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HOKtb an 5nttoduct(on 



Principal of St. Edmund Hall Oxford 






The Right 9/ Tmnslatum nnd Rep^-vdmctien is Reurved. 

?,' '■J 


Vol. II. 


' The Death Mask of Dante, full face (plate) FrantispUu 

'' Font in the Baptistery at Pisa {plate) , . 65 

'The Torre della Fame at Pisa in 1507 (plate) 632 

The BkoKEN Bridge in the Sixth Bolgia 

(wooilcut) 222 


VOL. n. 

Pt^ II (line 1 4). For 

! now catches sight," 

nod " whon 


„ 32 {line 18). Fot 

ers" read "in which 

Seducers ai 

„ 46 (<■« >/«o« t: 

Iff had hia will of her, 

he broke 1; 

^■and the Marche^e, 

having had 

Ice his promi^." 

„ 95 {line 10)., Fot 

* Aragon." 

„ 140 {footnote, line 

mirf "(.star 

„ 146 {line 12). Foi 

■the care." 

„ 168 (Aw 3j). For 
presents itse 

injury if the occasion 
hem an injury should 

the occasion y 
„ 199 {line 47 0/ text). For " que i rispose " read " quel 

„ 230 (footnote t). For " prendare consiglio" read "prendere 

„ 236 (line 7). For " wh erethe " read " where the." 
„ 2S7 {footnote t, lifte 3). For " ccsc " read " sesc." 
„ 306 {in footnote). Far " The Poel I.eopardi, commenting 

on the last two lines, says" read "The Poet Leo- 

fardi, in the edition of Petrarch commented by him, 
lorence, Le Monnier, 18^4, says of the last two 
lines, that " etc 

„ 3J9 Substitute for lines 18 to 21 : " Nannucci (Analisi 
Critica, pp. 188 and 192) says that in old Italian the 
third persons plural were subjected to divers termina- 
tions, and in verbs of the first conjugation this might 
either be in arono aro, as amarono, aro, or as oroTIo, 
oro, as amorono, amoro; levorvno, levoro," etc. 

» 387 (line 7). For "for" read" hota." 

2 Readings on the lH/ertu>. Canto XVli. 

sent by Virgil to speak to certain Usurers of Florence 
and Padua, sitting in tormcDt on the veiy verge oi 
the Great Abyss. 

In Division IV, from v. 76 to v. 136, the descent 
of the Poets on the back of Geryon down into the 
Eighth Circle is relate ' 

Division I. When 
scent into the Seven 
Minotaur, a creature, 
Dante has introduced 
and Brutal Lust. N 
down into the circles i 
brings befori: us, with 
the monster that 


tnenced their dc- 
encountered the 
half bull, whom 
slence. Bestiality, 
are about to go 
• of Fraud, Dante 
stance of detail, 
esent Frjud, ami 

whom in verse 97 he addresses as Geryon. Dantc 
does not appear to have closely followed the legends 
of the Geryon of Mythology, Scartazzini says that 
Dante's Geryon is one purely of his own invention, 
save that he has taken the idea of Geryon's scorpion 
tail from the Bible {Rev. ix, 10). Lubin thinks the 
most plausible of the many legends of Geryon is that 
he was a king of Spain, who ruled over three islands, 
in which he kept a large number of heifers, which were 
guarded by the giant Eurythion and the two-headed 
dog Orthos. Hercules killed first the giant, then the 
dog, and lastly Geryon, who pursued him as he was 
driving ofl* his herds. Lubin considers that the legend 
of Hercules having killed these three personages sug- 
gested to the poets the idea of representing Geryon 
with three bodies. Dante gives him one body made up 
of three shapes that bcht the character Geryon is made 

Canto XVII. Readings on tlu Inferno. 

to symbolize. The head is that of an honest man, 
because Fraud begins by flattering and beguiling ; 
the two hairy paws, denoting rapine, are perhaps 
derived from the two-headed dog ; the rest of the 
body is all that of a serpent with a forked and pointed 
tail wherewith to slay, indicating craft and violence. 
Dante may have meant this part of Geryon's body 
to have been derived from the giant, as, according to 
Lubin, some of the Poets depict giants with feet 
formed like serpents. Scartazzini thinks that in making 
Gcryon the symbol of Fraud, Dante was following a 
tradition cited by Boccaccio {Genealogia deorum, i, 
ch. 2l) : "rcgnans apud baleares insulas Gerion miti 
vultu, b 1 and isque verbis et omni comitatu consueverat 
hospites suscipere, et demum sub hac benignitate 
sospites occidere." This story is also related in the 
Anonimo Fiorentino. 

The canto begins with an exclamation of wonder 
and repugnance on the part of Virgil, when he first 
sees the terrible creature he has evoked from the 
depths below ; in obedience to his signal, however, the 
monster draws up to the brink of the precipice. 
— " Ecco la fiera con la coda aguzza, 

Che passa i monti, e rompe muri ed armi \ 
Ecco colei che tutio il mondo appuzza :" — 
SI cotnincid lo mia Duca a parlarmi, 

Ed accenolle che venisse a proda, J 

Vicino al fin de' passeggiati marmi : 
E qnella soiza imagine di froda,* 

* quilla sotma imagine di froda: Compare the fine lini 
Atiosto, Orl. Fur. xiv, 87, in which the Figure of Fraud is 

n A 2 

• -By Leader 

d|{e of the 
ad «f the 

I hiB bead 
loi is Btagtoli, 
the figure came 
; it, swam 

4 Reada^ m tkt Imferm. Csato XVIL 

Scs lesae, cd umo U icUa* c 3 boMB ; 
Ma in uUa riva dou imrr la cada. 
" Bdwid the irild beaH with the pointed la^ 
tbat poiKs 1 
walb abd weapons 
the wboie worH * 
to ipcak to m 
cotne to tt>e ba 
rocky causeway 
nurUcs walked 
, image of Fraud 
) and bust ; but di 
Some com men tat 
understand by the ak 
swimming up the cata 
in the water of the Phlegethon to the margin on 
which it rested its paws, while its tail remained under 

" Avea piacevol viso, abito ooesto, 
Un umil volger d* occhi, mt andar grave, 
Un parlar il beoigna e si modesio, 
Che parea Gabriel che dicesse : Ave. 
Era brulla e dcfonne in tutio il reslo : 
Ma nascondea questc fatteue prave 
Con lungo ablio e largo ; e sotto quello, 
AitOfskato avea scmprc il coltello.' 
and further down in itania 91 : 

" Ben che soglia la Fraude esser bugiarda, 
I'ur i tamo il suo dir simile al vera, 
Che r angelo il crede." 
l-'roda is lot /rode, as in Inf. ii, 103, loiia stands for lotU : 

" Beatrice, loda di Dio vera-" 
• arrivd la ttsta, etc. ; The primary signification of arrivare 
given by the Voc. dtUa Crusca is accostare, condurrt alia riva, 
to bring up to the bank. The verb is more generally used in 
the neuter tense, (o arrive. 

Canto XVII. Readings en the Inferno. 5 

the water. But that view is wholly at variance with 
lines 25-27. in which it is expressly stated thatGeryon's 
tail was writhing in the void {nel vnttf tutta sua coda 
gyiicsava) and that the point of the said tail ivas 
twirled on high. Henvenuto explains the position of 
Gcryon as follows: "And mark here, that Geryon, 
when drawn by Virgil with the cord, had not come to 
land precisely at the mouth of the river, along which 
the Poets had come in a straight line, but had put in 
a little farther off to the right, at the margin of the 
bank which fences in the circle running right round it," 
Having spoken of the general appearance of the 
monster, Dante now describes more precisely his com- 
plex shape. 

La faccia sua era faccia d' uom giuslo ; la 

Tamo benigna avea di fuor la pelle, 
£ d' un serpente tulio 1' altro fusto. 
Due branche avea pilose infin 1' ascclle ; 

Lo dosso e il petto ed ambo e due le coste 
Dipinte avea di nodi e di rotelle.* 1$ 

His face was the face ofan honest man, so mild 
an appearance bore it outwardly; and all the 
rest of the trunk was (thai) of a serpent. He 
had two paws shaggy as far as the armpits ; 
the back and the breast and both ihe sides 
were painted with knotted coils and small 
The knotted coils denote the entanglement of words 
in which Fraud seeks to involve its victims, the small 

e dipintt . . . di nodi t di rotelle : Compare Ariosto 
Orl. Fur. xix, 77 : 

" Entro Marfisa s' un destrier leardo, 
Tulto sparso di macchie e di rotelle." 

bucklers, which warriors use to guard their heads, serve 
Fraud to conceal its guilty purposes. Benvenuto says 
that Dante, being now desirous of expressing the in- 
finite variety and shades of Fraud, shows that he can- 
not find any comparison suitable to the subject, for 
there is no cloth wo""" *•"* -v^r-tiy resembles the 
vari^ated colours on 
goes on to show that t 
embroidery known to 
he wishes to describe. 
Con piii color* m 

Non fer inai Turchi, 

N» fur tat lei 
* Conpii color, etc. : R imatih'co) ujrs that 

U sommesse are ihe ihreai le >;round work of 

the cloth ; le se^rapposU arc ...^.m-. e overlaid as relief. 

Both Tartars and Turks were famous tor their weaving in the 
lime of Dante. Arachne was the famous weaver of Lydia, 
turned into a spider by Minerva, whom she had flouted. This 
passage has given rise to a good dea) of discussion. Blanc 
{Saggio, p. 159) says that there are two principal questions in it 
to decide, whether to read mai drappo or mai in dn^po, and 
how one is to understand sommetse and soprappoilt. If one 
reads in drappo, hoih the construction and explanation are 
easy : " Neither Tartars nor Turks ever made in doth, ground- 
work or overlaid work with so many colours." But if with all the 
more ancient editions, the Codex Vaticanui, Boccaccio, Ben- 
venuto, Buti, and in our own times with Witte, one reads mai 
tb-appo, the explanation becomes far more difficult. 

Scartauini gives the construction as follows : " Tartar! nh 
Turchi non fecero mai drappo con piCi colori (con piti) sommesse 
e (con piu) soprapposte." That is the construction I have 
adopted, and is that ^ven by Foscolo and Becchi, though Blanc 
does not like the words colori, sammeste e soprappotte being 
taken as three substantives, for he thinks that by such construc- 
tion the preciseoess of the expression loses force. Blanc pre- 

Canto XVII. Readings on tlu Inferno. 

Neither Tartars nor Turks ever wove cloth 

with more colours, (with more) ground-work, 

{i.e. with more overlaid embroidery), nor were 

such stuffs ever laid (an the loom) by Arachne. 

Having spoken of Geryon's body, Dante now, by a 

double comparison, describes his attitude on the verge 

of the Abyss. 

Come tal volta stanno a riva i burchi,* 
Che parte sc 
E come I2t ti 

fera to follow the Mantua edition which reads " Con pitt color 
loprapfioslc," taking these two latter words as 
adjectives, in the masculine form agreeing with colon'. The ' 
termination of the second epithet in e, is supposed to be an 
irregular masculine form, like eresiarchf for ereslarchi. 

It is at this point that Boccaccio's commentary unfortunately 
end, breaking off abruptly in the middle of the 
e that follows : " Con piii color sommesse e soprappos/e, 
; deir ornamento, Non fer mm drappi Tartari n^ 
Turcht, i quali di ci6 sono oltimi maestri, siccome noi possiamo 
inanifestamenle vedere ne' drappi lartareschi, i quali veramente 
o st artificiosamente tessuti, che non k alcun dipintore che 
col pennello gli sapesse far simiglianti, non che piii belli. Sono 
i Tartari . . ." 

In the preface to the commentary we read that messer Gio- 
vanni (Boccaccio) began these lectures when he was old and 
infirm, in deference to the wish of his fellow -citizens, but that 
s death extinguished him, when he was only at the 
Iieginning of canto xvii. 

* burehi : Both Dargigi and the Anonimo Fiortntino say that 
burchi are flat-bottomed boats made for navigating rivers ; and 
Danielto thinks (he species is put here to express the generality, 
namely, all kinds of vessels that lie part on shore and part in 
The Vocabolario della Crusca says burchio is the 
same as the Latin scapha, and the Greek nd^. 
+ Ttdtichi lurcki : Scartauini, after quoting a saying of Taci- 

S Readingi on the Inferno. Canto XVII. 

Lo bevero s' assetta* a far sua guerra • 
Co^ b tjera pessima si slava 
Sull' ox\n che, d! pietra, il sabbion serra. 
Ne) vano lutta sua coda guiuava, 3j 

Toreendo in su la vcnenosa forta 
Che, a guisa di scorjjion, la punia armava. 
As at times the s bank, that 

tus that the Germans wen qut, says iliat pos- 

sibly Dante is here alludin actised by Farinaia 

degli Ubeni in 1359 to se< -operaiion of Muii- 

fred against the Florentii ere threatening the 

Ghibellines in Siena. Ma aled to by them for 

help, bad only sent one hi n-al-arms, but with 

his standard. Ilie Chibi refused this puny 

assistance, but Fnrinaia 11 ,ccount, by tforginif 

the Qeimans with meat, an lem with wine, that 

they went forth and in a fo(,. , ..-, ^..^cked the Guclphs, 

by whom they were all slain, and Manfred's banner taken, and 
dragged in the dust to Florence. Faiinata took care to inform 
Manfred of the insult oflieted by the Florentines to his royal 
standard, and the monarch instantly sent a large force, which 
materially contributed to the success of the Ghibelline arms at 
the battle of Monupeni. 

* Lo bfvero t assttia, etc.: Pietro di Uanie says that the 
animal called the beaver (#i'i'iir0}fishes with his tail by submerging 
it in the water, and agitating it, whereby it exudes an olea- 
ginous matter which attracts the Ash, and it then turns quickly 
round and catches them. And this is in Upper Germany, among 
the greedy Teutons {Et Aoc esl in AUmannia suptriori, inter 
Theutonicos lurcot, idesi golosei). But as the Beaver is not a 
lish-eating animal, only feeding on roots and fruits, and chiefly 
on the water-lily (Nuphar luteum), it is probable that Dante may 
have confused the attitude of the beaver with the habits and 
diet of the otter, llenvenuto says that beavers abounded in his 
time on the banks of the Danube, although it was not necessary 
to go so far, as they were also to be found in Italy not far front 
Ferrara, in the territory of the Marquesses of Este. 

Canto XVII. Readings on the Inferno. g 

are partly in the water and partly asliore, 
and as, among the gluttonous Germans the 
beaver (or raihet otter) adjusts himself (half 
on the bank and half in the water) to wage 
his war (i.e. to catch his ptey) ; so was this 
most evil wild beast resting upon the petrified 
edge which fences in the sand. The whole 
of his tail was writhing in the void, twirling 
on high the venomous fork, which, in guise of 
a scorpion, armed its point. 
Benvenuto says that Geryon's tail was preparing 
itself to wound, as does that of a scorpion, for a scor- 
pion " will come to meet thee with open claws, and 
with its tail behind it will sting thee." 

Dante and Virgil have, up to now, been walking 
straight across the Circle on the causeway that skirts 
the Fhlegethon, and they must have been on the 
right bank, because, as they are now to turn to the 
right, they could not have done so had they been on 
the left bank. They must have been standing on a 
spot where the causeway abruptly terminates on the 
verge of the Great Abyss. The river is on their left, 
the Abyss in front of them. The causeways on either 
side of the river must have been slightly elevated 
above the margin that ran round the rim of the Abyss, 
because Dante says (v. 31) that they descended, and 
therefore, as they stand at the place where the cause- 
way terminates, they must be able to see Geryon 
below them to their right. 

Virgil now conducts Dante to Geryon. 

Lfl Duca disse :— " Or convien che si lorca 
Ia nostra via un poco inBna a quella 
Beslia malvagia che colS si corca."— io 

10 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVir. 

Pcr6 scendemmo alia dcstra* marnmella, 

£ dieci-t passi femmo in aulto stremo, 

Per ben cessarj la rena e la fiammella :§ 

• alia destra tnatnmella : Twice during their passage through 

Hell do the I'oets turn to their right. The first lime was when 

they were approaching the Heretics (see coloured plan of ihe 

In/ertu), \ol i), ( 
proaching Fraud. Scarl 
J^raud make use of false 
the turning to the right mi 
loyally, sincerity, which 
encoumer Unbelief and I 
t dieeifiasii.' perhaps 
Knse as the perfect numb 
''. . . e, quantc 

J ceisar: There are mai. 

that of "to cease, deusi." In tti 

§ xiv, the sense is given to i 

evilare." In Par. xxv, 133-5, it 

"SI come, per cessar fati< 

1 when they are ap- 
at both Heresy and 
tcipal weapon, and 
nbol of uprightness, 
pons wherewith to 

d here in it 
X, S0-81 : 


D this word besides 
< dtlla Crusca, s. v, 
of " Sfuggire, schi/are. Lot. 
used in the same sense : 

ni, pria nell' acqua ripercossl, 
Tutti St po^n al sonar d' un fischio." 
S la fiatHMella; Blanc (Saggio, on canto ii, 55) speaks also 
of this passage, and thinks la fiammella stands for UfiammelU. 
Compare Vita Nuava, in ihc Canzone Donna pietosa, lines 49-50 ; 
" Poi mi parve vedere appoco appoco. 
Turbar lo Sole ed apparir la itella," 
which, Fraiicelli says in a note, stands for le sletle, or for il del 
slellato. So also in the Convilo, tr. iii, in the Canzone, Amor 
che nella inente mi ragiona, lines 76-79 ; 

" Tu sai che '1 ciel sempr' i lucente e chiaro, 
E quanio in %h non si turba giammai : 
Ma 11 nosir' occhi per cagione assai 
Chiaman la Stella talor lenebrosa." 
Thoughthisinsianceisofmoredoubtfulmeaning. And/n/ii, 55: 

" Lucevan gli occhi suoi piii che la Stella." 
which Scartauini interprets as standing for le stelle in generate. 

Canto XVll. Readings on ike Inferno, 1 1 

My Leader said ; " Now it is necessary that 
our way should bend somewhat, as far as that 
evil beast that is crouching yonder." There- 
fore we descended to ihe right {lit. on the 
right breast), and stepped ten paces along 
the extreme verge, so as completely to avoid 
the sand and the Hakes of (ire. 
Benvenuto points out that the inner rim of the 
Circle of the Violent, which runs like a stone coping 
round the Great Abyss, seems to have been exempt 
from the action of the flames, in the same way as 
were the dikes on either side of the Phlegethon. 

Division II treats of the Violent against Art, or 
Usurers, of whom Dante now catches sight, and is 
t)uraged by Virgil to approach. 
E quando noi a lei venuti semo, 

Poco piii oUre veggio in sulla rena 35 

Gente seder propinqua* al loco scemo. 
Quivi il Maestro :— " Acciocchi tutta piena 
Esperienza d' cslo giron porti," — 

or va, e vedi la lor mena.t 

li ragionamenii sian Ik corci : 40 

Menire che torni parlerb con questa, 

Che ne conceda i suoi omeri forti." — 

And when we were come to him (Geryon), a 

little beyond him I saw people sitting on the 

• propinqua al loco scemo : Usury is represented near unio 
Fraud, there being so much analogy between the two. 

e think that this refers lo the contorlions of the 
Usurers which are described in line 47, and in lines 49-Si' 
Gelli commenis : "cio^qual fusse la lor sorte e il loro stato ; 
che cos) significa questa voce, usata in questa maniera." 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto : 

sand quite close to the empty space. Here 
my Master said to me : " In order that thou 
mayest carry away a full experience of this 
Round, go nuw, and look upon their con- 
dition. Let thy conversation out there be 

brief I itnlil tliov ** 

k with this 

(beast), that he 

his strong 


Benvenuto remark; 

lOth Geryon had 

strong shoulders, as 

arid is founded 

upon fraud, and we li 

was said in the 

opening lines of this i 

hty power being 

able to overcome and 


Dante now leaves ' 

oaches the Usu- 

rers, whose torment ap. 

rly unendurable. 

Coslancor* super 


rema le 


Di quel settimi 

3 cerchto, tul 

to solo 

Andai, ove sedcA la 

gentc t 

nesta. 45 

Per gli occhi fuori 

scoppiava lo: 

r duolo : 

Di qua, di W s 


■Hen t c 

on le mani. 

Quando a' vapori, e 

quando al caldo suolo. 

• anew ; The meaning of ancor seems doubtful here. Some 
think it refers to Danle being now left to go alone for the 
second time, as before at the Gates of Dis ; but the gene- 
rally received interpretation is, that Dante, having already 
visited the Violent against God, and the Violent against Na- 
ture, now goes to see yet another class, namely, the Violent 
against Art. Scanauini remarks that, at the Gates of Dis, it 
was Virgil who quitted Dante, and went so far forward that 
Dante could not hear his conversation with the Demons. Now 
it is Dante who quits Virgil, and goes so far that he does not 
overhear what passes between Virgil and Geryon. 

t soccorrien : Compare Petrarch, part ii, cantont viii, st. I. ; 
" Vergine, s' a mercede 
Miseria estrema dell' umane cose 

Canto XVII. Readings on the Inferno, 1 3 

Non altrimenti fan di state i cani,* 

Or col ceflfo or coi pt^, quando son morsi 50 

O da pulct o da mosche o da tafani.t 

Thus once again upon the extreme boundary 
(///. head) of that seventh Circle, did I go all 
alone, to where the sorrowing people sat. 
Their grief was gushing forth from their eyes : 
(now) on one side (now) on the other with 
their hands they sought for relief, sometimes 
from the (flaming) vapours, and at others 
from the heated ground.^ Not otherwise do 
the dogs in summer time, now with snout, 
now with paws, when they are bitten by fleas, 
or flies, or gadflies. 

Giammai ti volse, al mio prego t' inchina : 

Soccorri alia mia guerra ; 

Bench' i' sia, terra, e tu del ciel rcgina." 

* cam: Compare Ariosto, Orland, Fur, x, cv : 
" Simil battaglia fa la mosca audace 
Contra il mastin nel polveroso Agosto, 
O nel mese dinanzi o nel seguace, 
L' uno di spiche e 1' altro pien di mosto ; 
Negli occhi 11 punge e nel grifo mordace ; 
Volagli intorno, e gli sta sempre accosto ; 
£ quel sonar fa spesso il dente asciutto ; 
Ma un tratto che gli arrivi, appaga il tutto." 

+ tafani: Gadflies, the popular name of certain flies which 
goad or sting domestic animals, as a breeze, breeze-fly, or horse- 
fly. They are longer than the common fly, very active and 
bloodthirsty, their bite is deep and painful, although not 

X This well expresses the convulsive movements of the suf- 
ferers unceasingly warding off the flames, or raising themselves 
from the ground to escape the contact of their bodies with the 
flery sand. 

14 Readings on the Infemo. Canto xvii. 

Dante has now reached the spot where the Usurers 
are sitting in torment. He cannot recognize any of 
their faces, but his attention is caught by their armorial 
bearings, stamped upon certain purses round their 
necks. Gelti says that the meaning is, that usurers 

have no parts or qua 
or esteemed among , 
possess, or their lincag 
and that is why then 
upon the purses. Ge 
introduced the circuit 
arms, as a kind of \ 
greater regard to acci 
time was most careless 
in Germany and Franct, « 

they are known 
e treasure they 
' a noble family, 
ung so greedily 
ver, that Dante 
colours of the 
itrymen to pay 
■y, which in his 
1 Italy, whereas 
.. countries where 

chivalry was prized, far greater attention was paid to it. 
Poi che nel viso a certi gli occhi parsi,* 
Ne" quail il doloroso foco casca, 
Non ne conobbi bIcud t ^ ma io m' accorsi 

* gli occhi fiorsi : Compare Petrarch, Sonnet cxii, (in some 
editions 130), 3-4 : 

" Nel fondo del mio cor gli occhi tuoi porgi 
A tc palesc, a lutt' altri coverlo." 
And Petrarch, Trionjo dtlla Fama, cap. i, 22-23 : 
" Da man destra, ove gli occhi prima p&rsi 
La belU Donna avea Cesare, e Scipio." 
t noH lu conoMi alcun : Compare /n/l vii, 49-54, where Uante 
il unable to rccoj^niie the Misers : 

" Ed io : ' Maesiro, Ira quesli cotali 

Dovre' io ben riconoscere alcuni, 
Che furo immondi di cotesil mali.' 
Ed egli a me : ' Vano pensiero aduni : 
La sconoscenie vita, che i fe" soizi, 
Ad ogni conoscenia or li fabruni.'" 

Canto XVII. Readings on the Inferno. 1 5 

Che dal collo a ciascun pendea una tasca, 55 

Che avea certo colore e certo segno, 
E quindi par che il loro occhio si pasca.* 

E com' 10 riguardando tra lor vegno, 
In una borsa gialla vidi azzurro, 
Che d' un leone avea faccia e contegno. 60 

Afler that I had fixed my eyes on the faces 
of some, on whom the grievous fire falls, I 
did not recognize any one of them ; but I 
noticed that from the neck of each was sus- 
pended a pouch, which bore a certain colour 
and a certain cognizance, and on this it seems 
that their eyes are feasting. And as I came 
peering among them, I observed on a yellow 
purse, Azure, which bore the face and attitude 
of a lion. 

Lana says : " This device of a h'on Azure on a 
field Or is the arms of the Gianfigliazzi of Florence, 
who are very great usurers." They must, therefore, 
have been contemporaries of Lana ; a fact borne out 
by Giovanni Villani, who (book xii, 3) shows that 
they were still alive in Lana's time. 

Poi procedendo di mio sguardo il curro 
Vidine un' altra come sangue rossa 
Mostrare un' oca bianca piu che burro. 

Then as the course of my gaze travelled further 

♦ E quindi . . . occhio si pasca: Compare St. Luke, xii, 34 : 
** For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." 
Pictro di Dante quotes from Horace. Sec i Efisi, i, 53-56 : 
" O cives, cives, quaerenda pecunia primum est ; 
Virtus post nummos. Haec Janus summus ab imo 
Prodocet, haec recinunt juvenes dictata senesque 
Lsevo suspensi loculos tabulamque laceno." 

Readings en tlu fii/erno. Canto XVII. 

, I saw another (pouch) red as blood dis- 
: whiter than butter. 

play a g 

Lana says : " A goose Argent on a field Gules is 
the arms of the Ubbriacchi of Florence, who likewise 
/iav€ been very great usurers. 

Dante is now adc' ' " 'the shades, who 

tells liim that he wa ua, and who, from 

the heraldic device is generally coti- 

sidered to be the i Ido de' Scrovigni. 

Seeing that Dante le world, he par- 

ticularly calls his a act that there art 

two usurers still Ir aliano at Padua, 

and Buiamonte at . re predestined to 

the same torment, a pass himself and 

his companions in gu.... 

He probably wishes to minimize in Dante's eyes 
the shame of being the only Paduan there, by telling 
him that there is another yet to come. 

Ed un, che d' una scrora aiiurra e gros&a 

Segnato avea lo suo sacchetto bianco, 65 

Mi disM :— " Che fai tu in questa fossa ? 
Or te ne va : e perchi se' vivo anco, 
Sappi che il mio vicin + Vitaliano 
Seder^ qui dal mio sinistro fianco. 

• via'n : Both Blanc and Tommasio interpret I'/i/n in 
passage as " fellow-citiien," from vkus. Petrarch uses il ii 
same sense in sonnet 71, in some editions, part iv, Son. ix : 
" Piangan le rime ancor, piangano i versi, 

Perchi 'I noslro amoroso messer Cino 
Novellamenie s' i da noi partiio. 
Pianga Pistoia, ei cittadin perversi, 
Che perdut' hanno s) dolce vicino." 

Canto XVII. Readings on the Inftmo. 

Con quesli Fiorentin son Padovano ; 

Spessc fiate m' intronan gli orecchi, 

Gridando : ' Vegna il cavalier soprano,* 

Che recheri la tasca con tre becchi : ' "^ 

Qui dislorse la bocca,+ c di fuor trasse 

La lingua, come '1 bue che il naso lecclii. 

And one, who had his white scrip emblaioned 

with a sow a/.ure and pregnant, said to me: 

"What doesl thou in this ditch? Now get 

thee gone : and since thou art still alive, know 

that my fellow-citizen Vitaliano shall sit here 

on my left side. Among these Florentines 

am I, a Paduan; oft-times do they deafen 

mine ears, shouting : ' Let the sovereign 

knight (i.e. the prince of usurers) come, who 

will bring the pouch with the three beaks !'" 

Here he pursed up his mouth, and thrust out 

his tongue, like an ox that licks its nose. 

• soprano for sovrano : Compare Inf. *xii, 86-7 ■ 
" . . . e negli altri offiii anche 
Uarattier fu non picciol, ma soprano." 
t y»j (iistorse la bocca, etc. : Dante has evidently here 
imitated Isaiah, Ivii, 4 ; "Against whom do ye sport your- 
selves ? against whom make ye a wide moulh, and draw out the 
tongueP" Utanc remarks thai the antiquity in Italy of making 
faces by way of insult is shown in the following lines of Persius 
{^Sal. i, 58-60), which are nearly identical with the scene 
before us : 

" O Jane ! a tergo quem nulla ciconia pinsit, 
Nee manus auriculas imitaia est mobilis altas. 
Nee lingua, quantum sitiat canis Appula, tanlum I " 
See, also, Livy, vii, 10, where the gigantic Caul puts out his 
tongue at Manlius Torquatus : "Armalum adornatumque ad- 
versus Galium stolide Ifetum et (quoniam id quoque 
dignum antiquis visum est) linguam etiam ab ir 

II. 1) 


Rtadings on the In/erm. Canto xvii. 

Lana says tliat the sow Azure is (girded Gules on a 
field Argent, and adds that the arms are those of 
the Scrovigni of Padua, "who," he says, "are like- 
wise very great usurers." Reginaldo de" Scrovigni was 
possessed or immense wealth, with an insatiable huti- 
ger for the acquisit'"" "*■ " ** *he moment of his 
death (before 1 300) Give me the keys 

of my strong box, tU be able to take 

my money." 

Vitaliano del De jed by the older 

commentators to bi 'erred to by Scro- 

vigno ; but Emilio t» e Padava, page 

213) argues, with re. "y Dr. Scartazzini, 

that Dante is here taliano di Jacopo 

Vitaliani, who actuai icar neighbour of 

the houses of the Scrovigni in Padua so that he was 
a real neighbour of Scrovigno's in life, and is to be so 
again after death. It is, moreover, not without exuU 
tation that Scrovigno so particularly mentions that 
Vitaliano is to sit on his left hand, thereby denoting 
the latter's greater guilt. 

The person alluded to as the prince of usurers, and 
whose scrip bore the device of three becchi* seems to 

* bfCcMi : Much controversy has arisen as to the meaning of 
this word, as it signifies both " goats," the meaning adopted by 
Pietro di Dante and Benvenuto, whereas Lana, Culi and Olhera 
take it to be three " eagles' beaks," which latter is probably the 
more correct interpretation. 

The Ananimo Fiortntino says that Buiamonte's arms were, on 
a. yellow field three black becchi one above the other passant, 
like the leopards that are in the arms of the King of England. 

Lord Vernon {iH/emo, vol. ii, page 433) gives a reproduction 
of the shield taken from the Archives of Florence. The tecchi 

Canto XVir. Readings on the Inferno. 

have been Giovanni Buiamonte of Florence, who was 
living there in 1300. Unsurpassed as a usurer, he 
eventually died in complete poverty. 

Division III. Dante has now seen all the punish- 
ments of the various kinds of Violence, and prepares 
to quit the Circle, and pass down into that part of 
Hell where Fraud is chastised. He turns his back 
upon the Usurers, and rejoins Virgil, whom he finds 
waiting for him, and already seated upon Geryon's 

Ed io, temendo nol * piii star crucciasse 
Lui che di poco star m' avea monito, 
Toma' mi indieiro dall' anime lassc. 
Trovai Io Duca mio ch' era salito 

Gii in sulla groppa del fiero animale, 80 

E disse a me :— " Or sii forte ed ardiio. 
Omait si scende per si falte scale ; 

Upon it are eagles' beaks ; two above and one underneath. He 
says Ibe family of the Buiamonti had the lordship of Torre 
Uecchi, a strong place in llie territory of Florence. The family 
still retain the name Dei llecchi. Buiamonte di Messer Rota, 
a distinguished Guelph, with liis three sons, took part in the 
disastrous batlle of Montaperli. Giovanni Buiamonte is sup- 
posed to have been another son of the above. He was Gonfa- 
loniere of Justice in 1393, and his palaces were destroyed in the 
great fire in 1304, whicb was kindled by the treachery of Neri 
degli Abati, 

" temetttU no! .■ ThJs stands for fti««»rfi7 »wj7, like the passage 
in /«/ iii, 80 T 

" Temendo no 'I mio dir gli fusse grave." 

t Omai, etc. : It will be seen that from this point the Poets 
do not find any more natural descents into the depths below. 
They arc carried down into MaUbolge on the back of Geryon ; 
when they quit the Eighth Circle, the giant Ani.xus lifts them 

U. II 2 

20 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVII. 

Monta dinanzi, ch' io voglio esser muio,*' 
Si che la coda non possa far male." — 
And I, ftaring lest tarrying longer might dis- 
please him wlio had admonished me to stay 
(but) little, turned backwards from those 
afflicted souls. I found mv Leader, who was 
already moiinied the dread 

animal, and he si v be thou 

stout and daring. 'e descend 

by stairs of this li <u in front 

(of me) for I want middle, so 

that the tail can d ." 

BenvenutD remarks sentence is as 

though Virgil would ; ou to sit in the 

down on to the frozen surface of Cocyius ; they make their 
final exit from Hell by clambering down the shaggy hide of 
Lucifer ; then, after passing the centre of the Universe in the 
middle of his body, they turn themselves round, and climb up 
again by the hair on his upturned legs lilt they reach the sub- 
terranean passage leading up to the foot of the Mountain of 
Purgatory. Compare, also, Purg. ii, 30 : 

" Omai vedrai di si falli ofliziali." 
* mtttc : Blanc explains (his as " nel meizo, fra due," the two 
being, Dante on the one side, and the venomous tail of Geryon 
on the other. In Purg. xxvii, 21-14, when Virgil is urging 
Dante to enter boldly into the flames, he says : 

" Ricordati, ricordati . . . e, se io 

Sopr* esso Cerion ti guidai salvo, 
Che far6 ora presso piii a I )io i' " 
meaning, that if he had guided him safely through Hell, the 
place thai is farthest removed from God, how much more will 
he conduct him in safety, now that he is so much nearer to 
Heaven, and to that God Who had despatched him (Virgil) 10 
Dante's assistance. 

Canto XVII. Readings oh the Inferno. 

saddle of Geryon's back, that you may be in greater 
security, for you do not yet know how to ride such a 
steed, and I, who am better acquainted with the 
nature of this false beast, will sit upon his haunch, 
for he is like unto the mule, who may be thirty years 
before he gives a kick, and then will kick you to 
death," Tommasfeo says that knowledge and upright- 
ness interpose between Man and Fraud. Scartazzini 
prefers to think of Vii^il here as the symbol of Im- 
perial authority, which protects men, and places them 
in complete security from the fraudulent snares of 

Dante is terror-struck at Virgil's words, and trembles 
like one sick of the ague. 

QunJ h colui, ch' ha si presso il riprcHo* 8; 

Delia quartana, ch' ha gik 1' utighie smorie, 
E irema tutto, pur guardando il rezio, 
Tal divenn' io a lie parole porle ; 

Ma vergogna mi fer le sue minacce,+ 

Che innanii n buon signer fa servo forte. 9^ 

• riprexio : The more modern form of ihe word is ribretie, 
with the sense of horror or disgust ; it is here used in its pri- 
mary meaning of the act of shivering ; but in /«/ xxxli, 70-71, 
Dante makes it express his terror : 

" Poscia vid' io mille visi, cagnarii 

Fatti per freddo ; onde mi vien ripretio, 
E verrS sempre, de' gelati guaiii." 
Compare also Petrarch, sonnet 2S4 : 

" Qua) ha gii i netvi e i poisi e i pensier egri, 
Cui dotneslica Tebbre assalir deve." 
t miitaice : Benvenulo puts a long imaginary discourse into 
Virgil's mouth full of the most severe reproofs of Dante's pusil- 
lanimity ; but in the discourse imagined by Benvenuto, (here 
are no lArea/i, only rtproofi, and Scartaizini thinks the word 

As is he who has the shivering of the quartan 
so near, that liis nails are already livid, and 
tiembles all over at the mere sight of the 
shade, such became I at the words uttered 
(by Virgil); but his reproofs roused in me 
t bold in the 

that shame whii ' 
presence of his 
Blanc says that ' 
has given occasion t 
that he prefers the 
Vellutello, who exph 
from a fever trembi 
cool or shady spots, 
his fingers, and his ni 
the return of the attacK. " 

Though unable to utter a word, Dante takes his 
place in front of Virgil, who gives the signal for their 

lo m' asseiiai in su quelle spallacce : 
— " SI * {volli dir, ma la voce non venne 

Com' iocredetti) fa, chc tu m' abbracce." — 

^ardando il reeeo 
ce of opinion, but 
;iven by Buti and 
e patient sufTering 
the mere sight of 
>lood going out of 
lite, he recognizes 

must be interpreted in that sense. He says that the Latin 
mina is used for the cry of the ploughman to urge along his 
oxen. Benvenuto remarks of vergogna in this line that shame 
is a most potent and efficacious weapon for converting a timid 
man into a bold one, and defeat into victory. He relates an 
episode whicli Julius Celsus Celts of Julius Ca:sar in Gaul, who, 
seeing a soldier running away in battle, caught him by the 
nose-piece of his helmet {naiaU), and led him back into the 
fighl, saying ; "7%e enemy are in that direction." 

*Si {volli dir . . . )Ja cht tu nt aitracce: There is some 
discrepancy as to whether Si is to be taken with volli dir, at 
with/u chetjitti abbracu. Blanc prefers the former, also Scar- 

Canto XVII. Readings on the Inferno. 23 

Ma esso che altra volta mi sowenne 

Ad altro forse,* tosto ch' io montai, 95 

Con le braccia m' awinse e mi sostenne : 
£ disse : — *' Gerion, moviti omai : 

Le rote larghe,t e lo scender sia poco : 
- Pensa la nuova soma che tu hai." — 
I settled myself down upon those repulsive 
shoulders : " Do thou/' I would have said, 
but my voice did not come as I thought, 
"so manage that thou keep thine arms round 
me." But he, who on another occasion of 
danger had come to my aid, so soon as I 

tazzini. I follow Witte in taking it as SI fa eke^ etc '*80 
contrive," ** so manage." 

* Ad altro forse: Both Witte and Blanc prefer this reading 
to €ui altro forte^ or €ui alto forte. Dr. Moore ( Textual Criticism^ 
page 316) says: *'The copious list of variants here is very 
curious, and I think easily accounted for by the somewhat 
unusual substantial use oi forse in the original reading (as I 
take it undoubtedly to have been) altro forseP Compare Inf 
viii, 109-110: 

" Cosl sen va, e quivi m' abbandona 

Lo dolce padre, ed io rimango in forse." 
And Purg, xxix, 18 : 

'' Tal che di balenar mi mise in forse." 
And Par, xii, 40-41 : 

"Quando Io imperador che sempre regna, 
Provvide alia milizia ch' era in forse." 
And Petrarch, Trionf Mort, i, 58 : 

**.... e poi che *n forse, 
Fu stata un poco." 

t Le rote larghe /In Convito iv,«vi, Dante addresses himself 
thus to Charles of Anjou, king of Naples, and Frederick, king 
of Aragon : 

'* Meglio sarebbe voi, come rondine, volare basso, che, come 
nibbio, altissime rote fare sopra cose vilissime." 


Readings Oft the Inferno. Canto XVII. 

mounted, ctas]>ed me in his arms and held 

me up : and said : " Now move off, Geryon : 

let thy gyrations be wide, and the descent 

gradual : bethink thee of the unusual burden 

that thou hast." 

Geryon was accustomed onlv to carry spirits that 

were wholly unafiTccte inness of motion. 

With a living man lore caution was 

necessary, lienveiiui ther occasion of 

danger alluded to i e and Virgil sat 

tt^ether on the back Others consider 

it would be when Dai the Gate of Dia, 

and Virgil, after a she irncd to Ins side. 

It might also be whet ed him from the 

three beasts on the mi 

Geryon obeys Vit^il's order, turns round and sets off. 
Come la navicella * esce del loco loo 

In dietTO, in dietro, si quindi si tolse j 
£ poi ch' al tutto si seni) a giunco, 
Ui ov* era il peiio, la codn rivolse, 

£ quella tesa, come anguilla, mosse, 
£ con le branche 1' aria a %k mccolse. to; 

As from its berth a small vessel issues, back- 
ing, backing, so did (Geryon) move away from 
that spot; and, when he felt himself in full 

* navicella : Rossetti says that the vessel is supposed to be 
backing out of a narrow channel. He remarks (hat the imagery 
was prepared since the beginning of the canto, where Geryon 
is summoned to come ashore {venire a proda) ; and we arc (old 
that he does not draw his tail on lo the bank {sulia rivd) \ that 
his position is like that of the flai-bottomed Iwats (burchi) \ and 
Rossetli compares his being here spoken of as navicella to the 
exclamation from Heaven in Purg. xxxii, 129 : 

" O navicella mia, com' mal sei carca 1 " 

Canto XVII. Readings OH the Inferno. 25 

])l.ay, he curled his tail lo where was the breast, 

and moved it (the tail) stretched out like an 

eel, and with his paws he gathered the air to 


This is meant to describe the movements of one 

swimming in the water, adapted to Geryon swimming 

in the air. Benvenuto, however, thinks he really was 

in the water, and takes the expression poi che ttitto si 

sent\ a giuoco to mean postquatn sensit se totum in aqua, 

ubi potcrat naUtre, ludere, ei guicciare ad modum piscis. 

Had this been so, Virgil's caution as to the gyrations 

ivould have been wholly out of place. 

If Dante's fears were great at having to mount 
upon Geryon's back, they were increased tenfold when 
he found himself in the void of the Abyss, moving 
rapidly in total darkness. He compares his terror to 
that of Phaeton and Icarus, who met their death by 
falling from high tip in the air. 

Maggior paura noti cretlo che fosse, 

Quando Fet6n * abbandono li freni, 
Per che il ciel, come pare ancor, si cosse 1 
Ni quando Icaro t miseto le reni 

Sentl spennar per la scaldata cera, no 

Gridando il padre a lui ; — " Mala via lieni," — 

* Ftldn ; The story of Phaeton may be read in Ovid, Melam. 
book ii, 47-324. The lines <o which Dante is especially referring 
ate 178-181 (King's translation): 
" But when Ihe hapless Phaeton looked down 
From heaven to earlh, so wide, so far below. 
Together knocked his knees, and blanched his cheeks. 
And darkness, born of loo much light, his eyes confounded," 
-t Icaro: Benvenulo thinks [he real truth about D^datus and 
his son Icarus lo have t^een that they were making their escape 

Readings on tht Inftrm. Canto XVII. 

Che fu la mia, (luando vidi ch' i' era 

Nell' aer d' ogni pftrte, e vidi spentn 

Ogni vedula, fuor che della 6era. 
Greater fear was there not, I imagine, 
when Phaeton abandoned the reins (of tlie 
chariot of the si'"^ win'T^hv tiic heaven, as 
yet may be sect. tVay') was 

in two vessels, each with i 

E says a vessel is in 

truth a wooden bird that 1 

wings, and oars in 

place of feet. He thinks 

It loo far out to sea 

and was capsized. The i 

It length by Ovid, 

Metam. vjii, Kin^-'s translf 

" And 


Withthat new powi i 

cw, and left 

His guide, and high 

> flight, 

Soared, ainiiny ai ihesKica i >jpon ii 

is wings 

The rays of noon struck scorching, and dissolved 
The waxen compact of their plumes :— and down 
He toppled beating wild with naked arms 
The unsustaining air, and with vain cry 
Shrieking for succour from his Sire I The Sea 
That bears his name received him as he fell." 
• in the Milky IVay : Compare Dante, Conv. ii, i S : 
"E per la Galassia [Milky Way], ha questo cielo grande 
■imililudine coUa meiatisica. Perchi i da sapere che di quella 
Galassia Ii filosoB hanno avuio diverse opinion!. Chi Ii Pitta- 
gorici dissero che '1 sole alcuna 6ata errb nella sua via ; e pas- 
sando per altre parti non convenienti al suo fervore, arse il 
luogo per lo quale pass6, e rimasevi quell apparenia dell' arsura. 
E credo che si mossero dalla favola di Fetonte, la quale narra 
Ovidio nel principio del secondo di Metamorfoseos." 
Compare also Par. xiv, 97-99 : 

" Come, distinta da minori e maggi 

Lumi, biancheggia tra i poli del mondu 
Galassia si, che fa dubbiar ben saggi, etc," 
Longfellow says that in Spanish the Milky Way is called £1 

Canto XVII. Readings on the Inferno. 


set on fire : nor when the ill-fated Icarus 
felt his loins becoming unfeathered by the 
heating of the wax (of his artificial wings), 
when his father cried to him: "An evil 
course thou keepest," than was my (fear) 
when I saw that 1 was in the air on all sides, 
ftnd every sight extinguished save thai of the 
Dante might well fear lest the fraudulent Geryon 
should treacherously cast him down. He had no 
; to trust him. 
Geryon's downward movements are exactly in ac- 
cordance with Virgil's injunctions. We see in I. 117, 
that they were moving not only forwards, by which 
they had the wind in their faces, but also downwards, 
by the wind coming up from below, and we may infer 
that, as they now come nearer to MaUbolge in their 
descent, the wide gyrations would take them above 
the whole of its ten valleys, for they hear sounds of 
lamentation on all sides. 

a nuotando lenta lenia ; 113 

e discende, ma non me n' accorgo, 
Se non ch' d visa e disollo mi venta. 
lo sentia gii dalla man destra * il gorgo 
~ un orribile stroscio ; 

Per che con gli occhi in giii la testa sporgo. I30 

(amino de Santiago. In the Northern Mythology it was thought 
lo b« the pathway of the ghosts of heroes going to Valhalla. 

• dalla man desira, etc.: Scarlawini remarks ihai in Geryon's 
wide gyrations he would have passed in front of the great cas- 
cade of the Phlcgeihon, so that it is now on the Poeis' right 
hand, whereas, when they turned away from it, it had been on 
ihdr left hand. It will be remembered that after walking along 

28 Readings on the Inferno, Canto XVII. 

AUor fu' io piu limido alio scoscio* : 

Pcrocch'io vidi fochi.t e senlii pianti ; 
Ond' io tremando tutto mi raccoscio. 
E vidi poi, ch6 nol vedea davanii, 

Lo scendere c il girar, per 11 griin mali 13$ 

Che %' appressavan da diversi canli. 
He (Geryon) slowly, slowly ; 

wheels and di tive il nol, save 

that on my Ta r l felt a wind. 

Already I hef ind the whirl- 

pool beneath rible roaring ; 

whereat I sti ead with my 

eyes downwai : I more lerri- 

6ed at the pi scerned fires, 

and heard Ian iL trembling I 

gathered myse And Uieii I 

saw, what I had not discerned before, our 
descending and circling, by reason of the 
terrible torments that were getting nearer on 
every side. 
Tommas^o says that, by the sounds becoming more 
audible, Dante would understand that he was getting 
lower and lower down in the Great Abyss, and the 
changes and variety of the sounds would make him 
comprehend that he was passing over places different 
from each other,and that his descent was in wide circles. 

the margin of its right bank, they had turned to iheir right and 
quilted it ; consequently it was then on their left hand. 

* The word scoscio is Iwtter known in ihe adjective derived 
from il, scosctso, "precipitous." 

i io vidi focki : If a balloon were to descend at night into 
the Black Country of Staffordshire, Ihe foundries, furnaces, and 
ironworks of Wolverhampton, Wednesbury, Dudley, or Brierlcy 
Hill, might give the aeronauts some similar ideas. 

Canto XVII. Readings an the Inferno. 29 

Dante now brings the canto to a conclusion by 
likening Geryon's rotatory descent into the bottom of 
the Abyss to that of a falcon, wearied after an un- 
successful flight 

Come il falcon ch' h stato assai sull' ali, 
Che senza veder logoro o uccello, 
Fa dire al falconiere : — " Oim^ tu call * : " — 

Discende lasso, onde si mosse snello, 130 

Per cento rote, e da lungi si pone 
Dal suo maestro, disdegnoso e fello : 

Cosl ne pose al fondo Gerione 

A pi& a pi& t della stagliata X rocca, 

£, discarcate le nostre persone, 135 

Si dilegu6, come da corda cocca.§ 

* Oimi tu cali : Buti points out that this is equivalent to the 
falconer saying that he is vexed that the falcon stoops, and not 
without cause, for it shows that the bird is either weak, or 
weary, or ill-tempered, all of them things which tend to spoil it, 
and besides, the falconer takes nothing that day. 

t a pil a pii: Scartazzini disagrees with the large mass of 
commentators who take the reduplication as giving a superla- 
tive force to the sentence. He constructs the sentence thus : 
Geryon set us down on our feet {a pib) at the foot {a pii) of the 
rugged cliff. 

X stagliata : The s is expressive of the thing being badly 
done : t agitata^ cut, hewn ; stagliata^ badly, coarsely hewn. 

§ cocca is properly the notch of the arrow, and stands here 
for the arrow itself, as corda stands for the bow. Geryon's 
rapid departure, after setting down the Poets, reminds one by 
contrast of that of the Angel Pilot afler landing the boat-load 
of spirits on the sea-shore of the Island of Purgatorio. See 

Purg. ii, 49-51 • 

" Poi fece il segno lor di santa croce ; 

Ond 'ei si gittar tutti in sulla piaggia, 
Ed ei sen g1, come venne, veloce." 

Readings on flu htftnto. Canto xvil. 

Even as the falcon that has been long upon 
its wings, that hath not seen either lure or 
bird, causes the falconer to cry : "Ah me I thou 
stoopest; "^descends wearily, in hundreds of 
circles, to the place whence it flew off so 
quickly, and s il and sullen 

far frotn its c bottom did 

Geiyon deposi base of the 

rocky cliff, anc disburdened, 

he started off li a bow. 

This is one of 
Dante from falconry, 
when the hawk is 
up into the air with | 
a sufficient elevation, . 

xations drawn by 
i) reminds us that, 
he quarry, it darts 
nd having reached 
^ in circles until it 

sights its prey (uccello), or is recalled by the falconer 
with the lure {logoro). But if it sights no quarry, and 
is not recalled by the falconer, becoming tired, it 
descends to earth of its own accord in wide wheels 
{discatde lasso per cento rote, otuU si mosse sitello), but 
it lights and seats itself far away from its master, dis- 
dainful and sullen {disdegnoso e fello). 

The lure consists of two bird's wings attached 
together. This is swung round his head by the fal- 
coner to entice the hawk back. 

End of Canto XVII. 

Canto XVIII. Readings an t/ie Inferno. 31 


The Eighth Circle, called MaUbolge. 
The Fraudulent Punished in Ten 
different Bolge or Valleys. 
First Bolgia. 

Panders and Seducers. 
Venedico Caccianimico. 
Second Bolgia. 

Flatterers and Parasites. 
Alessio Interminei. 

We left Dante and Virgil at the end of the last 
canto, having just dismounted from the back of 
Geryon on reaching the bottom of the Great Abyss 
down which he had borne them. They are now in 
the Eighth Circle, called MaUbolge from its being 
divided into valleys or chasms (///. Evil-pouches), in 
which are distributed the shades condemned for ten 
different species of Fraud. The following Table gives 
the classification of the sinners, and shows in what 
cantos they are respectively described. 
Bolgia I. Panders and Seducers. Canto xviii. 

„ II. Flatterers. xvill. 

„ in. Simonists. XIX. 

„ IV. Diviners. XX. 


Reading on the Inferno. Canto XVIIl. 

Bolgia V. Traffickers in Public Offices and 

Corrupt Officials. Cantos xxi, XXit. 
VI. Hypocrites. 

VII. Robbers. 
VIIL Fraudulent Cm 
IX. Di 


xxrv. XXV. 
XXVI, xxvn. 
XXVJII, xxix. 
are only punished 
3 breach of trust, 
r the traitors who 
] in them, a more 
imbedded in the 

four parts. 

X. Falsifiers 
The sinners mMc 
for Fraud where th 
For those whose gi 
by Fraud have viola 
terrible fate is reser 
frozen ice of the Nil 
•Benvenuto divides 

In Division I, from v. I to v. 39, Dante begins by 
giving a general description of MaUbolge, and then 
goes on to describe the first of its valleys {Bolgia I), 
in which Panders have to suffer. 

In Division II, from v. 40* to v. 66, he relates 
his conversation with the shade of Venedico Cacci- 
animico, a native of Bologna. 

In Division III, from v. 67 to v. 99, Virgil points 
out to Dante the shade of Jason punished for Seduction. 

In Division /f,from v. 100 to v. 136, the account 
is given of their passage into the Second Valley 
{Bolgia II), wherein they see Flatterers and Parasites. 

Division I. Dante begins the canto by a very pre- 
cise description of Maldiolge. On this Benvenuto 
remarks : " Now see in what manner he first describes 
the place by a new name, for it has only recently 
been spoken of by the author, never by any one else. 

Csnto xvill, Rendings on the Inftrno. 


and it is a convenient name. For bolgia, in popular 
Florentine language,* is the same as a concave and 
capacious valley : now tliis (Eighth) Circle contains 
in itself many valleys, each of which is capable of 
containing a vast number of people ; therefore Dante 
gave it this name (Malebolge), and it is a composite 
noun in the singular number. And well is it so called, 
for whereas all the valleys in Hell are evil {mala), 
these in MaUbolge may more especially be so styled." 
Loco f in inferno, deito Malebolge, 
Tutto di pietni di color ferrigno, 
Come )a cerchia che d' inlorno il volge. 
Nel dritto mezzo del campo maligno 

Vaneggia un po«o assai largo c profondo.t 5 

Di cUL in 5110 loco ilicero 1' ordigno. 

* In modern Florentine language bolgia or Mgelta is dis- 
linclly a pouch, pocket, wallet, answering to the French bissac. 
Dolh in the Vfcnbolario della Crtucit, and by Litlr^, the two 
words in the two languages are made to express the same 
thing ; namely, a kind of pouch opening longways. In the 
Vocaiolario deUa Crusca there is a quolation given from the 
Italian translation of the Golden Ass ofApuleius: "Lucia, 
piglia la valigia e le bolge di questo ospite." Bolgc there must 
mean saddle-ba£s. A Florentine once brought me a long pouch 
which I had asked him to make for a special purpose. " Ecco 
la borghetta \ " said he, as he came inlo the room. On my 
asking afterwards what he meant by bergkeUa, for which I had 
looked unsuccessfully in two dictionaries, he answered ; "Sa I 
t una parola che si usa tra noi." A few days afterwards he 
informed me that he ought to have said bolgetta, the same, he 
added, as bolgia, the word used by Uante t 

+ Pro/ondo ; Benvenulo explains this as not referring to the 
depth of the Pit below the Eighth Circle, but because it is 
situated at the extreme bottom of Hell. I have therefore 
ii!aa\MtAprofoniio "deep down (in Hell)." 
II. C 

34 Readings on Ike Infenw. Canto xvni. 

Quel cinghio che riinane adunque i tondo, 
Tra il ]>oizo e il pi6 dell' alLi ri|>a dura, 
Ed ha distinio in dicci valli il fondo. 
There is a place in Hell, called MaUio^e, bH 
of stone, of (lie colour of iron, as is also the 
lone (of cliffs; id. Right in 

the tniddle of awns a pit,* 

exceeding broi n (in Hell), 

the formation relate at its 

(proper) plac& space then 

which remains sw and the 

foot of the toi I is circular, 

and has its t iff into ten 

To give the exact of the space thus 

described is impossible. Several famous geometri- 
cians, such as Manetti, Galileo, Giambullari, and Vel- 
lutello have given their different ideas. I cannot pre- 
tend to adopt any one of them throughout, but on 
the whole I prefer to take the calculations of Alles- 
sandro Vellutellaf Manetti's system ( has been 

* I have adopted the following distinctive names to avoid 

The Burrato, down which the Poets are carried by GerYon 
from the Seventh to the Eighth Circle, I have translated " the 
Abyss," and generally speak of il as "the Great Abyss." 

The Potso is translated "the Pit" 

The word Bolge is translated, in accordance with Benvenuto's 
interpretation, " Valleys." 

t These will be found in the Preliminary Chapter. 

I The whole plan of Hell, as calculated by Manetti, and the 
two lectures in support of it that are attributed to Galileo, will 
be found in Studi lulla Divirta CommeiHa di Galileo Galilei, 
VineenMo Borghini ed allri, by Ottavio Gigli, Florence, 1855. 

Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 35 

generally considered good as far as the first seven circles 
are concerned, but, as his calculations of the Eighth 
and Ninth are very confused, it has been supposed 
that these latter were written by others after his death, 
and wronglj' attributed to him. In the beautiful work 
on this subject which has recently appeared {Topo- 
Cronografia del Viaggio Dantesco.^icr Giovanni Agnelli, 
Hoepli, Milano, 1891), the author states that Giambul- 
lari* constructs his imaginary fabric precisely similar 
to that of Manetti, until the descent to MaUbolge, 
and from there to the centre he ingeniously corrects 
Manetti's system. Manetti calculated tlie depth of 
the Great Abyss at 730 miles, and the depth of the 
Pozzo at 80. Now it is evident that Antaeus could 
not lift the Poets down such a distance as 80 milest 
GiambuISari gets rid of that difficulty in the following 
manner. He calculates the whole distance from the 
summit of the Great Abyss to the Central Point of 
the Earth as 812J miles. He considers the depth of 
the Great Abyss to be wholly immaterial, as there 
would be no limit to Geryon's powers of descent. He 
therefore takes the 80 miles assigned by Manetti as 
the depth of the Posso, and adds them to the 730 
calculated by Manetti as the depth of the Great 
Abyss, thereby increasing it to 810 miles, while the 

* Pier Francesco Giambullari, Accademico Fior, De 7 SUo, 
FSrmn,^' Misiire,dMlo IitfJrno di Dinlr, Firenze, 1544. In the 
Preliminary Chapter will be found an illustralion, adapted from 
Agncili'3 work, giving the dimensions of MaUbolge as calculated 
by Vellulello. By the courtesy of Signer Agnelli and his 
publisher Ihe Commendator HoSpli of Milan, I have had per- 
mission to reproduce this plan. 
n. . C 2 

36 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVIII. 

remaining- 2^ miles he reserves for the depth o( Male- 
bolge added to that of the Poszo. 

Putting together the two passages, in one of which 
(canto xxix, S-p) Virgil tells Dante that the Ninth Bol- 
gia has a circumfer""'"' "•" "'' •""-s, and in the other 

{canto xxx, 86-87) 
Tenth Bolgia lias a 
Agnelli {Topo-Cr. 
theory of VelluteU' 
and diameter of t! 
Tenth Boigia has a 
the Ninth of 22, t 
be 33, of the Seventr 
66, of the Fourth 77, 

10 states that the 
)f II miles, Signer 
7), adopting the 
he circumference 
th Circle. If the 
of 1 1 miles, and 
;hth Boigia would 
cth 55, of the Fifth 
88, of the Second 

99, and of the First 1 10 miles. The radius of MaU- 
bolge is 17} miles and its diameter 35 miles. For the 
other measurements of the Inferno, I must refer my 
readers to the plan already mentioned. 

I have discussed these imaginary details of the 
imaginary journey, because many of the illustrations 
published on the Divina Comvudia, though beautiful, 
perhaps, from an aesthetical point of view, are exceed- 
ingly misleading to anyone beginning to read the 
poem, and ignorant of the vast dimensions of the 
space supposed to be traversed. I may especially 
instance one illustration of the second canto of the 
Purgatorio, otherwise very gracefully executed, where 
Dante and Virgil are represented standing beside 
what looks like a piece of ornamental rock-work in a 
suburban back garden, but which is intended to give 
the idea of the base of the Mountain of Purgatory, 
that vast upheaval of the bowels of the Earth, which 

Canto XVIII. Readings on tkt Inferno. 


soars up to a height beyond the permutations of 
weather, where wind, rain, snow, tempest, hail, thun- 
der, hghtning and rainbow, are alike unknown. 

Benvcnuto says that Dante, having; described the 
Eighth Circle as a whole, gives an idea of its shape 
by a very common simile, confused however in the 
sense and extremely intricate in the text. Dante 
asks the reader to imagine before him a round fortress 
on a great plain, surrounded by a succession of fosses. 
Hard by the castle gates, from the lowest rampart^ 
there springs the arch of a bridge which spans the 
first fosse to the second rampart; the second arch 
springs from the second rampart, and spans the second 
fosse as far as tjie third rampart ; and so on with all 
of them up to the tenth ; in such wise that there are 
ten arches contiguously succeeding each other, and 
yet together tiiey form as it were one consecutive 
bridge. In Hke manner this circular pit or fortah'ce 
is begirt with ten concave valleys after the manner of 
fosses, and these spanned by ten narrow bridges, by 
which the whole of Malebolge may be traversed. 

Quale, dove per guardin delle mura, 10 

Piil e piii fossi cingon IJ castelli. 
La pane dov' ei son rende figura : 

Tale imagine quivi facean quelU : 

e a tai forteue dai lor sogJi 
Alia ripa di fuorson ponticelli,* ij 

• ponticelli : I have translated ibis, " narrow bridges." If one 
adopts Veilutello's view that the valleys were half a mile, or 
a mile broad, one could not well say that they were traversed 
by UtlU bridges. Resides this, that [he bridges were not all 
similar in the height of their arches, is evident from xiiiv,6i-65. 


Readings on the In/emo. Canto XVllI. 

Cos) da imo della roccia scogli 

Movien, che recidean fli argini e fossi 

Infioo ai pozio, che i tronca e raccogli. 

Such a figure as, where for the defence of the 

walls, many P"'' •nnni^ a fncBP bcgirds the 

caalles, the pi 

re presents a 

(definite) shap 

ice did these 

make here: a^ 

rtresses there 

are naiTOW br 

thresholds to 

the outer ramp i 

1] the base of 

the cWfi ran (a \ 

;eways, which 

struck across 

fosses as far 

as the pit (Jit. 1 

IS them short 

and collects th^ 

The pit in the cen^ 

; nave of a wheel 

in relation to the spokes, which represent the bridges. 

A question, that has much engaged the attention 

of commentators, is whether there was one single 

series of bridges forming a single causeway over the 

" Su per lo scoglio prendemmo la via, 

Ch' era ronchioso, stretio e mala^evole, 
Ed erto piii assai che quel di pria." 
Wherever, as in the above lines, ueglio refers to the bridges, 
as also sasso, I shall translate "bridge-way." Benvenuto, in 
commenting on the passage quoted, seems to justify these 
definitions. He writes : " fimtdeutmo la via tu p€r lo icogUo, 
idesi pontem, ek era roncitaip, idest saxosuin, liritlo t malage- 
■vole, idest, difficile, «/ (UAtt'^'i) erto ck^ quel di pria,'\AKSt,i\axm 
pons prxcedens ; et hoc dicit quia pons, per cujus ruinani tran- 
sivcrant, erat jacens in fundo, ideo iste qui erat integer, erat 
altior, cujus coniiarium essct, nisi ille primus cecidisset" Scar- 
tanjni, however {Inf. page 269, in note on L 63), says : " By 
scogUo is not to be understood one single bridge over a single 
valley, but one of the series of bridges traversing all the toi 

Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 39 

Bolge, or whether there were several series of bridges 
in succession, like the spokes of a wheel. There is 
a strong argument in favour of the latter supposi- 
tion. In canto xxiii Dante and Virgil had traversed 
five fosses by the same line of bridges ; but the sixth 
bridge they found was broken down. The demons 
assured them that, if they continued to walk along the 
rampart that divided the fifth from the sixth Bolgia, 
they would find a bridge not so ruined. Although the 
Poets kept on along the rampart, they did not trust to 
the veracity of the demons, but let themselves glide 
down into the Bolgia of the Hypocrites. Walking 
with these latter they came to another bridge also 
broken down, and had to clamber up by its ruins 
to the rampart that overtops the seventh Bolgia. The 
demons, therefore, had told them the truth as to there 
being another bridge, but bad lied in saying that it was 
a .sound one. Blanc remarks that we have no inti- 
mation from Dante as to how many series of bridges 
there were, but from the number of the fosses we may 
infer that there were ten. He adds that the disposition 
of Malebolge is so vividly figured, by Dante likening 
it to a fortress with fosses and bridges, that he thinks 
any further explanation would be superfluous. 

Dante having given a very good general idea of the 
Eighth Circle as a whole, begins to describe the first 
of its valleys, in which the Poets find themselves on 
alighting from the back of Geryon. They turn to 
their left and, as they xvalk round the circular valley, 
they have its towering cliffs on their left, and the 
tormented sinners on their right. In Henvcnuto's 
opinion, they at once began to ascend one of the 


Readings ou the Inferno. Canto XVIII. 

bridges, but 1 think lines 68-70 show quite clearly that 
it was only after they had walked some distance, 
during which their interview with Veiiedico Caccia- 
njmico took place, that they reached the first bridge- 
way, turned to their rieht to ascend it, and by it quitted 
the first valley. 

Benvenuto remai lirable symmetty 

with which Dante . rent punishments 

in Hell. In Upp< tie described the 

penalties of Incontt 1 with Sensuality 

and Impurity, which nful aremore dis- 

graceful " ; so now in of the penalties of 

the Fraudulent, he . t Fraud which is 

practised for Sensu. id which in like 

manner ts " less sinful oui more ciisgiaceful." 

The sinners punished in this valley are in two dis- 
tinct classes, those who seduced women for others for 
the sake of gold, and- who are vile Panders; and 
others, who seduced women on their own account 
under promise of marriage, and then abandoned them. 
These two classes have to run in opposite directions, 
pursued and scourged by demon executioners. 

Id qucsto loco, dalla schiena scossi * 

Di Gerion, tmvunmoci : e il Poeta 10 

Tenne a sinistra, ed io retro mi mossi. 

Alia man destra vidi nuova pieta ; t 

* scossi: Scartazzini thinks the woni primarily means "de- 
posited," but beyond this it may also imply that Geiyon 
deposited the Poets with rage at having had to convey those not 
destined for punishment. Tommasto also takes this view. 

t piAa : This word must not be confounded with piet^ pity. 
The Tiv. Mia Crtttea says it is a poetical word, 

Canto xvill. Readittgs on the Inferno, 41 

Nuovi tonnenti e nuovi frustatori,* 
Di che la prima bolgia era repleta. 

At this spot we found ourselves on being 
shaken oflf from the back of Geryon : and the 
Poet (Virgil) held to the left, and I moved 
on behind. On the right hand I beheld new 
misery; new torments and new scourgers, 
wherewith the first valley was filled. 

To describe how this valley is divided lengthways 
into two concentric zones, Dante recalls the manner 
in which the Bridge of Sant' Angelo at Rome was 
similarly divided for the regulation of enormous traffic 
during the Jubilee in 1300. 

Net fondo erano ignudi t i peccatori : 25 

Dal mezzo in qua ci venian verso il volto, 
Di Ik con noi, ma con passi maggiori : 

meaning ''anguish, torment, pain,** equivalent to the Greek 
\{rwyi. Compare Petrarch (part ii, canz. vi ; numbered in some 
editions as canz. 47): 

*' Tutto di pidta, e di paura smorto 
Dico : * Onde vicn' tu ora, o fclicc alma.' " 

* frustatori : All the torments in Malebolge are administered 
by demons. Scartazzini does not think either Cerberus or the 
Harpies were such, but that Dante now for the first time sees 
demons in the capacity of xt.^^x tormentors. 

f ignudi: Blanc contends that we are to take nudity as 
the general condition of the doomed spirits in Hell, and 
that they are only represented as clothed, when their clothing 
is a distinctive part of their punishment, such as the Suicides 
enclosed in trees, the Hypocrites robed in leaden mantles, 
and the Fraudulent Counsellors draped in flames. The nudity 
of the spirits is only mentioned when the narrative requires 
them to be depicted as deprived of any protection to their 
skin under their appalling torments. Such was the condition 

42 Readings on t/te Inferno. Canto XVIIL 

Come i Roman, per 1' esercilo* mollo, 
L' anno del Giubbileo, su per lo ponle 
Hanno a paisar la gente modo colio : 30 

of the Negligent in Inf. m, 65 ; of the Wrathful in \\\, 1 1 ■ 1 
of the Squanderers in "' ' -• Violent against God, 

Naiure and Art, in xii. </ perhaps infer that 

all spirits soever enteret ' nudity, i>efurc reach- 

ing their appointed pL , for in In/, iii, 85-87, 

Charon addresses the lestined for different 

kinds of lotments, after -io», we read : 

" Ma quell' anirc nude, 

Cangiar c ienti, 

Ratto che rude." 

* y tserdto motto : esei stands for multitude : 

Compare Virg. Georg. i, y 

''...... c pastu acteucns aginine magna 

Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis." 
Giov. Villani (viii, ch. 36) stales that he himself witnessed the 
perfect oi^^anitation with which the immense masses of pilgrims, 
who attended the Jubilee at Rome, were fed, during their stay in 

" Gran parte de* cristiani, che allora viveano, feciona i] detto 
pellegrinaggio cos) femmine come uomini, di lontani e diversi 
paesi, e di lungi e d' appresso. E fu la piii mirabile cosa che 
mai si vedesse, che al continuo in tutto 1' anno durante, avea in 
Roma -ohre al popolo romano, duecentomila pellegrini, sania 
quegli ch' erano per gli cammini andando e tomando, e lulti 
erano forniti e contenti di vittuaglia giustamente, cos! i cavalli 
come le persone, e con molta paiienia, e sania romori o zuffe ; 
ed io il posso testimoniare, che vi fui presenle e vidi." Both the 
Ottimo and the Anoitimo Fiortntino relate the mode adopted 
far the snfc transit of the bridge, and one account tells us that in 
the year 1300, when Dante was Florentine ambassador at 
Rome, Iloniface VIII "fece dividere il pontc per lo lungo, 
sicchi la genie dall' un lato andasse verso Casiel Sanf Angelo 
a San Pietro, dall' altro, verso il Monte Giordano a San Paolo 
senia intopparsi ; e v* erano guardie, che additavano il passo." 

Canto xvm. Readings on the Inferno, 

Che dair un lato tuili hanno la fronte 

Verso il caslello, e vanno a sanlo Pietro ; 
Dair allrft sponda vanno verso il monte.* 
Di qua, di 1^, su per lo sasso letro 

Vidi Demon cornuti con gtan fene, 
Che li battean crudelmente di retro. 

e faeean lor levar le bene t 
Alle prime percosse I gi^ ncssuno 
Le seconds aspetiava rvh le lerzc. 
At the bottom (of the valley) the sinners 
naked: (in tlie zone) on this side of the 
middle they were coining lonards our face, 

* il monte: It is not ofany great consequence lo decide what 
mountain IJnntc is speaking of here. Some think it is Monle 
Giordano, but Ulanc remarks that Philalethes, who was a most 
careful observer of places and sites, heartily approved and 
endorsed (he opinion of Lombard!, who, In his new edition, con- 
tended thai Monte Giordano was a place of no importance 
whatever, perhaps hardly existing in Dante's time, and that 
Dante must have meant the Janiculum, on which stands the 
Church of San Pietro in Moniorio, and directly facing people 
passing on the bridge with their backs turned to the Castle of 
Sant" Angelo. Dr. Moore is inchned to think that " the Capitol " 
is more likely than the Janiculum to have earned so distinctive 
a title as " il monle." 

t btrMt; Benvenuto interprets fer», " idest fii/f(in*w." The 
Vac, delta Cnisca describes it as the part of the leg between the 
knee and the foot ; and quotes likewise Benvenuto's interpreta- 
tion, Danielle explains the passage; "how they made the 
weals rise upon the flesh at the first stripes." But Scartaziini 
says that is an inierprcialion that cannot stand. Lord Vernon 
{Inf. vol. i, page 226, note), after quoting the della Crusca inter- 
pretation, adds that there is another interpretation sometimes 
given to bersa as meaning a howl, and, according to which, 
le /ocean lor levar le berze would be "how they inade them 

44 Readings on tkt fn/enio. Canto XVIII, 

(while in the zone) on the other side, (they 

were going) with us, but with swifter steps. 

Even as the Romans, in the year of the 

Jubilee, by reason of the vast multitude, 

have taken means for iMssine the people 

over the bridg me side all 

have their face stle (of Sant' 

Angclo) and f ; (while) in 

the other com^ towards the 

Mount (either I [he Capitol). 

All along the < rock on this 

side and on the ned Demons 

with huge scout icIly flogging 

thein from bel^ they made 

them lift up (hi... iirsl blows I 

no one indeed stopped for the second or the 


Blanc hazards a conjecture that, as this is the only 

place in the Inferno where the Demons are seen with 

hotns, and as the sinners punished here are those who 

betrayed women, the fact of their being tormented 

by executioners with horns may possibly bear an 

allusion to injured husbands. Blanc cannot think that 

Dante, who never wrote a word without its having 

a definite purpose, would have so described the 

Demons, unless he had a particular reason for so doing. 

Division II. Dante now rcu^nizcs one of the 
scoui^ed shades in the throng nearest him, who are 
all Panders, but, as they are running in the opposite 
direction to that pursued by the Poets, Vir^l accedes 
to Dante's request that he may be allowed to return 
a. little way and get speech with the shade. 

Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 45 

Mentr* io andava, gli occhi miei in uno 40 

Furo scontrati ; ed io si tosto dissi : 

— ** Di gik veder costui non son digiuna" — * 

Perci6 a figurarlo t i piedi affissi : 
£ il dolce Duca meco si ristettCy 
Ed assentl ch' alquanto indietro gissi : 45 

While I was going along, my looks were met 
by one, and at once I said : *' Of having seen 

* digiuno : Scartazzini points out that Dante not unfrequently 
uses the term digiuno^ lit, fasting, in figurative senses. Any one 
who has never tasted any particular food, ne h digiuno^ «>. is 
not yet acquainted with it. So, also, any one may be said to be 
digiuno di una cosa^ from not having done it, or not knowing it 
And in the contrary sense, non esser digiuno di una cosa means 
that one has done it, does know it. In the same way, in Par, 
XV, 49-52, Dante's ancestor, Cacciagutda, tells Dante that he 
has long expected him, having foreseen his coming, by which 
Dante has satisfied a long felt craving desire {digiuno) : 
" . . . . Grato e lontan digiuno, 

Tratto leggendo nel magno volume 
U' non si muta mai bianco n^ bruno, 
Soluto hai, figlio.** 
Blanc writes almost word for word in the same sense as Scar- 
tazzini, but quotes Par, xvi, 134-5, where digiuni is used in the 
sense of " not having had experience of : 
^ Ed ancor saria Borgo piu quieto, 
Se di nuovi vicin fosser digiuni.'' 
"If the inhabitants of the Borgo of Florence had been spared 
the experience of new neighbours, their life would be a more 
peaceful one." 
See, also, Petrarch, Trionfo d* Amore^ cap. i, 34-6 : 
" Allor mi strinsi a nmirar s' alcuno 
Riconescessi nella folta schiera 
Del re sempre di lagrime digiuno." 
f figurarlo : Blanc ( Vocabolario Dantesco) says that the word 
in this particular passage seems to be taken in the sense of 

^6 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVIII. 

this one I am not without experience." There- 
fore I stayed my feet to recognize him : and 
my gentle Leader paused with me, and con- 
sented that I should go back a Httle. 
The shade, on being catight up by Dante, does all 

in his power to cone 

cess, for Dante, by i 

Bolt^na, Convinces 1 

E quel fnistrato 

Itassando il 

Se Le fazion ch< 

Veuedico s 

Ma che ti m 

And that scourg 

himself, bending dann 

, but without sue- 
1 certain place at 
vs liim well. 

raise : 
:chio a terra gene. 

salse ? "- 
; lo conceal 
> lace, but little did 

raffigurar*, which in Par. m, 58-63, we see has the meaning of 
" to recogniie after close inspection." 
"... Ne* mirabili aspetti 

Vostri risplende non so che divino, 

Che vi ttasmuta dai primi concetti. 
Pet6 non fiii a rimembrar festino, 

Ma or m' aiuta ciA che lu mi dici, 

SI che rafiigurar m' h pi6 latino." 
* celar si credttit : This shade is the first Dante has encoun- 
tered who seeks to hide himsel£ 

t Venedito Cacciammico was of the powerfiil Guelph family 
of the Caccianimict of Bologna ; but he himself appears to have 
been but little known except for the unenviable notoriety in- 
curred by the crime for which he is here punished. Venedico 
was bribed by a Marchese d' Este, probably Opixio 1 1, to admit 
him to [he chamber ofVenedico's own sister, the beautiful Ghi- 
sola, the fairest maiden in Qologna, and having had his will of 
her, he broke his promises and deserted her. For this detest- 
able sacrifice of his sister, Venedico is now suffering among the 

Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 47 

it avail liim : for I said : " O thou who easiest 
thine eye down to the ground, if the features 
that thou wearest are not deceptive, thou art 
Venedico Caccianimico ; but what brings thee 
to such Sahe of torment." 

Dante means by this last sentence to ask the shade 
what crime it is that has condemned him to such 
bitter castigation, and he speaks of this valley as te 
Salse, a name with which Venedico, a Bolognese, 
would be perfectly familiar as that of the place of 
execution at Bologna. 

It is as though one might ask another: "What has 
brought thee to such a Calvary?" meaning such a 
place of suffering. 

Tommas^o adds that Gehenna, the Valley of Infamy 
near Jerusalem, gave its name to the place of Infernal 

Lt Salse wa.s the name given to an uncultivated 
spot outside Porta San Mammolo at Bologna, where 
criminals were punished ; where, according to Kossctti 
and Tommasto, pimps and such-like were flogged ; 
where perhaps robbers were buried alive head-down- 
wards [capofitti); and the bodies of excommunicated 
persons were left unburied. In those days the name 
was a proverb of infamy, and Tommas^o says that 
even now the country people call the spot Le Sarse. 
Benvenuto relates that, when boys at Bologna wanted 
to abuse each other, one would say to his fellow : 
" Your father was cast into Le Salse !" Dante, who 
had studied at Bologna, knew the place well, and 
herereminds Venedico of the punishments of his native 
place; yet he does so tenderly, and in a manner that 

48 Kea<iings on tin Iiifcrno. Canto xvyi. 

touches Vcnetlico's heart. And that is why the latter 
says that the speech of Dante is clear to him {cinara). 
Benvenuto is outspoken against the word Salse 
being translated sauces, as so many commentators 
have explained it. He says; Non ergv capias hie 
' r otnnes exponunt, 
'to, ut per se patel. 
ijection, but Scar- 
lli ( Voci e passi di 
'ho says that the 
ssimilar from that 
Itivated spot," with 
meant the rough 
I perfectly sterile 
^ny reason for not 

Saisas pro sapor e, ,-' 
quia nietaphora esset 
Blanc does not agi 
tazzini quotes from 
Dante, Bologna, 18/ 
signification of saUe 
of the Latin salebra,' 
this difference, that 
boulders and flints 
ground. Scartazzini 1 
following the old commentators, the more so, that 
their opinion accords \try well with that of Mazzoni 
Toselli, a Bolognese, whose arguments are confirmed 
by a mass of documentary evidence, and who emphati- 
cally rejects the double meaning of the word salse, as 
meaning also sauces. 

Benvenuto says that Venedico, who now replies, is 
only able to give a very lame account of his conduct. 
Ed egli a me ;— " Mai volentier Id dico ; 
Ma sforaami la lua chiara* favetla, 
Che mi fa sowenir del niondo antico. 

• ekiitra fax'tlla; Mgr. VoltWo {Ditiotiario Danlesco, s. v. 
Chiaro, No. II) says : " By ekiara favella. Inf. xviii, 53, some 
undeniand a dear and dislinct speech in contrast to the voci 
fiocfu of the Shades ; but 1 take it to mean, tirst, the Italian 
language, and secondly, the fact that Dante, in his speech, 
shows himself to be so well acquainted with all matters at 

Canto XVII[. Readings on the Inferno. 

lo fiii colui, che la Ghisola belta * 

Condussi a far la voglin del Marchese, 
Come chesuoni la sconcia novella. 

E non pur io qui piango Bolognese : 
Ami n' ^ questo loco (anto pieno, 
Che tante iingue non son ora apprese 

A dicer j(]^+ tra Savena e Reno ; 
E se di ci6 vuni fede o lestimonio, 
Recall a mente il nostro avaro seno." — 

Bologna." Lamennais comments : "Tes paroles, 
clairement que lu me reconnais." Scarlaziini ; " (he precision 
and clearness of tliy speaking." Buli comments : " questo dice 
o percli^ Danle 1' avea nominalo, o perchi Dante parlava latino, 
ch' t parlare piii chiaro che I' altro." I do not think that by 
latino Buti meant Latin, but either pure Italian as distinguished 
from Ilolognesc dialect, or plain, intelligible words. The Voc. 
dtlla Crusca, s. v. Lalino, Adj., says it is derived from Lanio, 
"epigliasiil piii delle volte per Italiano;"and in§ i, "per Chiaro, 
Piano, Intelligibile, Facile;" and (hen is cited Par. iii, 63-3 : 

SI che raffigurar m' h piii latino." 
which last words Longfellow translates : "is easier for me." Il 
is probuble that Venedico meant to say to Dante ; " I should 
like to have concealed my identity, but your plain language so 
e that you know it, and also all about Bologna, that 
you force me to tell you all." 

* Ghisola bclla : ScariaziinI thinks that this was probably 
written as one word, Ghisolabella; and he refers to the follow- 
ing passage from Maiioni Toselli (Ki«i»/liwJi rfi ZJu/i/f, page 
r (9, note) ; 

" Alcuni dicono che costei fu cosl nominata per essere stata 
bella '. io per& ne dubito perchi undici anni dopo il suo malri- 
) ella dett6 il suo lestamento nominandosi Ghisolabella 
guondam Aibtrti de Caatanemicis mentre forse non era piii 

t dicer sipa tra Savena e Reno : By far the greater number 
of commentatora, both old and modem, interpret sipa as the 


50 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVIII. 

And he to me : " Reluctantiy I tell it ; but 
thy plain language, which makes me remember 

Balognese affirmative panicle for si. Bui Scartatiini very 
justly points out that Lana and Benvenuto, both of Ihem Bolog- 
nese, write : " The people of Bologna U5e sipa in place of siif; 
and Scartaiiini think; >w iheir interpretation. 

Tassoni {Secchia Ra the following speech 

into the mouth of tl rangon da la Palata, 

where there is no do ans sia; 

"FraTanlipo ino 

Ch' apa ardit . fora 

Sipa viitorios 
Benvenuto remarks: uthorishere describing 

the people of the Bolog i respect to theiridiom 

and their rivers. For I s western side, towards 

Lombardy, a river callea tne Kenus, but you shall not by this 
understand the very great river Rhine of Aliemaine, which for- 
merly divided Germany from Gaul ; and this Reno of Bologna 
hath excellent water, not only for drinking, but also for driving 
mills, both those which grind corn and those which manufacture 
silk stuffs, and many other things for the sustenance and adorn- 
ment of human life. It hath also another river called the Savena, 
on its Eastern side, towards Romagna ; it hath a small torrent, 
named Apposa, which intersects the city ; it hath a fertile and 
pleasant mountain, which is as it were a shield against the 
South Wind \ and Dante alludes indirectly to this mountain 
when he mentions Le Salie, which spot is a precipice in this 
very mountain. And now you have heard all about the noble 
situation of this most pleasant city, the fertility and excellence 
of which I do not describe in all its details for fear of straying 
too far from my subject, for its very name Bononia, meaning 
'good in all respects,' lestiSes to its surpassing excellence." 
Benvenuto, who, it must be remembered, was the lirst public 
lecturer on Dante in the University of Bologna, dwells with 
evident affection upon this passage, which speaks of the city 
and its inhabitants, at the same time that he feels obliged to 

Canto XVIII. Readings oh the Inferno. 


the former world, constrains me. I it was who 

induced the beauiiful Ghisola lo do the will 

of the Marchese (Opizzo da Este), no matter 

which way the disgraceful tale be reported.* 

And I am not the only Bolognese who weeps 

here : nay rather is (his place so full of them, 

that between (ilie rivers) Savena and Reno 

{i.e. in the whole territory of Bologna) there 

are not at the present day so many tongues 

schooled to pronounce sipa : and if thou de- 

tificate or evidence, recall to thy 

mind our avaricious breast {i.e. our covetous 


Benvenuto .says that Dante here takes avarice in a 

broad sense; for, generally speaking, the Bolognese 

are not avaricious in the sense of retaining, but only 

in that of grasping rapacity ; but the really vicious 

among them make their vice take the form of base 

gains, both in their sports, in their thefts, in their 

panderings, and acquiring means for gratifying their 

gluttonous orcarnal appetites bysellingtheirdaughters, 

their sisters, and even their wives to infamy. Venedico 

^^, and in particular the crime of pandering. 
He adds: " Now this city is at the present day in great measure 
purified of that vice ; and yet the aiUhor is more quick to men- 
e of a city which is a famous abode of learning than 
another city. There are assuredly many cities, and great ones, 
in Italy where this vice is more prevalent, to speak nothing of 
Paris in France." 

* Another interpretation is : " No matter in what mutilated 

:t form ihe slory may have been told in the world." 

Scendo sometimes has the sense of " false, mutilated, corrupt ; " 

and this would imply that the Esle family were loo powerful for 

the whole truth to have been told. 

II. D 2 



Reaiiitigs on t/te tn/eruo. Canto XVIII. 

tetis Dante that he needs no proof of this {fede e 
testimonio), because Dante studied in Bologna for 
some time, and doubtless had had such wares offered 
to him for sale by some of the Bolognese, as would 
be done to many of the students. Dante therefore 
must know all this **" ■v™*"-'!''* Benvenuto thus 
concludes his rema na : " And from all 

these things you n Dante only wishes 

to brand the Bologt Famy of minor sins, 

and the more trivia! speak the truth the 

Bol(^[nese are quite pent-like frauds, or 

cruel deeds of violei Dante has branded 

many nations. An< iognese are charm- 

ing people, courteouL i {dukis sanguinis), 

and of a placid nai re than all other 

Italians do they give a friendly reception to foreigners, 
and cherish and honour them ; and I for my part 
shall make use of Dante's own argument, of not want- 
ing any proof about them but my own experience, 
because I lived at Bologna for ten years," 

The conversation is here brought to a sudden 
conclusion, thereby sparing Dante from the necessity 
of speaking in terms of reprobation of Venedico's 
disgraceful crime. 

Cosl parlando il percosse un demonio 

Delia sua scuriada, e disse : — " Via, 65 

Ruffian, qui non son feminine da conio." — 
As he thus was speaking, a demon smote him 
with his thong, and said ; " Be off, Pander, 
here are there no women for coining." 

Division III. Dante now returns to Virgil, and 
they ascend the bridge-way so as to get sight of the 

Canto XVIIL Readings on the Inferno. 53 

sinners in the farther zone. These are they who have 
on their own account beguiled and deserted women 
who had confided in them. 

lo mi raggiunsi con la scorta mia : 
Poscia con pochi passi divenimmo, 
Lk dove un scoglio della ripa uscia. 

Assai leggieramente quel salinuno, 70 

E volti a destra su per la sua scheggia, 
Da quelle cerchie eterae ci partitnma 

I rejoined my Escort : after which with a few 
steps we came to where a bridge way jutted 
from the bank. This we ascended very easily, 
and having turned to the right along its jagged 
surface (///. its splinters), we departed from 
those everlasting lines of circumvallation (ut, 
the towering cliffs which gird Malebolge), 

There are many ways of interpreting the expression 
cerchie eterne. The translation which I feel disposed 
first and foremost to reject is eternal circles. I follow 
Blanc, who ( Vocabolario Dantesco^ s. v. cerchia) says 
that there is a marked distinction between the use by 
Dante of cerchiOy a Circle of Hell, and cerchia^ which 
he thinks Dante uses to express a circular enclosure, 
material and real, such as in this passage, and also in 
Inf. xxiii,* where he unmistakeably refers to the outer 
girdle of cliffs that walls in Malebolge. In Inf xxxi, 

*Inf. xxiii, i34->35 i 

' " S' appressa un sasso, che dalla gran cerchia 
Si move, e varca tutti i vallon feri.*' 
See also Par. xv, 97 : 

" Fiorenza, dentro dalla cerchia anttca." 
cerchia aniica there means the old enceinte of the City of 

54 Readings on the Inferno. Canlo XVIU. 

40, the Poszo is described as girded by a chain of 
fortaliccs, each containing a giant, and reminding 
Dante of the circle of towers (cerchia tonda), that 
surrounds the Castle of Montereggione. 

Some by cerchie understand the twofold stream of 

sinners running in c ■'- -*' — '-ons, and the sense 

then would be : " \ am those who are 

for ever circling rou Some read cerchie 

esteme, and Scartai lat he cannot find 

the authority of a s pport this reading, 

as it would make t\ easy. Benvenuto, 

reads eterne and in. rne. Rossetti evi- 

dently takes the s; }lanc, interpreting 

cerchie eUrne, la gr tare, the huge en- 

circling wall of cliffs. 

Anyhow the Poets, instead of any longer walking 
round, start from the foot of the cliffs, ascend the 
bridge-way, and commence their journey by one 
of the spokes of the wheel right across the con- 
centric rings of Malebolge. They have as yet seen 
only the sinners in the first of the two zones into 
which the first valley is partitioned ; but when they 
have got about half way over the first bridge, they , 
stop to look down upon the second stream of sinners, 
who are moving in the same direction as that in 
which the Poets had been going, before they turned 
to their right, and ascended on to the bridge-way. 
Quando noi fummo Ik, dov' ei vaneegia 
Di sotto, per dar passo agli sferxati, 
Ld Duca disse : — " Anienii, e fa che feggia 7; 
Lo viso in te di quesli altri mal nati, 
A' quali ancor non vedesii la faccia, 
Petocchi son con noi insieme andati." — 

Canto XVIIL Readings on the Inferno. 55 

Dal vecchio ponte* guardavam la traccia, 

Che venia verso noi dalF altra banda, 80 

E che la fena similmente scaccia. 

When we were there, where it (the bridge) 
is open underneath to give passage to the 
scourged, my Leader said : " Pause, and con- 
trive to let the sight of these other ones bom 
to evil meet thine eyes (lit, strike upon thee), 
whose faces thou hast not yet seen,' for 
they have been going together with us." From 
that primeval bridge we were looking upon 
the long file (of shades) that were coming 
towards us along the other partition of the 
valley), and whom the lash in like manner 
drives on. 

It must be understood that Dante and Virgil had 
not only turned to their right when they ascended 
the bridgeway, but they have now turned again to 
their right to look over the right hand side of the 
bridge, so that they arc facing the stream of sinners, 
who are moving in the same direction that they them- 
selves had been following, after Geryon had left them 
at the foot of the cliffs. 

Only one shade in this section is thought worthy 
of notice. It is Jason ; and, like Capaneus among 
the Blasphemers on the Burning Sand, the sturdy 
old Greek endures his sufferings with the dignity of 
a king. 

* vecchio pcnte : In Dante's time it was believed that Hell 

actually existed before the creation of the world. Compare 

Inf, iii, 7 : 

" Dinanzi a me non fur cose create." 

See Scartazzini's note upon that passage. 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVIll. 

11 buon Maestro, senza mia domanda*, 

Mi disse ; — " Guarda quel grande che viene, 
E, per dolort, non par lagrinia spanda ; 

Quanto aspeiio leale ancor riiiene \ S; 

Quell i £ Jason, che per core e per senDO 
Li Cotchi del monton privati iene.^ 

Egli pass5 per " *"'"* ''" ' 

Poi che li pietalej 

ommasio remarks thai 
lades of the ancients, 
iwn tliem olhcrwisc. 
' Capaneus, who was 
observe him, and ao 

16-49 ; 

• Jinta mia domandt 
Virgil always points 01 
Naturally Dante woi 
Scartauini notices tht 
lying down, Dante ha 
Virgil awaits Dante's 11 

" Chi h quel gra, ;lie curi 

L' incendik, lao e lorto 

Si che la pioggia non y^t cne il maturi?" 
But Jason is running swiftly and, had Virgil not pointed him 
out at once, Dante would not have distinguished him in the 

t Efper dolor : Both Scartauini and Diane agree that this 
line amplified would be ; ptr guanio gratule sia il dolore ehe tgU 
stitU, Hon versa ptrd una lagrima, lanto magnanimo i il cuor 
sua. Some think that it must be taken in the same sense as in 
Inf. xxxiii, 49, where Count Ugolino says that his gtief slopped 
his tears : 

" lo non piangeva ; s) dentro impietrai: " 
but that is inapplicable to this case. Jason is spoken of as 
great and high-souled, and his undaunted spirit scorns to weep. 

X ftnt, andone, partine, for /c, ando, parii, are words still in 
use among [he Tuscan peasants, who also say sine, trene, Jiunc, 
for si, ire, me, etc. These terms are derived from/» for^ (('. e. 
fece), andde, partie, sie, etc., and the n got interposed for the sake 
of giving repose to the voice. 

§ le ardile femmine spietate : Venus, incensed against the 
women of the Island of Lemnos for having abandoned her 

Canto xviii. Readings on the Infento. 

Tulti It tnaschi loro a morte dienno.* 
Ivi con segni e con parole ornate 
Isifile ingannii, la giovinetta, 
Che prima avea luUe 1' altre ingannate. 
Lasciolla quivi gravida e soietia : 

Tal colpa-t a lal mariito lui condanna; 
o di Medea si fa vendeita. 
Con lui sen v.i chi da tal parte inganna : 
E queslo basti della prima valle 
Sapere, e di color che in %k assanna." — 
My good Master, witliout tny asking, said to 
me : " Look at that inighly one who comes, 
and seems not to shed a tear for (all) the 
sulTering (he feels) : what a royal aspect he 
still retains I That is Jason, who by prowess 

worship, by nay of punishment, caused their skin to emit 
a nauseous smell which drove their husbands away from them. 
The women, enraged in their turn, slew every male in the Island. 
Hypsipyle, however,unablelocome lo the resolution lo slay her 
father Thoas, the king of Lemnos, saved and concealed him, 
pretending all the while that she had killed him. 

• dientw : The third person singular of the Perfect tense of 
dare has the forms lietle, liieile, lii, which latter got changed into 
di» ; the plural of this became dieno, and by the reduplication 
of the It, dienno. 

+ Tal cBlfia, etc : Jason is here paying the double penalty 
both for having beguiled, Rrsi Hypsipyle, and then Medea, 
whom in turn he forsook for the sake of Creusa. Jason is also 
alluded to as the commander of the Argonauilc expedition in 
Par. ii, 16-18: 

jsi che passaro a Coico, 

Non s' ammiraron, come voi farete, 

Quando Jason vider fatlo bifolco." 

meaning, when he ploughed the land at Colchis before sowing 

the dragon's teeth. 

and by craft deprived the Colchians of the 
Ram {i.e. the Golden Fleece). He passed by 
the Isle of Lemnos, after that the bold and 
merciless women had devoted all their mates 
to death. There with (false) tokens and 
honeyed words he beguiled the young Hyp- 
sipyle, who (' iously deceived 

ah the other erleil her there 

pregnant anc ;uilt condemns 

him to such I ; vengeance for 

Medea is alt liim there goes 

whosoever di ort (t>. under 

false promist and this will 

suEtice to knc : valley, and of 


Division IV. The Poets, after leaving the Panders 
and Seducers, continue along the bridgeway, and 
reach the edge of the second rampart, which divides 
the First Valley from the Second. 

Gik eravam Ik' ve la siretlo calle lOO 

Con r argine secondo s' incrocicchia, 
E fa di quelle ad un altra arco spalle. 
We were already there where the narrow path- 
way intersects the second rampart, and of it 
forms abutments for another arch. 
Benvenuto remarks that this is the only instance, in 
the journey through Hell, where Dante describes the 
punishment of two distinct sins in the same canto. 
Both Pandering and Flattery, however, are two species 
of Fraud which have a good deal of afiinity for one 
another. Every Pander is a Flatterer, though indeed 
every Flatterer need not necessarily be a Pander. 

Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 59 

Benvenuto goes on to say that Dante has well adapted 
the punishment of the Flatterers to their vile nature. 
Many, he says, of the most learned men have styled 
flattery as oil. But Dante, who was a most rigid 
lover of honesty, felt such an intense disgust for 
Flattery, that he changes oi! into excrement, and 
represents the Flatterers immersed in a valley full of 
boiling excrement. No one who digs up dung, or 
cleans out cesspools, says Benvenuto, is so repulsive 
and disgusting as a Flatterer ; wherefore this valley 
is full of harlots and jesters, who are the people that 
give their greatest attention to the flattery upon 
which they live. 

Quindi sentimmo gente che si nicchia" 

Nell' altta bolgia, e che col niusol isbuRa, 
E sfe tnedesma coo le palme picchia. 105 

Le ripe eran groinmale d' una muHa 
Per r alllo di giii che vl si appasia, 
Che con gli occhi e col naso Tacea lufTa-t 

■ It nicchia: Cleiti says that the veib niccAiaf si is the word in 
ie at Florence 10 denote the plaintive cries of a woman 
beginning to be in labour. " Ella incomincia a nicchiare," is a 
welMcnown term. He adds that cc/ muso isbuffarsi is the 
:t description of the puffing sort of ejaculation people make, 
when they wish to withdraw their face suddenly from some 
object with 3 felid smell. Scartazzlni thinks that Dante pur- 
posely applies to the Flatterers the term in general use to ex- 
press women in labour, nicchiarsi, in order to describe vile and 
effeminate n: 

; Scartaziini says that here again is a term designedly 
used to denote Dante's contempt : muso is a word for a dog's 
mouth, and the flatterer fawns and licks just like a dog. 

t Cht con gli occhi t col naso facta tuffa : Contrast Purg. x, 


6o Readings oh the Inferno. Canto XVIU. 

From here we heard people moaning in the 
next valley, and puffing (in disgust) with their 
nose and mouth, and beating their own selves 
with iheir palms. The banks were cncnisied 
with a moiildiness from the exhalation from 
below which attaches itself ta them, and made 
strife with the 
Gelli draws attei iderful expressive- 

ness of Dante's pi d coarse words in 

speaking of a coar says Homer is the 

only poet who has The Latin poets 

would have veiled i in high-flown and 

inflated language. 

The poets find it their eyes to pene- 
trate the darkness of \ . ^ntil they can look 

straight down upon it from the middle of the bridge ; 
as from any other point the visual ray would only 
have struck upon one of the sides of the chasm below 

Lo fondo k cupo* si, che non ci basta 

Loco a veder senza inonlare al dosso I lo 

Deir arco, ove lo scogho piii soprasta. 

" Similemenie al fummo degl' incensi 

Che v' era immaginato, gti occhi e il naso 
Ed al ^1 ed al n6 discord! fensi." 
• cupo: Blanc {,Vo(ab. Dant.) translates cupo, " profond et 
obscur." Compare and contrast the way in which the form of 
Piccarda de' Donaii is represented fading away into thin air, 
like a heavy object sinking out of sight in a deep dark pool. 
^,„-. iii, I2i-ia3: 

" Cos) parlommi, e poi cominci^ '■ Aiic 

Miiria, cantando ; e cantando vanio, 
Come per acqua cupa cosa grave." 

Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 

Quivi venimmo, e quindi giii nel fosso 
Vidi gente altufTata in uno stcrca, 
Che dagli uina.n privali parea mosso : 
The bottom is so deep and dark, that we 
have no position sufficient for seeing without 
ascending to the summit of the arch, where 
the bridgeway most overhangs (the bottom). 
Thither came we, and from thence into the 
fosse below, I saw people immersed in a 
filth that appeared lo have come from human 
Benvenuto sarcastically remarks that Dante prefers 
speaking of the Flatterers being immersed in human 
ordure, because flattery is a failing peculiar to man, 
and no other animal is defiled by it. 

Two shades are singled out of the mass of corrup- 
tion in the filthy valley for notice. The one is a 
Flatterer, the other a Harlot ; and here again Dante 
himself picks out the one who had been his contem- 
porary, while Virgil points out to him a notorious 
character in ancient history. 

Benvenuto says that the first of the two mentioned 
is Alessio Interminelli, a knight, a nobleman, of cour- 
teous manners, and a native of Lucca. From him, 
on the mother's side, descended that tyrant Castniccio, 
who, while very sagacious, was dreaded throughout 
Tuscany as being the great hammer of Florence, of 
Pisa, of Lucca, and of Pistoja. Dante makes no 
mention of Castruccio, because he only became illus- 
trious after Dante's death. This Alessio, from evil 
habit, took such delight in flattery that he could not 
utter a word, even to the lowest menials, without 
seasoning it with the oil of flattery. 

Readings on Ute Inferno. Canto XViii. 

Ltre ch io III giii con I'occhio ccico, 

di un col capo si di mctdii lordo, 

ic non parea s' era laico o cherco. 

li sgridd :• — Perchi se' tu si ingordo 

i riguardar piii me, che gll altri brutti \ " — 

1 io a lui : — " Perch*, se ben ricordo. 


Per6 e i 1 

li alLri luili."— 

Ed egli allot 

~" Quaggii 1 
Ond' io i 

rso le lusinghe, 
ngua stucca."— 

And while I 

wn below there 

with my eye 

besmirched \ i 

h his head so 
t did not seem 

clear whether 

or cleric. He 

shouted angrily lo me; "Wherefore art thou 
SO eager to look more at me than at the other 
befouled ones?" And I to him; "Because, if 
I well remember, 1 have seen thee before now 
with thy hair dry, and thou art Alessio Inler- 
minei of Lucca ; that is why I scan thee more 
than all the others." And he then, beating 
his pate (lit. pumpkin): "Down here have 
sunk me the flatteries with which my tongue 
was never glutted." 
Virgil now points out the shade of the Athenian 
harlot Thais, who, Benvenuto adds, was a great flat- 
terer into the bargain, and Virgil, by way of describing 
her more accurately, makes allusion to a passage in 
the Eunuchus of Terence, where Thraso, a young 
soldier, asks Gnatho, the go-between, whether Thais 

* igridd : Note the diflerence betwen gridart, to shout, I 
out, and sgridart, to do so angrily, in a scolding way. 


Canto XVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 

had expressed herself grateful for the gift of a female 
slave whom he had sent to her by the hand of Gnatho. 
The latter replies that Thais had sent him the most 
profuse thanks. Dante, however, by a poetical h'cense, 
represents the conversation as having taken place 
between Thraso and Thais directly, without the assis- 
tance of an intermediary. 

Appresso ci6 lo Duca : — " Fa che pinghe,"— 
Mi disse,— " il viso un poco piu avante, 
SI che la faccia ben con gli occhi aiiinghe 
Di quella soiia e scapigliata fante,* 130 

Che \i. si graffia con I' unghie merdose, 
Ed or s' accoscia, ed ota k in picde stante. 
Taide t la puttana, che rispose t 

Al drudo sua, quando disse : ' Ho io graiie 
Grandi appote?' 'Ami raeravigliose.' 135 

E quinci sien le nostre viste sazie."— 
After this my Leader : " Contrive lo stretch 

*/anU : 1 have followed most of the authorities in taking 

this word to be used in the sense of a vile, worthless woman. 

Scartaizini says that Monti (Prop, ii, 1, page 65) interprets the 

word bagascia " baggage." The Vocabolario della Crusca says 

thai when /an/« is in the feminine gender it has no other mean- 

, Lai. ancilla, famula. Lamennais 

c, observing ; " II 1' appelle servante parce- 

:edetous." But Gelli says : " Ultimamente 

e che questa voct/ante, con la quale il Poeta 

1 questa Taide, non vuol dir serva, come ella significa 

comunemente nella lingua nostra (perch^ Taide non fu mai 

Ian te sea), ma vuol dire /ar/an/^j* nel quale significato la us6 

similmenle il I'oeta nel Pvrgatorio xxv, 61 : ' Ma, come d' 

mal divenga fante.' " Gelli adds that by this appellation 

Dame wishes la allude to the nature of women, who talk more 

than men. 

; The following is the passage 

64 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XVIll. 

Uiy face a liltlc fiirtlier forwards, so that wilh 
thine eye-sight thou canst reach the counte- 
nance of that filthy and dishevelled baggage 
yonder, who is rending herself with her dis- 
gusting nails, and now cowers down, and now 

fitanr" •--- '— That is the harlot 

Tha^ our, when he said : 

'Ha )in thee?' replied: 

'Say hanks).' And with 

this e surfeited." 

Virgil w that the mere sight of 

Alessio Inl ninelli) will give him a 

sufficient r of Flatterers and Para- 

sites, and a e will have had enough 

of the place. :fore pass on along the 

bridgeway to the Third Valley. 

from Terence {^Eunuchus, act ill, sc. i), most probably borrowed 
by Dante from Cicero, DeAmic. xxvi, 98 : 

"Thr. Mngnas vero agere gralias Thais mihi ? 
Gn. Ingenieis. Thr. Ain' tu ? lieta 'st ? Gn. Non tam ipso 
Dono, quan) abs te datum esse ; id vero serio Trium* 

End of Canto XVHI. 





Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 65 


The Eighth Circle {amtinued). 
The Third Bolgia, 

The Simonists. 

Pope Nicholas III. 

Allusions to Boniface VIII 
AND Clement V. 

The Poets, at the conclusion of the last canto, 
were in the act of turning away in disgust from the 
loathsome slough in which were immersed the 
Flatterers and Parasites, and we are to understand 
that they have walked on along the bridgeway, 
until they can see down into the Third Bolgia or 

Benvenuto divides the canto into four parts. 

In Division /, from v. i to v. 30, the punishment 
of the Simonists is minutely described. 

In Division II, from v. 31 to v. 66^ Dante relates 
his conversation with Nicholas III, a simoniacal Pope 
of the Orsini family. 

In Division III, from v. 6y to v. 87, Nicholas III 
speaks of the other simoniacal Popes. 

In Division IV, from v. 88 to v. 133, Dante 
reprehends the avarice of the chief pastors of the 


66 ReaMkgs on the Inferno. Canto XIX. 

Division I. We may suppose that, while the Poets 
have been traversing the space between the Second and 
the Third Beige. Virgil has told Dante that he is about 
to witness the punishment of the Simonists, and more 
particularly that of the simoniacal Popes. No crime 

would more thoroi 
corruption among 
was upright secul 
softened and sane 
tual guidance of tl 
Nowhere did he fi 
Emperors were ir 
corrupt to the very 
of indignation agai^ 
lowers of Simon Magus, w 

te's indignation than 
: church. His ideal 
under the emperor, 
purity in the spiri- 
her appointed rulers. 
>n of his ideal. The 
the hierarchy was 
iks out into a storm 
ailing them the fol- 
u (^CMviii,9 et wj.) offered 

money to St. Peter to endue him with the faculty of 
conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost with its miracle- 
working powers. Simon had from this the discredit 
of being known as the first person who attempted to 
traffic in holy things, or at all events was so considered 
by the early Fathers of the Church. 
O Simon mago,* a miseri seguaci, 

* 0. Simon Mago: Chaucer (Ptrsonts TaU) thus alludes 
to Simony: "Cenes simonie is cleped of Simon Magus, itiat 
wold have bought for lemporel caiel the yefte that God 
had yeven by the holy gost to Seini Peter, and to the Apostles : 
and iherfore undersiond ye, that twth he that selleth and 
he thai byeth thinges spiriluel ben called Simoniackes, be 
it by caiel, be it by procuring, or by fleshly praier of his 
frendeE tlethly fiendet, or tpiriiuel frendes, fleshly in iwo 
maners, as by kindred or other frendei : sothly, if they 
pray for him that is not worthy and able, it is simonie, if 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 67 

Che le cose di Dio, che di bontate 
Deono esser spose, e voi * rapaci 

he take the benefice ; and if he be worthy and able, ther is 


Simony is also mentioned by Brunetto Latini in the Tesoretio^ 

Mi, 259 : 

" Altri per simonia 

Si getta in mala via, 
E Dio e' Santi ofTende, 

E vende le prebende, 
E sante sagramente 

E mette 'nfra la gente 
Assempri di mal fare. 

Ma questo lascio stare, 
Ch^ tocca a ta' persone, 

Che non h mia ragione 
Di dime lungamente.'' 

* e voi rapaci : Witte reads voi rapaciy but I do not follow him 
in this instance. Dr. Moore {Textual Criticism^ P^gc 3^4} 
writes : 

" The well supported reading e voi is, I have little doubt, the 
true one here. The use of ' ^ Ms somewhat idiomatic, and its 
omission gives an obviously y^'/rV7r lectio. If this idiomatic use 
be overlooked, no doubt the word in its ordinary copulative 
sense causes a break in the construction . . . judicious is the 
remark of Bianchi, ' La Nidobeatina toglie quelP e^ ma mentre 
prowede al migliore andamento grammaticale, toglie, assai . . . 
alia forza dell' invettiva.' I would defend and illustrate this 
idiomatic use as follows : 

(i) There are several passages in the Commedia^ ,e, g, Inf, 
XXV, 35 and $0, in both of which passages it is equivalent to a 
sort of interjection like ^ LoP Again in xxx, 115, we have the 
very strongly supported reading e tu . . , Purg. viii, 94, again 
is a closely parallel case, where only a few MSS. omit e before 

(2) We have the parallel use of atque in Latin, as in the well- 
known passage of Virgil, Georg, i, 203 : 
IL £ 2 

e per argento, adulterate 
Perocchi nella lena bolgi 

O Simon Magus, (ye his) miscreant fol' 
lowers, who the things of God, which ought 
to be the brides nf righteousness {i.e. ought 
only to be 'to the good), 

behold ye, ire, make adul- 

teresses for now must the 

trumpet sou ise ye abide in 

the third val 

Aique ilium i rapit alveus a 

(3) I have also four usage in the CkoHJOn tU 

Roland, 1. 4a, 

' S' en voelt osiages, e vus 1' en enveiei.' 
which Gauiier translates :— ' S' 11 exige des otages, ek bitn I 
envoyei-en.' " 

* suoni la tromba : Scartaiiini thinks ihis is an allusion to 
the proclamaiion by a crier of the crimes of those condemned 
to public punishment. Compare Gower, Confessio Amanlii, I. 
Edition of Bell and Daldy, London, 1817, vol. i, pages ii^and 

" It fell so that in ihilke dawe 
There was ordeigned by the la we 
A irompe with a sterne breth, 
Which was cleped the irompe of deth. 
And in ilie court, where tlie king was, 
A certein man this tronipe of brass 
Hath in keping and Iherof servclh, 
That whan a lord his deih deserveth, 
He shall this dredfull trompe blowe 
To-fore his gale and make it knowe, 
How thai thejugement is yive 
Of delh, which shall nought be forgive." 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 


Dante means that tlieir evil doings must be pro- 
claimed in his poem. The holy dignities of the 
church are figured as wedded brides, prostituted and 
defiled by being bought and sold. 

In what now follows we must understand that 
Dante and Virgil have been repeating the process 
described in xvrii, 109-112, where they ascended to 
the highest point of the arch to look perpendicularly 
down upon the Flatterers. Passing along the bridge- 
way they have now ascended to the summit of another 
arch, namely that xvhich dominates (a seguente tombn, 
the valley which, like a huge cemetery, is occupied 
by the Simonists, each in his own separate place of 
torment* This arch runs from the third to the fourth 

mpart, as we shall read in v. 40. 

Before giving a detailed account of the punishment 
of these sinners, Dante almost renders thanks to God 
for his severity, or at any rate breaks forth into an 
apostrophe addressed to that Divine Wisdom which 
has meted out such well deserved chastisement. No 
word of sympathy falls from his lips, no tear dims his 
eye. All through the canto Dante addresses the 
prostrate Pope at his feet as one of the worst of evil- 
doers, and as one to be reviled and abhorred by every 
true son of the Church. 

'amo alia seguenle tonilia 
Montati, dello scogHo in quella parte, 
Che appunto sopra mezzo il fosso pioml>a. 

' Only one sinner was visible to the eye at the orifice of the 
hole, but each hole contained many more shades below, who 
hftd originally occupied the topmost places. 


Readings oh the Inferno. Caiito XIX. 

somina Sapieiiia,* quanta k \' arle 

Che mostri in cielo, in terra e nel mal mondo, 
£ quanto giusio tua virtii compane ! 
We had by this time ascended to the tomb 
next (in succession) up to that part of the 
bridge whii er the middle of 

the fusse. om, liow vast is 

*tomma Sapimta 
the church punisher 
lo the words of St. Pi 
above, not on thingt 
teach, but ihey pract 
what Dante writes hi 
all that he has already 
he »aw every day, o 

he popes and pastors of 
}Ubt turned his thoughts 
;i your afTeciioD on ibingi 
his is what they had to 
se. Biagioli says that, ia 
had pteseiii in his mind 
d all that when on Earth 
e skies. The conformity 

s, that 

that he notices here between the punishment and the 
Simony being an eflecl of avarice, and as avarice causes man 
to turn his back to heaven and his face to earthly things, it is 
just that sinners should, in order to redouble their torment, be 
placed in such a position as recalls and demonstrates the cir- 

Biagioli feels sure that such was Dante's intention by what 
he writes in /'w/y. xix, 115-120: 

" Quel ch' avariiia fa, qui si dichiara 

In purgazion dell' anime converse, 
E nulla pena il monte ha piii amara. 
SI come r occhio nostro non s' aderse 
In alto, fisso alle cose terrene, 
Cosl giustiiia qui a terra il merse." 
Scarlauini says thai Dante's exclamations, quanfo giusto tua 
virIA compartt ! in 1. 12, adulterate in I. 4, andquando cotti, e/u 
sieiU lepra F tuque pulaneggiar c& regl a lui fu vista, in lines 
107-108, should be compared with iin/. xix, 2 ; "For true and 
righteous are his judgments : for he hath judged (he great 
whore, which did corrupt (he earth with her fornication, and 
hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 71 

the art which thou dost display in Heaven, 
on Earth, and in the Evil World, and with 
what justice does thine Omnipotence mete 
out (rewards or punishments) ! 
Dante now describes the general appearance of the 
valley, and it is noteworthy that whereas in the other 
valleys tile sinners are only seen, as it were, on the 
ground, in this one the number of simoniacal priests 
and dignitaries of the church is so vast, that the bottom 
is not sufficient to contain them, and they are repre- 
sented occupying rock-cut tombs all up the sides of the 
valley. They are placed head downwards in small 
holes, out of which their legs project, while their feet 
are continually being burned by a lambent flame. 
The holes are compared to the little cylindrical wells 
for the priests to stand in, made inside the solid frame- 
work of the Baptismal Fonts, such as existed at Flo- 
rence in Dante's time, and are still to be seen in the 
Baptisteries of I'isa and I'istoja, 

lo vidi per le cosie e per la fondo 

Fiena la pietra livida di fori 

D' un largo lutti, e ciascuno era tondo. IJ 

Non mi parean meno ampi ah maggiori, 

Che quei che son ncl mio be! San Giovanni * 

Fatti per loco de' battezzaiori ; 

'o bel Salt Gicvanni : Scartaaini thinks the »mo expresses 
the great affcciion of the exile for his ungrateful country. Ben- 
venuto says that old tradition credits San Giovanni, now the 
Baptistery of Floience, with having been In ancient days the 
Temple of Mars ; " and indeed," he adds, " it does not at all 
seem to have the form of a Christian Church, for it is round and 
angular, having eight angular sides ; and I know not if it be 

72 Readings OH the Inferno. Canto XIX. 

L' un delli quali, ancor non £ moll' anni, 

Kupp' io per un che dentro vi annegava ■ 20 

E quesio Ra suggel ch' ogni uomo sganni. * 
I saw the dark grey rock throughout its sides 
and its bottom full of holes ail of one size, 
and each v/afi n'milnr tkpv did not seem 
to me less an an those that 

are in my b< anni made as 

the place of I e of which, it 

is not yet xai irolce for (the 

purpose of s as sufTocating 

in it, and let I ideceive every 

The Baptismal 1 loles made far the 

baptising priests to nger exists, liaving 

been destroyed in 1 576, wnen ihc uaptistery was being 
prepared for the solemn baptism of Prince Filippo, 
the infant son of Francis I de' Medici, Grand Duke of 
Tuscany. It was demolished by the advice of a 

true, but I have heard that there is a similar temple in the City 
of Parma in Lombardy." 

Compare Par. xxv 1 -6, where Dante speaks with tender longing 
to revisit his beloved Florence. 

" Se mai continga che il poema sacro, 

Al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra, 
SI che m' ha fatia per piu anni macro, 
Vinca la crudellk, che fuor mi serra 

Del hello ovil, dov' io dormii agnello 
Nimico ai lupi, che gli danno guerra ; etc." 
* '"ggel ch' ogni uomo sganiU : By sugget he means a sealed 
document, an auihoritaiive testimony, that will be the obvious 
means of undeceiving any one who had given credence 10 the 
malevolent and foolish calumny circulated by Dante's 
that he had purposely committed an act of sacrilege. 

Canto XTX. Reiidin^s on the Infento. 


certain architect called Bernardo delle Girandole. 
Velliitello, who published his Commentary in 1544, 
speaks of it as still existing in his time, and we may 
take it for granted that it was well known to the Flo- 
rentines of those days, as well as to the more ancient 
commentators. There are, however, two similar fonts 
still in existence, one at Pisa and the other at Pistoja. 
That at Pisa is thought to have a close resemblance to 
the one formerly in use at Florence. A plan of it 
will be found in the notes of Scartazzini's Leipzig 
Commentary ; and in the Album Volume (vol, iii) 
of Lord Vernon's Inferno may be seen engravings 
exactly representing the interiors of the Baptisteries 
of Pisa* and Pistoja. The form of the font appears 
to h^ve been octagon, with an octagon column stand- 
ing in the centre of the baptismal cistern, which 
in its turn was octagon, only that in four of its 
eight sides were the four circular wells in which the 
baptizing priests stood, to protect them, partly from 
the pressure of the crowd, partly from the splashing 
of the water. Vellutello says of these holes that "they 
are at Florence in the Church of San Giovanni, and 
are all round the baptismal font, one at every corner, 
constructed as a place for the baptizing priests to 
stand in, although at the present day they are no 

* In t86o, when I was at Pisa, 1 was informed by the keeper 
of the Baptistery, that my father had caused a high scaflblding 
to be erected in the Baptistery, so that in the drawing he was 
having mnde for his album volume, the spectator might look 
down into the font, and see the places of the bapiizers. A copy 
of the engraving representing the Baptistery at Pisa is placed 
at the beginning of this canlo. 

74 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XIX, 

longer used except on certain festivals, when a priest 
steps into one oftliem to perform certain ceremonies ; 
but for Baptism they make use of a different font for 
convenience sake, even in that very church." It would 
seem then that In 1544 the original purpose of these 
holes had been al lat that was not the 

case in Dante's ti afterwards, we may 

know from the ol Blanc says that in 

those days childr tized on Easter Eve 

and the Eve of W :pt in cases of illness 

(fericulum in moi Ay the great crowds 

round the font cat :r lest the baptizing 

priest might be ji child shaken out of 

his hands into tin cc these holes, into 

which the priests descenaea irom the top. Benvefluto 
thus describes the place : " You must know that at 
Florence in the Church of the patron saint St. John 
the Baptist, around the baptismal font there are certain 
little round marble wells, in circumference only about 
the size of a man, within which the priests are accus- 
tomed to stand when they baptize the children, in 
order that they may perform their functions with 
greater freedom and readiness in times of a great 
concourse of people, when a large number of chil- 
dren have to be baptized together at the same time 
(simui el semel), for in the whole of the very populous 
city of Florence Jhere is but one Baptistery, like as 
in Bologna." 

The episode alluded to by Dante, In lines 19-21, of his 
having broken one of these wells to save a person's 
life is somewhat variously interpreted, on account of 
the words che dentro v' annegava, which translated 

Canto XIX. Readings on ike Infer 


literally would be, who was drowning in it, but Blanc 
{Saggio, p. 1 88) points out that it is a thing of very 
frequent occurrence for words having a special signi- 
fication to be used in a wider and more general 
sense, and so in this case annegare, which usually 
means to drown, is used to mean to perish somehow, 
and all the older commentators so understood it. Ben- 
venuto relates the story very circumstantially, namelj', 
that some boys were playing round the font, as is 
their custom, and one of them jumped impetuously 
into one of these wells, and so entangled his limbs in 
it, thai no one could draw him out, A great crowd 
collected round the spot, when Dante, who was at the 
time one of the Priori of the city, came up, and see- 
ing the boy's danger, called for an axe, and himself 
broke the marble side of the well, and rescued the boy. 
Scartazzini does not thinic this tallies with line 19, 
where Dante says, " it is not many years ago," as we 
know that Dante was Priore in 1300, in which year 
the Vision Is supposed to be taking place, but he 
thinks a truer account is that given in the Comento 
di Anoninto (edited by Lord Vernon, Florence, 1848, 
page 148), in the following words : "And the author 
says that on the day of (Holy) Saturday, when the 
sacred firework* is lighted, he saw Antonio di Baldi- 

• The sacred firework is better known at Florence by its 
popular naine of "io scoppio del Carro," lit. "the expiouon of 
the Car." The custom is thai on Easter Eve, during High 
Mass, a firework dove is despatched from the High AUar of the 
cathedral to the Piaua outside, to set light to an elaborate pyro- 
technic display otj a car, which is drawn up between the great 
doors of the cathedral and those of the baptistery. The dove 

76 Reading;! on the Inferno. Canto XIX. 

naccio de' Cavicciuoli of Florence, who had twisted 
himself into a hole in such wise that it became neces- 
sary to pull this hole to pieces; and Dante was the 
person who did so destroy it." Scartazziiii observes, 
that seeing this account gives us the name of the little 
boy who was save e precise day on 

which the circiimst£ does not seem to 

him mere inventio certain whether 

annegava may not i s drowning," sup- 

posing that the wat red through from 

the large central ba| nto the small well 

at the sidej in which t fixed. 

There can be littlt ante's description 

of the sinners in tliei h now follows, he 

has wished, not only to expose tncm to ridicule, but also 
to compare their punishment to the degrading mode 
of putting robbers and assassins to death by butying 
them alive head downwards, which was a common 
practice in those days. He treats the Simonists as 
plunderers of lioly things, and therefore robbers of 
the worst kind, and we see further on, in verse 49, 
that this idea was present in his mind, by his com- 
paring himself to the friar standing by the wretch 
dying in the hole. 

Fuor dclla bocca a ciascun soperchiava 
D' un peccator li piedi, e delle gambe 
Infino al grosso, e I' allro deniro siava. 

is supposed to represent ihe Holy GhosL The ceremony is 
watched with the keenest anitiety by the peasant-farmers {con- 
liitlini), who flock into Florence to witness it. The successful 
explosion of the firework is believed to portend successful 
crops and an abundant harvest for that year. 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 

Le piante erano a tutti aecese intrambe ; 

Per che si foite guixzavan le giunle, 

Che speziaie averian Htorie * e sirambe.t 
Qual auole il fiammeggiardelle cose unle 

Movers! pur sti per 1' eslrema buccia ; 

Tal era II dn' calcagni alle punie. % 

Out of the mouth of each (hole) protruded 
the feci of a sinner, and of the legs as far as 
the calves ; and the rest remained inside. All 
of ihem had both soles on fire ; from which 
the joints were writhing so convulsively that 

• rilorle mean flexible green willow or osier twigs or branches 
used as bands to fasten fagots. The Voc. delta Crusca describes 
the word thus : "ritorta, Vermena verde la quale attorclgllata 
serve per legame di fastella (fagots) e di cose simili." 

Compare Judgts xvi, 7-8 : " And Samson said unto her, If 
ihey bind me with seven green wiihs that were never dried, then 
shall 1 be weak, and be as another man. Then the lords of the 
Philistines brought up to her seven green wiihs which had not 
been dried, and she bound him with ihem." 

Compare Tasso, Am 

" E la pianta medesma avea prestati 
Legami contra lei ; ch' una ritorta 
D' un pieghevole 
Delle ten ere gambe." 

+ strambe were ropes made of grass, plaited, but not twisted. 
The meaning of the line is that the struggles of the feet were so 
desperate, that they would have burst asunder any kind of 
bonds. Gelli says that the hides that came from Darbary were 
bound with sirambe. 

X Tal era dn' calcagni alle puntt : Scartaizini thinks the 
flaming feet are intended as in direct contrast to the nimbus, 
which would have adorned the heads of these popes if they had - 
laid lip for themselves a crown of glory. Instead of that their 
nvnrice has only earned for them burning feet, 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto 

they would have snapped withes and grass- 
ropes. As the flaming of oily things is wont 
to flicker on the outer surface only ; such was 
the case there from the heeb to the points (of 
the toes). 

Benvenuto sees ^ 
ing on the surfac 
of Hell doing so < 
fat from their ill- 

•"een the fire flicker- 
ings, and the flames 
; priests, which was 

Division II. I is now arrested by 

the sight of one o ase limbs are jerking 

about with movet ized and convulsive 

than the others, feet a much hotter 

flame than the othti.. . _ curiosity is aroused, 

and he asks Virgil who it is. 

