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in which were punished the Violent against their neighbors, against nature, and against God. The steep banks of the ravine were guarded by the huge Minotaur, from which Dante and Vergil escaped only by running.
Within Phlegethon, the boiling river of blood, stood the tyrants, among whom were Dionysius, Azzolin, and Attila, uttering loud laments. If they ventured to stir from their place of torment they were pierced by the arrows of the Centaurs that guarded the banks. The Centaur Nessus conveyed Dante across the river into the second circle, the dolorous forest, where the Violent against nature, the Suicides, were transformed into closely set, twisted thorn-trees, infested with harpies that fed on their leaves, inflicting perpetual pain ; thence into the third circle, where the Violent against God, chief among whom was the arrogant Capaneus, dwelt in a sandy plain surrounded by the dolorous forest. Upon the naked souls, some of whom were lying supine, some crouching, others moving about continually, fell a perpetual shower of flakes of fire.
Picking their way along the edge of the forest, not daring to step on the sand waste, the poets came upon a little blood-red rivulet quenching the flames above it, Phlegethon again, formed by the rivers Acheron and Styx, whose source is the tears of Time. As they skirted the forest they troop of spirits hastening past, one of whom, after a sharp look, grasped Dante's garment exclaiming, “ What a wonder!” The baked countenance, the ghastly face, was that of his old teacher Ser Brunetto, who not daring to stop for fear of increasing his punishment, followed him, questioning him on his appearance below, and comforting him by the assurance of his future greatness. Deep were the burns in the limbs of the other Florentines Dante met below, to whom he gave tidings of the state of affairs in their former home.
Mounting on the shoulders of the hideous monster Geryon, the poets were carried into a fearful abyss whose sides were Alp-like in steepness. This was the eighth circle, Malebolge, or Evil pits, consisting of ten concentric bolge, or ditches
of stone with dikes between and rough bridges running across them to the centre.
In the first pit Jason and other deceivers of women were being lashed by horned demons. In pit two, a Florentine friend of Dante's was submerged with others in filth as a punishment for flattery. In pit three the Simoniacs were placed head down in purses in the earth, their projecting feet tortured with flames. The poets crossed the bridge, and Vergil carried Dante down the sloping bank so that he could speak to one who proved to be the unhappy Nicholas III., who accused Boniface for his evil deeds and expressed a longing for his arrival in this place of torture. From the next bridge-top Dante dimly perceived the slow procession of weeping soothsayers with heads reversed on their shoulders. There walked Amphiarus, Tiresias, Manto, and Michael Scott. So great was Dante's sorrow on beholding the misery of these men who had once been held in such great esteem, that he leaned against a crag and wept until reproved by Vergil as a reprobate for feeling compassion at the doom divine. Through the semi-darkness the poets looked down into pit five, where devils with fantastic names pitched barrators into a lake of boiling pitch and speared those who dared to raise their heads above the surface. From these Evil Claws Dante and Vergil escaped only by running into the sixth pit, where walked the hypocrites in richly gilded mantles. When Dante wondered at their weary faces and their tears, he was told by two of the Frati Gaudenti (Jolly Friars) of Florence who suffered here, that the cloaks and hoods were of heaviest lead, a load that grew more irksome with the ages. Caiaphas, Annas, and the members of the council that condemned Christ lay on the ground transfixed with stakes, and over their bodies passed the slow moving train of the hypocrites. The next bridge lay in ruins as a result of the earthquake at the Crucifixion, and Vergil experienced the utmost difficulty in conveying Dante up the crags to a point where he could look down into the dark dungeon of thieves, where the naked throng were entwined with serpents and at their bite changed
from man to serpent and back again. Some burned and fell into ashes at the venomous bite, only to rise again and suffer new tortures. Here Dante spoke with Vanni Fucci of Pistoja, who robbed the sacristy of Florence, and whose face " was painted with a melancholy shame " at being seen in his misery. The eighth pit was brightly lighted by the flames that moved back and forth, each concealing within an evil counsellor. Ulysses and Diomed walked together in a flame cleft at the top, for the crime of robbing Deidamia of Achilles, of stealing the Palladium, and of fabricating the Trojan horse. As Dante looked into pit nine he saw a troop compelled to pass continually by a demon with a sharp sword who mutilated each one each time he made the round of the circle, so that the wounds never healed. These were the evil counsellors. Mahomet was there ; there too was Ali. But ghastliest of sights was that of a headless trunk walking through the grim plain, holding its severed head by the hair like a lantern, and exclaiming “O me!” This was the notorious Bertrand de Born, the Troubadour, who had caused dissension between Henry II. of England and his son. Among this throng Dante recognized his kinsman Geri del Bello, who gave him a disdainful look because he had not yet avenged his death. From the tenth and last pit of Malebolge came a stench as great as though it came from all the hospitals of Valdichiana, Maremma, and Sardinia, between July and September. All the loathsome diseases were gathered into this moat to afflict the forgers and falsifiers. Here Dante saw Atlamas, mad king of Thebes, the mad Gianni Schicchi, and Messer Adam of Brescia, the false coiner, who, distorted with dropsy, was perishing of thirst, and thinking constantly of the cool rivulets that descended from the verdant hills of Casentino.
