CANTO XIII

Nessus had not yet reached the other side
When we moved forward into woods unmarked
By any path. The leaves not green, earth-hued;

The boughs not smooth, knotted and crooked-forked;
No fruit, but poisoned thorns. Of the wild beasts
Near Cecina and Corneto, that hate fields worked

By men with plough and harrow, none infests
Thickets that are as rough or dense as this.
Here the repellent Harpies make their nests,

Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, a human neck and face,

Clawed feet, and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees.
Here the good master bagan, "Before you go

Farther, be aware that now you are in this,
The second ring--and so you shall be until
The horrible sand. Look well, for here one sees

Things which in words would be incredible."
On every side, I heard wailing voices grieve,
Yet I could not see anyone there to wail,

And so I stopped, bewildered. I believe
My guide believed that in my belief the voices
I heard from somewhere in among the grove

Came somehow from people who were in hiding places--
And therefore the master said, "If you remove
A little branch from any one of these pieces

Of foliage around us, the thoughts you have
Will also be broken off." I reached my hand
A little in front of me and twisted off

One shoot of a mighty thornbush--and it moaned,
"Why do you break me?" Then after it had grown
Darker with blood, it began again and mourned,

"Why have you torn me? Have you no pity, then?
Once we were men, now we are stumps of wood:
Your hand should show some mercy, though we had been

The souls of serpents." As flames spurt at one side
Of a green log oozing sap at the other end,
Hissing with escaping air, so that branch flowed

With words and blood together--at which my hand
Released the tip, and I stood like one in dread.
"Had he been able to credit or comprehend

Before, O wounded spirit," my sage replied,
"What he had witnessed only in my verses,
His hand would never have performed this deed

Against you. But the fact belief refuses
Compelled me, though it grieves me, thus to prompt him.
But tell him who you are, so that his praises

May make amends by freshening your fame
When he returns again to the world above,
As he is permitted." And the broken stem:

"Your words have so much sweetness they contrive
To draw me out of silence: I am enticed
To talk a little while, may it not prove

Burdensome to you. I am he who possessed
Both keys to Frederick's heart--and I turned either,
Unlocking and locking with so soft a twist

I kept his secrets from almost any other.
To this, my glorious office, I stayed so true
I lost both sleep and life. The harlot that never

Takes its whore's eyes from Caesar's retinue--
The common fatal Vice of courts--inflamed
All minds against me; and they, inflamed so,

So inflamed Augustus that the honors I claimed
In gladness were converted into pain.
My mind, in its disdainful temper, assumed

Dying would be a way to escape disdain,
Making me treat my juster self unjustly.
And by this tree's strange roots, I swear again:

I never betrayed my lord, who was so worthy
Of honor. If you return to the world above,
Either of you, please comfort my memory

Still prostrate from the blow that Envy gave."
The poet waited a moment, then said to me,
"Since he is silent, don't waste the time you have,

But speak, and ask him what you wish." And I:
"You question him, and ask what you discern
Would satisfy me; I cannot because of pity

That fills my heart." Therefore my guide began,
"For this man freely to do the things you say,
Imprisoned spirit, tell him if you can

And if it pleases you, in just what way
The soul is bound in knots like these; give word
Also, if any soul could be set free

From members such as these." It puffed air hard,
And soon that exhalation became a voice.
"You shall be answered briefly then," it uttered;

"When the fierce soul has quit the fleshly case
It tore itself from, Minos sends it down
To the seventh depth. It falls to this wooded place--

No chosen spot, but where fortune flings it in--
And there it sprouts like a grain of spelt, to shoot
Up as a sapling, then a wild plant: and then

The Harpies, feeding on the foliage, create
Pain, and an outlet for the pain as well.
We too shall come like the rest, each one to get

His cast-off body--but not for us to dwell
Within again, for justice must forbid
Having what one has robbed oneself of; still,

Here we shall drag them, and through the mournful wood
Our bodies will be hung: with every one
Fixed on the thornbush of its wounding shade."

We both were still attentive when it was done,
Thinking it might have more to say to us--
When an uproar surprised us, just as when

A hunter mindful of wild boar and the chase
Suddenly hears the beasts and crashing brush.
There on our left came two at a desperate pace,

Naked, torn, so hard preseed they seemed to crash
Headlong through every tangle the wood contained.
The one in front cried, "Come now, come in a rush,

O death!" The other shouted, falling behind,
"Your legs were not so nimble when you ran
At the jousting of the Toppo, Lano my friend!"

