The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Paradise, Complete

DiscovereBooksThe Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Paradise, Complete
The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Paradise, Complete


Dante Alighieri

About this book

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is an epic poem in Italian written between 1308 and 1321 that describes its author's journey through the Christian afterlife. The three cantiche[i] of the poem, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, describe hell, purgatory, and heaven respectively. The poem is considered one of the greatest works of world literature and helped establish Dante's Tuscan dialect as the standard form of the Italian language.

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Canto 1

Canto 2

Canto 3

Canto 4

Canto 5

Canto 6

Canto 7

Canto 8

Canto 9

Canto 10

Canto 11

Canto 12

Canto 13

Canto 14

Canto 15

Canto 16

Canto 17

Canto 18

Canto 19

Canto 20

Canto 21

Canto 22

Canto 23

Canto 24

Canto 25

Canto 26

Canto 27

Canto 28

Canto 29

Canto 30

Canto 31

Canto 32

Canto 33


His glory, by whose might all things are mov'd,Pierces the universe, and in one partSheds more resplendence, elsewhere less.  In heav'n,That largeliest of his light partakes, was I,Witness of things, which to relate againSurpasseth power of him who comes from thence;For that, so near approaching its desireOur intellect is to such depth absorb'd,That memory cannot follow.  Nathless all,That in my thoughts I of that sacred realmCould store, shall now be matter of my song.

     Benign Apollo! this last labour aid,And make me such a vessel of thy worth,As thy own laurel claims of me belov'd.Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus' browsSuffic'd me; henceforth there is need of bothFor my remaining enterprise Do thouEnter into my bosom, and there breatheSo, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg'dForth from his limbs unsheath'd.  O power divine!If thou to me of shine impart so much,That of that happy realm the shadow'd formTrac'd in my thoughts I may set forth to view,Thou shalt behold me of thy favour'd treeCome to the foot, and crown myself with leaves;For to that honour thou, and my high themeWill fit me.  If but seldom, mighty Sire!To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreathCaesar or bard (more shame for human willsDeprav'd) joy to the Delphic god must springFrom the Pierian foliage, when one breastIs with such thirst inspir'd.  From a small sparkGreat flame hath risen: after me perchanceOthers with better voice may pray, and gainFrom the Cirrhaean city answer kind.

     Through diver passages, the world's bright lampRises to mortals, but through that which joinsFour circles with the threefold cross, in bestCourse, and in happiest constellation setHe comes, and to the worldly wax best givesIts temper and impression.  Morning there,Here eve was by almost such passage made;And whiteness had o'erspread that hemisphere,Blackness the other part; when to the leftI saw Beatrice turn'd, and on the sunGazing, as never eagle fix'd his ken.As from the first a second beam is wontTo issue, and reflected upwards rise,E'en as a pilgrim bent on his return,So of her act, that through the eyesight pass'dInto my fancy, mine was form'd; and straight,Beyond our mortal wont, I fix'd mine eyesUpon the sun.  Much is allowed us there,That here exceeds our pow'r; thanks to the placeMade for the dwelling of the human kind

     I suffer'd it not long, and yet so longThat I beheld it bick'ring sparks around,As iron that comes boiling from the fire.And suddenly upon the day appear'dA day new-ris'n, as he, who hath the power,Had with another sun bedeck'd the sky.

     Her eyes fast fix'd on the eternal wheels,Beatrice stood unmov'd; and I with kenFix'd upon her, from upward gaze remov'dAt her aspect, such inwardly becameAs Glaucus, when he tasted of the herb,That made him peer among the ocean gods;Words may not tell of that transhuman change:And therefore let the example serve, though weak,For those whom grace hath better proof in store

     If I were only what thou didst create,Then newly, Love! by whom the heav'n is rul'd,Thou know'st, who by thy light didst bear me up.Whenas the wheel which thou dost ever guide,Desired Spirit! with its harmonyTemper'd of thee and measur'd, charm'd mine ear,Then seem'd to me so much of heav'n to blazeWith the sun's flame, that rain or flood ne'er madeA lake so broad.  The newness of the sound,And that great light, inflam'd me with desire,Keener than e'er was felt, to know their cause.

     Whence she who saw me, clearly as myself,To calm my troubled mind, before I ask'd,Open'd her lips, and gracious thus began:"With false imagination thou thyselfMak'st dull, so that thou seest not the thing,Which thou hadst seen, had that been shaken off.Thou art not on the earth as thou believ'st;For light'ning scap'd from its own proper placeNe'er ran, as thou hast hither now return'd."

     Although divested of my first-rais'd doubt,By those brief words, accompanied with smiles,Yet in new doubt was I entangled more,And said: "Already satisfied, I restFrom admiration deep, but now admireHow I above those lighter bodies rise."

