DANTE'S SUBLIME COMEDY: PURGATORY: Chapter 14
Chapter 14: Envy Ruling
“Who now ascends our penitential hill
before death makes him rise, and who at will
opens and shuts his eyes?” “I do not know 3
but he is nearest you. Speak well to him,
to gain a fair reply.” We saw two souls
conversing thus in that blind row. One said, 6
“O living man bound Heavenward, please tell
in charity your birthplace and your name.
A special grace protects you, so your words 9
can do us good.” “I was born near,” said I,
“a stream that flows more than a hundred miles
from Falterona to the sea. My name 12
you do not need. It’s not yet known to fame.”
“Mount Falterona is the source,” said he
“ of Tiber and of Arno, therefore you 15
are from Romagna or from Tuscany,
and probably the last. Why not say so?
Is Arno a bad word?” “It is indeed!” 18
the other speaker cried, “All living by
that evil flood should die and be forgot.
They flee from virtue, dread it like a snake. 21
The place corrupts them, or bad customs spreads
corruption through them like a deadly plague.
Close to the Arno’s source the folk are brutes 24
like those who Circe once turned into swine,
fit to eat acorns, not to dine like men.
Leaving these hogs the stream enters a land 27
of snarling mongrel dogs, more full of spite
than bravery or any strength to bite.
Lower the stream swells wider, and the more 30
it swells, the dogs become rapacious wolves.
Leaving them by a winding glen it flows
through a land of cheating foxes none can trap, 33
so great is the support for their deceit.
But now the future has grown clear to me!
I’ll say what I foresee, and do not care 36
what ears may hear. Your grandson will become
hunter of wolves beside that horrid flood,
selling young flesh, butchering it when old. 39
He will be infamous for slaughtering,
will leave so few that centuries will pass
before the state of Florence is restored.” 42
This coming woe showed on the troubled face
of he announcing it and he who heard.
Said I, “If you want word of that conveyed 45
to earth below, I’d better know your names.”
Chief spokesman of the two replied, “You ask
what you denied to me. I can’t refuse, 48
for you are in God’s grace. Know that in life
I, Guido del Duco, felt so much spite
at sight of folk enjoying life, my face 51
swelled and turned scarlet in my jealous rage.
I sowed bad seed, now chew the bitter crop.
No wonder I am blind, for envy’s whip 54
drove me away from human fellowship,
engrossing good things for myself and heirs.
O humankind, our mad wish not to share 57
repels the sympathy and love we need,
brings endless war. You Tuscans know that well.
Rinier of the house of Calboli 60
is my companion, last true nobleman
of an old family. None after he
have been or will be good, and this is true 63
of every great family between
mountains and Po from Reno to the sea.
Once they were generous and chivalrous. 66
Art, sport, good manners flourished under them.
Now fields of their estates grow fouler weeds
than decades of good farming can repair. 69
Where now exist Arrigo Mainardi,
Guido de Carpigna, good Lizio,
also the good Pierre Traversaro? 72
In the Romagna a vile bastard race
replaces every one; and when again
will a Fabbro be found in Bologna? 75
A Fosco in Faenza? – noble sprout
from a most humble herb. Do not wonder,
Tuscan, if I weep remembering how 78
Guido da Prata, Ugulino d’Azzo
lived and ruled, Tignoso and company,
the Traversaro and Anastagi, 81
both now without an heir. O Tuscan, think!
I knew these knights, these ladies moved by love
and courtesy, where now is villainy. 84
O Bertinoro, why do you remain?
Your lords abandoned your corrupt old den –
follow them! Bagnacavallo does well 87
in failing to breed men. Castrocaro
does ill, Conio worse by breeding lords
deserving Heaven’s curse. The Pagani 90
still keep old honesty, or will when free
of that sly fiend Malnardo, even so
their name cannot regain it’s ancient fame. 93
O Hugo Fantolini, your good name
is safe since no one now possesses it.
Tuscan, depart. I’d rather weep than speak, 96
our conversation has so wrung my heart.”
We knew that these dear spirits heard us go.
Their silence made us sure our way was right. 99
A mighty cry suddenly cleft the air:
“All seeing who I am desire my death!”
Before our ears recovered from that shout 102
another deafening outcry burst out,
too loud to be an echo of the first:
“I am Aglauros who was turned to stone.” 105
Silence returned. Instead of following
I stepped beside my guide. Without surprise
he saw the question in my eyes and said 108
“You have heard Cain, his brother’s murderer,
and sister-killing Aglauros. These two
are reins to hold back human jealousy, 111
if we will bite God’s bit on Earth below.
Many prefer His enemy’s sweet bait
whose hook then pulls them downward into Hell, 114
yet those who think to raise their eyes can see
the starry wheels of Heaven high above,
created beautiful, given in love, 117
inviting all to soar into the skies.”