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The Divine Comedy: Inferno

by Dante Alighieri (Tr. H.W. Longfellow)












































Virgil and Dante proceed, accompanied by the Demons, to see other sinners of the same description in the same gulf. The device of Ciampolo, one of these to escape from the Demons, who had laid hold on him.

I HAVE erewhile seen horsemen moving camp, 1
Begin the storming, and their muster make,
And sometimes starting off for their escape;

Vaunt-couriers have I seen upon your land,
O Aretines, and foragers go forth, 5
Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run,

Sometimes with trumpets and sometimes with bells, 7
With kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,
And with our own, and with outlandish things,

But never yet with bagpipe so uncouth
Did I see horsemen move, nor infantry,
Nor ship by any sign of land or star.

We went upon our way with the ten demons:
Ah, savage company ! but in the church
With saints, and in the tavern with the gluttons! 15

Ever upon the pitch was my intent,
To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
And of the people who therein were burned.

Even as the dolphins, when they make a sign
To mariners by arching of the back,
That they should counsel take to save their vessel,

Thus sometimes, to alleviate his pain,
One of the sinners would display his back,
And in less time conceal it than it lightens.

As on the brink of water in a ditch
The frogs stand only with their muzzles out,
So that they hide their feet and other bulk.

So upon every side the sinners stood;
But ever as Barbariccia near them came,
Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.

I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,
One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
One frog remains, and down another dives;

And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,
Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.

I knew, before, the names of all of them,
So had I noted them when they were chosen,
And when they called each other, listened how.

"O Rubicante, see that thou do lay
Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,"
Cried all together the accursed ones.

And I:"My Master, see to it, if thou canst,
That thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
Thus come into his adversaries' hands."

Near to the side of him my Leader drew,
Asked of him whence he was; and he replied:
"I in the kingdom of Navarre was born; 48

My mother placed me servant to a lord,
For she had borne me to a ribald knave,
Destroyer of himself and of his things.

Then I domestic was of good King Thibault; 52
I set me there to practise barratry,
For which I pay the reckoning in this heat."

And Ciriatto, from whose mouth projected,
On either side, a tusk, as in a boar,
Caused him to feel how one of them could rip.

Among malicious cats the mouse had come;
But Barbariccia clasped him in his arms,
And said: " Stand ye aside, while I enfork him."

And to my Master he turned round his head;
"Ask him again," he said,"if more thou wish
To know from him, before some one destroy him."

The Guide:"Now tell then of the other culprits;
Knowest thou any one who is a Latian, 65
Under the pitch ?" And he:"I separated

Lately from one who was a neighbour to it;
Would that I still were covered up with him,
For I should fear not either claw nor hook!"

And Libicocco:"We have borne too much;"
And with his grapnel seized him by the arm,
So that, by rending, he tore off a tendon.

Eke Draghignazzo wished to pounce upon him
Down at the legs; whence their Decurion
Turned round and round about with evil look.

When they again somewhat were pacified,
Of him, who still was looking at his wound,
Demanded my Conductor without stay:

"Who was that one, from whom a luckless parting
Thou sayest thou hast made, to come ashore?"
And he replied " It was the Friar Gomita,

He of Gallura, vessel of all fraud, 82
Who had the enemies of his Lord in hand,
And dealt so with them each exults thereat;

Money he took, and let them smoothly off,
As he says; and in other offices
A barrator was he, not mean but sovereign.

Foregathers with him one Don Michael Zanche 88
Of Logodoro; and of Sardinia
To gossip never do their tongues feel tired.

O me ! see that one, how he grinds his teeth;
Still farther would I speak, but am afraid
Lest he to scratch my itch be making ready."

And the grand Provost, turned to Farfarello,
Who rolled his eyes about as if to strike,
Said: " Stand aside there, thou malicious bird."

"If you desire either to see or hear,"
The terror-stricken recommenced thereon,
"Tuscans or Lombards. I will make them come.

But let the Malebranche cease a little,
So that these may not their revenges fear,
And I, down sitting in this very place,

For one that I am will make seven come,
When I shall whistle, as our custom is
To do whenever one of us comes out."

Cagnazzo at these words his muzzle lifted,
Shaking his head, and said:"Just hear the trick
Which he has thought of, down to throw himself!

Whence he, who snares in great abundance had,
Responded: " I by far too cunning am,
When I procure for mine a greater sadness."

Alichin held not in, but running counter
Unto the rest, said to him:"If thou dive,
I will not follow thee upon the gallop,

But I will beat my wings above the pitch;
The height be left, and be the bank a shield
To see if thou alone dost countervail us."

O thou who readest, thou shalt hear new sport!
Each to the other side his eyes averted;
He first, who most reluctant was to do it.

The Navarrese selected well his time;
Planted his feet on land, and in a moment
Leaped, and released himself from their design.

Whereat each one was suddenly stung with shame,
But he most who was cause of the defeat;
Therefore he moved, and cried: " Thou art o'ertakern."

But little it availed, for wings could not
Outstrip the fear; the other one went under,
And, flying, upward he his breast directed;

Not otherwise the duck upon a sudden
Dives under, when the falcon is approaching,
And upward he returneth cross and weary.

Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina
Flying behind him followed close, desirous
The other should escape, to have a quarrel.

And when the barrator had disappeared,
He turned his talons upon his companion,
And grappled with him right above the moat.

But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk
To clapperclaw him well; and both of them
Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.

