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The Divine Comedy: Inferno

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












































On his recovery, the Poet finds himself in the third circle, where the gluttonous are punished. Their torment is, to lie in the mire, under a continual and heavy storm of hail, snow and discolored water; Cerberus meanwhile barking over them with his threefold throat, and rending them piecemeal. One of these, who on earth was named Ciacco, foretells the division with which Florence is about to be distracted. Dante proposes a question to his guide, who solves it; and they proceed toward the fourth circle.

AT the return of consciousness, that closed
Before the pity of those two relations,
Which utterly with sadness had confused me,

New torments I behold, and new tormented
Around me, whichsoever way I move,
And whichsoever way I turn, and gaze.

In the third circle am I of the rain 7
Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy;
Its law and quality are never new.

Huge hail, and water sombre-hued, and snow,
Athwart the tenebrous air pour down amain;
Noisome the earth is, that receiveth this.

Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,
With his three gullets like a dog is barking
Over the people that are there submerged.

Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black,
And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;
He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them.

Howl the rain maketh them like unto dogs;
One side they make a shelter for the other;
Oft turn themselves the wretched reprobates.

When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm!
His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusks;
Not a limb had he that was motionless.

And my Conductor, with his spans extended,
Took of the earth, and with his fists well filled,
He threw it into those rapacious gullets.

Such as that dog is, who by barking craves,
And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws,
For to devour it he but thinks and struggles,

The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed
Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders
Over the souls that they would fain be deaf

We passed across the shadows, which subdues
The heavy rain-storm, and we placed our feet
Upon their vanity that person seems.

They all were Iying prone upon the earth,
Excepting one, who sat upright as soon
As he beheld us passing on before him.

"O thou that art conducted through this Hell,"
He said to me. " recall me, if thou canst;
Thyself wast made before I was unmade."

And I to him:"The anguish which thou hast
Perhaps doth draw thee out of my remembrance,
So that it seems not I have ever seen thee.

But tell me who thou art, that in so doleful
A place art put, and in such punishment,
If some are greater, none is so displeasing."

And he to me:"Thy city, which is full
Of envy so that now the sack runs over,
Held me within it in the life serene.

You citizens were wont to call me Ciacco; 52
For the pernicious sin of gluttony
I as thou seest, am hattered bv this rain

And I, sad soul, am not the only one,
For all these suffer the like penalty
For the like sin, " and word no more spake he.

I answered him:"Ciacco, thy wretchedness
Weighs on me so that it to weep invites me;
But tell me, if thou knowest, to what shall come

The citizens of the divided city;
If any there be just; and the occasion
Tell me why so much discord has assailed it."

And he to me:"They, after long contention,
Will come to bloodshed; and the rustic party 65
Will drive the other out with much offence.

Then afterwards behoves it this one fall
Within three suns, and rise again the other
By force of him who now is on the coast. 69

High will it hold its forehead a long while,
Keeping the other under heavy burdens,
Howe'er it weeps thereat and is indignant.

The just are two, and are not understood there; 73
Envy and Arrogance and Avarice
Are the three sparks that have all hearts enkindled."

Here ended he his tearful utterance;
And I to him: " I wish thee still to teach me,
And make a gift to me of further speech.

Farinata and Tegghiaio, once so worthy,
Jacopo Rusticucci, Arrigo, and Mosca, 80
And others who on good deeds set their thoughts,

Say where they are, and cause that I may know them;
For great desire constraineth me to learn
If Heaven doth sweeten them, or Hell envenom."

And he:"They are among the blacker souls;
A different sin downweighs them to the bottom;
If thou so far descendest, thou canst see them.

But when thou art again in the sweet world,
I pray thee to the mind of others bring me;
No more I tell thee and no more I answer."

Then his straightforward eyes he turned askance,
Eyed me a little, and then bowed his head;
He fell therewith prone like the other blind.

And the Guide said to me:"He wakes no more
This side the sound of the angelic trumpet;
When shall approach the hostile Potentate,

Each one shall find again his dismal tomb,
Shall reassume his flesh and his own figure,
Shall hear what through eternity re-echoes."

