Side by Side Translations of Dante's Inferno - Canto 32

Longfellow Translation

Inferno: Canto XXXII

If I had rhymes both rough and stridulous,
  As were appropriate to the dismal hole
  Down upon which thrust all the other rocks,

I would press out the juice of my conception
  More fully; but because I have them not,
  Not without fear I bring myself to speak;

For 'tis no enterprise to take in jest,
  To sketch the bottom of all the universe,
  Nor for a tongue that cries Mamma and Babbo.

But may those Ladies help this verse of mine,
  Who helped Amphion in enclosing Thebes,
  That from the fact the word be not diverse.

O rabble ill-begotten above all,
  Who're in the place to speak of which is hard,
  'Twere better ye had here been sheep or goats!

When we were down within the darksome well,
  Beneath the giant's feet, but lower far,
  And I was scanning still the lofty wall,

I heard it said to me: "Look how thou steppest!
  Take heed thou do not trample with thy feet
  The heads of the tired, miserable brothers!"

Whereat I turned me round, and saw before me
  And underfoot a lake, that from the frost
  The semblance had of glass, and not of water.

So thick a veil ne'er made upon its current
  In winter-time Danube in Austria,
  Nor there beneath the frigid sky the Don,

As there was here; so that if Tambernich
  Had fallen upon it, or Pietrapana,
  E'en at the edge 'twould not have given a creak.

And as to croak the frog doth place himself
  With muzzle out of water,--when is dreaming
  Of gleaning oftentimes the peasant-girl,--

Livid, as far down as where shame appears,
  Were the disconsolate shades within the ice,
  Setting their teeth unto the note of storks.

Each one his countenance held downward bent;
  From mouth the cold, from eyes the doleful heart
  Among them witness of itself procures.

When round about me somewhat I had looked,
  I downward turned me, and saw two so close,
  The hair upon their heads together mingled.

"Ye who so strain your breasts together, tell me,"
  I said, "who are you;" and they bent their necks,
  And when to me their faces they had lifted,

Their eyes, which first were only moist within,
  Gushed o'er the eyelids, and the frost congealed
  The tears between, and locked them up again.

Clamp never bound together wood with wood
  So strongly; whereat they, like two he-goats,
  Butted together, so much wrath o'ercame them.

And one, who had by reason of the cold
  Lost both his ears, still with his visage downward,
  Said: "Why dost thou so mirror thyself in us?

If thou desire to know who these two are,
  The valley whence Bisenzio descends
  Belonged to them and to their father Albert.

They from one body came, and all Caina
  Thou shalt search through, and shalt not find a shade
  More worthy to be fixed in gelatine;

Not he in whom were broken breast and shadow
  At one and the same blow by Arthur's hand;
  Focaccia not; not he who me encumbers

So with his head I see no farther forward,
  And bore the name of Sassol Mascheroni;
  Well knowest thou who he was, if thou art Tuscan.

And that thou put me not to further speech,
  Know that I Camicion de' Pazzi was,
  And wait Carlino to exonerate me."

Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
  Purple with cold; whence o'er me comes a shudder,
  And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.

And while we were advancing tow'rds the middle,
  Where everything of weight unites together,
  And I was shivering in the eternal shade,

Whether 'twere will, or destiny, or chance,
  I know not; but in walking 'mong the heads
  I struck my foot hard in the face of one.

Weeping he growled: "Why dost thou trample me?
  Unless thou comest to increase the vengeance
  of Montaperti, why dost thou molest me?"

And I: "My Master, now wait here for me,
  That I through him may issue from a doubt;
  Then thou mayst hurry me, as thou shalt wish."

The Leader stopped; and to that one I said
  Who was blaspheming vehemently still:
  "Who art thou, that thus reprehendest others?"

"Now who art thou, that goest through Antenora
  Smiting," replied he, "other people's cheeks,
  So that, if thou wert living, 'twere too much?"

