Inferno: Canto XXV
At the conclusion
of his words, the thief
his hands aloft with both the figs,
Crying: "Take that, God, for at thee I aim them."
From that time
forth the serpents were my friends;
one entwined itself about his neck
As if it said: "I will not thou speak more;"
And round his arms
another, and rebound him,
itself together so in front,
That with them he could not a motion make.
Pistoia! why resolve not
burn thyself to ashes and so perish,
Since in ill-doing thou thy seed excellest?
Through all the
sombre circles of this Hell,
I saw not against God so proud,
Not he who fell at Thebes down from the walls!
He fled away, and
spake no further word;
I beheld a Centaur full of rage
Come crying out: "Where is, where is the scoffer?"
I do not think
Maremma has so many
as he had all along his back,
As far as where our countenance begins.
Upon the shoulders,
just behind the nape,
wings wide open was a dragon lying,
And he sets fire to all that he encounters.
My Master said:
"That one is Cacus, who
the rock upon Mount Aventine
Created oftentimes a lake of blood.
He goes not on the
same road with his brothers,
reason of the fraudulent theft he made
Of the great herd, which he had near to him;
tortuous actions ceased beneath
mace of Hercules, who peradventure
Gave him a hundred, and he felt not ten."
While he was
speaking thus, he had passed by,
spirits three had underneath us come,
Of which nor I aware was, nor my Leader,
Until what time
they shouted: "Who are you?"
which account our story made a halt,
And then we were intent on them alone.
I did not know
them; but it came to pass,
it is wont to happen by some chance,
That one to name the other was compelled,
can Cianfa have remained?"
I, so that the Leader might attend,
Upward from chin to nose my finger laid.
If thou art,
Reader, slow now to believe
I shall say, it will no marvel be,
For I who saw it hardly can admit it.
As I was holding
raised on them my brows,
a serpent with six feet darts forth
In front of one, and fastens wholly on him.
With middle feet it
bound him round the paunch,
with the forward ones his arms it seized;
Then thrust its teeth through one cheek and the other;
The hindermost it
stretched upon his thighs,
put its tail through in between the two,
And up behind along the reins outspread it.
Ivy was never
fastened by its barbs
a tree so, as this horrible reptile
Upon the other's limbs entwined its own.
Then they stuck
close, as if of heated wax
had been made, and intermixed their colour;
Nor one nor other seemed now what he was;
E'en as proceedeth
on before the flame
along the paper a brown colour,
Which is not black as yet, and the white dies.
The other two
looked on, and each of them
out: "O me, Agnello, how thou changest!
Behold, thou now art neither two nor one."
Already the two
heads had one become,
there appeared to us two figures mingled
Into one face, wherein the two were lost.
Of the four lists
were fashioned the two arms,
thighs and legs, the belly and the chest
Members became that never yet were seen.
aspect there was cancelled;
and yet none did the perverted image
Appear, and such departed with slow pace.
Even as a lizard,
under the great scourge
days canicular, exchanging hedge,
Lightning appeareth if the road it cross;
Thus did appear,
coming towards the bellies
the two others, a small fiery serpent,
Livid and black as is a peppercorn.
And in that part
whereat is first received
aliment, it one of them transfixed;
Then downward fell in front of him extended.
The one transfixed
looked at it, but said naught;
rather with feet motionless he yawned,
Just as if sleep or fever had assailed him.
He at the serpent
gazed, and it at him;
through the wound, the other through the mouth
Smoked violently, and the smoke commingled.
silent Lucan, where he mentions
Sabellus and Nassidius,
And wait to hear what now shall be shot forth.
Be silent Ovid, of
Cadmus and Arethusa;
if him to a snake, her to fountain,
Converts he fabling, that I grudge him not;
Because two natures
never front to front
he transmuted, so that both the forms
To interchange their matter ready were.
responded in such wise,
to a fork the serpent cleft his tail,
And eke the wounded drew his feet together.
The legs together
with the thighs themselves
so, that in little time the juncture
No sign whatever made that was apparent.
He with the cloven
tail assumed the figure
other one was losing, and his skin
Became elastic, and the other's hard.
I saw the arms draw
inward at the armpits,
both feet of the reptile, that were short,
Lengthen as much as those contracted were.
Thereafter the hind
feet, together twisted,
the member that a man conceals,
And of his own the wretch had two created.
While both of them
the exhalation veils
a new colour, and engenders hair
On one of them and depilates the other,
The one uprose and
down the other fell,
turning not away their impious lamps,
Underneath which each one his muzzle changed.
He who was standing
drew it tow'rds the temples,
from excess of matter, which came thither,
Issued the ears from out the hollow cheeks;
What did not
backward run and was retained
that excess made to the face a nose,
And the lips thickened far as was befitting.
He who lay
prostrate thrusts his muzzle forward,
backward draws the ears into his head,
In the same manner as the snail its horns;
And so the tongue,
which was entire and apt
speech before, is cleft, and the bi-forked
In the other closes up, and the smoke ceases.
The soul, which to
a reptile had been changed,
the valley hissing takes to flight,
And after him the other speaking sputters.
Then did he turn
upon him his new shoulders,
said to the other: "I'll have Buoso run,
Crawling as I have done, along this road."
In this way I
beheld the seventh ballast
and reshift, and here be my excuse
The novelty, if aught my pen transgress.
that mine eyes might be
bewildered, and my mind dismayed,
They could not flee away so secretly
But that I plainly
saw Puccio Sciancato;
he it was who sole of three companions,
Which came in the beginning, was not changed;
The other was he
whom thou, Gaville, weepest.