— " Chi ft colui, Maestro, chc si cniccia, 

Guizzando piu che gli altrl suoi consorti," — 
Diss' io, — "e cui piu rozza tiamma* succia?" — 
Ed egli a me ;— "Se lu vuoi ch' io ti porti 

Laggiii per quella ripa che piii giace, 35 

Da lui saprai di sie de' suoi torti." — 
" Master," said I, " who is that one who by 
his struggles is fretting more than his com- 
panions, and whom a ruddier flame is diying 
up (/(/ sucks)?" And be to me : " If thou 
wilt let me carry thee down hy that cliff, 
which is more sloping, thou shalt learn from 
him about himself and about his crimes." 

* pa roMMa fiamma : Scartaiiini remarks that the mmbus of 
this shade is more radiant than those of his comrades, and is a 
sign of greater sanctity 1 only that these are not saints of 
Heaven, but saints of Hell I 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inftmo. 


This valley is the first of the Ba/gt into which the 
Poets descend : the cliff being too steep for Dante to 
climb down with only his human po^vers. When Virgil 
tells Dante that he will carry him down that cliff side 
which is the most sloping, he is referring to the one 
beyond the bridge on which they are walking. It 
must bo remembered that in Malebolge each succeed- 
ing valley is lower than the preceding one, as the 
whole of the bolge incline towards the Pit in the 
centre. Consequently, as the Poets cross each bridge, 
they stand on a rampart of dark grey rock, while on 
the other side of the valley the next line of rock lies 
at a lower level (/»'»> giace), as well as being more 
sloping and practicable. Dante at once professes his to go wherever Virgil thinks best for him. 
Ed io : — "Tanlo m' 4 bel,* quanlo a le place : 
Tu sei signore, e sal ch' io non mi parlo 
Dal tuo volere, e sai quel che si tace." — 
And I : " Whatever seems good to thee, that 
much is pleasing to me. Thou art my lord, 
and knowest that I do not separate myself 
from thy will, and thou knowest that (desire 
of mine) which is unspoken." 
* Tanlo m' i M : compare Purg. xxvi, 140 : 
" Tan wi* abelis vesire cortes deman, 

Qu' feu no—tn puesc, ni—m vmil a ves cobrire." 
I have myself heard the peasants, who sell fruil at the staiions 
on the railway over the Apennines above Pisloja, use the ex. 
pression : " Li s" ai6e//isca, i.e.. Take them as it pleases you, 
Choose ihem according to your pleasure." 
Compare, also. Par. xxvi, 130-132 ; 

" Opera nalurale & ch' uom favella ; 
Ma, cosl o cosl, natura lascia 
Poi fare a vol secondo che v' abbella." 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XIX. 


Dante has from the first marked this figure, whose 
1^5 are kicking so convulsively, as one with whom 
he would converse, and consequently avows that Virgil 
has divined his thoughts. 

They now leave the third rampart, walk over 

the bridge which 
having crossed it, (i 
part, beyond whici 
with which we ha 
Having reached the 
left, and then Virgil 
dowedwith superna 
hip, and lets himsel 

Allor venimmo st 

valley, and, 
)n the fourth ram- 
of the Diviners, 
do in this canto. 
. they turn to their 
id temporarily en- 
eats Dante on his 
sheer side of the 

C HUdi 

Volgemmo, e discendemmo a tnano s 
Laggiii nel fondo foracchiaio ed arlo. 
E il buon Maestro ancor della sua anca 
Non mi dipose, si mi giunse al rotto 
Di quei che si piangeva con la tanca. 


* Biagioli criticiies ihe supposition of Lombardi, that Virgil 
was carrying Dante across the bridge, and points out that it 
would not be until they had reached Ihe argine guarto,anA 
were there confronted with the difficulty of descending the pre- 
cipitous clIlT, that Virgil took Dante up. 

i mano stanca : The left hand is called the tired hand, 
because, being leas strong than the right, it gets more easily 

% piangeva con la tanca: Some read cht s\ pingeva con la 
tanca^ i.e., who was giving such kicks. Hut Blanc {Saggio, page 
189) interprets piangeva thus : ckt dava segno di dolore con Ic 
Monche, because, as the remainder of their bodies was under' 
ground, the shades had no other mode of expressing their 
lamentations. Notice, the Suicides blow through the twigs or 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 8i 

We then came upon the fourth rampart ; wc 
turned, and descended to our left hand down 
3 the perforated and narrow boltom. And 
tlie good Master did not yet set me down 
from oIThis hip, until he brought ine close to 
vity of him who was making such signs 
of distress with his shanks. 
Dante's first words addressed to the simonist Pope in 
the hole show anything but pity for his fallen condi- 
tion. They partly seem to ridicule him for being stuck 
upside-down in the ground, and Dante ironically feigns 
not to know whether the shade can speak or not, 
though Virgil has told him that he can, and Dante ends, 
not by entreating him, but by giving him a peremp- 
tory command to speak, and does not even tell him 
what he wishes him to say. Scartazzini observes that 
the whole of Dante's demeanour, and his stern denun- 
ciation later on of the vices of the Church, would seem 
almost inexplicably bold on his part towards a pope, 
were it not that he had been carried to the spot by 
Virgil, who is a symbol of imperial authority, and in 
that way the allegory becomes easy to understand. 
— " O qua] che se', che '1 di su tien di sotto, 

Anima trisia, come pal commessa," — 

Coniincia' io a dir,^" se puoi, fa motto." — 

"O wretched Soul," I began to say, "who- 

ir[ that keepest thy upper part 

undermost, planted as a post, if thou canst, 

give utterance." 

boughs of the trees, the Fraudulent Counsellors cause their 
flame to twist and roar, and the Simonisls kick their legs, all 
to siiDW their anguish. 

82 Readmgi m Om Imfimm CistoXOL 

After having issocd tliis comimmd, Dtnte idilM 

that he stood croudilng above tiie liole^ jwt astte 

confessor used to stmnd over tlie liatf boricd assaaiin. 

The Ottimo says this fefers to tlie mode of execiitloii 

called propagginaf% \gf whidi Goodeflined awaffiwng, 

and especially treadiefoiis ones^ were ptooted like 

vines, and fastened head downwards in a hi^ dug 

in the earth for that porpoae^ and were dien dioked 

to death by the hole being filled up. The dd deoees 

of Florence say : Assankms fkmUimr ct^^ dmnmm^ 

ita quod morietur. The monk had perforce to stoop 

down to hear the murderer^s oonfesskHi, acnd Dante b 

now doing so above the diade to whom he had drawn 


lo stava come il frate che confessa 

Lo perfido assassin, che poi ch' h fitto, 50 

Richiama lui, per che la morte cessa :* 

I was standing like the friar who is shriving 
the treacherous assassin, who, after that he 
has been fastened (in the hole), recalls him 
because (thereby) he defers his death : 

Gelli thinks that there was but one of the holes 
devoted to the simoniacal Popes, and that the last 
comer had to remain with his feet burning outside the 
hole until another came to displace him, when he 
would fall lower down. 

This may also be intended for an ironical taunt, in 

* cessa : Scartazzini says that cessare is not a neuter verb in 
this passage, but an active verb, and means, to put off, to 
retard, to delay. The passage is usually translated : " recalls 
him, that death may be delayed" If so, it ought to be cessi in 
the subjunctive mood, and not assa in the indicative. 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 


allusion to the practice of interring the last deceased 
Pope in a tomb in St Peter's specially devoted to that 
purpose, and which his body will occupy until his 
successor dies, and is brought to replace him ; though 
I am not aware from what time that usage dates. 

This shade is Pope Nicholas III, of the great 
Roman family of the Orsini, whose cognizance was a 
she-bear {orsa). He never lost a chance of enriching 
his relations by every kind of simony, even (as Gelll 
observes) before he was elected Pope, and all his after- 
life. He died in 1280. We have to suppose the 
scene we are describing to have taken place in 1300. 
Nicholas HI had been succeeded by Martin IV 
(u8i-8s); Honorius IV (1285-87); Nicholas IV 
(1288-92) ; and after these came Celestine V. Bene- 
detto Gaetani obtained the papacy (1294) by terrify- 
ing Celestine into resignation. He was then elected 
himself, assumed the title of Boniface VIII, and per- 
secuted Celestine to death.* (See Giov. Villani, 
viii, 6, and Milman, Lat. Christ, book xi, ch. 7}. 

Dante metaphorically supposes that Nicholas, en- 
dowed, like all the lost in Hell, with foresight of 
coming events, knew that Boniface was to die in 1303^ 
and did not expect to find him there in 1300; so 
that from this passage, and from 1. 82 et seq., we 
may take it as clearly demonstrated that the Divina 
Cotnmedia was not written before 1303. Nicholas 
therefore is struck with wonder at hearing what he 

* I take my authority for the above statements from Ben- 
venuto, Gelli, Rosselii, Biagioli, Lord Vernon's Inftrrto, and 

thinks is the voice et Botri&ce^ and lie camiol kMi^ 
why he is not at once thnist head d ownwaida It 
is under this mis^>prdien«on dial lie addmaes 
Dante as Boniface. 

Ed el grid6:— **Sd to gy^ cotA tittXH 

Sei tu gik OMia iktOb Benifioio? 

Di pareccbi anai mi mend lo toritUK 
Se' tu si tosto di qa^ aver ntio^ 55 

Per lo qual noo temesti tone a fngaimo 

La bella Donaa, e pd di fimie slraib?*— ^ 

And he cried : ** Ait thou dieie already, on .• 
thy feet, art tfioa Aere so soon, on thy feet, 
Boniface? (then) by several jears has die 
writing of fate played me fidse. Art thoa so 

soon glutted, with those possessions for which 
thou didst not fear by deceit to espouse the 
beautiful Lady {t\e. the Church), and after- 
wards outrage her (by bad government and 
by simony)?" 

The Ottimo says that a man can do no greater 
outrage {strasio) to the wife whom he has espoused, 
than by putting her up by auction to the highest 
bidder. Nicholas is here taunting Boniface with his 
avarice, and with the fraud by which he obtained the 
papacy .-f This has already been discussed in canto iii. 

* /amesiroMW : Benvenuto says : Sciiicet inhotuste tractattdo 
earn, et prosiituendo tanquam uieretricem, 

t Throughout -the Divina Commedia Dante shows much 
hatred towards Boniface VIII, not only as a Guelph, but also 
because to Boniface he attributed his exile and subsequent 
adversity. In canto xxvii, v. 85, et seq., he calls him : 

'* Lo Principe de' nuovi Farisei," 
and makes Guido da Montefeltro relate how, by his insidious 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 


Dante describes himself as utterly perplexed at the 
strange words that proceed out of the ground, and on 
hearing himself addressed as Boniface. Nicholas had 
twice repeated the question Sei tu gia costi rittof 
before Dante is able to frame an answer; when he 
docs, it is at the instance of Virgil, who makes him 
in turn utter his reply twice over, Non son colui, &c. 

arts, Boniface induced him to give the fraudulent counsel which 
destroyed his soul. In Par. xxvii, 22, et seq.. Si. Peter utlers 
ngainsi Boniface a denunciation so terrible that the whole 
heaven turns red with anger. 

" ' Qucgli ch' usurpa in terra il loco mio, 
II loco mio, il loco mio, che vaca 
Nclla prescnta del Figliuol di li'ia, 
FatiD ha del cimitcrn mio cloaca 

Del sangue e della puiia, onde il perverso, 
Che cadde di quassu, Inggiii si placa.' 
Di quel color, che per lo sole avveiso 
Nube dipinge da sera e da mane, 
Vid' io allora tutto il ciel cosperso." 
Montaigne (Essnis, livre ii, ch. i,) in speaking of the extraor- 
dinary contradictions lo be noticed in the characters of men, 
says : "Le jeune Matius se treuve lanlost lils de Mars, taniost 
fils de Venus : le pape Boniface huictiesme entra, diet on, en sa 
charge conime un regnard, s' y porta comme un lion, et mounii 
an chien." Giov. Villani (viii, ch. 6) writes of him that 
"he was extremely grasping for money both to ennch the 
Church and his own relations, having no sort of conscience 
about it, and saying that all was lawful to him of what was in the 

Church He was liberal and free-handed lo people he 

liked, or who were valorous, very fond of worldly splendour 

befitting his high estate but Pope Boniface was more 

worldly than his dignity required, nnd had done many things 
displeasing to God." Scartazzini points out that Giovanni Vil- 
lani, who judges Pope Boniface so severely, was not a Ghibel- 
line like Uante, but a staunch Guelph. 

86 Riodmgi 0m Ul$ It^mm. Caotoxix* 

Tal mi fee* 10^ qaai ton oolor cte stmiM^ 
Per non imeadcr d6 cV h lor lupoHcv 
Quasi sconmrit^ e rii|ioadcr aon saima te 

AUor VirgiUo ifine *.— ^'Djfl^ toM^ 

< Non son cofai, aon mmi coliii die cvidi :'*«- 
Ed io rtspod eome a nt fii iaqpotta 

I became like tlioee iriio stand as if put to 
shame, from not undemanding what is 
answered them, and know not iriiat to answer. 
Then Virgil said : '*Tdl hun at once, 'I am 
not he, I am not he iri»om tfaon thinkest:*** 
and I made answer as was enjoined me. 

Benvenuto remarks that Dante ooiild make dus 
reply in good truths Nididas had asked him, ^ Art 
thou so soon glutted with wealth?" whereas Dante 
knew that Boniface was still alive, and was by no 
means glutted with gold, but was heaping it up more 
and more. 

Division III. Benvenuto begins this division at 
line 6y, but it seems to me better to take it from here, 
so that it may include the whole of Nicholas Ill's 
speech to Dante. 

The shade of Nicholas, on hearing Dante disavow 
his identity with Boniface, shows much irritation. 

Per che lo spirto tuttof storse i piedi: 

Poi sospirando, e con voce di pianto, 65 

Mi disse : — " Dunque che a me richiedi ? 

* scomaii properly means being put to shame, from having 
had the horns broken off, 1./., dishorned. 

t tuiio storse i piedi : I follow here the reading of Witte. Dr. 
Moore (Textual Criticism^ page 335), in discussing the respec- 
tive claims of this reading, and the other tutH storse i piedi^ 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 87 

Whereat the s[iirit vehemently contorted his 
feet : then sighing, and with a. voice of lamen- 
tation, he said to me : " What then dost thou 
require of me ? 
Nicholas had readily replied to the voice which he 
thought ivas tliat of Boniface come to take his place.; 
but, finding it proceeded from some one eise, he asks 
the unknown speaker, " If you are not Boniface, what 
business can you have with me." He telis Dante, 
however, who he was, and who are the simoniacal 
I'opes that will in their turn take his place. 
Se di snper chi io sia (i cal* cotanio, 

writes : " This is a cnse in which the nrgumenls for tulto and 
Mti appear to be nearly equally balanced : lutli was found in 
87 MSS.; lutto in ;i MSS. Ulanc contends strongly for luiti, 
chiefly on the ground that the word ttilli wa5 likely to have been 
altered because of its inapplicability to tivo feet. Per contra, 
however, it might be argued that the singular lutto may have 
been altered because of its inapplicability to the plural piedi, by 
those who were unaware of the quasi-adverbial use of the adjec- 
tive." For example, take line 1 z of (his canto : 
" E quantrT glustff tun virtu compartC I " 
And Inf. xl, 67 : 

" Maestro, assai chiarc precede 
La tua ragione." 
And Par. xvli, 92-3 ; 

Incredibili a qnci z\\t.fien presenM" 

DK Moore says lllanc que 
bvovt o{ fulii, but that instances ■ 
are also very numerous. 

I cannot help thinking Scartazzii 
somewhat unnecessary. 

• /(' ca/ cotanio: Gelli interpret 
sitina, if thou atlachesl such great ir 

.ehemence against tutio 

Readings an the Inferno. Canto XIX. 

Che lu abbi peri la ripa corsa, 
Sappi ch' io fui veslilo del gran manlo : * 
veramente fui figliuol dell' orsa, t 70 

Cupido st, per avanzar gEi orsatii, 
Che su 1' avere, e qui me inisi in borsa. 

im the Latin, has in 
unely, to care aboui. 

ealtre, though deriv 
Italian a somewhat 
Compare Purg. viii, i 

" Come dicesse a D alme,'" i.e., " I care fur 

naught else." Ajid P\ 

" S) poco a lui 

and Purg. Kxxil, 4-5 : 

" Ed essi quin arete 

Di non . 
*grantnanlo: The , Peler was in the time 

of Dante the insignia ot ttte Fapal dignity, just as the Tiara is 
now. The Popes were vested in it at their coronation. Compare 
Jm/. ii, 16-17 '■ 

" Intese cose, cbe furon cagione 
Di sua vitloria e del papale ammanto." 
In Purg- xix, 99, the good Pope, Adrian V, after sayitig to 
Dante : 

" Seiat quod ego Jidi sucttuor Petri." 
adds (103-104): 

" Un mese e poco pi^ prova' io come 
Pesa il gran man to." 
t figliuol delf orsa, eupido H per avatuar gii i»-$alti: Ac- 
cording to the Aitotumo Fioreniino, members of the Orsini 
family habitually signed themselves <U filUi una. Both Buti 
and Gelii remark that there is no animal so gluttonous as a 
bear, and the name tallies well with the characteristics of 
Nicholas. Benveouto draws a heavy indictment against him : 
" In the year 1376 Nicholas III, of the Oisini of Rome, was 
elected Pope. While he was only a priest and a cardmal, he 
had been an upright and well-conducted man ; but, as soon as 
he was made Pope, he did everything in his power to aggnutdise 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 89 

If thou carest so much to know who I am, 
that thou hast for this traversed the bank, 
know that I was vested in the Great Mantle 
(of the Papacy) : and truly was a son of the 
She-Bear {i,e, one of the Orsini), so greedy, to 
advance the Bear-Cubs, that above (in the 
world) I stowed wealth, and here (in Hell) 
myself in the pouch. 

his own family ; and he was the first Pope in whose court 
Simony was openly practised for the benefit of his relations. 
He endowed them with property, money, and castles. In a very 
short space of time he created seven Roman Cardinals, who 
mostly were of his family ... He had many noble palaces 
built hard by St. Peter's ; he made Rudolph (of Hapsburg), the 
King of the Romans, surrender to him the City of Bologna and 
the County of Romagna, because he had not fulfilled his promise 
of crossing the Alps into Italy ; and this was not accounted a 
just transaction, for Rudolph had been prevented by his wars 
at home from coming to receive the papal benediction. But 
what churchmen once ttike they rarely relinquish ; and he made 
his nephew, Bertoldo, Count of Romagna, and he nominated as 
legate, Cardinal Latino, his sister's son. And from the above 
we may judge whether or no Pope Nicholas of the Orsini was 
greedy after the advancement of his own family." 

Petrarch, in his noble Canzone to Cola di Rienzo, beginning, 
Spirto gentil (part iv, canz. ii), represents the Orsini, figured 
as the Bears, making war against the House of Colonna : 
" Orsi, lupi, leoni, aquile, e serpi 

Ad una gran marmorea Colonna 

Fanno noja sovente, ed a s^ danno : 

Di costor piagne quella gentil donna 

Che t' ha chiamato, accib chc di lei sterpi 

Le male piante, che fiorir non sanno. 

Ahi nova gente oltra misura altera, 
Irreverente a tanta, ed a tal madre I " 

90 Readi9iig$ 0m tifli^imm. Caato XHL 

This is a play upon tiics words. Pope Nidholas is 
in the Third Bolgia. ' The primaiy meaning of b^fgia 
is pouch, purse, or wallet (See ¥oL ii, pi 33), 

He now explains to Das^ thai lib posithm is a 
transition state, and that; as tiie new comer arrives^ his 
predecessor at the top of tiie hole sinks down into tile 
cavern below; and he hints tfiat he had mistaken 
Dante for Boniface. 

Di sotto al capo mb ton gii skri tiatll 
Che precedetler me aiiuy nfi ggi a tid i s 
Per le fessoie deUa pidsm i^std. . 75 

Laggiu cascherb 10 attml, qnaiido 

Verrk colui di* 10 credea die tn Idtsiy 
Allor ch' io ttid fl sabilo domanda 

Beneath my head (having been) dragged 

down through the fissures of the rock, the 

others are lying flattened who preceded me in 

Simony. Down there likewise shall I drop 

down, when that one shall come whom I 

thought thou wast, when I put that sudden 


The simoniacal Popes are supposed by Scartazzini, 

when they drop down, to lie flat on the ground heaped 

up one on the top of the other. Blanc feels uncertain 

whether the burning of their feet then ceases. He 

thinks it does, because, in the verses that now follow, 

Nicholas seems to allude to a terminable period for 

each to remain with his feet scorching. But the fact 

of lying flat on the ground is, Blanc thinks, distinctly 

in analogy with the penalty of the avaricious Popes 

in Purgatory (see Purg. xix, 73), who all lie with their 

faces turned to the earth, and breathe forth the words 

of the Psalmist, My soul deavetk unto the dust. So, 

Canto XIX. Readings on ike Inferno. 91 

here in Hell, these Popes, whose gaze should ever 
have been fixed on Heaven, from having instead 
turned their thoughts to earthly things, have to lie to 
all eternity in close proximity to the earth. As kings 
they were anointed with oil on their heads, but now 
they are anointed with an unction of fire upon their 
feet, and as in life they donned red buskins, so now 
have they their feet ever reddening in the flames of 

Nicholas now prophecies that after Boniface there 
will come another Pope, whose guilt will be even yet 
more atrocious, and he hints that it is some one con- 
nected with the Court of the King of France, Philippe 

le Bel. 

Ma piu h il tempo gik che i pi^ mi cossi, 

E ch' io son state cosl sottosopra, 80 

Ch' ei non stark piantato coi pi^ rossi : 

Ch^ dopo lui verr^ di piu laid' opra, 

Di ver ponente un pastor senza legge, 
Tal che convien che lui e me ricopra. 

Nuovo lason sar^ di cui si legge 85 

Ne' Maccabei : e come a quel fu molle 
Suo re, cosl fia a lui chi Francia regge." — 

But longer is the time already that I have 
thus remained upside down, than he (Boni- 
face) shall stand planted with his feet red : 
since after him, will come from towards the 
West (Gascony) one of yet fouler deeds 
(Clement V), a pastor devoid of all law, one 
fit to cover both him and me. He will be a 
new Jason, of whom one reads in the Macca- 
bees: and as to him his King (Antiochus) 
was pliant, so to him (Clement V) will be he 
who rules France." 

93 Readings m Um l^fmm. Cuito XUL 

Benvenuto points out thai the comparison b adm^ 
rable. The wicked Hq^ Priest Jason .b compated 
with the wicked Pontiff Clemeaty and Kii^ Antkidiiis 
with King Philip ; and in both cases was the h^ 
priesthood simoniacally bought and sold. ^Bi^'' 
adds Benvenuto, '' what would Dante have said, if lie 
had lived to see Pope Clement VI» uriio was even 
more corrupt and moie carnal than the Clement 
spoken of here, for he poured fordi the iiriiole of the 
great treasure of the Church to subsidiae John King 
of France against the King dl England (Edward III); 
and yet, after all, both the money and the victory 
passed into the hands of the English, the King (of 
France) being defeated and taken prisoner in the 

Division I V, Dante has listened, with what patience 
he could summon, to the lengthy confession by Pope 
Nicholas of the Simony and avarice of himself and 
his two successors, but he now bursts out into a tor- 
rent of indignation, against first the guilt of Nicholas 
himself in particular, and afterwards that of the pas- 
tors of the Church in general. The whole of his 
utterances have the ring of a sermon, and there may 
be in them the intention of ironically showing that 
they, whose duty it was to preach to others, are them- 
selves more in need of being preached to than any 
congregation whom they might be called upon to 
address. Some have tried to prove that, in so inter- 
pellating one who was in life the head of the Church, 
Dante was showing want of reverence for the Church 
itself, but this view cannot be sustained. The whole 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 


of Dante's interview with the good Pope Adrian V, in 
Purg. xix, shows Dante a most devoted and a most 
reverent son of the Church, with a marked deference 
for those who wortliily held the chief offices in it, 

Benvenuto observes that Dante prefaces his address 
to Nicholas by excusing himself for the severity of 
the language he is about to use. 

lo non so s' io mi fui qui troppo folle,* 

Ch' 10 pur risposi lui a queslo metro : t 
— " Deh or mi di', quanlo lesoro voile 90 

Nostro Signore in prima da san Pieiro, 
Che gli potiesse le chiavi J in balla ? 
Certo non cliiese se non : 'Viemmi relro.'j 
* folle : Uante pretends lo hesitate whether he was not im- 
prudently rash in daring to censure so great a personage. Ben- 
venuto does not think il would be right, generally speaking, to 
do so in public, only that Dante writes as a poet, and truth urges 
him not to spare. Scartaiiini does not agree with the general 
interpretation rA folle as Ittnerario. He says the two words are 
widely diRcrent. He thinks folle should be taken in its literal 
meaning of "foolish," and that Danie means :' " Perhaps it was 
foolish of me lo waste so much lime in censuring one who was 
already ilamned, seeing Ihat my reproofs could no longer be of 
the slightest use." 

-■ TommasJo notices that Dante speaks of the words 
he is about to utter now as gueslo metro, and after the conclu- 
n of them he says : menire io gli cantai coliii note. 
X it chiavi: See Matl. xvi, 17-19: "And Jesus answered and 
said unto him. Blessed art thou, Simon Uar-jona .... And 1 
say also unto thee. That ihou art Peter, and upon (his rock I 
will build my church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it. And ! will give unlo Ihee the keys of the kingdom 
of heaven : and whatsoever thou slialt bind on earth, shall be 
bound in heaven ; and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, 
shall be loosed in heaven." 
5 Viemmi reiro: Sec St. fokn, xxi, zz ; "Jesus saiib unto 

94 R$adiMg$ 0m Urn In^mrm. Canto xnCb 

N^ Pier n^ gli allri tolMio* a Ifattkit 

Oro od argeato^ ipnado H antito ff 

Al loco che peidk r aanaa lia. 
Per6 ti sta, che tn mi bea poaito; 

Ch' esser ti tee ooatia Gulo tf^Hta 
I know not here if I was not loo fbolnliv in 
that I simply answoed him in diis stiain 
(instead of turning away) : ^ Play teU me 
now, how much treasme did our Loid require 
from St Peter, before lie put the keys in his 
charge ? He ceHainty made no fiutiier de- 
mand upon him than: *F<dkm thou me.* 
Nor did Peter nor tfie oilier (Apostles) extort 
from Matthias g<dd or sitver, when he was 
appointed by lot to the post which the guilty 
soul (Judas Iscariot) had forfeited. Stay 

him (St Peter), If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that 
to thee ? Follow thou me." 

* tolsero : Witte reads Mesero " demanded," but the reading 
tolsiro^ I am informed by Dr. Moore, has an overwhelming 
preponderance of MS. authority. I have therefore adopted it. 

t Maitia : St Matthias was chosen by lot to be an Apostle in 
the place of Judas Iscariot See^r/^i, 26: **And they gave 
forth their lots ; and the lot fell upon Matthias ; and he was 
numbered with the eleven apostles." 

X Guarda ben la maliolta maneta: Tommas^ says that this 
line is taken in idea from Acts viii, 20 : ^ But Peter said unto 
him (Simon MagusX Thy money perish with thee, because thou 
hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with 
money." Nicholas had previously said of himself that he was 
cufido si . . . che su V aver^ e qui me mist in barsa, Dante now 
says to bim in so many words, '' Now that you are in the purse, 
hoard up the ill-acquired treasure with which John of Procida 
bribed you." 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 


(here) then, for thou art rightly punished ; 
and lake good care of the ill-gotten money, 
which made ihee become presumptuous to- 
wards Charles. 
Nicholas III was so elated by pride of wealth, that 
he sought an alliance between his niece and a nephew 
of Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily, which being 
haughtily rejected, the Pope was said to have been 
bribed intojoining a combination against King Charles 
with John of Procida and the King of Arragon, from 
which resulted (after his own death) the famous mas- 
sacre of the French in Sicily, known in history as the 
Sicilian Vespers. Benvenuto relates that the answer 
of King Charles was to the effect that, although the 
Pope wore red shoes, he was not worthy of entering 
into afhnity with a King ; and Villani makes Charles 
say, in addition, that a king is born to his dignity, 
while the Pope is merely elected. 

And now Dante, having already spoken in some- 
what strong language, excuses himself that he does 
not say more, and make use of even stronger terms, 
on account of his reverence for the pontifical dignity ; 
"and yet," says Benvenuto, "it seems to me that 
Dante is giving that rhetorical colour which is called 
Bcaipatio, because he says that he is unwilling to say 
what he very much does say." 

E se non fosse, che ancor lo mi viela loo 

La riveienza delle somme chiavi, 
Che tu tenesii nella vita tieta, 
I' userei parole ancor piii gravi ; 

Chi la vostra avariiia il mondo atlrista, 
Calcando i buoni e sollevando i pravi, loj 

\ And were it not, that even now reverence for 

96 Readitq;s m ih$ Iitfm^m, Canto ZHL 

the Supreme Kqfs. whidi tfioa hddesl in Ae 
gladsome life» fiMfbid m^ I would ate woidi 
yet more severe ; becaitte tlie Avarice of yoa 
(corrupt Pastors) afflicts the wofld, tiampjing 
down the good and ealtinf Ae bad 

Up to this point Dante has been addressiiig his 
words to Nicholas III, or at all events np to the last 
two lines, where he says, vasina mmrima U m^mb 
aitrista^ but in them he has changed from the singular 
to the plural, and the rest of his censure is directed 
against the ecclesiastical hierarchy in general. 

He now goes on to show that this avarice in her 
chief pastors is one of the great tribulations and per* 
secutions, which the Church of God is undergoing, 
and to prove his words, he cites a prophecy of St John, 
who {Rev, xvii, i)* describes how the angel showed 
him the harlot that sitteth upon the waters. St. John 
was speaking of pagan Rome, but Dante, like others 
who lived in his time,t interpreted the reference to be 

* Rev. xvii, 1-3 : " And there came one of the seven angels 
which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, 
Come hither ; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great 
whore that sitteth upon many waters : With whom the kings of 
the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of 
the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornica- 
tion. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness : 
and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of 
names of blasphemy, having seven beads and ten horns." 

t It is worthy of notice that Petrarch also e^rpressed himself 
with the greatest indignation against the Popes of his time. 
See Petrarchae {Opera qua extant omnia^ Basileae, 1554, folio, 
p. 807, EpisL situ titulo xviii) : " Tu autem gaude, contrario 
saltem magistra virtutum, gaude (inquam) et ad aliquid utilis, 
inventa gloriare, bonorum bostis et malorum bospes, atque 

Canto XIX. Readings on tfte Inferno. 

Christian Rome under such Popes as Nicholas III, 
Boniface VIII, and Clement V. In denouncing the 
avarice of Rome he identifies her with the great harlot, 
the Babylon of the Apocalypse. 

Di voi pastor s' accorsc il Vangelista, 

Quando colei, die siede sopra [' acque, 
Pitttaneggiar co' regi a. lui fu vista : 

Quella che con le sette teste nacque, 

urlum pessima rerum Babylon, feris, Rhodani ripis imposita, 
femosa dicam an infamis merelrix, fornicata cum regibus lerne. 
Ilia equidein ifia ei, qiiam in sfiirilu sactr vidil Ei'ingtlista. 
Ilia eadem, inquam, es, non alia, sedens super aquas multas, 
live ad lileram tribus ctncta fluminibus, sive rerum atque divi- 
tiarum lurba mortalium quibus lasciviens ac secura inaides 
opum immemor Klernarum sive ut idem qui vidil exposuil. 
Populi et gentes, et lingua, aqUK sunt, super quas meretrix 
sedes, recognosce habiium." 

Cary quotes a passage from the writings of Richard Hurd, 
Bishop of Worcester, in which the Bishop points out that 
" numberless passages in the writings of Petrarch speak of 
Rome under the name of Babylon. But an equal stress is 
not to be laid on all these. 1( should be remembered thai the 
popes, in Petrarch's time, resided at Avignon, greatly lo the 
disparagement of themselves, as he thought, and especially 
of Rome ; of which this singular man was little less than 
idolatrous. The situation of the place, sutrounded by waters 
.... brought lo his mind ihe condition of the Jewish Church 
in the captivity." Cary adds : " The application 
that is made of these prophecies by two men so eminent for 
their learning and sagacity as Danle and Petrarch is, however, 
very remarkable .... Such applications were indeed frequent 
in the middle ages. . . . Balbo observes, [in his Life of Danle,] 
that it is not Rome, as most erroneously interpreted, but 
Avignon, and the Court there, that is termed Babylon by 
Dante and Petrarch." 


98 ReaJUnp m Urn Ifi^mm. Crataxnc 

£ dalle died oom d>be argoiBeiito^* i lo 

Fin che virtote «1 too maiito ptaoqnei 

Shepherds like you did the Evangdist (St 
John) contemptele^ when Ae diat sitieili 
upon the waters was seen by bim oommitliiig 
fornication with kings : thai woman who was 
bom with the seven beads^ and fiom the ten 
horns had her scheme (of government), for so 
long as virtue was pleasing onto ber husband. 

The Pope is here s^ified as the Spouse of Uie 
Church. For, so long as the Popes were virtuous and 
uncomipt, the Church was governed in accordance 
with the Divine Law. By the seven heads are to be 
understood, according to some, the seven sacraments 

* argomento : Nearly every commentator and translator has 
a different version of this word. Poletto (Dizionario Dantesco) 
quotes Dante's use of it xxkPar. xxiv, 65, as being evidence 0/ things 
not seen. But the Vocabolario della Crusca^ while quoting the 
latter passage with that meaning, quotes this passage with the 
following : '* Talora per Figurasione. Dant. Inf, xix. Che dalle 
diece coma ebbe argomento." The paragraph then quotes the 
following from Buti on this passage : " ebbe argomento ; cio^ 
figiuazione : imper6 che argomento h ingegno et industria sic- 
come si dice : Tu non ^i argomento veruno ; et argomento h 
figurazione, e cosl si piglia qui : imper6 la santa fede di Cristo fii 
figurata per le figure che sono nell' antica legge." The Voc. della 
Crusca thinks that the meaning kA figurasione^ when applied to 
argomento^ is the same as the Greek axyuuniirtUt. Scartazzini, 
as well as Tommas^o, interprets : mado di gavemare. Gelli 
says : ebbe argomento e stabiiitd dalle died coma, Blanc 
translates it ^a<^ Gary also. Lamennais '*ii]^n^." Carlyle 
witness, Longfellow, power and strength, Rossetti, proof, 
Biagioli, proof, Lubin, ebbe argomento^ cio^ ebbe suo ttvansa- 
mento. Pollock, tohen. After much hesitation I have followed 
the interpretation given by Tommasto and ScartazzinL 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Infer 

of the Church, according to others the seven Virtues. 
The ten horns are nearly universally accepted as 
meaning the Ten Commandments. The intention, 
however, is clear. The Church should have been 
governed according to the Virtues, both Cardinal and 
Moral, according to the Old Testament as indicated 
by the Ten Commandments, and according to the New 
Testament as indicated by the Holy Sacraments.* 

Blanc points out that in these lines one may see 
very clearly with what freedom Dante treated alle- 
gorical interpretations of Holy Writ, so universally 
loved in his time. He represents the woman that 
sitteth upon the waters bearing the seven heads and 
the ten horns, whereas in the Apocalypse these attri- 
butes are given to the beast upon which she sits. The 
right administration of the Seven Sacraments, and the 
just observance of the Ten Commandments are what 
secure to the Church purity and truth. It is some- 
what remarkable that in the Commentary of Ben- 
venuto all reference to the three lines that follow is 
entirely omitted.'f" 

• Blanc [Saggio) remarks that Fraticelli's interpretation of the 
seven heads as meaning the seven hills of Rome, and the len 
horns the nations conc|uercd by Rome (the determinate for the 
indeterminate number) has ibis merit, that it entirely agrees 
with ibe explanation of these allegorical ligures in the Apoca- 
lypse itself. 

tMr. H. C. \.zs.{ChapUrs from the Religious History of Spain, 
1890, p. 81) points out (hat three passages, of which this (lines 
106-1 17) is one, were ordered by the Spanish Inquisition to be 
expurgated from all copies of the Divina Commtdia introduced 
) Spanish territory. The other passages were Inf. xi, 8-9 ; 
and Par. ii 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto Xix. 

Faiio v' aveie Dio d' oro e d' argento ;* 
E clie aliro h Aa. vol all' idolaircf, 
Se non ch' eglil uno, e voi n' orate cento ? 
Ye have made for yourselves a God of gold and 
stiver : and \vhat other (distinction) ia there be- 
tween you and the idolaters, except that they 
adore one ll idred of thein. 

generally believed 
t from its supposed 
from that moment 
sprang up among 
Dante himself re- 
■. XX, SS-60, though 

In the time 01 
that all the ills of 
donation by Cons 
Avarice, Simony, 
the chief pastors ■ 
fers to the preten 

• Faitov' avite,t\.c. viii, 3-4; "Israel hath 

cast off the thing that -o ^^m-^ . >>■>. enemy shall pursue him. 
They have set up kings, but not by me \ they have made princes, 
and I knew it not ; of their silver and of their gold have they 
made them idols, that they may be cut ofT" Again Epkes. v, 5 : 
" Nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance 
in the kingdom of Christ and of God." And Col. iii, 5 : "and 
covetousness which is idolatry." 

t idolatre: Blanc (5<tf^V), p. 197) says: *'Idolatre,A& Nannucci 
stoutly maintained and distinctly proved, is a plural form and 
not only is it nol made use of here for the sake of the rhyme, 
but, on the contrary, it was the word in by Tar the most constant 
use by the old Italian writers." The Vocab. lUlla Crusca (s. v. 
Idolalro) says that among (he older writers Idolaira was much 
used, and its plural was both in / and e; as was also the cose 
with Ereiiarca, Profela, which took both plural forms indis- 

X egli: Scartauini points out that f^/ii'is here the plural, and is 
equivalent to qutUi; and that old writers made use of the form 
egiitar eglino'm innumerable instances. Blanc in Ma^Vocabolarie 
cites seven passages where Dante so uses it in the Commtdia; 
but he notices that many editions in those cases write it titi. 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. loi 

in one passage in the De Monarckia, book iii, ch. lo, 
he seems to imply doubt and hesitation as to the 
reality of the donation, for he says: "Therefore to 
make a rent in the Empire exceeds the lawful power 
of the Emperor himself If, then, some dignities 
were by Constantlne alienated {as they report) from 
the empire . . . etc. etc." 

Benvenuto, who, of course, believed the story, re- 
marks that it seems to him very far from the truth 
what some have tried to prove, namely, that the 
donation of Constantine resulted in a general aban- 
donmcnl of the laws oF God, for the prelates did not 
become depraved immediately after the donation, but 
on the contrary were men of the greatest piety and 
learning, such as were Pope Gregory, Jerome, Augus- 
tine and Ambrose, both bishops, and many others ; 
but he thinks that after several centuries the Prelates 
had acquired such a superabundance of wealth that 
they began to deviate from the law, as we see happens 
with all powers, both temporal and spiritual, which 
have a good beginning, but then lapse ; this happened 
to the Romans themselves, and therefore of right to 
the prelates of the Roman Church. Benvenuto thinks 
Constantine was the remote, but not the immediate 
cause of the depravation of the prelates. The docu- 
mentary evidence of the pretended gift is to be found 
in the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, 

Dante then, believing that all the abuses existing 
in the Church arose from its having temporal pos- 
sessions, concludes his harangue by apostrophizing 
Constantine as the author, as he supposes, of the 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto 

Ahi, Constantin, di quanto mal fu matre*, 

Non la [ua converslont, na quella dole 
Che da te prese il primo ricco paiie I " — 
Alas ! Constantine, of what great evil was the 
origin {lit. mother) not thy converaion, but 
that dower which the first rich father (of the 
Church) ace 

* Matre and pat ;rived from the Latin 

mater and fater, wt jniil later on the / was 

softened into it. Mi lie sense of origin. 

t conversion .- Coi 97 : 

" Ma come C ^estro 

Dentro 1 lebbre, 

Cosl mi laestro 

A guarir deli, re." 

Compare Cower, Co. 'rologus: 

" The patrinionie and tlie nchesse 
Which 10 Silvester in pure almesse 
The firste Constantinus lefie." 
Cary remarks that this gift is very humorously placed by 
Ariosto (Orl. Fur. xxxiv, st. 80) In the moon, among the things 
lost on earth. 

" Di varj fiori ad un gran monte passa, 
Ch' ebbe %A buono odore, or putla forte. 
Questo era il dono (se per& dir lece) 
Che Constantino al buon Silvestro fece." 
And Milton translated both this passage and the one in the 
text. Prose Worts, vol. i, page 1 1, ed. 1753 ; 

"Ah Constantine I of how much ill was cause 
Not thy conversion, but those rich demains 
That the first wealthy Pope receiv'd of thee?" 

Inferno, canto xix. 
" Then past he to a flowry mountain green, 
Which once smelt sweet, now stinks as odiously : 
This was that gift (if you the truth will have) 
That Constantine to good Sylvesiro gave." 

Orl. Fur. xxxiv. 

Canto XIX. Readings on t/te Inferno. 103 

It was generally believed, in the Middle Ages, that 
Constantine the Great, after being healed of leprosy 
by Pope Sylvester I, bestowed on him as a gift the 
so-called patrimony of St. Peter. Tradition related 
that the Emperor, smitten with leprosy in Rome, 
sought out St. Sylvester, who was concealed in the 
caverns under Mount Soracte ; and, after receiving 
baptism at his hands, was miraculously healed of his 
leprosy. The whole story is a fiction. It is well-known 
that Constantine was baptized at Constantinople, not 
at Rome, and only a few moments before his death. 

Dante's reproofs appear to have stung the shade of 
Nicholas nearly to madness. He does not utter a 
syllable, but the violent contortions of his limbs 
testify to the mental anguish Dante's words have 
occasioned. Virgil looks on apparently with much 
satisfaction, and the canto is now brought to a con- 
clusion by his carrying Dante in his arms up the 
cliff, and along the bridge-way, until they reach the 
centre of the next bridge which overhangs the Bolgia 
of the Diviners. 

E mentre io gli cantava cotai note, 
O ira o coscienza che il mordesse. 
Forte spingava* con ambo le piote. 120 

* spingava : Biagioli interprets this as giving kicks, and thinks 
it is perhaps derived from the English substantive springs an 
instrument that thrusts forward. Blanc supports the reading 
springava. Gelli says that Pope Nicholas, while listening to 
Dante, never ceased giving kicks, for that is the meaning in 
the Tuscan language of springare le piote o le piante, Scartaz- 
zini reads spingava^ and interprets it, " quivered with his feet, 
and gave kicks in the air." 

Readings on the luferno. Canto XIX. 

lo credo ben che al mio Duca piacesse, 

Con si conienta labbia* senipre aClese 

Lo suon delle parole vere espresse. 
Peri con arabo le braccia mi prese, 

E poi che lullo su mi s' ebbe al petto, 115 

Riraoni6 per la via onde discese ; 
Ni si stanch •" * ' ~ -* -''"■reHo, 


I dell' a 


glne i Iragetto. 

Quivi soavo 

•, 13" 

Soave \ 

cd erto, 


D varco: 

Indi un altn 


And while I 

m such words 

(('.«. expresEii 

ly), whether it 

was rage or * 

nawed him, he V 

kicked out vioL 

his feet. I do ^ 

believe that it 



Leader, with so 

satisfied a countenance 


he hearken un- 

interruptedly to 

the sound of the true words 

uttered. Thereupon he 

caught me in both 

* labbia: Compare Inf. vii, 7; 

" Poi si rivolse a quell' enfiata labbia, etc" 
and Inf. wv, ai: 

" Intin dove comincia nostra labbia (the humao form), 
and Purg. xxiii, 46-48 : 

" Questa favilla lutta mi raccese 

:aalla cambiata labbia {eounttnarue) 
li la foccla di Forese." 
Sec also Petrarch, Trionfo d' Amort: 

" In cosi tenebrosa e stretta gabbia 

Rinchiusi fummo ; ove le penne usate 
Mutai per tempo e la mia prima labbia. 
t S\ miporiH: for sin, and this for sintM. 
% vallon : See footnote on vallon tondo, page 109. 

Canto XIX. Readings on the Inferno. 

his armSy and when he had got me quite 
on his breast, re-ascended by the same way 
that he had descended; nor did he weary 
of having clasped me to him, until he had 
carried me up to the summit of the arch, 
which is a transit from the fourth to the 
fifth rampart. Here he gently set down his 
burden, gendy by reason of the rugged and 
precipitous cliff, which to goats would have 
been hard to mount. From here {i.e. from 
the bridge) another spacious valley was dis- 
covered to me. 


End of Canto XIX. 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto xx, 


The Eight 
The Four- 

The Di 



Man TO. 


Michael Scott, 
guido bonatti. 


The Nineteenth Canto was brought to a close at 
the time when Virgil, having carried Dante on his 
breast up the precipitous side of the Third Bolgia, 
continued to bear him along the bridge-way until they 
were in the centre of the bridge that overhangs the 
Fourth Bolgia. He has set him down very gently, 
and the Poets now turn their attention to the wonder- 
ful spectacle at their feet. 

In this canto I find myself unable to follow Ben- 
venuto, whose divisions seem much less happy than 
usual ; as in each change of scene he makes the break 
occur either in the middle of the words of one of the 
speakers, or in the course of relating an episode. I 
have accordingly adopted the following divisions : 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 107 

In Division I, Trom v, I to v. 24, Dante describes 
generally the penalty of the Diviners. 

In Division II, from v. 25 to v.- 51, he mentions 
certain Diviners of Ancient History with an evil 
reputation for various kinds of divination and sorcery. 

In Division III, from v. 52 to v. 99, while telling 
the story of Manto, he describes how she founded 
Mantua, the birthplace of Virgil, 

/;( Division IV, from v. 100 to v. 130, he names 
other Diviners of ancient and modern times. 

Division I. Benvenuto had pointed out, in com- 
menting on the last canto, that the words describing 
the ascent from the Third Bolgia as being so steep 
that it would be almost inaccessible to mountain 
goats, are to be understood to imply the great diffi- 
culty of the subject matter now about to be discussed, 
even for men of the highest intelligence, whose pene- 
tration he compares to the keen eye of the goat. 
Dante is about to describe in verse a new form of 
torment {iiuova pena), which has never been seen or 
heard of before, for this penalty of the Diviners is 
entirely of Dante's own invention, and is not to be 
found in the poems of Virgil or Homer.* 

* Uartoti {Storia delta LtlUratura lialiann, vol. vi, part ii, 
page 78) says : "We have not much lo interest us about the 
Diviners in the Fourth Bolgia, except, perhaps, in observing 
that Danic put no credence in magic arls. His selection of (he 
Diviners that he names was probably determined by the fame 
which Michael Scott and Guido Bonalti enjoyed as astrologers, 
aniong the learned in the thirteenth century, and it was, in all 
probability, to show his greater contempt for them that he repre- 
sents as their companion, Asdente the poor cobbler of Parma." 


Readings oti the Inferno. Canto XX. 


• ch' S de' sommersi. 

£ dar materia 
Delia prima c> 

Of a new punishment it becomes my duty 
to make verses, and furnish matter for the 
Iwentitth c"""- '■'' *^'- **"• Lay, which is 
about the d :ll). 

Benvenuto beg jxamine closely how 

just and suitable etit assigned to the 

Diviners. They; talking slowly along 

the valley, with tl 1 round so as to look 

down their back lein weeping. And 

this is just what in all their business, 

for they move wi d studied delibera- 

tion, affecting to oo everything in accordance with 
the motions of the heavens, the flight of birds, and so 
on ; neither will they do, or allow to be done, anything 
except at certain fixed periods, so that they keep 
both themselves, and also their dupes, in constant 
suspense and anxiety ; one says, that if his client goes 
forth to war at a certain fortunate hour, he will 
assuredly be victorious ; and that, if another goes into 
the forum at such an hour, misfortune will befall him. 
Now here they are seen with their faces turned the 
wrong way, for they had wished to see far away in the 
distant future events which must be uncertain to man ; 
wherefore by the just judgment of God, Who alone 
knoweth the future, they can now only see behind 
them, and in truth we may often remark that in their 

* prima ccauoH : By this Dante means, of ci 
cantiea, i.e., the Inftrno. 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 109 

1 affairs these soothsayers are particularly short- 
sighted and unfortunate, and always retrograding ; 
they are like the monkey, which, the more it advances 
the more it displays its hinder parts ; and they are 
weeping, because they always end in the greatest 
poverty and wretchedness. In fact, it was not so 
long ago, that Benvenuto saw. a celebrated astrologer 
reduced to such destitution that he did not dare to 
show himself abroad, and was in the most desperate 

Dante now commences his narration. 
!i disposto tuKo e quanto 
A riguardar nello scopcrto fondo,* 5 

Che si b.igtiava d'angascioso pi.into: 
E vidi genie per \o vallon + londo 

Venir tacendo e lagrimando, al passo 
Che fun le lelanfel in questo mondo. 

* scoperto fondo : Benvenulo observes ihat the word scoperto 
marks the contrast to the Sirnonists in the Third Belgia, who 
were covered under ground ; the Flatterers in the Second Bolgia 
: covered with excrement 1 but these Diviners are going 
along wholly in view. 

+ vallon loniio : The fuil force of the literal meaning of val- 
iant must not be neglected here. I'alU is a valley, Valletta a 
little valley, vallone is a large, spacious, extensive valley, and 
is the augmentative of valli. Let it be remembered that there 
rt of analogy between the French vallon, a small valley, 
and the Italian ■vallone, a large valley. 

X letanle : Benvenuto interprets this word : " That is, those 
who walk in procession." 

The Vocabolario della Crusca, s. v. Mane, after saying that 
the primary meaning is " invocations to God, the Virgin, and 
the Saints," goes on to give this further meaning es applied to 
this particular passage which it quotes : " and because these 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XX. 

Come il viso mi scese in lor piu basso,* to 

Mirabilmenlc apparve eascr iravoUo 
Ciascun Ira! mento e' 1 pHncipio del casso : 

ChS dalle reni era tomalo il vollo,+ 
Ed indieiro venir gli convenia, 
Pcrch^ il veder dinanii era lor tollo. 15 

prayers and invocai 
Ltlane came to sigi 
here used to compar 
with that of those n 

• // V. 

he le recitano," and is 
nful sicp of the Diviners 
lUs processions, 
len Dante first reached 
ave been some dislatice 
1 the mass ; but as they 
s eye natunill)' travelled 
WHS able to distini;uish 
lis of their sufferinus. 

Queene, book i, canto viii, 

ilarly distorted : 

the bridj^e. the unhaj 

off, so thai his eye on 

advanced, and came 

down lower and lowc 

the grotesque thout;h 
t tomalo il volto : Spenser (Fail 

stanta 30-31) describes Ignaroas ■ 

" At last, with creeping crooked pace forth came 
An old old man, with beard as while as snow ; 
That on a staffe his feeble steps did frame. 
And gwyde his wearie gate boti) to and fro ; 
For his eye sight him fayled long ygo : 
And on his arme a bounch of keycs he bore. 
The which unused rust did overgrow : 
Those were the keyes of every inner dore ; 
But he could not them use, but kepi (hem still i 
But very uncouth sight was to behold, 
How he did fashion his untoward pace ; 
For as he forward moov'd his fooling old. 
So backward still was tumd his wrincled face : 
Unlike to men, who ever, as they trace, 
Both feel and face one way are wont to lead. 
This was the auncicnl keeper of that place. 
And foster father of the gyaunt dead 1 
His name Ignaro did his nature right aread." 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 1 1 1 

Forse per forza gik di parlasla^ 

Si travolse cos) alcun del tutto ; 
Ma 10 nol vidi, n^ credo che sia. 

I had already placed myself so as to look 
with all attention into the Abyss opened out 
(below), which was being bedewed by tears 
of anguish : And I saw people coming along 
the vast circular valley silent and weeping, at 
the pace which in this world religious proces- 
sions maintain. As my eye descended lower 
down upon them, each one seemed to be 
marvellously distorted between the chin and 
the commencement of the chest : For the 
face was turned towards the loins, and they 
were forced to walk backwards, because to 
look forwards was taken from them. Per- 
chance by violence of palsy some may ere 
now have become thus completely deformed ; 
but I never saw it, nor believe it can be. 

Dante means that he would like to cite some 
peculiarly distressing case of distortion of the human 
body to which he could compare the terrible condition 
of these Diviners, but none that he has ever seen, or 
heard of, could give an idea of it. Benvenuto says 
paralysis will sometimes so distort, dislocate, and dis- 
arrange a man's neck, that he will look at himself 
transversely, as it were sideways over his shoulder, 
and that he, Benvenuto, had once seen a little old 
woman thus deformed ; but never had it been so acute 
that it could make a man's face look right down his 
back behind him, as was the case with these poor 

112 Readings on the Inftnio, Canto xx. 

Dante now adjures his readers to consider how 
fearful a punishment this was, and that the effect on 
himself was so great, that he could not restrain his 
tears. Benvenuto remarks that the passage which 
follows is a very subtile piece of imagery, and by 

:ood, the real mean- 
that many very ex- 
folly of Divination, 
i to Dante himself, 
', and had wished to 
cen in this Poem. 

most readers has ' 

ing being, that E 

cellent men have 

and that this mi 

who at times dabi 

foretell future eve. 

Se Dio ti las 

Di tua li 

Com" io 

Quando la niM .magine , resso 

Vidi al lorta, che il pianio degli occhi 
Le naiiche bagnava pter lo fesso. 
Reader, so may God grant thee to gather 
fruit (i'^. profit) from (this) thy reading, now 
think wiihin thyself how could I keep my 
visage unwetted, when I beheld close to me 

* atautlo : Compare Purg. xxJt, 51-54 ; 

" Ni quantunque perdi I' antica matre, 

Vatse alle guance nelle di rugiada, 
Che lagrimando non toinassero atre." 
And Petrarch, part 1, Sonnet Ixii : 

" Forse non avrai sempre il vjso asciutto : 

Ch' i' mi pasco di lagrime ; e tu 1 sai." 
And Milton, Par. Lost, xj, 494-498 : 

"Sight so derorm what heart of rock could long 
Dry-eyed behold ? Adam could not, but wept, 
Though not of woman bom ; compassion quell'd 
His best of man, and gave him up to tears 
A space." 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 113 

our (human) image so distorted, that the 
weeping of the eyes was bathing the hinder 
parts along their fissure. 

Gelli is struck with the fact that Dante could look 
on without a tear at the suflering undergone by Caval- 
canto dei Cavalcanti in a tomb heated to a white heat, 
and could see his beloved teacher Brunetto Latini 
ceaselessly running upon burning sand under a rain 
of fire, although these were persons for whom in their 
life-time Dante had felt great aflection ; whereas now, 
on witnessing the grief of these Diviners, he cannot 
restrain his tears. Gelli adds that, after pondering 
long over it, he has come to the conclusion that 
it is because all the shades that Dante saw before 
had sinned with their bodies, and were undergoing 
physical torment, whereas these Diviners had com- 
mitted spiritual sins, and are undergoing mental tor- 

Gelli describes six different kinds of Diviners: 

(a) Super stiziosi, who try to learn from God that 
which is not lawful for them to know. 

(b) Incantatori^ who seek to learn the future, either 
from Angels, by means of that art which was called 
/' Arte Angelica, or by that other then known as 
Almadec, by which they pretend to be able to sum- 
mon up a body to come to some given place to 
converse with them. 

(C) Astrologi giudicarii are those who assume to 
know, by the aspect and position of the heavenly 
bodies, the free actions of Man, besides many other 
things which are not really in the least subject to 
celestial influences. 

II. H 

1 14 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XX. 

(D) Chirovtanti are they who profess to read the 
future of a man in the lineaments of his hand, or 
other parts of his body, 

(e) Augitri td Aruspici, who pretend to teach men 
how to regulate iheir actions from their own observa- 
tion of the flight a ' if birds. 

(F) Geomanti e . le to be able to tell 

the future, either tain marks on the 

earth, and then re< certain figures, or 

by agitating watei s and seasons, and 

noting the ripples 1 makes. 

Benvenuto relat t about Pietro di 

Abano, a native a man of great 

goodness, who, Oi :d, addressing his 

friends, both masters, scnuioi^ a^u doctors, who were 
gathered round him, told them that he had given up 
the best part of his life to three noble sciences ; of 
which one had made him intelligent, and that was 
philosophy ; the second had made him rich, and that 
was medicine ; but the third had made him a liar, and 
that was astrology. "And I," adds Benvenuto, "will 
say with Averrhoes: 'The astrology of our day is 
naught.' But the astrologer will at once retort : 
'Averrhoes was ignorant of astrology, for the stars 
cannot lie.' To which I should answer : ' Show me 
the man who did know astrology well, and let us 
see what truths he ever uttered, for never through 
all the days of my life did I set eyes upon one, 
although I have had knowledge of and acquaintance 
with many.' Truly I admit that the stars do not 
lie, "but the astrologers lie handsomely about the 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 115 

Division II. In this division mention is made of 
certain more prominent characters in ancient history, 
notorious for various species of divination. 

Dante is not long allowed to shed tears of com- 
passion for the Diviners. Virgil rebukes him for 
feeling pity for those who are damned, as though God 
had punished them unjustly. 

Cerlo i' piangea, poggiato ad un de' rocchi 25 

Del duro scogljo, si* che la mia scoria 
Mi disse :— "Aneor sei lu degU altri sciocchi? 
Qui vive la pietJit quando h ben morta. 
Chi h piu scetlerato die colul 
Che a] giudizio divin compassion! porta ? 30 

• C piangea . . . s\: Compare Inf. v. 139-141 : 
" Mentre che X uno spirto questo disse, 
L' alcro piangeva si, che di pietade 

\ piet&: Blanc {Saggio, •^Agt igg) has an admirable article 
upon this passage. He interprets it : " Qui vive la fieth {pittas. 
It), quando la pitti [compassiene) i ben morta." He 
says this is one of those antilhests which Dante is so fond of 

Compare Inf. xxxiii, 1 50 : 

n lui esser villano." 
and Par. iv, 105 : 

" Per non perder picli si ft spieialo." 
J There are three variants liere, namely, compassion porta, 
passion porta, and passion comporta, all of which Dr. Moore 
{Textual Criticism, p. 336) says have considerable support 
of MSS. He rather prefers passion porta, which he ihinks 
t probably was In the original text, since it is rather an 
unfamiliar phrase, and leaves the rhythm somewhat rugged, 
itiid therclbre possibly compassion porta was intended 10 
remedy those defects. . . . The sense may perhaps be the 
II. H 2 

Readings oh the Inferno. Cantf 

I was certainly weeping, leaning against one 
of the projecting crags of the hard rock- 
bridge, so that my Escort said to me : " Art 
Ihou loo of the other fools? Here piety is 
alive when pity is wholly dead. Who is more 
wicked than he who has comp>assion (antago- 
nistic) to th id? 

translate pieth twice 
uble meaning of the 
: whole sense of the 
ti words. In Italian, 

It is necessary 
over, in order to 
word intended b^ 
passage depends 
pitth denotes botti 

Virgil had not , te for showing com- 

passion for those puii>3>iL.u iu. sins of Incontinence 
and Violence, such as Francesca, Ciacco, Pier delle 
Vigne; and even to the degraded beings, mentioned 
in canto xvi, he invites Dante to be courteous. But 
no sooner are they down in the valleys of Maltbolge, 
than all this is changed, and Virgil seldom or never 
speaks of the tormented but in terms of contempt or 
reproof. He listens with complacency to Dante's 
outburst of indignation against the simoniacal Popes, 
and now rebukes him for pitying the Diviners, to do 
which, is like censuring the Justice of God. He recalls 

same, whether one reads patsicn or companion. In Boccaccio, 
{Decamerone: Ciom. viii, Nov, vii), the following passage 
occurs : " Ma la sua fante, la quale gran passion le portava, 
non trovando modo di Icvar la sua donna del dolor preso [ler 
lo perduto amante, vedendo lo scolare al modo u&ato per la 
contrada passare, entr& in uno sciocco pensiero, etc." The 
VocaMario delta Crutea, s. v. passiatu, § aa, says ; " Portar 
passione ad uno, vale, Aver compassione di lui." 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno, 1 17 

his attention to the group passing below him, the most 
prominent among whom is Amphiaraus. 

Drizza la testa, drizza, e vedi a cui 

S* aperse agli occhi de* Teban la terra, 
Per ch* ei gridavan tutti : * Dove mi, 

Anfiarao^? perch^ lasci la guerra ?' 

E non rest6 di niinare a valle 35 

Fino a Min6s, che ciascheduno afferra. 

* Anfiarao : Amphiaraus was one of the seven kings who 
besieged Thebes. When war was declared, having knowledge 
of futurity, and foreseeing his own death, he concealed himself; 
but his wife Eriphylc, bribed by Polynices with the present of 
a necklace and a robe, revealed his hiding place. He is said to 
have been swallowed up by nn opening of the earth. See Statius, 
Thebaid^ viii, 147 et seq. (Lewis's translation) : 

" Bought of my treacherous wife for cursed gold, 
And in the list of Argive chiefs enrolled, 
Resigned to fate I sought the Theban plain ; 
Whence flock the shades that scarce thy realm contain. 
When (liow my soul yet dreads 1 ) an earthquake came 
Big with destruction, and my trembling frame, 
Rapt from the midst of gaping thousands, hurled 
To night eternal in thy nether world." 

See also Pindar, Ncmean Odes^ Ode ix (A. Moore's Trans- 
lation) : " ^ y *A/x<^i(i(^p, etc." 

" Jove, with his bolt's all conquering fire, 

Cleft for Amphiareus earth's yawning womb. 
And clos'd in one portentous tomb 

Champion and chariot, arms and steed — 
Ere Periclymenus* javelin came 
With dastard's wound his back to shame. 

As from that fire, with quivering eye. 
The prophet warrior turned away ; 
For when heaven sends the strange dismay 
E'en sons of gods will quail and fly." 

1 1 8 ReadiHgs oh the Inferm. Canto XX. 

Lift up thy head, lift (it) up, and behold him 

to whom the earth itself opened before the 

eyes of tlie Thebans, whereat they all cried ; 

' Whither art thou falling, Amphiaraus ? 

Wherefore quiltest thou the warfare?' And 

he ceased "' "" '" '"''"ing down as far 

as Minos, everyone. 

Minos summc unal, for examination 

and judgniient, < into Hell ; none can 


Miia, che spalle : 

Percl I davanie, 

OircL ISO calk. 

See how he of his shoulders : 

because he auiigin lu -. too far forward, 
(now) he looks behind, and treads a back- 
ward path. 
The next Diviner noticed is Tiresias.* 

Vedi Tiresia, che nnut& sembiante, 40 

Quando di maschio femmina divenne, 
Cant,'iandos) 1e membra tutte quante 1 

* Tiresias was a celebrated prophet of Tliebes in Greece. 
It is said that in his youth he found two serpents on Mount 
Cyllene, and having struck them with a stick to separate 
them, he found himself changed into a girl. Seven years 
after he found another pair of serpents twined together, and, 
striking them again with his wand, he recovered his original 
manhood. Having had experience of botli sexes, he was called 
Upon to decide a dispute between Jupiter and Juno as to which 
sex was the most amorous. Tiresias supported the opinion of 
Jupiter, that the female sex is so. Juno, in wrath at this deci- 
sion, punished Tiresias by depriving him of his eye-sight 
According to the law of Olympus, which forbad one God from 


Canto XX. Readings on tlu Inferno, 1 19 

£ prima poi ribatter gli convenne 

Li due serpenti avvolti con la verga, 
j Che riavesse le maschili penne. 45 

Behold Tiresias, who changed his semblance, 
when from male he became female, all his 
members transforming; and afterwards was 
he compelled again to smite the two inter- 
twined serpents with his wand, before he 
could recover his male plumes (i,e. sex). 

Tiresias had a daughter named Manto, who will be 
mentioned shortly. 

, Dante now introduces Aruns, who according to 
Lucan was a renowned Etruscan augur. Aruns lived 
up in the mountains of Carrara, then, as now, fa- 
mous for their beautiful white marble ; he principally 
exercised his art in the city of Luna, situated in the 
plain below. He was called to Rome to predict the 
issue of the war between Caesar and Pompey, where- 
upon, somewhat ambiguously, he foretold the ultimate 
success of Caesar. 

Aronta* h quel che al ventre gli s* atterga, 

altering the doom pronounced by another, Jupiter was unable 
to restore sight to Tiresias, but bestowed upon him the gift 
of prophecy, and a life seven times as long as that of ordi- 
nary men. He died at last from drinking the water from a cold 
fountain which froze his blood. 

The story of Tiresias is told by Ovid, Metam, iii. 

♦ Aronta: Compare Lucan, Phars. i, 584-588 : 
" placuit Tuscos de more vetusto 
Acciri vates : quorum qui maximus aevo 
Aruns incoluit desertae moenia Luna?, 
Fulminis edoctus motus, venasque calentes 
Fibrarum, et monitus volitantis in acre pcnnae ." 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto xx. 

Che nei monti di Luni*, dove ronci 
Lo Carrarese che di satio alberga, 


* Luni.- ilie ancient /.wnu, a city of Einiria, situated on the 
left bank of ihe Macra, not far from its mouth, nnd theivfore on 
the confines of Liguria. Pliny calls it the first city of Etniria ; 
I'tolemy mentions it first anions the Etrurian cities; it seems 
to have belonged to t ig the height of their 

prosperity, but, when iwcr of Rome, it had 

already passed into thi irians. The period of 

its final decay is tincerl and plundered by the 

Notmans in 857, and L r 1300, rnakes Caccia- 

guida speak of it as OT it cities that had sunk 

into complete decay, ' decline of illiis 

femilies need not excit : Par. xvi, 73-78 : 

" Se tu tiguardi a 

Diretro ad esse l.hiusi c amigaglia ; 
Udir come le schialte si disfanno, 

Non ti parrk nuova cosa, nh forte, 
Poscia che le cittadi termine hanno." 

The name of Luni is still preserved in that of the district, 
which is called the Lunigiana. Celli refers to the famous but 
long discredited Commentaria (Roma, 1498, 2 vols, folio) of 
Annius Viterbicnsis [i.e. Giovanni Nanni] who maintains that, 
after the Deluge, Noah, having sent forth his sons to inhabit 
the rest of the Earth, came himself to dwell in Etniria, and 
that Luna was one of the twelve cities which he built. As he 
introduced vinegrowing and wine into the district he acquired 
the name of lano, derived from la, a bringer, and In, wine, 
words in the Armenian tongue which Noah is supposed to have 
brought with him into the country 1 And from this, the town, 
and lubsequenlly the EuiTOunding territory, came to be called 
Luni lani, whence Lunigiana I ! 

+ ronea for arronca : This the Vocaiolario delta Crusca says 
is the same as the Greek OotwCCh, to root up weeds, and a pas- 
sage is quoted in which it is recommended that a field of buck- 
wheat ifaggina) be cleared of weeds (arronfaia) at the end of 

Canto XX. Readings on tlu Inferno. 121 

Ebbe trai bianchi marmi la spelonca 

Per sua dimora ; ohde a guardar le stelle 50 

£ il mar non gli era la veduta tronca. 

That one who has his back near his (Tiresias's) 
belly, is Aruns, who, in the mountains of Luni, 
where the Carrarese that dwells below (i,e, at 
their foot) tills the soil, had for his dwelling 
a cave among the white marbles ; whence his 
view was not cut off from observing the sea 
and the stars. 
Among ordinary persons, when one walks behind 
the other, it is the hindermost whose belly is near the 
back of the foremost ; but in this Circle it is just the 
contrary ; as they keep stepping backwards, the belly 
of Tiresias, who is in advance of Aruns, is nearly in 
contact with the back of Aruns, who follows the back 
of the head, and the front of the body of Tiresias. 

Division IIL This division is entirely taken up 
with the story of Manto, the daughter of Tiresias. 
Virgil relates at some length how the city of Mantua, 
his own birthplace, was founded by her, and hints 
that the topic is one which he takes pleasure in dis- 

He first points out the approaching form of Manto, 
whose face is turned towards the Poets, as with her 
body she is stepping backwards. Her hair, therefore. 

April, and be well hoed {sarchiatd) in the month of June. I 
mention this, because some translate ronca in this passage as 
^^ hoes^ It is, however, according to Blanc, and the Vocabolario 
della Cruscuy to be taken here in its wider sense as " to till, to 
cultivate the soil." 

122 Readings oh the Inferno. Canto 

falls down over her bosom, which, as well as the front | 

parts of her body, are not seen by the Foets. 

E quella die ricopre le maramelle, 

Che tu non vedi, con le iiccce sciolte, 

E ha di U ogni pJIosa pelle. 

Manio * fu, che cerc^ t per tcrre nialie, 


Poscia si 

Onde un \ 

m' ascolie. 

Poscia che il | 


£ venne t 


Questa gTi 

ondo glo. 


Suso in llalial 

Appii dell 


Supra Tin 


Per mille fonli, 


Tra Carda 

Apennino X 


Dclr nctiua che riel acliu ._ 

o slagna. 

* Manto: Blanc (5a£^'o) points oul that Dante in this pas- 
sage had represented Manto in Hell, but in Purg. xxii, 100-114, 
he describes how Virgil recounted to him ihc names of some of 
the shades in Liti^ (net firimo ringhio lUl (areert citco\ and in 
line 113, he says: 

" Evvi la figtia di Tircsia e Teti," 
whichjs usually supposed to mean Manto. Some, however, 
(e.g. Diodorus Siculus and Pausanias) say that Tiresias had 
two daughters, and that the one in Limbo is Daphne. Ulanc in 
his Vocabolario Danttsco approves this view. 

t cerci : Caslelvelio thinks that in this passage cerc<3 has not 
its usual signification as from quarcre, or else Dante would 
have said that Manto cercb ntolle terre, and not, as in the text, 
eerci per molte terrr, without saying what it was that she sought. 
The word in this passage must be interpreted, " roamed about 
as a vagabond through many lands ;" and Castelveiro says that 
Dante has looked back here to the real original sense of cercit, 
which is derived from Circuateo Or Ciraio, which means to go 
round and round. 

J Tra Carda t Val Camonica, Aptnnim: Garda is a small 

Canto XX. Readings on tfu Inferno. 

Loco t> * nel mezio ]&, dove il Trentino 
Pastore, c quel di Brescia, e il Veroi 
Segnar potria, se fesse quel c: 

town situated on the south-east shore of the lake of that n 
Val Camonica is otie of the largest valleys in Lombardy ; it 
extends for more than fifty miles from the chain of Tonale and 
the mountains lo the south of Bormio, as far as the Lake of 
Iseo. the River Oglio flows into the Lake of Iseo. 
Apennino : Scartazzini does not agree with BInnc (who, like 
many others, reads /V«ni«p), that this, from copyists' e 
become one of ihe most difficult passages in ihc Di-vtna Com- 
media. He says the difficulty has simply arisen from people 
not knowing that Aptnnino does not mean the chain of the 
Apennines, but a single mountain, Montt Apennino, and he 
explains ihnl the expression Ira Giwda e Val Camemca would, 
besides the lake ilsclf, include ihe whole of that chain of moun- 
tains from whose eastern slopes Ihe lake receives its waters. 
One single mountain in this chain is the Monte Apennino 
here spoken of, and at whose fool flows ihe River Toscolana 
Monte Apennino is nol marked in the maps, but it would seem 
to be situated between Gargnano and Mademo, on the western 
shore of Ihe Lago di Garda, Gelli lakes Monte Apennino as a 
inaUer of course. He says : "And ihis lake is formed by more 
than a thousand springs, thai have Iheir source in Monte Apen- 
nino between Garda and Val Camonica, which valley is in the 
territory of Brescia." The Four First Editions all read Apennino. 
Witte has a note in which he takes the same view as Gelli and 
Scarlazzini as to the Apennino in this passage being a single 
mountain. Vcllutello enlarges on the absurdity of supposing 
Apennino to be the chain of the Apennines. He remarks that 
they who support that view seem lo fotgel that the milU fonti, 
on the eastern slopes of the Apcnnine chain, all How by Ra- 
venna into the River Po, and nol into Lago Benaco. 

* Loco i nel mei3o lA, etc. : Velluiello, in the edition of Mar- 
colini, Venice, 15441 says of Ihis spot: "Nol far from Mal- 
senese, and opposite to an islet called San Giorgio, there is a 
place, of which ihc popular name is Termellon, but that is a 

124 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XX. 

And that woman, who with loosened Iresses 
covers her breasts, which lliou scest not, and 
has on that other side all the hairy skin, was 
Manto, who wandered through many lands, 
(and) afterwards settled there where I was 
born (i.e. Maniua) oKnnt uihii-h it pleases me 
that thou listen to After that 

her faiher Iiad depi nd the city 

of Bacchus (Theb ; enslaved, 

she for a long time the world. 

Up above in beav ; is a lake 

lying at the foot of lain of the 

Alps) which shuts above the 

Tyrol, which is cal ', the I^ke 

ofGardd). Ili^iwcen ^m,„, -. ilbge) and 
Val Camonica, (Mount) Apennino is laved, I 
believe, by more than a thousand springs of 
the water which (descends and) stagnates in 
the said lake (Benaco). In the midst (of the 
lake) there is a spot where (each of three 
bishops) the Pastor of Trent, and he of 
Hrescia, and he of Verona might give his 
lienediction (///. make the sign of tlie cross), 
if he travelled by that way. 

corruption. It should properly be called Terminon, from tir- 
mino (limit, boundary)." Scartaizini says it is the islet near the 
point of Manerba (near the S. W. corner of the lake), of which 
Ulshop Coniaga records that there was, on the upper part, a 
certain small chapel dedicated to St. Mar^faret (j'm emiiieniioti 
parte adicula quadam sanclce Miirgaretha dicnla) \ and which 
was under the jurisdiction of three bishops {Tridentino scilicet, 
Brixiensi, atq'ue Vtronensi). This islet belonged to the convent of 
the Franciscans, of which Bishop Goniaga had previously been 
the superior, and be mentioned the chapel as existing in his time. 

Canto XX. Readings on t/ie Inferno. 125 

The three dioceses of Trent, Brescia and Verona, 
meet in an island in the lake. 

Virgil passes on to describe the fortress of Peschiera, 
and Benvenuto says that he does so in order that he 
may proceed in regular order, and speak of the River 
Mincio, which there flows out of the lake, and thereby 
bring him to his subject matter, which is Mantua. 

Siede Peschiera, bello e forte arnese * 70 

Da fronteggiar Bresciani e Bergamaschi, 
Ove la riva intorno piu discescf 

Ivi convien che tutto quanto caschi 

Ci6 che in grcmbo a Benaco star non pu6, 

E fassi fiume giu pei verdi paschi. 75 

Tosto che V acqua a correr mette co, 

Non piu Benaco, ma Mincio si chiama 
Fino a Govemo, X dove cade in Po. 

Where the surrounding shore lies lowest, 
stands Peschiera, a fortress fair and strong 
to show a bold front to the Brescians and 

* bello e forte arnese : Compare Tasso, Ger, Ub,^ canto i, 

St. 67 : 

" Perch' cgli avea certe novclle intese, 

Che s' h d' Egitto il Re gi^ posto in via 

In verso Gaza, bello e fdrtc arnese 

Da fronteggiarc i Regni di Soria." 

f discese : Scartazzini says this stands here for dtscende. All 
the translators and commentators treat the word as though it 
were the present tense, but no one else has explained that 
such use is lawful, nor does Scartazzini give any reason. 

X Govemo^ better known as Govemolo^ is a small town about 
twelve miles from Mantua. It is on the right bank of the 
Mincio, and is situated at the point where that river flows into 
the Po. Attila is said to have had an interview here with 
Pope Leo I, and, at his intercession, to have promised to 
depart out of Italy. In the Middle Ages it was strongly fortified. 

Readings en t!u Inferno. Canto XX. 

Beiganicse. There must all that water neces- 
sarily overflow which cannot stay in the bosoin 
of Benaco, and Jt becomes a river through 
the verdant pastures. So soon as the water 
sets head to flow (as a rivei), it is no longer 

called Benaco, f™* "■' — ■ *■-- as Governo, 

where it falls in 

Benvenuto, giving 
the Lake of Garda 
the head of this h 
castle, which is call< 
Trento: while at the 
another castle very si 
Pischeria, in the diet 

iral description of 
lust know that at 
exceedingly fair 
in the diocese of 
the lake there is 
ig, which is called 
; and in the lake 

itself, at a distance from I'ischeria of perhaps six 
miles, there is a small island, which is called Sermione, 
where I saw remains of vast and very ancient buildings 
under ground : and this island is only inhabited by 
fishermen, nor is there anything grown there except 
the olive oil in which they fry those fish which are 
called carpiorti, which fish are excellent eating, and 
will keep a long time." 

Benvenuto speaks of the castle of Peschiera as 
being comparatively modern in his time, fortified with 
many a tower and bastion, and which was like the 
bulwark of the whole country side. 

Virgil, having described the Lake of Garda and the 
River Mincio, now mentions at what point in the 
course of this river his birthplace, Mantua, was 

C. Loria (L'ltalia neiia Divina Commedia, Mantua, 
1868) says: "The River Mincio begins under the 

Canto XX, Readings on the Inferno. 

walls of Peschicra, flows past Borghelto. Goito and 
Rivalta, at which latter point it forms the so-called 
Lago Soperiore of Mantua. This lagoon is artificial, 
the water of the Mincio being dammed up by one 
dike between the city and the citadel, and another 
between Porta Pradella and the outlying fortifica- 
tions. The water that is discharged by the sluices of 
the Lago Superiore forms two other artificial lakes 
that surround the city. At Pietole the river resumes 
its ordinary course as the Lower Mincio, which flows 
to the Po." 

From the above description we may see the accu- 
racy of Dante's word impaluda in the lines that follow, 
to show how the river spread out into a wide swamp. 
Non mollo ha corso, che Irova una lama,* 

Nella qual sE distende e la impaluda, So 

E suol di state lalora esser grama. t 
Not far has it flowed, when it finds a low- 
lying flat, in which it spreads out, and lums 
it into 3 swamp, and at limes in summer it is 
wont to be unhealthy. 

• lama: Gelli says this means a sftot which lies at a lower 
level than the surrounding plain, and he says ; " we 
cany) are accustomed so to call certain flats, which, from lying 
very low, are extremely damp, and on these we usually plar 
trees, because the soil is peculiarly favourable to their growth, 
and thence we talk of una lama <f albrri." 

\ grama : The Vocabolarie della Crusca gives as the third 
significHlion o^ gramo, " unhealthy, pestilential," and quotes the 
present passage in illustration. Scartaiiini objects to i) 
nificalion, contending that Danle has never used it in iha 
before, and would rather take it to mean that the sp 
inauspicious ; but Blanc interprets it, in this passage, a 
healthy," and Gelli also. 



128 Readings on (he Inferno. Canto XX. 

Being widened out into a shallow lagoon, it becomes 
stagnant in summer, from the evaporation of its waters, 
and gives forth malarious exhalations. 

Virgil now continues the story of Manto, showing 
how she selected this spot as remote from the dwell- ^ 

ings of nnen, and ---'-'-■- ■■-- "-, 
magic arts. She di 1 
had lived and dieQ 

e practice of her ^1 
ntua, but, after she ^| 
site, the ctty was ^| 

built by surroundii 

cted by the im- ^| 

pregnable position. 

Quindi passand i 

Vide lerra 

LI, per fuggire ( i 

Risteite co 1 


.d.. ■ 

ino, 85 ^ 

ue arii, 

E visse, e vi lascia suo corpo vano. 
i uomini poi, che intorno erano sparti, 
S' accolsero a quel loco, ch' era forte 
Per lo panian che avea da tutte parti. 

* vergine cruiia : Both Benvenuto and Gelli point out that it 
is only by poetic license that Manto is here spoken of as a 
virgin, for she is said by Virgil himself to have lieen married 
to a Tuscan husband, and to have hud sons ; of whom one was 
named Ocnus and the other Mopsus, llenvenuto thinks virgo 
must have been meant for virago, which is the same thing as a 
masculine woman, who follows masculine pursuits ; in the same 
way that Virgil speaks of Pasiphac (Gelli thinks ironically) as 
a virgin, when in fact she was the mother of Phcedra, Ariadne, 
and Androgeus. See Virg. Bucolica, Eel. vi, 45-47 : 
"Et fortunatam, si nunquam urmenta fuissent, 
Pasiphacin nivei solatur amore juvenci. 
Ah, virgo infelix 1 qux te dementia ccepit ? " 
Benvenuto suggests that possibly Manto may have been un- 
wedded when she first settled in this place, and have married 
and had children afterwards. 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 129 

Fer la cittk sopra quelP ossa morte ; 
£ per colei, che il loco prima elesse, 
Mantova V appellar senz* altra sorte. 

Passing by this spot, the fell virgin saw some 
ground in the middle of the fen, uncultivated 
and bare of inhabitants. There, to shun all 
human consort, she, with her slaves, abode 
to practise her arts, and dwelt, and (at her 
death) left her tenantless body. Afterwards, 
the men who were dispersed round about, 
gathered together at that spot, which was 
strong by reason of the lagoon that it had on 
all sides. They constructed the city above 
those dead bones (of Manto) ; and after her, 
who first selected the spot, they named it 
Mantua without other augury. 

It was usual in ancient times to consult omens before 
naming a city, as may be read in Livy as to the 
origin of Rome, or in Varro as to the foundation of 
Athens, and Benvenuto says that Valerius Maximus 
in his second book relates that, in olden time, no 
public or private matters were undertaken until 
auguries had been performed. Benvenuto adds that, 
as Augury is one of the species of divinations, the 
allusion here comes in very well. 

Virgil, having related the origin of Mantua, now 
speaks of the days of its greatest prosperity, lest any, 
seeing the decadence into which it had fallen in the 
time of Dante, might be ignorant of its former mag- 
nificence. He then charges Dante to recollect that 
his is the true account of the origin of Mantua, and 
to contradict any other stories that he may hear, 
which do not tally with it. 
II. I 

130 Rt-adings oh the Inft-nio, Canto XX. 

Gifi Tur le genii sue dentro piu spcsse, 

Prima che U matlla da Casalodi,* 95 

Da Pinanionte inganno ricevcsse. 
Peri) t' asscnno, che ac tu inai odi 
Originar la mia terra altrimenti, 
La veritk nulla meniogna frodi." — 
Formerly its po re thick within 

(the walls), bef idity of him of 

Casalodi was w. the deceit of 

Pinamonte. T 1 thee, that if 

ever thou hear in ascribed to 

my native city, d defraud the 

Gelli thinks that ieem to show that, 

in Dante's lime, some ot r acc« unt of the founda- 
tion of Mantua must have found credence. 

Division IV. The long digression about Mantua 
having been brought to an end, Dante, returning to 
the main subject of the canto ffirst, however, acknow- 
ledging himself to be fully convinced of the accuracy 
of Virgil's statements), asks his Leader to point out 
any other noteworthy spirits. 

* la mal/la da Casalodi : The Guelph Counts of Casalodi in 
117] obtained possession of Maniua. Alberto di Casalodi 
foolishly allowed himself to be persuaded by Pinamonte de' 
Buonacossi, a noble of Mantua, that he would ingratiate himself 
with the people if he t>anished to their own castles all the nobles 
who were obnoxious to them. This being done, Pinamonte 
himself seiied the government, drove out the Casalodi, and put 
to a great slaughter all the nobles remaining in the city who 
were adherents of the deposed family. 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 

Ed io :— " Maesiro, i tuoi ragionamenii 

Mi son si certi, e prendon si mia fede, 
Che g!i altri mi sarian carboni spenti. 
Ma dimmi delln p;ente che procede, 

Se tu ne vedi alcun degno di nola ; 
Chi solo a ci6 la mia menle rifiede. "— * 
And 1 1 " Master, thy reasonings are to me so 
convincing, and so constrain my belief, that 
the others would be to me like spent coals 
{i.e. without light or warmth). But tell me of 
the people that are moving past, if thou seesl 
any worthy of notice ; for on this alone is my 
mind intent." 
During the long narration by Virgil, the Poets had 
been walking on, and had passed quite out of sight 
of the group in which was Manto, and the forms 
that Dante now sees belong to a different section of 
the shades in this Bolgia. 

Virgil, complying with Dante's request, points out 
the other most remarkable Diviners, the first noticed 
being Eiirypylus, the augur who predicted the fortu- 
nate hour for the departure of the Grecian fleet 
against Troy. 

Allor mi disse :— " Quel, che dalla gola 
Porge labarba in sulle spalle brune, 
Fu, quando Grecia fu di masclii vota 
SI che appena rimaser per le cune, 

Augure, e diede il punlo con Calcania i lo 

In Aulide a tagliar la prima fune. 

• rifiedi : Blanc interprets : " mon esprit nc vise, ne s'attache 
qu'ii cela, mein Geist strebt nur darnach." Carlyle explains it : 
'' Strikes back, impetuously returns." The Vocabolario della 
Crusia gives this interpretation: "aspirare o inlendere a 

chcchessia." Some read risirde. 
11. I 2 

Readings on the hife 

Euripilo ebbe nome, e cosl il c 

L' al[a mia Tragedfa * in alcun loco : t 
" ' " a quanta. 
Then lie said to me : " That one, who from the 
cheek si^reads out his beard over his swarthy 
shoulders, was an augur, when Greece was so 
emptied of n any were left 

(even) in tV together with 

• Valta mia Tragee edicating the Paradise 

to Can Gnnde delU s the most clear and 

precise reasons why (he ^ncid Tragedta, 

while he himseir terms nmedia ; he says : 

" Commtilia is, in fa ative in verse difTering 

from all other kinds : diHers from Tragtdiii 

in this, that Tr<igedia nceincnt marvellously 

tranquil, and at its ^ alastrophc, felid and 

horrible. That is just wny it is callea Tragedia, that is from 
Tp^TOf, a goat, and flt^ a song, almost, one might say, a hircine 
song (canlus hircinus), that is, fetid as is a goat, as appears in 
the tragedies of Seneca. Commedta commences with the dis- 
agreeable side of the subject, but has a prosperous ending, as 
may be seen in the comedies of Terence .... In like manner 
Tragtdia and Commidia are quite unlike in their diction, for 
the first is elevated and sublime, and the second subdued and 
humble in its style, as Horace maintains in his Ars Poclica 
(v. 93. et seq.) : 

" [nterdum lamen el vocem comcedia tollit, 
Iratusque Chremes tumido delitigat ore ; 
£t tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri." 
Il is noteworthy that, just after alluding to the Tragtdia ai 
Virgil, Dante speaks of his own Commedia in the ojiening of 
next canto, line i-s : 

" altro parlando 
Che la mia commedia cantar non cura." 
\in alcun loco; See Vlrg. jEn. ii, 114 : 

" Suspensi Eurypylum scitatum oracula Phcebi 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inftmo. 


Calchas at Aulis gave the time for cutting 
the first cable. His name was Eurypylus, and 
ao {i.e. by that name) my lofty tragedy sings 
in a certain passage, well dost thou know it, 
who knowest the whole (ililneid). 
The next shade pointed out is that of Michael 
Scott, of whom licnvciiuto says that he was of the 
Island of Scotland, and understood all the falsehoods 
of necromancy ; and in this is to be seen the foolish 
ignorance of the lower classes, who attribute to magic 
all that they cannot comprehend. Virgil is a good 
instance of this, for they credited him with doing 
many things by magic arts, which, Benvenuto says, 
are utterly untrue, as he has shown elsewhere. Ben- 
venuto adds that he has often heard many things as- 
serted about this same Michael Scott, which he 
reputes more as fictions than as facts. 

Quell' allro clie ne' fianchi i cost poco,* 115 

Michele Scottot fu, che veramente 
Dellc magiche frode aeppe il gioco. 

• QuflV allro che ne' Ji,mcki i cos\ poco : Polello says there 
are two ways or interpreting this. Either thai Michael Scott 
I to the rule which made all magicians ema- 
ciated ; or else that his closely girded form gave him that 
appearance. But, as Biagioli points out, the shades in Hell 
: naked, and tlicrefoie his spareness must be attributed to 
venulo says : " Hoc dicit, vej quia erat natura- 
titer talis, vel quia propter studium erat mirabiliter extenualus." 
t Michele Scotto : Sir Michael Scott, of Balwearie, in Scotland, 
flourished during the 13th century, and was a man of much 
learning, chiefly acquired in foreign countries. He wrote a com- 
mentary on Aristotle, printed at Venice in 1496 ; and several 
treatises upon natural philosophy, from which he appears 10 have 
been addicted to the abstruse studies of judicial astrology, a1- 

1 34 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XX. 

That otiier one who ts eo fpare about the 
loins, was Michael Scott, who verily knew the 
trick of (he impostures of magic. 

chemy, physiognomy, and chiromancy. Hence he passed amoiiB 

his contemporaries f< Uempsier (//ir/f r/ii 

EccUsimiica, 1637, b ihai he remembers to 

have heard in his yoi raoks of Michael Scott 

were siill in exi-itenci opened without danger, 

on account of the m were thereby invoked. 

Landino observes iha puled 10 be a Spaniard, 

but that all agree il iceUent astrologer and 

magician. And he o 1 to a banquet without 

making any prepara' id then at the lime of 

serving up he would bring the dishes from 

various places, and w. e dish came from the 

kilchen of ihc king of i-rancc, anuiner from ihal of the king of 
England, and so on. On this, Boccaccio remarks : " See, O 
Reader, what an age of blessed ignorance that must have 
been 1 " The Anonitno Fiortnlino relates that once, at a ban- 
quet, Michael Scott was asked to give some demonstration of 
his art, and although it was in January, he suddenly made appear 
upon the tables vines loaded with grapes, and having requested 
each guest, knife in hand, to lay hold on a bunch, at the instant 
when Michael gave the word "cut," both grapes and vines 
vanished. Benvenuto says that, although some of bis predic- 
tions came true, others did not, and notably, that one wherein 
he foretold the death of his lord, Frederick II, as to lake place 
at Florence, whereas it happened, not at Florentia in Tuscany, 
but at Florenliolit in Apulia Hut he seems to have foreseen 
his own death, and with all his arts to have been unable to 
avoid it. He had predicted that he would be killed by a cer- 
tain small stone of a certain exact weight falling upon his head. 
To guard against this, he used to wear an iron lining to his 
hood, but on entering a church on the occasion of the feast of 
the Corfius Domini, he lowered his hood in sign, not of real 
veneration, for he was an unbeliever, but to impose upon the 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 

Two Diviners are now named, the one an Astrologer 
of the highest order, the other a cobbler. As we 
noticed beTore, Bartoli thinlo that it is out of con- 
tempt that Dante places them in such proximity. 
He also mentions certain witches. 

Vetli Guido Bonaiti * vedi A5deiHe,+ 

so nl cuoio cd alio spago 
Ora vorrcbbe, ma lardi si pente. i3a 

worshippers. At that instant a small stone fell upon his head, 
and inflicted a very slight wound. But Michael, after carefully 
weighing it, found it was of the precise weight that he had 
foretold, and thereupon he set his house iu order and died. 

* Cuido Donatli was a celebrated astrologer of Forll, at the 
time that it was under the Dominion of the Ghibelline chief, 
Count Guido da Montefeltro, who is said for a time to have 
relied greatly on Guido Bonalti's predictions. Benvenuto re- 
lates, however, a long story showing how the faith of the Count 
rologer was entirely destroyed by his failing to pre- 
which a certain peasant had warned the Count 
would assuredly take place, from certain movements he had 
observed of his ass's ears. The ass proving the better weather 
prophet, Cuido Bonatti fell into disgrace with Guido da Montefel- 
tro, and according to tradition died of grief in consequence. He 
nslrology, which is mentioned by Muratori, 
Gelli, and other 

i Asiknie was a cobbler of Parma, whom Benvenuto dis- 
misses very contemptuously, saying thai, if he did presage 
It must have been from nature rather than from litera- 
ture, of which he was utterly ignorant. In Cottvito, iv, t6 (Miss 
Hillard's translation) Uante thus mentions Asdente : "There 
are indeed some fools who think that by this word 'noble' is 
meant that which is known and talked of by many ; and they 
;s from a verb thai means ' to know ' i. e. nosco; and 
Ibis is most false, because, if it were so, the things which of 
their kind were most known and talked of would be the most 

136 Readmga m tkt Infirm. Cuito XX. 

Vedi le triste cbe UacnroB P ago^ 

La ipuola e il liiM, e fecenl ladiirins ; 
Fecer maOe coa eibe e eon imaga 
See Guido Bonatti, aee Aadente^wbo DOW vonld 
wish he had attended to tbe leatfaer and the 
twine, but repentt too late. See the wietdied 
women who abandoned the needle^ Uie ihuttl^ 
and the distaff, and made tbemulrei ibrtnne- 
tellers ; and wrought incantationt widi hofae 
and with image (of wax). 
The Poets are now qiitttbig the Foarth, and are 
passing into the Fifth So^ia, in which are punished 
the Barrators, that is, those who trafficked for public 
offices, or did so while holding them. We now come 
to one or the most important references to time in 
the Inferno ; where Vii^il tells Dante that the moon, 
which only on the previous day had been at the full, 
is just setting on the horizon. Dr. Moore i^Tinie 
References, page 43) says that the time is indicated 
by the setting of the moon beneath Seville, i. e. in 
the west The extreme west limit of the world was 
in those days regarded as the Pillars of Hercules, 
which term was often variously expressed by Dante, 
as Spain, Cadiz, the Ebro, Morocco, etc. The time 
therefore now indicated would be about 6 a.m. on 
Easter Eve. The allusions in the Inferno are never 
to sun-rising, but to moon-setting. Dr. Moore con- 
noble or thai kind ; and thus the obelisk of St. Peter's would 
be the most noble stone in the world ; and Asdente, the cobbler 
of Parma, would be more noble than any of bis fellow-citizens 
. . . therefore il is most &lse that ' noble ' comes from nesco, 
but it comes from ' luut-viW j whence * noble ' is almost the same 
as ' noM-vile.' ' 

Canto XX. Readings on the Inferno. 137 

siders that all Dante's calculations refer to the calen- 
dar moon, and not to the real moon. 

Ma vienne omai, ch^ gik tiene il confine 

D' amendue gli emisperi, e tocca 1' onda 125 

Sotto Sibilia, Caino e le spine,* 

£ pur icrnotte fu la luna tonda : 

Ben ten dee ricordar, ch^ non ti nocque t 
Alcuna volta per la selva fonda." — 

S) mi parlava, ed andavamo introcque. % 150 

But now come on, for already Cain and the 

* Caino e le spine : Compare Par, ii, 49-51 : 
" Ma ditemi, che son li segni bui 

Di questo corpo, che laggiuso in terra 
Fan di Cain favoleggiare altrui ?" 
This was the old Italian way of saying, The Man in the 

Several passages in Shakespeare's Midsummer NighCs Dream 
refer to the same belief. Act iii, sc. i : 

" Find out moonshine . . . Why, then you may leave a case- 
ment ... open ; and the moon may shine in at the casement . . . 
Aye ; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and 
a lantliorn and say, he comes to disfigure or to present the 
person of moonshine." 
Again in act v. sc. i : 

" This lanthorn doth the horned moon present ; 
Myself the man i th' moon do seem to be . . . 


All that I have to say is to tell you that the lantern is the 
moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn-bush my thorn- 
bush ; and this dog my dog." 

t non ti nocque Alcuna volta : This means that the moon 
helped him with her light. Scartazzini says that not only may 
we infer that Uante was many hours in the dark wood, but 
that, allegorically, it is a retrospect of his whole life. 

J introcque : Benvenuto says this word, from ihterhoc^ in the 
interim^ was in use in the time of Dante, but in his (Ben- 


Rfadings on t/ie Inferno. Canto XX. 

thorns {i.e. the Moon) occupies the boundary 
of hath the hemispheres {i.r. stands on the 
horizon), and touches the wave beneath {i.e. 
to the west of) Seville, and only last night 
was the Moon fuH : well shouldest thou recol- 
lect it, for she ''■'' '*— " "" *"'"' several times 
in the deep t spalce to me, 

and ineanwhi on. 

Gelli remarks H Ihc Inferno, Dante 

never omits to des< ^ery six hours, fol- 

lowing the opinion :rs, who held that 

during the twenty re were four per- 

ceptible changes i as there are four 

marked by the tide li wonders why no 

commentator except .„^ er noliced this be- 

fore. He cites in Inf. i, 37, the commencement of the 
day. In canto ii, 1-3, he thinks he sees two distinct 
time references, evidently taXixngLo giorno sen' andava, 
to mean that the turn of the day, after noon, had 
occurred ; and the rest of the line, where he describes 

venuio's) lime it had already fallen into disuse at Florence, but 
was still preserved at Perugia. In Dt Vulg. Elcq. 1, cap. xiii, 
Dante himself cites the word as an instance of a Florentine 
barbarism : " Et quoniam Tusci prx aliis in hac ebrietate 
bacchant ur, dignum, utilequc vldeiur municipal ia vulgaria 
Tuscanorum singulatim in aliquo depompare. Loquuntur 
Floreniini, ct dicunt : 

' Manuchiamo inCrocque : 
Non facciamo aliro.' " 
In Macbiavelli's somewhat spiteful Diicorso in eui si esamina 
St ia Lingua, in cui scrissero Dante, il Boccaccio, t il Pelrarca, 
si debba ckiamare Ilaliana, Toscana, o Fiorcntina, he throws 
especial ridicule upon introcque. 

Canto XX. Readings oh the Inferno. 


how the darkening air was sending the animab to 
rest, to refer to the fall of night. In vii, 98-9, the 
sinking of every star that had been rising when they 
set out, marks midnight or thereabouts. Gelli thinks 
the allusions in xi, 113, about the Pisces quivering on 
the horizon, as well as this one in canto xx, are made 
out of respect to popular prejudice, which requires 
the dawn to be marked as well as the sunrise, both, 
in their different ways, denoting the commencement 
of another day. 

End of Canto XX. 

Readings on the ln/e< 

mo. Canto XXI. 


IE Eighth '"••>"»' '- — -y 


IE Fifth 

The Bar 



The Bon 

The Malt 

In this canto we an the arch of tlie 

bridge that surmou 'olgia. In ihc val- 

ley below them are boiling pitch all 

those public officials who trafficked for the purchase 
or the sale of offices of state, or traded with those 
who sought the interest or favour of their employers. 
Two cantos are devoted to the Barrators,* and in this 

* Tht narrators ; Gelli states ihai in his lime (1590) ilie word 
barratteria meant something pcrfccily ditferent from wlint it did 
in the lime of Dante, namely, a place of public entertainment 
where cards and dice, exclusively supplied to customers by the 
establishment, were used, and the bead of this place, called 
the barattiire, was bound 10 repay any money that was lost with 
cards or (lice other than those he supplied. In the time of 
Dante such places were known as biicazxe. Gelli remembers 
two of iheae establishments at Florence, near where the public 
women used to take their stand, liut biiriitteria in 1300 meant 
the abuse and violation of justice, and by baraltieri were under- 
stood men, who being corrupted by money or other profit, 
bought and sold justice. Murray (A New English Dictionary 
on Historical PrincipUs^ Oxford, 1885) gives the following sig- 
nifications of Barrator among Others : (i) One who deals 

Canto XXI, Readings on the Inferno. 141 

twenty-first canto Dante confines himself to the con- 
sideration of those in the first category, namely, they 
who trafficked for the purchase or sale of public 

We may note that no two classes of sinners roused 1 
such indignation in Dante as the Simonists and the 
Barrators. Each class marred the purity of his ideal I 
state, wherein the Pope should exercise the .spiritual 
functions and the Emperor the temporal. The 
Simonists traded for the spiritual offices, the Bar-, 
rators for the temporal offices. Against the Simonists' 
he was unable to restrain his outspoken wrath ; the 
Barrators, however, he represents as reduced to such 
degradation that their condition only excites ridicule 
and contempt. 

Benvenuto divides this canto into four parts. 

In the First Division y from v. i to v. 21, Dante 
describes the pitch boiling in the Bolgia, and com- 
pares it to that which he has seen in the Arsenal at 

In tfu Second Division, from v. 22 to v. 57, he sees 
a black demon bring the body of a Barrator, which he 
casts into the pitch. 

Ill the Third Division, ifrom v. 58 to v. loj, the 
Demons, who are about to attack Dante, are appeased 
by the remonstrances of Virgil. 

In the Fourth Division, from v. 1 06 to v. 139, the 
chief of the Demons, Malacoda, tells off ten of his 
band to escort the Poets along the edge of the Bolgia. 

fraudulenlly with business or office ; (j) a person who buys or 
sells ecclesiaslical preferment, a simoniac or simonisl s one 
who buys or sells oflices of stale ; (3) a judge who takes bribes. 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXI. 

Division I. Dante begins this canto by linking it 
on to tlie last one, showing that there was no break 
in his conversation with Virgil until their attention 
was aroused by a new scene. 

Cos), di pome in pooie, allro parlando 

Che la mia mmm^dU • raniar HOD cura, 
Venimmo no, quando 

Risiemmo pei jra 

Di Makb ilivani:t 5 

E vidila t i. 

: Gelli r 
btamed Danie for callii 
had persuaded ihemscl 
sort of composition tha_ 
Cireeks, or those laid dc 
Poetics which was in ex, 

af his contemporaries 
media, and that they 
d a right to make any 
bllow the rules of the 
in ihat poriion of bis 
days ; and which he 
laments that his i^rnorance ol Greek Has compelled him to 
study only from Latin versions. He says that, if it be an error 
on Dante's part to call a Commedia that which travels so far 
from the rules of the Greek stage, it was a far more excusable 
error in 1300, when so little knowledge of Greek subjects had 
reached luily, than it would have been in his (Gelli's) time in 
ijba Gelli protests against a slavish imiiaiion of all that is 
Greek. Many artists have begun by following the ancients, and 
then afterwards have improved upon (bem. Neither Brunel- 
leschi in building the great Cupola ai Florence, nor Michael 
Angelo in his many great works, lied themselves down to 
ancient rules of architecture, and yet their works are none the 
less beautiful ; so that there Is no cause (o wonder that Dante 
too has composed a poem, which though not strictly in accord- 
ance wiih the rules of the ancients, yet possesses no less art 
and no less beauty than their compositions. 

\ gli altri pianli vani : Iliagioli says this is a very beautiful 
way of expressing poetically : gli altri che piangono in vano, 
hke the passage in Inf. xiii, 131-2 : 

" che piangea, 

Per le rotture sanguinenti, invano." 

Canlo XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 143 

Thus discoursing on other matters which my 
Comedy cares not to sing, we came along 
from bridge to bridge, (namely, from the 
fourth Co the tifth), and we had gained the 
: (of the fifth), when we stopped to 
look (down) upon the next fissure of MaUbolge, 
nnd the other vain lamentations {i.e. a new 
set of sinners weeping in vain); and I saw it 
(was) marvellously dark. 

Although Dante is more especially speaking of 
their passage from the bridge of the Fourth Bolgia to 
that of the Fifth, he probably intends also to speak 
generally of all the bridges they have left behind 
them. Benvenuto thinks they were talking about the 
soothsayers. No doubt, as they traversed each bridge- 
way, they would be speaking of what they had most 
recently seen : and this not only shows the great 
length of the bridge-ways, but also leaves one to infer 
that Dante had only touched upon the most striking 
incidents and mentioned the most important person- 
ages, although there were many more that he did not 
think worthy of his notice. 

Benvenuto remarks that Dante "has given to the 
Barrators a most suitable punishment. He represents 
them tormented in a valley filled with glowing and 
boiling pitch, and this for several allegorical reasons. 
First, because pitch is dark and black, and barratry 
blackens with infamy ; secondly, because pitch is 
tenacious, viscous, and sticky, and so is barratry, 
which is founded upon Avarice, and whosoever is 
once infected with it is never again able to get quit 
of it ; thirdly, because pitch defiles all who touch it, 


as Solomon has said. And, in like manner, this 
barratry is a pitch so contagious, that if a very saint 
were to enter a court, or hold offices about a ( 
he would become a Barrator, as, in fact, I have myself 
witnessed in several cases ; fourthly, because all that 
is below the surfai-p of thp m'trh is unseen, and, in 

like manner, bai 
secretly. And 
punishment of tl 
about the arsenal 
of great extent a 
and all the machii 
for them ; and, i. 
pitch for caulking 
there, seething in la: 

craft occultly and 
mte) describes the 
:autiful comparison 
ns, which is a place 
ere ships are built, 
9 that are necessary 
large quantity of 

always to be seen 

Quale nell' Arzank* de' Viniiiani 

* net/' ArianA : I translate Scart.aiiini's note here ; " artatitl 
= arienalt, Dyiantine V"^"!', from the Arabic ildrfanaA — a 
house of industry, a factory, where any particular thing may 
be manufactured, especially ships ; Persian Aarsanak. The 
arsenal of which Dante speaks is the old one, built in a.d. i 104, 
and this, in the time of Danle, was reckoned one of the most 
important in Europe, Everything connected with shipbuilding 
was prepared there. The chief glory of the Venetian arsenal 
were the CaUa»*e (Galeasses), which were real floating for- 
tresses, tow in the water, of great beam, and with crews of 
upwards of a thousand men. The arsenal was surrounded by 
high battlemented walls and flanked by towers. It was con- 
siderably increased in siie in 1303, or thereabouts. The new 
arsenal was built by Andrea Pisano in 1337." It might be 
added that at Genoa the Arsenal and Dockyard are called La 
Dahena, not F Arstnalt. 

Canto XXL Readings on the Inferno. 

Bollc I' inv 
A rimpalm 

o la H 

r It lor legni non sani, 
)n ponno, e in quella vece to 

Chi fa suo legno nuovo, e chi ristoppa 
Le coste a quel che piii viaggi fece ; 
Chi ribatte da proda, e chi da poppa ; 
Altri fn reini,'!- ed aliri volge sarle ; 
Chi terzcrunio ed nriimon rintoppa ; i j 

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians boils in the 
winter the tenacious pitch for recautking their 
! that are not water-lighi, which they 
cannot send out to sea, and iti lieu thereof 
one is buildinghimselfanewship, and another 
is recaiillting llie sides of that one which has 
made many voyages; one hammers at ihe prow, 
and another at the stern ; one is making oars, 
and another is twisting the cordage; one mends 
n-sail, and (another) ihe main-sail. 
Gelli in 1560, called the attention of his auditory 

n fimno, 1 in quella vece, etc. : Some read ehi 
instead of the. and Blanc {Saggio, p. ao6) says it is rallier difficult 
to determine whether the che is the relative referring to the ships, 
or ehi in the sense of " because," and referring to the Venetians. 
There cannot be any certainty as lo this, since all the ancient 
editions were without accents or slops. Some translate in quella 
J thereof" (as 1 do), others take it lo mean "under 
those c 

1 Danie is probably here alluding (o the huge oars 
that were used in the galleys. Each oar was pulled by five 
1, usually gal ley- staves, although some of the galleys were 
rowed by free men. In the narrow streets and alleys of Genoa 
one may still see, here and there, fixed (o the outer walls of 
houses, iron brackets on which one of these oars used lo rest 
The oar, when required, was lifted down and carried lo the port 
by the five men who had to man it. 

14^ Readings on tfit Inferno. Canto XXI, 

to the lucidity of the lecture of Benvenuto on this 
passage, given nearly 200 years before. He remarks : 
"Benvenuto da Imola, who always considers every 
word of the text with the greatest diligence, says 
that Dante has introduced this description, in order 
to show lis, at the ■■ ■ ^,_ ij|^.g j^e Arsenal 

at Venice, this Boi boiling pitch, and 

what was in it ; am reover what Courts 

are, which are the i crime of Barratry 

reigns supreme, as in of Justice, And 

I [Gelli], that you tie observation and 

thecareofthisman 1 going to repeat to 

you his very words lysclf ad lithmm ; 

for his Commentary often told you, in 

Latin. 'Reader, coii _. arvellous power of 

imagination of Dante; who describes with the greatest 
minuteness that place which he had often watched at 
Venice ; and by which he has expressed to us this 
general and universal vice of Barratry. Suppose 
then the Arsenal to represent some Court, either of 
a Republic, or of some sovereign prince; but much 
rather that of the Pope. The pitch boiling in the 
Arsenal is the Barratry which boils there chiefly in 
the winter time, which means, in the time of adversity ; 
for it is then that the Barrators make their greatest 
efforts to find some snug place ; for the wind is ad- 
verse for them, and they cannot safely put out to sea. 
And like as, at the Arsenal, there are going on such 
a number of different operations and exercises of men, 
so at the Court there are always aspirations and posts 
of various kinds, and of various persons, each of 
whom notwithstanding, from the highest to the lowest. 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 147 

according to the position he holds, gives his whole 
mind to trafficking. Well therefore does Dante draw 
the picture of one man building a new ship, because he 
is using all his endeavours to contrive to get a footing 
at the Court, or to obtain some comfortable post, 
with ivhich, so to speak, he can put out to sea. 
Another strives hard to remake or repair worn-out 
timbers, full of cracks and openings, so tliat his ship 
be not swallowed up, And so at Courts any one, who 
has aged in some public office, finding himself broken 
down and grievously injured by the evil tongues and 
plots of many, against which rocks he has struck, that 
is, envy and detraction, does his best to fill up these 
cracks and openings with oakum, that is, with rich 
gratuities, and strives by numberless machinations to 
protect himself, in order that the storm may not 
penetrate through some fissure into his bark, and 
shipwreck him in his property or his person. The 
description, too, of one hammering at the stem and 
another at the stern is well chosen ; for some there 
are who provide beforehand against an evil day, while 
others wait until after misfortune has befallen them, 
and then repair it in the best way they can. Another 
makes oars, because he wishes to row in greater 
security along the shore, not wishing to venture forth 
into the deep sea, that is, because he is either unable 
to be admitted into the secret Council, or cares not 
to be so. Another is twisting ropes, that is, arranging 
snares and frauds, with which he may beguile and 
ensnare people, the rope signifying Fraud,* as we 

* We must remember ihai ihis ivas ihe signification aiiached 

148 Readings oh the Inferno. Canto XXL 

noticed before, when Geryon was siimmoned by it. 
Others are making sails of various sizes, because, when 
anyone wishes to navigate the deep sea at a Court, 
then he must hoist his sail, that is, his intelligence and 
wit, that he may catch a large amount of wind, which 
is the favour of hi; ' )f the people ; for 

favour is truly like at one time will 

exalt a man to thf another hurl him 

down into the deei e are others who, 

content with little, w II sail, and others, 

i^ain, who will hois at once. Many 

other things are mat e Arsenal, which, 

for brevity's sake, Di lentton.' " 

These remarks by id at the Court of 

a sovereign prince, L^.,...o uc ivicdici, in 1560) on 
the discussion of the passage in the text by Benve- 
nuto da Imola, who seems to have been intimately 
acquainted with the intrigues of a Republican Court 
in 1375, are particularly interesting ; for, as Benvenuto 
observes. Barratry existed alike under the monarchical 
and under the republican form of government. 

Dante had begun to speak of the boiling pitch in 
lines 7, 8, and, after the parenthesis about the Arsenal, 
he returns to the main subject, and describes the 
immense lake of boiling pitch in this Bolgia. 
Tal, non per foco, ma per divina arie 
DoUia laggiuso una pcgola spessa 
a la ripa da ognj parte. 

to the cord by Benvenuto, in common with most of the older 
commentators, though the view we adopted was, that it repre- 
sented the asceticism of ihe Order of St. Francis, which Order 
Uante had once entered in order to mortify the lusts of the flesh. 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 149 

lo vedea lei, ma non vedeva in essa 

Ma' che * le bolle che il bollor levava, 20 

£ gonfiar tutta, e riseder compressa. 

So, not (heated) by fire, but by Divine agency, 
there was boiling down there a thick pitch 
which belimed the bank on every side. I 
saw it, but I saw nothing more in it than the 
bubbles which the ebullition raised, and (I 
saw) the whole heave up, and contracting 
subside again. 

Division II. Dante now observes one of the Male- 
branchey or black demon custodians of this Bolgia^ 
whose duty it is tq torment the wretched beings im- 
mersed in the pitch. The one Dante first notices 
brings a sinner whom he casts into the pitch, and, as 
the demon speeds away, the Poets are not long 
before they are brought into contact with the whole 
of the loathsome crew. 

Dante is staring down with all his eyes, and trying 
to make out the horrible spectacle, when he is roused 
by the warning of imminent danger at hand. He 
looks round and sees the demon. 

Mentr' io laggiii fisamente mirava, 

Lo Duca mio, dicendo :— " Guarda, guarda,** — 

Mi trasse a s^ del loco dov' io stava. 
Allot mi voisi come T uom cui t tarda 25 

Ui veder quel che gli convien fiiggire, 

£ cui paura subita sgagliarda, 

* mcC che = magis quam : Gelli says the expression was in 
common use in Dante's time, and in Gelli's own time was still 
retained in Lombardy. 

t cui tarda : Others read che tarda^ which means that the 
man delays to look at his danger until he has run far enough 

Miicic 1 was standing. Then I turned nie 
round like the man who is impatient to see 
that (danger) from which he must perforce 
flee, and whom sudden fear unmans, who, in 
order to see, does not delay his departure 
{t,e. he runs away looking back) : and I saw 
behind us a black Demon come running along 
the rocky bridge-way. 

The repulsive scene with the Demons, which com- 
mences here, is continued through this canto and the 
next, and only terminates at 1. 57 of canto xxiii. 
The great length of the episode shows the importance 

away to make him feel secure : cut tarda is, ** to whom it seems 

a very long endless time," until he can see what he dreads to look 

jpon : that impatient feeling that cannot endure the suspense 

)f waiting for an evil that one knows is going to befall one. 

A similar case to this is found in Plato {RepubL iv, paragr. 

40) where Leontius, the son of Aglaion, coming up one day 

om the Piraeus, under the north wall observed some dead 

odies lying on the ground after execution. He felt a longing 

°sire to see them, and also a disgust and abhorrence of 

em ; for a time he turned away and averted his eyes, and 

en, suddenly overcome by the impulse, forced them open, and 

n up saying to them [his eyes], "Take vonr fin — 

Canto XXI. Readings en tite Inferno. 151 

Dante attached to the crime of barratry and its 

He now describes the demon and the hapless 
shade that he is bearing to its doom. Blanc insists 
that the demon was carrying the sinner, having him 
astride on his shoulders, and holding him with his 
taloned hands.* This is the posture understood by 
the old commentators, and not that which is adopted 
by Flaxman, where the demon holds the feet over 
his shoulders, while the body hangs down his back. 
Uenveniilo's view, however, agrees with that of Flax- 
man, and I also find that posture adopted in the illus- 
trations of the Divina Commedia by Sandro Botticelli 
{Zeichmtngen vcn Botticelli sn Dante's Komoedie, Berlin, 


Ahi quanlo egli era nell' aspetio fiero T 
E quanlo mi parea nell' alto acerbo, 
Con r ale aperlc, e sopra il pif leggiero ! 
L' oinero siio, cli' era acuto e superbo, 

Carcava iin peccstor con ambo l' ancbe, 35 

E quel tenea de' pit giiermilo il nerbo. 
Ah I how ferocious was he in look I and in act 
how cruel he seemed to me, with wings out- 
spread, and light upon ihe foot (i.e. flying and 
running at the same time) 1 His shoulder, which 
was square and high, was encumbered by a 
sinner with both haunches, and he (the demon) 
held the tendons of the feet fast griped. 
Benvenuto thinks he was holding him just as a hawk 
• Sir Frederic Burton kindly pointed out to me that in Michael 
Angela's great picture of the Last Judgment, In the Sixtine 
Chapel at Rome, one of the sinners is represented being carried 
by a demon in a posture someivliat similar to this, though even 
more grotesque. 

152 Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxi. 

would clutch a quail in its talons. Gelli explains that 
the v/oxA ghermito expressly signifies quel ferire, striti- 
gere, e teuere die fanno gli uccelli rapaci, and that the 
sinner's feet were being wounded by the talons. 

A demon appears to have awaited the death of the 
sinner on earth, a: carried him off to 

Minos the instant :r his sentence had 

been pronounced, 1 the sinner away to 

the lake of pitch, 1, and his terrible 

comrades did their ting the quivering 

frame so soon as it the surface. 

The demon now st of the band ; but 

it is only by readii ty with which they 

fell upon the suftere. ide acquainted with 

their appearance upon the scene. TJiis is, I think, the 
only passage in the ////fmo, where we are allowed to 
see the arrival of a shade at its place of punishment. 

The demon informs his companions that the victim 
is one of the rulers of Lucca, which city, he tells 

* StK Inf. xxvii, 113-128, wherein we ieam thai, when Guido 
da Moniefeltro died, (he demon clutched him as soon as ever 
the breath was out of his body, and bore the spirit olT 10 Minos, 
where he was judged, and we may infer, from Minos acquaint- 
ing the fiend with his doom, that the same bearer carried him 
down to the allotted Circle. 

In Purg. V, 104, 10;, we see that in the case of Buonconte da 
Montefeltro, son of Guido, the demon had dogged his dying 
steps, when, during the battle of Campaldino, he crawled mor- 
tally wounded to the river Archiano, and sank down and 
breathed his last upon the bank, but as he died making a cross 
on his breast with his arms, the Angd of God was able to pre- 
vail, and save him from perdition : 

" L' Angel di Dio ml prese, e quel d' inferno 
Gridava : 'O tu del ciel, perchi mi privi 1'" 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 


them, is full of barrators, with the exception of one 1 
inhabitant, whom he names in irony as being free i 
from the vice, whereas in reality that citizen was the I 
worst barrator in Lucca. 

— " Del noBtro ponte," — disse,— "o Malebranche, 
Eceo un degli nniinn di sanla Ziia* ; 
MeHctel sotio, di'io toriio per anchc 
A quella terra ch' i' n' ho ben fomila : 40 

Ognun v" i baratlier, fuor che Boniuro ; 

Del n 

, per 

I denar 


"O Malebranche of our bridge," said he, 
"behold one of the Anziani of Sanla Zita 
((>. of Lucca) : ihrust him under, for I return 
again for more to that city which I have got 
well slocked with ihem : there everyone is a 
barrator except Bonturo : there for money 
every No is made Yes." 
This means that every favour at first refused, is 
* amian di tanta Zita: One of the Ancients, or municipal 
mlcrs of Lucca, which cily is cnlled Santa Zita from being spe- 
cially devoted 10 that saint. AmpSrc (La Grice, Rome el Danie, 
Paris, 1S59, page 248) thus speaks of Santa Zita : " Le tombeau 
de sainle Zite est dans r<<glise de San Frediano, vieitle el 
curieuse basilique, et son histoire est le sujet d'une complainte 
populaire que j'ai acheiife dans la rue. Sainle Zite est la 
Pamela de la l^gcnde : c'dtait une pauvre servente que son 
maitre voulait s^duire." 

t ita; The ^ac. delta Cnisca explains this as an adverb equi- 
valent to si " yes." Lana states that it was the custom in the 
Council of Lucca for two voting urns lo be sent round, in which 
the voting papers were collected, the one being for Ayes, and 
the other for Noes. "Such however," he adds, "was the cor- 
ruption among'the Councilmen, that, when il was unquestionably 
(or the public weal that their votes should be cast into the No 
urn, they would readily, (or the sake of a bribe, i 
among the Ayes." 

1 54 

Readings oh tke litferiio. Canto XXI. 

afterwards granted on payment of a bribe. For gold 
every negative is tinned into an affirmative, and every 
falsehood accounted as a truth. " But," adds Ben- 
venuto, "this queen, money, does possess that power, 
and even greater than that, not only at the little 
Court of Lucca, but - - - ; Court of Rome." 

Having summonc 'ades, the demon 

I lasts the miserable heir clutches, and 

jarts away in quest The MaUbrancke 

rush upon their victi riding the posture 

> his contracted limbs , which they com- 

pare to that of a wi le Santo Volto at 

Lucca, they thrust weapons into his 

body, and, as cooks it in a stock-pot, 

immerse him in the buum^ 

Lag){iu il butt6, c per lo scoglio duro 

Si volse*, e mai non fu mastino sciolio 

Con tanta freita t a seguitar lo furo. 45 

Quei s' atluff6, e lom6 su convolto ;I 

* si volte, et scq.: Coniru^it iliis u^cumii wiili tliut in I'urg. \i, 
49-51, of the souls of [he saved being conveyed in a boat over 
the sea by the Angel Pilot, who, after he has blessed and dis- 
embarked them, speeds rapidly away lo bring off another boat- 
load from the shores of the Tiber : 

" Poi fece il segno lor di Santa croce ; 

Ond' ei si giitar lutii in suUa plaggia, 
Ed ei sen gi, come venne, vcloce." 
t mat iton/u mastino scioUo can lanla/rilla,K\c.: Some have 
interpreted this : " Never was a mastiff unloosed %a quickly." 
This ii quite wrong. The sense is : " Never was a mastifT, that 
has been unloosed by his master, off so quick in pursuit of the 
thief, as was this demon to speed away, in order to seek new 
victims in the corrupt Stale of Lucca." 

X convolto: Others read col, or con, volto, and both the 
dilTerenl readings, as well as the right way of interpreting eon- 

Canto XXI. Rfi-.-frngs on the Inferno. 

Ma i demon, che del ponte avean coperchio, 
Gridar : — " Qui non ha loco il sanio volio ;• 

volto, has given rise to much conlroversy. Dr. Moore { Textual 
Criticism, p. 330) says that we may safely condemn the reading 
colvntio, though il seems to be in the majority of MSS. Con 
volto may easily have been a clerical error, but both readings 
are utterly feeble in sense, and miss what is probably the point 
of the bitter jest of the demons, who affect to suppose, when 
the unfortunate baratlieri comes to the surface "doubled up" 
[convolto), that he is in the attitude of prayer, and hence the 
gibe, " Qui non ha loco il sanIo vollo." Dr. Moore further adds 
that though this explanation (given also by lilanc) adds much 
point to the passage, the word convolto has a sufficiently appro- 
priate meaning without the allusion to the Santo Volto. Lana 
<n custom among the Lucchese, in any 
circumstance of danger tt'hatsoever, to cry out : " O Santa Volto 
or m' aiutaf" 

• 1/ junto voHo; Philalethes describes this as an exceedingly 

ancient statue of the Redeemer, of great beauty and of noble 

features, supposed to have been carved by a Byiantine hand. 

Il is preserved and venerated in a private chapel in the middle 

of the Cathedral of Lucca. Amp&re ( Voyage Dantcsgiie) says 

of it : " Quant au Santo Volto, je n'ai pu le voir ; mais & 

a facsimile, d' aprts lequel il est aisd de 

e que I'original est un crucifix bysanlin en bois 

lir, probablemeni d'une assez haute antiquity, et pouvant 

I VII 1°" siScle, ^poque oil Ton dil que Lucques 

re;ut la pr^ieuse image, Dans ce si^cle, qui fut celui des 

Iconoclastes, beaucoup d'objcts pareils durenl 6lre transport's 

en Occident par eeux qui fuyaient Ics persecutions des enipereurs 

Voici, selon la Idgende, I'histoire du Sanio Volto. 

du Sauveur, Nicodime voulut 

de J^aus Christ crucifix ; dijJi il 

le buste, et tandis qu'il s'effor^ait 

noddle, il s'endormit ; mais 

tfite sculptSe et son ccuvre achevde 


Readings on the Infr no. Canto XXI, 

Qui si nuoia altrimenli che nel Serchio ;* 

Peti, se lu non vuoi de' nost 

ri grain. 


Non fat sopra )a pegola soperchio."— 

Poi 1' addenlar con piu di cenio rafli ; 

Disser :— "Coperto convien 

che qui balli, 

SI che, se puoi, nascosamenl 

e accaffi,"— 

Non altrimenc ! 



Fanno ati 


La came I 

1 non galli. 

He hurled htn 

cd back over 

the rugged br 

r was an uii- 

loosed mastiff i 

: to pursue a 

thief (as this c 

). That one 

(the barrator) « 

zaine back to 

* Serchio: The name flows close by Ijicca, 

and Tails into the Mediterranean near Viareggio. Compare 
Shelley ( The Boat on the Serchio) : 

" the boat makes head 
Against the Serchio's lorrenl fierce, 
Then flags with inlenniilem course, 
And hangs upon Ihe wave, . . . 
Which fervid from its mountain source 
Shallow, smooili, and strong, doth come, 
Swift as fire lempesiuously 
It sweeps into the afTrighted sea ; 
In morning smile its eddies coil, 
lis billows sparkle, toss and boil, 
Torturing all its quiet light 
Into columns iieice and biiglit. 
The Serchio, twisting forlh 
Between the marble barriers which it clove 
At Ripafralta, leads through the dread chasm 
The wave that died the death which lovers love. 
Living in what it sought." 
See also Pulci, MorganU Maggiore, canto xxiv, st. 141 '- 
" Qui si nuota nel sangue e non nel Serchio." 

