Longfellow Translation

Inferno: Canto XXXIII

His mouth uplifted from his grim repast,
  That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
  Of the same head that he behind had wasted.

Then he began: "Thou wilt that I renew
  The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already
  To think of only, ere I speak of it;

But if my words be seed that may bear fruit
  Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
  Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.

I know not who thou art, nor by what mode
  Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine
  Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.

Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino,
  And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop;
  Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbour.

That, by effect of his malicious thoughts,
  Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
  And after put to death, I need not say;

 But ne'ertheless what thou canst not have heard,
  That is to say, how cruel was my death,
  Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.

A narrow perforation in the mew,
  Which bears because of me the title of Famine,
  And in which others still must be locked up,

Had shown me through its opening many moons
  Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
  Which of the future rent for me the veil.

This one appeared to me as lord and master,
  Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
  For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.

With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well trained,
  Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfianchi
  He had sent out before him to the front.

After brief course seemed unto me forespent
  The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes
  It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.

When I before the morrow was awake,
  Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons
  Who with me were, and asking after bread.

Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not,
  Thinking of what my heart foreboded me,
  And weep'st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?

They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh
  At which our food used to be brought to us,
  And through his dream was each one apprehensive;

And I heard locking up the under door
  Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word
  I gazed into the faces of my sons.

I wept not, I within so turned to stone;
  They wept; and darling little Anselm mine
  Said: 'Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?'

Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made
  All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,
  Until another sun rose on the world.

As now a little glimmer made its way
  Into the dolorous prison, and I saw
  Upon four faces my own very aspect,

Both of my hands in agony I bit;
  And, thinking that I did it from desire
  Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,

And said they: 'Father, much less pain 'twill give us
  If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us
  With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.'

I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.
  That day we all were silent, and the next.
  Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?

When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo
  Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,
  Saying, 'My father, why dost thou not help me?'

And there he died; and, as thou seest me,
  I saw the three fall, one by one, between
  The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,

Already blind, to groping over each,
  And three days called them after they were dead;
  Then hunger did what sorrow could not do."

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,
  The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,
  Which, as a dog's, upon the bone were strong.

Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people
  Of the fair land there where the 'Si' doth sound,
  Since slow to punish thee thy neighbours are,

Let the Capraia and Gorgona move,
  And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno
  That every person in thee it may drown!

For if Count Ugolino had the fame
  Of having in thy castles thee betrayed,
  Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons.

Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes!
  Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata,
  And the other two my song doth name above!

We passed still farther onward, where the ice
  Another people ruggedly enswathes,
  Not downward turned, but all of them reversed.

Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
  And grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
  Turns itself inward to increase the anguish;

Because the earliest tears a cluster form,
  And, in the manner of a crystal visor,
  Fill all the cup beneath the eyebrow full.

And notwithstanding that, as in a callus,
  Because of cold all sensibility
  Its station had abandoned in my face,

Still it appeared to me I felt some wind;
  Whence I: "My Master, who sets this in motion?
  Is not below here every vapour quenched?"

Whence he to me: "Full soon shalt thou be where
  Thine eye shall answer make to thee of this,
  Seeing the cause which raineth down the blast."

And one of the wretches of the frozen crust
  Cried out to us: "O souls so merciless
  That the last post is given unto you,

Lift from mine eyes the rigid veils, that I
  May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart
  A little, e'er the weeping recongeal."

Whence I to him: "If thou wouldst have me help thee
  Say who thou wast; and if I free thee not,
  May I go to the bottom of the ice."

Then he replied: "I am Friar Alberigo;
  He am I of the fruit of the bad garden,
  Who here a date am getting for my fig."

"O," said I to him, "now art thou, too, dead?"
  And he to me: "How may my body fare
  Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.

Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea,
  That oftentimes the soul descendeth here
  Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it.

And, that thou mayest more willingly remove
  From off my countenance these glassy tears,
  Know that as soon as any soul betrays

As I have done, his body by a demon
  Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it,
  Until his time has wholly been revolved.