As Dante and his guide turned their backs on the wretched valley and ascended the bank that surrounded it, the blare of a loud horn fell upon their ears, louder than Roland's blast at Roncesvalles. This came from the plain of the giants between Malebolge and the mouth of the infernal pit. All around the pit, or well, were set the giants with half their bodies fixed in earth. Nimrod, as a punishment for building the tower of Babel, could speak no language, but babbled some gibberish. Ephialtes, Briareus, and Antæus were here, all horrible in aspect; Antæus, less savage than the others, lifted the two poets, and stooping set them down in the pit below. This was the last and ninth circle, a dismal pit for the punishment of traitors, who were frozen in the vast lake that Cocytus formed here. In Caina were the brothers Alessandro and Napoleone degli Alberti, mutual fratricides, their heads frozen together. In Antenora was that Guelph Bocca who had caused his party's defeat; but the most horrible sight they encountered was in Ptolemæa, where Count Ugolino, who had been shut
up with his sons and grandsons in a tower to starve by the Archbishop Ruggieri, was now revenging himself in their place of torture by continually gnawing the archbishop's head, frozen in the ice next his own. Farther down they walked among those who, when they shed tears over their woe had their teardrops frozen, so that even this solace was soon denied them.
Dante promised to break the frozen veil from the eyes of one who prayed for aid, but when he learned that it was the Friar Alberigo, whose body was still on earth, and whose soul was already undergoing punishment, he refused, “ for to be rude to him was courtesy."
In the fourth and last division of the ninth circle, the Judecca, a strong wind was blowing. Then Dante saw the emperor of the kingdom frozen in the ice, a mighty giant foul to look upon, with three faces, vermilion, white and yellow, and black. The waving of his two featherless wings caused the great winds that froze Cocytus. Teardrops fell from his six eyes; in each mouth he was crunching a sinner, Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius.
Being warned by Vergil that it was time to depart, Dante clasped his guide around his neck, and Vergil began to climb down the huge monster until they reached his middle, the centre of gravity, where with much difficulty they turned and climbed upward along the subterranean course of Lethe, until they again beheld the stars.
THE DIVINE COMEDY.
THE Purgatory of Dante is situated on a mountain top on the opposite side of the earth from Jerusalem, and is surrounded by the western ocean.
The souls of those who go there collect on the banks of the Tiber, and are taken to the mountain in a boat by an angel pilot. The shores of the island are covered with the reeds of humility. Around the base of the mount dwell the souls that, repenting late, must expiate each year of deferred penitence with thirty years of deferred Purgatory” unless the time be shortened by the prayers of their friends on earth. There are three stages of this Ante-Purgatory: the first, for those who put off conversion through negligence; the second, for those who died by violence and repented while dying; the third, for those monarchs who were too much absorbed in earthly greatness to give much thought to the world to come. The ascent of the terraces, as also those of Purgatory proper, is very difficult, and is not allowed to be made after sunset. The gate of St. Peter separates Ante-Purgatory from Purgatory proper. Three steps, the first of polished white marble, the second of purple, rough and cracked, and the third of blood-red porphyry, signifying confession, contrition, and penance, lead to the gate where sits the angel clad in a penitential robe, with the gold and silver keys with which to unlock the outer and inner gates. Purgatory proper consists of seven terraces, in each of which one of the seven capital sins, Pride, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lasciviousness are punished; Pride first, because no other sin can be purged from the body until this deepest sin is eliminated. The soul, cleansed of these sins, mounts to the terrestrial paradise, which, above the sphere of air, crowns the Mount of Purgatory.