Front Page Titles (by Subject) INFERNO XVII - The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (Bilingual edition)
INFERNO XVII - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno) (Bilingual edition) 
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).
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The Seventh Circle. The Third Ring
Violence against Art. Usurers
- “Behold the wild beast with the pointed tail,
- which, crossing mountains, breaks through walls and armor;
- behold who sickens all the world with stench!”
- My Leader thus began to speak to me,
- and signalled to it to approach the edge,
- near where the marble we had traversed ended.
- And that foul image of deceit came on,
- and landed on the bank its head and chest;
- but o’er the edge it drew not up its tail.
- Its face was as the face of a just man,
- so pleasing outwardly was its complexion;
- the body of a serpent all the rest.
- Two paws it had, all hairy to the arm-pits;
- its back and breast, as well as both its sides,
- were painted o’er with snares and wheel-like shields.
- Ne’er with more colors in its woof and warp
- did Turks or Tartars manufacture cloth,
- nor by Arachnne were such webs designed.
- As flat-boats sometimes lie upon the shore,
- in water partly, partly on the land;
- and as among the greedy Germans yonder,
- the beaver seats himself to wage his war;
- so lay that worst of beasts upon the edge
- which closes in the sandy plain with stone.
- All of its tail was quivering in the void,
- and twisting upward its envenomed fork,
- which like a scorpion’s weapon armed its tip.
- “Our path must turn aside a little now,”
- my Leader said to me, “until we reach
- that wicked beast reclining over there.”
- Around our right breast, therefore, we went down,
- and took ten paces on the very edge,
- thus surely to avoid both sand and fire;
- and after we had come to it, I saw,
- upon the sand a little further on,
- some people sitting near the precipice.
- My Teacher then: “That thou mayst take with thee
- a full experience of this ring, go on,
- and see the nature of the life they lead.
- There be thy conversation brief; meanwhile,
- till thou return, I ’ll talk with this wild beast,
- that its strong shoulders may be yielded us.”
- Thus further on, along the outer edge
- of that seventh circle, all alone I went,
- to where the melancholy people sat.
- Out of their eyes their woe was bursting forth;
- first here, then there, they helped them with their hands,
- now from the flames, now from the heated soil.
- Not otherwise do dogs in summer-time,
- now with their paws, and with their muzzles now,
- whene’er by flees, or flies, or gadflies bitten.
- When on the face of some I set mine eyes,
- on whom the woeful fire is falling there,
- I knew not one of them; but I perceived
- that from the neck of each there hung a pouch,
- which had a certain color and design,
- wherewith their eyes appeared to feed themselves.
- And as I, looking, came into their midst,
- azure upon a yellow pouch I saw,
- which had the form and semblance of a lion.
- Then, as my gaze continued on its course,
- another I beheld, as red as blood,
- exhibiting a goose more white than butter.
- And one of them, who had his small white pouch
- emblazoned with an azure pregnant sow,
- said to me: “What dost thou in this our ditch?
- Now go thy way; and since thou livest still,
- know that my fellow townsman, Vitaliano,
- will sit beside me here upon my left.
- I, with these Florentines, a Paduan am,
- and very frequently they stun my ears
- by shouting: “Let the sovereign knight arrive,
- who ’ll bring with him the pocket with three beaks!”’
- Herewith his mouth he twisted, sticking out
- his tongue, as doth an ox that licks its nose.
- And I, afraid lest any longer stay
- might anger him who warned me to be brief,
- turned from those weary spirits back again.
- I found my Leader, who had climbed already
- upon the back of that fierce animal,
- and said to me: “Now be thou strong and bold!
- By stairs like these shall we descend hereafter;
- climb thou in front, for midst I wish to be,
- so that the tail may do no injury.”
- Like one with quartan-fever’s chill so near,
- that pale already are his finger nails,
- and that, but looking at the shade, he shudders;
- such at the words he uttered I became;
- but that shame made its threats to me, which renders
- a servant strong when in a good lord’s presence.
- As on those horrid shoulders I sat down,
- I wished to tell him: “See that thou embrace me!”
- my voice, however, came not as I thought.
- But he, who succoured me at other times
- and other straights, as soon as I was up,
- encircled and sustained me with his arms;
- and then he said: “Now, Geryon, move thou on!
- Wide be thy wheels, and gradual thy descent;
- bethink thee of the unwonted load thou hast.”
- As from its mooring place a little boat
- backs slowly out, even so did he withdraw;
- and when he wholly felt himself in play,
- to where his breast had been, he turned his tail,
- and moved the latter, stretched out like an eel,
- while with his paws he gathered in the air.
- I do not think that there was greater fear
- when Phaëthon let go his horses’ reins,
- whereby, as still appears, the sky was burned;
- nor yet when wretched Icarus perceived
- his back unfeathering through the melting wax,
- while, calling him, his father cried: “Thou hold’st
- an evil course!” than mine was, when I saw
- that I was in the air on every side,
- and gone the sight of all things save the beast.
- The latter, swimming, slowly wends his way,
- wheels and descends, but I perceive it not,
- save by the wind below and in my face.
- The waterfall I now heard on the right,
- making a horrid roar beneath us; hence,
- I outward thrust my head with eyes turned down.
- More fearful of the abyss I then became,
- for fires I now beheld, and wailings heard;
- hence, trembling, I clung closer with my thighs.
- And then, for I perceived it not before,
- by the great torments which on divers sides
- drew near, I saw our wheeling and descent.
- Even as a falcon long upon the wing,
- which, without seeing lure or game-bird, makes
- the falconer say: “Alas, thou comest down!”
- descendeth weary, through a hundred rings,
- whence he had swiftly started, and alights
- far from his lord in angry sullenness;
- so likewise Geryon set us down below,
- close to the bottom of the rough-hewn rock;
- and, of our persons rid, as fast as flies
- an arrow from a bowstring, sped away.