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