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“O thou, that honourest each science and art,
Say who are these held in such high esteem
That from the others thus they dwell apart ?'
'The blaze of fame,' he forthwith made response,
'Which sounds their praises in the world above,
Gains grace in heaven, which thus exalteth them.'
Suddenly thro' the gloom a voice was heard;
'All honour to the bard of loftiest strain :
His shade returns, that erst departed hence.'
Scarce had the voice its utterance ended, when
I saw four shadows tall to us advance:
Their looks betoken'd neither grief nor joy.
The Master then to me in brief began ;
'Mark him with yonder falchion in his hand,
Who comes before three others as their chief.
'Tis Homer, sovran poet: after him
Horace the satirist in haste comes on :
The third is Ovid, and the last is Lucan.
Because that each of them had earnèd well
The glorious name with which they welcom'd me,
They do me honour, and in this do well.'
Thus I beheld united the fair school
Of that renownèd lord of loftiest song,
Who soars above the rest with eagle flight.
When they awhile had held discourse among
Themselves, to me with courteous salute
They turn'd ; whereat the gentle Master smiled.
And greater honour yet than this they show'd IOo
To me, for of their train they made me one ;
And I was sixth of that great company.
Thus onward to the light we paced along,
Speaking of things now best in silence hid,
However spoken well those scenes among. IOS
Unto a lordly castle's foot we came,
Seven times with lofty walls encompass'd round,
Defended by a fair encircling stream.
O'er this we pass'd with ease as on dry ground:
Thro' seven gates I enter'd with those sages: I Io
A meadow of fresh green within we found.
People were there with still and thoughtful faces;
Of great authority they seem'd to be,
Speaking but seldom, with melodious voices.
We then withdrew to an open place, that lay II 5
Upon one side, lofty and filled with light,
Whence we the whole surrounding scene could view.
There on the smooth enamel'd green beneath
Were shown to me the famous spirits of old,
Whom yet my heart exulteth to have seen. I2O
There did I'mid a numerous throng behold
Electra, Hector, and Anchises' son,
Caesar all arm'd with falcon eyes ; and bold
Camilla, and the Amazonian queen
On the other side: and there the Latin king
Sitting beside Lavinia was seen.
I saw that Brutus, who expell'd Tarquin,
Cornelia, Julia, Marcia, Lucrece;
Alone—apart—I saw the Saladin.
And then, when I had somewhat lifted up
Mine eyes, I saw the chief of those who know, 3
Retired amid the philosophic crew.
Him all admire, all give him honour due :
And nearer to him standing than the rest
Plato and Socrates appear'd : he too
Who builds the world on chance, Democritus;
Diogenes, Anaxagoras, and Thales,
Zeno, Empedocles, and Heraclitus ;
And he, of herbs who track'd the qualities,
Dioscorides. Orpheus too was there,
Tully, and Linus, moral Seneca,
Geometrician Euclid, Ptolemy,
Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna,
And he who made the famous commentary,
Averrois.—I cannot all retrace, I45
So hurried onward by the exhaustless theme
That oft-times words with things cannot keep pace.
Our company of six divided here :
Another way I went with my sage Guide
Forth from the tranquil to the troubled air ; I 50
And came into a part where is no light.
Dante and his Guide pass into the second circle, in which they view the souls of Carnal Sinners, in utter darkness—the sport and prey of racking whirlwinds. Dante converses with Francesca and Paolo Malatesta, from the former of whom he hears the narrative of their disastrous love.
Thus downward from the foremost circle I went
Into the second, that lesser space surroundeth,
And greater pain, which goads to loud lament.
There with his grin terrific Minos standeth,
Examineth offences at the gate, 5
Judgeth, and doometh, as himself he windeth.
For when the spirit born with evil fate
Before him comes, it maketh full confession
And that dread Punisher inquireth straight
What place in Hell befitteth its transgression; IO
Then girds him with his tail so oft as will
Denote the grade ordain'd for its dismission.