Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XXVII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO XXVII - 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
- The flame, because of having ceased to speak,
- was quiet and erect, and now away from us
- was going with the gentle Poet’s leave;
- when lo, another, which behind it came,
- caused us to turn our eyes up toward its tip,
- by reason of a vague sound issuing thence.
- As the Sicilian bull (which bellowed first
- with the lament of him, and that was right,
- who with his file had given form to it,)
- was wont to bellow with the voice of him
- who suffered in it, so that, though of brass,
- it seemed the one who by the pain was pierced;
- even so, since from the body of the flame
- they had nor path nor mouth, the painful words
- were changed at first into the latter’s tongue.
- But when these words had travelled to the tip,
- and given it that vibration which the tongue,
- when uttered, gave to them, we heard it say:
- “O thou, to whom I now address my voice,
- and who just now didst talk in Lombard, saying:
- ‘Now go thy way, for thee I urge no more;’
- though I, perhaps, have somewhat late arrived,
- be not displeased to stop and speak with me;
- thou see’st that I am not, although I burn!
- If into this blind world thou only now
- art fallen down from that sweet Latin land,
- whence all my guilt I bring, pray tell me whether
- the Romagnoles are having peace or war;
- for I came from the mountains ’tween Urbino
- and that high peak from which the Tiber springs.”
- While downward I was leaning still intent,
- my Leader touched me on my side, and said:
- “Speak thou, for this one an Italian is.”
- And I, who had my answer all prepared,
- began to speak without delay: “O soul,
- that art concealed down yonder, thy Romagna
- is not at present, and she never was,
- devoid of war within her tyrants’ hearts;
- but I left none apparent there just now.
- Ravenna is, as she for many years
- has been; Polenta’s eagle so broods there,
- that Cervia it o’ercovers with its wings.
- The town which made the long resistance once,
- and of the French a sanguinary heap,
- beneath the green paws finds itself again.
- Verrucchio’s former Mastif and the new,
- who foully with Montagna dealt, there make,
- where they are wont, a gimlet of their teeth.
- The cities of Lamone and Santerno
- the little lion of the white lair rules,
- who changes sides from summer-time to winter;
- and that whose flank is by the Savio bathed,
- lives, as it sits twixt plain and mount,
- a free state half, and half a tyranny.
- And now, I pray thee, tell me who thou art,
- nor harder be than others here have been,
- so may thy name maintain itself on earth.”
- After the flame had roared a little while,
- as is its fashion, to and fro it moved
- its pointed tip, and then gave forth this breath:
- “If I believed that my reply were made
- to one who to the world would e’er return,
- this flame would stay without another quiver;
- but inasmuch as, if I hear the truth,
- none e’er returned alive from this abyss,
- fearless of infamy I answer thee.
- A man of arms I was, then Cordelier,
- trusting, since girded thus, to make amends;
- and certainly my trust had been confirmed,
- were ’t not for that High Priest, (whom ill befall!)
- who set me at my former sins again;
- both how and why I ’d have thee hear from me.
- While I was still the shape of bones and flesh
- my mother gave me, my performances
- were not a lion’s, but a fox’s deeds.
- All covert practices and hidden ways
- I knew; and I so carried on their arts,
- that to the ends of earth their fame was noised.
- When I perceived at last that I had reached
- that period of my life, when each should strike
- his sails and coil his ropes, what hitherto
- had given me pleasure I thereat disliked;
- I yielded then, repenting and confessing,
- and that, alas, poor me! would have availed.
- The Prince of modern Pharisees, who then
- hard by the Lateran had a war on hand,
- though not with either Saracens or Jews,
- for Christian were all enemies of his,
- and none of them had gone to conquer Acre,
- or been a merchant in the Soldan’s land;
- not heeding in himself his lofty office
- and holy orders, or in me the cord,
- which leaner used to make those girt therewith;
- but as upon Soracte Constantine
- once bade Sylvester heal his leprosy;
- so this one called on me, as master-leech,
- to cure him of the fever of his pride;
- he asked me for advice, but I kept still,
- because his words were like a drunkard’s words.
- And then he said: ‘Let not thy heart mistrust;
- I from now on absolve thee; teach me, then,
- how I can Palestrina overthrow.
- To lock and unlock Heaven is in my power,
- as thou dost know; two, therefore, are the Keys,
- my predecessor held in small esteem.’
- His weighty words then drove me to the point,
- at which the silent course appeared the worse;
- ‘Father,’ I therefore said, ‘since from the sin
- thou washest me, which I must now commit,
- a promise long drawn out but shortly kept
- will cause thy triumph on the lofty seat.’
- Then Francis came for me, when I was dead;
- but one of our black Cherubs said to him:
- ‘Remove him not, and do no wrong to me!
- Among my menials he must needs descend,
- because he gave the fraudulent advice,
- since which till now I ’ve had him by the hair;
- for who repents not cannot be absolved,
- nor yet can one at once repent and will,
- the contradiction not permitting it!’
- O woeful me! O how I shook with fear,
- when, after laying hold on me, he said:
- ‘Perhaps thou didst not think me a logician!’
- He carried me to Minos, and the latter
- round his hard back eight times entwined his tail,
- and when in great rage he had bitten it,
- ‘A sinner of the thievish fire is this,’
- he said; hence, where thou see’st me, I am lost,
- and, thus robed, sorrowing go my way.”
- When he had thus completed his discourse,
- the flame departed from us with its grief,
- twisting and lashing its sharp-pointed horn.
- I and my Leader then passed further on
- up o’er the crag, as far as the next arch
- which spans the ditch, wherein their due is paid
- to those who burdens win by severing bonds.