Love in Hell

  • the body/soul nexus
  • heresy is here thematized as willful self-separation from that with which we should be connected (God, city, family, friends)
  • heresy is here performed as a “dialogue in the manner of hell”: dialogue that is not dialogic, but rather monologic and exclusionary, as in Farinata’s “Chi fuor li maggior tui?” (Who were your ancestors [Inf. 10.42])
  • the Florentine nobility and its vicissitudes: both protagonists in this canto, Farinata degli Uberti and Cavalcanti de’ Cavalcanti, belong to powerful and noble families
  • the group that develops in the last decades of the Duecento: the magnates, excluded from Florentine governance by the Ordinamenti di Giustizia of 1293 (see Lansing and Faini, cited in Coordinated Reading)
  • Dante’s friendship with Guido Cavalcanti, intertwined in the Commedia with his friendship with Forese Donati, and the (painful) presence of love in Hell: the link between love and sin

After Dante and Virgilio enter the city of Dis, in verse 106 of Inferno 9, they find a landscape of cemeteries. The tombs are open—the covers are removed—and they are engulfed by flames. Dante asks who are the souls “buried within those sarcophagi”: “seppelite dentro da quell’arche” (Inf. 9.125). The answer is that here may be found heretics, indeed the founders of heresies (“eresiarche”), with their followers from every sect: “Qui son li eresiarche / con lor seguaci, d’ogne setta (Here are arch-heretics / and those who followed them, from every sect [Inf. 9.127-129]).

The contrapasso of the heretics, who are “buried within those sarcophagi” (Inf. 9.125), thus involves a troping of death. Their entombment within the kingdom of the dead suggests that they are in some way “more dead” than the other dead and damned souls. In Hell they are buried in tombs that signify their willful turning away from the life of Christian truth to the death of disbelief.

The definition of heresy in the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads:

Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him. (CCC 2089, accessed 9/29/15)

The website Catholic Answers offers the following explanation of this definition:

To commit heresy, one must refuse to be corrected. A person who is ready to be corrected or who is unaware that what he has been saying is against Church teaching is not a heretic.

A person must be baptized to commit heresy. This means that movements that have split off from or been influenced by Christianity, but that do not practice baptism (or do not practice valid baptism), are not heresies, but separate religions. Examples include Muslims, who do not practice baptism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not practice valid baptism.

Finally, the doubt or denial involved in heresy must concern a matter that has been revealed by God and solemnly defined by the Church (for example, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrifice of the Mass, the pope’s infallibility, or the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary).

It is important to distinguish heresy from schism and apostasy. In schism, one separates from the Catholic Church without repudiating a defined doctrine. An example of a contemporary schism is the Society of St. Pius X—the Lefebvrists or followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre—who separated from the Church in the late 1980s, but who have not denied Catholic doctrines. In apostasy, one totally repudiates the Christian faith and no longer even claims to be a Christian. (Catholic Answers, The Great Heresies, accessed 9/29/15)

Dante tells us that there are many kinds of heretics entombed in the sixth circle. At the beginning of Inferno 11 he will support this claim by having the travelers pass the tomb of Pope Anastasius II (Inf. 11.6-9). Following a medieval tradition, Dante believed that Pope Anastasius embraced the heresy of Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, who denied the divine nature of Christ, affirming that Christ possessed only a human nature. Dante will return to heretical belief regarding Christ’s two natures in Paradiso 6, where he focuses on the opposite error: the Emperor Justinian says that he was converted by Pope Agapetus I from the heretical belief that Christ possessed only a divine nature (Par. 6.13-21).

The mystery of Christ’s two natures is a recurring theme throughout the Commedia. For Dante’s consideration of the duality of Christ in malo, see the Introduction to Inferno 25.

Through the reference to Pope Anastasius in Inferno 11, Dante indicates that there are many types of heretics housed in the city of Dis, although in Inferno 10 he focuses almost exclusively on Epicureans.

Dante in fact stages an encounter with only one kind of heretic. At the beginning of Inferno 10 the travelers find themselves in the part of the cemetery that houses the “followers of Epicurus” (Inf. 10.14). Epicureanism, a materialist philosophy, is presented by Dante as the rejection of the immortality of the soul.

As Dante puts it, these are the shades of “those who say the soul dies with the body”: “che l’anima col corpo morta fanno” (Inf. 10.15). The belief that the soul dies with the body is obviously not compatible with Christianity, a religion that holds to the immortality of the soul. In effect, Epicureanism, the rejection of the immortality of the soul, constitutes atheism, as Boccaccio explains in writing of Guido Cavalcanti in Decameron 6.9:

. . . Guido alcuna volta speculando molto abstratto dagli uomini divenia; e per ciò che egli alquanto tenea della oppinione degli epicuri, si diceva tralla gente volgare che queste sue speculazioni erano solo in cercare se trovar si potesse che Iddio non fosse. (Decameron, 6.9.9)

Guido, given to speculation, would become much abstracted from men; and since he was somewhat inclined to the opinion of the Epicureans, the vulgar averred that these speculations of his had no other scope than to prove that God did not exist.

There is an ongoing meditation on the body/soul nexus throughout the Commedia. In Inferno 10, Dante opposes the belief that, without the body, soul ceases to exist. For more on Dante’s thoughts on the body/soul nexus, see the Introduction to Inferno 13 and the Introduction to Inferno 25.

***

Dante’s treatment of the Epicurean heresy is fascinatingly oblique. He addresses the Epicurean rejection of the eternal and transcendent by showing us two souls who remain eternally enmeshed in the transitory and ephemeral.

In effect, Dante has dramatized their materialism.

Materialism as attachment to present reality is beautifully expressed by the Prince in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo: “ma al di là di quanto possiamo sperare di accarezzare con queste mani non abbiamo obblighi” (But beyond what we can hope to caress with these hands we have no obligations [ch. 1]). Consider too the telling phrase attributed to Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, “’l Cardinale” of Inferno 10.120: “Io posso dire, se è anima, che l’ho perduta per parte ghibellina” (I can say that—if there is a soul—I have lost it for the Ghibelline cause; cited by Sapegno in his commentary to Inferno 10).

