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From one side and the other, with loud voice,
Both rolled on weights, by main force of their breasts,
Then smote together, and each one forthwith
Rolled them back voluble, turning again ;
Exclaiming these, “Why holdest thou so fast?"
Those answering, “ And why castest thou away?"
So, still repeating their despiteful song,
They to the opposite point on either hand,
Traversed the horrid circle: then arrived,
Both turned them round, and through the middle space
Conflicting met again. At sight whereof
I, stung with grief, thus spake: “O say, my guide!
What race is this? Were these, whose heads are shorn,
On our left hand, all separate to the church?”.

He straight replied : “In their first life, these all
In mind were so distorted, that they made,
According to due measure, of their wealth
No use. This clearly from their words collect,
Which they howl forth, at each extremity.
Arriving of the circle, where their crime
Contrary in kind disparts them. To the church
Were separate those, that with no hairy cowls
Are crowned, both Popes and Cardinals, o'er whom
Avarice dominion absolute maintains.”

I then: “'Mid such as these some needs must be,
Whom I shall recognize, that with the blot
Of these foul sins were stained.” He answering thus :
“ Vain thought conceivest thou. That ignoble life,
Which made them vile before, now makes them dark,
And to all knowledge indiscernible.
Forever they shall meet in this rude shock:
These from the tomb with clenched grasp shall rise,
Those with close-shaven locks. That ill they gave,
And ill they kept, hath of the beauteous world
Deprived, and set them at this strife, which needs
No labored phrase of mine to set it off.
Now mayest thou see, my son! how brief, how vain,
The goods committed into Fortune's hands,
For which the human race keep such a coil!

30. The miser despises the wasteful, who . According to Dante it was the lust of temhave a similar contempt for the avaricious. poral power and wealth on the part of the Pope Hence these recriminations.

and the clergy that was the cause of the un38. Alluding to the tonsure.

happy condition of Italy and the church. See 48. Ariosto, having personified Avarice as a Hell, xix. 94 ff. and Par. xxvii. 36 ff. strange and hideous monster, says of her —

57. The clenched grasp is emblematic of “ Peggio facea nella Romana corte;

avariciousness as the close-shaven locks are Che v'avea uccisi Cardinali e Papi."

of wastefulness. The latter expression is not

Orl. Fur. xxvi. 32. to be confused with the tonsure referred to in “Worse did she in the court of Rome, for there line 38. She had slain Popes and Cardinals."

64. By means of the obsolete word coil= noise, tumult, confusion, - Cary translates the 80. Fortune. original si rabbuffa = fight, come to blows. 101. When Dante began his journey it was

Not all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls
Might purchase rest for one." I thus rejoined:
“My guide! of thee this also would I learn;
This fortune, that thou speakest of, what it is,
Whose talons grasp the blessings of the world ?"

He thus: “O beings blind! what ignorance
Besets you? Now my judgment hear and mark.
He, whose transcendent wisdom passes all,
The heavens creating, gave them ruling powers
To guide them; so that each part shines to each,
Their light in equal distribution poured.
By similar appointment he ordained
Over the world's bright images to rule,
Superintendence of a guiding hand
And general minister, which, at due time
May change the empty vantages of life
From race to race, from one to other's blood,
Beyond prevention of man's wisest care :
Wherefore one nation rises into sway,
Another languishes, e'en as her will
Decrees, from us concealed, as in the grass
The serpent train. Against her naught avails
Your utmost wisdom. She with foresight plans,
Judges, and carries on her reign, as theirs
The other powers divine. Her changes know
None intermission : by necessity
She is made swift, so frequent come who claim
Succession in her favors. This is she,
So execrated e'en by those whose debt
To her is rather praise; they wrongfully
With blame requite her, and with evil word ;
But she is blessed, and for that recks not: 1
Amidst the other primal beings glad,
Rolls on her sphere, and in her bliss exults.
Now on our way pass we, to heavier woe
Descending : for each star is falling now,
That mounted at our entrance, and forbids
Too long our tarrying.” We the circle crossed
To the next steep, arriving at a well,
That boiling pours itself down to a foss
Sluiced from its source. Far murkier was the wave

105

74. God created the nine heavens and ap- night (Hell, ii. 1); the stars which were then pointed the various orders of the celestial rising from the horizon are now falling from the hierarchy to rule over them, and to control zenith; hence it is past midnight, and the second their movements and influence. Cf. Convito, day of the action of the poem has begun. ii. 5 and 6; Par. viii. 38 ff.; xxviii. 112 ff.

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Than sablest grain : and we in company
Of the inky waters, journeying by their side,
Entered, though by a different track, beneath.
Into a lake, the Stygian named, expands
The dismal stream, when it hath reached the foot
Of the gray withered cliffs. Intent I stood
To gaze, and in the marish sunk descried
A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks
Betokening rage. They with their hands alone
Struck not, but with the head, the breast, the feet,
Cutting each other piecemeal with their fangs.

The good instructor spake: “Now seest thou, son!
The souls of those, whom anger overcame.
This too for certain know, that underneath
The water dwells a multitude, whose sighs
Into these bubbles make the surface heave,
As thine eye tells thee wheresoe'er it turn.
Fixed in the slime, they say: 'Sad once were we
In the sweet air made gladsome by the sun,
Carrying a foul and lazy mist within:
Now in these murky settlings are we sad.'
Such dolorous strain they gurgle in their throats,
But word distinct can utter none." Our route
Thus compassed we, a segment widely stretched
Between the dry embankment, and the core
Of the loathed pool, turning meanwhile our eyes
Downward on those who gulped its muddy lees;
Nor stopped, till to a tower's low base we came.