"Living I am, and dear to thee it may be,"
  Was my response, "if thou demandest fame,
  That 'mid the other notes thy name I place."

And he to me: "For the reverse I long;
  Take thyself hence, and give me no more trouble;
  For ill thou knowest to flatter in this hollow."

Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him,
  And said: "It must needs be thou name thyself,
  Or not a hair remain upon thee here."

Whence he to me: "Though thou strip off my hair,
  I will not tell thee who I am, nor show thee,
  If on my head a thousand times thou fall."

I had his hair in hand already twisted,
  And more than one shock of it had pulled out,
  He barking, with his eyes held firmly down,

When cried another: "What doth ail thee, Bocca?
  Is't not enough to clatter with thy jaws,
  But thou must bark? what devil touches thee?"

"Now," said I, "I care not to have thee speak,
  Accursed traitor; for unto thy shame
  I will report of thee veracious news."

"Begone," replied he, "and tell what thou wilt,
  But be not silent, if thou issue hence,
  Of him who had just now his tongue so prompt;

He weepeth here the silver of the French;
  'I saw,' thus canst thou phrase it, 'him of Duera
  There where the sinners stand out in the cold.'

If thou shouldst questioned be who else was there,
  Thou hast beside thee him of Beccaria,
  Of whom the gorget Florence slit asunder;

Gianni del Soldanier, I think, may be
  Yonder with Ganellon, and Tebaldello
  Who oped Faenza when the people slep."

Already we had gone away from him,
  When I beheld two frozen in one hole,
  So that one head a hood was to the other;

And even as bread through hunger is devoured,
  The uppermost on the other set his teeth,
  There where the brain is to the nape united.

Not in another fashion Tydeus gnawed
  The temples of Menalippus in disdain,
  Than that one did the skull and the other things.

"O thou, who showest by such bestial sign
  Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating,
  Tell me the wherefore," said I, "with this compact,

That if thou rightfully of him complain,
  In knowing who ye are, and his transgression,
  I in the world above repay thee for it,

If that wherewith I speak be not dried up."

Cary Translation


COULD I command rough rhimes and hoarse, to suit
That hole of sorrow, o'er which ev'ry rock
His firm abutment rears, then might the vein
Of fancy rise full springing: but not mine
Such measures, and with falt'ring awe I touch
The mighty theme; for to describe the depth
Of all the universe, is no emprize
To jest with, and demands a tongue not us'd
To infant babbling. But let them assist
My song, the tuneful maidens, by whose aid
Amphion wall'd in Thebes, so with the truth
My speech shall best accord. Oh ill-starr'd folk,
Beyond all others wretched! who abide
In such a mansion, as scarce thought finds words
To speak of, better had ye here on earth
Been flocks or mountain goats. As down we stood
In the dark pit beneath the giants' feet,
But lower far than they, and I did gaze
Still on the lofty battlement, a voice
Bespoke me thus: "Look how thou walkest. Take
Good heed, thy soles do tread not on the heads
Of thy poor brethren." Thereupon I turn'd,
And saw before and underneath my feet
A lake, whose frozen surface liker seem'd
To glass than water. Not so thick a veil
In winter e'er hath Austrian Danube spread
O'er his still course, nor Tanais far remote
Under the chilling sky. Roll'd o'er that mass
Had Tabernich or Pietrapana fall'n,

Not e'en its rim had creak'd. As peeps the frog
Croaking above the wave, what time in dreams
The village gleaner oft pursues her toil,
So, to where modest shame appears, thus low
Blue pinch'd and shrin'd in ice the spirits stood,
Moving their teeth in shrill note like the stork.
His face each downward held; their mouth the cold,
Their eyes express'd the dolour of their heart.

A space I look'd around, then at my feet
Saw two so strictly join'd, that of their head
The very hairs were mingled. "Tell me ye,
Whose bosoms thus together press," said I,
"Who are ye?" At that sound their necks they bent,
And when their looks were lifted up to me,
Straightway their eyes, before all moist within,
Distill'd upon their lips, and the frost bound
The tears betwixt those orbs and held them there.
Plank unto plank hath never cramp clos'd up
So stoutly. Whence like two enraged goats
They clash'd together; them such fury seiz'd.

