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Inferno: Canto XXIII

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Silent, alone, and without company
We went, the one in front, the other after,
As go the Minor Friars along their way.

Upon the fable of Aesop was directed
My thought, by reason of the present quarrel,
Where he has spoken of the frog and mouse;

For 'mo' and 'issa' are not more alike
Than this one is to that, if well we couple
End and beginning with a steadfast mind.

And even as one thought from another springs,
So afterward from that was born another,
Which the first fear within me double made.

Thus did I ponder: "These on our account
Are laughed to scorn, with injury and scoff
So great, that much I think it must annoy them.

If anger be engrafted on ill-will,
They will come after us more merciless
Than dog upon the leveret which he seizes,"

I felt my hair stand all on end already
With terror, and stood backwardly intent,
When said I: "Master, if thou hidest not

Thyself and me forthwith, of Malebranche
I am in dread; we have them now behind us;
I so imagine them, I already feel them."

And he: "If I were made of leaded glass,
Thine outward image I should not attract
Sooner to me than I imprint the inner.

Just now thy thoughts came in among my own,
With similar attitude and similar face,
So that of both one counsel sole I made.

If peradventure the right bank so slope
That we to the next Bolgia can descend,
We shall escape from the imagined chase."

Not yet he finished rendering such opinion,
When I beheld them come with outstretched wings,
Not far remote, with will to seize upon us.

My Leader on a sudden seized me up,
Even as a mother who by noise is wakened,
And close beside her sees the enkindled flames,

Who takes her son, and flies, and does not stop,
Having more care of him than of herself,
So that she clothes her only with a shift;

And downward from the top of the hard bank
Supine he gave him to the pendent rock,
That one side of the other Bolgia walls.

Ne'er ran so swiftly water through a sluice
To turn the wheel of any land-built mill,
When nearest to the paddles it approaches,

As did my Master down along that border,
Bearing me with him on his breast away,
As his own son, and not as a companion.

Hardly the bed of the ravine below
His feet had reached, ere they had reached the hill
Right over us; but he was not afraid;

For the high Providence, which had ordained
To place them ministers of the fifth moat,
The power of thence departing took from all.

A painted people there below we found,
Who went about with footsteps very slow,
weeping and in their semblance tired and vanquished.

They had on mantles with the hoods low down
Before their eyes, and fashioned of the cut
That in Cologne they for the monks are made.

Without, they gilded are so that it dazzles;
But inwardly all leaden and so heavy
That Frederick used to put them on of straw.

O everlastingly fatiguing mantle!
Again we turned us, still to the left hand
Along with them, intent on their sad plaint;

But owing to the weight, that weary folk
Came on so tardily, that we were new
In company at each motion of the haunch.

Whence I unto my Leader: "See thou find
Some one who may by deed or name be known,
And thus in going move thine eye about."

And one, who understood the Tuscan speech,
Cried to us from behind: "Stay ye your feet,
Ye, who so run athwart the dusky air!

Perhaps thou'lt have from me what thou demandest."
Whereat the Leader turned him, and said: "Wait,
And then according to his pace proceed."

I stopped, and two beheld I show great haste
Of Spirit, in their faces, to be with me;
But the burden and the narrow way delayed them.

When they came up, long with an eye askance
They scanned me without uttering a word.
Then to each other turned, and said together:

"He by the action of his throat seems living;
And if they dead are, by what privilege
Go they uncovered by the heavy stole?"

Then said to me: "Tuscan, who to the college
Of miserable hypocrites art come,
Do not disdain to tell us who thou art."

And I to them: "Born was I, and grew up
In the great town on the fair river of Arno,
And with the body am I've always had.

But who are ye, in whom there trickles down
Along your cheeks such grief as I behold?
And what pain is upon you, that so sparkles?"

And one replied to me: "These orange cloaks
Are made of lead so heavy, that the weights
Cause in this way their balances to creak.

Frati Gaudenti were we, and Bolognese;
I Catalano, and he Loderingo
Named, and together taken by thy city,

As the wont is to take one man alone,
For maintenance of its peace; and we were such
That still it is apparent round Gardingo."

"O Friars," began I, "your iniquitous. . ."
But said no more; for to mine eyes there rushed
One crucified with three stakes on the ground.