Canto XXI. Readings on tht Infertio, 

the surface doubled up, but the demons who 
had (made) a hiding-place of the bridge, 
shouted out : " Here the Santo Volto lias no 
place ; here tliere is other swimming than in 
the Serchio ; therefore unless thou art wanting 
some of otir claws, do not come up above the 
surface of the pilch." Then they grappled 
him with more than a hundred drag-hoolcs, 
and said : " Covered (i>. under the surface) 
must thou dance about here, therefore, if thou 
canst, do thy trafficking secretly." Not other- 
wise do the cooks have the meat kept down 
by tlieir vassals {i.e. scullions) in the middle 
of the cauldron with their forks, so that it 
float not on the top, 

Division III. Virgil now finds it necessary to have 
a parley with the MaUbranche, before exposing Dante 
to their fury. He accordingly makes him conceal 
himself behind a rock, while he himself walks for- 
ward and accosts the loathsome company, 

Lo buon Maestro ; — ^"Acciocch^ non si paia 
Che lu cl si!,"— mi disse,— "giii t'acquatta* 

■ f acquaita : Uingioli says that from the Latin coactus is 
derived fVii/ZD," squatting, cowering," and from the frequentative 
coarlarc comes acqualiarst. Scarlnriini thinks thnt to many it 
will appear strange that Virgil should make Dante hide himself 
n the demons, when, only just before, the Poets had been 
standing on the rock-bridge without a thought of concealment. 
txpUnalion is that the demons were so occupied with 
a of Santa Zila, that ihcy never looked up, and the 
t have perceived that, up to (hen, the demons bad 
ire of their presence on the top of the lofty 
bridge, under the arch of which they themselves had their station. 


Renditigs on the Infer. 

Canto XXI. 

E per nulla uffension chc lui sia fatia, 
Non lemer tu, ch' io ho le cose conte, 
Pcrchi alira voUa fui a la! baratta." J — 
The good Master said to me: " That it may 
not be observed that thou art here, crouch 
down behind i mayest have 

' some screen vhatever the 

1 offence that bi ear not thou, 

for I have got these things, 

1 as I have been ore in a like 

' contention." 

Benvenuto observt an allegorical sig- 

nification in Virgil I :cd going fonviial 

alone to reconnoitre er he could have a 

" D<^ : Used here in the sense of " behind." Compare Virg. 
Eel iii, 19. 20 : 

" El cum clamarem : Quo nunc se proripit ille ? 
Tiiyre, coge pecus ; lu post carccta tatebas." 
+ haia: iar a^Ha. Compare Par. xvii, 140, 141 : 
" Ni ferma fede per esempio ch' haia 
La sua radice incognita e nascosa." 
Nannucci {Manuale delta tett. etc., znd edition, vol. i, pp. 215 
and 441) protests against Dame being supposed to have used 
kaia for the sake of the rhyme, for old writers frequently used 
aja when there was no rhyme : e.g. Drunetto Latini in the 
Tesoretto : 

" De' uom anlivedere 
Ci& che porta seguire, 
Di quello, che 'ncomenta, 
Ch' aia bella panenia." 
X Baratta : Contest, contention. Cf. Dittamondo, canto ii, 

" Qui non ti conto la mortal baratta 
Ch' ei fe' co' Saracin." 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. rS9 

free passage. The greatest precautions must be taken 
by him who is about to enter into a court where 
barratry prevails, especially if he be lacking in expe- 
rience, and is not acquainted with all the crafty 
schemes that will surround him. And, when Virgil 
tells Dante about his previous experience of such 
things, he alludes in the first instance to his supposed 
descent into Hell, when, summoned by Erichtho (see 
Jtif. ix, 2Z-24). he visited the whole of Hell ; but Ben- 
venuto thinks that Virgil, speaking from history, 
implies that once, long ago, in his young life, he 
had often been in similar scenes, when after having 
been despoiled of his estate he went to the court of 
the great Augustus, and, before he could become 
known to that Emperor and obtain his favour, he had 
for a time to be continually passing through the hands 
of courtiers and officials, some of whom of course were 
■upt traffickers, against whose frauds not even so 
just a sovereign, as was Augustus, could altogether 
guard himself. Ilcncc Diocletian, a most upright 
Emperor, is said to have remarked, that no matter 
how good, how pure in his life, how excellent, an 
Emperor might be, yet he is always being bought and 
sold by his courtiers. jH^ 

Virgii, having placed Dante in concealment, steps 
forward. The demons instantly rush upon him with y 
levelled forks, but are checked by his resolute de- 
meanour ; and he requests them to send forward one 
of their number to confer with him, 

Poscia passb di 1^ da! co* del ponle. 

■o deiponte : Head of Ihe bridge. Manfred uses the same 

Readings oh the Inferito. Canto XXI. 

E com' ei giunse in su la ripa 

Mesiier gli fu d' aver sicura frontc. 
Con quel furor e con quella tempesta 

Ch' escono i cani addossa al poverello, 

Che di subito chiede ove s' arresia ; 
Usclron quei di sotlo il ponticello, 

£ volser contra lui [uiti i roncigli ; 

Ma ei gn< /oi sia fello.t 

Innanzi che 1' 


Then he pass 
bridge-head, ai 

expression when descri 
great cairn near ihe he; 
See/*tt/y. iii, 127-129 ■ 

" L' ossa del corpo mio sarieno ancora 

In CO del ponle presso a Benevento, 
Sotto la guardia delln. grave mora." 
See also Inf. xx, 76 : 

" Tosto che I' acqua a con-er meiie co, eic." 
• ripa sts/a : In xix, 40, we learn that ihe Poets were Standing 
on Ihe fourth bank {argint quarto). 

In xix, 128-129, Virgil had carried Dante 
"... sopra il colmo dell' arco, 
Che dal quario al quinto argine h Iragetto." 
In XX, 130, ihey had left that bridge, and were walking on- 
wards, and (xxi, 3) had reached the crown of the bridge which 
overlooks the 6fth bolgia, and crosses from the 5flh to the sixth 
bank {ripa). From the crown of (his bridge they have witnessed 
the ghastly episode of the anzdmo of Lucca. Virgil has now 
walked ixom the bridge on to the sixth bank, leaving Dante 
crouching in tertor behind a rock on the bridge. 

\ fello: Scariaiiini seems to give the best definition of this 
word ; mal pensante, and quotes Buti as saying : " fello h colui 
che pensa far male altrui." 

Canto XXI. Readings on Ike Inferno. i6i 

rampart, (here was full need for him to have 
an undaunted countenance. Wilh that fury 
and that impeluosity with which dogs rush 
out against the poor (mendicant), who imme- 
diately prefers his petition from where (for 
fear of them) he makes halt; rushed those 
(demons) forth from under the bridge, and 
levelled against him (Virgil) all their prongs ; 
but he cried out; "Let none of you be 
planning mischief. Before one of your hooks 
touch me, let one of your number step forward 
who will hearken unto me, and then deliberate 
about lacerating me." 

This determined attitude on the part of Virgil has' 
its immediate effect upon the fiendish rabble, who 
pause, and, desisting from their intended assault upon 
him, call upon their leader. Malacoda, to go forward. I 
The latter does so, muttering, however, that he does | 
not think the parley will advantage Virgil much. 

Tiitii Rriilnron :— " Vnda Malacoda ;"— 

Perchi un si mosse, e gli allri atetter fermi ( 
E venne a lui dicendo ; — " Che gli approda?" — 

They all shouted : " Let Malacoda go ;" 
whereupon one advanced, and the others 
stood still; and he (Malacoda) came to him 
(Virgil) saying ; " What good will it do him ?" 

Virgil takes the high line, and in a very few words 
convinces Malacoda that, had he not been armed with 
Divine Authority, it would have been impossible for 
him to have escaped all the perils of the Circles above, 
and have penetrated so far down into Lower Hell. 

Readings oh the Infento. Canto XXI. 

— " Credi tu, Malacoda, qui vedenni 

Esser venulo," — dissc il mio Maestro, 80 

— ''■ Skuro gia da lulli vostri schermi, 
Senxa voler divioo e fa(o destro* ? 

Lasciane andar, chi nel cielo S volulo 

Ch' io moslri altrui quesio cammin silveslro." — t 

"Thinkest thoi "" ' " se mc come 

here," said my T ainst all your 

hindrances {lit. t the Divine 

* fato destro ; Scartai 

'■irgil on other occa- 

■ions has simply cited tl 

lis passport through 

Hell, but here he also i 

to which, according 

to Mythology, even ihe \ 

See Ovid, Metaan. 

ix, 4=6-437 : 

: sua Jupiier ora 

Solvil : el, 0, DOS. 

.ereniia; dixit, 

Quoruitis? tantumm 

: siD) quis posse videtur, 

Fata quoque ut superet ? Fatus lolaus in annos, 
Quos egit, rediit : Talis revirescere debent 
Callirhoe geniti ; non ambitione nee armis. 
Vos etiam, quoque hoc animo meliore feratis. 
Me quoque, fata regunt ; qua: si mulare valerem, 
Nee nostrum seri curvarenl jCacon anni : 
Perpetuumque eevi florem Rhadamanthus haberet 
Cum Minoe meo : qui propter amara senecife 
Pondera despicilur ; nee, quo prius, ordine regnal." 
7*he passage in Ihe text seems to have been suggested to 
Dante by Ihe following lines from Virgil (jEn. v, j6, 57) : 

" Haud equidem sine mente, reor, sine numine Divum, 
Adsumus, et portus delati in t ramus ami cos." 
t cammin tilvestro : Tommasto says that silvestrv has Ihe 
additional sense of horrible, and Dante specially applies it as an 
epilhet of civil crime. In the DeVulgari Etoquio Dante shows 
the distinction between ^^ modi siivestri" and "modi uriani." 
Scartazzini says the road is at one and the same time wild and 
horrible (talvatico e orrido). 

Canto XXI. Readings en the Inferno, 163 

Will, and propitious destiny ? Allow us 10 
pass, for in Heaven it is ordered that I should 
show somebody else this wild and horrible 
The b ully is cowed . Malacoda's weapon falls from ' 
his hands, and he tells his comrades that, at all events 
for the present {omai), Virgil is not to be molested. 
He might possibly come again at some future occasion 
without so great a safeguard as the Will of God, and 
then would be their opportunity. 

Ailor gli fu 1' orgoglio si caduto,* 85 

Che si lasd6 cascar i' uncino ai picdi, 
E diase agli aliri : — " Omai non sia fetulo.t " — 
Then did his arrogance become so abased, 
that he allowed the hook to fall down at his 
feel, and said to the others : " For the nonce 
he must not be struck." 
Benvenuto thinks Dante means to imply that there 
are moments when a man, who is at the same time 
upright and prudent, may pass unharmed through 
the hands of such evil walks in innocency and truth 
by help of Divine Grace.J 

Virgil, having obtained a promise of immunity | 
from the Leader of the demons, calls upon Dante to ji 

• orgfiglio . . . eaiiitto : Di Siena notices that similar words 
subdued the arrogance of Ptutus, Inf. vii, 13-1; : 
"Quali dal venlo le gonfiale vele 

Caggiono avvoUe, poichS I' alber fiacca j 
Tal cadde a terra la Rera cnidele." 
\ Jeruto : From ihe old form /irjifr? for _^»7W.- %a ixaxa. pmttre 
is found ^n/u/f, and in Neapolitan [laliao, from tentire,HntMte 
instead of stntito. 
tThe ode to Aristius Fuscus (Hor. Carm. i, xxii) is an illas- 
L 2 


164 Readings oh the Inferno. Canto Xxr. ^| 

venture from his hiding-place in all security. Benve- ^^k 

nuto thinks that it is as though Virgil would tell ^| 

Dante, that as no suspicion of barratry has ever been H 

laid to his charge, and even though he had at one ^| 

time been one of the Priori and Rulers of Florence, | 

yet, as he had never *— ■«'-i""' ■■••»»- \ 

the interests of his H 

native city, he can 1 


Dante comes for | 

;ht of the demons, H 

he manifests as mm i 

ice saw exhibited. 1 

after the surrender 

1289, when the 1 

terrified garrison n 

ough the hostile fl 

ranks of the victorii i 

my of the Pisans, H 

at the imminent risL i 

lered, unarmed as fl 

they were, by the un 1 

iery. Like them, ^| 

Dante has great mil -.. .j 

' the promise of ^ 

I immunity tieing faithfully kept, and his trembling 
I glances testify to his dread. 

£ 11 Duca mio a me ; — "O lu, che siedi 

Tra gli scheggion del ponte quatto quatto, 
Sicuramenie omai a me tu riedi."^ 90 

Perch' io mi mossi, ed a lui venni ratio : 
E i diavoli si fecer tutti avanli, 
SI ch' io temetti nan tenesser patto. 
E cosl vid' io gik temet li fanti 

tration of this idea thai an upright heart will carry a man safe 
through untold dangers. 

" Integer vitae scelerisque punis 
Non eget Mauris jaculis et arcu, 
Nee venenatis gravida sagitlis. 

Fusee, pharetra : 
Sive per Syrtes iter sestuosas, 
Sive facturus per inhospitalem 
Caucasum, vel qux loca fabulosus 

Lamb it Hydaspes." 

Canto XXI, Readings on the Inferno. 165 

Ch' uscivan patteggiali di Caprona,* 9$ 

Veggendo sh tra nimici cotanti. 
lo in' accostait con tutta la persona 
• Caprona .- The Chion Anonime (Selmi) relate that " Ca- 
prona was a castle, whose garrison had perpetrated great 
cruellies. They were at last so closely besieged that they sur- 
rendered on promise of thejr lives being spared; but when after- 
wards they were matched out, and found themselves in the midst 
of enemies, nearly all of whom had had to deplore the deaths, or 
torture, one of a brother, another of a father, and another of a, 
son, these prisoners began lo turn pale and tremble with fear. 
And eventually they were put to death, and the compact for 
sparing them was not observed." The Commentary of 1343, 
which gives a wrong date lo the siege, represents Dante as 
having taken part in it when only 13>J years of age. Jacopo 
della Lana also conRnns (he account of the faith of Ihe capitu- 
lation having been broken, and the garrison butchered. Buti 
gives an elaborate account, in which he makes out that all the 
people of the country-side surrounded the garrison as they 
; being marched out, yelling " Appicca, appicca" "Hang 
I, hang them," but that Guido da Montcfeliro, the com- 
inder of the besieging force, caused the prisoners (0 be all 
bound into one long 61e and protected until they reached a 
secluded road, by which there was a short cut for them all to 
escape lo Lucca, Ilui, as Scariazzini remarks, Outi was a 
Pisan, and anxious to give a somewhat too favourable report 
of the Pisan forces, more especially as his lectures, in which 
he relates the incident, were being delivered to Pisan students 
in Pisa. Gelli confirms Buti's account, but adds to it that the 
place where the prisoners were set free and put into the road to 
Lucca wag Asciano. 

t m" accostai: In Purg. viii, 40-43, Dante uses the same 
expression to describe how he drew close up behind Virgil's 
back on the announcement by Sordello of the near approach 
of the serpent ; 

" Ond' io che non sapeva per qual calle, 
Mi voisi intorno, e siretto n 
Tutto gelato alle Rdate spalie." 

l66 Readings on the Inferno. Cauto XXI. 

Lungo * il mio Duca, e non torceva gli occhi 
Dalla serobiania lor cb' era ni 
And jay Leader to me : " O ihou, who art 
crouching down flat among the rocks \ii 
the bridge, return thou to me now tn secu- 
rity." Whereupon I got up, and came to 
him quickly >ns all sprang 

forward, so ey would not 

observe the :hus did I on 

one occasion irs, who under 

treaty were n i^prona, show 

fear, on seei imong such a 

number of th :w quite close 

beside my Le; body, and did 

not turn my e] )ks which were 

not good. 
Dante is immediately threatened by the whole 
horde of the demons, who, both by gestures and 
words, show how well founded were his fears. Mala- 
coda, however, orders them to desist. 

Ei chinavan gli raffi.e,— "Vuoi chc 1 tocchi,"— loo 
Diceva 1' un con 1' altro, — " in sul groppone ? "— 
E rispondean : — " Si, fa che gliele accocchi.t " — 

* Lungo il mio Duca ; In Inf. x, 51-3, in the description of 
the uprising of Cavalcanie dei Cavalcanti in (he fiery (onib 
close alongside of Farinata degli Uberti, the same word lungo 
is used : 

" Allor surse alia vista scoperchiata 

Un' ombra lungo quesia infino al mento." 

\ Ja che glitU auotchi : Caslclvetro observes ; " Toccarlo in tu 
ilgroppont and accoccarglitne una are expressions used by the 
lowest classes and in proverbs. The first is commonly said 
of those who job their donkeys behind with a stick to make 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 

Ma quel demonio che le 

Col Duca mio, si volse tutto presto 
E disse :—" Posa,* posa, Scarmiglione." — los 
They inclined their prongs, and kept saying 
one lo the other : " Wilt thou that I touch 
him up on the rump?" And Ihey answered : 
"Ves, try and nick it into him." But that 
demon (Malacoda), who was holding speech 
with my Leader, turned round with all haste 
and said : " Be quiet, be quiet, Scarmiglione." 
It will be noticed that, of the demons mentioned 
by name, Scarmiglione is the only one whom Mala- 
coda does not select to accompany the Poets. Benve- 
nuto says a better nickname for him would be Spez 
patti, i. e. breaker of treaties ; and he adds that Mala- 

Ihem go faster ; the second is a term in archery. Andhe(Dante) 
makes these demons converse in the most plebeian language, 
as he will also make them act in plebeian ways, as for instance 
theJt tongue in derision," and still grosser acts 
into the bargain. 

LordVernon (/n^mo), commenting on this passage, says "fa 
in modo ehe gliili, i.e. glielo, cio^ I' uncino accoccki, aRibbii 
altacchi. Accoccarla ad uno h locuzione che vale affibbiargli 
bene la botta, aggiustargU bent la percossa, coneiarh bene!' 

* Posa, posa, Scarmiglione: In this passage Blanc { fwoio- 
lario Danlesco) interprets posare as, to be quiet, to cease or 
desist from what one is doing; as in Piirg. ii, 85, where CascUa 
bids Dante desist from his fruitless attempts to embrace his 
unsubstantial form : 

" Soavemente disse ch' io posasse." 
In like manner in Purg. xxxi, 76-78, where the angels leave 
off casting flowers over Beatrice ; 

lia faccia si distese, 
Posarsi quelle prime creature 
Da loro aspersion 1' occhio comprese," 


Readu^t on the Inferno. Canto XXL 

coda was oblfged to check the threatened attack upon 
Dante, as it would have been too open a breach of 
faith if it had taken place in his presence i and he 
preferred that they should first gel out of sight of 
him, so that he should not appear to be an accomplice 
of the treachery. 

Division IV. M 
tions as to the road 
to be attended witi 
sending that way I 
airing themselves \ 
the lines that foUo' 
First, how Malaco 
the better to cntr. 
hour, and how long -. 

es the Poets direc- 
w, and causes them 

fiends, whom he is 
Jie sinners are out 
e of the pitch. In 
'al important facts, 
uth and falsehood 

Secondly, at what 
.vhat cause, one of 

the bridges had got broken down. Thirdly, we learn 
in what year Dante made the journey, and on what 
day he has this conversation with the demons. 

The following explanation by Blanc brings the 
passage very clearly before us : " Malacoda wishes so 
to mingle truth and falsehood, that he may deceive 
the Poets, and keep them longer in his power, so as 
to do them an injury if the occasion presents itself. 
He tells them the Sixth Bridge lies in ruins, which is 
perfectly true, but the Poets might have seen that for 
themselves from where they were standing, at the 
inner end of the Fifth Bridge. To give his words a 
semblance of truth, Malacoda further tells the I'oets 
exactly when the bridge was broken down, and here 
again he tells them what is true. But now begins the 
falsehood. He assures them that, if they will only 


keep on along the clifT, they will find, not very far 
onward, another bridge-way by which one can pass. 
This is a lie, for we read in canto xxiii', that in the 
Sixth Dolgia, where are the Hypocrites, all the bridges 
in succession are broken down." 

Poi disse a noi :— " I'iii olire andar per questo 
Iscoglio non si pu6, perocchi giace 
Tulto speizalo al fondo I' arco sesto : 
£ se I' andare a 

Andaievene su per questa grotla ; 
Presso h un aitro scoglio the via face, 
ler, piu ohre cinqu' ore che quest' olta, 
Mille dugento t con sessanta sei 
Anni comply, che qui la via Tu rolla. 

•/»/ xxiii, 133. tt stq.: 

". . . . ' Piii che tu non speri 

S' appressa un sasso, che dalla gran cerchia 
Si move, c varca lulli i vallon feri, 

Salvo ch' a quesio i tollo, e nol coperchia ; 
Montar potreie su per la ruina, 
Che gince in cosin, e ncl fundo soperchio.' 

Lo Duca stelle on poco a lesta china, 
Poi disse : ' Mai coniava la bisogna 
Colui, che i peccator di li uncina.' 

E il frate : ' lo udi' g\h dire a Dologna 
Del Uiavol vizii assai, tra i quali udi' 
Ch' egli i bugiardo, e padre di meniogna.'" 

t MiUe dugetUa con icssania set: Jacopo della Lana has a 
very importani variant here. He reads Mille dugetUo uno con us- 
sattta set. Dr. Moore (Ji'wwr References, p. 46, et seq.) says this 
reading occurs in two very important MSS. vii. : the Codice Lan- 
dianoml Piacenia, of 1336, and the most celebrated of the MSS. 
of the MarcheseTrivuliio at Milan, of 1337, and these are prob- 
tkbly the two oldest dated MSS. in existence; at least, of (he 
MSS. bearing really reliable dales. Dr. Moore, while giving 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto 

Then he said to us : " It is not possible to go 
funher along this bridge-way, because the sixth 
arch lies a!l broken to pieces at the botloni (of 
the bolgia) -. and, if it still pleases you lo go for- 
ward, wend your way along [his cliff {i.e. the 
bank between ihe lake of pitch and the boigia 

of the Hypoc 1 

ridge is near 

which affords a 

ay, five hours 

later than this i 

nd two hun- 

dred with sixty- i 

ipleted since 

the way was bi 

This is perhaps i 

rtant reference to 

time in the whole c i 

ynmedia. I shall 

only be following tin 

jcartazzini, Camc- 

rini and Tomnias^o, 

itand upon lllanc 

{Saggio, p. 214) and give h.^ words 

in extenso. 

" Yesterday (says the demon) were completed 1 266 
years, since the ruin of the bridge. It was the com- 
mon opinion in those times that, as the Conception of 
our Lord took place on the 25th of March, so also 
His Birth occurred on the 25th December, and His 
Death on the 25th March. And it was, moreover, be- 

Mveral reasons by which this curious variant maybe explained, 
thinks it is clearly spurious, since the clumsy way in which the 
required unit is supplied indicates a manifest afler-thoughl. 
Benvenuto thus alludes to this variant: " £t hie nota quod 
aliqui textus magis cnoderni habenl aliam lileram sic : Afi/le 
dugirUo uno e ussanla tei, sed ista discordantia accidii propter 
diicordantiam opintonum quia, ut jam dixi, aliqut volunt quod 
Christus vixeril triginta tribus annis, alii quod triginta quatuor, 
et de hoc audivi magnam disputationem ; sed prima opinio et 
ita prima litera videtur melior. Et ex hoc vide quod isle com- 
putavit annos a passione, quia si computasset a nativitate erant 
mill* irecenti." 

Canto xxr. Readings on the Inferno. 171 

lieved that Christ at His Death was 33 years of age, 
Thererore, if one adds together the 1 266 years, -f the 
year from the Conception to the Birth, and from this 
to the Death, (.^. 1266, +1, +33, we get the result 
that Danie represents himself as having made his 
marvellous journey in the year 1300, which accords 
with the first line of the Commedia, wherein he de- 
termines as the epoch of his vision the thirty-fifth 
year, or rather the middle, of liis life. He was born 
in 1265, and had therefore in 1300 attained half the 
natural course of human life. Far more difficult is it 
to determine on what day this conversation (between 
Malacoda and the Poets) took place. There is no 
doubt that Malacoda asserts that the great landslip 
occurred on the day before ; but what day would that 
be? Dante, without actually saying so in precise 
words, gives us clearly to know that, in his opinion, 
the earthquake which took place at the instant of 
Christ's Death was the cause of these landslips in 
Hell. Virgil too {Inf. xii*) tells Dante that a portion 
of the cliff which girded the Circle of the Violent had 
made its downfall a little while before that Mighty 
One (Inf. iv, 52) descended into Hell, and levied the 

•/n/xii, 37-45: 

" Ma certo poco pria, s' io ben discerno, 

Che venisse Colui, che Ea gran preda 

Levi a Dite del cerchio superno, 
Da tutte parti 1' alta valle feda 

Trem6 si, ch' 10 pensai che 1' universe 

Sentisse amor, per Io qual £ chi creda 
PiJi voile il mondo in Caos o 

Ed in quel punt a questa vi 

Qui cd altrove tal fece riv( 

173 Readings on the Inftrno. Canto XXI. 

great spoil from Dis ; an evident allusion to the de- 
scent of Christ into Hell, and obviouiily meaning that 
the Death of Christ was caused by the violence and 
hypocrisy of the Pharisees, for which reason the earth- 
quake which accompanied it would be felt in HcU 
just at those two places, in the Circle of the Violent, 
and in that < If the landslip oc- 

curred, as D. the time of Christ's 

Death, the ' of which Malacoda 

speaks, would }ood Friday, and his 

conversation 1 ;t liave taken place on 

a Saturday. clear. But the great 

difficulty is to ante had in his mind 

the day of Ch :ly, the 2Sth of March, 

on which day 1 r belief that God had 

created the World, and on which day also the full 
moon took place, or whether he was thinking of the 
Good Friday of 1300. Some might incline to the 
latter presumption as the most natural of all ; but the 
determination of the full moon of 1300 does not at 
all agree with it, for in 1300 the full moon fell on the 
4th of April, and Easter on the lOth, so that the full 
moon preceded by four days Good Friday, which 
was on the 8th. Therefore, if we follow the determi- 
nation of the full moon, we must certainly take a 
Tuesday as the day of the conversation, and then Mala- 
coda's assertion, that the downfall of the bridges had 
taken place on the preceding day, could have no rela- 
tion whatever to the Death of Christ; and if we suppose 
that the preceding day was, as Dante distinctly states. 
Good Friday, then the full moon no longer agrees 
with it. We think, then, that it will be best to admit 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 173 

that Dante has here followed, as he is so fond of doing, 
the common belief of his times, and that we find our- 
selves at this part of Hell on the 26th of March, on 
a Saturday. And the full moon must be explained 
as a poetic fiction, which is also supported by the 
ancient tradition about the creation of the world." 

Dr. Moore {Time Refermces, p. 44, 45) thinks that 
in this passage we ought to take five hours before iz, 
and not five hours before 3 o'clock. He says : " seeing 
that Dante in the Convito* distinctly argues, both on 
a priori and on a posteriori grounds, that our Lord's 
Death took place at the sixth and not at the ninth 
hour, i.e. at noon and not at 3 p.m., it can scarcely be 
doubted that we are in this passage to take 5 hours 
before 1 2, and not five hours before 3 — in other words, 
7 a.m., and not lO a.m. It matters therefore Httle to 
note that Dante has erroneously cited St. Luke in this 
particular ; The Evangelist's statement about the sixth 
hour referring, not to Christ's Death, but to His pro- 
mise to the penitent thief. For we may safely employ 
here, in regard to the Ajk^ of our Lord's Death, the ar- 
gument of Castelvetro in reference to the years of His 
Life in this passage, viz. ; that we must adopt the view 
maintained elsewhere by Dante himself {in questo luogo 
Dante seguita la sua opinione, non quclla degli altrf). 
It should be added that the early Commentators, 
including iheChiose Anonitae (edited by Selmi), Lana, 

* See Convito, \v, 33 (Miss Hillard's translation) : " And the 
hour of His death makes this evident to us, for He wished this 
to correspond with His life ; wherefore St. Luke says (xxiii, 44) 
that it was about the sixth hour when He died ; that is lo say, 
the culmination of the day." 





174 Readings on 

the Inferno. Canto XXI. fl 

the Ottimo, the Anon. Fiormtino, Benvenuto, Landino, H 

Vellutello, Bargigi, and Daniello da Lucca, are abso- H 

lutely unanimous upon this 

. point, viz. : that 7 3-m. is ^H 

the hour indicated. There 

is not one who even raises ^H 

a doubt on the point." 


Gelli fully confirm! ' " 

: says that Dante ^| 

was above the Circli 

rs at sun-rise on ^| 

the morning of Hoi 

d the Poets had H 

occupied another hoi 

g as they walked H 

along, as well as in 

with Malacoda. ■ 

Gelli notices too tha 


res not utter the ^| 

name of Jesus Christ 

ircumlocution to ^| 

make Dante understf 

lant to allude to ^| 

His Death. Gelli t 
some curious nersons mie 

ni obiecl 

to remark how ^| 
t that, if Dante ^ 

did not know that the day of Christ's Death was the 
8th of April, it was not necessary to make Malacoda 
speak so precisely, as it would have sufficed for him to 
have said: "From the date of the Death of Him from 
whom you people are called Christians." And if Dante 
did know the day, he ought to have said so distinctly. 
"To such," says Gelli, "I would reply, that Dante 
being a Christian, and a most obedient Son of Holy 
Church, he would not presume to determine what 
such numbers of councils, in which so many most 
learned and most holy bishops have taken part, have 
never chosen to determine ; holding for certain that 
this date remained undetermined in obedience to the 
will of God, Who did not permit his Evangelists, 
though they had written so many details about 
Christ's Passion and Death, to record the one detail 
of the day on which it occurred, and that such was 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 

Dante's opinion he shows very clearly in two passages. 
The first is in Par. xix,* where he reproves the curi- 
osity and presumption of those mortals, who dare to 
require from God a reason for what Divine justice 
has determined more in one way than in another, be- 
cause it is beyond the comprehension of themselves, 
whose vision is but a span long, and who wish to judge 
what is a thousand miles removed from them. The 
second passage is in Purg.'\\\,\ where Dante repre- 
sents Virgil enlarging upon the insanity of those who 
think that man with his finite human intellect, can 
travel over the boundless space that is held by One 
Substance in Three Persons, and adding the famous 
sentence, ' Rest satisfied, O human race, with the quia, 
be content to know that such is, and seek not to know 
i\\G propter quid ; do not attempt by natural reasoning 
to investigate the hidden mysteries of God, or else 
there was no need for the Incarnation of Jesus Christ,' 
Revelation would have been unnecessary; men could 
have done without the Light of the World. And 
you may have observed how throughout his journey 
Dante found all the things that befell him worked 

• Par. x\x, 79-81 : 

" Or tu chi 5ei, che vuoi sedere a sctaniia, 
Per giudicar da lungi mille miglin. 
Con la veduta corta d' una spanna ? " 
t Purg. iii. 34-39 = 

" Matto h chi spera che noslra ragionc 
Possa irascorrer la infinita via, 
Che tiene una sustanzia in Ire persone. 
State contenii, umana gtnl^ h1 guia : 
CM £c potuto aveste veder lutto, 
Mestier noa era partorir Maria." 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXI. 

tc^ether successfully for good, up to this very malig- 
• nity of Malacoda. For where he thought to impede 
Dante by it, and turn him astray from his set purpose 
and goal, in reality, Malacoda, by relating to him the 
ruin of the sixth bridge for the purpose of frightening 
him, confirmed him " "^ - ' - ' ' e and memory of 
the Passion of Chri we see how inge- 

niously and learnedl the veil of poetry, 

demonstrates that, t eves in God and 

loves Him, all thin I, and co-operate 

for his salvation {co- ." 

Malacoda now res' device to entrap 

the Poets. He has ti rther on they will 

find another bridge, ity he knows la 

broken down, but he i....^.r3 inat they will not be 
able to deviate to the right or left from off the clifT 
that skirts the lake of pitch ; and so he pretends that 
he is sending some of his demons to watch the sinners 
in the pitch, and that, if they avail themselves of the 
escort, it will be of advantage to them. Castelvetro 
remarks that under no circumstances would the com- 
pany of the demons benefit the Poets, for they could 
only go one way and did not require guidance, while 
as for acquiring knowledge of the identity of the 
barrators in the pitch, the fact of their being accom- 
panied by the fiends would be a distinct disadvantage 
to them, as the sinners would, the instant they des- 
cried their tormentors, at once dive down out of 
sight ; whereas, had the Poets been alone, the hapless 
sufferers would, without fear of molestation, have come 
up above the surface of the pitch, and would have 
given Dante the information he sought. Malacoda 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 

now summons the chosen ten, and 
as their decurwti or corporal. 

lo ro&ndo verso \k di questi miei 
A riguardar s' alcun 
Giteconlor, ch'ei n. 
Tratti avanli, Alichino e Calcabrina,"— 
Cominci6 cgli a dire, — "e lu, Cagnaiio, 
E Barbariccia guidi la decina. 
Libicocco vegna oltre, e Draghignazzo, 
CiriaUo sannuto, e Grafliacane, 
E Farfarello, e Rubkante il pazzo. 
Cercaic inlorno alle boglienii pane ; 

Coslor sicn salvi itisino all' nllro schcggio- 
Che lutto inlero va sopra le lane." — t 
I am sending that way {U. towards the sup- 
posed unbroken bridge) some of these my 
(followers) to look out if anyone is getting 
respite out of it {i.e. above the surface) : go 
ye with them, for they will not assail you. 


' ^ almn se ne sciorina : The I'ocabolario della Crusca, s. v. 
sdorinare, 5 iv, gives the following significations. "To procure 
oneself relief, to get a little fresh air, 10 cease awhile from labour, 
to take rest," The primary meaning of the word is, " to hang 
out clothes in the air." Renvenmo expounds the passage thus : 
"that is, if any of the punished ones comes out with his body 
above the pitch lo get relief from his suflfering, as though he 
would say, ' if any should aliempi lo cool himself in the slightest 
degree, for I want them to boil unceasingly inside the pitch.'" 

+ cK ei non saranno rti : Benvenuto, Tommas^, and Scar- 
i interpret this in the sense that I have adopted, namely, 
that the Poets need not fear any attack from the demons. Getii 
explains it quite differently, taking the passage to mean; "H 
will be none the worse for you to have their escort." 

I Tant: tana is properly the lair of a wild beast. Here it 
\% fossa, bolgia. 



Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXI. 

Come forward Alichino and Calcabrina," he 

began to say, ' 

and thou, Cagnazzo, and let 

BarbariccJa lead the ten. 

I^t Libicocco 

come lies ides, a 

d Draghignazzo, Cinatto with 

the tusks, and 


and Farfarello, 

and mad Rub'" 

.«». C.r^l^ 


all round the 

simmering pit 

nmolested as 

far as the oK\ 

ns unbroken 

above the dei, 

e ten botge)." 

Malacoda's appa 

assurance of safety 

to the Poets is fals, 

foUowers that they 

are to be safe as / 

dge which runs un- 

broken over the dei 

perfectly well that 

the said bridge is 

ke the other, and 

therefore such prom 


The following is 

a list of 

he ten fiends, with 

reference to the lim 

s in which 

they are mentioned 

in the next canto (from Castelvetro) : 

I. Barbariccia, 

the Decurion (xxii, 1. 29, 59, 145). 

a. Alichino ... 

( .. 1. !■"). 

3. Calcabrina 

( .. 1- m)- 

4. Cagnazzo ... 

( ., 1- 106). 

5. LiBICOCCO .. 

{ .. 1- 70)- 

6. Draghignazzo 

( » L 73)- 

7. ClRIATTO MK«ttto 

( .. 1- 55)- 

8. Graffiacane 

( » 1. 34). 

9. Farfarello 

{ „ 1. 94). 


< „ 1. 40). 

Gelli says of them : " And their names arc what 
you read In the text ; and in the interpretatioti of 
these names the Imolese (Benvenuto) and Landino 
h.-ive taken an immense amount of care and trouble, 

Canto XXI, Readings on the Inferno. 

because they think that Dante wishes to express by 
the significations of them, certain a^ections and 
actions of those who are stained with this vice, and 
who, from their regard for money, have consequently 
no respect for justice." 

I find explanations of the names given by Ben- 
vcniito, Biiti, Landino, the Anoiiimo Fiorentino, Scar- 
tazzini, and Gelli. I reproduce that of Gelli with slight 
variations, because it is a summary of^hose of the 
first-named three. He explains as follows : "Hence 
they say that AHchino* signifies one that inclines or 
bends others to this vice {of barratry) ; Calcabrina, that 
corruption of the mind which follows after the above 
inclination; Cagnazso, like a raging and biting dog 
from his rapacity ; Barbariccia, that astuteness with 
which one tries to conceal those actions that would be 
blamed, because physiognomists have always con- 
sidered that a curly beard signifies fraud and malice. 
Libicocco, they think means burning lust, as also that 
insatiable cupidity in amassing wealth; Draghignasso, 
that venom which is in such men [the Barrators), 
which not only injures themselves, but infects and 
poisons others also. Ciriatto sannuto is interpreted 
by the Imolese as quick of hand to rob {from x'W- 
and of tusk to wound ; and by Francesco da Buti, as 
an injurer of his neighbours, one who hurts whoever 
comes to him, like a boar (xoijoot). Graffiacane, falsity 

* Some derive Alkkitio from allictre to entice : " [lie enticer," 
This is very Florenline. In like manner FruUare is to bustle 
about, to busy oneself quickly and actively with one thing after 
another. One who does so would at Florence be called, half 
in joke, half in praise, " Frullino I " 
11. M 2 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXI. 


itself, for under the semblance of a dog he has the 
power of scratching, which is the attribute of a cat, so 
that he lacerates all who have to do with him. Far- 
farello is interpreted by the Imolese as meaning one 
who entraps and bamboozles everybody ; for it is a 

custom very peculF-- 
much as possible w 
with them. Rubica 
and furious," 

Scartazzini gives 
are worthy of notice 
from chinar U ali. 
oi Alichino saying i 
wings above the piti 
upon the lioar-frost, ' 

— i to entangle, as 
ever does business 
ast, means, raging 

nterpretations that 
hino to be derived 
2, et seq., we read 
quick to beat his 
one who tramples 
i:, and possibly, one 
who tramples upon the party of the Bianchi (.'). Libi- 
cocco, from Libya, the deserts of which were thought 
to be peopled by numbers of demons. Gra£iatane, 
who likes to rend the sinners with his prongs. Cani 
are the damned in Inf. vi, 19 ; and /«/ viii, 42. Rubi- 
cante, the blood-red one, from ruber. 

Notice the very ingenious and perhaps not improb- 
able suggestion of Rossetti {Cotnento Analiiico) that 
these demons, twelve in all, with Malacoda and Scar- 
miglione are parodies of some of the magistrates of 
Florence in A.D. 1300. Rossetti says that there are 
twelve demons, and there were twelve Priori when 
Cardinal Acquasparta entered Florence ; there were 
a!sotwelve5/«(iifi'A'«r(, elected first to treat with him 
and the returned Bianchi, and then summoned by the 
Pope to render an account of their proceedings. He 
thinks these names of the demons may very likely be 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. i8i 

corruptions, alterations, or anagrammatical contor- 
tions of the names of tlie Priori and of the Sittdaci 
Neri ; one name may recall the face of one of 
them, another may refer to some habit or custom of 
another. It is quite clear that these marvellous words 
are neither Biblical, Christian, nor Mythological ; and 
if the erudite Dante had merely wished to baptize 
demons without other cause, he would have made 
use of a nomenclature taken from Holy Writ, as 
Milton did ; or he would never have given such 
graceful-names as Calcabrina and Alickino. There 
may be some corroboration of his idea, Rossetti thinks, 
in the fact that at the time of the entrance of the 
Cardinal into Florence Manno Branca was Podesti ; 
and from his name people may have got to call the 
magistrates under his sway Makbrandu. If one 
remembers that the gonfalonicre di giustisia, or cor- 
poral of the city, at that time was Jacopo Ricci, one 
may be able to understand how the corporal of the 
band of ten demons came to be called Barhariecia. If 
: remembers that one of the Priori at the same 
time was one of the Raffacani, one may see from 
whence was bestowed on Hell the gift of the demon 
Graffiacane. Rubi'cante passo may have been the 
nickname of Pazzin' de' Pazzi, who may have been 
rubicund in the face, with red hair. Rossetti's ideas 
as to the others are too long to quote at length, but 
his Rifiessioni sttl canto XXI are well worthy of 

Dante's terror is aroused when he realizes in what 
dangerous company the journey is to be resumed, 
and half mad with fear he entreats Virgil to dispense 

l82 Readings on the Inferno. Canto JtXI. 

with so ruffian-like an escort Virgil, however, soothes 
him and restores his courage. 

" — O me 1 Maestro, the h quel ehe io veggio ? "— 

Diss' io :-'"deh I senia scorta andiamci soli, 

Se tu sal ir, cb' i. 
Se tu sei si accorto ci 

a per me i 
ame suoli, 

oon U chieggio. 

Non vedi V 

E coUe cig 


Ch' ei fanno 
" Alas 1" I said: 
iee ? I beseech ihi:t, 

li denti, 

luoli?"— * 

paventi ; 

sen no, 
T dolejili." — 
I is this that ] 
on alone with 

out escort, if thou know^^^ the way, as for 
myacir I ask it not. If thou art as observant 
as thou art wont, dost Ihou not see how they 
grind their teeth, and with their brows threaten 
us with mischief?" And he to me : "I will 
not have thee fear : let them grind away just 
as they like, for they are doing it at the boiled 

(The fiends now turn to Malacoda to receive from 
their real captain the signal of departure. Barbariccia 
was only their decurion, their corporal. As they 
turned they made a grimace, with their tongues be- 
tween their teeth, some say with the accompaniment 

* duoli : Others read duoli in [he sense of ingan/u, deceit, 
treachery, from the Latin dolus. Blanc and Scartaiiini thus 
interpret the word, but I follow Benvenuto and Buii. Gelli 
gives the word duoli without explanation, and therefore of 
course understands it as woe, mischief, harm. 

i Ussi: Letso\% a word used principally in Tuscany, whereas 
in other parts of Italy the word bolliio is more generally heard. 
In a Tuscan bourgeois dinner " il lesso" (the bouilli) invariably 
follows after " la minestra" {the pd(-au-/eu). 

Canto XXI. Readings on the Inferno. 183 

of a loathsome noise in imitation of what was to 
follow. This, says Biagioli, is a common habit of the 
low populace, when they wish to deride any one, and 
do not want their outburst of laughter to be heard. 
Biagioli thinks they did this to make a private 
sign to their captain Malacoda, that they had under- 
stood the full drift of his equivocal order to them that 
the Poets were to be safe from harm as far as the 
next unbroken bridge. 

The canto concludes by Malacoda giving them 
their marching signal, in a manner at once so re- 
volting and grotesque that many have blamed Dante 
for recording it, but Gclli says that he agrees with 
Benvenuto in thinking that Dante did so purposely, 
because he who has no respect for justice, but cor- 
rupts and sells it brutally, will let himself down to 
any act, no matter how vile, how abominable, or how 
wicked ; and moreover, the violation of justice in men, 
is like unto the violation of honour in women, for 
having afterwards no respect left, either for honour 
or for anything else, they are capable of any act be 
it ever so disgusting. 

Per I'argine sinistro* volla dienno ; 

Ma prima avea cjascun la lingua sire I la 
Coi denli, verso lor ducat per cenno, 

Ed egli avea del cul falto trombeiia. 

* Per t arginc sinistra : This merely signifies that when the 
motley party, consisting of Virgil, Dante, and l>ie demons, 
reached the far side of the bridge, they took the bank that lay 
to their lelt 

+ lor duca ; I have followed the Comenlo di Anonimo {ed. by 
Lord Vernon, 184S}, Gelli, Cesari, Biagioli, Lord Vemoii, and 

|84 Readhigs OH t/u In/erao. Canto XXt. 

Tbey wheeled loOBd upon the left bmk ; but 
fint had each of than aqoecttd his uagae 
with bis teeth, towardi their leader (Makcoda) 
as a tignal, sad be {as a counter-signal) had 
made of bis rear a tnimpcL 

Philaleihcs, id thinking that it was Malacoda, between wboro 

and the Sends thei '"'' I* passed. Out of 39 

commeataries that 1 find 17 dooblful, 16 for 

Barbariccia, and bk iwn feeling is that hUla- 

coda was their capU i( corporal ; when once 

ttartcd, the fiends < iccia's orders, but while 

Still in the presence 1 y would not be thinking 

much about him wti temporary leader wfaen 

they were on the n lis, their captain, Mala- 

coda, by his decciti ven to the Poeis, had 

just perpetrated an t their very hearts, and 

they lake this mode < ipreciation of it. 

I venture to think also inai umco, ni one 1 38, Iniplies the ekief 
leader, and not one who had a superior officer present It 
seems to agree better with the words of Malacoda in L iis, "/o 
mando . . . di ^uesli miri." There might also, in the very word 
mala coda, be au implied allusion to that demon's impropriety 
mentioned in line 139. 

End op Canto XXI. 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 185 


The Eighth Circle {continued). 
The Fifth Bolgia {continued). 
The Barrators. 


Fra Gomita. 
Michel Zanche. 

Gelli defends this canto from some who assert that 
it merely describes grotesque scenes more repulsive 
than agreeable, and who say : quandoque bonus dormi- 
tat HomeruSy and add that Dante, in like manner, 
was asleep when he wrote this canto. Gelli peremp- 
torily dismisses such an idea, and maintains that iiv-^ 
a perfect whole there must be contrasts. There must 
be variety, not sameness. In music, discords in one 
place bring out the beauties by contrast in another. 
Dante has evidently wished, in the present canto, to I 
follow this law of nature. 

Benvenuto divides the canto into four parts. 

/// Division /, from v. i to v. 30, Dante de- 
scribes the troop of Demons, and the position and 
attitudes of the tormented. 

In Division Ily from v. 31 to v. 63, the Poets 
witness the maltreatment of a barrator, Ciampolo. 

In Division III^ from v. 64 to v. 90, Ciampolo 
tells them who are his companions in suffering. 


l86 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

In Division IV, from v, 91 to v. 151, we read 
how Ciampolo, by a cunning device, escapes from 
the clutches of the demons, who thereupon turn 
their fury against each other. 

Division I. Ge"" " ' ollowing objection 

might be urged, le end of the last 

canto, told off certi is band (o go and 

mount guard over e pitch, and escort 

the Poets along th_ le opening lines of 

/ this canto relate he move off with the 

I readiness and preci on the march, and 

( many might object ence and discipline 

are entirely out of , where all would 

seem to be rebellion ana aisorder. Obedience pre- 
supposes authority {prelatura), and the execution of 
the will of superiors. And authority there cannot be 
in Hell ; for authority is exercised for the good 
government and well-being of a State, and that is 
incompatible with the condition of things in Hell. 
To this Theologians reply that there are degrees 
of superiority in Hell, but not good government, 
obedience, or order. God allows power to be usurped 
by those who wield it, not for the weal, but for the 
destruction of the people, and for the purpose of 
despoiling them of their goods and their honour, and 
these are called Tyrants rather than rulers. In Hell, 
without doubt, there are degrees of superiority ; be- 
cause, as Dionysius the Areopagite, and many other 
theologians, have written, the demons, when they fell 
into sin, lost none of their natural gifts, excepting 



Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 

1 8; 

only that of grace ; by which means all their natural 
gifts, which before had had good as their goal, turned 
to evil. And thus it came about that their former 
influence, which might have been that of virtuous 
rulers, became that of wicked tyrants, and they hate 
and compass the evil of men, because they see them 
destined to fill those heavenly mansions from which 
they themselves were driven forth. Hence, they are 
like the myrmidons of a detestable tyranny ; their 
obedience is an obstinate execution ; and their disci- 
pline a perpetual confusion. Gelli denies, therefore, 
that Dante can be accused of violating the decorum 
of his poem, in narrating the prompt execution by 
the fiends of the orders of their captain, Malacoda. 
lo vidi gi^ cavalier • mover campo, 

E coniiniciare stormo, t e far lor mostra, 
£ talvolta parlir per loro scampo : 
Corridor I vidi per la lerra voslra, 

• eavilier : Benvenuio contends thai by (his must be under- 
stood boih horse and footsoldiers {intellige tarn de fiedestribus, 
guam de equestribus). 

t stormo, according to Gregorio di Siena, has several signifi- 
cations, and about which commentators differ much. Some 
interpret it "the assault"; some "squadron, host, troop." 
Toselli thinks it means it snonare la camf>ana a stormo, in 
fact the French word tocsin. I have followed Lombardi, 
Tommas^o, Bargigi, Volpi, Bianchi, and Scartauini, who in- 
terpret it as the Rrst skirmishing at 

1 Corridor: Di Siena interprets : "quelli cho Tanno c 
guastando e depredando pel lerritorio de' nemici." GelH takes 
the same view, and says that they were also called scorridari 
in those times. He describes them as certain men who went 
in advance of the rest of the artny to reconnoitre the counlrr. 

Readings on tfie Inferno. Canto XXII. 

O Aretini, e vidi gir gualdane, * 5 

Ferir torneamenti, e correr giostra.t 
Quando con trombe, e quando con catnpane,]; 
Con tamburi e con cenni di castella, 
E con cose nostrali e con istrane ; 

to see if the road wa^ 
tation and plunder I 
book vii, ch. cxxvi), v 
" E stando 1' oste del 
con li uscici di Firen: 
naio in Collina, atde 
preda e prigioni, etc.' 

'gualdane: Di Sii 
alcuna volta si fanno il 
e pigliar prigioni." 

t Ferir torneamenti, 
marked distinction bet% 
tomeamenlo an equal 

, for purposes of devas- 
llani \lstorie Fioreatim, 
irs, and its explanation : 

Varchi cento scorridoti 
rrenda infino a san Do- 
se e capanne, menando 

;se as "cavalcate che 

lemici a rubare, ardere, 

irrer giostra: CelH says there is a 
I these iwo war-like exercises. In a 
iber of combatants is selected from 
each side, and, being arrayed in an open field, ihey are at liberty, 
on the signal being given, 10 attack each other in any way they 
list, as was done, says Gelli in the Ducal Square (Piazza della 
Signoria), at Florence, after that Florence had reconquered Pisa. 
In the giostra the knights tilted at each other with blunted lances 
in lists across a curtain of drapery, and hence the expression 
that jousts were run, whereas Dante says that he had seen 
tournaments fought {ferir torneamenti) where wounds were 
freely dealt in the tierce tniUe. The siory of such an incident 
may be read in Sir Walter Scon's Ivanhoe, in the account of 
the second day of the lists at Ashby. 

t camfiane : In the time of Dante the Florentines were in the 
habit of leading out to battle a car, painted vermilion, drawn 
by oxen, and called the Carroccio. Upon this car was hung a 
large bell, called the Martineila, which, according to Ricor- 
dano Malespini (cap. 168), the Florentines used to ring day and 
night, in order that they might arrogantly give their enemies 
notice of their approach, and time to prepare. 


Canto XXII. Readings on the Infertto. 


a si dive] 
Cavalier vidi t 

a cennamella* 

* si divtrsa cennamella ; Celli is ihe only commentator, 
seemingly, who interprets cennartiella as a pair of cymbals, de- 
scribing it as " certi bacrnetti di rame, d' ottone, o d' altri metalli, 
the percotendosi I' uno ne I' altro rendono un certo suono " j 
but nearly every other commentator understands it to be a wind 
instrument. Di Siena cites the following various readings of 
the word : cialamella (probably from calamus) ; ciaramella ; com- 
namella; eemmamella; and cennamella. Nannucci {Manuale 
della Letleratura del Prima secalo delta Lingua Italiana, Flor- 
ence, T8S3, vol. i, p. 519), gives the following extract from a 
Poem of Dino Compagni called P Intelligensa ; 
"Udivi suon di molte dolzi danze 
In chilarre, caribi smisurati, 
Trombe, e cennamclle in concordanze. 
E cembali Alamanni assai triati." 
Giambullari and others read eemianella. Poletto (Z>is. Danl.) 
says that this great variety of readings of cennamella by dilTer- 
ent commentators, while all (except Gelli) adopt Buti's inter- 
pretation that a wind instrument is meant, proves that the word 
used by Dante had had various forms, even from the earliest 
and that it must have been obsolete for a long time. 
diversa : This word also has many significations. The more 
interpretation of it is, " strange, uncouth," but I take it 
rather in the sense which the Vocabolario della Crusca gives, in 
\T, vii. horrible, disgusting, unseemly, in which sense Blanc 
(fof.Z'an/.) interprets it. Di Siena says ('«i:oni'<«tV«/«, Compare 
Inf. vi, 13 : 

" Cerbero, fiera crudele e diversa." 
Blanc says it is often difUcult to know which meaning to take, 
as for instance. Inf. vii, to5 ; 

" Entrammo giii per una via diversa." 
Compare also Inf. xxxiii, 1S1-153: 
"Ahi Genovesi, uomini diversi 

D' ogni costume, e pien d' ogni magagna, 

PerchS non siete vol del mondo spersi?" 

Compare also Dante, Vila Nueva, \ xxiii : " E pcr6 mi 

190 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

Ni nave a segno di terra o di slella.* 

I have seen ere now horsemen striking their 

camp, and commencing the engagement, and 

making their muster, and sometimes retreating 

for their safety : I have seen scouts over- 

mnning youi le of Arewo, and 

I have seen drons (moving), 

tournaments \ run, sometimes 

with tnimpeu : with bells, with 

drums and wi :astles, and with 

things native i . ; but never yet 

to so unseem saw I horsemen 

01 footmen set :»„ < uy any landmark 

or star (so grotu.^oe i>9 >ue signal made by 


Gelli observes that the above exaggerated diction 

is intended to show, by the repulsiveness of the signal 

at which the demons move oflf to go and chastise the 

barrators, how vile and brutish is the thought and 

the conception which can induce men to make with 

their mouths such obscene signs ; as the using yes for 

no, and no for yes, out of considerations of money, 

as also to convert their mouth, which ought to be a 

fountain of truth, into a chamel house and a cloeua 

giunse uno si forte smanimento, ch' io cbiusi gli occhi e comin- 
ciai a ttavagliare come farnetica persona, ed immaginare in 
questo modo : che nel comiaciamento dell' errare che fece la 
mia fantasia, mi apparvero certi visi di donne scapigliate, cbe 
mi diceano : Tu pur monai. E dopo queste donne, m' appar- 
vero certi via diverri e orribtU a vedere, etc" 

* segtM di Urra a di tttlla : Before the compass came into 
use in Europe, sailors steered either by landmarks or by the 

Canto XXII, Readings on the Inferno. 191 

of lies, for the purpose of corrupting justice. Rob- 
beries, usuries, violence, and other kinds of fraud that 
are used against one's neighbour's possessions, are 
doubtless contrary to nature ; but still they have some 
compensating elements of force and vigour which may 
at least liken the doers of such things to wild beasts^ / 
But Barratry is a mode of deception of such littleness ( / 
and degradatioil {tietit-tsni a^ej daPfioco e de l .yjle), that J 
Gelli can only speak of it in sucE^vofdB as those with I 
which Dante opens this canto. He has seen men set 
about extracting money from their neighbour's purse, 
and put it into their own, but of all methods and devices 
by which they do so, there is none, in Getli's eyes, so 
repulsive and so wicked as that of not keeping one's 
word, and they who are guilty of such malpractices 
are hardly to be esteemed men, but are well repre- 
sented by such beings as the loathsome monsters in 
whose company Dante is now setting forth to further 
explore the shores of the lake of pitch. 

Benvenuto considers that the Barrators seen by the 
Poets in the last canto were those who trafficked for, 
or in, offices of state, while those to be descibed 
now are they who bought and sold the favours of their 

After making the above soliloquy, Dante resumes 
the narrative, 

Noi andavam con li died dimoni : i 

Ahi fiera compagnia I ma nella chiesa * /' 

Coi sanii, ed in laverna coi gkioltoni. ■ j 

* nelld efuesa cat sanli, etc.: This Is a proverbial expression \ 
lo dcDOte that one's actions must be to a certain extent regu- ( 
lated in accordance with the place in which one happens to be. 'j 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

We went with the ten demons : Ah fearful 
company 1 but In the church with the saints, 
and in the tavern with the gluttons. 
Gelli points out that it is impossible for those, who 
*''•"""' """n, not to find them- 
the society of those 
mutable, and in such 
come infected with 
:heir company more 
liat is why Dante, as 
'ia in company with 
lyoiie who might blame 
lecessity. Gelli thinks 

have to live with 
selves obliged at ti 
whose lives are mc 
cases their duty, si 
evil practices, is not 
than is actually nece^ 
he walks along the i 
the fiends, excuses hii..^ 
him, that he docs so fn 
Dante would say that, .. men fmd themselves com- 
pelled by their duty to enter places of vice, they should 
do so with compunction and shame, and then quit 
them as soon as ever their duty allows of their doing 
so ; but while they are there, they should do as he says 
(in the lines that follow) he did, and give their whole 
attention {intesiC)\a the business that calls them there. 
Pare allx pegola era la mia intesa,* 

Compare i Smh. xxii, 36, 37 : " With the merciful thou wilt 
show thyself merdlul, and with the upright man thou wilt show 
thyself uprighL With the pure tboa wilt show thyself pure ; 
and with the froward thou wilt show thyself unsavoury." Ps. 
sviii, 25, 36, has nearly the sane words. 

* intesa : Di Siena explains this as intetmone, inttnio, atttn- 
tione, scopo, studio, afplicaiione; in Proven^l entensa, ententa. 
Both intesa, intenta and intensa, are largely used among the 
R*urlier Italian poets : e.g. Terino da Castelfiorentino in 135a 
See Nannucci, Alan. Lttl. voL i, pu 331 : 
" Che se io compio mia intenwa 

Canto xxri. Readings on the Inferno. 

Per veder delta bolgia ogni coniegno,* 
E delln gcnte ch' entto v' era incesa. 

Aggio di tulta gioia compimenio," 
Di Siena also quoles the following from the veT7 early ltalia.i 
poet Fra Guittone : 

" Donna, In reo fallire mi spaventa 

Quando rim em bra 
La fellonia, che m 



a inlenta 

Di stare a voi fiero e contumace." 

and from Jacopo da Lentino : 

" Or gii m' accoglie e 

Ancor nol faccia d' e 

Di Siena says lliat in the ea.rly days of the Italian language 

many words of the Latin third declension terminating in o were 

changed to the first declension. From contendere, offendere, 

iniendere, were derived conientio, offensio, t'nUntio, and thence 

; conlema and conltsa for contenMtone ; offensa, offensa, 

and offesa for qffensione ; and ttUenza, inUnla, interna and 

intesa for inlenzione. 

* coniegno: Some commentators, even Blanc andTonimas^, 
explain lliis ns cose conltmitc, i.e., what was within the bolgia. 
But, as 5carta»ini very aptly points out, one must in that case 
take it for granted by the context, that Dante nol only wanted 
to see what was contained in the bolgia, but also what was con- 
tained -wUhin the people who mere burning in it, which is 
absurd 1 Volpi, Monti, Bargigi, Di Siena, Lombard!, Cesari, 
Scartaiiini, Camerini, and others, explain it to mean the condi- 
tion, quality, detail, particularity. Cesari says it is the same 
here as cendieione in Inf. \x, io?-8 : 

" Ed io, ch' avea di riguatdar disio 
La condiiion che tal fortetia serra." 
We lind contagno in the same sense in Inf. xvii, 59-60 : 
" In una borsa gialla vidi aKurro, 
Che d' un leone avea faccia e contegno." 
The sense of "ewe eonteniile" is found in Inf. ii, 76-78, but 
the word used is contenio : 


194 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

My attention was (given) solely to the pitch, 
to notice every detail of the bolgia, and of the 
people that were burning within it. 
Biagioli, quoting from Alfieri, notices that we are 
now shown how the barrators in two ways seek to gel 
relief from their suiTerings ; like dolphins, on the 
approach of a storm, they dart out above the surface 
of the pitch with upturned backs, and instantly dive 
down again ; and, like frogs, they draw near the bank 
to breathe with their nose and mouth alone exposed, 
but, for fear of the demons, keeping their bodies 

The comparison of their movements to those of 
dolphins is mentioned first. 

Come i delfini,* quando faono segno 

" O donna di virtu, sola per cui 

L' umana spezie eccede ogtA contenio 
Da quel del, che ha minor li cerchi sut." 
* dtlfini: In Nannucci, Mom. Lett. vol. li, p. 370, there is a 
carious extract from Bono Giamboni, Votgarigtaxioiie del Tetoro 
di SerBrumtlo Latini, book iv, cap. v, which shows the quaint 
ideas of those days about dolphins : " Dalfino h uno grande 
pesce e molto leggiere, che &alta di sopra dall' acqua ; e gi^ 
sono stati di quelli, che sono saltati di supra dalla nave. E 
volentieri seguono le oavi e le tmci degli uomini, e non vanno 
se non molti insieme, e cognoscono II mal tempo quando dee 
essere, e vanno contra alia fortuna {to windviardofa ttorm) che 
dee essere. E quando i marinari veggiono ci6, si s' antiveg- 
giono della fortuna {thty foresee a storm) ... Ed a nullo altro 
animale de* acqua awiene quello che a Ini, che, mentre ch' eiti 
sta sotto I' acqua, nan puote spirare ; e per6 spesso vieoe di 
sopra dall' acqua, secondo che uomo lo puote vedere quando lo 
trova in mare. Alia primavera vae al mare di ponente, quando 
fae li figliuoli, per I'abbondaoia dell' aqua dolce. E dall' occhio 

Canto XXII. Readings en the Inferno. 

V arco della schiena, 20 

Che %' argomenlin * di campar lar legno ; 
Talor cosi ad alleggiar la pena 

Mosiravii alcun dei peccatori il dosso, 

E nnscondeva in men che non batena. 

Like the dolphins, when by ihe arching of 

their backs they make signal to mariners to 

make ready to save their ship ; so every now 

sinistro vedc poco, e dal dirilto vede bene."(l) He then goes on 
10 tell that In the Nile there is a particular breed of dolphins 
that are furnished with a certain weapon upon (he dorsal fin, so 
sharp that with it one of them can kill a crocodile I He ends 
by saying ; " E sappiate ch' egli & quel pesce, the piii amore 
pone neir uomo che nenno animale che d' acqua sia." SeCj also, 
Freni, // Quadrirrgio, lib. i, cap. 15 ; 

" li lieli delfini 

Givan sallando sopra I' onde chiare, 
di fortuna esser divini." 

Che sogli 
* J* argomenlin 
Tommasfo the sai 
effort and ihi 

■ Gelli interprets j/i/or«'«(J t ^ ingtgninoj 
le ; Biagioli says argomenfarsi denotes the 
11 of the mind, seconded by the necessary 
iS for immediate action, and therefore ingegnarsi very well 
i the word. Compare in Nannucci, Man. Lett, vol. ii, 
p. 424, an extract from the Volgariziamento dell' Arte della 
Guerra di Fla\iio Vegetlo, upon the management of a ship 
during a naval action : " Onde 1' antenna si colla, "gli taglia, e la 
nave inutile redde, dacch^ gli argomenti onde la nave si regge, 
o tagliati." And in a note Nannucci explains argomenti as 
" latrumeiiti, o apprcsti, apprestamenii ; e argomenfitrsi, k nelle 
Storic Pistolesi per apprestarsi}' Following this explanation, I 
translate j" argomentin, " to make ready." 

Compare Purg. ii, 31-33, where the Angel is described 
guiding his boat with no other machinery than his wings : 
" Vedi che sdegna gli argomenti umani, 
SI che remo non vuol, nfc altro velo 
Che r ale sue, tra liti si lontani." 
II. N 2 



■ i 

196 Reading^ on the Inferno. Canto XXII. H 

and then, to alleviaEe the torment, would one ^| 

of the sinners show his back, and hide (again) ^H 

in less time than (the lightning) flashes. ^| 

Gelli thinks the reason of dolphins showing them- ^| 

selves more frequr-"- -"^ — "'^- 

surface of the sea ^H 

when a storm is 

t before the storm ^| 

tveaks forth there 

rom the ground at ^| 

the bottom of the s 

itions, which are in ^| 

fact the winds whi i 

lea ; wherewith the ^| 

dolphins being afi 1 

^piration, they are ^H 

compelled to come 

surface. The En- ^H 

tyci^dia Britannicr 1 

1) says that " their ^| 

appearance at sea \ 1 

igarded as a good ^| 

omen by sailors, for, ; ._ ,ircsagcd a tempest, "^J 

yet, by thus giving warning of its approach, it en- 
abled them, in those days when the mariner's com- 
pass was unknown, and navigators had consequently 
to keep within sight of the coast, to steer for a place 
of safety." 

E come all' orlo dell' acqua d' un fosso 
Slanno i ranocchi * pnr col muso fiiori, 
SI che celano i piedi e 1' altro grosso ; t 


* Stanno i ranoeehipur tol miao fiiori : Compare In/, xxxii, 
31-33 : 

" £ come a gracidar si sta la nma 

Col muso fuor delf acqua, quando sogna 
Di spigolar sovenie la villana : " etc. 

t ipUdie P aitrogrouo: Compare Inf. xix, 23-24 = 
" Fuor della bocca a ciascon sopercbiava 
D' un peccator li piedi, e delle gambe 
InfiDO al grosso, e I' altro deotro stava." 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Infertto. 

SI slavaii d' ogni patle i peccalori : 

Ma come s' appressava Barbariccia, 
Cosl si ritraean sorto i boUori. 
And as at the edge of the water of a moat 
the frogs lie with only the muzzle exposed, so 
that they conceal their feet and the rest of 
their body (lit, the other thickness); so on 
every side were the sinners : but so soon as 
Barbariccia drew near (with his band), so soon 
did they retire beneath the boiling pitch (lit. 
the boihngs). 

Division II. Dante now has an opportunity of 
witnessing the maltreatment of one of the barrators 
by the fiends. Cesari says that, when the sinners 
dived down at the approach of their tormentors, one 
of them took it a h'ttle too easy, and left his head 
above the surface of the pitch just an instant too 
long. It cost him dear, for, quicker than thought, 
he was deftly hooked by the nearest demon, who 
dragged him into the clutches of his ferocious com- 

lo vidi, ed anco il cor mc n' accapriccia,* 
Uno aspetiar cos), com' egh incontra 
Che una rana rimane, ed allra spiccia.t 

.• Compare Inf. i, 6 ; 
" Che nel pensier rinnuova la paura 1 " 
t spiccia: There are two meanings given oiifiicciare. Here 
it has the sense of escaping by a leap or spring. lis primary 
meaning is that of a liquid which issues forcibly from a narrow 

3 denote blood gushing from a 

198 Rmdkiigs M ike If^irm. Canto KXXL 

E GrafBacani die gB oapil^ ^ incmtn, 

Gli airondfl^ le tmpcgolate cUome, 35 

£ trassd8ii,clieiiiiiMurveitiialoiitnL* 

I saw, and even now does my heart shodder 
thereat, one linger thus, as it will happen that 
one frog remains, and another jumps in. And 
Graffiacane^ who was nearest (Si. most op- 
posite) to him, hooked him by his pitch- 
entangled lodcsi and hanied him upi so that 
to me he seemed an otter. 

Dante next describes the ferocious exultation of 
the fiends over their captured victim, and how diey 
discuss the most cruel way of tormenting him. 
Dante explains, however, that by paying great atten- 
tion when they were told off, both to their names and 
their faces, he was now able to identify each of them. 
Benvenuto contemptuously dismisses the absurd ex- 
position of some commentators that Dante had got 
up their names by a fnetnoria technica^ for he points 
out that, to a man of such a marvellous natural 
memory as Dante, there could be no possible need 
for any artificial assistance. 

Id sapea gik di tutti e quanti il nome, 
SI li notai, quando fiirono eletti, 
£ poi che si chiamaro, attesi come. 

'* Come sangue che fuor di vena spiccia." 

And Inf. xiv. 76-8, of a stream flowing out of the Forest of 


'* Tacendo divenimmo Ik ove spiccia 

Fuor della selva un picciol fiumicello, 

Lo cui rossore ancor mi raccapriccia." 

* lontra : Dante likens the hapless barrator to an otter, both 

from the ¥nrithing of his limbs and from the dark colour that 

the boiling pitch had imparted to his body. 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. igg 

— " O Rubicante, fa che lu gli meiti 40 

Gli unghioni addosso si che lu lo scuot," 
Gridnvan iQtti insiemc i maledelli. 
I already knew the names of them all {i.e. of 
the ten Fiends), so well had I marked them 
when they were selected (by Malacoda), and 
afterwards when they called each other, I 
listened how. " O Rubicante," the accursed 
ones all yelled together, "see that ihou plant 
thy talons into his back so that thou flay him." 
Having told his readers that he had ascertained 
the names of the demons, Dante next relates how, at 
his request, Virgil induced the hapless sinner to tell 
them his name and antecedents. 

Ed io : " Maestro mio, fa, se tu puoi, 
Che tu sappi chi h Id sclagurato 
Venuto a man degli avversari suoi." — 45 

Lo Diica mio gli s' accoslb allalo, 

Domandollo and' ei fosse, e que i rispose : 
— " lo fui del regno di Navarra naio. 
Mia madre a servo d' un signor mi pose, 

Chi m' avea generato d' un ribaldo * 50 

Disiruggiior di s& e di sue cose. 

* ribaldo : So many difTerenl meanings are given to this word 
by commentators thai it is not easy lo decide upon the significa- 
tion that Dante meant to give it. Diane says the word is of 
uncertain origin, and probably means " a wicked man " ; Tom- 
mnsfo, " a man devoted to ladies," and because such men 
were also devoted to misdeeds, therefore ribaMo in time took 
a bad sense. Neither Uenvenulo nor Gelli attempt to explain 
it. Scartaiiini feels certain it means an executioner, and gives 
a quotation in which the condemned criminal is represented 
recogniiing the fact that his executioner puts him to death from 
duty, and not out of hatred. The word here for executioner is 
ribaldo. Di Siena says that the father of Ciampolo was a 

200 Rmimgs m^ ^ If^mnw. Canto XXIL 

Poi lid fiunigifo del Imoa m TalMldo;* 

Di die lo icndo iBgione in qiietio calda*— 
And I: ^'O mjr Maeter, ocmtnve to lean^ if 

destroyer of himself and hk poisesslona, dial Vi toidde and 
squanderer ; and Uie aon» while dq[iloring hothfi^ta, apparentlf 
laments more over the second than the first, and yet, even Ibr a 
vile barrator, it hardly seems fitting that he shonld use snch a 
term as Ribaido in the sense of * wretch,* as i^ii^ied to his own 
£ither. Therefore Di Siena rejects the exposition of many 
commentators who interpret HbaUh as a worthless and had 
man. Perticari and Strocchi say that HMdo is, properly 
speaking, ^ a guard of the king's person,* which in Arabic was 
called assassin^ that is '^a defender" (eke in ara^ u disu 
anche assassino^ cM difensore) ; as among the ancient Latin 
writers laieronesy now ladnmes^ was the name used for those 
who stood a latere regis. By the chances of words, many that 
in our time are used to express infamy and opprobrium, among 
the ancients were used as terms of honour. Tiranno^ masnada^ 
drudo^ sufpiiMiOy etc show the truth of this. Buti takes riMdo 
in the sense of " a bold and wicked man.** Tocelli derives the 
word from the Celtic, compounding it of rAy, too, and bald^ bold. 
According to Muratori military spies were called rihcddi. Di 
Siena quotes (but without giving the reference) the following 
passage from Giov. Villani, which attests this : " Che solo i 
Ribaldi e i Ragazzi dell' Oste avrebbero vinto colle pietre il 
BattifoUe, e 1 Ponte." Therefore Di Siena infers that the father 
of Ciampolo was not " a worthless wretch," but a soldier who 
destroyed himself after wasting his property. Sir James Lacaita 
interprets : " worthless wretch." 

* re Tebcddo: Scartazzini and Tommas^o agree that this was 
Thibault II, King of Navarre. He succeeded his father Thi- 
bault I, in 1253, whose poetry Dante quotes three times in the 
De Vulg, Eloquio, His mother was Margherite de Bourbon. 
He accompanied his £aher-in-law, Louis IX of France, in the 
crusade against Tunis, and while returning from thence died at 
Trapani in 127a 

Canto XXII. Readings on t}u Inferno. 20I 

thou canst, who is that ill-fated being fallen 
into the hands of his adversaries." My Leader 
drew near to his side, asked him whence he 
was, and he answered ; "In the kingdom of 
Navarre was 1 born. My mother placed me 
in, the service of a lord, for she had borne me 
to a ribald destroyer both of himself and of 
his possessions. After that, I was a domestic 
of the good King Thibault ; there 1 set myself 
lo practise barratry, for which I pay heavy 
reckoning in this heat." 
Bcnvciiuto remarks that Dante receives from the 
siifTering wretch tlie fullest information about his 
origin, his parents, his occupation, and the crime for 
which he is in Hell, Benvenuto adds, that to (ill up 
any gap in the manifestation of this strange matter, 
he will tell his readers he thinks Dante must have 
heard the story when he had gone to study at Paris 
after his shameful exile from Florence, and as he had 
probably heard there the unutterable frauds and 
wickedness of this devil {sic\ he determined to per- 
petuate the ill report of him. He seems to have been 
a Spaniard, born 1270, in the kingdom of Navarre,* 
his mother being of noble birth, and his father of vile 
extraction. The latter having dissipated all his pro- 
perty, as Benvenuto had heard, eventually hung him- 
self, so that he would be, at the time Dante wrote, 
growing as a tree among the Suicides (ita quod debet 
esse arborijicatus in ctrculo violentontm contra se). The 

''Benvenuto says: "Spain contains live kingdoms, namely, 
the kingdoms of Castille, Aragon, Navarre, Portugal, and 
Granada, which last is infidel, as it is held by the Saracens." 

202 Rmi&^ M ^ Iitftrmg. Canto xxn. 

son was named Ciunpohu, Ciamp(do or Gian Paolo,* 
and was placed by his mother in die service fX a great 
magnate (probaUy a gnuKtee of Spain), where be 
conducted himself with so much shrewdness, that in 
a short time he became a favourite of his lord ; and 
thus, assisted by hb growing fame and the good-will 
of his patron, he was taken into service at the Court 
of King Thibault, who exceeded all other King* of 
Navarre in justice and clemency, and here again, by 
his native wit, he acquired the good graces and favour 
of this King, who^ becoming greatly attached to him, 
entrusted to turn the reflation of the whole Court, 
so that he had the conferrii^ of dignities and offices 
in his hands, and administered all the affairs of the 
State. Then did he set about, by fraudulent trafficking 
and peculation, to accumulate wealth \ nor would the 
King ever give any credit to the numerous complaints 
against him. Benvenuto deplores the frequency of 
such occurrences, and recalls one that came under 
his own observation at Bologna, where the legate of 
Pope Urban V., the Lord of Cluny, who was himself a 
noble, good and prudent man, had as his vicar one 
Bartolommeo Ruino, a most vile barrator ; and, al- 
though this vicar was abhorred by everybody for his 
vices, yet never would his master believe anything 
against him, and when at last he did dismiss him, it 
was with the greatest reluctance and indignation. 

* Citanpoh: Philaletbes says that, if tradition had not given 
him this name, he would have supposed that the peison alluded 
to was more probably the Seneschal Godefroi de Beaumont, to 
whom King Thibault, in his absence, did entrust the govern- 
ment of the kingdom of Navarre. 



Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 


How much more praiseworthy and wise (thinks Ben- 
venuto) was Cambyses, \\\\o caused to be flayed alive 
a certain judge, that for money had given an unjust 
sentence, and whose sltin was by the King's order 
made into a covering for the seat of judgment. Such 
a death did Ciampolo deserve. He had skinned many 
by his peculations in his lifetime, and now he gets half 
flayed by the demons. His tale, which has been thus 
amplified by Benvenuto, seems to have at once whetted 
the demons' thirst for blood. The scene that follows 
is a hideous confusion of attacks upon Ciampolo by 
the fiends, and a grudgingly yielded protection by 
their Decurion, mixed up with fragments of conversa- 
tion between Virgil and Ciampolo about the other 
sinners who are his companions in suffering. The 
terror and agony of the poor wretch are painful to 

E Ciriatio, a cui di bocca uscia 55 

D' ogni parte una santia come a porco, 

Gli fe' s 
Tra male galte era venuto il sorco ; t 

Ma Barbaticcia il chiuse con le braccia, 

• sdnicia : From sdructre or sdrtncire, lo unsew, to rip up ihe 
I, hence to rip up. It la also used to express the splitting 
Up, the opening, of the seams of a ship. 

i {Teoria dti Nomi, page 107) upon this 
passage says that many commentators contend that Dante sub- 
'0 for the sake of the rhyme. He asks his 
readers to examine the truth of this. From the Latin accusa- 
tive sorieem^ or from the ablative sorice was derived the Italian 
ct, and from sorce sorco; like as 
from dolce comes dolco. And Nannucci thinks that the 1 has 
n inserted into sorco for softness of language, and it is quite 
dear that sono was a natural word, and not used for the sake of 

204 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXU. 

E diase ;— " State in I^, menir' io lo inforco.* 
Ed ftl Maestro mio volse la faccia : 
— " Domanda," dissc, " ancor se piii desii 

Smptx da Jul, prima ch' altri U disfaccia."— 
And Ciriatto, from whose mouth there pro- 
truded on either side a tusk hke a boar's, 
made him feel how ooe of them could rip. 
The mouse had fallen among evil cats, but 
Barbaiiccia locked him nd said : 

"Standaside there.wli n tight." 

And he (Barbariccia) t £ to my 

Master (and) : " Ask c ' if thou 

desirest to learn more fore the 

Others rend him piecemi 
Benvenuto says this is a ' of barrators. 

They are so apt at extortin] ;Ives any por- 

tion that they can get out ( ' or anything, 

that every one of them want! share or per- 

quisite. " Oh," exclaims Benvciki ow often have 

I myself seen similar instances of this. The chamber- 
lain wants bis perquisite, the chancellor his, even the 

(he rhyme. The plural of sorco is sorcki, which is found in 

" Perchi dormir non posso per li Sorchi, 
Che fanno maggior gridi, che i porchetti." 
*/o injbreo: Scartauini, Blanc, Camerini, Tommasio, Lom- 
bard!, and the Vocabttlnn'o della Crutca are convinced that this 
does not mean " while I enfork him," but " while 1 hold him 
tight with my arms open, clutching him like a fork." Uarbn- 
riccia, in 1. 59, lo chiuse con It braccia, and II. 6i-63,showihat he 
did so for the purpose of giving Ciampolo a momentary respite 
until Virgil had had lime to question him ; and when in 1. 70 
he is again attacked with the bool^ it is byLibicoccoand not by 

Canto XXII. Rmditigs on the Inferno. 

very door-keeper wants his, so that the unhappy 
victim can never get away until he is so plumed 
that he has not a feather left upon him ; but I cer- 
tainly must say that this one (Ciampolo) pleases me, 
although he had been a consummate rascal, for we 
shall see him eventually cheat all those who had 
despoiled him, and sow discord among them." 

Division III. In the intervals of his torments, 
Ciampolo answers Virgil's questions as to the other 
sinners immersed near him. Virgil first asks him if 
there are any Italians among them. 

Lo Duca :— " Dunque or di' degli allri rii : 

Conosci tu alcun che sia Latino* 65 

Solto la pece I" — E quegli ; — " lo mi panii 
Poco h da un, che fu di Xk vicino ; 

C05I foss' io ancor cnn lui coperlo, 
Che io non lemerei unghia, n^ uncino." — 
My Guide (said) : " Then prithee tell us about 
ihe other guilty ones: knowest thou anyone 
beneath the pitch who is Latin (i.e. Italian)?" 
And he: " I parted not long since from one 
who was a neighbour to those parts {i.e. who 
lived in Sardinia); would that I were again 

* Lnlino: Scartaiiini says that not only in his poems does 
Dante use the expression to signify simply an Italian, but also 
in Cenvilo, iv, 28 ; " II nobilissimo nostro Latino Guido Monte- 
fehrano." It is somewhat remarkable that in Inf. xxvii, 33, 
Dante uses the same expression about (he same person, Count 
Guido da Montefeliro, where the latter, from the flame in which 
he is tormented, cries up to Virgil that he had just heard him 
speaking in the Lombard, or North Italian, dialect. Virgil 
signs lo Dante lo answer Guido, saying ; 
" Paria lu, quest! i Latino." 

206 A',-<;(/;//:,'-j ,"/ //ic luftrno. Canto XXII. 

Willi him iiiidut cov« (oCthe pilch), so that I 
need not fear claw or hook." 
At this pointa nother intemiption occurs. The first 
I time Cianipolo4iad been ripped up by Ciriatto's tusks; 
\ this time be is made to feel one of the hooks ; and, 
/ indeed, he would have felt two of them, had not Bar- 
bariccia interposed (for what reason is not shown), and 
made the fiends desist for the time. Benveniito re- 
marks upon the way Barbariccia is obeyed, and says 

that, even among companie* ~' ~ 

"-'--' persons, there 

must needs be some sort o. 

1 reverence for 

superior officers, as is to 1 

y day in cam- 

paigns, in societies, and in i. 

E Libicoccn :— " Tropiw 

3.»"— 70 

Dissc,e presegli ilb 


SI che, stracciando, - 


Diaghignaizo anco i voUt 


Giuso alle gambe \ or 



piglio. 75 

And Libicocco said : " \Vt 

red (this) 

too kmg," and with his ho 


ann, in such wise that, renui^ 

e 1^ ..J carried 

away a sinew. Draghignazzo too would have 

laid hold on his legs below ; i 

pon which their 

decurion turned round and 

round with a 

threatening glance. 

■ Benvenuto thinks there was 

a certain amount of 


* scfftrto: Tbii word bears both the sense, as here, of "to 
endure,'' " to bear," and also " to permit," as in Inf. xvj, 46-48 ; 
" S' io fussi Slalo da! foco coperto, 
Giltato mi sarei Ira lor disono, 
E credo che il Dottor I' avria sotTerto. 
(i. I. would have penniited it)." 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 207 

foresight in Libicocco's wish to attack the legs of 
Ciampolo, for, as the result shows, he was very swift 
and nimble. 

Notwithstanding Ciampolo's suffering and fear, 
Virgil induces him to resume his interrupted narra- 
tive respecting the Italian barrator whom he said he 
had left shortly before beneath the pitch. Ciampolo 
tells him it is a Sardinian, Fra Gomita, and with him 
another Sardinian, Michel Zanche, both unjust judges 
in that island. 

Quand' elli un poco rappaciaii foro, 
A lui che ancor mirava sua ferila, 
Domandb il Duca mia senza dimoro : 
— " Chi fii colui, da cui mala pardta 

Di' clie facesti per venire a proda ? " — 80 

Ed ei rispose ;— " Fu frale Gomita, • 
Quel di Gallura.t vaset d'ogni froda, 

Ch' ebbe i nimici dl suo donno in mano, 
E fe' 5I lor, che ciascun se ne loda : 

* frnte Gomita: A native of the Island of Sardinia. Scar- 
taziini says that it is not known to what Order of Friars he 
belonged. From Vellutello we learn that he was in (he employ- 
ment of Nino de' Visconti of Pisa, and Lord Justiciary of the 
Judicature of Galium, in Sardinia, where he was invested with 
high authority. Now, although his malpractices, his pecula- 
tions, and his corrupt mode of governing were reported and 
attested to Nino, yet the latter had formed so strong an impres- 
sion of his rectitude for many years past that he never would 
listen to any accusations against him, believing they were all 
made out of envy, until at last he discovered that Fra. Gomita 
had been bribed to release certain prisoners, who had been com- 
mitted to his charge, and who were great enemies of Nino. 
Convinced at last by this of his treachery, Nino had Fra Gomita 
hanged, some say by the fool. 

t Gallura : After the Pisans had conquered the island of 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxil. 

Denar si tolse, e lascioUi di piano,* 

SI com' ei dice : e negli aJiri a9a\ anche 

Barallier fu non picciol, ma soprano. 

Usa con esso donno Michel Zanchc f 

Di Logodoro : ed a dir di Sardigtta 

Le lingue lor nan si sentono stanclie. 

When the appeased, my 

Leader wi him (Ciampolo) 

who was ntemplaling his 


', they paniiioned it into 
dclle Torri. (2) Calari, 
borea. NlnoVisconti of 
'urgalory in the Happy 
lUtrg. yiii, 46-84, wlierein 
in ijreat detail. Mark, 

Sardinia from ihe S 
the four judicature! 
Gallura is encounii 
Valley of the lllusi, 
Dante's intervie^v wi 
especially, S^-SS - 

" Ver me si fece, ed lu ver lui mi fei ; 

Giudice Nin gentil, quanio mi piacque, 
Quando ti vidi non easer tra i rei 1 
Nulto bel salutar tr^ noi si tacque ; etc." 
In lines 79-81 of the same canto he is represented speaking 
with much annoyance of his widow's re-marriage with one of the 
Visconti of Milan, whose crest was a viper, white his own was 
a cocL 

" Non le far& si bella sepoltura [his shield), 

La vipera che i/ M ilanesf accampa {i.e. displays on 

Com' avria fatto il gatlo di Gallura." 

• di piano : Not " secretly," but, according to the Vocaboiario 

delta Crusca, "senia conlrasto, liberamente," "without hind- 

+ Michel ZoMche : This person was the Justiciary of the Judi- 
cature or Logodoro, or Luogo d' Oro, in Sardinia. He was killed 
in 1375. He was Seneschal of King Ento, who was a natural 
son of Frederick 1 1. Ento, by right of his wife Adelasia, Mar- 
chioness of Massa, owned this Judicature of Logodora Enzo 
dying, Michel Zanche contrived to marry his widow, and thus 
became himself Lord of Logodora 


Canto xxn. Readings on the Inferno. 

wound, " Who was he, from whom Ihou sayest 
that thou didst part in an evil hour (lit. madest 
an ill departure) to come to the shore ?" And 
he answered ; "It was Friar Gotnita, he of 
Gailura, vessel of all guile, who had in his 
power the enemies of his lord (Nino de' Vis- 
conti), and used them so that every one of 
them commends him : Money he accepted, 
and let them go away without hindrance, as 
he himself relates. And in his other offices 
besides he was not a small, but a sovereign 
barrator. In his company is Michel Zanche, 
(the lord Justiciary) of Logodoro ; and in 
speaking of Sardinia their tongues never feel 

Benvenuto says that what Ciampolo has stated 
about Fra Gomita and Michel Zanche may be briefly 
summed up thus : " We are three well assorted com- 
rades, who were in our lifc-time three consummate 
rascals in our corrupt dealings with three excellent 
masters ; " but in Benvenuto's opinion Ciampolo knew 
far more than the others, and might even, in wiliness, 
have given them lessons at school, as we shall presently 
see at the end of this canto. GelH, alluding to their 
mutual conversation aboutSardinia,observes that both 
of them, having held positions of great power and in- 
fluence in that island, and having lived there in great 
ease and comfort, they now look back with regret to 
those halcyon days which are for ever passed away, 
and compare them with their present hopeless dam- 
nation and torment. Gelli thinks that Dante, in this 
passage, wishes again to impress upon his readers 

H passage, w 


310 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

that there is no greater sorrow than to remember by- 
gone days of happiness, when one is in misery and 
sufferi ng. 

Division IV. Ciampolo here breaks off his relation, 
being overcome ■"'*•> *=^.-^- -.» i\^ threatening aspect 
of one of the deii idiately afterwards his 

ready wit enable; dvantage of the tem- 

porary immunity hat is promised him, 

and he escapes frv ble adversaries. 

me I vede irigna : 

io dir« Bi — .> lu temo ch' ella 

Non s' api a graltarmi * la tigna."^ 

E il gran prap(»[a,r ruilo a Farfiircllo 

Che stralunava gli occhi per ferire, 95 

Disse . — " Fatti in coat^, inalvagio ucccllo." — 
Ah me I see the other how he grins : I would 
say more ; but I fear that he is preparing to 
claw my skin {Jit. to scratch my scurf)." And 
the great Marshal (Barbariccia), turning to 
Farfarello who was rolling his eyes to strike, 
I said : "Stand aside there, accursed bird." 

\ Having thus obtained some sort of truce, Ciampolo 

* gratlarmi la ligna : This is an expression of the lower 
classes meaning " to make my sufferings greater," " add pain to 
pain," as would be the case if a sore were scratched. If scurf 
is scratched it extends all the more. 

t il gran propoito : No commentator informs us whether ^ran 
refers to Barbariccia's huge stature, or whether it is to t>e 
taken as part of the irony thai speaks of that fiend as "the 
great Marshal," " the great Provost," etc. Praposto conies from 
the Latin praposHui, and means that Ilaibariccia was appointed 
by the captain, Malacoda, as the Decurion to lead the ten. 

Canto xxn. Readings on the Inferno. 

hints that, if the demons will consent to withdraw 
out of sight, he will employ a private signal, known 
and understood by himself and his hapless comrades, 
by which they give each other notice of the coast 
being clear, and of the possibility of coming up to the 
surface for cool air. Dante being a Tuscan, and 
Virgil a Lombard. Ciampolo suggests that they might 
like to converse with some of their countrymen. 
— " Se voi voleie vedere o udire," — 

Ricointnci& lo spauralo * appresso, 
^"Toschi o Lombardi, io ne farti venire. 
Ma stien le male branche un poco in ce550,t loo 

SI cli' ei non leninn delle lor vendeite ; 
Ed io, sedendo in quests loco stesso. 
Per un ch' io son, ne farft venir selte, 

• lo spauraio : Some commentators have attempted to show 
that the initial s is privative, and have translated spaurato, 
"removed from fear, renssured." But that is wrong. The ini- 
tial s is here an intensilive, not a privative. The meaning is 
the same as the Latin perterritus, i.e. " frightened out of his 
wils." The unhappy Ciampolo had little enough to reassure 
him, and one can only shudder lo think of the terrible assaults 
10 which he was being subjected. See in Nannucci {Manuaie 
della LcU-t etc., page a \ s), an extract from Maestro Migliore, of 
Florence, who flourished about 1250; 

" Lo cor ci6 ch' ha voluto non disvole, 

E lo voler 1' auccide \uccide\, se li dura, 

Membrandoli la gioia, ch' aver suole ; 

Ch' ogn' altra vita a morte lo spaura." 

+ siien . . . in ctsso : There are two ways of interpreting 

this : a (which I have followed), " let them stand a little on one 

side"; and b, "let them cease, desist from their attacks." 

Scartaiiini says that there are no instances of start in cesso 

having the signification oi fermarsi, aisare, whereas there are 

several of it signifying Stan iniUsparte, essere da lurtgi. 

IL O 2 


side, so thai 
:ar their vengeance; 
: spot, foe one that 
3m e, when I shall 
do whenever any- 
e the surface." 
mpletely successful, for } 
t that the thing i; 
ipolo's assurance that i 
, _j-irt in tormenting the ] 
vi!l call up, than they, ten 
: from further attacking himself 
alone, the fiends reluctantly comply with Alichino's 
advice, and retire behind the crags on the edge 
of the rampart away from the pitch. 
Cagnaiio a cotal moito \e\t> jl muso, 

Crollando il capo, e disse : — " Odi malizJa 
Ch' egli ha pensala per giiiarsi giuso." — 
a lacciuoU a gran divitta. 

one (o 
Ciam polo's 
though Cagi 
they will get 
many shades he 
number, can derh 


Rispose ; — " Maliiioso t son io troppo, i to 

* iufoUrb : Scartaizini thinks this was only an alleged kind- 
ness thai Ciampolo said they did, by way of warning their com- 
panions in misfortune, but it was probably a lie, as in their lost 
state in Hell, the sinners would have ceased to have any emo- 
tions of pity or kindness to their neightraurs. 

i MalUioso : Di Sieita remarks upon Ciampolo's cunning. 
Cagnaiio had used the word maliiia in the sense of " trick, 
dodge, device." Ciampolo uses a derivative of tnalina, malt- 
tioio, with a different sense, namely, "evil-doer." 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 

Quand' io procuro a' miei • maggior trislizia."- 
Alkhin non si lenne, e di rin[oppa + 

Agli altri, disse a lui : — " Se tu ti call, 

Io non li verrb dieiro di galoppo, 
Ma ba.tter6 sopra la pece 1' ali : % 

Lascisi il colic, e sia la ripa scudo § 

A vedcr se In sol piii di noi vail." — 

Cagna/io at these words raised his muzzle, 
wagging his head, and said ; " Hark at the 
knavery he has planned for casting himself 

"a" miei : Some read \x:\k, procuro a mia maggior Iristitia, 
but the reading n' mifi has an overwhelmingly superior au- 

\ di rintofpo : i.e. in opposition to the other demons, who 
were most unwilling to attach the smallest credence to the 
statements of Ciampolo ; and would never have allowed them- 
selves to be deluded into letting him shp through their fingers, 
I batttrb . . . f ali: Corap. Inf. xxvi, i, 2 ; 
" Codi, Fiorenza, poi che sei si grande, 

Che per maree per terra batti I' ali." 
i that the fame of Florence is spread over all the 
world. And Par. xi, 1-3 : 

" O insensata cura dei mortali, 

Quanto son difettivi sillogismi 
Quei che ti fanno in basso batter I' ah." 
5 Lascisi il colli, e sia la ripa saido ; Tommas&o explains 
this well as follows : " Picture to yourself the lake of pitch in 
the midst of the Bolgia, so that there remain two margins 
(shores) on either side, along which the fiends can pass back- 
wards and forwards. Imagine on either side that two high 
bulwarks of stone rear themselves up ; the summits of these 
heights we will call collej the sloping banks we will call ripa : 
and then we can understand how the ripa of the slope on the 
iippoiite shore makes a screen which would hide the fiends and 
the barrators from each other." 

214 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

down." Whereupon he (Ciampolo), who had 
artifices in great abundance, replied : " Too 
much indeed am I knavish when I procure 
for my (comrades) greater woe." Alichino 
no longer could hold himself (from speaking), 
and in op,™wi''nn '" tht^ mhers, said to him : 
" If thou nut in a gallop, 

(i.e. flrith m after thee, but I 

will beat m" : pitch {i.t. like a 

hawk) : let and be the bank 

our screen ; we may see if 

thou alone a i natch for us." 

We are now to i = that the fiends have all 

turned round, with ineir backs towards the lake of 
pitch, preparatory to retiring behind the bank ; Ciam- 
polo does not hesitate an instant, but plunges in, and 
the rage and disappointment of the baffled Demons 
is described in humorous terms. Alichino swoops 
down at him as falcon does upon a duck, but is too 
late, and wheeling upwards to fly back, encounters his 
comrade Calcabrina, who in brutal fury turns upon 
him. The two struggling fiends full into the pitch, 
and are with some difficulty rescued by the others. 
O tu, che leggi, udirai nuovo ludo I 

Ciascun dall' alira costa gli occhi volae ; 
Quei prima,* ch' a ci6 fare era piu crudo. ijo 

Lo Navarrese ben suo lempo colse, 

Fetm5 le pianie a terra, ed in un punto 
Saltb, e dal proposio lor si sciolsc. 
O thou that readest, thou shalt hear of new 
sport ! Everyone (of the ten) turned his eyes 

* Quei Prima,ch' add fare era pi ii crudo: This refers 10 Cag- 
nano, who had shown the greatest distrust of Ciampolo's story. 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 215 

lo the other side (of the bank) ; he (Cagnazzo) 
first, who to do so had been the most reluc- 
tant (lit. harsh). The Navarrese chose his 
time well, planted his feet firmly on the 
ground, and in an instant leaped, and from 
their intention freed himself. 
There is great diflerence of opinion as to the mean- 
ing of lor proposto. I have followed But!, Landino, 
and nearly all the modern commentators in explaining 
it as " their intention." Benvenuto, the Ottimo, Veliu- 
tello, Volpi, Cesari, Lombard!, and Blanc, think it 
means Barbariccia ((V gran proposto), who had been 
holding Ciampolo in his arms. But Scartazzini points 
out that, if Barbariccia Jiad remained behind, then the 
stipulation that the demons should stand aside would 
not have been fulfilled, and they could not in that 
case expect that Ciampolo would have summoned the 
Tuscan and Lombard shades. Dante says too that 
they all turned their eyes away (ctasatn gii occhi volse). 
If moreover Barbariccia had remained with Ciampolo, 
he would have been the Demon nearest to him when 
he escaped, and /u, and not Alichino, would have 
been the one to fly after him, and the one the most 
to blame for allowing him to escape; and against 
him, and not against Alichino, would Calcabrina's 
fury have been directed. 

Di che ciascun A\ colpa fu conipunlo,* 

Ma quei piii, che cngton fu del difetto ; 135 

e grid6 ; — " Tu se' giunto." — 

Per6 si 

* A' eolpafu compunio : Compare inf. x, 109 : 
" Allor, come di mia colpa compunio," 
in which passage others read : di colpa fu compunto. This means 
"they ail were smitten with sudden grief." Scartauinl will not 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXII. 

Ma poco i valsc : ch& 1' ale al sospello 

Non potero avanzar: quegti and6 sotto, 

E quei drizzi, volaDdo, suso il petto : 

Non allrimenli 1' anilra di botto, 130 

Quando il felcon %' appressa, giu &' aUutfo, 

Ed ei riloma su crucciaio e roito.* 

At which they nil «"•>■'' stimo with vexation, 

but inost of a ivho had been 

the cause of thi :fore he started 

forward and yei? \\.i caught !" But 

little did it avai ivings could not 

outstrip the lerti jitive) : he dived 

under ; and (he umci v/^ucnmo) flying (back) 

directed his breast upwards. Not oiherwise 

does the wild duck, when the filcon comes 

near, dive under at once, and it (the falcon) 

soars up again enraged and discomforted. 

Benvenuto remarks that the power of fear is so 

great, that sometimes one on foot has been icnown to 

escape from a pursuer on horseback \ such speed will 

terror lend to his feet, if he sees not far off a place of 

safety to which a great effort on his part will bring 

him. Admirable, too, the simile of the falcon and the 

duck I Ahchino has wings and talons like the falcon. 

The barrator compares well with the duck, which is 

an aquatic bird found in marshy places, able to swim 

and dive, and web-footed ; when gorged with food it 

will readily enter into the fowler's net, and is oftenest 

commit himself to say which reading is the correct one, but he 

inclines to the first one because the context in the following line 

seems to speak in its favour. 

* rolto ; The Kw. M/n Crusca gives many different interpre- 
tations of rolto. The one I have adopted is in § x : " Ratio, per 
isconfitlo. \M.. frofiigalus^ 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 217 

caught at such times; with its saw-Hke beak {rostro 
SHO seralili) it picl<s up weeds, worms, and small fish, 
for its food. The barrator is in all respects like the 
duck, and in his cupidity and hungry craving after 
gains falls into the pitch and is belimed. 

Calcabrina's onslaught upon Alichino, and their 
common discomfiture is now described, 
trato Calcabriiia della bulTn, 

Volando dielro gli tenne, invaghilo 
Che quel campasse, per aver la zufTa. 135 

E come il baraltier fu disparilo, 

Cos! volse g]i artigli al suo compagno, 
E fu con lui sopra il fosso ghermilo. 
Ma I' altro fu bene spaivier grifagno * 

Ad arligliar ben lui, ed ambo e due 140 

Cadder nel mezzo del bogtiente stagno. 

• sparvitr grifagno means a sparrow-hawk Ihat has attained 

its full growth and vigour. Bruneito Latini, in Li Tresors, livre i, 
part V, chap, cxiix, says that all birds of prey have three stages, in 
which they arc respectively called, «»(«> (I tal. ni'rfi'iit/), nestlings ; 
riunains (Ital. ramaa), that can fly enough to follow the parent 
birds from bough to bough ; and gri/ains {Ital. grifagni), that 
are full-fledged with their adult plumage, and their eyes glowing 
like fire. Compare In/, iv, 123 ; 

" Cesare armato con gli occhi grifagni." 
and Ariosto, Orl. Fur. xxi, si. 63 : 

" Come sparvier chc nel piede grifagno 

Landino describes grifagno nearly in the same words as Ser 
Brunetto : 

" Chiamano sparaviere nidiace, quando picciotino & preso nel 
nido, che ancora non pu6 volare. Et ramingo, quando comincia a 
volare, et sta in sui rami. El grifagno, poi che J muialo {moulttif) 
in selva, et quest! ullimi, bench^ con piti dilHcolIk si concino 
(areianud). Nientedimenosono piii animosi alio uc eel I are (are 
more sfiirittd birds for hawking)." 

3l8 Readings oh tlu Infcrite. Canto XXH. 

Calcabrina, furious at the trick, kept behind 
him (Alichtno) on the wing, well pleased that 
he (Ciainpolo) liad escaped, that be might 
have the broil (he desired). And as soon as 
he {the barrator) had disappeared, so (instan- 
taneously) did he turn his talons against his 
comrjde, and close grapple 

above the foi ler (Alichino) 

was indeed a full vigour in 

&stening his i„ and both of 

them fell into tl soiling flood." 

Benvenuto thinks s allegory Dante is 

depicting what Ben- en to occur more 

than once, when tw< ^ Is (understand the 

demons) think to obtain the bribes of a new comer 
at the Court (understand Ciampolo), who, being far 
more wily than they, makes them believe that he is 
wealthy, and has important litigations to carry 
through, in which their interest will greatly assist him. 
He makes many promises to the first one, and then 
to the second, and when each flatters himself he has 
secured his prey, their supposed victim leaves them 
for a third high official. They quarrel. Each declares 
the other has robbed him of his booty, and they fall 
into the pitch, that is, into the infamy of being known 
as traffickers in their high offices, and become the 
laughing-stock of all the Court. But then the fear of 
further obloquy and ridicule makes them desist from 
the open enmity they still feel in their secret hearts, 
and like the two demons, as we read in the lines that 
follow, they find the place so hot for them, that they 
ungrapple from their deadly contention. 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 

Lo caldo sghermitor* subito fue ; 
Ma pEr6 di levars: 

SI a 

' ate SI 

Barbariccia, con gli altri suoi dolente, 14S 

Quattra ne fe' volar dall' altra costa 
Con (utti i raITi, ed assai prestamenle 
Di qua, di ih discesero alia posla : 

Porser gli uncini verso gl' impaniati, 
Ch' eran %\k cotti denlro dalla crosta t : ' 5" 

E noi lasciamnio lor cosl itnpacciati, \ 
The heat caused them to pari at once {lit. 
was an instantaneous ungrappler) : but (their 
efforts) to rise however were fruitless, so be- 
glued had they got their wings. Barbariccia, 
with the others of his crew lamenting, made 
four of them fly over to the opposite shore 

* sghermilcr : From tg/iermire, the QoiHiATyof^fiermirg. The 
heat made them separate Immedialely. 

t tti levarsi era m'ente : There was no way, no possibility of 
their rising on their wings. It is the same expression as the 
Latin nihil tit guod. Compare Inf. ix, 56, 57 : 

" Cht se il Gorgon si mostra, e tu 11 vedessi. 
Nulla sarebbc del lomar mai suso." 

Xerosta is said by some commentators to be the crust which 
(he pitch had farmed upon their bodies, but Scartaiiini asks 
where they find thai Dante says the pilch had formed a crust 
at all. Camerini follows Landino in thinking il means the 
surface of the lake on which the pitch had formed a crust 
Scarlazzini understands crosia as (he outer surface of their skin, 
and the passage to mean they had not only got the outer surface 
of their skin burned, but underneath i( as well. 

§ impacciati: Uante means lo say that he and Virgil left ihe 
fiends " beset with difficuliies," " with their hands full," " in a 
mess." Two were struggling on the surface of ihe pitch with 
their wings all covered with it, and ihe other eight were occu- 
pied in pulling them up. 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIL 

with all their drag-hooks, and very speedily 
on the one side and on the other, they 
descended to their posts : they extended their 
hooks towards the belimcd (couple), who 
were already scalded right through their skin 
(Jit. omer crust) : and we left them thus en- 

iThis, says Benv 
interfere in such ' 
out of their entai 
from all that has 
canto, we are to 
I delude and injure 
times when the It 
up strife between th.,.. ., 

t wise men do not 
:he litigants to get 
they can. And, 
nd related in this 
greater barrators 
ind how there are 
iccccds in stirring 
. Hies and escapes. 

And Benvenuto further b^s us to note, that there is 
no lord who can altogether avoid the hidden snares 
of the barrators, but when he does detect them, then 
he can put^e them out and punish the delinquents, 
of which we have an example in Alexander, who was 
a very upright Emperor of the Romans. For, as 
i£lius Lampridius writes in his life of him, Marcus 
Aurelius Alexander Severus had the most competent 
and excellent officers of State, among whom was 
Ulpian, a perfect treasure of the whole science of 
jurisprudence, but yet there was found in the Em- 
peror's household one Turnus, an infamous barrator, 
who, when he foresaw that the Emperor was about to 
confer any special favour, informed the person of the 
fact, and stipulated for a certain fixed price for him- 
self, pretending falsely that it was through his inter- 
mediation that the favour had been granted by the 

Canto XXII. Readings on the Inferno. 


Emperor. But Alexander, having discovered the 
whole truth, had Turnus bound to a stake in the 
principal square of the town, and, having had a fire 
lighted with straw, hay, and damp wood, had him 
suffocated with smoke, while a herald proclaimed 
aloud : " Let him perish by smoke, who sold the 

End of Canto XXII. 

The poets, on seeing the two demons fall into the 
pitch, and that the attention of the remaining eight is 


Canto XXIll. Readings on the Inferno. 


fully occupied in extricating them, slip quietly away, 
and the opening lines of this canto describe their 
progress along the bank which is the lower rampart 
of the Bolgia of the Barrators, but the upper rampart 
of that of the Hypocrites {^See diagram). 
Benvenuto divides the canto into four parts. 

In Division I, from v. i to v. 57, Dante relates 
how. as the Poets retire from the scene of the recent 
contention, they are pursued by the fiends ; but by 
use of his supernatural powers Virgil carries Dante 
safely down into the next Bolgia. 

In Division If, from v. 58 to v. 72, the punish- 
ment of the Hypocrites is described. 

In Division III, from v. 73 to v. 108, Dante speaks 
of his interview with the Frati Godenti. 

In Division IV, horn v. 109 to v. 148, Dante 
mentions some other Hypocrites, among whom is 
Caiaphas ; and the Poets then quit the Bolgia, by 
ascending the ruins of another broken bridge, on to 
the next bank or rampart. 

Division I. The scene which ihey have so recently 
left indisposes the Poets for conversation, and they 
walk on for a while immersed in deep thought and in 
single file. 

Taciti, soti e senia compagnin,* 

N' andavam I' un dinanzi e 1' allro dopo, 
Come frali minor vanno per via. 

* tenia compagnia ti an/Lrvam : Contrast this with the com- 
mencement of their march with the fiends, in canto xxii, 13, 14 : 
" Noi andavam con 1i dieci dimoni : 
Ahi fiera compagnia t" 


Silent, alone, and without escort, we went our 
way, tlie one (Virgil) before, and the other 
(myself) behind, like as Minor Friars go upon 
the road. 
Benvenuto remarks that, not only because he was 
the more ancient Poet, does Vireil precede Dante, but 
also because, in the z, the wise man e 

keeps Reason befo narkable that while 

Benvenuto (in 13; ; Franciscans com- 

monly walk along i, decorously and in 

silence, the more ' first, Gelli (writing 

in 1 560) says : " it they seem to have 

had in those times ys they are in the 

habit of walking a azzin! notices the 

happy contrast there is te. e comical termina- 
tion of the last canto, and the solemn serious de- 
meanour with which Dante and Virgil resume their 
journey, directly they have parted with their grotesque 

As Dante thinks over the broil of Alichino and 
Calcabrina, there recurs to his mind a fable, wrongly 
attributed by him to JEsop, but which is found in the 
Life of j£sop, written by Maximus Planudes, a monk 
who lived in the fourteenth century, the moral of 
which is that he, who seeks to compass evil for his 
neighbour, often is surprised by sudden misfortune 

* The fable is as follows : " Quando colloquebantur animalia 
brula, mus ranse amicus factus ad ccenam cam invitavit, et 
abducta in penarium divitis, ubi mulia comestibilia erant, 
comede, inquit, arnica rana. Post epulationem et rana murem 
in suam invitavit co^nationem ; sed nc defatigare, inquit, na- 

Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 


Volto era in sulla favola di Esopo 

Lo mid pensier per la presenle rissa, 5 

Dov' ci paH6 della rana e del topo : 
Chi piil non si pareggia mo ed issa,* 

Che r tin con 1' altro fa, se ben s' accoppia 
Principio e fine con la mente fissa : , 

My thoughts were turned by the present fray 
to the fable of /Esop, in which he spoke of 
the frog and [he mouse : for not more alike 
are mo and issa (two words both signifying 
now), than is the one (case) to the other, if 
the beginning and end (of either episode) be 
compared by an attentive mind. 
This means that, if one carefully likens the retribu- 
tive justice which fell upon the frog for compassing 

lando, lilo lenui luutn pedem meo alligabo. Atque hoc facto 
saltavii In paludem. Ea autem urinata in profundum, mus 
suffocabalur, el moriens ait : ego quidem per te morlor, scd me 
vindicabit major. Supernatante igitur mure in palude mortuo, 
devolans aquila hunc arripuit, cum eo auiem appensam una 
eliam ranam, el sic ambos devoravil," 

Buti says (hat in the time of Dante this, fable was to be found 
in a little reading book used bychildren learning their grammar. 

• nio ed issa ate two words, both of which mean " now," 
namely, mo^=moiio, and issa^ifisd hard. 

Issa is a Milanese word. Benvenoto considers mo to be of 
Tuscan use, and issa of Lombard. In Inf. xxvii, 19-11, Guido 
da Monlefeltto, who was not a Lombard, uses the word mo 
himself, and identifies Virgil as a Lombard from his having just 
used the word issa. 

;, e chc parlavi mo Lombardo, 
Dicendo : ' issa ten va, piii non t' adizzo.' " 
Guido da Montefeltro means to say: "Just now {mo) you 
were speaking Lombard, using the words : /ssa (en va,piii non 
f adtxso." 



Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxill. 

the death of the mouse, and being himself devoured 
by the kite, with what has just befallen Cakabrina 
(who, while trying to injure Alichino, has fallen with 
him into the boiling pitch), one will see a precise ana- 
logy in the two occurrences. Cakabrina correspoi^ds 
to the frog, A'!-'': — *" •*•»■ "ouse. The beginning 

{principio) was 

cabrina again: 

mouse; while 

plotter and the 

lation from a 

were laoth snaj: 

fell into the boi 
The more Da 

is he able to assua^^ ms lears. 

E come 1' un pensier dell' allro scoppia, 
Cos] nacque di quello un altro poi, 
Che la prima pauraf mi fc' doppia. 

ng in both cases, Cal- 
the frog against the 
that in both cases the 
nst fell into like tribu- 
frog and the mouse 
te,and the two fiends 

the position, the less 

• t un pensier delf altro scoppia : Compare Petrarch, ^rt i, 
Cantonc xiii : 

" 1)i pensier in pensier, di monie in mnnte 
Mi guida Amor ; ch'ogni segnato calle 
Provo conlrario alia tranquilla vita." 
And Michelangelo BuonaroUi the younger, La Fiera, act iv, 
sc. 34 ; in Le Monnier's edition, p. 688 : 
" Sminuendo '1 cammino. 
Tempo abbrevier6 sp^sone assai, 
Men I re ch' or questo or quello 
Pensier succede e visco all' altro fassi, 
E r allro air altro k laccio che sel tira 
Dietro seguace." 
+ laprimapaura: This means the terror Dante had expressed 
to Virgil on seeing that they were to t>e accompanied by the 
ten demons. See xxi, 127-132. 

Canto xxill. Readings on the Inferno, 

Jo pensava cosl : — " Quesli per noi 

Sono scherniti, e con danno e con belTa 
Si fatta, ch' assai credo che lor noi. 

Se I' ira sopra il mal voler s' aggueffa,* 
Ei ne vcrranno dietro pill crudeli 
Che 'I cane a quella lepre ch' egli acceffa."- 

And as one idea bursts forth from another 
{i.e. the thought of the fable was suggested by 
the sight of the fray), so out of that there 
arose another, which made my first fear 
double. I reasoned thus; "These (fiends) 
through us are made ridiculous, and with 
damnge and mockery so complete, as I think 
must greatly irritate them. If then to their 
evil will, anger be superadded {//'/. sphced on), 
they will come in pursuit of us more piti- 
lessly than the dog after that hare which he 
snaps up." 
Hcnvenuto observes that this is a fact patent to 
everybody. A man who is merely wicked is to be feared 

5S-S7 : 

I /'/ mal voter f aggueffa : Compare Inf. x 

Chi dove r argomento della mente 

S' aggiunge al mal volere ed alia possa, 
Nessun riparo vi pu6 far la genlc." 
t acceffa : Acctffare is a term of the chase, and is said of a 
dog seizing the hare or other game with his teeth. 
Compare Diitamoniio, lib. ii, cap. xxvii : 
" Se '1 sai non so, dico dal Pi all' Effe, 

Tra quai di Falterona un serpe corre, 
Che par che il corpo di ciascun acccffe." 
/'(■{the letter P)stands for Pisa; Eft (the letter F) for KirenK, 
WW tcrfie for the winding Amo which rises in Monte Falierona. 
II. r 2 

228 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIII. 

because he is naturally prone to do evil ; but if, be- 
sides being wicked, he is enraged at something, then 
he is all the more to be feared. 

Dante's terror is so great, that he entreats Virgil to 
devise some means of concealment. 

Giimisen-- ; ~~i™~.« ■ 



ro intenlo, 20 


ro, se non celi 

Tc e me to 



vem gii dietro : 


Eli sen 10." 

Already I ( 

ding on end for 

fear, and wa- 

t (i.€. anxiously 

looking bad 

Master, unless 

The Vocaooiario d<Ua Crtuca says llie word 
is equivalent 10 selUvare, rittart; and is especially used in 
speaking of a 0>an's hair, which stiffens and stands up from the 
effect of sudden fright or horror. Compare Ariosto, Orl. Fur. i, 
sL 291 

" Air apparir che fece all' improwiso 

Dair acqua 1' ombra, ogni pelo arricciosse, 
* E scolorossi a) Saracino 11 viso ; 
La voce ch' era per uscir, fermosse." 
t r ko pavenlo : Biagioli says xhM p<ivenlo has much more 
force than timore. Tommas^o says it was a word more used 
in Dante's lime than since. The Voc. della Crusca derives it 
from the Latin pavor. Compare Poliziano, Rime. First Can- 
xone, St. 4, page 60, of the Milan edition of 1825 : 
" Come agghiacciai, com' arsi, 
Quando di fuori un nembo 
Vedea rider inlorno 
(Oh benedetto giomo I) 
E pien di rose 1' amoroso gremba \ 
Suo divin portamento 
Ritral lu, Amor, ch' io per me n' ho pavento." 

Canto XXin. Readings on tke Inferno. 229 

thou dost speedily conceal thyself and me, 1 
am in dread of the MaUbranche : we have 
already got them behind us ; I imagine them 
so vividly, that already I can hear them." 

Tonimasfeo says this last sentence is a true picture of 
Dante himself. 

Virgil replies at once, that he knows ail that is in 
Dante's mind ; he could not, even were he a mirror, 
be more quick to reflect Dante's features than he now 
is to imprint into his understanding the thoughts of 
Dante's innermost soul ; and that his own ideas and 
Dante's combine so perfectly, that they frame them- 
selves into the same determination, namely, to escape ; 
and he suggests how they may be able to do so by 
natural means ; but he does not give Dante the least 
hint that their danger will be so pressing, that he will 
be forced to put forth his supernatural powers to 
deliver him. 

E quel : — "S' io fossi d' impiambato velro,* 
L' imagine di fuor tua non trarrei 
Piii losto a me, che quella d' eniro impetro. 


• S' io fossi d" impiombato vctro, et seq. ; The s 
beautifully expressed by Petrarch, part i, cansone ii: 
" E perch^ pria, tacendo, non m' impetro ? 
Certo, cristallo o velro 
Non mDs(r6 mai di fore 
Nascosto attro colore, 
Che I' alma sconsolaia a 
Piu chia 

n mostri 

E la fera dolcena ch' k nel core. 
Per gli occhi, che di sempre pianger vaghi 
Cercan di e notte pur che glien' appaghi," 
In Cenvilo, iit, 9, Dante, comparing the crystalline lens of the 

230 Readings on the htferno. Canto xxiii. H 

Purmo veninnli tuoipensier'lraimiei . H 
Con simile atto e con simile faccia, ^| 
SI che d- inlrambi un sol cdnsiglio + fei. 30 H 

S' egli i che s) la desira casta giaccia,^ ^| 

eye to a mirror, says : " E nell' acqi, 

occhio questo " . ^ . - 

suo si compic 

Speech io, che 

oltre non pub, 

. . . . e questo 

pare, e non in 

Gelli observe 
was laid upon 
to a particular 
secret to becom. 

a ch' h nella pupilla dell' 
rma visibile, per Io mcizn 
i terminata quasi come 
n piombo j sicch6 passar 
a palla percossa si ferina \ 

reparation of the lead that 
plate was made according 
nan ufac lured in Germany 
y, who never allowed their 

* Pur mo venian li tuoi pensier, tic. : Biagioli quotes the fol* 
lowing, but 1 am unable to trace the reference : 
" D' uno stesso voler due deslderj 
Si vengono a 'nconirar." 
+ »n sol consigliofii : fare, pigliarc. Of prendare consiglio is 
equivalent to deliberare, risolvcrc, Lat. consilium captri, <lreek 
TpsoipfiirfH. Compare Petrarch, part i, sonnet cxvii (in sonic 
.dilion. 136): 

" Allor raccotgo I' alma, e poi ch' i' aggio 

Di scovrirle il mio mai preso consiglio, 
Tamo le ho a dir che 'ncominciar non oso." 
And Ariosto, Orl. Fur. xjiiv, st. iia : 

" Si piglia finalmente per consiglio, 
Che i duo guerrier, deposto ogni yen e no, 
Facciano insieme triegua fin al giomo 
Che sia tolto 1' assedio ai Mori inlorno." 
I giaccia : Virgil uses ihe same expression in Inf. xi\, 34-36: 
". . . Se tu vuoi ch' io ti porti 
Laggiu per quella ripa che piii giace, 
Da lui saptai di sfe e de' suoi torli." 

Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 


Che noi possiara nell' altra bolgia 5cendere, 
Noi fuggirem 1' immaginata caccia." — 
And he (Virgil) : " Though I were of leaded 
glass {i.e. a mirror), I could noi draw to my- 
self thine outward image sooner than I receive 
that from within. Even now did thy medita- 
tions enter among my own {i.e. I was just 
thinking the same thing) with the like action 
(/>. suspicion of danger), and the like appear- 
ance (of fear), so that of both (cogitations, 
namely, thine and mine) I have formed one 
single resolution. If it be the case, that the 
cliff to our right so slopes, that we can de- 
scend into the next Bolgia, we shall escape 
from this fancied chase," 
Virgil in using the word caccia, is following up the 
idea in Dante's mind, not expressed in words, that the 
demons would pursue them as pitilessly as a grey- 
hound snaps up a hare. 

Dante's apprehensions are fully justified. The in- 
stant the two belimed fiends have been liberated by 
the other eight, the whole ten start off in hot pursuit 
of the Poets, and the fearful suddenness of their ap- 
proach is graphically described. Virgil however is on 
the alert. Promptly acting upon his previously formed 
resolution, he catches up Dante, as a mother snatches 
her child from a burning house, and by supernatural 
power glides with him down the face of the precipice 
into the next Bolgia. 

Gih..non comply di tal consiglio'* renders^ 

• turn compii di tal consiglio rtndere : This must be taken 
with the content in line 30 : 


232 Readings on the Inferm. Canto XXiii. 

Ch' 10 gli vidi venir con T all lese,* 35 

Non molio lungi, per volerne prendere. 
Lo Duca mio di subilo mi prese, 

Come k madre t ch' al romore i deaia, 
£ vede presso a s£ le fiamrne accese, 
Cbe prende 11 tiglio c fugge e non s' arresta, 40 

Avendo niii di lui che di si cura, 
Tai cia vesia : 

E giu d a 

Sqj iiite roccia, 

(3|| I bolgia tura. 45 

He faidl [festing the afore- 

said m^ ir off, I beheld 

them cm tietched desiring 

to seize 1 tBnlly laid hold 

upon mc, is awakened by 

the noise, anu uiose to her sees tJie burning 
flames, who snatches up her boy, and flies, 
and, having more care for him than for herself, 
pauses not even so long as} to slip on a shift : 

" S) che d' intrambi un sol consiglio fei." 

From Dante's cogitations and his own, Virgil had formed one 
singleresolutjon, namely, of prompt flight. He has not finished 
making manifest to Dante what the aforesaid resolution (ttU 
consiglio) is, when the sudden appearance of the pursuing fiends 
obliges him to put it into immediate practice. 

* con P all Use: Scartanini happily compares the motion of 
the demons, running with outspread wings, to that of ostriches. 

t Lo Duca mio di subilo r/tt prese come la maiire, etc. : llen- 
venuto points out the appropriateness of this simile. Dame, who 
often calls Virgil his lather, on this occasion, to show the in- 
tensity of Virgil's affectionate care for him, likens him to a 
mother whose love for her children is always greater than that 
of a father. 

X Some have translated this, "only so long as to put on a 

Canto XXHI. Readings on the Inferno. 

(thus did Virgil snatch hold of me) and from 
the summit of the rocky bank let himself 
(glide) face upwards down along the sloping 
clilT, which walls in one of the sides of the 
next Bolgia. 
Both Bcnvenuto and Gelli, in commenting on the 
above passage, reca!! personal reminiscences of re- 
markable incidents witnessed by themselves, of 
mothers thus rescuing their children. They both 
enlarge upon the affection of mothers for their chil- 

single shift," but I hold to the view, also held by Carlyle and 
Norton, that the mother fled away naked There is abundant 
authority for this. 

Buti says : " Anzi fugge nuda." 

Benvenulo: " Imo, sicul ego vidi in una, absque accipere 
camisiam net aliud velamen." 

Jacopo della Lana: " Che non altende a veslirsi, nh sd altro 
fare se non a scampare col figliuolo." 

Gelli: " E per mostrare lo amore e la cura che egli aveva della 
sua salute, egli usa quesia bellissima comparazione che voi 
vedete, dicendo ch' egli fece come una madre, ch' essendo desta 
a lo improviso da'i romorecheinsimilicasi occorre, e veggendo 
arderc la casa, e di glk le (iamme del fuoco essergli appresso, 
prende il figliuolo ch' ella ha a lato nel leiio senza arrestarsiy 
cio&, badare pur lanto tempo ch' ella si melta indosso una 
camicia, per scamparlo dal pericolo ; ma fugge via ignuda, 
avendo pih cura di lui, ch' ei non palisca .dal fuoco, che di li 
slessa, cioi delto essereveduta ignuda (ch' h cosa molto vergog- 
nosa appresso le donne)." 

Scartazzini : " come una madre che, scossa dal romore e des- 
tatasi, si vede vicine le liamme d' un incendio e prende il figlio 
fra le sue braccia e, curando piii di lui che del proprio pudore, 
sen fugge via con esso scnxa fennarsi nefifiur limlo, quanlo 
basti a vestirsi almeno u. 

Cttmerim: "fugge nuda." 

234 " Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIII. 

dren being greater than that of fathers, on account of 
the pain they have suffered in bearing them ; but 
principally, Gelli maintains, from their having nursed 
them. And he goes on to deplore the custom, preva- 
lent in his time, of mothers putting their children out 
to nurse, and esneciallv of having different brothers 
and sisters nurs t-nurses, the effect of 

which is to rend nents dissimilar, and 

to indispose thi icr. He remembers 

that the natura lieri, once made the 

experiment of 1 :kled by a goat, and 

in course of timi e coarse and rough. 

Gelli relates the ending scene that he 

once witnessed, oi votion to her child ; 

" I say thus much, ti, k. i nave myself had experi- 
ence of it, for I remember that, in a fire that took 
place at that bakery, which is at the Canto k la 
Macine, a mother standing near the entrance into the 
bakery, and seeing that the tire had caught a room in 
which the brooms were kept, and which was under- 
neath a room in which she had left her little boy in 
bed, rushed suddenly upstairs to save him ; and 
although the fire had penetrated the ceiling, and had 
caught the bed, she heeded it not, but entered the 
room. At that instant the roof fell in, and the poor 
woman and her child perished together." 

Dante, to illustrate the velocity of Virgil's descent, 
compares it to the impetuous course of a mill-race. 
Non corse mai s) tosto acqua per doccia * 

* doccia ; The Voc. dtUa Cntsca says that doccia is a conduit 
or pipe madeof /^rraco/Zii, woodfOt any other matetial, tlirou|;h 
which water is made to run va a continuous stream. Ulanc 

Canto XXIII, Readings on the Inferno. 

A volger rola di molin lerragno,* 
Quand' ella piii verso ie palct approccia, 
Come il Maestro mio per quel vivagno.X 
Portandosene me sopra il suo petlo, 
Come suo figlio, non come compagno. 

derives it from tlic Latin duare. Dante uses i 


" ['oi sen va giti per questa sttelta doccia 
Infin tJi dove piu non si dismonla." 
• molin lerragno ; This is explained by most of the com- 
mentators to mean a water-mill buill an land, to distinguish it 
from those attached lo vessels floating in rivers. These last 
have neither conduit {doccia) nor mill-race {gora) to turn the 
mill-wheel, which is moved by the current. But Landino, Uuii, 
and Guiniforti define the distinction more closely, and say that 
WK/i'ni} /rmi^mT is an overshot mill, whereas mulino Jranccsco 
is an undershot mill. 

