Return of the Lupa

Purgatorio 20 continues the treatment of the fifth terrace. Attached is an outline of the novel way in which Dante arranges the narrative elements of this terrace, interweaving the encounters with souls with the other narrative building blocks stipulated for each vice. For a similar technique, see the interweaving of the ritual performance of the snake entering the valley of the princes with the encounters with Nino and Currado in Purgatorio 8.

Purgatorio 20 features an opening imprecation upon the lupa, the very she-wolf that in Inferno 1 prevented Dante from progressing and necessitated his trip to the otherworld:

  Maladetta sie tu, antica lupa,
che più che tutte l’altre bestie hai preda
per la tua fame sanza fine cupa! (Purg. 20.10-12)
  May you be damned, o ancient wolf, whose power
can claim more prey than all the other beasts—
your hungering is deep and never-ending!

As in Inferno 1, the lupa here is characterized in terms of never-ending “hunger”: greed that can never be placated, never be satisfied. In Purgatorio 20 we are in a position to see what we could not see as clearly in Inferno 1, namely that the lupa is a composite of all negative desire, all cupiditas.

In The Undivine Comedy (p. 110) I begin to make a case that I developed further in the essay “Guittone’s Ora parrà, Dante’s Doglia mi reca, and the Commedia’s Anatomy of Desire,” noting the conflation of Ulysses and the she-wolf into a mature ideology of desire that differs from the Convivio’s in blurring the treatise’s sharp distinction between material and intellectual cupidity:

Dante’s mature conviction that the desire for knowledge can become immoderate in ways that render it not so different from other forms of immoderate desire leads him to invoke Ulysses at the threshold of the sins of incontinence, in Purgatorio 19, in the first half of a canto whose second half is devoted precisely to avarice, whose ledge the travelers have reached. Indeed, the linking of material and intellectual cupidity is further highlighted by the juxtaposition of Ulysses, in Purgatorio 19, and the she-wolf, cursed in Purgatorio 20 in the same language used for the avaro maladetto of the canzone Doglia mi reca: “Maladetta sie tu, antica lupa” (Cursed be you, ancient wolf [Purg. 20.10]). (“Guittone’s Ora parrà, Dante’s Doglia mi reca, and the Commedia’s Anatomy of Desire,” p. 67)

I end “Guittone’s Ora parrà, Dante’s Doglia mi reca, and the Commedia’s Anatomy of Desire” by positing “Dante’s last great figural node for excess desire: la lupa/Ulysses” (p. 69).

The juxtaposing of the lupa of Purgatorio 20 with the serena of Purgatorio 19 testifies to Dante’s willful braiding together of different strands of concupiscence, different kinds of “hunger”: spiritual and physical craving interwoven in a tight skein of misleading and misplaced desire.

We remember that in Purgatorio 19 Dante encounters the soul of a pope, Adrian V, who speaks of his former avarice as an overweening ambition to reach the highest rung on the ladder of temporal power and ambition, the papacy.

In Purgatorio 20 the purview of avarice again includes great power and status. Moving from the highest rung of the ecclesiastical ladder to the highest rung of secular power, the canto takes aim at the French ruling dynasty.

The specter of avarice that haunts the highest echelons of spiritual life is thus revealed to have corrupted the highest echelons of temporal life as well. Purgatorio 20 condemns the French royal family, root and branch, not just as individual “Filippi e Luigi” (verse 50) but as a dynasty:

  Chiamato fui di là Ugo Ciappetta;
di me son nati i Filippi e i Luigi
per cui novellamente è Francia retta. (Purg. 20.49-51)
  The name I bore beyond was Hugh Capet:
of me were born the Louises and Philips
by whom France has been ruled most recently.

The topic of heredity was discussed vis-à-vis the princes in Purgatorio 8, where Dante made the strong statement that virtue cannot be passed from father to son, but is infused by God. And yet vice seems to have been passed from father to son quite handily in the case of French royalty. In fact, Hugh Capet uses the metaphor of a tree—redolent of genealogy—to characterize himself as the root of the “evil plant” that “overshadows” all the Christian lands:

  Io fui radice de la mala pianta
che la terra cristiana tutta aduggia,
sì che buon frutto rado se ne schianta. (Purg. 20.43-45)
  I was the root of the obnoxious plant
that overshadows all the Christian lands,
so that fine fruit can rarely rise from them.

Interestingly, in Dante’s analysis, the turn toward evil came with the temptations of “the giant dowry of Provence” (“la gran dota provenzale” [61]):

  Mentre che la gran dota provenzale
al sangue mio non tolse la vergogna,
poco valea, ma pur non facea male. (Purg. 20.61-63)
  Until the giant dowry of Provence
removed all sense of shame within my house,
my line was not worth much, but did no wrong.

