Side by Side Translations of Dante's Inferno - Canto 6

Longfellow Translation

Inferno: Canto VI

At the return of consciousness, that closed
  Before the pity of those two relations,
  Which utterly with sadness had confused me,

New torments I behold, and new tormented
  Around me, whichsoever way I move,
  And whichsoever way I turn, and gaze.

In the third circle am I of the rain
  Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy;
  Its law and quality are never new.

Huge hail, and water sombre-hued, and snow,
  Athwart the tenebrous air pour down amain;
  Noisome the earth is, that receiveth this.

Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,
  With his three gullets like a dog is barking
  Over the people that are there submerged.

Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black,
  And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;
  He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them.

Howl the rain maketh them like unto dogs;
  One side they make a shelter for the other;
  Oft turn themselves the wretched reprobates.

When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm!
   His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusks;
   Not a limb had he that was motionless.

And my Conductor, with his spans extended,
  Took of the earth, and with his fists well filled,
  He threw it into those rapacious gullets.

Such as that dog is, who by barking craves,
  And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws,
  For to devour it he but thinks and struggles,

The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed
  Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders
  Over the souls that they would fain be deaf.

We passed across the shadows, which subdues
  The heavy rain-storm, and we placed our feet
  Upon their vanity that person seems.

They all were lying prone upon the earth,
  Excepting one, who sat upright as soon
  As he beheld us passing on before him.

"O thou that art conducted through this Hell,"
  He said to me, "recall me, if thou canst;
  Thyself wast made before I was unmade."

And I to him: "The anguish which thou hast
  Perhaps doth draw thee out of my remembrance,
  So that it seems not I have ever seen thee.

But tell me who thou art, that in so doleful
  A place art put, and in such punishment,
  If some are greater, none is so displeasing."

And he to me: "Thy city, which is full
  Of envy so that now the sack runs over,
  Held me within it in the life serene.

You citizens were wont to call me Ciacco;
  For the pernicious sin of gluttony
  I, as thou seest, am battered by this rain.

And I, sad soul, am not the only one,
  For all these suffer the like penalty
  For the like sin;" and word no more spake he.

I answered him: "Ciacco, thy wretchedness
  Weighs on me so that it to weep invites me;
  But tell me, if thou knowest, to what shall come

The citizens of the divided city;
  If any there be just; and the occasion
  Tell me why so much discord has assailed it."

And he to me: "They, after long contention,
  Will come to bloodshed; and the rustic party
  Will drive the other out with much offence.

Then afterwards behoves it this one fall
  Within three suns, and rise again the other
  By force of him who now is on the coast.

High will it hold its forehead a long while,
  Keeping the other under heavy burdens,
  Howe'er it weeps thereat and is indignant.

The just are two, and are not understood there;
  Envy and Arrogance and Avarice
  Are the three sparks that have all hearts enkindled."

Here ended he his tearful utterance;
  And I to him: "I wish thee still to teach me,
  And make a gift to me of further speech.

Farinata and Tegghiaio, once so worthy,
  Jacopo Rusticucci, Arrigo, and Mosca,
  And others who on good deeds set their thoughts,

Say where they are, and cause that I may know them;
  For great desire constraineth me to learn
  If Heaven doth sweeten them, or Hell envenom."

And he: "They are among the blacker souls;
  A different sin downweighs them to the bottom;
  If thou so far descendest, thou canst see them.

But when thou art again in the sweet world,
  I pray thee to the mind of others bring me;
  No more I tell thee and no more I answer."

Then his straightforward eyes he turned askance,
  Eyed me a little, and then bowed his head;
  He fell therewith prone like the other blind.

And the Guide said to me: "He wakes no more
  This side the sound of the angelic trumpet;
  When shall approach the hostile Potentate,

Each one shall find again his dismal tomb,
  Shall reassume his flesh and his own figure,
  Shall hear what through eternity re-echoes."

So we passed onward o'er the filthy mixture
  Of shadows and of rain with footsteps slow,
  Touching a little on the future life.

Wherefore I said: "Master, these torments here,
  Will they increase after the mighty sentence,
  Or lesser be, or will they be as burning?"

And he to me: "Return unto thy science,
  Which wills, that as the thing more perfect is,
  The more it feels of pleasure and of pain.

Albeit that this people maledict
  To true perfection never can attain,
  Hereafter more than now they look to be."

Round in a circle by that road we went,
  Speaking much more, which I do not repeat;
  We came unto the point where the descent is;

There we found Plutus the great enemy.

