordecai’s cousin, had asked to become his queen—persuaded the king of her cousin Mordecai’s innocence and convinced the king that Haman was evil. Ahasuerus condemned Haman to be hung on the gallows that Haman had constructed for Mordecai. See Esther 1-8. 35-39 Lavinia. . . The daughter of Queen Amata, Lavinia was engaged to Turnus, who was rumored to have been killed in battle. When the queen ♦ 653 ♦

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heard this false rumor, she became angry over her husband's proposal that Lavinia marry Aeneas. In her enraged state, Amata hung herself with a tom piece of her own robe. See Aeneid 12.593-819. 44-45 Away at once, the moment a light struck/My face, brighter than any toe see in this world The pilgrim awakens from these visions, startled by a bright light. This light shines from the angel of meekness, who is now approaching the pilgrims. 67 A moving wing stroking past my face The angel of meekness erases another P from the pilgrim’s forehead; there are four remaining P’s to be erased. 68-69 Be&ti pacifici. . . The first words of the seventh Beatitude from the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matt. 5:7). Dante adds his own commentary here to the passage from Matthew. 69 evil anger Medieval philosophers distinguish between good anger and evil anger. Aquinas draws a distinction between religious anger (bona ira) and wrathful anger (mala ira) in Summa Theologica II-II, q. 158, a. 2. 71-72 stars began/To appear The sun has dropped below the horizon, and the stars are beginning to appear throughout the night sky. 76-78 where we stood, at that point, was where the stairs . . . Since night has fallen and there is no climbing the mountain at night, the pilgrims cease their movement. In addition, they have reached the stairs that lead to the next terrace, the terrace of the slothful. Finally, these verses also use the image once again of the pilgrimage as sea voyage, for the two are described as ships having reached the shore. 82-139 My sweetfather, tell me which of our sins/Is purged, here in the circle where we have been . . . While they are resting, the pilgrim asks Virgil which sin will be purged on the next terrace. Virgil responds by answering not only that question but with a long discourse in which he classifies the seven capital sins. Each sin that the pilgrim has seen punished and will see punished is the result of improper and incorrect kinds of loving. Such love falls into two categories: either the goal of the love is wrong or the goal of the love is good but the amount of love directed toward the goal is the flaw. Wrongly directed love results in harm to others and makes

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itself known either as pride, envy, or wrath (those sins punished on the first three terraces). The amount of love directed toward a good goal may result in other sins. If the amount of love is insufficient, it results in the sin o f sloth, punished on the fourth terrace, the one on which the pilgrims find themselves. Excessive love results in the sins of avarice (greed), glut­ tony, and lust, which are punished on the last three terraces in Purgatory. Much of the philosophical foundation of Virgil’s explanation comes from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and the Christian application of Aristotle’s ideas can be found in Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. 93 Natural or mental A reference to the two kinds of love. Natural love “can never contain an error” (line 94), for it is that love each thing has toward an object toward which it is by its nature inclined. God implants this natural inclination in all creatures. Thus, God’s creatures are inclined to love God and do good. However, the manner in which each thing loves matches its own nature. Creatures—angels and human beings—with a nature that includes a mind, soul, and spirit, and a free will also possess a mental, or rational, love that can choose its own object. As Virgil explains, the mind can be “led astray by an evil aim” or “too much or else too little force” (lines 95-96). 97 God, our primal goodness God is the First Good, at which all actions are aimed. 102 The creature is guilty of sin against his Creator To sin by aiming at an incorrect goal of love or to sin in the improper amount of love devoted to a goal is to sin against God. 103-6 in every virtue you/Possess... If properly directed, love is the seed of all virtue; if directed improperly, it is the seed of all actions that deserve to be punished. 108 Every creature's protectedfrom hating itself Every person desires only good for himself or herself. Aquinas comments that even suicide is not an act of hatred toward oneself. Rather, the hoped-for death is a good since it puts an end to pain or unhappiness. See Summa Theologica I-II, q. 29, a. 4. 109-11 since we cannot conceive of His creatures . . . Since each being must love itself, it must love that Being to which it owes its existence; thus, humankind cannot hate God.

