Page images

Th’ infantry, dreading lest his covenant
The foe should break; so close he hemm'd them round.

I to my leader's side adhered, mine eyes
With fixt and motionless observance bent
On their unkindly visage. They their hooks
Protruding, one the other thus bespake:
“Wilt thou I touch him on the hip?" To whom
Was answer'd : “Even so ; nor miss thy aim."

But he, who was in conference with my guide,
Turn'd rapid round; and thus the demon spake :
“Stay, stay thee, Scarmiglione !” Then to us
He added “Further footing to your step
This rock affords not, shiver'd to the base
Of the sixth arch. But would ye still proceed,
Up by this cavern go : not distant far,
Another rock will yield you passage safe.

Yesterday, later by five hours than now,
Twelve hundred threescore years and six had fill'il
The circuit of their course, since here the way
Was broken. Thitherward I straight dispatch
Certain of these my scouts, who shall espy
If any on the surface bask. With them
Go ye : for ye shall find them nothing fell.
Come, Alichino, forth,” with that he crieil,

“And Calcabrina, and Cagnazzo 2 thou ! 1 Yesterday.) This passage fixes the era of Dante's descent at Good Friday, in the year 1300 (34 years from our blessed Lord's incarnation being added to 1266), and at the thirty-fifth year of our Poet's age. See Canto i. v. 1. The awful event alluded to, the Evangelists inform us, happened at the ninth hour," that is, our sixth, when the rocks were rent," and the convulsion, according to Dante, was felt even in the depths of Hell. See Canto xii. v. 38.

2 Cagnazzo.] Pulci introduces some of these demons in a very pleasant adventure, related near the beginning of the second Canto of his Morgante Maggiore :

Non senti tu, Orlando, in quella tomba
Quelle parole, che colui rimbomba ?
Io voglio andar a scoprir quello avello,
Là dove e' par che quella voce s'oda,
El escane Cagnazzo, e Farfarello,
O Libicocco, col suo Malacoda ;
E finalmente s'accostava a quello,
Però che Orlando questa impresa loda,
E disse ; scuopri, se vi fussi dentro
Quanti ne piovon mai dal ciel nel centro. Stanze 30, 1.
“Perceivest the words, Orlando, which this fellow
Doth in our ears out of that tomb rebellow?
I'll go, and straight the sepulchre uncase,
From whence, as seems to me, that voice was heard ;
Be Farfarel and Cagnazzo to my face,
Or Libicoc with Malacoda, stirr'd:”
And finally he drew near to the place;
The emprize Orlando praising with this word:
“Uncase it, though within as many dwell,
As ever were from heaven rain'd down to hell."

The troop of ten let Barbariccia lead.
With Libicocco, Draghinazzo haste,
Fang’d Ciriatto. Graffiacane fierce,
And Farfarello, and mad Rubicant.
Search ye around the bubbling tar. For these,
In safety lead them, where the other crag
Uninterrupted traverses the dens."

I then : “O master !1 what a sight is there.
Ah! without escort, journey we alone,
Which, if thou know the way, I covet not.
Unless thy prudence fail thee, dost not inark
How they do gnarl upon us, and their scowl
Threatens us present tortures?” He replied :
“I charge thee, fear not : let them, as they will,
Gnarl on : 'tis but in token of their spite
Against the souls who mourn in torment steep'd."

To leftward o'er the pier they turn’d ; but each
Had first between his teeth prest close the tongue,
Toward their leader for a signal looking,
Which he with sound obscene 2 triumphant gave.


Argument. Virgil and Dante proceed, accompanied by the Demons, and sec other sinners

of the same description in the same gulf. The device of Ciampolo, one of these, to escape from the Demons, who had laid hold on him.

It hath been heretofore my chance to see
Horseinen with martial order shifting camp,
To onset sallying, or in muster ranged,
Or in retreat sometimes outstretch'å for flight:
Light-armed squadrons and fleet foragers
Scouring thy plains, Arezzo! have I seen,
And clashing tournaments, and tilting jousts,
Now with the sound of trumpets, now of bells,

Tabors, or signals made from castled heights, 10 master !] Lombardi tells us that every edition, except his favourite Nidobeatina, has to me" printed separately, instead of “Ome.” This is not the case at least with Landino's of 1484. But there is no end of these inaccuracies.