     Whence, after utt'rance of a piteous sigh,She tow'rds me bent her eyes, with such a look,As on her frenzied child a mother casts;Then thus began: "Among themselves all thingsHave order; and from hence the form, which makesThe universe resemble God.  In thisThe higher creatures see the printed stepsOf that eternal worth, which is the endWhither the line is drawn.  All natures lean,In this their order, diversely, some more,Some less approaching to their primal source.Thus they to different havens are mov'd onThrough the vast sea of being, and each oneWith instinct giv'n, that bears it in its course;This to the lunar sphere directs the fire,This prompts the hearts of mortal animals,This the brute earth together knits, and binds.Nor only creatures, void of intellect,Are aim'd at by this bow; but even those,That have intelligence and love, are pierc'd.That Providence, who so well orders all,With her own light makes ever calm the heaven,In which the substance, that hath greatest speed,Is turn'd: and thither now, as to our seatPredestin'd, we are carried by the forceOf that strong cord, that never looses dart,But at fair aim and glad.  Yet is it true,That as ofttimes but ill accords the formTo the design of art, through sluggishnessOf unreplying matter, so this courseIs sometimes quitted by the creature, whoHath power, directed thus, to bend elsewhere;As from a cloud the fire is seen to fall,From its original impulse warp'd, to earth,By vicious fondness.  Thou no more admireThy soaring, (if I rightly deem,) than lapseOf torrent downwards from a mountain's height.There would in thee for wonder be more cause,If, free of hind'rance, thou hadst fix'd thyselfBelow, like fire unmoving on the earth."

     So said, she turn'd toward the heav'n her face.


All ye, who in small bark have following sail'd,Eager to listen, on the advent'rous trackOf my proud keel, that singing cuts its way,Backward return with speed, and your own shoresRevisit, nor put out to open sea,Where losing me, perchance ye may remainBewilder'd in deep maze.  The way I passNe'er yet was run: Minerva breathes the gale,Apollo guides me, and another NineTo my rapt sight the arctic beams reveal.Ye other few, who have outstretch'd the neck.Timely for food of angels, on which hereThey live, yet never know satiety,Through the deep brine ye fearless may put outYour vessel, marking, well the furrow broadBefore you in the wave, that on both sidesEqual returns.  Those, glorious, who pass'd o'erTo Colchos, wonder'd not as ye will do,When they saw Jason following the plough.

     The increate perpetual thirst, that drawsToward the realm of God's own form, bore usSwift almost as the heaven ye behold.

     Beatrice upward gaz'd, and I on her,And in such space as on the notch a dartIs plac'd, then loosen'd flies, I saw myselfArriv'd, where wond'rous thing engag'd my sight.Whence she, to whom no work of mine was hid,Turning to me, with aspect glad as fair,Bespake me: "Gratefully direct thy mindTo God, through whom to this first star we come."

     Me seem'd as if a cloud had cover'd us,Translucent, solid, firm, and polish'd bright,Like adamant, which the sun's beam had smitWithin itself the ever-during pearlReceiv'd us, as the wave a ray of lightReceives, and rests unbroken.  If I thenWas of corporeal frame, and it transcendOur weaker thought, how one dimension thusAnother could endure, which needs must beIf body enter body, how much moreMust the desire inflame us to beholdThat essence, which discovers by what meansGod and our nature join'd!  There will be seenThat which we hold through faith, not shown by proof,But in itself intelligibly plain,E'en as the truth that man at first believes.

     I answered: "Lady! I with thoughts devout,Such as I best can frame, give thanks to Him,Who hath remov'd me from the mortal world.But tell, I pray thee, whence the gloomy spotsUpon this body, which below on earthGive rise to talk of Cain in fabling quaint?"

     She somewhat smil'd, then spake: "If mortals errIn their opinion, when the key of senseUnlocks not, surely wonder's weapon keenOught not to pierce thee; since thou find'st, the wingsOf reason to pursue the senses' flightAre short.  But what thy own thought is, declare."

     Then I: "What various here above appears,Is caus'd, I deem, by bodies dense or rare."

     She then resum'd: "Thou certainly wilt seeIn falsehood thy belief o'erwhelm'd, if wellThou listen to the arguments, which IShall bring to face it.  The eighth sphere displaysNumberless lights, the which in kind and sizeMay be remark'd of different aspects;If rare or dense of that were cause alone,One single virtue then would be in all,Alike distributed, or more, or less.Different virtues needs must be the fruitsOf formal principles, and these, save one,Will by thy reasoning be destroy'd.  Beside,If rarity were of that dusk the cause,Which thou inquirest, either in some partThat planet must throughout be void, nor fedWith its own matter; or, as bodies shareTheir fat and leanness, in like manner thisMust in its volume change the leaves.  The first,If it were true, had through the sun's eclipseBeen manifested, by transparencyOf light, as through aught rare beside effus'd.But this is not.  Therefore remains to seeThe other cause: and if the other fall,Erroneous so must prove what seem'd to thee.If not from side to side this rarityPass through, there needs must be a limit, whenceIts contrary no further lets it pass.And hence the beam, that from without proceeds,Must be pour'd back, as colour comes, through glassReflected, which behind it lead conceals.Now wilt thou say, that there of murkier hueThan in the other part the ray is shown,By being thence refracted farther back.From this perplexity will free thee soonExperience, if thereof thou trial make,The fountain whence your arts derive their streame.Three mirrors shalt thou take, and two removeFrom thee alike, and more remote the third.Betwixt the former pair, shall meet thine eyes;Then turn'd toward them, cause behind thy backA light to stand, that on the three shall shine,And thus reflected come to thee from all.Though that beheld most distant do not stretchA space so ample, yet in brightness thouWill own it equaling the rest.  But now,As under snow the ground, if the warm raySmites it, remains dismantled of the hueAnd cold, that cover'd it before, so thee,Dismantled in thy mind, I will informWith light so lively, that the tremulous beamShall quiver where it falls.  Within the heaven,Where peace divine inhabits, circles roundA body, in whose virtue dies the beingOf all that it contains.  The following heaven,That hath so many lights, this being divides,Through  different essences, from it distinct,And yet contain'd within it.  The other orbsTheir separate distinctions variouslyDispose, for their own seed and produce apt.Thus do these organs of the world proceed,As thou beholdest now, from step to step,Their influences from above deriving,And thence transmitting downwards.  Mark me well,How through this passage to the truth I ford,The truth thou lov'st, that thou henceforth alone,May'st know to keep the shallows, safe, untold.

