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Struck and exclaim'd, "Away, corrupter ! here
Women are none for sale.” Forthwith I join'd
My escort, and few paces thence we came
To where a rock forth issued from the bank.
That easily ascended, to the right
Upon its splinter turning, we depart
From those eternal barriers. When arrived
Where, underneath, the gaping arch lets pass
The scourged souls : “Pause here," the teacher said,
“And let these others miserable now
Strike on thy ken ; faces not yet beheld,
For that together they with us have walk’d."
From the old bridge we eyed the pack, who came
From the other side toward ns, like the rest,
Excoriate from the lash. My gentle guide,
By me unquestion'd, thus his speech resumed :
“Behold that lofty shade, who this way tends,
And seems too woe-begone to drop a tear.
How yet the regal aspect he retains !
Jason is he, whose skill and prowess won
The ram from Colchos. To the Lemnian isle
Ilis passage thither led him, when those bold
And pitiless women had slain all their males.
There he with tokens and fair witching words
Hypsipyle 1 beguiled, a virgin young,
Who first had all the rest herself beguiled.
Impregnated, he left her there forlorn.
Such is the guilt condemns him to this pain.
Here too Medca's injuries are avenged.
All bear him company, who like deceit
To his have practised." And thus much to know
Of the first vale suffice thee, and of those
Whom its keen torments urge.” Now had we come
Where, crossing the next pier, the straiten'd path
Bestrides its shoulders to another arch.
Hence, in the second chasm we heard the ghosts,
Who gibber in low melancholy sounds,
With wide-stretch'd nostrils snort, and on themselves
Smite with their palms. Upon the banks a scurf,
From the foul steam condensed, encrusting hung,
That held sharp combat with the sight and smell.
So hollow is the depth, that from no part,
Save on the summit of the rocky span,
Could I distinguish aught. Thus far we came;
And thence I saw, within the foss below,
A crowd immersed in ordure, that appear'd 1 Hypsipyle.] See Apollonius Rhodius, lib. 1. and Valerius Flaccus, lib. 2. Hypsipyle deceived the other women, by concealing her father Thoas, when they had agreed to put all their males to death.
Draff of the human body. There beneath
Searching with eye inquisitive, I mark'd
One with his head so grimed, 'twere hard to deem
If he were clerk or layman. Loud he cried :
“Why greedily thus bendest more on me,
Than on these other filthy ones, thy ken ?”
“Because, if truc my memory," I replied,
“I heretofore have seen thee with dry locks ;
And thou Alessio 1 art, of Lucca sprung.
Therefore than all the rest I scan thee more.”
Then beating on his brain, these words he spake :
“Me thus low down my flatteries have sunk,
Wherewith I ne’er enough could glut my tongue."
My leader thus : "A little farther stretch
Thy face, that thou the visage well mayst note
Of that besotted, sluttish courtezan,
Who there doth rend her with defiled nails,
Now crouching down, now risen on her feet.
Thaïs 2 is this, the harlot, whose false lip
Answer'd her doting paramour that ask'd,
Thankest me much.-_'Say rather, wondrously?'
And, seeing this, here satiate be our view."
Argument. They come to the third gulf, wherein are punished those who have been
guilty of simony. These are fixed with the head downwards in certain apertures, so that no more of them than the legs appears without, and on the soles of their feet are seen burning flames. Dante is taken down by his guide into the bottom of the gulf; and there finds Pope Nicholas the Fifth, whose evil deeds, together with those of other pontiffs, are bitterly reprehended. Virgil then carries him up again to the arch, which affords them a passage over the following gulf.
WoE to thee, Simon Magus ! woe to you,
His wretched followers! who the things of God,
Which should be wedded unto goodness, them, 1 Alessio.] Alessio, of an ancient and considerable family in Lucca, called the Interminei.
- Thais.] He alludes to that passage in the Eunuchus of Terence, where Thraso asks if Thaïs was obliged to him for the present he had sent her; and Gnatho replies, that she had expressed her obligation in the most forcible terms:
T. Magnas vero agere gratias Thaïs mihi ?
Eun, act iii. sc. 1.
Rapacious as ye are, do prostitute
For gold and silver in adultery:
Now must the trumpet sound for you, since yours
Is the third chasm. Upon the following vault
We now had mounted, where the rock impends
Directly o'er the centre of the foss.
Wisdom Supreme ! how wonderful the art,
Which thou dost manifest in heaven, in earth,
And in the evil world, how just a meed
Allotting by thy virtue unto all.
I saw the livid stone, throughout the sides
And in its bottom full of apertures,
All equal in their width, and circular cach.
Nor ample less nor larger they appear'd
Than, in Saint John's fair dome 1 of me beloved,
Those framed to hold the pure baptismal streams,
One of the which I brake, some few years past,
To save a whelming infant : and be this
A seal to undeceive whoever doubts
The motive of my deed. From out the mouth
Of every one emerged a sinner's feet,
And of the legs high upward as the calf.
The rest beneath was hid. On either foot
The soles were burning ; whence the flexile joints
Glanced with such violent motion, as had snapt
Asunder cords or twisted withs. As flame,
Feeding on unctuous matter, glides along
The surface, scarcely touching where it moves ;
So here, from heel to point, glided the flames.
“Master! say who is he, than all the rest
Glancing in fiercer agony, on whom
A ruddier flame doth prey ?" I thus inquired.
“If thou be willing," he replied, “that I
Carry thee down, where least the slope bank falls,
He of himself shall tell thee, and his wrongs."
I then : “ As pleases thee, to me is best.