The literal dowry that accompanied, most likely, Beatrice daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV count of Provence, when she married Charles I of Anjou in 1245, reminds us of the similarly noxious effects of the metaphorical “dowry” that Pope Sylvester gave to Constantine and all subsequent popes (see Inferno 19). Great earthly goods corrupt.

Purgatorio 20 is dense with history. A notorious historical issue in this canto is Dante’s charge that the French King Philip the Fair (Filippo il Bello) is responsible for the murder of Pope Boniface VIII. Despite Dante’s savage attacks on Boniface VIII in the Inferno (in Inferno 19, where he finds a way to damn Boniface to the bolgia of simony although he was still alive in 1300, and again in Inferno 27), he does not exculpate the French monarch. Boniface VIII was the vicar of Christ (Purg. 20.87), and Dante holds Philip responsible for an action that is tantamount to an attack on Christ himself.

The canto includes lots of history that has never been “excavated” by critics, thickly layered into terzina after terzina. Thus, Pieter Vanhove was able to write a beautiful paper on the Battle of Golden Spurs, submerged in the “thick textuality” of Purgatorio 20.46-48 (see http://www.flandershouse.org/dante-battle-golden-spurs).

It is interesting to consider that Dante’s attack on the French monarchy stresses genealogy and the passing of rule of France from one ruler to the next over many centuries. Although Dante libels the founder of the Capetian dynasty as the son of a butcher in Paris (Purg. 20.52), his sense of a dynasty that extends from 987, when Hugh’s son became King of France, to the present time, is palpable.

I wonder if Dante’s scorn and dislike for the French royal house is tinged with a foreboding sense of the history that would unfold over the successive centuries. The French dynasty, for all its corruption, led to a unified nation-state—in other words, to everything that Italy did not achieve. Was Dante’s intense scorn for the current rulers of France as expressed in Purgatorio 20 in some way connected to an insight that the French had achieved what Italy had not achieved? After all, unity is the highest of political values for Dante. Italy is “serva Italia”—“abject Italy” in Purgatorio 6.76—because Italy was ruled by many warring dynasties and factions that were unable to found a unified nation.

Purgatorio 20 is framed by avarice in its most crushing form: the apostrophe to the maladetta lupa in verses 10-12 leads to the apostrophe to avarizia in verses 82-84. Apostrophe is a rhetorical trope that we associate with Dante’s most intense political invectives (for instance, in Inferno 19 and Purgatorio 6); we note here the presence of other rhetorical tropes that we have seen in similar invectives, such as anaphora and the use of sarcasm.

At the end of Purgatorio 20 there is an earthquake that is the prelude to the next episode: an extraordinary episode that spans Purgatorio 21 and 22.

Coordinated Reading

Coordinated Reading: The Undivine Comedy, Chapter 5, “Purgatory as Paradigm,” especially p. 110; “Guittone’s Ora parrà, Dante’s Doglia mi reca, and the Commedia’s Anatomy of Desire,” in Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture.

Recommended Citation

Barolini, Teodolinda. “Purgatorio 20: Return of the Lupa.” Commento Baroliniano, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/purgatorio/purgatorio-20/

About the Commento

1Contra miglior voler voler mal pugna;
2onde contra ’l piacer mio, per piacerli,
3trassi de l’acqua non sazia la spugna.

4Mossimi; e ’l duca mio si mosse per li
5luoghi spediti pur lungo la roccia,
6come si va per muro stretto a’ merli;

7ché la gente che fonde a goccia a goccia
8per li occhi il mal che tutto ’l mondo occupa,
9da l’altra parte in fuor troppo s’approccia.

10Maladetta sie tu, antica lupa,
11che più che tutte l’altre bestie hai preda
12per la tua fame sanza fine cupa!

13O ciel, nel cui girar par che si creda
14le condizion di qua giù trasmutarsi,
15quando verrà per cui questa disceda?

16Noi andavam con passi lenti e scarsi,
17e io attento a l’ombre, ch’i’ sentia
18pietosamente piangere e lagnarsi;

19e per ventura udi’ «Dolce Maria!»
20dinanzi a noi chiamar così nel pianto
21come fa donna che in parturir sia;

22e seguitar: «Povera fosti tanto,
23quanto veder si può per quello ospizio
24dove sponesti il tuo portato santo».

25Seguentemente intesi: «O buon Fabrizio,
26con povertà volesti anzi virtute
27che gran ricchezza posseder con vizio».

28Queste parole m’eran sì piaciute,
29ch’io mi trassi oltre per aver contezza
30di quello spirto onde parean venute.

31Esso parlava ancor de la larghezza
32che fece Niccolò a le pulcelle,
33per condurre ad onor lor giovinezza.