And then, perhaps because his breath began
To fail him, he stopped and hunched against a bush
As if to make himself and its branches one.

Behind them, eager as greyhounds off the leash,
Black bitches filled the woods, avid and quick.
They set their teeth on the one who stopped to crouch,

And tore his limbs apart; and then they took
The wretched members away. Then my escort
Led me by one hand to the bush--which spoke,

Grieving in vain through places where it was hurt
And bled: "Jacopo da Santo Andrea," it cried,
"What did you gain by shielding in me? What part

Had I in your sinful life?" My master said,
When he was standing above it, "And who were you,
Who through so many wounds exhale this blood

Mixed with sad words?" It answered, "O souls--you two
Who arrive to see this shameful havoc crush
My leaves and tear them from me--gather them now,

And bring them to the foot of this wretched bush.
In life I was of the city that chose to leave
Mars, her first patron, and take the Baptist: for which

The art of Mars will always make her grieve.
And if his semblance did not in part remain
Still at the Arno, she would not survive--

And later, when they pitched the city again
Over the ashes left by Attila, those
Striving to refound it would have worked in vain.

And I--I made my own house be my gallows."

CANTO XIV

Compelled by the love I bear my native place,
I gathered the scattered sprays and gave them again
To him who was already faint of voice.

From there we proceeded to the boundary line
At which the third and second rings divide:
And there a dreadful form of justice is seen.

To make these new things clear: we two now stood
On a plain whose bed rejects all plants--bare, flat,
Garlanded all around by the woeful wood

Just as the wood is by the sorrowful moat.
And here we stayed our steps at the very edge.
The ground was dry deep sand, resembling that

Which Cato trod. O vengeance of God, how much
Should you be feared by all those who read
What my eyes saw! It was a great assemblage

Of naked souls in herds, all of whom mourned
Most miserably and seemed to be subject
To different laws. Some lay upon the ground,

Supine; some sat hunched up; while others walked
Restlessly about. It seemed that those who moved
Were the more numerous, those who lay abject

In torment, fewest--but it was they who grieved
With tongues most loosened by pain. All over the sand
Distended flakes of fire drifted from aloft

Slowly as mountain snow without a wind.
As when Alexander in India's hottest region
Saw flames fall on his army, intact to the ground,

And has his soldiers tramp the accumulation
To extinguish them before the fire could spread,
Eternal fire descended in such profusion

Sand kindled like tinder under flint, and made
The pain redouble--with their dancing hands
Not resting even for a moment they pawed

Themselves now here, now there, and beat the brands
Of fresh fire off. "O Master," I began,
"Who vanquish all except the stubborn fiends

That opposed us at the gate: who is that one,
The great one seeming to pay no heed to the fire,
Who lies disdainful and scowling, so that the rain

Seems not to ripen him?" He appeared to hear
Me ask about him, and shouted, "What I was
Alive, I am in death!" Though Jove may wear

His smith out, from whom anger made him seize
The sharpened bolt that smote me my last day;
And though he wears out every smith he has

At Mongibello's black forge; and though he cry,
'Help, help, good Vulcan!' just the way he did
Amid the battle of Phlegra, and hurl at me

With all his might--he still will not have had
The pleasure of his vengeance." Then my guide
Spoke with more force than I had heard, and said,

"O Capaneus, that this unquenched pride
Remains in you punishes you the more:
No torment but this raging of yours could goad

With agony enough to match your ire."
Then gentler, to me: "He was one of seven kings
Who besieged Thebes, and bore--seems still to bear--

Disdain for God. But as I said, his revilings
Earn his breast fitting badges. Now follow my steps:
Tread, not the scorching sand, but a path that clings

Close to the wood." In silence we reached a place
Where gushing from the woods a small stream poured
So red that it still makes me shudder. As issues

That stream from Bulicame that is shared
Among the prostitutes, so this brook flowed
Down and across the sand. It was stone-floored;

Stone lined both banks and the margins on each side;
And I could see that this would be our route.
"In all that I have shown you," my master said,

"Since first we entered through that open gate
Whose threshold no one ever is denied,
Nothing your eyes have seen is so worth note

