THE DIVINE COMEDY - VOLUME 1 - HELL
THE DIVINE COMEDY - VOLUME 1 - HELL
Translated by Charles Eliot Norton
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
E come sare' io sense lui corso?
It is a happiness for me to connect this volume with the memory
of my friend and master from youth. I was but a beginner in the
study of the Divine Comedy when I first had his incomparable aid
in the understanding of it. During the last year of his life he
read the proofs of this volume to what great advantage to my
work may readily be conceived.
When in the early summer of this year the printing of the
Purgatory began though illness made it an exertion to him he
continued this act of friendship and did not cease till at the
fifth canto he laid down the pencil forever from his dear and
CHARLES ELIOT NORTON.
1 October 1891
The text followed in this translation is in general that of
Witte. In a few cases I have preferred the readings which the
more recent researches of the Rev. Dr. Edward Moore of Oxford
seem to have established as correct.
CANTO I. Dante astray in a wood reaches the foot of a hill
which he begins to ascend; he is hindered by three beasts; he
turns back and is met by Virgil who proposes to guide him into
the eternal world.
CANTO II. Dante doubtful of his own powers is discouraged at
the outset.--Virgil cheers him by telling him that he has been
sent to his aid by a blessed Spirit from Heaven.--Dante casts off
fear and the poets proceed.
CANTO III. The gate of Hell. Virgil leads Dante in.--The
punishment of the neither good nor bad.--Acheron and the sinners
on its bank.--Charon.--Earthquake.--Dante swoons.
CANTO IV. The further side of Acheron.--Virgil leads Dante into
Limbo the First Circle of Hell containing the spirits of those
who lived virtuously but without Christianity.--Greeting of
Virgil by his fellow poets.--They enter a castle where are the
shades of ancient worthies.--Virgil and Dante depart.
CANTO V. The Second Circle: Carnal sinners.--Minos.--Shades
renowned of old.--Francesca da Rimini.
CANTO VI. The Third Circle: the Gluttonous.--Cerberus.--Ciacco.
CANTO VII. The Fourth Circle: the Avaricious and the Prodigal.--
Pluto.--Fortune.--The Styx.--The Fifth Circle: the Wrathful and
CANTO VIII. The Fifth Circle.--Phlegyas and his boat.--Passage of
the Styx.--Filippo Argenti.--The City of Dis.--The demons refuse
entrance to the poets.
CANTO IX. The City of Dis.--Eriehtho.--The Three Furies.--The
Heavenly Messenger.--The Sixth Circle: Heresiarchs.
CANTO X. The Sixth Circle: Heresiarchs.--Farinata degli Uberti.--
Cavalcante Cavalcanti.--Frederick II.
CANTO XI. The Sixth Circle: Heretics.--Tomb of Pope Anastasius.--
Discourse of Virgil on the divisions of the lower Hell.
CANTO XII. First round of the Seventh Circle: those who do
violence to others.--Tyrants and Homicides.--The Minotaur.--The
Centaurs.--Chiron.--Nessus.--The River of Boiling Blood and the
Sinners in it.
CANTO XIII. Second round of the Seventh Circle: those who have
done violence to themselves and to their goods.--The Wood of
Self-murderers.--The Harpies.--Pier della Vigne.--Lano of Siena
CANTO XIV. Third round of the Seventh Circle those who have done
violence to God.--The Burning Sand.--Capaneus.--Figure of the Old
Man in Crete.--The Rivers of Hell.
CANTO XV. Third round of the Seventh Circle: those who have done
violence to Nature.--Brunetto Latini.--Prophecies of misfortune
CANTO XVI. Third round of the Seventh Circle: those who have done
violence to Nature.--Guido Guerra Tegghiaio Aldobrandi and
Jacopo Rusticucci.--The roar of Phlegethon as it pours downward.-
-The cord thrown into the abyss.