34«O anima che tanto ben favelle,
35dimmi chi fosti», dissi, «e perché sola
36tu queste degne lode rinovelle.

37Non fia sanza mercé la tua parola,
38s’io ritorno a compiér lo cammin corto
39di quella vita ch’al termine vola».

40Ed elli: «Io ti dirò, non per conforto
41ch’io attenda di là, ma perché tanta
42grazia in te luce prima che sie morto.

43Io fui radice de la mala pianta
44che la terra cristiana tutta aduggia,
45sì che buon frutto rado se ne schianta.

46Ma se Doagio, Lilla, Guanto e Bruggia
47potesser, tosto ne saria vendetta;
48e io la cheggio a lui che tutto giuggia.

49Chiamato fui di là Ugo Ciappetta;
50di me son nati i Filippi e i Luigi
51per cui novellamente è Francia retta.

52Figliuol fu’ io d’un beccaio di Parigi:
53quando li regi antichi venner meno
54tutti, fuor ch’un renduto in panni bigi,

55trova’mi stretto ne le mani il freno
56del governo del regno, e tanta possa
57di nuovo acquisto, e sì d’amici pieno,

58ch’a la corona vedova promossa
59la testa di mio figlio fu, dal quale
60cominciar di costor le sacrate ossa.

61Mentre che la gran dota provenzale
62al sangue mio non tolse la vergogna,
63poco valea, ma pur non facea male.

64Lì cominciò con forza e con menzogna
65la sua rapina; e poscia, per ammenda,
66Pontì e Normandia prese e Guascogna.

67Carlo venne in Italia e, per ammenda,
68vittima fé di Curradino; e poi
69ripinse al ciel Tommaso, per ammenda.

70Tempo vegg’ io, non molto dopo ancoi,
71che tragge un altro Carlo fuor di Francia,
72per far conoscer meglio e sé e ’ suoi.

73Sanz’ arme n’esce e solo con la lancia
74con la qual giostrò Giuda, e quella ponta
75sì, ch’a Fiorenza fa scoppiar la pancia.

76Quindi non terra, ma peccato e onta
77guadagnerà, per sé tanto più grave,
78quanto più lieve simil danno conta.

79L’altro, che già uscì preso di nave,
80veggio vender sua figlia e patteggiarne
81come fanno i corsar de l’altre schiave.

82O avarizia, che puoi tu più farne,
83poscia c’ha’ il mio sangue a te sì tratto,
84che non si cura de la propria carne?

85Perché men paia il mal futuro e ’l fatto,
86veggio in Alagna intrar lo fiordaliso,
87e nel vicario suo Cristo esser catto.

88Veggiolo un’altra volta esser deriso;
89veggio rinovellar l’aceto e ’l fiele,
90e tra vivi ladroni esser anciso.

91Veggio il novo Pilato sì crudele,
92che ciò nol sazia, ma sanza decreto
93portar nel Tempio le cupide vele.

94O Segnor mio, quando sarò io lieto
95a veder la vendetta che, nascosa,
96fa dolce l’ira tua nel tuo secreto?

97Ciò ch’io dicea di quell’ unica sposa
98de lo Spirito Santo e che ti fece
99verso me volger per alcuna chiosa,

100tanto è risposto a tutte nostre prece
101quanto ’l dì dura; ma com’ el s’annotta,
102contrario suon prendemo in quella vece.

103Noi repetiam Pigmalïon allotta,
104cui traditore e ladro e paricida
105fece la voglia sua de l’oro ghiotta;

106e la miseria de l’avaro Mida,
107che seguì a la sua dimanda gorda,
108per la qual sempre convien che si rida.

109Del folle Acàn ciascun poi si ricorda,
110come furò le spoglie, sì che l’ira
111di Iosüè qui par ch’ancor lo morda.

112Indi accusiam col marito Saffira;
113lodiam i calci ch’ebbe Elïodoro;
114e in infamia tutto ’l monte gira

115Polinestòr ch’ancise Polidoro;
116ultimamente ci si grida: “Crasso,
117dilci, che ’l sai: di che sapore è l’oro?”.

118Talor parla l’uno alto e l’altro basso,
119secondo l’affezion ch’ad ir ci sprona
120ora a maggiore e ora a minor passo:

121però al ben che ’l dì ci si ragiona,
122dianzi non era io sol; ma qui da presso
123non alzava la voce altra persona».

124Noi eravam partiti già da esso,
125e brigavam di soverchiar la strada
126tanto quanto al poder n’era permesso,

127quand’ io senti’, come cosa che cada,
128tremar lo monte; onde mi prese un gelo
129qual prender suol colui ch’a morte vada.

