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CANTO XVI.

ARGUMENT.

Journeying along the pier, which crosses the sand, they are now so near the end of it

as to hear the noise of the stream falling into the eighth circle, when they meet the spirits of three military men; who judging Dante, from his dress, to be a countryman of theirs, entreat him to stop. He complies, and speaks with them. The two Poets then reach the place where the water descends, being the termination of this third compartment in the seventh circle; and here Virgil having thrown down into the hollow a cord, wherewith Dante was girt, they behold at that signal a monstrous and horrible figure come swimming up to them.

Now came I where the water's din was heard,
As down it fell into the other round,
Resounding like the hum of swarming bees :
When forth together issued from a troop,
That passed beneath the fierce tormenting storm,
Three spirits, running swift. They towards us came,
And each one cried aloud, “ Oh! do thou stay,
Whom, by the fashion of thy garb, we deem
To be some inmate of our evil land.”

Ah me! what wounds I marked upon their limbs,
Recent and old, inflicted by the flames.
E'en the remembrance of them grieves me yet.

Attentive to their cry, my teacher paused,
And turned to me his visage, and then spake:
“Wait now: our courtesy these merit well:
And were 't not for the nature of the place,
Whence glide the fiery darts, I should have said,
That haste had better suited thee than them."

They, when we stopped, resumed their ancient wail,
And, soon as they had reached us, all the three
Whirled round together in one restless wheel.
As naked champions, smeared with slippery oil
Are wont, intent, to watch their place of hold
And vantage, ere in closer strife they meet;
Thus each one, as he wheeled, his countenance
At me directed, so that opposite
The neck moved ever to the twinkling feet.

“If woe of this unsound and dreary waste,"
Thus one began, " added to our sad cheer
Thus peeled with flame, do call forth scorn on us

1. The Phlegethon falls over a tremendous by his accent; here the Poet is recognized by precipice which Dante and Virgil must now his garb. descend.

15. Virgil gives Dante to understand that 6. Who these spirits are will be seen in lines these spirits were of great distinction in the

world above, 8. Farinata recognized Dante as a Florentine

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And our entreaties, let our great renown
Incline thee to inform us who thou art,
That dost imprint, with living feet unharmed,
The soil of Hell. He, in whose track thou seest
My steps pursuing, naked though he be
And reft of all, was of more high estate
That thou believest; grandchild of the chaste
Gualdrada, him they Guidoguerra called,
Who in his lifetime many a noble act
Achieved, both by his wisdom and his sword.
The other, next to me that beats the sand,
Is Aldobrandi, name deserving well,
In the upper world, of honor; and myself,
Who in this torment do partake with them,
Am Rusticucci, whom, past doubt, my wife,
Of savage temper, more than aught beside
Hath to this evil brought.” If from the fire
I had been sheltered, down amidst them straight
I then had cast me; nor my guide, I deem,
Would have restrained my going : but that fear
Of the dire burning vanquished the desire,
Which made me eager of their wished embrace.

I then began: “Not scorn, but grief much more,
Such as long time alone can cure, your doom
Fixed deep within me, soon as this my lord
Spake words, whose tenor taught me to expect
That such a race, as ye are, was at hand.
I am a countryman of yours, who still

38. Gualdrada was the daughter of Bellin- this union, Guglielmo and Ruggieri; the latter cione Berti, of whom mention is made in the of whom was father of Guidoguerra, a man of Paradise, Canto xv. and xvi. He was of the great military skill and prowess; who, at the family of Ravignani, a branch of the Adimari. head of four hundred Florentines of the Guelph The Emperor Otho IV. being at a festival in party, was signally instrumental to the victory Florence, where Gualdrada was present, was obtained at Benevento by Charles of Anjou, struck with her beauty; and inquiring who she over Manfredi, king of Naples, in 1266. One of