Cary Translation


MY sense reviving, that erewhile had droop'd
With pity for the kindred shades, whence grief
O'ercame me wholly, straight around I see
New torments, new tormented souls, which way
Soe'er I move, or turn, or bend my sight.
In the third circle I arrive, of show'rs
Ceaseless, accursed, heavy, and cold, unchang'd
For ever, both in kind and in degree.
Large hail, discolour'd water, sleety flaw
Through the dun midnight air stream'd down amain:
Stank all the land whereon that tempest fell.

Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange,
Through his wide threefold throat barks as a dog
Over the multitude immers'd beneath.
His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard,
His belly large, and claw'd the hands, with which
He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs
Piecemeal disparts. Howling there spread, as curs,
Under the rainy deluge, with one side
The other screening, oft they roll them round,
A wretched, godless crew. When that great worm
Descried us, savage Cerberus, he op'd
His jaws, and the fangs show'd us; not a limb
Of him but trembled. Then my guide, his palms
Expanding on the ground, thence filled with earth
Rais'd them, and cast it in his ravenous maw.

E'en as a dog, that yelling bays for food
His keeper, when the morsel comes, lets fall
His fury, bent alone with eager haste
To swallow it; so dropp'd the loathsome cheeks
Of demon Cerberus, who thund'ring stuns
The spirits, that they for deafness wish in vain.

We, o'er the shades thrown prostrate by the brunt
Of the heavy tempest passing, set our feet
Upon their emptiness, that substance seem'd.

They all along the earth extended lay
Save one, that sudden rais'd himself to sit,
Soon as that way he saw us pass. "O thou!"
He cried, "who through the infernal shades art led,
Own, if again thou know'st me. Thou wast fram'd
Or ere my frame was broken." I replied:
"The anguish thou endur'st perchance so takes
Thy form from my remembrance, that it seems
As if I saw thee never. But inform
Me who thou art, that in a place so sad
Art set, and in such torment, that although
Other be greater, more disgustful none
Can be imagin'd." He in answer thus:

"Thy city heap'd with envy to the brim,
Ay that the measure overflows its bounds,
Held me in brighter days. Ye citizens
Were wont to name me Ciacco. For the sin
Of glutt'ny, damned vice, beneath this rain,
E'en as thou see'st, I with fatigue am worn;
Nor I sole spirit in this woe: all these
Have by like crime incurr'd like punishment."

No more he said, and I my speech resum'd:
"Ciacco! thy dire affliction grieves me much,
Even to tears. But tell me, if thou know'st,
What shall at length befall the citizens
Of the divided city; whether any just one
Inhabit there: and tell me of the cause,
Whence jarring discord hath assail'd it thus?"

He then: "After long striving they will come
To blood; and the wild party from the woods
Will chase the other with much injury forth.
Then it behoves, that this must fall, within
Three solar circles; and the other rise
By borrow'd force of one, who under shore
Now rests. It shall a long space hold aloof
Its forehead, keeping under heavy weight
The other oppress'd, indignant at the load,
And grieving sore. The just are two in number,
But they neglected. Av'rice, envy, pride,
Three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all
On fire." Here ceas'd the lamentable sound;
And I continu'd thus: "Still would I learn
More from thee, farther parley still entreat.
Of Farinata and Tegghiaio say,
They who so well deserv'd, of Giacopo,
Arrigo, Mosca, and the rest, who bent
Their minds on working good. Oh! tell me where
They bide, and to their knowledge let me come.
For I am press'd with keen desire to hear,
If heaven's sweet cup or poisonous drug of hell
Be to their lip assign'd." He answer'd straight:
"These are yet blacker spirits. Various crimes
Have sunk them deeper in the dark abyss.
If thou so far descendest, thou mayst see them.
But to the pleasant world when thou return'st,
Of me make mention, I entreat thee, there.
No more I tell thee, answer thee no more."

This said, his fixed eyes he turn'd askance,
A little ey'd me, then bent down his head,
And 'midst his blind companions with it fell.

When thus my guide: "No more his bed he leaves,
Ere the last angel-trumpet blow. The Power
Adverse to these shall then in glory come,
Each one forthwith to his sad tomb repair,
Resume his fleshly vesture and his form,
And hear the eternal doom re-echoing rend
The vault." So pass'd we through that mixture foul
Of spirits and rain, with tardy steps; meanwhile
Touching, though slightly, on the life to come.
For thus I question'd: "Shall these tortures, Sir!
When the great sentence passes, be increas'd,
Or mitigated, or as now severe?"

He then: "Consult thy knowledge; that decides
That as each thing to more perfection grows,
It feels more sensibly both good and pain.
Though ne'er to true perfection may arrive
This race accurs'd, yet nearer then than now
They shall approach it." Compassing that path
Circuitous we journeyed, and discourse
Much more than I relate between us pass'd:
Till at the point, where the steps led below,
Arriv'd, there Plutus, the great foe, we found.