130Certo non si scoteo sì forte Delo,
131pria che Latona in lei facesse ’l nido
132a parturir li due occhi del cielo.

133Poi cominciò da tutte parti un grido
134tal, che ’l maestro inverso me si feo,
135dicendo: «Non dubbiar, mentr’ io ti guido».

136‘Glorïa in excelsis’ tutti ‘Deo’
137dicean, per quel ch’io da’ vicin compresi,
138onde intender lo grido si poteo.

139No’ istavamo immobili e sospesi
140come i pastor che prima udir quel canto,
141fin che ’l tremar cessò ed el compiési.

142Poi ripigliammo nostro cammin santo,
143guardando l’ombre che giacean per terra,
144tornate già in su l’usato pianto.

145Nulla ignoranza mai con tanta guerra
146mi fé desideroso di sapere,
147se la memoria mia in ciò non erra,

148quanta pareami allor, pensando, avere;
149né per la fretta dimandare er’ oso,
150né per me lì potea cosa vedere:

151così m’andava timido e pensoso.

Against a better will, the will fights weakly;
therefore, to please him, though against my pleasure,
I drew my unquenched sponge out of the water.

I moved on, and my guide moved through the un—
encumbered space, hugging the rock, as one
walks on a wall, close to the battlements;

for those whose eyes would melt down, drop by drop,
the evil that possesses all the world,
were too close to the edge, on the far side.

May you be damned, o ancient wolf, whose power
can claim more prey than all the other beasts—
your hungering is deep and never—ending!

O heavens, through whose revolutions many
think things on earth are changed, when will he come—
the one whose works will drive that wolf away?

Our steps were short and slow as we moved on;
I was attentive to the shades; I heard
the sorrow in their tears and lamentations.

Then I, by chance, heard one ahead of us
crying in his lament, “Sweet Mary,” as
a woman would outcry in labor pains.

And he continued: “In that hostel where
you had set down your holy burden, there
one can discover just how poor you were.”

Following this I heard: “O good Fabricius,
you chose, as your possessions, indigence
with virtue rather than much wealth with vice.”

These words had been so pleasing to me—I
moved forward, so that I might come to know
the spirit from whom they had seemed to come.

He kept on speaking, telling the largesse
of Nicholas—the gifts he gave the maidens
so that they might be honorably wed.

“O soul who speaks of so much righteousness,
do tell me who you were,” I said, “and why
just you alone renew these seemly praises.

Your speaking to me will not go unthanked
when I return to finish the short span
of that life which now hurries toward its end.”

And he: “I’ll tell you—not because I hope
for solace from your world, but for such grace
as shines in you before your death’s arrived.

I was the root of the obnoxious plant
that overshadows all the Christian lands,
so that fine fruit can rarely rise from them.

But if Douai and Lille and Bruges and Ghent
had power, they would soon take vengeance on it;
and this I beg of Him who judges all.

The name I bore beyond was Hugh Capet:
of me were born the Louises and Philips
by whom France has been ruled most recently.

I was the son of a Parisian butcher.
When all the line of ancient kings was done
and only one—a monk in gray—survived,

I found the reins that ruled the kingdom tight
within my hands, and I held so much new—
gained power and possessed so many friends

that, to the widowed crown, my own son’s head
was elevated, and from him began
the consecrated bones of all those kings.

Until the giant dowry of Provence
removed all sense of shame within my house,
my line was not worth much, but did no wrong.

There its rapine began with lies and force;
and then it seized—that it might make amends—
Ponthieu and Normandy and Gascony.

Charles came to Italy and, for amends,
made Conradin a victim, and then thrust
back Thomas into Heaven, for amends.

I see a time—not too far off—in which
another Charles advances out of France
to make himself and his descendants famous.

He does not carry weapons when he comes,
only the lance that Judas tilted; this
he couches so—he twists the paunch of Florence.

From this he’ll gain not land, just shame and sin,
which will be all the heavier for him
as he would reckon lightly such disgrace.

The other, who once left his ship as prisoner—
I see him sell his daughter, bargaining
as pirates haggle over female slaves.

O avarice, my house is now your captive:
it traffics in the flesh of its own children—
what more is left for you to do to us?

That past and future evil may seem less,
I see the fleur—de—lis enter Anagni
and, in His vicar, Christ made prisoner.

I see Him mocked a second time; I see
the vinegar and gall renewed—and He
is slain between two thieves who’re still alive.

And I see the new Pilate, one so cruel
that, still not sated, he, without decree,
carries his greedy sails into the Temple.

O You, my Lord, when will You let me be
happy on seeing vengeance that, concealed,
makes sweet Your anger in Your secrecy?

What I have said about the only bride
the Holy Ghost has known, the words that made
you turn to me for commentary—these

words serve as answer to our prayers as long
as it is day; but when night falls, then we
recite examples that are contrary.

