This question put I; and he answered me:

“Seldom it comes to pass that one of us

Maketh the journey upon which I go. True is it, once before I here below

Was conjured by that pitiless Erictho,

Who summoned back the shades unto their bodies. Naked of me short while the flesh had been,

25 Before within that wall she made me enter,

To bring a spirit from the circle of Judas; That is the lowest region and the darkest,

And farthest from the heaven which circles all.

Well know I the way; therefore be reassured. 30 This fen, which a prodigious stench exhales,

Encompasses about the city dolent,

Where now we cannot enter without anger." And more he said, but not in mind I have it;

Because mine eye had altogether drawn me 35

Tow'rds the high tower with the red-faming summit, Where in a moment saw I swift uprisen

The three infernal Furies stained with blood,

Who had the limbs of women and their mien,
And with the greenest hydras were begirt ;

Small serpents and cerastes were their tresses,
Wherewith their horrid temples were entwined.



[ocr errors]

And he who well the handmaids of the Queen

Of everlasting lamentation knew,

Said unto me: “Behold the fierce Erinnys. This is Megæra, on the left-hand side; · She who is weeping on the right, Alecto ;

Tisiphone is between”; and then was silent. Each one her breast was rending with her nails ;

They beat them with their palms, and cried so loud, so

That I for dread pressed close unto the Poet. “Medusa come, so we to stone will change him!”

All shouted looking down; “in evil hour

Avenged we not on Theseus his assault!” “Turn thyself round, and keep thine eyes close shut, S5

For if the Gorgon appear, and thou shouldst see it,

No more returning upward would there be.” Thus said the Master; and he turned me round

Himself, and trusted not unto my hands

So far as not to blind me with his own. Oye who have undistempered intellects,

Observe the doctrine that conceals itself

Beneath the veil of the mysterious verses!
And now there came across the turbid waves

The clangor of a sound with terror fraught, 65
Because of which both of the margins trembled;







Not otherwise it was than of a wind

Impetuous on account of adverse heats,

That smites the forest, and, without restraint, The branches rends, beats down, and bears away; 70

Right onward, laden with dust, it goes superb, .

And puts to fight the wild beasts and the shepherds. Mine eyes he loosed, and said : “Direct the nerve

Of vision now along that ancient foam,

There yonder where that smoke is most intense.” 75 Even as the frogs before the hostile serpent

Across the water scatter all abroad,

Until each one is huddled in the earth, More than a thousand ruined souls I saw,

Thus fleeing from before one who on foot

Was passing o'er the Styx with soles unwet. From off his face he fanned that unctuous air,

Waving his left hand oft in front of him,

And only with that anguish seemed he weary. Well I perceived one sent from Heaven was he, 85

And to the Master turned; and he made sign

That I should quiet stand, and bow before him.
Ah! how disdainful he appeared to me!

He reached the gate, and with a little rod
He opened it, for there was no resistance.


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“O banished out of Heaven, people despised!”

Thus he began upon the horrid threshold;

“Whence is this arrogance within you couched ? Wherefore recalcitrate against that will,

* From which the end can never be cut off,

And which has many times increased your pain ? What helpeth it to butt against the fates ?

Your Cerberus, if you remember well,

For that still bears his chin and gullet peeled.” Then he returned along the miry road,

And spake no word to us, but had the look

Of one whom other care constrains and goads Than that of him who in his presence is;

And we our feet directed tow'rds the city,

After those holy words all confident. Within we entered without any contest;

And I, who inclination had to see

What the condition such a fortress holds, Soon as I was within, cast round mine eye,

And see on every hand an ample plain,

Full of distress and torment terrible.
Even as at Arles, where stagnant grows the Rhone,

Even as at Pola near to the Quarnaro,
That shuts in Italy and bathes its borders,



[ocr errors]

I 20

The sepulchres make all the place uneven ;

115 So likewise did they there on every side,

Saving that there the manner was more bitter ; For flames between the sepulchres were scattered,

By which they so intensely heated were,

That iron more so asks not any art. All of their coverings uplifted were,

And from them issued forth such dire laments,

Sooth seemed they of the wretched and tormented. And I: “My Master, what are all those people

Who, having sepulture within those tombs, 125

Make themselves audible by doleful sighs ?” And he to me: “Here are the Heresiarchs,

With their disciples of all sects, and much

More than thou thinkest laden are the tombs. Here like together with its like is buried; . 130

And more and less the monuments are heated.”

And when he to the right had turned, we passed Between the torments and high parapets.

« ElőzőTovább »