The narrative structure of Inferno 10 reflects the enmeshed density of this excessive attachment to the present. By splicing the dialogues with Farinata and Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti into one another, Dante dramatizes the way that these souls are so caught up in their own selves that they literally do not hear or in any way register each other’s suffering. Thus, the exquisitely poignant twenty-one verses (52-72) that make up the encounter between Dante and Cavalcanti senior are entirely ignored by Farinata, who resumes speaking to Dante in verse 73 as though his tomb-mate Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti did not exist and as though the conversation between Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti and Dante about his son Guido had not occurred.

Dante’s text thus performs a “dialogue in the manner of Hell”: in this canto dialogue is not dialogic, but rigidly monologic and exclusionary. We have seen salvific language in the Commedia (we think of Beatrice’s “Amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare” in Inferno 2.72). In Inferno 10, language is the weapon of choice.

To add to the density of this canto, both featured souls are Florentines and each speaks to one of Dante’s own abiding passions: one speaks of Florentine politics (Farinata degli Uberti) and the other, by way of his son Guido, of poets and intellectualism (Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti). For Dante, this encounter thus stages his own love of his place of origin as well as his love for his friend and fellow poet, Guido Cavalcanti.

FARINATA DEGLI UBERTI (died 1264, the year before Dante’s birth) was a member of a noble family and a great military leader of the Ghibellines in the generation before Dante’s. When the Ghibellines had the opportunity to destroy Florence, Farinata stayed their hand. When the Guelphs (the party to which Dante’s own family belonged) took power again, ousting the Ghibellines, Farinata’s family holdings were destroyed, an event referenced in Inferno 23 (see verse 107). The conversation between Dante and Farinata is a second installment in Florentine politics, following Inferno 6: this installment treats historical events that occurred a generation earlier than those recounted in Inferno 6.

CAVALCANTE DE’ CAVALCANTI (died c. 1280) was also a noble, less involved in Florentine politics than Farinata. Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti’s son, the poet Guido Cavalcanti, was married to Farinata’s daughter. Guido Cavalcanti was, according to the Vita Nuova, Dante’s “first friend”, one with whom he wrote poetry and shared an intellectual life. In conversation with his best friend’s father, Dante here suggests that Guido “disdained” the one to whom Virgilio is leading him (Beatrice), thus pointing to the huge ideological and poetic divergence that arose between the two friends. This characterization of Guido is not misleading, in the sense that in much of his poetry Guido Cavalcanti did not see objects of love as salvific, as potential “beatrici” (the word “beatrice” literally means “she who beatifies”). With the exception of some of his ballate, Guido embraced a tragic view of love, and therefore the beloved, however noble in herself, is a destructive force.

By the last two decades of the Duecento, a class of very wealthy nobles with a history of violence were classified as “magnates”. This group was excluded from Florentine governance by the Ordinamenti di Giustizia of 1293. In The Florentine Magnates, the historian Carol Lansing writes of magnates and of the Ordinamenti di Giustizia thus:

The laws restraining the magnates were a part of this transition to guild rule. The early statutes were an effort to pacify the city by ending the vendettas that led to factional clashes … Who was restricted under the statutes? The guildsmen who wrote the laws apparently knew whom they wanted to include but because of the fluidity of urban society had some difficulty in naming specific criteria for magnate status. The group was called “potentes, nobiles, vel magnates”, powerful men, nobles or magnates. A law of October 1286 defined them as those houses which had included a knight within the past twenty years. (Lansing, The Florentine Magnates, p. 13)

In effect, magnate status was defined by knighthood and a past record of violence, implied by their posting security. (Lansing, The Florentine Magnates, p. 147)

Enrico Faini defines the magnate class in Dante’s time thus:

Per gli uomini dell’età di Dante il nobile non era più il vecchio miles/cittadino, ma il cavaliere addobbato e straricco, il ‘magnate’ così come veniva definito dagli ordinamenti popolari.

For the men of Dante’s age the nobleman was no longer the old citizen-soldier, but an extremely rich and festooned knight, as the “magnate” was defined in the popular ordinances. (“Ruolo sociale e memoria degli Alighieri prima di Dante,” p. 2)

Below is the list of magnate families excluded by the Ordinamenti di Giustizia. (The list was compiled by Carol Lansing and is the Appendix to her book The Florentine Magates.) On this list we find the names Cavalcanti and Uberti.

 

Carol Lansing - 1991 - <em>The Florentine Magnates</em>, p. 239   Carol Lansing - 1991 - <em>The Florentine Magnates</em>, p. 240

Carol Lansing - 1991 - <em>The Florentine Magnates</em>, p. 241   Carol Lansing - 1991 - <em>The Florentine Magnates</em>, p. 242

* * *

When the Ordinamenti di Giustizia were instituted in 1293, Dante was 28 years old. His family was not excluded by the Ordinamenti, as it did not then possess sufficient wealth or social standing. (See Faini on the backward slide of the Alighieri.) The Cavalcanti family, however, was listed among the magnates and was excluded. Thus, Dante was able to participate in the Florentine government, and indeed went on to serve as a prior, while Guido Cavalcanti was not accorded this privilege. Mario Marti plausibly suggested that this divergence was a contributing factor in the rift between the two friends (see the bibliography in my essay “Amicus eius”), a theme picked up by Silvia Diacciati:

Quella di Dante fu una svolta “democratica” che l’amico e magnate Guido Cavalcanti, col quale aveva un tempo condiviso la medesima visione aristocratica della cultura, non poté accettare . . . (Diacciati, “Dante: relazioni sociali e vita pubblica,” p. 23)

Dante’s was a “democratic” turn that his magnate friend Guido Cavalcanti, with whom he had once shared the same aristocratic vision of culture, could not accept . . .