CANTO XVII. Third round of the Seventh Circle: those who have
done violence to Art.--Geryon.--The Usurers.--Descent to the
CANTO XVIII. Eighth Circle: the first pit: Panders and Seducers.-
-Venedico Caccianimico.--Jason.--Second pit: false flatterers.--
CANTO XIX. Eighth Circle: third pit: Simonists.--Pope Nicholas
CANTO XX. Eighth Circle: fourth pit: Diviners Soothsayers and
CANTO XXI. Eighth Circle: fifth pit: Barrators.--A magistrate of
Lucca.--The Malebranche.--Parley with them.
CANTO XXII. Eighth Circle: fifth pit: Barrators.--Ciampolo of
Navarre.--Brother Gomita.--Michael Zanche.--Fray of the
CANTO XXIII. Eighth Circle. Escape from the fifth pit.--The sixth
pit: Hypocrites.--The Jovial Friars.--Caiaphas.--Annas.--Frate
CANTO XXIV. Eighth Circle. The poets climb from the sixth pit.--
Seventh pit: Fraudulent Thieves.--Vanni Fucci.--Prophecy of
calamity to Dante.
CANTO XXV. Eighth Circle: seventh pit: Fraudulent Thieves.--
Cacus.--Agnello Brunellesehi and others.
CANTO XXVI. Eighth Circle: eighth pit: Fraudulent Counsellors.--
Ulysses and Diomed.
CANTO XXVII. Eighth Circle: eighth pit: Fraudulent Counsellors.--
Guido da Montefeltro.
CANTO XXVIII. Eighth Circle: ninth pit: Sowers of discord and
schism.--Mahomet and Ali.--Fra Dolcino.--Pier da Medicina.--
Curio.--Mosca.--Bertran de Born.
CANTO XXIX. Eighth Circle: ninth pit.--Geri del Bello.--Tenth
pit: Falsifiers of all sorts.--Griffolino of Mezzo.--Capocchio.
CANTO XXX. Eighth Circle: tenth pit: Falsifiers of all sorts.--
Myrrha.--Gianni Schiechi.--Master Adam.--Sinon of Troy.
CANTO XXXI. The Giants around the Eighth Circle.--Nimrod.--
Ephialtes.--Antiens sets the Poets down in the Ninth Circle.
CANTO XXXII. Ninth Circle: Traitors. First ring: Caina.--Counts
of Mangona.--Camicion de' Pazzi.--Second ring: Antenora.--Bocca
degli Abati.--Buoso da Duera.--Count Ugolino.
CANTO XXXIII. Ninth Circle: Traitors. Second ring: Antenora.--
Count Ugolino.--Third ring: Ptolomaea.--Brother Alberigo.--Branca
CANTO XXXIV. Ninth Circle: Traitors. Fourth ring: Judecca.--
Lucifer.--Judas Brutus and Cassius.--Centre of the universe.--
Passage from Hell.--Ascent to the surface of the Southern
So many versions of the Divine Comedy exist in English that a new
one might well seem needless. But most of these translations are
in verse and the intellectual temper of our time is impatient of
a transmutation in which substance is sacrificed for form's sake
and the new form is itself different from the original. The
conditions of verse in different languages vary so widely as to
make any versified translation of a poem but an imperfect
reproduction of the archetype. It is like an imperfect mirror
that renders but a partial likeness in which essential features
are blurred or distorted. Dante himself the first modern critic
declared that "nothing harmonized by a musical bond can be
transmuted from its own speech without losing all its sweetness
and harmony" and every fresh attempt at translation affords a
new proof of the truth of his assertion. Each language exhibits
its own special genius in its poetic forms. Even when they are
closely similar in rhythmical method their poetic effect is
essentially different their individuality is distinct. The
hexameter of the Iliad is not the hexameter of the Aeneid. And if
this be the case in respect to related forms it is even more
obvious in respect to forms peculiar to one language like the
terza rima of the Italian for which it is impossible to find a
satisfactory equivalent in another tongue.
If then the attempt be vain to reproduce the form or to
represent its effect in a translation yet the substance of a