A sudden intercessor was the heat;
But ne'ertheless of rising there was naught,
To such degree they had their wings belimed.

Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
Made four of them fly to the other side
With all their gaffs, and very speedily

This side and that they to their posts descended;
They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
Who were already baked within the crust,

And in this manner busied did we leave them.

Footnotes 22

Canto 22

1. The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.

5. Aretino, Vita di Dante, says, that Dante in his youth was present at the "great and memorable battle, which befell at Campaldino, fighting valiantly on horseback in the front rank." It was there he saw the vaunt-couriers of the Aretines, who began the battle with such a vigorous charge, that they routed the Florentine cavalry, and drove them back upon the infantry.

7. Napier, Florentine Hist., I. 214-217, gives this description of the Carroccio and the Martinella of the Florentines:--"In order to give more dignity to the national army and form a rallying point for the troops, there had been established a great car, called the Carroccio, drawn by two beautiful oxen, which, carrying the Florentine standard, generally accompanied them into the field. This car was painted vermilion, the bullocks were covered with scarlet cloth, and the driver, a man o{f} some consequence, was dressed in crimson, was exempt from taxation, and served without pay; these oxen were maintained at the public charge in a public hospital, and the white and red banner of the city was spread above the car between two lofty spars. Those taken at the battle of Monteaperto are still exhibited in Siena Cathedral as trophies of that fatal day.

"Macchiavelli erroneously places the adoption of the Carroccio by the Florentines at this epoch, but it was long before in use, and probably was copied from the Milanese, as soon as Florence became strong and independent enough to equip a national army. Eribert, Archbishop of Milan, seems to have been its author, for in the war between Conrad I. and that city, besides other arrangements for military organization, he is said to have finished by the invention of the Carroccio: it was a pious and not impolitic imitation of the ark as it was carried before the Israelites. This vehicle is described, and also represented in ancient paintings, as a four-wheeled oblong car, drawn by two, four, or six bullocks: the car was always red, and the bullocks, even to their hoofs, covered as above described, but with red or white according to the faction; the ensign staff was red, lofty, and tapering, and surmounted by a cross or golden ball: on this, between two white fringed veils, hung the national standard, and half-way down the mast, a crucifix. A platform ran out in front of the car, spacious enough for a few chosen men to defend it, while behind, on a corresponding space, the musicians with their military instruments gave spirit to the combat: mass was said on the Carroccio ere it quitted the city, the surgeons were stationed near it, and not unfrequently a chaplain also attended it to the field. The loss of the Carroccio was a great disgrace, and betokened utter discomfiture; it was given to the most distinguished knight, who had a public salary and wore conspicuous armor and a golden belt: the best troops were stationed round it, and there was frequently the hottest of the fight.....

"Besides the Carroccio, the Florentine army was accompanied by a great bell, called Martinella, or Campana degli Asini, which, for thirty days before hostilities began, tolled continually day and night from the arch of Porta Santa Maria, as a public declaration of war, and, as the ancient chronicle hath it, `for greatness of mind, that the enemy might have full time to prepare himself. ' At the same time also, the Carroccio was drawn from its place in the offices of San Giovanni by the most distinguished knights and noble vassals of the republic, and conducted in state to the Mercato Nuovo, where it was placed upon the circular stone still existing, and remained there until the army took the field. Then also the Martinella was removed from its station to a wooden tower placed on another car, and with the Carroccio served to guide the troops by night and day. `And with these two pomps, of the Carroccio and Campana,' says Malespini, `the pride of the old citizens, our ancestors, was ruled.'"

15. Equivalent to the proverb, "Do in Rome as the Romans do."

48. Giampolo, or Ciampolo, say all the commentators; but nothing more is known of him than his name, and what he tells us here of his history.

52. It is not very clear which King Thibault is here meant, but it is probably King Thibault IV., the crusader and poet, born 1201, died 1253. His poems have been published by Leveque de la Ravalli ere, under the title of Les Poesies du Roi de Navarre; and in one of his songs (Chanson 53) he makes a clerk address him as the Bons rois Thiebaut. Dante cites him two or three times in his Volg. Eloq., and may have taken this expression from his song, as he does afterwards, Canto XXVIII. 135, lo Re joves, the Re Giovane, or Young King, from the songs of Bertrand de Born.

65. A Latian, that is to say, an Italian.

82. This Frate Gomita was a Sardinian in the employ of Nino de' Visconti, judge in the jurisdiction of Gallura, the "gentle Judge Nino" of Purg. VIII. 53.

The frauds and peculations of the Friar brought him finally to the gallows. Gallura is the northeastern jurisdiction of the island.

88. Don Michael Zanche was Seneschal of King Enzo of Sardinia, a natural son of the Emperor Frederick II. Dante gives him the title of Don, still used in Sardinia for Signore. After the death of Enzo in prison at Bologna, in 1271, Don Michael won by fraud and flattery his widow Adelasia, and became himself Lord of Logodoro, the northwestern jurisdiction, adjoining that of Gallura.

The gossip between the Friar and the Seneschal, which is here described by Ciampolo, recalls the Vision of the Sardinian poet Araolla, a dialogue between himself and Gavino Sambigucci, written in the soft dialect of Logodoro, a mixture of Italian, Spanish, and Latin, and beginning:--

"Dulche, amara memoria de giornadas
Fuggitivas cun doppia pena mia,
Qui quanto pius l'istringo sunt passada."

See Valery, Voyages en Corse et en Sardaigne, II. 410.

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