ed by Bellincione, that she was the consequences of this victory was the expulthe daughter of one who, if it was his Maj- sion of the Ghibellines and the re-establishment esty's pleasure, would make her admit the of the Guelph at Florence. honor of his salute. On overhearing this, she 42. Tegghiaio Aldobrandi was of the noble arose from her seat, and blushing, in an ani- family of Adimari, and much esteemed for his mated tone of voice, desired her father that he military talents. He endeavored to dissuade would not be so liberal in his offers, for that no the Florentines from the attack which they man should ever be allowed that freedom except meditated against the Sienese; and the rejechim who should be her lawful husband. The tion of his counsel occasioned the memorable emperor was not less delighted by her resolute defeat which the former sustained at Montamodesty than he had before been by the loveli- perto, and the consequent banis ness of her person; and calling to him Guido, Guelphs from Florence. one of his barons, gave her to him in marriage; 45. Jacopo Rusticucci, a distinguished Florat the same time raising him to the rank of a entine knight, of a plebeian family, a man rich count, and bestowing on her the whole of Ca- and generous, who had been divorced from his sentino, and a part of the territory of Romagna, wife. as her portion. Two sons were the offspring of 56. See lines 15-18.

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Affectionate have uttered, and have heard
Your deeds and names renowned. Leaving the gall,
For the sweet fruit I go, that a sure guide
Hath promised to me. But behoves, that far
As to the centre first I downward tend."

“So may long space thy spirit guide thy limbs,"
He answer straight returned ; " and so thy fame
Shine bright when thou art gone, as thou shalt tell,
If courtesy and valor, as they wont,
Dwell in our city, or have vanished clean :
For one amidst us late condemned to wail,
Borsiere, yonder walking with his peers,
Grieves us no little by the news he brings.”

“ An upstart multitude and sudden gains,
Pride and excess, O Florence! have in thee
Engendered, so that now in tears thou mourn'st!”

Thus cried I, with my face upraised, and they
All three, who for an answer took my words,
Looked at each other, as men look when truth
Comes to their ear. " If at so little cost,"
They all at once rejoined, “thou satisfy
Others who question thee, O happy thou!
Gifted with words so apt to speak thy thought.
Wherefore, if thou escape this darksome clime,
Returning to behold the radiant stars,
When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past,
See that of us thou speak among mankind."

This said, they broke the circle, and so swift
Fled, that as pinions seemed their nimble feet.

Not in so short a time might one have said
“ Amen,” as they had vanished. Straight my guide
Pursued his track. I followed : and small space
Had we past onward, when the water's sound
Was now so near at hand, that we had scarce
Heard one another's speech for the loud din.

E'en as the river, that first holds its course
Unmingled, from the Mount of Vesulo,
On the left side of Apennine, toward
The east, which Acquacheta higher up

60. “For I perceive that thou art in the gall 75. With face upraised toward Florence, now of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." overhead. Acts viii. 23.

84. “Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit " 61. Sweet fruit = salvation and the joys of

Æn, i, 204. Heaven. Cf. Purg. xxvii. 115 ff. and xxxii. 94. Dante compares the fall of Phlegethon

from the seventh to the eighth circle, to that of 70. Guglielmo Borsiere, another Florentine, the Montone, in the Apennines above the whom Boccaccio, in a story which he relates of monastery of San Benedetto. him, terms “a man of courteous and elegant95. Now called Monviso. Here the Po also manners, and of great readiness in conversa- has its source. tion.” Dec. i. 8.

74 ff.

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They call, ere it descend into the vale,
At Forli, by that name no longer known,
Rebellows o'er Saint Benedict, rolled on
From the Alpine summit down a precipice,
Where space enough to lodge a thousand spreads;
Thus downward from a craggy steep we found
That this dark wave resounded, roaring loud,
So that the ear its clamor soon had stunned.

I had a cord that braced my girdle round,
Wherewith I erst had thought fast bound to take
The painted leopard. This when I had all
Unloosened from me (so my master bade)
I gathered up, and stretched it forth to him.
Then to the right he turned, and from the brink
Standing few paces distant, cast it down
Into the deep abyss. “And somewhat strange,"
Thus to myself I spake, “ signal so strange
Betokens, which my guide with earnest eye
Thus follows." Ah! what caution must men use
With those who look not at the deed alone,
But spy into the thoughts with subtle skill.