+ pale: Bargigi, by pale, understands the sluice-gates which 
are opened to admit the water to fall upon the wheel and make 
it revolve ; but (hat is not apparently the correct interpretation. 
The primary meaning of /a/n, in the Voc. delta Cnisca, is an in- 
strument made of different materials and dilTerent shapes, which 
serves principally for shovelling minute substances from one 
place lo another, such as sand, grain, earth, snow, and such 
like ; and more especially denotes the long wooden peel with 
which bakers put bread into the oven. From this comes the 
secondary meaning, namely, " that part of a wheel made like a 
pa/a, which makes the mill work." Buti adds ; " the pa/e are 
(hose things which receive the water and make the wheel turn." 
Therefore, le paU here are (he float-boards, and, as the water 
rushes down the conduit, it is running at its greatest speed 
when it is nearest to the float-boards of the wheel (quand' ctla 
piii verso le pale approcid). 

X vivagno : Bargigi says this is properly the edge or border 
of a piece of cloth, and in like manner the banks are the edges 
or borders of the bolgia, and therefore Uanle calls them here 

Compare Inf. xiv, lzi-ti3 ; 

22,6 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIll. 

Never ran water so quickly along a conduit 
to turn the wheel of a land-mill when it 
approaches nearest to the float-boards, as did 
my master (glide) down over that ridge (///. 
edge), bearing me with him on his breast, 

even as his son. not as a companion. 

The Poets 

ixth Bolgia, wlierethe 

Hypocrites ; 

ttiey reach it only just 

in time to es 

itriated pursuers. 


al letw 

ono in sul colic 


[li era sospello ; * 


escnie rigattio 

) mondo, W 

Percne ci appar pur da t|uesto vivagno ? " ^ 
And Purg. xxlv, 127-128 : 

" SI, accosiati all' un dc" due vivagni, 

In Par. ix, 133-13S, vivagni signit 

its the margins of parch- 

ment manuscripts : 

" Per questo I' Evangelio e i Dottor magni 
Son derelitti, e sqIo ai Decretal! 
Si studia si, che pare ai lor vivagni." 
* nonglierasospetto: " there was no need to fear." Di Siena 
says that gli is a pleonasm for egii, and it must be taken for vi 
or ivi, adv. of place, and probably derived from the Latin illic, 
whence come /I and gli, just as from iili, dative of the Latin 
Hie, came //, igli, and finally f//. 
Compare Purg. xiii, j : 

" Ombra non gli h, ne segno che si paia." 
N.B. Witte here reads 11 lor gli. 
And Purg. viii, 68-69 : 

" colui, che si nasconde 
Lo suo primo perch^, che non gli t guado." 
Scanauinl says that some read /), perhaps being unaware of 


Canto XXIII. Readings oh the Inferno. 

Ch6 r alia provvidenia,- che lor voile 55 

Poire minislri della fossa quinta, 
?oder di paiiirs' indi a tulli tolle. 
Hardly liad his feet reached the bed of the 
depth below, when they (the ten demons) 
reached the summit above us : but down there 
was no need to fear ; because the Providence 
on high which had decreed to place them as 
ministers of the fifth fosse, lakes away, from 
them all, the power of quitting it. 
Benvenuto says that God " has set them tiieir 
bounds which they shall not pass." He adds that 
the allegorical meaning of these last words is that 
barrators have no influence or power of mischief out- 
side the Court to which they are attached, or outside 
their own particular office, or against good and wise 
men who are unwilling to sojourn long in their com- 
pany, or to be mixed up in their corrupt practices: 
tliu passage also is intended to show the great diffi- 
culty that there is in withdrawing oneself from the 
company of such miscreants. 

Division IT. A long train of muffled forms, ad- 
vancing with slow and mournful step, meets Dante's 
gaze as he looks about him after his hurried descent. 
These are the shades of the Hypocrites, whose punish- 
ment it is to move continually onwards arrayed in 

the force of the particle gli; but It must be rememtjered that In 
the codices there are no accents, and li was always used by the 
old writers for gli. 
sospfllo : " fear " ; Compare Inf. v. 1 29 : 

nta alcun sospelto." 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto Xxm. 

long, loose, ill-fitting hooded cloaks, which, though 
glittering on the outside with gold, are underneath of 
the heaviest lead. The burden of their misery is so 
great, that they weep as they struggle along tljeir 
weary path, scarcely able to lift one foot before the 
•■*'^t the cloak of Hypo- 
and sutifering to the 
f a guilty conscience, 
is within him, and to 
le on the outside, a 
f contrary to nature, 
be constantly on the 
in demeanour or in 
what he conceals so 
i^^jcrisy is an exceeding 
J one can ever lay aside, if he 

other. And P- 
crisy is one o 
wearer, who, 
strives to path 
exhibit an a 
thirtg very diii 
Hard indeed i 
watch, lest in 
gesture, a mai 
imperfectly ! 
heavy burden, which i 

would successfully carry out all its machinations. 
Laggiii trovammo una genie dipinia,* 

* gentt dipinta : Scanazzlni points out ihat dipinta does not 
refer lo ihe garments of the shades, which were gilded, not 
painted, but to their complexions. In Par. xv, 112-114, ^accia- 
guida is made 10 praise the wife of BeUincion Berii for not 
- painting her iace, a custom as we are left to infer, that had 
become general with women at Florence, and even with men in 
the time of Dante : 

" BeUincion Berii vid' io andkr cinto 

Di cuoio e d' osso, e venir dallo. specchio 
La donna sua senza il volto dipinto." 
Compare also St. Matt, xxiii, 27, 38 : 

" Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites I for ye arc 
like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful out- 
ward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all unclean- 
ness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men 
but within ye are full of hypocrisy and ini(|uity." 

Canto xxiir. Readings oh the Inferno. 

Che giva mtorno assai con lenti pass! 
Piangendo, c nel sembianie sianca e vinta 
' Egli avean cappe con cappucci bassi 

I Dinanzi agli occhi, fatti ddia laglia 
' Che in Colognat per li monaci fassi. 

* .vinta means " oppressed, overcome, enfeebled." 

Compare Inf. iii, 33 ; 

" E che gent' fe, che par nel duol si vinla ?" 

Virgil uses ihe expression Iwice in j^n. iv, 370 : 
"Num lacrimas viclus dedit, aut miscratus amantem est?" 
and line 474 : 

"Ergo, ubi concepil futias, evicta dolore . . ." 

+ in Cnlogna: I have not here followed Witte, who reads 
Che in Cliigni, which would make Dante refer to the famous 
Renedicline Monastery of Cluny in Rurgundy. All the old 
commentators read Colo^a, and of these the Anonimo Fioren- 
iine, the Ottimo, Lana, Landino, and the Chiosf Anom'me, 
edited by Selmi, relate the following story, after saying that the 
shades had on cloaks and hoods after the fashion of the monks 
at Cologne in Germany. " In this Abbey of Cologne, which is 
a very rich abbey, the monks had become, from their great 
wealth, so arrogant and presumptuous, that, by a formal reso- 
lution of their Chapter, they sent to the Pope to obtain the 
privilege, that in consequence of their dignity and importance, 
and to distinguish them from all other monks, it might be 
specially decreed that they should be allowed to wear scarlet 
robes, with silver girdles and spurs. The Pope, considering 
their pride and presumption, ordered instead that Ihey should 
wear extremely common robes, fashioned like an ashen-grey 
hair shirt, ver>' long, and so ample, that they dragged along on 
Ihe ground behind them." The CAiosf, edited by Selmi, differs 
from the others, in saying that the robes were so short that 
ihey did not touch the ground. Scartaitini thinks it is difficult 
to decide which reading is right, but he, Blanc and Tommas^o 
1; are in favour of following the mass of ancient commentators, 

II and reading Cologna. There is a Cologna in the Veronese 
I territory, which finds favour with a few commentators. 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIII. 

Di fuor doraie* son, si ch' egli abbaglia ; 

Ma dentro lutlc piambo,t e gravi tanto, 65 

Che Fedcrico I le meitea dj paglia. 
Down there we found a painted multitude, 
who moved around with very slow paces. 

, ■ 

III ftiar doral 
of false propheti 

•I. Mall. VII, 1 5 : Beware 
in sheep's clothing, but 

inwardly they an 

Nannucci [Afat, 

a, vol. i, page 472)- quotes 

Ser Brunetto, wb( 

). i, 35-z^ likens to gilded 

bronie those who 

! only of true friendship. 





+ lulu pioHibo, e t,a„. .^.-^ . *.cm[ 

jare/'ar, xiii, 112-114: 

" E questo ti sia aempre piombo ai piedi, 

Per farti mover lento, com' uom lasso : 
Ed al si ed al no, che tu non vedi." 
X Federico U metleaf etc. : Longfellow says that this is only 
tradition about Frederick, and on the same authority the same 
punishment is said to have been inflicted in Scotland, and is 
thus described in the ballad of " Lord Soulis," Scott's Minslrehy 
of the Scottish Border, iv, 256 : 

" On a circle of stones they placed the pot, 
On a cit-cle of stones but barely nine ; 
They heated it red and fiery hot. 

Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine. 
They rolled him up in a sheet of lead, 
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall. 
And plunged him into the caldron red, 

And melted him, — lead, and bones and all." 
Ducange also. Gloss. Capa Plumbea, cites the case in which 
one man tells another: " If our Holy Father the Pope knew the 
life you are leading, he would have you put to death in a cloak 
of lead." 

Canto XXIII. Readings on tlu Inferno. 241 

weeping, and in appearance weary and over- 
come. They had on mantles with hoods 
(falling) low down before the eyes, fashioned 
of that cut that is made for the monks in 
Cologne. Outside they are so overlaid with 
gold that it dazzles one ; but within they are 
all lead ; and so heavy, that {by comparison) 
Frederick used to put them on of straw. 

Unauthenticated tradition has accused Frederick II 
of wrapping traitors up in lead and casting them into 
heated caldrons. The Comento di Anonimo says 
that tlic malefactors so executed were monks and 
prelates ; with their leaden cloaks covered to look 
like straw. 

" Lonperadore Federigho ad alchuno malefattore 
monaco fecie fare una cappa di pionbo e essa cappa 
fecie coprire si che parea di paglia. e anche fecle fare 
chaldaie di pionbo nellc quali con dlversi tormenti 
molti prelati e frati vi giustitio, etc." 

We must remember that Dante has not as yet 
found out that the cloaks are of lead. To his eye 
they seem of gold. It is only after he has conversed 
with the Frati Godenti, that he understands what is 
the penalty that so afflicts them : see lines 97-102. 

Benvenuto thinks that every act of these Hypo- 
crites that Dante describes is intended to show some 
distinct act of Hypocrisy; their painted faces; their 
cloaks ; their slow gait, which Benvenuto says Hypo- 
crites always assume, in order that they may seem 
grave and thoughtful ; their downcast eyes ; and 
Anally their tears. Benvenuto says that the Hypo- 
crite cries bitterly on purpose, like a weak little 
n. Q 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxill. 

woman, that he may exhibit himself in the light of a 
pious and saintly man before the eyes of the public 
whom he deceives. " And in fact, ! have actually 
seen a certain noble Hypocrite, who when he was 
going to preach on the subject of the Passion of our 
Lord, in the m""""'"" •I""'' ^"'"iself into a maudlin 

id thus in sobs and 
s of his mind, and 

to weep with him ; 

managed in a very 
s of money from his 
ds purchased a fat 
the profits of Hypo- 

state with mu( 
tears he melte 
incited many tl 
and by these ar 
short time to ei 
dupes, with wh 
bishopric, so tha 
crisy into Simonj 

The Poets had as usual turned to their left on 
entering this Bolgia, and Dante now relates how 
impossible it was for them to measure their steps so 
as not to outwalk any of the shades with whom they 
might wish to converse, who in their leaden garments 
could only move at a snail's pace. 
O in elemo falicoso manta I 

Noi ci volgemmo ancor pure a man manca * 
Con loro insieme, intenti al tristo pianto : 
Ma per lo peso quella gente slanca ^a 

Venia si pian, che noi eravam nuovi 
Dj compagnia ad ogni mover d' anca. 
■ purt a man manca : Tommasio observes thai going as the 
poets do, always turning lo their left after each descent, ihey 
will, by the time they reach the bottom of Hell, have completed 
one circle round it. See Inf. xiv, 124-137 ; 
"... Tu sai che il luogo k tondo, 

E tutto che tu sii venuto mollo 
Piii a sinistra giu calando al fondo, 
Non se' ancor per lulto il cerchio volio." 

Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno, 


O everlnsdngly wearisome mantle I We turned 
yet again to our left hand together with them, 
intent on their sad lamentation ; but by reason 
of their burden that weary people were moving 
on so slowly, that we were in fresh company 
at every movement of the hip {i.e. at every 
Beiivenuto remarks that the Hypocrites were walk- 
iiig so slowly that, before they had completed one 
pace, Dante and Virgil had completed seven, so that 
they were continually changing company. 

Division III. Dante asks Virgil iT he can distin- 
(Tuish any individuals in the slow procession, who 
were especially notorious as Hypocrites. His Tuscan 
accent is at once detected by one of two shades, 
who strives in vain to quicken his pace, telling them 
he can give them the information they seek. 
I'ercli' io al Duca niio :— " Fa che lu trovi 
Alcun, ch' al fallo o al nome si conosea, 
E gti occhi si andando Intomo movi," — 75 

Ed un, che intese la parola Tosca, 

Diretro a noi grid6 -.—"■ Tenete i piedi," 
Vol, che correte si per I' aura fosca :t 
Forse ch' avrai da me quel che lu chiedi." — 

Onde il Duca si volse, e disse :— " Aspetta, 80 
E poi secondo il suo passo procedi." — 

* Tttult i piedi : Compare Virg. jEh. v, 331-32 : 
" Hie juvenis jam victor ovans, vestigia presso 
Haud lenuit titubata solo." 
t P aurafoua : Compare Inf. iii, 2S-30 ; 

" Facevano un lumulio, il qual s' aggira 

Sempre in quell' aria senia tempo linln. 

Come la rena quando a turbo spira." 

Q 2 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXill. 

Risteiti, c vidi due mosirar gran fretia 

Deir aaimo, col viso, d' esser meco ; 

Ma lardavagli it carco e la via sireiia,* 

Whereupon I to my Leader : " Contrive to 

find some one, who by deed or by name may 

be known, ai 
ihine eyes ar 
Tuscan spec 
youv steps, yc 
dusky air : p 
what ye desir. 
lound and saiu 
then move on 
saw two who 
of mind to L<. • 

ig along move 
who heard the 
ind us : " Stay 
ftly through the 
>bt3in from me 
Leader turned 
, (for him), and 
I stopped, and 
■lowed great haste 
, but the load and 

the crowded way delayed them. 

Benvenuto points out that the Poets stood still, and 
waited for the shades, but that they did not render so 
much honour to " the reverend lord friars {dominis 
fratribus reverendis)" as to turn back to meet them, 
although they were so bravely arrayed in golden 

The Hypocrites, on reaching the Poets, are unable 
to control their astonishment at seeing that nettlier 
Dante nor Virgil are attired like themselves, and that 
Dante is alive. 

* la via stnlla : Doth Di Siena and Camerini think that it 
was owing to the enormous crowd of hypocrites, and the un- 
wieldy garb which they wore, that the path was said to be 
narrow. The primary meaning afitrelta is compressed, tight. 
Compare In/, xxxii, 41, 42 : 

"... vidi due si stretti, 

(so crowded together) 
Che il pel del capo avieno insieme misto." 

Canto xxill. Readings on tfie Inferno, 

Quando fur giunti, assai con 1' occhio bicco 
Mi timirnron senza far parola : 
Poi si voUero in si, c diccan seco t 
— " Coslui par vivo all' alto del la gola :* 

E s' el son morti, per qual privilegio 
Vanno scoperii deila grave stola ?" — t 
When they liad come up with us, they gawd 
long at me with eye nskance without utierhig 
a word : (hen they [urned to one another and 
said one to the other : " This one by the 
action of his throat seems alive : and if they 
are (both) dead, by wlial privilege do they go 
uncovered by the weighty stole?" 
Benvenuto remarks that the averted glance is pecu- 
liarly descriptive of Hypocrites. 

* par vivo alt a/to dtlla gola : They see by Dante's respira- 
tion that he is alive. The same thing occurs when he Frst 
encounters a band of shades on the shore of Purgatory. See 
Piirg. ii, 67-69 : 

" L' anime che si fur di me accorte, 

Per lo spirare ; ch' io era ancor vivo, 
Maravigliando diventaro smorte." 
t f/ola : Di Siena says thai sta/a was a long vesture coming 
right down from the bend 10 the feet, worn by men among the 
Greeks, and by women among the Romans. It is used here in 
a general sense for any kind of dress, and in a figurative sense, 
lo signify llie monastic garb. 

Contrast with the ea^fit ranee (line 100), the eollegto (line 91}, 
and della grave s/ola(\\nt 90), the following in Par. xxx, 134-129: 
" Nel giallo della rosa sempitema, 
Che si dilata, digradn e redote 
Odor di lode al sol che sempre vema, 
Qual i colui che lace e dicer vuole, 
Mi irasse Beatrice, c disse : ' Mira 
Quanlo h il convento delle bianche stole I" " 


Readings oh the iKferno. Canto KXllI. 

After this short conference among themselves, the 
Hypocrites address Dante ; and an interchange of 
questions passes between them as to their respecti\'e 
identity. Dante tells them he is a Florentine. 

Poi dissert — - """^ "-' al coUcgio ■ 

Degl' i) 1(0, 

Dir chi in dispregio," 

Ed io a Ion. resciuto 

Sopra i alia ^ran villa, % 9; 

, " college," which in ils 

lally to a place of educa- 

gnU, fijssemii/e, la troupe, 

:, der Haufc." The Italisn 

place wfaere are gathered 

• atlltgia: 1 have 
modern English appii 
tion. Blanc translates ti 
die Geselltcha/i, die Ver^u. 
commentaton explain it ua ■ 
together ifollectl from coUigere) all the hypocrites \a the world. 
In Inf. iii, 122-123, Virgil says to Dante about the general col- 
lection of all the damned In Hell : 

" Qtielli che muoion nell' ira di Dio 
Tutti coDvegnon qui d' ogni paese." 
In the modern Italian Parliament colUgio is the word for a 

t Dir cki lu set non avert in dispregio : Compare Jn/. xvi , 
38-32, where Jacopo Rusiicucci says to Dante : 
" Eh, se miseria d' esto loco sollo 

Rende in dis petto noi e nostri preghi, 
. . . . e il tinto aspetio e brollo ; 
La fama nostra il tuo animo pieghi 
A dime chi lu ee', che i vivi piedi 
Cos! sicuro per Io inferno freghi." 
t Jiii natoecrtsa'uto sopra il belfiutiu ^ Amo alia gran villa: 
Villa is the old Italian word for cittA, and here means Florence, 
to which Dante also refers as his place of birth and growth in 
Convilo, i, 3 : " Poichi fu piacere de* cittadini detla bellissima 
e lamosissima figlia di Roma, Fiorenta, di gettarmi fuori del 


Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 247 

Ma voi chi siete, a cut tanto distilla,* 

Quant' io veggio, dolor giu per le guance, 
£ che peRa ^ in voi che s) sfavilla ? " — 

Then said they to me : " O Tuscan, who art 
come to the assembly of the miserable hypo- 
crites, do not disdain to tell (us) who thou 
art." And I to them : " I was born and grew 
up in the great city on Arno's beautiful river, 
and I am (here) with the body that I have 
always had. But who are ye, from whom so 
many tear$, as I see, pour down your cheeks, 

suo dolcissimo seno, nel quale nato e nudrito fui fino al colmo 
della mia vita, e nel quale, con buona pace di quella, desidero 
con tutto il cuore di riposare 1' animo stanco, e terminare il 
tempo che m' h date," etc. 

Scartazzini draws attention to the tender affection of the exile 
to his country in such expressions as here, // bel fiume (PArno; 
in Inf. xix, 1 7 ; nel mto bel San Giovanni j and in Par. xxv, 5 : del 
hello ovily doi/ io dormii agnello, 

♦ distil la . . . dolor gitl per le guance : Distil la is the same 
as " cade a stillej^ " falls drop by drop.'* 

Compare Petrarch, part i, BalL iii, {Cans. 13) : 
** Per lagrime, ch' io spargo a mille a mille, 
Conven che '1 duo! per gli occhi si distille 
Dal cor, c' ha seco le faville e 1' esca, 
Non pur qual fu, ma pare a me che cresca." 

and Tasso, Gents, lib. iv, st. 76 : 

" Ma il chiaro umor che di si spesse stille 
Le belle gote e '1 seno adorno rende," etc. 
For dolor in the sense of tears, comp. InfrM\\^ 46 : 
'* Per gli occhi fuori scoppiava lor duolo." 

and Tasso (Gerus. lib. iv, st. 77) speaks of Armida weeping : 

" Questo finto dolor da molti elice 
Lagrime vere, e i cor piu duri spetra." 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIU. 

and what punishment is there which so glitters 

upon you ?" 
Benvenuto translates s/avilla. " appant!' Bai^igi 
thinks it refers to the artificial make-up of the Hypo- 
crites' faces {eke si moslra per gli occhi sfavillanti e 
per le guance ro ' "" "' arks that, if ^(n'/V/d 

refers to the 5| sldcn mantles, then 

this sparkling p favillante) is equally 

worthy of crimi e veil of virtue. 

One of the es, and begins by 

answering Danl on. which was as to 

the nature of tt /hich Dante cannot 

comprehend. I the first question, 

and tells Dante profession. 


un rispose a me : — " Le cappe ranee 
Son di piomtM s) grosse, ctie li pesi 
Fan cos) cigoUr le tor bilance. 
ti Codenti* fumma, e Bolognesi, 
lo Catalano,e questi Loderingo 
Nomati, e da tua terra insieme presi 


* Frati Codenti : Giov. Villani {lH)ok vii, eh. 13) gives the 
following account of itiese Frail Codenti, who seem to have 
belonged to a religious order of knights: "Now those who 
governed the city of Florence, on the part of the Ghibellines, 
becoming aware of this murmuring and disorder, and, fearing 
lest the people might rebel against themselves, to appease 
them made choice of two knights (of the Order of) Frati 
Cwodenti of Bologna, 10 be joinil/ Podestfk of Florence ; one 
named Messer Caialano de' Malavoiti, the other Messer Lode- 
ringo di Landolo, one being an adherent of the C.uelph, the 
olber of the Ghibelline faction. And mark that these Frati 
Codenti were called Knights of St. Mary, and were knighted on 
taking that habit ; their robes were white, the mantle grey, and 

■J tolto un uom solingo 

a pace, e fumino tali. 

the arms, upon a while field, a red cross with two stars ; and 
their office was to defeiKt widows and orphans ; they were lo 
act as medialors of peace, and lliey had other regulations like 
religious orders in general. The above mentioned Messer Lode- 
ringo was the founder of thai Order. Dul it was not long before 
they began lo follow the name of ihe Order ralher than its ap- 
pointed duties ; thai is to say, they were more bent on enjoying 
themselves than on any other object. These Iwo friars were 
sumiiioned by ihe Florentines, and were established in the 
Palazzo del Popolo, hard by Ihe Badia, and such confidence 
was felt in the character of ihe Order, that it was believed they 
would be imparlial {ccmtini), and would save (he city any un- 
necessary expense ; but they, although inclined lo opposite 
parlies, under cover of false hypiocrisy {soUo coverta di falsa 
ipecrisia), concurred in promoting their own acquisition of 
wealth ralher than Ihe public weal." 

Tommasio thinks their election took place about 1260. 

From Boccaccio, Muratori, Federici {Sioria del Cavalieri Go- 
denti), Di Siena collects the following additional information ; 
" For the better understanding of this passage you must know 
that the noble knighls, Lodcringo degli Andal6 and Gruamonte 
de' Cacclanimici of Bologna, Kinieri degll Adelardl of Modena, 
and Siracco da Reggio, obtained from Pope Urban IV. the 
authorization to found a new Order of Knighthood under the 
title of P Ordine delta Vergitte Madrt Maria, they themselves 
being slyled MiliUs Domina or soldati dtlla Madonna. Their 
new rule required of them that they should perform certain 
devotions; that they should only bear arms in the service of 
the Church ; that they should defend widows and minors, as 
well as poor and defenceless persons if unjustly persecuted; 
that they should hold no public office except for the purpose of 
promoting peace and union at such times as war and civil dis- 
cord prevailed." 

Benvenuto says they possessed the principal monastery in 
the Bolognese territory at a place called Castello dei Britli. 

250 Readings on the Inferno. Canto X 

Ch' aflcor si pare Jnlorno dal Gardingo."— • 
And one of lliem (Catabno) answered me : 
"These orange copes are of lead, so thick, 

ciealct We wen AsA' GaAmA' {HL ^apxa 

Bat whether it was on uciMnt of the Ufe of Isxaty d>qr M, 
or thai they lived in theu own hooMS and had wives and dnl- 
dren, and enjoyed various pftrU^cs and immnuiiei^ certain it 
is, thai out of ridicule Aey acquued the njcfcuamg of Awtf 

* GardiMgo : This was ■ stiLU in <dd Florence, near the 
Palano Veccfaio, where San Firenae now stands. Giov. ViUani 
(book i, ch. 38) writes : "Some say that il (the Cqiilol of Flo- 
rence) stood where now is the Gnaidingo, doae by the Kana 
which is now called ' Del Popolo.' , . . Guaidingo was later 
on the name given to the remains of walls and arches that were 
left in ruins after the destruction of the city by Totila ; and in 
more recent times the prostitutes used to live there." 

Uenvenuto says of Catalano and Loderingo : " But these 
accursed hypocrites, corrupted by the Guelphs, 50 governed the 
Republic, that through their schemes the Ghibeliines were driven 
out, and their palaces sacked and burned by the opposite 
faction, and in paniculai those of the Ubeni, which were 
situated in the street that was called the Guardingo or Gar- 
dinga* Uenvenuto adds : " But retribution never fails to come 
speedily. For Loderingo, the Ghibelline, through whose instru- 
mentality the Ghibelline nobles of Florence were banished, 
and their palaces destroyed, was eventually banished him- 
self from Bologna, with his companions and other Ghibelline 
nobles, and their palaces were utteriy demolished ; the ruins of 
which are still to be seen at Bologna, hard by the Law Schools. 
And the palaces of Catalano were also totally destroyed; nor 
does any trace of them remain, except one very high tower, 
which is frequently struck by lightning." 

t He means "Our limbs are the scales that bear these 
weights, which are so heavy that these limbs of ours bend 
down under them, and, as it were, groan under the burden." 


Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 25 1 

r'rbrs), and Bolognese, named, I Catalano, 
and he Loderingo, and together cliosen by thy 
cily (Florence), as one man alone is usually 
selected (to be PodestJi) to maintain its peace, 
and such were we, that even now (the proof 
of what we were) is to be seen round the 

Division IV. Dante has opened his lips, not, says 
Benvenuto, for the purpose of uttering words of com- 
passion (as some have thought, who interpret ntali as 
a substantive, meaning "sufferings,") but on the con- 
trary, to upbraid them with the fact that their evil 
deeds (vostri mali . . . supply ftxlti) had caused suffer- 
ing to so many. He has got thus far, when his speecli 
is arrested by a spectacle so strange, that the words 
die off in the act of utterance. His eyes rest upon 
the crucified figure of Caiaphas, the High Priest, the 
prince of the Hypocrites, wlio lies upon the path of 
tlic Hypocrites, and, as they advance, they trample 
him under their feet. Catalano then tells him that in 
other parts of this Bolgia, Annas also lies crucified, as 
well as the other members of the Sanhedrim, who 
were the cause that our Lord was condemned to die 
by crucifixion. 

lo cominciai :— "O frati, i vostri mali . . ."— 

Ma pill non dissi : ch' all' occhio mi corse * r to 
Un, crocifisso in terra + con tre pali. 

• all' occhio mi com ; Benvenuto renders this, occurrit specu- 
latiord men, etc, ; One meaning of the Latin occurrere is, " to 
present itself " to the eye, to the mind, etc. I have, therefore, 
translated the passage "there was presented to my eye." 

+ crodfisso in terra : Di Siena points out the contrary of this 
cilixion with that of Christ, Who was lifted up on high on 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIU. 

Quando mi vide, tutto* si distorse, 
Soffiando nella barba coi sospiri : 
E il fraie Catalan, ch' a ci& s' accorse.t 

Mi disse :— "Quel confiilo, che tu miri, 115 

Consiglib i Farisei, chc convenia 
Porre ua uom per lo popolo a' martiri. 

Atiraversato * "-x^" * "'"-> -i- 

Come ti ch* ei aenia 

Qualunc sa pria ; l}o 

Ed a tal ma la % 

the summit of Golgc limself ihe eyes of all 

the world. Caiaphaa id, and has to bear the 

weight, not of one lea all the hypocrisy that 

there is in Hell. 

• tutto si ilislorse : ites this movement of 

Caiaphas to ihe fear < body [mmpling upon 

him, but ScarUzzini poincii ~^ inc leaden cloaks would be 

a far more unbearable weight than that of Dante's body. The 
meaning more probably is that Caiaphas writhed with vexation, 
panting and sighing at the thought that a living Christian should 
see him in such a plight, should trample him under his feet, and 
perchance tell the tale of his shame in the world above. For 
the expression tutto si liistorse, compare Inf. xix, 64 : 
" Per che lo spirto tutto siorse i piedi." 

t / accorse : The full construction is : " cAe miraiido a cid, cio4 
pel distorsi, soffiare e sospirare del crocilisso, si accorse della 
cagione delto slupore di Dante, e del subito interrompimento 
delle sue parole." Petrarch {Trionjo d' Aiiiore, ii, 129-IZ2) 
a similar form with the ellipsis : 

" E se non fosse la discrela aiia 
Del fisico geniil, che ben s' accorse, 
L' ^ta sua in sul fiorir era formila." 

Xsi stenta: Benvenuto and But! explain that the shade is 
lying stretched out, extended ; but the Vocabolario dtllii Crusca, 
and nearly all other commenlaturs, think it signifies, "is tor- 
mented." Blanc says that after all it comes to Ihe same thing 
in this passage, whichever inierpretalion be adopted. 

Canto XXIll. Keitiiittgs oh the Inferno. 253 

In quesla fossa, e gli altri del concilio 
Che fu per li Giudei mala • semenla."^ 
* mala sementa : The innocent blood of our Lord shed upon 
the Cross was the seed, and ihe fruit of it was the destruction 
of Jerusalem by Tilus. See St. Mall, xxvii, 24-25 : "... Pilate 
. . . took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, 
saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person : see ye 
to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on 
us, and on out children." 

Dante alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem in Purg. xxi, 
83-S4 ; 

"Nel tempo che il buon Tilo con I'aiuto 
Del sommo Rege vendic6 le fora, 
Ond' usci il sangue per Giuda venduto, etc" 
and in Par. vi, 91-93 : 

" Or qui t' atnmira in cio ch' io ti repllco : 
Poscia con Tito a far vendetta corse 
Delia vendella del peccato antico." 
The subject is treated at greater length in Par. vii, and runs 
throughout that canto ; more especially is it referred 10 in lines 
46-51 : 

" I'eri d' un alto uscir cose diverse ; 

Ch' a Dio ed at Giudei piacque una morte : 
Per lei trem6 la terra e il ciel s' aperse. 
Non ti dee oramai parer piii forte, 

Quando si dice che giusta vendella 
Poscia vengiata fu da giusta corle." 
In like manner, in /n/ xxviii, 106-108, the assassination of 
Buondelmonte, by Mosca and others, is mentioned as the seed 
which bore fruit in the Guelph and Ghibelline factions. 
"... Ricordera' ti anche del Mosca, 
Che dissi, lasso I Capo ka cosafalla, 
Che fu il mal seme per la gente tosca." 
In !nf. iii, 115-117, the human race are called the evil seed of 

" Simileinente il mal seme d' Adamo : 

Gittansi di quel lito ad una ad una, 

Per cenni, come augel i>er suo ricbiatno," 


I began : " O Friars, your wicked ..." but said 
no more : inasmuch as there was presented to 
my eye one crucified on the ground with three 
stakes. When he saw me he writhed all o 
breathing heavily into his beard with sighs : 
and Friar C»"'*~~ ""■" ""-""jved this, said 
to me : " Th (Caiaphas), at 

whom thou ) led ihe Phari- 

sees, that it V it one man to 

torment for ti 

road, and na) tnd he has first 

to feel every t passes, how 

much he wei e manner his 

father-in-law Ented in this 

fosse, and th:. Council which 

was for tlie Jews the aeeu of ill." 

In canto ix*, we are told that Virgil had paid a 

previous visit into the lower regions of Hell, It would 

seem that upon that occasion Caiaphas had not yet 

been doomed, and Virgil is lost in astonishment at 

seeing him here nowf. 

» Inf. \%, 12-27 • 

" Ver k ch' atlra fiala quaggiii fui, 

Congiuraio da quella Eriton cruda, 
Che richiamava 1' ombre a' corpi sui. 
Di poco era di me la came nuda, 

Ch' ella mi fece entrar dentro a quel muro. 

Per trame un spirlo del cerchio di Giuda." 

tBenvenuIo thinks that Virgil, although in ignorance, yet made 

a marvellous prophecy, which, however, he did not himself 

understand (/am mirutiliUr guam ignoranttr prophetavit, imi 

iiitdligens se ipsum), and which applies exactly to what Caia- 

Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 255 

Allor vid' io maravigliar Virgilio 

Sopra colui ch' era disteso in croce* 125 

Tanto vilmente nelF eterno esilio t 

Then saw I Virgil gazing with, wonder at him 
who was extended so ignominiously in the 
form of a cross in the eternal banishment (of 
The Poets now prepare to quit the Bolgia of the 
Hypocrites, and Virgil asks Catalano if he can point 
out an easy way for them to do so. 
Poscia drizz6 al frate cotal voce : 
— " Non vi dispiaccia, se vi lece, dirci 

Se alia man destra giace alcuna foce, 
Onde noi am bo e due possiamo uscirci 130 

Senza costringer degli angeli neri, t 
Che vegnan d' esto fondo a dipartirci." — 

Afterwards he addressed these words to the 

phas said, that it was expedient that one man should die for the 
people. The allusion is probably to ^n. v. 814-815 : 
" Unus erit tantum, amissum quem gurgite quaeret ; 
Unum pro multis dabitur caput" 
* disteso in croce : Blanc {Voc. Dant») cites this passage, and 
says it ought to be translated, ^^^tendu parterre comme un crucifi^y 
wie ein Gekreuzigter hingestreckt." 
\ eterno esilio : Compare Hor. ii, Cann. iii, 25-28 : 
" Omnes eodem cogimur : omnium 
Versatur urna serius ocyus 

Sors exitura, et nos in aeter- 
-num Exilium impositura cymbae." 
Heaven is the true country of the Christian, and the lost are 
eternally banished from their heavenly home. See Hebr. xi, 
14-16 ; and Hebr, xiii, 14. 
t angeli neri: Compare In/, xxvii, 112-114: 
" Francesco venne poi, com' io fui morto. 
Per me ; ma un de' neri Cherubini 
Gli disse : * Nol portar ; non mi far torto.*" 

3S6 Rtadings on tits Inftmo. Canto xxiii. 

FrUr : " Let it not displease you, if it be 
lawful for you, to tell us if on the right hand 
there lies any opening by which we may both 
of us issue forth (from this bolgta) without 
constraining any of the Black Angels {ji.t. the 
demons) to '' — '"-Ue us from this 

The Poets, wl led into this Bolgia, 

having turned to ening they now seek, 

by which to pas next Bolgia, would 

naturally be on tt 

Virgil is anxic the truth of the in- 

formation Malacou canto xxi, il i, when 

he said, presso i u. o die via face. Virgil 

however is careful lu pm is ijuestion in guarded lan- 
guage, as is only right and seemly, says Benvenuto, 
when one has to converse with Hypocrites, who main- 
tain an afTected reticence. So Vii^il says, " Pray tell 
us, if ye may do so without infringing the regulations 
of your Order, to which we know ye render such 
saintly obedience I " 

The Friar puts them in the right way, and they 

leam that there is in very truth another bridge, just 

where Malacoda had told them they would hnd it, 

but that (as he had not told them) it is broken down. 

Risposeadunque:— "Piilche tu nou speri* 

• Pii che lu non speri: Sperare here has the sense of " to 

expect, to await, to think." See lllanc ( Voc. Dunt.), and the Vo- 

cabolario della Crusca, where we find that in this passage it stands 

for "(up^ttart." Petrarch (part i, sestina vii) uses it io this sense: 

" Di d) in dt spero omai 1' ultima sera, 

Che scevii in me dal vivo terreu I' onde, 
E mi lasci donnir in qualche piaggia." 

Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 

S' nppressa un sasso, chc dalla gnin cerchia * 

Si move, e varca t lutti i vallon feri, 1 35 

Salvo ch' a questo S rotio, e nol coperchia ; 

Montar potrete su per la ruina, 

Che giace in cosla, e nel fondo soperchia.t " — 
Whereupon he answered : " Nearer ihan thou 
ihinkest there is a bridge-way, which juts out 
from the vast encircling cliff, and spans all 
these cruel valleys, save that in this one it 
is broken down, and does not run over it : 
ye can clamber up by the mass of ruins that 
slopes against the side, and rises in a heap 
upon the bottom." 
On hearing this, Virgil comprehends Malacoda's 

* dalla gran cerchia: I have already discussed this word 
cerckia in canto xviii, where it occurs twice. In line 3 : 

" Come la cerchia che d' into mo il volge." 
and lines 72, 73 - 

" E volti a destra su per !a sua scheggia, 
IJa quelle cercliie elcrne ci parlimmo." 
I there pointed out that cerchia never means circle, but enceinte, 
and refers to the great chain of cliHs that engird the whole of 
Malebolge, and at the foot of which Geryon set the Poets down. 
.- TommasSo says this is not the only bridge-way, but 
must be remembered that we have adopted the 
wheld by Blanc, Tommas^o, Biagioli, and Scartaziini, that 
there were a number of bridgcways running across the Dolgie 
from the Gran Cerchia to the P0120, like the spokes of a wheel. 
Philalethes thinks there would be ten, as there are ten Bolgie. 
X nel fondo soperckia: Compare Inf. xii, 7-9, where Dante 
describes a possible means of descent by the ruins of the cliff 
that had been overthrown by the earthquake : 
" Ch^ da cima del monte, onde si mosse, 
Al piano ft si la roccia discoscesa 
Ch' alcuna via darehbe a chi su fosse." 



Readings on the tufertu. Canto XXIU. 

deceptive directions ; and his indignation and shame 
at having been duped are such, that for a few secoods 
he cannot utter a word. He then expresses his annoy- 
ance in somewhat bitter words, but the friar retorts 
that the mendacity of a demon is so well known, that 

he ought not to h 

Vii^l is anytl by this homity, and 

strides away in % te follows him, and 

they direct their ic ruinous heap, by 

which they are gc of the Bolgia. 

Lo Daca sU china, 

Poi diss- b )>iK>gna 140 

Colui, cl incina."— 

E il fraie :— llologna • 

Del Diavu. _. 1 quali udi' 

Ch' egli h bugiardo,t e padre di meoiogna."— 
Appresso il Duca a gran passi X sen gl, 14; 

Turbaio ud [>oco d' ira nel sembiante : 
Ond' io dagl' incarcati mi parti' 
Dietro alle poste detle care piante. 

*udi' gia dire a Bologna: Scartaziini thinks that Catalano 
must have heard this when studying at Itologna under the great 
masters of scholastic theology. 

\bugiardo: See St. John, viii, 44 : "Ye are of your father 
the devil, and the lusts of your father ye wilt do. He was a 
murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, 
because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he 
speaketh of his own : for he is a liar, and the father of it." 

Xa gran paiti ten gl: Homer {Otfyss. xi, 538-340) describes 
the shade of Achilles striding grandly away, gratified at the 
news of his son's renown. 

" it i*ifir, ^xh >) '«S^<«> Atiwflao 

fdfra fiaiipi iSiJivffa, ■ar' ia^tMr Atifuira, 
yjttarim, t al vlar Ifn- ifMuurar iThu." 

Canto XXIII. Readings on the Inferno. 259 

My Leader stood awhile with bended head, 
then said: "111 did he (Malacoda) relate 
the matter, who hooks the sinners yonder." 
And the Friar : " I used formerly at Bologna 
to hear tell of vices enough of the Devil, 
among which I heard that he is a liar, and 
the father of lies." My Leader then walked 
away with great strides, somewhat disturbed 
with anger in his mien : whereupon I (too) 
departed from (he heavy-laden (spirits), follow- 
ing in the prints of the beloved feet. 

Benvenuto says that Virgil bowed his head in in- 
dignation and shame, when he thought that a Barrator 
had duped him, and that a Hypocrite had put him 
right. Malacoda wanted to retain Virgil in the toils, 
for it is the common artifice of Barrators to detain 
men within the precincts of the Court where they have 
influence. Benvenuto mentions an incident which 
Petrarch (his intimate friend) witnessed at Avignon : 
" Two Cardinals, surrounded by a numerous 
retinue, were coming out from the Pope's audience. 
At the gate were awaiting them many petitioners, 
with which that city (Avignon), detestable in the sight 
of God, is always filled. These, when they saw their 
patrons, or to speak more correctly, their betrayers, 
from whom they had great expectations, commenced 
a clamour round them, each asking what success his 
petition to the Pope had met with. Whereupon one 
of the two Cardinals, without the smallest embarass- 
ment at the suddenness of the questions, perfectly 
callous to the misfortunes of these unhappy persons, 
untouched by any shame on his own account, and a per- 

26o Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxill. 

feet master of deceit, began to give an answer to each 
in turn, as to what chances he had, as to what the Pope 
had answered touching his particular business, and in 
such manner with the most shameful effrontery got rid 
of one after the other ; some going away with happy 
faces, and sonr- ~ -" — -'-"-''->n, according to what 
answer they b Thereupon the other 

Cardinal, mo re, and with greater 

compunction who, had he not be- 

longed to the lis, might really have 

been a good n, colleague and said in 

jest : ' Are you delude poor people tn 

that way, and j invent the answers of 

the Pope, whom lave not only not seen 

to-day, but have nui: been able to see for several days 
pa^ t ' But that hoary old Barrator replied : ' Are 
you not ashamed rather, to have such dull wit, as to 
have been so long a time without learning the customs 
of the Court ? ' When the bystanders heard this, they 
all burst out laughing, and extolled the retort of that 
old rascal, and said he must be a personage of the 
greatest sagacity and intelligence, who had learned 
how to lie and deceive with such readiness. But when 
Petrarch, who was there, heard this, he was struck 
with amazement, and bowed his head, with no less in- 
digniition and wrath, than did Virgil when he detected 
the fraud of Nfalacoda." 

Tommasto points out that the only Hypocrites 
mentioned by Dante in this Bolgia, are either those 
who were enemies of Christ, or enemies of Florence, 
namely, religious and political Hypocrites. He 
passes on from them to the Bolgia of the Robbers, as 

Canto XXIII. Readings an the Inferno. 


if to accentuate the fact that the Hypocrite stands 
midway between the Barrator and the Thief, and by 
his dissimulation filches the praise of men. 

Referring to /oi, xxvii, 8 : " For what is the hope 
of the hypocrite, though he hath gained ? " (which in 
the Vulgate is : " Qua est spes hypocriUe si avare 
rapiat t ") a commentator adds : " Cestui rapisce U 
lodi deW altrui buona vita : " but Dante might well 
have intended to give a wider meaning, thinking that 
hypocrisy and avarice are often placed together, and 
that the avaricious were the Pharisees, and that the 
Frati Godenti incited the citizens of Florence to 

End of Canto XXIII. 

Readings on tite Inferno, Canto XXlV. 



asses on to relate t 
^v-cording to the defini- 

The Ei 
The Si 


In the presei 
punishment of 
tion of the Anonimo Fiorentino, are divided into two 
classes. In this canto is described the punishment of 
those whose robberies were sacrilegious, while that of 
the other class, which comprises all other kinds of 
Thieves, is narrated in canto xxv. 

Benvenuto divides this canto into four parts. 

In Divtiion I, from v, i to v, 60, Dante speaks of 
the abatement of Virgil's wrath, the toilsome ascent 
by the ruins of the broken bridge as the Poets quit 
the Sixth Bolgia, and how Dante's failing strength 
and spirit are revived by the noble words with which 
Virgil stimulates him to fresh exertion. 

In Division II, from v. 61 to v. 96, we read of 
their descent over the declining bridge which crosses 
the Seventh Bolgia until they reach its inner and 
lower rampart, from which, through the profound 
gloom, their eyes are just able to discern the punish- 
ment of the Thieves, 

Canto XXIV. Readings en ilie Inferno. 

In Division III, from v. 97 to v. 121, they wit- 
ness the appalling penalty of one of the shades. 

In Division IV. from v. 122 to v. IJI, the shade 
tells them that he was Vanni Fucci, and then, after 
relating his crime, predicts the great changes that 
shall take place at Pistoja, his native city. 

Division I At the conclusion of the last canto, we 
saw Virgil's iil-repressed indignation at finding broken 
down the bridge to which Malacoda had directed him. 
Dante, on seeing this emotion on the pait of Virgil, 
has attributed it to fear lest they should not be able 
to get out of the Sixth Bolgia, and is greatly alarmed, 
liut, as they approach the ruins of the bridge, he is 
sensibly relieved on seeing Virgil turn to him with a 
gentle and smiling countenance. In one of his happiest 
similes, Dante describes how his terrors then vanished 
as speedily as the hoar-frost that covers the grass at 
break of day, in early spring, vanishes under the sun's 
rays ; and how the poor peasant, who, on seeing the 
hoar-frost, has given way to despair lest his sheep 
should perish, at once takes heart on seeing the thaw, 
and drives them forth contentedly to their feeding 

In quella parle del giovinello* anno, 

* giovinttto anno: In ihe Convilo, iv, 23, and in Iv, 34, 
Uante says that human lile is divided Jnio four ages, namely, 
AitoUscenci {adolescensa) Trom 8 months to 25 years ; Youth 
(giovenlii) from 25 10 45 ; Old Age {sentUuU) from 45 years to 
70 ; Hjid Decrepitude (senio) fiom 70 yeats onwards. Each of 
these appropriates Iwo of the four combinations of contrary 
qualities, which are heat, moisture, dryness, and cold. "And 
these divisions arc made in like manner in the year, which is 

264 Readings on ilu Inferiio. Canto XXIV. 

Che il sole i crin soilo I' Aquaiio tempnt,* 
E %\\ te notti al meizo dl t mh vanna : 
divided inia spring, summer, auiumn, and w'mier." The 
sprJDg, according to Dante, began in February. Gelli draws 
particular attention to the fact that Danle does not call 
the year giovane, because he did not mean the spring to be 
understood, bu Jiminutive giminetto, by 

which be meai year was still in its ado- 

lescence, it wat near its youth {giov€ntu). 

Kuii expresses aslaiing ^/omiw/Zo, " ado- 

lescent" Scai Dante is describing the 

spring just be) shows itself in Aquarius 

from the aist Ji miary. 

* sotio t Agu owing commentators taLe 

trmfira here (0 ^ pers ikt cold at his locks, 

thai is, makes I wanner as winter changes 

into spring : hnu^ m^ieihes, Diane, Scarta»ini, 

Camerini, Fraticelli, Lord Vernon, Cesari, Poletto, and the 
Danish translator Molbech. 

t alnuiio di : I here record my thanks to Mr. Butler, whose 
translation of the Inferno 1 have just received. In one of his 
excellent notes, Mr. Butler draws atl<ention towhal seems to me 
a more correct interpretation of this passage than the one 
usually adopted, of taking me**o di to mean half the day, t.r., 
the Equinox. I have followed Mr. Butler in translating it "the 
south." But this interpretation is given oftener than he seems 
to think. It is, as he remarks, that of the OlHtno, but Witte inter- 
prets it "gegen Siiden ;" and Tommasfto gives the words of 
the astronomer, Antonelli, who says: "e quindi allorchi le 
lunghe notti han cominciato il lor passaggio dall' emisfero 
nostro a quello di mezzo dl per 1' opposto moto del Sole istesso, 
che procedente da Austro, si appressa ormai all' equatore." 
Gelli explains the passage in the same sense and in the most 
precise way: "Per dichiarazione della qual cosa voi avete a 
sapere che iiuttodl, com' k notissimo a ciascuno, £ quella parte 
della palla del mondo, che i Romani dicevano auslraU, c che 
i opposta a punto a tratnonlaua. Da la qual cosa segue, che 


Canto XXIV. Headings on the Inferno. 265 

Quando la brina in sulla lerta assempra * 

L' imagine di sua soretia bianca, ; 

Ma poco dura alia sua penna lempra 1 \ 

ogni rolta che il sole & nei segni boreali, ch' ella [la nolle] sia 
negli aastrall, e quando il sol cammina verso noi, ella cammina 
per it contrario ; perch6 girandosi ella sempre al co;itrario del 
sole, conviene che quando ci si parte dal tropico del Cancro da' 
segni boreali, ella se ne vadia ancora alia verso mezzodl, a' 
segni ausirali. Quando il sole h dunque in Aquario, e va verso 
Ariete, si parte ancor la notte (il colmo delta quale h atlora in 
Lione) da quello, e vassene verso la Libra, fuggendosi (per 
essere cacciala da 'I sole) ne segni australi, e lascia i sctlen- 
trionali. E questo £, secondo me quel che vuol dir lo autore, 
dicendo : e gi^ le noHi se ne vanno a mexsogiomo; e non ch' 
elk vadino ad amezzarsi (i.f,, to be divided half and half) col 
giomo, come ha dello qualcuno ; cosa tanto chiara, ch' e' non 
sar^ alcuno che ne' dubiii, pigliando una palla co' segni celesti, 
e girandovl attomo uno lume nel modo che giia il sole ; dove a 
volerla dare ad intendere a questo modo, k. cosa lanlo difficile, 
che i pill non la comprendono." 

* assempra: HIanc (5af^o) observes that ajwrn/rare means 
" to write, to draw, lo depict," and that (lie hoar frost sketches on 
the ground the image of her sislet, the snow. Il must be taken 
in immediate connection with alia sua pcnna lempra. Came- 
rini thinks that asstmprare was an old Italian word signifying, 
"10 recopy." Dante uses it in the first paragraph of the Vila 
Nuova : "le parole, le quaii ^ mio inlendimento.d' assemprare 
in questo libctlo," etc. Also, in the Canioniere, cans, vii, sL i : 
" Tanto dolore intomo al cor m' assembra 
La dolorosa mente." 

t poco dura alia sua penna lempra : Scartawini says Dante 
has given a personality lo the hoar frost,* and has placed in her 
hand a pen with which she copies, retraces in herself the sem- 
blance of her while sisler ; but as the fine mending of the pen 
maintained, from conslani use, so the itnage she is de- 
signing loses its accuracy ; or, in plain words, as the day gets 
the hoar frost disappears under ihe rays of the sun. 

Readings oh the Inferno. Canto XXIV. 

Lo villanetto,* a cui la roba maaca, 

Si leva e guarda, e vede la cainpagna 
Bianche^giar luita, ond' ei si batte I' anca : 

Rilorna in casa, e qua e Ilk si lagna, 10 

Come 11 tapin f che nan sa che si faccia ; 
Poi riede, e la speranza ringavagna,! 

Veggendo il mondo aver cangiato faccia 
li ; 


scercaccia: ij 


year in which the 


a beneath Aqua- 

nights have bc- 

gun to 

le northern hemi- 

word is the same as villano. 

which means, " 

country homestead (villa) 

to lead flocks," a 

-, u..^ 


nils the soil." 

t tapin : Gelli not 

ices that 


10 is an ancient word in " our" 

(meaning the Tuscan) language. The Vocabolario della Crusta 
derives it from the Greek riaiuit, and interprets it, "miser- 
able, unhappy, worried." Lillr^ observes that, in the I3lb cen- 
tury, li^in had the same signification in France. In Uoc- 
caccio, Decameron, Ciorn. iii, Nov. vii, the word occurs 
twice : " Non h molto maggiore I' ucciderlo o il mandarlo in 
esilio lapinando per lo mondo ? " And again : " £ che voi del 
suo esilio e dello essere andato tapln per lo mondo sette anni 
nan siale cagione, queslo non si pu6 negare." 

X ringauagna : Gelh explains this, " he recovers hope : the 
word ringavagnare is (or rather was in 1560) in use along the 
Genoese Riviera, where gavagni is the name for certain baskets, 
therefore here it means : ' he replaces hope in his basket.'" 
Benvenuto says, " cavigna est cista rusticana," and he remarks 
how happily selected the verb has been by Dante as adapted to 
the description of a rural subject {opiimt competil materia nti- 
iieaaa): and he adds that throughout the Bucolics Virgil always 
makes similar comparisons and metaphors to suit the exigencies 
of his subject. 

Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 267 

sphere) to the south ; when the hoarfrost 
traces upon the ground the image or her 
white sister (the snow) ; but not long endures 
the tine mending of her pen {i.e. as it thaws, 
the resemblance of hoarfrost to snow fades 
away) ; the peasant, whose fodder is running 
short, arises, and looks out, and sees [he 
plain all white, whereat he smites his thigh :" 
turns hack into his house, and goes up and 
down grumbling; like the poor wretch who 
knows not what to do ; then he comes back 
again, and (on looking out) recovers hope {.lit. 
stores hope up again in his basket), observing 
that in a little while the face of the earth has 
changed (i.e. the hoarfrost has disappeared 
before the newly risen sun), and he catches 
up his crook, and drives the sheep forth to 
Gelli remarks that Dante, having described the 
precise time of year, by which he means the end of 
the winter and the beginning of the spring, now 
brings forward the proposition to which he had made 
the comparison, in order to show how it will happen 
that a man may, almost at one and the same moment, 
be reduced to the depths of despair, and as suddenly 
be restored to cheerfulness. Just in the same way he 
wishes to show how he fell into deep dejection on 
seeing Virgil walk away with such perturbation and 
wrath exhibited in his countenance, but was reani- 
mated on Virgil turning to him soon afterwards with 
a face which showed no trace of his former vexation. 
Cos) mi fece sbigottir lo Mastro, 

Quand' io gli vidi si turbar la fronte, 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIV, 

E cosl tosio al mal giunse lo iiii|iia£tro : • 
Ch^ coine noi venimmo al guasto ponle, 

Lo Duca a me si valse con quel piglio t 20 

Dolce, ch' io vidi prinia a pi& del monte. 
Thus did the Master make me stand in fear, 
when I perceived his countenance so dis- 

i the plaster 
; as we reached 
BT turned to me 
I first observed 

jnse relief of min^ 
li mself in some {;reat 
mpare Petrarch, Trionfo 



the ruim 

with that 

at the fo 

Gelli points 

man exp erJcnc 

* al mal giuui 

della Fama, ii, Te 

"E chi de' 1. I .. Juro astro 

Passdr I' Eufrate, fece 1 mal govemo, 
All' italiche doglie fiero impiasiro?" 
t con qutl piglio dolcty etc : Di Siena reniarks that, though 
^\%doUe piglio is not mentioned by Danle in the account of his 
first meeting with Virgil, yet we are led to infer it from the per- 
suasive words used by Viigil to induce Dante to follow him into 
Hell ; which words must have been accompanied by a t^ai 
cbann of manner. Iteatricc implies as much when {,lu/. ii, 
67-69) she says to Virgil : 

" Or muovi, e con la tua parola ornaia, 

E con ci6 ch' k mestleri al suo campare, 
L' aiuta s), ch' io ne sia consolata." 
Di Siena admires the great art Danle sometimes displays in 
turning the reader's attention back 10 things already recounted 
before. The lirsl mention of Virgil's encouraging tenderness to 
his pupil is !nf. iii, 19-21 : 

" E poichi la sua mano alia mia pose, 

Con lieto voli<), ond' io mi conforiai, 
Mi mise dentro alle segrete cose." 
See also Purg. lij, 64, 65 : 
" Guard6 a loro, e con libero piglio (fheerful mien) Rispose." 

Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 269 

peril, sees one coming who will take him under his 
complete protection, and devise a scheme for his 
deliverance. All the more will he Teel this consola- 
tion, if his protector has on previous occasions saved 
him from similar dangers. The encouraging look of 
Virgil brings to Dante's recollection the first sight he 
had of him, when, fleeing down to the foot of the 
mountain in mortal peril, he encountered Virgil sent 
by Beatrice to his assistance* 

Virgil now casts his eye attentively over the ruins 
of the broken-down bridge, and, after a short pause 
for reflection, seizes firm hold of Dante from behind 
and half lifts, half impels him forwards up the pre- 
cipitous and rugged ascent {see Diagram, p. 222). 
Le braccia aperse, dope alcun consiglio 
Eleno seco, riguardando prima 
Tten la ruino, e diedemi di pigliD.+ 
E come quei che adopera ed estima, 
* In Purg. xxvii, 22-24, Virgi! himself reminds Danle ofhow 
he had protected and guided him when, on Geryon's back, (hey 
descended into Maltbolge: 

" Ricordati, ricordati . . . e se 10 
Sopr' espo Gerion ti guidai salvo, 
Che fari ora presBO piii a Dio ? " 
t ditdemi di piglio : Biagioli draws attention to a passage in 
the Catiaonierf, or 10 speak more correctly, in the and Canione of 
_ the Rime Afocri/e, attributed to Danle, which illustrates both 

L ilolce piglia and dar di piglio: 

H " Poi guardo !' amorosa e bella bocca, 

H La spaziosa fronte e il vago piglio, 

^h Li bianchi denti, e 'I drillo naso e '1 ciglio 

^B Polito e brun, talch^ dipinio pare. 

^^^ II vago mio pensiero allor mi tocca 

^^^^^^ Dicendo : Vedi allegro dar di piglio 

^^^^^^L In su quel labbro sottile e vermiglio 

^^^^^^H Che d' ogni dolce saporiio pare." 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXrv. 

Che seinpte par che inn 

lanw si proveggia ; 

Cosi, levando me su ver la cima 

D' un ronchion,* avvisava un' altra scheggia, 

Dicendo :— "Sopra quella poi t" aggrappa + ; 

Ma lenta pria s' i lal cW clla ti reggia."— 30 

He opened his arms after taking some 


closely surveying 

the rui 

me. And as one 

who 6 

d calculates (its h 


to provide before- ^| 


. he (Virgil) as he ■ 


nmit of one great H 


ther crag, saying : ■ 


ne next ; but first ^| 

try if it ■ 

bear thee." " 

ivenuto jj 1 oul tnat 

, in MaUbolge. Virgil 

usually lifted Dante in his arms and carried him, 
whenever they had to descend to the bottom of any 
Bolgia or to issue from it. He did so when they des- 
cended into the Bolgia of the Simonists, and carried 
him up again out of it ; when pursued by the demons, 
he took Dante on his breast and glided down the 
cliff into the Bolgia of the hypocrites ; but now he 
partly lifts and partly helps him to clamber up him- 
self, and he does so, because, whereas in the former 
^ronchion: Some read rocckione,\ia\ Scartaiiini feels sure 
that the former is the correct reading, as it agrees with lo KOgUo 
.... ck' era ronchioso\n\\M t2. It is ihcaccrescitiveofz-Wfibi), 
and it signifies a great mass of rock running up into a peak. 

i aggrappa : from aggrappart, to clutch lightly by hooking on 

with both hands curved. In/n/xvi, 133-13$, the word is used to 

express the fouling ofananchorcaught on the bottom of the sea : 

"colui che va giuso 

Talora a solver ancora, ch' aggrappa 

O scoglio od altro che nel mare i chiuso." 

Canto XXIV. Readings on the Infenw. 

2; I 

Bolge the cliffs were too precipitous for the foot of 
man, in this Bolgia the ruins of the bridge offer a 
sufficient, though difficult mode of ascent. It is not 
without the severest exertion that Dante is able to 
surmount the cliff) showing, Benvenuto thinks, how 
hard it is to escape from the toils of the Hypocrites, 
who are able to deceive the very elect If, however, it 
was difficult for the Poets to quit the Bolgia, Dante re- 
marks that for the lead-begirt Hypocrites it would have 
been impossible. Dante then gives a topographical 
explanation, by which he demonstrates that, owing 
to the amphitheatrical inclination <i{ Mahbolge towards 
the Great Central Pit, the distance they now have to 
ascend is considerably shorter than that down which 
Virgil had previously glided with Dante in his arm?. 
Non era via da veslito di cappa, 

Ch^ noi a pena, ei lieve, ed ro sospinlo, 
Potevam su montar di chiappa in chiappa.* 
* di ckiapfia in cliiafifia: Both Blanc and Scartainni derive 
chi-ifipii from Hie nid German Kiafipa, and interpret it " pro- 
jections of rock." Bull says, " <ii pietra in pielra." Benvenuto, 
" di lapide in lapidem" and adds, " the metaphor 19 happy, for 
chiappit is the convex part of the tile with which are covered 
the roofs of houses. And as the man who walks upon the 
roofs of houses must do so very siowEy and carefully unless he 
would fall and break his neck ; so did Dante in this rough 
place, as otherwise l>e would have run the risk of falling head- 
long downwards," The I'ocabolariff delta Crusca says chiappa 
is any object convenient for the hand to lay hold of (coia comoda 
a potersi chiuppare), and refers to this very passage. This 
interpretation excites great indignation in Blanc It is never- 
theless a fact that in Tuscany, at the present day, chiappa does 
signify something to lay hold of. But whether the right inter- 
pretation be " from rock to rock," or " from hold to hold," the 
meaning is the same, that Dante ascended by each lock that 
offered a hold for his hand to clutch. 

Headings oh the Inferno. C 

E se non fosse, che da quel procinio, 
Piii che dali' altro, era la cosia corta, 
Non so di lui, ma '\o saici ben vinio. 

Ma perchi Malebolge in ver la poria 
Del bassissimo poizo lulla pende, 
Lo stio di ciascuna valle porta 

Che 1' una casia surce e I'ahra scende : 

It Wl 

ibed in a (leaden) 


we, he light (being 


ards{byhim), able 


crag. And had it 


wer) boundary the 


the oiher, I know 


:eitainly have been 


hole of Malebolge 

inclines tov 

,1 of the lowest pil, 

the position i 

of each valley necessitates that one 

rampart rises (higher) and the other is lower. 

The outer rampart from which they enter each 
Bolgia is always a good deal higher than that which 
they see in the distance on the other side of the 
valley. When after crossing the bridge, which they 
always do with a considerable descent, they reach the 
lower rampart and stand on its causeway or boundary 
line {procinlo), they find themselves upon the higher 
rampart of the Bolgia which they are to visit next 

Gelli estimates the difference of level between 
the two ramparts of each Bolgia, following the con- 
jectures of Giambullari, at 105 ells {bracda). 

The toilsome ascent is' at length accomplished ; the 
point they have reached is the topmost stone arising 
from the ruined mass, and the Poets find themselves 
standing upon the summit of the embankment which 

CariLo XXIV, Readings on tfu Inferno. 



is the causeway between the Sixth and Seventh 
Bofge. Immediately behind them lies the Valley of 
the Hypocrites ; before them that of the Thieves, to 
reach which they have to traverse the breadth of the 
causeway whatever that may have been. 

Dante is too fatigued to go on until he has rested 

Noi pur venimmo aHine in sulla punta* 
Onde r ultima pietra si scoscende. 
La lena m' era del polmon si munta 

Quando fui su, ch' io non potea piii oltre, 
Ami mi assisi nella prima giunta. 4$ 

Finally, however, we got up lo the point from 
which Ihe last stone (of the ruined bridge) 
breaks off (from the bridgeway leading to the 
next bridge). The breath was so exhausted 
{lit. milked) from my lungs, wlien I was up, 
that I could (move) no further, nay, I sat me 
down on my first arrival. 
It is evident, from lines 61-63, that the ascents up 
to the crests of the successive arches arc exceedingly 
steep and laborious, especially that one now before the 

* itt siillii punta, etc. : Benvenuto explains this : " finaliler 
pervenimus ad extremilatem hujus pontis, onde P ultima petra, 
scilicet pontis prsedicti fracti, si scoscende, id est, dividitur ct 
separalur a petra allerius pontis tntegri." I imagine, as explained 
in canto xviii, that each of the spokes of the wheel of MaU- 
bolge, was a continuously descending bridgeway that ran both 
across Ihe ramparts and the fosses (Bolge), and when crossing 
the Beige rose up into arches from the crests of which the bridges 
descended to a level con5iderab]y lower. Carlyle says : "The 
wbole place lends downwards to Satan, and the valleys, tying 
like successive rings an the steep hanging ground, have the 
outer side high and the inner low." 


274 Riadings en the Inferno. Canto :;xiv. 

Poets, and Vii^U does not allow Dante much repose. 
In words of singular beauty and power he urges him 
to throw off all weakness, for it is only by a life of 
exertion and self-sacrifice that man can deserve re- 
nown ; without it he would be but as a wind that 
passeth away. ~ finitely greater ascent 

than this one to scale the cornices 

of the Mounta Lnd he must not think 

that his receni the Hypocrites is to 

mark the end ( 

Gelli observi tdia is so full of doc- 

trine, as well a' divine precepts, that 

with the excel y Scriptures and the 

Fathers of the < s no other reading so 

profitable. He is tun oi admiration for the moral 
pointed in Vii^il's words to Dante, which he thinks 
imply that for a man to live a Christian life it will 
not suffice for him to depart from sin, but that he is 
also bound to do active good. And that is why Vir|;il 
now reproves Dante for sitting down, and tells him 
that the time is short, and he must be up and doing. 
— " Omai coDvien che tu cosl ti spollre,* " — 

*spollrt; tpoi/rireis the contrary of /oZ/rtW which the Fo- 
cabolario delta Cruica says is " lo rot in sloth, to indulge io 
idleness." See Buonarotti (the younger) La Fitra, Giom. iv, 
act iii, sc. 3 : 

" Non piii riposo no, non piii poltrire 
In palauo, in palaiio." 
Gelli says : '* Poliro is an old word in our [the Tuscan] lan- 
guage, and signi5es * a bed ' : from it is derived fioUront, which 
means ' one who tikes to lie in bed ' : then this verb impollromrt 
comes lo be used metaphorically, in the sense of letting oneself 
so sink into accidie and sloth that he who thus indulges be- 

Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 


I Mar 

~f- _ In fama non si i 

SeniA la qual chi su: 

Colal vesligio ir 

Qual fummo t ii 

'chi, sedendo in piuma, * T 

a schiuma : 

:i ed ii 


comes a useless man and of little consideralion ; and spoUronire 
is the contrary of this, signifying ' lo shake off sloth and idle- 
ness.'" Compare DUtanwndo jii, 5 : 

" La s(rada so, ma convien ch'uom si spoltri." 
Although the Voc. ddia Crusca interprets /oZ/nV^ "to indulge 
in idleness," it explains spoltrirt, " lo shake off cowardice." 

* sedendo in piuma, in fama non si vien : Compare DUta- 
mondo, iv, 4 ; 

" Letter, tu ddi pensar, che senia ardire, 

Senza afTanno soffrir 1' uomo non piiote 
Fama acquislar, lit gran cose fomire." 
Compare Petrarch, part iv {_Sopra Vari Argomcnti) Son. i, : 
" La gola e '1 senno e 1' oziose piume 

Hanno del mondo ogni vertu sbandila." 
Di Siena remarks how throughout his poem Dante shows 
what value he niiaches 10 the hope of leaving behind him n 
renowned name, nnd how, when enjoined by Cncciaguida to 
give a true report of all ihat he had said lo censure ihe Floren- 
tines, Danle fears on the one hand the hostility of the persons 
so censured if he repeats Cacciaguida's words, and on the oiher 
fears lo lose renown if he flinches from speaking the inith. 
SeeZ-rtr. xvii, 116-120: 

" Ho io appreso quel che, s' io il ridico, 
A molti lia sapor di forte agrume ; 
E, s' io al vero son timldo amico, 
Temo di perder vita tra eoloro 
Che que s to tempo chiameranno antico." 
Di Siena adds that one may well say of Dante what he said of 
Virgil in Inf. ii, 59-60 : 

" Di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura, 
E dureri quanto il mote lontana." 
\ fumtno : Compare, Wisdom, v. 14 : " For the hope of the 
S 2 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXrv. 

V E perb leva su, vinci 1' ambascia * 

Con 1' animo chc viDce ogni battat^lia, 

Se col suo grave corpo Don s' accascia.t > 

** Piu lunga scala convien che si saglia : i JS 

Non basu da costoro esser partita : 
Se lu m' intendi,t or fa si che ti vaglia." — 

"Now must ■' — — "■" -'^-' 1 off all sloth," 

ly with the wind ; like a 
Ihe storm ; like as the 
ere with a tempest, and 
a guest that tarrieth but 

le difficulty of breathiog 
nktlatio, Gntk, 8i<nrKi«), 
sign location of "fatigue. 

ungodly is like duf 
thin froth that is 
smoke which is di 
passeth away as t 
a day." 

* ambascia in its 
that arises from exce 
Hence it comes to ta 
toil, annoyance." 

\ iaecasciii: Lord Vernon (/n/rrnif, vol. i) in a note on this 
passage observes : " We say accasciarsi of anything when, 
being unable from its great weight to hold it up, we let it go, 
and it (alls down. Here it has the moral signification ' provided 
that the spirit doth not allow itself to be overcome by the body, 
or in other words, reason by temptation.'" i4irr;iMi:iiir.»' distinctly 
has the sense of a failure of the will to employ further resis- 
tance. Blanc interprets, " se laisser accabler " ) Scartazzini, 
" lascia andar giii " ; Gelli, '* pon giii e abbandonasi." 

Compare Horace, Satires, book ii, sat. ii, 77-79 : 

Hesternis vitiis animum quoque praegravat una, 
Atque afligit humo divinx particulam aurx." 
Dante makes Virgil repeat nearly his own words in Aiin. vi, 

730-732 ■ 

" Igneus est ollis vigor et coelestis origo 
Seminibus, quantum non noxia corpora lardant, 
Terrenique hebetanl artus, moribundaquc membra." 
X se lu »f intendi: Virgil here gives Dante a gentle hint 
that Beatrice is welt worth the exertion Dante will make to 
reach her. 


Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 

said the Master, "for neither by reclining on 
down, or under coverlets, does one come to 
fame, without which, whoever consumes his 
life, leaves of himself the same trace on 
earth as smoke in air and foam on water : and 
therefore rise up^ conquer thy exhaustion 
(lit. panting) with that spirit which wins 
every battle, if it does not allow itself to be 
overcome by its heavy body, A longer stair- 
way has yet to be climbed : to have quitted 
these {i.i. the Hypocrites) is not enough : if 
thou understandest me, now act, so that it 
may profit thee." 
Dante's journey wil! not have been accomplished 
when he reaches the extreme depths of Hell. Ben- 
venuto says that after the Hypocrites, who walk so 
slow, Dante will next have to visit the Thieves, who 
prowl about at night, gliding in the dark over the 
ground as lightly as serpents. 

Dante is completely reanimated by Virgil's admo- 
nition, and professes himself refreshed, and ready to 
follow his leader. 

Leva' mi allor, mostrandomi fornito 

Meglio di lena eh' io non mi senlia ; 
E dissi :— " Va, ch' io son forte • ed ardito."— 60 
Then I arose, showing myself better provided 

* son forle td ardito ; This amplified would mean, ''son forte 
a sostenere la fatica del cammino, edardito ad intraprenderla." 
Biagioli says this is a form that includes the strength of the 
body and the boldness of (he soul. Danle uses the expression 
here for a toilsome ascent : in canto xvii, 79-82, he puts the 
words into the mouth of Virgil when Ihey are about lo 
face the perils of the descent into MaUbolge on the back of 
Geryon : 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XKIV. 

with breath tlian I (really) felt myself; and 
said : " Go on, for I am stout and fearless." 
Benvenuto remarks tliat the hope of reward is in 
itself aa alleviation of toil. 

Division II. The Poets pursue their course. 
Su per la % via, 

Ch' ; inalagevole, 

Ed ■- di pria. 

Mounting. upon the rocky 

bridge, wl rrow, and diffi- 

cult, and r. : preceding one. 

Scartazzini ol confirms what he 

established, wh on Inf. xviii, 16, 

namely, that fr j cliffs of Maiebolge 

there ran, not on^, uut ocverai systems of bridgeways, 
each of which crossed the Bolge. The present passage 
shows that they were not all of equal level. He says 
that the comparison is between one bridgeway and 
another {Jra scoglio a scoglio) ; and by scoglio he does 
not understand one single bridge over one single 
bolgia, but a bridgeway, or system of bridges, crossing 
all the ten bolge. Of these systems there were several, 
like the spokes in a wheel. Some MSS. and editions 
read eke quei di pria instead of quel di pria, whicti all 
the more confirms Scartazzini's explanation.. 

As the Poets are climbing up the ascent of the arch, 
they hear, at some distance ahead of them, an angry 
voice uttering sounds which they cannot interpret. 

" Trovai lo Duca mio ch' era salito 

Gik in sulla groppa del liero animale, 
E dJGse a me : 'Or sii forte ed ardita 
Omai si scende per s) fattc scale.' " 


Canto XXIV, Readings on the Inferno. 

Parlando andava per non parer fievole,* 
e usdo dair altto fosso, 
A parole formar disconvenevole.t 
Non so che disse, ancor che sopra il dosso 
Fo5si deir arco gii che varca quivi ; 
Ma chi parlava ad ira parea mosso. 
I walked on speaking lliat I might not 
appear faint, and a voice too inarticulate to 
form words issued from the next (the seventh) 
fosse. I know not what it said, although I 
was already upon the crown of the arch that 
crosses there ; hut he who was speaking 
seemed moved to anger. 
Dnnte stoops over the edge of the bridge, and 
strains his eyes downwards, but they are unable to 
penetrate the deep gloom of the bottom of the Bolgia, 
whereupon he entreats his leader to descend the bridge 
to the lower cHFT, which is one-third lower than the 
other. Virgil consents. 

lo era volto in giii ; ma gll occhi vivi X 70 

*Jievflle: The Vocabolario della Crusca says the word is the 
same &% Jiebalc, Lai. debilis, and means " weak, infirm, faint." 

^ una voce . . . A parole formar disconvtnevoU : Gelli remarks 
that both Benvenulo and Giambullari have interpreted this, 
" disconvenienti e indegnt a parlar da uomo " ; but he does not 
ai all endorse this interpretation. He understands by voce, 
spontaneous sounds, and hy parole, the deliberately articulated 
expression of (he conceptions of man. He says that this was 
the teaching of BoSthius in his Comments upon Aristoile. 

X gli occhi vivi : Compare /n/ xviii, 109-I11 : 
" Lo fondo h cupn s), che non ci t>asta 

Loco a veder senia montare al dosso 
Deir arco, ove lo scoglio piii soprasta." 

Some understand vivi in the sense of " penetrating," as in 
wit, Sa-SS : 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto xx 

Non potean ire al fondo per I' oscuro : 
Perch' io :— " Maestro, fa che lu arrivi 
Dall' altro cinghio,* e dismontiam Io muro ; 
Chi com' i' odo quinci e non inlendo, 
Cos! giii veggio, + e iiiente afiiguro." — 
"Altra risposla," — disse, — " non ti rendo, 

Se non Io far : 

ch^ la domanda onesta 

. Sid 

ace n do." — 

I had be 

my living eyes 

were noti 

ttom because of 

the dark) 

" Master, con- 

trive to g 

ampart {i.t. (he 

one betwe 

eighth valleys), 

and lei us 

irall (U. from the 

bridge to 

ir, as from this 

spot I car 

lot understand, 

so am 1 Iv„ 

,.., . nothing can I 

discern." " No other answer," said he, " di 
I render thee than by the doing (what thou 
askest) : because the becoming request must 
be followed by its performance in silence." 
In the passage that now follows Blanc tries to show 
"Noi discendemmo in sull' ultima riva 

Del lungo scoglio, pur da man sinistra, 
Ed allor fu la mia vista piii viva 
Gib ver Io fondo." 
* Daif altro ttnghio : da is " upon," not " from." 
See also canto xxii, 145-147 : 

" Barbariccia, con gli altri suoi dolente, 
Quaiiro ne fe* volar dall' alira casta 
Con luiii i raffi." 
t veggio . . . affigguro : Di Siena says there is a notable differ- 
ence between udire and iniendtre; as also between vetUre and 
affigurarc ; Compare Inf. xviii, 4^-43 '■ 

" ' Di gi& veder cosiui non son digiuno.' 
Percib a figurarlo i piedi affissi," 

that the Poets, after descending the incline of the 
bridge, went down the side of the cliff into the bottom 
of the Bolgia. This is not the opinion of Benvenuto, 
Gelli, Biagioli, or Scartazzini, who point out the ex- 
treme improbability of Virgil conducting Dante down 
to a place that was simply alive with serpents. The 
principal difficulty to get over is 1. 13 of canto xxvi, 
where Dante describes the re-ascent by the same 
projecting crags that had made the stairs by which 
they had descended. The summary, however, that 
Di Siena gives of the whole scene appears so lucid 
that I translate it. "Wonderfully depicted is the 
toilsome passage from the bottom of the Sixth Bolgia, 
in which are the Hypocrites, to the Eighth Rampart 
{argitte), which lies between the fosse of the Thieves 
and that of the Fraudulent Counsellors. The Poets 
first clamber up by the ruins of the broken down 
bridge (xxiv, ig-45) : after a short rest at the top of the 
ruins, they take their way up the steep ascent of the 
arch of the bridge (61-63) : by this they reach the 
crown of the arch (G7-68) : here Dante hears from 
the depths of the Seventh Bolgia the sound of a voice 
of which at that height he is unable to distinguish the 
words, and as the darkness is, moreover, too great for 
his human eye to pierce it, he begs Virgil to allow 
him to get down the lower cliff at the point where the 
lower end of the bridge they are descending joins on 
to it (70-75) : but [here is the important part) when 
they reach the lower cliff, they do not go down into 
the bottom of the Bolgia* that is swarming with 

• Thai they do not go down to the bottom of the Bolgia we 
have distinct proof, for in canto kxv, 35, Dante tells us that three 

383 Readings on Ike Inferno. Canto XXIV. 

poisonous serpents, but tliey seem to have gone a 
little Way down the side of the cliff by the aid of 
certain projecting rocks which were under the head of 
the bridge, and formed a kind of rude stairway, up 
which they afterwards reascend and resume their 
Journey (see canto xxvi, 13-lS)." 

On One poi illow Di Siena. I am 

inclined to tt from the top of the 

lower rampar looked down on the 

thieves and ! the causeway of the 

bridge not be. vel with the rampart, 

they would l> xvi, 13) tliey resume 

their journey, from the rampart on 

to the causewi idges. 

From this pi .. ile to see the terrible 

punishment of the thieves, who arc pursued ami bitten 
by serpents. Benvenuto remarks how appropriate the 
punishment is to the crime of a thief: first, because 
the serpent is the most subtle of alt animals, as the 
thief is among men ; the serpent winds itself under 
stones and the hiding-places of the earth, and the 
thief, in like manner, slips under the money-changers' 
tables, burrows under ground, climbs in through win- 
dows or trap-doors, and seeks for dens and lurking- 
holes ; and in the case of the serpent when seen, or 
the thief when discovered, all men immediately start 
off in pursuit; and, as the serpent hides in the grass, 
so docs the thief ply his trade in the dark night. 
Noi discendemmo il ponte dalla [esta, 

Dove si giunge coll' ottava ripa, 80 

£ poi mi fu la tiolgia manifesta : 
spirits came below the spot where he and Virgil were standing : 
" E tre spirit! venner sot to noi." 

Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 283 

E vidivi entro lerribile stipa 

Oi serpenti, e di si diversa mena, 

Che la memoria it aanguc ancor n 

li SCipa. 

Piii non si vanti Libia* con sua rena ; 


Cht, se chelidri, f iaculi e faree 

* Liiia con la sun rena: Compare Lucan, Pilars, i, 367-368 : 
" Due age per Scythi.T populos, per inhospita Sjriis 
Litora, per calidas Libyre sitientis harenas ." 

t chelidri : The rolbwing lines of Lucan, Pkars. ix, 706-721, 
evidently Inspired Dante in this description : 

" Sed quis erit nobis lucri pudor f inde petunlur 
Hue LibycK mortes, ei fccimus aspida n 
At non stare suum miseris passura c 
Squamiferos ingens Haemorrhois expllcat orbes ; 
Natus et ambtgucE coleret qui Syrtidos arva, 
Chersydros, Iractique via fumante Chelydri : 
Et semper recto lapsurus limile Cenchris : 
Pluribus [lie nolis varialam pingitur alvum, 
Quam par vis tinctus maculis Thebanus ophites : 
Concolor exuslis, atque indtscretus harenis 
Hammodites, spinaque vagi lorquenle Cerasia: : 
Et Scytale sparsis etiam nunc sola pruinis 
Exuvias posilura suas : et torrida Dipsas : 
Et gravis in geminum surgens caput Ampbisbaena : 
Et Natrix, violator aquK, Jaculique volucres, 
Et contenlus iter Cauda sulcare Pareas." 

Compare, also, Milton, Air. ioi/, jt, 519-528 : 

"... for now were all transform'd 
Alike, to serpents all, as accessories 
To his bold riot. Dreadful was the din 
Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now 
With complicated monsters head and tail. 
Scorpion, and Asp, and Amphisba:na dire. 
Cerastes horn'd, Hydrus, and Elops drear, 
And Dipsas ; (not so thick swarm'd once the soil 
Oedropt with blood of Gorgon, or the isle 

284 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIV, 

Produce, e cencri con amfisibeiia ; 
Ni tante pestileniie wk &1 ree 

Mostrb giamtnai con tulta I' Eliopia, 
N^ con ci6 che di sopra il mar rosso ee. 90 

We went down ihe bridge by its head, where 
it joins the eighth rampart, and then the bolgia 
was dis I saw within it a 

fearful & id of such variety 

of sped ion of them even 

now DU cold. No more 

let libf ; for though she 

bringi j and Pharefe, and 

CoidM not even did she 

evenKf dreadful plagues, 

with all lat (region) which 

lies upon n . Arabia). 

In this last line Dante evidently alludes to the 
three great deserts by which Egypt is surrounded ; 
namely, Libya on the left of the Nile, Ethiopia to the 
south of Egypt, and Arabia to the right, on the other 
side of the Red Sea {di sopra il mar rosso). 

Benvenuto points out that Dante is here alluding 
to the retreat under Cato of a Roman army into the 
Libyan deserts, and has done so before in canto xiv, 
(lines 13-15). After speaking of the great sufferings 
they underwent from wind, dust, sand, heat, and thirst, 
Benvenuto adds that the worst part of their troubles 
was from the multitudes of serpents of various kinds to 
which they were exposed. The description of these 
serpents is given at great length, the shapes, the habits, 
and the anecdotes of the different species being men- 
tioned, with fabulous details, which represent the igno- 
rance of natural history prevalent in Benvenuto'stime; 

Canto XXIV. Readings on tJie Inferno. 

28 s 

and yet are so quaint and original, that it is with much 
regret that I feel compelled to refrain from inserting 
them. Benvenuto seems to be conscious of his pro- 
lixity, for he concludes : " Marvel not then if I have 
said so much about this sand, that you may see what 
great analogy it has with this Bolgia^ for sand is sterile 
and bears no fruit ; and so it is with the abode of 
thieves. Secondly, because in this sand there are an 
immense quantity of serpents which give many and 
various kinds of death, and the like in this Bolgia" 

The shades of the Thieves in torment are now men- 

Trn qiicsla cnida e tristissima copia 

Correvan genti nude e spavenlste, 

Senia sperar pertugio o elitropia.* 

* elitropia: This was supposed to be a precious stone, a 
chalcedony, which when worn on tlic person had the power of 
rendering the benrer invisible. Pielro di D.inte describes it as a 
green, red, or perse coloured stone, which, when bathed in the 
Juice of the plant quam dieimus mirasoltai, renders invisible 
whosoever carries il. In the Decameron, Giorn. viii, Nov. 3, 
Boccaccio relates how Calandrino, searching after such a stone, 
is informed by Maso, who is hoaxing him, that the Elitropia 
renders a man invisible in the plate where he does not happen to 
be.' " L' altra si i una pietra, la quale noi altri lapidarj appel- 
liamo Elitropia, pietra di troppo gran virlii, percib che qua- 
lunque persona la porta sopra di se, menlre la Iiene, non ^ da 
alcuna altra persona veduto, dove non h" The author of the 
Chiose Anonime (Selmi) curiously confuses Etiopin, in I. 89, with 
elitropia^ in I. 93. He says : " con lutfa t Etiopia : you must 
know that Etiopia is a precious stone, the which, whoever has it 
about him, is invisible to all men ; and that is why Dante says 
that the shades in this Bolgia are without any hope of hiding 

a86 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIV. 

Con serpi * le man dieiro avean legate : 

Quelle ficcavan pec le ren la coda 9j 

£ il capo, ed eran dinanii aggroppate. 
Amid this fell and most dismal swarm (of ser- 
pents) people were running naked and borror- 
Gtnick, without hope of lurking-hole or helio- 
trope nds bound behind 
with gh their loins thrust 
their front were twisted 
up m 
Benvenu It retro aggroppate, but 
thinks, whi adopted, the serpents 
were armed with which they seized 
the sinners or in front. 

Division Ii.. , i utia are now spectators of the 

awful penalty of Vanni Fucci, a sacrilegious thief, 
who, on being attacked and bitten by a serpent, im- 
mediately takes fire, and is reduced to ashes. The 
ashes are instantaneously whirled up together by an 
invisible power and reform themselves into the sem- 
blance of the thief as before, llcnvcnuto thinks the 

* Con serpi le man dieiro avean legate, eC seq,: Virgil (/Cm. 
ii, 313-222) relates the destruction of Laocoonand his two sons: 
" Illi agmine certo 
Laocoonta petunl. Et primum parva duorum 
Corpora natorum serpens amplexus uterque 
Implicat, el miseros morsu depasciiur artus ; 
Post ipsum, auxilio subeuntem ac tela lerenieni, 
Coiripiunt, spirisque ligant ingentibus ; et jam 
Bis medium amplexi, bis collo squamea circum 
Terga dati, superaot capite et cervicibus altis. 
Itle simul manibus lendit divellere nodos, 
Perfusus sanie viitas atroque veneno ; 
Clamores simul horrendos ad sidera toUit." 



Canto XXIV. Readings en the Inferno. 


meaning is that certain men are not thieves by their 

nature, but only from their evil associations, and 
therefore only at certain intervals are they smitten by 
the aerpent, that is by the sudden desire of thieving. 
By this desire their nature gets for the time so utterly 
corrupted, that it is consumed by the sin, and they are 
led on to commit the theft, but when the crime has 
been perpetrated, and they discontinue their thieving 
for the time, then they resume their natural forms, 
habits, and ways. 



. ch'i 

i proda, 

n serpente, che il trafisse 
Li dove il collo alle spalle s' annoda. 

Ni O s5 tosto tnai, nfe I si scrisse," 100 

Com' ei s' access ed arse, e cener lullo 
Convenne che cascando divenisse : 

E poi che fu a lerra si distrullo, 

La polver si raccolse per sf stessa, 

E in quel medesmo t ritoni6 di bullo : 105 

Cosi per ti gran savi si confessn, 

Che la Feiticet more e poi rinasce, 
Quando a1 cinquecentesimo anno appressa. 

Erba, n^ biado in sua vita non pa^ce, 

* Ni O s) losto mai, ni I si scrisse : No two letters of the 
alphabet arc more quickly written, each with ore stroke of the 
pen. The Anonimo Fiorentino says : 

"Questa due leltere et I si scrivone piii velocemente che 
1' altre, che con piii traiti di penna k dato loro forma." 

t in quel medesmo, etc. : Compare Virg. Georg. iv. 440-444 ; 
" Mle [Proteus] sua: contra non immemor arlis, 
Omnia transfonnat cese in miracula rerum, 
Ignemque, horribilemque feram, fluviumque liquentem. 
Verum, ubi nulla fugam reperit pellacia, victus 
In sese redit, aique hominis tandem ore locutus." 
XFtnice: The references to thi^ fabulous bird are very 


Readings on tlie Inferno. Canlo XXIV. 

Ma sol d' incenso lagrime ed amomo 
E nardo e mjrra son I' uliime fasce. 

n ancienl poetry. Compare Firmianus Lactantius 
{Cartnen de Phetnice, lines 161-166) : 

" At fortunatas sartis fatseque volucrem ! 
Cui de se nasci nraulilil ipse Deus ! 

Fcemini itrum, seu sit utnimque ; 

Fe' ra nulla coliL 

Mors il in mone volupias : 

Ut ntil ante mori." 

See also Ovid, 
" Una est qi 1 reseminel, ales. 

Assyrii Ph. Inige, Deque lierbis, ■ 

Sed ihuris n\ amomi. 

Hjec ubi qi t saecula viias, 

llicis in rai nina palnue, 

Unguibus ei panoo muujii sibi conslruit ore. 
Quo simul ac casias, el nardi lenis aristas, 
Quassaque cum fulva subslravit cinnama mynha ; 
Se super imponii : Rnitque in odoribus cevum. 
Inde ferunt, tolidem qui vivere debeat annos, 
Corpore de patrio parvum Phcenica renasci." 
Compare also Petrarch, Canzone xiv, si. I : 
" Li, onde '1 dl vin fore, 
Vola un augel che sol, se 
Di vol on la ri a morte. 
Rinasce, e tuito a viver si hnnova ; 

Lo mio vokr ; e cos) in su la cima 
Ue' suoi alii pensieri al Sol si volve, 
E cos) si risolve ; 

E cosl toma al suo siato di prima ; 
Arde, e more, e riprende i nervi suni ; 
E vive poi con la fenice a prova." 
See also Milton, Samson AgonUUiy 1697-1707 : 
" So Virtue, given for lost, 
D«press'd, and overthrown, as seem'd. 


Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 

And lo I upon one who was on our side (('. e. 
close under the cliff upon which we stood), 
darted a serpent, which transfixed him there 
where the neck is tied to the shoulders (i, e. 
the gullet). Never was an "O " or an " I " 
so quickly written, as he took fire, and burned, 
and then in falling he fulfilled his destiny by 
turning all to ashes. And after that he lay 
thus destroyed upon the ground, the ashes 
of themselves reunited, and in an instant 
returned into {i.e. reassumed the form of) 
that same (spirit). So by great sages it is 
confessed that the Phcenix dies and then 
comes to life again, when it approaches its 
five hundredth year. It feeds not on grass 
nor on grain during its life, but only on tears 
of frankincense and amomum ; andnardand 
myrrh are its last swathing bands. 
Gelli says that according to Pliny, in the Twelfth 
book of his Natural History, the amovtum is a kind 
of wild vine ; and that by /' ultime sue fascc Uantc 
means that when the phtenix has reached its five- 
hundredth year it builds itself a sort of little lodge 
(capannuceio) with the branches, roots, or leaves of the 
spikenard and myrrh trees, and then covering itself up 
Like that self-begotten bird 
In the Arabian woods cmbost 
That no second knows or third. 
And lay there while a holocaust. 
From out her ashy womb now leem'd. 
Revives, reflourishes, [hen vigorous most 
When most unactive deem'd ; 
And, though her body die, her fame 
A secular bird ages of lives." 

2go Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIV. 

with these woods, just as babies are enclosed in 
swathing bands, it turns towards the rays of the sun, 
and flaps its wings with such velocity, that it kindles 
the pyre, and is consumed within it. 

Dante now compares the demeanour of the n 

tated thief to 
possessed by a 
stroke of epilep 
E qual i < 
Quando s 
Tal era il , 
O poler 

nanner either of one 
e recovering from a 

ide angoscia 
irdando sospira ; 

o : Di Siena says the word was adopted by old Italian 
both in prose and in verse. Il is practically the con- 
of the Latin guomodo into quoiiio and hence eomo. 

-, the words for 

e and siccome. 

In Provencal quo and 
See Purg. xxiii, 34-36 : 

" Chi crederebbe che 1' odor d' un porno 
S) governasse, generando brama, 
E quel d' un acqua, non sapendo como ? " 
See also Guitton d' Arezzo in a CatiMont, quoted by Nannucci, 
Afanuale dtlla Leiteralura delhi Lingua Ilaiiana, vol. i, p. 171 ; 
" Chi si como 1' autore 
Pon, ch' amislk di core 
£ voler di Concordia e disvolere, 
Fatem' a me ci6 che volele eh' eo ; 
Chi gran conforto m'ine. 
Chi com piii alto tene, 
Signor suo servo, piii li pu6 valere, etc." 
t O potemia di Dio, quanta i severa .-. I have hen 
from Witte, who reads quanio s^ vera f I confess 1 do 


Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno. 291 

And as one who falls, and knows not how, 
either by some demoniacal power that drags 
him to the ground, or by some otKer obstruc- 
tion (of the vital powers) that seizes a man ; 
when he gets up; gazes aroimd him all be- 
wildered with Ibe great sufTering he has 
undergone, and as he looks, sighs ; such was 
the sinner after he had risen. Oh how stern 
is the power of God, that showers down such 
strokes for vengeance ! 

Division IV, As soon fts the slindc of the thief 
has recovered liimscif, Virgil addresses him, and learns 
that he was Vanni Fucci of Pistoja. 

Lo Duca il domandd poi chi cgli era : 

Perch' ci risposc : — " lo piovvi di Toscana, 
Poco tempo S,* in quesia gola fera. 
Vita bestial t mi piacque, c non umana, 

SI come a inul ch' io fui : son Vanni Fucci % 1 15 
Bestia, e Pistoia mi fu degna lana." 
stand how this can be followed by crosciit : I should rather have 
e\pected crosc/ : either let us read : 

qiiunio le' vera I 
Che (otai colpi per vendetta crosd. 
or quanta i severa, 

Che cotai colpi per vendetta crosc'oL 
Others read giustixia laxpotenma; but, as Scartazzini observes, 
the sudden transformation of the sinner demonstrates, not only 
the Justice of God, but much more His Omnipotence. His 
Justice is already apparent in all the other penalties of Hell. 
* Poco tempo i : He is supposed to have died about a,d, II93. 
t Vita bestial; The Ancnimo Florentine says : "et perchi 
egli era bestiale fu chiamato Vanni bestla." 

t Vanni Fucci was the illegitimate son of Messer Fucci de' 

Lazzari, of a noble family in Pistoja. Hut Landino says he was 

:ruel, tyrannical, and brutish ways. Barloli (Storia 


T 2 


Readings on the hiferno. Canto XXIV. 

The Leader ihen asked Iiini who he was : 
whereupon he answered : " I fell (///. rained) 
down from Tuscany into this cruel gullet, a 
short time ago. A brutish life, and not hu- 
man, pleased me, like the mule (i.e. bastard) 

that I was- 

I am Vann 

i T'ucci. beast, and 

, Pistoja 


della Le/Uratm 

.t, ii, page 88-9) after rc- 

marking thai . 

i one Pistojese and five 

Florentines arac 

\ Hell, adds: "Theselec- 

tion of Vanni i 

underatand. Whether or 

no he accomplis 

it is that Dante has not 

so much wishc. 

mfamy as the lliief who 

broke into" the 

r Ornaments," as to vilify 

the Black Guelp 

Dd and wrath," the haled 

citiien of ih.ii P, 

- vonhy den of such a wild 

beast, wherein were 

generated those two factions and names 

[Neri mA Biamhi) ^ 

which were to 

move the soul of the exile to 

so much indignation 


ite in it such bitter memories. 

It was Vanni Fucci, 

. who after ha 

ving had several broils with 

Foccaccia de' Cancellieri (/«/ xxxi 

ii. 63), and attempting to slay 

him, killed instead. 

in the palaci 

:a of the Vergiolesi, of the 

White faction, Messer Bertino, " 

il piii nobile e il piii cortese 

cavalicre ch' a tjucl icnipo avesse 

in Pistoja " {/sloric ris/olcu. 

p. 6-7) ; and through his death the Black faction got tlic upper 
hand, and hatreds were exasperated, and the death of Bertino 
was avenged by the slaying uf one of the While Cancellieri. 
Then the two factions came to open war in the ciiy. In one of 
these combats Vanni Fucci set lire to the house of Zarino de' 
Lazieri, and carried off his horse, saddled and caparisoned 
{sellitto e coverialOflslorie I'hIoUsi., p. 19). Oji another occasion 
he attacked the suite of the Podcsl^, and slew a knijjht of his 
body-guard {u« cavalure lU migUori cA' avesse in su<i fumigUa). 
Well can we understand (hen why Uante puts into the mouth 
of such a man the words Vila bestial mi piacque,e non umana; 
and well can we understand that it is with grim satisfaction that 
on that detested brow he has stamped the mark of the ihief." 

Canto XXIV. Readings oh the Inferno. 293 

Gelli says that the simile of bestia and iana is 
singularly applicable to Fistoja and its citizens in the 
time of Dante, for, being divided into the rival 
factions oi Biatidii aud Neri,i\\ey aiiackeA each other 
with the ferocity of wild beasts, and Pistoja is in 
consequence rightly styled tlieir den. 

Vaniii Fucci, who was probably rushing away from 
the serpents, stops on hearing Dante speak about him 
to Virgil, as a man formerly known to him for his evil 
reputation. He then relates his sacrilegious crime, for 
which he is in hell. 

Ed 10 al Uiica ;— " Uigli che non mucci,* 

E (loiiinnd.i qiial culpa quaggiiit il pitisc : 
Ch' io il vidi uomo di san^uc e di crucci." — 

* intiai : lilanc says mticciare is a word of uncertain origin, 
probably meaning, 10 depart. Gelli (who has a duplicate lec- 
ture on this part of [he canto), ai page 44S says that n 
signifies to run away, now in this direction, now in that, % 
not to becaplurecl. At p.igc 463 he repeats, " cht non m 
that is, not to run away, for this is the significatio 
word much in use in those times (A.D. 1300}, but noivadays (is6o) 
entirety fallen into disuse." Scarttuzini quotes from Vine. Buon- 
nani {Discorso sofra In prima Canlica del divinissimo tkiologo 
Ditnle d'Alighieri de Bella. Fireme, 157a), who explains thai 
smucdare is said of anything that from its slipperiness escapes 
from the hand and cannot be held tight ; in fact, the more one 
squeezes it, the more it slips out of the hand. Benvenuto says 
nmcciare "est vulgare (juorundain Lombardorutn." In Sicilian 
atnmucciari is a v. a. signifying to hide. (See Biundi, Dixionario 
Siciliaiw-Italiano, Palermo, 1857). 

+ qiiaggih ; Uanie is either surprised, or pretends to be so, 
at seeing Vanni Fucci so low down in Hell as the Bolgia of 
the Thieves. He says, " 1 knew him as a man of blood and 
wrath," as though hinting th.1l he might rather h.ive expected to 
find him in the river of bloo<1 for his homicidal propensities, or 

Readings on the Infer. 

£ i! peccatnr, ciie iiiteae, non : 

i' infiiise, 

Ma Axlitb versu me 1' animo e il volto, 

E di Irista vergogna si dipinse ; * 

Poi disse : " Piu mi duol che lu m' hai colto 

Nella miserla, dove tu mi vedi, 

Che quando fui dell' aUra vila lolto. 


u ctiieai ; 


ircli' io fui 


;IIi arredi it 




him not to slip 

away, *t i 

ime thrust him 

down het 1 

l)im as a man of 

blood anL 

sinner, who had 

heard, mi 

) the contrar)'), 

but direc __.; 

s attention and 

ID the swamp of the Styx for his rage and fury. For jwiyy/V) 
compare also the beautiful passage in Inf. iv, 19-21, where 
Virgil tells Dante that the depth of pity that he feels for the 
souls of the lost is the cause of his pallor : 

" L' angoscia dcllc t'emi. 
Che son quaggiii, ncl vi$o mi dipi^ne 
Quella piet&, che tu per tema senti." 
* si dipinse : Compare Purg. ii, 82 ; 

" Di maraviglia, credo, ini dipinsi." 
\ sacrestia d^ belli arredi : Blanc asks : "Are we 10 construct 
this, ladro lie' belli arredi alia sagreslia, or to join sitgi-eslia 
with d^ belli arredit The second appears tu us the more 
natural and probable of the two, for the reason that the 
Cathedral of San Giacomo at I'istoja was universally cele- 
brated for its wealth, and was called ' IITesoro.'" Scartauini 
says the phrase sacreslia de belli arredi was a poetical para- 
phrase of the name Tesoro which had been given to the Sacristy 
of San Giacomo at Pisloja. See also Sebasiiano Ciampi, Lei- 
tere sopra la inlerpretauone d" un verso di Viiide nella Cantica 
[sic] Kxiv, delV Jn/emo, Pisa, 1814. 


Cnnto XXIV. Readings em the Inferno. 295 

his face, and reddened witli ignominious 
shame. Then he said: "It pains me more 
tliat thou hast caught me in (he misery 
wherein thou seest me, than when I was 
taken from the other life (by a disgraceful 
death). I am not able to refuse what ihou 
askest ; I am put so far down because I 
ivas the thief in the Sacristy of the Fair 
Ornaments ; and once it (the theft) was 
falsely attributed to another. 

Landino thus relates the story of the robbery, and 
the false imputation of it to an iiinoccnt man: " It 
chanced that, about that time, one evening many of 
the citizens of I'istoja had a supper, and when they 
rose from table, they went singing through the streets 
of the city (cantarono per /a Urra), with lutes and other 
instruments of music, and in due course reached the of Ser Vanni dclla Nona, a notary of excellent 
reputation and of upri^rht way-S and who was himself 
present as one of the company. Here they stopped and 
gave a serenade, because the wife of Vanni della Nona 
was a lady of great worth and very beautiful withal. 
Meanwhile Vanni Fucci, every thought of whose heart 
was to do evil.witli two companions walked towards the 
Bishop's palace, which was very near the house of Ser 
Vanni. Here, it is said by some, they chanced to find 
the door of the Church and Sacristy of San Giaeomo 
standing open, perhaps by the negligence of the 
priests, who, because it was carnival time, had, accord- 
ing to their custom, gone out that night to amuse 
themselves. Others say that they opened the door 
with pick-locks and skeleton-keys {can ingegni e gri- 

296 Readings on tht luferno. Canto XXIV. 

maldegU aperuro), and then robbed the Sacristy of all 
the silvej- and gems of the altar of San Jacopo, which 
were of immense value. With this booty they re- 
joined their companions. These, although they 
severely reproved them for their crime, came notwith- 
standing to a ' the culprits, that the 
stolen goods d in the house of Scr 
Vanni; first, le nearest place, and 
secondly, bee Ed that no one would 
ever think of use of a man with so 
excellent a rq t morning the Canons 
discovered the re notice of it to the 
Podest^ He ork with the greatest 
activity, and Cxt t to the torture every 
one who was known to have a bad name. In this way 
it came about, that many who were innocent of this 
particular crime, in the agony of the torture con- 
fessed to other delinquencies of which they were 
guilty, and so were justly condemned to death. At 
last they arrested Messer Rampino, son of Messer 
Francesco Foresi a noble citizen, and, although he did 
not confess to this crime of which he really was 
innocent, yet, as he was a very bad character, the 
Podesti was so incensed against him that he had 
determined to put him to death, unless within a 
certain limit of time he disclosed where the stolen 
property was hidden. On hearing this (his father) 
Messer Francesco, in utter despair, had plotted with 
his kinsmen and friends that, on the night preceding 
the last day of grace, they should make a rush upon 
the palace of the Podcsti, set it on fire, and forcibly 
rescue his son. But Vanni Fucci, who had taken 

Canto XXIV. Ktadings on the Inftrm. 

refuge at Monte Caregli, in the territory of Florence, 
having a great affection for Rampino, advised Messer 
Francesco to get Ser Vanni (della Nona) arrested. 
This was effected one morning in Lent, when he was 
in the Cliurch of the Minor Friars h'stening to a 
sermon, and he was taken to prison to the great in- 
dignation of the people, who believed him to be a 
man of great virtue. Vanni della Nona then admitted 
that the stolen property was all in his house, and that, 
though he had often attempted to convey it out of the 
city, every time that he approached the gate, it seemed 
to him to see the officers come to search for it. For 
this he was hung, and Rampino was set at liberty." 
That is why the real robber, Vanni Fucci, tells Dante 
fahamenie gih fu apposto altrui, alluding to the un- 
fortunate Vanni della Nona. 

Now Vanni Fucci, writhing with malignant rage at 
the thouglit that Dante, who is not only a Tuscan, 
but also one of the Bianchi, the faction he detests, 
should have seen him in such degradation and 
misery, by way of vindictively embittering any 
delight Dante may feel, prophecies to him the im- 
pending discomfiture of the Whites. Blanc says 
that this prediction is by no means so intelligible as 
those of Ciacco and Farinata, which are confirmed 
by subsequent history. The present prediction is very 
ambiguous and vague, but the following seems to be 
a fair summary of the events in question as narrated 
by Dino Compagni (ch.xii); Villani (book viii); Blanc 
{Saggit?) ; Di Siena ; Poletto; Bartoli; and Scartazzini. 

In A.D. 1301 the 5/rt/(ir//i of Pistoja, with the help of 
the Bianc/ii of Florence, drovethe A'criout ofthe city. 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxiv. 

These took refuge at Florence antt, making common 
cause with the Neri there, effected a complete rever- 
sion of power. In the autumn of 1301 Charles de 
Valois entered Florence, and from that moment began 
the triumph of the Neri with merciless reprisals 
against the B he Neri of Florence 

and Lucca tc to Pistoja, the only 

great strongli the Hiauchi, but un- 

successfully, uring this campaign, 

and before the captured Pistoja in 

1306, thatthel iiich Dante describes 

as occurring in 1, The allied forces 

of Florence ai hen commanded by 

Moroello Mala Ji Giovagallo in the 

Val di Magra,* and lie laid siege lo the then impor- 
tant castle ofSerravaile, a fortress (the ruins of which 
may still be seen) which defended the narrow goi^e 
between Pistoja and Pescia, and through which the 
Pisa, Lucca, and Pistoja railway now runs. The Pis- 
tojese gathered all the strength they could muster, 
and attacked the forces under Moriicllo, but, being de- 

• Moroello Malaspina : This personage, according to Bartoti 
{Storia dtlla Lefteratura Ilaliana, vol. vi, in the Appendix, page 
280-81), was ihe grandson of Conrad I, Mnrclicse Malaspina, by 
his third son, Manfrcdi, who became independent Marchcse di 
(■iovnifnllo. This Conrad I was usually stylcil " T ii/i/i'iii." The 
Conrad, whom Uanlc mecis in ilie Happy Valley of ilicl'rinces in 
Purgatory {I'urg. viii), was Conrad II, also a grandson of Con- 
rad l,by his second son,Federigo,and therefore (irsi cousin of the 
MorSello wearenoivdiscussinu. In/'u/y.viii, 1 18-1 19, Conrad II 
thus pointedly distinguishes between hiniself and Conrad 1 : 
" Chiamalo fui Conado Malaspina : 

Non son I' aniico, ma di lui discesi." 

Canto XXIV. Readings on the Inferno, 299 

feated with great loss, the stronghold of Serravalle 
fell into the hands of the Neri. Poletto [Dizionario 
Dantesco) thinks that Campo Piceno is in the plain of 
Pescia between Serravalle and Montecatini. From 
Pescia, in Latin, the true derivation would be Campus 
Piscensis, whence Pisceno^ and by corruption Piceno, 
Bartoli (op. cit vol. vi, p. 283) writes : " Ma il Malas- 
pina, sentito T avvicinarsi dei Bianchi, corse loro 
addosso con grandissimo impeto e li sconfisse nel 
piano che h. tra Serravalle e Montecatini, che h. la 
campagna Pcsciatina, latinamente Pisciense ; o come 
altri vogHoiio, nel piano di Piteccio, che Dante 
chiama Cavipo Piceno^ 

Piteccio lies on the lower slopes of the Apennines 
on the other side of Pistoja. Scartazzini explains it : 
" La parte deir agro Pesciatino, che si estende da 
Serravalle a Montecatini." He adds that some refer 
the words of Vanni Fucci to the assault and capture 
of Serravalle in A.I). 1302 (Villani, viii, 52). In both of 
these events, however, the allied Neri forces of Lucca 
and Florence were generalled by Moroello Malaspina. 

Vanni Fucci's malevolent words now follow. 

Ma perch6 di tal vista tu non godi, 140 

Se mai sarai di fuor de' lochi bui, 
Apri gli orecchi al mio annunzio, ed odi : 
Pistoia in pria di Negri si dimagra, 
Poi Fiorenza linnuova* genti e modi.t 

* rinnnova genti : After the entrance of Charles de Valois 
into Florence in November, 1301, Corso Donati, with many of 
his followers among the Neri^ was recalled from banishment 
and entered the city. In the following April (1302) the Bianchi 
were expelled from Florence. 

t modi : Nearly all the commentators explain this, ^^ modi di 

Readings en the Iitfcrm. Canto xxiv. 

Tragge Marie vapor di val di Magra* 14s 

Ch' & di torbidi nuvoli involuto, 

E con tempes[a iiupetuosa ed agra t 
Sopra campo Ptcen lia combaituto : 

Ond' ei repente spezierit la nebbia, 

SI ch' ogni Bianco ne sark fenilo : tjo 

E detto r ho, bia." 

But that thou 

iver this sight 

(of me) if ev. 

out of these 

darksome plat 

rs 10 my an- 


ja first thins 

(('. t. depopulai 

tit then doth 

Florence rene 

her ways (of 


■okes a light- 

ning-vaponr fu 

ra (Moroello 

Malaijpina) wlii.. 

.. .^ cinciopeti 

in turbulent 

clouds (i. e. the 


soldiers of the Nert), 

and with an impetuous and cruel tempest 

there shall be fought a 

battle on 

the Pescian 

govtmare." llefore the coming of Charles de Valois the Sig- 
noria of Florence was in ihe hands of the Bianchi : but after 
his arrival it passed into those of the Ncri, See Villani, viii, 
ch. 48 ; " Cessaia la deiia ruina e inccndio messere Carlo col 
suo consiglio riformaron la signoria del phorato di popolani 
(ihe middle class) di parte Nera." 

• val di Magra : compare Purg. viii, 1 15-117, where Conrad 
Malaspina (II) says to Danie : 

" Se novella vera 
Di Valdimacra, o di parte vicina 
Sai, ditia a me, che gi& grande \k era." 

+ agra: cruel, ferocious, barbarous. Villani {viii, 83) relates 
that, while the Florentines and ihe Lucchese were besieging 
Pistoja, they prevented the inhabitants from leaving the city, 
and cut oif a foot of every male, and the nose of every female 
whom they captured. 

Canto XXIV. Readings on t/te Inferno. 


plain : whereupon it {i.e. the vapour) will sud- 
denly burst asunder the mist in such wise that 
every Bianco shall be wounded by it. And I 
have told thee this that it may distress thee." 

Vanni Fucci did not make these predictions, as 
Tommas^o and others contend, because Dante was 
a Gueiph, for Dante was not by any means a Guelph 
at that time. He had only been so in his early 
youth from family tradition, not from conviction. In 
A.D. 1300 he was a Bianco^ with a strong tendency to 
Ghibellinism. Di Siena remaks that it is certainly 
not as a Guelph that Dante, in the first canto, relates 
his terror of the she wolf, and his longing expectation 
of the VeiirOy who is to drive the she wolf from city 
to city until he finally expels her from Italy. 

End of Canto XXIV. 

302 Riodmgs am tkg Inftmo. Canto XXT. 


The Eighth Circle {foniinued). 
The Seventh Bolgia {fomtimued). 

The Thieves and Serpents {cmimuid). 


Agnello ds* Brunelleschl 

Buoso degu Abati, or de* Donatl 


Cianfa de' Donatl 


There is no break, or change of scene, between the 
conclusion of the last canto, and the opening of the 
present one, as is so frequently the case in the Inferno, 
The interview with Vanni Fucci is carried on without 

Benvenuto divides the canto into four parts. 

In Division /, from v. i to v. 33, Dante describes 
the brutish and impotent rage with which Vanni 
Fucci blasphemes God, and his deserved punishment. 

In Division II, from v. 34 to v. y^, Dante witnesses 
the torments of three nobles of Florence, who are of 
the second category of Thieves, />. confirmed and 
habitual criminals, but with some remains of com- 
punction as regards the property of their own friends. 

In Division III, from v. 79 to v. 102, Benvenuto 
thinks that Dante is speaking of a third class of 
Thieves, whose nature is so depraved that they be- 
come transformed from men into serpents. 

Canto XXV, Readings on the Inferno. 


In Division IV, from v. 103 to v. 151, two of the 
shades, one of whom has retained his human form, 
and the other has been transformed into a serpent, 
exchange shapes. 

I have followed the divisions as given by Ben- 
vcniito, but I cannot feci that they are altogether 
satisfactory in this canto. 

Division I. As soon asVanni Fucci has concluded 
his malignant prediction about the evils that will 
befall the White faction in Florence, a prediction 
uttered solely for the purpose of distressing Dante, 
he turns his bestial and impious fury into blasphemy 
against God. Both Gelli and Tommas^o state that 
in the City of Frato there existed a statute, which 
imposed a penalty of ten lire, or a public whipping, 
on whomsoever should venture to make the oppro- 
brious sign o{ le fiche, or to turn the buttocks towards 
Heaven, or towards any image either of God or of the 
Virgin Mary. Benvenuto asks why Dante should 
have drawn a picture of such incredible turpitude, 
and answers his own question by explaining that it is 
done "the better to exhibit the diabolical nature of 
the man, who, besides having been a violent robber 
and a fraudulent thief, was exceedingly arrogant, 
wrathful, and blasphemous, and farther having this 
antiquated mode in his way of sinning, that, whenever 
he got irritated at the least thing, he would imme- 
diately break out into blasphemies against God, as 
some accursed persons always do, who fear no God 

304 Readmgs mi iki Iirfgrm^. Canto XXf. 

Al fine delle soe parole il ladro 

Le mani alab con ambedue k fiche,* 

* ^]M ambedue leficke^ farekficke or At^fim b a sign of insult 
made by thrusting the thumbs through the fore and middle fiogers 
of the closed fist, with the idea of imitating what b an object of 
shame. The sign, as a mode of insuki b very common among 
all southern nations in Europe, and throughout the East Getti, 
wishing todefend Dante from those whocensure himforrecordiQg 
so d^^ding an episode, says that probably ''this manner of insult 
. . . was not in Dante's time reputed so disgusting and so plebeian 
as it is now (1560) because it took its origin not Icmg before in a 
circumstance which I will now recount* He then relates al 
length a legend, told also by others, of how, during the year 1 1639 
the Emperor Frederick Bacbarossa besieged and captured the 
city of Milan, which, during hb absence in Germany, had re- 
volted against his authority. His indignation was especially 
aroused by the gross insult that had been ofTered to one of his 
daughters. The citizens, after sacking and burning his palaces, 
placed the maiden on a she-mule with her face to the tail, which 
they constrained her to hold as a bridle, and then drove her out 
of the city. When Milan capitulated, the Emperor resolved to 
spare the people for their revolt, but to take fierce vengeance on 
those who had insulted his daughter, and accordingly he took 
a hundred of the most notable among the citizens, and con- 
demned them to be burnt alive, '* but with this proviso, that 
pardon would be granted to any of them who consented to 
remove a fig with their mouths from the secret parts of a she- 
mule publicly in the principal square of the city. Which thing 
was done (except in the case of some few who preferred to be 
burned) by all of them ; and for some time afterwards Frede- 
rick's satellites, by way of jeering at them, would thrust their 
hands into their faces with this ignoble sign, and would say, 
* Now come and pull this out ! ' meaning with their thumbs to 
indicate the fig projecting out of the she-mule . . . And because 
that sign was one of the grossest insults which in those days 
could be made or spoken to a man, and because no honourable 
person would ever have thought of doing such a thing, which 


Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

Gridando: — "Togli,*Iddio,chJatelesquadro."— 

they would feel would insult themselves more than the person 
insulted. Uante, to show the ignoble nature, the brutishness, and 
the low estimate of honour fell by Vanni Fucci, represents him 
in his desperate presumption offering ihis blasphemous insult 
lo God." Giov. Villani, book vi, ch. v, relates thai in A.D. I2i8 
(he Florentines, making war in the territory of Pistoja, captured 
the Castle of Carmignano. Upon ihe keep of this castle the 
risiojese had formerly erected a lower, 70 ells in height, on 
the top of which were Iwo huge arms, made of marble, the 
hands of which were making the sign rA" UJiche" at Florence. 
This lower had long been an object of intense irritation lo Ihe 
Florentines, and when once ihcy had got possession of il they 
raied it lo the ground. 

A curious pnnillcl to this is 10 be found at Basic, which is 
divided into Great Basle on the left bank of the Rhine, and 
Little Basle on Ihe right. In the Miinster, underneath the Con- 
ciliumsaal, is the Chapel of St. Nicholas, where is preserved the 
LiUlerkonig, a head which was brought there in 1839 from a 
window of the tower at ihe head of the bridge, and which was 
made lo put oul its tongue and roll its eyes in derision of Ihe 
inhabiianis of Klein Basel. These, in revenge, put up on their 
side a figure making an indecent gesture of contempt. 

• Togli: Nannucci {Analisi Critica da Verdi Kaliant, Fi- 
renie, 1843, page 1 ro) says that a similar expression is found in 
Buonarotti (the younger), Tancia, act J, sc i ; " Un cilladin la 
Tancia ? oIJi, toli ! " ToH is for toli (i.e., from tolire for toUre). 
Nannucci says ihat ihe exclamation toli is supposed to be 
accompanied by the insulting sign of te fiehe, the action de- 
noting what thing one is asked lo take. Pelrarck, part iv, 
sonnet xvi, attributing to the endowments of Constantine the 
irickedness of the Papal Court in his time, addresses it thus : 
" Fonlana di dolore, albergo d' ira, 

Scola d' errori, e tempio d" eresia ; 
GiJi Roma, or Babilonia falsa e ria, 
Per cui tanto si piagne e si sospira : 
fucina d' inganni, o prigion dira, 
]I. U 


Readings on the Tnfcrm. Canto XXV. 

At the end of his words ihe ihief raised {to- 
wards Heaven) both his hands with the ob- 
scene signs, yelUng : " Take that God, for at 
thee I level them."" 
Benvenuto considers that Vanni Fucci's explosion 
of rage was becai " ■ ' ■ obliged to confess 
his hitherto unrevt living Tuscan, who 

would recount the % his kinsfolk; and 

hence his shame a 

Ove •! b 
Di vivi i 

racDl 6a 

Se Cristc 
Fondata in cv ite, 

Contra, ti: corna, 

Tuna sfaLL: poslo spene ? 

Negli adulteri tuoi, netle mal nate 

Richezze tante ? or Costanlin non Corna ; 

Ma tolga il mondo tristo die '1 sosiene." 
The Poet Leopardi, commenting on the last two lines, says 
they had been the despair of all commentators until a learoed 
man of Florence gave to them an interpretation which he (Leo- 
pardi)neither dares lo accept or to reject. This scholar compared 
the passage in Petrarch to this very passage in Dante, and con- 
sidered thai the Mga in Petrarch had the same signification as 
the togU in Dante, and that the words folga il mondo, where 
loiga does not govern any expressed case, must be taken to sig- 
nify il mondo tolga leficke, i^., let the world which has to endure 
so much wickedness, receive the contumely due to it. Nannucci 
(op. c) also quotes the last line of the passage in Petrarch as an 
instance of the insult covertly conveyed in the word lalgit. The 
Proveii;aux say Teneti; the Venetians, To/iy and the Cala- 
brians, TV/ all implying the same insult 

* / level them : sguadrare is properly to adjust, to measure 
with a square, and (he word here means, " I adjust, 1 direct, I 
point them at Thee!" But, as Blagioli remarks, it is by no means 
easy to render the full force of the word as used in this passage. 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 307 

His blasphemy is scarcely uttered when swift retri- 
bution comes upon him. 

Da indi in qua mi fur le serpi amiche, 

Perch' una gli s' avvolse allora al collo, 5 

Come dicesse ; — " lo non vo'che piii diche ; " — 
Ed un' altra alle braccia, e rilegolb, 
Ribadendo * %h stessa si dinanii, 
Che non potea con esse dare un crollo. 
From that time forth were ihe serpents friends 
{i.e. endeared) to me, for one of them there 
and then coiled itself about his ( Vanni Fucci's) 
neck, as though it would say : " I will not 
have thee utter more : " and another (ser- 
pent) about his arms, and rebound him, 
clinching itself so (firmly) in front, that he 
could not (even) give a jog with them. 
Vanni Fucci had blasphemed God both by voice 
and by the action of his hands. One serpent coils 
round his throat, compressing it so tightly as to stop 
all power of utterance, and the other pinions his arms, 
thus rendering it impossible for them again to perform 
the impious gesture described above. And not only 
does the serpent pinion his arms, but it r^pinions 
them (rilegolld), for in line 94 of the last canto we 
read, that all the thieves had got their hands bound 
with serpents. We may remember that Vanni Fucci 

• Ribaiknrio : some read ribattendo, but Blanc says that there 
is no doubt of ribadauio being the more Tuscan expression of 
the two, and the variant was probably due to copyists who did 
not know the word ribadendo. Scartazzini says ribadire is pro- 
perly to clinch the point of a nail In this passage it means 
that the serpents pierced, and passed right through the loins 
with both head and tail, and then clinched themselves by coil- 
ing their heads and tails together in from. 
II. U 2 

308 Readings on the Infirm. Canto XXV. 

had been bitten by a serpent, and reduced to aalies ; 
it would seem then that, «4ien he re-ai^>eared in his 
human form, he had enjoyed a temporary .respite 
from the coils about his hands, and that, havioK at 
once abused his liberty by his impious gesture, the 
ministers of vengeance bind him in tighter bonds tiian 

Dante cannot restrain himself from declaimii^ 
against the birthplace of a being so odious. 

Ahi PistiHa,* PistoM, dti non Maiui to 

D' iaceneruti, d dM pi& Don dnri, 
P<H che in mal bs lo seniet Ino annii. 

* Aid Pistoia, Pitloia : Thia fierce ntterance against I^slma 
is not unlike (bat which Dante speaks against Pisa (Inf. xxxiii, 
79-84) for having pennitlcd the cniel death of Count Ugolino 
and bis fotnily within its walls : 

"Ahi Pisa, vittiperio delle genti 

Del bel paese U, dove il si suona ; 
Poi che i vicini a te punir son lenti, 
MovEM la Caprara e la Gorgona, 

£ feccian siepc ad Amo in sulla foce, 
SI ch' egli anneghi in te ogni persona." 
See, also, in lines 151-153 of the same canto, Dante's denun- 
ciation of the GeniKse : 

" Ahi Genovesi, uomini divctsi 

D' ogni costume, e pien d' ogni magagna, 
Perdii non siete voi del mondo spersi ?" 
In Purg. xiv, 39-57, Dante severely censures the inhabitants 
(A the Valley of the Arno. 

f lo semt tuo : According to old tradition, Pistoia was founded 
by the escaped remnant of Catiline's defeated soldiers, but Ben- 
venuto says that is probably false, for not only did the city 
exist long before the time of Catiline, but that if Sallust, an 
illustrious and truthfiil historian, is to be believed, there was no 
remnant of the rebellioiu forces (tf Catiline left, but they were 



Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 309 

Per tulli i cerchi deli' inferno oscuri 

Non V!(ti spirto in Dio lanlo superbo, 
Non quel die cadde a Tebe* giii da' muri. 15 

destroyed nenrly 10 a mnn. Gelli confirms this, saying ihat 
Pistoia was built so long before the time of Catiline, Ihat no 
record exists of its foundation, but it is thought to have been 
gradually colonized on account of its convenient position at the 
foot of the Apennines, and from its being much frequented by 
travellers passing backwards and forwards between Tuscany 
and Loinbardy ; since the valley of the River Reno, which flows 
down from the watershed of the Apennines to Bologna, is the 
most convenient highway in the whole chain of those moun- 
tains. Gelli adds, that Annius of Viterbo, in his book of An- 
tiquities {1498) derives the word Pislei'a from Ptsiorium, which 
he derives again from an Etruscan word, which ?ie says means 
a pass through mountains. Gelli observes that two or three 
hundred years before his own time the road over the Apennines 
was so much frequented, that many hospitals or refuges were 
built all along it for travellers going to Rome for the Jubilee, by 
the Countess Matelda. But as Florence increased in import- 
ance, travellers to Rome preferred passing that way, and so the 
road through the Valley of ihe Reno fell into disuse, and was 
gradually broken down by the annual floods of the river. Gelli 
concludes : " I have wished to give you this information about 
Pistoia that you may see that if 1 have not, like many exposi- 
tors, understood h luo seme to mean the soldiers of Catiline, 1 
have not rejected that view without cause and without considera- 
tion." The author of the Chiose Anonime (Selmi) thinks that 
the Romans defeated Catiline on the ground where Pistoia now 
stands, and that it was built by those who remained wounded 
and mutilated on the field of battle, and they called it Pisioia, 
which is a word iai pistolenxia, pestilence. 

* quel che cadde a Tebt : Capaneus 
especially 63-66 : 

ci6 che non 

, fuor che la lua rabbia, 
furor dolor compito.'" 

See Inf. > 

, 46-72, 

La tua superbi 
Sarebbe al 

3IO Readings on Iht hiferno. Canfo XXV. 