And one, from whom the cold both ears had reft,
Exclaim'd, still looking downward: "Why on us
Dost speculate so long? If thou wouldst know
Who are these two, the valley, whence his wave
Bisenzio slopes, did for its master own
Their sire Alberto, and next him themselves.
They from one body issued; and throughout
Caina thou mayst search, nor find a shade
More worthy in congealment to be fix'd,
Not him, whose breast and shadow Arthur's land
At that one blow dissever'd, not Focaccia,
No not this spirit, whose o'erjutting head
Obstructs my onward view: he bore the name
Of Mascheroni: Tuscan if thou be,
Well knowest who he was: and to cut short
All further question, in my form behold
What once was Camiccione. I await
Carlino here my kinsman, whose deep guilt
Shall wash out mine." A thousand visages
Then mark'd I, which the keen and eager cold
Had shap'd into a doggish grin; whence creeps
A shiv'ring horror o'er me, at the thought
Of those frore shallows. While we journey'd on
Toward the middle, at whose point unites
All heavy substance, and I trembling went
Through that eternal chillness, I know not
If will it were or destiny, or chance,
But, passing 'midst the heads, my foot did strike
With violent blow against the face of one.

"Wherefore dost bruise me?" weeping, he exclaim'd,
"Unless thy errand be some fresh revenge
For Montaperto, wherefore troublest me?"

I thus: "Instructor, now await me here,
That I through him may rid me of my doubt.
Thenceforth what haste thou wilt." The teacher paus'd,
And to that shade I spake, who bitterly
Still curs'd me in his wrath. "What art thou, speak,
That railest thus on others?" He replied:
"Now who art thou, that smiting others' cheeks
Through Antenora roamest, with such force
As were past suff'rance, wert thou living still?"

"And I am living, to thy joy perchance,"
Was my reply, "if fame be dear to thee,
That with the rest I may thy name enrol."

"The contrary of what I covet most,"
Said he, "thou tender'st: hence; nor vex me more.
Ill knowest thou to flatter in this vale."

Then seizing on his hinder scalp, I cried:
"Name thee, or not a hair shall tarry here."

"Rend all away," he answer'd, "yet for that
I will not tell nor show thee who I am,
Though at my head thou pluck a thousand times."

Now I had grasp'd his tresses, and stript off
More than one tuft, he barking, with his eyes
Drawn in and downward, when another cried,
"What ails thee, Bocca? Sound not loud enough
Thy chatt'ring teeth, but thou must bark outright?
What devil wrings thee?"--"Now," said I, "be dumb,
Accursed traitor! to thy shame of thee
True tidings will I bear."--"Off," he replied,
"Tell what thou list; but as thou escape from hence
To speak of him whose tongue hath been so glib,
Forget not: here he wails the Frenchman's gold.
'Him of Duera,' thou canst say, 'I mark'd,
Where the starv'd sinners pine.' If thou be ask'd
What other shade was with them, at thy side
Is Beccaria, whose red gorge distain'd
The biting axe of Florence. Farther on,
If I misdeem not, Soldanieri bides,
With Ganellon, and Tribaldello, him
Who op'd Faenza when the people slept."

We now had left him, passing on our way,
When I beheld two spirits by the ice
Pent in one hollow, that the head of one
Was cowl unto the other; and as bread
Is raven'd up through hunger, th' uppermost
Did so apply his fangs to th' other's brain,
Where the spine joins it. Not more furiously
On Menalippus' temples Tydeus gnaw'd,
Than on that skull and on its garbage he.

"O thou who show'st so beastly sign of hate
'Gainst him thou prey'st on, let me hear," said I
"The cause, on such condition, that if right
Warrant thy grievance, knowing who ye are,
And what the colour of his sinning was,
I may repay thee in the world above,
If that, wherewith I speak be moist so long."