     "The virtue and motion of the sacred orbs,As mallet by the workman's hand, must needsBy blessed movers be inspir'd.  This heaven,Made beauteous by so many luminaries,From the deep spirit, that moves its circling sphere,Its image takes an impress as a seal:And as the soul, that dwells within your dust,Through members different, yet together form'd,In different pow'rs resolves itself; e'en soThe intellectual efficacy unfoldsIts goodness multiplied throughout the stars;On its own unity revolving still.Different virtue compact differentMakes with the precious body it enlivens,With which it knits, as life in you is knit.From its original nature full of joy,The virtue mingled through the body shines,As joy through pupil of the living eye.From hence proceeds, that which from light to lightSeems different, and not from dense or rare.This is the formal cause, that generatesProportion'd to its power, the dusk or clear."


That sun, which erst with love my bosom warm'dHad of fair truth unveil'd the sweet aspect,By proof of right, and of the false reproof;And I, to own myself convinc'd and freeOf doubt, as much as needed, rais'd my headErect for speech.  But soon a sight appear'd,Which, so intent to mark it, held me fix'd,That of confession I no longer thought.


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     As through translucent and smooth glass, or waveClear and unmov'd, and flowing not so deepAs that its bed is dark, the shape returnsSo faint of our impictur'd lineaments,That on white forehead set a pearl as strongComes to the eye: such saw I many a face,All stretch'd to speak, from whence I straight conceiv'dDelusion opposite to that, which rais'dBetween the man and fountain, amorous flame.

     Sudden, as I perceiv'd them, deeming theseReflected semblances to see of whomThey were, I turn'd mine eyes, and nothing saw;Then turn'd them back, directed on the lightOf my sweet guide, who smiling shot forth beamsFrom her celestial eyes.  "Wonder not thou,"She cry'd, "at this my smiling, when I seeThy childish judgment; since not yet on truthIt rests the foot, but, as it still is wont,Makes thee fall back in unsound vacancy.True substances are these, which thou behold'st,Hither through failure of their vow exil'd.But speak thou with them; listen, and believe,That the true light, which fills them with desire,Permits not from its beams their feet to stray."

     Straight to the shadow which for converse seem'dMost earnest, I addressed me, and began,As one by over-eagerness perplex'd:"O spirit, born for joy! who in the raysOf life eternal, of that sweetness know'stThe flavour, which, not tasted, passes farAll apprehension, me it well would please,If thou wouldst tell me of thy name, and thisYour station here." Whence she, with kindness prompt,And eyes glist'ning with smiles: "Our charity,To any wish by justice introduc'd,Bars not the door, no more than she above,Who would have all her court be like herself.I was a virgin sister in the earth;And if thy mind observe me well, this form,With such addition grac'd of loveliness,Will not conceal me long, but thou wilt knowPiccarda, in the tardiest sphere thus plac'd,Here 'mid these other blessed also blest.Our hearts, whose high affections burn aloneWith pleasure, from the Holy Spirit conceiv'd,Admitted to his order dwell in joy.And this condition, which appears so low,Is for this cause assign'd us, that our vowsWere in some part neglected and made void."

     Whence I to her replied: "Something divineBeams in your countenance, wond'rous fair,From former knowledge quite transmuting you.Therefore to recollect was I so slow.But what thou sayst hath to my memoryGiven now such aid, that to retrace your formsIs easier.  Yet inform me, ye, who hereAre happy, long ye for a higher placeMore to behold, and more in love to dwell?"

     She with those other spirits gently smil'd,Then answer'd with such gladness, that she seem'dWith love's first flame to glow: "Brother! our willIs in composure settled by the powerOf charity, who makes us will aloneWhat we possess, and nought beyond desire;If we should wish to be exalted more,Then must our wishes jar with the high willOf him, who sets us here, which in these orbsThou wilt confess not possible, if hereTo be in charity must needs befall,And if her nature well thou contemplate.Rather it is inherent in this stateOf blessedness, to keep ourselves withinThe divine will, by which our wills with hisAre one.  So that as we from step to stepAre plac'd throughout this kingdom, pleases all,E'en as our King, who in us plants his will;And in his will is our tranquillity;It is the mighty ocean, whither tendsWhatever it creates and nature makes."

     Then saw I clearly how each spot in heav'nIs Paradise, though with like gracious dewThe supreme virtue show'r not over all.