Ah Kstt^a, PistoJB, iriif doM dtoa not de- 
cree-by-statute to rednoe tfayidf to aAe^ k> 
that thou exist no loi^ier, iince in deeds of . 
evil thou outdoot tlune own MCd (ul id- 
cestora), Thnmgh all the duk ctrda of 
Hell saw I ao spiiit m aitogant agafaut God, 
not even that cuie (Capaneni) who of okt lell 
down from the walls of Thebei. 
Benvenuto argues that, if the arrogance of Capa- 
neus was such that he was struck down by a thunder^ 
bolt from heaven, and If. as we are now told, Vaoni 
Fucd was even more arrogant than Capaneu^ it 
follows that Vanni Fucd must have been the most 
arn^ant spirit in all HelL 

His pride is humbled, for we are told that he now 
makes a hasty retreat, and we see no more of him. A 
new form takes his place in the shape of Cacus, 
called by Dante a Centaur, probaby because Dante 
speaks of him as half a man. His vocation in Hell 
seems to be partly that of a punished sinner, and 
partly that of a minister of punishment, for he comes 
in hot pursuit of the fugitive Vanni Fucci, who had 
very likely fled on seeing him approach, and yet, at 
the same time, Cacus is so overloaded with serpents 
as to form a conspicuous object even in that serpent- 
thronged pit 

Ei si fiigg), cbe non parlb piik verbo : 

Ed io vidi un Centauro* pien di rabbia 

* CetUauro: Dante is not quite correct, according to mytho- 
logical tradition, in speaking of Cacus as a Centaur. He was a 
seroi-hunian and semi-brutish savage, who dwelt in a cave under 
Mount Aventine. Hercules, having brought the herds of Gcryon 
from Spain, was being entertained by Evander, who had built a 


Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

Venir chiainando :— 

Maremma t non cred' io 

Quaiite bisce egli av( 

' Ov' h, ov" h V acerbo ? 
;he tante n' abbia, 
I au per la groppa. 

new town on the Palaline. Cacus stole some of the 
dragged them backwards by their tails into his cave ; so thai 
Iheir footmarks pointed the opposite way, and Hercules could 
not at first discover them ; but when their lowing had revealed 
their position, he took prompt vengeance upon the thief. It is 
probably in consequence of Virgil {i£n. viii, 194) speaking of 

"Semihominis Caci facics," 
that Dante calls him a Centaur. The quotation will be found in 
the note on tine JJ. 

• /■ acerbo; Scarlaiiini remarks that Fucci is styled acerbo in 
this passage metaphorically for indomnbiU and superbo. Qaia- 
pare^n.v, 461-46] : 

" Turn paler i€)neas procedere longius iras, 
Et sasvire animis Entellum haod passus acerbis." 
In the Penitential Psalms attributed to Dante, in Psalm vii, 
the following occurs : 

" Vcdi, Che I' alma mia in fuga fe mossa 
Per li nemici iniei acerbi e duri, 
SI cli' io ho perse con la cnrne 1' ossa" 
In Par. xix, 46-48, Uante speaks of Lucifer falling nctrbo for 
iieerbattunU, i.e., before his time, prematurely. 
" E ci6 fa cerio che il primo superbo, 

Che fu la somma d' ogni creatura, 
Per non aspettar lume, cadde acerbo." 
t Maremma: Di Siena says that, generally speaking, this 
would mean a region near the sea, the word being a corruption 
of marilima, whence maritma, mare/ma, and, finally, maremma. 
In this passage allusion is of course made to the low-lying lands 
of Tuscany, which are best known as the Maremma, that fatal 
region extending (see Inf. xiii, 9) between the River Cecina, near 
Leghorn, and Corneto, a village in the former Papal States. 
Partly from the heat, partly from the wild and deserted state of 
the country, partly from the pestilential climate, large quantities 

Readings m Ike Inftme. Canto xxv. 

Iniin dove comincia nostra labbja.* 
Sopra le spalle, dietro dalla coppa, 

Con r ale aperte gli giacea ud draco, 

E quetio afToca qualunque s' ioloppa. 

He (Vanni Fucci) fled, so that he did not 

otter another v ~ r a Centaur 

ofMrpenttBre to be found ays tliat the Maremnia 

is adisttict in the Pisan le... le sea, and inrested by 

such an abundance of serpents, lu. v'ada there is an exceed- 

ingly beautiful monastery, which is said to have become unin- 
hatHled from the vast number of serpents that made human life 
in it impossible. See Forsyth's IMy, vol. i. p. 137, 

* mestra iitbbia ; Litiiia is generally used to signify the face, 
expres»on,as in the Lnlin Ot was used for vuliut, the {uict 
bdng taken by the liijuic S^maiotke to cxpic«* (he whole, as in 
Inf. vii, 7 : 

** Poi si rivolse a quell' enfiata labbia." 
( TiuU bloated counUnantt.} 
Bat Gelli, Di Siena, and Scaitanini feel convinced that in this 
passage ItMia must be taken to mean the human part of Cactis's 
tiro-fold fonnalion. Gelli says : " Questa voce laih'a, se bene 
ella signihca nel numero del piii e nel genere femminino le 
labbra, significa ntl numero tiiigoltire o del tiieno, pur iueiLiiuui- 
tnente nel genert feinminino, la sembiania e la effigie uiiutna; 
non perch' ella derivi dalle labbia umane per quella specie della 
sinnedocbe che pone la parte pel tutto, come dicono alcimi es- 
poaitori ; ma per avere delibemto e confennato cosi 1' uso. E 
in questo significato I' usa qui il Poeta, dicendo ch' egli aveva 
pieoa di serpi la groppa insino a dtn^ ti etmuneiava avere sem- 
UoMMa ed effigie utHoito, perchi non si pu6 inlendere iiuino alle 
labbra. E cosl si ha da intcndere quel luogo del Petrarca 
( TrioHfo tP Amore, iv, 1 57- 1 59) : 

' In cosl tenebrosa e stretta gabbia 

Rinchiusi fummo \ ove le penne usaie 
Mutai per tempo e la mia prima labbia.' 
cioi tffige tjigura, etc" 

I thi 


Canto XXV. Readings on tlte Inferno. 

full of rage come shouting : " Where, where, 
is the hardened one?" I do not believe 
that the Maremma contains as many snakes 
as he had upon his croup {i.e. on his equine 
back), to where our (human) figure begins. 
Upon his shoulders, close behind the nape of 
the neck, there lay a dragon with open wings, 
and that (species) sets on fire whomsoever it 

" Now here note," says Benvenuto. " that, according 
to some writers, there are certain species of dragons 
that fly tlirough the air breathing flames out of their 
mouths, but Albertus Magnus does not think this can 
be true; but rather there are certain ignited vapours 
that really do seem to fly, now ascending, now de- 
scending, so that inexperienced persons may have 
imagined that they were flying dragons. But, how- 
ever that maybe, Dante has pictured his dragon here 
as something emitting flame, because this same Cacus 
was an open incendiary, who set fire to houses, and 
slew everybody he came across. Wei!, therefore, has 
Virgil represented Cacus as the son of Vulcan, the 
god of fire, vomiting fire and smoke from his mouth. 
And therefore in this passage you must please under- 
stand the dragon to signify the venomous rage which 
Cacus poured forth upon all men, and from the heat 
of his wrath lie almost seemed to dart forth light- 

Virgil now tells the story of Cacus, and Benvenuto 
says that he does so from the threefold point of view, 
first, of his violence ; secondly, of his deceit ; and 
thirdly, of his ignominious death. 

314 AamUv* «" *** /V%nw CmaVa Jucv. 

LomioMaemodisM:— "Qoei^tCiook >S 

Che lona il nsw di nwnte Aventiao * 
Di sanguc fec« I pww TOtte Imo> 

Nod vft CO* looi ftaid per m nuniniiMit 
Per lo fiirar frodoieniet dts fera 

* arfte i/jawtf dUronttAvtmHmt, ate.; TheqiiMdeofCaan 
and Hercules it roost gi^faiadlr r^tfed both bf Viitil and 
Ovid. Id jEm, viii, 190-197, Vi^ describes the cavern of 

** Jam primum swda snspentam banc adqpics n^em ; 
Disjecue procnl nt Inola^ desvtaqua montxi 
Stat domus, et scopuli ingeatcm Inutera raiaaiiL 
Hie spelunca iiiit, vasto ndMDOirreeessa ; 
Setnibomini) Cad fiuies qnan din tcaebat, 
Solis inaccessam radiii ; semperqiie recenti 
Ocde lepebat humiu; (bribuK|ue adiixa superbit 
Ora virOm iristi pCDdebaDl pallida tabo." 

♦ Per lo /war frodoltnit . . . delgrandt armtntQ : Stt jEh. 
viii, 307-aii, where the theft is described : 

" Quatuor a stabulis prxstanti corpore tauros 
Avertit, totidem foirna supeiante juvencas. 
Atque hos, ue qua foreDi pedibus vestigia rectis, 
Cauda in ipcluDcam tractos, versisque vtaram 
Indiciis laptoi, saxo occultabat opaco." 
Ovid (Fatti i, 547-S58) gives the fbllowing accouat : 
" Mane erat : eicussus somna Tirynthiua hospes 

De Dumero tauros sentit abessc duos. 
Nulla videt taciti quaerens vestigia fuiti : 

Traxeiai aversos Cacus in antra feros ; 
Cacus, Aventinx (imor atque infamia silvse, 

Nan leve Snitimis hospitibusque malum. 
Dira viro fiicies ; vires pro corpore; corpus 

Grande : paler monstri Mulciber bujus erat. 
Proque domo longis spelunca recessibus ingeos, 

Abdita, vix ipsis invenienda feris. 
Ora super posies affixaque biacbia pcDdeat, 

Squalidaque humanis ossibus albet humus." 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

Del granrle nrmento, ch' egli ebbe a vicino : 30 
Onde cessar le sue opere biece 

Solto la maiia * d' Ercole, che forse 
Gliene diJ cenlo.t e non sentl le diece."— 
My Master said: "Tliat is Cacus, who be- 
neath the rock of Mount Aventine many a 
lime made a lake of blood. He goes not on 
the same road with his brethren (i.t. with the 
other Centaurs guarding the tyrants in the 
boiling blood), by reason of the fraudulent 
theft he made of the great herd, that he had 
in his neighbourhood: for which his felon 
deeds came to an end under (the blows of) 
the dub of Hercules, who perchance gave 
him a hundred of them, and he (Cacus) felt 
not ten {j.e. because he died before the tenth 
GclH says that his name was Coccus, but that Dante 
styles him Cacus because it fits better into his rhyme ! 
He adds that, according to Solinus and Annius of 

* Sotto la maxm (P Ercole; In lines 575-578 Ovid relates the 
death of Cacus : 

" Occupai Alcides, adductaque clava trinodis 
Tcr quater adversi sedit in ore viri. 
lUe cadit, mixlosque vomit cum sanguine fumos, 
Et lalo moriens peclore plangic humum." 
t ClUnt dii cento; understand maszate, "blows." Both Ben- 
venuto, the Anonime Fiorentina, Gelli, Scartatzini, Camerini, 
and Lubin agree thai this means that Cacus died about the 
ninth blow, or before the tenth, and that Hercules went on 
striking him after he "as dead {Tatite gliene diede, fireso coni 
era cC ira). Ui Siena says: " Per manco di dieci manateCaco 
era gill finito : Ercole nondimeno nella grande ira seguila a dar- 
gliene molte altre." 

3l6 SMJii^ v» iim Itf/trm». Canto XXV. 

Vtterbo, Cacus was Dub of Campania and tJie Tcna 
di Lavoro, and was sent t^ Tarchon. King of the 
Aigives, to guard Mount Aventine and Haunt 
Palatine I 

Beavenuto remarks that ^Higil, In the above lines 
of the text, had answeted this tadt question tliat 
Dante was about to put to him : " If Cacus often 
shed floods of gor^ irtiy is he not punislted with 
the other violent in the first Round of the SevenUt 
Circle?" and Vii^^l's r^y is : " No^ he does not go 
with the other Centaurs there, because he has been 
guilty of the additional crime of fraudulent theft, 
contriving it so that the stolen cattle left deceptive 
footprints to make his pursuers think they had gone 
the other way." Benvenuto says that Catiline was 
also violent and fraudulent in a similar way, for when 
he retreated from the Hill of Fiesole, he had his 
horses shod with their shoes turned the reverse way. 
Benvenuto concludes this division with these words : 
" And lastly note this, that if Roderick, Archbishop 
of Toledo, has written the truth in his Chronicle, De 
gKitis Hispanut, this Cacus was a Spaniard, whom 
Hercules drove from a high mountain in Spain, but 
in bis flight his destiny led him into Italy, so that he 
could not after all evade the club of Hercules." 

Division II. Although it has taken some time to 
describe the arrival and the appearance of Cacus, yet 
the Poet's vision of him was but momentary, for with 
his human nature incensed against Vanni Fucci, and 
his equine nature tormented by the serpents, he would 
seem to have galloped up at great speed, and to have 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 317 

passed by like the flash of a meteor, in pursuit of 
Fucci, the sacrilegious thief, and the presumptuous 
blasphemer. He is gone before the indignant words 
are well out of his mouth. Virgil is recounting to 
Dante the legends respecting him, when a new group 
appears ujwn the scene. These are three sliadcs of 
the Second Class of Thieves, namely, those who are 
addicted to habitual theft, and yet are restrained by a 
certain vestige of human sympathy which they still 

In the confused scenes which now follow, it is difli- 
cult always to distinguish the identity of the principal 
actors, and Mr, liutler brings the drama very clearly 
before us. " It will be observed that there are three 
distinct forms of punishment by means of tlie serpents. 
Vanni Fucci is burnt up by the bite of a serpent, and 
comes to his own shape again ; Agnello blends with 
a serpent ; and in line "jo, et seq., we shall find man 
and serpent exchanging shapes." {Hell, page 301, 

M«ntre che si parlava, ed ei IrascorEe,* 

E tre spirit! venner sotto noi, 35 

* ed ci Iniscone : e, or erf, here has ihe sense of eceo, lol 
behold I Blanc {Vocnb. Danl. s. v. "e") has the following: 
"Sometimes, and especially when united to ecco, it (e) an- 
nounces an unforeseen circumstance at the instant of its occur- 
rence . . . and even without ecco, as in Inf. xxv, 35 and 50 (the 
last of these being) : 

" Ed un serpente con sei pit si lancia, etc." 
and Purg. viii, 94-95 : 

" Com' io parlava, e Sordello a s£ il irasse 
Dicendo : ' Vedi III il no 
There the meaning is, " behold 1 Sordello dre 



3l8 ^■*M^fv aw Afe Inftrmt. Cmaba JU£V. 

De'qnu nfcioBkU Ducainto^aiCOocM^* 
Se non qnuido gridar : — " Chi rioto vol ? "— 

Per che Dostia DovdU n riateue, 

Ed intendemiao pnre ad ene pol 
lo non gli conoKcn : ma d ■^nettet, 40 

Come snol »egmlir per aknn caao^ 

Che P on noann on akio oonTcneKe^ 
Dicendo : — ** Cnnfit dovs finj limuo?" — 

Perch* io^ acdocdti il Ducn •leue nuentot 

Mi posi il dilo ra dal nento al naiOb 45 

'j* auoru : Dante and Vhpl bad their attention so Tiveted 
opm Cacus that they had not perceived the three ihadca cre^ 
ing through the gtoom (dia Anemimo Fiarimtuia says lika 
thieves in the night), and coming da«e nndenieatb the qiot 
on which the Poets were atanding. 

\H stgutttt: Nanoucci {Amalisi Critiea dti VtrH Ilaiiam, 
p. 173, ix) says : " From the Latin timuit we have seen ■ . . 
that by leaving oot the m and changing 1 into t, we obtained 
the third penon singular tetni. But the old Italians preserved 
the final /, and the word became temel, and then by protraction 
of pronunciation Utnelle. So we get fuggttte for fugi ; useetlt 
for MiA; finetU for fotl ; odetU for udi; and uguetU for ugiii.'' 
Compare Pttrg. udi, 82-84 '• 

"Vennenni poi parendo tanti santi, 

Che, quando Domiiian li perseguede, 
Sena mio lagrimar nan fiir lor pianli." 
The same remarks may be made about rUtttte in line 38, and 
eomvtnetU in line 43. 

Xfi^: Nannucd (op. c. page 464, xiv) has the following : 
" Fia, fie, fitmo, fitno, for iM'iyiorA, sanmo, taranw. The 
reason why the above words were ascribed to the verb etsere is 
dear. Among the Latins fio (from the Greek fim) was a verb 
substantive like sum. And therefore we Italians, {mmJlam,jStt, 
JUmtu, fieni, have taken fia, fie, fietito, fietio ... I answer the 
abjections of Masttofini by declaring that^ and fiatto (substi- 
tuted for fit and fieit^ are not derived from the conjunctive 

Canto XXV, Readings on the Inferno. 319 

While he (Virgil) was thus speaking, lo ! he 
(the Centaur) sped away, and below us there 
came three spirits, of whom neither I nor my 
Leader was aware until they shouied : " Who 
are ye?" Whereupon our story broke off, 
and we turned our attention to them alone. 
I did not know them; but it happened, as 
will oftentimes happen by some chance, that 
one had occasion to name another, saying ; 
" Where can Cianfa have stopped i*" Where- 
fore I, in order that my Leader might listen 
attentively, laid my forefinger upwards from 
the chin to the nose. 
Dante gave the common Italian sign for silence. 
Di Siena remarks that there now opens before us a 
scene of marvellous transformations, in which Dante, 
for novelty of invention, appropriateness and perspi- 
cuity of diction, natural vividness of imagination, and 
for the utility of the moral effect, has no reason to 
envy either Lucan or Ovid in the endless metamor- 
phoses that flow from his lich and inexhaustible vein. 
For the better intelligence of the text, let the reader 
distinguish tlie five Florentines. 

forms fiat snA/iattt, but from the future Jiet and fient, and the 
only reason why people did not say ft and fieno was because 
Jia and fiano were more in unison with the generally adopted 
IS of the future, amerd, amerano; temtrii, lemerano; 


utiird, udirane." Compare Par. xvii, 68-69 : 
" S\ che a te fia bello 
L' avert! falta parte per te stesso." 
Here Jia bello is : " it will be good for thee, etc." The Chio: 
Anonitne (Selmi) says : " Cianfa fu cavaliere de' Donati, e 1 
gran ladro di bestiame, e rompia botlcRhe e vi 


320 Readimgi im tlu I^$m0. Canto XXV. 

Three of them appear in human form, and die otiier 

two as serpents. 

(i) Agnolo de* Bnmdlesdii is attacked by a six* 
footed serpent or dragon, which is in reality tfie shade 
of Cianfa, and the two get blended together, and move 
away as one form (lines 49-78). 

(2) Buoso degli Abati is Mtten in the navel by a 
small fiery serpent, ^irfiich is Guerdo de' CavalcantL 
The two transform their natures at once. Buoso 
changes into a serpent, and glides hissing away ; while 
the little serpent gradually changes into Guercio de' 
Cavalcanti, who exults that Buoso should have taken 
his place, and have to glide along on his belly in the 
dust (lines 79-141). 

(3) Puccio Sciancato de' Galigai is the only one of 
the five who undergoes no change (lines 145-151). 

(4) Cianfa de' Donati appears in the form of the six- 
footed serpent or dragon mentioned in (1), of whom 
Benvenuto says, statim videbis quod ipse faciei aliuni 

(5) Guercio de' Cavalcanti appears in the form of 
the little serpent mentioned in (2). See line 1 5 1, where 
his identity is established. 

Dante is now about to relate the extraordinary 
phenomenon of the blending into one hybrid form of 
the two bodies of a man and a serpent, but, before 
doing so, he prefaces his remarks with a rhetorical 
artifice which calls forth the admiration both of Gelli 
and Di Siena. Dante tells his readers that he can 
hardly expect them to believe what he is about to 
tell them, for, although he witnessed the occurrence, 
he can hardly believe it himself 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Ittfemo. 

Se tu sei or, Lellore, a creder lento 

Cid ch' io dir&, non sark maravigiia. 
Ch^ io, the il vidi, appena ii n 
If now, Reader, thou art slow to credit what 
I tell thee, it will not be a. marvel, for I rny- 
self, who saw it, hardly allow it to myself. 
The three shades have no sooner arrived below 
where the Poets are standing, than a dragon rushes 
upon one of them. In the Album of Botticelli's 
Illustrations {Zeichnungen von Botticelli zit Dantis 
Komoedie, Berlin, 1887), the serpente con set piedi, 
in line 50, is represented to all intents and pur- 
poses in the form of a dragon. These are pro- 
bably the oldest illustrations of the Commcdia existing, 
and the faithfulness with which Botticelli has fol- 
lowed the text compares favourably with all modern 

Com' io tenea levate in lor le ciglia, 

Ed un serpente con sei pii si lancia 50 

Dinanzi all' uno, e tutto a lui s' appiglia. 
Coi pi& di mezzo gli avvlnse la pancia, 
E can gli anterior le braccia prese ; 
Poi gli addenlb t e 1' una e 1' altni guancia. 
Gli diretani alle cosce dislese, S5 

• appena il mi consento : Compare Convilo, Tr. iii, in the 
Cijitscne Amor eke nella menle mi ragiona, lines 51-53 ; 
" E puossi dir che il suo aspetto giova 
A consentir ci6 che par maravigiia : 
Onde la fede nostra h aiuiata." 
+ gli addentb e P una e T allragumuia : Tommasfeo says that 
the mouth of the dragon was so targe that it was able lo take in 
both of Agnolo's cheeks at one bile. Bollicelli depicts this 
action of the dragon exactly. 

323 Readings oh /Ae Inftrtw, Canto XXT. 

E tniseii la coda tr'ambe e due, 

E dietro per le ren su la rilese. 
WhQe I was keeping my eye-brows raised 
towatds tfaem, behold ■ iGipcnt with hx feet 
duts upon the breast (lit, is frotrt) of one of 
then, and fastens on him all over. Wtb ita 
mid-fiMt it clasped his bellj, and with its fcce- 
feet it gripped hu arms ; and dicn it bit him 
on both cheeks (at once). The binder (feet) 
it stretched over his thigh^ and inwrted its 
tail between the two (thig^X ■""l eiteitded 
it upwards over the loins bdund. 

Dante, in three successive nmiles, first compares 
the tenacity of the dragon to that of Ivy clinging to* 
tree ; but Benvenuto points out, that whereas the ivy 
or the vine can be torn from the tree piecemeal, there 
is no such possibility of getting rid of the dragon's 
hold. Dante next goes on to describe the way 
the dragon and the man became incorporated 
tc^ether, by comparing them to two pieces of soft 
wax that can easily be moulded into one shape. 
Lastly the change of form is compared with the 
gradual alteration in the colour of a piece of burn- 
ing paper, which from white turns first broivn and 
then black. 

Elkra * abbarbicata mai non fue 

Ad arbor s), come I' orribil (iera 

Per I' almii membra awiticchib Ic sue : 60 

* ElUra : Compare Horace, Efiod. xv, 5- 10 : 

" Arctius alque hedera procera astringitur ilex, 
Lentis adhaerens biachiis ; 
Dum pecori lupus et nautis iofestus Orion 
Turbaret bybemum maiie, 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

Poi s' appiccar, come di calda cera 

Fossero stall, e mischiar lor colore ; 

Ni r un nh V allro gik parea quel ch' era : 

Come procede innanii dall' ardore 

Per lo papiro* suso un color bruno, 
Che nan ^ nero ancora, e il bianco more. 
Neyer did ivy get so tight-clasped to tree, as 

Intonsosque agitaret ApoUin 

a capillos. 
Fore liunc amorem mutuum." 
and Ariosto, Orl. Fur. vii, si. 29 ; 

" Non cosl strellamente edera'preme 

Pi ant a ove intorno abbarbicata s' abbia, 
Come si stringon li du' amanti inseme." 
and Euripides, Hecuba, 398 : 

" h-sTo KHia\it Spubt, ftiTHi -niaV Ifyim" 

* papiro: There bas been great difference of opinion among 
the commentators as to whether hy papira one is lo understand 
paper made from papyrus {charta bombycina), or the pith of the 
papyriTS as used in lamps in tlie lime of Dante, and in the com- 
position of which into wicks there were very stringent regulations 
laid down in the Florentine statutes, Buti, the Otlimo, Landtno, 
Lombard!, Tommasio, and Scarlaizini hold the latterview. But 
Blanc paints out that Dante particularly says the consuming of 
the paper xtms upvrardi, whereas in a lamp it would burn down- 
wards, Di Siena, Btagioli, Ceaari, Bianchi, and the Vocabelario 
della Crutea, take p*ipiro to mean paper ; and 1 follow them. 
Gelli, loo, has no hesitation in adopting the same interpretation : 
" E per mostrarci come si facessi questo mescolamenio de' loro 
colori, dice ch' egli avvenne propiamente, come quando ei si 
arde il/rt^<>o, ciofe la carta e i! foglio, chiamatogiJi anticamente 
papifv, perchfe si faceva del midollo di una specie di giunchi che 
si chiamano pafiiri, ma oggi carta o foglio, percht non si fanno 
pill di detiL giunchi, ma si fanno di pezzi di panno lino vecchio. 
Quando si abbrucia adunque un pezzo di delta carta, va sempre 
cosl un pochetto inanzi a) fuoco e a la fiamma che la arde, 
un cerlo color bruno, che non h ancor nero, e nienledimanco la 


X 3 

324 Readingt m tkt Infirm. Caato XXV. 

Ihit hoirible reptile attwlned to m em ba ti 

round those of the odwr^AgDolo): Thentii^ 

clove together, ai dioii^ di^ had been of 

hcMed wu, and mli^^ dieir haa : nor did 

the one ot the odwr now appeu to be irttat 

it had been : )aat u dten nma op o?er Ae 

paper before the flame a famwB coloiir, whkfa 

is not jret blad^ and (yet) Uie wbke (ooloar) 


The other two shades have been sDent spectators of 

the attack upon thdr tXHonule, but, on perceivii^ die 

change coining over him, both break out into an 

exclamation of pity. Two things in their demeanour 

I confess I do not quite understand. It is not usual 

in Dante's Hell for the Souls of the damned to have 

any humane feelings ; and, in the next place, would 

they now be witnessing such a scene for the first 

time 7 If not, whence their astonishment ? It may 

be that, according to the routine of the Bdgia, they 

would know that their turn would very soon follow, 

and in that case their emotion would be one of horror 

and fear. 

Gli altri due riguardavano, e ciascuno / 

•4-. Gridava: — " O me, Agntl,* come ti muti t " 

iMancheiza naiiuale del fogUo aiuorv e manca ; nella qual 
maoiera ei dice che andb matandosi >1 colore'di questo serpente 
ia quel dello spirito." 

*Agnil: The author of the Ckiost Arumimt, ed. by Selml, 
says of him: "This Agnello was one of the Brunelleschi 
family of Florence ; and from bis earliest childhood he would 
empty his father's or his mother's purse, then the drawers in 
the shops, and was given to thieving. Later on when he grew 
up he would get into other people's houses, and he .would dis- 

Canto XXV. Readings on ike Inferno. 

ti6 uno."- 

Vedi chegiinon sei nSduc' 
Gih eran li due cnpi un divenuii, . 70 

Quando n' npparver due figure misle ' 
In una faccia, ov' eran due perduti. j 
Fersi le braccia due di quattro lisle ; 

Le cosce con le gambe, il ventre e il casso 
Divenner membra che non fur mai viste. 75 

Ogni primaio aspello ivi era casso ; 
Due e nessun t 1' imagine perversa 
Parea, e tal sen gCa con lenio passo. 
The other two were looking on, and each 
cried ; " Alas \ Agnolo, how thou art chang- 
ing 1 Behold I thou art aheacly neither iwo 
nor one." By this time the two heads had 
become one, when there appeared to us two 
countenances mixed up in one face, wherein 
the two (individualities) were lost. Two arms 
formed themselves out of four streaks (i.e. out 
of the two arms of Agnolo and the two fore- 
legs of the dragon) ; the thighs with the legs, 
the belly and the chest turned into such 
members as never eye saw. Each original 

guise himself as a poor man, and would fashion himself an old 
man's beard, and that is why Danle represents him transformed 
by the bite of that serpent, because he used thus to transform 
himself for the purpose of thieving." He is also called Agno- 
lello, but more often Agnolo. Scartaizini says he cannot think 
that these details are merely the invention of the commen- 

* ne due ni una : Di Siena explains this : " Not two, because 
it was one single body ; nor one, because it no longer had the 
form or the individuality o( a serpent alone, or a man alone." 

f Du€ e nessun ; Di Siena explains : " the image seemed man 
and serpent logethei ; and yet it did not seem either the one 
or the other. 


326 RuuUHgs tM ste If^tem*. Qwm uv. 

aspect wu erased: Ac dtttorted nwige Memed 
two and (yet) none, and io tfaii (tmHfonned) 
cooditioD it went off with dow it^ 
Scartaxzini disagreea with the chaaificatioo of the 
thieves given above^ and adopted by aeveral (^ the cM 
commentators, and saya: "Roman Jurispnidence dis- 
tinguishes Theft into three qiecka: it frimarify es- 
tablishes the diRcrowe between thii^ human and 
divine, and it next snbdindes thii^ human into 
things public and things private: Swmma rmrum 
divisio in duos artieuht i td m eilu r: nam aim ami 
divini juris, aHmhtmani , . . Quadam naturalijun 
communia sunt ommimm, qiurdam mnivirsitatis, qua^tm 
mullius pUraque singuhrum. Dante seems to have 
had in his mind this triple partition. Vanni Fucci 
was the Thief who robbed holy things from the 
Sacristry. Cianfa and Agnolo probably filled public 
offices at Florence, and in these may have committed 
defalcations, that is, were thieves of public property. 
The other Florentines mentioned in this canto seem 
to have been thieves of private property. Hence the 
diversity in their punishment. Vanni Fucci at the 
bite of the serpent takes fire, is reduced to ashes, and 
then gets his human form back again only for the 
purpose of being once more reduced to ashes. His 
penalty is a sort of eternal holocaust, but a holocaust 
without expiation. Cianfa and Agnolo embrace one 
another, unite, and become as it were one person. 
These would be the public functionaries who combine 
tc^ether to embezzle public property. But their very 
union is just their torment, their hell. The others rob 
each other of all that remains to them, namely, their 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 327 

shape. These would be the robbers of private 
property who steal where, when, and whatever they 
can lay their hands upon." 

Division III. The second of the three shades is 
next to suffer. This is Buoso, according to some, 
(legli Abati, according to others, de' Donati. Little 
seems to be known about him. He is attacked by a 
small serpent, which is aftenvards found to be Guer- 
cio de' Cavalcanti. We read, however, in Gelli, the 
following comment at the end of the transformation de- 
scribed in lines 79-141 : " On this passage GiambuUari, 
drawing his deductions both from these words, as well 
as from other indications which he takes from that 
commentator who was a contemporary of the Poet 
[the Ottimof\ says that this transformation has not 
been pictured by Dante from mere chance, but that 
it is a true story, poetically coloured by him ; because 
it is a fact that the persuasions and the examples of 
Mcsscr Francesco Guercio de' Cavalcanti were the 
cause that induced Messer Buoso to become a thief." 

The serpent that darts upon Buoso is compared, 
in the lightning rapidity of its movements, with the 
large-sized lizards, flitting about from hedge to hedge 
during the mid-day heats of the hottest period of the 
Italian summer. 

Come il ramatro,* sotto la gran fersa 

' There can be no doubt ihnt ihe animal here 
referred to is not the ordinary IilUe lizard (lucertola) wilh which 
one is so familiar in the south of Europe, but a much larger and 
rarer species, one or two of which I have met wilh at Cannes 
Bnd Menione. Lubin says: "It is exactly like the lizard in 

328 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXV. 

Folgorc par, m b vift attnvm& : 

■h^pe and colour, bni three or four times m large at the burgeet 
uied liiards." Gelli nys : "It [the aerpent] was cooiiiig whh 
such velocity, that Daata Ukaas it to a rmm mrrOf a Teqr well 
known animal, like the litaid, btt mudi laiger, and modi 
greener in colour, and fiv ntora beaatiful, and with its dan 
dotted over with certain spots that shine so that they seen like 
little stars {iteHoliiie) ; for irttich reasta the Latins call it ttti- 
Uoi and it is exceeding swift in its ntovenoetits, and more 
espedally so in seasons f>f hea^ so that Ae hotter b die season, 
the stronger it [the animal] get% and die mora swifilr it moa." . 
Compare Viig. Gwrg. iv, a4a, 143 : 

" Nam ssepe favot igaotos adedit Stellio." 
Fanfiuii {Voa^tari^ saya: "mMom i mm liienMoni' i.e. 
a large-tiied tUard. Jacopo della Lana says : " Ramarro i 
una spezie dj ferucole velenose (e sono appellate magnuti 
owerro ligiiri [nel dialetto Lombardo]) U quali al tempo del 
gran caldo appariscono nelle sttade, e sono molto paurosi ani- 
mali, che come vegiono I' uomo, e gettaoseli addosso, e quello 
che in bocca i mai non lassano, o elli fuggano come folgore, 
cioi velocissimamente.' Benvenuto says: "ramarrut is a 
common reptile in Italy, in some parts called marro, in others 
mgoHO, but at Bologna Ibey call it liguoro or ligHro, while 
some have called it titlUo, from which, in jorisprudence, we get 
the expression crimen 'tUUitmatui, i. e. an extraordinary crime; 
wherefore it is a fitting name for a thief. Now I would have 
you know that the sUllion and the lizard are similar quadrupeds, 
except that the siellion is laty \iic\ and much broader in the 
back and the tail than the lizard, and is speckled, for it has its 
back painted all over with shining eyes after the foshion of 
stars; while the lizard is all of one colour." In the Chiose 
Simhront in the Codict Cassinese I find the followii^; : " Similis 
lacertae salvequod est viridissimus. Et diciiur rainarrus a ramo 
sepium, quia ascendit de uno ramo in alio." I have seen in the 
reptile house at the Zoological Gardens certain lizards, four or 
five times the liie of the ordinary kind, with their backs covered 


Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

Cos) parea venendo verso i' epe • 

Degli altri due, un serpentello acceso.t 
Livido e nero come gran di pepe. 

E quella parte, donde prima h preso 

Nostto alimento, all' un di lor Irafisse ; 
Poi cadde giuso innanzi lui disteso. 

Lo traliito il niitb, ma nulla disse ; 
Anzi coi pif fermati sbadigliava, t 
Pur come sonno o febbre 1' assalisse. 

wilh eye-like spots. These were from the south of France and 
are called " cyed-liiards." I note in the above remarks Ihat 
some commentators would seem to refer to the grand U*ard 
vert ocelU of Cuvier (Lacerta Oceiiala, the eyed lizard), while 
others unmislakeably allude lo le sliHion comun of Cuvier {stellio 
vulgaris, the s lei lion). 

Since writing the above I have been informed by some friends, 
residing at Florence, that during the month of August, 1S91, 
they saw two large-sized lizards, answering to the description 
given above, that had been caught in the Cascine, exhibited 
close by the Piaiza della Signoria, and they heard them called 
both ramarro and luceriolone, more frequently the latter. 

* t rpe: the bellies, plural of epa. The word only occurs in 
this passage, and twice in canto xxx, namely, line 102 : 

" Col pugno gli percosse I' epa croia." 
and line 119: 

" Rispose quel ch' avea enfiata 1' epa." 
Di Siena thinks that in all three passages it is used as a term of 

t acaso: Many commentators, among whom Benvenuta And 
Scarlaizini, take this to mean acceso rf ira,iii/itriati>,- but I have 
preferred lo follow Gclli, who interprets acceso, '* che giilava 
fuoco." The context in lines 92-93 shows that the serpent was 
on (ire, and that its fire passed into the other spirit. 

X sbadigliava: Scartanini quotes Asson, /nfit^ni* k cenoicetut 
biologiche e mediche di Danle, in the Alti dell' Imp. Reg. Vetula 
He Scienai, torn, vi, ser. iii, p. 854-5, as showing that the bile 
of the asp produces just exactly ihe comatose symptoms that 
Unnte depicts here. 




330 Rtadinp «m At Imfint9. Canto XXV. 

EgU tl serpcnie, a qad Ini i^oudan : 

L' on per 1& in|a, e f aim pv U bocca 

Funuvan loitt^ • il fnnuao « •oootnvi. 

As the eyed-liaid bencatli die &enat beat* 

or the dog-days iriten Khangii^ bedge {i. c 

flitting from hedge bi hedge) looks like a 

flash of llghtoiiiit if it croasei the road : so 

did there appear, cMning lowaids the bdliea 

of the other two, a Ittde seipoit breathing 

forth fire, livid and blad as a pe^qier-OHn. 

And in one of them it tiansf»eiced duu pait 

(the navel) from whidt is fint drawn out 

nourishment (before tMith); then fell down 

stretched out before him. He that was pierced 

gazed at it, but said nothing ; on the contrary, 

motionless on his feet he yawned, just as 

though drowsiness or fever was attacking 

him. He (eyed) the serpent, and the serpent 

eyed him: the one (Buoso) emitted thick 

smoke from the wound, and the other (the 

serpent) firom the mouth, and their smoke 


Before telling of the transformation between lluoso 

d^Ii Abati and Guercio de' Cavalcanti, Dante assures 

his readers that he yields in nothing to the poets oi 

antiquity in their descriptions of transformations, 

since none of them have ever attempted to depict a 

complete inter-transformation between two beings. 

* The fiercest heat {la gran /ersa) : Benvenuio interprets this: 
" sub inagno calore sive magna calura." Jacopo delta Lana 
nmply says : "/erta cioi calura." Some read ferna^ others 
tferta, a scourge. Bianchi derives fena fiom/en/eo and gives 
it the sigoificaiioa of "intense heaL" Scartauinl, "toiio la 
gran ftrta: sotto i cocenti raggi del sole in estate." 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Infento. 331 

Taccia Lucano omai, Ih dov' ei tocca 

Del misero Sabello e di Nassidio,* 9$ 

Ed aiienda ad udir quel ch' or si scocca. 
• Sithello . . . Nassidio : These weie Iwo soldiers of Cato's 
nrmy who died of the bites of serpents. The desctiplion ia 
given by Ltican, Phars, ix, 762-804 {Rowe's translation) : 
" n<it soon a fale more sad, with new surprise, 
From the first object turns their wondering eyes. 
Wretched Sabellus by a seps was stung, 
Fix'd to his teg with deadly teeth it hung : 
Sudden the soldier shook il from the wound, 
Transfiit'd and nailed it to the barren ground. 
Of all the dire destructive serpent race. 
None have so much of death, though none are less. 
For straight around the part the skin withdrew, ^ 
The flesh and shrinking sinews backward flew, L 
And left the naked bones exposed lo view. J 

The spreading poisons all the parts confound. 
And the whole body sinks within the wound. 
Small relics of the mouldering mass were left. 
At once of substance as of form bereft j 
Dissolved the ivhole in hquid poison ran. 
And to a nauseous puddle shrunk the man. 
So snows, dissolved by southern breezes run, 
So melts the wax before the noonday sun. 
Nor ends the wonder here : though flames are known 
To waste the llesh, yet still they spare the bone : 
Here none were left, no least remains were seen ; 
No marks to show that once the man had been. 

A fate of different kind Nassidius found, 
A burning prester gave the deadly wound ; 
And straight a sudden flame began to spread. 
And paint his visage with a glowing red. 


ift expansion swells the bloated skin, 

With s 

Naught but an undistinguished mass is seen, 
While the fair human form lies lost within j 
The puffy poison spreads and heaves around, 
Till all the man is in the monster drown'd, 

Readings oh the Inferno. Canlo XXV. 
Taccia di Cadmo* e d' Aretusat Ovidio : 

No more the steely plate 

his breast can suy, 

Bui yields, and gives the 

bursting poison way. 

Not waters so when lire the rage supplies, 

Bubbling on heap 

Nor swells the sii 

If so fast ) 

When the sails gaiu 

,,g blast. >- 

Strain the tough yani^ 

,»e lofty mast. ) 

The various pans no lui 

ire known, 

One headless, formless i 

ins alone." 

* Cadmo- When flying f 

rough Libya, Cadmus 

with his wife Harmodia we 

-"1 serpents : See Ovid, 

JHetam. iv, 575597 : (*"''« 


and straight 

A serpent crawled ! Skin v..-ist ito scale^ — 

Blue spots distaioed its darkened hue,— and prone 
On Earth he grovelled, with uniting legs 
Blent in a tapering tail. Nor yet his arms 
Were lost, and those he raised, and down his cheeks 
Still human gushed the tears. ' Ah ! hapless spouse t' 
He cried — 'Ah I fly me not! while still this hand 
May feel thy pressure press it 1 One embrace 
Give yet while aught of man is left, nor all 
This bestial form ustirpsl' No more his tongue 
Cloven could speak : — words failed him, and a hiss 
Came only in their place : such voice alone 
Was natural now, ' Alasl' she shrieks, and beats 
Her breast—' Stay! Cadmus, stay! What horrid change 
Transforms thee thus ? Resist it I What is this ? 
limb, form, and feature £iil thee 1 As I guie 
Thou vanishes! I Then me too, O ye Gods, 
Change to like shape!' He, as she spoke, her face 
Licked harmless, and with fond familiar coil 
Round the loved neck and bosom twined. Aghast 
Their train the portent saw ... for both 
Were serpents now." 
t Arttuta ; The Nymph Arethusa, one of the Nereids, was, 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 333 

Ch^ se quello in serpente, e quella in fonte 
Converte poetando, 10 non 1' invidio : 
Ch^ due nature mai a fronte a fronte 100 

Non trasmutb, si ch' ambo e due le forme 
A cambiar lor materia fosser pronte. 

Henceforth let Lucan be silent, there where 
he tells of the ill-fated Sabellus, and Nassidius, 
and stop to listen to that which will now be 

at her own request, changed by Diana into a fountain, to escape 
the pursuit of the river-god Alpheus, just when he was on the 
point of seizing her, Ovid, Metam, v, 632-636 {fCin^s transla- 
tion) : 

" From all my limbs 

Oozed the cold sweat of terror : from my form 
The drops fell fast : round either foot a pool 
Gathered ; and from my tresses rained the dew : 
And quicker than I tell the tale, dissolved 
I melted to a Fountain ! " 
See also Shelley's Arethusa^ line i, et seq, : 
" Arethusa arose 
From her couch of snows 
In the Acroceraunian mountains, — 
From cloud and from crag. 
With many a jag. 
Shepherding her bright fountains. 
She leapt down the rocks. 
With her rainbow locks 
Streaming among the streams ; — 
Her steps paved with green 
The downward ravine 
Which slopes to the western gleams : 
And gliding and springing 
She went, ever singing. 
In murmurs as soft as sleep; 

The Earth seemed to love her. 

And Heaven smiled above her, 

As she lingered towards the deep." 

334 Readings on the Infe 

let fly {i.e. be related by me.) Let Ovid be 
silent abuut Cadmus and Aretliusa : for if he 
in poesy coDverts the one into a serpent and 
the other into a fountain I grudge it not ; 
for never did he transmute two natures {i.e. 
the human ""'' ''"■ ="™>nt iqature) face to 
face in such )es were ready 

to exchange 

Gelli remarks l who had hitherto 

writteti about trar sther true or fabu- 

lous, had simply i facts, but without 

demonstrating the .ich such changes 

were effectuated. nations recounted 

in Holy Writ, sucn ^^ Lot's wife into a 

pillar of salt, or the rod ol iVIoses into a ser- 
pent, are different, because the cause of these 
changes is very distinctly defined, in that they 
were effected by the Virtue of God, to the which 
no other power is able to offer any resistance. But 
Gelli speaks of those related by such writers as 
Pliny and Lucan, or such poets as Ovid and Clau- 
dian, who though perfectly able to describe the 
effect, namely, that a man should be changed into 
an animal or into a fountain, are however unable 
to understand how such change should be brought 
about by a gradual, and natural protless, and not in 
an instant of time. 

Benvenuto believes that Dante did not make this 
boast so much for the purpose of praising himself, as 
to arrest the attention of the reader to the account of 
the marvellous and unheard of spectacle witnessed by 
himself and Virgil. 

Canto X.XV. Readings on the Inferno, 335 

Division IV. Benvenuto says that the lines that 
follow should be read with tlie closest attention, for 
the passage is intricate in the extreme. 

The first transmutation described is that of the 
legs of the man, and the tail of the serpent, 
InsieTne si risposero a tai norme, 

Che il serpente la coda in forca fesse, 
E il Teruto ristrinse insieme 1' ormc 105 

Le gambc con le cosce seco stesse 

S' appiccar 5), che in poco la giuntura 
Non facen segno alcun che si pnvessc. 
Togliea 1^ codn fessn la figurn 

Clic si perdevn Ih, e la sua pelle 1 10 

Si facta molle, e quella di l!i dura. 

To one another they corresponded by such 
rules that the serpent clave his tall into a 
fork (to become human legs),and the wounded 
(shade) contracted his feet {Jit. footsteps) 
together, lo form the serpent's tail. The 
legs and the very thighs with them so fastened 
themselves together that in a short space the 
juncture made no mark that could be seen. 
The divided tail was (gradually) assuming 
the form diat was disappearing there (in the 
human body), and its {the serpent's) skin was 
softening (into human skin), and the other 

Danic next proceeds, in regular sequence from the 
legs and tail, to describe the inter-transformation of 
the belly and the arms of the human form, into the 
trunk and the fore-feet of the serpent, the long human 
arms shortening into serpent's feet, and the short fore- 
feet of the serpent lengthening into human arms. 


lo vidi enirar le braccia per I' ascelle, 

E i due pi£ della dera, ch' e 

Tan to allurgar, quanto a' 
Poicia li pi& diretro, i 

Diventaron lo membro che t' uom cela, 
suo n' avea due porli. 

Mentre che ' ' 
Di colo 

L' un si levi 

" altro vela 
pel suso 

■a. si dipcla, 

Sotto 1< 

-ne empie, 

I saw the ar 
the annpils, . 
which were 

body) through 
of the reptile, 
ig out to the 

pTOporlionate tJ...^... 

-tuanlo) to that 

which these (the human arms) were shortening. 
Then the hind feet (of the serpent) twisting 
up together became the member which man 
conceals, and the wretched (shade) in place 
of his (secret member) had two (serpent's 

■ muto : A friend has suggested to me that muto should be 
translated by some such contemptuous expression as " muiile," 
but 1 do not feel that Dante specially intended to convey any 
contempt in this place. He is describing two faces, the man's 
and the serpent's, utterly unlike each other. Benvenuto, both 
here and in line 130, translates muso "ox," and of cambimia 
muso, writes, " mutabat os, el bene dicit : quia mutatio orisjiebat 
sub oculis, quia bucca naturaliter in animali est infra oculoi, 
nisi esset monslrum." Witte translates ; " die zuge " 1 Pollock 
"the face"; Lamennais, "le visage"; Ford, "the snout"; 
Longfellow, Norton and Butler, " the mu»le." Carlyle gives the 
version 1 like best, and have adopted, "sharpened visage," 
Gelli also takes it in the same sense : " ii musa innanii caccia 

(line 130) cioi lo spinge e fa aguizo, percht era prima schiac- 

ciata, essendo viso umano." 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno, 337 

feet) projecting. While the smoke veils both 

one and the other with a new (i.e. gradually 

changing) colour, and generates the hair on 

the surface of the one side {i.e. of the serpent 

becoming man), and deprives of hair the 

other {i.e. the man becoming serpent), the 

former rose up, and the latter sank to the 

ground, not however turning (away from each 

other) their cruel eyes {lit. lamps) under 

which each was changing his visage. 

The two continue to glare at each other with a 

fixity of hate wliich GelJi tliiiiks was an evidence 

of the innate wickedness of their souls. Benvenuto 

understands JoWp /e ^(/(ii quite differently, taking the 

words in the material sense, and explaining mt4so as 

the mouth {ps) being formed underneath, below the 


The interchange of the two faces is now depicted 
in language, the lucidity and precision of which draws 
from Gclli much commendation. 

Quel ch' era dritto, il Irasse ver le lempie, 

E di tiDppa materia che in I^ venne, 125 

Uscir gli orecchi delle gote scempie : • 
C\h the non corse in dietro e si relenne, 
Di quel soperchio fe* naso alia faccia, 
E le labbra ingrossb quanto convenne. 
Quel che giacea, il muso innanzi caccia, 130 

E gli orecchi ritira per la testa. 
Come face le coma 


ipit : Bargigi interprets gott scempie " the piiiiia non 
orecchie alcune." Ventuti : " Lisce o sceme, mancanll." 
Volpi : " Privc d' orecchie." Bianchi : " Lisce," smooth. Tom- 
masfeo : " Senza orecchi." Scarlauini, the same. 



Readings oti the Inferno. Canto XXV. 

E la lingua, che avea unita c presta 

Prima a parlar, si fende, e la forcuta 
Netr allro si richiude, e il fumma resta. 13; 

He [hat was (now) upright (/. e. the serpent 
turning into man) contracted it (his visage) 

towards t 1 

: of the surplus 

flesli wiii< 

; temples) there 

issued the 

ts (which tefore 

were) nak 

d not run back, 

and ifhici 

that excess he 

shaped a 

intenance, and 


as was fitting. 

He that V 

Buosu) thnists 

forward th ; 

:e (/. e. in the 

fomi of a ser|,w. nam), as 

3 snail does its 

horns : and his tongue, which before was 
united and ready of speech, severs in twain, 
and the forked (tongue) in the other closes up, 
and the stnoke ceases. 
By the smoke ceasing, Benvenuto says we are to 
understand that the transformation has been com- 
pleted, the serpent has transfused its whole spirit into 
the man, and vice versa, so that the whole trans- 
formation would seem to have been made by the 
virtue of the smoke of either party. 

"Now note here," continues Benvenuto, " that by this 
skilfully devised transformation, Dante understands 
one conclusion alone, namely, that a thief of this de- 
scription will ever be liable to lose his nature and 
become a serpent, and consequently is one of the 
worst species of all. For if Vanni Fucci was 
resolved [into ashes] he was quickly born again ; if 
Agnolo appeared incorporated with a serpent, he did 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

not all the same entirely lose his human nature, which 
he still retained simultaneously [with the serpent 
nature] in the same body, though confusedly and in- 
distinctly. But Buoso underwent his transformation 
far more unhappily than the others, for he was entirely 
stripped of his human nature. Buoso then from a 
man became a serpent, and Guercio from a serpent 
became a man, when he spontaneously laid aside his 
thievish purposes. For these particular thieves were 
not always in the mind for thieving, but only on cer- 
tain occasions according to circumstances. When, 
therefore, they are in their thievish bent, they assume 
the serpent form and lay aside the human ; and when 
they reassume the human,' they lay aside the serpen- 
tine, becoming reasonable, and so they are at one 
time serpents, and at another men." 

To show how complete had been the transformation, 
Dante describes the shade of Buoso gliding off hissing 
as a serpent, and the re-instated form of Guercio 
following him with two of a man's actions, namely, 
talking and spitting. 

L' anima, ch' era fiera divenuta. 

Si fuggl sufolando • per la valle, 
E r aliro dieiro a lui patlando spula. 
Poscia gli volse le novelle spalle, 

E disse all' aliro : — "lo vo'chc Uuoso-Fcorra, 140 
Com' ho fatt' io, carpon, per queslo calle." — 

* sufolando : hissing or whistling. Scarlanini says that ihe 
word is appropriate to thieves, who are in the habil of whistling 
lo each other by way of signal. 

t Buoso: Of him the yi«on)>nc /■/orr-nZ/nu relates the follow- 
ing: " Now this Buoso, . . . both inofficeand elsewhere, having 
got possession of what was not his, and being no longer able (o 
II. Y 2 

The soul that had become a reptile fled along 
the valley hissing, and after him (went) the 
Otherspitiingas he talked. Then he(Guercio) 
turned his newly formed shoulders upon him, 
and said lo the other (i. t. Puccio Sci 
the third shaded : " I want Buoso to ran, i 

I have been d 

Benvenuto imagi 
as though he would 
spit, but thou art n 
power of spitting." 

Gelli observes t 
canto to a conclusi^ 
adding a peroration a 
has treated. Benvenuto 

) spat in derision, 
If thou art a man, 
and hast lost the 

fling to bring the 
hetorical form by 
ue to the subject he 
learly the same ex- 
pression : " Nunc autor breviter epilogat quae dicta 
sunt, et concludit materiam istius fraudis furti." 

Gelli remarks that as Dante had not mentioned by 
name either Puccio Galigai, or Francesco Guercio 
Cavalcanti, he does so now, in order not to leave his 
readers in any doubt as to their identity. 
Cosl vid' io la settima lavorra • 

cany on his defalcations, possibly from the fact that he was no 
longer in ofEce after serving out his time, contrived to get 
Guercio de' Cavalcanti appoinied as his successor, not that he 
himself was less disposed to continue his former acts, but, as has 
been said, l>ecause, being out of oftice, they no longer came in 
bis way to do." By some of the old commentators he is called 
Buoso degli Abaii, by others Buoso Donati. 

* stttima tavorra i The word lavorra, according to Gelli, is 
any kind of merchandise put into a ship to fill up the hold, and 
of no particular value. Scartauini says thai Mavorra is either 

it follows Chat 
n the bolgia 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 

Muiare e 

La novith^* se lior | la penna abborra.t 

sand, gravel, atones, Eead, iron, or any material that is put into 
the hold of a ship as ballast, so as lo steady il. But Scarlaziini 
adds : " Yet it seems to me that the Poet is not alluding, as some 
tliinh, to the substance of the bolgia itself, so much as to the 
people in il. (ist) Because the bolgia does not change and re- 
change {muta e trasmu(a), but the people in it do so. (and) The 
metaphor is taken fiom ships ; If, therefore, ^i 
worthless material placed in the hold of a ship, i 
bolgia is compared lo nave, and the worthless c: 
to the rubbish placed tn the hold of a ship." 
• la novith; Compare Danle, Soneita loti ; 
" Dagli occhi della raia donna si muove 
Un lume si gentil, che dove appare, 
Si vedon cose, ch' uom non ptj6 ritrare 
Per loro alteiza e per loro esser nuove." 
+ /oris here an adverb, and means, "a liiile, somewhat." It 
is so used in Inf. xxxiv, 26 ; 

" Pensa oraraai per (e, s' hai fior d' ingegno." 
a.nd Purg. iii, 133-35: 

" Per lor malediiion sl non si perde, 

Che non possa tornar 1' eterno amore, 
Menire che la sperania ha fior del verde." 
I abborra: Of aiborrare Blanc (JW. Danl.) says : " It is an 
old verb of uncertain signification- See Inf. xxxi, 24 ; 'Awien 
che poi nel 'maginare aborrl,' in which passage there can be no 
doubt that abborrare is 10 be taken with the signification of the 
Latin aberrare, to deceive oneself, to stray away from the truth, 
and the observation of Gherardini {Voci t Matiicre di dire^ i, 1 1 5) 
may be true that abborrare ought to be written with only one 
* i.' The passage in Inf. xxv, 144, mi scusi la novith, se fior la 
fiemia aiiorra is by most commentators explained : ' if my pen 
goes astray, deviates from the right way ;' Gherardini would 
like to explain [this passage] ' if my pen abhors flowers," i.e., a 
florid style ; deriving abborrare from aborrirt, Lat. abhomrt ; 
a derivation thai seems to me forced and delusive-" Scartawioi 



342 Readings en the Infer 

■no. Canto xxv. 

Ed awegnach^ gli occhi miei confusi 14S 

Fossero alquanto, e 1' animo 


Non poier quei fuggirsi land 

3 cbiuai. 

Ch' io non scorgessi ben Puccio Sciancata : 

Ed era quei che sol, de' tre ( 

Che venner prima, non era r 

nulalo: 150 

L'altroerat; ' ' ^ ■■■ | 


Thus I saw t, 

illasi) of the 

seventh circle 

change; and 

here let the r 

saw) be my 

excuse if my 1 1 

I astray. And 

although my 1 

;ie confused. 

and my soul 

(Buoso and 

Guercio) were | 

pe so secretly 

but that I well 

Sciancato : 

and he it \fas &.„... lh 


that came first, who had not been 

transformed : 

and some others would derive abborrare from borra, stuffing, 
with the meaning of, "to add superfluity of words," but Blanc 
cannot at all agree with such interpretation, nor can I find 
any authority for abborrart coming from borra^ either in the 
Vocaholario della Crusca or elsewhere. Lord Vernon, who was 
nearly always guided by Nannucci in matters of philology, 
takes aborrat^ for aierrare, as prosumere for prtsumert ; im- 
prenta for impronta. 

* smagato is in Provencal esmagalt from esmagar to disturb, 
trouble, alarm, surprise ; in old French, esmaier; Portuguese, 
tsmaiar. Tommasio stales that tmagare is still in use in Tus- 
cany in the sense of ditperdtrt, to disperse, but that signification 
would not very welhagree with the use of the word by old 
writers. In Spain ttesm^ado means bewildered, confused, lost. 
Compare Dante, Vila Nuova, in the Canione, Donna pietosa, 
SL 3 : " Ed eran si smagati." 
and in the Cndo (attributed to Dante), line 4 : 

" Di cib son fatte le mie voglie smagbe." 

Canto XXV. Readings on the Inferno. 343 

The other was he for whom ttiou, Gaville, 
mournest {ie. Francesco Guercio Cavalcanti). 
Gelli explains the nickname Sciancato, by which 
Puccio de' Galigai was l<nown : "that means, as we 
remarked above,' the dislocated.'and in our [Florentine] 
tongue is used to describe those who halt from the 
hips, and not from the legs," After speaking of 
Gaville as "a town in our country-side," Gelli con- 
cludes the chapter, and alas ! at this point his con- 
secutive commentary breaks off. There remains only a 
short fragment on the next canto, the exposition of 
one passage in the Purgatorio, and of one in the 
Paradiso. His lectures and those of Boccaccio are the 
most thoroughly Tuscan of all the commentaries of 
Divina Commedia. and the words " chiamandosi cosl 
uella nostra lingita, etc." recurring throughout the 
lectures, continually remind one of the vast difference 
that their fellow-countrymen to this day attach to the 
interpretation of Dante by Tuscans, as opposed to 
other Italians, who are seldom acquainted with the 
graceful veesi e fiori di lingua which so charm the ear 
in Tuscany. 

Di Siena remarks that the canto winds up with a 
very natural rhetorical turn. Guercio was put to 
death at Gaville, a town in the Val d' Arno ; his 
family revenged his death by killing a good many of 
the inhabitants ; and hence it comes about that Gaville 
weeps for having paid the penalty for the death of 
the Robber with the lives of its population. 


Emd of Canto XXV. 

ReaiUngi oh the Inferno. Canto XXVL 


the Poets witness 


The Eight- ■" '-'-med). 

The Eight 

Fraui -LORS. 

The V s. 


In this and the 
the punishment of 
Bcnvenuto divide ts. 

In Division I, Irum v >. !, Dante upbraids 

Florence for being the mother of so many thieves. 

In Division II, from v. 1 3 to v. 42, Dante relates 
how he and Virgil quitted the Seventh Bolgia^ and 
how, on their reaching the brink of the Eighth, they 
saw the extraordinary spectacle of the penalty of the 
Fraudulent Counsellors. 

In Division III, from v. 43 to v. 84, Virgil points 
out to Dante the shades of Ulysses and Diomed, from 
the former of whom Virgil asks for information as to 
what was his ultimate fate on earth. 

In Division IV, from v. 85 to v. 142, Ulysses gives 
a long narration of his last voyage, shipwreck and 

Division I. Benvenuto remarks that in this canto 
Dante displays consummate art, and yet has not 
veiled it in the same obscurity as he did the last 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 


canto ; for he commences the present one with three 
figures of speech, namely, apostrophe, invective and 
irony. Gelli * (in the last fragments that he wrote on 
the Inferno, and which seem to have been broken off 
short by the infirmity that preceded his death) says 
that Dante was very wrath on finding in Hell among 
the Thieves five noble Knights of Florence, and 
thereupon apostrophized his native city with biting 
sarcasm, crying shame upon her ; and not only did he 
do so in this passage of his poem, but we may also read 
in his letter to Can Grande della Scala, that he styles 
himself Z^awto Alagherius, Florentinus patria, sed non 
ntoribus. Gelli adds that the evil lives and habits of 
the citizens of Florence are fully attested by Lionardo 
d' Arezzo, as well as by Giovanni Villani in the 
li^ighth Book of his Cronica, and that from their law- 
lessness, their feuds, and their evil deeds, Florence 
would rather deserve to be styled a congregation of 
malefactors than a congregation of citizens. 

* The last fraBinents that remain of Gelli's commentary 
appear to be iwo separale attempts, with neither of which was 
he satisfied, to commence a ninth lecture of his Ninth Course. 
For Gelli, a Florentine, lecturing on his beloved Florentine Poet 
to a Florentine auditory, it was a supremely distasteful task to 
discuss and comment upon ihe manner in which Dante apos- 
trophises Florence. It is known, says Professor Negroni, the 
modem editor of the Letture, that Gelli's Ninth Course was 
prolonged into the summer of 1 563, the year of his death, One of 
the two fragments must have been the attempt to commence the 
last lecture, or the last but one, of that year. But while engaged 
on the lecture, wherein he defends his revered Dante, even 
where he had spoken unlovingly of his native city, the pen 
seems to have fallen from Gelli's wearied hand, and not long 
afterwards he died. 


346 Readings on the Inferno. CiiUo XXVI. 

" Godi, Fiorenia,* poi che sei si grande, 

Che per mare e per terra batli 1' ali.T 

E per r inferno il luo nome si spande. 

* Godi, Fiorcnta ; Fra Guillonc d' Arezzo (belter known as an 

early Italian poel, of whose prose ledets Nannucci says, "for- 

mano teste di lingua, i sono it ^iit aiili 

Cf esempio che v" abbia di 

lettert scritte net ' 

"} in Letter xiv, apostro- 

phizes Florence in 

' Infatuati miseri Fioren- 

linil.. .vedeievoi i 

1, e se voi cittadini uoniini 

siete. E dovete 1 

k fan gi& palagi ni nighe 

[=slrade] belle, ne 

ni drappi ricchi [fanno]. 

ma. Icgge naturale. 

lace e gaudio intendo che 

fa la citt^ ; e >>om< 

1 c costumi onesti e retti 

bene. Oh che non i 

ra lerra deserto, che citti 

sembra, c voi dragt 

i 1 Certo siccome voi non 

riraaso6chememb, i 

:h£ (utto r altro h besliale 

e ragion falliia, non e a vusira letra ct 

le figura di z\vCk e case ; 

giustizia violaia e pace. Ch^, come da uamo e beslia non i gik 
che ragionc e aapientia, non da ciitk a bosco [^ altra differenza] 
che giustizia e pace. Come citlk si pub dire, ove ladroni fanno 
legge, e piii pubbrichi [usurers, as distinguished from honest 
traders] isianno, che mercatanti ? ove sJt;noregi,'iano micidiali, 
e non pcna, ina merto ricevono de' micidj ? ove sono uomini 
divorati e denudali e morti in diserlo f " 

Guittone was usually spoken of as Frn Guittone, not, Nan- 
nucci observes, because he was a real friar, but because he 
belonged to the semi -military, semi-religious Order of the Frati 
Gaudenli. He died at Florence in 1294. Petrarch had great 
admiration for his genius, and besides imitating him in several 
passages, in the Trionfo rf* Amore, iv, si. u, couples him with 
Dante : 

" Ecco Dante e Beatrice ; ecco Selvaggia ; 

Ecco Cin da Pistoja ; Guitton d' Arezzo, 
Che di non esser primo par ch' ira aggia." 
t batli r alt: But! says: "erano allora i Fiorentino sparti 
molio fuor di Fiorenia per diversi parti del mondo, el erano in 
mare et in terra, di che forse li Fiorenlini si 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Infe 

Tra 1i ladn 

Tuoi cittadini, 

£ tu in gmndi 

Exult, Florence, sii 

i cinque cotalit 

n vergogna, 

: thou arl so great, that 

thou spteadest thy wings over sea and land, 
and that throughout Hell (itself) thy name 
extends. Among the thieves I found five of 
thy citizens of such condition {i.e. not plebeian, 
but among the most illustrious), whereat 

♦ Ira li latiron .■ com'patt Jtremiah, xWm, 2y : " For was not 
Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves ? for 
since thou spakcst of him, thou skippedst for joy." 

t cotali : Di Siena observes that although this word often 
simply means /a/(, "such,"it more frequently has the significatian 
of something great, distinguished, and he agrees with the com- 
ment of Venturi, that Dante intended to say that these five 
thieves were, " non mica plebei, ma primati barbassori [person- 
ages of the first importance] dclla Republica." 

Compare Petrarch, part iv, Son. xii (or according to some 
editions, Son. 83) : 

" Credete vol che Cesare o Marcello 
O Paolo od African fossin cotali 
Per incude giammai nh per martello ?" 

Here cefali stands for " uomini di fama immortale." 

The witty Alessandro Tassoni, the author of La Secchia 
RapUa, wrote the following humorous note on the above passage 
of Petrarch " Non erano cotali quest! valentuomini : ma questi 
vers! li cotaleggiano bene." 

X E tu in grande onranta non ne sali : This line Scartaiiini 
thus explains : " The fact of my having found five of thy most 
notable and distinguished citizens among the thieves in Hell 
does not redound very much to thine honour, O Florence." 

Compare Inf. iv, 73-75 : 

I, che o 


ti chi s< 

a ed art 
I, ch' hanno c 

Che dal modo degli altri li diparteP" 


348 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVI. 

shame comes upon me (a Florentine), and 

thou dost not rise to high honour therefrom. 

Benvenuto thinks that Dante's shame arose from 

the general reason that the five were his countrymen, 

and from the special reason that they were noble, as 

was Dante hims "■ ' ' ' 

e them even more 

deserving of cen; 

al says* the more 

exalted is & mai 

greater his respon- 

sibiljty for wrong 

Bartoli {Storia 

a llaiiana, vol. vj, 

partii, pagepo). I 

bove terrible verses 

Dante's hatred fo. 

to have reached its 

culminating poini 

y of the evils that 

Prato is desiring ti 

d the wrathful and 

melancholy words thai —How, clearly demonstrate " 

the exacerbation which the mind of the Poet had 
attained against his native city. 

Dante goes on to state his sure conviction that 
speedy retribution will fall upon Florence, but the 
lines in question have given rise to great discrepancy 
of opinion among the commentators. I follow the 
opinion of Buti, Blanc, Scartazzini, Lamennais and 
many others, that Dante, wishing to predict, as events ' 
that would come to pass after 1 300, what were already 
past occurrences when he wrote the Infumo, pictures 
himself as liaving dreamt them at that period of the 
night towards dawn, when dreams, according to 
popular belief, were supposed to come true. 

* See Juvenal, Sat. viii, t40-i4i: 

" Omne aninii vitium tanio conspeciius in se 
Crimen habet, quanto major, qui peccal, habelur 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 349 

-' Ma se pressoal mattin i1 ver si sogna,* ■ 
Til senlirni di qua d.i picciol tempo 
Di quel die Pralo,t non eh' altri, I' agogna. 
E se gik fosse, non saria per tempo, t lo 

• se preno al mattin il ver si sngna : Among the ancients 
great efficacy was attributed to dreams of the early morning, as 
may be seen in Ovid, Heroides x\%, 195-6 : 

" Namque sub Aurora, jam dormitante lucerna, 
Somnia quo cerni tempore vera solent." 
In Purg. ix, 13-33, Danle speaks of his dream taking place 
in Ihe early morning : 

" Neir ora che comincia i tristi lai 

La rondinetla presso alia mattina, 
Forse a memoria de' suoi primi guai, 
E che la mentc nostra peregrina 

I'iii dalla carne, e men da' pensier presa, 
Al!e sue vision quasi h divina; " etc. 
And Di Siena remarks that Dante could not in belter language 
speak lo the understanding of the multitudes who were still 
under the influence of that ancient prejudice. 

t Di guel che Pralo . . . f agogna : Dante in predicting the 
calamities that will befall Florence, vaticiitium pest evenlum, 
imagines thnt her nearest neighbour, Prato, will rejoice tit her 
well-deserved humiliation, not to mention many other cities in 
the country round, which had all suffered more or less from her 
arrogance and oppression. Others suppose that by Prato is 
meant the Cardinal da Pralo, of whom mention is made on 
p. 351 of this volume. 

Xper tempo is the equivalent lo the Latin prima mane, and to 
the Creek "p«/- Compare Petrarch, Cans, xvii (39), st. 2 : 
"Chi dubioso 4 il tardar,come tu sai ; 
E 'I cominciar non fia per tempo omai." 
Boccaccio {Decam. Ciorn. v, Nov. iii) uses the expression in the 
superlative ; " Pieiro una mattina per lempissimo levatosi," 
where, according to the Vocabolario delta Crusca, per lempissimo 
signifies A buonissima 6ra, Latin, summo mane. Compare also 
hf. XV, 58 : 

E s' 10 non fossi si per tempo mono." 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto s 

Cosl foss' ei,* da ehe pure esser dee ; 

ChS piii mi gravcfi, com' piii m' al tempo. 
But if when near the dawn one dreams the 
truth, in a short time from now thou shalt 
feel what Prato, not to speak of other (stales) 
is desiring for thee. And had it already 

(come to I 

soon. Wi 

must be; 

it will griei 

upon thee). 

There seems t 

(I quote principa 

about the time of 

a number of tcrr 

have been too 
nee it certainly 
I get, the more 

retribution &II 

i of opinion 
:>m Benvenuto) that, 
xiled from Florence, 
lefcli the city, llcn- 
venuto says that in 1303 [■' 1304] Pope Benedict XI, 

* Coslfoi^ ei, da clu pure esser tUe ■■ Compare Maeieth i, vii : 
" If it were done when t' is done, then t' were well 
It were done quickly." 
Also SI. John, xiii, 27 : 

" That ihou doesl, do quickly." 
And Petrarch, pan i, Cara. xvi, St. 7 : 
" Aspett' io pur che scocchi 
L' ultimo colpo che mi diede il primo : 
E lia, s'- io dcitio estimo, 
Un modo di pietate oc cider losto 
Non essend' ei disposto 
A far altro di me che quel che soglia ; 
Chi ben mor chi ben morendo esce di doglia." 
Castelvetro quotes from Seneca, De Bene/, ii, c. <; : 

" Misericordiae est cito occidere." 
See also Sir Walter Scott, Black Dwarf, ch. xii, at the end : 
" No l^but trouble for tiouble, I had rather it came to-morrow, 
as your country folks say, better soon than syne — il will never 
find me younger." 

Canto XXVI. Rtetdings on the Inferno. 


who had recently succeeded "that magnificent Pope 
Boniface VIII," wishing to pacify the discords of the 
Florentines, sent to Florence as his Legate Cardinal 
Niccolo da Prato, a shrewd and intelligent man. The 
Cardinal, finding his endeavours to effect a modus 
Vivendi between the rival factions of the Bianchi and 
Neri perfectly fruitless, said : Ex quo non vtilti's bene- 
dictionem, remanete cum maledictione, and pronounced 
an interdict upon the city. About that time the 
ward of San Frediano determined to offer to the 
Cardinal a fCte, in which should be given a repre- 
.^cntation of Ilcll and the torments of the damned. 
They proclaimed publicly that all who wished to 
know wondrous things about another world were 
invited to assemble upon the Ponte alia Carraja on 
the first of May. Stages were prepared upon boats 
on the river, and by artificial fires of different colours 
a picture of Hell was supposed to be displayed ; men 
disguised as demons were represented casting sinners 
into the flames, and inflicting on them other torments. 
The bridge was thronged with a vast concourse of 
spectators. Screams and yells of simulated agony 
made a din horrible to hear. Just when the excite- 
ment was at its highest, the bridge, which was built 
of wood, from the unusual and excessive load upon it, 
suddenly gave way, and fell into the Arno with all 
the people that were on it. The destruction of life 
was enormous ; and " many who were looking down 
upon a simulated hell went to a real Hell, and were 
brought within the terms of the proclamation that 
had been made, for they soon did know wondrous 
things of another world {et sciverunt nova de alio 


352 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVI, 

mundo, etjuxta proclamationem banni facti sunt), and 
all the acted ciies of suffering were converted into cries 
of stem reality." Soon after this a great disaster befell 
the city itself: for while the Bianchi and the Neri 
were fighting against each other, and the Bianchi, for 
the time, had the """'»'■ iia'"! — f"orso Donati not being 
just then at th^ Neri, partly because 

afflicted with tht y because he was in 

disagreement w liefs of the Neri — a 

terrible conflagi t in the city. The 

author of it was i ti Abati, the Prior of 

San Pietro Schi both dissolute and 

wicked. He set les of his own part/ 

(consortium suoru. >an Mtchcle, and so 

furious was tlie conttagraiion, mat, fanned by a south 
wind, it consumed nearly 2200 houses of the cnosi 
distinguished families in Florence. The loss oi 
property was incalculable, for the valuables which 
were not burnt were carried off by robbers. Many 
prosperous and opulent families were reduced to 
penury, the principal sufferers by the calamity being 
the Cavalcanti and the Gherardini. From all these 
circumstances Benvenuto thinks one may well say, 
that great evils speedily came upon Florence in 
accordance with what he of Prato had wished to 
happen to it. 

Benvenuto remarks that Dante acts with prudence 
in not stating the time too definitely, but in speaking 
conditionally as to the accuracy of his presentiments 
or dreams. The Ottimo, Lombardi, Blanc and others, 
think that Dante reckons his own exile among the 
above mentioned calamities, and says that, as it has 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 353 

to come, he trusts it will rather befall him while he is 
still comparatively young, when a man can suffer 
tribulation better than he can in later years. 

Division II. There seems to be some difficulty 
among the commentators in determining the exact 
position of the Poets at this time. We must remember 
that in xxiv, 61-63, ^^^ ^^^^ that, as they ascended the 
arch of the bridge that stood over the Bolgia of the 
Thieves, they found it ronchioso, slretto e malagevole, 
ed erto pifi assai die quel difria. We saw further on, 
that Dante's eyes being unable to penetrate the gloom, 
and to see the persons whom he could hear in the 
"Bolgia below, he entreated Virgil (v. 72, et seg.) to 
contrive to reach that other rampart, and to let them 
descend the wall-like incline of that exceptionally 
steep bridge. We decided that we should take this 
incline to be that of the bridge, and that the point 
they reached was that where the bridge head joins 
the rampart that surrounds the Eighth Bolgia, and 
that, as tilts was at a considerably lower level than 
the rampart they quitted when they crossed the 
bridge, they would not have found it necessary to 
descend into the Seventh Bolgia among the serpents. 
Moreover Dante (v. 80) says that when they got there 
pot mifii la bolgia manifesto, and in canto xxv, 35, he 
speaks of three spirits being directly underneath 
where he and Virgil were standing. Therefore we 
may now consider that the appalling scene, of the 
spirits in .serpent form devouring others in human 
form, has been witnessed by the Poets standing at the 
point where the steep bridge has run down on to the 




Readings oh tkt Inferno. Canto xxvi. 

lower rampart, and be it remembered that each time 
they- cross a bridge they emerge from it upon a 
much lower level, since the Botge incline more and 
more towards the Poszo or Central Pit. The great 

difficulty 1 now find in 
discuss is to determ 
harm, by which they 
which they now remour 
the Poets here find th 
on the rampart, and 
nuist reascend the br 

>e we are about to 

the scalu and the 

nded before, and by 

ic {Saggio) thinks that 

^ in the same place 

lorward (innansi) they 

The only explanation 

that seems satisfactory to me is, either that they ' 
pursued their way by commencing the ascent of the 
next bridge by the scalet che n' avean fatte i bomi a 
sctncUr pria, or that the continuous line of bridges 
ran across the line of Bolge and over the intervening 
banks as a viaduct does, at a higher level, and that at 
no place did the lowest spot of the bridge correspond 
with the line of the rampart Were this so, the Poets 
would in the first instance have climl>ed down the 
rocky side of the causeway to the level of the rampart, 
and now, to resume their progress, must climb back 
^ain on to the so-called road on the bridgeway. 
Noi ci partimmo, e su per le scalee, 

Cbe d' avean latte i borni a sceodcr pria, 
Rimoatft il Duca inio, e basse mee. i s 

£ pros^juendo la solinga via 

Tra le schegge e in' rocchi dello scoglio, 
Lo pii senia la man* nan ^ spedia. 
We departed thence, and up by the (samp) 
* Lofiii itnMa la man mm si tptdia : Compare Purg. iv, 3 1 -33 : 
" Noi salivam per entro il suso rotto, 

£ H ogni lato ne atiingea lo stremo, 
£ piedi e nun voleva il snol di sotto." 


Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 355 

stairs, which the projecting rocks had afforded 
us means for descending before, did my 
Leader mount up again, and drew me after 
him. And pursuing our lonely way among the 
fragments and stones of the rocky bridge, the 
foot sped not williout (the aid of) the hand. 
We may infer that Dante now gets his first clear 
view of the Eighth Bolgia, and he seems to know that 
in it are punished the Fraudulent Counsellors. He 
ruminates upon their fate, and the melancholy reflec- 
tion crosses his mind, how these shades of great men 
were in their life-time endowed with large mental 
__powerSt >vltirpHrdence, cliaracter and courage. Those 
jiiffc thpy f.;rn<vt fp tj^,j uses, emploj^ingjhem, as they 
_ thouehL to the detriment oTotnerg^hpugh in reality 
tQ_£tieJ.[LftlKILp.?!;ditjmi^ Dante, conscious of possessing 
in a high degree the same noble faculties, and of the 
danger he would incur should he misuse them, looks 
down upon the torments of the valley below as an ad- 
monition from Heaven to put a curb upon his intellect. 
Allor mi doisi, ed ora mi ridogjio, 

Quand' io driwo la menie a ci5 eh' io vidi ; 10 
E piii to ingegno* affreno ch' io non soglio, 
Perch^ non corra, che virtii nol giiidi ; 

Si che se stella buonat, o mifilior cosa 

* ingegno ; Blanc remarks [hat this is not the only occasion 
in which Dante expresses a somewhat exalted opinion of his 
own genius. Compare /«/ x, 58-60 : 

" Se per questo cieco 
Carcere vai per alieiza d' ingegno, 
Mio figlio ov' i, e perchS non i teco." 
i Stella buona, etc. : Compare Inf. iv, 55-57 : 
" Ed egli a me : ' Se lu segui tua stcllo, 
Non puoi fallire al glorloso porto, 
Se ben m' accorsi nella vita bella. '" 


z 2 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVI. 
M' ha dnto i1 ben, ch'* io siesso nol m' invidj.f 

again Purg. xxx, 109-117 : 

" Non pur per opra delle ro 
Che drizzan ciascun s 

tc magne, 

eme ad alcun tine. 

Secondo che le steile 
Ma per lar^heua di erazie 

son coitipagne ; 

or ptova, 

Qucsti fu ti 

. destro 

Fatto a 
and Par. xxii, 112-1 

tl prova." 

" gloriose 1 
Tuito, < 

* ch< io, tic. : Di 

■epeiilionof ihtcMem 

these Iwo lines is a pie. 
writers, and has the effect 
the thread of the sentence, 

of preventing 1 
, the connexion 

on among old Kalian 
the reader from losing 
of which would other- 

wise seem lo have been disturbed by the interposition of an 
accessory phrase between (he two clauses that link it together. 

Lapo Gianni, a contemporary poet, and friend both of Dante 
and of Guido Cavatcanti, in the Catuone beginning " Amore, 
io prego la tua nobiltate," has the following passage : 
" E non m' awiso che alcuno amadore, 
Sia quanto vuol di gentile intelktto, 
Che abbia rinchiijso dentro del suo petto, 
Tant' allegrezza ch' appo me non moia." 

Here at the beginning of the third line is repeated the eke 
that has already occurred in the tirst line. 

Sec also Coniiito i, ch. 1 : " li quali priego tutli, che se il Convilo 
non fosse tanto splendido quanto convicne alia sua grida, che 
non al mio volere, ma alia mia facullaie impuiino ogni diretto." 
On these two passages, Nannucci commenting on the first, and 
Fraticelli on the second, confirm nearly word for word the re- 
marks of Di Siena upon the use of pleonasms and their purpose. 
Nannucci, moreover, cites the passage we are discussing, as 
illustrating that from Lapo Gianni. 

■f m' iirvidi :1\tK Vocabolario deUa Crusca,%. v. invidiarc, § iv. 


Canto XXVI, Readings on the Inferno. 357 

Then I aonowed, and even now do I sonow 
again, when i direct my memory to what I 
saw; and 1 set a bridle upon my intelligence 
more than I am wont, that it speed not so 
fast but that virtue may guide it; so that 
if a (ortunate star, or something better (r. e. 
the Grace of God) has bestowed upon me the 
advantage (of an elevated mind), I may nOt 
deprive myself of it through my own act 
Dante now describes his first view of the punish- 
ment of the Evil Counsellors, each of whom has to run 
along the Valley, so completely enveloped in the 
Flame of his own torment as to be hidden from view. 
As his eye scans them from the commanding height 
of the bridge, the lights dotted about in the gloom re- 
mind him of fire-flies on a hill-side in a summer night, 
a familiar spectacle to all who have lived in Italy. 

Quante il villan, ch' a1 poggio si riposa, 25 

Nel tempo che colui che 11 mondo schiara 
La faccia sua a noi tien meno ascosa. 
Come la mosca cede alia lenwra, 
Vede lucciole giii per la vallea. 

a %h stesso, nel senso 
re una cosa. ad alcuno 
permeKe, o non soflre 


has ; " Dices! pure invidiarc una 
di loglietsela." And in § iii : " In 
vale Togliergliela ; e si dice di chi 
che altri goda un bene." 
Compare Tasso, (Jtr. Lib. vii, st. IS : 

" Onde al buon vecchio dice : ' O fortunato, 
Ch' un tempo conoscesti il male a prova, 
Se non t' invidii il Ciel si dolce stalo, 
Delle miserie mie pieli ti mova.'" 
And Tasso, Gtr. Lib. xvi, sL 61 ; 

" Chiudesti i lumi, Armida : il Cielo avaro 
Invidiii il conforto ai tuoi martiri." 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVl. 

Fprse coli dove vendemmia ed ara :• 30 

Di tanle fiamme tuila risplendeat 

L' ottava bolgia, si com' io m' accorsi, 

Tosto ch' io fui \k 've il fondo parea. 

As many fire-flies as the peasant, who rests 

binttelf on the hill side, — at the season when 

be who illumines the world {i.e. the sun) keeps 

hit Gice least hidden from us (i.e. in summer), 

jmt (at night-fall) when the fly gives place to 

the mosquito, — sees down along the valley, 

there perchance where he makes his vintage 

and ploughs : with as many flames was the 

Eighth £^/^(i glittering throughout, as I per- 

ceirad, so soon as 1 was at that spot from 

which its depth was erposed to view. 

He means that he had reached the centre of the 

bridge that crossed the chasm. From this point he 

descries innumerable flames. In each of these a 

sinner is concealed, the flame alone being visible in 

which the shade is imprisoned. And this su^ests to 

Dante's mind the simile that follows, namely that, 

when Elijah was caught up to Heaven in a chariot of 

* dove vtndemmia means, la his vineyards, doi>e ara, in his 

t risplemUa: Virgil {j£n. xi, 303-309) describes how the 
whole country-side wras lighted up by the fiineral pyres on 
which were being consumed the bodies of the Latin warriors 
slain in battle : 

" Nee minus et miscri diversa in parte Latini 
Inaumeras struxere pyias, et corpora partim 
Finitimos tollunt in agros, urbique remittunt ; 
Cetera, confiisjeque ingentem csedis acervum 
Nee numero nee honore, oremant \ tunc undique vasti 
Certuim crebria colluceni ignibos agri." 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 



fire, Elisha, who stood gazing upwards, his eye follow- 
ing his beloved master ascending higher and higher 
and lessening in the sky, gradually lost the power of 
distinguishing the shapes of the chariot of fire, the 
horses of fire, and the form of Elijah himself, a dis- 
tant flame alone remaining visible to his eye. 
£ qual colui che si vengio con gli orsi,* 

Vide il carro d' Elia al dipartire, 35 

Qitando I cavalli al cielo erti levorsi;f 

• si vengib con gli orsi : see 1 Kings ii, 13, 34 r "And he 
[Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel : and, as he was going 
up by the way, [here came forlh 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." 

t levorsi : (at Icvoresi. Nannucci (^na/<Ji Critica dti Verbi 
Ilaliani, page i83) says that in old Italian the third persons 
plural were subjected to divers terminations. And (page 191 
et seg.) in orono, and oro In verbs of the first conjugation, as 
amorono, amoro; levorono, levora, etc. Compare II Beato 
Jacopone (a poet contemporary with Dante), lib. iii, Od. viii, 29: 
" Inginocchiorsi in quella 
Uavanti alia poliella." 
and lib. v. Catia. xxxiv, z6 : 

" Gii. tiromo quaitro venti 
Che turborno la mia mente." 
and Dittamondo, lib. iii, cap. v ; 

"Similemente stati tra coloro 

Che in sulla Parma con gran riverenza 
Alcuna volta festeggiorno il toro." 
id Dante, Inf. xxxiii, 59, 60 : 

" Ed ei, pensando ch' io '1 fessi per voglia 
Di manicar, di subito levorsi." 
Nannucci draws especial attention to this word being a syn- 


3<So Readings on tfie Inferno. Canto XXVI, 

CU nol pofea si con gli occhi seguirc, 

Ch' ei vedesse altro che la fiamma sola, 
SI come Duvolelia, in $u salire : 
Tftl si movea ciascima per la gola 40 

Del foaso, chfe, nessuna inosiia il furto,* 
Ed ogni fiamma un peccatore invola. 
And as he (Elisha), who by means of the bears 
kvenged himseir, beheld the chaciot of Elijah 
U (the moment of) their being parted asunder, 
when the horses uplifted themselves erect to 
Heaven ; because he could not so follow It 
with his eyes as to be able to see more ihsn 
the flame alone soaring on high even as a 
light cloud : in such wise was moving each 
(of the flames) along the go^e of the fosse 
(below us) for not one of them discloses its 
prey, and evety flame steab away (flc conceals) 
a sinner. 
In his usual quaint style, Benvenuto points out 
how completely is the comparison in harmony with 
the fact ; for as Elisha (f/unu) could discern nought 
else but the flame, and was totally unable to dis- 
tinguish Elias veiled in the flame ; so Dante, a second 

Uvotv, the old Italian fonn, and not of 

cope of ievorosi, s 

* furto ; The word is used here melaphoiically to signify the 
thing concealed. Compare Racine, Athalie, act i, scene ii, 
where the high priest Jeboida {Joad) tells Jehosheba {Josa6e(i 
that the time is come to reveal the existence of the young king 
Joash, whom .she has so fortunately hidden away from the 
vengeance of Alhaliah. He speaks of the king as her " happy 

" Les temps sont accomplis, Princesse, il faut parier, 
£t votie heuienx iMvin ne pent plus se cacher.* 

Canto XXVI. Readings on lite Infertw. 

Elisha [alter Elistus), as he descended from the Elisei 
i^dc Eliseis), as has been said elsewhere, and will be re- 
peated later on, could simply see flames flitting about, 
but not the souls that were veiled within the flames. 

Division III. As Dante, standing dangerously near 
the edge of the bridge, gazes down on the lurid scene 
below him, musing on the fate of the shades, and won- 
dering who they might have been in life, his eye is 
attracted by one of the flames that is divided into a 
forked crest, and he asks his Master who is within It. 
It reminds lilm of the legend of the rival brothers 
Etcocles and Polynices, so Inveterately hostile to each 
other in life, that on their funeral pyre their very ashes 
parted asunder, and from it there ascended a flame 
with a two-fold head. 

stava sopra il ponte a veder surto,* 
SI che, s'io not! avessi un ronchion preso. 


M gm SI 


* surto: Many of the commenlators and translators seem lo 
agree [hai the word, as used here, means something more ihan 
merely standing upright. Lamennais translates: "je m'^tais 
si avancif pour voir." Scariauini : "surto in punta di piedi c 
sporio con la persona in sulla bolgia, in modo che, se non mt 
fossi tenuto ad un masso dello scoglio sarei cascato giii." Uutt 
seems to give the meaning best, namely, that it is impossible for 
a man to continue to stand for an indefinite period of time in 
an attitude perfectly erect, so motionless as not to move hand 
or foot. Were he lo attempt to do so, he would fall down if he 
did not lean upon something ; and for this reason : because, If 
the body is abandoned by the activity of the mind within it, 
it loses its power, as happens if a man falls asleep or dies. 
Dante had probably been climbing up the rocky heights of the 
bridge on his hands and knees ; but, having reached the summit. 

■ all 

362 Readings cm ike Infirm. Canto XXVI. 

£ il Duca, che mi vide tanto atteso^ 

Disse : — ** Dentio da' focfai son ^ spirti : 
Ciascon si fittda* di qiid ch' ^i h incesa" — 
— "^ Maestro mio,"— risposP 10^ — '^ per odirti t 

Son ioplikcerto; magikm'eiaaYvtso]: 50 

Che cosi fosse, e gik voleVa dirti : 

started up on his feet on perceivii^ the weird spectacle in the 
chasm below ; a position exceedingly dangerous had he not 
steadied himself against a rock as he stooped forward to kx^ 

* si fascia : Biagioli remarks upon the appropriateness of this 
torment to the fraudulent counsellorsi whose artifice in life had 
been to work their insidious machinations in paths hidden and 
inaccessible to mortal eyes. See canto xxvii, 76-78, where Guido 
da Montefeltro says of himself : 

" Gli accorgimenti e le coperte vie 

lo seppi tutte ; e si menai lor arte 
Ch' al fine della terra il suono uscie." 
Now, these sinners, by being externally concealed from view in 
a burning flame, are for ever reminded of the cause of their 

\ per udirti: Tlie present is used here for the past The 
meaning \&per averii udito. Compare Purg. xxvi, 92-93 : 
'* Son Guido Guinezzelli, e gill mi purgo 
Per ben dolermi prima ch' all' estremo." 
that \s^ per essermi ben doluto. So also Inf, iv, 25, 26 : 
*^ Quivi, secondo che per ascoltare, 

Non avea pianto, ma' che di sospiri, etc" 
that is^ per aver ascoUaio, 

X ni era awiso : Tommas^ says this is the same as the Latin 
mihi visum erai^ it seemed to me, I believed. Compare Ariosto, 
OrL Fur, xi, st 1 1 : 

*' £ circa il vespro, ppi che rinfrescossi, 
£ le fii awiso esser posata assai." 
and Petrarch, Trionfo delta Fama^ part ii, terz. 14 : 
^ Com' io mi volsi, il buon Pirro ebbi scorto. 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 363 

Chi h in quel foco, che vien si diviso,* 
Di sopra, che par surger della pira, 
Ov" Eleicle col fratcl fu misof "— 

E' 1 buon Massinissa : e gli era avviso 

D' esser senia. i Roman, ricever lorto." 

On the use of the impersonal verb awisarsi in llie sense of 

umbrare, Nannucci refers to an example in the Tetoretto of 

Brunello Latin! : 

" Di negghienia m' awisa [mi sembra] 
Che nasce convoiisa." 
and Dante da Maiano, a contemporary and friend of Dante, in 
one of his Canzoni: • 

" N& cosa allra gradita 
Alia vDstra beltale 
Manca, donna (sacciate) 
Che pieti : ci6 m' awisa." [i.e-.tni sembra.] 
*foco, cht vien s\ diviso : Tommas&o comments thus : " But 
the flame becomes divided into two crests, like thfll which con- 
sumed the corpses of the two brothers who were rivals for the 
kingdom ; and that because men who are strenuous for evil 
sooner or later become divided against each other, and, if con- 
strained lo continue on together, this is to them a perpetual 
torment. As we see in line 85, the horn, or crest of the flame 
in which Ulysses is lamenting is the larger, because Diomed, 
the mot;e violent of the two, participated in some of the plots 
of the other; but Ulysses, who is also called by Virgil dirui 
and saevus, devised these plots ; and others also, for which he 
alone is responsible." Compare Lucan, Pkars. i, 549-551 : 
"Vestali raptus ab ara 
Ignis, et ostendens confeeias llamma Latinas 
Scinditur in partes, geminoque cacumine surgit, 
Thebanos imitata rogos." 
and Stalius, Thebaiif, xii, 429-431 : 

" Ecce iterum fratres : primos ut contigit artus 
Ignis edax, tremuere rogi, et novus ad vena bustis 
Pellitur : exundant diviso vertice llammae, 
Altemosque apices abrupta luce ci 



Readings on tlu Inferno. Canto XXVI. 

I was standing upon the bridge to look, so 
erect that, had I not laid hold on a rock, I 
should have fallen down wilhoui being pushed. 
And the Leader, who saw me so absorbed, 
(aid: "Within these ."....s are the spirits: 
each one is swathed by that with which he is 
enkindled." " O my Master," I replied, 
"after hearing thee I feel more assured (of 
th« fact) ; but I had already surmised that it 
night be so, and already was longing to say 
to thee : ' Who is in that fire, which is ap- 
proaching, so divided at the top, thai it seems 
as if it ascended from the pyre, on which 
£teocles was laid with his brother ?' " 
Vii^l tells Dante what he wants to know. 

Risposemi :— " lA entro si tnartira 55 

Ulisse e Diomede, e cod insieme 
Alia vendetta vanoo come all' ira : 
E dentro dalla lor fiamma si geme 

L' aguato * del caval, che fe" la porta 
Ond' usd de' Romani il ^ntil seme, t 60 

*ftigitaio dtl caval: Compare Virg. ^fn. ii, 195-198 ; 
"Talibns insidiis perjurique arte Sinonis 
Credita res, captique dolis lacrytnisque coaciis, 
Quos ncque Tydides, nee Larissaeus Achilles, 
Nod anni damuere decern, non mille cariiue." 
In !»/. XXX, we find Sinon in the Bolgia of the Forgers, Adamo 
da Brescia taunts him with his contrivance of the wooden horse, 
lines 1 18-130: 

"* Ricorditi, spergturo, del cavallo,' 

Rispose quel ch' avea eafiata 1' epa ; 
. 'E siati rco, che tutto il tnonda sallo." 
^ il ge/Uil seitu ; Compare Virg. .^»i. i, lo-ii : 
" genus unde Latinum 
Albanique patres, atque altz mania Romx." 
and V. 33-36 : 

Canto XXVI. Readings en the Inferno. 365 

Piangevisi enlro 1' arte, per che morta 

Dcidamla ancor si duol d'Achille, 

E del Palladio * pena vj si porla." — 

He answered me: " There within are being 

tormented Ulysses and Diomed, and llius 

speed they along united in punishment [lU. lo 

vengeance) as (formerly tliey ran) in wrath 

(against the Trojans), And within their flame 

have they to groan for the ambush of the 

horse, which made the door-way (i.<r. entrance 

into the City of Troy), out of which issued 

the noble seed of the Romans (i.t. ./Eneas). 

T herein have ll iey to weep for the artifice, 

OlLaccount of wfiicKTieidamia in death still 

_iiiouH>s~for_Achilies,,and therein is being 

,.paid Ihe^genaky for the Palladium." 

Benvenuto remarks that these two shades had in 

life wrought many deeds which the one could not 

have performed without the other ; Ulysses wa3_the 

" ProReniem sed enim Trojano a sanguine duci 
Audierat, Tyrias olim quK verleret arces ; 
Hinc populum, lale regem, belloque supcrbum 
Venturum excidio Libya; ; sic volvere Parcas." 

• Palladio : Tbes t atue o f P''l J"^BKarilT"^Jff'^l" ririlfltl flf 
Troy, o n the sale custody of wh ic h the s afe t y of.lbe .city was 
believ ed to depend. Ulvsse^ and Uiome d r'^ffi'^ it pp" >fy 
craft. Compare Vi rg. ^n. ii, 163- 163 : 
""^" " Impiiis ex quo 

Tydides sed enim, sceleiumque inventor Ulixes, 
F stale aggressi sacralo avellete tempio 
Palladium, caesis sum ma; custodibus arcis, 
Corripuere sacram effigiem, manibusque 1 
Virgineas ausi Divse contjngere villas." 


366 RiiuSiigs an tk$ Inferno. Canto XXVI. 

head apd brai n to deyise^: Diomed the strong arm to 
execute. Of the bravery of Diomed Homer has 
written many noteworthy instances in the Iliad | 
and of the. prudence of U lysses ma ny things told in 
the Iliad are wonderful, while those related in the 
Odyssey are incredible. 

Dante, on hearing what great spirits are near him, 
is inspired with the keenest interest, and most earnestly 
petitions Virgil to grant his prayer, and (he hints, 
though he does not say so) give him leave to converse 
with them. 

— ** S' ei posson dentro da quelle fiiville* 

Parlar,"— diss* io, ^ Maestro, assai ten prego t 65 
£ ri prego, che il prego vaglia mille, 
Che non mi facci delP attender nego, % 
Finch^ la fiamma comuta qua vegna : 
Vedi che del disio ver lei mi piego."— r 

"If they within those sheets of fire can 
speak," I said, "Master, I pray to thee 
much, and repray, that my prayer may 

^favilU: Tommas^, interprets this, ^^vatnpe sfavillanti^ 
I. €, flames emitting sparks. Compare Claudian, De Bella 
GeticOy 24 : 

" £t juga taurorum rapidis ambusta favillis." 

t ten prego e ripregOy che il Prego^ etc On the frequency of 
Dante's use of such-like plays on words, which Blanc says he 
neither sought out nor avoided, see note on canto xiii, 1. 25, 
(SaggiOy pp. 126-128). 

" Io credo ch' ei credette ch' io credesse." 

X nego stands here for negativa. According to Di Siena the 
first person of the verb is used as a substantive : prego, above, 
is used in the same way for preghiera. So we find in the early 
writers, ildesidero for il desiderio^ or il desiderare; il dubito for 
il dubbio or il dubitare. 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 

count for a thousand, that thou wilt not deny 
me to wait until the flame with horns comes 
this way: see how with desire I bend me 
towards it." 

Virgil commends Dante's request, but there are few 
passages in all the Divina Commedia containing more 
difficulties, and apparently more inconsistencies, than 
Virgil's answer. It is not only in the lines that now fol- 
low that the interpretation must be sought, but also in 
lines 19-33 of fhe next canto, where Guido da Monte- 
feltro notices that, in dismissing the shade of Ulysses, 
Virgil had spoken in the Lombard dialect. Immedi- 
ately afterwards Virgil commands Dante to speak to 
Guido, because he (and Vii^il lays stress upon " he ") 
IS Latin, i. e. Italian. 

Let us consider these two passages as a whole. 

Virgil understands that Dante wants to address 
the two ancient Greek spirits, and to obtain from 
Ulysses the true story of how jie, perished, a circum- 
stance much debated in Dante's time. Virgil prac- 
tically says to Dante: "Yes, you shall obtain the 
information that you seek, but it is I who most 
address them, because they were Greeks, and will 
probably shrink from conversing with you {sarebbero 
sckivi .... forse del tuo detto)." What does detto 
signify? Does it mean the thoughts Dante would 
express, or the language in which they would be 
uttered f If Virgil meant that Ulysses and Diomed 
would not understand Dante, and would understand 
him, how comes it that we find Guido remarking that 
Vii^il has been speaking in the Lombard dialect? 
Would the shades of ancient Greece understand 

368 Rtadbigt am tk$ Iftfemo. Carito xxvi. 

Lombard any better than they would understand 
Tuscan ? And, if they could only converse in Gseek, 
then we may ask, in what languid was the unseemly 
squabble carried on that is recorded in canto xxx, 
between the anpient Greek Sinon (sumamed) of 
Troy, and the modem Italian coiner Adamo da 

None of the commentators except Castelvetro have 
addressed themselves in earnest to decipher the real 
meaning of these two passages. 

The more common interpretation is that by Gnd 
Virgil meant sufierbi^ aUUri^ and that these Greeks^ 
having been great personages in their own time, would 
disdain to speak with Dante, who was not yet known 
to fame. It is certain that Virgil appeals to them as 
having some title to address them ; and it* is main- 
tained by some commentators, that the fact of his 
having written about their achievements in the ^neid 
may have been thought to constitute a reason for the 
right he claims. Against this it may be urged that, 
although Virgil did write about them, he did not 
represent them at all in a favourable light. When- 
ever he mentions them he shows that all his sym- 
pathies are with the Trojans, and not with the Greeks, 
and he does not hesitate to speak with severe censure 
of the craft and deceit to which these two had resorted. 
On the other hand it is argued that although Virgil's 
sympathies were not shown to be with the Greeks in 
the jEneid, and though he characterizes the artifices 

* Tacitus {Annal. ii, 88), speaking of the Greeks, says : 
" Graecorum analibus ignotus, qui sua tantum mirantur." 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 

of Ulysses and Diomed as having been fraudulent 
and treacherous, yet he celebrates these very deeds as 
the deeds of great men, even though he did not take 
their part. 

Tasso propounded the extraordinary theory that 
Virgil wished to delude Ulysses into thinking he was 
Homer. But Homer would certainly not have ad- 
dressed two of the heroes of his own poem in the 
modern Lombard dialect ! 

Another argument is, that in canto xv, Dante claims 
to have been descended from tiie ancient Romans, 
who in their turn were supposed to take origin from 
the Trojans under jEneas. Virgil was a Mantuan. 
Mantua was founded by Manto, who in her wanderings 
before she settled down on the site of Mantua was 
accompanied by a retinue of Grecian adventurers, 
from one of whom Virgil may have been descended. 
Hence, according to this argument, Ulysses and 
Diomed might be supposed to be averse from speak- 
ing with Dante, a descendant of the Trojans, but to 
have no such repugnance to Virgil, as sprung from an 
ancient Grecian stock. 

Castelvetro, after using many of the above argu- 
ments, concludes thus : " All the same I fancy that 
Dante did not term Ulysses and Diomed Greeks by 
reason of their nationality, but on account of their 
antiquity, since the dominion and the prosperity of 
the Greeks was long before that of the Romans, and 
that by 'Greeks' he means 'ancients'; seeing that 
[in his journey through Hell] Dante never converses 
with any ancient personages, either Greek, or Roman, 
or of any other nationality, but only with modernfi ; 
II. A A 

370 Riodmgs an tki Infifn^. Canto xxvi. 

and perhaps, when pn canto xxvii, 33] Viigil said to 
Dante about Count Guido da Montefeltro^ ' Parla tn» 
quest! h, latino/ he meant to say : ' This is a man of 
modem times.' And the reason may be, also, that 
Dante does not profess to know ancient history nor 
ancient teaching, as Viigil did." 

Ed egli a me : — ^ La tua preghiera h degna 70 

Di molta lode^ ed k> per6 P accetto ;* 
Ma fa che la tua lingua li sost^fiuu 

Lascia paiiare a me : ch' 10 ho concetto 
Ci6 che tu vnoi : ch' « sarebbero schivi, 
Perch' ei for Greci, ibrse del too detta* — 75 

And he to roe : '' Thy prayer is worthy of rouch 
comroendation, and therefore I grant it ; but 
take heed that thy tongue restrains itself. 
Let roe speak : for I have conceived (/. e, 
understood) what thou wishest : for they, 
because they were Greeks, might perchance 
be disdainfol of thy words (1. e. averse from 
speaking with thee)." 

Virgil, having undertaken to be the spokesman, 
watches his time very carefully, both as to the most 
favourable moment for the shades to hear him, and 
also for a convenient spot for their flame to pause, 
so that he and Dante may be able to hear them. He 
claims their consideration on account of hiis poetry, 
and Tommasto remarks that Virgil did not in every 
instance represent them in an odious light, and cer- 
tainly had immortalized them. 

* f accetto : The Vocabolario delta Crusca (s. v. accettare) 
quotes this very passage in § 4, and gives the following explana- 
tion : ^^ Accettare una preghiera^vale Esaudirla^ i. e. to grant it. 

Canto XXVL Readings on the Inferno. 371 

Poich^ la fiamma fu venuta quivi, 

Dove parve al mio Duca tempo e loco,* 
In questa fonna f lui parlare audivi : % 
— " O voi, che siete due dentro ad un foco, 

* tempo e loco : Compare Petrarch, part i, Son, 11 : 
" Celatamente Amor V arco riprese, 
Com' uom ch'a nuocer luogo e teihpo aspetta." 
f In questa forma : meaning, in questa guisa. 

Compare Tasso, Ger, Lib. xii, st. 69 : 

'' D' un bel pallore ha il bianco volto asperso, 
Come a gigli serian miste viole ; 
£ gli occhi a cielo affisa, e in lei converso 
Sembra per la pietate il cielo e M Sole ; 
£ la man nuda e fredda alzando verso 
II cavaliero, in vece di parole, 
Gli dk pegno di pace. In questa forma 
Passa la bella donna, e par che dorma." 

Xaudivi^ for udii: Nannucci {AnalisiCritica dei Verdi /ta/iani^ 
page 161 -162) says that in verbs of the third conjugation the 
first person singular of the perfect tense, among old Italian 
writers, used to be made to terminate in iin as in Latin. Com- 
pare Purg. xii, 69 : 

** Quant' io calcai 6n che chinato givi." 
Nannucci quotes the following from early Italian poets : Dante 
da Maiano : 

" Di ci6 ch' audivi dir primieramente." 
again : " Non come audivi il trovo certamente." 

Brunetto Latini in the Tesoretto^ cap. i : 

" Ch' audivi dir che tene 
Ogn' uom, ch' al mondo vene." 
and Ruggerone da Palermo, Canzone : 
" O Deo ! come fui matto, 
Quando mi dipartivi 
Lk ov* era stato in tanta dignitate." 
and Giacomo Pugliesi : 

" Allotta ch' io mi partivi 
£ dissi : a Dio v* accomando." 
II. AA 2 

372 Riodiiigs em the Infmmo. Canto XXVL 

S' io meriud di vol mentre ch' io yiau, 80 

S' io meritai di voi * assai o pooo, 
Quando nd mondo gli alti versi f scrissi, 
Non vi movete ; ma P an { di voi dica 
Dove per lui peiduto a morir gissi. § " — 

Then when the flame had come to that point 
where the-time and the place seemed (oppoi^ 
tune) to my Ldhder, I heard him speak in this 
manner : *' O ye, who are two within one fire, 
if while I lived I deserved (well) of you, if I 
deserved of you much or little^ when in the 
world I wrote the lofty verses (/ . t. the jEneid)^ 
move not away ; but let one of you (/ . e. 
Ulysses) relate where being lost he went to 

Scartazzini observes that it is always Virgil who 
talks with the shades of the ancient personages 

*S'io meriiaidi vat : Dante seems to have imitated this very 
common Latin idiom from Virgil, jCn. iv, 316-319, where Dido, 
imploring i£neas not to desert her, says to him : 

*' Per connubia nostra, per inceptos hymenxos ; 
Si bene quid de te menii, fuit aut tibi quicquam 
Dulce meum : miserere domQs labentis, et istam, 
Oro, si quis adhuc precibus locus, exue mentem. " 

\gli alti versi: In canto xx, 1 13, Virgil speaks of the ^neid 
as ** V alta mia Tragedfa." 

X^tin di vai dica: Virgil knows that Ulysses alone is the 
object of Dante's curiosity. 

§ per lui gissi is the same as egli se ir* andd. It is an idiomatic 
expression resembling per me si vegna {Inf. i, 126X and Virg. 
^n, iv, 151 : 

'' Postquam altos ventum in montes, atque in via lustra. ** 
and Horace, I Sat, ix, 35 : 

" Ventum erat ad Vestae." 

Canto XXVI. Readings en the Inferno. 373 

they encounter, Dante speaks only to the modem, 
with the sole exception when Dante was admitted 
into the circle of the five great poets presided over 
by Homer. Dante says there that he was the sixth 
amid so much learning, and speaking on matters of 
which it was well to be silent on earth, even as it was 
well to speak on them there, in Limbo. In canto xiii 
it is Virgil who addresses the Centaurs, and who in 
canto xiv reproves Capaneus for his rebellious arro- 

Division IV. The remainder of the canto is taken 
up by the answer of the shade of Ulysses to Virgil, in 
which he gives a thrilling account of his last voyage 
and death. Mr. Butler, in, a note on "the magnificent 
passage," says that "the source from whence Dante 
derived the idea of Ulysses' end remains obscure," 
but that in Dante's time "there clearly were old 
translations, now lost, of Greek works, to which he 
had access." Di Siena says it was a fundamental 
part of the creed of ancient times that no one 
could travel beyond the jilla rs of Hercules_aadJi-ve. 
As JDante elected to ^descnBeTJlysses as j.ailinB 
beyond those limits, he was bound either to make 
him perish at sea, or to represent him as the dis- 
coverer of a new" world. Di Siena adds that the 
Dantesque ficlion becomes more plausible when one 
remembers that the Germans are said by Tacitus {De 
moribus Germanorum, ch. 3) to have held in olden 
times that Ulysses did penetrate to some land across 
the sea and founded Acisburgum (now Asberg, a 

374 Readings oh tk$ Infirm. Canto XXVL 

small town near Moers» in Prussia) ; though Strabo 
believes it was Lisbon, originally called Ulysbona.* 

Lo maggior como della' fiamma andca 85 

Cominci6 a croUarn f monnoiaiido^ 
Pur come quella cai vento aflhticat 

Indi la dma qua e U menando^ 

Come fosse la lingua die parlawc^ § 
Gitt6 voce dl fumriy e disse : 

The greater horn of the ancient flame htguk 
to writhe murmuring, even as that (flame) does 
which the wind agitates. Then waving its 
extreme top to and fro^ as though it were the 
tongue that was speaking, it threw forth a 
voice and said : 

* Claudian (In Ruffinum^ i, 123-125) speaks of an island in 
the Ocean, inhabited by the spirits of the dead, at which Ulysses 
touched during his voyage : 

*' Est locus, extremum pandit qua Gallia littus, 
Oceani praetentus aquis, ubi fertur Ulixes 
Sanguine libato populum movisse silentem.'' 

t Coffuncid a crollarsi monnorando : Compare Inf. xxvii, 5, 6 : 
'* Ne fece volger gli occhi alia sua cima, 
Per un confuso suon che fuor n' uscia." 

X affdtica has the force of the Latin fcUigare^ to weary, to 

smite, to disturb, to excite, to agitate. Compare Horace ii, 

Carm. ix, 5-8 : 

'' Stat glacies iners 

Menses per omnes ; aut Aquilonibus 

Querceta Gargani laborant 

£t foliis viduantur omi." 

§ la lingua cks fiarlasse: Compare Inf. xxvii, 16-18 : 
'* Ma poscia ch' ebber colto lor viaggio 

Su per la punta, dandole quel guizzo 

Che dato avea la lingua in lor passaggio," etc 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 

Mi diparii' da Circe,* che sotlrasset 

Me piii d' un anno Ik presso a GutaJ 
:a. che s) Enea la 

NJ dolceija di figlio, n6 la pieta 

Del vecchio padre, n^ il debito amore,§ 95 

Lo qual dovea Penelope far llela, 

" Circe: Pietro di Danle quotes the following passages in 
illus'tratioD : floeth. Phil. Com. iv, Foes, iii : 

" Vela Nerilii ducis [from Neritos, a mountain in Ithacft], 
El vagas pel ago rales 
Eurus appulit insulEC, 
Pulchra qua residens dea 
Solis edita semine, 
MJscet hospitibus novis 
Tacta carmine pocula." 
Also Virg. jCx. vii, lo-io ; Eel. viii, 69-70; Ovid Metam. 
xiv,68-7i; and Horace, £>)orf. xvii, 15-18, 

+ soUraise : Di Siena says the most common interpretation 
of this is: "Stole me away from myself" Some explain it; 
" kept me concealed." This is the view of Volpi, Lombard!, 
Ilianchi, Scarlaiiini, and the Vocaiolario delta Crusca, and it is 
the one I follow, Tommasto ; " Turned me aside from my 

X Caeta: So called by j£neas after his nurse Caieta, who 
died there. See Virg. .fi'n. vii, 1-4: 

" Tu quoque littoribus nostris, /Entla. nuirix, 
/Elernam moriens famam, Caieta, dedisti ; 
Et nunc servat honos sedem tuus, ossaque nomen 
Hesperia in magna (si qua est ea gloria) signaL" 
§ dolazza di figlio, ni la pieta Del vecchio padre, ni il debito 
amore, etc.: Pietro di Dante does not seem to rate conjugal 
affection very highly, for, noticing that Ulysses mentions first 
the love of his son, then that for his father, and lastly the obli- 
gatory love for his wife, he says : " Et nota quod magis filiis, 
inde patri, postea uxori ad amoiem iadinamur." Pietro di Dante 



376 Rsadbigs am iki Inftmo. Canto XXVL 

Vincer poter dentio da me F ardore 

Ch' i' ebbi a divenir del mondo e^peitQ^ 
£ degli viiii amani e del valoreif 

Ma misi me per F alto mate aperto - loo 

Sol con on legno e coo-qoella oompagnaf 
Pjcdola, dalla qual non ftu deserta 

** When I parted from Ciice, who for more 

quotes Virg. JEn. ii, 665, 666^ in illustration of this gradoated 
and decreasing scale of love : 

** Eripis, ut mediis hostem in penetraliboSi utque 
Ascanium, patremqne meom, juxtaque Creusam." 
and Ovidf Heroides i, 97-98 : 

** Tres sumus imbelles nomero^ sine viribus uxor, 
La^esque senex ; Telemachusque puer.* 

* degU visii umani e del valart : Compare Hor. Ars. Poet 
141-142 : 

** Die mihi, Musa, virum captae post tempora Trojae, 
Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes." 
and Homer, Odyss. i, 1-3: 

*' "Ap^pm /Ml IryfVf , lf«Mr«, wK^powow, Sr ftdXa voAA^ 
wokKw VMpAwmw fBcr ftrrco, kcU p^ fyimJ'* 

See also EccUsiasticus^ xxxix, 4 : ** he will travel through 
strange countries ; for he hath tried * the good and the evil 
among men." 

t comfiagna stands here for compagnia^ of very common use 
in the older Italian writers. 
Compare Purg. xxiii, 127-128: 

'* Tanto dice di farmi sua compagna, [1. e, afford me his 
Ch' io sar6 Ik dove fia Beatrice.'' company] 

and Folgore da San Gemignano (who flourished in 1260), 
Sonnetto d Aprile : 

** Vi do d' Aprile la gentil campagna 
Tutta fiorita di bell* erba fresca ; 
Fontana d' acqua, che non vi rincresca, 
Donne e donzelle per vostra compagna." 

Canto XXVr. Readings on the Inferno. 

ihan a year had kept me in seclusion there 

near untO Gaeta (but) before jflneas had so 
named it ; m-iihpr t rndrrnps^ f"'' ""y soP r ""'' 
j-nmp^cc;,^ti3iP fpyg fence for my aged father^ 
which should have made 


ipe pliid, were able 

t beardo ijLJV h' rh 1 b|id to gain experience of . 

_ mankind : but I put forth upon the deep open 
sea, with one ship alone, and with that small 
band by whom I had never been deserted. 
We gather by the next three lines that by the deep 
open sea Ulysses means the Mediterranean, not the 
Ocean. He could see land on both sides. On the 
right was the European coast, on the left stretched 
the African continent. 

L' un !itt> e 1' altro vidi infin la Spagna, 
Fin nel Morrocco, e 1' tsola de' Sard!, 
E I' altre che quel mare inlorno bagna. lo; 

I saw both the one and the other coast as far 

as Spain, as far as Morocco, and the Island 

of Sardinia, and the other (isles) around which 

that sea washes. 

The other isles in the Mediterranean would be 

Sicily, Pantellaria, Corsica, Majorca, Minorca, Ivica, 

Elba, etc. 

Ulysses next relates how he and his crew reached 
the Pillars of Hercules, now the Straits of Gibraltar, 
which in ancient times were considered to be the 
extreme limit of the known world. The Pillars of 
Hercules {Herculis Columnm) were Calpe in Europe, 
and Abyla in Africa. 

378 RiiuUtigs an ike Inferno. Canto XXVL 

lo e i compagnt eravam vecchi e tardi, 
Quando veDimmo a quella fooe stretta, 
Ov* Ercde segii6 II sum rignaxdi,* 

Acciocch^ r aom fna oltre non ti metta : 

Dalla man destra mi lasdai Sibilia, no 

Dall' altia gi^ m' avea lasdata Sena. 

I and my companions were old and broken- 
down, when we came to that narrow passage, 
where TTrrnilrij Ifitjjjj' ^^^^ insriis in nnlfT^ 

right hand I left Seville^ (and) on the other 
had already left Ceuta. 

He tells the Poets how he harangued hja JaML^to 
inducejh em to join him in Jhe^pfirilous. voyage into ^ 
the vast and unexplored Ocean : a proceeding in those 
days considered so foolhardy, that it was thought to 
be courting certain death. 

* O fratiy' t dissi, ' che per cento milia 

* riguardi: Both Scartazzini and Di Siena quote from Per- 
tican {Prop, voL ii, part ii, p. 388X who observes that in 
Romagna the landmarks that separate fields, or signposts and 
columns on the high roads, are still called riguardi, 

t OJrcUi: Compare Virg. ^n, i, 202-21 1 : 

^ O socii, — neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum 
O passi graviora \ dabit Deus his quoque finem. 
Vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantes 
Accestis scopulos ; vos et Cyclopia saxa 
Expert!. Revocate animos, msstumque timorem 
Mittite. Forsan et baec olim meminisse juvabit. 
Per vanos casus, per tot discrimina rerum, 
Tendimus in Latium : sedes ubi fata quietas 
Ostendunt. lllic fas regna resurgere Trojae. 
D urate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis." 
and Horace i, Carm, vii, 25, tt seq. : 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 379 

Perigli side giunti all' occidenie, 
A questa tanto picciola vigilia * 

De' voslri sensi, ch' * del rimanente, II5 

Non vogliaie ncgar 1' esperienza, 
Diretro a1 sol, del mondo senza genie. 

CoDsidetate la vostra semenia : 

Falti non foste a viver come bruti. 

Ma per seguir virlute e conosceiua.' • 120 

'O brothers,' I said, 'who through a hundred 
thousand perils have reached the west, seek 
not to deny to the waking-time of your senses 
{i.e. your life) so brief (as it is) which remains 
to you, experience of the unpeopled world 
behind the sun. Consider your origin : ye 
were not created to live like brute beasts, but 

tTT r"""'" "'rriir- —^ ''nnmhijrL' 

Benvenuto says that throughout the Odyssey, as 
well as in the Thirteenth Book of the Metamorphoses al 
Ovid, one may read of the persuasiveness of Ulysses, as 

" Quo nos cumque feret melior fortuna parente, 
Ibimus, o socii coinitesque : 

O fortes, pejoraque passi 
Mecum sccpe viri, nunc vino pcllite curas ; 
Cras ingens iterabimus Kquor." 
and Lucan, Phars. i, 299-300 : 

" Bellorum o socii, qui niille pericula Mattis 
Mecuni, ait, experti, decimo jam vincilis anno." 
* vigilia: Uf this word Blanc says that all the commen- 
tators agree that it signifies the brief duration of life thai 
remained to the adventurers. 

Compare Com/, iii, cap. z, on what Dante says respecting 
"la polenzia vegetativa" or vegelalivc faculty, and the "vita 
a " which gives the mental anU intellectual life. 



Readings on iAelnffrm. Canto XXVL 


iQUWt^K£liit.succe8aiagfittiiig ti^ dcms^of Achilles 
adjudged to him, wheii^ after tb^t. hero's -death, they 
were claimed bofhl^yliiinself and Ajax. So now hjs 
words overcome the reluctance of his followers. 

Li miei compagni fee* io d acuti, 

Con questa oraiioD picdola, al cammiiio, 
Che appeaa poscia ifi avrei ritenutL 

£y volta nostra poppa nel mattinOy 

De' remi fiicemmo ale * al foUe volo^ 125 

Sempre acquistando dal lato mancina 

W ith this ^>rief haiangw 

^ Jjf85 that aKcr 

having turned our poop to the morning (Le. 
heading for the west), with our oars we 
made wings for our insensate flight, ever 
gaining on the left side {t\e. working more 
and more to port). 

The following remarks by Tommasio are quoted 
with approval by some of the best modem commenta- 
tors : "As Dante was to make Ulysses come in sight of 
the Mountain of Purgatory, supposed to be under the 
meridian of Jerusalem, it was necessary to represent 
him, or any one who was sailing from Gibraltar, keep- 
ing constantly to the left, that is, bearing always to 
Port, as much as the Western coasts of Africa per- 
mitted, in order to regain the distance which separates 
the Pillars of Hercules from Jerusalem. And in that 
way Dante comes to tell us also of the South Easterly 

* D^ remi facemmo aU : Compare Virgil, j£n. iii, 519-520 : 

'* Nos castra movemus, 
Tentamusque viam, et velorum pandimus alas." 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 

38 1 

direction which those coasts must take, so that, by 
sailing along them, he would ever be going to his left. 
What an amount of matter in one single line t " 

The next three lines show that their course had 
taken them beyond the Equator. 

Tulle le slelle gi!i dell' altro polo 

Veilea ♦ la nolle, c il nostro tanto basso, 
Che non surgeva fuor del tnarin suoto.t 
I could now see all the stars of the other {i.e. 
the antarctic) pole at night, and ours {[he 
arctic pole) so low that it did not rise above 
the ocean floor. 
He now describes how after five months' navigation 
in tlie great Ocean they at length sighted land. 

• Vtdea : I follow Scarta^iini, Di Siena, Blanc, Lamennais, 
and Wright, in understanding (his sentence, " to vedea tut/e le 
sltlUdtir alfropol0lanaiU,"mt^mng,iulla»ollt,otdi natfe. It 
is a perfectly common expression in Italy to say la nottt, with the 
signification of, during the nighl,?.^. .- " La notte lutii dormono, 
I.*., during the night every body sleeps." In Lowland Scotch the 
fonn is identically the same. See Sir Walter Scott, Antiquary, 
ch. ii. : " ' Punch,' said he, ' the deil a drap punch ye' se gel here 
the day, Montbarns, and thai ye may lay your account wi.'" 
Nearly all the old commentaiors understand "io videa nella 
notte." Daniello, who is followed by most of the translaiors, 
takes la nolle lo be Ihe subject of ihe proposition. And Petrarch 
(pari i, sest. vii) has a passage which accords with ihls view : 
" Nan ha tanti animali il mar fra I' onde ; . 
Nfr lassii sopra 'I cerchio della Luna 
Vide mai lante stelle alcuna nolle." 
t marin suelo: Compare Purg. ii, 13-15 ; 
" Ed ecco qual, sul presso del mattino, 

Per Ii grossi vapor Marte rosseggia 
Giu nel ponenle sopra il suol marino." 

382 Readings on ike Infirm. Canto XXVL 

Cinque volte racoesOi* e tante casso ijo 

Lo lume era dl sotto deDa lana, 
Poi ch' entrati eravam nelP alto passo^ . 

Quando n' apparve una rnqptagnat branat 
Per la distama, e parvemi alta tanto,§ 
Quanto vedata non n'aveva alcnna. 135 

* cinqu€ volU racaso: In Inf. x, 79-Sii Dante hears from 
Farinata that his banishment from Florence will take place 
within fifty months. 

'* Ma non dnqoanta volte fia laccesa 

La foccia deDa donna che qui regge, 
Che tu saprai quanto quell' arte pesa." 
t nunUagna : This was the Mountain of Purgatory, of whose 
desert shore Dante speaks in Purg, i, 150-132 : 
" Venimmo poi in sul lito diserto, 

Che mai non vide navicar sue acque 
Uomo, che di toraar sia poscia esperto." 
X bruna : It cannot be sufficiently insisted on that the adjec- 
tive bruno very seldom means "brown," but rather, "black, 
dark, or obscure." In Baretti's Dictionary, " brown " is not even 
mentioned as one of the significations of bruno. In the Vocabo- 
lario della Crusca one finds the following significations given : 
^^Di color nereggianU (blackish), Latin nigricans ; per nero sem- 
piiceminU^ Lat niger^ aierj per adombrato^ Lat <;^aa/j,obscurus; 
per tenebroso^ oscuro; per metaf, incognitos per mesto turbata" 
Again, bruno^ subst «» abito nero. See (my) note on Inf. ii, i : 
Compare Virg. JSn, iii, 521-523 : 

" Jamque rubescebat stellis Aurora fugatis : 
Cum procul obscuros coUes humilemque videmus 
again, ^n, iii, 205-206 : 

" Quarto terra die primum se attollere tandem 
Visa, aperire procul monies, ac volvere fumum." 
§ aiia tanio, etc : The stupendous height of the Mountain of 
Purgatory is attested in the following passages, Pi//^. iii, 14-15 : 
" £ diedi il viso mio incontro al poggio, 

Che inverso il ciel piii alto si dislaga." 
and iv, 40-42 : 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 


Five times had the light beneath the moon 

been rekindled, and as many qnenched after 

that we had entered into the highway of the 

deep, when there appeared to us a mountain 

dark in the far distance, and it seemed to me 

so exceedingly high as I had never beheld 

any before. 

Scartazzini says that the five months must be dated 

from their departure from Cadiz, when they put out 

into the great Ocean, He calculates that the Mountain 

of Purgatory would be about 2050 miles from Cadiz, 

if one reckons that they advanced about 1 3 miles a day 

for 150 days on an average, which, according to the 

slow progress made at sea in those days, would not be 

out of the way. Scartazzini reminds us that Ulysses is 

of course speaking in accordance with the belief held in 

Dante's time, that the Southern Hemisphere was 

covered with water. 

Ulysses concludes by relating the final catastrophe, 
in which his ship was swallowed up in a whirlpool, 
and he and his companions perished. He says 
their first sight of land made them glad ; on which 
Benvenuto remarks that that is always the way with 
mariners, after having been a long time at sea. 