Norton Translation

CANTO XXXII. Ninth Circle: traitors. First ring: Caina.--Counts
of Mangona.--Camicion de' Pazzi.--Second ring: Antenora.--Bocca
degli Abati.--Buoso da Duera.--Count Ugolino.

If I had rhymes both harsh and raucous, such as would befit the
dismal hole on which thrust[1] all the other rocks, I would
press out the juice of my conception more fully; but since I have
them not, not without fear I bring myself to speak; for to
describe the bottom of the whole universe is no enterprise to
take up in jest, nor a tongue that cries mamma or babbo. But
may those Dames aid my verse who aided Amphion to close in
Thebes; so that from the fact the speech be not diverse.

[1] Rest their weight.

O populace miscreant above all, that art in the place whereof to
speak is hard, better had ye been here[1] or sheep or goats!

[1] On earth.

When we were down in the dark abyss beneath the feet of the
giant, but far lower, and I was gazing still at the high wall, I
heard say to me, "Beware how thou steppest; take heed thou
trample not with thy soles the heads of the wretched weary
brethren." Whereat I turned, and saw before me, and under my
feet, a lake which through frost had semblance of glass and not
of water.

The Danube in Austria makes not for its current so thick a veil
in winter, nor the Don yonder under the cold sky, as there was
here; for if Tambernich [1] had fallen thereupon, or
Pietrapana,[2] it would not even at the edge have given a creak.
And as to croak the frog lies with muzzle out of the water, what
time[3] oft dreams the peasant girl of gleaning, so, livid up to
where shame appears,[4] were the woeful shades within the ice,
setting their teeth to the note of the stork.[5] Every one held
his face turned downward; from the mouth the cold, and from the
eyes the sad heart compels witness of itself among them.

[1] A mountain, the locality of which is unknown.

[2] One of the Toscan Apennines.

[3] In summer.

[4] Up to the face.

[5] Chattering with cold.

When I had looked round awhile, I turned to my feet, and saw two
so close that they had the hair of their heads mixed together.
"Tell me, ye who so press tight your breasts," said I, "who are
ye?" And they bent their necks, and after they had raised their
faces to rue, their eyes, which before were moist only within,
gushed up through the lids, and the frost bound the tears between
them, and locked them up again. Clamp never girt board to board
so strongly; wherefore they like two he goats butted together,
such anger overcame them.

And one who had lost both his ears through the cold, still with
his face downward, said to me, "Why dost thou so mirror thyself
on us? If thou wouldst know who are these two, the valley whence
the Bisenzio descends belonged to their father Albert, and to
them.[1] From one body they issued, and all Caina[2] thou mayst
search, and thou wilt not find shade more worthy to be fixed in
ice; not he whose breast and shadow were broken by one and the
same blow by the hand of Arthur;[3] not Focaccia;[4] not he who
encumbers me with his head, so that I cannot see beyond, and was
named Sassol Mascheroni:[5] if thou art Tuscan, well knowest thou
now who he was. And that thou mayst not put me to more speech,
know that I was Camicion de' Pazzi,[6] and I await Carlino that
he may exonerate me."

[1] They were of the Alberti, counts of Mangona, in Tuscany, and
had killed each other.

[2] The first division of this ninth and lowest circle of Hell.

[3] Mordred, the traitorous son of Arthur.

[4] From the crimes of Focaccia, a member of the great
Cancellieri family of Pistoia, began the feud of the Black and
the White factions, which long raged in Pistoia and in Florence.

[5] A Florentine who murdered his nephew for an inheritance.

[6] A murderer of one of his kinsmen, whose crime was surpassed
by that of Carlino de' Pazzi, who, in 1302, betrayed a band of
the Florentine exiles who had taken refuge in a stronghold of his
in Valdarno.