125

130

110. “Cocyti stagna alta vides, Stygiamque wrath within their hearts, in contradistinction paludem."

to the violently angry.
Æn. i. 326. 131. “Fra la ripa secca e il mezzo."

The meaning of the last word here is 121. According to the ancient commentators “slough” (from Latin mites ?). Cary conthe slothful in well-doing. Philalethes thinks fuses it with mezzo, -- middle, – and translates they are the sullen who nurse a hidden fire of it by the obsolete word, core = centre.

CANTO VIII.

ARGUMENT.

A signal having been made from the tower, Phlegyas, the ferryman of the lake, speed

ily crosses it, and conveys Virgil and Dante to the other side. On their passage, they meet with Filippo Argenti, whose fury and torment are described. They then arrive at the city of Dis, the entrance whereto is denied, and the portals closed against them by many Demons.

My theme pursuing, I relate, that ere
We reached the lofty turret's base, our eyes
Its height ascended, where we marked uphung
Two cressets, and another saw from far
Return the signal, so remote, that scarce
The eye could catch its beam. I, turning round
To the deep source of knowledge, thus inquired :
“Say what this means; and what, that other light
In answer set: what agency doth this?"

“ There on the filthy waters,” he replied,
“E'en now what next awaits us mayst thou see,
If the marsh-gendered fog conceal it not."

Never was arrow from the cord dismissed,
That ran its way so nimbly through the air,
As a small bark, that through the waves I spied
Toward us coming, under the sole sway
Of one that ferried it, who cried aloud:
“ Art thou arrived, fell spirit?” – “Phlegyas, Phlegyas,
This time thou criest in vain," my lord replied ;
“No longer shalt thou have us, but while o'er
The slimy pool we pass.” As one who hears
Of some great wrong he hath sustained, whereat
Inly he pines : so Phlegyas inly pined
In his fierce ire. My guide, descending, stepped
Into the skiff, and bade me enter next,
Close at his side; nor, till my entrance, seemed
The vessel freighted. Soon as both embarked,
Cutting the waves, goes on the ancient prow,
More deeply than with others it is wont.

1. Boccaccio and others see in this line an he set fire to the temple of that deity, by whose indication that the first seven cantos were writ- vengeance he was cast into Tartarus. See Virg. ten before Dante's exile. This is not true, how- Æn. vi. 618. ever, as it has been proved that the poem was 29. Because Dante, being alive, weighed not begun until several years thereafter the boat down more than the spirits. The fact

7. Virgil. Cf. Hell, vii. 3, where the words that the Poet is in the body is never left from “whom no event surprised” are in the original, sight throughout the poem, and constant refer“che tutto seppe" = who knew everything ence is made to it by Virgil, by Dante himself,

18. Phlegyas was so incensed against Apollo, or by the spirits, who are filled with wonder at for having violated his daughter Coronis, that the strange fact,

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While we our course o'er the dead channel held, One drenched in mire before me came, and said: “Who art thou, that thus comest ere thine hour?"

I answered : “ Though I come, I tarry not:
But who art thou, that art become so foul?"
“One, as thou seest, who mourn:” he straight replied.

To which I thus : “In mourning and in woe,
Curst spirit! tarry thou. I know thee well,
E’en thus in filth disguised.” Then stretched he forth
Hands to the bark; whereof my teacher sage
Aware, thrusting him back : “ Away! down there
To the other dogs!” then, with his arms my neck
Encircling, kissed my cheek, and spake : “O soul,
Justly disdainful! blest was she in whom
Thou wast conceived. He in the world was one
For arrogance noted: to his memory
No virtue lends its lustre; even so
Here is his shadow furious. There above,
How many now hold themselves mighty kings,
Who here like swine shall wallow in the mire,
Leaving behind them horrible dispraise."

I then: “Master! him fain would I behold
Whelmed in these dregs, before we quit the lake."

He thus : “ Or ever to thy view the shore
Be offered, satisfied shall be that wish,
Which well deserves completion." Scarce his words
Were ended, when I saw the miry tribes
Set on him with such violence, that yet
For that render I thanks to God, and praise.
“ To Filippo Argenti!” cried they all :
And on himself the moody Florentine
Turned his avenging fangs. Him here we left,
Nor speak I of him more. But on mine ear
Sudden a sound of lamentation smote
Whereat mine eye unbarred I sent abroad.

And thus the good instructor: “Now, my son
Draws near the city, that of Dis is named,
With its grave denizens, a mighty throng."

I thus : “ The minarets already, Sir!
There, certes, in the valley I descry,
Gleaming vermilion, as if they from fire

31. Filippo Argenti, mentioned by name in the sufferings of Filippo Argenti may perhaps line 59. Boccaccio tells us, “he was a man be found in the fact that the latter belonged to remarkable for the large proportions and ex- the family of the Adimari, enemies of the Biantraordinary vigor of his bodily frame, and the chi, and of the Poet. Cf. Par. xvi. 113 ff. extreme waywardness and irascibility of his 66. The city of Dis, defended by moats, walls, temper." Decam. ix. 8.

and towers, forms the sixth circle of Hell, that 32. I.e. the hour of death.

of the Heresiarchs. Here is the entrance to the 58. An explanation of Dante's fierce joy in lower Hell, where still blacker sins are punished.

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