Another magnate friend of Dante’s Florentine youth whose intimacy with Dante is attested in poetry is Forese Donati. (For the tenzone of insulting sonnets exchanged between the two men see the Introduction to Purgatorio 24.) Forese too belonged to a magnate family. In “Amicus eius: Dante and the Semantics of Friendship,” I have argued that the Commedia attests to “a kind of psychic bleeding of Dante’s friendship with Forese into his friendship with Cavalcanti and vice versa” (“Amicus eius,” p. 62). A notable example of this “psychic bleeding” is the way in which the scene among the graves of Inferno 10 replays one of Forese’s sonnets to Dante (L’altra notte):

The entire scene of Forese’s L’altra notte, the sighting of the ghost of the father among the graves and the father’s conjuring of the friendship with his son, seems replayed in Inferno 10’s encounter (also among the graves) between a man (now Dante, in place of Forese) and the father of his friend (now Cavalcanti de’ Cavalcanti, in place of Alighiero Bellincione). In other words, Dante in Inferno 10 constructs an encounter between himself and the father of his friend Guido Cavalcanti that in some ways echoes Forese’s imagined encounter with Alighiero in the tenzone. Moreover, the encounter of Inferno 10 is one in which Cavalcanti senior appeals to Dante’s friendship with his son Guido much as Alighiero appeals to Forese’s friendship with his son Dante: “per amor di Dante” in the sonnet L’altra notte has become Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti’s anguished “mio figlio ov’è? e perché non è teco?” ( Inf. 10.60). (“Amicus eius,” pp. 62-63)

Dante’s recall of his early sonnet-exchange with Forese Donati in choreographing the scene of Inferno 10 suggests his enormous personal investment in the materia of this canto.

He is invested in the Farinata encounter through his commitment as a prior to Florentine politics. Dante’s time as prior led to his exile, prophesied by Farinata more explicitly than it had been prophesied by Ciacco in Inferno 6. In order to exact payment for Dante’s cutting remark that Farinata’s family will not succeed in returning to Florence, Farinata prophesies that before 50 moons have passed Dante will himself learn how difficult is the “art” of returning to the city.

A second installment in Florentine politics is thus a second reference to the pain and dishonor of Dante’s own exile.

In the Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti section, Dante’s personal investment is through his intense friendship with Guido Cavalcanti and his commitment as a poet to a poetics that ultimately diverged from that of his friend, who “disdained” Beatrice (“ebbe a disdegno” in Inf. 10.63), a shorthand indicating Guido’s disdain for the poetics of salvation. The encounter with Guido’s father also suggests that Dante’s own extraordinary gifts were perceived by others in the preceding generation early in Dante’s life (Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti died circa 1280), as I discuss in the Introduction to Inferno 15.

The intensity of Dante’s friendship with Guido Cavalcanti has a long history. In his great youthful poem of perfect friendship, Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io, Dante marshals his friends’ names, first among them Guido’s, as talismans of intimacy:

Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io,
fossimo presi per incantamento
e messi in un vasel ch’ad ogni vento
per mare andasse al voler vostro e mio;
sì che fortuna od altro tempo rio
non ci potesse dare impedimento,
anzi, vivendo sempre in un talento,
di star insieme crescesse il disio.
E monna Vanna e monna Lagia poi
con quella ch’è sul numer de le trenta
con noi ponesse il buono incantatore:
e quivi ragionar sempre d’amore,
e ciascuna di lor fosse contenta
sì come credo che sarémo noi.
Guido, I wish that Lapo, you, and I
were carried off by some enchanter’s spell
and set upon a ship to sail the sea
where every wind would favour our command,
so neither thunderstorms nor cloudy skies
might ever have the power to hold us back,
but rather, cleaving to this single wish,
that our desire to live as one would grow.
And Lady Vanna were with Lady Lagia
borne to us with her who’s number thirty
by our good enchanter’s wizardry:
to talk of love would be our sole pursuit,
and each of them would find herself content,
just as I think that we should likewise be.     
(Richard Lansing trans.)

Guido, i’ vorrei is a dream of ahistorical and dechronologized friendship. The sonnet sings of a friendship that stands outside of time and that remains untarnished by history—by that which necessarily catalyzes our divergent egos and divergent interests and is therefore destined to separate us.

The separation of these friends is a feature of Dante’s written record long before Inferno 10: we think, for instance, of Dante’s demotion of Guido in the catalogues of the De vulgari eloquentia, where Cino da Pistoia is instead promoted to the position of special friend. See my essay “Amicus eius: Dante and the Semantics of Friendship” for a full account and, for the nature of Dante’s and Guido’s divergent poetics, see my essay “Dante and Cavalcanti (On Making Distinctions in Matters of Love): Inferno 5 in its Lyric and Autobiographical Context,” also cited in Coordinated Reading.

For a sense of how far back these topics go in Dante’s life and poetic practice, and how much sheer life is packed into the brief passage on Guido Cavalcanti in Inferno 10, see my commentary to the sonnets Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io and Amore e monna Lagia e Guido ed io in either Rime giovanili e della ‘Vita Nuova’ or Dante’s Lyric Poetry: Poems of Youth and of the ‘Vita Nuova’.

In Dante’s Lyric Poetry I refute the idea (as I already had in Dante’s Poets) that Inferno 10 is intended to signal Guido’s certain damnation:

I do not subscribe to the view according to which Dante condemns Guido with his father Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti in the tenth canto of the Inferno (even less that he is already thinking about such a condemnation when he wrote Guido, i’ vorrei); I have always maintained that Dante is deliberately ambiguous with regard to the destiny of the friend who, in the fiction of the Commedia, is explicitly “co’ vivi ancor congiunto [still among the living]” (Inf. 10.111). And in any case Dante does not condemn sons for the sins of their fathers: one need only recall the examples – which Dante is at pains to provide us – of Manfredi and Bonconte. (Dante’s Lyric Poetry, p. 120)

While Dante does not pre-condemn Guido Cavalcanti in Inferno 10, his treatment of Guido’s father contaminated the historical reception of the son: “Dante in this sense cast a shadow on Guido’s reputation, linking the name of his friend in perpetuity to hell and damnation in the cultural imaginary” (Dante’s Lyric Poetry, p. 120). Boccaccio’s story of Guido Cavalcanti, Decameron 6.9, provides a striking example of this effect.

***

Towards the end of Inferno 10, Farinata explains that he can see the future but not the present (Inf. 10.100-08). He sees the future as long as the events are distant, but as events draw more near, they become less and less visible, until finally they disappear altogether: “Quando s’appressano o son, tutto è vano / nostro intelletto (But when events draw near or are, our minds / are useless [Inf. 10.103-4]).

Dante here portrays a figurative eclipse of the sun, whereby the light grows less and less, until finally it is extinguished altogether. Moreover, we have to wonder: if an event was known before it happened, but ceases to be known when it occurs, was it ever in fact known at all? As Farinata says: “nulla sapem di vostro stato umano” (we know nothing of your human state [Inf. 10.105]).

Hence these materialists, who believed only in the present and in what they could see and touch and love in the present, are now cut off from the present altogether.

