Amazon.com - Click here to get the real thing

World Wide School
Library About us

 

The Divine Comedy: Inferno

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

Terms

Contents

Preface

CANTO 1

CANTO 2

CANTO 3

CANTO 4

CANTO 5

CANTO 6

CANTO 7

CANTO 8

CANTO 9

CANTO 10

CANTO 11

CANTO 12

CANTO 13

CANTO 14

CANTO 15

CANTO 16

CANTO 17

CANTO 18

CANTO 19

CANTO 20

CANTO 21

CANTO 22

CANTO 23

CANTO 24

CANTO 25

CANTO 26

CANTO 27

CANTO 28

CANTO 29

CANTO 30

CANTO 31

CANTO 32

CANTO 33

CANTO 34

Notes

Essay

Chronology

 

 

CANTO 26

Remounting by the steps, down which they had descended to the seventh gulf, they go forward to the arch that stretches over the eighth, and from thence behold numberless flames wherein are punished evil counsellors, each flame containing a sinner, save one, in which were Diomede and Ulysses, the latter relates the manner of his death.

REJOICE, 0 Florence, since thou art so great,
That over sea and land thou beatest thy wings,
And throughout Hell thy name is spread abroad

Among the thieves five citizens of thine 4
Like these I found, whence shame comes unto me,
And thou thereby to no great honour risest.

But if when morn is near our dreams are true, 7
Feel shalt thou in a little time from now
What Prato, if none other, craves for thee. 9

And if it now were, it were not too soon; 10
Would that it were, seeing it needs must be,
For 'twill aggrieve me more the more I age.

We went our way, and up along the stairs
The bourns had made us to descend before,
Remounted my Conductor and drew me.

And following the solitary path
Among the rocks and ridges of the crag,
The foot without the hand sped not at all.

Then sorrowed I, and sorrow now again,
When I direct my mind to what I saw,
And more my genius curb than I am wont,

That it may run not unless virtue guide it;
So that if some good star, or better thing, 23
Have given me good, I may myself not grudge it. 24

As many as the hind (who on the hill
Rests at the time when he who lights the world
His countenance keeps least concealed from us,

While as the fly gives place unto the gnat)
Seeth the glow-worms down along the valley,
Perchance there where he ploughs and makes his

With flames as manifold resplendent all
Was the eighth Bolgia, as I grew aware
As soon as I was where the depth appeared.

And such as he who with the bears avenged him 34
Beheld Elijah's chariot at departing, 35
What time the steeds to heaven erect uprose

For with his eye he could not follow it
So as to see aught else than flame alone,
Even as a little cloud ascending upward,

Thus each along the gorge of the intrenchment
Was moving; for not one reveals the theft,
And every flame a sinner steals away.

I stood upon the bridge uprisen to see,
So that, if I had seized not on a rock,
Down had I fallen without being pushed.

And the Leader, who beheld me so attent
Exclaimed:"Within the fires the spirits are;
Each swathes himself with that wherewith he burns."

'My Master," I replied,"by hearing thee
I am more sure; but I surmised already
It might be so, and already wished to ask thee

Who is within that fire, which comes so cleft
At top, it seems uprising from the pyre
Where was Eteocles with his brother placed." 54

He answered me:"Within there are tormented
Ulysses and Diomed, and thus together 56
They unto vengeance run as unto wrath.

And there within their flame do they lament
The ambush of the horse, which made the door 59
Whence issued forth the Romans' gentle seed;

Therein is wept the craft, for which being dead
Deidamia still deplores Achilles, 62
And pain for the Palladium there is borne." 63

"If they within those sparks possess the power
To speak," I said, " thee, Master, much I pray,
And re-pray, that the prayer be worth a thousand,

That thou make no denial of awaiting
Until the horned flame shall hither come;
Thou seest that with desire I lean towards it."

And he to me:"Worthy is thy entreaty
Of much applause, and therefore I accept it;
But take heed that thy tongue restrain itself.