As this present stream which quenches in its flood
All of the flames above it." So word for word
My master spoke, and I asked him for the food

To fill the appetite these words inspired.
He answered, "In the middle of the sea
Lies a waste land called Crete, a realm whose lord

Goverened the world in its age of purity.
The mountain Ida is there, which once was glad
With foliage and waters, and now must lie

Deserted, like some worn thing by time decayed.
Long ago Rhea chose it for her child
As his safe cradle; and since they had to hide,

Made all there shout whenever her infant wailed.
Within the mountain stands an immense Old Man,
Who turns his back toward Damietta, to hold

His gaze on Rome as on his mirror: of fine
Gold is his head, pure silver his arms and breast;
Down to the fork is brass, and from there down

The choicest iron comprises all the rest
But the right foot, of clay baked hard as brick:
On it, more weight than on the left is pressed.

Every part but the gold head bears a crack,
A fissure dripping tears that collect and force
Their passage down the cavern from rock to rock

Into this valley's depth, where as a source
They form the Acheron, Styx, and Phlegethon.
Then their way down is by this narrow course

Until, where all descending has been done,
They form Cocytus--and about that pool
I shall say nothing, for you will see it soon."

And I to him: "But if this stream does fall
Thus from our world, then why does is appear
At only this border?" And he: "As you know well,

The place is round; although you have come far,
Toward the pit by left turns always down,
You haven't completed all the circle: therefore,

If anything new appears that we haven't seen,
It should not bring amazement to your face."
And I said, "Where are Lethe and Phlegethon?

For you are silent regarding one of these,
And say the rain of tears creates the other."
He: "All your questions please me; but in one case

The boiling of this red water should give the answer.
Lethe you shall see, but out of this abyss:
There where, repented guilt removed, souls gather

To cleanse themselves." Then, "Now it is time for us
To leave the wood. The margins are not afire,
And make a pathway--over them, come close

Behind me: every flame is extinguished here."

CANTO XV

Now the firm margin bears us, under the vapor
Rising from the stream to form a shade and fend
The fire off, sheltering both banks and water.

As Flemings between Wissant and Bruges, to defend
Against the tide that rushes in on them,
Construct a bulwark to drive the sea from land;

And Paduans on the Brenta do, to stem
The water and protect their castle and town
Before Carcetana feels the heat--in the same

Manner those banks were made, except the one
Who built them did not make them as high or thick,
Whoever he was. And I could not have seen

The wood that lay behind us, had I looked back,
When we encountered another troop of souls
Who looked at us the way that men will look

At one another at dusk, when daylight fails
Under a new moon: knitting their brows at us
The way old tailors do when threading needles.

While I was being examined by them thus,
One recognized me, and took me by the hem,
Crying, "Why what a marvel" I fixed my eyes

On his scorched face as he reached out his arm,
And the baked features I saw did not forestall
My knowing him--I reached back down to him,

My hand toward his face, and answered his call:
"Are you here, Ser Brunetto?" He replied,
"My son, may it not displease you, if awhile

Brunetto Latini turns back to walk instead
With you a little, and lets the train go on."
"I beg it of you with all my heart," I said--

"And should you prefer that you and I sit down,
If it pleases him with whom I go, I will."
He said, "If any of this flock, O son,

Stops even for an instant, he must lie still
A hundred years, not brushing off the fire
That stikes him. Go, then: I'll follow at your heel,

And then rejoin my band who walk in a choir
Lamenting their eternal woes." Afraid
To step down to his level from where we were,

I bent my head, as in reverance. He said,
"What destiny of fortune makes you come
Before your final day; and who is this guide?"

"In the bright life above," I answered him,
"I came into a valley and lost my way,
Before my age had reached its ripening time--

I turned my back on the place but yesterday.
He appeared to me at dawn, when I had turned
To go back down, and this path is the way

By which he leads me home." Then he returned:
"If you keep navigating by your star
You'll find a glorious port, if I discerned

Well in the fair life. Had my years been more,
So I could witness how heaven has been kind
To you, I would have wished your work good cheer.