Dante in this way separates from knowledge those who thought they knew everything worth knowing, thereby again figuring heresy as willful separation from truth and from life.

To recapitulate, the Epicureans’ materialist attachment only to the present, only to their time on earth, their rejection of a future life in eternity, results in their eternal attachment to the present, with all its conflict and pain preserved:

  • though Farinata and Dante are fellow Tuscans, and Farinata recognizes Dante from his speech as a fellow Florentine (25-6), they find no common ground; in fact they find only reasons to harm each other (note that Dante bends theology, suggesting that the sufferings of these souls are enhanced by what they learn from the pilgrim in this canto);
  • though Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti and Dante share a love for Guido Cavalcanti, Dante ends up hurting the father, who almost willfully misconstrues what Dante has to say about his son. In an extraordinary demonstration of the poet’s ability to use language and syntax performatively, Dante-poet has Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti misconstrue Dante-pilgrim’s use of the passato remoto (“ebbe” in verse 68), taking the tense of the verb as a sign that Guido is already dead;
  • though Farinata and Cavalcanti senior are tomb-mates—and related through the marriage of their children—they have nothing to say to each other, indeed they do not even hear each other as they each speak to the pilgrim;
  • though they will endure eternally, and though they can read the future, they have no knowledge of the present. This means that at the Last Judgment, when all time collapses into God’s eternal present, they will cease to have any knowledge at all.

I conclude this Introduction with a paragraph from my essay “Medieval Multiculturalism and Dante’s Theology of Hell” where I consider the special pathos of this episode, in which Dante constrains us to consider the link between sin and love. I connect the palpable presence in Inferno 10 of love that is still recognizable as love to the statement in Purgatorio 17 that all human behavior, whether for good or for ill, has its origin in love:

The mystery at the heart of Inferno 10, the mystery that generates its enormous poetic power, is the connection of love to sin. whether good or evil, has its origin in love. In the palpable love of the sinners of Inferno 10 Dante dramatizes the law he sets forth in Purgatorio 17, the law that holds that all human action, whether good or evil, has its origin in love. What gives Inferno 10 its special grip on the reader is that the love of Cavalcante and Farinata is still recognizable as love.  (“Medieval Multiculturalism and Dante’s Theology of Hell,” in Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture, p. 120)

While the original love of most sinners in Hell is perverted and distorted beyond recognition, in Dante’s treatment of the heretics we can still individuate the conversio toward a secondary good that Aquinas delineates as sin. And when that secondary good is a beloved child, whose well-being the father still craves, the impact on us as human beings is very great. This canto forces us to consider how emotions in which we all share can ultimately become reified and sinful.

Coordinated Reading

Dante’s Poets, pp. 142-8; “Dante and Cavalcanti (On Making Distinctions in Matters of Love): Inferno 5 in its Lyric and Autobiographical Context”, 1998, rpt. Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture, pp. 70-101; “Medieval Multiculturalism and Dante’s Theology of Hell,” 2000, rpt. Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture, pp. 102-24; Rime giovanili e della ‘Vita Nuova’ (Milano: Rizzoli, 2009) or Dante’s Lyric Poetry: Poems of Youth and of the ‘Vita Nuova’ (Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 2014); “Amicus Eius: Dante and the Semantics of Friendship,” Dante Studies, 133 (2015): 46-69. On the Florentine nobility, see: Carol Lansing, The Florentine Magnates: Lineage and Faction in a Medieval Commune (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1991); Enrico Faini, “Ruolo sociale e memoria degli Alighieri prima di Dante,” in Reti Medievali Rivista, 15, 2 (2014) at <http://rivista.retimedievali.it> ISSN 1593-2214, Firenze University Press, © 2014. On Dante’s public life, see Silvia Diacciati, “Dante: relazioni sociali e vita pubblica”, in Reti Medievali Rivista, 15, 2 (2014) at <http://rivista.retimedievali.it> ISSN 1593-2214, Firenze University Press, © 2014. The essays by Faini and Diacciati are part of the series Dante attraverso i documenti. I: Famiglia e patrimonio (secolo XII-1300 circa), a cura di Giuliano Milani e Antonio Montefusco.
Inferno 10 is the canto to which Auerbach devotes the Dante chapter of his classic book Mimesis. My love of and debt to Mimesis are recorded in the Preface to The Undivine Comedy.

Recommended Citation

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Inferno 10: Love in Hell.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/inferno/inferno-10/

About the Commento

1 Ora sen va per un secreto calle,
2 tra ’l muro de la terra e li martìri,
3 lo mio maestro, e io dopo le spalle.

4 «O virtù somma, che per li empi giri
5 mi volvi», cominciai, «com’ a te piace,
6 parlami, e sodisfammi a’ miei disiri.

7 La gente che per li sepolcri giace
8 potrebbesi veder? già son levati
9 tutt’ i coperchi, e nessun guardia face».

10 E quelli a me: «Tutti saran serrati
11 quando di Iosafàt qui torneranno
12 coi corpi che là sù hanno lasciati.

13 Suo cimitero da questa parte hanno
14 con Epicuro tutti suoi seguaci,
15 che l’anima col corpo morta fanno.

16 Però a la dimanda che mi faci
17 quinc’ entro satisfatto sarà tosto,
18 e al disio ancor che tu mi taci».

19 E io: «Buon duca, non tegno riposto
20 a te mio cuor se non per dicer poco,
21 e tu m’hai non pur mo a ciò disposto».

22 «O Tosco che per la città del foco
23 vivo ten vai così parlando onesto,
24 piacciati di restare in questo loco.

25 La tua loquela ti fa manifesto
26 di quella nobil patrïa natio
27 a la qual forse fui troppo molesto».

28 Subitamente questo suono uscìo
29 d’una de l’arche; però m’accostai,
30 temendo, un poco più al duca mio.

31 Ed el mi disse: «Volgiti! Che fai?
32 Vedi là Farinata che s’è dritto:
33 da la cintola in sù tutto ’l vedrai».

34 Io avea già il mio viso nel suo fitto;
35 ed el s’ergea col petto e con la fronte
36 com’ avesse l’inferno a gran dispitto.

37 E l’animose man del duca e pronte
38 mi pinser tra le sepulture a lui,
39 dicendo: «Le parole tue sien conte».

40 Com’ io al piè de la sua tomba fui,
41 guardommi un poco, e poi, quasi sdegnoso,
42 mi dimandò: «Chi fuor li maggior tui?».

