The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Hell, Volume 05 by Dante Alighieri
HELL, PURGATORY, AND PARADISE
THE REV. H. F. CARY, M.A.
OR THE INFERNO
Cantos 9 - 12
THE hue, which coward dread on my pale cheeks Imprinted, when I saw my guide turn back, Chas'd that from his which newly they had worn, And inwardly restrain'd it. He, as one Who listens, stood attentive: for his eye Not far could lead him through the sable air, And the thick-gath'ring cloud. "It yet behooves We win this fight"--thus he began--"if not-- Such aid to us is offer'd.--Oh, how long Me seems it, ere the promis'd help arrive!"
I noted, how the sequel of his words Clok'd their beginning; for the last he spake Agreed not with the first. But not the less My fear was at his saying; sith I drew To import worse perchance, than that he held, His mutilated speech. "Doth ever any Into this rueful concave's extreme depth Descend, out of the first degree, whose pain Is deprivation merely of sweet hope?"
Thus I inquiring. "Rarely," he replied, "It chances, that among us any makes This journey, which I wend. Erewhile 'tis true Once came I here beneath, conjur'd by fell Erictho, sorceress, who compell'd the shades Back to their bodies. No long space my flesh Was naked of me, when within these walls She made me enter, to draw forth a spirit From out of Judas' circle. Lowest place Is that of all, obscurest, and remov'd Farthest from heav'n's all-circling orb. The road Full well I know: thou therefore rest secure. That lake, the noisome stench exhaling, round The city' of grief encompasses, which now We may not enter without rage." Yet more He added: but I hold it not in mind, For that mine eye toward the lofty tower Had drawn me wholly, to its burning top. Where in an instant I beheld uprisen At once three hellish furies stain'd with blood: In limb and motion feminine they seem'd; Around them greenest hydras twisting roll'd Their volumes; adders and cerastes crept Instead of hair, and their fierce temples bound.
He knowing well the miserable hags Who tend the queen of endless woe, thus spake:
"Mark thou each dire Erinnys. To the left This is Megaera; on the right hand she, Who wails, Alecto; and Tisiphone I' th' midst." This said, in silence he remain'd Their breast they each one clawing tore; themselves Smote with their palms, and such shrill clamour rais'd, That to the bard I clung, suspicion-bound. "Hasten Medusa: so to adamant Him shall we change;" all looking down exclaim'd. "E'en when by Theseus' might assail'd, we took No ill revenge." "Turn thyself round, and keep Thy count'nance hid; for if the Gorgon dire Be shown, and thou shouldst view it, thy return Upwards would be for ever lost." This said, Himself my gentle master turn'd me round, Nor trusted he my hands, but with his own He also hid me. Ye of intellect Sound and entire, mark well the lore conceal'd Under close texture of the mystic strain!
And now there came o'er the perturbed waves Loud-crashing, terrible, a sound that made Either shore tremble, as if of a wind Impetuous, from conflicting vapours sprung, That 'gainst some forest driving all its might, Plucks off the branches, beats them down and hurls Afar; then onward passing proudly sweeps Its whirlwind rage, while beasts and shepherds fly.
Mine eyes he loos'd, and spake: "And now direct Thy visual nerve along that ancient foam, There, thickest where the smoke ascends." As frogs Before their foe the serpent, through the wave Ply swiftly all, till at the ground each one Lies on a heap; more than a thousand spirits Destroy'd, so saw I fleeing before one Who pass'd with unwet feet the Stygian sound. He, from his face removing the gross air, Oft his left hand forth stretch'd, and seem'd alone By that annoyance wearied. I perceiv'd That he was sent from heav'n, and to my guide Turn'd me, who signal made that I should stand Quiet, and bend to him. Ah me! how full Of noble anger seem'd he! To the gate He came, and with his wand touch'd it, whereat Open without impediment it flew.
"Outcasts of heav'n! O abject race and scorn'd!" Began he on the horrid grunsel standing, "Whence doth this wild excess of insolence Lodge in you? wherefore kick you 'gainst that will Ne'er frustrate of its end, and which so oft Hath laid on you enforcement of your pangs? What profits at the fays to but the horn? Your Cerberus, if ye remember, hence Bears still, peel'd of their hair, his throat and maw."