Then we tell over how Pygmalion,
out of his greedy lust for gold, became
a thief and traitor and a parricide;

the wretchedness of avaricious Midas,
resulting from his ravenous request,
the consequence that always makes men laugh;

and each of us recalls the foolish Achan—
how he had robbed the spoils, so that the anger
of Joshua still seems to sting him here.

Then we accuse Sapphira and her husband;
we praise the kicks Heliodorus suffered;
and Polymnestor, who killed Polydorus,

resounds, in infamy, round all this mountain;
and finally, what we cry here is: Crassus,
tell us, because you know: “How does gold taste?”‘

At times one speaks aloud, another low,
according to the sentiment that goads
us now to be more swift and now more slow:

thus, I was not alone in speaking of
the good we cite by day, but here nearby
no other spirit raised his voice as high.”

We had already taken leave of him
and were already struggling to advance
along that road as far as we were able,

when I could feel the mountain tremble like
a falling thing; at which a chill seized me
as cold grips one who goes to meet his death.

Delos had surely not been buffeted
so hard before Latona planted there
the nest in which to bear the sky’s two eyes.

Then such a shout rose up on every side
that, drawing near to me, my master said:
“Don’t be afraid, as long as I’m your guide.”

“Gloria in excelsis Deo,” they all cried—
so did I understand from those nearby,
whose shouted words were able to be heard.

Just like the shepherds who first heard that song,
we stood, but did not move, in expectation,
until the trembling stopped, the song was done.

Then we took up again our holy path,
watching the shades who lay along the ground,
who had resumed their customary tears.

My ignorance has never struggled so,
has never made me long so much to know—
if memory does not mislead me now—

as it seemed then to long within my thoughts;
nor did I dare to ask—we were so rushed;
nor, by myself, could I discern the cause.

So, timid, pensive, I pursued my way.

ILL strives the will against a better will;
Therefore, to pleasure him, against my pleasure
I drew the sponge not saturate from the water.

Onward I moved, and onward moved my Leader,
Through vacant places, skirting still the rock,
As on a wall close to the battlements;

For they that through their eyes pour drop by drop
The malady whichall the world pervades,
On the other side too near the verge approach.

Accursed mayst thou be, thou old she—wolf,
That more than all the other beasts hast prey,
Because of hunger infinitely hollow!

O heaven, in whose gyrations some appear
To think conditions here below are changed,
When will he come through whom she shall depart?

Onward we went with footsteps slow and scarce,
And I attentive to the shades I heard
Piteously weeping and bemoaning them;

And I by peradventure heard “Sweet Mary!”
Uttered in front of us amid the weeping
Even as a woman does who is in child—birth;

And in continuance: “How poor thou wast
Is manifested by that hostelry
Where thou didst lay thy sacred burden down.”

Thereafterward I heard: “O good Fabricius,
Virtue with poverty didst thou prefer
To the possession of great wealth with vice.”

So pleasurable were these words to me
That I drew farther onward to have knowledge
Touching that spirit whence they seemed to come.

He furthermore was speaking of the largess
Which Nicholas unto the maidens gave,
In order to conduct their youth to honour.

“O soul that dost so excellently speak,
Tell me who wast thou,” said I, “and why only
Thou dost renew these praises well deserved?

Not without recompense shall be thy word,
If I return to finish the short journey
Of that life which is flying to its end.”

And he: “I’ll tell thee, not for any comfort
I may expect from earth, but that so much
Grace shines in thee or ever thou art dead.

I was the root of that malignant plant
Which overshadows all the Christian world,
So that good fruit is seldom gathered from it;

But if Douay and Ghent, and Lille and Bruges
Had Power. soon vengeance would be taken on it;
And this I pray of Him who judges all.

Hugh Capet was I called upon the earth;
From me were born the Louises and Philips,
By whom in later days has France been governed.

I was the son of a Parisian butcher,
What time the ancient kings had perished all,
Excepting one, contrite in cloth of gray.

I found me grasping in my hands the rein
Of the realm’s government, and so great power
Of new acquest, and so with friends abounding,

That to the widowed diadem promoted
The head of mine own offspring was, from whom
The consecrated bones of these began.

So long as the great dowry of Provence
Out of my blood took not the sense of shame,
‘Twas little worth, but still it did no harm.

Then it began with falsehood and with force
Its rapine; and thereafter, for amends,
Took Ponthieu, Normandy, and Gascony.

Charles came to Italy, and for amends
A victim made of Conradin, and then
Thrust Thomas back to heaven, for amends.

A time I see, not very distant now,
Which draweth forth another Charles from France,
The better to make known both him and his.