Norton Translation

CANTO VI. The Third Circle, that of the Gluttonous.--Cerberus.--

When the mind returned, which closed itself before the pity of
these two kinsfolk, that had all confounded me with sadness, new
torments and new tormented souls I see around me wherever I move,
and howsoever I turn, and wherever I gaze.

I am in the third circle, that of the rain eternal, accursed,
cold, and heavy. Its rule and quality are never new. Coarse hail,
and foul water and snow pour down through the tenebrous air; the
earth that receives them stinks. Cerberus, a beast cruel and
monstrous, with three throats barks doglike above the people that
are here submerged. He has vermilion eyes, and a greasy and black
beard, and a big belly, and hands armed with claws: he tears the
spirits, flays them, and rends them. The rain makes them howl
like dogs; of one of their sides they make a screen for the
other; the profane wretches often turn themselves.

When Cerberus, the great worm, observed us he opened his mouths,
and showed his fangs to us; not a limb had he that he kept quiet.
And my Leader opened wide his hands, took some earth, and with
full fists threw it into the ravenous gullets. As the dog that
barking craves, and becomes quiet when he bites his food, and is
intent and fights only to devour it, such became those filthy
faces of the demon Cerberus, who so thunders at the souls that
they would fain be deaf.

We were passing over the shades whom the heavy rain subdues, and
were setting our feet upon their vain show that seems a body.
They all of them lay upon the ground, except one who raised
himself to sit, quickly as he saw us passing before him. "O thou
who art led through this Hell," he said to me, "recognize me, if
thou canst; thou wast made before I was unmade." And I to him,
"The anguish which thou hast perchance withdraws thee from my
memory, so that it seems not that I ever saw thee. But tell me
who thou art, that in a place so woeful art set, and with such a
punishment, that if any other is greater none is so displeasing."
And he to me, "Thy city which is so full of envy, that already
the sack runs over, held me in it, in the serene life. You
citizens called me Ciacco; [1] for the damnable sin of gluttony,
as thou seest, I am broken by the rain. And I, wretched soul, am
not alone, for all these endure like punishment, for like sin,"
and more he said not. I answered him, "Ciacco, thy trouble so
weighs upon me, that it invites me to weeping; but tell me, if
thou canst, to what will come the citizens of the divided city;
if any one in it is just; and tell me the reason why such great
discord has assailed it."

[1] Ciacco, in popular speech, signifies a hog.

And he to me, "After long contention they will come to blood, and
the savage party will chase out the other with great injury.
Thereafter within three suns it behoves this to fall, and the
other to surmount through the force of one who even now is
tacking. It will hold high its front long time, keeping the other
under heavy burdens, however it may lament and be shamed thereat.
Two men are just, but there they are not heeded; Pride, Envy,
Avarice are the three sparks that have inflamed their hearts."[1]

Here he set end unto the lamentable sound.

[1] This prophecy relates to the dissensions and violence of the
parties of the Whites and the Blacks by which Florence was rent.
The "savage party" was that of the Whites, who were mainly
Ghibellines. The "one who even now is tacking" was the Pope,
Boniface VIII., who was playing fast and loose with both. Who the
"two just men" were is unknown.

And I to him, "Still I would that thou teach me, and that of more
speech thou make a gift to me. Farinata and the Tegghiaio who
were so worthy, Jacopo Rusticucci, Arrigo, and the Mosca, and the
rest who set their minds on well-doing, tell me where they are,
and cause that I may know them, for great desire constrains me to
learn if Heaven sweeten them, or Hell envenom.

And he, "They are among the blacker souls: a different sin weighs
them down to the bottom; if thou so far descendest, thou canst
see them. But when thou shalt be in the sweet world I pray thee
that thou bring me to the memory of others. More I say not to
thee, and more I answer thee not." His straight eyes he twisted
then awry, looked at me a little, and then bent his head, and
fell with it level with the other blind.

And the Leader said to me, "He wakes no more this side the sound
of the angelic trump. When the hostile Sovereign shall come, each
one will find again his dismal tomb, will take again his flesh
and his shape, will hear that which through eternity reechoes."

Thus we passed along with slow steps through the foul mixture of
the shades and of the rain, touching a little on the future life.
Wherefore I said, "Master, these torments will they increase
after the great sentence, or will they become less, or will they
be just as burning?" And he to me, "Return to thy science, which
declares that the more perfect a thing is the more it feels the
good, and so the pain. Though this accursed people never can
attain to true perfection, it expects thereafter to be more than

We took a circling course along that road, speaking far more than
I repeat; and came to the point where the descent is. Here we
found Pluto,[1] the great enemy.

[1] Pluto appears here not as Hades, the god of the lower world,
but in his character as the giver of wealth.

Browse the cantos of the Inferno:

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