Divine Comedy, Longfellow’s Translation, Hell by Dante Alighieri






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For this Project Gutenberg edition the e-text was rechecked. The editor greatly thanks Dian McCarthy for her assistance in proofreading the Paradiso. Also deserving praise are Herbert Fann for programming the text editor “Desktop Tools/Edit” and the late August Dvorak for designing his keyboard layout. Please refer to Project Gutenberg’s e-text listings for other editions or translations of ‘The Divine Comedy.’ For this three part edition of ‘The Divine Comedy’ please refer to the end of the Paradiso for supplemental materials.

Dennis McCarthy, July 1997



  1. The Dark Forest. The Hill of Difficulty. The Panther, the Lion, and the Wolf. Virgil.
  2. The Descent. Dante’s Protest and Virgil’s Appeal. The Intercession of the Three Ladies Benedight.
  3. The Gate of Hell. The Inefficient or Indifferent. Pope Celestine V. The Shores of Acheron. Charon. The Earthquake and the Swoon.
  4. The First Circle, Limbo: Virtuous Pagans and the Unbaptized. The Four Poets, Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. The Noble Castle of Philosophy.
  5. The Second Circle: The Wanton. Minos. The Infernal Hurricane. Francesca da Rimini.
  6. The Third Circle: The Gluttonous. Cerberus. The Eternal Rain. Ciacco. Florence.
  7. The Fourth Circle: The Avaricious and the Prodigal. Plutus. Fortune and her Wheel. The Fifth Circle: The Irascible and the Sullen. Styx.
  8. Phlegyas. Philippo Argenti. The Gate of the City of Dis.
  9. The Furies and Medusa. The Angel. The City of Dis. The Sixth Circle: Heresiarchs.
  10. Farinata and Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti. Discourse on the Knowledge of the Damned.
  11. The Broken Rocks. Pope Anastasius. General Description of the Inferno and its Divisions.
  12. The Minotaur. The Seventh Circle: The Violent. The River Phlegethon. The Violent against their Neighbours. The Centaurs. Tyrants.
  13. The Wood of Thorns. The Harpies. The Violent against themselves. Suicides. Pier della Vigna. Lano and Jacopo da Sant’ Andrea.
  14. The Sand Waste and the Rain of Fire. The Violent against God. Capaneus. The Statue of Time, and the Four Infernal Rivers.
  15. The Violent against Nature. Brunetto Latini.
  16. Guidoguerra, Aldobrandi, and Rusticucci. Cataract of the River of Blood.
  17. Geryon. The Violent against Art. Usurers. Descent into the Abyss of Malebolge.
  18. The Eighth Circle, Malebolge: The Fraudulent and the Malicious. The First Bolgia: Seducers and Panders. Venedico Caccianimico. Jason. The Second Bolgia: Flatterers. Allessio Interminelli. Thais.
  19. The Third Bolgia: Simoniacs. Pope Nicholas III. Dante’s Reproof of corrupt Prelates.
  20. The Fourth Bolgia: Soothsayers. Amphiaraus, Tiresias, Aruns, Manto, Eryphylus, Michael Scott, Guido Bonatti, and Asdente. Virgil reproaches Dante’s Pity. Mantua’s Foundation.
  21. The Fifth Bolgia: Peculators. The Elder of Santa Zita. Malacoda and other Devils.
  22. Ciampolo, Friar Gomita, and Michael Zanche. The Malabranche quarrel.
  23. Escape from the Malabranche. The Sixth Bolgia: Hypocrites. Catalano and Loderingo. Caiaphas.
  24. The Seventh Bolgia: Thieves. Vanni Fucci. Serpents.
  25. Vanni Fucci’s Punishment. Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Puccio Sciancato, Cianfa de’ Donati, and Guercio Cavalcanti.
  26. The Eighth Bolgia: Evil Counsellors. Ulysses and Diomed. Ulysses’ Last Voyage.
  27. Guido da Montefeltro. His deception by Pope Boniface VIII.
  28. The Ninth Bolgia: Schismatics. Mahomet and Ali. Pier da Medicina, Curio, Mosca, and Bertrand de Born.
  29. Geri del Bello. The Tenth Bolgia: Alchemists. Griffolino d’ Arezzo and Capocchino.
  30. Other Falsifiers or Forgers. Gianni Schicchi, Myrrha, Adam of Brescia, Potiphar’s Wife, and Sinon of Troy.
  31. The Giants, Nimrod, Ephialtes, and Antaeus. Descent to Cocytus.
  32. The Ninth Circle: Traitors. The Frozen Lake of Cocytus. First Division, Caina: Traitors to their Kindred. Camicion de’ Pazzi. Second Division, Antenora: Traitors to their Country. Dante questions Bocca degli Abati. Buoso da Duera.
  33. Count Ugolino and the Archbishop Ruggieri. The Death of Count Ugolino’s Sons. Third Division of the Ninth Circle, Ptolomaea: Traitors to their Friends. Friar Alberigo, Branco d’ Oria.
  34. Fourth Division of the Ninth Circle, the Judecca: Traitors to their Lords and Benefactors. Lucifer, Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius. The Chasm of Lethe. The Ascent.
Incipit Comoedia Dantis Alagherii,
Florentini natione, non moribus.