Unarmed he goes, and only with the lance
That Judas jousted with; and that he thrusts
So that he makes the paunch of Florence burst.

He thence not land, but sin and infamy,
Shall gain, so much more grievous to himself
As the more light such damage he accounts.

The other, now gone forth, ta’en in his ship,
See I his daughter sell, and chaffer for her
As corsairs do with other female slaves.

What more, O Avarice, canst thou do to us,
Since thou my blood so to thyself hast drawn,
It careth not for its own proper flesh?

That less may seem the future ill and past,
I see the flower—de—luce Alagna enter,
And Christ in his own Vicar captive made.

see him yet another time derided;
I see renewed the vinegar and gall,
And between living thieves I see him slain.

see the modern Pilate so relentless,
This does not sate him, but without decretal
He to the temple bears his sordid sails!

When, O my Lord ! shall I be joyful made
By looking on the vengeance which, concealed,
Makes sweet thine anger in thy secrecy?

What I was saying of that only bride
Of the Holy Ghost, and which occasioned thee
To turn towards me for some commentary,

So long has been ordained to all our prayers
As the day lasts; but when the night comes on,
Contrary sound we take instead thereof.

At that time we repeat Pygmalion,
Of whom a traitor, thief, and parricide
Made his insatiable desire of gold;

And the misery of avaricious Midas,
That followed his inordinate demand,
At which forevermore one needs but laugh.

The foolish Achan each one then records,
And how he stole the spoils; so that the wrath
Of Joshua still appears to sting him here.

Then we accuse Sapphira with her husband,
We laud the hoof—beats Heliodorus had,
And the whole mount in infamy encircles

Polymnestor who murdered Polydorus.
Here finally is cried: ‘ O Crassus, tell us,
For thou dost know, what is the taste of gold?

Sometimes we speak, one loud, another low,
According to desire of speech, that spurs us
To greater now and now to lesser pace.

But in the good that here by day is talked of,
Erewhile alone I was not; yet near by
No other person lifted up his voice.”

From him already we departed were,
And made endeavour to o’ercome the road
As much as was permitted to our power,

When I perceived, like something that is falling,
The mountain tremble, whence a chill seized on me,
As seizes him who to his death is going.

Certes so violently shook not Delos,
Before Latona made her nest therein
To give birth to the two eyes of the heaven.

Then upon all sides there began a cry,
Such that the Master drew himself towards me,
Saying, “Fear not, while I am guiding thee.”

_”Gloria in excelsis Deo,”_all
Were saying, from what near I comprehended,
Where it was possible to hear the cry.

We paused immovable and in suspense;
Even as the shepherds who first heard that song,
Until the trembling ceased, and it was finished.

No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,

No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,

As meditating then I seemed to have;
Nor out of haste to question did I dare,
Nor of myself I there could aught perceive;

So I went onward timorous and thoughtful.

Against a better will, the will fights weakly;
therefore, to please him, though against my pleasure,
I drew my unquenched sponge out of the water.

I moved on, and my guide moved through the un—
encumbered space, hugging the rock, as one
walks on a wall, close to the battlements;

for those whose eyes would melt down, drop by drop,
the evil that possesses all the world,
were too close to the edge, on the far side.

May you be damned, o ancient wolf, whose power
can claim more prey than all the other beasts—
your hungering is deep and never—ending!

O heavens, through whose revolutions many
think things on earth are changed, when will he come—
the one whose works will drive that wolf away?

Our steps were short and slow as we moved on;
I was attentive to the shades; I heard
the sorrow in their tears and lamentations.

Then I, by chance, heard one ahead of us
crying in his lament, “Sweet Mary,” as
a woman would outcry in labor pains.

And he continued: “In that hostel where
you had set down your holy burden, there
one can discover just how poor you were.”

Following this I heard: “O good Fabricius,
you chose, as your possessions, indigence
with virtue rather than much wealth with vice.”

These words had been so pleasing to me—I
moved forward, so that I might come to know
the spirit from whom they had seemed to come.

He kept on speaking, telling the largesse
of Nicholas—the gifts he gave the maidens
so that they might be honorably wed.

“O soul who speaks of so much righteousness,
do tell me who you were,” I said, “and why
just you alone renew these seemly praises.

Your speaking to me will not go unthanked
when I return to finish the short span
of that life which now hurries toward its end.”

And he: “I’ll tell you—not because I hope
for solace from your world, but for such grace
as shines in you before your death’s arrived.

I was the root of the obnoxious plant
that overshadows all the Christian lands,
so that fine fruit can rarely rise from them.

But if Douai and Lille and Bruges and Ghent
had power, they would soon take vengeance on it;
and this I beg of Him who judges all.

The name I bore beyond was Hugh Capet:
of me were born the Louises and Philips
by whom France has been ruled most recently.

