Inferno: Canto XXVIII
Who ever could, e'en with untrammelled words,
Tell of the blood and of the wounds in full
Which now I saw, by many times narrating?
Each tongue would for a certainty fall short
By reason of our speech and memory,
That have small room to comprehend so much.
If were again assembled all the people
Which formerly upon the fateful land
Of Puglia were lamenting for their blood
Shed by the Romans and the lingering war
That of the rings made such illustrious spoils,
As Livy has recorded, who errs not,
With those who felt the agony of blows
By making counterstand to Robert Guiscard,
And all the rest, whose bones are gathered still
At Ceperano, where a renegade
Was each Apulian, and at Tagliacozzo,
Where without arms the old Alardo conquered,
And one his limb transpierced, and one lopped off,
Should show, it would be nothing to compare
With the disgusting mode of the ninth Bolgia.
A cask by losing centre-piece or cant
Was never shattered so, as I saw one
Rent from the chin to where one breaketh wind.
Between his legs were hanging down his entrails;
His heart was visible, and the dismal sack
That maketh excrement of what is eaten.
While I was all absorbed in seeing him,
He looked at me, and opened with his hands
His bosom, saying: "See now how I rend me;
How mutilated, see, is Mahomet;
In front of me doth Ali weeping go,
Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;
And all the others whom thou here beholdest,
Disseminators of scandal and of schism
While living were, and therefore are cleft thus.
A devil is behind here, who doth cleave us
Thus cruelly, unto the falchion's edge
Putting again each one of all this ream,
When we have gone around the doleful road;
By reason that our wounds are closed again
Ere any one in front of him repass.
But who art thou, that musest on the crag,
Perchance to postpone going to the pain
That is adjudged upon thine accusations?"
"Nor death hath reached him yet, nor guilt doth bring him,"
My Master made reply, "to be tormented;
But to procure him full experience,
Me, who am dead, behoves it to conduct him
Down here through Hell, from circle unto circle;
And this is true as that I speak to thee."
More than a hundred were there when they heard him,
Who in the moat stood still to look at me,
Through wonderment oblivious of their torture.
"Now say to Fra Dolcino, then, to arm him,
Thou, who perhaps wilt shortly see the sun,
If soon he wish not here to follow me,
So with provisions, that no stress of snow
May give the victory to the Novarese,
Which otherwise to gain would not be easy."
After one foot to go away he lifted,
This word did Mahomet say unto me,
Then to depart upon the ground he stretched it.
Another one, who had his throat pierced through,
And nose cut off close underneath the brows,
And had no longer but a single ear,
Staying to look in wonder with the others,
Before the others did his gullet open,
Which outwardly was red in every part,
And said: "O thou, whom guilt doth not condemn,
And whom I once saw up in Latian land,
Unless too great similitude deceive me,
Call to remembrance Pier da Medicina,
If e'er thou see again the lovely plain
That from Vercelli slopes to Marcabo,
And make it known to the best two of Fano,
To Messer Guido and Angiolello likewise,
That if foreseeing here be not in vain,
Cast over from their vessel shall they be,
And drowned near unto the Cattolica,
By the betrayal of a tyrant fell.
Between the isles of Cyprus and Majorca
Neptune ne'er yet beheld so great a crime,
Neither of pirates nor Argolic people.
That traitor, who sees only with one eye,
And holds the land, which some one here with me
Would fain be fasting from the vision of,
Will make them come unto a parley with him;
Then will do so, that to Focara's wind
They will not stand in need of vow or prayer."
And I to him: "Show to me and declare,
If thou wouldst have me bear up news of thee,
Who is this person of the bitter vision."
Then did he lay his hand upon the jaw
Of one of his companions, and his mouth
Oped, crying: "This is he, and he speaks not.
This one, being banished, every doubt submerged
In Caesar by affirming the forearmed
Always with detriment allowed delay."
O how bewildered unto me appeared,
With tongue asunder in his windpipe slit,
Curio, who in speaking was so bold!
And one, who both his hands dissevered had,
The stumps uplifting through the murky air,
So that the blood made horrible his face,
Cried out: "Thou shalt remember Mosca also,
Who said, alas! 'A thing done has an end!'
Which was an ill seed for the Tuscan people."
"And death unto thy race," thereto I added;
Whence he, accumulating woe on woe,
Departed, like a person sad and crazed.
But I remained to look upon the crowd;
And saw a thing which I should be afraid,
Without some further proof, even to recount,
If it were not that conscience reassures me,
That good companion which emboldens man
Beneath the hauberk of its feeling pure.
I truly saw, and still I seem to see it,
A trunk without a head walk in like manner
As walked the others of the mournful herd.
