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O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,

Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,

That doubting pleases me no less than knowing ! Once more a little backward turn thee,” said I,

“There where thou sayest that usury offends

Goodness divine, and disengage the knot.” “Philosophy,” he said, “to him who heeds it,

Noteth, not only in one place alone,

After what manner Nature takes her course From Intellect Divine, and from its art;

And if thy Physics carefully thou notest,

After not many pages shalt thou find, That this your art as far as possible

Follows, as the disciple doth the master;

So that your art is, as it were, God's grandchild. From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind

Genesis at the beginning, it behoves

Mankind to gain their life and to advance ; And since the usurer takes another way,

Nature herself and in her follower · Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope. But follow, now, as I would fain go on,

For quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,

And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies, And far beyond there we descend the crag.”






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THE place where to descend the bank we came

Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover,

Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.
Such as that ruin is which in the flank
Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige,

Either by earthquake or by failing stay,
For from the mountain's top, from which it moved,

Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so,

Some path 't would give to him who was above; Even such was the descent of that ravine,

And on the border of the broken chasm

The infamy of Crete was stretched along,
Who was conceived in the fictitious cow;

And when he us beheld, he bit himself,
Even as one whom anger racks within.

15 My Sage towards him shouted : “Peradventure

Thou think’st that here may be the Duke of Athens,
Who in the world above brought death to thee?




Get thee gone, beast, for this one cometh not

Instructed by thy sister, but he comes

In order to behold your punishments.”
As is that bull who breaks loose at the moment

In which he has received the mortal blow,

Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there, The Minotaur beheld I do the like;

And he, the wary, cried : “Run to the passage ;

While he is wroth, 't is well thou shouldst descend.” Thus down we took our way o'er that discharge

Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves

Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden. 30 Thoughtful I went; and he said: “Thou art thinking

Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded

By that brute anger which just now I quenched. Now will I have thee know, the other time

I here descended to the nether Hell,

This precipice had not yet fallen down. But truly, if I well discern, a little

Before His coming who the mighty spoil

Bore off from Dis, in the supernal circle,
Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley

Trembled so, that I thought the Universe
Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think



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The world ofttimes converted into chaos ;

And at that moment this primeval crag

Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow. 45 But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near

The river of blood, within which boiling is

Whoe'er by violence doth injure others.” O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,

That spurs us onward so in our short life,

And in the eternal then so badly steeps us ! I saw an ample moat bent like a bow,

As one which all the plain encompasses,

Conformable to what my Guide had said. And between this and the embankment's foot. 55

Centaurs in file were running, armed with arrows,

As in the world they used the chase to follow. Beholding us descend, each one stood still,

And from the squadron three detached themselves,

With bows and arrows in advance selected; And from afar one cried : “Unto what torment

Come ye, who down the hillside are descending ?

Tell us from there; if not, I draw the bow.”
My Master said: “Our answer will we make

To Chiron, near you there; in evil hour, 65
That will of thine was evermore so hasty.”

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Then touched he me, and said: “This one is Nessus,

Who perished for the lovely Dejanira,

And for himself, himself did vengeance take. And he in the midst, who at his breast is gazing,

Is the great Chiron, who brought up Achilles ;

That other Pholus is, who was so wrathful. Thousands and thousands go about the moat

Shooting with shafts whatever soul emerges

Out of the blood, more than his crime allots.” Near we approached unto those monsters fleet;

Chiron an arrow took, and with the notch

Backward upon his jaws he put his beard. After he had uncovered his great mouth,

He said to his companions: “Are you ware

That he behind moveth whate'er he touches ? Thus are not wont to do the feet of dead men.”

And my good Guide, who now was at his breast,

Where the two natures are together joined, Replied: “Indeed he lives, and thus alone

Me it behoves to show him the dark valley ;

Necessity, and not delight, impels us.
Some one withdrew from singing Halleluja,

Who unto me committed this new office;
No thief is he, nor I a thievish spirit.

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