" Lo sommo ei' alto che vincea la vista, 
E la costa superba pifi assai, 
Che dft meiio quadrante a centre lista." 
and iv, 85-87 : 
, " Ma se a te piacc, volenlier saprei 

Quanto avemo ad andar, chi il poggio sale 
PiCi che salir non posson gli occhi miei." 
In his descriptions of the Mountain of Purgatory, Dante in- 
tended, beyond a doubt, to convey the idea of immensity. 


3ft4 Retutingj on Uu In/trm. Canto XXVL 

Noi d alkgranuDo,* c tosto \oni^ to piaitU ; 
Chi daUa naova tern nn turbo IUC(|a^ 
E pcicotsc dd Icgno il prinw canta. 

Tre voile il /e" girar con tune 1 1' acqtie, 

AlU quarta levar la poppa in soso, 140 

E la prora ire in giii, com' altrot placquej 

Inlin che il mar (ii sopra noi lichiuso.' — 

pianto : Di Siena sayi 

le one pass^e. and the 
(b some Eubjeci under- 
n^le thing. One must 
TdMmo, e V esserci alle- 

>f land, compare Tasso, 

• JV^ e> a/legra: 
Ihit postage is exa 
"Di fuor di 
He renurka ihai a. 
vtfbUfitd in the 1 
■tood in its ideal . 
imdentftnd the ser 
grati, i^., la nostra 

On the joy of maj 
dr. Lii. iii, sL iv ; 

" Cosl di naviganti audace stuoto, 
Che mova a ricercar estranio lido, 
E in mar dubbioso, e so I to ignoto polo 
Provi I' onde fatlaci e '1 vento inlida ; 
S' alfin discopre il desiato suolo, 
Lo saluta da lunge in lieto grido ; 
E I' uno atr altro il mostra ; e inlanto oblia 
La noja c '1 mal delta passata via." 
t conlultt P acque: Di Siena quotes jEn. i, 118, et uq,: 
" Ipsius ante oculos ingens a vertice pontus 
In puppim ferii : excutilur, pronusque magister 
Volvitur in caput 1 ast illam ter fluctus ibidem 
Torquet agens circum, el rapidus voral asjuore vortex." 
Di Siena says that the expression lullt le acgue exactly cor- 
responds to the Virgilian phrase, ibidem .- for the cyclone whirled 
round both sea and ship together. ' 

J iowf a//rui/iiuYu«v~Tbe-heaihen~Ut7S5es-dare9-ootuitter 
_ the name of God. The blasphemer, Vanni Fucci, dared to do so. 
Compare Inf. v, 8081: 

Canto XXVI. Readings on the Inferno. 385 

We rejoiced, and (yet our joy) was soon 

turned into weeping ; for from this new land 

there uprose a whirlwind, and smote upon the 

fore part of the ship. Three times it made 

her whirl round with all the waters, the fourth 

(time it made) the poop rise aloft, and the 

prow go down, as was the will of Another {i.f. 

God), until that the sea had closed over us." 

Benvenuto here observes that he must earnestly 

warn his readers that this account of the death of 

Ulysses is totally devoid of all authority either from 

history or tradition, neither is it borne out by the 

poetical fictions, either of Homer, or any other poet 

By these last it has been universally recounted that 

Ulyss es was slain by Telegonus. his natural son, whom 

CTree bore hirn. And whatever others may say to the 

contrary, Benvenuto says he will never believe that 

Dante was ignorant of the legend commonly known to 1 

boys and dunces ; but that he purposely composed ' 

this fiction, as many other poets and writers have 

done, tn -shn^ thatJa h i gh-minded m ^j, of a nojile 

soul , such as Ulysses posse ssed," wJljj ieitlier spare his 

life, p"T flYPH P^r'^FJi l'd toils, to acquire exper ience. 

^d- will j J Kfer a -^ h?r|. and glorious life, t o a l o ng ^qne 

laitlif^uf.ili'itincfiQn .. 

Venite a noi parlar, s' 
tmiPurg. i, T33: 

" Quivi mi cinse si com. 
In this last case, allrui refer! 

: altrui piacque.' 
to Cato." 

End of Canto XXVI. 


386 Riodif^gs an ike InfirHO. Canto XXVIL 


The Eighth Circle {amtinued). 
The Eighth Bolgia. 

Fraudulent Counsellors. 

The Condition of Romagna. 

guido da montefeltro. 


This canto is one of the most beautiful in the 
Dhrina Commedia^ and nowhere does Dante display 
more conspicuously his extraordinary power of blend- 
ing into one harmonious narrative subjects so differ- 
ent as the harrowing description of the awful scene 
before him, and the gentle pathos with which a fallen 
great man, Guido da Montefeltro, laments the errors 
of a misspent life. 

In no part of his poem is Dante's hatred of Pope 
Boniface VIII expressed with more bitterness than in 
this canto, the Pope being made primarily responsible 
for Guido's relapse into sin and eventual perdition. 
Finally the veil is supposed to be uplifted, and we are 
allowed a glimpse of the terrible episode in which 
the powers of evil triumph over the powers of good, 
and the soul of Guido is carried away, judged, con- 
demned, and consigned to an awful doom. 

Benvenuto divides the canto into three parts. 

In Division /, from v. i to v. 30, is introduced 
the shade of Guido da Montefeltro, who asks Virgil 
about the condition of the Romagna. 

Canto XXVII, Readings on the Inferno. 387 

In Division If. from v. 31 to v. 57, Dante, at the 
request of Virgil, gives Guido the information he has 
asked for, and then begs Him to communicate his own 

In Division III, from v. 58 to v. 136, Guido 
relates that, having turned to a life of penitence and 
mortification for the crooked ways of his early life, 
he was tempted by Boniface VIII into returning to 
his former evil ways, and his soul was lost thereby. 

Division I. Wc learn by line 21 that, at the con- 
clusion of the narrative of Ulysses, Virgil seems to 
have dismissed him, telling him in the Lombard 
dialect that he would not detain him further. The 
familiar sounds of the North Italian tongue have 
attracted the attention of another shade, who, coming 
under the arch over which the poets are leaning, 
entreats them to pause for a while and converse with 

G'A. era dritta* in su la fiaroina e quels, 

Per non dir pib, e gi^ da noi sen g(a 

Con la licenia del dolce Poeta \ 
Quando un' altra, che dielro a lei venia, 

Ne fece votget gli occhi alia sua cinia,t 5 

Per un confuso suon che fuor n' uscia. 

* dritta in su lafiamma e queta : By dritta wc are lo under- 
stand that the flame had ceased lo wave about {croUarsi), and 
by qutta that it was no longer giving forth a sound [inor- 
morando) as we read that it did in I, 85 of the last canto. 

+ fecc votger gli occhi alia sua cima : This is very similar lo 
the passage in Inf. viii, 3, 4 : 

Gli occhi noslri n' andar suso alia cima, 
Per due Bammctte die i' vedemmo porre." 
B B 2 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVII. 

Now was the flame pointing straight up and 
(was) still, through not speaking more, and 
already was it moving away from us with the 
permission of the gentle poet, when another 
(flame) that was coming on behind it, made 

us turn our ey™ *• 
a confused s( 
Benvenuto obsei 
idea of the confuse 
paring it to the \ 
artificer, Perillus, w, 
Fhalaris, Tyrant i 
torture, invented a 
demned criminals n 

i^y (reason of) 
{ from it. 

itc illustrates this 
le flame by com- 
of the Athenian 
; morbid taste of 
or new forms of 
ithin which con- 

,ip and roasted by 

lighting a fire underneatn. Phalaris, with a hideous 
sense of humour, informed Perillus that he should be 
the one to teach the bull how to bellow, and accord-' 
ingly caused him to be thrust in, and be the first 
victim of his cruel invention. 

The Fraudulent Counsellors are in like manner 
tormented within the flames which their own wicked 
counsels have prepared for them. 

Come il bue Cicilian* che mugghi6 prima 

* ilbiu Cicilian : Compare Ovid, Art. Antat. i, 653-656 : 
" Et Phalaris tauro violenti membra Perilli 
Torruit : infelix imbruit auctor opus. 
Justus uterque fuit ; neque enim lex aM|uiar uUa 
Quam necis artifices arte perire sua." 
also Claudian, In Eutropium, i, i;7-i66 : 

" Quam bene dispositum lerris, ut dignus Jniqui 
Fructus consilii primis auctoribus instet ! 

Sic opifex lauri, tormentorumque reperior. 

Canto xxvn. Readings on the Inferno. 389 

Col pianto di cotui (e ci6 fu drilto) 
Che I' avea lemperato con sua lima,* 
Mugghiava con la voce dell' afflitio, id 

SI che, con tutto ch' ei fosse di rame, 
Pure e' pareva dal dolor Iraffitto : 
Like the Sicilian Bull which bellowed first 

Qui funesta novo fabricaveral sera dolori, 
Primus inexpertum, Siculo cogenle lyranno, 
Sensit opus, docuilque suum mugire juvencum." 
Compare Pelrarch, Giunia alli Rime, Padua, 1837, vol. ii, 
page 673 : 

" EqucI che Tcce 11 crudo fabbro ignudo 
Gitlare il primo doloroso sirido 
E far neir arte sua prim! vestigi." 
• Umperalo con sua lima: Di Siena explains this: "pre- 
pared wi[h his hands, worked ai with his tools." He says lima 
is used metaphorically for any one of an artificer's tools. Com- 
pare Pelrarch, Part i. Son. xvi (in some editions xviii) : 
" Ma trovo peso non dalle mie braccia, 
Hk ovra da polir con lamia lima." 
again Pari i, Son. cxciv (or 214) : 

"Amor tulte sue lime 
Usa sopra 'I mio cor afHillo tanto." 
and Dante, Son. xxxii : 

" E maledico 1' amorosa lima, 
Ch'ha pulilo i miei detti, e i bei colon, etc." 
and Canzone ix, si. 2 : 

" Ahi t angosciosa e dispietata lima, 
Che sordamente la mia vita scemi, etc" 
Cecco d' Ascoli ( ^r«r^, lib. ii, cap, 11) speaks of Dante as 
the " Fiorenlino con 1' antiche lime." 

For lemperato see Petrarch, Son. xxvii (or 34) ; 

" Le braccia alia fucina indarno move 
L' anliquissimo fabbro Sicihano 
Ch' a Glove lolle son 1' arme di mano 

Temprate in Mongibello atutte prove." 


Readings oti (fu Infemo. Canto XXVn. 

with the moaning of him.^and this was right 
— who had fashioned it with his file, bellowed 
with the voice of the sufferer with such reKtity, 
that, notwithstanding it was made of brass, 
yet did it seem transfixed with agony. 

In the brazen \ " ' " ■" 
for the voice, so tl 

lere was no outlet 
le victim made an 

inarticulate soum 

3W shows that the 

voice proceeding 

Cos) per not 
Dal priL 
Si conv. 

was of the same 

>uo linguaggio 

ame. iS 

Ma poscia c 

Su per Is 

Che daio avea la lingua 

Udimmo dire :— " tu, a cui 

La voce, e che parlavi m 

Dicendo: 'issattenva. 


cl gititia 
in lor passaggio, 
i io driuo 

o Lombardo, 20 
pit) non t* adiuo:' 

■ Dal prindpio tul/oco : Scarlazijni much prefers this reading, 
and yet he thinks the reading principio Atl/oco the true one, 
and adopts it I follow Witte in reading nelfoco, in which case 
Htilprirtdpio has the sense of dapprima, and must be taken in 
connexion with ma poscia, i. e. the melancholy words could not 
at first find an outlet, but, after they had found their way to the 
(op of the flame, they did sa 

t issa: By far the larger number of MSS. read itlra, but of 
the commentators the majority are for issa, e.g. Otiimo, Anon. 
Fior., Benvenuto, Landino, Vellutella, and Daniello. Lana reads 
H/ra without explaining it Duti and Uargigi read isla. Dr. 
Moore ( Textual Criticism, page 339) says : " This is a case in 
which I think the vast majority of the MSS. must certainly be 
thrown overboard, the copyists having gone astray (as often else- 
where) over an unfamiliar word, namely, issa. Vet this word is 
twice betides used by Dante, vii. in Inf. xxiii, 7, where in fact 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno, 


Perch' io sia giunlo Torse alquanio tarda, 
Non I' incresca reslare a pailar meco : 
Vedi die non incresce a me, ed ardo."— 
In like manner (here) the melancholy words 
from not having in the first instance any vent 
or outlet in the fire changed themselves into 
its language (/. t, into the confused murmur- 
ing sound that fire makes). But after that 
they had found their way up through the 
point, imparting to it that vibration which the 
tongue (of the imprisoned shade) had im- 
parted to them in their passage (through its 
lips), we heard (it) say : " O thou to whom 
I direct my voice, and who but now wast 
speaking Lombard, saying : ' Now get Ihee 
gone, no longer do I urge thee ; ' Though I 
may perchance have come a little late, let it 
not annoy thee to pause and speak with me : 
thou seest that it annoys not me, and I am 
The difTiculty of articulation on the part of the 
Fraudulent Counsellors seems to be somewhat analo- 

its meaning may be said to be explained by Dante himself as 
being indistinguishable from that of mo, i. t. ' now,' and again 
in Purg. xxiv, 5J . . . Benvenuta on Inf. xxiii, 7, says 
' aliqui Tusci dicunt mo, aliqui Lombard! dicunt issa.' It seems 
probable from the expression parlavi Lombardo that the words 
following, purporting to be a quotation from Virgil's language, 
embody Lorabardisms in the case of issa and aditno, and this 
because Virgil waS \\\n\%^\i Lombardo as described in Inf. i, 68." 
lisa is usually taken to be for ipsA hord ; mo for modo ; Blanc 
thinks that aditto may perhaps be derived from the German 
anhektn, to excite a dog to bile, and hence, Io urge on anyone 
to speak. Mr. Duller notices that Guido thrice uses the word 
mo in this canto. 




Readings on the Inftmo. Canto XXVii. 

gous to that of the suicides (canto xiii), who had no 
power of utterance until blood (lowing from a wound 
carried their voices with it. 

The shade now asks Virgil if he is Italian, because, 
if so, they are fellow-countrymen, he himself being 
from the Romagna. as to the dissensions in which 
he asks for news. 

Se tu pur m ieco* as 

Caduto :rra 

Laiina.i jtiarcco, 


mo in qutilo 

to Virgil 


E tu m' hai n. 

and in 1. 

58, of the J 

■ays to Danie : 

Carccre vai 

See ah 


(, 21, Danic 5ay> 

" Fraie, 

Lo mondo k cieco, e tu vien ben da lui." 
and Petrarch, Part i, Son. cxc. (or 210) : 

" Ch' t sola un Sol, non pur agli occhi miei. 
Ma al mondo cieco, che vertii non cura." 
t dolct terra Lalina : Benvenuto thinks Romagna is meant 
here, but I veoture to suggest that this view is disproved by the 
words, omT io tma coipa lutla rtco, " from which I bring all my 
guilL" Guido is about to relate (v. 85 el seq-) that the chief, if 
not the sole, cause of his perdition was the sin into which he 
fell by giving fraudulent counsel lo the Pope about Falestrina 
near Rome. On the other hand terra Lalina cannot be Latium, 
twcause Guido thought he was speaking to a Lombard, and if 
he, a Romagnuole, claims Virgil, a Lombard, as a fellow-coun- 
tryman, he must by terra latina mean Italy. Blanc points out 
that Dante never once uses the term Italiani. Camerini thinks 
that Dante calls al! Italians South of the Po, Latini; and all 
to the North of it, Lombardi. 

Canto XXVII. Readings on tfte Inferno. 

Dimmi se i Romagnuoli han pace, o guerra ; 
Ch' io fui de' monii 1^ intra Urbino 
E il giogo di che '1 Tever si disserra." — 

If thou art but now fallen into this blind 
world from that sweet land ofltaly (///. I^tin 
land), from which I bring all my guilt, tell me 
if the Romagnoles have peace, or war ; for 
I was from the mountain region there between 
Urbino and the chain from which the Tiber 
is unlocked." 

Scarlazzini thinks it probable that Guido was not 
aware of Virgil having a companion. It was Virgil's 
voice that he heard speaking Lombard. In fact his 
use of the word cieco may allude to his inability to see, 
though Cavalcanti uses the word in. canto x, and he 
could see. The hill-country here alluded to is Monte- 
feltro, which is situated between Urbino and Monte 
Coronaro in the Apennines, at the foot of which the 
Tiber lakes its rise. The speaker is the great 
Ghibelline leader. Count Guido da Montefeltro, one 
of the most prominent figures in the highly compli- 
cated history of the Italian States in the time of 
Dante. The exact date of his birth is not known, for 
although Arrivabene (Secolo di Dante, Udine, 1827) 
gives it as 1250, the fact that Guido (in 1. 79 of this 
canto) describes himself as an old man when Uoniface 
VIII was besieging Palestrina, which, according to 
Villani, was in 1298, would certainty seem to prove 
(Scartazzini thinks) that he was born considerably 
before 1250. According to Muratori he was, in 1274, 
made captain of the Lambertazzi, or Ghibellines of 

394 Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxvil. 

Bologna. In 1282, at or near Forll, he inflicted a 
crushing defeat upon the French commander (called 
by Muratori, Johannes de Appia, and by Villani, 
Gianni de Pi), and took possession of the whole of 
the Romagna in opposition to Pope Martin IV 
{contra voluntat - - ■ • '- ,,. jj,jg \^^ ^j,g excom- 
municated, but ide his reconciliation 
to the then Pop k'ho banished him to 
Asti in Piedmo having been elected 
their g^eneral I hibellines, notwith- 
standing the P. Piedmont and came 
to Pisa, whereuf er excommunicating 
him and his fair an interdict against 
Pisa, Guido th against the Guclphs, 
who, Muratori says, would nave gained possession of 
it, " had it not been that the goodness of the Count 
delivered it from them." He restored order and good 
government in the city, and regained possession of 
the castles, for the alleged betrayal of which Count 
Ugolino was put to so cruel a death. He captured 
Urbino in 1292, and in 1294 successfully defended it 
against Malatesta, Podest^ of Siena. But being in 
that same year expelled from Pisa, he again reconciled 
himself with the church, and in 1296 entered the 
Franciscan Order. He died in 1298, and according 
to some was buried at Assisi. In Convito, iv, 28, 
Dante speaks of him as il nobtlissimo nostra Latino, 
Guido Montefeltrano. 

Bartoli [Storia della Letteratura Italiana, vol. vi, 
part ii, pp. 90-93) asks whether the account of him 
by Dante in this canto is a true story, or a mere fable, 
painting as he does in such black colours the same 

Canto xxvif. Readings on the Inferno. 


man whom he has so extolled in the Convito. Bartoli is 
inclined to agree with some who think that Dante 
may have spoken in Guido's praise before he became 
acquainted with the infamy of his deceitful counsel 
to the Pope. But he certainly thinks Dante related 
this story in perfect good faith, and evidently believed 
in the accuracy of it, whether it turns out to be 
historically true or not. Anyhow there do not seem 
to be any dates to weaken it. Quite the contrary. 
Therefore let us rather suppose that Dante was not 
sorry to bring to light one of the dark deeds that 
would be likely to blacken the memory of his enemy 
Boniface. Let us say moreover that he was not sorry 
to couple with the sins of this enemy those of him of 
Montefeltro, who was continually vacillating between 
the Papal Court and the Empire, who, while head of 
the Ghibelline party, had become reconciled to the 
Church, only to turn against it again in 1287, when 
he took the command of the Pisans against the 
Florentines and Lucchesi. No one can read this 
canto, Bartoli adds, without perceiving that there is 
wrath in Dante's soul against the man whose deeds 
were less of the lion than of the fox. Scartazzini 
disputes the justice of this sweeping condemnation of 
the Count by Dante, and asserts that, although his 
deeds certainly were those of the fox, yet no one can 
in fairness deny that they were also to a great extent 
those of the lion, for there is no doubt that he was 
one of the most valiant warriors of his time. 

Division II. In the last canto, when Dante had 
expressed a wish that he and Virgil should converse 

196 Riodkigs am thi Infamy. Canto XXVIL 

with the double-horned flame enclosing Ulsrsaes and 
Diomed, Vii^l had given an assent^ conditional on 
himself being the spokesman. He now releases Dante 
from this imposed silence, and in fact urges him to 
answer the shade of Guido da Montefeltro. 

lo era ingioso ancoim aitenio e chino^ 

Quando il mio Dues mi tent& dl costs,* 
Dicendo : — *^ Paris to, questi h Latina" — 

I still was listening attentively, and bending 
down (over the bridge), when my leader 
touched me on the side, saying: ** Speak 
thou, this is an Italian." 

Benvenuto says that Dante had evidently taken ixx 
granted that he was to be the speaker, aud was quite 
ready. Dante gives a terrible picture of the dissen- 
sions in the various great cities of Romagna, and of 
the sufTerings that all were undergoing under their 
respective tyrants. 

Ed io ch' avea gik pronta la risposta, 

Senza indugio a parlare incominciai : 35 

— " O anima, che se' laggiu nascosta,t 

* tentb di costa : i,e.^ touched me lightly with his elbow to 
aUract my attention. 
Compare Inf. xii, 67 : 

" Poi mi tent6, e disse : * Quegli h Nesso.* " 
and Hor. ii, ScU, v, 42 : 

" Nonne vides (aliquis cubito stantem prope tangens, 
Inquiet), ut patiens, ut amicis aptus, ut acer?" 

t am ma . . . laggii^ nascosta: Guido was a man of such 

reputation for counsel, that he says of his talents and wisdom in 

line 78 : 

" Ch' al fine della terra il suono uscie.** 

His doom now is to be hidden away from view in one of the 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 397 

Ramagna (un non h, e non fu mat, 

Senta guerra ne' cor de' suoi tiranni ; 
Ma'n palese* nessuna ortvi laaciai. 
And I wlio had my answ'cr already prepared, 
without delay began to speak : " O spirit, 
that art concealed below there, thy Romagna 
is not, nor ever was, without war in the hearts 
of her tyrants, but open (war) lately 1 left 
there none." 
Scartazzini remarks that in every city in the 
Romagna at that time there were at least two parties, 
namely, the Lambertazzi and the Geremei in Bologna ; 
the Ordclaffi and the Calboli at Forll ; the Alidosi 
and the Nordoll at Imola ; the Zambrasi and the Man- 
fredi at Faenza; the Parcitati and the Malatesta at 
Rimini, etc. Benvenuto thinks that Guide da Monte- 
feltro must have wondered indeed at Dante's state- 
ment that there was no open war actually going on ■ 
just then, for from the time that Niccol6 degli Orsini 

lowest parts of Hell, in total ignorance of the machinations ever 
going on in liis native land, and wiiich, at one time, he had al 
his fingers' ends. 

* in palest: the in is redundant The Vocabolarie della 
Crusca gives : " mosirare in palese, lo stesso chc PaUsare, Mani- 

Compare Petrarch, Sdri. xciii (or in); 

" Ma 'I soverchio piacer che s' altraversa 
Alia mia lingua, qual dentro eila siede, 
Di mosirarla in palese ardir non ave." 
+ nessuna or vi lasciai : The Vac. della Crusca, s. v, era. Adv. 
h 3, gives the following slgnilicalion : " Ora is sometimes also 
an adverb of past time, and has the force of Testi [recently]. " 
I have, therefore, felt justified in translating it in this passage 
as " lately." 

398 Readings o» the Inferno. Canto XXVII. 

ascended the Papal Throne and obtained from the 
Emperor Rudolph the cession to him of the Romagna, 
the several States and cities of that Province became 
the prey of a number of petty local tyrants. Benve- 
nuto says that the utter destruction of that noble 

territory was d 
and corruptior 
took different f 
it suited their 
character of the 
themselves, and 
most cruel extor 
of the whole ref 
to barbarians ar. 

First, the avarice 
of the Church, who 
I fights, according as 
ndly, the infamous 
lly at warfare among 
r subjects with the 
he wonderful fertility 
in endless attraction 
. burthly, the envy in 

the hearts of the wnoie population, to which Dante 
alludes in the Purgatorio, canto xiv, 99, where, not- 
withstanding that he bestows some praise upon the 
Romagnole race, he deplores their deterioration in 
these words : " O Romagnoli tornati in bastardi ! " 

Ravenna is the first of the cities that Dante men- 

Katenna sta, come slata ^ luoUi anni :* 40 

L' aquila da Polenta la si cova,t 
SI die Cervia ricopre CO' suoi vanni. 

* molli anni : The Lords of Polenta (who look iheir title from 
' a small castle of thai name above Brettinoro) obtained the 
sovereignly of Ravenna in 1270, and held it till 1441. 

+ V aquila da Polenta la sicova: The shield ofthis family dis- 
played an eagle, \i^i Argent on a field Awure, and hsXf Gules, 
on a field Or. Dante has evidently intended 10 draw a marked 
distinction in lines 40-48, in describing the arms of the reigning 
princes of Ravenna, Fotll, and Rimini. The Polenta eagle 
covers Ravenna and Cervia under its feathers, as a bird does 

Canto XXVII, Readings on the Inferno. 399 

Rnvenna remains, as she has remained for 

many years, on her is brooding the eagle of 

Polenta, in such wise that he spreads his 

pinions over Cervia. 

This means that the family of Da Polenta had so 

enlarged their dominions since they obtained the 

lordship of Ravenna, that their territory now took in 

Cervia, a town twelve miles off (Benvenuto says 

fifteen) on the shore of the Adriatic. 

Tommasto remarks that this is essentially a 
canto of real or seeming contradictions. After 
having stated that the hearts of the tyrants of Ro- 
magna are ever engaged in fratricidal wars, Dante 
names the Polentani. When he wrote his poem, he 
had no ties of friendship with Guido da Polenta ; nor 
was Dante the man to pardon him his tendency to be 
both vacillating and at the same time covetous ; nor 

its own brood, implying that the rule of the Polenta was a 
paternal and friendly government, whereas by the rapacious 
daws of the Ordclafli lion at Fori), and by the pitiless fangs 
of the Malaiesta masIifT at Rimini a detestable tyranny is as 
plainly indicated. 

Such is the opinion of Tommas^o, who wishes also to point 
out that the word tiranno need not necessarily be taken in a 
bad sense, for Villani speaks of Castniccio as a tyrant, and yet 
praises him. Tommasto adds that at the battle of Campnldino 
Dante fought by the side of Bernardino da Polenta, a Guelph, 
and from him he may have heard the details of the story of his 
sister Francesca. 

la si cava isequivalent to j^/iu'OT'ij. The reflective verb foi-arji 
is used as a transitive verb. The teal force of the sentence is that 
the eagle of Polenta gathers it (Ravenna) under his wings with 
the idea of keeping it for his own. Some read Ih si cava, sits 
brooding on that spot. 



for having driven out "la casa Traversara e gli 
Anastagi" two families extolled by Dante in Purg. 
xiv. Besides this the family lost and regained their 
sovereignty over Ravenna on several occasions, which 
does not seem quite to tally with Ravenna sla cottu 
thinks that the 
with its touching, 

account of Franc 
most certainly wi 
and became the g 
Dante next sp 
Livii, then undci 
Ordclaffi, whose e; 
a field, Or. Tradition rei 
of Dante's exile, he was 

ly uncompromising) 
ido da Polenta, was 
te went to Ravenna 

the ancient Forum 
of Sinibaldo dcgli 
yed a lion, Virt, on 
= mat, in the early days 
mployed as secretary to 

Scarpctta degli OrdelafB, who ruled Forll from 1296. 
La terra che fe' gik la lunga prova,* 

* La terra chtf^gid la lunga prova : In this passage /erra 
means, of course, [he city of Fori). By /a lunga prova, Blanc 
{Voc. Danl.) says we are to understand "la lunga battaglia, 
guerra," as also in Inf. viii, 123 : 

" Nod sbigottir, ch' io vincer& la prova." 

With regard to lerra, both in the Vocabolario della Crusca and 
in Fanfani's Dictionary 1 find as one of the meanings of terra, 
" eittd, castel murato." It was a word in very common use in that 
sense in Dante's time, and for long after. Out of many examples 
which I have before me, 1 will cite one from Landino's account 
of the robbery by Vanni Fucci of ihe Siigrestla del Belli Arredi 
at Pistoja. This account I have translated in full in note on 
In/, xxiv, 138. It relates how, after a banquet, Vanni Fucci and 
his friends strolled through the streets of Pisloja with lutes, and 
singing : " Intervenne che in quel tempi cenarono una sera in- 
sieme molti Pisiolesi, e dopo cena con liuti ed altri 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 

E de' Ftanceschi sanguinoso mucchio,* 
Sotto le branchet verdi si ritrova. 
The city ihai made once the long struggle 
(i.e. endured the protracted siege), and of the 

andarono cantando per la terra." In the comment on this very 
passage (canto xxvii) in the Anommo Ftorentino, the word terra, 
meaning the Cily of Fori), occurs no less than six times : 

" I Franceschi che entrorono In Fori! corsono la terra, etc." 

"con sua gente s' uscl fuori della terra." 

" credendosi avere la terra." 

"credendoai aveie vinta la terra." 
" fuggl della terra," 
" quelii ch' erano rimasi nella terra." 

So, also, the regular word for a village in Italy npaese, which 
more usually means "a country." 

Sir James Lacaita tells me to add that in the south of Italy 
terra is the common word used by fellow- citizens in speaking of 
their city, or for the principal town in their district. One will 
sny to another, " Andiamo alia terra" menning, " let ua go to 
the cily." Till very recently terra was the word in use to denote 
Prtnnneia, in the cases of Oiranlo and Bari, and survives to 
this day in that of " Terra di Lavoro." 

• sanguinnso mucchia : Virg. (,(^n. x, 507-9) says of Pallas, to 
whom the first day's combat brought glory and death ; 
" O dolor atque decus magnum rediture parent! I 
Hkc le prima dies hello dedil, hiec eadem aufett : 
Cum tamen ingenies Rutulorum linquis acervos." 
See, also, Tasso, Gems. lib. xix, St. 30 : 

" Ogni cosa di strage era giA pieno : 
Vedeansi in mucchi e in monti i corpi awolli ; 
\Jk i feriti sui morti, e qui giacleno 
Sotto morti insepoiti egri sepolti." 
t tranche are the fore-paws of a wild beast, armed with 
claws and the talons of a bird of prey. 
II. C C 



Frenclimei) (made) a gory pile, still finds 

itself under the Green Paws. 
Benvenuto's account is as follows: "Rightly to 
understand the above passage, it must be known that, 
in 1282, Pope Martin [iv.] of Tours, in the kingdom 
of France, sent certain lord, named 

Jean de Apia, < active and intelligent 

commander, to ce from the clutches 

of Count Guido 1 brave and powerful 

leader^ at that ibelJine side. In all 

France there wa ant knight than Jean 

de Apia, but he ir the Romagnnlcs in 

cunning. On hi the province with an 

immense army ot ilian troops, he took 

Faenza, and from there began to wage a fierce war 
against Forll, of which he hoped to gain possession 
by treachery, as he could not do so by r^ular siege. 
The defence was directed by Count Guido, a most 
astute strategist, who perfectly understood the rash- 
ness of the French. On the Kalends of May, Jean 
de Apia reached Forll with his army very early in the 
morning, thinking to capture it by a coup-de-main 
before break of day ; and, in obedience to the orders 
of Count Guido, he was at once admitted through one 
of the gates. Jean, thereupon, marched in with a part 
of his troops, leaving the rest outside, under orders to 
come to the rescue of their comrades, should they 
require support ; and, in case of any mischance, all 
were to rally under the shade of a huge* oak that 

• Under Iht skaiU of a kugt oak : It is noi without sad rejjtet 
(hat one reads in this passage of the byegane glories of wood- 
land scenery in Italy. Never, at the present day, does the eye 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 403 

stood in a certain field. Having given these orders, 
Count Jean, with his Frenchmen, made his way un- 
opposed through the streets of the town. Meanwhile, 
Count Guido, who had marched quietly out of the 
city with his whole force, fell furiously upon the 
reserve French division under the oak, and easily 
routed and destroyed them. Jean, who had thought 
himself ma,stcr of Forll, had given the city over to 
pillage, and his soldiers were all dispersed through the 
houses for that object. Count Giiido now suddenly 
re-entered the town with part of his troops, leaving 
his infantry, however, formed up under the oak, so as 
to present the appearance of the French division that 
had stood there shortly before. Now when Count 
Jean saw Guide's troops in the town, of which he had 
already made himself the master, he was thunder- 
struck. Then every Frenchman who could find a 

rest upon a forest Irec worthy of Ihc name. Sir Janies Lacaiia 
once remnrkcd In nie, during a visit to the magnificent oaks 
in Bagol's Park in StafTordshire, that there were as fine ones 
still to be found in the remote parts of the south of Italy, and 
on Sir James's own estate, near Taranto, he has shown me 
numbers of stupendous olive trees, reckoned to be two thou- 
sand years old, of a size, beside u hich those one knows on the 
Riviera of Nice are as small bushes. We know, too, that 
Horace once nearly met his death from the Inll of a large and 
ancient tree. iSce Hor. 11 Ciit$ii. xiii ; and xvii, 27 ; HI Cann. 
viii, 7, 8 ; and III Cut-in. iv, 27.) In ii Oirin. ix, 7, Horace alludes 
to the Querceta Gargani, but Mr. Metcalfe asseits that these 
oak forests no longer exist on the Gargano. Sir James Lacaita 
questions the complete accuracy of ibis assertion of Mr. Met- 
calfe, as in some of the interior valleys of the Gargano the onk 
forests have not yet disappeared. The Pineia of Ravenna was 
nothing more than pine woods, beautiful as they once were. 
II. CC 2 

404 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVI[. 

horse escaped out of the city, and galloped off to the 
trysting-piace under the oak ; but, instead of finding 
safety there with comrades, they fell into the hands of 
the enemy, who put them all to the sword, nor was 
any quarter given to the French who remained in the 
city. Among this way was Taddeo 

de Montefeltn ido's, who had quar- 

relled with hin tance, andTebaldello, 

who betrayed 1 ch whilst the garrison 

were asleep, j 1 a small remnant of 

his followers, e; 

Pope Martin e recaptured Forli in 

the following y ute Guido da Monte- 

feltro had made le. "And thus," adds 

Benvenuto, " it will be manifest that the ingenuity of 
the count triumphed over the forces of the most dis- 
tinguished military commander, although he himself 
was eventually mastered by the power of the Church. 
Practically the same account of the above events is 
given by Villani (vii, 80-82) ; in the Annales Foro- 
livienses ap. Muratori Renim It. Script., vol. xxii ; and 
in the Attonimo Fiorentino. Villani adds this fact, 
namely, that while the French men-at-arms were 
engaged in pillage, the townspeople of Forll, by order 
of Count Guido, removed the saddles and bridles 
from their horses, so as to increase their confusion 
when they attempted to escape. 

Benvenuto remarks that Dante makes no mention 
of Forlimpopoli (Forumpopiliiim), which was also 
under the rule of the Ordelaffi ; but he says that it 
was only a small city, and already in its decline, and 
soon after the time of Dante the Pope's legate nearly 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 

razed it to the ground, and transferred the inhabitants 

to Hrettinoro, 

Dante now passes on to name the City of Rimini, 
which under the ferocious tyranny of the two Mala- 
testas, father and son, is groaning under untold woes. 
The elder Malatesta was the father of Gianciotto, the 
husband, and of Paolo the lover, of the hapless Fran- 
cesca. The Malatestas are called the two Mastiffs, 
partly from their cruel instincts, and partly, perhaps, 
because there may have been a dog displayed on 
their coat of arms. The son was called Malatestino, 
and to this was added the sobriquet "dell' occhio," 
because he had only one eye. 

II Mastin veechio, e il nuovo da Verrucchio,* 
Che fecer di Montagna t A mal goveriio,t 

* Verrucckio, according to Benvenulo, was a castle in the ter- 
ritory of Rimini, and from it the Malatestas were said to have 
derived their title in very ancient times. Bui Benvenuto denies 
tlie nccumcy of this, and says that the family did not lake its 
origin from Verriicchio, but from a certain castle at Montefcltro, 
named Pannablli {Ptnna Billorum). But Danle would call them 
by the title by which they were more popularly known, namely, 
• the Counts Malatesta of Verrucchio, 

t Messcr Montagna di Parcitate was a noble knight, and the 
head of the Ghibelline party in Rimini. The Anonimo Ftortn- 
tino relates thai Messer Malatesta the elder {veechio) de' Mala- 
iesfi,and Messer Malatestino the younger, having taken prisorier 
a young man of Romagna, of the name of Montagna, while 
examining him and accusing him on a capital charge, sent him 
backwards and forwards from one to the other, as Herod and 
Pilate did once upon a time, after which they had him put to a 
cruel death. 

X fecer . . . mal govemo : The Vocab.della CrMWii interprets 
this, " mallrattarono, conciareno male!' Compare Purg. v, 108, 
where the Angel of Hell, exasperated at not being allowed to 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVII. 

L^ dove soglion, fan de' denii succhia* 
The old niasliff of Verrucchio, and the young 
one, who wrought the ill-usage on Montagna, 
there where they are wont (i.e. at Rimini), 
make an auger of thdr teeth. 
Bartoii {pp. cit. vol. vi. oart ii. cage Z\,et scq^ says : 
"Dante certainlj hose Guelph Mala- 

testas, and the ai itered with singular 

malice. In Inf. alls Malatestino uu 

Hranno fello, the ,e two best men in 

Fano, and whose »r exceeds any that 

was ever perpetri, Mediterranean Sea, 

either by Saracen le whole Greek race 

{lb. 76-90). And es be set beside the 

line in which Fran h .07) says of her hus- 

band, Gianciotto, Caina attende cki in vita ci spetise (a 

carry aflf the soul of Buonconte, son of Guido da Moniefeliro, 
exclaimi that he will vent hii rage upon the dead body of the 

" Ma io rar6 dell' ahro altro governo." 
Compare, also, Petrarch, Trionfa della Fama, ii. Ten. 43 : 
" E chi de' nostri duci, che in duro astro 
Passir r Eufraie, fece 'I mal governo. 
Air Italiche doglie (iero impiasiro?" 
This allusion is to Crassus, who met with defeat, and dis- 
honourable treatment after death, at the hands of the Parlhians. 
* tucckio or succkiello, a kind of large gimlet ; in English, 
auger, used in shipbuilding and other constructions of wood. 
Di Siena says that it crushes and draws out the substance 
of the wood in which it is used ; and the tyrants here are 
represented as never driving their Iceth into any carcase 
without carrying away the piece out of the tlesh. The 
Malaiesta, according to Dante, preyed upon the very vilals of 
their unhappy subjects. 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inftmo. 

line of which Morandihassaid that it comes hissing out 
as though a serpent had suddenly risen in the grass, 
darting out its forked tongue), it will not be going too 
far to conjecture that what had inspired Dante witli the 
episode of Francesca was his hatred for the Malatestas, 
of whom one brother [Paolo] is in Hell, and weeps 
without uttering a word ; another [Gianciotto] is 
destined for Caina ; and the third [MalatestinoJ is 
branded with infamy. His abhorrence for the Mala- 
testa, who was husband of Francesca, could well in- 
tensify Dante's pity for the wife. This ferocious 
Guclph, son of that IVIalatesta who had formerly been 
Charles of Anjou's vicar in Florence, and brother of 
the traitor, Malatestino ; this deformed Gnelph, who 
murders a woman in so cruel a manner [il modo ancor 
m' offende), might well in a mind like that of Ali- 
ghieri arouse a desire to place this man's victim upon 
a throne of glory, taking the same opportunity to 
plunge him down among the traitors to kindred in 
Cocytus, his brows horned by the dishonour of his 
wife's inhdeiity. Yes I On a throne of glory the 
woman, but not so her lover, who is stained with the 
additional sin of being a Malatesta .... This man, 
who utters not a word, who is content to weep only, 
does not awake the smallest interest in us . . . Fran- 
cesca alone dominates the situation . . . [Paolo] Ma- 
latesta is in the great drama a mere dumb apparition, 
and nothing more. The seducer is simply annulled 
before the seduced. The great wrathful soul of Ali- 
ghieri has taken its vengeance upon one of the Black 

Dante now mentions two more cities of Komagna, 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVII. 

namely Faenza, situated in a plain watered by the 
river Lamone, and Imola on the bank of the t 
Santemo, both under the lordship of Maghinardo (or 
Mainardo) de" Pagani da Susinana, whose arms were 
a lion Azure upon a field Argent, and of whom both 
the Comento di " — -' — "^'—mce, 1848) and the 
Ckiose Sincrgn Cassinese, say that 

he always condu uscany as a Guelph, 

and in Romagr le, and is, therefore, 

accused of cha 1 every change of 


Le citti di mo 

Conduu o bianco, ;o 

Che mu ; al verno ; * 

The cities of Lamone and of Santerno ihe ■ 
young lion on the white lair {lit. nest) governs, 
who changes sides from the summer to the 

Benvenuto says that Maghinardo was a man of such 
probity and good fortune, that from a simple castellan 
he became lord over Fori), Faenza, and Imola. He 
took possession of Faenza in a.d. 1290, Forll in 1291, 
and Imola in 1296. Benvenuto has much to say 
about his own native city of Imola, called in ancient 
times Forum Cornelii, and by that name it was re- 
corded among tlie famous cities in the cosm<^raphy 

* Ckt muta parte dalla state at vento : Di Siena remarks that 
there are but three months to run from the last day of summer 
to the first day of winter. Lana understands the passage quite 
differenlly, thinking dalla slate (o mean Tuscany, which is to 
the south, and al verng to mean Romagna, lo (he north of it. 
This is also Buti's view. 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 409 

which Augustus ordered to be made of the whole 
world, as we learn from Albertus Magnus in his book 
De Natttra loci. It is said to have acquired this name 
from having been founded by a member of the illus- 
trious Cornelia gens, from whom descended the Scipios. 
On the conversion of the city to Christianity it changed 
its name to Imola, ab itnolando, because at the cere- 
monial services they made use of the words "Imola 
Deo sacrificium laudis," s.nd Benvenuto adds: "This 
is therefore from imolo, an excellent word, which we 
use frequently in praying to God, especially on the 
pontifical days, when the words are recited; 'cum 
pascha nostrum imolatus est Ckristus' " But though 
it be not a city of great size Benvenuto is proud to 
think that Imola produces great and noble minds; he 
remarks, however : " but lest I be an untrustworthy 
witness in a matter of personal interest, I will ask you 
to hear what the Magister Legetidarum says on the 
subject, namely, 'The trorrtc/i>«j« are of great sagacity, 
eloquent in speech, unmatched in arms, of an un- 
daunted courage, and mighty in the Catholic Faith.'" 
Benvenuto states that Maghinardo was of the ancient 
family of the Pagani, who were Ghibellines, both in 
the Romagna and elsewhere ; but that in Tuscany 
he was such a staunch friend of the Florentines that 
he invariably sided with them against their enemies, 
no matter on which side they were, and in this par- 
ticular Maghinardo seemed at times even to exhibit 
himself as a Guelph. But this love of his was not 
altogether unreasonable in Benvenuto's opinion, be- 
cause his father Pagano, at the time of his death, 
seeing that his son was but a child, and surrounded 


Rfatiiiigs on the Inferno. Canto XXVII. 

by such powerful enemies as the Ubaldini, the Guidi, 
and other Romagnole lords, sent him to the safe 
keeping and wardship of the Commonwealth of 
Florence, and they faithfully performed this duty, 
both protecting and educating him. Villant (vii, 149) 
describes Maghi"-"^" -"■ "-^■"" di guerra e bene 
avventuroso in p ■ was with Charles 

de Valois whei ie his entry into 

Florence in A.D. at Imola in 130Z. 

In Purg. xiv, i li Dtmonio, but Ben- 

venuto remarks ti es from Sai^Mw, and 

is to be interpre: hat there are good 

demons and bad ivenuto altogether 

differs from the nent passed upon 

Maghinardo by Dumt:, 'Ho, we may remark, would 
never have been likely to forgive him for accompanying 
Charles de Valois to Florence in 1 302. 

The last city of Romagna that Dante mentions is 
Cesena. Benvenuto is of opinion that he reserved 
allusion to it until he had done with the others, be* 
cause at that time it was enjoying a fair amount of 
liberty and was not subject to any tyrant. According 
to Muratori {Anna/. Casen. ap. Muratori, Rer. It. 
Script, vol. xiv, pp. 1121-2) Cesena was continually 
changing masters. Every year it had a new Podestck, 
and sometimes two in the same year. Still it was in 
a general way hir more free than the other cities of 
Komagna. Any citizen even suspected of tyrannical 
aspirations was banished forthwith. 

E quella a cui 11 Savio l>agiia il Banco, 

Cos) com' clU sie' tra il piano e il monle, 
Ki Tra lirannia si vive e stato franco. '( 


Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 

And Ihat (city) whose flank the Savio washes, 
as it is situated between (he plain and tlie 
mountain, so lives it between tyranny and 
Dante concludes by entreating the shade of Guido 
to tell him who he is, and we have remarked in an 
earlier canto that his addressing him with tu, and not 
with voi, in this canto is solely due to the fact, that 
up to this point he has not known to whom he is 
speaking, and that as soon as Guido finishes his sad 
tale, the flame in which he is sweeps him away, 
thereby preventing the change to the then more re- 
spectful voi, which Dante would undoubtedly have 
made on finding himself in presence of a Ghibcllinc 
leader of so great dignity and renown. 

Ora chi sei ti prego che ne conte :• 55 

* conte ; Uante does not only ask him 10 lell him hii name, 
but to relate ihe history ol his life. Conte for tontt. On this 
use see Nannucci (Analiii Crilita dei verbi itaiiani, pp. 384- 
285) i who says thai in the early days of the Italian language 
all three persons in the singular used to terminate in e, to ame, 
tu ante, egli arne; to feme, tu teme, egii temej io ode, tu ode, 
egliode; etc. 

Urunetto LaCini {Tesorello, cap. v) has the following ; 
" Far6 mio detio piano, 
Che pure un solo grano 
Non fie che In non saccie. 
Ma vo che tanto faccie 
Che lo mio dire apprende, 
Si che tutto lo 'ntendc.— 
Parlandoli in volgare 
Che lu iniende e appare." 
And Petrarch, part i, cant, iii, st. 6 : 





on the 

Inferno. Canto XXVII. 1 

Non GS& 


a piii ch" allri sia stalo, 

Se il no 

nc tuo 

ncl mondo legna fronie." — 

Now I pray 


10 (ell 

us who thou art : 

Do not be more unyielding 

than another has . 

been, so may 


ame ma 

intaia its front in 1 

Both £ 




L think the allusion 

to others, or to 

a general one, re- 

femn^r to any sp 

have consented to | 

converse with E 

his curiosity as to 

their identity, bi 

ow Benvenuto, who 

interprets the pi 

be more inflexible 

about answering 

; been in answering 

thee." Butialso 

n pen 

u uuir c 

this is the meaning. 


Che mi conforte ad altro ch' a trar guai." 
And Dante, Inf. vii, 72 : 

" Or vo' che tu mia sentenza ne imbocche." 
And Inf. xiii, 16 : 

" Lo buon Maestro : ' Prima che piii entre.' " 
And xviii, 137-9: 

" Appresso ci& lo Duca : ' Fa che pinghe,' 
Mi dissc, ' il viso un poco piu avante, 
SI che la faccia ben con gli occhi atlinghe, etc."* 
Nannucci argues thai it is clear from these examples how 
the commentators on Dante in general make the wholesale 
mistake, every time that they allude to these terminations, of 
Stating (hem to be so formed for the sake of the rhyme, whereas 
on (he contrary they are both regular and primitive. The 
singular conjunctive is derived from the Latin, e.g. atnem, ames, 
amef; amarein, amares, amarit : amavissem or amassem, ama- 
vissa, amavititt : and when from these was taken away the 
final consonant, there resulted, in the original forms of the 
language, io ame, lu ame, egli ame : to anierie, tu amerie, egli 
amerie : io amasse, tu amasse, egli aoutsse. 

Canto XXVII. Readings OH the Inferno. 413 

Both Carlyle and Norton so translate the passage, 
and the former remarks that Dante speaks to Guido 
with a child-like kindness and pity. 

Division II. Although Guido da Montefeltro 
allows himself to be persuaded into relating his his- 
tory, he does so with some reluctance. The secret 
plotter, who all his life had worked in hidden ways, 
feels great repugnance to utter a word about himself 
that might be made public on earth. He turns over 
in hi.s own mind the pros and cons as to whether 
Dante is a spirit or a living man. Without question- 
ing the Poets he decides the matter for himself, and 
decides wrongly, concluding that both are spirit.1, and 
that any secret he may utter is quite safe. His intui- 
tive power of nice discrimination has left him. 
Poscia che il foco alquanio ebbe rugghiato 
Al inodo suo, I' acuta punta inosse 
Di qua, di \\ e poi dife colal fiato : 60 

— "S' io credesBi chc raia risposla fosse 

A peisona che mai tornasse al mondo, 
Qucsia Ram ma staria senza pi 11 scosse : 
Ma perciocchi giammai di questo fondo 

Not! lorni) vjvo alcun, s' i' odo il veto,* 65 

Senia lema d' infamia tt rispondo. 
After that llie flame had roared for a white in 
the way peculiar Io it, it moved the sharp 
point to and fro, and lliereupon breathed out 
in such wise: "If I thought that my an- 
swer were addressed to one who would ever 

* f f rtrfo il vera : Guido himself was but newly arrived in 
Hell, but he would have got his information from his companions 


|,I4 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVll. 

retutn to the world, this flame tihuuld remain 
without further quiverings (f.«. should spe&k 
no more) : but inasmuch as none ever returned 
alive from this depth, if I hear the truth, 
without fear of infamy I answer thee ; 

Benvenuto thin^" ■* •■'"' "*" notice that Count 

Guido deliberatel; 
tioned Jn the work 
have eagerly desii 
out that none hav 
the Poets descendi 
last shades who set 
remembered on car 
in xvi, 85, who on p 
chedi no! alta gente lavci 

: his name men- 
ther spirits in Hell 
ito omits to point 
the moment that 
a of Fraud. The 
essed a wish to be 
: noble Florentines 
nte exclaim : "Fa 
Contrast this with xviii. 

46 ; xxiv, 133-135 ; and canto xxxii ; and in fact one 
may sum up by saying that in the circles of Incontin- 
ence and Violence the shades desire to be remembered 
on earth, but that in all the subdivisions of the two 
circles of Fraud they desire concealment. Benvenuto 
thinks Guido's wish to be forgotten is probably to hte 
foimd in the fact that the Count had first repented of 
his sins, had renounced the world and its pomps, and 
then had relapsed into worse by returning to his 
ancient frauds. It must be remembered also that the 
reputation Guido da Montefeltro had left behind him 
in the world was one highly honourable, and sup- 
posing this story of his fraudulent counsel given to 
the Pope were true, which according to some is 
extremely doubtful, he would naturally shrink from 
having this dark deed, hitherto unknown, brought to 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 415 1 

Guido now commences his relation, which con- ^| 
tinues to the end of the canto. ^H 

lo fui uom d' arme, e poi Tui cordelliero, ^^^^H 
Credendoini, si cinto, Tare ammenda : ^^^^H 
E cetlo il crcder mioveniva intero,* ^^^^H 
Se non fosse 11 gr-in Preie, a cui mal prenda, 70 ^H 
CI1C ini rimise nclle prime coipe \ H 
E come, e quare voglio che m' intenda. ^| 
I was a man of arms, and afterwards a Cor- ^| 
delier {i.e. a Grey Friar girded with ihe cord ^^k 
of St. Francis), trusting ihus cinctured to ^^k 
make amends, and assuredly my trust was 
being fulfilled, Imd it not been for (he Greal 
Priest (Boniface VlII), whom evil seize, that 
put me back into my former errors; and how, 
and why, I wish thee lo hear from me. 
In this exordium Guido has given to Dante a brief 
summary of what he has got to tell him. He was 
first a warrior, then a penitent, then a monk ; he had 
reached a state of salvation, was thrown back into 
sin, and by the Pope ; and now he is going to relate 
how it all came about, and in what manner the sin 
was caused He first deals with the quare. Why 
did the Pope specially turn to him for counsel ? Be- 
cause of his world-renowned craft. 

• veniva inlrro : By far ihe mote general way of inlerpreiing 
this is "saribbe venu/a, se non fosse sletto per it Gran Prele." 
I do not feel certain of being right, but I have preferred to 
translate it, "was being fulfilled," i.e. Guido was in process of 
expiating his sins by a life of mortification. It is like a passage 
nt the beginning of (he Iliad (1, 5) where Homer says that 
the will of Jove was being accomplished: "a.*, r <t.a.(«, 


4^6 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVII. 

Mentre ch' io forma* fui d' ossa e di poipe, 

Che la madre mi diS, 1' opere niie 

Non turon leonine, ma di volpe.t 7S 

Gli accorgimenti e le coperie vie 

lo seppi luite j e si menai lor ane, 

Ch' a1 fine della lerra il suono uscie. 

While I w.-" "- 
my mothc 
deeds were 
fiw. The ' 
I knew (th 
that to the 
Benvenuto has 
of the snare Gu 
Forll, and their su 

-3 and flesh that 
len alive), my 
ion, but of the 
e hidden ways, 
(plied their art, 
[he sound went 

ever that the report 

the French into at 

-Jesaic butchery, must 

have spread to the extreme confines of the West, 
flown over the Alps, and been whirled through the 
whole of France, where Count Jean de Apia was of 

• forma : Scartaiiini says that forma is here to be lalcen in 
the philosophical sense, as "While 1 as a spirit animated the form 
of bones and flesh t;iven to me by my mother." The human 
soul is the inrormaiive principle of the t>ady. 

t l" opere mie non fiiron leonine, ma di volpe : Dr. Moore, in 
a review (Academy of June 4, 1892), referring to canto xi, 
21-34, says that the fundamental distinction of sins of violence 
and sins of fraud comes directly and almost verbatim from 
Cicero, De Officiis, i, cap. 13, and part of the passage quoted 
is reproduced in Inf. xxvii, in the speech of Guido da 
MoniefeUro : " Cum autem duobis modis, id est, aui vi aut 
fraude, fiat injuria ; fraus, quasi vulpeculx, vis, teonis videtur: 
utnimque homine alienissimum : sed fraus odio digna majore." 
Dr. Moore points out (hat Dante quotes again and again from 
theZ)' Officiis, with which he was most familiar. 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 417 

great reputation as a commander, as were also his 
followers as doughty pien-at-arms. 

Having thus told Dante what qualities in him would 
haye made him a counsellor to be sought after by 
the Pope, Guido shows what reasons should have pre- 
vented him from yielding to the Pope's persuasions 
to relapse into sin, namely, that he had renounced the 
world, and had devoted himself to a life of penitence. 
Quando mi vidi giunio in quelta parte 

Di mia eiade,* ove ciascun dovrebbe 80 

Calar le vele e raccoglier le sarle,t 

* in quella parU di mia eiade: This means in the fourth age 
of ihe four ages which Dante {Cmtv. iv, 34) assigns to the life 
of man, namely, senility, which begins when a man has attained 
his seventieth year. See footnote p. S63 of this volume. See 
also Dante, in the Canione, Le dolci rime if amor, St. 7 ; 
" Poi nella quaria parte della vita 

A Dio si rimarita 

Contemplando la fine che I' aspetta, 

E benedice li tempi passali." 
t Calar le veU e raccoglier le sarle : Comp. Conv. iv, 38: 
" La nobile anima nell' ultima eti, cio^ nel senio . . . ritorna a 
Dio siccome a quello porto, ond' ella si partfo quando venne a 
entrare nel mare di questa viia ... la nalurale morle 6 quasi 
porto a noi di lunga navigaiione, e riposo. Ed k cosi come il 
buono matinaro ; che come esso appropinqua al porto cala le 
sue vele, e soavemenle con debile conducimenlo enlra in quello; 
cosi noi dovemo calar le vele delle nostre mondane operaiioni, 
e tornare a Dio con lullo nostro intendimento e cuore ; sicchf 
a quello porto si vegna con tuiia soavii^ e con tutta pace . . . 
O miieri e vili che colle vele alte correie a questo porio : e Ik 
dove dovreste riposare, per lo impcto del venin rompete, e per- 
dete voi medesimi \k ove tamo camminaio avete I Certo il 
' cavaliere Lancilotto non voile entrare colle vele alte, ni il nobi- 
lissimo nostro Latino [Ilaiiano, see Fraticelli's ed. of Convito, 
n. DD 



iiift^s an 

t/it Inferno. Canto xxvil. 

Cib Che pria 

mi piaceva 

, allor m' increbbe. 

E penlul 

:o e confes! 

5o mi rendci ;• 

Ahi mise 

;r lasso 1 e 

giovato sarebbe. 

When r saw 

myself co 

me to that period of 

my age, when 

every on 

e ought to lower the 

Bails and path 

er in the tackle (U give oneself ^| 

up to G( 

sre had pleased ^1 

me, then 

and after re|]en- ^H 

tance m 

icated tnyself (to '^H 


Ah hapless roe t ^H 

" What a beai 

' observes Benvenuto; 

"the mariner, v 

a long voyage, must 

steer for a safe 

:h he may find rest ; 

even so 

Man, wl,» 


— n tossed about upon 

the sea of fortune, and has toiled, that he may acquire 
power, glory, and honour, must furl the sails of earthly 
glory, and coil up his ropes, that is, the crafty wiles 
by means of which he has steered his course of life 
through this bitter and stormy world, looking forward 
to a haven of eternal rest, laying out the anchors of 
his hope in God, must despise the world, and say 

noie] Cuido Montefeltrano. Bene quesii nobili calaron le vele 
delle mondane operation!, chi nella loro lunga et& a religione si 
rendtro, ognl mondano diletto e opera dtponendo." * 

* mi rtndei : Camerini inlerprets this: "Mi resi frate." 
Benvenulo, " Dedicavi me Deo." Lord Vernon l^lnftmo) com- 
menls : " Mi feci frate." In a note Lord Vernon says that this 
interpretation wa$ by Professor Nannucci, who told him that 
rtndtrsi, by itself, means, to become a monk, and is derived 
from the Provencal st rtndre, which signified, farsi monaeo. 
Both Scartaizini and Blanc interpret it : 

rtndersi penlutO'='^KnlKT%\, and 

rendtTfi fifn/iwi*— confes sarsi. 

Canto XXVIL Readings on the Inferno. 419 

with the wise king : ' Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.' 
And mark, that the first duty of a converted sinner is 
contrition of heart ; the second, oral confession ; and 
the third, satisfaction by works ; and it was in this 
third duty that Guido declares that he was hindered 
by Boniface, or else it would have availed him." 

Guido now tells Dante the strange combination 
of events which brought him into the counsels of 
Boniface. The story is somewhat differently re- 
counted by the chroniclers, but I prefer, on the whole, 
to give Benvenuto's version, which Is practically iden- 
tical with that of Landino. He says that in A.D. 1297 
a grave sedition sprang up in Rome. Pope Boniface 
had contracted a violent hatred against the house of 
Colonna, as two cardinals of that great Ghibelline 
family had done all in their power to oppose his elec- 
tion as Pope from his being a Guclph. Besides this, 
Sciarra di Colonna was supposed to have robbed 
the Papal collection or treasury of some monies 
(Sciarra de Columna robaverat quasdam salmas • sui 
thesauri). The Pope thereupon ordered the Cardinals 
to lay aside their hats, the emblems of their car- 
dinalate. As this order weis not promptly obeyed, 
he deprived the whole Colonna family of all their 
privileges and dignities. Their palaces were de- 

* I cannot help thinking that salmas, corpses, must be a 
copyist's error for summas, as I find in other commentaries that 
allusion is made to certain sums of money having been pur- 
loined from the Pope's treasury. Tamburini, whose Itanslatioa 
of Benvenuto is beneath coniempi, translates saltnas, "certe 
mummie." In modern Italian salma is a word in general use 
for a corpse ; but it is not found in that sense in the Vocabolario 
della Crusca. 


430 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVii, 

stroyedt their castles stormed and razed to the 
ground, or were given up to their rivals the Orsini, 
in order to keep up enmity between the two 
families. He then issued a bull for a crusade against 
them, after which he besieged Nepi, of which he got 
possession on — '■-'— — ■''"-ns. Finding himself 
unable to caf tUstrina), which was 

an exceedingly i impregnable place, 

he sent to beg ( Montefettro to com- 

mand the besi le had sent against Jt. 

This the CounL s he had already be- 

come one of the upon the Pope asking 

him for his adv Count recommended 

him to make tt.. promises to the be- 

leagured garrison, ana to piease himself about keep- 
ing the promises. Acting on this counsel Boniface 
granted a general amnesty, if the Cardinals would 
only make their submission to him. They believed 
him, and came clad in sackcloth and prostrated them- 
selves before him. He promised to restore to them 
all they had lost if they would order the capitulation 
of Preneste. His demand was obeyed. Preneste 
was given up. He immediately had it entirely de- 
stroyed and rebuilt in the plain below with the new 
name of Citti {CivitA) del Papa. This circumstance, 
and the arbitrary seizure and imprisonment of their 
kinsman, Zanni da Caccano, threw the Cardinals into 
such great alarm that they escaped, and for several 
years remained in concealment, until in due course 
of time Boniface himself was captured by those same 
artifices with which he had beguiled others, and died 
miserably in consequence of the bodily and mental 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 

sufferings that he underwent at the hands of Sciarra 
di Colonna. 

Lo Principe de' niiovi Farisei,* 85 

Avendo guerra presso a Laterano.i- 
E non con Saracin,t n^ con Giudei ; 
Chfc ciascun suo nimico era Cristiano, 
E nessuno era siato a vincer Acri, 
Ni m'ercatante in terra di Soldano : 90 

The Prince of the modern Pharisees, having 
war near the Lateran, and not wiih Saracens 
nor with Jews; for every enemy of his was 
Christian, and none had been to conquer Acre, 
nor (had been) to traffic in the Soldan's land. 
Acre was the last stronghold that remained to the 
Christians after the Crusades, and in 1291 was retaken 
by the pagan Saracens with the aid of the renegade 
Jews and the Christian merchants who treacherously 

* Principe d^ nuavi Farisei : Scartaiiini, Di Siena, and Tom- 
mas^o agree that Principe is to be understood with a double 
sense, both because Pope Boniface was the head of the Car- 
dinals and ecclesiastics of the Roman Court, whom Dame calls 
"modern Pharisees," and also because Boniface was himself 
the greatest of Pharisees, i.e. a hypocrite. Camerini says that 
St. Jerome stigmatiied the higher ranks of the Roman clergy as 
" pkarisaorum senalus." 

t Avendo guerra presso a Laterano ; This Benvenuto and 
Camerini explain as meaning that the Pope had war in Rome 
itself with the Colonnas, whose palaces were near the Latetan, 
Bargigi thinks (hat, as the Basilica of St. John Lateran " is 
called the Cathedral Church," presto Laterano, must mean that 
it was in the neighbourhood of Rome thai the Pope was waging 
war with the Colonnas who had taken refuge in Prenesle. 

t No" '"'' Saracin, ni con Giudei: The war, in which Boni- 
fnce was engaged, was not for leal in the cause of religion, but 
was for his own personal interests. 

422 Rmdi^gs on ik$ Inftmo. Canto XXVIL 

* supplied them with provisioiis and munitions of war 
(see Villani^ vii, 145). 

Benvenuto points out that, in the lines that follow, 
three conditions are mentioned wholly incompatible 
' with warlike proceedings : as r^ards the Pope» his 
position as Supreme Pontiff, and his sacred calling ; 
and as r^ards Count Guido, the habit of St Frands^ 
which in times gone by had been an emblem, of real 

Ni sommo offizio^* n^ oidini sacri 

Guard6 in s^ n^ in me quel capestrof 
Che solea fiu* li sooi cinti piik macri. 

Neither his exalted oflSce, nor his Holy Orders 

did he regard in himself, nor in me that cord 

which used to render those begirt with it more 


The old commentators believed that Count Guido's 

repentance had been up to a certain time very real. 

Benvenuto says that he seemed, beyond a doubt, to 

have turned over a new leaf ; for he donned the garb 

♦ sommo offiMio : Compare Hebrews^ v, 1-2: "For every 
high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things 
pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for 
sins : Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them 
that are out of the way ; for that he himself also is compassed 
with infirmity." 

t capestro : Compare Par, xi, 85-87 : 

" Indi sen va quel padre e quel maestro 

Con la. sua donna, e conquella famiglia 
Che gik legava V umile capestro." 
and Par. xii, 130-132 : 

" Illuminatoed Augustin son quici, 

Che fiir dei primi scalzi poverelli, 
Che nel capestro a Dio si fero amici." 

Canto XXVll. Readings on the Inferno. 423 ' 

of a Minor Friar with deep devotion, humbly con- 
formed to the rule, and patiently endured poverty; so 
that he was to be seen publicly begging his bread in 
Ancona, where he died and was buried ; and Benve- 
nuto says that he had heard many things about him, 
which might have really made one hope that he had 
won his salvation. The Anonimo Fiorentino records 
of him, that on one occasion he was going to Fano, 
and in his deep contrition mounted tlie ass of one 
who travelled that way. he patiently bore all the 
insulting remarks that were levelled at him, but, as 
he was entering Fano, a number of asses standing 
by the entrance of the town began to bray, and the 
bystanders began to laugh ; whereupon the Count, 
for all that he was a friar, lost his temper, and said : 
" There was a time when I have been round Fano 
with more hundreds of mounted men-at-arms than 
there arc asses here " ; and he spoke the truth, for 
as long as it had been in his power, he had always 
been a standing menace to Romagna. 

The better to describe the way in which the proud 
Pope came a suppliant to entreat counsel from him, 
a poor friar, Guido da Montefeltro compares it to a 
tradition (based upon the famous forgery of the ninth 
century known as the False Decretals), which repre- 
sented Constantine appealing to Pope Sylvester, who 
had taken refuge in the recesses of Mount Soracte, 
to heal him of the leprosy with which God had 
smitten him for his persecution of the Christians. 
Sylvester healed the Emperor, and converted him 
to Christianity, receiving in recompense the famous 
Donatio Constantini, a tradition which, though per- 

424 ^ Riodit^ am tJU Infamo. Canto XXVIL 

fectly baseless, was believed in by Dante and his 

Ma come Contfantin diiese Silvestro 

Dentro SinUd a guarir della lebbre^* 95 

Cos) mi chieseqnesd per maestrof 
A guarir della sua superiia febbre : 

Domandommi consiglio^ ed io tacetti, 
Perch^ le sue parole parver eblire^ 

* Ub^ for Ubbra: Nauiucd (AnaL Crii. Norn. liaL p. $4) 
says that the early Italians tried to make the terminations of 
feminine nouns of the first declension conform to those of the 
third and fifth which ended in ^ so as to make t the terminatioo 
of all feminine nounSi and thus they wrote aU for aia \ Utmpn 
for tempra; foriutu for farhma ^ etc . 

t maestro : The primary sense of moistro is an expert in 
anything; trade, science, art, handicraft, it signifies also a shep- 
herd, a pilot, and a tamer of wild beasts. Many of the old 
commentators, notably Buti, who is followed by Scartaztini, 
Fraticelli, Tommas^, and Camenni, interpret it medico. Di 
Siena says that the word is used in this sense by Sacchetti, 
Lasca, and by a hundred other early writers. In Boccaccio, 
DeccuH. Giom. viii, Nov, ix, the word maestro is used through- 
out the novel in speaking of Maestro Simone Medica ''II 
maestro, la cui scienza non si stendeva forse piii oltre che il 
medicare i fanciulli del lattime [/. e. milk-crust], etc" 

See also Guido Cavalcanti, Son. vi : 
" £ porto nello core una ferita 

Che si conduca sol per maestria 

Che sia com' egli h morto aperto segno." 

Scartazzini, Camerini, and Tommas^ agree that tnaestro 
must be taken here in a double sense, first, that Guido was an 
expert in devising stratagems, and secondly, that the Pope 
applied to him as to a medical expert to heal him of his fever 
of arrogance. 

X parole , . . ed^e : Compare Tibullus, iii, Eteg". vi, 35, 36 : 
** Nee bene mendaci risus componitur ore ; 
Nee bene soUicitis ebria verba sonant" 

Canto xxvir. Readings on the Inferno. 425 

But as Constantine besought Sylvester within 

(the cavems oQ Soracte lo cure (him) of the 

leprosy, so did he (the Pope) beseech me as 

a physician to cure him of the fever of his 

arrogance {i.e, to gratify his heated desire of 

revenging himself upon the Colonnas) : he 

asked of me counsel, and I was silent, 

because his words seemed drunken. 

Benvenuto says Boniface was intoxicated with 

anger and malice. Lana uses the same words. Buti 

says the words were full of wickedness, and that 

Guido held his peace, a.s the Pope seemed as one 

drunk with wine. 

The Pope, seeing Guide's reticence and reluctance 
to hjm, proceeded to remove his scruples, 
promising him absolution beforehand for any sin he 
might commit. 

E poi mi disse : — " Tuo cor non aospetli :• 100 

Finor t' assolvo, e (u m' insegna fare 
SI come Penestrino in terra getti. 




• Tuo cornon sospetii : Uoniface, on receiving no reply, saw 
that his parole tbbrt had scandalised Guido, so he reassured him 
by saying, " Let not your soul dread that it is going to fat! into 
sin." Sospelto is used by Danle to express doubts and fears. 
Compare Inf. v, 129 : 

"Soli eravamo e senia alcun sospetto." 
In Inf. iii, 14, 15, saspetto, fear, is put in conjunction with 
viiti, cowardice, when Virgil says to Dante : 

" Qui si convien lasciare ogni sospeUo ; 

Ogni villi convien che qui sia morta," 

+ Lo del posf to set-rare e tlinerrare : Boniface was quoting 

Scripture. See Mall, xvi, C9 : " And I will give unto thee the 

keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and whatsoever thou shall 

bind on earth shall be bound in heaven : and whatsoever thou 

426 Riodmgs &m ik§ Infirm. Canto XXVIL 

Come tu sai ; per6 too duele 

Che il mio antecessor* non ebbe care.*— loj 

And theo he said to me : " Let not thy heart 
misgive thee : from this moment I absolve 
thee, and do thoa teach me so to contrive 
that I may hurl down Palestrina to the dust 
I have power, as thog knowest, both to dose 
and to open Heaven, for two are the keys 
which my predecessor held not dear." 
Hb meant that as Pope he could admit into Heaven, 
os: exclude from it, whomsoever he pleased, according 
to the pretensions of the Papacy to exercise the 
privilege conferred upon St Peter by Our LoitL 
Dean Plumptre says the words imply (i) that the 
claim to absolve by anticipation was not unknown ; 
(2) that Dante, as a theologian, rejected it as unreason- 
able and contrary to the Faith. 

shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And Rev. i, 
18 : " Behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen ; and have the 
keys of hell and death." And Rev, iii, 7 : " These things saith 
he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, 
he that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and shutteth, and no 
man openeth." 

* ilmio antecessor: Meaning Celestine V, whom, with what 
Tommas^ stigmatizes as diabolical irony, Boniface accuses of 
having renounced the Papacy, and thus shown that he set small 
value on the keys of Heaven. Of the real truth of this state- 
ment, Bargigi writes : " Dietro la renunziazione fatta da 
Celestino quinto, con grande astuzia seppe tener modo che fu 
eletto esso alia somma dignity papale, ed iniquissimamente 
fece restringere Celestino in prigione nel Castello di Sulmona, 
ove non visse molto. La qual cosa malignamente fece per poter 
piu sicuramente riversare il mondo a modo suo senza timore» 
che Celestino mai piu potesse aspirare al papato." See also 
note on In/, iii, 59, voL i, p. 94. 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 


Guido goes on to relate that he yielded to the 
Pope's persuasions, which, moreover, he hints were of 
so cogent and ^luthontatlve a nature, as it would 
probably have cost him his life or his liberty to have 
resisted. ' 

Allor mi pinser gli argomenii gravi* 

LA 've il tacer mi fu avviso il peggio, 

E dissi : — ' Padre, da che tu mi lavi 

Di quel peccato, ov' io mo cader deggio, 

Lunga promessa con I' allendert corlo 1 10 

* argomenii gravi : Di Sienn observes that Dante represents 
Count (iuido (o us m nucuinlii)f[ Ijctwccn llic Tear of fulling into 
sin by giving fraudulent counsel lo ihe Pope, and that of dis- 
obeying his Pontifical authority 
reverence to ihe holy keys<(k 
Guido thought the first d.inger 
greater: and deluded himfeelf in' 
absolution given him beforehand, and we are left 
n this false security he lived (lie rest of his life 

bending in 

de!/e somme cfiiavi). 

great, but the second 

false security from the 

ifer that 

from which he was only rudely awakened by the reality of 
finding that the Fiend had Ij-iumphed over St. Francis in the 
contention for his soul. Not even did the influence of St. 
Francis, the Seraphic Father (/"ar. xi, 37), avail to save one of his 
followers from perdition. Dante evidently wished 10 show, of 
how little value in his estimation was the superstitious belief of 
his contemporaries, that the mere donning the habit of St 
Francis could be sufficient lo save a soul. If Guido had not 
been fully persuaded of ihe efficacy of the Pope's absolution, 
he would have obtained it anew after due contrition and peni- 

+ r attmder corto : .^//tnotrc, amongst other significations in 
the Vocaioiario itdla Crusca, has that of mantintr la promeaa. 
The short {carta) performance of it does not necessarily imply 
the entire non-fulfilment, but an only partial keeping of failli to 
the engagement taken. The people of Palestrina are satd to 
have received absolution befoie they were destroyed. 

428 Readings am ikg Inferno. Canto xxvn. 

Ti far^ trioii£u* nelP alto a^ggia' — 
Then did hia weighty aigomenta impel me to 
that point where to be ailent aeemed to me 
the worst (courseX and I said : ' Father, since 
thou dost wash me from that wickedness into 
which I am now going to fall (this is my 
advice), Long promise with short keeping will 
make thee triumph on the High Seat' 
Scartazzini maintains that the authenticity of this 
anecdote is fully established. It is related by Villani 
(viii, 23) ; we find it also in the Chromcon Frandsd 
Pipini, ^. Muratori, Rerum lialicarum Scr^i&ns^ 
vol. ix, p. 741. Scartazzini says that many have 
suggested doubts as to the historical accuracy of this 
story as told by Dante, but that such doubts are 
void of all foundation. The fact remains that Boni- 
face followed the fraudulent counsel. 

The counsel given by Guido is heartily re-echoed 
by Macchiavelli {Principe, cap. xviii) : " Quanto sia 
laudabile in un principe mantenere la fede e vivere 
con integrity, e non con astuzia, ciascuno lo intende. 
Nondimanco si vede per esperienza ne' nostri tempi 
quelli principi aver fatto gran cose che della fede hanno 
tenuto poco conto, e che hanno saputo con Y astuzia 
aggirare i cervelli degli uomini, ed alia fine hanno 
superato quelli che si sono fondati in su la lealti." 

The end of the dark tale is at hand, and we learn 
that retribution fell heavily upon the poor sinner, 
who survived his relapse but one short year. 

* Ti/ara trionfar : Tommas^ sees a terrible irony in these 
words, when one thinks of the last humiliations that Boniface 
himself suffered at the hands of the Colonnas, and which 
moved even Dante to pity. See Purg, xx, 86 ttseq. 

Canto xxvir. Readings on the Inferno. 

Francesco venne poi, com' \o fui morto, 
Per me ; ma un de' neri Chenibini* 
Gli disse : ' Not portar ; non mi far t 

Venir sen dee Xk gi£i tra' miei meschini,-!- 
Pcrchfc diede il consiglio frodolente, 
Dal quale in qua stato g!i sono a' crii 


* un <i^ neri Cherubim : The Anonimo Fiorentino says ; 
" There are nine Orders of Angels, and some of each Order 
fell [wiih Lucifer] into Hell ; and each Order has its special 
attributes. These Chetubim, who hold the second rank among 
the Angels, possess an intuitive perception of the meaning of 
the Scriptures, although they have lost the knowledge of them." 
Compare Inf. xxiii, 130-133 : 

"Onde noi ambo e due possiamo uscirci 
Senza costringer degli angeli neri, 
Che vegnan d' esto fondo a diparlirci." 
t meschini: Servants, minions. Compare Inf. ii, 43, where 
Dante calls the Furies the handmaidens of Proserpine : 
" E quel, che ben conobbe le meschine 

Delia reglna dell' eterno pi an to, etc." 
Di Siena believes the word to be derived from the Hebrew 
mika, poor, miserable, and hence, a slave. See in vol. i, 
p. 178, of this work on Inf. ix, 43, Fraticelli interprets meichino, 
a slave, commenting on the following Sonnet m iht Vila Nuova: 
" Cavalcando 1' altr' ier per un cammino, 
Pensoso dell' andar, che mi sgradia, 
Trovai Amor nel meiio della via. 
In abito leggier di peregrino. 
Neila sembianra mi parea meschino 
Come avesse perdu to signoria." 
I Dal quale in qua, etc. : This means : " Dal quale consiglio 
in qua ; i.t. del quale tempo che diede tal consiglio infino ad 
ora, stala gli sano ai crini : i.e. close to his hair, so that, when 
the moment came, I might catch him by it {acciuffarlo), so that 
he should not escape rt\K {pi Siena)." In the " Readings on Ike 
Purgatoria," vol. i, page iii, It was pointed out in reference to 
Purg. V, 100- loS, the wonderful contrasts between the deaths of 

430 Readinp 9H tki Infmrm. Canto XXYIL 

Ch' assolver noQ il po^, chi non si pente, 
N^ pentere e volere insieme puossi, 
Per la contndiikm che nol consente.** lao 

St Francis came for me afterwards, as soon 
as I was dead, but one of the black Cheru- 
bim (interposed, and) said to him : * Do not 
take him ; defraud me not He must come 
down among my min\pns» because he gave 
the fraudulent counsel, from which time I 
have been (dutdiing) at his hair. For he 
who repents not cannot be absolved, nor is it 
possible to repent and to will at the same 
time, by reason of the contradiction which 
does not agree with it' 
The unhappy being recalls to mind his agony at 
the moment of realizing his eternal perdition, and 
the exultation of the Demon that his logic had pre- 
vailed over the arguments of St Francis. 

the fisither, Guido, and the son, Buonconte da Montefeltro. The 
former lost his soul for a single word of evil counsel, which 
annulled all the fruits of his penitence, and St Francis was con- 
strained to allow the Demon to gain th'e contest In the case of 
the son, but one single sigh uttered to the Virgin in the moment 
of death decided the contest in iavour of the Angel of God, 
and the baffled Demon had to be content to vent his rage upon 
the lifeless body. 

* Per la contradixUm che nol consente : Di Siena points out 
the force of the Fiendish dialectic ! No one can be absolved 
from a sin unless he has repented of it : Guido could not 
assuredly repent by anticipation of the sin which he had the 
will in his soul to conunit, and did commit : therefore the 
absolution was null and void, and he died in sin. Man repents 
of what he would not willingly have done : but to repent of a 
trespass and to will to trespass is the same as repenting and 
not repenting at the same time : which involves a contradiction. 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno. 


O me dolente ! come mi riscossi * 

Quando mi prese, dicendomi : ' Forse 
Tu non penaavi ch' io loico fossi I ' 
O wretched me l how I reawakened {i.e. how 
my eyes were opened on a sudden) when he 
took me, saying to me : ' Perchance thou 
didst not imagine that I was a logician ! ' 
There is little more for Guido to tell Dante. The 
Demon's action is exceedingly prompt, and the 
routine of Hell has httle variation, except that even 
in Minos (quel conoscitor delle peccata) the enormity of 
Guide's crime would seem to have roused special 

A Minos mi portft : e quegli atlorse 

Otto voile In coda al dosso duro, 12$ 

E, poi che per gran rabhia la si morse, 
Disse : ' Questi 6 de' rei del foco furo : ' 
Perch' io Ik dove vedi son perduto, 
E si vesiiio andnndo mi rancuro." — 
♦ mi riscossi: The more usual translation is, "how I shud- 
dered," which is one of ihe meanings of riseuctersi. I prefer 
another meaning, given in the Vocabolario dtlla Crusca, and 
adopied by Di Siena, namely, mi destai, I awoke, my eyes were 
opened to my delusion in having put my faith in thai false 
absolution. It was the re-awakening of the intellectual faculties 
of Guido from the lethargic illusion which prevented his dis- 
cerning Ihe error in which he had been living. It was the 
Devil's logic that aroused hira, and made him really under- 
stand for the first time that he was lost. Compare Purg. ix, 


" Non altrimenli Achille si nscosse, 

Cli occhi svegliati rivolgendo in giro, 
E non sappiendo IS dove si fosse, 
Quando )a madre da Chiron a Schiro 

Trafug6 lui dormendo, in le sue braccia, 
Lik onde poi li Greci 11 dipartiro." 

43^ Readings am ik§ Ittfemo. Canto XXVIL 

To Minos he bore me : and he round his 
stubborn back eight times did coil his tail, and 
then, when from great fury he had bitten it^ 
said : * This is one of the sinners of the thievish 
fire : ' therefore I, where thou sees^ am 
doomed, and going thus attired I bemoan me." 

Guide's story is now told. He has no wish to be 
recalled to memory, and, as he utters his last mournful 
words, he hurries away, and the Poets pass on to the 
next Bolgia, 

Quand' egli ebbe il sue dir cosi compiuto, 130 

La fiainma dc^iando* si partio, 
Torcendo e dibattendo il corao acutaf 
Noi passainmo oltre, ed 10 e tl Duca mio, 
Su per lo scogliot infino in suU' altr* arco 
Che copre il fosso, in che si paga il f]0§ 13$ 

A quel che scommettendoH acquistan carco. 

* dolorando : Benvenuto thinks the cause of Guide's anguish 
was the thought of how little all his wisdom and craft had 
availed him. 

t dibattendo il como acuto : The recital of the story of his 
life seems to have greatly increased his sufferings. 

X scoglio : It must not be forgotten that the Poets have 
remained all this time standing on the arch of the same bridge 
from which they had listened to the tale of Ulysses. 

§ si paga ilfio : Compare Purg, xi, 88 : 

" Di tal superbia qui si paga il fio." 

Di Siena thinks fio is fromySwm or feus^ the ancient form for 
feudum. Others derive it from fio^ fi-a-to (trisyllable), with 
the idea of service rendered by a feudatory vassal. In modem 
Italian it is only used in the phrase /a^((2r^, or scontare ilfio^ to 
pay the penalty ; and tenere^ or avere infio^ signifies to have or 
possess anything without being absolute master of it. 

I scommettendo acquistan carco : Scartazzini says that a load 
or cargo is usually accumulated by packing together {comnut- 

Canto XXVII. Readings on the Inferno, 

When he had thus completed his tale, the 
flame in anguish speeded away, twisting and 
flapping its sharp horn. We passed onwards, 
both my Guide and I, up along the bridge- 
way until (we were) on the next arch ths^t 
overhangs the fosse in which the penalty is 
paid by those who, by sowing discord, accu- 
mulate a burder^X^f guilt). 


tendo\ but the doomed in the next bolgia accumulate their load 
of sin by separating, disuniting (5Commettendo\ and the more 
they separate and disunite, the greater burden do they accu- 

This applies as much to those who disinteg^ted their native 
country, or the portions of it that should have remained united, 
as to those who by (^ilty machinations severed friendships. 
The former class, however, would seem to be more deserving of 
being punished as Traitors in Antenora, 

End of Canto XXVII. 


E E 

434 Readings om ttu Infenw. Canto XXVIIL 


The Eighth Circle {amiimud^ 
The Ninth Bofgia. 

The Schismatics and 

Fomentors of Civil Discord. 

Mahomet and Au. 

Fra Dolcino. 

Pier da Medicina. 



Bertrand de Born. 

Full of horror are the sights which ' Dante has to 
witness in this canto. His yearning after a United 
Empire, in which' the Spiritual Rule should be under 
the Pope, and the Temporal Rule under the Emperor, 
both governing hand in hand for the welfare of man- 
kind with a twin beneficent sovereignty, made him 
visit with unsparing rigour all who by their factions 
and feuds, 'by their jealousies and self-seeking, had 
sought to impede Union in public, to sow dissensions 
or breed scandals in private, or had propagated 
schisms. His feelings on this subject can be best 
understood if one reads his noble outburst of indigna- 
tion against the feuds of Italy in the Sixth Canto of 
the Purgatorio. 

Benvenuto divides this canto into four parts. 

In Division /, from v. i to v. 21, Dante describes 
in a general way the terrible penalty of the Schis- 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 435 

In Division II, from v. 22 to v. 63, Dante sees 
the shades of Mahomet and his kinsman Ali, both 
horribly mutilated ; and from the former he learns the 
punishment inflicted on those who sow dissension. 

In Division III, from v. 64 to v. (02, Dante is 
addressed by the shade of Pier da Medicina, a 
Bolognese, who predicts the assassination of two 
worthy citizens of Fano by the wicked Malatestino. 

In Division IV, from v. 103 to v. 142, Dante has 
some conversation with Moscadei Lamberti of Florence, 
and with Bertrand de Born of Perigueux in Gascony. 

Division I. At the end of the last canto, after the 
hurried departure of the flame containing the spirit of 
Guido da Montefeltro, we read that the Poets con- 
tinued their way until they found themselves on the 
summit of the next bridge. They had been standing 
in tiie centre of the bridge over the Eighth Bolgia. 
They would seem to have descended, walked along 
the causeway tliat crossed the rampart, and then 
to have ascended the ninth bridge, standing on the 
summit of which Dante begins this canto. 

He sees below him human forms with every sort of 
wounds and mutilations that a sword can inflict. 
The whole scene is one of blood. The victims are 
they who in life, by mischief-making, disseminating 
strife, and causing schisms, have divided and separated 
all that Divine Love has joined together and united. 
Their penalty is analogous to their offence. They 
have to pass in turns before one of the Demons, who 
with a sharp sword administers to each a stroke so 
terrible, that the whole Bolgia is like a battle field. 
11. E E 2 

436 Riodings m thi Infirno. Canto XXmL 

Dante is at a loss how to give an adequate description 

of the horrors of the spot 

Chi poria mat pur coo parole sciolte* 

Dicert dd sangue e delle piaghe appieno, 
CHi' i' ora vidi, per narrar pi& volte ? 

Ogni lingua per ceno verria men6t 

* paroie scialU: meaning Prose. On this^ tee Vac diUm 
Crusca^ s. v. scioito^ § 9 ^ ** Parole sciohe, o parlare sciolto^ 
vaglibno Parole non obUigate alia rima, o a al verso^ Prasm^ 
Lot. soluia oratio. Compare Buonarotti} La FUrm^ 5» 49 3 : 
' In quella guisa, che 1 parlare sciolto, 
Ch' io intendo per la prosa, 
Riceve da' period! maggiori 
Maggior lo stile.' * 
Ovid (THf/. iv, x, 21-34) describes how, dissuaded by his 
father from attempting to write poetry, he took to prose : 
** Saepe pater dixit: * Studium quid inutile tentas ? 
Maeonides nuUas ipse reliquit opes.' 
Motus eram dictis, totoque Helicone relicto, 
Scribere conabar verba soluta modis." 
t Dicer: Both Scartazzini, Di Siena, Blanc, and Nannucd 
{Anal, Crit, Verbi ital. p. 581) agree that dicere was an anti- 
quated form for din^ and is to this day in use in the Neapolitan 
provinces. Dante uses it frequently. 
X Ogni lingua . . . verria meno: Compare Inf, iv, 145-147 : 
'' Io non posso ritrar di tutti appieno ; 

Perocch^ s) mi caccia il lungo tema, 
Che molte volte al fatto il dir vien meno." 
and Virg. jEn, vi, 625-627: 

" Non, mihi si linguae centum sint, oraque centum, 
Ferrea vox, omnes scelerum comprendere formas. 
Omnia pcenanim percurrere nomina possim." 
and Tasso, Gerus, liber, ix, st. 92: 

** Non io, se cento bocche e lingue cento 
Avessi, e ferrea lena e ferrea voce, 
Narrar potrei quel numero che spento 
Ne' primi assalti ha quel drappel feroce." 

Canto xxvill. Readings oh the Inferno. 

Per lo n 

o scrmone* e per la mente.t 

• Per lo nostra sermone: Di Siena says Ihat the following from 
the Convito, iii, ch. 3 and 4, affords a complete commentary on 
this passage, as showing the insufficiency of human speech or 
thought to express adequately such a vast variety of things. 
Dante establishes two Intffabilities^ and then says : " 1 miei 
pensieii, di costei ragionando, molte liale voleano cose con- 
chiudere di lei, che io non le potea inlendere, e smarrivami, 
sicchi quasi parea di fuoii alienato, come chi guarda col viso 
per una relta linea, che prima vede le cose prossime chiaramente, 
poi, procedendo, meno le vedc chiare ; poi, piii otlre, dubita ; 
poi, massimamenle oltre procedendo, lo viso disglunto nulla vede. 
£ qucsta h 1' un.t inclTabililh di qiiellu die io per (cina ho preso. 
. . . E questa 6 1' altra inefTabililii ; cioi, che la lingua non k di 
quello, che lo 'nlellello vede, compiutamente seguace ■ > . E dico 
che se difetto fia nelle mie rime, cio£ nelle mie parole . . . di 
cifa h da biasimare la debilitk dcllo 'nlelklto e la corteiza del 
nostto parlare." The same idea is expressed in the opening 
Canzoiu of this Tratlato iti, where in si. i, Danle says ; 


S' io vo' trattar di quel ch' odo di lei, 

Ci6 che to mio intcllelto non coniprende 

E di quel che s' intende 

Gran pane, perch^ dirto non saprei. 

Per6 se le mie rime avran difetto, 

Ch' enireran nella loda dl costei, 

Di ci6 si biasmi il debole intelleito, 

E 'I parlar noslro che non ha valore 

Di ritrar tulto ci6 che dice amore." 
In his Epistle to Can Grande delta Scala, § 19, Dante writes: 
"AVjo'/quia oblitus: nequil, quia si recordalur, et conlentum 
tenet, sermo lamen deficit. Multa namqiie per intellectum 
' videmus, quibus signa vocalia desunt, quod satis Plato insinuat 
, . . Multa enim per lumen inlellecluale vidil, qua? sermone 
proprio nequivit exprimere." 

t e per la menlt : Di Siena feels sure that the idea Dante is 
here embodying in the word mettle is much more complex than 

438 Readings an the Inferno. Canto XXVin. 

Ch' hanno a tanto comprender poco sena* 

WhOy even in words released (from the laws 
of rhythm (i^. in prdse) could ever describe in 
full, by frequent teUing, the blood and the 
wounds that I now saw? Every tongue 
would assuredly fidl short (of adequate nar- 
ration) by reason of our (human) speech and 
through our understanding, which have but 
little capacity for embracing so much. 
Benvenuto says that this is but the simple truth, for 
no human intellect can comprehend, or speech express^ 
the vast multitude of wounds that are made in the 
world by the evil tongues of mischief-makers. Dante 

merely memory^ which is only a part contained in it ; but that 
he imdoubtedly explains the word in Convito^ Tr. iii, c. 2 : *' In 
questa nobilissima parte dell' anima [la Ragione] sono piu virtu 
. . . una . . . che si chiama scientifica, e una . . . 
ragionativa ovvero consigliativa : e con questa sono certe virtu 
. . . siccome la virtu inventiva e giudicativa. £ tutte queste 
nobilissime virtii, e I'altre che sono in quella eccellente potenzia, 
si chiama insieme con questo vocabolo, del quale si volea sapere 
che fosse, cio^ mente ; per che h manifesto, che per mente s' 
intende questa ultima e nobilissima parte deir anima." There- 
fore Di Siena concludes that, in the Terzina 4-6, Dante is beyond 
a doubt indicating the two Ineffabilities^ or deficiencies in the 
human intelligence and human speech, as applied to his 
difficulty of comprehending and narrating both the quantity 
and the quality {futto e quanta) of the new sights that met his 
eye in the Ninth Bolgia, 

* seno: Blanc (Vac, Dan/.) says that in this passage it is 
doubtful whether Dante meant sena to express the capacity 
that a thing may have, or whether he has not adapted it to his 
rhyme instead oisenna^ capacity of the mind. I unhesitatingly 
prefer the former view. I cannot believe that Dante required 
to alter words to fit them for rhyme. 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 

compares what he saw with some of the bloodiest 
fields of battle recorded in history. 

S' ci s' adunasse ancor tutta la gente, 
Che giii in sulla fortunata* terra 
Di Pufilia fu del suo sangue dolente 
Per li Troianiit e per la lunga guerrat lo 

* fortunata terra : Commentalors lake widely dilTerent views 
as lo the meaning oi fortunala. Some, among whom Is Ben- 
venuto, think it may be taken, either as meaning that the land 
was fortunate to the victors, or because in it were fought out 
such terrible conflicts. I prefer to follow the view adopted by 
Landino, Ventuii, Bargigi, and Scariazzini, namely, that the 
land of Apulia was subject lo many strange viciMiiudes of 
fortune. Forlunaia is used here in the sense of /orlunaa from 
the V fib fortunare, toenperience the vicissitudes of fortune. 

t Treiani: Others read Rematti, but the prepionde ranee of 
MS. authority is overwhelmingly in favour of Troiani. Dr. 
Moore {Texlual Criticism, pages 340-342, every word of which 
should be carefully studied) thinks that Troiani is the right 
reading, and that probably Romani was an early marginal gloss 
explaining Troiani, which got to be copied as a correction of 
the text. He thinks that to read Troiani and lo explain It as 
Romani m&y be justiRed on the two propositions, (ij that Dante 
frequently asserts the identity, in the way of origin and descent, 
of the Romans and of the Trojans ; and (2) that he habitually 
In such cases interchanges, by a sort ofanachronism, the names 
of races thus related. In Dante's prose works many illustra- 
tions of this practice by him are to be found. Scartaziini says 
that Dante shared the belief of his contemporaries, that the 
Romans descended from the Trojans who came with iEneas 
into Italy, and that he is here alluding to the Samnite wars that 
look place in the course of the second century after the estab- 
lishment of the Republic. 

I "^y la hinga guerra : Dante evidently means the Second 
Punic War, which lasted more than Rfteen years. On the 
bloody field of Cannx in this war there fell, according to 

44° RtadtHgs mi tkt Ittftnm. Cuto XXVm. 

Cbe ddr andkltf d ihe apoglw, 

Come Lino Kiire, cbe aoo cim ;* 
Con qoelU cbe send di otdpi doglie. 

Per coatnstaie k Roberto Goiioudo^t 

E 1' altn, ad oname ancor ^ accoitte IS . 

A CeperanJ tt dove fu bogkido 

Polybiiu, 62JOOO men ; accordiaf to Livy, 43iaooL It ma after 
Ihia battle that the vktariooa Caidtaginiani collected three 
bushels and a half of gold lingi, which were acmt by HanaOial 
M be laid before the Seaaie at Carthage. Dante aUudet to ^t 
in CMiviie iv, c V : **E wmpeae Iddio le masi qnaadoperia 
gnerra d' Annibale, avenda perdnti tanti dtUdini cbe m 
moggia d' anelbi in AAi^ eiano poitate, li Roouuil ToDaro 
abbandonare la tcnm, ae qoeUo benedetto Sctptooe giovanenon 
aves«e impieta 1* andata in Aftica per la tiu franchena.' 

* C^mt Uvio scrivt eke hoh erra : Scartauini remarics that 
the days ate gone by when Livy was reputed so trustworthy a 

t J?04M^0f^uMeard!0.-RobertGuiscard, on his brother Richard 
niccceding their father as Duke of Normandy in 1070^ oune 
into Italy, comtnanded ibe troops of the Duke of Apulia with 
conspicuous skill, then married his daughter and became bis 
successor. The Apulians having resisted this by force, be 
defeated them with great slaughter, together with " the schis- 
matic Greeks and unbelieving Saracens " (Gibbon, Hist. cap. 
Ivi) who were in alliance with them. Dante mentions Robnt 
Gniscard again in Par. iviii, 48. 

X Ctptran : Scartatriui has no doubt ibat this is an allusion 
to the battle of Benevento, where Manfred was defeated by 
Charles d'Anjou in 1366 and died on the field. Camerini says 
that at Cepiano, which Dante mentions instead of Ilenevenio 
because it was the key of the position, Count Giordano, Man- 
fred's lieutenant, by the insidious counsels of the Count of 
Caserta, without fighting deserted his position upon the bridge 
over the Garigliaoo, as well as an impregnable pass in a gorge 
of the mountains, of which treachery the troops of Charles 
d'Anjou took immediate advantage. G. Villani (vii, capL ix) 

Canto xxvill. Readings on the Inferno. 441 

Ciascun Pugliese, c U da Tagliacoiio* 

Ove seni' armeit vecchio Alardo ; 
E qual foralo suo membro, e qual moMO 

Mostrasse, dn equar sarebbe nulla 20 

Al modot della Tiona bolgia soiio. 
If aH the people were again assembled, who 
of ol(i upon the fnteful land of Apulia did 
weep for their blood (shed) by the Trojans 
{i.e, Romans), and (with them those that fell) 

thus describes the treachery of the Apulians ; " Lo Re Man- 
fredi, lo quale con sua schiera de' Pugliesi siava al soccorso 
deir oste, veggendo gli suoi chenon poteano durare labaitaglia, 
si confortb la sua geiite della sua schiera, cbe 't segujssono 
alia battaglia, da' quali fti male iuteso, perocch^ la maggiore 
parte de' baroni pugliesi, e del Regno, in tra gli allri il conle 
Camarlingo, e quello della Cerra, e quelle di Caserla e allri, o 
per vih?i di cuore, o veggendo a loro avere il peggiore, e chl 
disse per tradimento, come genii infedeh e vaghi di nuovo 
signore. si fallirono a Manfredi, abbandonandolo e Tuggendo, 
etc." With regard lo the bones of the slain being still gathered 
up by peasants, compare \'irg. Georg. i, 493-497 : 
" Scilicet et icmpus veniet, cum finibus illis 
Agricola, incurvo lerram molitus aratro, 
Exesa inveniet scabra rubigine pila, 
Aut gravibus rastris galeas pulsabit inanes, 
Grandiaque elTossis mirabilur ossa sepulchris." 
" Tagliacoxio: a castle in the Abruizi near which in 1268 
Conradin, son of Manfred, was defeated and captured by Charles 
d'Anjou. One of Charles's Knights was Ehrliard (Alardo) de 
Vallery, and Vill.ini {vii, z6, 27) relates that by his advice the 
army of Conradin was allowed to defeat two-thirds of Charles's 
army, after which the remaining third rushed out of an ambush 
on their rear, when they were scattered for plunder, and 
annihilated them. 

t modo : The Voc. delta Cmsca (s. v. § vii) states that modo 
may be used to signify " appearance, figure." Di Siena 
explains it, " the horrible spectacle." 




throughom ihe long war (the second Punic) 
which made such a heaped-uii spoil of rings 
as Livy writes, who errs not : wilh that {host 
of Saracens), which experienced the sufferings 
of wounds in opposing Robert Guiscard, and 
the other (1 re sliU picked 

up at Cepe each Apulian 

proved trai fell) there at 

Taghacozzo arms (but by 

Stratagem) torioua : (were 

kII these ass 

display his and another 

(his) loppeh. would be as 

nothing to e< ectacle of the 

ninth ioigia. 

" And here mark," says Benvenuto, " how Dante 
tnetes out a punishment proportionate to the sin of the 
Schismatics ; for we shall sec by what follows, that their 
penalty is that they shall all be lacerated, divided, 
maimed, and wounded in their different members, ac- 
cording to the greater or less enormity of their delin- 
quencies ; and this on the principle that just the very 
sins that a man has committed become the instni- 
mentsof his punishment; for these sinners have divided 
hearts that were united, and minds that were at one in 
matters of Faith, or friendship, or trust, or consan- 
guinity.and have often drawn men intowars, to deaths, 
to wounds, to hatreds, and to occasions of stumbling. 
For there is nothing so sharp as a malicious tongue 
which pierces the hearts of credulous and kindly 
people, wounds them and severs their friendship." 

Canto XXVni. Readings on the Inferno. 443 

Division II. Dante first describes the awful penalty 
of the greatest Schismatic the world has ever seen, 
namely Mahomet, the false prophet of the Moslem 
Faith. Horrible indeed is the appearance he presents. 
To him the avenging Demon seems to have dealt a 
sword-cut more terrible than to any of his miserable 
companions, a blow which has laid open his whole 
body from the chin to the fork, so that his entrails 
trail along the ground. In the drawings of DotticelU 
these details are depicted with minute realism. 
Dante remarks that the gaping wound reminds him 
of a cask that, from having lost one of its staves, 
displays a wide-open cavity. 

Gik veggia* per meiiult perdere o tulla.J 
Com' io vidi un, cosl non si pertugia, 
Rotto dal mento infin dove si Iruila : 
Tra le gambe pendevan le ininugia ;§ 35 

'f^^^'n from the Latin Z'f^ua cask, according to Landinoand 
Vellutello, though some assert that it is a word of unknown 
origin. Toiiimas^o says that at Bergamo the word for a cask 
\%-vexsia. In the dialect of Brescia a small barrel \%vttola. The 
Romagnoles have vhbl, and vizuHn Tor different barrels ac- 
cording to their size. 

+ nuMul is the abbreviation for meMult (pi, irtexiult), and 
the definilion of it, quoted by Scartazzini and Di Siena from 
the Vocabolario DomesiUe of Carena, is " a square aperture, 
pretty large, made in one of the ends of rhe cask, for the facility 
of more easily cleaning out the inside ; it is made Io shut with 
a folding door." 

I lulln ■ This would seem Io be one of ihe crescent-like 
pieces which arc on the right and lefl of the middle piece at 
the end of a caste. Di Siena thinks it is either derived from 
lunula, or from lunn, as culla Is derived from cuaa. 

§ minugia : the intestines, entrails. From the Latin minutia. 
This word is only used in the ploraL In Tuscany minugia Is 


La corata* pareva, c 

Che merda fa di ([ud che si tranjjugia. 

Not even does a cask, from having lost the 
middle board (of its head) or a 
gape so wide, as one (nhade) I saw, cloven 
from the ■ * ' id Is voided ; 

between h were hanging 

down, the view, and the 

disgusting which makes 

excrement !. 

Benvenuto exj: ing details to mean 

that, whereas in a le purer part of the 

food passes to the ihmcnt and health, 

and the superfluo nitted to the intes- 

tines, in the case of Maliomet all that entered into 
his belly through his mouth was converted into fcecal 
matter ; because all the doctrine that entered his mind 
produced horrible errors, which polluted and infected 
pretty nearly all the world. 

Dante's eyes are fascinated by the shocking sight ; 
but he has not seen the worst, for in a frenzy of 
despair the shade of Mahomet clutches the gaping 
wound with both hands, and rends open ht^ very self. 
He tells Dante that he and his companions are all 

used lo express fiddleslrings, as we might, in English, speak of 

* La corata: Camerini describes this as the pericardiuiti. 
Dull and others, tht liver, hiart, and lungs. Lamennais says 
that in some provinces of France, and especially in Bretagne, 
courie is used in the same sense. Benvenuto o 
corata, sicui cor, epar, splen Invicem ligata. 

Canto xXviii. Readings on the Infer. 
Menire che tutto in lui vedcr n 



aperse il petto, 
ia mi dilacco :+ 

Dicendo : — " Or vedi 
Vedi come storpiatot t M 

Dinanzi a me sen va piangendo A11|{ 

Fesso nel volto dal menio al ciuffetto : 
E tuiti gli altri, che tu vedi qui, 

Seminatnr di srandala e di acisma 35 

Fur vivi ; e per6 son fessi cosl. 
While I turn all my attention to gaze upon 
him, he looked at me, and with his hands 
laid open his breast, saying r " Now see how 
I rend myself: see how mutilated is Mahomet, 
Before me, with his face cleft from the chin 
to the fore-lock AH goes his way lamenting: 

• iii altacco ; Compare Virg. <£r». i, 495, where the expression 
used is very similar : 

" Dum siupet, obfutflque haret defixus in uno." 
t ""' dilacco: The Vocab. delta Crusca derives the verb 
ditaccare from lacche, the thighs, or ihe haunches of any quad- 
ruped. Di Sieria thinks that from this passage, as well as from 
lines 64-66; and from 103-105, one may believe that Dante 
had tn his mind, Virg. jEn. vi, 494-497 ; 

" Atque hie Priamiden laniatum corpote tolo 
Deiphobum videt, etlacemm crodeliicr ora, 
Ora manusque ambas, populalaque lempora raptis 
Auribus, et truncas inhonesto vulnere nares." 
X ftorpialo : Others read scoppiato, icempiaio, scipalo, but 
itorfiialo is by far the most general reading, and the best 

§ Maometto : It will be enough to mention about a character 
so well known, that Mahomet was born at Mecca in $70, and 
died at Medina in 633. 

II All : Ali became the son in-law of Mahomet by espousing 
his daughter Fatima. He reigned as Catiph from 655 to 661, 
when he perished by the hand of a 


and all llie others, that thou seest here, i 
(when) alive disseminators of discord and of 
schism ; and therefore are they thus gashed 
Di Siena remarks that Mahomet endures his suffer- 
ings with the undaunted bearine' of a brave v 
but that Ali, who er, lacks Mahomet's 

fortitude, and go j. This disparage- 

ment however ol i not home out by- 

history. Gibbon OtcHtte and Fall of 

the Roman Em^ us speaks of Ali's 

character: " He Scations of a poet, 

a soldier, and a s. still breathes in a 

collection of mor^. layings ; and every 

antagonist, in the -.w _. : tongue or of the 

sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valour." 
Ali's only real crime would seem to have been that of 
allowing the three Caliphs, Abubeker, Omar, and 
Othman, to take possession in turn, before himself, of 
the throne to which, as Mahomet's son-in-taw, he was 
justly entitled to succeed. He is only to be judged 
as a disseminator of religious discord, in so far as his 
friends and enemies made his name the point of 
cleavage in the Moslem Faith, which, as Gibbon 
says, " is still maintained in the immortal hatred 
of the Persians and Turks. The former, who are 
branded with the appellation of Shiites or sectaries, 
have enriched the Mahometan creed with a new 
article of faith ; and, if Mahomet be the apostle, his 
companion All is the vicar, of God. In their pri- 
vate converse, in their public worship, they bitterly 
execrate the three usurpers who intercepted his inde- 

Canto XXVin. Readings on the Infer. 


feasible right to tlie dignity of Imam and Caliph ; and 
the name of Omar expresses in their tongue the per- 
fect accomplishment of wickedness and impiety. The 
Sonnites, who are supported by the general consent 
and orthodox tradition of the Mussulmans, entertain 
a more impartial, or at least a more decent opinion. 
They respect the memory of Abubeker, Omar, 0th- 
man and Ali, the holy and legitimate successors of 
the prophet. But they assign the last and most 
humble place to the husband of Fatima, in the per- 
suasion that the order of succession was determined 
by the degrees of Sanctity." 

Scartazzini points out that Dante has represented 
Ali with just that part of the body severed which has 
been left entire to Mahomet, because Ali was credited 
with having been the author of a schism among the 
Mahometans themselves. Mahomet has his body 
severed, because he sowed schism among nations ; 
Ali has his head divided, because he sowed schism 
principally among the heads of the Mahometan sect. 
In fact, as Philalethes remarks, he caused a schism 
within a schism. 

Mahomet next explains to Dante the manner in 
which the shades are tormented. They have, as usual, 
to walk or run continually round and round the circu- 
lar ravine which forms the bottom of the Ninth Bolgia, ' 
and extends for 22 miles (see next canto). As they 
come to a certain point, they find a Demon standing 
in the midst, who deals to every one of them a blow 
with a two-edged sword. Each receives his wound, 
and passes on ; and by the time they have circled 
round xXx^Bolgiah^,^ to the place where the grim execu- 




tioner awaits them, their wounds have entirely healed, 
and they are ready to undergo fresh punishment. 
Benvenuto thinks the allegorical meaning of this to 
be, that the Schismatics are going up and doi 
world sowing strife and di 
by which is mean* fli 
his sword, that 
sharp and in flic 
soon as any strife 
the Schismatics 
again, just as th 
whose wounds ha 
Vn diavol i 



ta: lianawcci (Anal. Crii. f'^r*/, p. 31, note 3) derives 
this word from the Provencal acesmar. Scartazzini observes that 
\a Fera6riu,^A. Bekkcr,A.D. 1636, v/eHtid, "a ton ar/p aietmai," 
i.e. has calculated his blow. From atesmar is derived the old 
French acesmar, ta set in order, to adorn, e.g. tuetmer la ia/ailU. 
In old Genoese aeetmar ocean. Nannucci explains acasmart 
a.% atconciiire, ihe same as accomodart, to adjust, so much used 
in Tuscany among the people. For example one may hear, 
" Ora, ora, I' accomodo io I" i. e. " Now you'll see, I'll give him 

a hot o 

! 1" 

t KvneUendo, Ruiiuse, and Rivada are all intended to 
express the continual repetition of the round of torment. The 
shades are put aguin to the sword each time they come round 
n^oM to the executioner ; and each time they do so with wounds 
again closed up. The reduplicative ri is meant [o have great 

X ritma : lit. a ream of paper, but here in a sense of multitude. 
The Voc. Mia Cniua says that riima signilies a large and 
undetermined number of sheets of paper, though properly a 

Canto XXvnr. Readings on the Inferno. 


Qiiando avem * volta la dalente strada ; 4° 

Peroccht le ferile son richiuse 
Prima ch' altri dinanzi gli rivada. 
A devil is liere behind who, equips us so 
cruelly, putting each one of this band {lit. 
ream of paper) again to the edge of the sword, 
when we have completed the circle of the 
path of anguish {i.e. round t\ie Bolgia); in- 
asmuch as the wounds are healed up again 
ere any pass once more before him. 
Mahomet's attention is now arrested, on noticing 
that Dante has not moved from his position on the 
summit of the arch of the bridge. He imagines that 
Dante is tarrying there in the vain hope of postponing 
the torment that must surely befall him. 
Ma tu chi se' die in sullo scnglio inuse,t 
Forse per indugiar d'ire alia pena, 

ream of iwenty quires. Tommasto remarks that the demon 
cuts the simicra like a ream of sheets in the huge volume of 
Hell. Compare P'IK xii, 121-113, wheie (he Order of St. 
Francis is spoken of as a volume composed of many pages, by 
which are meant the frjars ; 

" Ben dico, chi cercasse a foglio a foglio 
Nosiro volume, ancor troveria carta 
U' leggerebbe : lo mi son quel ck to soglio." 

* iwem was in the time of Dante, and should by rights con- 
tinue stilt to be (he primitive and regular intlexion of the verb 
avere instead of (he modern form adbiatno. In (he early writers 
we find continually vedemo (or vediamo; semo (or siamo; vo- 
lemo for vogUamo, etc. See Nannucci {Anal. Crit. Verbi Ilal. 
p. 93, et se^.). Aveino is still In use among the Venetians. We 
find avem in Provencal, and avemos in Spanish. 

t muse for musi, which says Nannucci (Anal. Crit. Verbi 
Haliani, p. 63 note), is, in its proper sense, to keep or hold the 



F F 


Ch' h giudicata in sulle Ii 
But nho art thou who (up there) on the 
bridge art musing (i.e. gazing so intently); 
perchance in order to delay coming to the 
punishment that has been adjudged (to thee 
by Minos) »tions ? " 

Virgil replies Benvenuto remarks 

that Virgil nevei en the answer would 

seem to reflect 

— " Nfe morte ilpa il mena," — 

Rispa ' a tormentarla ; 

Ma per ' ptena, 

countenance fixed on a. , hence, lo look fixedly. 

Nannucci quotes the fouowm); irom me Roman de In Kose : 
" Tout ainsi vous dis-je pour voir 
Que le cristal, sans decevoir 
Tout I'cstre du vergicr accuse 
A celui, qui dedans I'eaue muse." 
Nannucci explains the last line, " to him who gazes fixedly into 
the water." He devoies two pages to the discussion of the 
word musare. 
See Macchiavelli, Asino if Oro, cap. vii : 
" Poco piii 1^ certi animai disfatti, 

Qual coda non avea, qual non orecchi, 
Vidi musando starsi quatii quatti." 
* giudicata in sulle lue aceuie : Compare In/, v, 7-10 : 
" Dico, che quando 1' anima mal nata 
Li vien dinanii, tutta si confessa ; 
E quel conoscitor delle peccata 
Vede qual loco d' inferno h da essa." 
t per dar lui esperienta, etc. : See Purg. xxx, 136-145 ; also 
Inf. jcvii, 37-39 : .... 

"'Acciocche tutta piena 
Esperienza d' esto giron porii,' 
Mi disse, ' or va, e vedi la lor mena." 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 



n menarlo 

Per lo infemo quaggiii di giro in giro * ; 50 

E questo h ver cosl com io ti parlo."— 
" Neither has death yet overtaken him," an- 
swered my Master, " nor does crime lead him 
lo his torment; but lo give him full expe- 
rience, it is my duty, who am dead, to lead 
him down here throughout Hell from circle lo 
circle, and this is as true as that 1 am speaking 
to thee." 
Benvenuto observes that the prudent man learns by 
the example of others to put a curb upon his tongue, 
and to beware of the dissemination of scandals, when he 
reflects on the evil consequences that result therefrom. 
The effect of Virgil's words is to bring to a stand- 
still the whole multitude of shades that are moving 
onward to their constant round of torment. 
Piti fur di cento + che, quandn 1' udiro, 

S' atresiaront nel fosso a riguardarmi. 
Per maraviglia obblinndo 11 martiro. 
'digiro in giro: Compare Inf. x, 4, 5 : 
" virtii somma, che per gli empi giri 
Mi volvi." 
t PiUfar Hi cento : By thi 


a large and indetermin. 

number. The Voca&olarie delta Crusca, s. v. cento., \ i, says ; 
"Per rtumero indeterminato, riferente gran guantitd." Compare 
/«/ XXV, 31-33; 

" Onde cessar le sue opere biece 

Sotio la massa d' Ercole, che forse 
Gliene di^ cento, e nnn send le diece." 
and Petrarch, part ii. Son. 21 (or 249) : 

" O speranza, o desir sempre faltace, 
E degli amanti piii ben per un cento ! " 
tS'arrestaronHel/oiso . , . obblinndo it martiro : Throughout 
the Infemo and Purgalorio we tioticc Ihe irrepressible wonder 
II. F F 2 


More than a hundred there were, who, when 

they heard him, slopped in the fosse lo look 

at me, in wonder forgetting their torment 

Benvenuto sees a moral in this, and thinks Dante 

implies that, when the disseminators of strife and dis- 

cord see and li; , they are corrected 

by his persuasic :ly forget to go to 

their torment, fo there is the penalty; 

and Benvenuto :ruth I think must 

have occurred to laveread this noble 


Dante now pu of Mahomet a pro- 

ware of Dante being a 
.on says to the other 

of the spirits when 
living being. In /*_, 
Centaurs : 

" Siete voi accorti, 
Che quel di retro move ci6 ch' ei tocca? 
Cosl non soglion fare i pii de' morti." 
In Purg. ii, 67-7;, the newly-arrived spirits are awe-struck at 
seeing Dante breathe : 

" L' anime che si fur di me accorte. 

Per lo spirare ; ch' io era ancor vivo, 
Maravigliando diventaro smorte ; 
E come a messaggier, che porti olivo, 
Tragge la gente per udir novelle, 
E di calcar nessun si mostra schivo ; 
Cosl al viso mio s'aflissar quelle 
Anime fortunate tutte e quante, 
Quasi obbliando d' ire a farsi belle." 
and in Purg. iii, 88-91, the spirits draw back in wonder at the 
sight of Dante's shadow : 

" Come color dinanzi vider rotia 

La luce in terra dal mio destro canto, 
S) che r ombra era da me alia grotta, 
Restaro, e trasser si in retro alquanto." 

Canto XXVIIl. Readings on the Inferno. 453 

phecy as to the fate of a certain religious impostor 
named Fra Dolcino. Mahomet is supposed to be 
speaking in 1300, and, as it is a known fact that Fra 
Dolcino was put to death in 1307, we are able to 
determine the date before which this canto was not 

Benvenuto relates the story of Fra Dolcino at great 
length, telling his readers that he had acquired a good 
many tales of his life and death from the nephew of 
Maestro Rainaldo da Bergamo, who was Fra Dolcino's 
medical adviser. He says that during the Papacy of 
Boniface VIII, just about the time that Dante was 
commencing the Sacred Poem, there arose in Lom- 
bardy an evil schism, that would have become perni- 
cious, had it not been quickly stamped out. Its author 
was one Fra Dolcino, a native of the region near No- 
vara. He was brought up and educated by a priest 
at Vercelli, where, from natural aptitude, he attained 
to great proficiency in his studies ; but, in spite of the 
popularitywhich the charm of his manners and thegrace 
of his person acquired for him, his innate depravity ' 
was not long in showing itself. He stole some money 
from his benefactor, and artfully contrived at first to 
let the priest's suspicion fall upon his servant, but be- 
ing himself accused by the innocent man, and dread- 
ing the torture, he escaped and took refuge in the City 
of Trent. Then, having donned the garb of a friar, he 
began to found a sect, among the ignorant and credn- 
lous population of the surrounding mountains, preach- 
ing that he was a true apostle of God, and that com- 
munity of goods, wives and possessions, was a duty 
incumbent on all, The Bishop of Trent, justly alarmed 


Readings on Ike Inferno. Canto XXVlll. 

lest his whole diocese should be corrupted, drove him 
out of that district, though Bcnvenuto says that, in 
'575) reminiscences of him still existed in that neigh- 
bourhood. Fra Dolcino then passed successively 
through the mountain reeions of Brescia, Bei^amo, 
Como, and Milan him in his passage 

an increasing mul nts, until at length 

he found himself i iperior forces to re- 

turn to his native le finally took up a 

position on a hi| ween Novara and 

Vercelli. Among land robust young 

men who followed some of noble birth 

and great wealth, i reed which allowed 

them unbridled sec, .r cation of all temp- 

tations. Besides this it seems that there was a soft 
persuasiveness in Fra Dolcino's eloquence, which so 
bound men to him that, when once they had joined 
him, they never could give him up. A crusade was 
now preached against Fra Dolcino and his heresy; and 
many crusaders (crucesigitali) came, not only from the 
whole of Cisalpine Gaul, but even from Transalpine 
Gaul, from Vienne, Savoy, Provence and France. The 
widows of Genoa sent four hundred cross-bowmen 
{baits tar Us) : the mountain was besieged, all kinds 
of siege implements of war were employed. The 
heretics defended themselves with all the courage of 
despair, but after a siege of a year and a day, during 
which they were reduced to the greatest straits of 
famine, the snow impeding them from gathering any 
produce from the hill-sides, or obtaining any provi- 
sions, the mountain fortress was at length taken. Fra 
Dolcino and his paramour Margaret, an exceedingly 

Canto XXVIII. Readings OH the Inferno. 455 

beautiful and rich lady of Trent, were captured, and 
after the most frightful tortures were burnt to death, 
some say at Vercelli, others at Novara, on the 2nd June, 

Benvenuto remarks, of Fra Dolcino's name, that it 
was " Nomen conveniens sibi, quasi dtilcia venena pro- 

Mahomet then utters a prophetic warning, ad- 
dressed to Fra Dolcino, to the effect that, unless he 
provide himself and Ins followers with a great store 
of provisions, his impregnable position will assuredly 
be reduced by famine, that Fra Dolcino himself will 
be put to death, and after death subjected to the same 
penalty which is being undergone by Mahomet. 

Mahomet would seem to have spoken these words 
as an afterthought, when he was actually stepping 
away for another round of torment. 


- " Or di' a Fra Dolcin dunque che s' armi, 
Tu che forse vedrai lo sole in breve, 
5' egli non vuol (osto seguitarmi, 

S) di vivanda, cfae slretta di neve 

Non rechi la villotia al Noareae, 

Ch' ahrimcnti acquistar non saria lieve."— 

Poi che r un pi6 per girsene sospese, 
Maometto mi dissc esta parola, 
Indi a partirsi in lerra lo distese. 

" Now say then, thou who perchance wilt 
shortly see the sun, to Fra Dolcino so to arm 
himself with provisions, that a stress of snow 
may not bring victory to them of Novara 
which (victory) it would otherwise not be easy 
for them lo win." Mahomet said these words 
to me after that he had lifted one foot to go 



Readings on tfte Inferno. Canto XXVIII. 

his way, [hen to depart he extended it on the 

The question will naturally occur: Why should 
Mahomet be so solicitous for the escape of Fra Dol- 
cino, a man living many centuries after his death, and 
with whom he i possible concern ? 

Besides this, we k :ling of compassion 

for the sufferings emotion of which 

the souls of the 1 f Dante are totally 

devoid. The answi , Benvenuto thinks, 

in Mahomet's mi of the Christian 

Church, the chief r was still in Italy, 

though shortly to l to France {i^itia adhuc 

curia erat in Ilalia, licet ciio reccssura). If, therefore, 
Mahomet could by any means prevent the heresy of 
Fra Dolcino being stamped out, he would have good 
hope that it would spread throughout Italy ; and Ben- 
venuto remarks that in truth Fra Dolcino's heresy 
was one that aped Mahomet's (;»i(i vere Dulcinus 
fuit simia MacometJii) . 

Division III. Up to now Dante has been de- 
scribing the stilTerings of the disseminators of schisms 
in religion. He now passes on to speak of those who 
sowed the seeds of political discord. Chief among 
these is Pier da Medicina, to whom was due the con- 
tinuance of the feud between the houses of the Polenta 
and the Malatesta. Curio is also introduced, who is 
inaccurately credited with having been the person to 
encourage Julius Caesar to cross the Rubicon. 

Benvenuto asks his readers to picture the sort of 
mischief made by Pier da Medicina somewhat as 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 457 

follows : " If perchance Pier da Medicina happened to 
hear that the Lord Malatesta of Rimini were pur- 
posing to contract an alliance with the Lord Guido 
of Ravenna, the said Pictro would by chance get hold 
of some servant of the house of Malatesta, and with 
great earnestness would asic him : ' How fares it with 
my lord?' and then, after a long confabulation, would 
say to him in conclusion : ' Pray bid the Lord Mala- 
testa send to me some faithful emissary, to whom I can 
communicate, as to his very self, matters that must 
not be divulged in public.' And, were such an emis- 
sary to be sent, IMetro would say to him : 'Observe, 
my good sir, right unwillingly do I disclose what I 
ought in honour to conceal ; only the sincere aflfection 
which I bear to my good Lord Malatesta forbids me 
to dissimulate longer. Let the Lord Malatesta be- 
ware of the Lord of Ravenna, or he may find himself 
deceived.' The messenger straightway would carry 
this information to his master; and, meanwhile, Pietro 
would be off with the same false pretence to the Lord 
Guido of Ravenna, entreating him to beware of him 
of Rimini. Then the Lord Malatesta, being rendered 
suspicious by Pietro's words, would begin to act with 
less consideration towards the Lord Guido, and even 
to withdraw from what he had undertaken to perform. 
Then the Lord Guido, on turning this over in his 
mind, would say : ' In sooth, Pietro da Medicina told 
me the truth about this ! ' And, on the other hand, 
the Lord Malatesta would make a similar observa- 
tion, Then each, in turn being duped, would send 
Pietro horses, jewels, and rich gifts, and would treat 
him each as his friend, when in reality he was their 


Readings ott the Inferno. Canto XXVIIL 

enemy, possessing their confidence, than which 

pest avails more to do injury, 

, as Boethius says.* 


not marvel then if Dante ii 

itroduces this man ' 


great art." 

Un allro,+ che forata avei 

a la golaj 





:hia sola. 

Restato§ f. 



Con gl. 


sv aprl la canna 

Ch' era 


E disss ;— " 



* BenveniLia does 
perhaps the allusion 
longua ordo fnniuloru 

BDce in Boethius, but 
i, V. 47 : "An vero le 
P qui si viiiosi moHbus 
1 ct ipsi domino veheineDlcr 
inimica : sin vero probi, quonam modo in tuis opibus aliena 
probitas numerabilur ?" 

t Utt allro, etc : The description of the mutilated appearance 
of Ibis shade closely resembles that of Deiphobus by Virgil, 
£n. vi, 494-497 : 

" Atque hie Priamiden laniatum corpore toto 
Delphobum videt, et lacerum crudeliter ora, 
Ora manusque ambas, populataque tempora raptis 
Auribus, el truncas inhonesto vulnere nares." 
J la gola e . . ii tuuo: Di Siena notices that Pier da Medi- 
cina is pierced through the throat, from which issued so many 
lies ; he has been deprived of the nose he was so fond of thrust- 
ing into other people's aflaiis ; and he is represented with one 
ear only, as he did not use both to listen to, and distinguish 
between, the evil and the good ; and thus maimed and disfigured 
he appears in bis torment as repulsive an object, as in his life 
he appeared insidiously attractive and handsome. 

j Rtstaio a riguardarptr maravigiia : Comp. Virg. j£n. vi, 
486-487 : 

" Nee vidisse semel satis est 1 juvat usque morari, 
£1 conferre gradum, et veniendi discere causas." 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 

a Latin 

Se Iroppa simiglian/a non in' inganna 
Rimembriti di Pier da Medicina,* 

Se mai lorni a veder lo dolce piano, 
Che da Vercelli a Marcabb dichina. 