But that ungrateful, malignant folk who descend
From those brought down from Fiesole long ago,
And who still smack of mountains and rocky ground,

Will make themselves, for good things that you do,
Your enemies--and there is reason in that:
Among the bitter sorb-trees, it seems undue

When the sweet fig in season comes to fruit.
The world's old saying is that they are blind:
A people greedy, envious, proud--see fit

To cleanse their habits from yourself. You'll find
Your fortune holds such honor as will induce
One party and the other to contend

In hunger to consume you--then the grass
Will be well kept at a distance from the goat.
Let the Fiesolan beasts go find their mess

By feeding on themselves, and spare the shoot
(If any still should grow on their heap of dung)
In which the sacred seed is living yet

Of Romans who remained when Florence went wrong,
Becoming a nest for the malevolent."
"Could I have everything for which I long,

You would not still endure this banishment
Away from human nature," I replied.
"Your image--dear, fatherly, benevolent--

Being fixed inside my memory, has imbued
My heart: when in the fair world, hour by hour
You taught me, patiently, it was you who showed

The way man makes himself eternal; therefore,
The gratitude I feel toward you makes fit
That while I live, I should declare it here.

And what you tell me of my future, I write--
And keep it with another text as well,
Till both are glossed by a lady of good wit

And knowledge, if I reach her. This much still
I say: so long as conscience is not betrayed,
I am prepared for Fortune to do her will.

My ears find nothing strange in what you have said:
As Fortune pleases let her wheel be turned,
And as he must let the peasant turn his spade."

When he heard these words my master's head inclined
Toward the right, and looking at me he said,
"He who has listened well will understand."

And none the less I continued as I had
In speech with Ser Brunetto--would he tell
Which among his companions had enjoyed

Most eminence and fame in life? "It is well,"
He answered, "for me to say the names of some
But nothing of the rest. To name them all

Would demand speaking more words than we have time--
All clerics and men of letters, all renowned,
And in the world all stained by this one crime.

Priscian trudges in that unhappy band,
As does Francesco d'Accorso. And if you crave
To see such scurf, among them you can find

One whom the Servant of Servants asked to leave
The Arno for Bacchliglione; and there
He left his body, distended in its nerve

And muscle. And now, although I would say more,
My speech and walking with you must be brief:
On the sand, I see new smoke rise, where appear

New souls, with whom I must not be. I live
In my Tesoro--your judgment being won
For it, I ask no more." And he went off,

Seeming to me like one of those who run
Competing for the green cloth in the races
Upon Verona's field--and of them, like one

Who gains the victory, not one who loses.

CANTO XVI

I was already where we heard the noise
Of water winding downward as it spilled
To the next circle with a sound like bees,

When three shades bolted from a troop that filed
Under the rain of torment. Running toward us,
They cried: "Stop here, O you who are appareled

Like one in our own degenerate city's dress."
Ah me!--what wounds both old and new I saw
Where flames had burned their limbs: the same distress

Pains me again when I recall it now.
My teacher heeded their cries, then faced me to say,
"Now wait a little: to these three, one should show

Courtesy. Were it not for the fire let fly
By the nature of this palce, I'd say such haste
Befits you more than them." We stopped; the three

Resumed their old lament--and when they had raced
Up to us, linked their bodies in a wheel.
As champions, naked and oiled, before the thrust

And parry begin, will eye their grip and circle
Seeking advantage, so each directed his face
Toward me, turning his neck against the pull

Of the ever-moving feet. "If our sandy place
Of squalor and charred features scorched of hair,"
One of them said, "lead you to show to us,

And what we ask, contempt--may our fame inspire
You to inform us who you are who pass
Through Hell with living footsteps. This man here,

Whose tracks you see me trample, though he goes
Naked and peeled was of a rank more high
Than you suppose: his noble grandmother was

The good Gualdrada; his own name used to be
Guido Guerra, and in his life he attained
Much with his counsel and his sword. And he

Who teads the sand behind my feet is named
Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, a man whose voice
The world should more have prized. And I, condemned

With them, am Jacopo Rusticucci, whose fierce
Wife more than anything brought me wretchedness."
Could I be shielded from the fire, at this

I would have thrown myself down into the fosse
Among them--and so my teacher would permit,
I think; but knowing how that fiery place

Would burn and bake me, fear drained the appetite
My good will gave me to embrace them. I said,
"No: it was not contempt but sorrow I felt

At your condition--inscribed so deep inside
It will not leave me soon--when this my lord
Spoke words to me which I knew prophesied

Such men as you were coming, I always heard
(Since I am of your city), and have told over
Lovingly, your names and actions, both revered.