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114 three quite different ways Virgil is preparing to explain the three ways that the incorrect goal of love can occur. These three the pilgrim has seen punished on the first three terraces of Purgatory. 115-17 First, there’s the man who aspires to excellence . .. on the first terrace.

Pride, punished

118-20 Then there’s the man with power, favor, and honor . . . Envy, punished on the second terrace. 121-23 And there’s the man who, outraged at being insulted . . . Wrath, punished on the third terrace. 126 Which rushes toward goodness, but usesfaulty modes Having explained that the sins punished on the first three terraces result from the lack o f the proper object of love, Virgil now turns to explain how the lack of the proper measure (“faulty modes”) of love, even when properly directed, can result in sin. 127-28 goodness/In which their minds can rest God is the Good in which all hearts want to rest. These words recall Augustine’s famous dictum: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee” (Confessions 2.1). 130 tepid love The slothful. 138-39 exactly how these different lewis are ordered/1 will not say: this you will learn by yourself Virgil has explained the sins punished in the lower three terraces and the fourth terrace; Dante must learn for himself the sins punished on the upper three terraces of Purgatory. This division corre­ sponds to the division of the eternal punishments in Hell (Inf 11.16-89), though Dante devotes much less detail to the sins in Purgatory than to the sins in Hell. Canto Eighteen 18 The blind who lead the blind Some teachers teach that all love is intrin­ sically good. Virgil will later refer to them in this canto as “people who bless/All love unthinkingly” (lines 34-35). This verse echoes Matthew 15:14.

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19-20 For the brain is fashioned not to hesitate/In loving A reference to natural love, which is innate. 22-24 Something clearly real, which your brain perceives . . . In the steps preparatory to love, the mind first focuses on an image of an external object. In this initial stage, the mind loves the image and not yet the object itself. 25-27 Once caught in this way, the mind’s longing. . . Love grows stronger as the mind recognizes that the sight it perceives is pleasant. 28-30 Thenjust asfire is made to always grow higher. . . Just as the flame grows upward to reach its resting place, all creatures continue to move toward the goal of their love. 31-33 Just so the captured mind reaches desire... The mind moves toward the goal worthy of its love. The mind cannot rest until it rests in the object of its love, which will “make it rejoice.” 34-39 people who bless/All love unthinkingly. . . Those philosophers and others who teach that all love deserves praise and inclines toward the good. As against those teachers, Virgil counsels Dante that even the inclination toward love can be misdirected toward unworthy objects. Thus, even good wax may have a poor seal stamped on it by a bad imprint. 48 Waitfor Beatrice, for this is a matter offaith Virgil’s first comment that Beatrice’s knowledge of these matters—because they are matters of faith and not reason—is superior to Virgil’s. 49-50 Every existing form, distinct from simple/Substance, yet still created out ofsubstance This substantial form is the essence of a thing. In human beings, this substantial form is the intellectual soul. Part of an individual’s intellectual soul is its free will. 67-69 Those who have driven their minds as deep as thought goes... Plato and Aristotle. In the Commedia, Dante follows Aristotle primarily in this philosopher’s ideas about the nature of the virtuous in the Nicomachean Ethics. 71-72 you are endowed with knowledge . . . Virgil reminds Dante that every individual has the reason and the free will to choose wisely and not