Another (shade), who had his throat pierced 
through, and his nose cut off close below the 
eyebrows, and had no more than one single 
ear (left), staying to gaze at us in wonder with 
the others, before the others opened his wind- 
pipe, which on the outside was crimson (with 
blood) in every part: and said: "0 ihou, 
whom no guilt condemns (to this torment), 
and whom I have seen up (in the world) in 
the land of Italy, unless too great a resem- 
blance deceive me, remember Pier da Medi- 
cina, if ever thou return to see the smiling 
plain (of Lombardy) that slopes from Vercelli 
to Marcabb. 
Di Siena observes that the plains of Lombardy 
slope for more than two hundred miles from Vercelli, 

• Pier da Medicina : both Lana and Benvenuto say that he 
belonged lo the noble family of the Cattani of Medicina, of 
which family there was a branch at Florence, whom Villani 
states to have been Ghibellines. Benvenuto says that Medicina 
is a considerable and thriving town {vi/ia gressa et pinguis) 
between Bologna and Imola ; and is a territory of itself, and in 
olden lime had a strong citadel. A long line of the Cattani 
held sway there, of whom (continues Benvenuto) none exist at 
the present day. Dante is said lo have been entertained with 
much honour by them on one occasion when he visited their 
palace ; and, when asked what he thought of that court, to have 
replied that he had never seen a fairer one in all Koraagna, if 
only there had been in it a particle of order. 

460 Readi9igs am tlu Infenio. Canto XXVIIL 

a city on the River Sesia at the foot of the Alps» in 
the extreme West of Piedmont, as far as Marcab6p a 
castle built in the territory of Ravenna near the 
mouths of the River Po. Benvenuto adds that this 
castle was built by the Venetians^ for the purpose of 
keeping the navigation of the river in their power^ so 
that all cargoes, entering the Po from the sea, might 
pass through their hands. But the castle was taken 
from them by Ramberto da Polenta and destroyed in 

The Anonimo Fiorentino notices that Dante now 
proceeds to link on the above episode to that which 
follows with a certain poetical license, and ^ touching 
on a matter that had already taken place, he repre- 
sents it as a prophecy of a fact about to happen. The 
facts were these : Messer Guido da Fano and Messer 
Agnolello were the two chief personages in Fano, of 
which city Messer Malatestino de' Malatesti, who 
was Lord of Rimini, coveted the possession ; and, 
while pretending to be the friend of Messer Guido 
and Messer Agnolello, thought within himself that, if 
he could only slay these two principal men of Fano, 
he could make himself master of the place, and so it 
turned out. He wrote to beg them to come and 
meet him at La Cattolica, a place between Rimini 
and Fano, as he wished to confer with them. They, 
in all confidence, embarked in a vessel to come there 
by sea : but Messer Malatestino caused a number of 
his men to meet them half way in another vessel ; 
and, in accordance with the orders he had given them, 
they took Messeri Guido and Agnolo and cast them 
into the sea, the consequence of which was that their 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on tke Inferno. 


partifians in Fano, having lost their chiefs, were driven 
out of the city, which eventually fell into the hands 
of Messer Malatestino." 

£ fn saper ai due miglior di Fano,* 

A messer Guidot ed anco ad Angiolello 
' Che, se 1' antivederj qui non 6 vano,5 

Gittati saran fuor di lor vasellojl 
* Fano: a town situated on the coast of Ihe Adriatic, nol 
far from the River Melnuro, and about nine miles from Pesaro, 
and thirty from Rimini. The ancient name of it was Fanum 

t mciscr Guido ed . . . AngioUIlo: These were Guido del 
Cassero, and Angiolello, Agnolello, or Angelello, da Cagnano. 
Bargigl says the latter was of Carignnno. 

X M P antiveder, etc. ; Di Siena explains this, Uveder innanai 
It ease future, qui in inferno non i vano come suol esser Ira gli 
uomini. And the meaning of the passage is that Pier da 
Medicina asserts that the foresight of the lost in Hell is true 
and correct, as Farinata degli Uberli informed Dante in Inf. x, 
100, tot : 

" 'Noi veggiam, come quel ch' ha mala luce, 

Le cose,' disse, 'ehe ne son lontano.'" 

§ vano: Tommas&o says that the word here m< 

II vasello : for vascello a ship. The vessel i 

Angel is conveying the souls to Purgatory is s 

Purg. ii, 40- '''=„. 

Con un vasello snelletto e leggiero, etc." 
Some eommenlalors have wished to attach a figurative meaning 
lovase/io. Vo\p\i:iy^FiguratiiiiienlepereHfi\,palria. Landino, 
followed by Venturi and Vellutello, interprets ; " Lc animc loro 
saranno cacciate fuor del corpo ; il qual h come vasello dell' 
anima." But, as Scartaizini points out, not only were the two 
illustrious citizens of Fano actually cast out of their ship, as 
recorded by the old chroniclers, but the word vasello is again 
used by Dante for a ship in the above quotation from the 


1 which the 
} called. See 

Puomo in mare 

o legate le 

VoeaMario ilelU 

from Buti, gives th 

pmrt projicere. T 

mtron of Bi 

db/ Deeamerone fati 

Boecaccia, Firenie, 

voce nostra, lia gi^ pm 

questo proposito appunio, ed era a' nostri antichi, e in quel 

tempi una sorta di supplicio, come ne avevano alcuni altri, de* 

quali o^ appena si riconoscono i nomi, come il piantare opro- 

pagginare (r e. to bury alive ■with the head downwards), e I' 

abbacinare (i.e. to blindby exposing the eyes to the heat of a red 

hot iraMen vessel)." Di Siena says that masxerare is derived 

from mattere, the stones attached to the nets in the tunny 

fisheries in the South of Italy ; and in Calabria the weights of 

a clock are called maxtere. 

t Tra f isola diCiprotdi Maiolica: Cyprus is the eastern- 
most of the lai^e islands of the Mediterranean, and Majorca 
the westernmost Dante means the extreme limits of the 
Mediterranean sea. 

X g*»i* ArgoUea : The Greeks have at all limes been noted 
for piracy. The Oltimo says : " Molii e crudeli mali sono stati 
fatti e si lanno nel mare mediterraneo' per corsari ai diverse 
generaiioni e lingue, e per Greci, e per Latini, e per Cristiani, 
e per Saracini." Bargigi thinks the allusion to the Greeks 
merely refers to their many sea-fights : " Gente Ai^olica, Greca, 
che molte grandissime battagiie fecero in mare." 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on tlu Inferno. 46,1 

E tien la lerra,* che tai & qui meco.t 
Vorrebbe di vedere esser digiuno, 
Fari venirli a parlamenCo scco ; 

Poi fari si, che al vento di Focarat 

Non fari lor mesiier voto n& preco." — 90 

And make known to the two best (men) of 
Fano, to Messcr Guido (del Cassero) and 
likewise to Angiolello (da Cagnano) that, if 
foresight be not false here (in Hell), they 
shall be thrown overboard from their vessel, 
and drowned near La CattoUca, through the 

• iienlaltrra: tinere is used here in the sense oi possedere, 
signortggiare. Compare Inf. v, 60 : 

" Tenne la terra, che il Soldan correggc." 
and Inf. xxiit, 29 : 

" Colui che gii tenne Altaforte." 
also Virg. jEn. vii, 735, 736 : 

"... Tclebofim Capreas cum regna teneret." 
Tommasio thinks tun should be interpreted .^'^^tih. 

+ taliquivKco. . . esser digiutte : The sense of this might 
be colloquially rendered ; " which my friend here (Curio) 
heartilj' wishes he had never seen," 

t venio di Focara : Denvenulo says that Focara is a high 
mountain near La Caitolica, towering right over the sea, where 
great storms frequently occur, and terrible shipwrecks ; which 
cause navigators to proffer many vows and prayers. Hence it 
has become a proverb to say ; " May God protect you there 
from the wind of Focara I" Benvcnuto explains that what 
Pier really means to say is, that it is not by any mischance, or 
by divine judgment, that these two good men of Fano shall 
perish in the waves, but they shall be drowned by the fraud ol 
evil men. In point of fact it will not avail them to offer up 
the usual vows and prayers such as are used by mariners 
because they will be drowned anyhow, and not from a 


464 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVIII. 

perfidy of a fell tyrant. Between the Island 
of Cyprus and (that) of Majorca never did 
Neptune behold so atrocious a criroe, not 
even (committed) by pirates or by the 
Argolic race. That traitor (MalaCestino) 
who sees ■ ■ ■ - - ^^^ ^^d rules 

the city ( mebody (who) 

is here v miild wish he 

had never een fasting of 

seeing). 1 II induce them 

(Guido ant ne to a parley 

with him; Lhat they shall 

no longer ni ers against the 

wind of Foci 

Benvenuto is of opinion that we have many in- 
stances in history of the wonderful astuteness of one- 
eyed men. Hannibal and Philip of Macedon were of 
the number, and Malatestino was no exception to the 
rule. If any one attempted to say to him, " My Lord, 
you do not understand me," he used to retort, " I 
would I could see as well as I understand I " But 
these one-eyed men were all very long-headed men 
[sanum caput kabuerunt communiier). The thing can 
be explained, Benvenuto thinks, in a moral sense 
{potest exponi ista litera moraliter) ; for when a man 
has two eyes in the natural way, one of which he 
ought to direct towards heavenly things, and the 
other to terrestrial ; if that man loses his best eye, he 
will then only turn his gaze to earthly matters. 

Dante does not allow Pier da Medicina's covert 
allusion to another spirit to escape unnoticed, but at 
once asks him to whom he is referring. 

Canto xxviii. Readings oh tlu Inferno. 

Ed io a lui :— " Dimostrami e dicliiara, 
Se vuoi ch' Io porti su di te novella,* 
Chi h colui dalla vedulat amara." — 

Allor pose la mano alia mascella 

D' un suo compagno, e la bocca gli aperse 95 
Gridando ; — " Questi J deaso, e non favella : 

Quesli, scncciato,£ il dubitar sommerse 
In Cesare, afTermando che il fornilo 
Sempre con danno I' attender 5offerse.§" — 

• porti SH dilt novflla : We have already noticed at page 47 
of vol. i, the story told by Boccaccio in his life of Danle, of how 
n woman at Verona said to nnoilier on seeing Dante pass by : 
" Vedete vol colui che va per 1' litftrno, e torna quando a lui 
piace, e quassit reea novelU di (|uelli die laggiu sono F etc." 

t colui della veduta nmara ; Di Siena paraphrases this : 
" Chi & colui che lestS dicesti {v. 87) male aver veduta la terra 
di Riirini, la quale gli porl6 amati frullj di dannaiione P " 

J scacaato: In Lucan, Pkars. \, 277-279, Curio is represented 
as saying to Ccesar : 

" Sed postqiiam leges bcllo siluerc coactK, 
Pellimiir a palriis laribus, patimurque volentes 
Exilium : lua nos faciat v 

§ qffermando che il form'to semfire con danno P alUnder 
sofftrse ; Dante makes use of these words of Curio in the letter 
addressed Io the Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg, when he 
urges him to come boldly into Tuscany. {Paragraph 4) : 
" Pudeat ilaque in angustissima mundi area irretiri tamdiu, 
quem mundus ex pec fa t ; et ab August! circumspeciione non 
defluat, quod tuscana tyrannis in dilationis liducia confortatur, 
Ct quotidie malignantium cohorlando superbiam, vites novas 
accumulat, temeritaiem lemerilati adjiciens. Intone! iterum vox 
ilia Curionis in Cicsarem : 

' Dum trepidant nuTlo firmatx robore partes, 
Tolle moras ; semper nocuit difierre paratis ; 
Par labor atque metus pretio majore petuntur.' " 
[The above quotation is from Lucan, Phars. i, iSo-282.] In 

466 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVIIi. 

O quanio mi pareva sbigottito 

Con la lingua tagliaia nella sirozza, 
Curio,* ch' a dire fu cosl ardilo 1 
And I to him ; " Show to me, and declare, 
if thou wishest me to cany tidings of thee up 
(on earth^ -'-- ■- *• — ' *'■" bitter sight {(^. 
the shade never seen the 

City of laid his hand 

upon the . impanions, and 

pulled op : : " This is he, 

and he i vhen banished 

(from Ron: le hesitation in 

Casar (abc icon), affirming 

that the \ ever with de* 

Dino CompagDJ, U IntelligenMO, Cesare al Rubieont, st. 6 and 7, 
we find the following : 

" Curio irebuno parl& primieri, 

E disse ; ' lo son per [e di Roma fuora : 

Nostra franchigia £ nella tua speranza : 

Cavalca, Cesar, sania dimorania : 

1 tuoi nemici non avntnno dura.' 
Cesare intalentaio di baltaglia 

rarlameniA e disse a' suoi lontani : 
' Per me sofferl' avete gran travaglia 

A conquistar molii paesi slrani.'" 
* Curio ; Caius Scribonius Curio was the son and the grand- 
son of two great orators of the same name. Il is asserted that, 
having first espoused the cause of I'ompey, he was won over by 
Caesar with heavy bribes. When a decree was published by 
the senate declaring Csesar to be the enemy of the Republic, 
unless he immediately disbanded his army and evacuated the 
Province of Ravenna, Curio hastened to join Caesar, and, accor- 
ding to Lucan, urged upon him decisive action. But this 
would seem to be wholly untrue, as Cxsar had already crossed 
the Rubicon when Curio reached bis camp. 

Canto xxviil. Readings on the Inferno. 

triment endured procrastination." Oh ! how 
aghast seemed to me Curio, with his tongue 
cut out of his throat, he who had been so 
bold in speech ! 
Benvenuto reminds his readers that Pier da 
Medicina had at the beginning of the interview said, 
Rimeinbriti (it Pier da j1/f(//««fl, by which he meant 
that he wanted Dante to speak of him in the world 
when he returned there,* Dante answers that, if he 
is expected to do so, Pier must tell him what he meant 
by speaking of someone with him who wishes he had 
never seen Rimini. Benvenuto thinks Dante has 
.shown great art in making Pier da Medicina, after 
abusing and defaming the character of his employer, 
Malatestino, the modern and still living tyrant of 
Rimini, bring in at the same time an ancient personage 
who sowed discord that was most fatal to that same 
city in which Pier da Medicina had himself also sown 
discord between the Lords of Rimini and others in 
Romagna. Benvenuto considers the association of 
Curio with Pier da Medicina in Hell most appropriate, 
although there had been a gap between them of 
nearly 1300 years, for, both having been guilty of the 
same sin, are fitly represented as enduring the same 
punishment. Benvenuto observes that one is inclined 
to ask why Curio should have been represented with 
his tongue torn out rather than Mahomet, who talked 

* Dr. Moore writes to me; "Is il nol curious ihnl Pier da 
Medicinn, Mosca de' Ijunbetti, and Berlrand de Born, in this 
canto, seem to be an exception lo llie general desire of the 
sha<te5 in circles 8 and 9 for obscurity {f-g. canto xxxii) f I do 
nol know why this should be." 

II. GG 2 

468 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXVIir. 

so much to Dante, and he does not think it a 
sufficient reason to give, that it was because CuHo 
persuaded Csesar into civil war. He believes it is 
because Curio voluntarily deprived himself of his 
tongue, in that he sold it for gold, and Dante has said, 
in Inf. xiii, los, i cih ch' uom si toglie. 

Curio had been a r liberty, but, being 

bribed by Ctesar, gent and advocate, 

Benvenuto thinki also be a figurative 

sense in Curio's p, owing that the men 

who spread disconj t)etween potentates, 

either literally havi n \ cut out, or, their 

frauds being detect! rom very shame put 

to a perpetual silence. 

Division IV. We are now introduced to a pro- 
minent character in the feud between the families of 
Buondelmonte, Donati, Amidei, Uberti, and Lamberti, 
which culminated in the assassination of Buondel- 
monte dei Buondelmonti.and was the means of bring- 
ing into active operation in Florence the dormant 
strife between the rival factions of the Guelphs and 
Ghibellines, which had not before that time entered 
into the city, or which had, at all events, smouldered 
without lighting into a flame. The shade before us 
is Mosca dei Lamberti. Few episodes attracted as 
much attention among the turbulent incidents of 
those days as this one. The story is related by all 
the chroniclers and commentators, though many of 
them difler in their mode of recounting it. 1 trans- 
late the version given by Ricordano Malespini 
(Istoria Fiorentina, cap, civ); " In the year of Christ, 

Canto XXVni. Readings on the Inferno. 


1215, ... MesserBondelmontede'Bondelmonti.a noble 
citizen of Florence, had promised to take to wife a 
damsel of the most noble house of the Amidei, very 
highly honoured citizens: and after this the said Messer 
Bondelmonte chancing to ride through the city, being 
a very handsome and accomplished cavalier, a lady 
of the house of Donati called to him [Dino Compagni 
says she was Aldruda, wife of Fortiguerra Donati], 
and blamed him for his engagement to the damsel 
to whom he was affianced, as not being beautiful nor 
of sufficient importance for such as him, and telling 
him that she had kept for him her daughter, who was 
most beautiful, and whom she thereupon presented 
before him. He, prompted on the instant by a diabo- 
lical spirit, fell at once in love with her, plighted his 
troth to her, and wedded her. On hearing this, the 
kinsfolk of the first damsel to whom he had been be- 
trothed assembled, and much grieved at Messer Bon- 
delmonte having put them to shame, gave way to such 
accursed wrath that the City of Florence was divided, 
and many of the noble families of Florence conspired 
together to take vengeance on the said Messer Bon- 
delmonte, and put him to shame. And discussing 
among themselves in what way they could injure 
him— whether to beat him or wound him— -Mosca de' 
Lamberti spoke these evil words : Cosa fatia capo line, 
meaning, that he should be put to death ; and this was 
done. For on the morning of the Easter of the Re- 
surrection . . . the said Messer Bondelmonte . . . when 
riding upon a beautiful white palfrey of his, on reaching 
the foot of the Ponte Vecchio . . . was slain by them 
of the Lamberti, and by Mosca Lambert! ... at which 


470 Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxvni. 

deed the whole city rushed to arms and tumult. This 
death of the said Messer Bondelmonte was the cause 
and the beginning of the accursed factions of the 
Guelphs and Ghibellines in Florence, etc."* 

Benvenuto, b"'*" '" •••■'' ••"■"■"'^nt on this passage 
and in that frc quoted in the note, 

passes very cut pisode, so much so, 

that one is inclii Jther he, in his time, 

had any special rurring the wrath of 

some one of the o, as he is, as a rule, 

very full in his n: episodes. He says 

that, when it wa: that Buondelmonte 

should be blain, » men were atfaiu-sl it, 

and begged the others to tliinlc of the consequences, 
and that it was then that Mosca dei Lamberti uttered 
the words which decided Buondelmonte's fate. 
Ed un ch' avea I' una e I' altra man moua, 
Levando I moncherin per I' aura fosca, 
SI che il sangue facea la faccia sozzn, lOJ 

Grid6 :— " Kicordera' li anche del Masca, 
Che dissi, lasso ! 'Capo ha cosa fatia,' 
Che fu il mal seme per la gente tosca." 

•See also the account in Dino Compagni and in Par. xvi, 
136-144 : 

" La casa di che nacque il vostro fleto, 

Per lo giusta disdegno che v' ha niorti, 
E posCo fine al vostro viver lieto, 
Era onorata ed essa, e suoi consorti, 

O Buondelmonte, quanto mal fuggisti 
Le noKe sue per gli alirui conforii \ 
Moki sarebbon lieli, che son trisli, 

Se Dio t' avesse conceduto ad Eiiia 
La prima volia che a cittk venisti." 

Canto XXVni. Readings on tlie Inferno. 471 

And one who had both hands lopped off, 
raising the stumps in that murky air, so that 
the blood befouled his face, cried out : " Thou 
wilt remember Mosca too, me, who alas ! 
said : ' A thing once done, there is an end of 
it,' which was the seed of evil to (he Tuscan 
Dante's brief reply to Mosca, telling him that he 
has been the destroyer of his family, the Lambert! or 
Uberti, does not tend to console him, and his de- 
parture is very sorrowful. 

Ed io gti agyiunsi :— " E morlc di lua schiatta j "" — 
Perch' egli nccumulando duoi con duolo, 110 

Sen glo come persona Iris la c mattn. 

Then 1 added : " And death to thy own 
race." Whereat he, heaping woe on woe, 
went off like one distressed and mad. 

licnvenuto says Mosca had in his former life been 
happy and flourishing in the family of the Lamberti 
before he gave that evil counsel, but afterwards he 
was sad, and made many others so, as we read in the 
words quoted above, mo/fi sarebbon lieli, die son 
tristi, etc. He had before that time been reputed a 
wise man, but afterwards an insane man; for, as is the 
seed, such will be the fruit. 

A scene now takes place of so extraordinary a 
character, that Dante thinks it necessary to preface 

* morte di lua schialta ; The Ottimo says on this : " Seeing 
that a// the Uberti, males and females, have suffered the punish- 
ment for this, some by death, others by exile, others by the 
confiscation of their property, etc." 



the account by some remarks which have given rise 
to much comment, and different opinions are held as 
to his motive for doing so. * 

♦ I extract the fniiniuino f>«nianiiiinn principatly from the 
commentaries of Di li. The moce general 

interpretation of thr that Dante feared to 

be deemed guilty of ,g, simply o 

assertion, a circum i ai the appearance 

of Bertrand de Boi i in his hand, were 

Dante not supported ' his good conscience. 

But this invocation in far more appro- 

priately in the openi ito as applied to the 

whole of the horrors in this Bolgia, many 

of which have been .. jastiy lo behold than 

a simply dcutpiiaLcd buuy iiumiiiK up iia licaO Uy tlic hair. 
Mo I the true explanation must be sought in the terror Dante 
exhibits throughout Hell, wherever he is brought in contact with 
the punishment of those sins which were his own. He flies in 
terror from the three wild beasts on the mountain because they 
represent the three vices of sensuality, pride, and avarice, against 
which he had especially to strive. He falls down in a swoon 
at the sight of the penalty of the sensual, not feeling himself 
innocent of that sin. His fears on entering into the city of Dis 
arc intense, knowing, as he does, that he had for one time in his 
life entertained doubts that gravely imperilled his faith in holy 
things. But he never shows any fear at the aspect of the punish- 
ment of those sins of which he feels himself pure. Scartatzini 
thinks that, although Dante may in his inmost conscience feel 
himself perfectly pure of ever having disseminated strife, yet he 
may have been aware that his enemies had endeavoured to 
fasten upon him the accusation of his having done so, both in 
his De Monarc/iia, and also in some of his Epistles, from which 
it may have been sought to prove that he was setting the sons 
of Florence against their mother. But Dante knows in his 
heart that such accusations would be perfectly groundless, and 
therefore he practically says, " 1 was able to look on with calm- 

Canto XXVIH. Readings on the Inferno. 473 

Ma io rimasi a riguardar lo stuolo, 
E vidi cosa ch' io avrei paura, 
Senia piii prova,* di conlaria solo (t 
Se non che coscicnia mi assicura, 115 

La buona compagnia che 1' uom francheggia 
Solto i' asbergo del senlirsi pura. 
But I lingered on gazing at the crowd, and 
beheld a thing which, without further proof, 
I should be afraid only to relate ; but that 
conscience re-assures me, the good companion 
which makes a man bold under the breast- 
plate of feeling itself pure. 
Here, as elsewhere {e. g. Inf. xiii, 20, 2i ; xiii, 46- 
51 ; and xvi, 124-126), when recounting some extra- 
ordinary episode, Dante feigns that he tells the story 

ness at (he terrible scenes in ihis Bolgia, and especially on this 
one of the sinner punished for sowing discord among kinsmen, 
knowing my own conscience to be clear of such sin." Compare 
Ovid, Fast. \, 485-6 ; 

" Conscia mens ut cuique sua est, ila concipit intra 
Pectora pro facto spemque metumquc suo." 
And Hor. i, Epist. i, 60-61 : 

" Hie murua a^neus esio, 
Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa." 
And Hor. i, Carm. xxii, 1-4 : 

" Integer vita: scelerisque purus 
Non eget Mauris jaculis neque arcu, 
Nee vencnatis gravida sagiuis. 

Fusee, ph are Ira." 
* Scarlaizini thinks that prova here should not be taken in 
the sense of Uitimony, as Dante does not as a fact adduce any 
other testimony than his own assertion. He would rather 
interpret the words : " without further experience of it, without 
■ceing it anew." 
t tola here is an adverb for selamenle. 

474 Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxvnt) 

with reluctance, and fear of the incredulity of the 
Dante now describes the grim spectacle. 

lo vidi ceito^ ed ancor par cb' io 1 veggia, 
Un busto senia capo andar, ti come 
Andavan gli altri della trista greggia. 120 

£ il capo tronco tenea per le cbiome, 
Pesol COD mano a guisa di lantema, 
£ quel mirava noi, e dicea :— ^ O me ! " — 

DI s^ fiiceva a s^ ttesso luceraa,* 

Ed eran due in ono^ ed uno in due ; 125 

Com' esser pub. Quel sa die s) govema. 

Undoubtedly I saw, and still methinks I 
see it| a trunk walking along without its 
head, even as the others of the mournful 
flock walked (who had their heads on their 
shoulders and could see how to go). And it 
held the severed head by the hair, dangling 
in his hand in.the guise of a lantern, and it 
(the head) gazed at us, and said : '' Woe is 
me I " He made of himself a lamp for him- 
self, and they were two in one, and one in 
two ; how that can be. He (God) knows Who 
so ordains. 

The figure now addresses Dante. 
Quando diritto al pi^ del ponte fiie, 

Lev6 il braccio alto con tutta t la testa 
Per appressame le parole sue, 

* lucema : Tommas^ explains that the figure was guiding 
its own steps by the eyes of the head which it held in its hand. 

t can tutta la testa : Tommas^ says this mode of expression 
prevails at Corfu ; and Di Siena that it is still a living expression 
in Italian. Scartazzini thinks tutta is a riewpitivo. The meaning 
is, '* with the very head." 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno, 475 ^^^B 

Che furo :— " Or vedi la penn molesta 130 V 
Tu che, spirnndo, vai veggendo i niorti : ™ 
Vedi se alcuna h grande come quesia ; 

E perch^ tu d) ine novella porti, 

Sappi ch' io son Rerlram dal Bomfo,* quelli 
Che diedi a1 Re giovan't i mai conrorti. 135 

* Bertram dat Bortiio: This person was Vicomlc de Hautefort 
of P^i'igueux in Gascony. He was one of ihe most distinguished 

cap. ii) cites him as one of Ihe earliest poets whose poetry was 
written \n\htvoigareillustre: "Quare haec tria, salus videljcet, 
Venus, virtus apparent esse ilia raagnalia, quae stnt rnaxime 
perlmctanda, hoc est en, qusc maxima sunt ad isia, ut armorun) 
probitas, amoris ascensio, et directio voluntatis. Circa qux 
sola, si bene recolimus, illustres viros invenimus vulgariter 
poetasse ; scilicet Bertramum de Bornio, arma ; Amaldum 
Danielem, amorem ; Gerardum de Bornello, rectitudinem ; 
Cinum Pistoriensem, amorem ; amieum ejus, rectitudinem ; 
. . . Arma vero nullum Ttalum adhuc invenio poetasse." Di 
Siena remarks on the above, that fully two centuries elapsed 
after this, before Torqunto Tasso sang of Arms and Love. 
llertrand de Horn was n sublime troubadour and a valinni 
knight, but he is noted for having sown discord between 
Henry 11 of England, and his eldest son Henry, who was also 
crowned King as the future successor of his father in West- 
minster Abbey, and generally known at the time as the " Reys 
Jovcs." It was said in the Life of Berlrand de Bom, " Metia 
tol son senno en mesclar guerras, e fes mesclar Io paire e '1 lilh 
di Englaierra." 

+ I have here departed from Wine's reading Rt Giovanni, 
which, though supported by an overwhelming majority of MSS., 
historically is utterly devoid of accuracy. Scartaizini believes 
Ihe error in history is Dante's own, but Dr. Moore {Ttxiual 
Criticism, pages 344-351), going very fully and lucidly into the 
■ubjecl, says : " The arguments on both sides \GiovaHni v. 
Gim'ime\ are admirably summed up in Scartaiiini's note, 
though 1 venture to come to a different conclusion from that 


distinguished commentator, because 1 cannot believe it possible 
that Dante could have made a mistake on such a point as this. 
Were not Bertrand de Bom's relations with the ' Reysjov 

reigned i 
Arthur of Urittany), who 

poetry generally, an 
so cenain, that the i 
is inconceivable f" 

The historical faCT- 
in infancy, Henry h: 

(i) Prince Henry i 

{2) Prince Richara 
/rom i[89-ii99. 

(3) Prince Geoffrey (t 
died before his father in 1 11 

(4) Prince John, afterwards King John, from 1 199 to 1216. 
Ur. Moore says that Prince Henry derived his title of "the 

Young King" from the fact that he was crowned at Westminster 
in Ii70,and again at Winchester in ii7z, in his fathei's life- 
time. He was in continual opposition to his father, as were his 
brothers Richard and Geoffrey, whereas it was only in Henry ll's 
Inter days that John took any part against him. Uertrand de 
Bom is not known to have been in any special intimacy with 
VnncK]Q\tn,viYt\\t per contra ht\i par excellence the friend of 
"the Young King" Henry, and the "Reys Joves" is his regular 
and of) recurring title for him. Familiar as Dante was with the 
Troubadour poetry generally (see De Vulg. Eloq. passim). Dr. 
Moore thinks that Dame could not possibly be unaware of this. 
Moreover, references to the Young King are so woven into the 
tissue of Bertrand's poetry, that this would strike even a casual 
reader as one of its most prominent features. 

I have extracted the above from Dr. Moore's exhaustive 
essay on the subject, but every word of it should be read and 
studied by the serious student of Dante. Di Siena observes 
that Ginguen^ was the first to point out, by the light of history, 
that re Ciovanniiixt re giovane was either an error of Dante, 
or an alteration of his text by copyists. 

Canto XXVIII. Readings on the Inferno. 477 

Achilofel" non fe' piii d' Ansalone 

E di David co' malvagi pungelli.-)' 
Perch' io pariii coslj giunte persone, 

Pnrlito porio i! mio cerebro, lasso! 140 

Dal suo principio§ ch' h in questo troncone. 
Cosl s' osserva in me lo contrapasso." — [| 

• Achitofet ; For the iniquitous counsels given by Ahithophel 
lo Absalom, both as to the violalion of ihe royal seragUo, and 
the intended murder of King David his father, s« a Sam. xv, 
el fiq., and xvii, 1-24. 

t pungelli : tit. goads, and by metaphor it comes to mean 

I eosi giunte fcrsone : It must be rememljered thai Berlrand 
de Horn comes under the categoiy of those who sowed discord 
among kinsmen. Cos\ giunte persone therefore means the father 
of Henry II, and the son, young King Henry, his eldest sur- 

\ Dal suo principio: Di Siena quotes the comment of 
Floriano Cnldani, professor of Anatomy at Padua, who says that 
Praxagoras and Plistonicus, according to Galen, were of opinion 
that the brain must be considered as a sort of appendage of the 
spinal marrow, and that perhaps Dante wished lo refer to this 
opinion, which is also that of Aristotle, in saying that the brain 
of Hertrand de Bom was parted from its source {dal suo priit- 
cipin), i.t. from the spinal marrow that is situated in the trunk 
of the vertebra. 

|{ contrapasso : This, remarks Tommasio, is derived from 
conlrapatic, the lex talionis, which, according to Scartaizini, 
exists in the whole of Dante's Hell. Greek t* i*TiwniorBlt. See 
Anon. Fior. : " Egli h dilTerenza tra giustizia e conirappasso : 
giusli»a si dice quando I' uomo ha morlo uomo et egli e poi 
morto: in qualtinque modo muoia si dice giustizia. Contrappasso 
ha in s^ piii severity et ragione ; ch^ vuole chc nella esecuzione 
della giustizia tutte le cose occorrano che sono occorse nelU 
ofTesa ; che vuole che T uomo omicida sia morto quell' ora del 
d) ch' elli uccise, per quel modo, et in quello luogo et con quelli 
ordini el similia." 


478 Readings on Uie Inferno. Canto XXVIII. 

When he was right at the foot of the bridge 
(i.t. just beneath the Poets), he lifted high his 
arm with the very head, so as to bring his 
words near to us, which were : " Now behold 
this grievous torment thou who, breathirig, 
goest look'"" ■•■>"" •t'" '1---3: see if any 
(torment) 1 and, that thou 

■nayest car now that I am 

Benrand d e to ihe Young 

King (He t evil counsels 

((■<, to rebL , Henry H). I 

made the f ebels {i.t. ene- 

mies) to ea-.> lel did not sow 

discord more and David willi 

his wicked instigations (man did I). Because 
I divided persons so united, I alas 1 carry my 
brain parted from its source {i.e. the spine) 
which is in this mutilated trunk. Thus is the 
(law of) retribution observed in me." 
Tommas^o remarks that this and the preceding 
cantos, and canto xxxii, are the three in the whole 
Poem that are the most full of history. 

Dante seems to have been stupified with horror at 
the ghastly figure, and so absorbed in contemplation 
that the canto closes, leaving him in a state of 
abstraction that prevents him from noticing, until 
somewhat sarcastically reminded of the fact by Vii^il, 
in line 38 of the next canto, that tlic shade of a 
person near akin to him had been close under the 
spot where he was standing, but had passed away 

End of Canto XXVIII. 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 479 


The Eighth Circle (concluded). 
The Ninth Bolgia (concluded). 

The Fomentors of Discord (concluded), 

Geri del Bello. 

The Tenth Bolgia. 

Falsifiers of every sort. 
(i). The Alchemists. 

Griffolino d' Arezzo. 


In the opening of the present canto the description 
of the Fomentors of Discord is brought to a con- 
clusion, and the remainder, together with the whole 
of canto XXX, is devoted to the Bolgia in which are 
tormented Falsifiers of four classes, namely, Falsifiers 
of metals, or Alchemists ; Falsifiers, or Counterfeitors 
of persons ; Falsifiers of money, or Forgers ; and 
Falsifiers of words, or Perjurors. 
Benvenuto divides the canto into four parts. 

In Division /, from v. i to v. 39, a conversation 
takes place between the Poets, in which Virgil re- 
proves Dante for allowing himself to have been so 
absorbed by the grim apparition of Bertrand de 
Born, that he allowed the shade of his kinsman, 
Geri del Bello, to pass unnoticed. 

In Division II, from v. 40 to v. 69, the Poets 
enter the Tenth and last Bolgia, and get sight of the 

48o XeadAijgs oh ik$ Infirm. Canto XXOC 

In Division III^ from v. 70 to v. 121, the wretched 
condition of the Alchemists in general, and of two 
of them in particular, is narrated. 

In Division IV, from v. 122 to v. 139, Dante 
passes some severe strictures upon the vanity of 
the inhabitants of Siena. 

Division I. We left Dante, at the conclusion of 
the last canto, listening to the self-accusing narrative 
of Bertrand de Bom. Dante seems to have con« 
tinned to gaze down intently into the huge chasm 
below him, so dazed by the sickening horrors within 
it, that, to arouse him from his state of abstraction, 
it requires a strong exercise of the commanding in- 
fluence over him by Virgil, who reminds him, that 
the vast size of this, the smallest but one though it 
be of the ten Bolge^ entirely precludes his taking more 
than a general survey of the immense multitude of 
the gory beings within it, and certainly forbids any 
delusion in his mind of being able to count them. 
And here we have a most interesting statement by 
Virgil of the exact measurements of this Bolgia^ and 
as we are given in the next canto, at line 87, the 
measurements of the Tenth Bolgia, it is possible for 
mathematicians to calculate the increasing propor- 
tions of the Bolge above, and the vast dimensions they 
would assume. The question will arise again. 
La molta gente e le diverse * piaghe 

* diverse: Blanc {Vac. Dant.) cannot feel certain whether 
diverse should be translated *' diverse " or '* terrible," the word 
Admitting of both significations. 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno, 

Avean le luci 

i tnie si inebriale * 

Chedello si? 

ire a pia 

ngere eran vaghe 1 


I Virgilio mi <1 

isse :— •' 

Che pur guaie? 

PerchS la vis 

■la lua pur si soffolge f 5 

Laggiii tra 1' 

ombre 1 

.riste smoiiicate ? 



ire boige : 

Penan, se tu 

ar le credi, 

Che miRlia v 


la valle volge ; 



sotlo i r 

loslri piedi : 10 


* imbriaie : Blanc, Riagioli, Scariaizini and Canierini, inter- 
pret this " frrgnt di lngrime." Toinmasto, "pregne dS dolore." 
Compare Ftei. xxiii, 33 : " Thou shall be filled with drunken- 
ness and sorrow," etc. And /sninfr, xvi, g (in llic Vulgate) : 
" Inebriabo te lacnma mea," See also Isaiah, xxxiv, 5 : " For 
my sword shall be bathed (in the Vulgate, inebriatus) in heaven." 
Tommasto thinks that D.inte weeps for the torments he sees, 
and for the civil discords which are the cause of them, and of 
which he himself was the victim. 

+ si soffolge : Blanc says that soffolgtrsi and soffolcersi are 
verbs taken from the Latin suffulcire. Their proper meaning 
\i loslenere s some interpret it Ji ii/^^ii^^n, " rests upon"; but 
I follow the interpretation of lluti and llargigi, which is"j'i' 
Jieca!' and other commentators have " si affissa." Compare Par. 
xxiii, 130-131: 

" O quanta ^ 1' ubertk che si sofiblce 
In quell' arche rich is si me." 
Here si soffoite has the meaning, " is contained." 

Ariosto {.Oil. Fur. xxvii, St. 84) uses the word in the sense of 
propping, supporting : 

" . . , gli narra che '1 sottil ladrone 
Ch' in un alto pensier I' aveva colto. 
La sella su quattro aste gli sulTulse, 
E di sotto il destrier nudo gli lolse." 
I E giA in lunii ^ sotto i fwstri pitdi : Dr. Moore {Time 
Jie/erciiees, page 50) remarks that this is another way of saying 
that it was early in the afternoon, about i or 3 p.m., and that 
IJanle very significantly here, as in xx, 135, anA elsewhere, 
II. H K 

482 Readings am ihi Infemo. Canto XXIX. 

Lo tempo h poco omai che n' h coocesso, 
Ed altro h da veder* che ta non vedL* — 

The many pec^e and the horriUe wounds 
had made my eyes so dranken (/ . e, so brim- 
ming over with tears), that they were craving 
to stay and weep ; but Virgil said to me : 
" Why art thou still gaxing on ? Why is thy 
gaze fixed only down there among the 
mournful mutilated shades ? Thou didst not 
do so in the other ko^ : Consider, if thou 
dost think to number them, that the valley 
has a circuit of twenty-two miles; and 
already is the moon beneath our feet : The 
time is now short that is granted to us, and 

avoids all mention of the Sun during his passage through the 
Inferno^ and describes the hour by referring rather to the posi- 
tion of 

" La faccia della donna che qui regge." {Inf. x, 8a) 

* Ed altro I da veder eke tu non veiii : Some here read crcdi 
instead oivedi^ a reading which Scartazzini says is utterly false, 
as Dante has never put together three rhymes, of which two are 
words having the same sense, though in Par. xii, 70-75, we find 
the same word used three times running, for the sake of em- 
phasis : 

'* Domenico fii detto ; ed io ne parlo 

SI come deir agricola, che Cristo 
Elesse all' orto suo per aiutarlo. 
Ben parve messo e famigliar di Cristo ; 

Ch^ il primo amor che in lui fu manifesto 
Fu al primo consiglio che di^ Cristo." 

Cristo occurs three times in triple rhyme, Par. xii, 71 ; Par. 
xiv, 104 ; Par. xix, 104. See, also, Purg. xx, 65-69, where 
ammenda is thrice repeated ; and Par. xxx, 94-99, where the 
same thing occurs with vidL 

Canto XXrX. Readings on the Inferno. 483 

there is somewhat else to see than what thou 

Carlyle remarks that, in the above passage, Dante 
gives the measurement of this ninth and last ring 
but one of MaUbolge ; and in the next canto, that 
of the smallest and innermost ring of all, which 
is eleven miles ronnd ; " and so leaves us to imagine 
the vast dimensions and population of all the Hell 

There are two ways in which commentators, both 
ancient and modern, have attempted to compute the 
dimensions of the Bolge above. The first mode is 
noticed by Benvenuto, but he does not agree with it. 
He says: "And here mark that some say that by 
this the author wishes to suggest that each separate 
Bolgia is double as great as the one next in succession, 
so that the tenth Bolgia in the next canto comprises 
eleven miles, as we shall be told ; and the eighth 
forty-four, and so by an ascending or descending' 
scale of progression ; but perchance, according to that 
computation, the Inferno would ascend to too large 
dimensions ; but consider it for thyself {In vero 
videas)'' Agnelli {Topo-Cronografia del Viaggio 
Dantesco. Milan, 1891, page i7)also rejects theabove 
mode of computation by arithmetical progression, 
and adopts that of "the differences." He says: 
" In this case if the tenth Bolgia has a circumference 
of II miles, and the ninth of 22, that of the eighth 
will be of 33, of the seventh 44, of the sixth 55, of 
the fifth 66, of the fourth 77, of the third 88, of the 
second 99, and of the first 1 10, with a radius equal to 
I7i miles. These i/i miles, multiplied by 9, give 
]l. H H 2 

484 Readings am the Infemo. Canto XXK. 

157I miles of radius and nearly a thousand of cir- 
cumference to the AHtim/emo, where is the entrance, 
with the characters of death inscribed above it*' Mr. 
Butler, in an interesting note, touches on the possi- 
bility of the intervening walls between the Bo^ 
being 1} miles thick, an idea with which I confess to 
have much sympathy. Blanc, however (Saggw^ 
pp. 276-278), after discussing the many theories 
of the dimensions of Hell as given by Manetti, 
Landino, GiambuUari, Vellutello, and Galileo, con- 
cludes thus : " Speaking generally, however, we con- 
fess that the labour imposed upon themselves by such 
g^reat men in computing the dimensions of Hell and 
its special parts, appears to us to have been thrown 
away. Two passages alone seem to give grounds for 
such calculations, namely, In/, xxix, 9, and xxx, 86. 
But who is able to affirm that the ratio, in which the 
ninth and the tenth Bo/g^e stand to each other, is 
operative in the same way for the other Circles of 
Hell? Even if placed beyond a doubt that Hell 
extends from the surface to the centre of the 
Earth, who is to tell us what is the thickness of 
the crust that covers the void of Hell ? . . . And 
lastly, of what avail are all these calculations, in- 
genious though they be, if it still remains an impossi- 
bility, with so many stoppages for conversation, to 
traverse the Earth from its surface to its centre in 
the brief space of 24 hours? For these reasons, 
while we admit that the Poet has certainly determined 
the duration of his journey with exact precision, we 
hold that, with the liberty of a poet, he has kept to 
himself the dimensions of his He//, and that he would 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 


be anything but grateful to his admirers, who with 
minute exactness have been calculating that which he 
himself has wished to leave undetermined." 

Dante hints that he fancies there is a kinsman of 
his in the Bolgia they are quitting, but Benvenuto 
says Dante speaks hastily, and does not remember 
that Virgil has been able to read his most secret 

— " Se lu avessi," — rispos' io apptesso, 

— " Aneso alia cagion perch' io guardava, 

Forse tn'avresli ancor Io slar diinesso."— * 15 

Parte t sen gia, cd io retro gU andava, 
Lo Duel, gi.\ fncendo la risposta, 
E soggiungendo :^" Denlro a quella cava, % 
Dov' io teneva or I' occhio si a posta, § 

• diiilcsso : permitted, conceded ; from the Latin dimilltre or 
inilUrt, lo give leave to depart ; aliquid mtssuin facere, not lo 
think of, or not to notice something. {Di Siena.) 

t rarte sen gla: Parle is an adverb having the sense of 
mtnnivMk i and wliicli the Codicc Cnssinese explains by the 
Latin inlerim. Compare I'urg. xxi, ig; 

" * Come,' diss' egli, e parte andavam forte." 
and Peiraich, part ii, canw. Iv, st. 3 : 

" Ma si com' uom talor che piange, e parte 
Vede cosa, che gli occhi, e 'I cor alleila." 
and in the same cansont, st. 4; 

" Tien pur gli occhi, com' aquila, in quel Sole : 
Parte dk orecchi a queste mie parole." 
X cava: The word here not only has the sense of, cavity, 
fosse, grotto, but its L.atln equivalent cuvum also signifies a lair 
for wild beasts. 

5 aposia: compare Purg. vi, 58-59 : 
" Ma vedi I& un anima, che posta 

Sola soletia, verso noi riguatda." 
The moie usual reading in the above quotation is a posta. 


486 Readings an th$ Inferno. Canto XXIX. 

Credo che un spirto del nuo sangue* pianga ao 
La colpa che la^gid coumto cotta." — 

'* If thou hadsty" I thereupon replied, ^ given 
heed to the cause for which I looked, per- 
chance thou also wouldest have excused the 
tarrying.'* Meanwhile my Leader was going 
on, and I was walking behind him, already 
making my answer, and adding : " Within 
that lair (the Baigia\ upon which I kept my 
eyes so fixed, I think a spirit of my kindred 
is bewailing the crime, which pays so fearful 
a penalty down there.'' 

Dante means that a blood relation is being punished 
in the Ninth Bolgia for having disseminated strife on 

Virgil tells Dante that the spirit in question had 
not escaped his notice, though Dante, from his 
abstraction of mind, had neither noticed him nor the 
unmistakeable signs of hostility towards Dante that 
he was exhibiting ; and he proves his assertions by 
telling Dante the spirit's name. 

Allor disse il Maestro : — ** Non si franga * 

* del mio sangue: compare /'or. xv, 28-30, where Caccia- 
guida uses the word, as applied to Dante, with the meaning of 
" descendent/* 

" O sanguis tneuSy o superinfusa 
Gratia Dei^ sicut tibi^ cui 
Bis unquam coelijanua reclusa t " 
t fion si franga lo tuo pensier : Scartazzini tx'^X^xn^ frangere 
in the sense oi rijrangere^ riflettere^ and translates the sentence, 
" Let not thy attention from henceforth be distracted by think- 
ing any more about him." According to Brunone Bianchi, Dante 
compares the thought to the ray of light which is reflected on 
an object : ** In quanto che dipinge il pensiero della mente, che 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 

Lo tuo pcnsier da qui innanzi sopr* ello : 
Aitendi ad allro, ed ei 1^ si rimanga ; 
i' io vidi lui a pife del ponticello 
Mosirarti, e minacciar forle col dilo, 
Ed udi 'I nominar Geri del Bello. + 

qiiitsi un raEg'o percote sull' obiello, donde poi si ripitga sopra 
I' agenle." Tommasto thinks that the meaning of Virgil's 
words is, " Let not thy mind be overcome with compassion for 
this Geri, who is deservedly punished." And Tommasto sup- 
ports this explanation by the Latin form frangi misericordia 
(see Cicero, Ad AU., vii, 12), and in SL Thorn. Aqu. Sninma 
Thcol : "Frangi dicilur aliquid quando suo sensu divellitur." 
And in 2 Sam., xi, 24, the Vulgate has : " Non te frangat isia 
res." Bargigi has, " Non si slanchi il luo pensiero," etc. Lan- 
dino, " Non si rompa, . . . cioS non inUrrompere i pensieri," etc. 
lllnnc, "Non si arres/i, per analogia delle onde che si frangono 
continuamcnte pcrcotendo in ci6 che inconitano ; ovvero, come 
dicevasi nel medio evo/rangere sibi caput super, e ora comune- 
mente in Jialia rompersi il capo." 

* lopr' tile : Di Siena says sopra is here used like the Latin 
super, with the sense of de or propter. Compare Virg. iEn. i, 
29 ; " His ncccnsa super, etc.," and 750 : 

" Multa super I'riamo rogitans, super Hectore multa." 

t Geri df I Bello: Geri was son of Messer Bello. Bello was 
brother of Belli ncione, whose son Allighiero was Uante's father. 
The Anonimo Fiorentino relates of him that he took delight in 
making mischief between man and man ; and that, having sown 
much discard among the members of a family called i Gemini, 
it so chanced that on a certain day they came across him and 
gave him a good healing with sticks. Geri del Bello, greatly 
enraged thereat, came in his turn one day upon one of ihem, 
who did not recognise him, as he had masked himself ; and 
Geri, finding this man standing at the door of his house, 
said ; " Messer, guardatevi dall' arme, eceo la famiglia." Mean- 
ing, " Mind, sir, here is the watch ; beware, lest ihey catch you 
with arms." [A thing rigorously prohibited.] Gcri's device suc- 
ceeded. The man drew hastily back within his house and threw 


488 Readings on th$ Inferno. Canto XXDL 

Tu eri allor si del tutto linpedito 

Sopra colui che gik tenne Altaibite, 

Che non guardasti in Ui ; s) * lii partita" — 30 

Then said my Master : " Let not t)iy thoughts 
henceforth be distracted about him : Attend 
to other things^ and let him remain there. 
For I saw him at the foot of the bridge point 
thee out and menace thee fiercely with his 
finger, and I heard him named Geri del 
Bello. Thou wert just then so completely 
taken up with (///. impeded by) him who once 
bore sway in Hautefort (1. e, Bertrand de 
Bom) that thou didst not look that way until 
he was gone.'* 

away his arms. Geri at once sprang upon him and stabbed him 
again and again with his dagger. For this, (jcri was condemned 
and banished ; but being one day in disguise at Kucccchio, 
where one of these Gemini was Podesth, he was recognised by 
a nephew of this magistrate and stabbed to death ; and his 
death does not seem to have been avenged either by Dante or 
any other of his kindred. 

* si Ju partito ^ sino che fu partito : Scartazzini feels 
doubtful whether this applies to Geri del Bello or Bertrand 
de Bom. Di Siena, with some hesitation, avows his pre- 
ference for the latter supposition. Benvenuto, Lana, Buti and 
Londino, give no explanation of s). Tommas^o, Scartazzini, 
and Camerini explain it as sin chi^ or finchi, Fraticelli reads 
sinfu partito. Biagioli disputes the above comment, and inter- 
prets s) as cosl. The Vac, delta Crusca^ among the many inter- 
pretations of x), has per infino a tanto che^ tantochi^ infinch^^ chc^ 
sinOy Latin quoad^ doneCy and quotes this precise passage as an 
illustration of the word as used in that sense. Compare, also, 
Boccaccio, Giom, ii, Naveita ii : " Volto il cavallo, sopra il 
quale era, non si ritenne di correre, si fu a Castcl Guigliclma*' 
And a footnote explains that slfu is for ifisin cticfuy a mode of 
expression very common with Boccaccio. 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 489 

Benvenuto thinks that the above is an ingenious 
fiction. Dante represents himself as having been so 
absorbed in the contemplation of Bertrand de Born 
(who, with the exception of the one sin for which he 
is being punished, was a good and highly distinguished 
man J, that he had missed seeing his kinSman Geri del 
Bello, a thoroughly worthless and contemptible being, 
who in life had caused divisions, who died by the 
sword, and who after death suffers division by the 
sword of the Demon. Dante, finding himself obliged 
to make some mention of him, makes Virgil draw 
his attention, almost by force, to the fact that Geri 
del J3ello had been there, was not noticed by Dante, 
and had moved away. 

Virgil had remarked upon the menacing demeanour 
of Geri del Bello towards Dante. Dante explains 
this by telling his Leader that there was some excuse 
for it, as the shade has a real grievance against his 
surviving relations, who have not as yet avenged his 
assassination, which had taken place many years 
before ; and in those days it was a shame and re- 
proach to a noble family to leave unavenged the 
violent death of any of its members. Benvenuto 
thinks it highly improbable that Dante did eventually 
avenge Geri del Bello's death, as some have sought to 

— "O Duca mio, la violenia morle 

Che non gli h vcndicaia ancor," — diss' io, 
— " Per alcun che dell' onta sia consorts, 
Fece lui disdegnoso ; ond' ei sen glo 

Senia parlarmi, si com' io eslimo ; 35 

Ed in ci6 m' ha e' falto a st piii pio." — 
" O my Leader," said I, " his violent death. 

.iRn ^ 

490 RiOiK^gs M iJ^ Inform. Canto xxix. 

which has not jet been avenged 1^ any who 
(as a kinsman) is a partner in the shame^ 
made him indignant ; for whidi cause, as I 
suppose, he passed on without speaking to 
me ; and in that he has made me pity him 
the more." 

Di Siena thinks the meaning of the last sentence 
is, that Dante pitied his kinsman more for not having 
been avenged, than for the torment that he was 
undergoing as a fomentor of discord. Tommasto 
feels strongly that we are not, from this passage, to 
conclude that Dante was blood-thirsty for the blood 
of his enemies ; he, who in canto xii, has chastised 
Guy de Montfort for his vengeance against a kinsman 
of the slayer of his father ; he who names the Sac- 
chetti in the Paradiso without heaping on them any 
reproaches,''^ as he has done in the case of others ; he 
who has relegated to Hell his own cousin as a breeder 
of scandals, and, according to the Anofiimo Ftorentino, 
a falsifier. The last accusation, however, Tommaste 
does not believe. On the contrary, the ApionifMO 
Fiorentino adds that Dante wishes to censure that 
thirst for vengeance which torments him even to 
the nethermost Hell. Benvenuto begs his Bolognese 
audience to remark that, although it may seem 
beautiful to wreak vengeance, yet it is far more 
beautiful to remit it ; and it is a refined kind of 
revenge to spare when you are able to smite. Julius 
Csesar shone in this vengeance : when he did smite, 
it was never to gratify personal vindictive feelings. 

* Of the Sacchetti the Ottimo writes : ** Furono nimici dell* 
Auttore . . . Furono e sono, giusta lor possa, disdegnosi e superbi." 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 491 

The Poets are now passing from the Ninth to the 
Tenth Bolgia. 

Cos! parlammo infino al loco primo 

Che dello scoglio 1' altra valle mostra, 
Se piii lume vi fosse, tutto ad imo. 
Thus we conversed as far as the first place 
which from the bridge shows {i.e. would show) 
the next valley (the Tenth £olgia) right down 
to the bottom, if there were more light. 

Division 11. The Poets have now reached the centre 
of the bridge timt crosses the Tenth and last Bolgia, 
and are gazing straight down into the Abyss. A hor- 
rible odour arises, and the waitings of a new class of 
sinners are heard. These are Falsifiers of every sort ; 
divided into Falsifiers of things, of persons, of money, 
and of words ; every section tormented in a different 
manner, but all afflicted with some kind of grievous 
sickness of a corrupting nature, such as leprosy, 
dropsy, consumption, mania, or fever; and the whole 
scene reminds Dante of an overcrowded fever hos- 
pital in the most insalubrious regions of Italy at the 
season of greatest heat, and consequently of greatest 
fee tor. 

Quando noj fummo in sull' ultima chiostra 40 

Di Malebolge, si che i suoi conversi • 

I'otean p.irere alia vedula nostra, 
* eonversi: HIanc (both in the Voc. Dant. and in the Saggio, 
p. 381) says thai Dante, having described one of the enclosures 
of Hell as a cloister, gives the name of lay-brolhers (conversi) 
to the shades of the damned within it. Fralicelli thinks the ex- 
pression is in allusion to ihe spirits lying in hraps, one on the 
top of the other, as described below in lines 65-69. Philalethes 
thinks that eemiersi means the demons in the Bolgia. 

Readings on the Infer 

Lamenii i 

Clie di piei& ferraii avean gli strati : 
Ond' io gii orecchi colle man copersi. 

Qual dolor fora, se degli spedali 

Di Va)dichiana t ira i1 luglio e il aellembre, 
E di Maiemma I e dl Sardigna i mail 

Dante firsi uses the ex- 

len continues the simile 

pity : "c come li strali 

lamenti pcrcoteana 1! 

lat Uante is here speak- 
1 ad been esiabtishcd in 

enl house at Aliopasciu, 
»nd PisloJa. Itlanc <les- 

I mouths, and 

• tatt/aron, et s 
pression sarltare, i 
by describing the 
ferrati feriscono c 
orecchi di Danle ct 

f sptdali di Vala 
ing of certain brat 
Valdichiana under I. 
which ties between 
scribes the River Cniana as (i[VHlm(r 
flowing partly into the Paglia and partly into the Tiber, lis 
course is so sluggish that it forms marshes which exhale much 
tnalaria. But in modem limes hydraulic science has opened 
a canal which carries ofl^ the waters of the valley into the Arno, 
and has made the whole district between Areuo and Terugia 
one of the richest and most fertile in Tuscany. The Comento 
di Anouimo (Lord Vernon ed. Florence, 1848) adds that from 
July to September the hospitals in this insalubrious district are 
so overcrowded, that the sick are laid along the sides of the 

X di Maremma e diSardegtta imaii: The same Comento di 
Anonimo goes on to say that few of the iravellci's who ever visit 
the isl.ind of Sardinia arc able to live there even for a year, us 
most of them sicken and die. Landino remarks that Jn Sardinia, 
from the excessive heat, the air is most pestilential, and princi- 
pally in the pans lying nearest to the seashore. Of the Maremma 
we have spoken before, and of the innumerable snakes geoe- 
rated on its humid soil, see inf. xxv, 19-30 : 

" Maremma non cred' io che tame n' abbia, 

Quante bisce egli avea su per la groppa,"eic. 

Canto XXTX. Readings on the hifcnw. 

Fossero in una fossa tulli insembre j • 
Tal era quivi, e tnt piiiEo-t n' usciva, 
Qual suol venir delle marcile membre. 
When we were alwve ihe last cloister (/.«. (he 
Tenth Bolgia) of Malihnlge, so (standing) 
that its lay-brothers {i.e. inmates) could be- 
come apparent to our view, diverse lamen- 
lalions struck sharply upon me, which had 
their arrows shod with pity (i.t. which had 
pierced my heart with compassion) ; whereat 
I covered my ears with my hands. Just such 
siifTering as there would be if from the hos- 
pitals of Valdichiana, between July and Sep- 
tember, and from the Maremma and from 

• insembre and insentbrit : adv. for insieme. Compare Lapo 
Ciunni {in Rime aniicki), 105 : 

" Molie fiale stando teco insembra, 

E rimembrando suo giovane slato, 
Dicevn," etc. 
and Guiltone d' Arczio, Mltrn 10; 
"Guardate quanto potete e essi, e voi, non mollo usando 

+ putto ; The sense of smell is offended more than once in 
the Inferno. Of ihe Stygian marsh Virgil observes, Inf. ix, 31 : 

" Quesla palude, che il gran puiio spira," etc. 
and of the first abyss, after quitting the tombs of the Here- 
siarchs, Dante says, Inf. x, 134-136 : 

" Lasciammo il muro, e gimmo in ver lo mezio 
Per un sentier ch' ad una valle fiede, 
Che infin lassii facca spiacer suo lezio," 
and in xi, 4-7 : 

" E quivi, per V orribile soperchio 

Del puEio, cbe il profondo abisso gitta, 
Ci raccostammo dietro ad un coperchio 
D' un grande avcllo." 

494 Readings au the Infemo. Canto XXDC 

Sardinia all the maladies (prevalent in those 
regions) were together in one fosse ; so was 
it here, and such a stench issued from it, as 
is wont to come from gangrened limbs. 

Benvenuto points out that Dante means the putri- 
fying limbs of living rather than of dead persons, but 
the comparison would be very apt, whichever way one 
understands it, for as in the above-named localities, 
whether marsh-lands or plains, there are many and 
diverse wailings from sick persons suffering from dis- 
eases brought on by the corrupt humours arising from 
those pestilential atmospheres^ so here many and 
diverse were the lamentations of the sinners guilty of 
various kinds of Falsity produced by the corruption of 
the air of Hell, that is, by the inspiration of the Devil, 
and so much the greater was the stench, inasmuch as 
disease of the mind is infinitely worse than disease of 
the body. 

Up to now Dante's ears have been deafened by the 
loud cries of woe, and his sense of smell offended by 
the sickening odour of festering limbs, but as yet his 
eyes have been unable to penetrate the deep gloom in 
which the last Bolgia is hid. The Poets, however, de- 
scend the long downward slope of the bridge-way till 
they find themselves on the much lower level of the 
inner rampart, and then Dante is enabled to descry 
the horrible details. 

Noi discendemmo in suir ultima riva * 

* ultima riva : Th^s refers to the last or innermost rampart 
of MaUbolge^ which on its other side was encircled by the 
tenth Bolgia, while, in its turn, it itself encircled the great Pit 
{PozMo) leading down to the Ninth Circle, at the bottom of 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 495 

Del lungo scoglio,* pur da man sinistra, f 

Ed allor fu la mia vista piii viva 
Giu ver Id fondo, Ih Ve la tninistra 5; 

Deir »1Io 5ire,t infallibil giustizia, 

Punisce i Talsator che qui regiatra. § 
AVe descended on (o the last rampart from 
the long rocky bridge, again (bearing) to the 
left hand, and then my sight became more 

which lay the traitors in the ice, while the giants surmounted 
its topmost surface with the upper part of their bodies. 

• lungoicogiio: This means the long system 0/ bndgeways 
which, lilce the spolies of a wheel, ran from the clrfTs at the 
bottom of the great Abyss [purrato) right across the fosses and 
the ramparts of MnUbolgt as far as the edge of the great Pit. 
See/«/xviii, 16-18: 

" Cosl da imo del I a roccia scogli 

Movien, che rccidean gli argini e i fossi 
Infino al poizo, che i tronca e raccogli." 
t pur da man sinistra : compare /n/. xxiii, 68 : 

" Noi ci volgemmo ancor pure a man manca 

t alio Sire ; compare /"wr^. xv, 112-114; 
" Oraniio all' alto Sire in tanta gucrra, 
Che perdonasse a' suoi persecutori, 
Con queir aspeito che pieti disserra." 
§ che qui regisira • Of this Veliuiello says ; " E dice registra 
perch^ data la senlenzn contra del reo, quella si registra, acci6 
che tale qual ella i, si possa poi a tempo publicare." Lombard! 
thinks (Ills contains a figuraiive allusion that corresponds to the 
lines in the Dies Ir.u: 

" Liber scriplus proferelur. 

In quo lotum continetur, 

Unde mundus Judicetur." 

Tommasto sums it up in the following terse c 

mondo U scrisse, giii li punisce." 



Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXIX. ^^^| 

distinct down towards the bottom, where ^^^H 

unerring Justice, minister of the Omnipotent ^^^^H 

Father, punishes the Falsiiiers that here (in ^^^^H 

this Tenth Bolgia) she registers. ^^^H 

The Falsifiers a""if all V\nA<i namely, Alchemists, ^| 

arsons, and Falsifiers ^| 

of things. Dan 

scribe the loathsome ^^^H 

state of disease d 

which the ^^^| 

inmates of this 

nged, alludes to the ^^^H 

story of the fan.. 

f j^gina, and the re- ^^^^H 

peopling of the 

langed into men by ^^^H 

Jupiter at the pi vl^acus. Denvenuto is ^^^H 

much struck by L. , v enlarges upon it with ^^^^ 

mtich d 



Nod credo che a veder maggior tristiiia 
Fosse in Egina 11 popol lutto infermo, 
Quando fu 1' aer si pien di maliiia,* 

Che gli animal! inlino al picdol vermo 
Cascaron tulli, e poi le genii anllclie, 
Secondo che i poeii hnnno per fenno. 

Si ristorar di seme di furniichc ; t 

• Malixia : See Voc. detla Crusca, s. v. § 7 : " Per infeiione, e 

t Si ristorar di state di formichi : In Coiivito, iv, 27, Danle 
had previously alluded 10 this mythological episode : " Mosira 
che Eaco vecchio fosse prudente, (|u:mdo, aveiido per pestilent 
di corrompimenlo d' aere quasi lullo il popolo perdulo,esso$3via- 
menie ricorse a Dio, e a lui domand6 lo Hstoro delta maria 
gente ; e per lo suo senno, che a paiienza lo tenne e a Dio lor- 
nare lo fece, lo suo popolo ristorato gli fu maggiore che prima." 
_ These newly-formed men were called by lEacus Myrmidons. 
from M^'iE an ant. The whole story is related in Ovid, Mctain. 
vii, 623-660. 

Canto XXIX. Readings on t!te Inferno. 497 ■ 

Ch' era a veder per quella oscura valle 6; 1 

Languir • gli spin! per diverse biche.t T 
QualJ sopra il ventre, e qual sopra le spatle 

L' un deir altro giacea, e qual carpone 

Si Irasmutava per lo iristo calle. 
I do not believe that it was a greater sorrow 
10 behold the whole population of j^gina 
struck down with sickness, when the atmos- 
phere was so full of corruption that the 
anitnsis even to the little worm all dropped 
down, and afterwards the ancient races (of 

* Languir gH ipirti : see Ovid, Metam. vii, 547 : 

" Omnia languor habet: sylvisque, agrisque, viisque 
Corpora fceda jacent." 

t bieht: Blanc {Voc. Daitl.) says that bica is ammasso, 
cuiimlo. Others interpret iiche as niiicchi acervi di eovoni, 
i.e., heaps of sheaves of com. The ^<'i■. (fr//a Crusca has, t. v. 
h'ea : " Quella massa di forma circolare non molto dissimile dal 
pagliaio (rt rici of reaped corn) che si fa de' eovoni del grano 
quando k mielulo. Lat. spicanim congeries." 

Compare Croniea di Giov. Aforelli, page 313 of the edition pub- 
lished at Florence, in 171B, of the two chronicles of Ricordano 
Malespini and Giovanni Moreili : "E 'n Firenie non era roba 
per due mesi, e le rjcolte erano lutle nelle biche, e' n sull' aje 
{fkrtihing floors). " 

See Ovid, Metam. vii, <;84-;86 : 

" Quo se cunqiie acies oculorum ficxerat, iilic 
Vutgus erat stratum ; veluti cum putria motis 
Poma cadunt ramis ; agitataque ilice glandes." 

X Qial sopra il venire ; All the commentators seem to agree 
that these are the shades of the Alchemists. Tommasto is 
careful to point out, however, that Dante does not put all 
Alchemists in a place of punishment, but only such as were 
Falsifiers. On this the Comenio di Anonimo dwells at great 
length. Tommas^o and others attribute their paralytic condi- 
tion lo their use of mercury, an opinion taken from Avicenna. 

n. I I 

4q8 Readings en the Infenio. Canto XXIX. 

the Island) according to what the poets hold 
for a certainty, were restored from seed of 
anis; (I do not believe all this was worse to 
see) than it was in that darksome valley to 
view the spirits languishing in diverse heaps. 
Some la* ..... . g^^jg upon the 

shoulde nd some were 

shifting ipon the ground 

along th< 
Benvenuto ( te has in the above 

description mai. ee different kinds of 

falsifiers ; Dan' r to a fourth species, 

who sit upon sed close together ; 

these he seems i in his more general 


Division III. The Poets up to this time had been 
walking quickly and conversing as they went. Their 
whole demeanour is now changed. They move for- 
ward with bated breath, and tread softly as persons 
about to witness strange mysteries, or with the silent 
step of one entering a sick chamber. The description 
of their movements is exactly like those of the attend- 
ants or visitors passing from bed to bed in the long 
corridors of an Italian hospital. 

Passo passo andavam senza sermone, 70 

Guardando ed ascollando gli ammalati, 
Che non potean levar le lor persone. 
Step by step we went without si>eaking, 
observing and listening to the sick, who were 
unable to raise their bodies. 
Dante now makes out in the gloom two shades 
undergoing grievous suffering from the irritation 

Canto XXIX, Readings on the Inferno. 499 

caused by skin disease ; he compares their frantic 
efforts to get relief, to the curry-combing of a horse 
or to the scaling of a fish. 

lo vidi due sedere a sk poggiati, 

Come a scaldar si poggia tegghia a tegghia,* 
Dal capio al pi6 di schianzet maculati 1 75 

• tegghia or tegh'ri : There ate two kinds of kllchen utensils 
used as steivpans in Tuscany ivitli much simiUrity of name, but 
distinctly different one fiom the other. Tegghia, according lo 
the Voc. delta Crusca, is "a flat vessel of copper, tinned inside, 
in which are cooked tarts, chestnut cake {tnigliticcio), and like 
things." Any one acquainted with Florence will have seen the 
vendors of the migUaccio carrying it in a flat round copper dish 
under their arm (see at p. 500 a quotation from Berni). Tegame 
is " a flat earthenware vessel with a raised edge, in which meat 
is cooked." At the popular rtsiauranis at Florence any stewed 
meat is cooked in a legume, and the tegame is then placed on 
a dish as it is and brought hot 10 table. The Vot:. dell<i Crusca 
says that the word tegghia is also used for an earthenware or 
iron vessel, which is used as a cover lo place over a plate or 
over a tegame. Hut in the more general use, tegghia is a utensil 
of copper, and tegame is one of red earthenware. Di Siena 
paraphrases this passage : "As it will happen that, when one 
slewpan is placed on the Are for the purpose of cooking food, 
another is placed close against it, so that food, which has been 
already cooked and got cold, may be warmed up again. This 
simile is not borrowed from the kitchens of great people. Dante 
did not write for Luculluses and Apiciuses only, and his similes 
had to be taken from the most obvious and common objects." 

+ schianu : HIanc { Voc. Dant.) says the word means the scab 
that forms over a wound that is healing. Compare Pulci, Morg. 
Magg. xiii, St. 53 : 

" Che pensi to, che gli desse un buHelto, 
Da far cadergli del capo due schianzi i" 

See also Bemi, Rime Burlesche, ed. of 1723, vol. i, p. 105 : 
" Con porri e schianie, e suvl qualche callo." 
II. 112 

Readings on the Inferno. Caiilo XXIX. 

E nan vidi giammai menare si 

regghia • 

Da ragazio t aspclinto dal signorso,! 

Come ciascun menava spesso il morso 

Dell' unghie sopra si per la gran i-abbia 80 

Del Diizicor. che nan ha i: 

>iii soccorso. 

E al traev 


Com. ! 

le scaglie. 

Od' 1 

tfghe 1' abbia. 

* ttrtgghia or 1 ihc Latin sirigilis and 

the Greek <rr\iTfii, . an iron instrument wiih 

iron teeih, with whi bed down and scraped, 

la ancient limes the t, u e instrument used by all 

frequenters of public b t c ihe perspiration from the 

body. Inthefojlowingi, m^cmH/tinie.Cqpitaio prima 

della Pestf) we find both the leglia and the stirglia mentioned : 
" Adoprasi in quel tempo piii la teglia 
A far torte e migliacci ed erbolati, 
Che la scopelta a Napoli, e la streglia." 

f ragatto : a note on this passage in Lord Vernon's In/tmo, 
vol. i, says that in the Neapolitan dialect ragasxo was the word 
for a stable-boy. 

X lignorso an old obsolete form for signorsuo, as padremo for 
padre mio, Jratehno for fratello mio, tuonna for luora mia, mo- 
gliema for mgglie mia,figtiuolto far ^gliuolo luo, and cdsata for 
aua tua. There are abundant Instances of these forms among 
'the older Italian writers. 

§ colui ch* mat voUnlier vegghia : Scartauini says that such 
a one plies the curry-comb furiously, so as to hurry through his 
work, and get to sleep. 

II icardova : According to some, this is the Abrnmis Brama, 
the Carp Bream, according to others, the Cypriiius lotus tti 
Linnaeus, a lish which, from its large number of scales, re- 
quired the use of the cook's knife to remove them. Benvenuio 
remarks that the scardova is a certain large-sized while fish of 
the valley streams {piscis vallinus) of short length, having large 
scales and thick prickles, and that it is piscis sanus inter vat- 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 

I saw two tliat sat leaning on each other, as 
stewpan is propped against stewpan to warm, 
spotted from head to foot ntth scabs : and 
never saw I curry-comb plied (so vigorously) 
by stable-boy for whom his master is waiting, 
or by him who is sitting up (at night) against 
his will (and is eager to go to bed) ; as each 
(shade here) was incessantly plying the bite 
(i.t. the sharp points) of his nails over himself 
by reason of the wild frenzy of the itching, 
which has no other relief. And the nails tore 
off the scab, in the same way as a knife docs 
the scales of bream, or of other fish that has 
them larger still. 
Bartoli {Sioria della Lett. Ital. vol. vi, pt. \, pp. 147, 
148) says: " It would seem that the terrible imagina- 
tion of the Poet, in depicting these last two Bolge of 
the fraudulent, takes pleasure in accumulating together 
all that it is possible to conceive most repulsive and 
disgusting. After the mutilated come the shades 
covered with scab, who scratch themselves continually, 
and emit a fetid odour of the most sickening descrip- 
tion. These are the Falsifiers of metals, and their 
raging irritation may perhaps be meant to signify the 
use they made of things that could never satisfy 
them. It is moreover worthy of remark that Aristotle 
describes lead as a leprous gold ; and these people, 
who wanted to convert lead into gold, are now one 
mass of putrefying leprosy." 

linos; and in reference to hIIto ptsi 
says that it so happens that there i 
streams krger than the seardova, a 
regina, by others searpa. 

! che r abbia fiiH largke, he 
i a fish found in the valley 
id that it is called by some 


Readings on the Inferm. Canto XXIX, 

Dante, having given his readers a detailed account 
of the maddening torment of the Alchemists in 
general, now proceeds to show who are those two, 
that have so riveted his attention, and relates how 
one of them is addressed bv Vircil. . 

— " O tu cht !,"•— 85 

Coni tin di loro, 

— " E cl tBnaglie,t 

Dinne s' al loro 

Che unghia ti basti 

* ti lUtmaglU : I uplaioing ; " Cioi U levi 

bi scagUa, come si ^sfiirt of mail) maglia da 


t tanagtie: In La Fiera of Michelangelo Buonarrolli the 
younger, ed. Le Monnier, Florence, i860, p. 47, Giom i, act ii, 
Messer Equilio the Judge says : 

" Del pill di nomi tai non ho notiiia. 

Ma attendi a far trochischi {loungti) di vipera : 
Questi io conosco, e fian tnolto giovevoli 
Per colui, che rinvollo nella scabbia, 
Con tanta fretta si rade e si scortica, 
Ch' io non vidi giammai si presta stregghia 
Menar da servo che '1 signer sol lee ill." 
To this Messer Sano, the apothecary, replying, compares the 
nails to combs for carding flax : 

" N' ho una gran piel4 di quel meschino, 
Che fa dell' ugna pettini da lino." 

J Latino: We have before noticed, canio xxii, 65, and 
canto xxvii, 33, ihat by Latino Danie means an Italian, and 
more probably one from ihe Souih of the Apennines, while 
to all Italians north of that chain, he usually applies the temi 
Lombardo. We see, that of these two shades, one is from 
Atcuo, and the other from Siena. 

Canto XXIX. Readings on flu Inferno. io% 

"O thou that art dismniling thyself with thy 

fingers," began my Leader to one of them, 

"and who art sometimes making pincers of 

them, tell us if there is any Italian among 

those who are here within, so may thy nails 

suffice for that employment to all eternity." 

Benvenuto says that, to the scabby man, nothing 

can seem more delightful than to be able to scratch 

himself; for which reasons Virgil tells the shade that 

he wishes he may have an instrument that will never 

fail him, from which he may obtain such perpetual 

relief. IJuti says that Virgil wished by the expression 

to enlist the sufferer's good-will ; and both Benvenuto 

and Buti observe that, as after the relief obtained by 

scratching the irritation becomes greater than before, 

so the Falsifiers, after having obtained gratification 

from their misdeeds, find they turn into perpetual 

torment, from the stings of a guilty conscience. 

The shade, who is GrifTolino d'Arezzo, after answer- 
ing that they are both Italians, asks Virgil who he 
is, and Virgil tells him. 

— " Latin sem noi, che lu vedi si giiasti 

Qui ambo e due," — rispose I' un piangendo i 
— " Ma lu chi se', che di noi domandasli f " — 
E il Duca disse : — " lo son un • che discendo 

Con questo vivo giii di baizo in balzo.t 95 

E di moslrar I' inferno a lui intend©." — 
"Italians are we, whom thou seest here so 
disiigured, both of us," replied one of them 

• lo son un, etc. : Compare In/, xxviii, 46-50. 

f iH balto in talwo : Bull says this means " di cerchio in 
cetchio, e di ripa in ripa." Tommasio : "di girone in girone, 
rappresentando i gironi come 1e baiie digradanli d 

504 Readings on the Infenio. Canto KXIX, 

weeping; "but who art thou who nskest 

about us?" And niy Leader said: "I am 

one that descends with this living man from 

precipice to precipice, and it is my purpose 

to show Hell to him." 

Benvenuto think nat implies that he has 

not brought Dante to this ptace to instruct hin:i in 

Alchemy, nor yet that he may be punished for having 

practised Alchemy, but rather that he may witness 

the punishments of the Alchemists, and of the other 

lost spirits of sinners in Hell. 

The two shades are considerably startled at the 
information imparted to them, and at once raise 
themselves as welt as tliey can and sit up to luok at 
Dante. Uotticelli {Zeichnungtn nack den originalett 
zu Berlin, 1887, obi., folio) represents them sitting, 
resting their backs against each other. The attention 
of the other shades is also arrested. 

n rincalio ; 

Allor si ruppe< 
E tremando c: 
Con altri che V udiro 

n di rimbalzo.-t- 
Then the mutual propping up was broken 

* ii ruppe lo comun rincalto ; Compare Inf. xvi, 86, 87 : 
" Indi nipper la rota, ed a fuggirsi 
Ale sembiar le gambe loro snelle." 

i di rimbalzo : Virgil had spoken lo the two shades silling 
together, and his words had been heard, Bargigi says, by other 
shades, as il were, by repercussion, and Landino remarks that 
the expression is derived from one playing at the game of pal- 
loHt, who does not relum the ball directly, but takes il as il 
rebounds from the end wall, or, to use tennis parlance, " pairs 
off;" and therefore the shades heard the voice, which was not 
directed immediately to themselves. 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 505 

(/. e. ihey started apart) ; and each turned 
trembling towards me, as well as the others 
who had heard by the rebound {i.e. they had 
only heard Virgil indirectly, as his words had 
not been addressed to them). 
Benvenuto thinks the shades trembled from weak- 
ness, being unable to hold up their bodies when they 
no longer had each other's support. 

Virgil now turns to Dante in a paternal and affec- 
tionate manner, and, encouraged by him, Dante ad- 
jures the shades, by the hope of being remembered 
in the world, to say who they were. 

Lo buon Maestro a me tutio s' accolse," 100 

Dicendo ; — " Ui' a lor cio che tu vuoli." — 
Ed io incominciai, poscia ch' ei volse : 
— " Se la voslra memotia non s' imboli + 

* s' accolse: both Vellutello, TommasSo and Uiagioli, under- 
stand the expression in Ihe sense of j' accosti, like in Inf. x, 18, 
where Dante, having been startled at the voice of Farinata, 
gathers himself close up to Virgil : 
"per6 m'accostai, 
Temendo, un poco piii al duca mio." 

Scartazzini thinks it means, " gave all his attention." 

+ la vosira tiirmoria^la. memoria di voi. Memoria here has 
the force of ricordameHto, " remembrance," rather, says Di 
Siena, as an act, than as a faculty. 

Bono Giamboni, an early Italian writer, who flourished be- 
tween 1260 and 1280, in \\\s VolgariMtamento del Tesoro di Ser 
lirunello Lalini, in book i, cli. xvi, has the following : " Me- 
moria h lesoriera di tulle cose e guardalrice di tulto quello, che 
r uomo ttuova novellamcnie per sottiglieua d' ingegno, o che 
r uomo imprende d' altrui ... La memoria k comune agli 
uomtni ed agli allri animali, ma iniendlmento di ragione non i 
in neuno altro animale che nell' uomo." Compare also Brunetto 
Laiini, Ttsortlte, cap. vii : 

Qi , c .. essa vene." 

These two passages are quoted by Nanoucci, Manuale delia 
Letttralura Italiana, vol. ii, p. 362. 

y tmboli: Blanc { Voc. Dant.) says this is a very ancient 
fonn for f involi, the b and the * being in early Italian readily 
interchangeable. Compare a passage in the Rime of Gianni 
Airani, who died about 1337, and of whom, according to Nan- 
nucci (Manuale, vol. i, p. 303, el seq.\ but few fragments remain: 
" Ed hai veduta quella che m' imbola 
La vita, star pur dura, 
£ non pregare akun che ti coprisse." 
Nannucci, who was a native of Signa near Florence, adds 
(P- 3^S> footnote) that " this change of the v into 6 is heard 
even at the present day in all our country-side," as fiebole for 
fitvole; affitbotito for affievoUto. 

* ntl prima mondo : i.i. the world in which man lives a mortal 
life ; P allro momh is that to which he passes after death. 

t totto molli soli : meaning, " during many years." Compare 
Inf. vi, 67-68 : 

" Poi appresso convien, che questa caggia 
Infra tre soti." 
And Purg. xxi, loo-ioz : 

" E, per esscr vivuto di I&, quando 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 

Ditemi chi voi siete e di chc genii :* 
La vostra sconcia e fastidiosa pena 
Di palesarvi a ine non vi spaventi." — 
The good Master drew quite close up to me, 
saying: "Say to tliem that which thou de- 
sirest." And 1 began, since he willed it so : 
" So may the remembrance of you not vanish 
away in the first world from Ihe recollection 
of human beings, but so may it live on under 
many suns, tell me who ye are and of what 
race ; let not your revolting and grievous 
ptmishmcnt deter {tit. frighten you) from 
declaring yourselves lo me." 
Benvenuto points out that no sight is more loath- 
some and repulsive than that of one covered with 
scabs, sores and blood ; and that diseases of this kind 
will often entirely hinder a man from making himself 
known ; but, in the allegorical sense, we are to under- 
stand that alchemists will ever make use of secret 
arts, ivhich they will reveal to no one, unless it be to 
one of their own kidney. 

For Ihe i 
wxiii, 54 : 

^isse Virgilio, assentirei 
'iu che non deggio al m 
; of Sote in Ihe sense 

€vt di bando." 

I day, compare Inf. 

" Infin che 1' ahro sol nel mondo uscio." 
and Virg. jEh. iii, 103, 204 ; 

" Tres adeo incerlos Cicca caliginc soles 
Erramus pelago ; totidem sine sidere nodes." 
* Hi che genii : The shade had, in line gi, explained thai be 
and his comrade were Italians {Latin sem not), and therefore 
by the word genti in Dame's question he is evidently asking 
them from what Stales they come. The answer of Griflblino 
places this beyond a doubt, see line 109 : 
" lo fui d' Arezzo, etc." 


Readings on the Inft 

emolument he cc' 
one Albero. the \ 
Griflfolino had a 
under promise of 
trived to obtain ka 
dupe. But, havtn 
could fly through ti 
that he should be ta 
that Gri^olino oi 

One of the shades, Grifibhiio d'Arezzo, replies to 
Dante. Benvenuto thinks his story very amusing. 
It seems that Griffolino was a great physicist and 
alchemist of Siena, and with an eye to his own 

-''—ate friendship with 

e Bishop of Siena. 

isive tongue, and, 

erful miracles, con- 

iey from his young 

uiino boast that he 

d, Albero demanded 

But wiien he found 

nis promises and put 

him off with words, his suspicions were at length 
aroused, and, on his complaining to the bishop his 
father, the latter caused Griffolino to be tried for 
practising necromancy, and to be condemned to be 
burnt to death. 

— " lo fui d' Areiio, ed Albeto * da Siena," — 

Rispose r un,— " mi fe" meiiere al foco ; t no 

* Albero for Alberto, by whicli latter name we Hnd him called 
by Sacchetti {Novella, xi and xiv). In these novels he has the 
credit of being exceedingly stupid, and, when required by the 
Inquisitor of Siena lo recite his Falimoster, lo have changed 
the words. Da nobis kodie into Donna Bisodia, a niisiake which 
nearly cost him his life. 

+ mi Ji mettere at Joco : Aquarone {Dante in Siena, Siena, 
1865, page 60), says : " That Bishop made very short work of 
them [the Heretics], but it was the custom of the time : far they 
used then to bum magicians, enchanters, alchemists, Paterini, 
Atbigenses, and Heretics of every nomenclature; and Frede- 
rick II, who, in a general way, was not on the best terms with 
the Papal Court, was quite ready to oblige them in these matters. 

Canto XXIX. Rettdtttgs on the Inferno. 

Ma quel* perch' io mori' qui non mi mena. 

Ver h ch' io dissi a lui, parlando a gioco, 
Io mi saprei levar per 1' acre a volo : 
E quei che avea vagheiTa t e senno poco. 

Voile ch' io gli mostrassi 1' arte ;§ e solo 


and some of the most fierce and pitiless edicts against heretics 
emanated from him. Dante alludes to this in laf. xxiii, 65, 66, 
where the Hypocrites are covered with leaden cloaks, 

Che Federico !e mettea di paglia." 
It was the custom of the lime ; but no record determines 
which Bishop it was that burnt poor GrifTolino, though some 
have conjectured that it may have been Bishop Buonfiglio, who 
ruled the Diocese of Siena from 1316-1252." 

• quel percK io morf, elc. ; Had Grinblino been condemned 
to hell for practising magic arts, his place of doom would have 
been in the Fourth Bolgia among the Diviners. But it was not 
for the crime for which he sufTeted death that Minos condemned 
him, but for alchemy. 
t mena : Compare /it/, xxviii, 46, 47 ; 

" ' NJ morte il giunsc ancor, nh colpa il mena,' 
Rispose il mio Maestro, 'a tormenlarlo.' " 
t vngheaza: The best interpretation of the word in this pas- 
sage seems that given by Blanc, " curiosity." Bargigi explains 
"vnnilk assai ;" Landino, "vana cupidilk;" Vellulello, "voglia 
assai." Volpi, Lombard! and Bianchi agree with Blanc. Di 
Siena thinks it means a strong desire not tempered by sense, 
as when in Inf. viii, 52-54i Dante expresses a malicious desire 
Id see Filippo Argenii soused in the mire : 
" Ed io : ' Maestro, molto sarei vago 

Di vederlo altuFTare in questa broda. 
Prima che noi uscissimo del lago.'" 
§ F arte ; used here by antonomasia for 1' arte magica, which 
Albero evidently thought would be the means employed to 

Perch' io nol feci Dedalo,* mi feee 
Ardere a i tal, che 1' avea per ti^'liuola.]: 
Mn neir ultimEi bolgia delle diece 

Me per alchimia che nel mondo usai, 
Dannb Minos, a cui fkllar non lece." — 
" I was of Arezzo," replied one of them, " and 
Albero of into ihe lire; 

bat that for not bring me 

here. The aking in jest 

I Said to how to raise 

myself in and he, who 

had curiosii nsisted tliat I 

shoDld teac , flying) ; and, 

only becau! ixe him a Dae- 

dalus, he got 1 oy that man (the 

bishop o[ Siena) wtio had him fui his son. 
But to the last Bolgia of the ten, for the 
alchemy I practised in the world, Minos, who 
cannot err, condemned me." 

* Dedtilo: Dantealludes to this well-known tale of mythology 
in Tn/.\y\i, 109-11 1 : 

" Ni quando Icaro misero le reni 

Senll spennar per In scaUtnla cera, 
Gridando il padre a lui : ' Mala via ticni.' " 

t a tal: a is here for da, and Di Siena observes that il is so 
used in constructions in which the following verbs occur : fart, 
lasciare, senlirt, vedere, udire, and such like. The Voc. dtlla 
Crusca thinks it is the sign of a sixth case. Compare Boccaccio, 
Decam. Ciom. ii. Novella, vi : "Amenduni gli fece pigliare a 
tre suoi servidori." 

X chip avea per figliuolo: alluding to his supposed parentage, 
as the son of the Bishop Siena. On this Oenvenuto senten- 
tiously observes : " licet forte non essei, quia genitus ex mere- 
trice ; el si erat, non audebat dicere, quia SKpe sacerdotes filios 
dixere nepotes." 

Canto XXIX. Readings on the Inferno. 

Division IV. Dante cannot forbear from ex- 
pressing his contempt for the vanity of the people 
of Siena. 

I io dissi al Poeta :— " Or fu gi; 
Gente si vana* come la sane 
Certo non la francesca si d' b 


And I said lo the Poet : " Now was there 
ever it people so vain as the Sienese? Cer- 
tainly not the French so much so by a long 

Benvenuto thinks Dante's indignation was roused 
at the cruelty as well as at the absurdity of the 
Bishop, who, even more vain than his son, did not 
blush to have a man burned to death for a silly jest, 
which he ought merely to have laughed at, and, if he 
wanted to consult his honour, he would have done far 
better to have concealed his pique. Benvenuto adds 
that the vanity of the French has always been pro- 
verbial, that it is recorded from ancient times by 
Julius Cclsus, and it is seen in Bcnvenuto's own time. 
No people are like them for the perpetual adornment 
of their persons with new forms of clothing, and new 
habits. There is not a single limb to which they do 
not give its own particular costume ; they have chains 
on the neck, bracelets on the arm, pointed tips to 

* Ge»te slvana come la sanue: Compare /'wrf. niii, I51-IS4, 
where Sapla of Siena says lo Dante : 

" Tu li vedrai tra quella genie vana 

Che spera in Talamone, e perderaglj 
Piii di sperania, che n trovar la Diana ; 
Ma piii vi mettcranno gli ammiragli." 

not to be cone- 
(concludes Ben 
when I see Itali 
persist in enden 
and learn the r 
tongue is so bea 
not see it ; for i 
tard of the Latin, 
they cannot pronoi 


their shoes, such short garbs that they display their 
hinder parts {portant . . . pannos breves, ita quod osten- 
dant ctihtm, partem obscenam corporis occullandum), 
while they cover up with a hood the face, which, 
being the most honourable part of the body, ought 

■'refore I do wonder 
ak'cs my blood boil, 
the Italian nobility, 
/ in their footsteps, 
re, asserting that no 
ich:* I confess I do 
iguiige is merely a bas- 
ce teaches. For because 
-avaliero properly, they cor- 
rupt the word, and call it clievaiur. And because 
they cannot manage to say Sigtior, they must needs 
say Sir \sic\, and so on. We have evidence of this in 
the fact that when they want to say : loqittre vulgariUr, 
they say loquere romancie, talk in the romance. The 
Italians therefore really ought not of their own accord 
to put their nobility in subjection to what is more 

The Danish comic dramatist, Ludwig Holbei^, 
who is known as the Moli^re of Denmark, and who 

1 the ntneteenih century of ihe subser- 
viency of some Italians to the French laiit'ungc, wliich lias 
here beeo so condemned by Bcnvenuto in the fourteenth cen- 
tury, the present writer recollects a young gentleman at I'isa, 
desirous of displaying his proficiency in French, saying to a 
Pisan lady: " Madame, j'ai vu votre hois k la pone aujourd'hui," 
translating into literal French the Tuscan iciiomatic word for a 
carriage, legno! 

Canto XXIX, Readings on l/ie Inferno. 513 

flourished about 1720, has in his celebrated drama, 
Jean de France, turned into ridicule the absurdities of 
society at Copenhagen in his time, when even unedu- 
cated persons affected a knowledge of the French 
language which they did not possess, and in their 
attempts to converse in it committing the most 
egregious errors in grammar. 

Dante's sarcastic words have caught the ear, and 
excited the sympathy of Griffolino's companion, who, 
as we afterwards learn, is one Capocchio, himself a 
native of Siena, which however does not prevent him 
from vigorously attacking the folly of his country- 
men, and especially assailing those of them who 
were members of the notorious Brigata Spettdereccia, 
referred to in canto xiii, 115 et seq. He feigns to 
beg Dante to except them from his general impu- 
tation of folly to the Sienese, meaning, of course, 
that the persons he names are the most vain and 
foolish of all. 

OnJc r altro* Icbbroso che m' intcse, 

Rispose al delto mio :— "TrammeneStricca,t 135 

Che seppe far le temperate spese j 

* r altro Ubbreso ! this is Cappocchio, of whom more anon. 
See line 136. 

+ Trammene Stricca : Others read Tranne lo Stricca. The 
words express strong irony. Dante really means that the person 
in question, whose name in full was Stricca di Giovanni de' 
Salimbeni, Podeslhof Botogna in 1276 and 1386, was one of the 
most foolishly lavish dissipators of wealth, even of the Brigata 
Spendtrtccia: so he says ironically, " Always excepting Stricca 1 " 
Some say that Stricca is an abbreviation for Baldastricca, and 
that he was of the faintly of the Marescotli of Siena. 
11. K K. 

ialembeni [who is also 

mind to inventing any 

)Rst oiher ihings lie de- 

,..i3ed or cloves and otlier 

• Niccold : Na 
page 341) says 
alludes to this pi 
brigata di Sanest 

Poich' el 

Nannucci adds 
called de' Bonsigt 
new kind of expen 
vised a stuffing foi |j 
cosily spices. Some 
of using the doves as the fuel wherewith he roasted his game, 
and Benvenuto thinks this supposition the most in character. 

t cottuma is, according to Di Siena, one of the many nouns 
of the masculine gender, that for the sake of uniformity come 
to be used in the feminine, such as eUra for eUrej toraca 
for torace; oriEXonta for erixsonU. Eady writers also wrote 
eeslumo and costumio. 

X NilPorto: orto is obviously to be taken in the sense of 
garden (kortus). The context dove tat seme, etc., leaves that 
beyond a doubt, and the meaning is, " at Siena." Itui others 
have attempted to show that, as the clove is indigenous in the 
East, Dante meant arto in the sense of ariens. 

§ Irattnt la brigata: ¥01 ^n v^cCQxtnt of ih^Brigataspendereccia 
QX godereccia the reader should turn back to canto xiii (vol. i, 
p. 441, 442 of this workX after the translation of lines 115-133. 
Folgore da San Gemignano (who flourished in 1360) dedicated 
to the Brigata a series of sonnets, which Dante certainly must 
have known. He commences as follows : 
" Alia brigata nobile e cortese, 

£ a tut te quelle parte dove sono, 

Canto XXIX. Rendings on the Inferno. S'5 

Caccia d' Ascian " )a vigna e la gran fronda, 
E I'Abbagliatot il suo senno proferse. 
Whereat the .other leprous one who had 
heard me, answered my words : {" Ay ! always) 

Con allegreiw stando sempre, dono 
Cani, uccelli, c denari per ispese," 
In one of the Sonnets wrillen for Wednesdays, the day on 
which the Brigala gave their banquets, he writes : 
" Ogni Mercotedi corredo grande 

Di lepri, starne, fagiani, e paoni, 
E colti manii, ed arrosti eapponi, 
E quante son delicate vivande : 
Donne e donielle star per tutte bande, 
Figlie di Re, di Conti e di Baroni, 
E donzelletti giovani garzoni 
Servir, portando amorose ghitlande ; 
Coppe, nappe, bacin d' oro e d' argento, 
Vin greco di riviera e di vernaccia, 
Frutta, confetti quanti li h 'n talento : 
E presentarvi uccellagioni e caccia, 
E quanti sono a suo ragionamento 
Sieuo allegri e con la chiara faccia." 
* Cacda cC Ascian: Scartanini {EHisione Mirtore, Milano, 
1893) says he was " degli Scialenghi del ramo dei Cacciaconli ;" 
and he quotes the following from the Commento di Graziolo de' 
Bambaglioh, published at Udine in 18911 : " Consumpsil omnes 
possessiones el alia bona in dicta brigata." 

+ r Abbagliato : Ui Siena remarks that some have erroneously 
supposed abbiigliiilo {lit. dazzled) lo be only an attribute of the 
s(nno of Caccia d' Asciano, and signifying that the latter ex- 
pended the small wits he had in the brigata sptndtrtccia ; but 
the allusion is evidently to a real person, Barlolommeo di 
Kanieri dei Folcncchieri, who is said by Landino and theOi'/ww 
to have been a man of small means but of good abilities, which 
however he entirely sacrificed from keeping company with so 
dissipated a set of spendthrifts. 

II. K K 2 

5 16 Riodiiigs 0U the Infema. Canto XXDC 

excepting Strioca, who knew how to make so 
moderate an expenditure I And Nico612^ fdip 
first discovered the luxurious use of the dove 
in the garden where that seed takes root (lU. 
in the district of Siena, where die dove grows 
without cultivation); and excepting that com- 
pany in which Cacda d' Asciano squandered 
his vineyards and vast forests {lit the vine 
and the great boughX and Abba^iato dis- 
played his wisdom. 

The shade now passes on to tell Dante of his own 
identity. Benvenuto remarks that in doing so he 
mentions his name, his intelligence and his crime. 

Ma perch^ sappi cbi si ti seconda 

Contra i Sanesi, aguzza * ver me V occhio 

S), che la faccia mia ben ti risponda ; 135 

S) vedrai ch' io sono 1* ombra di Capocchio,t 
Che falsai li metalli con alchimia, 
£ ti dei ricordar, se ben t' adocchio, 

Com' io fui di natura buona scimia." — 

* agusMa ver me t occhio : sharpen thine eye towards me, 
that is, look fixedly at me. Compare Inf. xv, 20, 2 1 : 
** £ si ver noi aguzzavan le ciglia. 
Come '1 vecchio sartor fa nella cnina." 
and Purg, viii, 19-21 : 

" Aguzza qui, Lettor, ben gli occhi al vero, 
Ch^ il velo h ora ben tanto sottile, 
Certo, che il trapassar dentro h leggiero." 

t Capocchio: There is some difference of opinion as to whether 
Capocchio was a Sienese or a Florentine. He is said by some to 
have been a fellow-student with Dante in the Schools of Natural 
Philosophy. Benvenuto says of him that he was an artist, and 
that one Good Friday Dante came upon him in the cloisters of 
a certain convent, and found that he had been painting on each 

Canto XXIX. Readings on tlu Inferno, 517 

But that thou mayest know who thus seconds 
thee against the Sienese, sharpen thine eye 
towards me so that my face may give thee 
the right response (to thy wish to know my 
identity); thou wilt then see that I am the 
shade of Capocchio, who made false metals 
by alchemy, and thou shouldest recollect 
moreover, if I eye thee rightly, what an excel- 
lent ape of Nature I was (/>. how admirably 
I counterfeited nature)." 

Benvenuto remarks that Dante, who calls Capocchio 
an ape of Nature, really would seem to have been 
himself a more noble ape than anyone else ever was, 
seeing that he knew so wonderfully and so subtly to 
discern and recognize the natures of men of every 
condition, profession, or fortune whatsoever, as well as 
to depict their habits, their ways, and their idiosyn- 
cracies so usefully, and with a greater charm than had 
ever been done before. 

of his nails, with the most marvellous art and minuteness, the 
different scenes of the Passion of our Lord. Surprised by Dante, 
he foolishly licked off with his tongue what had taken him such 
a long time to execute; and it is for this waste of his talents that 
Dante contemptuously terms him a good ape of Nature. 

End of Canto XXIX. 



The Er eluded). 

The Te eluded). 

Fals sort. 

(2) Falsi 



<3) Falsi 

(4) FALSIFIEka ur ..J 

SiNON OF Troy. 

In this canto the description of the various tor- 
ments endured by other species of Falsifiers is con- 
tinued, and the close of the canto brings us at length 
to the end of Malebolge. 

Benvenuto divides it into three parts. 

In Division I, from v. i to v. 45. Dante mentions 
the Falsifiers of Persons, among whom he notices 
Myrrha and Gianni Schicchi. 

In Division II, from v. 46 to v. 90, he describes 
the torment of the Coiners, who are all afflicted with 
dropsy, conspicuous among whom is the ^hade of 
Maestro Adamo da Brescia. 

In Division III, from v. 91 to v. 148, Dante sees 
the Falsifiers of Words, suffering from burning fever, 
and among them Potiphar's wife and Sinon of Troy. 
An unseemly squabble between Maestro Adamo and 
Sinon of Troy brii^s the canto to an end. 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 519 

Division I. There is no break or interruption be- 
tween the last canto and this one. The same scene 
is before the reader, and we still have before us one 
of the actors. But wiiereas the Falsifiers of every 
sort are present, the description of their torments 
travels from one sort to another. Capocchio, and 
Griffolino, the Falsifiers of Metals, are still on the 
scene, but two Falsifiers of Persons are now intro- 
duced, one of whom makes a violent onslaught upon 
Capocchio, The Falsifiers of Persons are attacked 
with acute mania, and Dante, wishing to describe 
adequately how furious that mania was, recalls two 
personages from mythology and ancient history, whose 
insanity took the most violent and dangerous form- 
These are Athamas, King of Thebes, and Hecuba, 
Queen of Troy.* Athamas is first mentioned. 
Nel tempo che Giunone era crucciatat 

• Jacopo delia Lana gives very far-felched interpretations of 
these similes, find assigns 10 the dlRetent personages in ihe re- 
spective tales clmraciers in which they represent lire, air, earth, 
and water. Jupiter, he thinks, represents active virtue ! 

+ Giunone era crucciata : For the mythological slory of the 
madness of Athamas, King of Thebes, brought about by Ihe 
resentment of Juno against the race on account of Jupiter's love 
for Semele the (Idufihtcr of Cndmus, see Ovid, Metam. iv, 
(King's translation), p. 113 : 

" But frantic now the son of .Colus 
Through all his palace raged. ' lo I' he shouts— 
' Quick comrades, with your toils I a Lioness 
With her twin whelps within this forest lurks I 
Lo I there she prowls I ' And frenzied on his spouse 
He springs, and from the mother's bosom tears 
The infant, that with innocent hands outstretched 
Smiles on his Sire — Learchus — and, like a stone 

S20 Rmdbigs an tht Infirm. Canto XX3C 

Per Semd^* contra il sangoe tebano^ 
Come mottrb una ed altra fiata,t 

In sling, round spins him twice and ooce, and 
Against a flinty rock the baby limbs 
Mangled and crushed. But Ino, by that sight 
Of horror, or the venom late infused, 
To equal fury fired, with sudden howl 
Fled maddened : — wild behind her streamed her hair. 
The child yet left her, Melicerta, high 
Aloft her bare arms bore. *£vohe I' she shrieked, 
' Evohe I Bacchus ! ' Juno heard the name 
And laughed to hear : * So let the Nursling pay 
His Nurse I ' she said. High o'er the Deep a difT 
Projecting frowned :— its base the waves had scooped 
And arched in dome of shelter, where no shower 
Of Heaven could penetrate : its beetling brow 
The middle sea o'erhung. That dizzy height, 
With strength and speed by madness lent, the Queen 
Surmounting, with herself the child she bore 
Dashed fearless in the flood below." 

* Semell : Dante alludes again to this fable in /'ar. xxi, 4 : 

" * S' io ridessi,' 
Mi cominci6, * tu ti faresti quale 
Fu Semel^, quando di cener fessi ; 
Ch^ la bellezza mia, che per le scale 
Deir etemo palazzo piii s' accende, 
Com' hai veduto, quanto piu si sale, 
Se non si temperasse, tanto splende, 

Che il tuo mortal potere, al suo fulgore, 
Sarebbe fronda che tuono scoscende.' " 
Beatrice means, that were she to display her glorified smile, 
it would consume Dante in a moment, just as Semele was con- 
sumed when her prayer to be allowed to see the glory of Jupiter 
was granted. 

t una ed altra fiata : There is a marked difference between 
this expression, which means on more than one occasion^ and 
/ una € f aitra fiata^ which means on two occasions only. This 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 521 

Al.imante divennc tanio insano, 

Che veggenda la moglie con due ligli 5 

Andar carcala da ciascuna mano, 
Grid6 :— " Tendiam le reti, si ch' io pjgli 
La leonessa e i I e one in i a I varco ;" — 
E poi dislese i dispiclali artigli, 
Prendendo I' (in che avca nome Learco, 10 

E rotollo,* c percosselo ad un sasso ; 
E ([uella s' annegi con l' altro carco. 
At the lime when Juno on account of Semele 
was incensed against the Theban race {lit. 
blood), as she showed more than once, 
Athamas became so insensate (with rage), 
that seeing his wife come burdened on either 
hand with their two sons, he cried : " Let us 
spread the nets, that 1 may catch the lioness 
and the lion cubs on the passage : " and then 
he extended his pitiless talons, and seizing 
one (child) who was named Learchus, he 
whirled him round, and dashed him against a 
rock ; and she (his wife, then) drowned herself 
with her other burden (i.e. child). 
is explained in the defiant conversation thai takes place between 
Dante and Farinata, Inf. x, 46-50, where, Fannaia having said 
of Dante's ancestors : 

. - . " ' Fieramenle furo awersi 

A me ed a' miei primi ed a mia parte, 
SI che per due fiate gli dispersi.' 
Dante replies scornfully ; 

' S' ei fur cacciati, ei tornar d' ogni parte," 
Rispos' io lui. ' r una e 1' allra Rata ; 
Ma i voslri non appresetben quell' arte.'" 
• rotoUo: Compare the original in Ovid, Mitam.'w, 516-S1S: 
" rapit, et bis terquc pet auras 
More rotal fundic ; rigidoque infantia saxo 
Discutit ossa ferox." 

522 Rioihigs OH th$ Infmrm. Canto XXX. 

Benvenuto says that he firmly believes that thb 
was either a true story, or founded on fact ; because 
so many great writers have related the tale as genuine ; 
and also because such species of raving mania, and 
even worse, are not uncommon. ^ For it is not ao 
many years since," he continues^ '' that in this dty of 
Padua a certain man, agitated by what fury I know 
not, butchered in one access of fury his wife, his sons, 
and his whole family." 

The example of Hecuba is cited next 

£ quando la fortuna* volse in bassof 

L' altezxa de* Troian che tutto ardiva,} 

* fortuna : We have here a parallel to what Dante says about 
Fortune in Inf, vii, 67-96 : Note especially 88-90 : 

" Le sue peimutazion non hanno triegue : 

Necessity le fo esser veloce, 

SI spesso vien chi vicenda consegue." 
and 95, 96 : 

*' Con r altre prime creature lieta 

Volve sua spera, e beata si gode." 

Compare also, Par, xvi, 79-84 : 

" Le vostre cose tutte hanno lor morte 

SI come voi ; ma celasi in alcuna 

Che dura molto, e le vite son corte. 

£ come il volger del ciel della luna 

Copre ed iscopre i liti senza posa, 

Cosi fa di Fiorenza la fortuna." 

t vols€ in basso : Implying that the prosperity of Troy, by a 
downward turn of the wheel of Fortune, was brought to the 
lowest depression. 

X che tutto ardiva : This means, 'Vhich hesitated at nothing;" 
not even at such crimes as the treachery of King Laomedon to 
Hercules, and the rape of the Grecian Queen Helen by the 
Trojan Paris. 

Canto XXX, Readings on the Inferno. 

SI clie jtisieme col regno il re fu casa 
Ecu bat trista mi sera e cattivaji 

Poscta che vide Polissena morta, 
£ del SUD Polidoro in sulla riva 
Del mar si fu la dolorosa accorta, 
Forsennata latr6 si come cane ; § 
Taato il dolor le fe' la menle torta. 

* easso: Caisare is to destroy, annihilate, blot out, wipe out : 
Compare Gen. vri, 4 : " and every living substance that I have 
made will I destroy ["itrg: ref. blot out] from off the face of (he 
earth." And ^j*. xxxil, 33 : Whosoever hath sinned against me, 
him will 1 bloi out of my book." And ZJ«*/. in, t4: "Let me 
alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from 
under heaven." Uenvenuto points out how very appropriate is 
the expression casso., for inmost cases where a king is dethroned 
and his power destroyed, il usually happens that the realm con- 
tinues entire, though transferred to another authority, as hap- 
pened in the cases of Tatquinius Superbus, and others. But 
in this unhappy incident, king, queen, and the whole of the 
blood royal, perished with the kingdom. 

t Eciibn : After the destruction of Troy, Hecuba, tlie widow 
of King Priain, was with her daughter Polyxena carried captive 
into Greece. Being bereaved of Polyxena, who was offered up 
as a victim upon the (omb of Achilles, and then finding on the 
shore the body of her son Polydorus, who had been murdered 
by his treacherous proleclor Polymnestor, King of Thrace, 
Hecuba went out of her mind from grief, and the lamentations 
she uttered were said to resemble the barking of a dog. See 
Euripides, Hecuba, and Ovid, Mclam. xiii, 404-573. 

J caltiva : The primary meaning of callii/o is prigioniero, 
from the Latin capiivus. It (hen comes to mean, unhappy, 
miserable, discontented, and eventually after several inter- 
mediate gradations, takes the meaning by which it is more 
usually known, namely the contrary of good, wicked. 

\ /afri s) come cane : Compare Ovid, Jfir/auf. xiii, 567-569 : 
" At hsec missum cum murmure saxum 

And when Fortune made low the all-daring 
haughtiness of ihe Trojans, so that the King 
(Priam) together with his realm v 
hilated ; Hecuba, sad, broken-hearted, and a 
captive, after that she had seen Polyxena 


ng woman dis- 
olydorus on the 
ses barked just 
did grief distort 

:r of these examples 
with the fury of the 

her miou 
Dante next 
of raging mad 
two shades wl ]es. 

ManSdi .le 

Si vider ntai in alcun tanto crude, 
Non punger beslic, non che membra uinane, 
Quant' io vidi in due ombre smone e nude, 15 

Cbe mordendo correvan di quel modo 
Che il porco quando del porcil si scbiude. 
But furies so merciless were never seen either 
of Thebes {i.e. Athamas) or of Troy (i.e. 
Hecuba), not in wounding beasts, much less 
human limbs, as I saw in two pale and naked 
Morsibus insequitur : rictuque in verba paralo 
Laiiavit, conata loqui." 
Cane is used by Dante here for cagna, a use which, though 
uncommon, is not wholly exceptional. The Voc. della Cruscu 
quotes the following from the MS. of I'/'/.i ili S<inla Afaria 
MaddaUna, by an unknown author : 

" misera. e miserabile cane, e peggio che cane." 
In the Rimt of Agnolo Fireniuola, in the Satira a S. Pandol/o 
Pucei, there is the following passage : 

" Donde le vien questa superbia adunque 

A questa arpia, a questa furia, a questa 
Rabbiosa cane, a questa orribil tigre." 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 

shades, that tan about biting in that (hungry) 
way that the hog does when he is let out of 
his sty. 
The two shades are those of Gianni Schicchi and 
Myrrha, as ive shall presently see. 

Bcnvcniito thinks that Dante's reason for comparing 
the wounds of men with those of beasts is tliis, Al- 
though human flesh is far more sensitive to pain than 
the flesh of brutes, on account of the greater softness 
of the human skin, yet a beast has not the power of 
warding ofl" a sting with its mouth or its tail as a man 
can do with his hand. The bull is said by Virgil in 
the Gcorgics* to rush forward for several miles if 
stung under the tail by a gadfly [" an insect like unto 
bees " ], the lion roars with frantic rage when attacked 
by fever, the boar if wounded by a hunting-spear, and 
the bear if robbed of its young. But no fury of beasts 
is equal to that of man, or so much to be dreaded, 

Capocchio is now attacked by one of the maniac 
shades, and his companion Griflblino tells Dante who 
is the aggressor. 

L' una giunsd- a Cnpocchio, ed in sul nodot 

* It is doubtful 

IS refening. 
t giunst a : Among the 

passage in the Georgics Benvenuto 

i readings of this verb given 
in the Voc. delta Crusca, the best seems to be acehiapfare, in 
Greek, ic«aXBfi0iMi>'. 

I notio del collo : Some have tried to prove that Dante meant 
the porno tP Adaiito in ihc front of the throat, but all the best 
coinmenlalots arc agreed that the whole action of the two per- 
sonages in the scene shoivs thai the one ran after the other, 
and attacked him behind, fastening his teeth in the cervical 

526 Readings on the Imfenta. Canto XXX. 

Del collo P assannb si che, tiiando^ 
Grattar gli fece il ventre al fondo iodow jo 

E V Aretin, cfae rimase tremandoi 

Mi disse ^-'^ Quel foUetto* h Gianni Schicdii^t 
E va rabbioso altnii co^ amdanda" — 

* folUtto : Srartanini sayslhbis properiy the epitliet applied 
to certain malignant spirits^ which superstition averred, and 
still avers, went flying about through the air, and causing dis» 
turfoance auMmg the habitations of men. 

t Gianni Sckicchi: The best and fullest account of thb hid- 
dent is given by the Anommo Fiartniina^ and n so important 
that I quote it at length: ''This Gianni Sticchf [most teats 
read Scbicchi] was of the fiunily of the Cavalcanti of Florence^ 
and it is said of him that Messer Buoso Donati [see J$rf. xxv, 
140] being afflicted with a mortal illness, was desirous of making 
a will, inasmuch as he felt he had a good deal of other people's 
property that he must give back. His son Simone kept parley- 
ing with him to persuade him not to do so, and he parleyed so 
long that at last Buoso died [intestate]. When he was dead 
Simone kept him hid, and was in much tribulation lest he 
might have made a will before he fell ill, and many people said 
he had. Simone, not knowing whose advice to take, asked that 
of Gianni Sticchi. Now it so happened that Gianni had a 
talent for counterfeiting every man, both with voice and gestures, 
and especially Messer Buoso, with whom he was intimate. So 
he said to Simone, ' Send for a notary, and tell him that Messer 
Buoso wants to make his will : I will get into his bed, and we 
will shove him behind, and I will wrap myself well up, and put 
his night cap on my head, and I will dictate the will in the 
terms thou desirest, though to speak the truth I want to get 
some profit out of it.' Simone agreed to this ; Gianni got into 
bed, and showed himself very ailing, and counterfeited the 
voice of Messer Buoso so well that he seemed to be his very 
self, and commenced to dictate his will and to say : * I leave 
twenty soldi to the building fund of Sta. Reparata, and five lire 
to the Minor Friars, and five to the Predicatoriy and in this 
way he began leaving legacies for works of charity, but for very 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 527 

One seized uponCapocchio, and in the nape of 
his neck so fixed its fangs, that dragging him, 
it made his belly grate along the solid bottom 
(of the JBolgin). And he of Arezto (i.e. Grif- 
fotino), who had remained trembling, said to 

small sums, at which Simone was rejoicing, when the testator 
added: 'And I leave five hundred florins to Gianni Slicchi.' 
At this Simone exclaimed : 'Yes, but thou must not put that in 
the will ; I will give him whatever sum Ihou leavest.' Gianni 
replied : ' Simone, please to allow me to leave my property as 
I like, 1 trow that thou shouldest be content, as I am going to 
leave thee so well off,' Simone, through fear, was constrained 
to hold his peace. Gianni went on : 'And 1 leave to Gianni 
Sticchi my mule ;' for Messer Buoso had the best mule in all 
Tuscany. 'O Messer Buoso,' cried Simone, 'he does not care 
much for that mule, indeed he used not to be good friends with 
her.' 'Anyhow,' replied Gianni Sticchi, 'he cared more for 
her than you do. Simone began to get very angry, and to 
writhe with rage, hut fear kepi him silent. Gianni Sticchi went 
on: 'And I leave moreover to Gianni Sticchi one hundred 
florins due to me by such and such a neighbour of mine : and 
for the remainder I constitute Simone my residuary legatee, on 
this proviso, that he must see every bequest executed wiihin 
fifteen days, failing which the whole heritage is left to the Minor 
Friars of the Convent of Sla. Croce.' Gianni then got out of 
the bed, in which they immediately replaced Messer Duoso, and 
they began lamenting, and announced his death." 

Readers of Charles Lever's novel, The Confessions of Con 
Cregiin, will recollect a similar incident, in which Con's father 
accedes to the request of the younger son of a recently deceased 
farmer to personate the latter, and leave the property to the 
younger son. The will is dictated before witnesses, and the 
counterfeit father concludes by leaving to himself the two most 
valuable acres on the whole farm. Charles Lever resided at 
Florence, must have known the story of Gianni Schicchi, and 
probably founded the incident upon it. 



Readings on the Inferno. Canto xxx. 

me: "That mad sprite* is Gianni Schicchi, 

and rabid he goes about mangling others in 

that fashion." 

Dante seeing that Griffblino is evidently terrified 

lest the other raving shade should fasten on him, 

adjures him, by -" 

'-'-'- '■-: 

icaping the assault. 

to tell him wlic 

— " 0,"— diss 

an ti ficchi 


1 fatica 35 


si spicchi,"*— 

"0," sai(i 

^ the other not 

set its te t weary thee to 

tell who i. from here," 

Griffolino telis last shade is that of 

Myrrha, daughter oi laros, of Paphos, guilty 
of abominable incest ; and that both she, as well as 
her companion Gianni Schicchi, who helped to falsify 
a will, perpetrated their crimes by successful persona- 
tion of others. 

Ed egli a me :— " Quell' i I' aniina anticat 
Di Mirrat icdierata, che divenne 
Al padre, fuor del dritto amore, arnica. 

• sitpiccht: s" ii/!on/am,¥iench i iloignt; XA^oi discedert ; 
Grfck Avax'V''- Compare Purg. xxi, 106-108 ; 
" Ch£ riso e pianCo son lanto seguaci 

Alia passion da che ciascun si spicca, {isfues) 
Che men seguon voler nei piCi veraci." 
t oMliea: meaning that Myrrba was a personage of old time, 
of ancient history. The use of the word is frequent in the 
DivinaCommedia. See/»/.\, 116: "gli antichi spintidolenti ;" 
ii, 102 : " r aniica Rachele 1 " and v, 7 1 : " le donne antiche « i 

t Mirra scelltrata : This unsavoury story is related in Ovid, 
Melam. x, 300-503. In Dante's EpistJe to Henry of Luxembourg, 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 529 

Questa a peccar con esso cos) venne, 40 

Falsiiicando %h in altnii forma, 
Come r altro, che IS sen va, sostenne,* 
Per guadagnar la donna della lorma,+ 
Falsificare in s$ Buoso Donati, 
Teslando, e dando al lestaraenlo norma."! — 4S 

he compares Florence to Myrrha : " Haec Myrra scelestis et 
impia in Cinyrse patris ampkxus exaesluans," Di Siena says 
there exists a very ancient translation of this epistle, in which 
the above passage runs as follows : "Questa & Mirra scelerata 
ed empia, I.1 quale s' inflamma nel fuoco degti abbracciamenti 
del padre." 

• sostenne ; The full effect of the word here is not only the 
daring to do the deed, but to have [he hardihood and constancy 
to go through so long an ordeal, and to keep up the imposture 
before many witnesses, Gianni himself dictating all (he clauses 
and discussing with the notary the legal forms. 

+ la donna della lorma : The Coinenio di Attomtiio {cd. Lord 
Vernon, Florence, 1848), mentions the animal as being a mare, 
and known by the name of Madonna Tonina {la piii bella eha- 
valla che fosse in unn torma chfra slata desso Buoso, la quale 
chavalla si chiamava Madonna Tonina). 

t dando al lestamento norma : Di Siena remarks that Dante 
has first used the word testando, which is making a dispiosilion 
according lo the exact terms prescribed by law ; dare una 
norma is the same as dare una regola, in accordance with which 
a thing has to be carried out It might therefore be contended 
that Gianni may be said to have ditto norma al lestamento, in 
thai he not only fulfilled all (he duties of the testator, but even 
of a jurisconsult and a notary. Di Siena prefers the interpre- 
Inlion that Buoso falsificA in alio di testare e dar norma al 
lestamento, taking norma not so much with the idea of legal 
forms, as of regular order, in which we find the notary taking 
down in writing and improving the lestamenlary act according 
lo forms prescribed by the law, while the testator is dictating 
his wishes. In that way we see with what consummate fraudu- 
11. L L 

And he to me; "That is the ancient shade 
of abandoned Myrrh a, who became her 
fiither's concubine in unhallowed love. She 
to sin with him came arter this manner, falsi- 
fying herself into another's foim, as also that 
Other one (■ i -i who goes there, 

faad the hs od, t he might gain the 
queen {i.e. . ..lare or mule) of the 

■hid, to cour limself Buoso Donati, 

making a will, ing to the will due 

legal form." 
Scartazzini remarks upon the notable contrast in 
the falsification practised by these two wretches, 
Myrrha's object was fully gained by concealing her 
own identity as her father's daughter and feigning 
herself to be some other woman ; but Gianni Schicchi, 
in order to dictate a will as from Buoso de' Donati, had 

lent art Schicchi was able to keep up the scene for so loni; a 
time, and represent his part in a way lo deceive every one. 
Di Siena thinks that the will in which Schicchi personated 
Buoso was a nuncupativi •will, and that Dante, by the words 
dattdo al ttstamtnfo norma, intended, by poetic elocution, to 
signify the same ; and by norma he only meant the declaration 
of the testator, in accordance with which the will would then be 
drawn up in extenso by the notary. Also that this twnna is 
called in the Codex of Justinian {Lib. vi. Tit. xxii, Lex. v\n\ 
nioderamenvolunlalis, "Haccansultissimalegesancimus,utcar- 
entes oculis, seu morbo [viiiove], seu iia nati, per nuncupationem 
lestibus . . . edoceant,etc." And Ui Siena contends that Dante 
has himself told us in this passage what the commentators had 
not observed, by determining the special testamentary form 
that Simone and Gianni Schicchi selected in order to accom- 
plish their fraud. 

Canto XXX. Readings on tfu Inferno. 531 

to invest himself with his identity and personate him 
exactly, and in this he was so successful that the 
deceased man's own notary was deceived and the will 
took effect. Di Siena puts it : "Mirra falsifica si in 
altrui forma, cio^, dandosi per altra donna, etc. ; come 
r altro Gianni Schicchi falsified altri in si per lo desi- 
derio di possedere una cavalia." 

Division II. We are now to witness the punish- 
ment of the Coiners. Falsifiers of Money, We are not 
specially introduced to them ; Dante merely remarks 
that, as Myrrha and Gianni Schicchi rushed away, he 
looked round to see who else there might be there 
wortJiy of his notice. 

E poi che i due rabbiosi fur passati, 
Sopra, cu' ia avea 1' occhio teniito, 
RivoUilo a guardatgli aliri mal nati. 
And when the rabid pair had passed away 
upon whom I had kept my eye, I turned it 
to look upon the other ill-born (shades). 
Dante next describes the punishment of one par- 
ticular coiner, Adamo da Brescia, his interview with 
whom lasts to the end of the canto. He specifie.s the 
nature of the torment by comparing Adamo's appear- 
ance to that of a lute ; because the shade in question 
is afflicted with dropsy, and therefore exhibits a long, 
emaciated face and neck and a swollen stomach. 
Benvenuto gives at great length various reasons for 
the peculiar adaptability of dropsy as a punishment 
for coiners. 

lo vidi un, ratio a guisa di liulo, 

Pur ch' egli avesse avuia 1' anguinaia 50 

Tronca dal lato, che 1' uomo ha forculo. 
n. L L 2 

Readings oh tite Inferno. 

La grave idropisl, chc si dispaia* 

Le membra con 1' uiiior che mat c 
Che >l viso non rispondc 

Faceva a lui tener Ic labbia aperte, 
Come I' etico fa, che per la sete 
L, , -. ._ . .• _Hj.jj jji 

I saw or a Ivite, if he had 

only haii t at that pari, 

which in s heavy dropsy, 

which so limbs with the 

humour \ nalignanlly (t>. 

turns into t the face docs 

not (any I to the belly. 

* dispaia le met, dropsy is to destroy tha , 

just proportion between ihe ainerent pails of the body. Some 
become swollen, others emaciated. 

t converle: Dl Siena observes that nearly all the c 
tors lake the verb converlere in the sense o 
work out, to direct, to assimilate. He does not think Dame has 
wished 10 show himself more patholo(,'ist thnn poet lo cvplain 
to us incidentally the nature of the disease, but merely tu draw 
attention to the fact, and leave others, if they wish, to trace out ihe 
causes. Ainon^' all the cnmpoundii of verier^, Daiitu does not 
make use, either of avertere, diveriere, pervcrlere, or inverlere, 
but only corrvirtere, which properly signifies ■volgere pih cose 
insieme a un luogo; meaning that the dropsy throws Ihe dif- 
ferent members into disproportion, and causes the face lo be 
out of proportion to the belly ; and for the reason that mal eon- 
vtrte I' umore, that is, the dropsy, lo the hurt of the body, 
collects all ihe moisture into one part, and causes other parts 
to have a deficiency of it, 

X rinverle or riverle : The Voc. delta Crusca says the wotd 
is the same as the Latin convtrUre or ihe Greek tvrrfi^tar. 
Lombard! disagrees wiih Venturi, who had remarked ihai the 
word was exclusively Dantesque. Lombard! finds it used both 
by Freiii, and Beaio jacopone. 

Canto XXX, Readings on the Inferno. 533 

compelled him to keep his lips wide open, as 
does he that suffers from hectic fever, who 
from thirst curls one (lip) towards his chin, 
and the other one upwards, 
Benvcniito observes that at this point Dante, in 
order not to leave his readers any longer in the dark, 
makes the shade last noticed manifest himself by his 
name, his crime, and his punishment. 
— " O voi,* che scnza alcuna pena siete 

{E non so io perchi) nel mondo gramo,"+ — 
Diss' egli a noi, — "guardaie ed attendete 60 

Alia miseria del maestro Adamo : t 

* O voi, cic: DanteiJiakesihecoineruse the words of Jeremiah 
(Lamentations, i, is); " Behold, and see if there be any sorrow 
like unto my sorrow." Di Siena remarks that it ought not to be 
made a reproach to Dante, that he has here put the words of 
Scripture into the mouth of such a sinner, for the Italian lan- 
guage draws many of its beauties from the ancient classics, 
and also from the Bible ; and early Italian writers extracted 
many grave conceptions and expressions from them, without 
any thought of desecrating holy things by applying them to the 

+ gramo : Blanc ( Voc. Danl.) derives the word from the 
German Gram, grief Scartaiiini says the word is an adjective, 
and has the sense oimiitro, iloUnte. Mondo gramo here signi- 
fies mondo dolorosa, Infente. 

