Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XXXII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO XXXII - 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 Ninth Circle. Treachery. Cocytus
Traitors to their Relatives, and to their Country
- If I had rhymes that were as harsh and hoarse
- as would be fitting for the dismal hole,
- on which lean all the other circling rocks,
- I ’d squeeze the juice of my conception out
- more fully; but because I have them not,
- not without fear do I resolve to speak;
- for to describe the bottom of the universe
- is not an enterprise wherewith to jest,
- nor for a tongue that says ‘mamma’ and ‘dad’;
- let, then, those Ladies give my verse their aid,
- who helped Amphion build the walls of Thebes,
- that from the facts the telling differ not.
- O rabble, that, ill-born beyond all people,
- are in a place, to speak of which is hard,
- far better had ye here been sheep or goats!
- When we were down within the gloomy well,
- beneath the Giant’s feet, though lower far,
- and I still gazing at its lofty wall,
- I heard one say to me: “Look where thou walkest!
- and see that with thy feet thou trample not
- the heads of us two wretched, weary brothers!”
- Thereat I turned around, and saw before me,
- and ’neath my feet, a lake which, being frozen,
- seemed to be made of glass and not of water.
- The Danube up in Austria never made
- so thick a veil in winter for its course,
- nor yonder ’neath the cold sky did the Don,
- as what was here; for even if Tambernich
- had fallen on it, or had Pietrapana,
- it had not cracked even at its very edge.
- And as a frog remains, to do its croaking,
- with muzzle out of water, in the season
- when oft the peasant dreams that she is gleaning;
- even so, as far as where one’s shame is shown,
- the woeful shades were livid in the ice,
- as to the notes of storks they set their teeth.
- Each kept his face turned downward; from his mouth,
- the cold, and from his eyes, his saddened heart
- provides itself a witness in their midst.
- When I had gazed around a while, I looked
- down at my feet, and two I saw with heads
- so close together, that their hair was mixed.
- “Ye that are pressing thus your breasts together,
- say who ye are,” said I. They bent their necks,
- and when their faces had been raised toward me,
- their eyes, moist only inwardly before,
- gushed upward though the lids; whereat the cold,
- binding the tears between them, closed them up.
- A clamp ne’er bound so tightly board to board;
- whereat, so great the anger mastering them,
- like two he-goats, they butted one another.
- And one who had, by reason of the cold,
- lost both his ears, with face still lowered, said:
- “Why dost thou mirror thee so much on us?
- If thou wouldst know who those two near thee are,
- the valley from which thy Bisenzio flows
- belonged to their sire Albert and to them.
- They issued from one body; and thou canst search
- through all Caìna, but thou ’lt never find
- a shade more worthy to be fixed in ice;
- not he, whose breast and shadow broken were
- by one same blow at Arthur’s hand; nor yet
- Focaccia; nor this fellow here, whose head
- so blocks me, that I cannot see beyond,
- and who was Sàssol Mascheroni called;
- who he was, thou, if Tuscan, now knowst well.
- And that thou put me to no further speech,
- know, then, that I was Camiciòn de’ Pazzi,
- and that, to excuse me, I await Carlìn.”
- Thereafter I beheld a thousand faces
- made doglike by the cold; hence frozen ponds
- cause me to shudder now, and always will.
- And now, while toward that center we were moving,
- whereto all heavy objects gravitate,
- and I was trembling in the eternal cold;
- I know not whether it were will, or fate,
- or chance; but as I walked among the heads,
- hard in the face of one I struck my foot.
- Weeping he scolded: “Wherefore dost thou smite me?
- Unless thou comest to increase the vengeance
- for Mont’ Aperti, why dost thou molest me?”
- And I said: “Teacher, wait now for me here,
- that I through him may issue from a doubt;
- then at thy pleasure shalt thou hurry me.”
- My Leader stopped; and I to him, who still
- was savagely blaspheming, said: “What sort
- of man art thou, that scoldest people so?”
- “Now who art thou, that goest” he replied,
- “through Antenora, smiting cheeks so roughly,
- that it would be too much, wert thou alive?”
- “I am alive, and it may profit thee”
- was my reply, “for me to place thy name,
- if fame thou ask, among my other notes.”
- And he: “I crave the contrary; away
- with thee, and bother me no more; for ill
- dost thou know how to flatter in this bog!”
- Thereat I seized him by the nape, and said:
- “It needs must be that thou reveal thy name,
- or that no hair remain upon thee here!”
- Then he to me: “Though thou pull out my hair,
- I ’ll neither say, nor show thee, who I am,
- fall thou upon my head a thousand times.”
- I had his hair wrapped round my hand already,
- and more than one shock had I plucked from him,
- while he was barking, with his eyes turned down;
- when here another cried: “What ails thee, Bocca?
- Is making noise with jawbones not enough,
- unless thou bark? What devil touches thee?”
- “Henceforth” said I, “I would not have thee speak,
- perfidious traitor; for true news of thee
- I ’ll carry with me to thy lasting shame.”
- “Begone, and tell whate’er thou wilt;” he answered,
- but be not silent, if thou issue hence,
- of him who had just now his tongue so ready.
- He here bewails the money of the French;
- ‘Him of Duera’ thou canst say, ‘I saw
- where cold the days are for the sinful folk.’
- And if thou shouldst be asked who else was there,
- thou hast beside thee him of Beccherìa,
- who had his gorget cut in two by Florence.
- Gianni de’ Soldanier is further on,
- I think, with Ganellon, and Tebaldello,
- who, while its people slept, unlocked Faenza.”
- From him we had departed now, when two
- I saw, so frozen in a single hole,
- that one man’s head served as the other’s cap.
- And as because of hunger bread is eaten,
- even so the upper on the other set
- his teeth, where to the nape the brain is joined.
- Not otherwise did Tydeus gnaw the temples
- of Menalippus out of spite, than this one
- was gnawing at the skull and other parts.
- “O thou that showest by a sign so beastly
- hatred toward him thou eatest, tell me why,”
- said I to him, “on this express condition,
- that shouldst thou rightfully of him complain,
- I, knowing who ye are, and that one’s sin,
- may quit thee for it in the world above,
- if that, wherewith I speak, be not dried up.”