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to be the victim either of the influence of the stars or the influences o f the senses alone. 82-83 That noble spirit, whose birthplace/Is better known than any Mantuan town The noble spirit is Virgil. Pietola, the Mantuan town in which he was born, outshines any other Mantuan town because of Virgil’s fame and the glory he has won. 89-90 Bypeople running up the circle behind us,/Movingfast and not the least bit quiet The slothful. In order to be purged, the slothful must practice the virtue opposite their sin, zeal. Such zealous behavior is practiced in two ways: in the quickness of their movements and in their shouts praising zeal. 91-92 Bacchic orgies up and down Greek river/Banks Ismenus and Asopus were two rivers in Bretia near Thebes along which orgiastic rites to Bacchus, the god of wine and the harvest, were celebrated. See Statius, Thebaid 434-49. 100 Mary ran up the hills, in the morning, toJudah As on the other terraces, Mary is the first example of the virtue opposite the sin being punished. Here Mary, excited to learn from the angel Gabriel’s announcement to her that she will give birth to God’s son, runs to see Elizabeth, the wife o f Zechariah, to share the good news with her. Elizabeth’s child leaps in her womb when it hears this news. Elizabeth’s son, John, will become Jesus* beloved disciple. See Luke 1:39-44. 101-2 Caesar . . . On his way to Catalonia, Caesar left behind part o f his army in command of Brutus and flew off in great zeal to conquer Marseilles. After his siege of the Gauls, he ran swiftly back to Spain to resume his command of that siege. 108 your lukewarm work in doing good deeds Virgil defines the sin of sloth once more, this time in his address to the slothful themselves. 118 abbot of old San Zeno, in Verona Little is known about this person. Some commentators believe that he is Gherardo II, an abbot of the church in San Zeno during the time of Frederick I. 119-20 Frederick Barbrossa,/ Who destroyed Milan Emperor Frederick I, who ruled from 1152 to 1190, and who destroyed Milan in 1162. Frederick continually clashed with Pope Alexander III, who excommunicated ♦ 658 ♦

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Frederick. After Frederick burned Milan, he plowed the rubble into the ground and spread salt over the ground so that nothing would grow there again. 121 someone on earth, with afoot in the grave Alberto della Scala, a lord of Verona. He died in 1301, and so in 1300 had wa foot in the grave.” 124 his son, bom in shame Giuseppe (1263-1313), Alberto’s illegitimate son, was notorious for his malicious violence and seemed ill-suited to hold the office of abbot at the church of San Zeno from 1291 until 1314. Alberto’s other illegitimate son, Can Grande, was Dante’s host and patron at Verona; as a result, Dante dedicates the Paradiso to Can Grande. 131-32 here come two more, biting/Laziness in all its assortedforms These are two examples of sloth, the sin being punished. In the economy of this canto, Dante has introduced the two examples of zeal, the virtue opposite sloth, and two examples of sloth. Until now, discussions of other sins and virtues have occupied at least two cantos. 133-35 The peoplefor whom/The Red Sea opened . . . The first example of sloth is the Israelites who were sluggish in crossing the desert with Moses after escaping Egypt through the parting of the sea. These slothful Israelites were not allowed to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land of Canaan. See Exodus 14:10-20 and Numbers 14:1-39. 136-38 those whofollowed Aeneas only sofa r. . . The second example of sloth is the followers of Aeneas who stopped and settled in Sicily rather than following him to Latium. These slothful souls thus gave up their share of the glory that came in the founding of Rome. See Aeneid 5.605-40. Canto Nineteen 1-3 At the hour... Sometime before dawn when the heat of the previous day and the moon and Saturn, both considered “cold planets,” have left the earth chilly. As with Dante’s other dreams in Purgatory, this one occurs just before the dawn. 4 A time when fortune-tellers These diviners told the future by tracing the patterns formed by lines traced between random patterns of points marked on sand. They then correlated these figures with figures formed