     But as it chances, if one sort of foodHath satiated, and of another stillThe appetite remains, that this is ask'd,And thanks for that return'd; e'en so did IIn word and motion, bent from her to learnWhat web it was, through which she had not drawnThe shuttle to its point.  She thus began:"Exalted worth and perfectness of lifeThe Lady higher up enshrine in heaven,By whose pure laws upon your nether earthThe robe and veil they wear, to that intent,That e'en till death they may keep watch or sleepWith their great bridegroom, who accepts each vow,Which to his gracious pleasure love conforms.from the world, to follow her, when youngEscap'd; and, in her vesture mantling me,Made promise of the way her sect enjoins.Thereafter men, for ill than good more apt,Forth snatch'd me from the pleasant cloister's pale.God knows how after that my life was fram'd.This other splendid shape, which thou beholdstAt my right side, burning with all the lightOf this our orb, what of myself I tellMay to herself apply.  From her, like meA sister, with like violence were tornThe saintly folds, that shaded her fair brows.E'en when she to the world again was broughtIn spite of her own will and better wont,Yet not for that the bosom's inward veilDid she renounce.  This is the luminaryOf mighty Constance, who from that loud blast,Which blew the second over Suabia's realm,That power produc'd, which was the third and last."

     She ceas'd from further talk, and then began"Ave Maria" singing, and with that songVanish'd, as heavy substance through deep wave.

     Mine eye, that far as it was capable,Pursued her, when in dimness she was lost,Turn'd to the mark where greater want impell'd,And bent on Beatrice all its gaze.But she as light'ning beam'd upon my looks:So that the sight sustain'd it not at first.Whence I to question her became less prompt.


Between two kinds of food, both equallyRemote and tempting, first a man might dieOf hunger, ere he one could freely choose.E'en so would stand a lamb between the mawOf two fierce wolves, in dread of both alike:E'en so between two deer a dog would stand,Wherefore, if I was silent, fault nor praiseI to myself impute, by equal doubtsHeld in suspense, since of necessityIt happen'd.  Silent was I, yet desireWas painted in my looks; and thus I spakeMy wish more earnestly than language could.

     As Daniel, when the haughty king he freedFrom ire, that spurr'd him on to deeds unjustAnd violent; so look'd Beatrice then.

     "Well I discern," she thus her words address'd,"How contrary desires each way constrain thee,So that thy anxious thought is in itselfBound up and stifled, nor breathes freely forth.Thou arguest; if the good intent remain;What reason that another's violenceShould stint the measure of my fair desert?

     "Cause too thou findst for doubt, in that it seems,That spirits to the stars, as Plato deem'd,Return.  These are the questions which thy willUrge equally; and therefore I the firstOf that will treat which hath the more of gall.Of seraphim he who is most ensky'd,Moses and Samuel, and either John,Choose which thou wilt, nor even Mary's self,Have not in any other heav'n their seats,Than have those spirits which so late thou saw'st;Nor more or fewer years exist; but allMake the first circle beauteous, diverselyPartaking of sweet life, as more or lessAfflation of eternal bliss pervades them.Here were they shown thee, not that fate assignsThis for their sphere, but for a sign to theeOf that celestial furthest from the height.Thus needs, that ye may apprehend, we speak:Since from things sensible alone ye learnThat, which digested rightly after turnsTo intellectual.  For no other causeThe scripture, condescending graciouslyTo your perception, hands and feet to GodAttributes, nor so means: and holy churchDoth represent with human countenanceGabriel, and Michael, and him who madeTobias whole.  Unlike what here thou seest,The judgment of Timaeus, who affirmsEach soul restor'd to its particular star,Believing it to have been taken thence,When nature gave it to inform her mold:Since to appearance his intention isE'en what his words declare: or else to shunDerision, haply thus he hath disguis'dHis true opinion.  If his meaning be,That to the influencing of these orbs revertThe honour and the blame in human acts,Perchance he doth not wholly miss the truth.This principle, not understood aright,Erewhile perverted well nigh all the world;So that it fell to fabled names of Jove,And Mercury, and Mars.  That other doubt,Which moves thee, is less harmful; for it bringsNo peril of removing thee from me.

     "That, to the eye of man, our justice seemsUnjust, is argument for faith, and notFor heretic declension.  To the endThis truth may stand more clearly in your view,I will content thee even to thy wish

     "If violence be, when that which suffers, noughtConsents to that which forceth, not for thisThese spirits stood exculpate.  For the will,That will not, still survives unquench'd, and dothAs nature doth in fire, tho' violenceWrest it a thousand times; for, if it yieldOr more or less, so far it follows force.And thus did these, whom they had power to seekThe hallow'd place again.  In them, had willBeen perfect, such as once upon the barsHeld Laurence firm, or wrought in ScaevolaTo his own hand remorseless, to the path,Whence they were drawn, their steps had hasten'd back,When liberty return'd: but in too fewResolve so steadfast dwells.  And by these wordsIf duly weigh'd, that argument is void,Which oft might have perplex'd thee still.  But nowAnother question thwarts thee, which to solveMight try thy patience without better aid.I have, no doubt, instill'd into thy mind,That blessed spirit may not lie; since nearThe source of primal truth it dwells for aye:And thou might'st after of Piccarda learnThat Constance held affection to the veil;So that she seems to contradict me here.Not seldom, brother, it hath chanc'd for menTo do what they had gladly left undone,Yet to shun peril they have done amiss:E'en as Alcmaeon, at his father's suitSlew his own mother, so made pitilessNot to lose pity.  On this point bethink thee,That force and will are blended in such wiseAs not to make the' offence excusable.Absolute will agrees not to the wrong,That inasmuch as there is fear of woeFrom non-compliance, it agrees.  Of willThus absolute Piccarda spake, and IOf th' other; so that both have truly said."