This said, he turn'd back o'er the filthy way, And syllable to us spake none, but wore The semblance of a man by other care Beset, and keenly press'd, than thought of him Who in his presence stands. Then we our steps Toward that territory mov'd, secure After the hallow'd words. We unoppos'd There enter'd; and my mind eager to learn What state a fortress like to that might hold, I soon as enter'd throw mine eye around, And see on every part wide-stretching space Replete with bitter pain and torment ill.
As where Rhone stagnates on the plains of Arles, Or as at Pola, near Quarnaro's gulf, That closes Italy and laves her bounds, The place is all thick spread with sepulchres; So was it here, save what in horror here Excell'd: for 'midst the graves were scattered flames, Wherewith intensely all throughout they burn'd, That iron for no craft there hotter needs.
Their lids all hung suspended, and beneath From them forth issu'd lamentable moans, Such as the sad and tortur'd well might raise.
I thus: "Master! say who are these, interr'd Within these vaults, of whom distinct we hear The dolorous sighs?" He answer thus return'd:
"The arch-heretics are here, accompanied By every sect their followers; and much more, Than thou believest, tombs are freighted: like With like is buried; and the monuments Are different in degrees of heat." This said, He to the right hand turning, on we pass'd Betwixt the afflicted and the ramparts high.
NOW by a secret pathway we proceed, Between the walls, that hem the region round, And the tormented souls: my master first, I close behind his steps. "Virtue supreme!" I thus began; "who through these ample orbs In circuit lead'st me, even as thou will'st, Speak thou, and satisfy my wish. May those, Who lie within these sepulchres, be seen? Already all the lids are rais'd, and none O'er them keeps watch." He thus in answer spake "They shall be closed all, what-time they here From Josaphat return'd shall come, and bring Their bodies, which above they now have left. The cemetery on this part obtain With Epicurus all his followers, Who with the body make the spirit die. Here therefore satisfaction shall be soon Both to the question ask'd, and to the wish, Which thou conceal'st in silence." I replied: "I keep not, guide belov'd! from thee my heart Secreted, but to shun vain length of words, A lesson erewhile taught me by thyself."
"O Tuscan! thou who through the city of fire Alive art passing, so discreet of speech! Here please thee stay awhile. Thy utterance Declares the place of thy nativity To be that noble land, with which perchance I too severely dealt." Sudden that sound Forth issu'd from a vault, whereat in fear I somewhat closer to my leader's side Approaching, he thus spake: "What dost thou? Turn. Lo, Farinata, there! who hath himself Uplifted: from his girdle upwards all Expos'd behold him." On his face was mine Already fix'd; his breast and forehead there Erecting, seem'd as in high scorn he held E'en hell. Between the sepulchres to him My guide thrust me with fearless hands and prompt, This warning added: "See thy words be clear!"
He, soon as there I stood at the tomb's foot, Ey'd me a space, then in disdainful mood Address'd me: "Say, what ancestors were thine?"
I, willing to obey him, straight reveal'd The whole, nor kept back aught: whence he, his brow Somewhat uplifting, cried: "Fiercely were they Adverse to me, my party, and the blood From whence I sprang: twice therefore I abroad Scatter'd them." "Though driv'n out, yet they each time From all parts," answer'd I, "return'd; an art Which yours have shown, they are not skill'd to learn."
Then, peering forth from the unclosed jaw, Rose from his side a shade, high as the chin, Leaning, methought, upon its knees uprais'd. It look'd around, as eager to explore If there were other with me; but perceiving That fond imagination quench'd, with tears Thus spake: "If thou through this blind prison go'st. Led by thy lofty genius and profound, Where is my son? and wherefore not with thee?"
I straight replied: "Not of myself I come, By him, who there expects me, through this clime Conducted, whom perchance Guido thy son Had in contempt." Already had his words And mode of punishment read me his name, Whence I so fully answer'd. He at once Exclaim'd, up starting, "How! said'st thou he HAD? No longer lives he? Strikes not on his eye The blessed daylight?" Then of some delay I made ere my reply aware, down fell Supine, not after forth appear'd he more.