Thou art my lord ; and know'st that ne'er I quit
Thy will : what silence hides, that knowest tħou."
Thereat on the fourth pier we came, we turn'd,
And on our left descended to the depth,
A narrow strait, and perforated close.
Nor from his side my leader set me down,
Till to his orifice he brought, whose limb
Quivering expressid his pang. “Whoe'er thou art, 1 Saint John's fair dome.] The apertures in the rock were of the same dimensions as the fonts of St. John the Baptist at Florence; one of which, Dante says, he had broken, to rescue a child that was playing near and fell in. He intimates, that the motive of his breaking the font had been maliciously represented by his enemies.
Sad spirit ! thus reversed, and as a stake
Driven in the soil,” I in these words began ;
“If thou be able, utter forth thy voice."
There stood I like the friar, that doth shrive
A wretch for murder doom'd, who, e'en when fix’d,
Calleth him back, whence death awhile delays.
He shouted : “Ha! already standest there?
Already standest there, O Boniface ! 2
By many a year the writing play'd me false.
So early dost thou surfeit with the wealth,
For which thou fearedst not in guile: to take
The lovely lady, and then mangle her?"
I felt as those who, piercing not the drift
Of answer made them, stand as if exposed
In mockery, nor know what to reply ;
When Virgil thus admonish'd : "Tell him quick,
'I am not he, not he whom thou believest."
And I, as was enjoin'd me, straight replied.
That heard, the spirit all did wrench his feet,
And, sighing, next in woeful accent spake :
“What then of me requirest? If to know
So much imports thee, who I am, that thou
Hast therefore down the bank descended, learn
That in the mighty mantle I was robed, 4
And of a she-bear was indeed the son,
So eager to advance my whelps, that there
My having in my purse above I stow'd,
And here myself. "Under my head are dragg’d
The rest, my predecessors in the guilt
Of simony. Stretch'd at their length, they lie
Along an opening in the rock. 'Midst them
I also low shall fall, soon as he comes,
For whom I took thee, when so hastily
I question'd. But already longer time
1 When fix'd.] The commentators on Boccaccio's Decameron, p. 72, ediz. Giunti, 1573, cite the words of the statute by which murderers were sentenced thus to suffer at Florence. “Assassinus trahatur ad caudam muli seu asini usque ad locum justitiæ ; et ibidem plantetur capite deorsum, ita quod moriatur.” “Let the assassin be dragged at the tail of a mule or ass to the place of justice; and there let him be set in the ground with his face down. ward, so that he die."
0 Boniface !) The spirit mistakes Dante for Boniface VIII., who was then alive; and who he did not expect would have arrived so soon, in consequence, as it should seem, of a prophecy, which predicted the death of that pope at a later period. Boniface died in 1303.
3 In guile.] “Thou didst presume to arrive by fraudulent means at the papal power, and afterwards to abuse it.”
In the mighty mantle I was robed.] Nicholas III. of the Orsini family, whom the Poet therefore calls “figliuol dell' orsa," " son of the she-bear.” He died in 1281.
Hath past, since my soles kindled, and I thus
Upturn'd have stood, than is his doom to stand
Planted with fiery feet. For after him,
One yet of deeds more ugly shall arrive,
From forth the west, a shepherd without law,1
Fated to cover both his form and mine.
He a new Jason2 shall be call’d, of whom
In Maccabees we read; and favour such
As to that priest his king indulgent show'd,
Shall be of France's monarch 3 shown to him.”
I know not if I here too far presumed,
But in this strain I answer'd : « Tell me now,
What treasures from Saint Peter at the first
Dur Lord demanded, when he put the keys
Into his charge? Surely he ask'd no more
But 'Follow me!' Nor Peter, nor the rest,
Or gold or silver of Matthias took,
When lots were cast upon the forfeit place
Of the condemned soul. Abide thou then ;
Thy punishment of right is merited :
And look thou well to that ill-gotten coin,
Which against Charles thy hardihood inspired.
If reverence of the keys restrain'd me not,
Which thou in happier time didst hold, I yet
Severer speech might use. Your avarice
O’ercasts the world with mourning, under foot ?
Treading the good, and raising bad men up.
Of shepherds like to you, the Evangelist 8
1 From forth the west, a shepherd without law.) Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bourdeaux, who succeeded to the pontificate in 1305, and assumedl the title of Clement' v. He transferred the holy see to Avignon in 1308 (where it remained till 1376), and died in 1314.
2 A new Jason.] “But after the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus, called Epiphanes, took the kingdom, Jason, the brother of Onias, laboured underhand to be high-priest, promising unto the king, by intercession, three hundred and threescore talents of silver, and of another revenue eighty talents.” 2 Maccal). iv. 7, 8.
3 of France's monarch.] Philip IV. of France. See G. Villani, lib. 8. cap. Ixxx.
Nor Peter.] Acts of the Apostles, i. 26. 5 The condemned soul.] Judas.
Against Charles.] Nicholas III. was enraged against Charles I. King of Sicily, because he rejected with scorn a proposition made by that pope for an alliance between their families. See G. Villani, Hist. lib. 7. cap. liv. * Under foot.]
So shall the world go on,
To good malignant, to bad men bénign.
Milton, P. L. b. 12. 538. 8 The Evangelist.] Revelation, xvii. 1, 2, 3.-Petrarch, in one of his Epistles, had his eye on these lines : " Gaude (inquam) et ad aliquid utilis inventa gloriare bonorum hostis et malorum hospes, atque asylum pessima rerum Babylon feris, Rhodani ripis imposita, famosa dicam an infamis meretrix,