Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO II - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO II - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.) 
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Italian Text with a Translation in English Blank Verse and a Commentary by Courtney Langdon, vol. 1 (Inferno) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1918). English version.
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Introduction to the Inferno
The Mission of Virgil
- Daylight was going, and the dusky air
- was now releasing from their weary toil
- all living things on earth; and I alone
- was making ready to sustain the war
- both of the road and of the sympathy,
- which my unerring memory will relate.
- O Muses, O high Genius, help me now!
- O Memory, that wrotest what I saw,
- herewith shall thy nobility appear!
- I then began: “Consider, Poet, thou
- that guidest me, if strong my virtue be,
- or e’er thou trust me to the arduous course.
- Thou sayest that the sire of Silvio entered,
- when still corruptible, the immortal world,
- and that while in his body he was there.
- Hence, that to him the Opponent of all ill
- was courteous, considering the great result
- that was to come from him, both who, and what,
- seems not unfitting to a thoughtful man;
- for he of fostering Rome and of her sway
- in the Empyrean Heaven was chosen as sire;
- and both of these, if one would tell the truth,
- were foreordained unto the holy place,
- where greatest Peter’s follower hath his seat.
- While on this quest, for which thou giv’st him praise,
- he heard the things which of his victory
- the causes were, and of the Papal Robe.
- The Chosen Vessel went there afterward,
- to bring thence confirmation in the faith,
- through which one enters on salvation’s path.
- But why should I go there, or who concedes it?
- I ’m not Aeneas, nor yet Paul am I;
- me worthy of this, nor I nor others deem.
- If, therefore, I consent to come, I fear
- lest foolish be my coming; thou art wise,
- and canst much better judge than I can talk.”
- And such as he who unwills what he willed,
- and changes so his purpose through new thoughts,
- that what he had begun he wholly leaves;
- such on that gloomy slope did I become;
- for, as I thought it over, I gave up
- the enterprise so hastily commenced.
- “If I have rightly understood thy words,”
- replied the shade of that Great-hearted man,
- “thy soul is hurt by shameful cowardice,
- which many times so sorely hinders one,
- that from an honored enterprise it turns him,
- as seeing falsely doth a shying beast.
- In order that thou rid thee of this fear,
- I ’ll tell thee why I came, and what I heard
- the first time I was grieved on thy account.
- Among the intermediate souls I was,
- when me a Lady called, so beautiful
- and happy, that I begged her to command.
- Her eyes were shining brighter than a star,
- when sweetly and softly she began to say,
- as with an angel’s voice she spoke to me:
- ‘O courteous Mantuan spirit, thou whose fame
- is still enduring in the world above,
- and will endure as long as lasts the world,
- a friend of mine, but not a friend of Fortune,
- is on his journey o’er the lonely slope
- obstructed so, that he hath turned through fear;
- and, from what I have heard of him in Heaven,
- I fear lest he may now have strayed so far,
- that I have risen too late to give him help.
- Bestir thee, then, and with thy finished speech,
- and with whatever his escape may need,
- assist him so that I may be consoled.
- I, who now have thee go, am Beatrice;
- thence come I, whither I would fain return;
- ’t was love that moved me, love that makes me speak.
- When in the presence of my Lord again,
- often shall I commend thee unto Him.’
- Thereat she ceased to speak, and I began:
- ‘O Lady of virtue, thou through whom alone
- the human race excels all things contained
- within the heaven that hath the smallest circles,
- thy bidding pleases me so much, that late
- I ’d be, hadst thou already been obeyed;
- thou needst but to disclose to me thy will.
- But tell me why thou dost not mind descending
- into this center from that ample place,
- whither thou art so eager to return.’
- ‘Since thou wouldst know thereof so inwardly,
- I ’ll tell thee briefly,’ she replied to me,
- ‘why I am not afraid to enter here.
- Of those things only should one be afraid,
- that have the power of doing injury;
- not of the rest, for they should not be feared.
- I, of His mercy, am so made by God,
- that me your wretchedness doth not affect,
- nor any flame of yonder fire molest.
- There is a Gentle Lady up in Heaven,
- who grieves so at this check, whereto I send thee,
- that broken is stern judgment there above.
- She called Lucìa in her prayer, and said:
- ‘Now hath thy faithful servant need of thee,
- and I, too, recommend him to thy care.’
- Lucìa, hostile to all cruelty,
- set forth thereat, and came unto the place,
- where I with ancient Rachel had my seat.
- ‘Why, Beatrice,’ she said, ‘true Praise of God,
- dost thou not succour him who loved thee so,
- that for thy sake he left the common herd?
- Dost thou not hear the anguish of his cry?
- see’st not the death that fights him on the flood,
- o’er which the sea availeth not to boast?
- Ne’er were there any in the world so swift
- to seek their profit and avoid their loss,
- as I, after such words as these were uttered,
- descended hither from my blessèd seat,
- confiding in that noble speech of thine,
- which honors thee and whosoe’er has heard it.’
- Then, after she had spoken to me thus,
- weeping she turned her shining eyes away;
- which made me hasten all the more to come;
- and, even as she wished, I came to thee,
- and led thee from the presence of the beast,
- which robbed thee of the fair Mount’s short approach.
- What is it, then? Why, why dost thou hold back?
- Why dost thou lodge such baseness in thy heart,
- and wherefore free and daring art thou not,
- since three so blessèd Ladies care for thee
- within the court of Heaven, and my words, too,
- give thee the promise of so much that’s good?”
- As little flowers by the chill of night
- bowed down and closed, when brightened by the sun,
- stand all erect and open on their stems;
- so likewise with my wearied strength did I;
- and such good daring coursed into my heart,
- that I began as one who had been freed:
- “O piteous she who hastened to my help,
- and courteous thou, that didst at once obey
- the words of truth that she addressed to thee!
- Thou hast with such desire disposed my heart
- toward going on, by reason of thy words,
- that to my first intention I ’ve returned.
- Go on now, since we two have but one will;
- thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Teacher thou!”
- I thus addressed him; then, when he had moved,
- I entered on the wild and arduous course.