2 With sound obscene.] Compare the original with Aristophanes, Nubes, 165:

- σάλπιγξ ο πρωκτος εστίν. 3 Tabors.] “Tabour, a drum, a common accompaniment of war, is mentioned as one of the instruments of martial music in this battle (in Richard Cour-deLion) with characteristical propriety. It was imported into the European armies

And with inventions multiform, our own,
Or introduced from foreign land; but ne'er
To such a strange recorder I beheld,
In evolution moving, horse nor foot,
Nor ship, that tack'd by sign from land or star.

With the ten demons on our way we went ;
Ah, fearful company! but in the church 1
With saints, with gluttons at the tavern's mess.

Still earnest on the pitch I gazed, to mark
All things whate'er the chasm contain'd, and those
Who burnd within. As dolphins 3 that, in sign
To mariners, heave high their arched backs,
That thence forewarn'd they may advise to save
Their threaten'd vessel ; so, at intervals,
To ease the pain, his back some sinner show'd,
Then hid more nimbly than the lightning-glance.

E'en as the frogs, that of a watery moat
Stand at the brink, with the jaws only out,
Their feet and of the trunk all else conceal'd,
Thus on each part the sinners stood ;

but soon
As Barbariccia was at hand, so they
Drew back under the wave. I saw, and yet
My heart doth stagger, one, that waited thus,
As it befals that oft one frog remains,
While the next springs away: and Graffiacan, 4
Who of the fiends was nearest, grappling seizel
His clotted locks, and dragg’d him sprawling up,
That he appeard to me an otter. Each
Already by their names I knew, so well
When they were chosen I observ'd, and mark'd
How one the other calld. “O Rubicant !
See that his hide thou with thy talons flay,”
Shouted together all the cursed crew.

Then I : “Inform thee, Master ! if thou may,

from the Saracens in the holy war. Joinville describes a superb bark or galley belonging to a Saracen chief, which, he says, was filled with cymbals, tabours, and Saracen horns. Hist. de S. Loys, p. 30." Warton's Hist. of Eng. Poetry, vol. i. sec. 4, p. 167.

1 In the church.] This proverb is repeated by Pulci, Morg. Magg. c. xvii.

2 Whate'er the chasm contain'd.] Monti, in his Proposta, interprets “contegno” to mean, not "contents” but “state," "condition.” 3 As dolphins.] li lieti delfini

Givan saltando sopra l'onde chiare,
Che soglion di fortuna esser divini.

Frezzi, Il Quadrir. lib. 1. cap. xv. 4 Graffiacan.] Fuseli, in a note to his third Lecture, observes, that “the Minos of Dante, in Messer Biagio da Cesena, and his Charon, have been recognised by all ; but less the shivering wretch held over the barge by a hook, and evidently taken from this passage." He is speaking of Michael Angelo's Last Judgment.

What wretched soul is this, on whom their hands
His foes have laid." My leader to his side
Approach'd, and whence he came inquired ; to whom
Was answer'd thus : “Born in Navarre's domain,'
My mother placed me in a lord's retinue ;
For she had borne me to a losel vile,
A spendthrift of his substance and himself.
The good king Thibault - after that I served : 3
To peculating here my thoughts were turn’d,
Whereof I give account in this dire heat."

Straight Ciriatto, from whose mouth a tusk
Issued on either side, as from a boar,
Ripp'd him with one of these. 'Twixt evil claws
The mouse had fallen : but Barbariccia cried,
Seizing him with both arms: "Stand thou apart,
While I do fix him on my prong transpierced.”
Then added, turning to my guide his face,
“Inquire of him, if more thou wish to learn,
Ere he again be rent.” My leader thus :
“Then tell us of the partners in thy guilt ;
Knowest thou any sprung of Latian land
Under the tar?" "I parted," he replied,
“But now from one, who sojourn'd not far thence,
So were I under shelter now with him,
Nor hook nor talon then should scare me more"