Then I saw a thousand faces made currish by the cold, whence
shuddering comes to me, and will always come, at frozen pools.

And while we were going toward the centre[1] to which tends every
weight, and I was trembling in the eternal shade, whether it was
will or destiny, or fortune I know not, but, walking among the
heads, I struck my foot hard in the face of one. Wailing he cried
out to me, "Why dost thou trample me? If thou comest not to
increase the vengeance of Mont' Aperti, why dost thou molest me?"
And I, "My Master, now wait here for me, so that I may free me
from a doubt by means of this one, then thou shalt make me hasten
as much as thou wilt." The Leader stopped, and I said to that
shade who was bitterly blaspheming still, "Who art thou that thus
railest at another?" "Now thou, who art thou, that goest through
the Antenora,"[2] he answered, "smiting the cheeks of others, so
that if thou wert alive, it would be too much?" "Alive I am, and
it may be dear to thee," was my reply, "if thou demandest fame,
that I should set thy name amid the other notes." And he to me,
"For the contrary do I long; take thyself hence, and give me no
more trouble, for ill thou knowest to flatter on this plain."
Then I took him by the hair of the crown, and said, "It shall
needs be that thou name thyself, or that not a hair remain upon
thee here." Whereon he to me, "Though thou strip me of hair, I
will not tell thee who I am, nor will I show it to thee if a
thousand times thou fallest on my head."

[1] The centre of the earth.

[2] The second division of the ninth circle; so named after the
Trojan who, though of good repute in Homer, was charged by a
later tradition with having betrayed Troy.

I already had his hair twisted in my hand, and had pulled out
more than one shock, he barking, with his eyes kept close down,
when another cried out, "What ails thee, Bocca?[1] Is it not
enough for thee to make music with thy jaws, but thou must bark?
What devil has hold of thee?" "Now," said I, "I would not have
thee speak, accursed traitor, for to thy shame will I carry true
news of thee." "Begone," he answered, "and relate what thou wilt,
but be not silent, if from here within thou goest forth, of him
who now had his tongue so ready. He weeps here the money of the
French; I saw, thou canst say, him of Duera,[2] there where the
sinners stand cooling. Shouldst thou be asked who else was there,
thou hast at thy side that Beccheria [3] whose gorget Florence
cut. Gianni del Soldanier [4] I think is farther on with
Ganellon[5] and Tribaldello,[6] who opened Faenza when it
was sleeping."

[1] Bocca degli Abati, the most noted of Florentine traitors, who
in the heat of the battle of Mont' Aperti, in 1260, cut off the
hand of the standard-bearer of the cavalry, so that the standard
fell, and the Guelphs of Florence, disheartened thereby, were put
to rout with frightful slaughter.

[2] Buoso da Duera of Cremona, who, for a bribe, let pass near
Parma, without resistance, the cavalry of Charles of Anjou, led
by Gui de Montfort to the conquest of Naples in 1265.

[3] Tesauro de' Beccheria, Abbot of Vallombrosa, and Papal
Legato, beheaded by the Florentines in 1258, because of his
treacherous dealings with the exiled Ghibellines.

[4] A Ghibelline leader, who, after the defeat of Manfred in
1266, plotted against his own party.

[5] Ganellon, the traitor who brought about the defeat at

[6] He betrayed Faenza to the French, in 1282.

We had now parted from him when I saw two frozen in one hole, so
that the head of one was a hood for the other. And as bread is
devoured in hunger, so the uppermost one set his teeth upon the
other where the brain joins with the nape. Not otherwise Tydeus
gnawed for spite the temples of Menalippus than this one did the
skull and the other parts. "O thou! that by so bestial a sign
showest hatred against him whom thou dost eat, tell me the
wherefore," said I, "with this compact, that if thou rightfully
of him complainest, I, knowing who ye are, and his sin, may yet
recompense thee for it in the world above, if that with which I
speak be not dried up."

Browse the cantos of the Inferno:

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34]