I was the son of a Parisian butcher.
When all the line of ancient kings was done
and only one—a monk in gray—survived,

I found the reins that ruled the kingdom tight
within my hands, and I held so much new—
gained power and possessed so many friends

that, to the widowed crown, my own son’s head
was elevated, and from him began
the consecrated bones of all those kings.

Until the giant dowry of Provence
removed all sense of shame within my house,
my line was not worth much, but did no wrong.

There its rapine began with lies and force;
and then it seized—that it might make amends—
Ponthieu and Normandy and Gascony.

Charles came to Italy and, for amends,
made Conradin a victim, and then thrust
back Thomas into Heaven, for amends.

I see a time—not too far off—in which
another Charles advances out of France
to make himself and his descendants famous.

He does not carry weapons when he comes,
only the lance that Judas tilted; this
he couches so—he twists the paunch of Florence.

From this he’ll gain not land, just shame and sin,
which will be all the heavier for him
as he would reckon lightly such disgrace.

The other, who once left his ship as prisoner—
I see him sell his daughter, bargaining
as pirates haggle over female slaves.

O avarice, my house is now your captive:
it traffics in the flesh of its own children—
what more is left for you to do to us?

That past and future evil may seem less,
I see the fleur—de—lis enter Anagni
and, in His vicar, Christ made prisoner.

I see Him mocked a second time; I see
the vinegar and gall renewed—and He
is slain between two thieves who’re still alive.

And I see the new Pilate, one so cruel
that, still not sated, he, without decree,
carries his greedy sails into the Temple.

O You, my Lord, when will You let me be
happy on seeing vengeance that, concealed,
makes sweet Your anger in Your secrecy?

What I have said about the only bride
the Holy Ghost has known, the words that made
you turn to me for commentary—these

words serve as answer to our prayers as long
as it is day; but when night falls, then we
recite examples that are contrary.

Then we tell over how Pygmalion,
out of his greedy lust for gold, became
a thief and traitor and a parricide;

the wretchedness of avaricious Midas,
resulting from his ravenous request,
the consequence that always makes men laugh;

and each of us recalls the foolish Achan—
how he had robbed the spoils, so that the anger
of Joshua still seems to sting him here.

Then we accuse Sapphira and her husband;
we praise the kicks Heliodorus suffered;
and Polymnestor, who killed Polydorus,

resounds, in infamy, round all this mountain;
and finally, what we cry here is: Crassus,
tell us, because you know: “How does gold taste?”‘

At times one speaks aloud, another low,
according to the sentiment that goads
us now to be more swift and now more slow:

thus, I was not alone in speaking of
the good we cite by day, but here nearby
no other spirit raised his voice as high.”

We had already taken leave of him
and were already struggling to advance
along that road as far as we were able,

when I could feel the mountain tremble like
a falling thing; at which a chill seized me
as cold grips one who goes to meet his death.

Delos had surely not been buffeted
so hard before Latona planted there
the nest in which to bear the sky’s two eyes.

Then such a shout rose up on every side
that, drawing near to me, my master said:
“Don’t be afraid, as long as I’m your guide.”

“Gloria in excelsis Deo,” they all cried—
so did I understand from those nearby,
whose shouted words were able to be heard.

Just like the shepherds who first heard that song,
we stood, but did not move, in expectation,
until the trembling stopped, the song was done.

Then we took up again our holy path,
watching the shades who lay along the ground,
who had resumed their customary tears.

My ignorance has never struggled so,
has never made me long so much to know—
if memory does not mislead me now—

as it seemed then to long within my thoughts;
nor did I dare to ask—we were so rushed;
nor, by myself, could I discern the cause.

So, timid, pensive, I pursued my way.

ILL strives the will against a better will;
Therefore, to pleasure him, against my pleasure
I drew the sponge not saturate from the water.

Onward I moved, and onward moved my Leader,
Through vacant places, skirting still the rock,
As on a wall close to the battlements;

For they that through their eyes pour drop by drop
The malady whichall the world pervades,
On the other side too near the verge approach.

Accursed mayst thou be, thou old she—wolf,
That more than all the other beasts hast prey,
Because of hunger infinitely hollow!

O heaven, in whose gyrations some appear
To think conditions here below are changed,
When will he come through whom she shall depart?

Onward we went with footsteps slow and scarce,
And I attentive to the shades I heard
Piteously weeping and bemoaning them;

And I by peradventure heard “Sweet Mary!”
Uttered in front of us amid the weeping
Even as a woman does who is in child—birth;

And in continuance: “How poor thou wast
Is manifested by that hostelry
Where thou didst lay thy sacred burden down.”