“ Too long we suffer,” Libicocco cried ;

1 Born in Navarre's domain.] The name of this peculator is said to have been Ciampolo.

2 The good king Thibault.] “Thibault I., king of Navarre, died on the 8th of June, 1233, as much to be commended for the desire he showed of aiding the war in the Holy Land, as reprehensible and faulty for his design of oppressing the rights and privileges of the church ; on which account it is said that the whole kingdom was under an interdict for the space of three entire years.--Thibault undoubtedly merits praise, as for his other endowments, so especially for his cultivation of the liberal arts, his exercise and knowledge of music and poetry, in which he so much excelled, that he was accustomed to compose verses and sing them to the viol, and to exhibit his poetical compositions publicly in his palace, that they might be criticised by all.” Mariana, History of Spain, b. 13. cap. ix. An account of Thibault, and two of his songs, with what were probably the original melodies, may be seen in Dr. Burney's History of Music, vol. ii. cap. iv. His poems, which are in the French language, were edited by M. l'Evêque de la Ravallière. Paris, 1742, 2 vols. 12mo. Dante twice quotes one of his verses in the Treatise de Vulg. Eloq. lib. 1. cap. ix. and lib. 2. cap. v., and refers to him again, lib. 2. cap. vi. From “the good king Thibault” are descended the good, but more unfortunate monarch, Louis XVI. of France, and consequently the present legitimate sovereign of that realm. See Henault, Abrégé Chron. 1252, 3, 4.

3 I served. Again Lombardi misrepresents the readings of other editions, as he does throughout this Canto in several instances, wherein he professes to follow that which he has selected for his model ; but, as these varieties regard certain delicacies of the original language, and do not affect the sense, I shall not trouble my readers by roticing them.

Then, darting forth a prong, seized on his arm,
And mangled bore away the sinewy part.
Him Draghinazzo by his thighs beneath
Would next have caught; whence angrily their chief,
Turning on all sides round, with threatening brow
Restrain'd them. When their strife a little ceased,
Of him, who yet was gazing on his wound,
My teacher thus without delay inquired :
“Who was the spirit, from whom by evil hap
Parting, as thou hast told, thou camest to shore ?"

“It was the friar Gomita," 1 he rejoin'd,
“ He of Gallura, vessel of all guile,
Who had his master's enemies in hand,
And used them so that they commend him well.
Money he took, and them at large dismiss'd;
So he reports ; and in each other charge
Committed to his keeping play'd the part
Of barterer to the height. With him doth herd
The chief of Logodoro, Michel Zanche.?
Sardinia is a theme whereof their tongue
Is never weary. Out! alas ! behold
That other, how he grins. More would I say,
But tremble lest he mean to maul me sore.”

Their captain then to Farfarello turning,
Who rolld his moony eyes in act to strike,
Rebuked him thus : “Off, cursed bird ! avaunt !"

"If ye desire to see or hear," he thus
Quaking with dread resumed, “or Tuscan spirits
Or Lombard, I will cause them to appear.
Meantime let these ill talons bate their fury,
So that no vengeance they may fear from them,
And I, remaining in this self-same place,
Will, for myself but one, make seven appear,
When my shrill whistle shall be heard: for so
Our custom is to call each other up.”.

Cagnazzo at that word deriding grinn'd,
Then wagg’d the head and spake : "Hear his device,
Mischievous as he is, to plunge him down.”

Whereto he thus, who fail'd not in rich store
Of nice-wove toils : “Mischief, forsooth, extreme !
Meant only to procure myself more woe.”

No longer Alichino then refrain'd,

1 The friar Gomita.] He was intrusted by Nino de' Visconti with the government of Gallura, one of the four jurisdictions into which Sardinia was divided. Having his master's enemies in his power, he took a bribe from them, and allowed them to escape. Mention of Nino will recur in the Notes to Cantó xxxiii , and in the Purgatory, Canto viii.

2 Michel Zanche.] The president of Logodoro, another of the four Sardinian jurisdictions. See Canto xxxiii. Note to v. 136.

« PreviousContinue »