So we passed onward o'er the filthy mixture
Of shadows and of rain with footsteps slow,
Touching a little on the future life.

Wherefore I said:"Master, these torments here,
Will they increase after the mighty sentence,
Or lesser be, or will they be as burning?"

And he to me:"Return unto thy science, 106
Which wills, that as the thing more perfect is,
The more it feels of pleasure and of pain.

Albeit that this people maledict
To true perfection never can attain,
Hereafter more than now they look to be."

Round in a circle by that road we went,
Speaking much more, which I do not repeat;
We came unto the point where the descent is;

There we found Plutus the great enemy. 115

Footnotes 6

Canto 6

1. The sufferings of these two, and the pity it excited in him. As in Shakespeare, " Othello", IV. 1:

"But yet the pity of it, Iago!
-- O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!"

7. In this third circle are punished the Gluttons. Instead of the feasts of former days, the light, the warmth, the comfort, the luxury, and "the frolic wine" of dinner tables, they have the murk and the mire, and the "rain eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy"; and are barked at and bitten by the dog in the yard. Of Gluttony, Chaucer says in "The Persones Tale", p. 239:--

"He that is usant to this sinne of glotonie, he ne may no sinne withstond, he must be in servage of all vices, for it is the devils horde, ther he hideth him and resteth. This sinne hath many spices. The first is dronkennesse, that is the horrible sepulture of mannes reson: and therefore whan a man is dronke, he hath lost his reson: and this is dedly sinne. But sothly, whan that a man is not wont to strong drinkes, and peraventure ne knoweth not the strength of the drinke, or hath feblenesse in his hed, or hath travailled, thurgh which he drinketh the more, al be he sodenly caught with drinke, it is no dedly sinne, but venial. The second spice of glotonie is, that the spirit of a man wexeth all trouble for dronkennesse, and bereveth a man the discretion of his wit. The thridde spice of glotonie is, whan a man devoureth his mete, and hath not rightful maner of eting. The fourthe is, whan thurgh the gret abundance of his mete, the humours in his body ben distempered. The fifthe is, foryetfulnesse by to moche drinking, for which sometime a man forgeteth by the morwe, what he did over eve."

52. It is a question whether "Ciacco", Hog, is the real name of this person, or a nickname. Boccaccio gives him no other. He speaks of him, "Comento ", VI. , as a noted diner-out in Florence, "who frequented the gentry and the rich, and particularly those who ate and drank sumptuously and delicately; and when he was invited by them to dine, he went; and likewise when he was not invited by them, he invited himself; and for this vice he was well known to all Florentines; though apart from this he was a well-bred man according to his condition, eloquent, affable, and of good feeling; on account of which he was welcomed by every gentleman."

The following story from the "Decamerone", Gior. IX., Nov. viii., translation of 1684, presents a lively picture of social life in Florence in Dante's time, and is interesting for the glimpse it gives, not only of Ciacco, but of Philippo Argenti, who is spoken of hereafter, Canto VIII. 061. The Corso Donati here mentioned is the Leader of the Neri. His violent death is predicted, " Purg. " XXIV. 82:--

"There dwelt somtime in Florence one that was generally called by the name of Ciacco, a man being the greatest Gourmand and grossest Feeder as ever was seen in any Countrey, all his means and procurements meerly unable to maintain expences for filling his belly. But otherwise he was of sufficient and commendable carriage, fairly demeaned, and well discoursing on any Argument: yet not as a curious and spruce Courtier, but rather a frequenter of rich mens Tables, where choice of good chear is seldom wanting, and such should have his Company, albeit not invited, he had the Courage to bid himself welcome. "At the same time, and in our City of Florence also, there was another man named Biondello, very low of stature, yet comely formed, quick witted, more neat and brisk than a Butterflie, always wearing a wrought silk Cap on his head, and not a hair standing out of order, but the tuft flourishing above the forehead, and he such another trencher flie for the Table, as our forenamed Ciacco was. It so fell out on a morning in the Lent time, that he went into the Fish-market, where he bought two goodly Lampreys for Messer Viero de Cerchi, and was espyed by Ciacco, who, coming to Biondello, said, `What is the meaning of this cost, and for whom is it?' Whereto Biondello thus answered, `Yesternight three other Lampreys, far fairer than these, and a whole Sturgeon, were sent unto Messer Corso Donati, and being not sufficient to feed divers Gentlemen, whom he hath invited this day to dine with him, he caused me to buy these two beside: Dost not thou intend to make one of them?' `Yes, I warrant thee,' replyed Ciacco, `thou knowest I can invite my self thither, without any other bidding.'