Thereafterward I heard: “O good Fabricius,
Virtue with poverty didst thou prefer
To the possession of great wealth with vice.”

So pleasurable were these words to me
That I drew farther onward to have knowledge
Touching that spirit whence they seemed to come.

He furthermore was speaking of the largess
Which Nicholas unto the maidens gave,
In order to conduct their youth to honour.

“O soul that dost so excellently speak,
Tell me who wast thou,” said I, “and why only
Thou dost renew these praises well deserved?

Not without recompense shall be thy word,
If I return to finish the short journey
Of that life which is flying to its end.”

And he: “I’ll tell thee, not for any comfort
I may expect from earth, but that so much
Grace shines in thee or ever thou art dead.

I was the root of that malignant plant
Which overshadows all the Christian world,
So that good fruit is seldom gathered from it;

But if Douay and Ghent, and Lille and Bruges
Had Power. soon vengeance would be taken on it;
And this I pray of Him who judges all.

Hugh Capet was I called upon the earth;
From me were born the Louises and Philips,
By whom in later days has France been governed.

I was the son of a Parisian butcher,
What time the ancient kings had perished all,
Excepting one, contrite in cloth of gray.

I found me grasping in my hands the rein
Of the realm’s government, and so great power
Of new acquest, and so with friends abounding,

That to the widowed diadem promoted
The head of mine own offspring was, from whom
The consecrated bones of these began.

So long as the great dowry of Provence
Out of my blood took not the sense of shame,
‘Twas little worth, but still it did no harm.

Then it began with falsehood and with force
Its rapine; and thereafter, for amends,
Took Ponthieu, Normandy, and Gascony.

Charles came to Italy, and for amends
A victim made of Conradin, and then
Thrust Thomas back to heaven, for amends.

A time I see, not very distant now,
Which draweth forth another Charles from France,
The better to make known both him and his.

Unarmed he goes, and only with the lance
That Judas jousted with; and that he thrusts
So that he makes the paunch of Florence burst.

He thence not land, but sin and infamy,
Shall gain, so much more grievous to himself
As the more light such damage he accounts.

The other, now gone forth, ta’en in his ship,
See I his daughter sell, and chaffer for her
As corsairs do with other female slaves.

What more, O Avarice, canst thou do to us,
Since thou my blood so to thyself hast drawn,
It careth not for its own proper flesh?

That less may seem the future ill and past,
I see the flower—de—luce Alagna enter,
And Christ in his own Vicar captive made.

see him yet another time derided;
I see renewed the vinegar and gall,
And between living thieves I see him slain.

see the modern Pilate so relentless,
This does not sate him, but without decretal
He to the temple bears his sordid sails!

When, O my Lord ! shall I be joyful made
By looking on the vengeance which, concealed,
Makes sweet thine anger in thy secrecy?

What I was saying of that only bride
Of the Holy Ghost, and which occasioned thee
To turn towards me for some commentary,

So long has been ordained to all our prayers
As the day lasts; but when the night comes on,
Contrary sound we take instead thereof.

At that time we repeat Pygmalion,
Of whom a traitor, thief, and parricide
Made his insatiable desire of gold;

And the misery of avaricious Midas,
That followed his inordinate demand,
At which forevermore one needs but laugh.

The foolish Achan each one then records,
And how he stole the spoils; so that the wrath
Of Joshua still appears to sting him here.

Then we accuse Sapphira with her husband,
We laud the hoof—beats Heliodorus had,
And the whole mount in infamy encircles

Polymnestor who murdered Polydorus.
Here finally is cried: ‘ O Crassus, tell us,
For thou dost know, what is the taste of gold?

Sometimes we speak, one loud, another low,
According to desire of speech, that spurs us
To greater now and now to lesser pace.

But in the good that here by day is talked of,
Erewhile alone I was not; yet near by
No other person lifted up his voice.”

From him already we departed were,
And made endeavour to o’ercome the road
As much as was permitted to our power,

When I perceived, like something that is falling,
The mountain tremble, whence a chill seized on me,
As seizes him who to his death is going.

Certes so violently shook not Delos,
Before Latona made her nest therein
To give birth to the two eyes of the heaven.

Then upon all sides there began a cry,
Such that the Master drew himself towards me,
Saying, “Fear not, while I am guiding thee.”

_”Gloria in excelsis Deo,”_all
Were saying, from what near I comprehended,
Where it was possible to hear the cry.

We paused immovable and in suspense;
Even as the shepherds who first heard that song,
Until the trembling ceased, and it was finished.

No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,

No ignorance ever with so great a strife
Had rendered me importunate to know,
If erreth not in this my memory,

As meditating then I seemed to have;
Nor out of haste to question did I dare,
Nor of myself I there could aught perceive;

So I went onward timorous and thoughtful.