     Such was the flow of that pure rill, that well'dFrom forth the fountain of all truth; and suchThe rest, that to my wond'ring thoughts I found.

      "O thou of primal love the prime delight!Goddess!"  I straight reply'd, "whose lively wordsStill shed new heat and vigour through my soul!Affection fails me to requite thy graceWith equal sum of gratitude: be hisTo recompense, who sees and can reward thee.Well I discern, that by that truth aloneEnlighten'd, beyond which no truth may roam,Our mind can satisfy her thirst to know:Therein she resteth, e'en as in his lairThe wild beast, soon as she hath reach'd that bound,And she hath power to reach it; else desireWere given to no end.  And thence doth doubtSpring, like a shoot, around the stock of truth;And it is nature which from height to heightOn to the summit prompts us.  This invites,This doth assure me, lady, rev'rentlyTo ask thee of other truth, that yetIs dark to me.  I fain would know, if manBy other works well done may so supplyThe failure of his vows, that in your scaleThey lack not weight."  I spake; and on me straightBeatrice look'd with eyes that shot forth sparksOf love celestial in such copious stream,That, virtue sinking in me overpower'd,I turn'd, and downward bent confus'd my sight.


"If beyond earthly wont, the flame of loveIllume me, so that I o'ercome thy powerOf vision, marvel not: but learn the causeIn that perfection of the sight, which soonAs apprehending, hasteneth on to reachThe good it apprehends.  I well discern,How in thine intellect already shinesThe light eternal, which to view aloneNe'er fails to kindle love; and if aught elseYour love seduces, 't is but that it showsSome ill-mark'd vestige of that primal beam.

     "This would'st thou know, if failure of the vowBy other service may be so supplied,As from self-question to assure the soul."

     Thus she her words, not heedless of my wish,Began; and thus, as one who breaks not offDiscourse, continued in her saintly strain."Supreme of gifts, which God creating gaveOf his free bounty, sign most evidentOf goodness, and in his account most priz'd,Was liberty of will, the boon wherewithAll intellectual creatures, and them soleHe hath endow'd.  Hence now thou mayst inferOf what high worth the vow, which so is fram'dThat when man offers, God well-pleas'd accepts;For in the compact between God and him,This treasure, such as I describe it to thee,He makes the victim, and of his own act.What compensation therefore may he find?If that, whereof thou hast oblation made,By using well thou think'st to consecrate,Thou would'st of theft do charitable deed.Thus I resolve thee of the greater point.

     "But forasmuch as holy church, hereinDispensing, seems to contradict the truthI have discover'd to thee, yet behoovesThou rest a little longer at the board,Ere the crude aliment, which thou hast taken,Digested fitly to nutrition turn.Open thy mind to what I now unfold,And give it inward keeping.  Knowledge comesOf learning well retain'd, unfruitful else.

     "This sacrifice in essence of two thingsConsisteth; one is that, whereof 't is made,The covenant the other.  For the last,It ne'er is cancell'd if not kept: and henceI spake erewhile so strictly of its force.For this it was enjoin'd the Israelites,Though leave were giv'n them, as thou know'st, to changeThe offering, still to offer.  Th' other part,The matter and the substance of the vow,May well be such, to that without offenceIt may for other substance be exchang'd.But at his own discretion none may shiftThe burden on his shoulders, unreleas'dBy either key, the yellow and the white.Nor deem of any change, as less than vain,If the last bond be not within the newIncluded, as the quatre in the six.No satisfaction therefore can be paidFor what so precious in the balance weighs,That all in counterpoise must kick the beam.Take then no vow at random: ta'en, with faithPreserve it; yet not bent, as Jephthah once,Blindly to execute a rash resolve,Whom better it had suited to exclaim,'I have done ill,' than to redeem his pledgeBy doing worse or, not unlike to himIn folly, that great leader of the Greeks:Whence, on the alter, Iphigenia mourn'dHer virgin beauty, and hath since made mournBoth wise and simple, even all, who hearOf so fell sacrifice.  Be ye more staid,O Christians, not, like feather, by each windRemovable: nor think to cleanse ourselvesIn every water.  Either testament,The old and new, is yours: and for your guideThe shepherd of the church let this sufficeTo save you.  When by evil lust entic'd,Remember ye be men, not senseless beasts;Nor let the Jew, who dwelleth in your streets,Hold you in mock'ry.  Be not, as the lamb,That, fickle wanton, leaves its mother's milk,To dally with itself in idle play."

     Such were the words that Beatrice spake:These ended, to that region, where the worldIs liveliest, full of fond desire she turn'd.

