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“Master,” I said to him, “now tell me also

What is this Fortune which thou speakest of,

That has the world's goods so within its clutches ?” And he to me: “O creatures imbecile,

What ignorance is this which doth beset you?

Now will I have thee learn my judgment of her. He whose omniscience everything transcends

The heavens created, and gave who should guide them,

That every part to every part may shine, Distributing the light in equal measure;

He in like manner to the mundane splendors.

Ordained a general ministress and guide,
That she might change at times the empty treasures

From race to race, from one blood to another, 80

Beyond resistance of all human wisdom. Therefore one people triumphs, and another

Languishes, in pursuance of her judgment,

Which hidden is, as in the grass a serpent. Your knowledge has no counterstand against her ; 85

She makes provision, judges, and pursues

Her governance, as theirs the other gods.
Her permutations have not any truce;

Necessity makes her precipitate,
So often cometh who his turn obtains.


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And this is she who is so crucified

Even by those who ought to give her praise,

Giving her blame amiss, and bad repute. But she is blissful, and she hears it not;

Among the other primal creatures gladsome

She turns her sphere, and blissful she rejoices. Let us descend now unto greater woe;

Already sinks each star that was ascending

When I set out, and loitering is forbidden.” We crossed the circle to the other bank,

Near to a fount that boils, and pours itself

Along a gully that runs out of it.
The water was more sombre far than perse ;

And we, in company with the dusky waves,

Made entrance downward by a path uncouth. A marsh it makes, which has the name of Styx,

This tristful brooklet, when it has descended

Down to the foot of the malign gray shores. And I, who stood intent upon beholding,

Saw people mud-besprent in that lagoon,

All of them naked and with angry look.
They smote each other not alone with hands,

But with the head and with the breast and feet,
Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.

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Said the good Master : “Son, thou now beholdest 115

The souls of those whom anger overcame;

And likewise I would have thee know for certain Beneath the water people are who sigh

And make this water bubble at the surface,

As the eye tells thee wheresoe’er it turns. 20 Fixed in the mire they say, “We sullen were

In the sweet air, which by the sun is gladdened,

Bearing within ourselves the sluggish reek; Now we are sullen in this sable mire.

This hymn do they keep gurgling in their throats, 125

For with unbroken words they cannot say it.” Thus we went circling round the filthy fen

A great arc ’twixt the dry bank and the swamp,

With eyes turned unto those who gorge the mire; Unto the foot of a tower we came at last.



| SAY, continuing, that long before

We to the foot of that high tower had come,

Our eyes went upward to the summit of it, By reason of two flamelets we saw placed there,

And from afar another answer them,

So far, that hardly could the eye attain it. And, to the sea of all discernment turned,

I said: “What sayeth this, and what respondeth

That other fire? and who are they that made it?” And he to me: “Across the turbid waves

What is expected thou canst now discern,

If reek of the morass conceal it not.” Cord never shot an arrow from itself

That sped away athwart the air so swift,

As I beheld a very little boat
Come o'er the water tow'rds us at that moment,

Under the guidance of a single pilot,
Who shouted, “Now art thou arrived, fell soul ? ”


15 19



“ Phlegyas, Phlegyas, thou criest out in vain

For this once,” said my Lord; “thou shalt not have us

Longer than in the passing of the slough.” As he who listens to some great deceit

That has been done to him, and then resents it,

Such became Phlegyas, in his gathered wrath. My Guide descended down into the boat,

And then he made me enter after him,

And only when I entered seemed it laden. Soon as the Guide and I were in the boat,

The antique prow goes on its way, dividing

More of the water than 't is wont with others. While we were running through the dead canal,

Uprose in front of me one full of mire,

And said, “Who'rt thou that comest ere the hour?” And I to him: “Although I come, I stay not;

But who art thou that hast become so squalid?” 35

“Thou seest that I am one who weeps,” he answered. And I to him: “With weeping and with wailing,

Thou spirit maledict, do thou remain ;

For thee I know, though thou art all defiled.”
Then stretched he both his hands unto the boat;

Whereat my wary Master thrust him back,
Saying, “ Away there with the other dogs!”




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