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Saint Peter's fane, on th' other towards the mount.
Each divers way along the grisly rock,
Horn'd demons I beheld, with lashes huge,
That on their back unmercifully smote.
Ah! how they made them bound at the first stripe !
None for the second waited nor the third.
Meantime as on I pass'd, one met my sight
Whom soon as view'd ; “Of him,” cried I, “not yet
hath had his fill.” With fixed gaze
I therefore scann'd him. Straight the teacher kind
Paus'd with me, and consented 'I should walk
Backward a space, and the tormented spirit,
Who thought to hide him, bent his visage down.
But it avail'd him nought; for I exclaim’d:
“ Thou who dost cast thy eye upon the ground,
Unless thy features do belie thee much,
Venedico art thou. But what brings thee
Into this bitter seas'ning ?” He replied:
Unwillingly I answer to thy words.
But thy clear speech, that to my mind recalls
The world I once inhabited, constrains me.
Know then 'twas I who led fair Ghisola
To do the Marquis’ will, however fame
The shameful tale have bruited. Nor alone
Bologna hither sendeth me to mourn.
Rather with us the place is so o'erthrong'd
That not so many tongues this day are taught,
Betwixt the Reno and Savena's stream,
To answer Sipa in their country's phrase.
And if of that securer proof thou need,
Remember but our craving thirst for gold.”
Him speaking thus, a demon with his thong
Struck, and exclaim’d, “ Away! corrupter! here
Women are none for sale.” Forthwith I join'd
My escort, and few paces thence we came
To where a rock forth issued from the bank.
That easily ascended, to the right
Upon its splinter turning, we depart
From those eternal barriers. When arriv’d,
Where underneath the gaping arch lets pass
The scourged souls: “ Pause here," the teacher said, “ And let these others miserable, now
75 Strike on thy ken, faces not yet beheld, For that together they with us have walk’d.”
From the old bridge we ey'd the pack, who came From th' other side towards us, like the rest, Excoriate from the lash. My gentle guide,
80 By me unquestion'd, thus his speech resum'd: “ Behold that lofty shade, who this way tends, And seems too woe-begone to drop a tear. How yet the regal aspect he retains ! Jason is he, whose skill and prowess won
85 The ram from Colchos. To the Lemnian isle His
passage thither led him, when those bold And pitiless women had slain all their males. There he with tokens and fair witching words Hypsipyle beguild, a virgin young,
90 Who first had all the rest herself beguil'd. Impregnated he left her there forlorn. Such is the guilt condemns him to this pain. Here too Medea's inj'ries are avenged. All bear him company, who like deceit
95 To his have practis'd. And thus much to know Of the first vale suffice thee, and of those Whom its keen torments urge.”
Now had we come Where, crossing the next pier, the straighten'd path Bestrides its shoulders to another arch.
Hence in the second chasm we heard the ghosts,
Who jibber in low melancholy sounds,
With wide-stretch'd nostrils snort, and on themselves
Smite with their palms. Upon the banks a scurf
From the foul steam condens'd, encrusting hung, 105
That held sharp combat with the sight and smell.
So hollow is the depth, that from no part,
Save on the summit of the rocky span,
Could I distinguish aught. Thus far we came;
And thence I saw, within the foss below,
A crowd immers’d in ordure, that
Draff of the human body. There beneath
Searching with eye inquisitive, I mark'd
One with his head so grim'd, 't were hard to deem,
If he were clerk or layman. Loud he cried :
Why greedily thus bendest more on me,
Than on these other filthy ones, thy ken ?
“Because if true my mem’ry," I replied,
“ I heretofore have seen thee with dry locks,
And thou Alessio art of Lucca sprung.
Therefore than all the rest I scan thee more.”
Then beating on his brain these words he spake: “Me thus low down my flatteries have sunk, Wherewith I ne'er enough could glut my tongue.”
My leader thus: “A little further stretch
Thy face, that thou the visage well mayst note
Of that besotted, sluttish courtezan,
Who there doth rend her with defiled nails,
Now crouching down, now risen on her feet.
Thaïs is this, the harlot, whose false lip
Answer'd her doting paramour that ask'd,
* Thankest me much !!— Say rather wondrously,'
And seeing this here satiate be our view.”
WOE to thee, Simon Magus! woe to you,
His wretched followers ! who the things of God,
Which should be wedded unto goodness, them,
Rapacious as ye are, do prostitute
For gold and silver in adultery!
Now must the trumpet sound for you, since yours
Is the third chasm. Upon the following vault
We now had mounted, where the rock impends
Directly o’er the centre of the foss.
Wisdom Supreme ! how wonderful the art,
Which thou dost manifest in heaven, in earth,
And in the evil world, how just a meed
Allotting by thy virtue unto all!
I saw the livid stone, throughout the sides
And in its bottom full of apertures,
All equal in their width, and circular each,
Nor ample less nor larger they appear'd,
Than in Saint John's fair dome of me belov'd
Those fram’d to hold the pure baptismal streams,
One of the which I brake, some few years past,
To save a whelming infant; and be this
A seal to undeceive whoever doubts
The motive of my deed. From out the mouth
Of every one, emerg'd a sinner's feet
And of the legs high upward as the calf
The rest beneath was hid. On either foot
The soles were burning, whence the flexile joints
Glanc'd with such violent motion, as had snapt
Asunder cords or twisted withs. As flame,
Feeding on unctuous matter, glides along
The surface, scarcely touching where it moves ;
So here, from heel to point, glided the flames.
“Master! say who is he, than all the rest
Glancing in fiercer agony, on whom
A ruddier flame doth prey?” I thus inquir'dl.
“If thou be willing," he replied, " that I
Carry thee down, where least the slope bank falls,
He of himself shall tell thee and his wrongs.”
I then : “ As pleases thee to me is best.
Thou art my lord ; and know?st that ne'er I quit
Thy will : what silence hides that knowest thou."
Thereat on the fourth pier we came, we turn'd,
And on our left descended to the depth,
A narrow strait and perforated close.
Nor from his side my leader set me down,
Till to his orifice he brought, whose limb
Quiv'ring express'd his pang “Whoe'er thou art,
Sad spirit! thus revers’d, and as a stake
Driv’n in the soil!” I in these words began,
“ If thou be able, utter forth thy voice.”
There stood I like the friar, that doth shrive
A wretch for murder doom'd, who e'eu when fix'd,
Calleth him back, whence death awhile delays.
He shouted : “ Ha! already standest there?
Already standest there, O Boniface !
By many a year the writing play'd me false.