And by the hair it held the head dissevered,
Hung from the hand in fashion of a lantern,
And that upon us gazed and said: "O me!"
It of itself made to itself a lamp,
And they were two in one, and one in two;
How that can be, He knows who so ordains it.
When it was come close to the bridge's foot,
It lifted high its arm with all the head,
To bring more closely unto us its words,
Which were: "Behold now the sore penalty,
Thou, who dost breathing go the dead beholding;
Behold if any be as great as this.
And so that thou may carry news of me,
Know that Bertram de Born am I, the same
Who gave to the Young King the evil comfort.
I made the father and the son rebellious;
Achitophel not more with Absalom
And David did with his accursed goadings.
Because I parted persons so united,
Parted do I now bear my brain, alas!
From its beginning, which is in this trunk.
Thus is observed in me the counterpoise."
WHO, e'en in words unfetter'd, might at full
Tell of the wounds and blood that now I saw,
Though he repeated oft the tale? No tongue
So vast a theme could equal, speech and thought
Both impotent alike. If in one band
Collected, stood the people all, who e'er
Pour'd on Apulia's happy soil their blood,
Slain by the Trojans, and in that long war
When of the rings the measur'd booty made
A pile so high, as Rome's historian writes
Who errs not, with the multitude, that felt
The grinding force of Guiscard's Norman steel,
And those the rest, whose bones are gather'd yet
At Ceperano, there where treachery
Branded th' Apulian name, or where beyond
Thy walls, O Tagliacozzo, without arms
The old Alardo conquer'd; and his limbs
One were to show transpierc'd, another his
Clean lopt away; a spectacle like this
Were but a thing of nought, to the' hideous sight
Of the ninth chasm. A rundlet, that hath lost
Its middle or side stave, gapes not so wide,
As one I mark'd, torn from the chin throughout
Down to the hinder passage: 'twixt the legs
Dangling his entrails hung, the midriff lay
Open to view, and wretched ventricle,
That turns th' englutted aliment to dross.
Whilst eagerly I fix on him my gaze,
He ey'd me, with his hands laid his breast bare,
And cried; "Now mark how I do rip me! lo!
"How is Mohammed mangled! before me
Walks Ali weeping, from the chin his face
Cleft to the forelock; and the others all
Whom here thou seest, while they liv'd, did sow
Scandal and schism, and therefore thus are rent.
A fiend is here behind, who with his sword
Hacks us thus cruelly, slivering again
Each of this ream, when we have compast round
The dismal way, for first our gashes close
Ere we repass before him. But say who
Art thou, that standest musing on the rock,
Haply so lingering to delay the pain
Sentenc'd upon thy crimes?"--"Him death not yet,"
My guide rejoin'd, "hath overta'en, nor sin
Conducts to torment; but, that he may make
Full trial of your state, I who am dead
Must through the depths of hell, from orb to orb,
Conduct him. Trust my words, for they are true."
More than a hundred spirits, when that they heard,
Stood in the foss to mark me, through amazed,
Forgetful of their pangs. "Thou, who perchance
Shalt shortly view the sun, this warning thou
Bear to Dolcino: bid him, if he wish not
Here soon to follow me, that with good store
Of food he arm him, lest impris'ning snows
Yield him a victim to Novara's power,
No easy conquest else." With foot uprais'd
For stepping, spake Mohammed, on the ground
Then fix'd it to depart. Another shade,
Pierc'd in the throat, his nostrils mutilate
E'en from beneath the eyebrows, and one ear
Lopt off, who with the rest through wonder stood
Gazing, before the rest advanc'd, and bar'd
His wind-pipe, that without was all o'ersmear'd
With crimson stain. "O thou!" said he, "whom sin
Condemns not, and whom erst (unless too near
Resemblance do deceive me) I aloft
Have seen on Latian ground, call thou to mind
Piero of Medicina, if again
Returning, thou behold'st the pleasant land
That from Vercelli slopes to Mercabo;
"And there instruct the twain, whom Fano boasts
Her worthiest sons, Guido and Angelo,
That if 't is giv'n us here to scan aright
The future, they out of life's tenement
Shall be cast forth, and whelm'd under the waves
Near to Cattolica, through perfidy
Of a fell tyrant. 'Twixt the Cyprian isle
And Balearic, ne'er hath Neptune seen
An injury so foul, by pirates done
Or Argive crew of old. That one-ey'd traitor
(Whose realm there is a spirit here were fain
His eye had still lack'd sight of) them shall bring
To conf'rence with him, then so shape his end,
That they shall need not 'gainst Focara's wind
Offer up vow nor pray'r." I answering thus:
"Declare, as thou dost wish that I above
May carry tidings of thee, who is he,
In whom that sight doth wake such sad remembrance?"
