Verse > Harvard Classics > Dante Alighieri > The Divine Comedy
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321).  The Divine Comedy.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Canto XIV
ARGUMENT.—Our Poet on this second cornice finds also the souls of Guido del Duca of Brettinoro, and Rinieri da Calboli of Romagna; the latter of whom, hearing that he comes from the banks of the Arno, inveighs against the degeneracy of all those who dwell in the cities visited by that stream; and the former, in like manner, against the inhabitants of Romagna. On leaving these, our Poets hear voices recording noted instances of envy.
“SAY, 1 who is he around our mountain winds,
Or ever death has pruned his wing to flight;
That opens his eyes, and covers them at will?”
“I know not who he is, but know thus much;
He comes not singly. Do thou ask of him,        5
For thou art nearer to him; and take heed,
Accost him gently, so that he may speak.”
  Thus on the right two spirits, bending each
Toward the other, talk’d of me; then both
Addressing me, their faces backward lean’d,        10
And thus the one 2 began: “O soul, who yet
Pent in the body, tendest towards the sky!
For charity, we pray thee, comfort us;
Recounting whence thou comest, and who thou art:
For thou dost make us, at the favor shown thee,        15
Marvel, as at a thing that ne’er hath been.”
  “There stretches through the midst of Tuscany,”
I straight began, “a brooklet, 3 whose well-head
Springs up in Falterona; with his race
Not satisfied, when he some hundred miles        20
Hath measured. From his banks bring I this frame.
To tell you who I am were words mis-spent:
For yet my name scarce sounds on rumour’s lip.”
  “If well I do incorporate with my thought
The meaning of thy speech,” said he, who first        25
Address’d me, “thou dost speak of Arno’s wave.”
  To whom the other: 4 “Why hath he conceal’d
The title of that river, as a man
Doth of some horrible thing?” The spirit, who
Thereof was question’d, did acquit him thus:        30
“I know not: but ’tis fitting well the name
Should perish of that vale; for from the source, 5
Where teems so plenteously the Alpine steep
Maim’d of Pelorus, (that doth scarcely pass
Beyond that limit), even to the point        35
Where unto ocean is restored what heaven
Drains from the exhaustless store for all earth’s streams,
Throughout the space is virtue worried down,
As’t were a snake, by all, for mortal foe;
Or through disastrous influence on the place,        40
Or else distortion of misguided wills
That custom goads to evil: whence in those,
The dwellers in that miserable vale,
Nature is so transform’d, it seems as they
Had shared of Circe’s feeding. ’Midst brute swine, 6        45
Worthier of acorns than of other food
Created for man’s use, he shapeth first
His obscure way; then, sloping onward, finds
Curs, 7 snarlers more in spite than power, from whom
He turns with scorn aside: still journeying down,        50
By how much more the curst and luckless foss 8
Swells out to largeness, e’en so much it finds
Dogs turning into wolves. 9 Descending still
Through yet more hollow eddies, next he meets
A race of foxes, 10 so replete with craft,        55
They do not fear that skill can master it.
Nor will I cease because my words are heard 11
By other ears than thine. It shall be well
For this man, 12 if he keep in memory
What from no erring spirit I reveal.        60
Lo! I behold thy grandson, 13 that becomes
A hunter of those wolves, upon the shore
Of the fierce stream; and cows them all with dread.
Their flesh, yet living, sets he up to sale,
Then, like an aged beast, to slaughter dooms.        65
Many of life he reaves, himself of worth
And goodly estimation. Smear’d with gore,
Mark how he issues from the rueful wood;
Leaving such havoc, that in thousand years
It spreads not to prime lustihood again.”        70
  As one, who tidings hears of woe to come,
Changes his looks perturb’d, from whate’er part
The peril grasp him; so beheld I change
That spirit, who had turn’d to listen; struck
With sadness, soon as he had caught the word.        75
  His visage, and the other’s speech, did raise
Desire in me to know the names of both;
Whereof, with meek entreaty, I inquired.
  The shade, who late address’d me, thus resumed:
“Thy wish imports, that I vouchsafe to do        80
For thy sake what thou wilt not do for mine.
But, since God’s will is that so largely shine
His grace in thee, I will be liberal too.
Guido of Duca know then that I am.
Envy so parch’d my blood, that had I seen        85
A fellow man made joyous, thou had’st mark’d
A livid paleness overspread my cheek.
Such harvest reap I of the seed I sow’d.
O man! why place thy heart where there doth need
Exclusion of participants in good?        90
This is Rinieri’s spirit; this, the boast
And honour of the house of Calboli;
Where of his worth no heritage remains.
Nor his the only blood, that hath been stript
(’Twixt Po, the mount, the Reno, and the shore 14)        95
Of all that truth or fancy asks for bliss:
But, in those limits, such a growth has sprung
Of rank and venom’d roots, as long would mock
Slow culture’s toil. Where is good Lizio? 15 where
Mainardi, Traversaro, and Carpigna? 16        100
O bastard slips of old Romagna’s line!
When in Bologna the low artisan, 17
And in Faenza yon Bernardin 18 sprouts,
A gentle cyon from ignoble stem.