43 Io ch’era d’ubidir disideroso,
44 non gliel celai, ma tutto gliel’ apersi;
45 ond’ ei levò le ciglia un poco in suso;

46 poi disse: «Fieramente furo avversi
47 a me e a miei primi e a mia parte,
48 sì che per due fïate li dispersi».

49 «S’ei fur cacciati, ei tornar d’ogne parte»,
50 rispuos’ io lui, «l’una e l’altra fïata;
51 ma i vostri non appreser ben quell’arte».

52 Allor surse a la vista scoperchiata
53 un’ombra, lungo questa, infino al mento:
54 credo che s’era in ginocchie levata.

55 Dintorno mi guardò, come talento
56 avesse di veder s’altri era meco;
57 e poi che ’l sospecciar fu tutto spento,

58 piangendo disse: «Se per questo cieco
59 carcere vai per altezza d’ ingegno,
60 mio figlio ov’ è? e perché non è teco?».

61 E io a lui: «Da me stesso non vegno:
62 colui ch’attende là, per qui mi mena
63 forse cui Guido vostro ebbe a disdegno».

64 Le sue parole e ’l modo de la pena
65 m’avean di costui già letto il nome;
66 però fu la risposta così piena.

67 Di sùbito drizzato gridò: «Come
68 dicesti “elli ebbe”? non viv’ elli ancora?
69 non fiere li occhi suoi lo dolce lume?».

70 Quando s’accorse d’alcuna dimora
71 ch’io facëa dinanzi a la risposta,
72 supin ricadde e più non parve fora.

73 Ma quell’ altro magnanimo, a cui posta
74 restato m’era, non mutò aspetto,
75 né mosse collo, né piegò sua costa;

76 e sé continüando al primo detto,
77 «S’elli han quell’ arte», disse, «male appresa,
78 ciò mi tormenta più che questo letto.

79 Ma non cinquanta volte fia raccesa
80 la faccia de la donna che qui regge,
81 che tu saprai quanto quell’ arte pesa.

82 E se tu mai nel dolce mondo regge,
83 dimmi: perché quel popolo è sì empio
84 incontr’ a’ miei in ciascuna sua legge?».

85 Ond’ io a lui: «Lo strazio e ’l grande scempio
86 che fece l’Arbia colorata in rosso,
87 tal orazion fa far nel nostro tempio».

88 Poi ch’ebbe sospirando il capo mosso,
89 «A ciò non fu’ io sol», disse, «né certo
90 sanza cagion con li altri sarei mosso.

91 Ma fu’ io solo, là dove sofferto
92 fu per ciascun di tòrre via Fiorenza,
93 colui che la difesi a viso aperto».

94 «Deh, se riposi mai vostra semenza»,
95 prega’ io lui, «solvetemi quel nodo
96 che qui ha ’nviluppata mia sentenza.

97 El par che voi veggiate, se ben odo,
98 dinanzi quel che ’l tempo seco adduce,
99 e nel presente tenete altro modo».

100 «Noi veggiam, come quei c’ha mala luce,
101 le cose», disse, «che ne son lontano;
102 cotanto ancor ne splende il sommo duce.

103 Quando s’appressano o son, tutto è vano
104 nostro intelletto; e s’altri non ci apporta,
105 nulla sapem di vostro stato umano.

106 Però comprender puoi che tutta morta
107 fia nostra conoscenza da quel punto
108 che del futuro fia chiusa la porta».

109 Allor, come di mia colpa compunto,
110 dissi: «Or direte dunque a quel caduto
111 che ’l suo nato è co’ vivi ancor congiunto;

112 e s’i’ fui, dianzi, a la risposta muto,
113 fate i saper che ’l fei perché pensava
114 già ne l’error che m’avete soluto».

115 E già ’l maestro mio mi richiamava;
116 per ch’i’ pregai lo spirto più avaccio
117 che mi dicesse chi con lu’ istava.

118 Dissemi: «Qui con più di mille giaccio:
119 qua dentro è ’l secondo Federico,
120 e ’l Cardinale; e de li altri mi taccio».

121 Indi s’ascose; e io inver’ l’antico
122 poeta volsi i passi, ripensando
123 a quel parlar che mi parea nemico.

124 Elli si mosse; e poi, così andando,
125 mi disse: «Perché se’ tu sì smarrito?».
126 E io li sodisfeci al suo dimando.

127 «La mente tua conservi quel ch’udito
128 hai contra te», mi comandò quel saggio;
129 «e ora attendi qui», e drizzò ’l dito:

130 «quando sarai dinanzi al dolce raggio
131 di quella il cui bell’ occhio tutto vede,
132 da lei saprai di tua vita il vïaggio».

133 Appresso mosse a man sinistra il piede:
134 lasciammo il muro e gimmo inver’ lo mezzo
135 per un sentier ch’a una valle fiede,

136 che ’nfin là sù facea spiacer suo lezzo.

Now, by a narrow path that ran between
those torments and the ramparts of the city,
my master moves ahead, I following.

“O highest virtue, you who lead me through
these circles of transgression, at your will,
do speak to me, and satisfy my longings.

Can those who lie within the sepulchers
be seen? The lids—in fact—have all been lifted;
no guardian is watching over them.”

And he to me: “They’ll all be shuttered up
when they return here from Jehosaphat
together with the flesh they left above.

Within this region is the cemetery
of Epicurus and his followers,
all those who say the soul dies with the body.

And so the question you have asked of me
will soon find satisfaction while we’re here,
as will the longing you have hid from me.”

And I: “Good guide, the only reason I
have hid my heart was that I might speak briefly,
and you, long since, encouraged me in this.”

“O Tuscan, you who pass alive across
the fiery city with such seemly words,
be kind enough to stay your journey here.

Your accent makes it clear that you belong
among the natives of the noble city
I may have dealt with too vindictively.”

This sound had burst so unexpectedly
out of one sepulcher that, trembling, I
then drew a little closer to my guide.

But he told me: “Turn round! What are you doing?
That’s Farinata who has risen there—
you will see all of him from the waist up.”

My eyes already were intent on his;
and up he rose—his forehead and his chest-
as if he had tremendous scorn for Hell.

