Front Page Titles (by Subject) PURGATORIO XXI - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 2 (Purgatorio) (English only trans.)
PURGATORIO XXI - 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 Fifth Ring. Avarice and Prodigality
Statius. The Cause of the Earthquake
- The natural thirst, which never can be quenched,
- save by the water asked for by the lowly
- young woman of Samaria as a boon,
- was troubling me, while hurry spurred me on
- behind my Leader o’er the cumbered path,
- and I was grieving for the just revenge.
- Then lo, as Luke records for us that Christ,
- when risen from the burial cave, appeared
- before the two upon the road, a shade
- appeared, and came behind us as we watched
- the crowd, which lay around us at our feet;
- but we perceived him not; hence he spoke first,
- and said: “May God, my brethren, give you peace!”
- We turned at once, and to this greeting Virgil
- replied with that which corresponds to it.
- Then he began: “Within the blest assembly
- mayst thou be set at peace by that just court
- which in eternal exile bindeth me.”
- “What!” he replied, as quickly on we went,
- “If ye are shades whom God deigns not on high,
- who guided you so far along His stairs?”
- My Teacher then: “If thou regard the marks
- which this one bears, and which the Angel draws,
- thou ’lt see that with the good he needs must reign.
- But whereas she, who spinneth night and day,
- had not as yet drawn off for him the flax,
- which Clotho lays and packs for every one,
- his soul, which sister is to thee and me,
- could not, in climbing here, come up alone,
- because it seeth not as we. Hence I
- out of the ample throat of Hell was drawn,
- to show the way to him, and I shall show it,
- as far as e’er my school can lead him on.
- But tell us, if thou knowest, why the Mountain
- shook so just now, and why all seemed to shout
- with one accord down to its oozy base?”
- Thus by his asking he had threaded so
- the needle’s eye of my desire, that, merely
- with hope, my thirst had come to be less craving.
- The former then began: “Nothing exists
- which this Mount’s sacred government can feel,
- that void of order is, or ’gainst its wont.
- From every change this place up here is free;
- whate’er Heaven’s self from its own self receives,
- can be the cause of it, and nothing else;
- for neither rain, nor hail, nor snow, nor dew,
- nor frost falls any higher up than lies
- the little stairway of the three short steps;
- clouds neither dense or rarefied appear,
- nor lightning flashes, nor yet Thaumas’ daughter,
- who often changes quarter in the world.
- Dry vapor goes no higher than the top
- of those three steps whereof I spoke to thee,
- and on which Peter’s vicar hath his feet.
- Below, perhaps, it trembles more or less,
- but never quakes up here because of wind
- concealed, I know not how, inside the earth.
- It trembles here whenever any soul
- feels pure enough to rise, or starts to climb;
- and such a cry as this endorses it.
- Of purity the will alone gives proof,
- which, seizing on the soul, now wholly free
- to change its company, by willing helps it.
- It wills this from the first; but that desire
- which, ’gainst the will, God’s Justice turns toward pain,
- as it was once toward sin, allows it not.
- And I, who have five hundred years and more
- lain in this woe, felt only now within me
- a free volition for a better sphere.
- That ’s why thou didst the earthquake feel, and hear
- the pious spirits on this Mountain praise
- that Lord, who soon, I pray, will send them up.”
- He thus addressed us; and, since one in drink
- delights, according as his thirst is great,
- I could not say how much he did me good.
- And my wise Leader: “Now I see the net
- which holds you here, and how it opens, why
- it trembles here, and why ye all rejoice.
- Now who thou wast be pleased to let me know,
- and also let thy words include for me
- why thou hast lain so many centuries here.”
- “At that time when, helped by the Most High King,
- good Titus took due vengeance for the wounds,
- from which came forth the blood by Judas sold,
- I was in great renown” that spirit said,
- “up yonder with the name which longest lasts,
- and honors most, but not as yet with faith.
- So sweet my song, that, though a Toulousan,
- Rome drew me to herself, where I deserved
- to have my temples crowned with myrtle wreath.
- Statius they call me still up there; of Thebes
- I sang, of great Achilles next; but ’neath
- this second load I sank upon the way.
- The seeds of my enthusiasm were the sparks,
- which warmed me, of that fire divine, wherewith
- more than a thousand poets are enflamed;
- I mean the Aeneid, which my mother was
- and nurse in poetry; and, lacking which,
- not by a drachm’s weight had I stirred the scales.
- And to have lived on earth when Virgil lived,
- to one sun’s period more would I consent
- than what I owe, to issue from my ban.”
- These words turned Virgil toward me with a look,
- which, silently, “Be silent!” said; and yet
- the power that wills can not do everything;
- for tears and laughter follow so the passion,
- from which they each take rise, that least of all
- do they obey the will in those most truthful.
- I only smiled, like one who winks; whereat
- the shade kept still, and looked into my eyes,
- wherein expression is most fixed, and said:
- “So mayst thou bring unto a happy end
- so great a toil, why was it that thy face
- showed me just now the flashing of a smile?”
- I now am caught on one side and the other;
- one asks for silence, the other conjures me
- to speak; I therefore sigh, and by my Teacher
- am understood. “Be not afraid to talk,”
- the latter said to me, “but speak, and tell him
- what he so eagerly desires to know.”
- I therefore said: “Perhaps thou marvellest,
- O ancient spirit, at the smile I gave;
- but I would have still greater wonder seize thee.
- This spirit here, who upward leads mine eyes,
- that Virgil is, from whom thou didst of old
- derive the strength to sing of men and gods.
- If thou hast given my smile some other cause,
- leave it as not the true one, and believe
- it was the words thyself didst say of him.”
- Already was he stooping to embrace
- my Teacher’s feet; but he said: “Brother, no;
- for thou, a shade now, dost a shade behold.”
- Rising, he said: “Thou now canst understand
- the sum of love which warmeth me toward thee,
- since I forget our disembodied state,
- and act with shades as if they solid were.”