“ Quickly shall come,” he said, “ what I expect;
Thine eye discover quickly that, whereof
Thy thought is dreaming." Ever to that truth,
Which but the semblance of a falsehood wears,
A man, if possible, should bar his lip;
Since, although blameless, he incurs reproach.
But silence here were vain; and by these notes,
Which now I sing, reader, I swear to thee,
So may they favor find to latest times!
That through the gross and murky air I spied
A shape come swimming up, that might have quelled
The stoutest heart with wonder; in such guise
As one returns, who hath been down to loose

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99. Capital of the province of Forli. Here the is something better. It is believed that our name of the Acquacheta is changed to Montone. Poet, in the earlier part of his life, had entered

102. The monastery of San Benedetto be- into the order of St. Francis. By observing the longed to the Counts Guidi, and was so rich rules of that profession, he had designed to that it might have supported a large number of mortify his carnal appetites, or, as he expresses monks, or of the poor, instead of the few who it, “ to take the painted leopard" (that animal, actually lived there. Or the reference may be which, as we have seen in a note to the first as follows: The lords of that territory, as Canto, represented Pleasure) “with this cord.'' Boccaccio related on the authority of the abbot, This part of the habit he is now desired by had intended to build a castle near the water. Virgil to take off; and it is thrown down the fall, and to collect within its walls the popula- gulf, to allure Geryon to them with the expection of the neighboring villages.

tation of carrying down one who had cloaked 106. This passage, as it is confessed by Lan- his iniquities under the garb of penitence and dino, involves a fiction sufficiently obscure. His self-mortification. own attempt to unravel it does not much lessen 125. Notes = verses, or rhymes. the difficulty. That which Lombardi has made

An anchor grappled fast against some rock,
Or to aught else that in the salt wave lies,
Who, upward springing, close draws in his feet.

CANTO XVII.

ARGUMENT.

The monster Geryon is described; to whom while Virgil is speaking in order that he may carry them both down to the next circle, Dante, by permission, goes a little further along the edge of the void, to descry the third species of sinners contained in this compartment, namely, those who have done violence to Art; and then returning to his master, they both descend, seated on the back of Geryon.

“Lo! the fell monster with the deadly sting,
Who passes mountains, breaks through fenced walls
And firm embattled spears, and with his filth
Taints all the world." Thus me my guide addressed,
And beckoned him, that he should come to shore,
Near to the stony causeway's utmost edge.

Forthwith that image vile of Fraud appeared,
His head and upper part exposed on land,
But laid not on the shore his bestial train.
His face the semblance of a just man's wore,
So kind and gracious was its outward cheer;
The rest was serpent all: two shaggy claws
Reached to the arm-pits; and the back and breast,
And either side, were painted o’er with nodes
And orbits. Colors variegated more
Nor Turks nor Tartars e'er on cloth of state
With interchangeable embroidery wove,
Nor spread Arachne o'er her curious loom.
As oft-times a light skiff, moored to the shore,
Stands part in water, part upon the land ;
Or, as where dwells the greedy German boor,
The beaver settles, watching for his prey;

1. Fraud. Geryon, according to Hesiod, was lenged Minerva to a contest in weaving, and a three-headed giant killed by Hercules. The was changed into a spider. See Ovid, Met. figure described by Dante, however, resembles vi. 5 ff. Dante mentions her again in Purg. but little that given by the Greek poet.

xii. 39. 6. The stony banks of Phlegethon.

21. Tacitus says of the Germans, dediti 14. The original nodi means simply knots or somno ciboque. Cf. French, "boire comme un nooses ; the rotelle means wheels or circles. Allemand." Allegorically the former signify speech pur- 22. The beaver, according to old tradition, posely involved in order to deceive, the latter was said to catch fish by dropping its tail in the shield of fraud, behind which the fraudulent the water. The falseness of the story is seen in hide themselves.

the fact that the beaver does not eat fish. 18. Celebrated weaver of Lydia, who chal

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