Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO VII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO VII - 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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The Fourth Circle. Intemperance in Wealth
Misers and Prodigals. The Fifth Circle
- “Papè Satàn, papè Satàn, alèppë!”
- thus Plutus with his clucking voice began;
- that noble Sage, then, who knew everything,
- said, to encourage me: “Let not thy fear
- distress thee, for, whatever power he have,
- he ’ll not prevent our going down this rock.”
- Then to those swollen lips he turned around,
- and said: “Be silent, thou accursèd wolf;
- with thine own rage consume thyself within!
- Not causeless is our going to the bottom;
- there is it willed on high, where Michael wrought
- vengeance upon the arrogant rebellion.”
- As sails, when swollen by the wind, fall down
- entangled, when the mast breaks; even so,
- down to the ground the cruel monster fell.
- Into the fourth ditch we descended thus,
- advancing further o’er the woeful edge,
- which bags all evil in the universe.
- Justice of God, alas! who heapeth up
- the many unheard of toils and pains I saw,
- and wherefore doth our sin torment us so?
- As yonder o’er Charybdis doth the sea,
- which breaks against the one it runs to meet,
- so must the people dance a ring-dance here.
- I here saw folk, more numerous than elsewhere,
- on one side and the other, with great howls
- rolling big weights around by strength of chest;
- they struck against each other; then, right there
- each turned, and rolling back his weight, cried out:
- “Why keepest thou?” and “Wherefore throw away?”
- They circled thus around the gloomy ring
- on either hand unto the point opposed,
- still shouting each to each their vile refrain;
- then each turned back, when through his own half-ring
- he had attained the other butting place.
- And I, whose heart was well nigh broken, said:
- “Now, Teacher, show me who these people are,
- and tell me whether all these tonsured ones
- upon our left ecclesiastics were.”
- And he replied to me: “They each and all
- were in their first life so squint-eyed in mind,
- that they with measure used no money there.
- Clearly enough their voices bark it forth,
- whene’er they reach the two points of the ring,
- where difference in fault unmateth them.
- These churchmen were, who have no hairy covering
- upon their heads, and Popes and Cardinals,
- among whom avarice works its mastery.”
- And I to him: “Among such men as these
- I surely, Teacher, ought to recognize
- a few, who by these sins polluted were.”
- And he to me: “Thou shapest a vain thought;
- the undiscerning life which made them foul,
- now to all recognition makes them dark.
- To these two shocks they ’ll come eternally;
- these from the sepulchre will rise again
- close-fisted; these, shorn of their very hair.
- Ill-giving and ill-keeping took from them
- the lovely world, and set them at this fray;
- to qualify it I ’ll not use fair words.
- Now canst thou, son, behold the short-lived cheat
- of riches that are put in Fortune’s care,
- and for whose sake the human race contends;
- for, all the gold there is beneath the moon,
- and all that was there once, could not avail
- to make one of these weary spirits rest.”
- “Teacher,” said I to him, “now tell me further:
- what is this Fortune thou dost touch upon,
- which hath the world’s good things thus in her claws?”
- “O foolish creatures,” said he then to me.
- “how great the ignorance which hurteth you!
- I ’d have thee swallow now my thought of her.
- The One whose knowledge everything transcends,
- so made the heavens, and so gave guides to them,
- that every part on every other shines,
- thus equally distributing the light;
- likewise for worldly splendours He ordained
- a general minister and guide, to change,
- from time to time, the vain goods of the world
- from race to race, from one blood to another,
- past all resistance by the minds of men;
- wherefore, one people governs, and the other
- declines in power, according to her judgment,
- which hidden is, as in the grass a snake.
- Your knowledge is not able to resist her;
- foreseeing, she decides, and carries on
- her government, as theirs the other gods.
- Her permutations have no truce at all;
- necessity compels her to be swift;
- hence oft it happens that a change occurs.
- This is the one who is so often cursed
- even by those who ought to give her praise,
- yet give her blame amiss, and ill repute.
- But she is blest, and gives no heed to that;
- among the other primal creatures glad,
- she turns her sphere, and blest enjoys herself.
- But now to woe more piteous let ’s descend;
- now falls each star that rose when I set out,
- and one is here forbidden too long a stay.”
- We crossed the circle to the other bank
- over a bubbling stream, that poureth down
- along a ditch which from it takes its shape.
- Than purple-black much darker was its water;
- and we, accompanying its dusky waves,
- went down and entered on an uncouth path.
- A swamp it forms which hath the name of Styx,
- this dismal little brook, when it hath reached
- the bottom of the grey, malignant slopes.
- And I, who was intensely gazing there,
- saw muddy people in that slimy marsh,
- all naked, and with anger in their looks.
- They struck each other, not with hands alone,
- but with their heads and chests, and with their feet,
- and rent each other piecemeal with their teeth.
- Said the good Teacher: “Son, thou seest now
- the souls of those whom anger overcame;
- nay, more, I ’d have thee certainly believe
- that ’neath the water there are folk who sigh,
- and make this water bubble at its surface,
- as, wheresoe’er it turn, thine eye reveals.
- Stuck in the slime, they say: “Sullen we were
- in the sweet air that ’s gladdened by the sun,
- bearing within us fumes of surliness;
- we now are sullen in the swamp’s black mire.”
- This hymn they gurgle down inside their throats,
- because they cannot utter it with perfect speech.
- And so we circled round the filthy fen
- a great arc ’tween the dry bank and the marsh,
- our eyes intent on those that swallow mud;
- and to a tower’s foot we came at last.