Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XXVI - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO XXVI - 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 Eighth Circle. Fraud
The Eighth Trench. Fraudulent Counselors
- Rejoice, O Florence, since thou art so great,
- that thou dost beat thy wings o’er sea and land,
- while ev’n through Hell thy name is spread abroad!
- Among the thieves five such as these I found,
- thy citizens, whence shame accrues to me,
- nor to great honor risest thou thereby.
- But if the truth be dreamed at dawn’s approach,
- thou ’lt feel a little while from now what Prato,
- of others not to speak, is craving for thee;
- and were it now, it would not be too soon;
- so were it, then, since thus it needs must be!
- for it will grieve me more, the more I age.
- We went away, and up the flight of stairs,
- the bournes had formed for our descent before,
- my Teacher climbed again, and drew me with him;
- and as we followed up the lonely path
- among the rocks and boulders of the crag,
- our feet proceeded not without our hands.
- I sorrowed then, and now again I sorrow,
- when I direct my mind to what I saw,
- and curb my genius more than I am wont,
- lest it should run when virtue guides it not;
- that, if a kindly star, or aught that’s better,
- have blest me, I myself may not regret it.
- As many glow-worms as the countryman, —
- who on the hillside takes his rest, when he,
- who lights the world, least hides his face from us,
- while to the gnat the fly is giving way, —
- sees down along the valley where, perchance,
- he gathers in his grapes, or ploughs his field;
- with just as many flames the whole eighth trench
- was gleaming bright, as I perceived at once,
- when I was where its bottom came in view.
- As he who by the bears avenged himself,
- beheld Elijah’s chariot when it left,
- and when to heaven its horses rose erect,
- since he could not so trace it with his eyes,
- as to see more than just the flame alone,
- when like a little cloud it rose on high;
- of such a nature were the flames that moved
- along the gulley of the ditch, for none
- displays its theft, though each a sinner hides.
- Risen up to look, I so stood on the bridge,
- that without being pushed I would have fallen,
- had I not grasped a great projecting rock.
- My Leader, who perceived me thus intent,
- then said: “The spirits are within the fires,
- and each is swathed by that wherewith he burns.”
- “My Teacher,” I replied, “I ’m more assured
- through hearing thee, but deemed it so already,
- and wished to ask thee: ‘Who is in the flame
- which comes along so cloven at the top,
- that from the pyre it seems to rise, whereon
- Etèocles was with his brother placed?’”
- He answered me: “Therein are both Ulysses
- and Diomed tormented, who in pain
- thus go together, as they did in wrath;
- and in that flame of theirs they now bewail
- the ambush of the horse, which made the gate,
- from which the Roman’s noble seed went forth;
- there they lament the trick, because of which
- Deidamìa, dead, still mourns Achilles;
- there the Palladium’s penalty is paid.”
- “If they can speak within those sparks,” said I,
- “I pray thee, Teacher, much, and pray again
- that mine be worth to thee a thousand prayers,
- refuse not my request to linger here
- until the horned flame come this way; thou see’st
- that toward it I ’m inclined by great desire.”
- And he replied to me: “Thy prayer deserves
- much praise and therefore I accede to it,
- but see thou that thy tongue restrain itself.
- Leave speech to me, who have a clear idea
- of what thou wouldst; for they, since Greeks they were,
- might be, perchance, disdainful of thy words.”
- After the flame had come so near to us,
- that time and place seemed fitting to my Leader,
- ’t was in this fashion that I heard him speak:
- “O ye that in a single flame are two,
- if I deserved of you, when still alive,
- if I deserved of you or much or little,
- when in the world I wrote the lofty verses,
- depart not; but let one of you inform us
- whither, when lost, he went away to die.”
- The greater horn then of the ancient flame
- began to quiver with a murmuring sound,
- as would a flame made weary by the wind;
- and then, while swaying here and there its tip,
- as if the latter were the tongue that spoke,
- gave forth a voice, and said: “When I departed
- from Circe, who concealed me near Gaeta
- more than a year before Aeneas so
- had named the place, nor fondness for my son,
- nor pious reverence for my agèd father,
- nor ev’n the bounden love which should have cheered
- Penelope, could overcome within me
- the eagerness I had to gain experience
- both of the world, and of the vice and worth
- of men; but forth I put upon the deep
- and open sea with but a single ship,
- and with that little company, by whom
- I had not been deserted. Both its shores
- I then beheld, as far away as Spain,
- Morocco and the island of the Sards,
- and all the rest that sea bathes round about.
- Both old and slow were I and my companions,
- when we attained that narrow passage-way,
- where Hercules set up those signs of his,
- which warned men not to sail beyond their bounds;
- Seville I left behind me on the right hand,
- Ceuta I’d left already on the other.
- And then I said: ‘O brothers, ye who now
- have through a hundred thousand perils reached
- the West, to this so short a waking-time
- still left your senses, will not to refuse
- experience of that world behind the sun
- which knows not man! Bethink you of the seed
- whence ye have sprung; for ye were not created
- to lead the life of stupid animals,
- but manliness and knowledge to pursue.’
- So eager for the voyage did I make
- my fellows by this little speech of mine,
- that, after it, I hardly could have checked them.
- Hence, to the morning having turned our stern,
- we with our oars made wings for our mad flight,
- e’er veering toward the left as on we sped.
- Night was already seeing all the stars
- of the other pole, and our pole so low down,
- that from the ocean’s floor it never rose.
- Five times rekindled, and as often quenched,
- had been the light beneath the moon, since first
- we entered on the passage of the deep,
- when lo, a mountain loomed before us, dim
- by reason of the distance, and so high
- it seemed to me, that I had seen none such.
- And we rejoiced; but soon our happiness
- was turned to grief; for from the new-found land
- a whirlwind rose, and smote our vessel’s prow;
- three times it made her whirl with all the waters;
- then at the fourth it made her stern go up,
- and prow go down, even as Another pleased,
- till over us the ocean’s waves had closed.”