Itself down rushes into such a cistern;
  And still perchance above appears the body
  Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.

This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down;
  It is Ser Branca d' Oria, and many years
  Have passed away since he was thus locked up."

"I think," said I to him, "thou dost deceive me;
  For Branca d' Oria is not dead as yet,
  And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes."

"In moat above," said he, "of Malebranche,
  There where is boiling the tenacious pitch,
  As yet had Michel Zanche not arrived,

When this one left a devil in his stead
  In his own body and one near of kin,
  Who made together with him the betrayal.

But hitherward stretch out thy hand forthwith,
  Open mine eyes;"--and open them I did not,
  And to be rude to him was courtesy.

Ah, Genoese! ye men at variance
  With every virtue, full of every vice
  Wherefore are ye not scattered from the world?

For with the vilest spirit of Romagna
  I found of you one such, who for his deeds
  In soul already in Cocytus bathes,

And still above in body seems alive!

Cary Translation


HIS jaws uplifting from their fell repast,
That sinner wip'd them on the hairs o' th' head,
Which he behind had mangled, then began:
"Thy will obeying, I call up afresh
Sorrow past cure, which but to think of wrings
My heart, or ere I tell on't. But if words,
That I may utter, shall prove seed to bear
Fruit of eternal infamy to him,
The traitor whom I gnaw at, thou at once
Shalt see me speak and weep. Who thou mayst be
I know not, nor how here below art come:
But Florentine thou seemest of a truth,
When I do hear thee. Know I was on earth
Count Ugolino, and th' Archbishop he
Ruggieri. Why I neighbour him so close,
Now list. That through effect of his ill thoughts
In him my trust reposing, I was ta'en
And after murder'd, need is not I tell.
What therefore thou canst not have heard, that is,
How cruel was the murder, shalt thou hear,
And know if he have wrong'd me. A small grate
Within that mew, which for my sake the name
Of famine bears, where others yet must pine,
Already through its opening sev'ral moons
Had shown me, when I slept the evil sleep,
That from the future tore the curtain off.
This one, methought, as master of the sport,
Rode forth to chase the gaunt wolf and his whelps
Unto the mountain, which forbids the sight
Of Lucca to the Pisan. With lean brachs
Inquisitive and keen, before him rang'd
Lanfranchi with Sismondi and Gualandi.
After short course the father and the sons
Seem'd tir'd and lagging, and methought I saw
The sharp tusks gore their sides. When I awoke
Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard
My sons (for they were with me) weep and ask
For bread. Right cruel art thou, if no pang
Thou feel at thinking what my heart foretold;
And if not now, why use thy tears to flow?
Now had they waken'd; and the hour drew near
When they were wont to bring us food; the mind
Of each misgave him through his dream, and I
Heard, at its outlet underneath lock'd up
The' horrible tower: whence uttering not a word
I look'd upon the visage of my sons.
I wept not: so all stone I felt within.
They wept: and one, my little Anslem, cried:
"Thou lookest so! Father what ails thee?" Yet
I shed no tear, nor answer'd all that day
Nor the next night, until another sun
Came out upon the world. When a faint beam
Had to our doleful prison made its way,
And in four countenances I descry'd
The image of my own, on either hand
Through agony I bit, and they who thought
I did it through desire of feeding, rose
O' th' sudden, and cried, 'Father, we should grieve
Far less, if thou wouldst eat of us: thou gav'st
These weeds of miserable flesh we wear,

'And do thou strip them off from us again.'
Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down
My spirit in stillness. That day and the next
We all were silent. Ah, obdurate earth!
Why open'dst not upon us? When we came
To the fourth day, then Geddo at my feet
Outstretch'd did fling him, crying, 'Hast no help
For me, my father!' There he died, and e'en
Plainly as thou seest me, saw I the three
Fall one by one 'twixt the fifth day and sixth:

