They built their city over those dead bones,

And, after her who first the place selected,

Mantua named it, without other omen. Its people once within more crowded were,

Ere the stupidity of Casalodi

From Pinamonte had received deceit. Therefore I caution thee, if e'er thou hearest

Originate my city otherwise,

No falsehood may the verity defraud.” And I : “My master, thy discourses are

To me so certain, and so take my faith,

That unto me the rest would be spent coals.
But tell me of the people who are passing,

If any one note-worthy thou beholdest,
For only unto that my mind reverts.”

105 Then said he to me: “ He who from the cheek

Thrusts out his beard upon his swarthy shoulders

Was, at the time when Greece was void of males, So that there scarce remained one in the cradle,

An augur, and with Calchas gave the moment, 110

In Aulis, when to sever the first cable.
Eryphylus his name was, and so sings

My lofty Tragedy in some part or other ;
That knowest thou well, who knowest the whole of it.

The next, who is so slender in the flanks,

Was Michael Scott, who of a verity

Of magical illusions knew the game. Behold Guido Bonatti, behold Asdente,

Who now unto his leather and his thread

Would fain have stuck, but he too late repents. 120 Behold the wretched ones, who left the needle,

The spool and rock, and made them fortune-tellers ;

They wrought their magic spells with herb and image. But come now, for already holds the confines

Of both the hemispheres, and under Seville 125

Touches the ocean-wave, Cain and the thorns, And yesternight the moon was round already ;

Thou shouldst remember well it did not harm thee

From time to time within the forest deep.” Thus spake he to me, and we walked the while. 130 CANTO XXI.

FROM bridge to bridge thus, speaking other things

Of which my Comedy cares not to sing,

We came along, and held the summit, when We halted to behold another fissure

Of Malebolge and other vain laments;

And I beheld it marvellously dark. As in the Arsenal of the Venetians

Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch

To smear their unsound vessels o'er again, For sail they cannot; and instead thereof

One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks

The ribs of that which many a voyage has made; One hammers at the prow, one at the stern,

This one makes oars, and that one cordage twists,

Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen;
Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,

Was boiling down below there a dense pitch
Which upon every side the bank belimed.



[blocks in formation]

I saw it, but I did not see within it

Aught but the bubbles that the boiling raised,

And all swell up and resubside compressed. The while below there fixedly I gazed,

My Leader, crying out: “ Beware, beware!”

Drew me unto himself from where I stood. Then I turned round, as one who is impatient

To see what it behoves him to escape,

And whom a sudden terror doth unman, Who, while he looks, delays not his departure;

And I beheld behind us a black devil,

Running along upon the crag, approach. Ah, how ferocious was he in his aspect!

And how he seemed to me in action ruthless,

With open wings and light upon his feet!
His shoulders, which sharp-pointed were and high,

A sinner did encumber with both haunches,

And he held clutched the sinews of the feet. From off our bridge, he said: “O Malebranche,

Behold one of the elders of Saint Zita ;

Plunge him beneath, for I return for others
Unto that town, which is well furnished with them.

All there are barrators, except Bonturo;
No into Yes for money there is changed.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

He hurled him down, and over the hard crag

Turned round, and never was a mastiff loosened
In so much hurry to pursue a thief.

45 The other sank, and rose again face downward;

But the demons, under cover of the bridge,

Cried : “Here the Santo Volto has no place! Here swims one otherwise than in the Serchio;

Therefore, if for our gaffs thou wishest not, so

Do not uplift thyself above the pitch.”
They seized him then with more than a hundred rakes;

They said : “It here behoves thee to dance covered,

That, if thou canst, thou secretly mayest pilfer.”
Not otherwise the cooks their scullions make 55

Immerse into the middle of the caldron

The meat with hooks, so that it may not float. Said the good Master to me: “That it be not

Apparent thou art here, crouch thyself down

Behind a jag, that thou mayest have some screen ; 60 And for no outrage that is done to me

Be thou afraid, because these things I know,

For once before was I in such a scuffle.”
Then he passed on beyond the bridge's head,

And as upon the sixth bank he arrived,
Need was for him to have a steadfast front.

[ocr errors]


« ElőzőTovább »