Meanwhile the other, great of soul, near whom I yet was station'd, chang'd not count'nance stern, Nor mov'd the neck, nor bent his ribbed side. "And if," continuing the first discourse, "They in this art," he cried, "small skill have shown, That doth torment me more e'en than this bed. But not yet fifty times shall be relum'd Her aspect, who reigns here Queen of this realm, Ere thou shalt know the full weight of that art. So to the pleasant world mayst thou return, As thou shalt tell me, why in all their laws, Against my kin this people is so fell?"
"The slaughter and great havoc," I replied, "That colour'd Arbia's flood with crimson stain-- To these impute, that in our hallow'd dome Such orisons ascend." Sighing he shook The head, then thus resum'd: "In that affray I stood not singly, nor without just cause Assuredly should with the rest have stirr'd; But singly there I stood, when by consent Of all, Florence had to the ground been raz'd, The one who openly forbad the deed."
"So may thy lineage find at last repose," I thus adjur'd him, "as thou solve this knot, Which now involves my mind. If right I hear, Ye seem to view beforehand, that which time Leads with him, of the present uninform'd."
"We view, as one who hath an evil sight," He answer'd, "plainly, objects far remote: So much of his large spendour yet imparts The' Almighty Ruler; but when they approach Or actually exist, our intellect Then wholly fails, nor of your human state Except what others bring us know we aught. Hence therefore mayst thou understand, that all Our knowledge in that instant shall expire, When on futurity the portals close."
Then conscious of my fault, and by remorse Smitten, I added thus: "Now shalt thou say To him there fallen, that his offspring still Is to the living join'd; and bid him know, That if from answer silent I abstain'd, 'Twas that my thought was occupied intent Upon that error, which thy help hath solv'd."
But now my master summoning me back I heard, and with more eager haste besought The spirit to inform me, who with him Partook his lot. He answer thus return'd:
"More than a thousand with me here are laid Within is Frederick, second of that name, And the Lord Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not." He, this said, from sight withdrew. But I my steps towards the ancient bard Reverting, ruminated on the words Betokening me such ill. Onward he mov'd, And thus in going question'd: "Whence the' amaze That holds thy senses wrapt?" I satisfied The' inquiry, and the sage enjoin'd me straight: "Let thy safe memory store what thou hast heard To thee importing harm; and note thou this," With his rais'd finger bidding me take heed,
"When thou shalt stand before her gracious beam, Whose bright eye all surveys, she of thy life The future tenour will to thee unfold."
Forthwith he to the left hand turn'd his feet: We left the wall, and tow'rds the middle space Went by a path, that to a valley strikes; Which e'en thus high exhal'd its noisome steam.
UPON the utmost verge of a high bank, By craggy rocks environ'd round, we came, Where woes beneath more cruel yet were stow'd: And here to shun the horrible excess Of fetid exhalation, upward cast From the profound abyss, behind the lid Of a great monument we stood retir'd,
Whereon this scroll I mark'd: "I have in charge Pope Anastasius, whom Photinus drew From the right path.--Ere our descent behooves We make delay, that somewhat first the sense, To the dire breath accustom'd, afterward Regard it not." My master thus; to whom Answering I spake: "Some compensation find That the time past not wholly lost." He then: "Lo! how my thoughts e'en to thy wishes tend! My son! within these rocks," he thus began, "Are three close circles in gradation plac'd, As these which now thou leav'st. Each one is full Of spirits accurs'd; but that the sight alone Hereafter may suffice thee, listen how And for what cause in durance they abide.
"Of all malicious act abhorr'd in heaven, The end is injury; and all such end Either by force or fraud works other's woe But fraud, because of man peculiar evil, To God is more displeasing; and beneath The fraudulent are therefore doom'd to' endure Severer pang. The violent occupy All the first circle; and because to force Three persons are obnoxious, in three rounds Hach within other sep'rate is it fram'd. To God, his neighbour, and himself, by man Force may be offer'd; to himself I say And his possessions, as thou soon shalt hear At full. Death, violent death, and painful wounds Upon his neighbour he inflicts; and wastes By devastation, pillage, and the flames, His substance. Slayers, and each one that smites In malice, plund'rers, and all robbers, hence The torment undergo of the first round In different herds. Man can do violence To himself and his own blessings: and for this He in the second round must aye deplore With unavailing penitence his crime, Whoe'er deprives himself of life and light, In reckless lavishment his talent wastes, And sorrows there where he should dwell in joy. To God may force be offer'd, in the heart Denying and blaspheming his high power, And nature with her kindly law contemning. And thence the inmost round marks with its seal Sodom and Cahors, and all such as speak Contemptuously' of the Godhead in their hearts.
"Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting, May be by man employ'd on one, whose trust He wins, or on another who withholds Strict confidence. Seems as the latter way Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes. Whence in the second circle have their nest Dissimulation, witchcraft, flatteries, Theft, falsehood, simony, all who seduce To lust, or set their honesty at pawn, With such vile scum as these. The other way Forgets both Nature's general love, and that Which thereto added afterwards gives birth To special faith. Whence in the lesser circle, Point of the universe, dread seat of Dis, The traitor is eternally consum'd."
I thus: "Instructor, clearly thy discourse Proceeds, distinguishing the hideous chasm And its inhabitants with skill exact. But tell me this: they of the dull, fat pool, Whom the rain beats, or whom the tempest drives, Or who with tongues so fierce conflicting meet, Wherefore within the city fire-illum'd Are not these punish'd, if God's wrath be on them? And if it be not, wherefore in such guise Are they condemned?" He answer thus return'd: "Wherefore in dotage wanders thus thy mind, Not so accustom'd? or what other thoughts Possess it? Dwell not in thy memory The words, wherein thy ethic page describes Three dispositions adverse to Heav'n's will, Incont'nence, malice, and mad brutishness, And how incontinence the least offends God, and least guilt incurs? If well thou note This judgment, and remember who they are, Without these walls to vain repentance doom'd, Thou shalt discern why they apart are plac'd From these fell spirits, and less wreakful pours Justice divine on them its vengeance down."
"O Sun! who healest all imperfect sight, Thou so content'st me, when thou solv'st my doubt, That ignorance not less than knowledge charms. Yet somewhat turn thee back," I in these words Continu'd, "where thou saidst, that usury Offends celestial Goodness; and this knot Perplex'd unravel." He thus made reply: "Philosophy, to an attentive ear, Clearly points out, not in one part alone, How imitative nature takes her course From the celestial mind and from its art: And where her laws the Stagyrite unfolds, Not many leaves scann'd o'er, observing well Thou shalt discover, that your art on her Obsequious follows, as the learner treads In his instructor's step, so that your art Deserves the name of second in descent From God. These two, if thou recall to mind Creation's holy book, from the beginning Were the right source of life and excellence To human kind. But in another path The usurer walks; and Nature in herself And in her follower thus he sets at nought, Placing elsewhere his hope. But follow now My steps on forward journey bent; for now The Pisces play with undulating glance Along the' horizon, and the Wain lies all O'er the north-west; and onward there a space Is our steep passage down the rocky height."
THE place where to descend the precipice We came, was rough as Alp, and on its verge Such object lay, as every eye would shun.
As is that ruin, which Adice's stream On this side Trento struck, should'ring the wave, Or loos'd by earthquake or for lack of prop; For from the mountain's summit, whence it mov'd To the low level, so the headlong rock Is shiver'd, that some passage it might give To him who from above would pass; e'en such Into the chasm was that descent: and there At point of the disparted ridge lay stretch'd The infamy of Crete, detested brood Of the feign'd heifer: and at sight of us It gnaw'd itself, as one with rage distract.
To him my guide exclaim'd: "Perchance thou deem'st The King of Athens here, who, in the world Above, thy death contriv'd. Monster! avaunt! He comes not tutor'd by thy sister's art, But to behold your torments is he come."