When me he saw, he writhed himself all over,
Blowing into his beard with suspirations;
And the Friar Catalan, who noticed this,

Said to me: "This transfixed one, whom thou seest,
Counselled the Pharisees that it was meet
To put one man to torture for the people.

Crosswise and naked is he on the path,
As thou perceivest; and he needs must feel,
Whoever passes, first how much he weighs;

And in like mode his father-in-law is punished
Within this moat, and the others of the council,
Which for the Jews was a malignant seed."

And thereupon I saw Virgilius marvel
O'er him who was extended on the cross
So vilely in eternal banishment.

Then he directed to the Friar this voice:
"Be not displeased, if granted thee, to tell us
If to the right hand any pass slope down

By which we two may issue forth from here,
Without constraining some of the black angels
To come and extricate us from this deep."

Then he made answer: "Nearer than thou hopest
There is a rock, that forth from the great circle
Proceeds, and crosses all the cruel valleys,

Save that at this 'tis broken, and does not bridge it;
You will be able to mount up the ruin,
That sidelong slopes and at the bottom rises."

The Leader stood awhile with head bowed down;
Then said: "The business badly he recounted
Who grapples with his hook the sin ners yonder."

And the Friar: "Many of the devil's vices
Once heard I at Bologna, and among them,
That he's a liar and the father of lies."

Thereat my Leader with great strides went on,
Somewhat disturbed with anger in his looks;
Whence from the heavy-laden I departed

After the prints of his beloved feet.

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La Divina Commedia: Inferno: Canto XXIII
Taciti, soli, sanza compagnia
  n'andavam l'un dinanzi e l'altro dopo,
  come frati minor vanno per via.

Volt'era in su la favola d'Isopo
  lo mio pensier per la presente rissa,
  dov'el parlo` de la rana e del topo;

che' piu` non si pareggia 'mo' e 'issa'
  che l'un con l'altro fa, se ben s'accoppia
  principio e fine con la mente fissa.

E come l'un pensier de l'altro scoppia,
  cosi` nacque di quello un altro poi,
  che la prima paura mi fe' doppia.

Io pensava cosi`: 'Questi per noi
  sono scherniti con danno e con beffa
  si` fatta, ch'assai credo che lor noi.

Se l'ira sovra 'l mal voler s'aggueffa,
  ei ne verranno dietro piu` crudeli
  che 'l cane a quella lievre ch'elli acceffa'.

Gia` mi sentia tutti arricciar li peli
  de la paura e stava in dietro intento,
  quand'io dissi: "Maestro, se non celi

te e me tostamente, i' ho pavento
  d'i Malebranche.  Noi li avem gia` dietro;
  io li 'magino si`, che gia` li sento".

E quei: "S'i' fossi di piombato vetro,
  l'imagine di fuor tua non trarrei
  piu` tosto a me, che quella dentro 'mpetro.

Pur mo venieno i tuo' pensier tra ' miei,
  con simile atto e con simile faccia,
  si` che d'intrambi un sol consiglio fei.

S'elli e` che si` la destra costa giaccia,
  che noi possiam ne l'altra bolgia scendere,
  noi fuggirem l'imaginata caccia".

Gia` non compie' di tal consiglio rendere,
  ch'io li vidi venir con l'ali tese
  non molto lungi, per volerne prendere.

Lo duca mio di subito mi prese,
  come la madre ch'al romore e` desta
  e vede presso a se' le fiamme accese,

che prende il figlio e fugge e non s'arresta,
  avendo piu` di lui che di se' cura,
  tanto che solo una camiscia vesta;

e giu` dal collo de la ripa dura
  supin si diede a la pendente roccia,
  che l'un de' lati a l'altra bolgia tura.

Non corse mai si` tosto acqua per doccia
  a volger ruota di molin terragno,
  quand'ella piu` verso le pale approccia,

come 'l maestro mio per quel vivagno,
  portandosene me sovra 'l suo petto,
  come suo figlio, non come compagno.

A pena fuoro i pie` suoi giunti al letto
  del fondo giu`, ch'e' furon in sul colle
  sovresso noi; ma non li` era sospetto;

che' l'alta provedenza che lor volle
  porre ministri de la fossa quinta,
  poder di partirs'indi a tutti tolle.

La` giu` trovammo una gente dipinta
  che giva intorno assai con lenti passi,
  piangendo e nel sembiante stanca e vinta.

