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Yet in this deep suspicion rest thou not
Contented, unless she assure thee so,
Who betwixt truth and mind infuses light:
I know not if thou take me right; I mean
Beatrice. Her thou shalt behold above,
Upon this mountain's crown, fair seat of joy."
Then I: “Sir! let us mend our speed; for now
I tire not as before: and lo! the hill
Stretches its shadow far.” He answered thus :
“Our progress with this day, shall be as much
As we may now dispatch ; but otherwise
Than thou supposest is the truth. For there
Thou canst not be, ere thou once more behold
Him back returning, who behind the steep
Is now so hidden, that, as erst, his beam
Thou dost not break. But lo! a spirit there
Stands solitary, and toward us looks :
It will instruct us in the speediest way."
We soon approached it. O thou Lombard spirit!
How didst thou stand, in high abstracted mood,
Scarce moving with slow dignity thine eyes.
It spoke not aught, but let us onward pass,
Eying us as a lion on his watch.
But Virgil, with entreaty mild, advanced,
Requesting it to show the best ascent.
It answer to his question none returned ;
But of our country and our kind of life
Demanded. When my courteous guide began,
“ Mantua," the shadow, in itself absorbed,
Rose towards us from the place in which it stood,
And cried, “ Mantuan! I am thy countryman,
Sordello." Each the other then embraced.
Ah, slavish Italy! thou inn of grief!
Vessel without a pilot in loud storm!
Lady no longer of fair provinces,
But brothel-house impure! this gentle spirit,
Even from the pleasant sound of his dear land
Was prompt to greet a fellow citizen
With such glad cheer: while now thy living ones
In thee abide not without war; and one
Malicious gnaws another; ay, of those
Whom the same wall and the same moat contains.
Seek, wretched one! around thy sea-coasts wide ;
Then homeward to thy bosom turn; and mark,
If any part of thee sweet peace enjoy.
What boots it, that thy reins Justinian's hand
Refitted, if thy saddle be unprest?
Naught doth he now but aggravate thy shame.
Ah, people! thou obedient still shouldst live,
And in the saddle let thy Cæsar sit,
If well thou marked'st that which God commands.
Look how that beast to felness hath relapsed,
From having lost correction of the spur,
Since to the bridle thou hast set thine hand,
O German Albert! who abandon'st her
That is grown savage and unmanageable,
When thou shouldst clasp her flanks with forked heels.
Just judgment from the stars fall on thy blood;
And be it strange and manifest to all ;
Such as may strike thy successor with dread;
For that thy sire and thou have suffered thus,
Through greediness of yonder realms detained,
The garden of the empire to run waste.
Come, see the Capulets and Montagues,
The Filippeschi and Monaldi, man
Who carest for naught! those sunk in grief, and these
With dire suspicion racked. Come, cruel one!
Come, and behold the oppression of the nobles,
And mark their injuries; and thou mayst see
What safety Santafiore can supply.
“Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
IOI. Allusion to the murder of Albert by his Among themselves, and levy cruel wars, nephew, John, surnamed the parricide, in 1308. Wasting the earth, each other to destroy.” 103. Thy successor = Henry VII. of Luxem
P. L. ii. 500-502. bourg. From him the Poet hoped for the deliv85. I.e. in the same city.
erance of Italy, but having come to Italy and 91. It would have been less shameful for having been crowned in Rome in 1312, the emItaly if Justinian had not, by compiling and cor- peror died the following year, thus putting an recting the laws, given her the means of just end to Dante's hopes. government.
104. Sire = Rudolph, who likewise had neg94. Allusion to the words of the Saviour (Matt. lected to visit Italy. xxii. 21), “Render therefore unto Cæsar the 107. The Poet mentions certain families at things which are Cæsar's."
feud with each other, as a sample of the con95. Beast = Italy.
dition of things in all parts of Italy. The 98. Albert of Austria, son of Rudolph of Haps- Capulets and Montagues lived in Verona; the burg, born 1248, chosen emperor 1298, mur. Filippeschi and Monaldi in Orvieto. dered in 1308. Too much occupied with his 113. Santafiore is a county in the Maremma own affairs, he completely neglected Italy. of Siena. According to some, Dante alludes to Dante as a Ghibelline, and according to his the country here infested with robbers; accord. theory of the empire, must look on such neglecting to others, he refers to the Counts of Santaas a crime.
fiore, who in the year 1300 suffered serious losses.
Come and behold thy Rome, who calls on thee
Desolate widow, day and night with moans,
“My Cæsar, why dost thou desert my side?"
Come, and behold what love among thy people:
And if no pity touches thee for us,
Come, and blush for thine own report. For me,
If it be lawful, O Almighty Power!
Who wast in earth for our sakes crucified,
Are thy just eyes turned elsewhere? or is this
A preparation, in the wondrous depth
Of thy sage counsel made, for some good end,
Entirely from our reach of thought cut off?
So are the Italian cities all o'erthronged
With tyrants, and a great Marcellus made
Of every petty factious villager.
My Florence! thou mayst well remain unmoved
At this digression, which affects not thee:
Thanks to thy people, who so wisely speed.
Many have justice in their heart, that long
Waiteth for counsel to direct the bow,
Or ere it dart unto its aim : but thine
Have it on their lip's edge. Many refuse
To bear the common burdens : readier thine
Answer uncalled, and cry, “Behold I stoop!"