"So parting, about the hour of dinner time Ciacco went to the house of Messer Corso, whom he found sitting and talking with certain of his Neighbours, but dinner was not as yet ready, neither were they come thither to dinner. Messer Corso demanded of Ciacco, what news with him, and whether he went? `Why Sir,' said Ciacco, `I come to dine with you, and your good Company.' Whereto Messer Corso answered, That he was welcome: and his other friends being gone, dinner was served in, none else thereat present but Messer Corso and Ciacco: all the diet being a poor dish of Pease, a little piece of Tunny, and a few small fishes fryed, without any other dishes to follow after. Ciacco seeing no better fare, but being disappointed of his expectation, as longing to feed on the Lampreys and Sturgeon, and so to have made a full dinner indeed, was of a quick apprehension, and apparently perceived that Biondello had meerly gull'd him in a knavery, which did not a little vex him, and made him vow to be revenged on Biondello, as he could compass occasion afterward.

"Before many days were past, it was his fortune to meet with Biondello, who having told his jest to divers of his friends, and much good merryment made thereat: he saluted Ciacco in a kind manner, saying, `How didst thou like the fat Lampreys and Sturgeon which thou fed'st on at the house of Messer Corso?' `Well, Sir,' answered Ciacco, `perhaps before Eight days pass over my head, thou shalt meet with as pleasing a dinner as I did.' So, parting away from Biondello, he met with a Porter, such as are usually sent on Errands; and hyring him to do a message for him, gave him a glass Bottle, and bringing him near to the Hall-house of Cavicciuli, shewed him there a Knight, called Signior Philippo Argenti, a man of huge stature, very cholerick, and sooner moved to Anger than any other man. `To him thou must go with this Bottle in thy hand, and say thus to him. Sir, Biondello sent me to you, and courteously entreateth you, that you would erubinate this glass Bottle with your best Claret Wine; because he would make merry with a few friends of his. But beware he lay no hand on thee, because he may be easily induced to misuse thee, and so my business be disappointed.' `Well, Sir,' said the Porter, `shall I say any thing else unto him?' `No,' quoth Ciacco, `only go and deliver this message, and when thou art returned, I'll pay thee for thy pains.' The Porter being gone to the house, delivered his message to the Knight, who, being a man of no great civil breeding, but very furious, presently conceived that Biondello, whom he knew well enough, sent this message in meer mockage of him, and, starting up with fierce looks, said, `What erubination of Claret should I send him? and what have I to do with him or his drunken friends? Let him and thee go hang your selves together.' So he stept to catch hold on the Porter, but he being nimble and escaping from him, returned to Ciacco and told him the answer of Philippo. Ciacco, not a little contented, payed the Porter, tarried in no place till he met Biondello, to whom he said, `When wast thou at the Hall of Cavicciuli?' `Not a long while,' answered Biondello; `but why dost thou demand such a question?' `Because,' quoth Ciacco, `Signior Philippo hath sought about for thee, yet know not I what he would have with thee.' `Is it so,' replied Biondello, `then I will walk thither presently, to understand his pleasure.' "When Biondello was thus parted from him, Ciacco followed not far off behind him, to behold the issue of this angry business; and Signior Philippo, because he could not catch the Porter, continued much distempered, fretting and fuming, because he could not comprehend the meaning of the Porter's message, but only surmised that Biondello, by the procurement of some body else, had done this in scorn of him. While he remained thus deeply discontented, he espyed Biondello coming towards him, and meeting him by the way, he stept close to him and gave him a cruel blow on the Face, Biondello, `wherefore do you strike me?' Signior Philippo, catching him by the hair of the head, trampled his Night Cap in the dirt, and his Cloak also, when, laying many violent blows on him, he said, `Villanous Traitor as thou art, I'll teach thee what it is to erubinate with Claret, either thy self or any of thy cupping Companions. Am I a Child to be jested withal?'