"Whence I betook me now grown blind to grope
Over them all, and for three days aloud
Call'd on them who were dead. Then fasting got
The mastery of grief." Thus having spoke,

Once more upon the wretched skull his teeth
He fasten'd, like a mastiff's 'gainst the bone
Firm and unyielding. Oh thou Pisa! shame
Of all the people, who their dwelling make
In that fair region, where th' Italian voice
Is heard, since that thy neighbours are so slack
To punish, from their deep foundations rise
Capraia and Gorgona, and dam up
The mouth of Arno, that each soul in thee
May perish in the waters! What if fame
Reported that thy castles were betray'd
By Ugolino, yet no right hadst thou
To stretch his children on the rack. For them,
Brigata, Ugaccione, and the pair
Of gentle ones, of whom my song hath told,
Their tender years, thou modern Thebes! did make
Uncapable of guilt. Onward we pass'd,
Where others skarf'd in rugged folds of ice
Not on their feet were turn'd, but each revers'd.

There very weeping suffers not to weep;
For at their eyes grief seeking passage finds
Impediment, and rolling inward turns
For increase of sharp anguish: the first tears
Hang cluster'd, and like crystal vizors show,
Under the socket brimming all the cup.

Now though the cold had from my face dislodg'd
Each feeling, as 't were callous, yet me seem'd
Some breath of wind I felt. "Whence cometh this,"
Said I, "my master? Is not here below
All vapour quench'd?"--"'Thou shalt be speedily,"
He answer'd, "where thine eye shall tell thee whence
The cause descrying of this airy shower."

Then cried out one in the chill crust who mourn'd:
"O souls so cruel! that the farthest post
Hath been assign'd you, from this face remove
The harden'd veil, that I may vent the grief
Impregnate at my heart, some little space
Ere it congeal again!" I thus replied:
"Say who thou wast, if thou wouldst have mine aid;
And if I extricate thee not, far down
As to the lowest ice may I descend!"

"The friar Alberigo," answered he,
"Am I, who from the evil garden pluck'd
Its fruitage, and am here repaid, the date
More luscious for my fig."--"Hah!" I exclaim'd,
"Art thou too dead!"--"How in the world aloft
It fareth with my body," answer'd he,
"I am right ignorant. Such privilege
Hath Ptolomea, that ofttimes the soul
Drops hither, ere by Atropos divorc'd.
And that thou mayst wipe out more willingly
The glazed tear-drops that o'erlay mine eyes,
Know that the soul, that moment she betrays,
As I did, yields her body to a fiend
Who after moves and governs it at will,
Till all its time be rounded; headlong she
Falls to this cistern. And perchance above
Doth yet appear the body of a ghost,
Who here behind me winters. Him thou know'st,
If thou but newly art arriv'd below.
The years are many that have pass'd away,
Since to this fastness Branca Doria came."

"Now," answer'd I, "methinks thou mockest me,
For Branca Doria never yet hath died,
But doth all natural functions of a man,
Eats, drinks, and sleeps, and putteth raiment on."

He thus: "Not yet unto that upper foss
By th' evil talons guarded, where the pitch
Tenacious boils, had Michael Zanche reach'd,
When this one left a demon in his stead
In his own body, and of one his kin,
Who with him treachery wrought. But now put forth
Thy hand, and ope mine eyes." I op'd them not.
Ill manners were best courtesy to him.

Ah Genoese! men perverse in every way,
With every foulness stain'd, why from the earth
Are ye not cancel'd? Such an one of yours
I with Romagna's darkest spirit found,
As for his doings even now in soul
Is in Cocytus plung'd, and yet doth seem
In body still alive upon the earth.

Norton Translation

CANTO XXXIII. Ninth circle: traitors. Second ring:
Antenora.--Count Ugolino.--Third ring Ptolomaea.--Brother
Alberigo. Branca d' Oria.