Make thyself glad, for thou hast reason now,
Thou wealthy! thou at peace! thou wisdom-fraught!
Facts best will witness if I speak the truth.
Athens and Lacedæmon, who of old
Enacted laws, for civil arts renowned,
Made little progress in improving life
Towards thee, who usest such nice subtlety,
That to the middle of November scarce
Reaches the thread thou in October weavest.
How many times within thy memory,
Customs, and laws, and coins, and offices
Have been by thee renewed, and people changed.
If thou remember'st well and canst see clear,
Thou wilt perceive thyself like a sick wretch,
Who finds no rest upon her down, but oft
Shifting her side, short respite seeks from pain.
120. The original, “O sommo Giove,” illus- time for deliberation and making laws: not so trates the strange mingling of mythology with Florence. Christianity in the Divine Comedy
135. Many people refuse to assume the public 127. Marcellus was consul at the outbreak offices, when asked; the Florentines are eager of war between Pompey and Cæsar, and chief to obtain them. opponent of the latter.
145. The laws and statutes made in October 129. The following passage is full of bitterest are already overturned in November. All this irony.
refers to the constant change of laws, parties, 132. The inhabitants of other cities have and magistrates, which existed in Florence more desire for justice in their hearts, but take than in any other city in Italy.
The approach of night hindering further ascent, Sordello conducts our Poets apart to
an eminence, from whence they behold a pleasant recess, in form of a flowery valley, scooped out of the mountain; where are many famous spirits, and among them the Emperor Rudolph, Ottocar, King of Bohemia, Philip III. of France, Henry of Navarre, Peter III. of Aragon, Charles I. of Naples, Henry III. of England, and William, Marquis of Montferrat.
AFTER their courteous greetings joyfully
Seven times exchanged, Sordello backward drew
Exclaiming, “Who are ye?” — “Before this mount
By spirits worthy of ascent to God
Was sought, my bones had by Octavius' care
Been buried. I am Virgil; for no sin
Deprived of heaven, except for lack of faith."
So answered him in few my gentle guide.
As one, who ought before him suddenly
Beholding, whence his wonder riseth, cries,
“It is, yet is not,” wavering in belief;
Such he appeared; then downward bent his eyes,
And, drawing near with reverential step,
Caught him, where one of mean estate might clasp
His lord. “Glory of Latium!” he exclaimed,
“In whom our tongue its utmost power displayed ;
Boast of my honored birth-place! what desert
Of mine, what favor, rather, undeserved,
Shows thee to me? If I to hear that voice
Am worthy, say if from below thou comest,
And from what cloister's pale.” — “ Through every orb
Of that sad region," he replied, “thus far
Am I arrived, by heavenly influence led :
And with such aid I come. Not for my doing,
But for not doing, have I lost the sight
Of that high Sun, whom thou desirest, and who
By me too late was known. There is a place
There underneath, not made by torments sad,
But by dun shades alone; where mourning's voice
Sounds not of anguish sharp, but breathes in sighs.
There I with little innocents abide,
Who by death's fangs were bitten, ere exempt
From human taint. There I with those abide,
Who the three holy virtues put not on,
But understood the rest, and without blame
Followed them all. But, if thou know'st, and canst,
Direct us how we soonest may arrive,
Where Purgatory its true beginning takes."
He answered thus: “We have no certain place
Assigned us : upwards I may go, or round.
Far as I can, I join thee for thy guide.
But thou beholdest now how day declines;
And upwards to proceed by night, our power
Excels: therefore it may be well to choose
A place of pleasant sojourn. To the right
· Some spirits sit apart retired. If thou
Consentest, I to these will lead thy steps :
And thou wilt know them, not without delight."
“How chances this?" was answered: “ whoso wished
To ascend by night, would he be thence debarred
By other, or through his own weakness fail ? "
The good Sordello then, along the ground
Trailing his finger, spoke : “Only this line
Thou shalt not overpass, soon as the sun
Hath disappeared ; not that aught else impedes
Thy going upwards, save the shades of night.
These, with the want of power, perplex the will.
With them thou haply mightst return beneath,
Or to and fro around the mountain's side
Wander, while day is in the horizon shut.”
My master straight, as wondering at his speech,
Exclaimed: “Then lead us quickly, where thou sayst
That, while we stay, we may enjoy delight.”
A little space we were removed from thence,
When I perceived the mountain hollowed out,
Even as large valleys hollowed out on earth.
“That way," the escorting spirit cried, “we go,
Where in a bosom the high bank recedes :
And thou await renewal of the day.".
Betwixt the steep and plain, a crooked path
Led us traverse into the ridge's side,
Where more than half the sloping edge expires.
31. Unbaptized infants.
cannot make a single step toward holiness, 34. Faith, Hope, and Charity.
without the aid of the sun of righteousness, or 35. The four cardinal virtues, - Prudence, illuminating grace. It is easy enough, however, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.
to fall back to sin. 38. The gate of Purgatory proper. Dante 61. Virgil wonders, because, being a pagan, and Virgil are still in Antepurgatory.
he cannot understand God's provisions for the 54. The allegory here is evident. The soul purgation of sin in man.