Forthwith he laid his hand on the cheek-bone
Of one, his fellow-spirit, and his jaws
Expanding, cried: "Lo! this is he I wot of;
He speaks not for himself: the outcast this
Who overwhelm'd the doubt in Caesar's mind,
Affirming that delay to men prepar'd
Was ever harmful." Oh how terrified
Methought was Curio, from whose throat was cut
The tongue, which spake that hardy word. Then one
Maim'd of each hand, uplifted in the gloom
The bleeding stumps, that they with gory spots
Sullied his face, and cried: "'Remember thee
Of Mosca, too, I who, alas! exclaim'd,
'The deed once done there is an end,' that prov'd
A seed of sorrow to the Tuscan race."
I added: "Ay, and death to thine own tribe."
Whence heaping woe on woe he hurried off,
As one grief stung to madness. But I there
Still linger'd to behold the troop, and saw
Things, such as I may fear without more proof
To tell of, but that conscience makes me firm,
The boon companion, who her strong breast-plate
Buckles on him, that feels no guilt within
And bids him on and fear not. Without doubt
I saw, and yet it seems to pass before me,
A headless trunk, that even as the rest
Of the sad flock pac'd onward. By the hair
It bore the sever'd member, lantern-wise
Pendent in hand, which look'd at us and said,
"Woe's me!" The spirit lighted thus himself,
And two there were in one, and one in two.
How that may be he knows who ordereth so.
When at the bridge's foot direct he stood,
His arm aloft he rear'd, thrusting the head
Full in our view, that nearer we might hear
The words, which thus it utter'd: "Now behold
This grievous torment, thou, who breathing go'st
To spy the dead; behold if any else
Be terrible as this. And that on earth
Thou mayst bear tidings of me, know that I
Am Bertrand, he of Born, who gave King John
The counsel mischievous. Father and son
I set at mutual war. For Absalom
And David more did not Ahitophel,
Spurring them on maliciously to strife.
For parting those so closely knit, my brain
Parted, alas! I carry from its source,
That in this trunk inhabits. Thus the law
Of retribution fiercely works in me."
CANTO XXVIII. Eighth Circle: ninth pit: sowers of discord and
schism.--Mahomet and Ali.--Fra Dolcino.--Pier da Medicina.
-Curio.--Mosca.--Bertrau de Born.
Who, even with words unfettered, could ever tell in full of
the blood and of the wounds that I now saw, though many times
narrating? Every tongue assuredly would come short, by reason of
our speech and our memory that have small capacity to comprise so
 In prose.
If all the people were again assembled, that of old upon
the fateful land of Apulia lamented for their blood shed by the
Trojans, and in the long war that made such high spoil of the
rings, as Livy writes, who erreth not; with those that, by
resisting Robert Guiscard, felt the pain of blows, and the
rest whose bones are still heaped up at Ceperano, where every
Apullan was false, and there by Tagliacozzo, where without
arms the old Alardo conquered,--and one should show his limb
pierced through, and one his lopped off, it would be nothing to
equal the grisly mode of the ninth pit.
 The Romans, descendants of the Trojans.
 The spoils of the battle of Canon, in the second Punic War.
 The Norman conqueror and Duke of Apulia. He died in 1085.
 Where, in 1266, the leaders of the army of Manfred, King of
Apulia and Sicily, treacherously went over to Charles of Anjou.
 Here, in 1265, Conradin, the nephew of Manfred, was defeated
and taken prisoner. The victory was won by a stratagem devised by
Count Erard de Valery.
Truly cask, by losing mid-board or cross-piece, is not so split
open as one I saw cleft from the chin to where the wind is
broken: between his legs were hanging his entrails, his
inner parts were visible, and the dismal sack that makes ordure
of what is swallowed. Whilst all on seeing him I fix myself, he
looked at me, and with his hands opened his breast, saying, "Now
see how I rend myself, see how mangled is Mahomet. Ali  goeth
before me weeping, cleft in the face from chin to forelock; and
all the others whom thou seest here were, when living, sowers of
scandal and of schism, and therefore are they so cleft. A devil
is here behind, that adjusts us so cruelly, putting again to the
edge of the sword each of this crew, when we have turned the
doleful road, because the wounds are closed up ere one passes
again before him. But thou, who art thou, that musest on the
crag, perchance to delay going to the punishment that is adjudged
on thine own accusations?"  "Nor death hath reached him yet,"
replied my Master, "nor doth sin lead him to torment him; but, in
order to give him full experience, it behoves me, who am dead, to
lead him through Hell down here, from circle to circle; and this
is true as that I speak to thee."