Elli avean cappe con cappucci bassi
  dinanzi a li occhi, fatte de la taglia
  che in Clugni` per li monaci fassi.

Di fuor dorate son, si` ch'elli abbaglia;
  ma dentro tutte piombo, e gravi tanto,
  che Federigo le mettea di paglia.

Oh in etterno faticoso manto!
  Noi ci volgemmo ancor pur a man manca
  con loro insieme, intenti al tristo pianto;

ma per lo peso quella gente stanca
  venia si` pian, che noi eravam nuovi
  di compagnia ad ogne mover d'anca.

Per ch'io al duca mio: "Fa che tu trovi
  alcun ch'al fatto o al nome si conosca,
  e li occhi, si` andando, intorno movi".

E un che 'ntese la parola tosca,
  di retro a noi grido`: "Tenete i piedi,
  voi che correte si` per l'aura fosca!

Forse ch'avrai da me quel che tu chiedi".
  Onde 'l duca si volse e disse: "Aspetta
  e poi secondo il suo passo procedi".

Ristetti, e vidi due mostrar gran fretta
  de l'animo, col viso, d'esser meco;
  ma tardavali 'l carco e la via stretta.

Quando fuor giunti, assai con l'occhio bieco
  mi rimiraron sanza far parola;
  poi si volsero in se', e dicean seco:

"Costui par vivo a l'atto de la gola;
  e s'e' son morti, per qual privilegio
  vanno scoperti de la grave stola?".

Poi disser me: "O Tosco, ch'al collegio
  de l'ipocriti tristi se' venuto,
  dir chi tu se' non avere in dispregio".

E io a loro: "I' fui nato e cresciuto
  sovra 'l bel fiume d'Arno a la gran villa,
  e son col corpo ch'i' ho sempre avuto.

Ma voi chi siete, a cui tanto distilla
  quant'i' veggio dolor giu` per le guance?
  e che pena e` in voi che si` sfavilla?".

E l'un rispuose a me: "Le cappe rance
  son di piombo si` grosse, che li pesi
  fan cosi` cigolar le lor bilance.

Frati godenti fummo, e bolognesi;
  io Catalano e questi Loderingo
  nomati, e da tua terra insieme presi,

come suole esser tolto un uom solingo,
  per conservar sua pace; e fummo tali,
  ch'ancor si pare intorno dal Gardingo".

Io cominciai: "O frati, i vostri mali...";
  ma piu` non dissi, ch'a l'occhio mi corse
  un, crucifisso in terra con tre pali.

Quando mi vide, tutto si distorse,
  soffiando ne la barba con sospiri;
  e 'l frate Catalan, ch'a cio` s'accorse,

mi disse: "Quel confitto che tu miri,
  consiglio` i Farisei che convenia
  porre un uom per lo popolo a' martiri.

Attraversato e`, nudo, ne la via,
  come tu vedi, ed e` mestier ch'el senta
  qualunque passa, come pesa, pria.

E a tal modo il socero si stenta
  in questa fossa, e li altri dal concilio
  che fu per li Giudei mala sementa".

Allor vid'io maravigliar Virgilio
  sovra colui ch'era disteso in croce
  tanto vilmente ne l'etterno essilio.

Poscia drizzo` al frate cotal voce:
  "Non vi dispiaccia, se vi lece, dirci
  s'a la man destra giace alcuna foce

onde noi amendue possiamo uscirci,
  sanza costrigner de li angeli neri
  che vegnan d'esto fondo a dipartirci".

Rispuose adunque: "Piu` che tu non speri
  s'appressa un sasso che de la gran cerchia
  si move e varca tutt'i vallon feri,

salvo che 'n questo e` rotto e nol coperchia:
  montar potrete su per la ruina,
  che giace in costa e nel fondo soperchia".

Lo duca stette un poco a testa china;
  poi disse: "Mal contava la bisogna
  colui che i peccator di qua uncina".

E 'l frate: "Io udi' gia` dire a Bologna
  del diavol vizi assai, tra ' quali udi'
  ch'elli e` bugiardo, e padre di menzogna".

Appresso il duca a gran passi sen gi`,
  turbato un poco d'ira nel sembiante;
  ond'io da li 'ncarcati mi parti'

dietro a le poste de le care piante.

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