     Though mainly prompt new question to propose,Her silence and chang'd look did keep me dumb.And as the arrow, ere the cord is still,Leapeth unto its mark; so on we spedInto the second realm.  There I beheldThe dame, so joyous enter, that the orbGrew brighter at her smiles; and, if the starWere mov'd to gladness, what then was my cheer,Whom nature hath made apt for every change!


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     As in a quiet and clear lake the fish,If aught approach them from without, do drawTowards it, deeming it their food; so drewFull more than thousand splendours towards us,And in each one was heard: "Lo! one arriv'dTo multiply our loves!" and as each cameThe shadow, streaming forth effulgence new,Witness'd augmented joy.  Here, reader! think,If thou didst miss the sequel of my tale,To know the rest how sorely thou wouldst crave;And thou shalt see what vehement desirePossess'd me, as soon as these had met my view,To know their state.  "O born in happy hour!Thou to whom grace vouchsafes, or ere thy closeOf fleshly warfare, to behold the thronesOf that eternal triumph, know to usThe light communicated, which through heavenExpatiates without bound.  Therefore, if aughtThou of our beams wouldst borrow for thine aid,Spare not; and of our radiance take thy fill."

     Thus of those piteous spirits one bespake me;And Beatrice next: "Say on; and trustAs unto gods!"—"How in the light supremeThou harbour'st, and from thence the virtue bring'st,That, sparkling in thine eyes, denotes thy joy,l mark; but, who thou art, am still to seek;Or wherefore, worthy spirit! for thy lotThis sphere assign'd, that oft from mortal kenIs veil'd by others' beams."  I said, and turn'dToward the lustre, that with greeting, kindErewhile had hail'd me.  Forthwith brighter farThan erst, it wax'd: and, as himself the sunHides through excess of light, when his warm gazeHath on the mantle of thick vapours prey'd;Within its proper ray the saintly shapeWas, through increase of gladness, thus conceal'd;And, shrouded so in splendour answer'd me,E'en as the tenour of my song declares.


"After that Constantine the eagle turn'dAgainst the motions of the heav'n, that roll'dConsenting with its course, when he of yore,Lavinia's spouse, was leader of the flight,A hundred years twice told and more, his seatAt Europe's extreme point, the bird of JoveHeld, near the mountains, whence he issued first.There, under shadow of his sacred plumesSwaying the world, till through successive handsTo mine he came devolv'd.  Caesar I was,And am Justinian; destin'd by the willOf that prime love, whose influence I feel,From vain excess to clear th' encumber'd laws.Or ere that work engag'd me, I did holdChrist's nature merely human, with such faithContented.  But the blessed Agapete,Who was chief shepherd, he with warning voiceTo the true faith recall'd me.  I believ'dHis words: and what he taught, now plainly see,As thou in every contradiction seestThe true and false oppos'd.  Soon as my feetWere to the church reclaim'd, to my great task,By inspiration of God's grace impell'd,I gave me wholly, and consign'd mine armsTo Belisarius, with whom heaven's right handWas link'd in such conjointment, 't was a signThat I should rest.  To thy first question thusI shape mine answer, which were ended here,But that its tendency doth prompt perforceTo some addition; that thou well, mayst markWhat reason on each side they have to plead,By whom that holiest banner is withstood,Both who pretend its power and who oppose."Beginning from that hour, when Pallas diedTo give it rule, behold the valorous deedsHave made it worthy reverence.  Not unknownTo thee, how for three hundred years and moreIt dwelt in Alba, up to those fell listsWhere for its sake were met the rival three;Nor aught unknown to thee, which it achiev'dDown to the Sabines' wrong to Lucrece' woe,With its sev'n kings conqu'ring the nation round;Nor all it wrought, by Roman worthies home'Gainst Brennus and th' Epirot prince, and hostsOf single chiefs, or states in league combin'dOf social warfare; hence Torquatus stern,And Quintius nam'd of his neglected locks,The Decii, and the Fabii hence acquir'dTheir fame, which I with duteous zeal embalm.By it the pride of Arab hordes was quell'd,When they led on by Hannibal o'erpass'dThe Alpine rocks, whence glide thy currents, Po!Beneath its guidance, in their prime of daysScipio and Pompey triumph'd; and that hill,Under whose summit thou didst see the light,Rued its stern bearing.  After, near the hour,When heav'n was minded that o'er all the worldHis own deep calm should brood, to Caesar's handDid Rome consign it; and what then it wroughtFrom Var unto the Rhine, saw Isere's flood,Saw Loire and Seine, and every vale, that fillsThe torrent Rhone.  What after that it wrought,When from Ravenna it came forth, and leap'dThe Rubicon, was of so bold a flight,That tongue nor pen may follow it.  Tow'rds SpainIt wheel'd its bands, then tow'rd Dyrrachium smote,And on Pharsalia with so fierce a plunge,E'en the warm Nile was conscious to the pang;Its native shores Antandros, and the streamsOf Simois revisited, and thereWhere Hector lies; then ill for PtolemyHis pennons shook again; lightning thence fellOn Juba; and the next upon your west,At sound of the Pompeian trump, return'd.