From his savage repast that sinner raised his mouth, wiping it
with the hair of the head that he had spoiled behind: then he
began, "Thou willest that I renew a desperate grief that
oppresses my heart already only in thinking ere I speak of it.
But, if my words are to be seed that may bear fruit of infamy for
the traitor whom I gnaw, thou shalt see me speak and weep at
once. I know not who thou art, nor by what mode thou art come
down hither, but Florentine thou seemest to me truly when I hear
thee. Thou hast to know that I was the Count Ugolino and he the
Archbishop Ruggieri.[1] Now will I tell thee why I am such a
neighbor. That by the effect of his evil thoughts, I, trusting to
him, was taken and then put to death, there is no need to tell.
But that which thou canst not have heard, namely, how cruel was
my death, thou shalt hear, and shalt know if he hath wronged me.

[1] In July, 1288, Ugolino della Gherardesca, Count of
Donoratico, head of a faction of the Guelphs in Pisa, in order to
deprive Nino of Gallura, head of the opposing faction, of the
lordship of the city, treacherously joined forces with the
Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, head of the Ghibellines, and
drove Nino and his followers from the city. The archbishop
thereupon took advantage of the weakening of the Guelphs and
excited the populace against Ugolino, charging him with having
for a bribe restored to Florence and Lucca some of their towns of
which the Pisans had made themselves masters. He, with his
followers, attacked Count Ugolino in his house, took him
prisoner, with two of his sons and two of his grandsons, and shut
them up in the Tower of the Gualandi, where in the following
March, on the arrival of Count Guido da Montefeltro (see Canto
xvii), as Captain of Pisa, they were starved to death.

"A narrow slit in the mew, which from me has the name of Famine,
and in which others yet must be shut up, had already shown me
through its opening many moons, when I had the bad dream that
rent for me the veil of the future. "This one appeared to me
master and lord, chasing the wolf and his whelps upon the
mountain[1] for which the Pisans cannot see Lucca. With lean,
eager, and trained hounds, Gualandi with Sismondi and with
Lanfranchi[2] he had put before him at the front. After short
course, the father and his sons seemed to me weary, and it seemed
to me I saw their flanks torn by the sharp fangs.

[1] Monte San Giuliano.

[2] Three powerful Ghibelline families of Pisa.

"When I awoke before the morrow, I heard my sons, who were with
me, wailing in their sleep, and asking for bread. Truly thou art
cruel if already thou grievest not, thinking on what my heart
foretold; and if thou weepest not, at what art thou wont to weep?
Now they were awake, and the hour drew near when food was wont to
be brought to us, and because of his dream each one was
apprehensive. And I heard the door below of the horrible tower
locking up; whereat I looked on the faces of my sons without
saying a word. I wept not, I was so turned to stone within. They
wept; and my poor little Anselm said, 'Thou lookest so, father,
what aileth thee?' Yet I did not weep; nor did I answer all that
day, nor the night after, until the next sun came out upon the
world. When a little ray entered the woeful prison, and I
discerned by their four faces my own very aspect, both my hands I
bit for woe; and they, thinking I did it through desire of
eating, of a sudden rose, and said, 'Father, it will be far less
pain to us if thou eat of us; thou didst clothe us with this
wretched flesh, and do thou strip it off.' I quieted me then, not
to make them more sad: that day and the next we all stayed dumb.
Ah, thou hard earth! why didst thou not open? After we had come
to the fourth day, Gaddo threw himself stretched out at my feet,
saying, 'My father, why dost thou not help me?' Here he died:
and, even as thou seest me, I saw the three fall one by one
between the fifth day and the sixth; then I betook me, already
blind, to groping over each, and two days I called them after
they were dead: then fasting had more power than grief."

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted, he seized again
the wretched skull with his teeth, that were strong as a dog's
upon the bone.