My guide—his hands encouraging and quick-
thrust me between the sepulchers toward him,
saying: “Your words must be appropriate.”

When I’d drawn closer to his sepulcher,
he glanced at me, and as if in disdain,
he asked of me: “Who were your ancestors?”

Because I wanted so to be compliant,
I hid no thing from him: I told him all.
At this he lifted up his brows a bit,

then said: “They were ferocious enemies
of mine and of my parents and my party,
so that I had to scatter them twice over.”

“If they were driven out,” I answered him,
“they still returned, both times, from every quarter;
but yours were never quick to learn that art.”

At this there rose another shade alongside,
uncovered to my sight down to his chin;
I think that he had risen on his knees.

He looked around me, just as if he longed
to see if I had come with someone else;
but then, his expectation spent, he said

in tears: “If it is your high intellect
that lets you journey here, through this blind prison,
where is my son? Why is he not with you?”

I answered: “My own powers have not brought me;
he who awaits me there, leads me through here
perhaps to one your Guido did disdain.”

His words, the nature of his punishment—
these had already let me read his name;
therefore, my answer was so fully made.

Then suddenly erect, he cried: “What’s that:
He ‘did disdain’? He is not still alive?
The sweet light does not strike against his eyes?”

And when he noticed how I hesitated
a moment in my answer, he fell back—
supine—and did not show himself again.

But that great—hearted one, the other shade
at whose request I’d stayed, did not change aspect
or turn aside his head or lean or bend;

and taking up his words where—he’d left off,
“If they were slow,” he said, “to learn that art,
that is more torment to me than this bed.

And yet the Lady who is ruler here
will not have her face kindled fifty times
before you learn how heavy is that art.

And so may you return to the sweet world,
tell me: why are those citizens so cruel
against my kin in all of their decrees?”

To which I said: “The carnage, the great bloodshed
that stained the waters of the Arbia red
have led us to such prayers in our temple.”

He sighed and shook his head, then said: “In that,
I did not act alone, but certainly
I’d not have joined the others without cause.

But where I was alone was there where all
the rest would have annihilated Florence,
had I not interceded forcefully.”

“Ah, as I hope your seed may yet find peace,”
I asked, “so may you help me to undo
the knot that here has snarled my course of thought.

It seems, if I hear right, that you can see
beforehand that which time is carrying,
but you’re denied the sight of present things.”

“We see, even as men who are farsighted,
those things,” he said, “that are remote from us;
the Highest Lord allots us that much light.

But when events draw near or are, our minds
are useless; were we not informed by others,
we should know nothing of your human state.

So you can understand how our awareness
will die completely at the moment when
the portal of the future has been shut.”

Then, as if penitent for my omission,
I said: “Will you now tell that fallen man
his son is still among the living ones;

and if, a while ago, I held my tongue
before his question, let him know it was
because I had in mind the doubt you’ve answered.”

And now my master was recalling me;
so that, more hurriedly, I asked the spirit
to name the others who were there with him.

He said: “More than a thousand lie with me:
the second Frederick is but one among them,
as is the Cardinal; I name no others.”

With that, he hid himself; and pondering
the speech that seemed to me so menacing,
I turned my steps to meet the ancient poet.

He moved ahead, and as we made our way,
he said to me: “Why are you so dismayed?”
I satisfied him, answering him fully.

And then that sage exhorted me: “Remember
the words that have been spoken here against you.
Now pay attention,” and he raised his finger;

“when you shall stand before the gentle splendor
of one whose gracious eyes see everything,
then you shall learn—from her—your lifetime’s journey.”

Following that, his steps turned to the left,
leaving the wall and moving toward the middle
along a path that strikes into a valley

whose stench, as it rose up, disgusted us.

NOW onward goes, along a narrow path
Between the torments and the city wall,
My Master, and I follow at his back.

“O power supreme, that through these impious circles
Turnest me,” I began, “as pleases thee,
Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;

The people who are Iying in these tombs,
Might they be seen ? already are uplifted
The covers all, and no one keepeth guard.”

And he to me: “They all will be closed up
When from Jehoshaphat they shall return
Here with the bodies they have left above.

Their cemetery have upon this side
With Epicurus all his followers,
Who with the body mortal make the soul;

But in the question thou dost put to me,
Within here shalt thou soon be satisfied,
And likewise in the wish thou keepest silent.”

And I: “Good Leader, I but keep concealed
From thee my heart, that I may speak the less,
Nor only now hast thou thereto disposed me.”

“O Tuscan, thou who through the city of fire
Goest alive, thus speaking modestly,
Be pleased to stay thy footsteps in this place.

Thy mode of speaking makes thee manifest
A native of that noble fatherland,
To which perhaps I too molestful was.”

Upon a sudden issued forth this sound
From out one of the tombs; wherefore I pressed,
Fearing, a little nearer to my Leader.

And unto me he said: “Turn thee; what dost thou ?
Behold there Farinata who has risen;
From the waist upwards wholly shalt thou see him.”

I had already fixed mine eyes on his,
And he uprose erect with breast and front
E’en as if Hell he had in great despite.

And with courageous hands and prompt my Leader
Thrust me between the sepulchres towards him,
Exclaiming, “Let thy words explicit be.”

As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb
Somewhat he eyed me, and, as if disdainful,
Then asked of me, “Who were thine ancestors?”

I, who desirous of obeying was,
Concealed it not, but all revealed to him;
Whereat he raised his brows a little upward.

Then said he: “Fiercely adverse have they been
To me, and to my fathers, and my party;
So that two several times I scattered them.”

“If they were banished, they returned on all sides,”
I answered him, “the first time and the second;
But yours have not acquired that art aright.”

Then there uprose upon the sight, uncovered
Down to the chin, a shadow at his side;
I think that he had risen on his knees.

Round me he gazed, as if solicitude
He had to see if some one else were with me,
But after his suspicion was all spent,

Weeping, he said to me: “If through this blind
Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,
Where is my son ? and why is he not with thee ?”

And I to him: “I come not of myself;
He who is waiting yonder leads me here,
Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had.”

His language and the mode of punishment
Already unto me had read his name;
On that account my answer was so full.

Up starting suddenly, he cried out: “How
Saidst thou,— he had ? Is he not still alive ?
Does not the sweet light strike upon his eyes ?”

When he became aware of some delay,
Which I before my answer made, supine
He fell again, and forth appeared no more.

