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Chapter 11 The Broken Rocks. Pope Anastasius. General Description of th_nferno and its Divisions.

  • Upon the margin of a lofty bank
  • Which great rocks broken in a circle made,
  • We came upon a still more cruel throng;
  • And there, by reason of the horrible
  • Excess of stench the deep abyss throws out,
  • We drew ourselves aside behind the cover
  • Of a great tomb, whereon I saw a writing,
  • Which said: "Pope Anastasius I hold,
  • Whom out of the right way Photinus drew."
  • "Slow it behoveth our descent to be,
  • So that the sense be first a little used
  • To the sad blast, and then we shall not heed it."
  • The Master thus; and unto him I said,
  • "Some compensation find, that the time pass not
  • Idly;" and he: "Thou seest I think of that.
  • My son, upon the inside of these rocks,"
  • Began he then to say, "are three small circles,
  • From grade to grade, like those which thou art leaving.
  • They all are full of spirits maledict;
  • But that hereafter sight alone suffice thee,
  • Hear how and wherefore they are in constraint.
  • Of every malice that wins hate in Heaven,
  • Injury is the end; and all such end
  • Either by force or fraud afflicteth others.
  • But because fraud is man's peculiar vice,
  • More it displeases God; and so stand lowest
  • The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them.
  • All the first circle of the Violent is;
  • But since force may be used against three persons,
  • In three rounds 'tis divided and constructed.
  • To God, to ourselves, and to our neighbour can we
  • Use force; I say on them and on their things,
  • As thou shalt hear with reason manifest.
  • A death by violence, and painful wounds,
  • Are to our neighbour given; and in his substance
  • Ruin, and arson, and injurious levies;
  • Whence homicides, and he who smites unjustly,
  • Marauders, and freebooters, the first round
  • Tormenteth all in companies diverse.
  • Man may lay violent hands upon himself
  • And his own goods; and therefore in the second
  • Round must perforce without avail repent
  • Whoever of your world deprives himself,
  • Who games, and dissipates his property,
  • And weepeth there, where he should jocund be.
  • Violence can be done the Deity,
  • In heart denying and blaspheming Him,
  • And by disdaining Nature and her bounty.
  • And for this reason doth the smallest round
  • Seal with its signet Sodom and Cahors,
  • And who, disdaining God, speaks from the heart.
  • Fraud, wherewithal is every conscience stung,
  • A man may practise upon him who trusts,
  • And him who doth no confidence imburse.
  • This latter mode, it would appear, dissevers
  • Only the bond of love which Nature makes;
  • Wherefore within the second circle nestle
  • Hypocrisy, flattery, and who deals in magic,
  • Falsification, theft, and simony,
  • Panders, and barrators, and the like filth.
  • By the other mode, forgotten is that love
  • Which Nature makes, and what is after added,
  • From which there is a special faith engendered.
  • Hence in the smallest circle, where the point is
  • Of the Universe, upon which Dis is seated,
  • Whoe'er betrays for ever is consumed."
  • And I: "My Master, clear enough proceeds
  • Thy reasoning, and full well distinguishes
  • This cavern and the people who possess it.
  • But tell me, those within the fat lagoon,
  • Whom the wind drives, and whom the rain doth beat,
  • And who encounter with such bitter tongues,
  • Wherefore are they inside of the red city
  • Not punished, if God has them in his wrath,
  • And if he has not, wherefore in such fashion?"
  • And unto me he said: "Why wanders so
  • Thine intellect from that which it is wont?
  • Or, sooth, thy mind where is it elsewhere looking?
  • Hast thou no recollection of those words
  • With which thine Ethics thoroughly discusses
  • The dispositions three, that Heaven abides not,—
  • Incontinence, and Malice, and insane
  • Bestiality? and how Incontinence
  • Less God offendeth, and less blame attracts?
  • If thou regardest this conclusion well,
  • And to thy mind recallest who they are
  • That up outside are undergoing penance,
  • Clearly wilt thou perceive why from these felons
  • They separated are, and why less wroth
  • Justice divine doth smite them with its hammer."
  • "O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,
  • Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,
  • That doubting pleases me no less than knowing!
  • Once more a little backward turn thee," said I,
  • "There where thou sayest that usury offends
  • Goodness divine, and disengage the knot."
  • "Philosophy," he said, "to him who heeds it,
  • Noteth, not only in one place alone,
  • After what manner Nature takes her course
  • From Intellect Divine, and from its art;
  • And if thy Physics carefully thou notest,
  • After not many pages shalt thou find,
  • That this your art as far as possible
  • Follows, as the disciple doth the master;
  • So that your art is, as it were, God's grandchild.
  • From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind
  • Genesis at the beginning, it behoves
  • Mankind to gain their life and to advance;
  • And since the usurer takes another way,
  • Nature herself and in her follower
  • Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.
  • But follow, now, as I would fain go on,
  • For quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,
  • And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies,
  • And far beyond there we descend the crag."