Leave me to speak,because I have conceived
That which thou wishest; for they might disdain
Perchance, since they were Greeks, discourse of thine." 75

When now the flame had come unto that point,
Where to my Leader it seemed time and place,
After this fashion did I hear him speak:

"O ye, who are twofold within one fire,
If I deserved of you, while I was living,
If I deserved of you or much or little

When in the world I wrote the lofty verses,
Do not move on, but one of you declare
Whither, being lost, he went away to die."

Then of the antique flame the greater horn,
Murmuring, began to wave itself about
Even as a flame doth which the wind fatigues.

Thereafterward, the summit to and fro
Moving as if it were the tongue that spake
It uttered forth a voice, and said:"When I

From Circe had departed, who concealed me
More than a year there near unto Gaeta,
Or ever yet Aenas named it so,

Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence
For my old father, nor the due affection
Which joyous should have made Penelope,

Could overcome within me the desire
I had to be experienced of the world,
And of the vice and virtue of mankind;

But I put forth on the high open sea
With one sole ship, and that small company
By which I never had deserted been.

Both of the shores I saw as far as Spain,
Far as Morocco. and the isle of Sardes,
And the others which that sea bathes round about.

I and my company were old and slow
When at that narrow passage we arrived
Where Hercules his landmarks set as signals, 108

That man no farther onward should adventure.
On the right hand behind me left I Seville,
And on the other already had left Ceuta.

'O brothers, who amid a hundred thousand
Perils,' I said, ' have come unto the West,
To this so inconsiderable vigil

Which is remaining of your senses still
Be ye unwilling to deny the knowledge,
Following the sun, of the unpeopled world.

Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang;
Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,
But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.'

So eager did I render my companions,
With this brief exhortation, for the voyage,
That then I hardly could have held them back.

And having turned our stern unto the morning,
We of the oars made wings for our mad flight, 125
Evermore gaining on the larboard side.

Already all the stars of the other pole 127
The night beheld, and ours so very low
It did not rise above the ocean floor.

Five times rekindled and as many quenched
Had been the splendour underneath the moon,
Since we had entered into the deep pass,

When there appeared to us a mountain, dim
From distance, and it seemed to me so high
As I had never any one beheld.

Joyful were we, and soon it turned to weeping;
For out of the new land a whirlwind rose,
And smote upon the fore part of the ship.

Three times it made her whirl with all the waters,
At the fourth time it made the stern uplift,
And the prow downward go, as pleased Another,

Until the sea above us closed again." 142

Footnotes 26

Canto 26

1. The Eighth Bolgia, in which Fraudulent Counsellors are punished.

4. Of these five Florentine nobles, Cianfa Donati, Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Puccio Sciancato, and Guercio Cavalcanti, nothing is known but what Dante tells us. Perhaps that is enough.

7. See Purg. IX. 13:--

"Just at the hour when her sad lay begins
The little swallow, near unto the morning,
Perchance in memory of her former woes
And when the mind of man, a wanderer
More from the flesh, and less by thought imprisoned,
Almost prophetic in its visions is."

9. The disasters soon to befall Florence, and in which even the neighboring town of Prato would rejoice, to mention no others. These disasters were the fall of the wooden bridge of Carraia, with a crowd upon it, witnessing a Miracle Play on the Arno; the strife of the Bianchi and Neri; and the great fire of 1304. See Villani, VIII. 70, 71. Napier, Florentine History, I. 394, gives this account:--

"Battles first began between the Cerchi and Giugni at their houses in the Via del Garbo; they fought day and night, and with the aid of the Cavalcanti and Antellesi the former subdued all that quarter: a thousand rural adherents strengthened their bands, and that day might have seen the Neri's destruction if an unforseen disaster had not turned the scale. A certain dissolute priest, called Neri Abati, prior of San Piero Scheraggio, false to his family and in concert with the Black chiefs, consented to set fire to the dwellings of his own kinsmen in Orto-san-Michele; the flames, assisted by faction, spread rapidly over the richest and most crowded part of Florence: shops, warehouses, towers, private dwellings and palaces, from the old to the new market-place, from Vacchereccia to Porta Santa Maria and the Ponte Vecchio, all was one broad sheet of fire: more than nineteen hundred houses were consumed; plunder and devastation revelled unchecked amongst the flames, whole races were reduced in one moment to beggary, and vast magazines of the richest merchandise were destroyed. The Cavalcanti, one of the most opulent families in Florence, beheld their whole property consumed, and lost all courage; they made no attempt to save it, and, after almost gaining possession of the city, were finally overcome by the opposite faction."