"Nor was he more furious in words than in stroaks also, beating him about the Face, hardly leaving any hair on his head, and dragging him along in the mire, spoiling all his Garments, and he not able, from the first blow given, to speak a word in defence of himself. In the end Signior Philippo having extreamly beaten him, and many people gathering about them, to succour a man so much misused, the matter was at large related, and manner of the message sending. For which they all did greatly reprehend Biondello, considering he knew what kind of man Philippo was, not any way to be jested withal. Biondello in tears maintained that he never sent any such message for Wine, or intended it in the least degree; so, when the tempest was more mildly calmed, and Biondello, thus cruelly beaten and durtied, had gotten home to his own house, he could then remember that (questionless) this was occasioned by Ciacco. "After some few days were passed over, and the hurts in his face indifferently cured, Biondello beginning to walk abroad again, chanced to meet with Ciacco, who, laughing heartily at him, said, `Tell me, Biondello, how dost thou like the erubinating Claret of Signior Philippo?' `As well,' quoth Biondello, `as thou didst the Sturgeon and Lampreys at Messer Corso Donaties.' `Why then, ' said Ciacco, `let these tokens continue familiar between thee and me, when thou wouldest bestow such another dinner on me, then will I erubinate thy Nose with a Bottle of the same Claret.' But Biondello perceived to his cost that he had met with the worser bargain, and Ciacco got cheer without any blows; and therefore desired a peacefull attonement, each of them always after abstaining from flouting one another."

Ginguene, "Hist. Lit. de l'Italie", II. 53, takes Dante severely to task for wasting his pity upon poor Ciacco, but probably the poet had pleasant memories of him at Florentine banquets in the olden time. Nor is it remarkable that he should be mentioned only by his nickname. Mr. Forsyth calls Italy "the land of nicknames. " He says in continuation, " Italy", p. 145:--
"Italians have suppressed the surnames of their principal artists under various designations. Many are known only by the names of their birthplace, as Correggio, Bassano, etc. Some by those of their masters, as Il Salviati, Sansovino, etc. Some by their father's trade, as Andrea del Sarto, Tintoretto, etc. Some by their bodily defects, as Guercino, Cagnacci, etc. Some by the subjects in which they excelled, as M. Angelo delle battaglie, Agostino delle perspettive. A few (I can recollect only four) are known, each as the " prince" of his respective school, by their Christian names alone: Michael Angelo, Raphael, Guido, Titian."

65. The Bianchi are called the "Parte selvaggia", because its leaders, the Cerchi, came from the forest lands of Val di Sieve. The other party, the Neri, were led by the Donati.

The following account of these factions is from Giovanni Fiorentino, a writer of the fourteenth century; " Il Pecorone", Gior. XIII. Nov. i., in Roscoe's "Italian Novelists ", I. 327. "In the city of Pistoia, at the time of its greatest splendor, there flourished a noble family, called the Cancellieri, derived from Messer Cancelliere, who had enriched himself with his commercial transactions. He had numerous sons by two wives, and they were all entitled by their wealth to assume the title of Cavalieri, valiant and worthy men, and in all their actions magnanimous and courteous. And so fast did the various branches of this family spread, that in a short time they numbered a hundred men at arms, and being superior to every other, both in wealth and power, would have still increased, but that a cruel division arose between them, from some rivalship in the affections of a lovely and enchanting girl, and from angry words they proceeded to more angry blows. Separating into two parties, those descended from the first wife took the title of Cancellieri Bianchi, and the others, who were the offspring of the second marriage, were called Cancellieri Neri.