I leave the bitter gall behind, and aspire
Toward the sweet fruits promised by my guide,
But first I must go downward to the core."

"As your soul long may guide your limbs," he said,
"With your fame shining after you: so tell
If courtesy and valor still abide

Within our city, where they used to dwell.
Or are they gone from it entirely now--
By Guglielmo Borsiere, who came to Hell

Only a short time past, whom you see go
Among our legion, we have heard things said
That cause us much affliction." "Newcomers to you,

O Florence, and sudden profits, have led to pride
And excess that you already mourn!" I spoke
With face uplifted; the three, who understood,

Then looked at one another with the look
Of men who hear the truth. "If times occur,"
They all replied, "when it again will take

So little effort to answer another's desire,
Count yourself happy speaking as you wish.
Therefore, if you escape from this dark sphere

To see the beauty of the stars, and relish
The pleasure then of saying, 'I was there'--
Speak word of us to others." Then in a rush

They broke their wheel, and as they fled, the blur
Of legs resembled wings; it took less time
Than saying "Amen" for them to disappear.

And then my master left, I after him;
And we had traveled but a little distance
Before the sound of falling water came

From so near we could scarcely hear our voices.
As the river which is first to carve its course
East down the Apennines from Viso's sources--

Called Acquacheta up high, before it pours
To its low bed at Forli--clears the spine
Above San Benedetto dell'Alpe and roars


In a single cataract that might have been
A thousand; just so, down a precipitous bank,
Dark water drummed so loudly it would pain

Our ears before much longer. I had a hank
Of cord wrapped round me--with it I had planned
To take the leopard with the painted flank;

I loosed it from me at my master's command
And passed it to him, knotted and coiled up.
Turning to the right he flung it from his hand

Some distance off the edge and down the slope,
Into the depth of the abyss. I thought,
"Some strangeness surely will answer from the deep

The strange signal the master just set out,
And follows so attentively with his eye"--
One must take care with those who have the wit

Not only to observe the action, but see
The thought as well! For, "Soon now will arise
The thing I look for: soon," he said to me

"What your mind dreams will be before your eyes."
A man should close his lips, if he's able to,
When faced by truth that has the face of lies,

But here I cannot be silent; reader, I vow
By my Commedia's lines--so may they not fail
Of lasting favor--that as I was peering through

That murky air, a shape swam up to instill
Amazement in the firmest heart: a thing
Rising the way a man who dives to pull

His anchor free from shoals it is caught among,
Or something else hidden in the sea, with feet
Drawn in beneath him, surges--surfacing

Back from the deep with both arms held up straight.

CANTO XVII

"Behold the beast that has the pointed tail,
That crosses mountains, leaves walls and weapons broken,
And makes the stench of which the world is full!"

So did my leader address me, then paused to beckon
Him ashore near where the causeway came to an end.
And fraud's foul emblem came closer, till he had taken

His head and chest from the deep to rest on land
Before us, not drawing his tail up onto the bank.
His face was just a man's face, outwardly kind,

And he was like a serpent all down his trunk.
He had two paws, both hairy to the armpits;
His back and breast and both sides down to the shank

Were painted with designs of knots and circlets.
No Tartar or Turk has ever worn a cloth
More colored in field and figure, nor were the nets

Arachne loomed. The way beached boats are both
On land and partly in water, or the way
The beaver squats to battle fish to the death

In the deep-drinking Germans' land--so lay
That worst of beasts upon the edge of stone
That bounds the sand. His tail was quivery

And restless in the void where it hung down
Squirming its venomed fork with an upward twist,
Armed like a scorpion. "Now we must incline

Our path a little--as far as the evil beast
That crouches over there," my master said.
So we descended on the right, and paced

Ten steps along the edge to keep well wide
Of sand and flames. Coming to where he was,
I saw on the sand just on from where we stood

Some people sitting near the open space.
The master said, "To experience this ring
Fully, go forward: learn what their state is,

But let your conversation not be long.
Till you return, I'll parley with this beast,
So we may borrow his shoulders." I went along

The seventh circle's margin alone, and passed
To where those doleful people sat. Their woes
Burst from their eyes, their hands were doing their best

To shield them from the torments, shifting place
From here to there--one moment from falling flames,
The next, the burning ground: just like the ways

Of dogs in summer when they scratch, sometimes
With paw and others with muzzle, they behaved
As though fleas or flies or gadflies bit their limbs.

