Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XIV - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO XIV - 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 Seventh Circle. The Third Ring
Violence against God. Blasphemers
- Since love for my own native place constrained me,
- I gathered up the scattered twigs and leaves,
- and gave them back to him who now was weak.
- Thence to the bound we came, where from the third
- the second ring is severed, and wherein
- a frightful form of Justice may be seen.
- To manifest aright what here was new,
- I say that we had reached a barren plain,
- which from its bed removeth every plant.
- The woeful wood is as a garland round it,
- as round the former is the dismal moat;
- there on its very edge we stayed our steps.
- Its soil was of a dense and arid sand,
- whose nature differed in no way from that,
- which once was trodden by the feet of Cato.
- Vengeance of God, how much by every one
- thou oughtest to be feared, who readeth here
- what to these eyes of mine was manifest!
- Of naked souls I many flocks beheld,
- who all wept very sorely, while on each
- a different law appeared to be imposed.
- A few lay on the ground upon their backs;
- and some were seated cuddled up together,
- while others moved about continually.
- Most numerous were those that moved around,
- and least so those that under torment lay,
- but all the freer had their tongues to wail.
- Down on the whole great waste of sand there rained
- with gentle fall dilated flakes of fire,
- like flakes of snow that fall on windless Alps.
- As were the flames which Alexander saw
- in India’s torrid regions, as they fell
- upon his hosts, unbroken to the ground;
- — and this he met, by ordering his troops
- to trample on the soil, because the flames,
- when single, were more easily put out —
- even such descended here the eternal heat,
- whereby the sand was set on fire, as tinder
- is kindled under steel, to double pain.
- And ever without resting was the dance
- of wretched hands, that kept, now here, now there,
- slapping away each latest burning flake.
- “Thou, Teacher,” I began, “that conquerest all,
- except the stubborn devils who came out
- against us at the entrance of the gate,
- who is that great one who seems not to mind
- the fire, but lies there scornful and awry,
- so that the rain seems not to ripen him?”
- And that same one, who had observed that I
- concerning him was questioning my Leader,
- cried: “As I was alive, such am I dead!
- If Jove should tire that smith of his, from whom,
- in wrath, he took the pointed thunderbolt,
- wherewith I smitten was that final day;
- or should he tire the others, each in turn,
- in Mongibello’s smithy black with smoke,
- by calling out: ‘Help, help, good Vulcan, help!’
- even as he did on Phlegra’s battle-field;
- and should he shoot at me with all his might,
- no glad revenge would he obtain thereby!”
- Thereat my Leader spoke with so much force,
- that I had never heard him use the like:
- “In that thine arrogance, O Capaneus,
- is not extinguished, art thou all the more
- chastised; no torment, saving thine own rage,
- were for thy furious pride a fitting pain.”
- Then with a gentler mien he turned to me,
- and said: “One of the seven kings was he,
- who Thebes besieged; he held, and seems to hold
- God in disdain, and little seems to prize Him;
- but, as I told him, his own spitefulness
- is fit enough adornment for his breast.
- Now follow me, and see that thou meanwhile
- set not thy feet upon the burning sand,
- but to the thicket keep them ever close.”
- In silence we went on, and came to where,
- out of the wood a little stream spirts forth,
- whose ruddy color makes me shudder still.
- As from the Bulicàmë springs a brook,
- which afterward the sinful women share,
- even so went that one down across the sand.
- Its bottom and both sides had turned to stone,
- as also had the embankments on each side;
- I hence perceived the crossing-place was there.
- “Of all the other things which I have shown thee
- since first we entered through the outer gate,
- whose threshold unto no one is denied,
- nothing has ever by thine eyes been seen
- as notable as is this present brook,
- which deadens o’er itself all little flames.”
- These were my Leader’s words; I therefore begged
- that he would freely grant to me the food,
- desire of which he had so freely given.
- “Amid the sea there lies a wasted land,”
- he told me thereupon, “whose name is Crete,
- under whose king the world of old was pure.
- There is a mountain there, which, happy once
- with waters and green leaves, was Ida called;
- ’t is now abandoned like a thing outworn.
- Whilom as trusty cradle for her son
- Rhea selected it, and when he wept,
- to hide him better, caused a shouting there.
- Within that mountain stands a great Old Man,
- who holds his shoulders toward Damiata turned,
- and who, as at his mirror, looks at Rome.
- His head is formed of finest gold, his arms
- and breast are of the purest silver, then,
- as far as to his loins, he ’s made of brass;
- all chosen iron is he down from there,
- save that baked clay his right foot is, and straighter
- he stands on that, than on the other foot.
- Each of these parts, except the golden one,
- is broken by a cleft, whence trickle tears,
- which, when collected, perforate that cave.
- From rock to rock they course into this vale;
- then Acheron with Styx and Phlegethon
- they form, and through this narrow duct descend
- as far as where one goes no further down;
- they form Cocytus there; and what that pool
- is like, thou ’lt see; hence here it is not told.
- And I to him: “If thus this present stream
- hs from our world descended, why alone
- on this ring’s edge hath it appeared to us?”
- And he: “Thou knowest that the place is round,
- and though a long way thou hast gone already,
- e’er to the left descending toward the bottom,
- through the whole circle thou hast not yet gone;
- wherefore, if aught that ’s new appear to us,
- it should not bring amazement to thy face.”
- And I again: “But where are Phlegethon
- and Lethe, Teacher? For, of this one silent,
- thou say’st the other of this rain is made.”
- And he replied: “Thou certainly dost please me
- in all thy questions, but the red stream’s boiling
- ought surely to have answered one of them.
- Lethe thou ’lt see, but there, outside this cave,
- whither souls go to wash themselves, when once
- their sin, repented of, has been removed.”
- And then he said: “It now is time for us
- to leave the wood; see that thou follow me;
- the banks, which are not burned, afford a path;
- and up above them every flame is quenched.”