Like to a bull, that with impetuous spring Darts, at the moment when the fatal blow Hath struck him, but unable to proceed Plunges on either side; so saw I plunge The Minotaur; whereat the sage exclaim'd: "Run to the passage! while he storms, 't is well That thou descend." Thus down our road we took Through those dilapidated crags, that oft Mov'd underneath my feet, to weight like theirs Unus'd. I pond'ring went, and thus he spake:
"Perhaps thy thoughts are of this ruin'd steep, Guarded by the brute violence, which I Have vanquish'd now. Know then, that when I erst Hither descended to the nether hell, This rock was not yet fallen. But past doubt (If well I mark) not long ere He arrived, Who carried off from Dis the mighty spoil Of the highest circle, then through all its bounds Such trembling seiz'd the deep concave and foul, I thought the universe was thrill'd with love, Whereby, there are who deem, the world hath oft Been into chaos turn'd: and in that point, Here, and elsewhere, that old rock toppled down. But fix thine eyes beneath: the river of blood Approaches, in the which all those are steep'd, Who have by violence injur'd." O blind lust! O foolish wrath! who so dost goad us on In the brief life, and in the eternal then Thus miserably o'erwhelm us. I beheld An ample foss, that in a bow was bent, As circling all the plain; for so my guide Had told. Between it and the rampart's base On trail ran Centaurs, with keen arrows arm'd, As to the chase they on the earth were wont.
At seeing us descend they each one stood; And issuing from the troop, three sped with bows And missile weapons chosen first; of whom One cried from far: "Say to what pain ye come Condemn'd, who down this steep have journied? Speak From whence ye stand, or else the bow I draw."
To whom my guide: "Our answer shall be made To Chiron, there, when nearer him we come. Ill was thy mind, thus ever quick and rash."
Then me he touch'd, and spake: "Nessus is this, Who for the fair Deianira died, And wrought himself revenge for his own fate. He in the midst, that on his breast looks down, Is the great Chiron who Achilles nurs'd; That other Pholus, prone to wrath." Around The foss these go by thousands, aiming shafts At whatsoever spirit dares emerge From out the blood, more than his guilt allows.
We to those beasts, that rapid strode along, Drew near, when Chiron took an arrow forth, And with the notch push'd back his shaggy beard To the cheek-bone, then his great mouth to view Exposing, to his fellows thus exclaim'd: "Are ye aware, that he who comes behind Moves what he touches? The feet of the dead Are not so wont." My trusty guide, who now Stood near his breast, where the two natures join, Thus made reply: "He is indeed alive, And solitary so must needs by me Be shown the gloomy vale, thereto induc'd By strict necessity, not by delight. She left her joyful harpings in the sky, Who this new office to my care consign'd. He is no robber, no dark spirit I. But by that virtue, which empowers my step To treat so wild a path, grant us, I pray, One of thy band, whom we may trust secure, Who to the ford may lead us, and convey Across, him mounted on his back; for he Is not a spirit that may walk the air."
Then on his right breast turning, Chiron thus To Nessus spake: "Return, and be their guide. And if ye chance to cross another troop, Command them keep aloof." Onward we mov'd, The faithful escort by our side, along The border of the crimson-seething flood, Whence from those steep'd within loud shrieks arose.
Some there I mark'd, as high as to their brow Immers'd, of whom the mighty Centaur thus: "These are the souls of tyrants, who were given To blood and rapine. Here they wail aloud Their merciless wrongs. Here Alexander dwells, And Dionysius fell, who many a year Of woe wrought for fair Sicily. That brow Whereon the hair so jetty clust'ring hangs, Is Azzolino; that with flaxen locks Obizzo' of Este, in the world destroy'd By his foul step-son." To the bard rever'd I turned me round, and thus he spake; "Let him Be to thee now first leader, me but next To him in rank." Then farther on a space The Centaur paus'd, near some, who at the throat Were extant from the wave; and showing us A spirit by itself apart retir'd, Exclaim'd: "He in God's bosom smote the heart, Which yet is honour'd on the bank of Thames."
A race I next espied, who held the head, And even all the bust above the stream. 'Midst these I many a face remember'd well. Thus shallow more and more the blood became, So that at last it but imbru'd the feet; And there our passage lay athwart the foss.
"As ever on this side the boiling wave Thou seest diminishing," the Centaur said, "So on the other, be thou well assur'd, It lower still and lower sinks its bed, Till in that part it reuniting join, Where 't is the lot of tyranny to mourn. There Heav'n's stern justice lays chastising hand On Attila, who was the scourge of earth, On Sextus, and on Pyrrhus, and extracts Tears ever by the seething flood unlock'd From the Rinieri, of Corneto this, Pazzo the other nam'd, who fill'd the ways With violence and war." This said, he turn'd, And quitting us, alone repass'd the ford.