When I grew closer to the people grieved
By the flames falling on them, I did not find
Any I recognized, but I perceived

Each had a purse hung round his neck--adorned
With certain colors and a certain device,
Which each of them with hungry eyes consumed.

Looking among them , I saw a yellow purse
That bore a lion in azure. Looking farther,
I saw another, blood-red, that showed a goose

Depicted in a color whiter than butter.
Then one of them--whose wallet, which was white,
Displayed a pregnant sow portrayed in azure--

Said to me: "What are you doing in this pit?
Be off with you! And since you are living, know
My neighbor Vitaliano will come to sit

Here on my left. These Florentines din me so
Because I am a Paduan; often they cry,
'Bring on the sovereign knight whose sack will show

Three goats!'" With that, he twisted his mouth awry
In a perverse grimace, and like an ox
Licking its nose, thrust out his tongue at me.

Then, fearing that a longer stay might vex
Him who had cautioned that the time I spent
With them be brief, I left those worn-out souls--

And found my leader already on our mount,
Seated upon that savage creature's back.
He said, "Be bold and strong; for now the descent

Must be by such a stairway. The place you take
Should be in front, so I can come between
To protect you from the tail." Like those who shake,

Feeling the quartan fever coming on--
Their nails already blue, so that they shiver
At the mere sight of shade--such I was then;

But shame rebuked me, which makes a servant braver
In a good master's presence. I took my seat
Upon those ugly shoulders. I did endeavor

(But my voice would not come the way I thought)
To say, "Be sure you hold me tight!" But he,
Who'd rescued me from other dangers, put

His two strong arms around me to steady me
As soon as I had mounted up, commanding,
"Geryon, move ahead--but carefully:

Keep your arcs wide; go slowly when descending;
Be mindful of this new burden that you bear."
As a boat moves back and back, to leave its landing,

So slowly did Geryon withdraw from shore.
Then when he felt himself quite free, he turned
And brought his tail to where his foreparts were,

And stretching it out he moved it so it churned
The way a swimming eel does; and his paws
Gathered the air toward him. When PhaŰthon spurned

The reins, so that the sky as one still sees
Was scorched, I doubt that there was greater fear
(Nor when pathetic Icarus felt his thighs

Unfeathering from the melting wax, to hear
His father cyring, "You are falling now!")
Than mine, perceiving I was in sheer air--

Surrounded by it, and realizing I saw
Nothing at all around me but the beast.
Onward he swam with motion more and more slow

As he wheeled round descending; but that I guessed
Only by feeling the wind against my face
And from below. On our right the sound increased

From the whirlpool roaring horribly under us.
I stretched my head out forward, looking down--
Growing more frightened even than I was,

Because as we descended I heard the din
Of lamentations and I could see the fire.
And so I shook, the more tightly holding on.

And I saw then--I had not seen it before--
That he was wheeling and making his descent,
For the great torments now were drawing near

On every side. As a falcon being sent
Stays on the wing seeing no lure or bird
A long while, making the falconer lament,

"Ah me, you are sinking now!"--and comes down tired,
With many wheelings, where it swiftly set out,
And alights peeved and sullen, far from its lord:

So Geryon circled and landed at the foot
Of the jagged rock; and once unburdening
His shoulders of our bodies, he did not wait,

But vanished like an arrow from the string.

CANTO XVIII

There is a place called Malebolge in Hell,
Constructed wholly of iron-colored stones,
Including the circumferential wall.

Right in the center of this malign field yawns
A wide deep pit: concerning its design
I shall say more in time. A belt remains

Between the base of that high wall of stone
And the central pit, a circular band divided
In ten concentric valleys, as in a plan

Where guardian moats succesively are graded
Around a castle's walls. In such a place
A series of small bridges would be provided,

Out from the fortress threshold and across
To the last bank: just so from the rock wall's foot
Ran spokewise ridges, crossing over each fosse

And its embankement, extending to the pit
That gathers them and cuts them off. This place
Was where we found ourselves when we alit

From Geryon's back; the poet, leading us,
Held to the left, and I came on behind.
To my right side I saw new tortures, new woes,