I maestro Adamo : This notorious coiner was a native of 
Brescia. He was employed by the Counts Guidi of Romena 
to coin for them a large number of false Florentine florins. 
Some time later, a house at Botgo San Lorenio in the Mugello 
being burnt down, an immense hoard of these false florins was 
discovered. Troya {Dtl Veltro Allegorico di Dante, Florence, 
p. as) says the house in question belonged to the Anchioni. 
There are some, however, who contend that the house of this 
family was not in the town of Borgo San Lorenzo in the district 

of ihe Mugello, but 
LoreniD. Maestro . 
was burnt alive on 
Romena, which cr 
Imre the name of 

lo ebbi, vivo, assni di quel ch' i 
n gocciol • d' a 
Li ruscelletli, che dei vetdi colli 

Del Caaentin t discendon giuso in Arno, 
Facendo i lor canali freddi c molli, 

sufTered death. I 
(the cairn of the de 
stone upon it, and ri 
of which Dante c( 
These words of Troj 

called Borgo San 
I identified as 
it leads from Florence l( 
tar there that ever after 
Troya adds : "The s])ot 
d that Maestro Adamo 
Macia dtlf uomo morto 
p ser-by is wont to cast a 
.0 mina the beautiful lines by meant 
lined ihc coiner to perpetual infamy." 
iiay also remind us of the cairn under 
which Manfred's body lay, as described by his shade {Purg. iii, 

" L* ossa del corpo mio sarieno ancora 

In CO del ponte presso a BenevenIO, 

Solto la guardia delta grave mora." 

Troya says that in the time of Danle this false money was a 

petl, which was defiling (he whole of Tuscany. Adamo is 

called Maestro here, and Mastro further on, to denote his 

conspicuous pre-eminence in his evil .irl. 

* gocciol : gocciolo is less frequent \htia gocciola, but is much 
used in Tuscany still. Compare Boccaccio, Decant. Ciorn. viii, 
Nov. iii ; " E ivi presso correva uno tiumicel di vernaccia, della 
migliore che mai si bewe, senza avervi entro gocciol d' acqua." 
t Casenlin : Caseniino is the name of the beautiful hill dis- 
trict of the upper valley of the Arno. In it are situated the 
great and ancient monasteries of Camaldoli and La Vema, and 
the range of the Prato Magno separates them from Vallombrosa. 
Ampere ( Voyage Dantesque) says of the Casentino : " 1 1 y a d.ins 
ces vers intraduisibles un sentiment de fraicheur humide. Je dois 
ii la v^rit^ de dire que le Casentin ^tait beaucoup moins frais et 
moins verdoyant dans la tiaXixi que dans la po^sie de Dante, et 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 535 

Senipre mi sianno innanii,* e non indamo ; t 

Chh [' imagine lor vie piu m' asciuga, 

Che i1 male ond' io nel vollo mi discamo. 

La rigida giustizia, che mi frugn, 70 

Tragge cagioti del loco ov' io pcccai, 

A metier piii li miei sospiri in fuga.l 

" O ye who, 1 know not why, are in the world 

of anguish (i.e. Hell) without any lonnent," 

said he to us, " Behold, and see the misery of 

qu'au milieu de I'ariditd qui m'entouraii, cene po^sie, par sa per- 
fection mf me, me faisait ^prouver quelque chose du supplice de 
Maitre Adam." 

* mi slantio innanwi, etc.; Tasso is said to have imitated 
tills (Ger. Liber, xiii, 60), in the following beautiful lines : 
" S' alcun giammai tra frondeggianti rive 
Puro vide slagnar liquido argento, 
O giit precipilose ir acque vive 
Per alpc, o 'n piaggia erbosa a passo lento ; 
Quelle al vago deslo forma e descrive, 
E ministra materia al suo tormento ; 
Ch^ r iiuinagine lor gclidn e molle 
L' nsciuga e scnlda, e nel pensier ribolle." 
+ nonindarno: Horace (II Carm. ii, 13-16) compares a miser 
to one suffering from dropsy : 

" C resell indulgens sivi dirus hydrops, 
Nee siiim peUit, nisi causa morbi 
Fugeral venis, et aquosus albo 

Corpore languor," 
In the miser the insatiable thirst for gold is only increased by 
its gratification, and in the dropsical man the drinking of water, 
so far from slaking hts thirst, only aggravates it tenfold. 

I A metier fiit li miei sospiri in fuga : Uenvenulo interprets 
this : " idest, mea desideria magis longe a me, ut non valeam con- 
sequi quod oplo." Blanc(K0<:. £>anf.)thinks that in this passage 
fuga has the sense of/oga, ia/ougue, the ardour, impetuosity, of 
Adamo's desires. 



Maestro Adamo : Alive, I had plenty of what 
I coutd wish for, and now, alas ! 
a little drop of water. The Httte brookE, i 

which from the verdant slopes of the Casen- ' 

tino flow down into the Arcio, making their 
channels f s) moist, stand 

ever befoi vain ; for the 

image of more than the 

malady w.. sh of my face. 

The inexo is ever harass- 

ing me, tak rom the (very) 

place where ; my sighs the 

more on the 
Maestro Adam his memories add 

to his torment, for the recollection of the cool and 
refreshing streams, flowing through the green pastures 
of his native hills, only serve to render more intoler- 
able the insatiable thirst that burns his vitals. He 
goes on to tell Dante the name of the precise spot in 
the Casentino, where his crime was perpetrated (Joco 
«/ to peccai). We are informed by Benvenuto that 
Romena; the place in question, is very beautifully 
situated on the river Arno, and that the Conti Guidi 
had their habitation there. 

Ivi h Romena,* li dov' io falsai 

* Romena : Lord Vernon {Inferno, vol. ill, lavola xci) says 
that this was a castle of ihe Conii Guidi, and before them it 
belonged to a branch of the Conii Alberti. It is now half 
ruined. It is situated in the valley of ihe Amo, called the 
Casentino, upon a hilt about a mile lo the S.W. of Pratovecchio. 
The eastern slopes of the hill in question are washed by the 
Arno, and to the S. and S.W. the Fosso delle Piloue forms its 
boundary. The castle gave Ihe litte of Count of Romena to one 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 537 

La lega* sigillala del Batista, 

Perch' io il corpo su arso lasciai, 75 

There is Romena, where I falsified the alloy 
stamped with the Baptist, for which 1 left my 
body burned above (in the world). 
The golden florin of Florence bore on one side the 
effigy of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the 
city, and on the other the lily flower {fiore) from 
which the coin {fiorino) took its name. 

Adamo now speaks with bitter vindictiveness of 
the Conti Guidi, his former employers, declaring that 
he would even give tip the prospect of quenching his 
btirning thirst, if only he could see them siifFering 
beside him. 

Ma s' io vedessi qui I' anima irisla 

Di Guido,t o d' Alcssandro, o di lor frale. 
Per fonte Brandat non darei la vista. 

of the scions of the Conti Guidi. In 1247, Count Gtiido di 
Aghinolfo di Komena obtained privilege from the Emperor 
Frederick II. He was the father of the three brothers men- 
tioned in line 77. 

* falsai la lega : This means that Maestro Adamo fraudu- 
lenlty altered the legal proportions or the melals, so as to 
diminish the intrinsic value of the coin. 

+ Guiilo, if AUssandfo, etc. : TommasJo remarks [hat the 
allusion to the waters of the Casentino, and to the Lords of 
Komena, through whose territory the said waters flowed, was pro- 
bably because Dante joined them in a campaign against Areno, 
waged from the Casentino in i2S9(see Villani, vii, 131) : later 
on he received the hospitality of the counts during his exile. 
but afterwards, being irrilated at their inefficiency during the 
disastrous expedition against Florence, he left them. 

I feitie BranAt : Lord Vernon {Inftmo, vol. iii, lavole xcv 


But were I to see here the wretched soul of 

Guido, or of Alessandro, or of their brother 

(Aghinolfo), I would not give up the sight for 

the Fonte Branda. 

Di Siena says that a more savage hatred is not 

: it is one of those 
e gigantic power of 
irt, blazes forth, 
heard of the death 
;r knows or infers 
lains that the n 
glut his vengeance, 

not unfrequent t 
Dante's mind, ar 
Maestro Ada 
of one of the u 
that he is in Hell 
knowledge of the 
as he cannot witiis 
Denlro c" i I 
Ombre c 

Ma che mi val, ch' ho le membra legate ? 
S' io fossi pur di lanto ancor leggiero, 

Ch' io potcssi in cent' anni andare un' one 

and xcvi) says that there are three different fountains bearing 
this name, and he gives a drawing of each. They are : (i) La 
Foniebranda di Borgo alia Collina, in the Valdamo Casenti- 
nese ; (i) the Foniebranda, which lies to the south of the 
outer walls of the Castle of Komena, (he waters of which are 
now nearly dried up ; (3) the Foniebranda in Siena, the waters 
of which are exceedingly abundant and limpid. Nearly all the 
commentators, who probably knew no other Foniebranda than 
that of Siena, took it for granted that Maestro Adamo was 
alluding to that spring ; but there can be little doubl that he 
meant the Foniebranda of Komena. 

* r arrabiatt ombrt: This refers to the falsifiers of persons, 
such as Gianni Schicchi, Myrrha, etc., who rush about the 
Bolgia in maniacal frenty, biting every alchemist on whom 
they can set their teeth. 

t un' oncia : the twelfth part of a foot, in more modern Italian 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. ^39 

lo sarei messo giji per lo senliero, 
Cercando lui Ira questa genie sconcia, 85 

Con tutto ch' ella volge * undici miglia, 

E men d' un mezzo di traverse non ci ha.f 
lo son per lor trn si fatia famiglia : X 

Ei m' indusscro a baiiere i Rorini, 

Che avean ben tte carati di mondiglia." — 90 

Within (tills bolgia) (here is one (of ihetn) 
already, if the raging spirits tliat circle around 
say true : but what does that avail me, who 
have my limbs tied (by disease). If only I 
were thus much lighter that I could in one 
hundred years move one inch, 1 should already 
have set forth on the path, seeking him out 
amid this disfigured crew, although it (the 
boigia) has a circumference of eleven miles, 
BDd has not less than a half (mile) across. 

called pollice; English, incA. In Par. ix, 57, we Hnd Dante 
using oncia lo express ihe twelfth part of a pound, like the 
English ounce : 

" E stanco chi ii pesasse ad oncia ad oncia." 

* volge undid tniglia : see canto xxix, 9, note. 

t non ci ha : Dante has inlroduced these three words by a 
poelic license lo rhyme with oncia and sconcia, and it must 
be pronounced as if it were written nbncia. We have two 
similar cases, namely, in Inf. vii, jg, where pur li is made to 
rhyme with urli and burli; and in Purg. xx, 4, where we find 
per li rhyming with piacirli and merli. 

X famiglia.- often used, as here, to express a band, a troop, 
as in /«^ iv, 131, a group of philosophers is styled ^/uiiy&rn 
famiglia; in xxiii, 91-92, the concourse of hypocrites is 
spoken of as colUgto dtgV ipocrili IriUi. The city guard, 
the watch, was in those limes commonly spoken of as " La 

tention to thecoij 
chemists and thi 
suffer from skin 
with dropsy, " 
falsified : fraud c 
ing and stampin;" 
and this is a p 
shows in his Fi 
invciitcd for the 

Through them (the three brothers) am I 
among this tribe : they led me on to coin 
[he florins, which had fully three carats of 
The Oilimo.'w •'i" P-^—''^ ^n (^^nto xxix, draws at- 

te's treatment of al- 
Tormer are made to 
r are crushed down 
;my can money be 
)erpetrated in cast- 
d value than usual, 
IS the Philosopher 
Ethics, money was 
I utility and benefit of man- 
kind : and therefore in this, fraud is committed, and 
disorder and injustice are introduced into the use of 
money, where before, its use had been upright and 
orderly." Tommas^o thinks that Dante must cer- 
tainly have had in his eye the passage in the Ethics 
here alluded to, and looked upon forgery as a crime 
that disturbed social order and commerce, for which 
reason we find him visiting it with so tremendous a 
penalty. Scartazzini says that the Florentine florins 
should have twenty-four carats of pure gold. Lan- 
dino explains that these florins of Maestro Adamo, 
which should have contained twenty-four carats of 
pure gold, were really only of twenty-one, with three 
carats of base-metal. 

Division III. Dante remarks two shades lying 
hard by, and he asks Maestro Adamo who they are. 
He learns that they are falsifiers of words, and are 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 541 

Potiphar's wife, and Siiion, who persuaded the Trojans 
to take the wooden horse into Troy. Their penalty 
is a raging fever, which consumes the brain, and 
causes the limbs to smoke from the evaporation of 
their burning sweat. They are lying close to the 
coiner, for we read later on that he and Sinon are 
near enough to exchange blows. 

Ed io a lui :— "Chi son li due tapini,* 

Che fuman come mant bagnaie il verno, 
Giacendo streili a' tuoi destri confinif" — 
— " Qui li trovai, e poi voltaj non dierno," — 

* li^ini: from iwrtivti, law, humble, abject, miserable. Com- 
pare fnf. xxiv, 11: 

" Come il lapin clic non sa die al faccia." 
And in tlie Crcih attributed to Dante, 1. 58, et sig. : 
" E chi CO' viij Vive e co' difelli, 

Aspetti Inferno, e sempre pepe c guai, 
E slare coi dimoni maledetti. 
Alle quai pene rtmedto giammai 

Non vi si trova, che son senza fine, 
Can pianii e sirida ed infiniti lai. 
Dalle quai pene noi alme tapine 

Ci guardi e campi Io Spirilo Santo, etc." 
t come matt bagnaie il ■vtmo : Di Siena observes that the 
natural wannlh of the hand dissolves into vapour the water 
that has moistened it, which vapour is not visible in summer 
because it is rarefied by atmospheric heat ; but in winter, being 
condensed by the cold, one is able to see it. The same pheno- 
menon occurs with the brealli. Scartazzini notices that " Fuma 
come d' Invemo una man bagnata," is a well-known proverb in 

t voUa non dierno: Bargigi explains this : Non j 
daW un eoslato sulP altro. Dar volla is the same 
Compare Purg. viii, 107, 108 ; 

' vol/arono 
s volgersi. 

5usD alle posi 
And Inf. xxi, 1 36 : 

" Per r argine si' 

Both dierno a-nddien 

149-151, where the sick 

her suffering by lumiDg 

" Vedrai te s 

ite a quella inrerma, 

.r posa in sulle piume, 
dolore sclienna." 
laid by Bruneilo Laiini what a 
undergo, if con- 

In In/. XV, 37-39, Dante 
terrible aggravation of punishment the 
demned to motionlessness : 

"... qual di questa greggia 

S' arresta punio, giace poi cent' anni 

Senza arrostarsi quando il fuoco il feggia-" 

* Sinon: The siory of Sinon is lold by Virg. (_£m. ii, S7- 

194). In V. 148-9, Priam, after ordering Sinon's fellers to be 

removed, spares his life on the condition of his treachery to his 

countrymen : 

" Quisquis es, amissos hinc jam obliviscere Graios ; 
Noster eris ; mihique h3»: edissere vera roganti." 
The long account in the jEneid is summed by MtitAS 

" Talibus insidiis perjurique arte Sinonis 

Credita res, captique dolis lacrymisque coactis, 

Quos neque Tydides, nee Larissxus Achilles, 

Non anni domuere decem, non mille carinx." 

Compare also Inf. xxvi, 55-60, where Ulysses and DJomcd are 

punished as the originators of the stratagem which Sinon 

carried out : 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 543 

And I to him : " Who are the two abject 
wretches lying close together on thy right 
side, that smoke like wet hands in winter?" 
"I found them here, when I dropped (///. 
rained) into this chasm," he answered, " and 
since then they have not turned (once), and 
I do not believe they will lo all eternity. 
One is the false woman who accused Joseph ; , 
the other is Sinon, the false Greek of Troy ; 
from acute fever they send forth such a 
Hcnvcniito, with his usual quaint ingenuity, points 
out that there ts a marked contrast in the way that 
passion influenced these two in their respective false- 
hoods, the wife of Potiphar showing excessive love, 
and Sinon excessive hate. 

Sinon, the Greek, has listened with much impatience 
to Maestro Adamo's reference to himself, and he at 
once interposes with warmth. A squabble, styled by 
Benvenuto liUs j'eeosn, ensues, in which mutual re- 
crimination and an interchange of blows take place. 

Utisse e Diomede, e cosl insieme 
Alia vendeila vanno come all' ira : 
E denlro dnila lor finmmn si geme 

L' nguaro del cava!, che fe' la porta 
Ond' uscl de' Romani il gentil seme." 
Chaucer alludes to Sinon in The Sguiere's Tale: 
" Or elles il was the Grekcs hors Sinon, 
That brought Troye 10 deslniction." 
And in The Nonnes Preestes Tale: 

" O false dissimulour, O Greek Sinon, 
That broughtest Troye al utterly to sorwe 1 " 

E 1' un di lor, che si 

Col pugno gli percosse 1' epa cioia : J 
Quetia soni>, come forse un tamburo : 

o Adamo gli percosse il volto 
* Col braccio suo che non parve nr 

Dicendo « li sia lolto 

Lo mi :he son gravi, 

Ho io ere sciolto."— 

And one o took offence 

* Hrtcdanoia: eaking the opposite to 

gioia, and hence il ■ exMa, sadness, woe. It 

is used in ihis aensr e Virgil says to Dante ; 

" Ma tu pf re! a ? 

Perch e ai \a monte, 

Ch' t pnncipio e cagion di tuita gioiaf 

Blanc says noia is derived from the Lat. noxia. 

t Homato s\ oicuro: I do not follow Blanc, who thinks that 
Sinon was indignant at being passed over with such contemp- 
tuously slight mention. I prefer the interpretation of Landino 
and other commentators, namely, that Sinon was irritated at 
hearing himself branded with infamy. 

t eroia: The idea of croia is the hardness of a piece of 
leather, dried afiei having been welted. Tommas^o observes 
that, in Romagna, croio has the force of iitfermo and fovero. 
Crotux, and the feminine croja, in the Milanese dialect signify 
crudo, duro. Compare Jacopo da Lentino. 
" La mia vita 6 croia {dura) 
Senia voi vedere." 

The Vpc. delta Crvsca derives the word from cerium. 

§ nun dure: Some think that nun wi««(/urt> refers to Adamo's 
arm being as much swollen as his paunch, but there is a marked 
contrast between the impotence of his lower limbs, and the 
nimbleness of his arms, for Sinon, in lines 109-111, taunts 
Adamo as to his arms being less vigorous when they were 
bound, as he was being dragged to the stake. 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 545 

perhaps at being named so darkly, with his 
fist smote him (Adamo) upon his hardened 
paunch ; it resounded as though it had been 
a drum : and Maestro Adamo struck him on 
the face with his arm which did not seem 
less hard (than the other's fist), saying to 
him: "Even though the {power of) moving 
be taken from me, by reason of my limbs 
that are heavy {with dropsy), I have an arm 
free for such need." 
Sinon's reply is to this effect: "Yes, you have 
got your arms free now, as you are only bowed down 
with dropsy in the body, and your arms were free 
when you were coining the false money, but as you 
were being led to the stake your arms were lied be- 
hind your back." 

Ond' ei rispose ; ■ — " Quando tu andavi 

Al foco, non I' avei lu cosi presto ; 1 to 

Ma si e piu 1' avei quando coniavi." — 
E r idropico :^"Tu di' ver di questo ; 
Ma lu non fosti si ver testimonio, 
Li 've del ver a Troia fosti richiesla" — 


Scartazzini notices how each of 
himself to attenuate the gravity of his 

• Ond' ei rispoi 

these two wretches 

own sin by aggravating that of his adversary : and thinks so 
vile a proceeding accords admirably with such vile personages. 
The dialogue reminds Scarlazzini of the celebrated reply of 
Cecco Angiulari lo a sonnet of Uanle : 

" S' io pranio con aliri, e lu vi ceni ; 
S' io mordo il grasso, e lu nc succhi lI lardo." 
Di Siena remarks that, by Dante having represented aeon- 
test of words between a Greek and a Tuscan, he has wished to 
show that his countrymen were fully able to hold their own 
with, if not to surpass, the Greeks in smartness of retort Those 
who have lived in Tuscany will probably share this opinion I 
II. M M 


—" S* io dissi 'I falsa, c 

Disse Sinonc, — " c son qui per un fallo, 
E tu per piii che alcun altro demonio." — 
On which he (Sition) retorted : " When thou 
' to the fire thou hadst it not so 

; so when thou 
iied one; "Id 
ith ; hut thou 
:re where thou 
uth at Troy." 
lou didst falsify 
^ A ^m here for one 
or more than any 

ready ; but 

wast coini[< 

this much 

wast not so 

wast qaestiui, 

" If I did 3pe 

the coin," sai^ 

offence (only/, 

other demon." 
Scartazzmi points out that Blanc and others have 
by demonio understood a lost soul, but that in his 
opinion the expression means a great deal more, as 
Sinon not only accuses Adamo of having committed 
more crimes than any of the other lost souls, but 
more even than the very devils in Hell. He im- 
plies that his own sin was only in words, but that the 
Coiner committed a separate crime of great enormity 
every time that a false florin issued from his mould. 

— " Ricorditi, spergiuro, del cavalio,"— 

Rispose quel ch' avea enliata I' epa ; 
— " E siatt reo, che tutio il mondo sallo." — 120 

— " E t te sia rea la sete onde ti crepa,"— 

* e tu faisasli il conio : I have not here followed Witte, who 
in his reading omits the t and adopts what Ur. Moore {Textual 
Criticism, p. 354) calls the lectio facilior, which is only found by 
him in eighteen MSS., whereas e tu Jahtuti he found in 193. 
See (my) note on Inf. xix, 3. 

i E te sia rea, etc ; ie is used here as the Latin dative tibi. 
Some read A Ie sia rea. 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 547 

Disse il Greco, — " la lingua, e 1' acqun marcia 
Che il venire innanzi gli occhi si t' assiepa.* — 

Atlora il monetier : — *' Cos! si squarcia 

La bocca lua per auo malf come suote ; 125 

ChS s' i' ho sete, ed umor mi rinfarcia.I 

Tu hai r arsura, e il capo die ti duole, 

E per teccar § lo specchio dj Narcisso, || 
Not! vorresti a invilar molle parole." — 

* f assiepa : asiiepnre is properly, to emlose with a hedge, but 
Blanc says that it must be taken here in the figurative sense of 
the belly rising up like a hedge before Adamo's eyes, and con- 
sequently ncliiig as nn inipcfliment to his sight. 

t fxr siw mul : Others read /fr liir mat, by which Adnnrni 
means that Sinon is as usual opening his mouth wide to speak 
evil ; but the lirsc reading is the best supported. 

I rinfarcia : Benvenulo amplifies this as follows: " idesi, 
si humor piilreraclus replet et inflal mihi ventrem." Blanc says 
the word is derived from infarcirc, but is now obsolete. Di 
Siena says it is one of the many verbs of the third conjugation 
that are converted into ihe first, as e.g. we have addelcia for 

§ ieccar : Uante uses this word three limes, and always as a 
term of opprobrium. The other two instances are, /n/. xvii, 

" Qui dislorse la bocca, e di fuor trasse 
La lingua, come '1 bue che il naso lecchi." 
and Purg. viii, 101-102, where he describes the serpent : 
" Volgendo ad or ad or la lesta al dosso, 
Leccando come beslia che si liscia," 
Maestro Adamo is evidently made lo use the enpression here by 
way of implying that he holds Sinon in no higher esteem than 
a dog who laps the water when he drinks, (Ui Siena). 

II specckie di Narcisso : meaning clear water, like that of the 
fountain, in which Narcissus, seeing himself reflected, became 
enamoured of his own image. Danle refers to this mytho- 
logical fable again in Far. lii, 10-30, when, seeing through ihc 

II. M M 2 



" Recollect the horse, thou perjurer," replied 
he who had his belly swollen, "and let it be 
bitter {Hi. evil) to thee that all the world 
knows thereof {i.e. the lying tale which in- 
duced the Trojans to introduce the wooden 
horse within ^nd to thee be 

bitter the tb t, " with which 

thy tongue il water which 

rears up thy hedge before 

thine eyes." " Thus is thy 

mouth gapin n ill, as is its 

wont ; for if d humour stuffs 

me, thou hast id thy head that 

aches, and, to hck ine mirror of Narcissus (i.e. 
a limpid spring), thou wouldest not want many 
words of invitation." 
Dante has been listening with all his ears to the alter- 
cation, in which, by the way, the Tuscan has managed 
to have the last word, and has become so absorbed in 
it, that he has almost forgotten his Leader and their 
journey. Virgil reprimands him for his abstraction. 

Ad ascoltarii er' io del tutto fisso, 130 

Quando il Maestro mi disse ; — " Or pur • mira, 
tuuy light of the Heaven of Venus the spirits of the nuns torn 
from their vows, he thinks he sees in front of him the reflection 
of some real objects that are behind him, and thus falls into 
the contrary error 10 that of Narcissus, who, seeing his reflection, 
thought it was a real person. Note especially 16-18 : 
" Tali vid' io piii facce a parlar pronte, 

Perch 'io dentro all' error conirario corsi 
A quel ch' accese amor tra 1' uoiiio e il fonte." 
• Or pur mira : Landino explains this : " spesso pare che 
concediamo quel che neghiamo." The idea seems 10 tie that 
Virgil sarcastically encourages Dante to continue to give his 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. 549 

Che per poco • J che leco non mi risso." — 
I was wholly fixed in listening to them, when 
my Master said to me; "Now do go on 
staring — for it lacks but little that I quarrel 
with thee." 
Dante is so abashed, that he declares himself unable 
to forget the humiliation he feels, The meaning of 
the lines that follow is somewhat intricate, but is well- 
e.'<pressed by Beiivenuto : "A man will always blush 
most for an error in the presence of a wise man who 
has a good opinion of him. And Dante shows how- 
immense was his confusion by a comparison that is 
really most subtile : briefly, he wishes to relate 
that what now befell him was what occasionally will 
happen to one in a dream, who in his dream thinks he 
sees some great clanger or great misfortune ; and while 
dreaming says to himself, within his narrowed mind : 
' O how I wish this were but a dream and not reality t ' 
and thus hts wish is granted him, because it is really 
a dream ; and yet he does not take in that his desire 
is accomplished, because he really and truly believes 
that the thing is as he sees it ; and thus Dante means 
to say, ' I was wishing to exculpate myself, and vjos 
exculpating myself, though with much self-abasement, 
and yet I did not think my exculpation was suffi- 
cient. " 

purposeless attention to the quarrel. Pure may be used in an 
ironical sense in modern Italian arter any verb in the impera- 
tive mood, ?.f. Guardi purt ; faecia pure ; entripure; much in 
the same way as the English " Now only do.'" 

* /"" P"^" has its equivalent in the Provencal per pauc, the 
iMMparum aiett, and the Italian fioco m.mca. 

Quand' io '1 senii' a me pnrlar con ira, 
Volsimi vetso lui con tnl vetgogna, 
r pet la memoria mi si gira. 

E quale t quel che sua dannaggio * sogna, 
Che sognando desidera sognare, 
51 g],„ „...T „i.i I „ fosse, a^gna i^ 

*dannaggio: 1 says ; " Lo stesso chc 

Danno, lat. da Compare Oiov. Villani 

(ix, 1 58) : " Gran ccveUono quegli del ca- 

pilan di Melano" ; : chapter (159): " e cost 

sania nuUo acquis d' Inghilieira con sua 
:oi] grande vergogna c 

dannaggio di 20 P li fame e d' inrcnniu'i.'' 

And lloccnccio {Cio caiwone at tlie end) : 

" In quSGio in inio um..«..kU">, 

Cerchi, o procuri, s' io il risapraggio." 
A note on ihis passage in Boccaccio saya that dannaggio and 
risapraggio are both Sicilian words, equivalent to danno and 

NannuccI {ManuaU, Florence, 1883, vol. ii, p- 4>6, note 9) 
says that dannaggio is the same as danno. But in his Analisi 
Critica {\^^l, p. 360, note 4) he only says that the yocaboiario 
has it so, but that he does not agree with it because in Bona- 
giunta Urbiciani we find : 

" Un amor m' ha mandato 
Lo danno e lo dannaggio." 
and that therefore there must evidently be some error, which 
the society of La Crusca must correct. Nannucci adds that 
Fra Guitlone writes : 

" Che piace lei per mia morte dampnaggio." 
Dampnaggio is derived from the low Latin dampnalio. The 
Provencals have dampnatgt, the old French dampner for 

t agogna : Of agognare the fee, de/la Crusca says ; " Uramar 
con aviditA, e quasi struggersi di dcsiderio." lliagioli says : 
"quasi agoniuare, e morir d' ansiet^ e di desiderio." 

Canto XXX. Readings on the Inferno. SS' 

Tb! mi fee' io, non potendo parlare, 

Che desi.ivH scusarmi, e scusava 140 

Me tLiitavin, e nol ml credea fare. 
When I heard him speaking to me in anger, 
I turned towards hint with such a shame, as 
even now is still circling through my memory. 
And as is he who dreams of his evil hap (///. 
of his harm), and who wishes he were 
dreaming, so that he is longing after that 
which is, as though it were nol ; such be- 
came I, who, being unable to speak, wished 
to excuse myself, and all the while I was 
excusing myself (by my evident shame), and 
did not know 1 was doing so. 
Virgil is touched at the manifest sincerity of Dante's 
recognition of his error. His wrath vanishes at once, 
and he absolves his pupil with much kindness; re- 
minding him, however, that he may possibly find 
himself again witnessing some similar dispute, but 
that he, Virgil, who symbolizes Reason, ivill ever be 
at his side to lend him a helping hand. From the 
Purgatorio (v. 10, et seq.), we see that Virgil was 
speaking here with much foresight, for there again he 
has to reprove Dante for giving heed to idle chatter, 
and a second time does Dante merit Virgil's pardon 
by his self-accusing blush of shame. 

— " Maggior difetto • men vergogna lava," — 

• Maggior difetto, etc. ; Compare Purg. iii, 7-9 : 
" Ei mi parea da si stesso rimorso : 
O dignitoui coscienza e nella. 
Come 1' k. picciol fallo amaro morso. 
and Petrarch, Son. i : 

Disse il Maestro,—" che i) li 

Pero d' ogni tnstizia li disfira 
E fa ragion * ch' io ti sia sempre allalo, 

Se piii avvien che fortuna I' accoglia, t 

Ove sia gente in simigliante piato ;t 
Ch^ voler cifi udire § h bassa vog 
" Less shame washes out a greater fault than 
thine has been," said Ihe Master, " therefore 
disburden thyself of all sorrow; and talce 
heed that I am always by thy side, if it hap- 
pens again that chance conduct thee to where 
there may be people in a similar wrangle (Ht. 

" Di me medesmo meco mi vergogno ; 
E del mio vaneggiar vergogna t 'i fruito, 
E '1 penlirsi." 
*/a ragicn; This is equivalent to the L^iia en'sti'man, a'di 
persuadere, to believe, to take into account. Compare Par. 

* e fa ragion che sia 

La viEla in te Emarriia c non dcrimia." 

t eaccogUa : There are various interpretations given to this 

word in the old commentaries. Tommas^o prefers thai of Volpi : 

"Accogtiere per cottHurre o cogtUre." Blanc thinks it has the 

sense of to encounttr, io mat, te come across. 

X piato : The proper meaning of this word is a litigation 
before a magistrate, and it is said to be derived from the low 
Latin word placitare. In the Bolognese and Mantuan dialects 
it is Pliit, and is equivalent to the French Plaide. Compare 
Giov. Villani, ix, 183 : "Onde piato fu a I'arigi dinanzi al Ke di 

§ Chi voler cih udire, etc. : Compare Prov. xxvi, 17 ; " He 
that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, 
is like one that taketh a dt^ by the ears," And Prov. xx. 3 : 
" It is an honour for a man to cease from strife ; but every fool 
will be meddling." 

Canto XXX. Readings an the Inferno. 


litigation); for to wish to listen to it is a 
base desire." 

Danielle da Lucca observes the similarity of this 
wrangle between Adamo and Sinon to that be- 
tween Sarmentus, the freedman of Mxcenas, and 
Cicirrus, related by Horace in the celebrated account 
of the journey to Brundusium (i Sat v, 51-70). 

The Poets here take their leave of Malebolge. They 
seem to have looked down from the last of the bridges 
on the last repulsive scene, and they would now be 
descending the slope of the bridge, from which they 
would emerge on to the plateau lying between the 
rampart of the Tenth Bolgia and the brink of the pit 
(Pozzo), at which spot, as we shall see in the next 
canto, they will find the Giants. 

End of Canto XXX. 

Readings on the Infe 


The Brink of the Poseo or Lowest Pit. 
The Giants, 


Descent into the Ninth Circle. 

Benvenuto observes that Dante has now concluded 
his description of Malebolge, which is the second of 
the three Circles that lie immediately within the City 
of Dis : the first of these circles being that in which 
various degrees of Violence are punished, while in 
Maltbolgt there are ten degrees of Fraud. Dante is 
now about to speak of the third Circle in Dis, which 
is the Ninth in all Hell, and in it we shall see the 
torments of four dilTerent kinds of Treachery, In this 
canto, however, he relates how, before making their 
descent into the Pit, the Poets found surrounding its 
brink a number of the Giants of heathen mythology. 
Benvenuto divides this canto into four parts. 

In Division I, from v. i to v, 45, the forms and 
stature of the Giants are minutely described. 

In Division II, from v. 46 to v. 81, a special 
description is given of Nimrod. 

Division III, from v. 82 to v. 111, is devoted to 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Infers 


In Division IV, from v. 1 12 to v. 145, after speak- 
ing of the immense size of Antaeus, Dante relates 
how that giant took up the Poets in his hands, and 
deposited them safely at the bottom of the Pit. 


Division I. Dante begins this canto by referring 
to what took place at tlie end of the last, where 
Virgil reproved him for his curiosity in hstening 
to the squabble between Adamo and Sinon, but 
immediately afterwards forgave him on seeing his 
penitence. He tells us that Virgil's tongue was, at 
one and the same time, that which caused him a 
wound and that which healed the wound. The idea 
is familiar in the popular story wherein Peleus 
bestowed on his son Achilles a lance, from the thrust 
of which there was but the one remedy of sprinkling 
the wound with the rust scraped from the lancc'.i 

Una medestna lingua pria mi morse, 

SI che mi tinse I' una e I' altra guancia, 
E poi la medicina* mi riporse. 

Coi) od' io, che soleva la lanciat 

• medicina : Compare Deul. xjtxii, 39 : " See now that I, even 
1, am he, and there is no god with me : I kill, and I make alive; 
1 wound, and I heal." 

t la loMcia tP Achille, etc. ; Compare Ovid, Remid. Amor. 
47-48 : 

" Vulnus in Herculeo qux quondam fccerat hoste, 
Vulneris auxllium Pelias hasta tulit." 
And Chaucer, Tht Squier^s Title; 

" And other folk han wondered on (lie sweid. 

5SC Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

D' Achille e del suo padre esser cagiotie 5 

Ptima di trisla e poi di buona mancia.* 

One and the same tongue (of Virgil) (irst 

wounded me, so that it dyed both my cheeks 

(with shame), and then supplied me with the 

remedy (of I i us do I hear 

that the lanci <i of his father 

wa> wont to t of a sad and 

afterwards of < 

The Poets now '' lUbolge, and begin 

walking in silence -au that intervenes 

between the last r^i i nth Bolgia, and the 

brink of the less* :e of the Pit, at the 

bottom of which is the Frozen Lake, wherein are the 


Thai wolde percen throughout every thing : 
And fell in speche of Telephus the king. 
And of Achilles for his queinCe spere, 
For he coude with it bolhe hele and dere." 
And Shakespeare, Henry VI, part ii, act v, scene i : 

" That gold must round engirt these brows of mine ; 
Whose smile and frown, like to Achilles' spear, 
Is able with the change to kill and cure." 
• mancia : Compare Par. v, 64-66 ; 
" Non prendan li mortal! i1 voto a ciancia : 
Slate fedeii, ed a cl6 far non bled, 
Come Jepti alia sua prima mancia." 
moMcta means any kind of gift, and is the same as regale, 
strenna. Compare also /'tt>y. xxvil, iiS-i2o: 
" Virgilio inverso me queste cotall 

Parole us6, e mai non fur strenne 
Che fosser dl piacere a queste egiiali." 
And Ovid, Remed. Amor. 43, 44 : 

" Discite sanarl, per quem didiclsiis amare 1 

Una manus vobis vulnus opemque feret." 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Infenw. 557 

Noi demma il dosso al tnisero vallone 
Su* per la ripa che il cinge dinlorno, 
Attraversando senia alcun s 

We turned our backs to the great valley of 
Avoe {i.e. the Tenth Bolgia) up by the em- 
bankment that circles it around, crossing (the 
plateau) without any speech. 
Benvenuto says that Dante hints that he and Virgil 
were in silent meditation on the spectacle that they 
were going to see, but in the dim twilight they were 
still too far off to descry anything. Their ears, 
however, first admonish them of the vicinity of tlic 

Quivi era men che notte e men rhe giomr>,+ 10 

* Su per la ripa, elc. : We may remember that this difficulty 
is discussed in canto xxix, 52-53 : 

" Noi discendemmo in sull' ultima riva 

Del lungo scoglio, pur da man sinistra, 
Ed alior fu ta mia vista piii viva 
Giii ver lo fondo," 

We decided that, among (he conflicting ideas as lo the mean- 
ing of this, we should understand that the bridgeways, after 
crossing the Bolge, continued to run across the intervening 
ramparts, at a higher level, and that the Poets had descended 
from the elevated causeway on to the solid rampart. According 
to that interpretation, su per la ripa would mean that they have 
regained the causeway which comes to an end as they reach 
the level plateau that leads them to the Central FiL We 
decided to consider this plateau as having a breadth of three- 
quarters of a mile. 

+ tntn che notte t men che giomo: Benvenuto comments ; 
" idest, erat crepusculum, quod idem est quod dubia lux, quia 
tenet medium inter diem et noctem ; ex quo autor non poterat 
multum videre a longc, sed audire sic." 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

SI Che i) vise* m' ai 

(idava innanii poco :t 

Ma io senti* sonare 

un atio como, 

Tamo ch' avrcbbe ogni 

luon fallo fioco, 

Che, conlr£L s£ la si 

Diriu6 gli occhi m 

iei luUi ad un loco: 15 

Dopo la dr' ' 

» viso : Dante u&< 

t j(, 

jfeye-5ight,or the eyes, 

in various passages. 



Mi disse, 

avanlc' " 

In Ihc /tinte. Son. aa, i 

: expression in speaking of 

both eyes : 

" Io son si vago 


Degli occ 

.he m' ban no anciso ; 


_rto, e son deriso, 

La yran vaeheiia pur mi riconduce. 

E quel che pare, e quel 

che mi traluce. 

M' abbaglia tanto V 

' uno e 1' aliro viso, 

Che da ragione, e da virtii diviso 
Seguo solo il disio, come mio duce." 
'ipcco.- Landino explains: "Quasi dica io vedevo 
poco piii \k, che dove io ero." 

X seguiliuuto : Both Tommasto and Scartaiiini draw attention 
to the occasional use, both by Dame, Pelrarcli, Boccaccio and 
Arioslo, of the gerund having the sense of the present participle. 
Tommas^o says the sentence runs literally as follows : " UirizzA 
a un luogo gli occhi miei seguiianli a andare di coniro alia 
parte ond' esciva il suono del como ; ch' era la via del suo 
suono." The effect of the sound of the horn was to make Dante 
turn his eyes towards the source whence it came (in a contrary 
direction naturally to the course taken by ihe sound), and con- 
centrate his gaze upon (he one spot whence ihe sound issued. 

{ dolorosa rotia ; At the famous defeat of Charlemagne by 
the Saracens at Koncesvalles, according to the tradition told by 
Archbishop Turpin, Ihe horn blown by Orlando made so great 
a sound, that its noise spht all other horns. 
" O for a blast of thai dread horn, 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Infertw. 559 

Carlo Magno pprd^ la santa gesta,* 

Non son6 si lerribilmenle Orlando. 

Here it was less (dark) than night, and leas 

(light) than day, so that ray sight went (but) a 

little way before me : but I could hear the 

blast of a loud horn, so mighty that it would 

have made any thunder (seem) weak, which 

(sound) turned my eyes, following its course 

in the contrary direction, entirely to one spot. 

Not so terrible a blast did Orlando blow after 

the lamentable rout (at Roncesvalles), when 

Charlemagne lost the holy host (of his 


Dante now catclies liis first sight of the Giants, who 

are so placed within the Great Pit that their bodies 

from the waist downwards are out of his sight, while 

from the waist upwards they soar up to such an 

immense height that he mistakes them for the lofty 

towers of some great city. Having asked Virgil the 

name of the city, the latter tells him that in that thick 

On Fonlarabian echoes borne, 

That to King Charles did come. 
When Rowland brave, and Olivier, 
And every pnlladin and peer 
On Roncesvalles died !" 

Scott (Marmian, vi, %xxm). 
See also Pulci {\forg. Afagg. Jtxviii, 38, el seg.). 

* la iantagesta : The more usual meaning of gfsta is, tmpresa, 
/atto,aiiorte^ Lat. res gesla. Bui it has also another signification, 
namely, Turba, Genie, etc., and is applied here to the band of 
paladins fighting for the Faith. Scartazzini says that, in the 
time of Dante, this signification of ge!(a was far more common 
than that olimpresa. 



Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXxr. 

gloom he is straining his eyes to see things that are 
too far off, and consequently falls into error, 
Poco porlai in M. volta la testa, 

Che mi parve veder molle alle lam ; 30 

Ond' io ; — " Maeslro, di' che terra* ft questa f " — 

Edeglis "" • -" - ■ trascorri t 

Per . a lungi, 

Avvii are aborri.J 

Tu vedrai iungi,J 15 

Quan I di lontano : 

Petb o pungi." — 1| 

A short w ' turned thilher- 

ward, when . iny lofty towers ; 

wliereupon j iter, what city is 

* terra : This is another of the many instances in the Divina 
Comntedia, as also among the early Italian writers, where temt 
signifies city. Dante calls Ravenna terra {Inf. v, 97) ; and other 
cities are similarly alluded to, such as Florence, Mantua, Lucca, 
Forli, Rimini, etc. Seeflo/«on/n/xxvii, 43; p. 400 of this volume. 

t Iraicorri; Di Siena observes that Irascorrrre here is clearly 
intended to allude, not to the imagination, as Tommas^o thinks, 
but to the eyes, which, endeavouring to transpierce too great a 
space of the thick gloom {forando F aura grossa e icura, v. 37), 
are unable to receive a clear and distinct image of the objects 
before them, Blanc ( Voc. Dant.) explains this passage : " Porter 
ses regards, seine Blicke tragen." 

X aiorri: See note on canto xxv, 144; p. 341 of this volume, 
where, however, the word is spelt abborra. 

§ congiungi; Tommasfto observes that, in the Convito, Dante 
uses the word liisgiun/o in the sense of alloulanato, " Lo viso 
disgiunto nulla vide," and therefore we may take it for granted 
that here by giungere he means arrivare. 

II pungi : Compare Convito, tr. iv, cap. xxvi : " E questo 
sprone si chiama forteiza ovvero magnanimitii, la qual vertute 
mostra lo loco ove 4 da fermarsi e da pungerc," 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 


this ? " And he to me : " Because ihou easiest 

(ihine eyes) through the darkness at too great 

a distance, it follows that lliou errest in thy 

conception. Thou wilt see ivell enough, if 

thou drawest nigh thither, how much the sense 

(of sight) by distance is deceived, therefore 

spur thyself somewhat more on." 

Virgil, anxious no doubt to encourage Dante, and 

to cfTace any painful impression which his reproof 

may have caused, now addresses him with great 

kindness, and tells him what are the huge objects 

which he can partially descry through the gloom. 



• mi prese per mar 


E clisse :- 

-" Pria die noi sian' 

1 pi 

il avanti, 

Acciocchi il fnito men li paia 



* ciiramtnte mi prtse : Qenvenuto thinks Virgil did so to 
bireiigthen Dante's wavering resolution, which the sight of such 
terrible beings might well daunt {iid Jinn<ind«m se ditiium, vel 
contra Umortm nascittirnm ex tcrribili ennsfvctu isionim). He 
feels sure that the giants nie Introduced here as emblems of 
arrogant pride, as Dante has at the end of the PurgaioHo 
represented Philippe le Bel as one. Pieiro di Dante and 
Jacopo di Dnnrc both express the same opinion, 

+ men li paia slrano: Landino comments on these words: 
"Tutte le cose che si preveggono, danno meno alreraiioiie che 
quando vengono alia sprovedula." In Piir. xvii, 32-2?, Danle 
asks Cacciaguida to tell him what is the ill-fate that has been 
foretold him : 

" Deite mi fur di mia vita futura 

Parole gravi ; avvenga ch' io mi senia 
Ben telragono aj colpi di ventura. 
Per che la voglia mia saria contenta 

D' intender qual fortuna mi s' appressa : 
Chi snetia previsa vien piii lenia." 
II. N N 


562 Readings on the Infitno. Canto XXXI, 

Sappi che lion son torn, ma giijiinti, 
E son nel pozio* inlorno dalla rip.i 
Dall' umbilico in giuso tutti e quAnti."— 
Then be took me tendetly by ihe hand, and 
advance farther, in order 
^e less strange, 
but giants, and 
L around its bank 

said : " Before 

that the fa. 

know that tli 

they are all c 

from the na\ 

Dante, to desc 

came more fully ii 

to them, comparo 

himself to that of 

forms of the Giants 
: Poets drew nearer 
in whicli lie finds 
. oEiise mist is unable to 
discern in detail the objects of which he catches sight, 
but should the fog disperse, he is then able to rect^- 
nise by degrees what was hidden from his eyes. Dante 
finds the Giants standing in the circular aperture of 
the Pit, above which the upper half of their bodies are 
seen, and their appearance, collectively, reminds him 
of a certain castle called Moatcrcggione (castrum 
mmtis rtgionis), in the Val d' Klsa, about six miles 

* ion rul pOMxo : Tommas^o points out that in old French 
dramas hell was depicted as a pit or well, constructed of 
black stones. Dante may, however, have taken the idea 
from E*ik. xxxii, especially in verses 21-23: "The strong 
among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of 
hell with ihem that help him : they are gone down, they lie un- 
circumcised, slain by the sword. Asshur is there and all her 
company : his graves are about him : all of them slain, fallen 
by the sword : Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and 
her company is round about her grave ; all of them slain, fallen 
by the sword, which caused terror in Ihe land of the living." 
See a\io,Job >ix\\, i {Vulgate) : " Ecce gigantes gemunt sub 
aquis, et qui habitant cum eis." 

Canto XXXr. Readings on the Inferno. 563 

from Siena, and which, we learn from Benveniito, was 
on the road to Florence, and was begirt by many a 
tower. It was built in A.D. 1213, and demolished in the 
sixteenth century. 

Come, qunndo )a nebbia si dissipa, 

Lo s^ardo a poco a poco tafligiira 3$ 

Ci6 che cela il vapor che I' a<re slipa : 
Cos) forando • I' aura gtossa c scura, 

Piii c piti appres5ando in vcr In sponda, 
Fuggferni errore, e crcsce'mi paura. 
Perocchi come in sulk cerchia tonda 40 

Monlereggion di torri sj corona ; 
Cist la prodn, clic 11 pntno ciicondo, 
Torreggiavan di metza la persona 
Gii orribili giganti, cut niinacda 
Giovet del delo ancora, quando luona. 4; 

As when a mist is dispersing, the gaze by slow 
degrees puts into shape that which the vapour 
that thickens the air conceals : so, piercing 

* Jorando : Cesari observes that Dante says forando on 
account of the inconvenience and fnli^iie to ihe eye which he 
felt al straining to see ihrough the dense mist, and therefore he 
sharpened his sight, as though he would pierce the vapours 
with a gimlet. 

t cui minaccia Giove : Compare Inf. xiv, 51-60, where Capa- 
neus yells out : 

" Se Clove stanchi il sun fabbro, da cui 
Cruccinto prese la folgore acuta, 
Onde r ultimo dl percosso fui j 
O s' eglt stanchi gii altri a mula a muta 
In Mongibello alia fucina negra, 
Chiamando : ' Uuon Vulcano, aiuia aiuta,' 
SI com' ei fece alia pugna di Flegra, 
E me saetti di tulla sua foria, 
Non ne potrebbe aver vendetta allegra." 
II. N N 2 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

through the thick and nitirky air, as I drew 

nearer and nearer to the bank, my error fled, 

and my fear increased. For as tipon the 

round circuit of its walls Montereggione is 

crowned with towers, so above the rampart 

that enco lalf their bodies 

lowered hom Jove still 

continiiei, ;3ven when he 


Benvenuto i >\v from history that 

manygreat poic, ightened by thunder. 

No one in the powerful as Caesar 

Augustus, and ; ' the lightning and 

heard the thundi idiatelyshut himself 

up in his room and hide under the bed. So it was 

with Nero, so with Caius Caligula, and with many 

other mighty princes. In the same way Jupiter is 

well described as threatening the Giants when he 

thunders, for, applying this in its moral sense, the 

proud ones, when they hear of, or call to mind the 

ruin of their kind, may well be tcrrihed, as for instance 

the case of Nebuchadnezzar, a most haughty sovereign, 

who, like some new species of animal, ate hay in a 

cavern beneath the earth {pascebat fcenum in caverna 

terra) ; so also Xerxes, the king of Persia, who looked 

upon the destruction of himself and his army, and so 

with many others. 

Division II. This division is entirely taken up with 
the description of Nimrod.who made himself heard by 
Dante with the blast of his horn. He is the Giant 
that the Poets first discern. Dante speaks of his 

Canto XXXr. Readings on Ihe Inftnto. 


immense stature, of his confused speech, and of his 
bestial stupidity; and rejoices that human beings of 
such a size are no longer created In the world ; as, hav- 
ing reasoning powers, they would constitute a danger 
to man, a danger which in the case of huge mammals, 
such as whales and elephants, docs not exist.* 

* Blanc {Saggro, p. 290, ft scf.) discusses what could haVe 
been Dante's reasons Tor placing the giants here on the brink of 
the Pit, and he mentions also how prevalent in the MiddleAges 
was the belief in the Semitic legend, that it was in Nimrod ihnl 
originaied the audacious thought of building the Tower of 
Ilabcl. Illanc agrees with such ancient commentators ns Uuti, 
the Oltimo, and Landino, who saw In the giants an emblem of 
pride, by which also the rebel angels fell. If we compare the 
pains of Hell with the expiations of Purgatory, we cannot help 
noticing that they correspond to each other in inverse order. 
In Hell we pass from the lightest sins, which are those of sen- 
suality, to the blackest crimes, and we must certainly consider 
rebellion against God as the worst of all, and therefore Lucifer, 
who represents it, lies in the very nethermost pit of Hell. On 
the other hand, in J'urgatury wc sec a continuous progression 
from the gravest sins to the lightest, and so we find sins of 
sensuality the last to be purged. It cannot but excite wonder 
that whereas in Purgatory pride is looked upon as the gravest 
of all sins, in Hell no mention whatever is made of any pan of 
this fountain-spring of all sin. Blanc thinks it is possible that 
Dante may himself have noticed this anomaly, and as, accord- 
ing to the order of his poem, the traitors must positively be 
punished in Ihe lowest Hell, consequently the only special place 
possible in which to relegate pride was in the very centre of the 
earth, with Lucifer as the sole representative of it, as wc read in 
y'..r.itxix, 55.57: 

" Principio del cader fu il maledetlo 
Superbir di colui, che lu vedesti 
Da tutli i pesi del mondo costretlo." 
Many commentators naturally think that pride is punished 




scorgeva gi£i d' alcun la faccia, 
Le spalle e il peito, e del ventre gran parte, 
E per le coste giu * ambo le braccia. 
cerlo, quando lascib 1' s 

among the Violent against God, such 
tt itg.y But Blanc 
Dante has done evt 

believes that he has 

In Purg. xii, 34-36, t.. 

" Vedea Nem 

Quasi SI, 

Che in 5, 

In the same way as 

the throne of God, so 

i itiough ihey 

Capaneus {/n/. xiv, 46, 
is throughout his poem 
..laiic order, he certainly 

place to pride, and Blanc 
a the position of the giants, 
od is distinctly alluded to ; 

■drdar le genti 
ii superbi foro. 
'ciiiy chairs of angels surround 
-' giants close in round (bclr 

body-guard, just as the 

Furies defend the gates of the City of Dis. 

* fier It coiU giA : The giants' arms were hanging down at 
lull length along their thighs, and we read (in lines 86-88) that 
each had his arms bound 10 his body by a chain, one arm before 
him and one behind his back, 
t /* artt lit Natura : Compare 2nf. xi, 97-100 : 
" Filosofia ... a chi la intende, 

Noia non pure in una sola parte. 
Come natura lo suo corso prende 
Dal divino intelletio e da sua arte." 
and 103-ios : 

" Che r arte vosira quella, quanio puote. 

Segue, come il maestro la il discente, 
SI che vostr' arte a Dio quasi h nipoie." 
and Purg. xxv, 70-72: 

" Lo Motor prtmo a lui si volge lieio 

Sopra tantaarle di natura, e spira 
Spirilo nuovo di virtu rcpleto." 
Ka&Par.vm, 122-129: 

" Dunque esser diverse 
Convien dei vostri efletti le radici : 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 567 

I)i si fnlii nnimali,* assai fe' bene, 50 

Per torre tali esecutori a Marte : 
E s' ella <l' elefanli e di balene 

Nnn 3i pente, chi gunrda sottilmenle, 
Pill giusta e piii discrela la ne tiene : 
Chi dove r argomento della mentc 55 

S' nggiunge al nial volerc ed alia possa, 
Nessun riparo vi pu6 far la genie. 
And already did 1 discern the face of one, the 
shoulders and the breast, and great part of 
the belly, and both the arms down along the 
sides. Certainly Nature, when she left off 
the art (i.e. creation) of Hving beings formed 
tike these, did very rightly, in taking away 
from Mars (i.e. War) such executors (of his 
behests). And if she {Nature) does not 
repent (the creation) of elephants and whales, 
whoever ponders deeply, will hold her to be 
more just and prudent ; for where the faculty 
of the mind is joined to evil intent and to 
power, men can make no defence against 
Benvenuto thinks the above passage must be con- 
sidered, (t) in its historical aspect; (2) in its physical ; 
(3) in its poetical ; and (4) in its moral aspect. He 
.■^ays that history gives abundant proofs that giants 

Per che un nasce Solone, ed altro Xerse, 
Altrn Melchisedech, ed altro quelle 
Che volando per I' acre, il figlio perse. 
La circular nalura, ch' £ suggello 
Alia cera mortal, fa ben sua arte. 
Ma non distingue I'un dall' altro oslello." 
• animali : living beings. Compare Inf. v, 88 ; 
" O animal graiioso c benigno." 



used to exist, as we learn from Hebrew, Greek, and 

Roman chronicles. Of sucli were Saul, Flercules, 

Antaeus, and many others ; moreover, giants did 

formerly reign in Sicily, and in olden time the island 

of Anglia used to be possessed by giants, but it is 

evident that Nat 

stature to dii 


however, physic 

Nature always c 

some men whose 

stature common in 

one country alone 

colossal frames as ai 

:tle allowed human 
i that the years of 
jur times : Speaking, 
's of opinion that 
continue to, make 
tceed in height the 
ce ; as we see tliat in 
created men of such 
ons in Germany (jiV) ; 
and in another country has made them decidedly 
short men, as for the most part are the Romans in 
Italy. In the poetical and moral sense we may say that 
God, who is the Naiura Naturans, on account of men's 
sins allowed such giants to exist, the real meaning of 
which is that He allowed certain arrogant potentate!) 
to reign, whom wc do not find at the present day. 
And although there may be always some giants they 
are no longer so great, whereas for many centuries 
there were always in existence sovereigns like' Cyrus 
or Nero. But to sum up the moral aspect, we find 
the reason to be that Nature is beneficent, in the line 
per torre tali esecutori a marte, that is, that the world 
may no longer have to bear such originators of war 
and shedders of human blood. The greatest danger 
to the prosperity of human beings would be if brute 
beasts of great strength possessed the two attributes 
belonging to man alone, namely. Knowledge and Will, 

Canto XXX!. Readings on the Inferno. J*^ 

for Aristotle holds that there are three things that in 
combination ate the cause of every result in matters 
human, and these are Volition, Knowledge, and Power, 
although Boethins only admits tjiat there are two.* 

Dante now gives a circumstantial account of the 
height of Nimrod, the size of whose face he compares 
to the famous bronze Pine of St. Peter's, now in the 
gardens of the Vatican at Rome. He also shows how 
immensely his stature exceeds that of the inhabitants 
of Friesland, with whose great height Dante would 
seem to have been much .struck when journeying 
through their country. 

La faccia sua mi parea lunga c grossa, 

Come la pina + di saw Pietro a Koma ; 

Ed a sua proponione eran 1' allr' ossa ; 60 

* Pietro di Da.nte has: "Gigantes figurative pro supetbis 
accipiantur afTectlbus seu motibus \ Unde istos giganles accipe 
pro motibus et aRectibus humana; superbi;c." And Jacopo di 
Dante ; " . . . . i quali, come nelle fiiosofiche e poetiche 
scritture alle dette superbie qui figurali sono." 

t la piua di san Pi'ftro : This is a huge fir-cone, made of 
bronie, which originally formed the summit of the Molts Ha- 
dfiana (Castle of St. Angelo). In the litne of Dante it was 
standing under a baldaahino in the outer court of the old 
Basilica of St. Peter's, and is said to have been removed thither 
in the sixth century by Pope Sylvester. When, however, the 
present fabric was built, the Pine was transported inlo the garden 
of the Belvedere, or Giardim delta Pina, that lies in the midst 
of the museums of the Vatican. In Lord Vernon's Inferno (vol. 
ill, tavola li) in a print of the ancient Basilica, the Pina is shown 
standing under its canopy in front of the cathedral. There was 
said to be a fountain erected there by Pope Damasus for the 
convenience or pilgrims, and some say thai the batdacchino, 
with its porphyry columns, was placed there by Pope Sym- 

a penioina ■ 

a ben Ian to 
Oi sopra, che di giungerc alia chioma 
Tre Prison t s' averian daio d 

Perocch' io ne vedea trenia gran palmt 
Dal loco in giii, dov' uomo afltbbia II manto. 
His face B| ig and as broad 

niadius, and with th is shown in llie print, but 

according to others, > estimated the height o( 

the Pina at 5 ] / lethcs (John, king of 

Saxony) caused it 11 measured, and found it 

to be lopa/mi, whic, | braccia. {The braccio 

contained ^palmi). a. 294) considers that the 

measurements taken . laxony arc by far the it 

reliable, and be coinpuica mai, %.uuiiting the bead as I of the 
human body, the entire giant would be 90 palms in height, 
i. e. 54 feet of Paris measure. Ten paimi would be equivalent 
to six feet of Paris. Blanc observes that Dante has given three 
modes ofcalculating the height of Nimrod : (u) the Pine; (j)the 
three Prisons ; (f) the 30 full palms as the distance between the 
throat and the navel. Blanc thinks, however, that the PtHa 
is the only standard on which we caii rely. 

• ptrixoma : This word, derived from the Greek nfii{tw«i an 
apron, must have been taken by Dante from Gen. iii, 7 (in the 

Vutgate) : " Cumque cognovissent se esse nudos, consuenint 
folia ficQs, et fecerunt sibi perizomnta." This, in the Genevan 
version of the English Bible, is translated " breeches," from 
which that version came to be known as the *' Dreeches 

Bible." Dante, in this passage, means pcrisoma to signify the 
rocks that surround and cover the tower purt of the t;iants* 

t Tre Friion : Two episodes related in the first and io the 
last chapters of Thomas Colley Curran's novel of Jacquelim of 
Holland {\i-^\) remind one alike of the dykes of the Pleminga 
between WissanI and Bruges, mentioned in canto xv, and the 
gigantic stature of the Prisons alluded to here. 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 


as ihe Pine of St. Peter's at Rome, and his 
other bones were in due proportion to it, so 
that the bank, which was an apron from his 
middle downwards, showed us so large a por- 
tion of it (his body) above, thai three Frisons 
(standing one on the top of the other) would 
have made (but) a vain boast to reach up to 
his hair {i.e. the top of his head) : for I could 
see of liim downwards from the place where 
a man buckles his cloak thirty full palms 
(more than eleven ells). 
According to Antonclli, there were at least four 
different species of />a/n/i in Italian measurement, of 
which the largest was the architectonic palmo of 
0.5105 Florentine braccia or ells. 

Let us then imagine the giant as about fifty or 
sixty feet high. This giant is Nimrod, who now in 
impotent rage biurtsout a confused jargon of gibberish, 
in which, notwithstanding the many explanations 
attempted by commentators both ancient and modem, 
there does not appear to be any intelligible sense. 
— " Rafel " niai amech labi almi," — 

Comincib a gridar ta Itera bocca, 
Cui non si convenian piii doki salmi. 
" RaTel tnai aniech wibi almt," began to bellow 


* Ra/tl m 
t hie not 

: Ilenvenulo says : " Ad cujus inidligentia 

, quo<l ista verba non sunt significativa, et 
posllo quad in se aliquid significarent, siciit aliqui interpretari 
conaniur, adhtic nihil significarent hie, nisi quod ponuntur ad 
significandum quod idioma istius non erat intelligibile alicui, 
quia propter ejus superbiam facta est divisio labiorum. £l haec 
esi inlentio autoris quam expresse ponii in lilera." Blanc 
(Saggio, p. 297), after discussing the legion of inicrpreiaiions, 

572 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

forlh the brutish mouth, to which gentler 

strains (///. psalms) were unlitted. 
Virgil silences Nimrod with the utmost contenipt, 
telling him to blow his horn if he wants to make a 

E i) Duu n 



Tienii c 

i disroga, 

Quand' ira 

li locca. 

Cereal i al ca 


Che it tic.. 

..a confusa, 

E vedi lul 

li doga.t "- 


Mirru up : " but just 

lis disparity w 

■e feel far 

more disposed to ajjr. 

nion of all lli 

e ancient 

commemaiors, thai, in this sentence, 

mere are not to 

be found 

forms of any true human language, but merely a jumble of 
strange harsh sounds, invented by caprice, and without any 
signification whatever. And the best proof of this is to be 
found in lines 79-81, where Virgil says : 

" Lasciamlo stare, e non parliamo a voto : 

Chi cosl 6 a lui ciascun lin^iuaggio, 

Come il suo ad altrui ch' a nullo t noto." 

Ulanc concludes : " If Nimrod could understand no language, 

and if his own was not intelligible to any one, the best thing 

we can say about this line is to repeat with Virgil : " Lasciamlo 

• saga : Tomroas£o says that in Tuscany sogatto and sogaitolo 
is a leathern strap. In some other dialects it means a cord. 

idoga: from the verb dogare, which is derived from doga 
(subst.) the stave of a cask. Tommasto says the body of 
Mahomet is likened 10 a cnsk which lacks one of its staves. 
Here the horn is the doga, that is the curved object that bends 
round Nimrod hke a curved slave on a cask. In Purg. xii, 104, 
105, Dante himself uses the word doga. 

" ad etade 
Ch era sicuro il quaderno e la doga." 

Cinto XXXI. Readings on t/te Inferno. 

And towards him my Leader: "Stupid soul, 
belake ihee to the horn, and with that give 
thyself vent, when fury or other passion moves 
thee. Search on thy neck, and tliou wilt find 
the baldric that holds it tied, confused soul, 
and see it (the liorn) which engirds thy huge 

Benveniito remarks that the giant.s are represented 
by Dante as undergoing a very real punishment in 
that they are bound, and he thinks that Virgil is here 
taunting Nimrod with his inability to do any physical 
mischief, and to be only able to make a noise by 
roaring with his mouth or blowing with his horn. He 
also taunts him, who was the cause of the confusion 
of tongues, with the confusion in himself both of mind 
and speech. Benvenuto sees an allegorical sense also 
in the resemblance of the giants to mighty princes ; 
who, while seeming to liave more freedom than anyone 
else, and to wield such great power over others, yet 
are impotent slaves, because they are bound with the 
chain of their sins. It was for this cause that 
Diogenes, the cynic, used to style Alexander the 
Great, powerful as he was, the slave of his slaves, 
because Alexander was under the dominion of those 
vices which Diogenes himself had brought into sub- 
jection by his virtue. Alexander, wlio conquered so 
many thousand men in one battle, was subdued by one 
cup of wine and a little outburst of rage. 

Virgil now names Nimrod to Dante, telling him 
that the very fact of his gibbering nonsense, as unin- 
telligible to himself as it is to others, proclaims him to 
be Nimrod. 

Readings on the Inferno. CaxxXo xxxr. 

"Poi diase a me ; — "Egli siessii s'accusa j 

Qiiesti h NembroHo," per lo ciii mal coto t 
Pure un linguag^io nel mondu non s' usa. 
Lasciainio staie, e non parliaiiio a voio ; 

[■ i NembroHo: Compare De Vulg. Eloq. i, cap. vii, 
B Uanie says ; " Pncsumpsit ergo in corde sua incurabilis 
I, sub perauasionc gigautis, uric sua non solum superare 
;l ipsum naiurjniem, (|ui Dens est; et ca:pit 
jedificare lurrim in Senoaar, qua; poslea dicta est babel, hoc es! 
CDDfiisio, per quam ciclum spcrabat ascendcre : inlendens io- 
scius non ccquare sed etiaiii superare fadorem." 

t coto : ^pttttiero. Nannucci {Atatiuale, vol. i, p. 74) quotes 
the following from the Cansoni of Guido delle Colonne, the 
well-known auihorof \\\e f/iiloria Trojana {a. I). 1270-87) ; 
" Ch' ho piii duralo— ch' io non ho possania, 
Per voi, Madonna, a cui porto liania, 
Piii che non fa Assassino in suo cuilate, 
Che si lascia morir per sua credanza." 
On the words i'« .1110 cuilato Nannucci has the following note : 
" In suo credere, in suo pensiero, in proveniale tn soy cuidad; 
e lo Spagnuolo cuidado. Dal lat. co^ilari;, gli antichi formarono 
11 verbo coitare, pensare, coitato o cuilato, cosa pensata, cioi 
pensiero, e coiloso, pensieroso, in proveniale coitos." And in Ins 
Anaiisi Critica, page 119, note 3, Nannucci, coniinenting on 
doas cuidas from an old Italian writer, says : " Cut, cuit, cuida, 
cuda. Da cut h il coto di Danle Inf. xxxi, 77, che ha suscitato 
lanta guerra tra i commentaiorl. Vedi le niie Voci t locuxioni, 
etc., e le mie Osscrvazioni sopra l<i parola Coto." Compare 
Par. iii, 15, 26 : 

" ' Non ti maravigliar perch' io sornda,' 

Mi disse, ' appresso il tuo pueril coto.' " 
Benvenuto explains it, cogitamen, but some of (he old com- 
mentators, such as Landino, Buti, Bargigl, and Tasso in his 
Commentary on the Diviiia Commedia (ed. Pieiro da Tino, 
Venice, a.d. 1568), not understanding the meaning of coto read 

Canto XXXI. Rendings on the Inferno. 

Clit cosi i a lui ciascon linguaggio, • 80 

Come i1 suo ad altrui ch' a nulla h noto."— 
Then he snid 10 me ; " He utters his own 
accusation : that is Nimmd, through whose 
evil conception (it is) thtit one only language 
is not used in llic worltl. I,et tis leave liim 
alone, and not spenk in vain : for such to 
him is every language, as is lo olhers his 
(language) which is known to none." 

Division III. The Poets now quit Nimrod, turning 
away as usual to their lefl, and, walking along the 
circular brink of the I'il, at the distance of a bow-shot, 
find Ephialtes, a giant of heathen mythology, who, 
with Briareus, attempted to war against Jupiter, where- 
upon the god destroyed them with his thunderbolts. 
FacemiTio adunque plii Jungo viaggio 

\^Ui a sinistra ; ed al trar d' un balestro 
Trnvammo 1' allro assai piii (iero e maggio. 
A cinger lui, qual die fosse i1 maestro 85 

Non so io dir,f ma ei tenea % succinto 
Dinanzi 1' nltro, e dietro 1! braccio destro 
• Chi cosi i a lui ciasain linguagi;io, et seq. : Scarlazzini 
shrewdly asks ; " Why, then, did Virgil speak lo Nimrod, if he 
knew that his words would not he understood by him ?" 

\ qualchefosstilmaesirnnon stiiodir: Compare /n/xv,io-II, 
where Dante, after comparing Ihe hardened banks of I'hlege- 
thon to dykes in Holland, or flood-banks in (he Chiarentana, 

" A tale imagine eran fatti quelli, 

Tutlo che v,k s) aiti n^ si gross), 

Qual che si fosse, lo maestro felli." 

X ti ttrua iucdnio dinansi f alini, e ditlro, fl braccio desire 

d" una catena ; All Ihe commentators that I have seen, take Ihe 

second clause first, and construct the sentence in the following 

order : n ienea dietro il braccio destro succinto d' una catena, t 


k, che il teneva avi'into 
Dai collo in giii, si che in aulla scoperto 
Si ravvolgeva infino a! giro quintn. 
Turning then to the left, we made a longer 
journey ; and at n cross-bow shot (further on) 

we found ■ - ' - 
and huge. 

more ferocious 

■en the master- 

hand to i 

.ble to say, but 

he had i 

inioned behind 

him, and 

a) in front with 

a chain, i 

:kled from ihe 

neck down 1 

le visible (part 

Of his bod 

c times (///. as 

fnr ns the i 

Benvenulo says inm L-nmc wishes to express his 
admiration at the effective way in which Ephialtes Js 
bound, and it is as if he said : " Whoever it was that 
bound him must have been a master-hand at the work, 
by which he means the Unknown God, the Incom- 
prehensible Artificer." Itcnvenuto further remarks 
that, while Dante has represented Nimrod as bound 
only with a cord, lie has to Ephialtes, who was so 
much bigger and fiercer, given a chain to restrain with 
greater and stronger bonds his greater fury. The 
chain passed five times round the upper part of the 

f a/fro dirtansi. Di Siena says that similar transmutations are 
to be found in the Decamtron of Boccaccio. And here let me 
remark thai ihe Decatntron is full of idiomatic enpresgions that 
are niso found in the Divina Commedia. liuti remarks on the 
passage ; " Questo linge 1' auCore, per <l;trc ad intcndere che 
r opere spiritual!, diritte e buone ebbe di rietro, cio^ le pospose ; 
e le sinisire cioi le ree corporali, ebbe d' inanzi che le elesse e 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 577 

body of Ephialtes, which was visible above the brink 
of the Pit. Ingenious was the method of tying one 
hand behind him and one in front, on account of the 
enormous strength he would have put forth had he 
been able to bring both hands together. 

Virgil now names Ephialtes to Dante, and tells him 
for what sin of presumption he is punished. 
— " Questo superbo * voM' esser esperto 

Di sua polenia conlra il sommo Giove,t " — 
DIsse il mio Duca, — " ond' egli ha cotal merto. 

* Quesin superbo: Tphimedia, the wife of the giatil Alogus, 
is snid lo have had two sons, Ephialtes and Otus, of whom 
Neptune wns the real fatlicr. These two brothers were sup- 
posed to have grown nine inches every month. They were 
known as the Aloldie, and by that name are mentioned in Virg. 
Mn. vi, 582-584 : 

" Hie et AJoIdns geminos, immania vidi 
Corpora ; qui manibus in.-iEnum rescindere co:lum 
Aggressi, superisque Jovem detnidere regnis." 
+ il sommo, Giove : This may mean either (he true God or the 
heathen god Jupiter. In the former sense Dante uses it in 
Pur^. VI, 11B-119 : 

Che fosti in terra per noi crocifisso." 
Scartazzini points out that the giants in the Biblical mythology 
wished to build a lower, the summit of which should reach to 
heaven, and Ihe giants of pagan mythology tried to pile moun- 
tains one on the top of another lilt [hey should reach Olympus. 
Danle perchance only saw in the two fables the tradition of the 
same fact. See Virg. Georg. i, 281-183 : 

"Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam 
Scilicet, alque Ossam frondosum involvere Olympum : 
Ter paler exstructos disjecit fulmine monies." 
and Hor. iii Carm. iv, 49-53 : 

" Magnum ilia terrorem intulerat Jovi 
11. O O 


Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

Fia.Ue ha noine ; e' fece 1e gran prove, 
Quando J giganii fer paura ai Dei : 

men 5, giaininai n 

Le braccia 
" This presumptuous i 
of his power against 
Leader, " i ' ' ' 

alles is hi 
efforts will 
Gods : tiie 
more will ht 

le wished to make trial 

nighty Jove," said my 

' tquital. Ephi- 

ide his great 

terror to the 

wayed, never- 

Fidens juventu 

Pclioi 3." 

The batile of Phlegr-, destroyed the giants 

wiita his ihunderbolcs, is meniioneo oy the arrogant Capaneus in 
Inf. xiv, si-6o: 

"Qual io fui vivo, tal son morto. 
Se Giove stanchi il suo fabbro, da cui 
Cruccialo prese la folgore acuta, 
Onde r ultimo d) percosso fui ; 
O s' egli stanchi gli altri a muta a muta 
In Mongibello allafucina ncgra, 
Chiamando : ' Uuon Vuknno, aiuta aiula,' 
SI com' ei fece alia pugna di Flegra, 
E me saetti di tutta sua fona, 
Non ne poirebbe aver vendetia allegra." 

*le hraceia c}f ti mtnd, giammai non move : On this line Di 
Siena observes of Ephialtei : " His combats are at an end for 
ever ; the strength that he abused in his time is quelled to all 
eternity ; if in life he moved and agitated his arms to the 
destruction of others they are now bound elemally." Compare 
Ptalut xxviii, 4 : " Give ihem after the work of their hands ; 
render to them their desert" Again, Psalm xliv, 3 : " For they 
KOt not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did 
their own arm save ihem." 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inftrno. 579 

Dante, remembering that Briareus — a far more 
terrible giant than Ephialtes, in that he had a hundred 
hands, and fifty heads with flaming mouths — took 
part with Ephialtes at the battle of Phlegra (see 
Virg. Mn. x, 565-568), expresses an earnest desire to 
see Briareus. Virgil tells him that that giant stands 
bound at too great a distance for them to go near 
him, and besides, except that his mien is more fero- 
cious, he resembles Ephialtes. They will see Antaeus 
close by, who, being unbound, will lower them down 
to the bottom of the Pit. 



" S' fr 


Esperienia avesser gli occhi miei."— 

: — " Tu vedrai Anteo 
Presso di qui, che parla,i- ed ^ disciol 
Che ne porrh ne] fondo d' ogni reo. 
Quel che tu vuoi veder, piii 14 h molw, 
Ed £ Icgalo e falto come questo. 
Salvo che piii feroce par ne! volto." — 

• istnisurato Briareo : See Virg. ^n. vi, 285-387 ; 
" Muliaque praeterea variarum monstra feranim, 

Centauri in foribus stabulant, ScyllKque bifarmes, 
Et cenlumgeminus Briareus." 
nnd Tasso, Ger. Liber, xviii, St. 3S and 36 : 

"Crcbbc ill gignnie altissiino, e si feo 

Cinquanta spade impugna, c con cinquania 
Scudi risuona, e minacciando fremc." 

\ pitrla, td i disciollo : The condition of Antaeus, who speaks 

articulately and intelligibly, is in direct contrast to that of Nim- 

rod, who is closely pinioned, does not speak, but blows his noisy 

hnm, and blurts out inarliculate and brutish sounds devoid or 

11. 002 

58o Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

And I to liiin : " If it were possible, I would 
Ihat mine eyes might have experience of 
the immeasurable Briareus." Whereupon 
he answered : " Hard by here thou shall 
see AnCiEus, who speaks, and is unfettered, 
who will ] ■ ■ the depth of 

all guilt (/. He that thou 

desirest lo ch further on, 

and is boti, like unto this 

one, save countenance 

more ferocic_. 
Benvenuto sa; and this fiction we 

should recollect led to have come 

across one of the . i., who was less evil 

than the others; so now ne leads his readers to 
suppose that among the giants he has found one of a 
less malevolent disposition than the others, namely, 
Antaeus, whose sins he pictures to have been less 
against God than against men, and he therefore repre- 
sents him as unbound. 

Ephialtes has heard Virgil's remarks, and gives way 
to a frenzy of brutal rage. 

Non fu iremoio gik lanto rubeslo,* 
Che scotesse una torre cos) forte. 
Come Fialte a scotersi fu presto. 

sense. Di Siena observes that, as it was necessary that there 
should be some one to put the Poets down on to Cocytus, Dante 
has represented one of the giants unbound for that purpose. 

*rvbeito: Compare Purg. v, 114, 115, where the impetuous 
stream of the Archiano is described as rubeslo : 
" Lo corpo mio gelaio in suUa foce 
Trav6 1' Archian rubesto." 

Canto XXXI. Rmditigs on the Inferno. 581 

AllOT lemett' io piti che niai la morte, 

E non v' era meslier piii che la dotta,* 1 10 

S' io non avessi viste le ritorte. 
Never was there an earthquake so impetuous, 
that rocked a tower so violently, as Ephialtes 
was c]uick at shaking himself (/. «. struggling 
to be free). Then feared I death more than 
ever, and for it (ray death) there needed but 
that terror, had 1 not seen his bonds. 
We may hazard a surmise that Dante had faith in 
the enormous strength of the chains, if the sight of 
them could restore confidence to him, during the 
outburst of fury on the part of Ephialtes. 

Division IV. The Poets now move onwards until 
they reach the spot where they find Antreus standing, 
but not bound like the other giants. Benvenuto, 
commenting on the text, which states the height of 
Antzcus from his throat to his waist to have been five 
ells (the ell being " a kind of cloth mca.sure in Flanders 


* deila : Benvenulo explains: "Dotta, idest limor ; nam 
(lotare est timere." The Voc. ddla Crusca says it is the same 
ns the Laiin timer, tnetus, susfiicio, and conies from dotlart, to 
(ear, to doubl. Scarlauini derives it from the Provencal dofitar 
(LaL dubilart). The early writers used dotlart for dubitare; 
dottama for dubit-xnsa; etc. Compare Vila Nuova, 5 vii : 
" Ora ho perduia luita mia bnklania, 
Che si movea d' amoroso tesoro ; 
Ond' io povero rtimoro 
In guisa, che di dirmi vien doitanza," 
and Danle, Rime Son. xv : 

" Ditemel, s' a voi place, in cortesia : 
Ch' i' ho doiianza che la donna mia 
Non vi faccia lomar cos) dogliose." 


Readings on the Infer, 

Canto KXXI. 

like the canna at Florence"), remarks that many 
have denied that any man can exceed seven feet in 
height, but during the reign of Augustus it was 
notorious that there were two men who were twelve 
feet high : and it ii alsn said nf St, Christopher that 
«). St. Augustine, 

his height ' 
too, in his v.v»» 
seen in that ve 
Ant^us reigntu 
which one hund; 
been made. 

Noi procc 
Scnza I^ 

iciares that he had 
la in Africa), where 
single giant, from 
ry size might have 

lien cinqu' alle,+ 
delta grotta. 

* Antto : Antaeus, who was said to have been a giant of sixty 
feet in height, was the son of Nepiune and Terra, and lived in 
a cave in the valley of the Bagrada near Zama, where he fed 
upon lion's flesh, and by sleeping upon the bare earth ever had 
his strength renewed by Teria his mother. In his combat with 
Hercules, the latter, by holding him off the ground, caused his 
strength to wane, and so conquered and killed him. The place 
where he dwelt is mentioned by Lucnn (I'hars. iv, ^ty, jSS) : 

Bagrada lentus agit siccx sulcator arenK." 

Of his strength Lucan says {ibid. $98-605) : 

" Hoc quoque tam vaslas cumulavit munere vires 
Terra sui foetus, quod, cum tetigere parenlem. 
Jam defecta vigent, renovato robore, membra. 
Hecc illi spelunca domus : Utuisse sub alta 
Rupe ferunt, epulas raptos habuisse leones. 
Ad somnos ron terga ferjc pra-'bere cubile 
Assuerunt, non silva torum ; viresque resumit 
In nuda lellure jacens." 

t aile: Landino says that ".,4//u £ nome di misura Inglesedi 
due bniccia alia fiorentina." Benvenulo : "Alia est genus 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 


We then pursued our way further on, and 
came to Antaeus, who, without (counling) his 
head, stood a good five ells forth from tlie Pit. 

Virgil now addresses Antsus, asking him to lift 
him and Dante down on to the frozen surface of 
Cocytus at the bottom of the Pit ; but first, by way of 
propitiating him, reminds him of his former prowess 
in slaying lions in that valley of the Bagrada, where 
in after ages Scipio Africanus won fiis great victory 
over Hannibal at Zama. Benvenuto narrates this 
campaign at immense length. 

~" O 111, die nclta forliin.ila* valle, 1 1 ; 

e panni in Flandria, sicui caniin Florcntia." Tommas^o 
has the following observations i "Alle: corrisponde a due 
braccia : il braccio k Ire palmi; dunque trenla palini come dissi 
plu sopra [^^=^Lnqu' alle]. La favola gll d& braccia quaranta." 
Di Siena says that, according to the compulations of the learned 
Padre Antonellt, ihe Al/a, which is believed to be the same as 
the Aune of Paris, is of Florentine braccia 1.063. Therefore 
30 palmi, according even to the smallest measure, would be 
more than eleven braccia \ live alle would scarcely be ten 
braccia : therefore Nimrod whs bigger than AntEUS. Besides, 
one Alia is equal to I'o63 Florentine braccia : and as thcfia/mo 
arckiUttrnico, which was the largest, was equal to o'5i04 of a 
braccio, ergo, a irnftr/omusl be lesslhan lwo/><i/ff(i.- ax\A braccia 
10.315 would give a lillle more Ihan twenly^a/i/ii as Ihe stature 
of Antieus. Ui Siena thinks Ihat Tommas&o has computed 
the height of Anixus higher than Dante himself intended. 
And although mythology stales the height of An ticus as having 
htKiHQ braccia, Di Siena feels sure he is right, according to 
Danle's conception, in computing il at less, and that we must 
take him to have been shorter Ihan Nimiod. 

* fortunata vallt : See Inf. xxviii, 8, note on forlunata terra 
Hi Puglia, where fortunata is used in the anme sense as here, 


S84 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXi. 

Che fece Scipjon di gloria ereda,* 
Quando Annibal co' suoi diede ie spalle, 
Recasti gik milk leon per preda, 

£ che, se fossi slaio all' aha guerra 
De" tuoi fralelli, ancor part ch' e' si creda 120 
Che avrebber vinlo i figli della term ; 
Meiline giu (e non (en venga schjfo) 
Dove Cocito la freddural serra. 
Non ci far ire a Tiiio, x\h a Tifo : 

Quest! pu& dar di quel che qui si brama : I25 

Per6 li china, e non lorcer lo grifti-j 
* creda : Some texts read mia. The vard (according to 
Di Siena) is of common gender, used by Dante as he used 
Duca for duce. We also meet among the older writers with 
such forms as sefa for sete (thirit) ; nu6a for nubej anil froda 
for /rode. Nannucci (Teerica dei Nomi delta Lingua lialiana, 
Firen^e, 1858, p. ti) says that in Tuscany the peasants use rrdn 
to signify the male offspring of their beasts. Di Siena states 
that, in the dialect of Brescia, R^s signifies a new-bom babe ; 
RAis, a little boy ; and &ret, a male child. Compare Giov. 
Villani, lib. iv, ch. xxi, where it is said of the Countess Matelda 
of Canotia, " e ella rimaia ereda, si dilibcrb di maritare." 

+ ancor par eff e' si creda : Danle docs not say «' c«i/*, but 
par che ti creda, and almost hesitates before asserting that 
there could be any one who would believe in the possibility of 
the giants being victorious in warring against Heaven. 

I freddura : The early writers used freddura for freddoj 
calura for caido; arA gelura foi ge/o. In Guido delle Colonne 
(ConnwO we find : 

" Amor non cura — di far suoi dannaggi, 
Che li coraggi — mette in tal calura, 
Che non pon rifreddar gik per freddura." 
§ non forcer /o gri/b is tbe same a& saying : Non far le sdeg- 
noio. In the Tesorelio of Brunetto Latini we find ; 
" O s' hai tenuto a scbifo 

La gente, o torto '1 grifo 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 

Ancor ti pub nel mondo render fama ; 

Ch' ei vive, e lunga vita ancor aspetla, 

Sc innanit lempo grazin* a s^ nol rhi 

"O thou, that in the fateful valley (of the 

Bagrada), which made Scipio an heir to glory, 

when Hanniba! with his (hosts) turned his 

back (in flight), didst once bring a thousand 

lions for thy spoil, and who, if thou hadst 

been in the mighty war of thy brethren 

(against Jove), it slil! seems to be believed 

that the Sons of Earth [i.e. the Giants) must 

have conquered ; place us down below— nor 

be disdainful of doing so — where the cold 

binds up Cocytus (in ice). Do not make us 

go to Tityus or to Typhon : this one (Dante) 

can give of that which is lunged for here {i.e. 

mention in the world) : and raise nol up thy 

nose (///. snout, for scorn). He (Dante) can 

yet restore to thee fame ; for he is alive, and 

still expects long life, unless Grace summon 

him to itself before his time." 

Benvenuto here remarks that, although Dante repre- 

Scariaiiini thinks thai Antrnus leally had turned up his nose 

on hearing Virgil's request, whereupon Virgil upbraids him for 

his arrogance, and repeals at greaier length that Dante, being 

alive, can really extol his fame in the world. 

• Sc innaiisi ttmpo gratia a si nol Mama; Di Siena 
remarks that God vouchsafes a real act of grace when he calls 
men anay from the miseries of this world. He says that 
nothing demonstrates the sublimity of ihe Dantesque verses 
more than the fact thai they are so frequently derived both 
from Uiblical conceptions and from the perfect Christianity 
that inspired Dante. No atheist or pagan would have written 
a. verse of such worth, nor do ihey understand Dante who think 
him a poet of fashion (vn poe/a di moda). 


Readings m the Inferno. Canto XXXI. 

sents Virgil as saying this about the duration of his 
life in the year 1300, the sup[>osed year of his vision, 
yet, when Dante wrote his Poem, several years had 
passed away since that epoch, 

Virgil's flattering words about the valour and 
strength of Antieus, and the probably different result 
of the combat of the Giants against Jupiter, arc not 
without their intended effect, and he at once complies 
with the request, taking up the two Poets on his hands. 
Benvenuto observes that he showed himself much more 
tractable than Charon, Phlegyas, Nessus, or Geryon 
had done, when requested to transport the Poets from 
one Circle to another, 

Cos! disse il Maestro : e quegli in frcilu ijo 

Le man distese, e prese il Duca mio, 
Ond' Ercole* sent) gi& grande stretta. 
Virgilio, quando prender si sentio, 

Disse a me : — " Fatti in qua, si ch' io ti prenda :" — 
Poi fecc s], die un fascio ei' cgli cd io. 135 

* OntP Ercote seat}, etc.: Some conimenlaiors seem to 
have felt an absurd reluctance 10 follow this reading, which 
is, however, supported on overwhelming authoriiy, because 
Mythology slates that it was Hercules who mastered Anisus, 
and therefore it was AniKus who had painful experience of the 
grip of Hercules, and not as it is put in the lext. They have 
atlempted various allemative readings, of which the favourite 
appears to be : 

" Ond' ei d' Ercole senti grande stretta." 
Uut, as Blanc (Saggia, p. 299) observes, we ought never to for- 
get that our business is to adapi ourselves lo whai Dante has 
written, and try to understand it, but never to have the preten- 
sion to imagine that we can improve upon il. Might we not 
take the lext as it stands, as meaning that before Hercules suc- 
ceeded in slaying Antaeus be gained a severe experience of the 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferm. 


Thus spake the Master : and he (Antfcus) in 
haste stretched out the hands of which in 
olden time Hercules fell the mighty clutch, 
and took up my Leader. Virgil, when he 
feh himself grasped, said lo me ; " Come 
this way, that I may take ihee," Then he so 
conlrived that he and I were (but) one 
Virgil embraced Dante in his arms, pressing him to 
his breast. He was probably afraid that the grasp 
of the giant, however kindly in intention, might be too 
potent for the perishable frame of his beloved com- 

Antaeus, having taken up the Poets in his hands, 
now bows his immense body, and, as Dante looks up 
at the huge monster bending over him, he is reminded 
of a phenomenon that may not tin frequently be seen 
by any person who has been either at Bologna or 
Pisa. For if one stands under one of the leaning 
towers with its inclined side towering above, should a 
cloud over the summit going the opposite way, 
the tower seems to totter, as if about to fall." 

tenacity of his grasp ? Any victor, after a contest wiih " a foe- 
man worthy of his sieel," would be likely to feel unpleasant 
effects of bis conquered adversary's prowess. Wellington over- 
came Napoleon at Waterloo, but he would have been (he last 
to deny that he had fell Napoleon's "mighty clutch." 

* A remarkable instance of this phenomenon occurred to the 
present writer, when in June, 1888, he was present at the Oclo- 
centenary Celebration of the University of Bologna as one of the 
representatives of the University of Oxford. During the pro- 
cession through the streets of Bologna of the representatives of 
the diflerent Universities of the World, a pause occurred just 


588 Readings on ike Inferno. Canto XXXT. 

Qua] pare a riguardar la Carisenda* 

Solto il chinato, quando un nuvol vada 
Sopr' essa si, che el la incontro penda ; 

Tat parve Anleo a me che siava a badat 

when the Oxford delegates were under ihe inclined side of the 
Tower of Carisenda. The sky was one uniform expanse of 
blue, and not a cloud was visible. While Ihe writer was 
describing to his companion, Professor Erskine Holland, Ihe 
simile mentioned by Dante in this canto, ihe phenomenon 
actually occurred. A while cloud came up behind the pro- 
cession, and passed exactly as described by Dante. The lofty 
tower appeared about to fall upon those beneath. Oenvenuio 
stales as a faci that Dante had witnessed the occurrence, when 
as a youni; man he was a student ut Itologna. 

* la Cariseiiila : Landino writes of it : " K una lorre in Uologna 
grossa e nun tnolto alta ; ma molto piegata, cosi delta dalla 
famiglia d' Carisendi, ed h presso alia torre degli Asinelli." 
Tommasto says of the optical illusion referred to, that it had 
been observed and related to himself by someone who had 
never read Dante. Lord Vernon {Dante, lu/enio, vol. iii, Tavola, 
xcviii), says that, according to the History of Uologna by Gher- 
ardacct, the Torre degli Asinelli, the highest in all Italy, was 
erected by Gherardo degli Asinelli ; and that in 1 109 Filippo 
and Oddo dei Carisendi or Carisendi, on Iheir return from the 
Crusades, erected alongside of it the Torre della Carisenda. In 
the time of Dante it was much more lofty than it is now, but 
about 3S years after the death of Dante (1355) il was in part 
demolished by order of the tyrant Giovanni Visconti da Oleggio. 
Scartauini {Edizione Minore) says that its present height is 
47'j I metres. Benvenuto writes : " £t hie notn quod coinparatio 
bene facit ad factum ; quia sicut Garisenda curvaia videlur 
cadcre super respicicntem, ct tamen non cadit, iia Aniheus 
velut alta turris curvatus videbatur nunc cadere super Dantem 
respicientem eum, et tamen non cadebat." 

t itava a bada : Sttnia attcnio a guardare : guardart ton 
octhi spalancati : Compare Frezzi, Quadriregio, Lib. ii, cap. xii : 
" Et ognuna dell' Alme in alto bada 

Canto XXXI. Readings on the Inferno. 589 

Di vederlo chinare, e fu tal ora 140 

Ch' io avrei volut' ir per altra strada : 
Ma lievemente al fondo, che divora 

Lucifero con Giuda, ci spos6 ; 

N^ s) chinato 1) fece dimora, 
E come albero in nave si lev6. 145 

Such as the Carisenda appears to look at, 
under the leaning (side), when a cloud is, 
going over it in such wise, that it hangs in 
the contrary direction. So did Antaeus seem 
to me, as I stood on the watch to see him 
stoop, and it was a moment when I could 
have wished to go by another road ; but 
lightly in the Depth which engulphs Lucifer 
with Judas he set us down ; nor thus bowed 
made he there long delay, but like the mast 
of a ship he raised himself. 

Un grande sasso, che cader minaccia 
Tanto, che par che tosto in capo cada. 
Per qucsto alzata in su tengon la faccia, 
Temendo che non cada con ruina 
II sasso a lor in testa, e che li sfaccia." 
The Voc, delta Crusca explains : stare a bada^ tanio vale 
quanta Stare a sferansa o in asfettativa di checchessiaJ^ 

End of Canto XXXI. 

Readings oh the Infermi. Canto xxxll. 


The Ninth Circle. 

The Traitors. 

cocytus, the lake of ice. 

First Ring— Corwa — Traitors to 

The Counts of Mangona. 

Camicion de' Pazzi. 

Second Ring— .<4«/eHora— Traitors 
TO THEIR Country. 

BoccA degli Abati. 

Buoso da Duera. 

Count Ugouno. 

The Poets have been deposited in safety on the 
floor of the Poszo by their huge bearer, but, before 
commencing a description of the new horrors that he 
witnesses, Dante pauses, and tells his readers how he 
shrinks from the extreme difficulty of the undertaking. 
He finds it necessary to indite a new Prosmium, fol- 
lowed by a fresh invocation to the Muses. 

Benvenuto divides the canto into four parts. 

In Division /, from v. i to v. 39, after the Exor- 
dium, and invocation just alluded to, Dante relates 
how he and Virgil took their way over the frozen 
surface of Cocytus, traversing the first ring of the 
Ninth Circle, called Caina, in which arc punished 
traitors to their kindred. 

Canto xxxil. Readings on the Inferno. 591 

In Division II, Trom v. 40 to v. 69, he converses 
with Camicion de' Pazzi, and learns from him that 
two other shades, in close contiguity to each other, 
and who would not answer his enquiry as to who 
they were, are the two brothers, Counts of Mangona. 

In Division III, from v. 70 to v. 123, the Poets 
pass on into Antmora, the second ring of the Ninth 
Circle, where they see the penalty of traitors to their 

In Division IV, from v. 124 to v. 139, Dante 
relates the ghastly juxtaposition of two of the shades, 
who arc (though Dante will only learn their names 
from one of them in the next canto), the Conte Ugo- 
lino della Glierardesca and Ruggieri, archbishop of 

Division I. It must be understood that the terrible 
region in which the Poets now find themselves is a 
glassy lake of ice formed by the freezing of the river 
Cocytus,* This lake is subdivided into four con- 
centric rings igiri), in which are placed, in varying 
degrees of torment, four classes of traitors, namely : 

((t) CaTna, the abode of Traitors to Kindred. 

[h) AfiUnora, the abode of Traitors to their Country. 

{c) Tohmta, the abode of Traitors to Hospitality 
and Friendship. 

{d) Gindecca, the abode of Traitors to Benefactors. 

The dimensions of these rings are computed ap- 

* llwillbewellheretorefertucktocantoxiv. At pp.47i-48ii 
will t>c found a full discussion or the rivers of Hell, and the 
alternative opinions as to the origin of Cocytus. 

502 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXII. 

proximately by Agnelli {Tofio-Cronogra/ia del Vi- 
aggio Dantesco, Milan, 1S91) to be, Calna, i mile; 
Antenora, J of a mile ; Tolomta, \ a mile ; and Giu- 
decca, j of a mile ; making in all a diameter of 2J 
miles for the entire Ninth Circle. These several 
rings slope downwards to the centre, though Agnelli 
is of opinion that the ease with which the Poets strike 
across the rings and walk direct to the centre, where 
Lucifer stands fixed in the ice, disproves such a con- 
jecture, and that the whole are horizontal. I follow 
the opinion, however, of most of the commentators. 
We are not told of what nature are the lines of de- 
marcation between the several rings. 

Dante begins the canto by telling of his difficulty 
in finding words adequate to give an idea of the 
weird spectacle that met his eyes. In a general way 
speech is uttered about what one hears, or what one 
sees, or what one thinks, and he is at a loss to know 
with what signs he can express to others that which 
surpasses human imagination, and was never before 
* presented to the senses of a living man. 
S' io avessi le rime aspre t chiocce,* 
Come si converrebbe al Iristo buco, 
Sopta il qua] pontan tutte I' altre roccc, 

* tn Par. xxxiii, 67-7$, Dante records a similar difficulty ii 
describing scenes oi surpassing sanctily and (;lory : 
" O somma luce, clie tanio li levi 

Dai concetti mortali, alia mta mente 
Rlpresla un poco di quel che parevi, 
E fa la lingua mia tamo possenle, 

Ch' una favilU sol della tua gloria 
Possa lasciare alia fiitura genie ; 

Canto XXXII. Readings on the Inftmo. S93 

lo premerei di mio concello i1 suco 

Piii piennmente ; ma perch' io nan 1' abbo, 5 

Non setiza lema a dicer mi conduco. 
If I had rhymes harsh and dissonant, as would 
accord with the gloomy Pit upon which all the 
other rocky circles abut, I would press out 
the juice of my conception more fully ; but 
since 1 have them not, not without fear bring 
I myself to speak. 
Dante goes on to say that the scenes he has to 
bring before his readers are such as will tax to the 
uttermost his powers as a poet, and therefore he must 
be careful to weigh his words well, and to clothe his 
ideas with such language as befits the horror of the 

Chi non 6 impresa da pigliare a gabbo, 
Descriver fondo * a tutto 1' universo, 
Ni da lingua t che chiami mamma e babbo. 

Chfe, per tomare alquanto a 
E per sonare un poco ir 
Piii si conccperU di tua 
* Dcscri-vtr fortdo : This is equivalent to descriver lo Jondo. 
Blanc (Saggio^ p. 301) says; "We will confine ourselves to 
remarking wiih Nannucci that the omission of the article was 
exceedingly common among the early writers, and is not un- 
common with Dante himself. Compare Par. xviii, 42 : 
' E letiiia era feria del paleo.' [for lit feriaj" 
^ Ni da lingua che ckiami mamma e babbo ; Uante {De I'ulg. 
Eloq. lib. i, cap. i) explains what popular speech is : " Dicimus 
. , . quodvulgarem locutionem appellamus eam, qua infantes 
adsueRunl ab adsistentibus, cum primitus distinguere voces in- 
cipiunt : vel, quod brevius dici potest, vulgarem locutionem 
asserimus, quam sine omiii re^'uln, nulricem imitanies, acci- 
pimus." Again {De Vvlg. Elr^. lib. ii, cap. vii) we are told wh 
II. P P 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXII, 

describe the bottom of the whole 

not an enterprise to be under- 

is the courtly and cultivated style of language ; " Si vulgare 
illustre considered . . . sola vocabula nobilissima in cnbro tuo 
residere curabis. In quorum nuciero, ncc pu eii I ia propter sui 
simplicitatem, ut mamma et babbe, mate et pale; nee muliebria 
propter sui mollitiem, ut doldada et placevoU; nee sih'estria 
propter austeritatetn, ut grrgia, et cetera ; nee urbana lubrica 
et reburra, ut fcmina et corpo, ullo modo poteris con)ocar& 
Sola etenim pexa, irsuiaque urbana tibi restare videbis quic 
nobilissima sunt, et membra vulgaris illustris . . . Irsuta 
quoque dicimus omnia, pncter hxc, qua: % 
omaciva videniur vulgaris illustris. 
pellamus, qu:e campsare non possumus . . . Ornailva vero 
dicimua omnia polisyllabii, quo; tnixta cum pcxia pulcnim 
faciunt armoniam compaginis, qu.nmvis nspcrii;itciii habeant 
adspiraiionis, et accentus et duplicium, el liquidaruin, et pro- 
lixitatis." Compare also Par. xxxiii, Io6-io8 : 
" Omai sark piu corta mla favella, 

Pure a quel ch' io ricordo, che di un fanie 
Che bagni ancor la lingua alia mammella." 
Lord Vernon {Infimo) interprets the line as meaning that the 
matter Dante has in hand is not one for children, or for a man 
who is not both learned and eloquent. The same commentator 
{note) gives as an alternative interpretation, that the matter 
cannot be adequately treated in a language which, as Italian 
was then, is still in its infancy, literary compositions before the 
time of Dante being usually written in Latin. 

Lorenio Lippi {Malmantile, cant, iv, st. xii) has a passage 
that reminds one of the words in the text : 
" Avendo ereditato il genio antico. 
Costui teneva in man prima te carle 
Che legato gli fosse anche il bellico : 
E pria che mamma, babbo, pappa, e poppe, 
Chiamb spade, hasten, danari, e coppe." 
Di Siena asserts that the Divina Coinnmiia is the most 
splendid mirror of the "Lingua Illustre" of Italy. 


Canto XXXII. Readings on the Inftnio. 

taken in jest, nor for a tongue that cries 
Mamma and Babbo {i.e. Papa). 
Benvenuto observes: "Quia ista materia non est 
pro infante, qui nondum scit mature loqui, nedum 
pulcre et ornate," 

Dante now entreats the Muses to give him the 
faculty he professes to lack. His invocation is almost 
as though he were beginning a new poem. In the 
opening lines of the Pnrgatorio he invokes their aid 
to treat of a more agreeable matter, as if in direct con- 
trast with this invocation, where, after describing all 
the horrors of IIcll, he calls upon t!ie Muses to assist 
him in a narrative far more terrible. 

Ma quelle Donne aiulino il mio verso, lo 

Ch' aiularo Amfion * a cliiuder Tebe, 
SI che + dal fatio il dir non sia diverse. 
But may those Ladies give aid to my verse, 
who assisted Amphion lo wall-in Thebes, so 
that the tale be not at variance with the fact 
On finding himself in the lowest Pit of Hell, Dante 
utters a mournful apo.strophe to its wretched inmates. 
* Amfion : Compare Horace {Ars Pofiica, 394-401) : 
" Oictus et Amphion, Thebanse condiior arcis, 
Sana movere sono testudinis, et prcce blanda 
Ducere quo vellet Fuil haec sapientia quondam. 
Publics privati5 secern ere, sacra profanis, 
Concubitu prohibere vago, dare jura mantis, 
Oppida moliri, leges incidere ligno ; 
Sic honor et nomen divinis vatibus atque 
Carminibus venit." 
t 5i che dal/atio, etc. : Compare Inf. iv, 145-147 : 
" lo non posso riCrar di tulti appieno : 

Peroccht s) mi cnccia il lungo tema, 
Che moke voile al falto il dir vien meno. 
II. rP 2 


S96 Readmgs ott the Inferno. Canto XXXII. 

O sopra lutie inal creata* plebe, 

Che slai nel loco, oitde 'I parlare h duro, 
Me' foste state qui pecore o iebe.t 15 

O ye, above all (in the olher circles) ill- 
begotten rabble, who abide in the place 
whereof it is hard to speak, better were it had 
you in the world {lit. here) been sheep or 
Hardly has Dante pronounced these words, when 
his attention is suddenly arrested by a voice pro- 
ceeding from beneath him, bidding his foot be 
merciful, and avoid trampling upon two of the as yet 
unseen helpless throng. These are two brothers, the 
Counts of Mangona, but he has yet to learn who 
they are. 

Come noi fummo giu nel pozzo scuro 

Sotto i pit del gigante, assai piu bassi, 
Ed io mirava ancora all' alto muro, 

Dicerc udimmi ; — " Guarda, come passi ; 

Fa si, che tu non calctii con le piante 20 

Le teste de" fratei miseri lassi." — 

• mal crtaia ptebe : Compare In/, v. 7: 

" r anima mal naia." 
and In/, xvii), 76 : 

" quest! altri mal nati." 
and /n/. xxx, 48 .* 

" Rivolsilo a guardar gli altri mal nati." 
t *e6e: Landino writes: " Chiam6 te capre lebe, perchi 
cosi lechiamano i pastori nostri." The Codice Cassinese, Chiou 
Sinchrone ; "capre sic dicte a ttbello, tebelius, t{\uid idem est 
quod talto, sallas." And Jacopo delta Lana : "Zebe sono li 
capretti saltanti ; e sono dette *ebe, perch^ vanno zebellando, 
ciot saltando." Blanc ( Voc. Danl.) says the word is, beyond a 
doubt, derived from Zibbe, a corrupt form used by peasants for 

Canto XXXII. Readings on the Inferno. $97 

When we were down in the darksome Pit be- 
neath the feet of the Giant, at a much lower level 
(as the ice-floor slopes to the centre), and I 
was still gazing up at the lofty wall (of the 
Fozzo), I heard said to nne : " Take heed 
how thou passesi ; see that with thy feet thou 
tread not on the heads of the weary miserable 

Be it observed that this entreaty is addressed to 
Dante alone, as the feet of Virgil were those of an 
impalpable spirit. It is more generally considered 
that the words are those of one of the two brothers, 
of whom Dante is about to speak, but Benvenuto 
thinks the voice to be that of Camicione de" Pazzi 
interceding for the Counts of Mangona. This view I 
cannot follow. If Camicione interceded at all, it is 
more probable that he would do so for himself, as un- 
selfishness and sympathy for others are unknown in 

Dante would seem to have been still engaged in 
watching the retreating form of the Giant, as, like the 
mast of a ship, he upreared his huge bulk, till he had 
resumed his previous stationary attitude, and we must 
remember that, from where Dante is now standing, 
the lower half of the Giant's body would no longer 
be concealed, but every part of him would be visible. 
Dante says he was still gazing in wonder at the 
lofty cliff, from the summit of which he had been 
lifted down. He must have wondered indeed at 
the stature of Antsus, who over-topped the said 
cliff from the waist to the crown of the head. At 
the sound, however, of the unknown voice, Dante 




Readings oh the Infer 

Canto XXXII. 

starts from his reverie, and his eyes getting more 
accustomed to the darksome air, he is able to discern 
the objects at his feet. He proceeds to describe the 
ice-lake by two sets of similes, the first relating to 
the solidity to which the cold has frozen the water, 
and the second to the position of the miserable 
beings seen on its surface. 

Perch' io nii voisi, e vidimi davantc 

E solto i piedi un lago,* chc per gelo 
Avea di vetro t e non d' acqua sembiante. 
Nod fcce al corso suo si grosso velo 3} 

D' invernn la Danoia in Osleric, 
at Tanai 1^ sotto il freddit ciein, 
Com' era quivl : chh, se 1'ambcmic % 
• lago : On Ihe moriil signiticaiion of ilie Froien Lake, Pictro 
di Dante says: "qui lacus significat stalum rrigidissimum, 
odiosum, in quo immerguntur proditores . . . Fingendo tales . 
in luto glaciaio ita stare, ut dicit textus, idest in statu frigi- 
dissimo ab amore el charitate." In the Chiese Anonime, or 
Fatso Boccaccio: "Tu sai che la carit^ e I' amore si 4>piDge in 
fuoco, imperocchi I' amore e la carit^ k ardentissima, e per Io 
cootrario , . . il nostro altore [aulore] gli mette in una ghiaccia 
grossissima e freddissima sotto i piedi di giughanii." Cary 
observes that "the same torment is introduced into the Edda, 
compiled in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries." See quota- 
tions from Shalcspeare and Milton in note on canto iii, 8i. 

t avea di vttro . . . semiiarUe : Compare Dante's Cantont, 
to ton venuto, lines 59-61 : 

" La terra fa un suol che par di smalto, 
E r acqua morta si convene in vetro 
Per la freddura, che di fuor la serra." 
I Tambemic : Blanc (Voc. Dant.) remarks that it is not very 
certain to what precise mountain Dante is here alluding, but it 
is most probably either the Frusta Cora, near Tovarnicho, in 
Sclavonia, or the Javomick, the mountain of the Maple Trees, 
Abomberg, near the famous grottoes of Adelsberg in Caniiola. 

Canto xxxii. Readings on the Infer. 


Vi fosse su caduto, o Pielrapana,* 
Non avria pur dall' orlo fallo crict 30 

Whereupon I turned myself, and saw before 
me and beneath my feet a lake, which from 
frost had the semblance of glass and not of 
water. Never in winter did the Danube in 
Austria form so thick a veil over its stream, 
nor the Don, far away benealh the frigid sky, 
as there was here : for, if Tambernic had 
fallen upon it, or Fietrapana, it would not 
even at the edge have given a creak. 
Di Siena paraphrases this: " If upon this ice of 
Hell there had fallen tlie lofty rocks of Tabernich or 
I'ictrapaiia, it would not have given the slightest 
crack, not even at the edges, where frozen water most 
easily splits up." 

Dante now brings clearly before us the mode of 
punishment specially allotted to the shades in Calna, 
who h.ivc been guilty of murderous treachery against 
their kindred. These arc fixed in the ice in an upright 
position, with their heads alone exposed, and Dante 
compares them to the frogs, which in the South of 
Europe are heard in the hot nights in harvest time 

• Pielrapana ; A corruption of fe/ra Apuaiui, a chain or 
group of mountains lying between Lucca and Modena, and 
between the Serchio and the Magra, in the region that is now 
known as the Garfagnana. 

t eric: Cesari {BelUxte della Divina Cotninedia, Verona, 
1814) asks ifihis is nol the exact sound made by either glass 
or ice when cracked ; and observes that, had Dante used some 
definite verb, such as scricckiolnrt, he would not have made his 
readers realize his meaning in the way they do now, almost 
fancying they can hear the ice crack. 


Readings oh the Itiftrno. Canto xxxii. 

croaking in every stream, pool, or ditcli in which water 
remains, and lie in the water with no part of them 
above the surface but their mouths. 
E come gracidar si sta la rana * 

Col iDuso fuor deir acqua, quaodo sogna 
Di spigoUr sovente t la villana : 
Livide insin Ik dove appar vergoyna.I 

Eran I' ombre dolcnti nella ghiaccia, 35 

Metlendo i denti in nota di cicogna. 
Dgnuna in giu tenea volta la faccia : 

Da bocca 11 freddo, e dagli occhi il cor tristo 

Tra lor testimoniania si procaccia. 

And as the frog to croak siis with its muzzle 

out of the water (in the summer time) when 

the peasant woman dreams of freiiuent glean- 

* la rana: This is the second time in the Divina Comiiudia 
that Dante alludes 10 the frogs. In Inf. canto ix, 76-80, he com- 
pares the shades in the Stygian marsh diving down, on the 
appearance of the angel, to frogs diving when they see a snake. 
" Come le rane innami alia nimica 

Biscia per 1' acqua si dileguan tutte. 
Fin che alta terra ciascuna s' abbica ; 
Vid' io piii di mille anime distmitc 
Fuggir cosl dinanii ad un," etc. 
t quando sogna di spigolar sovenle : There is great force 
here in the word sttven/e. In Italy there are other seasons than 
the reaping-time in summer, when gleaning maybe done, but it 
is during the summer harvest that (he peasant woman would 
have the most frequent opportunities. 

X Livide insin let dove appar vergogna: Scartauini considers 
that the livid and wailing shades were submerged in the ice as 
far as the face, where shame manifests itself by the blush. The 
simile, by which the shades are compared to the frogs with their 
mouths out of the water, renders it certain that this is Dante's 
meaning. Other objectionable interpretations must be rejected. 

Canto XXXII. Readings en the Infertto. 


ings : (so) were (he wailing shades within Ihe 
ice blue-pinched up to where shame appears 
{i.t. the face) tattling their teeth in the manner 
of the stork. Each of them held his face 
bent downwards: among them from the 
mouth the cold (by their chattering teeth) 
and from the eyes the sadness of their hearts 
(by their tears) show evidence. 
Benvenuto remarks that it is the usual demeanour 
of a traitor not to look you straight in the face, but to 
cast his eyes down. In this place the traitors even 
turn their backs upon God. 


Division II. Dante's eyes travel over the scene, 
and after a cursory inspection he turns his attention 
to the shade at his feet who had addressed him. He 
does not know who was the speaker, but it is one of 
the two brothers whose terrible fate he now describes. 
In vain does he seek to know from them who they 
are. Tliey are either unable or unwilling to answer, 
but turn their impotent rage in silence against each 

Quand' io ebbi * d' intorno alquanio vislo, 40 

Volsimi a' piedi, e vidi due si strelli,t 
Che il pel del capo avieno insieme mislo. 
* Quand'io ebbi, etc. : Dante's action ii 
first, and then peering down at his feet, see 
might do who found himself in a new plai 
had already heard the voice, but had nc 

looking round him 
ns just what a man 
E in the dark. He 
. at first made out 

+ I 

envenuto draws particular atte 
that this close embrace of the two brothers must by no mt 
be taken as hnplying alTection, but quite the reverse ; for it 
the grip of deadly hatred with which in life they grappled 

Ihe fact 

Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXII. 

" Ditemi voi, che si stringele i pelli,"*— 

Diss' io, — " chi sieie." — E tjuei pieEara i colli ; 
E poi ch' ebber li visi a me cretti, 4S 

Cli occhi lor, ch' cran pria pur denlro molli, 
Gocciar suf per te labbra, e il gielo strinse 
Le lagrime Ira essi, e riserrolli : 

another, and, after exchanging many poniard thrusts, fell dead, 
locked in each other's arms in the freniy of rage. 

• Uringife i petli : Scartaiiini points out that, although the 
shades were submerged from the face downwards, yet the 
transparency of the ice enabled Danle to see down as far as 
their breasts. 

t Gocciar lu per le labbra . . . Ira essi, e riserrolli: Some 
read gocciar giii instead of iu. Su, however, is supported by 
overwhelming authority, and I follow Wilte in adopting It. 
Dr. Moore (Tcx/uiil Criiicisiii, p. 355) says ihal this is a typical 
instance of the just application of the difficilior lectio. There 
is also much discrepancy of opinion as to the meaning of labbra. 
1 follow Dr. Moore who (p. 356) writes : " What are the actual 
facts? (1) Labbra does not mean lipi here, but eyelids, as is 
perfectly clear from a consideration of the context, since essi 
and riserrolli, in line 48, obviously refer 10 the eyes, which were 
fast bound by the instant freezing of the tears which welled up 
through the eyelids. (2) Though the sinners generally have 
their faces downwards (lines 37, 53), yet it has just been stated 
that these two had raised their -heads in the vain attempt, 
frustrated by the freezing tears, to see who the strange visitors 
were. See lines 44 and 4;, 

* E quei piegaro i colli ; 
E poi ch' ebber li visi a me ereiii, etc' 

Thus we see that su and not giii precisely expresses the effect 
intended." Blanc [Saggio, pages 304 and 305) writes exactly in 
the same sense. Camerini points out that, in that tremendous 
cold, the tears would have frozen instantaneously, and would 
never have flawed as far as the lips. Benvenuto has: "et humor 
perveniens ad oculos subito coagulabatur." Benvenuto lakes 
/u^ni (he spells it so) asamatterof course as referring to the eyes. 

Canto xxxir. Readings on the Inferno. 603 

Con legno legno mnl spranga non cinse 

Forte cos), ond' ei, come due becchi, 50 

Coizaro insieme : (anl' ira li vinse. 
When I had looked around for a while, I 
turned towards my feet, and saw two so closely 
pressed together, that ihe (very) hair of their 
heads was intermingled {i.e. frozen into one 
mass). " Tell ine, ye who thus press your 
breasts together," said I, "who are ye?" 
And they bent their necks (backwards); and 
after that they had turned up their faces 
towards me, their eyes, which had previously 
been only inwardly wet (with tears), streamed 
out over their eye-lids, and ihe frost con- 
gealed the tears between them (the eyes), and 
locked them up. Ne'er did trenail rivet 
plank lo plank so firmly, Whereupon, like 
two goats, they butted at one another ; such 
fury overcame them. 
Another spirit here interposes, and with an inten- 
tion worthy of the place where all are traitors, not 
only gives Dante the information about the identity 
of the brothers which they are seeking to withhold, 
but at the same time says everything to their disad- 
vantage which malice can dictate, declaring them 
worse than some of the worst traitors known, two of 
whom he mentions by name. 

Ed un,* ch' avea perduli ambo gli orecchi 
Per la freddura, pur col viso in giue 

• Ed un, etc. : This shade, we learn in line 68, was Messer 
Alberto Camicione de' Paizi di Valdarno, who Ireacherously 
slew his kinsman Ubeiiino. Some commentators say he was 
his uncle, others his cousin. 

6o4 ' Readings on the Inferno, Canto XXXll. 

Mi dissc ; — " Perchi tanio in noi li specchiP* 
Se vuoi saper chi son cotesli (lue,t 55 

La vnlle, onde Biseniio X si djchina, 
Del padre loro Alberto e di lor fuc. 
D' un corpo usciro : e lutia la Caina 

Potrai cercare, e non trovcrai onibra 
Degna pi j d' esaer fitta In gelaltna : \ 60 

Non quelliill a cui fu rollo il petto e I' ombra 
Con esso un colpo, per la man d' ArtCi : 
Nod Focaccia :^ non questi, che m' ingombra 

* ti speech*: Blanc {yoc. Daiil.) interprets this particular 
passage as meaning, to gaie flxedly as one does in a mirror. 
Others think that the glassy surface of the ice acted hke a mirror, 
but Blanc's interpretation is to be preferred. 

+ coUsti due ; We gather from the Poslillntore Ciusiiicst, as 
well as from tbe Ananimo Fiortnliao, that these two brothers 
were Count Napoleone, and Count Alessandro degli Alberti, 
Counts of Mangona ; and in their deadly jealousy of each other, 
as 10 the possession of certain strong places in the Valley of 
the Bisenzio, each contrived to slay the other. Napoleone was 
a Ghibelline, Alessandro a Guelph. 

X Bisentio; This is a small river (hat flows by Praio, and 
(alls into the Arno near La Lastra, below Florence. 

^ fitla in gelalina: Scanazzini remarks ihat Camicion d«' 
PaKi, in using such a jocular term as " stuck in the jelly," shows 
that even in Hell his spirit of fun has not deserted him. 

II quelli: Mordred, son of King Arthur, having been detected 
treacherously plotting to dethrone and slay his father, the latter 
transfixed him with so vigorous a stroke of his lance, Ihat a ray 
of sunshine passed through Mordred's dead body, thereby 
causing a disruption of his shadow. The story is lold in the 
Romance of Lancelot du Lac. 

Y Focaccia was of the noble family of the Cancellieri of 
Pistoja. Landino calls him a giovane audacissimo, though of 
evi) habits. By way of retaliation for a piece of boyish imper- 
tinence on the pari of a cousin of his to one of his uncles, he 

Canto XXXII. Readings on the Inferno. 605 

Col capo si, ch' io non veggio oltre piii, 

E fu nomalo Sassol Mascheroni ;• 65 

Se Tosco se', ben sa' omai chi fu. 
And one, who from the cold had lost both 
his ears, likewise with his face (bent) down- 
wards, said to me : " Wherefore dost thou 
gaie so fixedly upon us ? If thou desirest to 
know who are these Iwo, tlie valley, from 
which the Bisenzio flows down, belonged to 
their father Albert and to ihem. From one 
body they issued : and throughout all Caina 
maycst ihnu search, and not one slinde wilt 
thou find more deserving of being fixed in 
jelly (t.t. in the ice) : not (even) he (Mordred) 
whose breast and shadow were cleft by the 
one same blow from the band of Arthur; not 
Focaccia, not this one (here), who so en- 
cumbers me with his head that I see no 

dragged the boy into a stable, and cut ofThis hand on the edge 
□f the manger. Not contented with this atrocity, he rushed 
into the house of the boy's father, who was brother to his own 
father, and cut his throat. The story is related somewhat 
differently by the various chroniclers and commentators, but 
from this act of violence, by one branch of the Cancellieri against 
the other branch, there sprung up the deadly feud, which ripened 
into the factions of the Whiles {Bianchi) and tlie Blacks (JVeri), 
and which divided, first Pistoja and afterwards Florence. 

• Saisol Miucheroni was of the Toschi of Florence. He 
murdered by treachery the only son and heir of an aged uncle, 
and took possession of his wealth. The crime having been 
eventually brought home to him, he was shut up in a cask 
studded with sharp nails, and amid the execrations of the 
citizens was rolled about the streets of Florence and then 

6c36 Readings on the Inferno. Canto XXXir. 

further, and he was called Sasso Mascheroni, 
if thou art a Tuscan, well dost thou know who 
he was, 
Benvenuto remarks that, at this point, the shade 
who is speaking to Dante replies, by anticipation, to a 
possible question that Dante might put to him, as to 
who he is that of his own accord has named so many 
traitors. To this he virtually answers : " I quite 
understand what you want to ask me, and therefore I 
will tell you." In doing so, however, with charac- 
teristic treachery, he takes care to tell Dante that he 
is on the look-out for the arrival of one of his blood 
relations, whose crimes will make even his own appear 
less dark. 

" E perchfe non mi melti in piii senyioni, 

Sappi ch' io fui il Camicion de' Pani, 
Ed aspeito Carlin • che mi scagioni.t " — 

*Cariiru, kinsman of CamJcione, was likewise of ihe family 
of the Paiii of VaJdarno, and, being bribed by the Ntri of 
Florence, he betrayed to them the castle of Piano di Trevigne, 
which wai holding out for the Hianchi, at the time that the exiled 
party from Florence, among whom was Dante, had made a fruit> 
less attempt to carry La Lastra by a coup-de-main. Carlino, after 
profiting by the bribes of the Neri, sold the castle back again 
to the Biancki. See Giov. Villani, viii, 32 ; Dino Compagni, 
lib. ii, ch. xxviii. 

f ekt mi scagioni : Note that Camicione de' Pazzi is speaking 
n Caina, his crime being the treacherous murder of a kinsman. 
He exults that his kinsman Cailino is worse than himself as a 
traitor to his country, and by being condemned to Antenora 
will make his own crime seem less atrocious. Di Siena says 
that sctigionare is the contrary of accagionare, which is equiva- 
lent to impulare, incoipare. Ex-scusare •^ excausare, to purge 
from a fault, 10 justily. In Eiek. xvi, Judah is accused by God 

Canto XXXII. Readings on the Inferno. 607 

And that thou mayest not put me to further 
speech, know that I was Camicion de' PazKi, 
and I await Carlino (de' Pazzi) to exonerate 
me (by comparison). 
Dante seems to have turned away from the pitiful 

miscreant in silent contempt, and with Virgil to have 

passed onward. 

Division III. We are left to infer that tlie Poets 
have now moved forward into the Second Ring of 
the Posso, which we shall find (line 88) is called 
Anitnora, and wherein Dante sees the punishment of 
traitors to their native country. There is no boundary 
line mentioned between the First and Second Rings. 
These traitors, like those in Catna, have their faces 
projecting out of the ice, and their eyes are blinded 
by their frozen tears. The horror of the scene appears 
to augment at every step. 

Poscia vid' io niille visi, cagnazzi* 70 

of having played the harlot, and of having sinned so greaily, 
that, by compaxison, her wickednesses have made her sisters, 
Sodom and Samaria seem good and modest ; see v. ji : 
" Neither halh Samaria commilled half of thy sins ; but thou hast 
multiplied ihine abominaiions more than they,and hast justified 
thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done." 

* cagnatzi : There are two ways of interpreting this word. I 
follow Qenvenuto, Landino, Velluletlo and Scartazzini, in under- 
standing it that with their teelh challering with cold the shades 
were grinning like dogs. Landino interprets : " pel freddo grinzi 
come di cani." Others ihink it refers to ihe hue on their faces. 
Bull, "lividij" Tonimasto, " rossi scuri;" Di Siena, "quel 
colore Ira il paonauo e il nero che . . . assimigliasi al color 
morella delle lividure e delle cangrene." 


608 Readings att tlieluferm. Canto XXXii. 

Faiti per freddo : onde mi vien ripreuo, 
E verr& sempre, de' gelali guaiii. * 

After this I perceived thousands of faces made 
dog-like (».i, grinning) by the cold ; whereat 
there comes over me a shudder, and ever- 
more will come (merely at the sight) of frozen 

At this point an episode takes place, which Dante 
has doubtless introduced by way of representing the 
darkest act of treachery to one's country that was 
known to him. Be it remembered that, although at 
the time of writing his Poem, Dante's sympathies had 
become Ghibelline, and, although he was undergoing 
the most merciless persecution from the Ciuclphs, yet 
when the battle of Montaperti was fought, in AD. 1260, 
five years before Dante was born, his ancestors were 
Guelphs ; and some of them were in the Florentine 
ranks, and participated in the rout of that fatal day, as 
Farinata degU Uberti(/f//'.x,46-4S) pointedly reminded 
him. At the most critical moment in that battle, the 

* lU' geloH guatti : Some take [his to mean that Dante 
says he never can look upon a frozen pond in the world, 
wiihoul shivering at the thoaght of ihc terrible ice-Aelds he 
saw in Hell. Benvenuto reads, di gelali guatti, and seems 
to understand "any frozen ponds." Dr. Moore, in a letter to 
me, remarks that, whatever be the reading, surely Henvenuto's 
explanation is infinitely preferable. There is tremendous poetic 
force in saying thai the abiding horror of the awful scene so 
continually haunts him, that he can never now even look at a 
frozen pond without a shudder. The other interpreiaiion is 
positively commonplace. It comes only to saying that he shud- 
ders when he thinks of the scene itself. 

Canto XXXII. Readings on the Inferm. 


traitor Bocca dcgli Abati, whom Dante now brands 
with infamy, rode stealthily up behind the standard- 
bearer of the Floren