Ah Pisa! reproach of the people of the fair country where the si
doth sound,[1] since thy neighbors are slow to punish thee, let
Caprara and Gorgona [2] move and make a hedge for Arno at its
mouth, so that it drown every person in thee; for if Count
Ugolino had repute of having betrayed thee in thy towns, thou
oughtest not to have set his sons on such a cross. Their young
age, thou modern Thebes! made Uguccione and the Brigata innocent,
and the other two that the song names above.

[1] Italy, whose language Dante calls il volgare di ci. (Convito,
i. 10.)

[2] Two little islands not far from the mouth of the Arno, on
whose banks Pisa lies.

We passed onward to where the ice roughly enswathes another folk,
not turned downward, but all upon their backs. Their very weeping
lets them not weep, and the pain that finds a barrier on the eyes
turns inward to increase the anguish; for the first tears form a
block, and like a visor of crystal fill all the cup beneath the

And although, because of the cold, as from a callus, all feeling
had left its abode in my face, it now seemed to me I felt some
wind, wherefore I, "My Master, who moves this? Is not every
vapor[1] quenched here below?" Whereon he to me, "Speedily shalt
thou be where thine eye shall make answer to thee of this,
beholding the cause that rains down the blast."

[1] Wind being supposed to be cansed by the action of the sun on
the vapors of the atmosphere.

And one of the wretches of the cold crust cried out to us, "O
souls so cruel that the last station is given to you, lift from
my eyes the hard veils, so that I may vent the grief that swells
my heart, a little ere the weeping re-congeal!" Wherefore I to
him, "If thou wilt that I relieve thee, tell me who thou art, and
if I rid thee not, may it be mine to go to the bottom of the
ice." He replied then, "I am friar Alberigo;[1] I am he of the
fruits of the bad garden, and here I receive a date for a fig."
[2] "Oh!" said I to him; "art thou now already dead?" And he to
me, "How it may go with my body in the world above I bear no
knowledge. Such vantage hath this Ptolomaea[3] that oftentime the
soul falls hither ere Atropos hath given motion to it.[4] And
that thou may the more willingly scrape the glassy tears from my
face, know that soon as the soul betrays, as I did, its body is
taken from it by a demon, who thereafter governs it until its
time be all revolved. The soul falls headlong into this cistern,
and perchance the body of the shade that here behind me winters
still appears above; thou oughtest to know him if thou comest
down but now. He is Ser Branca d' Oria,[5] and many years have
passed since he was thus shut up." "I think," said I to him,
"that thou deceivest me, for Branca d' Oria is not yet dead, and
he eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes." "In the
ditch of the Malebranche above," he said, "there where the
tenacious pitch is boiling, Michel Zanche had not yet arrived
when this one left in his own stead a devil in his body, and in
that of one of his near kin, who committed the treachery together
with him. But now stretch out hither thy hand; open my eyes for
me." And I opened them not for him, and to be rude to him was

[1] Alberigo de' Manfredi, of Faenza; one of the Jovial Friars
(see Canto xxiii). Having received a blow from one of his
kinsmen, he pretended to forgive it, and invited him and his son
to a feast. Toward the end of the meal he gave a preconcerted
signal by calling out, "Bring the fruit," upon which his
emissaries rushed in and killed the two guests. The "fruit of
Brother Alberigo" became a proverb.

[2] A fig is the cheapest of Tuscan fruits; the imported date is
more costly.

[3] The third ring of ice, named for that Ptolemy of Jericho who
slew his father-in-law, the high-priest Simon, and his sons (1
Maccabees wi. 11-16).

[4] That is, before its life on earth is ended.

[5] Murderer, in 1275, of his father-in-law, Michel Zanche.
Already heard of in the fifth pit (Canto xxii. 88).

Ah Genoese! men strange to all morality and full of all
corruption, why are ye not scattered from the world? For with the
worst spirit of Romagna I found one of you such that for his
deeds in soul he is bathed in Cocytus, and in body he seems still
alive on earth.