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Chapter 12 The Minotaur. The Seventh Circle: The Violent. The Rive_hlegethon. The Violent against their Neighbours. The Centaurs. Tyrants.

  • The place where to descend the bank we came
  • Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover,
  • Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.
  • Such as that ruin is which in the flank
  • Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige,
  • Either by earthquake or by failing stay,
  • For from the mountain's top, from which it moved,
  • Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so,
  • Some path 'twould give to him who was above;
  • Even such was the descent of that ravine,
  • And on the border of the broken chasm
  • The infamy of Crete was stretched along,
  • Who was conceived in the fictitious cow;
  • And when he us beheld, he bit himself,
  • Even as one whom anger racks within.
  • My Sage towards him shouted: "Peradventure
  • Thou think'st that here may be the Duke of Athens,
  • Who in the world above brought death to thee?
  • Get thee gone, beast, for this one cometh not
  • Instructed by thy sister, but he comes
  • In order to behold your punishments."
  • As is that bull who breaks loose at the moment
  • In which he has received the mortal blow,
  • Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there,
  • The Minotaur beheld I do the like;
  • And he, the wary, cried: "Run to the passage;
  • While he wroth, 'tis well thou shouldst descend."
  • Thus down we took our way o'er that discharge
  • Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves
  • Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden.
  • Thoughtful I went; and he said: "Thou art thinking
  • Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded
  • By that brute anger which just now I quenched.
  • Now will I have thee know, the other time
  • I here descended to the nether Hell,
  • This precipice had not yet fallen down.
  • But truly, if I well discern, a little
  • Before His coming who the mighty spoil
  • Bore off from Dis, in the supernal circle,
  • Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley
  • Trembled so, that I thought the Universe
  • Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think
  • The world ofttimes converted into chaos;
  • And at that moment this primeval crag
  • Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow.
  • But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near
  • The river of blood, within which boiling is
  • Whoe'er by violence doth injure others."
  • O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,
  • That spurs us onward so in our short life,
  • And in the eternal then so badly steeps us!
  • I saw an ample moat bent like a bow,
  • As one which all the plain encompasses,
  • Conformable to what my Guide had said.
  • And between this and the embankment's foot
  • Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows,
  • As in the world they used the chase to follow.
  • Beholding us descend, each one stood still,
  • And from the squadron three detached themselves,
  • With bows and arrows in advance selected;
  • And from afar one cried: "Unto what torment
  • Come ye, who down the hillside are descending?
  • Tell us from there; if not, I draw the bow."
  • My Master said: "Our answer will we make
  • To Chiron, near you there; in evil hour,
  • That will of thine was evermore so hasty."
  • Then touched he me, and said: "This one is Nessus,
  • Who perished for the lovely Dejanira,
  • And for himself, himself did vengeance take.
  • And he in the midst, who at his breast is gazing,
  • Is the great Chiron, who brought up Achilles;
  • That other Pholus is, who was so wrathful.
  • Thousands and thousands go about the moat
  • Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges
  • Out of the blood, more than his crime allots."
  • Near we approached unto those monsters fleet;
  • Chiron an arrow took, and with the notch
  • Backward upon his jaws he put his beard.
  • After he had uncovered his great mouth,
  • He said to his companions: "Are you ware
  • That he behind moveth whate'er he touches?
  • Thus are not wont to do the feet of dead men."
  • And my good Guide, who now was at his breast,
  • Where the two natures are together joined,
  • Replied: "Indeed he lives, and thus alone
  • Me it behoves to show him the dark valley;
  • Necessity, and not delight, impels us.
  • Some one withdrew from singing Halleluja,
  • Who unto me committed this new office;
  • No thief is he, nor I a thievish spirit.
  • But by that virtue through which I am moving
  • My steps along this savage thoroughfare,
  • Give us some one of thine, to be with us,
  • And who may show us where to pass the ford,
  • And who may carry this one on his back;
  • For 'tis no spirit that can walk the air."
  • Upon his right breast Chiron wheeled about,
  • And said to Nessus: "Turn and do thou guide them,
  • And warn aside, if other band may meet you."
  • We with our faithful escort onward moved
  • Along the brink of the vermilion boiling,
  • Wherein the boiled were uttering loud laments.
  • People I saw within up to the eyebrows,
  • And the great Centaur said: "Tyrants are these,
  • Who dealt in bloodshed and in pillaging.
  • Here they lament their pitiless mischiefs; here
  • Is Alexander, and fierce Dionysius
  • Who upon Sicily brought dolorous years.
  • That forehead there which has the hair so black
  • Is Azzolin; and the other who is blond,
  • Obizzo is of Esti, who, in truth,
  • Up in the world was by his stepson slain."
  • Then turned I to the Poet; and he said,
  • "Now he be first to thee, and second I."
  • A little farther on the Centaur stopped
  • Above a folk, who far down as the throat
  • Seemed from that boiling stream to issue forth.
  • A shade he showed us on one side alone,
  • Saying: "He cleft asunder in God's bosom
  • The heart that still upon the Thames is honoured."
  • Then people saw I, who from out the river
  • Lifted their heads and also all the chest;
  • And many among these I recognised.
  • Thus ever more and more grew shallower
  • That blood, so that the feet alone it covered;
  • And there across the moat our passage was.
  • "Even as thou here upon this side beholdest
  • The boiling stream, that aye diminishes,"
  • The Centaur said, "I wish thee to believe
  • That on this other more and more declines
  • Its bed, until it reunites itself
  • Where it behoveth tyranny to groan.
  • Justice divine, upon this side, is goading
  • That Attila, who was a scourge on earth,
  • And Pyrrhus, and Sextus; and for ever milks
  • The tears which with the boiling it unseals
  • In Rinier da Corneto and Rinier Pazzo,
  • Who made upon the highways so much war."
  • Then back he turned, and passed again the ford.