Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO XII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO XII - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.) 
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Italian Text with a Translation in English Blank Verse and a Commentary by Courtney Langdon, vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920).
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Purgatory. The First Ring. Pride
Instances of Punished Pride. The Angel of Humility
- With equal steps, like oxen going yoked,
- I went along beside that burdened soul,
- as long as my dear Pedagogue allowed;
- but when he said: “Leave him, and go thou on;
- for here ’t is well that each should urge his bark
- with sail and oars, as much as e’er he can,”
- I straightened me
- as much as walking called for,
- although my thoughts kept humble and depressed.
- On had I moved, and in my Teacher’s steps
- was following willingly, and both of us
- were showing now how light of step we were,
- when “Downward turn thine eyes!” he said to me,
- “Well will it be, to calm thee on thy way,
- that thou shouldst see the bed thy soles are treading.”
- As over those that ’neath them buried lie
- — that they may be recalled to people’s minds —
- tombs level with the ground the record bear
- of what they were before; whence there they oft
- are wept for, through the prick of memory,
- which spurs to grief the pitiful alone;
- ev’n so I saw engraved in sculpture here,
- though finer in respect to workmanship,
- as much as from the Mount juts out as path.
- I saw, on one side, Him who once was made
- nobler by far than any other creature,
- fall like a flash of lightning down from Heaven.
- I saw Briareus, on the other side,
- pierced by an arrow from the sky, lie prone,
- and heavy on the ground with mortal cold.
- I saw Apollo, Mars I saw and Pallas,
- as, still in armor, round their Sire they stood,
- gazing upon the Giants’ scattered limbs.
- I saw great Nimrod ’neath his mighty work
- dumb with confusion, as he watched the folk,
- who once were proud with him on Shinar’s plain.
- O Niobe, with what sad eyes I thee
- saw pictured forth in stone, between thy children,
- the seven and seven thy dead, upon the road!
- O Saul, how plainly there on thine own sword
- didst thou seem dead upon Gilbòa’s mount,
- which felt thereafter neither rain nor dew!
- O mad Arachne, thee I saw, as when,
- already half a spider, thou wast sad
- amid the tatters of thy fatal work.
- O Rehoboam, not a threat seems now
- thy face, but terror-stricken, as away
- a chariot bears thee, lest thou be pursued.
- It showed, moreover, that hard pavement did,
- how costly once Alcmaeon caused his mother’s
- unlucky ornament to seem to her.
- It showed how, in the temple’s walls, his sons
- cast themselves on Sennacherib, and how,
- when he was dead, they there abandoned him.
- It showed the slaughter and the cruel woe
- wrought by Tomyris, when she said to Cyrus:
- “With blood I fill thee, that didst thirst for blood!”
- It showed, too, how the Assyrians took to flight,
- routed, when Holophernes had been killed,
- and also what was of that slaughter left.
- I saw proud Troy in ashes and in caves.
- O Ilion, how degraded and how vile
- it showed thou wast, the image there perceived!
- What master, or of brush or graving-tool,
- could reproduce the shadows and the features,
- which there would cause all cultured minds to wonder?
- The dead seemed dead, the living seemed alive;
- whoever saw the real, no better saw
- than I then did what I was treading on,
- as long as bowed I walked. Be ye, then, proud,
- and go with haughty looks, ye sons of Eve,
- nor bow your heads, to see your evil path!
- More of the Mountain had we circled now,
- and of the sun’s course far more had we spent,
- than my not disengaged mind had supposed;
- when he who always walked attentively
- ahead of me, began: “Lift up thy head!
- The time for going thus absorbed is passed.
- See there an Angel who is making ready
- to come toward us; see how the sixth handmaiden
- returns now from the service of the day.
- With reverence adorn thine acts and face,
- that he may now be pleased to send us up;
- think that this day will never dawn again!”
- So well accustomed was I to his warning,
- that I should never let my time be lost,
- that on this theme he could not darkly speak.
- Toward us the lovely Creature was advancing,
- arrayed in white, and in his countenance,
- such as, when trembling, seems the morning star.
- His arms he opened, then he oped his wings,
- and said to us: “Come; near by are the steps,
- and going up is easy after this.”
- Only a few to this announcement come.
- O human race, why, born for upward flight,
- fallest thou so before a little wind?
- He led us on to where the rock was cut;
- and there my forehead with his wings he stroked,
- and promised that my passage would be safe.
- As, on the right hand, to ascend the mount,
- where seated is the church, which dominates
- the well ruled town o’er Rubaconte’s bridge,
- the slope’s bold flight is broken by the stairs
- constructed in an age, when quire and stave
- were safe;
- so, likewise, doth the bank relax,
- which from the next ledge here quite steeply falls;
- but closely on each side the high rock rubs.
- While, turning thither, we were on our way,
- “Blest are the poor in spirit!” voices sang
- in such a way as words could not describe.
- Alas! how different are the passes here
- from those in Hell! For one up here goes in
- with songs, but there below with frightful wails!
- We now were climbing up the holy stairs,
- and lighter far I felt than formerly
- I seemed to be, when on the level ground;
- I hence said: “Teacher, say, what heavy thing
- has been removed from me, that, as I walk,
- I almost feel no weariness at all?”
- He answered: “When the P’s, which still remain
- almost extinct upon thy brow, are quite
- erased, as one is now, thy feet will so
- be conquered by good will, that they will feel
- not only no fatigue, but it will be
- a pleasure to them to be upward urged.”
- I then did as do those, who go about
- with something on their head they know not of,
- till others’ gestures cause them to suspect;
- whereat their hand assists in ascertaining,
- searches, and finds, and so performs the work,
- which cannot be accomplished by their sight;
- and with my right hand’s fingers spread I found
- that only six the letters were, which he
- who held the Keys, had o’er my temples cut;
- on seeing which my Leader smiled with joy.