But the other, magnanimous, at whose desire
I had remained, did not his aspect change,
Neither his neck he moved, nor bent his side.

“And if,” continuing his first discourse,
“They have that art,” he said, “not learned aright,
That more tormenteth me, than doth this bed.

But fifty times shall not rekindled be
The countenance of the Lady who reigns here
Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art;

And as thou wouldst to the sweet world return,
Say why that people is so pitiless
Against my race in each one of its laws ?”

Whence I to him: “The slaughter and great carnage
Which have with crimson stained the Arbia, cause
Such orisons in our temple to be made.”

After his head he with a sigh had shaken,
“There I was not alone,” he said, “nor surely
Without a cause had with the others moved.

But there I was alone, where every one
Consented to the laying waste of Florence,
He who defended her with open face.”

“Ah ! so hereafter may your seed repose,”
I him entreated, “solve for me that knot,
Which has entangled my conceptions here.

It seems that you can see, if I hear rightly,
Beforehand whatsoe’er time brings with it,
And in the present have another mode.”

“We see, like those who have imperfect sight,
The things,” he said, “that distant are from us;
So much still shines on us the Sovereign Ruler.

When they draw near, or are, is wholly vain
Our intellect, and if none brings it to us,
Not anything know we of your human state.

Hence thou canst understand, that wholly dead
Will be our knowledge from the moment when
The portal of the future shall be closed.”

Then I, as if compunctious for my fault,
Said: “Now, then, you will tell that fallen one,
That still his son is with the living joined.

And if just now, in answering, I was dumb,
Tell him I did it because I was thinking
Already of the error you have solved me.”

And now my Master was recalling me,
Wherefore more eagerly I prayed the spirit
That he would tell me who was with him there.

He said: “With more than a thousand here I lie;
Within here is the second Frederick,
And the Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not.”

Thereon he hid himself; and I towards
The ancient poet turned my steps, reflecting
Upon that saying, which seemed hostile to me.

He moved along; and afterward thus going,
He said to me, “Why art thou so bewildered?”
And I in his inquiry satisfied him.

“Let memory preserve what thou hast heard
Against thyself, “that Sage commanded me,
“And now attend here;” and he raised his finger.

“When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet
Of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold,
From her thou’lt know the journey of thy life.”

Unto the left hand then he turned his feet;
We left the wall, and went towards the middle,
Along a path that strikes into a valley,

Which even up there unpleasant made its stench.

Now, by a narrow path that ran between
those torments and the ramparts of the city,
my master moves ahead, I following.

“O highest virtue, you who lead me through
these circles of transgression, at your will,
do speak to me, and satisfy my longings.

Can those who lie within the sepulchers
be seen? The lids—in fact—have all been lifted;
no guardian is watching over them.”

And he to me: “They’ll all be shuttered up
when they return here from Jehosaphat
together with the flesh they left above.

Within this region is the cemetery
of Epicurus and his followers,
all those who say the soul dies with the body.

And so the question you have asked of me
will soon find satisfaction while we’re here,
as will the longing you have hid from me.”

And I: “Good guide, the only reason I
have hid my heart was that I might speak briefly,
and you, long since, encouraged me in this.”

“O Tuscan, you who pass alive across
the fiery city with such seemly words,
be kind enough to stay your journey here.

Your accent makes it clear that you belong
among the natives of the noble city
I may have dealt with too vindictively.”

This sound had burst so unexpectedly
out of one sepulcher that, trembling, I
then drew a little closer to my guide.

But he told me: “Turn round! What are you doing?
That’s Farinata who has risen there—
you will see all of him from the waist up.”

My eyes already were intent on his;
and up he rose—his forehead and his chest-
as if he had tremendous scorn for Hell.

My guide—his hands encouraging and quick-
thrust me between the sepulchers toward him,
saying: “Your words must be appropriate.”

When I’d drawn closer to his sepulcher,
he glanced at me, and as if in disdain,
he asked of me: “Who were your ancestors?”

Because I wanted so to be compliant,
I hid no thing from him: I told him all.
At this he lifted up his brows a bit,

then said: “They were ferocious enemies
of mine and of my parents and my party,
so that I had to scatter them twice over.”

“If they were driven out,” I answered him,
“they still returned, both times, from every quarter;
but yours were never quick to learn that art.”

At this there rose another shade alongside,
uncovered to my sight down to his chin;
I think that he had risen on his knees.

He looked around me, just as if he longed
to see if I had come with someone else;
but then, his expectation spent, he said

in tears: “If it is your high intellect
that lets you journey here, through this blind prison,
where is my son? Why is he not with you?”

I answered: “My own powers have not brought me;
he who awaits me there, leads me through here
perhaps to one your Guido did disdain.”

His words, the nature of his punishment—
these had already let me read his name;
therefore, my answer was so fully made.

Then suddenly erect, he cried: “What’s that:
He ‘did disdain’? He is not still alive?
The sweet light does not strike against his eyes?”

And when he noticed how I hesitated
a moment in my answer, he fell back—
supine—and did not show himself again.

But that great—hearted one, the other shade
at whose request I’d stayed, did not change aspect
or turn aside his head or lean or bend;

and taking up his words where—he’d left off,
“If they were slow,” he said, “to learn that art,
that is more torment to me than this bed.

And yet the Lady who is ruler here
will not have her face kindled fifty times
before you learn how heavy is that art.

And so may you return to the sweet world,
tell me: why are those citizens so cruel
against my kin in all of their decrees?”

To which I said: “The carnage, the great bloodshed
that stained the waters of the Arbia red
have led us to such prayers in our temple.”

He sighed and shook his head, then said: “In that,
I did not act alone, but certainly
I’d not have joined the others without cause.

But where I was alone was there where all
the rest would have annihilated Florence,
had I not interceded forcefully.”

“Ah, as I hope your seed may yet find peace,”
I asked, “so may you help me to undo
the knot that here has snarled my course of thought.

It seems, if I hear right, that you can see
beforehand that which time is carrying,
but you’re denied the sight of present things.”

“We see, even as men who are farsighted,
those things,” he said, “that are remote from us;
the Highest Lord allots us that much light.

But when events draw near or are, our minds
are useless; were we not informed by others,
we should know nothing of your human state.

So you can understand how our awareness
will die completely at the moment when
the portal of the future has been shut.”

