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Euclid, geometrician, and Ptolemy,
Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna,
Averroes, whoʻthe great Comment made.
Because so drives me onward the long theme,
That many times the word comes short of fact.
Another way my sapient Guide conducts me
Forth from the quiet to the air that trembles ;
Thus I descended out of the first circle
Down to the second, that less space begirds,
And so much greater dole, that goads to wailing.
Examines the transgressions at the entrance ;
Judges, and sends according as he girds him.
Cometh before him, wholly it confesses ;
And this discriminator of transgressions
Girds himself with his tail as many times
As grades he wishes it should be thrust down.
They go by turns each one unto the judgment;
They speak, and hear, and then are downward hule! “ O thou, that to this dolorous hostelry
Comest,” said Minos to me, when he saw me,
Leaving the practice of so great an office, “ Look how thou enterest, and in whom thou trustest;
Let not the portal's amplitude deceive thee."
And unto him my Guide : “Why criest thou too? Do not impede his journey fate-ordained ;
It is so willed there where is power to do
That which is willed ; and ask no further question.” And now begin the dolesome notes to grow
Audible unto me ; now am I come
There where much lamentation strikes upon me.
Which bellows as the sea does in a tempest,
The infernal hurricane that never rests
Hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine ;
Whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them. When they arrive before the precipice,
There are the shrieks, the plaints, and the laments,
There they blaspheme the puissance divine. I understood that unto such a torment
The carnal malefactors were condemned,
Who reason subjugate to appetite.
In the cold season in large band and full,
So doth that blast the spirits maledict ;
No hope doth comfort them for evermore,
Not of repose, but even of lesser pain. And as the cranes go chanting forth their lays,
Making in air a long line of themselves,
So saw I coming, uttering lamentations, Shadows borne onward by the aforesaid stress.
Whereupon said I : "Master, who are those
People, whom the black air so castigates ?” “ The first of those, of whom intelligence
Thou fain wouldst have,” then said he unto me,
“ The empress was of many languages. To sensual vices she was so abandoned,
That lustful she made licit in her law,
To remove the blame to which she had been led. She is Semiramis, of whom we read
That she succeeded Ninus, and was his spouse ;
She held the land which now the Sultan rules. The next is she who killed herself for love,
And broke faith with the ashes of Sichæus;
Then Cleopatra the voluptuous." Helen I saw, for whom so many ruthless
Seasons revolved ; and saw the great Achilles,
Who at the last hour combated with Love. Paris I saw, Tristan ; and more than a thousand
Shades did he name and point out with his finger,
Whom Love had separated from our life. After that I had listened to my Teacher,
Naming the dames of eld and cavaliers,
Pity prevailed, and I was nigh bewildered.
Speak would I to those two, who go together,
And he to me : “ Thou'lt mark, when they shall be
Nearer to us; and then do thou implore them
By love which leadeth them, and they will come.
My voice uplift I: “O ye weary souls !
Come speak to us, if no one interdicts it.”
With open and steady wings to the sweet nest
Fly through the air by their volition borne,
Approaching us athwart the air malign,
So strong was the affectionate appeal.
Who visiting goest through the purple air
Us, who have stained the world incarnadine,
We would pray unto him to give thee peace,
Since thou hast pity on our woe perverse.
That will we hear, and we will speak to you,
While silent is the wind, as it is now.
Upon the sea-shore where the Po descends
To rest in peace with all his retinue.
Seized this man for the person beautiful
That was ta’en from me, and still the mode offends me
Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly,
That, as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me;
Caïna waiteth him who quenched our life !”
These words were borne along from them to us.
I bowed my face, and so long held it down
Until the Poet said to me: “What thinkest ?"
How many pleasant thoughts, how much desire,
Conducted ihese unto the dolorous pass !”
And I began : “ Thine agonies, Francesca,
Sad and compassionate to weeping make me.
By what and in what manner Love conceded,
And she to me :
One day we
When as we read of the much-longed-for smile
" There is no greater sorrow
In misery, and that thy Teacher knows.
reading were for our delight
we were and without any fear. Full many a time our eyes together drew
That reading, and drove the colour from our faces;
This one, who ne'er from me shall be divided,
Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
That day no farther did we read therein.”
The other one did weep so, that, for pity,
even as a dead body falls.
At the return of consciousness, that closed
Before the pity of those two relations,
Which utterly with sadness had confused me, New torments I behold, and new tormented
Around me, whichsoever way I move,
And whichsoever way I turn, and gaze. In the third circle am I of the rain
Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy;
Its law and quality are never new.
Athwart the tenebrous air pour down amain ;
Noisome the earth is, that receiveth this. Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,
With his three gullets like a dog is barking
Over the people that are there submergei..
And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;
Howl the rain maketh them like unto dogs;
One side they make a shelter for the other ;
Oft turn themselves the wretched reprobates. When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm !
His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusk
Not a limb had he that was motionless. And my Conductor, with his spans extended,
Took of the earth, and with his fists well filler,
He threw it into those rapacious gullets. Such as that dog is, who by barking craves,
And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws,
For to devour it he but thinks and struggles, The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed
Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders
Over the souls that they would fain be deaf. We passed across the shadows, which subdues
The heavy rain-storm, and we placed our feet
Upon their vanity that person seems. They all were lying prone upon the earth,
Excepting one, who sat upright as soon
As he beheld us passing on before him. “O thou that art conducted through this Hell,"
He said to me, recall me, if thou canst ;
Thyself wast made before I was unmade.” And I to him : “ The anguish which thou hast
Perhaps doth draw thee out of my remembrance,
So that it seems not I have ever seen thee. But tell me who thou art, that in so doleful
A place art put, and in such punishment,
If some are greater, none is so displeasing." And he to me: “ Thy city, which is full
Of envy so that now the sack runs over,
Held me within it in the life serene. You citizens were wont to call me Ciacco;
For the pernicious sin of gluttony
1, as thou seest, am battered by this rain. And I, sad soul, am not the only one,
For all these suffer the like penalty
For the like sin ;” and word no more spake he. I answered him: “Ciacco, thy wretchedness
Weighs on me so that it to weep invites me;
But tell me, if thou knowest, to what shall come
If any there be just; and the occasion