Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARADISO VI - The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (English trans.)
PARADISO VI - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (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. 3 Paradiso (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1921).
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The Second Heaven. Mercury. The Happiness of Beneficent
Activity. Ambitious Spirits
- When Constantine had turned the Eagle back,
- counter the course of heaven its flight pursued
- behind the Ancient who Lavinia wedded,
- a hundred and a hundred years and more
- the Bird of God on Europe’s verge abode,
- hard by the mountains whence it issued first;
- and ’neath the shadow of its sacred plumes
- it governed there the world from hand to hand,
- and, changing thus, reached mine. Caesar I was,
- and am Justinian, he, who by the will
- of that First Love which now I feel, withdrew
- the useless and excessive from the laws.
- And I, before attending to this work,
- believed that Christ one only nature had,
- not more, and was with such a faith content;
- but blessèd Agapètus, who was then
- the highest Shepherd, set me by his words
- upon the pathway of the genuine faith.
- Him I believed, and what was in his faith
- I now see clearly, even as thou dost see
- that contradictions are both false and true.
- As soon as with the Church I moved my feet,
- God, of His Grace, with that great task was pleased
- to inspire me, and thereto I gave me wholly;
- war to my Belisarius I entrusted,
- to whom Heaven’s right hand was so well conjoined,
- it seemed a sign that from it I should rest.
- Here, then, to thy first question ends my answer;
- its nature, though, constrains me to go on
- with something more,
- that thou mayst see how rightly
- against the holy Standard moves both who
- appropriates, and who opposes, it.
- See what great virtue caused it to deserve
- respect; for from that moment it began,
- when Pallas died to give it sovereignty.
- Thou knowest that in Alba it sojourned
- three hundred years and more, till finally
- three against three fought for its sake again;
- thou knowest, too, what from the Sabines’ wrong,
- through seven kings, till Lucretia’s grief, it did,
- conquering the neighboring peoples all around.
- Thou knowest what it did, ’gainst Brennus borne,
- and Pyrrhus, and against the other Kings
- and self-ruled States, by Rome’s elect, whereby
- Torquatus, Quinctius, for his unkempt locks
- surnamed, the Decii and Fabii,
- acquired the fame which gladly I embalm.
- It brought the pride of those Arabians low,
- who traversed, in the wake of Hannibal,
- those Alpine rocks, whence thou, Po, glidest down.
- Scipio and Pompey triumphed under it
- when young; and bitter to that hill it seemed,
- beneath which thou wast born. Then, near the time
- when willed it was by Heaven, that all the world
- should be reduced to its own peaceful state,
- Caesar assumes it at the hest of Rome.
- And that which from the Var unto the Rhine
- it did, the Saône, Isère and Seine perceived,
- and every valley whence the Rhone is filled.
- What next it did, when, issuing from Ravenna,
- it leaped the Rubicon, was such a flight,
- that neither tongue nor pen could follow it.
- Toward Spain it wheeled its host around; then turned
- Durazzo-ward; and smote Pharsalia so,
- that to the torrid Nile the pain was felt.
- Antandros and the Sìmois, whence it started,
- it saw again, and there where Hector lies;
- then, ill for Ptolemy, it roused itself.
- Thence with the speed of lightning it swooped down
- on Juba: toward your West it next turned back,
- for there it heard Pompeian trumpets blow.
- For what it did with its next Standard-bearer,
- Brutus, and Cassius with him, barks in Hell;
- Mòdena and Perugia, too, it grieved.
- Sad Cleopatra, who, before it fleeing,
- took from the asp a dark and sudden death,
- is weeping still for what with him it did.
- With him it reached the distant Red Sea’s shore;
- with him it brought the world to such a state
- of peace, that Janus had his temple closed.
- But what the Sign which causes me to speak,
- had done before, and after was to do,
- throughout the mortal world which owns its sway,
- comes to seem small and dark, if in the hand
- of its third Caesar it be looked upon
- with clearly seeing eyes and spirit pure;
- because the Living Justice which inspires me,
- granted that Sign, when in the latter’s hand,
- the glory of carrying out its wrath’s revenge.
- Now wonder here at what I further tell thee:
- when this was done, with Titus it ran on
- to avenge the avenging of the ancient sin.
- And later, when the tooth of Lombardy
- the Holy Church had bitten, Charles the Great
- came to her help by conquering ’neath its wings.
- Thou now canst judge of those I charged above,
- and of their sins, which all your woes produced.
- Against the public Standard one sets up
- the yellow Fleur-de-lys, while yet another
- appropriates it to a party’s use;
- hence hard it is to see which sinneth most.
- Let, then, the Ghibellines their tricks perform
- under some other sign; for this one he
- e’er follows ill, who it from justice parts!
- Nor let this new Charles smite it with his Guelfs,
- but let him rather fear the taloned claws,
- which from a greater lion once stripped off
- his hide! Often have sons ere now bewailed
- their father’s guilt; hence let none think that God
- will for his Lilies change His Coat-of-arms!
- This little star of ours adorns itself
- with those good spirits who have active been,
- that fame and honor might live after them;
- and when, thus deviating, one’s desires
- tend thitherward, the rays of true love needs
- must upward mount with less intensity.
- But in the balancing of our rewards
- with our deserts, part of our joy consists,
- because we see them as nor more nor less.
- Hereby the Living Justice sweetens so
- our love in us, that it can nevermore
- be turned aside to any kind of wrong.
- Voices that differ make on earth sweet music;
- so in this life of ours its different grades
- produce sweet harmony among these spheres.
- And in the present pearl there shines the light
- of Romeo, he whose beautiful and great
- performance was ungratefully repaid.
- And yet the Provençals who ’gainst him worked,
- laugh not; he, therefore, takes an evil path,
- who to his harm another’s good deeds turns.
- Four daughters, and each one of them a queen,
- had Raymond Berenger; and, though low-born
- and alien, Romeo ’t was did this for him;
- then slandering words led Raymond to demand
- a reckoning of this upright man, who five
- and seven had rendered him for every ten.
- Thereat, though poor and old, he went his way;
- and if the world but knew the heart he had,
- while crust by crust he begged his livelihood,
- much as it praises, it would praise him more!”