Wonder not, Tuscan, if thou see me weep,        105
When I recall to mind those once loved names,
Guido of Prata,  19 and of Azzo him 20
That dwelt with us; Tignoso 21 and his troop,
With Traversaro’s house and Anastagio’s, 22
(Each race disherited); and beside these,        110
The ladies and the knights, the toils and ease,
That witch’d us into love and courtesy;
Where now such malice reigns in recreant hearts
O Brettinoro! 23 wherefore tarriest still,
Since forth of thee thy family hath gone,        115
And many, hating evil, join’d their steps?
Well doeth he, that bids his lineage cease,
Bagnacavallo; 24 Castrocaro ill,
And Conio worse, 25 who care to propagate
A race of Counties 26 from such blood as theirs.        120
Well shall ye also do, Pagani, 27 then
When from amongst you hies your demon child;
Not so, howe’er, that thenceforth there remain
True proof of what ye were. O Hugolin, 28
Thou sprung of Fantolini’s line! thy name        125
Is safe; since none is look’d for after thee
To cloud its lustre, warping from thy stock.
But, Tuscan! go thy ways; for now I take
Far more delight in weeping, than in words.
Such pity for your sakes hath wrung my heart.”        130
  We knew those gentle spirits, at parting, heard
Our steps. Their silence therefore, of our way,
Assured us. Soon as we had quitted them,
Advancing onward, lo! a voice, that seem’d
Like volley’d lightning, when it rives the air,        135
Met us, and shouted, “Whosoever finds
Will slay me”; then fled from us, as the bolt
Lanced sudden from a downward-rushing cloud.
When it had given short truce unto our hearing,
Behold the other with a crash as loud        140
As the quick-following thunder: “Mark in me
Aglauros, turn’d to rock.” I, at the sound
Retreating, drew more closely to my guide.
  Now in mute stillness rested all the air;
And thus he spake: “There was the galling bit,        145
Which should keep man within his boundary.
But your old enemy so baits the hook,
He drags you eager to him. Hence nor curb
Avails you, nor reclaiming call. Heaven calls,
And, round about you wheeling, courts your gaze        150
With everlasting beauties. Yet your eye
Turns with fond doting still upon the earth.
Therefore He smites you who discerneth all.”
Note 1. “Say.” The two spirits who thus speak to each other are Guido del Duca, of Brettinoro, and Rinieri da Calboli, of Romagna. [back]
Note 2. “The one.” Guido del Duca. [back]
Note 3. The Arno, that rises in Falterona, a mountain in the Apennines. Its course is 120 miles. [back]
Note 4. Rinieri da Calboli. [back]
Note 5. From the rise of the Arno in the Apennines, whence Pelorus in Sicily was torn by a convulsion of the earth, even to the point where the same river unites with the ocean, Virtue is persecuted by all. [back]
Note 6. The people of Casentino. [back]
Note 7. “Curs.” The Arno leaves Arezzo about four miles to the left. [back]
Note 8. “Foss.” So in his anger he terms the Arno. [back]
Note 9. “Wolves.” The Florentines. [back]
Note 10. “Foxes.” The Pisans. [back]
Note 11. Guido still addresses Rinieri. [back]
Note 12. For Dante, who has told us that he comes from the banks of [back]
Note 13. “Thy grandson.” Fulcieri da Calboli, grandson of Rinieri da Calboli, who is here spoken to. The atrocities predicted came to pass in 1302. [back]
Note 14. The boundaries of Romagna. [back]
Note 15. “Lizio.” Lizio da Valbona introduced into Boccaccio’s Decameron, G. v. N. 4. [back]
Note 16. Arrigo Manardi, of Faenza, or, as some say, of Brettinoro; Pier Traversaro, Lord of Ravenna; and Guido di Carpigna, of Montefeltro. [back]
Note 17. One who had been a mechanic, named Lambertaccio, arrived at almost supreme power in Bologna. [back]
Note 18. Benardin di Fosco, a man of low origin, but great talents, who governed at Faenza. [back]
Note 19. “Prata.” A place between Faenza and Ravenna. [back]
Note 20. “Of Azzo him.” Ugolino, of the Ubaldini family in Tuscany. [back]
Note 21. Federigo Tignoso of Rimini. [back]
Note 22. Two noble families of Ravenna. [back]
Note 23. “O Brettinoro.” A beautifully situated castle in Romagna, the hospitable residence of Guido del Duca, who is here speaking. Landino relates that there were several of this family who, when a stranger arrived among them contended with one another by whom he should be entertained; and that in order to end this dispute, they set up a pillar with as many rings as there were father of families among them, a ring being assigned to each, and that accordingly as a stranger on his arrival hung his horse’s bridle on one or other of these, he became his guest to whom the ring belonged. [back]
Note 24. “Bagnacavallo.” A castle between Imola and Ravenna. [back]
Note 25. “———Castrocaro ill, and Conio worse.” Both in Romagna. [back]
Note 26. “Counties.” I have used this word here for “counts,” as it is in Shakespeare. [back]
Note 27. “Pagani.” The Pagani were lords of Faenza and Imola. One of them, Machinardo, was named “the Demon,” from his treachery. See Hell, Canto xxvii. 47 and note. [back]
Note 28. “Hugolin.” Ugolino Ubaldini, a noble and virtuous person in Faenza, who, on account of his age probably, was not likely to leave any offspring behind him. [back]


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