"Having at last come to action, the Neri were defeated, and wishing to adjust the affair as well as they yet could, they sent their relation, who had offended the opposite party, to entreat forgiveness on the part of the Neri, expecting that such submissive conduct would meet with the compassion it deserved. On arriving in the presence of the Bianchi, who conceived themselves the offended party, the young man, on bended knees, appealed to their feelings for forgiveness, observing, that he had placed himself in their power, that so they might inflict what punishment they judged proper; when several of the younger members of the offended party, seizing on him, dragged him into an adjoining stable, and ordered that his right hand should be severed from his body. In the utmost terror the youth, with tears in his eyes, besought them to have mercy, and to take a greater and nobler revenge, by pardoning one whom they had it in their power thus deeply to injure. But heedless of his prayers, they bound his hand by force upon the manger, and struck it off; a deed which excited the utmost tumult throughout Pistoia, and such indignation and reproaches from the injured party of the Neri, as to implicate the whole city in a division of interests between them and the Bianchi, which led to many desperate encounters.

"The citizens, fearful lest the faction might cause insurrections throughout the whole territory, in conjunction with the Guelfs, applied to the Florentines in order to reconcile them; on which the Florentines took possession of the place, and sent the partisans on both sides to the confines of Florence, whence it happened that the Neri sought refuge in the house of the Frescobaldi, and the Bianchi in that of the Cerchi nel Garbo, owing to the relationship which existed between them. The seeds of the same dissension being thus sown in Florence, the whole city became divided, the Cerchi espousing the interests of the Bianchi, and the Donati those of the Neri.

"So rapidly did this pestiferous spirit gain ground in Florence, as frequently to excite the greatest tumult; and from a peaceable and flourishing state, it speedily became a scene of rapine and devastation. In this stage Pope Boniface VIII. was made acquainted with the state of this ravaged and unhappy city, and sent the Cardinal Acqua Sparta on a mission to reform and pacify the enraged parties. But with his utmost efforts he was unable to make any impression, and accordingly, after declaring the place excommunicated, departed. Florence being thus exposed to the greatest perils, and in a continued state of insurrection, Messer Corso Donati, with the Spini, the Pazzi, the Tosinghi, the Cavicciuli, and the populace attached to the Neri faction, applied, with the consent of their leaders, to Pope Boniface. They entreated that he would employ his interest with the court of France to send a force to allay these feuds, and to quell the party of the Bianchi. As soon as this was reported in the city, Messer Donati was banished, and his property forfeited, and the other heads of the sect were proportionally fined and sent into exile. Messer Donati, arriving at Rome, so far prevailed with his Holiness, that he sent an embassy to Charles de Valois, brother to the king of France, declaring his wish that he should be made Emperor, and King of the Romans; under which persuasion Charles passed into Italy, reinstating Messer Donati and the Neri in the city of Florence. From this there only resulted worse evils, inasmuch as all the Bianchi, being the least powerful, were universally oppressed and robbed, and Charles, becoming the enemy of Pope Boniface, conspired his death, because the Pope had not fulfilled his promise of presenting him with an imperial crown.

From which events it may be seen that this vile faction was the cause of discord in the cities of Florence and Pistoia, and of the other states of Tuscany; and no less to the same source was to be attributed the death of Pope Boniface VIII."

69. Charles de Valois, called Senzaterra, or Lackland, brother of Philip the Fair, king of France.

73. The names of these two remain unknown. Probably one of them was Dante's friend Guido Cavalcanti.

80. Of this Arrigo nothing whatever seems to be known, hardly even his name; for some commentators call him Arrigo dei Fisanti, and others Arrigo dei Fifanti. Of these other men of mark "who set their hearts on doing good," Farinata is among the Heretics, Canto X.; Tegghiaio and Rusticucci among the Sodomites, Canto XVI.; and Mosca among the Schismatics, Canto XXVIII.

106. The philosophy of Aristotle. The same doctrine is taught by St. Augustine: "Cum fiet resurrectio carnis, et bonorum gaudia et tormenta malorum majora erunt. "

115. Plutus, the God of Riches, of which Lord Bacon says in his "Essays ": -- "I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; the Roman word is better, `impedimenta'; for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory; of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit. ... The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody of them; or a power of dole and donative of them; or a fame of them; but no solid use to the owner."

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