Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XXXIV - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (English trans.)
INFERNO XXXIV - 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 Benefactors. Lucifer
- “The banners of the King of Hell advance
- toward us; now, therefore, look ahead of thee,”
- my Teacher said, “and see if thou perceive him.”
- As, when a heavy fog is breathed abroad,
- or when at night our hemisphere grows dark,
- a windmill looks when seen from far away;
- even such a structure seemed I now to see;
- then, for the wind, I shrank behind my Leader,
- for other shelter was there none. I now —
- and ’t is with fear I put it into verse, —
- was where the shades were wholly covered up,
- and visible as is a straw in glass;
- some lying are; and some are standing up,
- one on his head, the other on his soles;
- one, like a bow, bends toward his feet his face.
- When we had gone so far ahead, that now
- it pleased my Teacher to reveal to me
- the Creature who once seemed so beautiful,
- he stepped from where he was in front of me,
- stopped me, and said: “Lo Dis, and lo the place,
- where thou must arm thyself with fortitude!”
- How frozen and how weak I then became,
- ask thou not, Reader, for I write it not,
- because all speech would be of small avail.
- I did not die, nor yet remained alive;
- think for thyself now, hast thou any wit,
- what I became, of both of these deprived.
- The Emperor of the Realm of Woe stood forth
- out of the ice from midway up his breast;
- and I compare more closely with a Giant,
- than merely with his arms the Giants do;
- consider now how great that whole must be,
- that with such parts as these may be compared.
- If, once as beautiful as ugly now,
- he still raised up his brows against his Maker,
- justly doth every woe proceed from him.
- Oh, what a marvel it appeared to me,
- when I beheld three faces to his head!
- One was in front of us, and that was red;
- the other two were to the latter joined
- right o’er the middle of each shoulder-blade,
- and met each other where he had his crest;
- that on the right twixt white and yellow seemed;
- the left one such to look at, as are those
- who come from there, where valeward flows the Nile.
- Under each face two mighty wings stretched out,
- of size proportioned to so huge a bird;
- sails of the sea I never saw so large.
- They had no feathers, but were like a bat’s
- in fashion; these he flapped in such a way,
- that three winds issued forth from him; thereby
- Cocytus was completely frozen up.
- With six eyes he was weeping, and his tears
- and bloody slaver trickled o’er three chins.
- In each mouth, as a heckle would have done,
- a sinner he was crushing with his teeth,
- and thus was causing pain to three of them.
- To him who was in front of us the biting
- was nothing to the clawing, for at times
- his back remained completely stripped of skin.
- “That soul up there which hath the greatest pain
- Judas Iscariot is,” my Teacher said,
- “who hath his head within, and plies his legs
- without. Of the other two, whose heads are down,
- Brutus is he who from the black snout hangs;
- see how he writhes, and utters not a word!
- Cassius the other is, who so big-limbed
- appears. But night is coming up again,
- and now ’t is time to leave, for we ’ve seen all.”
- Then, as it pleased him, I embraced his neck,
- and he availed himself of time and place,
- and when the wings were opened wide enough,
- he firmly grasped the shaggy flanks, and then
- from tuft to tuft he afterward descended
- between the matted hair and frozen crusts.
- When we were come to where the thigh turns round,
- just at the thick part of the hips, my Leader
- with tiring effort and with stress of breath
- turned his head round to where his legs had been,
- and seized the hair as one would who ascends;
- hence I thought we were going back to Hell.
- “Hold fast to me, for by such stairs as these”
- panting like one worn out, my Teacher said,
- “must such great wickedness be left behind.”
- Then, through an opening in the rock he issued,
- and, after seating me upon its edge,
- over toward me advanced his cautious step.
- Raising mine eyes, I thought that I should still
- see Lucifer the same as when I left him;
- but I beheld him with his legs held up.
- And thereupon, if I became perplexed,
- let those dull people think, who do not see
- what kind of point that was which I had passed.
- “Stand up” my Teacher said, “upon thy feet!
- the way is long and difficult the road,
- and now to middle-tierce the sun returns.”
- It was no palace hallway where we were,
- but just a natural passage under ground,
- which had a wretched floor and lack of light.
- “Before I tear myself from this abyss,
- Teacher,” said I on rising, “talk to me
- a little, and correct my wrong ideas.
- Where is the ice? And how is this one fixed
- thus upside down? And in so short a time
- how hath the sun from evening crossed to morn?”
- Then he to me: “Thou thinkest thou art still
- beyond the center where I seized the hair
- of that bad Worm who perforates the world.
- While I was going down, thou wast beyond it;
- but when I turned, thou then didst pass the point
- to which all weights are drawn on every side;
- thou now art come beneath the hemisphere
- opposed to that the great dry land o’ercovers,
- and ’neath whose zenith was destroyed the Man,
- who without sinfulness was born and died;
- thy feet thou hast upon the little sphere,
- which forms the other surface of Judecca.
- ’T is morning here, whenever evening there;
- and he who made our ladder with his hair,
- is still fixed fast, ev’n as he was before.
- He fell on this side out of Heaven; whereat,
- the land, which hitherto was spread out here,
- through fear of him made of the sea a veil,
- and came into our hemisphere; perhaps
- to flee from him, what is on this side seen
- left the place empty here, and upward rushed.”
- There is a place down there, as far removed
- from Beelzebub, as e’er his tomb extends,
- not known by sight, but by a brooklet’s sound,
- which flows down through a hole there in the rock,
- gnawed in it by the water’s spiral course,
- which slightly slopes. My Leader then, and I,
- in order to regain the world of light,
- entered upon that dark and hidden path;
- and, without caring for repose, went up,
- he going on ahead, and I behind,
- till through a rounded opening I beheld
- some of the lovely things the sky contains;
- thence we came out, and saw again the stars.
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