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Country Music. Doth not the sweet light strike upon his eyes? The other one, meanwhile, the great-souled man, at whose request I stopped, changed not his looks, nor did he move his neck or turn his side. And so mayst thou return to the sweet world, pray tell me why so pitiless toward mine that people is in every law of theirs?
It seems, if well I hear, that ye behold beforehand that which time brings with itself, while in the present ye do otherwise. When they approach, or are, our intellect is wholly vain, and we, if others bring no news, know nothing of your human state. Hence thou canst understand that wholly dead will be our knowledge from that moment on, when closed shall be the gateway of the future. Heresy The Distribution of the Damned in the Inferno.
Of all wrong-doing which in Heaven wins hate injustice is the end, and each such end aggrieves by either violence or fraud. All the first circle holds the violent; but since against three persons force is used, its shape divides it into three great rings.
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This latter kind of fraud would seem to kill only the bond of love which Nature makes; hence in the second circle make their nest hypocrisy, and flatteries, and workers of magic, coining, theft and simony, panders and grafters, and such filth as these. Hast thou no recollection of the words with which thine Ethics treats extensively the dispositions three which Heaven rejects, Incontinence, and Malice, and insane Bestiality, and how Incontinence offends God least, and hence receives least blame?
From these two things, if thou recall to mind the first of Genesis, must people needs obtain their livelihood, and progress make.
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And as the usurer takes another course, Nature both in herself and in her follower he scorneth, since in something else he trusts. The place, where to descend the bank we came, was Alp-like, and, through what was also there, such that all eyes would be repelled by it. Begone, thou beast! Now I would have thee know that, when down here to nether Hell I came, that other time, this mass of rock had not yet fallen down. But turn thine eyes down yonder now; for lo, the stream of blood is drawing near to us, wherein boils who by violence harms others.
O blind cupidity, O foolish wrath, that so dost in our short life goad us on, and after, in the eternal, steep us thus! I saw a wide moat curving in an arc, and such that it embraces all the plain, according as my Escort had informed me; and in a file, between it and the bank, Centaurs were running by, with arrows armed, as in the world it was their wont to hunt.
On seeing us descend, they all stopped short, and three of them detached them from the troop, with bows and arrows they had chosen first.
Tell it from there, or else I draw my bow. They go by thousands round about the moat, shooting each soul that from the blood emerges further than its own sin allotted it. To those swift-footed beasts we then drew near; Chiron an arrow took, and with its notch backward upon his jaws he pushed his beard. But by the Power, through whom I move my steps along so wild a road, bestow on us one of thy troop, at whose side we may be, and who may show us where one fords, and carry this man upon his back, for he is not a spirit who can travel through the air.
I saw some people in it to their brows. Here tears are shed because of heartless wrongs; here Alexander is, and who for years grieved Sicily, fierce Dionysius. The brow which hath so black a head of hair, is Azzolino; the other which is blond, Obizzo of Este, who in truth was quenched up in the world by his un-natural son. Thus shallower and shallower became that blood, until it only cooked their feet; here was the place for us to ford the ditch.
Justice Divine is over here tormenting that Attila who was a scourge on earth, Pyrrhus, and Sextus; and forever milks the tears, which with the boiling it unlocks, from Rinier da Corneto and Rinier Pazzo, who on the highroads waged so great a war. Violence against Oneself.
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Suicides and Squanderers. Not yet had Nessus reached the other side, when we had set our steps within a wood, which was not marked by any path whatever. No green leaves there, but leaves of gloomy hue; no smooth and straight, but gnarled and twisted, twigs; nor was there any fruit, but poison-thorns. Herein those ugly Harpies make their nest, who drove the Trojans from the Strophades, with gloomy prophecies of future loss.
Wide wings they have, and human necks and faces; their feet are clawed, and feathered their great bellies; they utter wailings on the uncouth trees. Moans I heard uttered upon every side, but saw no person who might make them there; hence, utterly confused, I checked my steps. I think he thought I thought that all those voices were uttered from among those thorny trunks by people hiding there on our account. Hast thou no spirit of compassion in thee? Men were we once, and now are stocks become; thy hand ought surely to have had more pity, even if the souls of serpents we had been.
But tell him who thou wast, that he, by way of compensation, may refresh thy fame up in the world, where he can still return. My mind, to vent its feelings of disdain, and thinking to avoid disdain by death, made me unjust against myself, the just. And to the world should one of you return, let him assist my memory, which still lies crushed beneath the blow which envy gave it!