Then, as if penitent for my omission,
I said: “Will you now tell that fallen man
his son is still among the living ones;

and if, a while ago, I held my tongue
before his question, let him know it was
because I had in mind the doubt you’ve answered.”

And now my master was recalling me;
so that, more hurriedly, I asked the spirit
to name the others who were there with him.

He said: “More than a thousand lie with me:
the second Frederick is but one among them,
as is the Cardinal; I name no others.”

With that, he hid himself; and pondering
the speech that seemed to me so menacing,
I turned my steps to meet the ancient poet.

He moved ahead, and as we made our way,
he said to me: “Why are you so dismayed?”
I satisfied him, answering him fully.

And then that sage exhorted me: “Remember
the words that have been spoken here against you.
Now pay attention,” and he raised his finger;

“when you shall stand before the gentle splendor
of one whose gracious eyes see everything,
then you shall learn—from her—your lifetime’s journey.”

Following that, his steps turned to the left,
leaving the wall and moving toward the middle
along a path that strikes into a valley

whose stench, as it rose up, disgusted us.

NOW onward goes, along a narrow path
Between the torments and the city wall,
My Master, and I follow at his back.

“O power supreme, that through these impious circles
Turnest me,” I began, “as pleases thee,
Speak to me, and my longings satisfy;

The people who are Iying in these tombs,
Might they be seen ? already are uplifted
The covers all, and no one keepeth guard.”

And he to me: “They all will be closed up
When from Jehoshaphat they shall return
Here with the bodies they have left above.

Their cemetery have upon this side
With Epicurus all his followers,
Who with the body mortal make the soul;

But in the question thou dost put to me,
Within here shalt thou soon be satisfied,
And likewise in the wish thou keepest silent.”

And I: “Good Leader, I but keep concealed
From thee my heart, that I may speak the less,
Nor only now hast thou thereto disposed me.”

“O Tuscan, thou who through the city of fire
Goest alive, thus speaking modestly,
Be pleased to stay thy footsteps in this place.

Thy mode of speaking makes thee manifest
A native of that noble fatherland,
To which perhaps I too molestful was.”

Upon a sudden issued forth this sound
From out one of the tombs; wherefore I pressed,
Fearing, a little nearer to my Leader.

And unto me he said: “Turn thee; what dost thou ?
Behold there Farinata who has risen;
From the waist upwards wholly shalt thou see him.”

I had already fixed mine eyes on his,
And he uprose erect with breast and front
E’en as if Hell he had in great despite.

And with courageous hands and prompt my Leader
Thrust me between the sepulchres towards him,
Exclaiming, “Let thy words explicit be.”

As soon as I was at the foot of his tomb
Somewhat he eyed me, and, as if disdainful,
Then asked of me, “Who were thine ancestors?”

I, who desirous of obeying was,
Concealed it not, but all revealed to him;
Whereat he raised his brows a little upward.

Then said he: “Fiercely adverse have they been
To me, and to my fathers, and my party;
So that two several times I scattered them.”

“If they were banished, they returned on all sides,”
I answered him, “the first time and the second;
But yours have not acquired that art aright.”

Then there uprose upon the sight, uncovered
Down to the chin, a shadow at his side;
I think that he had risen on his knees.

Round me he gazed, as if solicitude
He had to see if some one else were with me,
But after his suspicion was all spent,

Weeping, he said to me: “If through this blind
Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,
Where is my son ? and why is he not with thee ?”

And I to him: “I come not of myself;
He who is waiting yonder leads me here,
Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had.”

His language and the mode of punishment
Already unto me had read his name;
On that account my answer was so full.

Up starting suddenly, he cried out: “How
Saidst thou,— he had ? Is he not still alive ?
Does not the sweet light strike upon his eyes ?”

When he became aware of some delay,
Which I before my answer made, supine
He fell again, and forth appeared no more.

But the other, magnanimous, at whose desire
I had remained, did not his aspect change,
Neither his neck he moved, nor bent his side.

“And if,” continuing his first discourse,
“They have that art,” he said, “not learned aright,
That more tormenteth me, than doth this bed.

But fifty times shall not rekindled be
The countenance of the Lady who reigns here
Ere thou shalt know how heavy is that art;

And as thou wouldst to the sweet world return,
Say why that people is so pitiless
Against my race in each one of its laws ?”

Whence I to him: “The slaughter and great carnage
Which have with crimson stained the Arbia, cause
Such orisons in our temple to be made.”

After his head he with a sigh had shaken,
“There I was not alone,” he said, “nor surely
Without a cause had with the others moved.

But there I was alone, where every one
Consented to the laying waste of Florence,
He who defended her with open face.”

“Ah ! so hereafter may your seed repose,”
I him entreated, “solve for me that knot,
Which has entangled my conceptions here.

It seems that you can see, if I hear rightly,
Beforehand whatsoe’er time brings with it,
And in the present have another mode.”

“We see, like those who have imperfect sight,
The things,” he said, “that distant are from us;
So much still shines on us the Sovereign Ruler.

When they draw near, or are, is wholly vain
Our intellect, and if none brings it to us,
Not anything know we of your human state.

Hence thou canst understand, that wholly dead
Will be our knowledge from the moment when
The portal of the future shall be closed.”

Then I, as if compunctious for my fault,
Said: “Now, then, you will tell that fallen one,
That still his son is with the living joined.

And if just now, in answering, I was dumb,
Tell him I did it because I was thinking
Already of the error you have solved me.”

And now my Master was recalling me,
Wherefore more eagerly I prayed the spirit
That he would tell me who was with him there.

He said: “With more than a thousand here I lie;
Within here is the second Frederick,
And the Cardinal, and of the rest I speak not.”

Thereon he hid himself; and I towards
The ancient poet turned my steps, reflecting
Upon that saying, which seemed hostile to me.

He moved along; and afterward thus going,
He said to me, “Why art thou so bewildered?”
And I in his inquiry satisfied him.

“Let memory preserve what thou hast heard
Against thyself, “that Sage commanded me,
“And now attend here;” and he raised his finger.

“When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet
Of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold,
From her thou’lt know the journey of thy life.”

Unto the left hand then he turned his feet;
We left the wall, and went towards the middle,
Along a path that strikes into a valley,

Which even up there unpleasant made its stench.

Reading by Francesco Bausi: Inferno 10

For more readings by Francesco Bausi, see the Bausi Readings page.