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can to rv. display something of gentle sorrow without pain — duol senza martiri; and the Hell-of-holyfathers be quite free from either pain or sorrow —ne trista , as we shall see a few tiercets farther on. Here we are still in the Hell-of-Children; so this line D'infanti e di femmine e di viri is only an expletive mode of saying innumerable crowds of infants of both sexes : and in this persuasion I translate it “babies males and maids (1). ' To do otherwise would confuse the topography of which Dante is so curious an observer, and which the accompanying drawing gives.
The Hell-ofChildren extends “not far from the bank’ or vestibule (dal sommo) which our travellers had descended: and, since they could have no interest to particularise any of those nameless innocents, it is evident they must be drawing very close to the second division, or at least in full sight of it, when they begin to think it worth while to ‘scan the shades' — Che spiriti son questi” To whom
(1) Mr. Cary by translating “men, women, and infants," and indeed by his whole version, confounds these two divisions which are easily traced in the text. The first is this; the second begins to be seen at vidi un fuoco ec. v. 68. He seems to have been totally unaware of the existence of any such divisions, and therefore mixed them together past distinguishing. But in truth they form two rings or circlets into which this first Circle is divided all round — per tutta la estensione (all the parts of Dante's Hell being thus circular, as Lombardi justly observes), and are separated regularly by a stream and seven walls. v. 1 o'7.
town to iwi. these are supposed to be limited now, we shall shortly see: but first learn from the recapitulation of many others said to have been once dwelling there, that this second division is (as I all along affirmed) St. Thomas Aquinas' hell-of-holy-fathers, called by other Catholics ‘Limbo,” and by others “Abraham's bosom.’ This proximity of ‘Abraham's bosom' to the “hell of the damned' (it is an observation-ef Boccaccio) agrees perfectly with S. Luke's parable of the rich man lifting up his eyes, being in torments, and yet being able to descry Abraham with Lazarus in his bosom (*).
All the guiltless men that preceded Christianity having been once here dwelling together, it follows that it is Abraham's bosom, or the Hell which had been inhabited by the Patriarchs, and that, whatever descriptions Dante found his Church had ever made of such a place, might be made of it still, except there were some ecclesiastical decision to the contrary. But no such hazardous decision exists. It is indeed so far from being required by any Catholic dogma, that I find the Catholic expounders of the Psalms include in one group all those who, without being Christians, led virtuous lives.All such (without pronouncing who be such (*)
(1) Comento. p. 13. –and Gospel xvi. 23.
(a) I have already stated at more than sufficient length that an orthodox Divine can not judge on appearance, or apply his abstract principles to individuals, though a poet may, p. 223.
&arto it”. being enumerated among those to whom the Lord has not imputed sin, are declared blessed: for though original sin or want of baptism exclude them from Paradise, it may not so from the bliss of Limbo or Hell-of-the holy-fathers (). To this David evidently alluded (and not to the ineffable bliss of Paradise) as the region in which he hoped to wait for the Messiah; and of it Dante himself spoke, when, paraphrasing the xxxii Psalm, he divided its two first verses into three tiercets; and, with theological acumen defining in each tiercet a particular class of the blessed, made the third assert “and blessed shall all those likewise be, unto whom God and the Angels of heaven shall impute no sin (*).” He might therefore have argued thus: All to whom sin is not imputed; are blessed; but original sin is not imputed; then one may be in original sin and yet be blessed: But none in original sin shall enter Paradise; then one may be blessed without ever entering Paradise: But the Church furnishes no other region but the hell-of
(1) “The Royal Prophet’ (it is a Catholic comment I quote, Annotaz. ai Salmi di Dante. p. 38.) “specifies three classes of the blessed: ; Firstly, those in whose spirit is no guile– secondly, repentant sinners whose transgressions are forgiven - thirdly those guilty of no imputed sin, that is of no sin but original sin, which, not being voluntary, is not imputed to man, he unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." Psalms. xxxii. v. 1-2. (a) E quei tutti beati ancor saranno Ai quali Dio e gli Angeli del cielo , Alcun peccato non imputeranno.
* * I Sette Salmi di D. A. p. 32.