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by the stars. One such pattern was called Fortuna Major, and it was like the pattern that the last stars of Aquarius and the first stars of Pisces formed. According to the poet, good fortune will come for the pilgrim, and his path “won’t stay dark for long” (line 6). 7-9 A stammering woman appeared to me, in a dream . . . An ugly and loathsome woman. Later we learn that she symbolizes the sins of greed, gluttony, and lust, the sins that the pilgrim will see being purged on the three upper terraces in Purgatory. 14-15 changing/Her pallid face just as love would have made it Her face changes from the horrid yellow pallor that the pilgrim sees when he encounters her to a rosier color that perhaps reflects the red and white complexion so admired by medieval courtly poets. 17 She began to sing so beautifully For the third time in Purgatory, Dante stands transfixed by a penitent singing a song. In canto 2, Casella sings a worldly love ballad. In canto 8, a devout soul sings the hymn Te lucis ante at compline. Here the Siren sings a song inviting the pilgrim to low excessively. 19-24 lam that sweetSiren... The Siren refers to Ulysses and his ill-fated voyage, a reminder of the pilgrim’s successful voyage. As most commenta­ tors have pointed out, Ulysses did not succumb to the Sirens’ song; he resisted by having himself firmly lashed to the mast of his ship. 25 a lady The “holy and crisply determined” (line 26) woman who comes to Dante’s aid in his dream is a combination of many holy women that the pilgrim has encountered or will encounter on his journey. She combines the Virgin Mary (Inf. 2.94-99), Saint Lucy (Purg. 9.54-63), and Beatrice, who will guide the pilgrim in Paradise. The holy woman is the model o f grace and divine love, just as the Siren is the model of lust. 35 Vve calledyou at least three times Like the saintly woman who calls twice to Virgil in Dante’s dream, Virgil himself calls three times to the pilgrim here to arouse him from his torpor and lead him up the mountain. 39 And we traveled with the sun at our back The pilgrims are traveling westward. 40-42 my brows were bent. . . Pensive after his dream, the pilgrim has a downcast gaze that contrasts starkly with the angel of zeal who is directing ♦ 660 ♦

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the travelers upward on theirjourney. As most commentators have pointed out, the pilgrim’s posture also foreshadows the posture of the avaricious, whose faces gaze at the ground. 46 The angel’s wings were spread, and he seemed like a swan Contrast the angel’s appearance with the pilgrim’s in the previous lines. 49 Hefanned his wings, and in a gentle rush The angel of zeal erases the fourth P from the forehead of the pilgrim. 50 those who mourned awould be blessed” “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Unlike some of the other Beati­ tudes that the previous angels have proclaimed, this Beatitude does not seem to fit with the sin or the virtue. Some interpreters have suggested that the angel delivers these words to illustrate that the slothful have mourn­ fully acknowledged their sins and have been purged of them. 52 “What’s gone wrong, that you keep staring at the groundf” The pilgrim foreshadows the punishment of the avaricious. 58 the ancient witch The Siren, or sorceress, of the pilgrim’s dream. Virgil reminds the pilgrim that the sins which she symbolizes are those mourned on the last three terraces of the mountain above them. Virgil also reminds the pilgrim that the pilgrim has learned from his dream how to escape from this woman and these sins that she represents. 63 mighty spheres Heaven provides a counterpoint to lure the pilgrim away from the ancient witch. 64 Just as a hunting hawk wiUfirst look down In the first stage of a falcon’s training, it must look down and await the falconer’s call for it to stretch out to fly after its prey. Here, God the falconer lures the pilgrim upward on hisjourney. 70 I reached the fifth of these circles wrapped on the mountain The fifth terrace. The penitents who are stretched out on the ground and weeping are the avaricious, those who hoarded material goods. 73 Here I lie, prostrate in this dust Upon entering the fifth terrace, the pilgrim hears the avaricious crying out these words from Psalm 119:25.

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79-80 Ifyou have came,freefrom the need to lie/ Onyourface In Purgatory, a soul is not required to spend time on a particular terrace if that soul’s habit for that sin is not consuming. Since the pilgrim has passed quickly through the terrace of the slothful, the penitents on this terrace mistake the pilgrim for another purgatorial soul. 92 The essence of what’s required to come to God Penitence is required to come to God; such self-purification is marked by a penitent’s tears. 98-99 I/Once sat on the throne Peter had occupied The speaker is Pope Adrian V (Ottobuono de’ Feischi of Genoa), who was elected in 1276. He succeeded Innocent V and died just over a month after his election as pope. 100-102 Between Sestri Levant and Chiavari. . . The river Lavagna flows between Sestri and Chiavari, Genoan coastal towns. Pope Adrian V was one of the counts of Lavagna. 103-11 In a little more than a month aspope, I learned.. . Adrian V learns quickly during his short time as pope that even occupying the highest spir­ itual office on earth does not make one exempt from longings for mat