 Cousin and son-in-law of Mahomet, and himself the head of a
 When the soul appears before Minos, every sin is confessed.
See Canto V.
More than a hundred there were that, when they heard him, stopped
in the ditch to look at me, forgetting the torment in their
wonder. "Now, say to Fra Dolcino, then, thou who perchance
shalt shortly see the sun, if he wish not soon to follow me here,
so to arm himself with supplies that stress of snow bring not the
victory to the Novarese, which otherwise to gain would not be
easy":--after he had lifted one foot to go on Mahomet said to me
these words, then on the ground he stretched it to depart.
 A noted heretic and reformer, who for two years maintained
himself in Lombardy against the forces of the Pope, but finally,
being reduced by famine in time of snow, in 1807, was taken
captive and burnt at Novara.
Another who had his throat pierced and his nose cut off up under
his brows, and had but one ear only, having stopped to look in
wonder with the rest, before the rest opened his gullet, which
outwardly was all crimson, and said, "O thou whom sin condemns
not, and whom of old I saw above in the Latian land, if too great
resemblance deceive me not, remember Pier da Medicina  if ever
thou return to see the sweet plain that from Vercelli slopes to
Marcabb, and make known to the two best of Fano, to Messer Guido
and likewise to Angiolello, that, if foresight here be not
vain, they will be cast forth from their vessel and drowned near
to the Cattolica, by treachery of a fell tyrant. Between the
islands of Cyprus and Majorca Neptune never saw so great a crime,
not of the pirates, nor of the Argolic people. That traitor who
sees only with one eye, and holds the city from sight of which
one who is here with me would fain have fasted, will make them
come to parley with him; then will act so that against the wind
of Focara they will not need or vow or prayer." And I to him,
"Show to me and declare, if thou wishest that I carry up news of
thee, who is he of the bitter sight?" Then he put his hand on
the jaw of one of his companions, and opened the mouth of him,
crying, "This is he, and he speaks not; this outcast stifled the
doubt in Caesar, by affirming that the man prepared always
suffered harm from delay." Oh, how dismayed, with his tongue slit
in his gorge, seemed to me Curio, who in speech had been so
 Medicina is a town in the Bolognese district. Piero was a
fosterer of discord.
 Guido del Cassero and Angiolello da Cagnano, treacherously
drowned by order of the one-eyed Malatestino, lord of Rimini.
 The city of Rimini, which Curio would wish never to have
 A high foreland near the Cattolica, between Rimini and Fano,
whence often fell dangerous squalls.
 He to whom the sight of Rimini had been bitter.
 Curio the Tribune, banished from Rome, fled to Caesar
delaying to cross the Rubicon, and urged him on, with the
argument, according to Lucan, "Tolle moras, semper nocuit
differre paratis." Phars. i. 281.
And one who had both hands lopped off, lifting the stumps through
the murky air so that the blood made his face foul, cried out,
"Thou shalt remember Mosca, too, who said, alas! 'Thing done
has an end,' which was the seed of ill for the Tuscan people."
And I added thereto, "And death to thine own race." Whereat he,
accumulating woe on woe, went away like a person sad and
 In 1215 one of the Buondelmonti, plighted to a maiden of the
Amidei, broke faith, and engaged himself to a damsel of the
Donati. The family of the girl who had been thus slighted took
counsel how to avenge the affront, and Mosca de' Lamberti gave
the ill advice to murder the young Buondelmonte. The murder was
the beginning of long woe to Florence, and of the division of her
people into Guelphs and Ghibellines.
But I remained to look at the crowd, and I saw a thing that I
should be afraid, without more proof, only to tell, were it not
that conscience reassures me, the good companion that emboldens
man under the hauberk of feeling himself pure. I saw in truth,
and still I seem to see it, a trunk without a head going along
even as the others of the dismal flock were going. And it was
holding the cut-off head by its hair, dangling in hand like a
lantern. And it gazed on us, and said, "O me!" Of itself it was
making for itself a lamp; and they were two in one, and one in
two. How it can be He knows who so ordains. When it was right at
the foot of the bridge, it lifted its arm high with the whole
head, in order to approach its words to us, which were, "Now see
the dire punishment, thou that, breathing, goest seeing the dead:
see thou if any other is great as this! And that thou mayest
carry news of me, know that I am Bertran de Born, he that gave
to the young king the ill encouragements. I made father and son
rebellious to each other. Ahithophel did not more with Absalom
and with David by his wicked goadings. Because I divided
persons so united, I bear my brain, alas! divided from its source
which is in this trunk. Thus retaliation is observed in me."
 The famous troubadour who incited the young Prince Henry to
rebellion against his father, Henry II. of England. The prince
died in 1183.