     "What following and in its next bearer's gripeIt wrought, is now by Cassius and BrutusBark'd off in hell, and by Perugia's sonsAnd Modena's was mourn'd.  Hence weepeth stillSad Cleopatra, who, pursued by it,Took from the adder black and sudden death.With him it ran e'en to the Red Sea coast;With him compos'd the world to such a peace,That of his temple Janus barr'd the door.

     "But all the mighty standard yet had wrought,And was appointed to perform thereafter,Throughout the mortal kingdom which it sway'd,Falls in appearance dwindled and obscur'd,If one with steady eye and perfect thoughtOn the third Caesar look; for to his hands,The living Justice, in whose breath I move,Committed glory, e'en into his hands,To execute the vengeance of its wrath.

     "Hear now and wonder at what next I tell.After with Titus it was sent to wreakVengeance for vengeance of the ancient sin,And, when the Lombard tooth, with fangs impure,Did gore the bosom of the holy church,Under its wings victorious, CharlemagneSped to her rescue.  Judge then for thyselfOf those, whom I erewhile accus'd to thee,What they are, and how grievous their offending,Who are the cause of all your ills.  The oneAgainst the universal ensign rearsThe yellow lilies, and with partial aimThat to himself the other arrogates:So that 't is hard to see which more offends.Be yours, ye Ghibellines, to veil your artsBeneath another standard: ill is thisFollow'd of him, who severs it and justice:And let not with his Guelphs the new-crown'd CharlesAssail it, but those talons hold in dread,Which from a lion of more lofty portHave rent the easing.  Many a time ere nowThe sons have for the sire's transgression wail'd;Nor let him trust the fond belief, that heav'nWill truck its armour for his lilied shield.

     "This little star is furnish'd with good spirits,Whose mortal lives were busied to that end,That honour and renown might wait on them:And, when desires thus err in their intention,True love must needs ascend with slacker beam.But it is part of our delight, to measureOur wages with the merit; and admireThe close proportion.  Hence doth heav'nly justiceTemper so evenly affection in us,It ne'er can warp to any wrongfulness.Of diverse voices is sweet music made:So in our life the different degreesRender sweet harmony among these wheels.

     "Within the pearl, that now encloseth us,Shines Romeo's light, whose goodly deed and fairMet ill acceptance.  But the Provencals,That were his foes, have little cause for mirth.Ill shapes that man his course, who makes his wrongOf other's worth.  Four daughters were there bornTo Raymond Berenger, and every oneBecame a queen; and this for him did Romeo,Though of mean state and from a foreign land.Yet envious tongues incited him to askA reckoning of that just one, who return'dTwelve fold to him for ten.  Aged and poorHe parted thence: and if the world did knowThe heart he had, begging his life by morsels,'T would deem the praise, it yields him, scantly dealt."


"Hosanna Sanctus Deus SabaothSuperillustrans claritate tuaFelices ignes horum malahoth!"Thus chanting saw I turn that substance brightWith fourfold lustre to its orb again,Revolving; and the rest unto their danceWith it mov'd also; and like swiftest sparks,In sudden distance from my sight were veil'd.

     Me doubt possess'd, and "Speak," it whisper'd me,"Speak, speak unto thy lady, that she quenchThy thirst with drops of sweetness."  Yet blank awe,Which lords it o'er me, even at the soundOf Beatrice's name, did bow me downAs one in slumber held.  Not long that moodBeatrice suffer'd: she, with such a smile,As might have made one blest amid the flames,Beaming upon me, thus her words began:"Thou in thy thought art pond'ring (as I deem),And what I deem is truth how just revengeCould be with justice punish'd: from which doubtI soon will free thee; so thou mark my words;For they of weighty matter shall possess thee.

     "That man, who was unborn, himself condemn'd,And, in himself, all, who since him have liv'd,His offspring: whence, below, the human kindLay sick in grievous error many an age;Until it pleas'd the Word of God to comeAmongst them down, to his own person joiningThe nature, from its Maker far estrang'd,By the mere act of his eternal love.Contemplate here the wonder I unfold.The nature with its Maker thus conjoin'd,Created first was blameless, pure and good;But through itself alone was driven forthFrom Paradise, because it had eschew'dThe way of truth and life, to evil turn'd.Ne'er then was penalty so just as thatInflicted by the cross, if thou regardThe nature in assumption doom'd: ne'er wrongSo great, in reference to him, who tookSuch nature on him, and endur'd the doom.God therefore and the Jews one sentence pleased:So different effects flow'd from one act,And heav'n was open'd, though the earth did quake.Count it not hard henceforth, when thou dost hearThat a just vengeance was by righteous courtJustly reveng'd.  But yet I see thy mindBy thought on thought arising sore perplex'd,And with how vehement desire it asksSolution of the maze.  What I have heard,Is plain, thou sayst: but wherefore God this wayFor our redemption chose, eludes my search.