And new tormentors, with whom the first ditch teemed.
Down at its bottom were naked sinners. The crowd
Massed on our side of the center paced the ground

Headed toward us, while those on the other side
Walked facing as we did, but with a greater pace:
As when the Romans, because of the multitude

Gathered for the Jubliee, had pilgrims cross
The bridge with one side kept for all those bound
Toward St. Peter's, facing the Castle, while those

Headed toward the Mount were all assigned
The other side. Along the dismal rock
In both directions, I saw demons--horned

And carrying large scourges; and they struck
Savagely from behind. Ah, at the first blow
How terribly they forced them to be quick

Lifting their heels! None waited to undergo
The second or the third. As I walked on,
One of the wretches looking from below

Met my eyes: instantly I said, "I have seen
This fellow before," and paused to make him out;
And my kind leader gave me leave to turn

A short way back. That tortured spirit thought
To hide himself by lowering his face,
But that did little good, and I cried out:

"You, looking at the ground there--surely if those
Features you wear are not false, you are named
Venedico Caccianemico. Say what it is

That brings you sauces of such a pungent kind."
And he to me: "I tell it unwillingly;
But your plain speech compels me, bringing to mind

Memories of the former world. It was I
Who brought Ghisolabella to do the will
Of the Marchese, however it may be

That the obscene history is told. But still,
I am not the only Bolognese here,
Crying in torment--in truth, the place is so full

That there are fewer tongues alive up there
Between Savena and Reno, being taught
How to say sipa; and if what you desire

Is evidence to confirm it--just give some thought
To our avaricious nature." And as he spoke,
A demon came and lashed him, crying out,

"Get moving pimp! This is no place to look
For women to sell!" Rejoining my escort,
I came with him to where a ridge of rock

Jutted from the bank; we climbed it without much effort,
And turning right along its craggy bridge
Left that eternal circling. We reached the part

Where a space yawning underneath the ridge
Gives passage to the scourged, and there he said,
"Stop: let the sight of this other great assmeblage

Of ill-begottnen souls impress you; they strode
The way we did, so you could not see their faces."
From the old bridge we looked down at the crowd

Filing toward us, also driven by lashes.
The kind guide said, without my questioning,
"See where that great one sheds, as he advances,

No tears for pain--how much the look of a king
He still keeps! He is Jason, who took the ram
Of Colchis by courage and canny reckoning.

He passed the isle of Lemnos after the time
When its bold, pitiless women killed every male;
His deceitful gifts and fair words overcame

The young Hypsipyle there, who'd had the skill
To deceive the rest. He left her great with child,
Folorn; and such guilt brings him torment in Hell,

Avenging Medea as well. With him are sealed
All those who cheat such ways: let this suffice
For the first valley, and knowledge of those held

Between its jaws." We had now reached the place
At which the narrow pathway cuts across
The second bank, the shoulder of which supplies

The abutment for another arch's base.
Now we could hear the sound of people's screams
From the next fosse's pocket, and the noise

Made by their puffing snouts and by their palms
As they stuck themselves. The banks were caked with mold
That clings there, formed by an exhalation that streams

From down below, offensive to behold
And to inhale. The bottom is so far down
That we could nowhere see it until we scaled

The ridge's high point at the arch's crown.
When we had reached it, I saw deep down in the fosse
People immersed in filth that seeemed to drain

From human privies. Searching it with my eyes
I saw one there whose head was so befouled
With shit, you couldn't tell which one he was--

Layman or cleric. Looking up at me, he howled
"And why are you so greedy to look at me
When all of these are just as filthy?" I called:

"Because, if memory serves me properly,
I saw you once when your hair was dry, before--
I know you are Alessio Interminei

Of Lucca, which is why I eye you more
Than all the rest." And he then, beating his head:
"Down here is where my flatteries, that store

With which my tongue seeemed never to be cloyed,
Have sunk me." Then my leader gave me advice:
"Extend your gaze a little farther ahead,

So that your eyes may fully observe the face
Of that disheveled strumpet who in the mire
Scratches her body, as she stands or squats,

With shit-rimmed fingers--she is Tha´s, the whore
Who, asked, 'And is my favor with you great?'
Replied, 'Enormous,' to her paramour--

And let our sight be satisfied with that."

   Inferno, Page 4