10. |Macbeth, I. 7:--

"If it were done when `t is done, then `t were well
It were done quickly."

23. See Parad. XII. 112:--

"O glorius stars! O light impregnated
With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge
All of my genius, whatso'er it be."

24. I may not balk or deprive myself of this good.

34. The Prophet Elisha, 2 Kings ii. 23:--
"And he went up from thence unto Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord: and there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."

35. 2 Kings ii. II:--"And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

54. These two sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices, were so hostile to each other, that, when after death their bodies were burned on the same funeral pile, the flames swayed apart, and the ashes separated. Statius, Thebaid, XII. 430, Lewis's Tr.:--

"Again behold the brothers! When the fire
Pervades their limbs in many a curling spire,
The vast hill trembles, and the intruder's corse
Is driven from the pile with sudden force.
The flames, dividing at the point, ascend,
And at each other adverse rays extend.
Thus when the ruler of the infernal state,
Pale-visaged Dis, commits to stern debate
The sister-fiends, their brands, held forth to fight,
Now clash, then part, and shed a transient light."

56. The most cunning of the Greeks at the siege of Troy, now united in their punishment, as before in warlike wrath.

59. As Troy was overcome by the fraud of the wooden horse, it was in a poetic sense the gateway by which Aeneas went forth to establish the Roman empire in Italy.

62. Deidamia was a daughter of Lycomedes of Sycros, at whose court Ulysses found Achilles, disguised in woman's attire, and enticed him away to the siege of Troy, telling him that, according to the oracle, the city could not be taken without him, but not telling him that, according to the same oracle, he would lose his life there.

63. Ulysses and Diomed together stole the Palladium, or statue of Pallas, at Troy, the safeguard and protection of the city.

75. The Greeks scorned all other nations as "outside barbarians." Even Virgil, a Latian, has to plead with Ulysses the merit of having praised him in the Aeneid.

108. The Pillars of Hercules at the straits of Gibraltar; Abyla on the African shore, and Gibraltar on the Spanish; in which the popular mind has lost its faith, except as symbolized in the columns on the Spanish dollar, with the legend, Plus ultra. Brunetto Latini, Tesor. IX. 119:--

"Appresso questo mare,
Vidi diritto stare
Gran colonne, le quali
Vi mise per segnali
Ercules il potente,
Per mostrare alla gente
Che loco sia finata
La terra e terminata."

125. |Odyssey, XI. 155: "Well-fitted oars, which are also wings to ships."

127. Humboldt, Personal Narrative, II. 19, Miss Williams's Tr., has this passage: "From the time we entered the torrid zone, we were never wearied with admiring, every night, the beauty of the Southern sky, which, as we advanced toward the south, opened new constellations to our view. We feel an indescribable sensation, when, on approaching the equator, and particularly on passing from on hemisphere to the other, we see those stars, which we have contemplated from our infancy, progressively sink, and finally disappear. Nothing awakens in the traveller a livelier remembrance of the immense distance by which he is separated from his country, than the aspect of an unknown firmament. The grouping of the stars of the first magnitude, some scattered nebulae, rivalling in splendor the milky way, and tracks of space remarkable for their extreme blackness, give a particular physiognomy to the Southern sky. This sight fills with admiration even those who, uninstructed in the branches of accurate science, feel the same emotion of delight in the contemplation of the heavenly vault, as in the view of a beautiful landscape, or a majestic site. A traveller has no need of being a botanist, to recognize the torrid zone on the mere aspect of its vegetation; and without having acquired any notions of astronomy, without any acquaintance with the celestial charts of Flamstead and De la Caille, he feels he is not in Europe, when he sees the immense constellation of the Ship, or the phosphorescent clouds of Magellan, arise on the horizon."

142. Compare Tennyson's Ulysses:--

"There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,--you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
`T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and, sitting well in order, smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

[Previous] [Contents] [Next]

 

 

 

Please read the terms under which this book is provided to you


Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More