Whenever a wild spirit leaves the body, from which itself hath torn itself away, Minos commits it to the seventh ravine. Into the wood it falls, nor is a place allotted to it; but where Fortune hurls it, there, like a grain of spelt, it germinates. It grows into a sapling and wild tree; the Harpies, feeding then upon its leaves, cause pain to it, and for the pain a vent. And lo, two on the left, who naked were and scratched, and fled away so rapidly, they shattered all the branches of the wood.
The wood behind these two was full of swarthy bitches, ravenous and fleet as greyhounds are, when from their chains unleashed. Into the one who crouched they set their teeth, and tore him into pieces bit by bit; they then made off with those his suffering limbs. Thereat my Escort took me by the hand, and led me to the bush, which all in vain out of its bleeding rents was shedding tears. I made myself a gibbet of my house. The Third Ring Violence against God. Since love for my own native place constrained me, I gathered up the scattered twigs and leaves, and gave them back to him who now was weak.
Thence to the bound we came, where from the third the second ring is severed, and wherein a frightful form of Justice may be seen. To manifest aright what here was new, I say that we had reached a barren plain, which from its bed removeth every plant. The woeful wood is as a garland round it, as round the former is the dismal moat; there on its very edge we stayed our steps. Its soil was of a dense and arid sand, whose nature differed in no way from that, which once was trodden by the feet of Cato. Vengeance of God, how much by every one thou oughtest to be feared, who readeth here what to these eyes of mine was manifest!
Of naked souls I many flocks beheld, who all wept very sorely, while on each a different law appeared to be imposed. A few lay on the ground upon their backs; and some were seated cuddled up together, while others moved about continually. Most numerous were those that moved around, and least so those that under torment lay, but all the freer had their tongues to wail. Down on the whole great waste of sand there rained with gentle fall dilated flakes of fire, like flakes of snow that fall on windless Alps. And ever without resting was the dance of wretched hands, that kept, now here, now there, slapping away each latest burning flake.
Now follow me, and see that thou meanwhile set not thy feet upon the burning sand, but to the thicket keep them ever close. In silence we went on, and came to where, out of the wood a little stream spirts forth, whose ruddy color makes me shudder still. Its bottom and both sides had turned to stone, as also had the embankments on each side; I hence perceived the crossing-place was there. Whilom as trusty cradle for her son Rhea selected it, and when he wept, to hide him better, caused a shouting there. Within that mountain stands a great Old Man, who holds his shoulders toward Damiata turned, and who, as at his mirror, looks at Rome.
Each of these parts, except the golden one, is broken by a cleft, whence trickle tears, which, when collected, perforate that cave. The Third Ring Violence against Nature. An old fame in the world proclaims them blind, a greedy, envious, overweening folk; see to it that thou cleanse thee from their ways! Thy fortune hath in store for thee such honor, that either party shall be hungry for thee; but distant from the goat shall be the grass.
What of my course you tell, I write, and keep, with other texts, for a Lady to explain, who can, if ever I attain to her. I only wish that this be clear to you, that I, if but my conscience chide me not, am ready for whatever Fortune wills. Not new unto mine ears is such reward; hence, as she lists, let Fortune turn her wheel, and let the country clown his mattock ply! Know then, in brief, that clerics were they all, and mighty men of letters of great fame, soiled by the self same sin when in the world. It pains me still but to remember them. As champions oiled and nude are wont to do, when looking for an advantageous grip, before they come to giving blows and wounds; thus, as he wheeled, each turned his face toward me, so that his feet continuous journey made in opposite direction to his neck.
He, in whose footprints thou dost see me tread, was, though he go both nude and hairless now, of higher rank then thou believest him. He was the grandson of the good Gualdrada; his name was Guido Guerra, and when alive, his wisdom and his sword accomplished much. But since I should have burned and baked myself, fear was victorious over my good will, which made me eager to embrace them there. Of your own town am I, and evermore have I your doings and your honored names related, and heard mentioned, with regard. I leave the gall, and for the sweet fruit go, which my veracious Leader promised me; but to the center must I first descend.
Thus with uplifted face I cried; whereat the three, who this as answer understood, looked at each other, as one looks at truth. Amen could not have been as quickly said, as they then disappeared; my Teacher, therefore, thought it advisable for us to leave.