     "Brother! no eye of man not perfected,Nor fully ripen'd in the flame of love,May fathom this decree.  It is a mark,In sooth, much aim'd at, and but little kenn'd:And I will therefore show thee why such wayWas worthiest.  The celestial love, that spumeAll envying in its bounty, in itselfWith such effulgence blazeth, as sends forthAll beauteous things eternal.  What distilsImmediate thence, no end of being knows,Bearing its seal immutably impress'd.Whatever thence immediate falls, is free,Free wholly, uncontrollable by powerOf each thing new: by such conformityMore grateful to its author, whose bright beams,Though all partake their shining, yet in thoseAre liveliest, which resemble him the most.These tokens of pre-eminence on manLargely bestow'd, if any of them fail,He needs must forfeit his nobility,No longer stainless.  Sin alone is that,Which doth disfranchise him, and make unlikeTo the chief good; for that its light in himIs darken'd.  And to dignity thus lostIs no return; unless, where guilt makes void,He for ill pleasure pay with equal pain.Your nature, which entirely in its seedTrangress'd, from these distinctions fell, no lessThan from its state in Paradise; nor meansFound of recovery (search all methods outAs strickly as thou may) save one of these,The only fords were left through which to wade,Either that God had of his courtesyReleas'd him merely, or else man himselfFor his own folly by himself aton'd.

     "Fix now thine eye, intently as thou canst,On th' everlasting counsel, and explore,Instructed by my words, the dread abyss.

     "Man in himself had ever lack'd the meansOf satisfaction, for he could not stoopObeying, in humility so low,As high he, disobeying, thought to soar:And for this reason he had vainly triedOut of his own sufficiency to payThe rigid satisfaction.  Then behoovedThat God should by his own ways lead him backUnto the life, from whence he fell, restor'd:By both his ways, I mean, or one alone.But since the deed is ever priz'd the more,The more the doer's good intent appears,Goodness celestial, whose broad signatureIs on the universe, of all its waysTo raise ye up, was fain to leave out none,Nor aught so vast or so magnificent,Either for him who gave or who receiv'dBetween the last night and the primal day,Was or can be.  For God more bounty show'd.Giving himself to make man capableOf his return to life, than had the termsBeen mere and unconditional release.And for his justice, every method elseWere all too scant, had not the Son of GodHumbled himself to put on mortal flesh.

     "Now, to fulfil each wish of thine, remainsI somewhat further to thy view unfold.That thou mayst see as clearly as myself.

     "I see, thou sayst, the air, the fire I see,The earth and water, and all things of themCompounded, to corruption turn, and soonDissolve.  Yet these were also things create,Because, if what were told me, had been trueThey from corruption had been therefore free.

     "The angels, O my brother! and this climeWherein thou art, impassible and pure,I call created, as indeed they areIn their whole being.  But the elements,Which thou hast nam'd, and what of them is made,Are by created virtue' inform'd: createTheir substance, and create the' informing virtueIn these bright stars, that round them circling moveThe soul of every brute and of each plant,The ray and motion of the sacred lights,With complex potency attract and turn.But this our life the' eternal good inspiresImmediate, and enamours of itself;So that our wishes rest for ever here.

     "And hence thou mayst by inference concludeOur resurrection certain, if thy mindConsider how the human flesh was fram'd,When both our parents at the first were made."


The world was in its day of peril darkWont to believe the dotage of fond loveFrom the fair Cyprian deity, who rollsIn her third epicycle, shed on menBy stream of potent radiance: therefore theyOf elder time, in their old error blind,Not her alone with sacrifice ador'dAnd invocation, but like honours paidTo Cupid and Dione, deem'd of themHer mother, and her son, him whom they feign'dTo sit in Dido's bosom: and from her,Whom I have sung preluding, borrow'd theyThe appellation of that star, which views,Now obvious and now averse, the sun.

     I was not ware that I was wafted upInto  its orb; but the new lovelinessThat grac'd my lady, gave me ample proofThat we had entered there.  And as in flameA sparkle is distinct, or voice in voiceDiscern'd, when one its even tenour keeps,The other comes and goes; so in that lightI other luminaries saw, that cours'dIn circling motion rapid more or less,As their eternal phases each impels.

     Never was blast from vapour charged with cold,Whether invisible to eye or no,Descended with such speed, it had not seem'dTo linger in dull tardiness, compar'dTo those celestial lights, that tow'rds us came,Leaving the circuit of their joyous ring,Conducted by the lofty seraphim.And after them, who in the van appear'd,Such an hosanna sounded, as hath leftDesire, ne'er since extinct in me, to hearRenew'd the strain.  Then parting from the restOne near us drew, and sole began: "We allAre ready at thy pleasure, well dispos'dTo do thee gentle service.  We are they,To whom thou in the world erewhile didst Sing'O ye! whose intellectual ministryMoves the third heaven!' and in one orb we roll,One motion, one impulse, with those who rulePrincedoms in heaven; yet are of love so full,That to please thee 't will be as sweet to rest."

     After mine eyes had with meek reverenceSought the celestial guide, and were by herAssur'd, they turn'd again unto the lightWho had so largely promis'd, and with voiceThat bare the lively pressure of my zeal,"Tell who ye are," I cried.  Forthwith it grewIn size and splendour, through augmented joy;And thus it answer'd: "A short date belowThe world possess'd me.  Had the time been more,Much evil, that will come, had never chanc'd.My gladness hides thee from me, which doth shineAround, and shroud me, as an animalIn its own silk unswath'd.  Thou lov'dst me well,And had'st good cause; for had my sojourningBeen longer on the earth, the love I bare theeHad put forth more than blossoms.  The left bank,That Rhone, when he hath mix'd with Sorga, laves."