The Divine Comedy
translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(e-text courtesy ILT's Digital Dante Project)


Inferno: Canto I

Midway upon the journey of our life
  I found myself within a forest dark,
  For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
  What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
  Which in the very thought renews the fear.

So bitter is it, death is little more;
  But of the good to treat, which there I found,
  Speak will I of the other things I saw there.

I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
  So full was I of slumber at the moment
  In which I had abandoned the true way.

But after I had reached a mountain's foot,
  At that point where the valley terminated,
  Which had with consternation pierced my heart,

Upward I looked, and I beheld its shoulders,
  Vested already with that planet's rays
  Which leadeth others right by every road.

Then was the fear a little quieted
  That in my heart's lake had endured throughout
  The night, which I had passed so piteously.

And even as he, who, with distressful breath,
  Forth issued from the sea upon the shore,
  Turns to the water perilous and gazes;

So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward,
  Turn itself back to re-behold the pass
  Which never yet a living person left.

After my weary body I had rested,
  The way resumed I on the desert slope,
  So that the firm foot ever was the lower.

And lo! almost where the ascent began,
  A panther light and swift exceedingly,
  Which with a spotted skin was covered o'er!

And never moved she from before my face,
  Nay, rather did impede so much my way,
  That many times I to return had turned.

The time was the beginning of the morning,
  And up the sun was mounting with those stars
  That with him were, what time the Love Divine

At first in motion set those beauteous things;
  So were to me occasion of good hope,
  The variegated skin of that wild beast,

The hour of time, and the delicious season;
  But not so much, that did not give me fear
  A lion's aspect which appeared to me.

He seemed as if against me he were coming
  With head uplifted, and with ravenous hunger,
  So that it seemed the air was afraid of him;

And a she-wolf, that with all hungerings
  Seemed to be laden in her meagreness,
  And many folk has caused to live forlorn!

She brought upon me so much heaviness,
  With the affright that from her aspect came,
  That I the hope relinquished of the height.

And as he is who willingly acquires,
  And the time comes that causes him to lose,
  Who weeps in all his thoughts and is despondent,

E'en such made me that beast withouten peace,
  Which, coming on against me by degrees
  Thrust me back thither where the sun is silent.

While I was rushing downward to the lowland,
  Before mine eyes did one present himself,
  Who seemed from long-continued silence hoarse.

When I beheld him in the desert vast,
  "Have pity on me," unto him I cried,
  "Whiche'er thou art, or shade or real man!"

He answered me: "Not man; man once I was,
  And both my parents were of Lombardy,
  And Mantuans by country both of them.

'Sub Julio' was I born, though it was late,
  And lived at Rome under the good Augustus,
  During the time of false and lying gods.

A poet was I, and I sang that just
  Son of Anchises, who came forth from Troy,
  After that Ilion the superb was burned.

But thou, why goest thou back to such annoyance?
  Why climb'st thou not the Mount Delectable,
  Which is the source and cause of every joy?"

"Now, art thou that Virgilius and that fountain
  Which spreads abroad so wide a river of speech?"
  I made response to him with bashful forehead.

"O, of the other poets honour and light,
  Avail me the long study and great love
  That have impelled me to explore thy volume!

Thou art my master, and my author thou,
  Thou art alone the one from whom I took
  The beautiful style that has done honour to me.

Behold the beast, for which I have turned back;
  Do thou protect me from her, famous Sage,
  For she doth make my veins and pulses tremble."

"Thee it behoves to take another road,"
  Responded he, when he beheld me weeping,
  "If from this savage place thou wouldst escape;

Because this beast, at which thou criest out,
  Suffers not any one to pass her way,
  But so doth harass him, that she destroys him;

And has a nature so malign and ruthless,
  That never doth she glut her greedy will,
  And after food is hungrier than before.

Many the animals with whom she weds,
  And more they shall be still, until the Greyhound
  Comes, who shall make her perish in her pain.

He shall not feed on either earth or pelf,
  But upon wisdom, and on love and virtue;
  'Twixt Feltro and Feltro shall his nation be;

Of that low Italy shall he be the saviour,
  On whose account the maid Camilla died,
  Euryalus, Turnus, Nisus, of their wounds;

Through every city shall he hunt her down,
  Until he shall have driven her back to Hell,
  There from whence envy first did let her loose.

Therefore I think and judge it for thy best
  Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide,
  And lead thee hence through the eternal place,

Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations,
  Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate,
  Who cry out each one for the second death;

And thou shalt see those who contented are
  Within the fire, because they hope to come,
  Whene'er it may be, to the blessed people;

To whom, then, if thou wishest to ascend,
  A soul shall be for that than I more worthy;
  With her at my departure I will leave thee;

Because that Emperor, who reigns above,
  In that I was rebellious to his law,
  Wills that through me none come into his city.

He governs everywhere, and there he reigns;
  There is his city and his lofty throne;
  O happy he whom thereto he elects!"

And I to him: "Poet, I thee entreat,
  By that same God whom thou didst never know,
  So that I may escape this woe and worse,

Thou wouldst conduct me there where thou hast said,
  That I may see the portal of Saint Peter,
  And those thou makest so disconsolate."

Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.

Inferno: Canto II

Day was departing, and the embrowned air
  Released the animals that are on earth
  From their fatigues; and I the only one

Made myself ready to sustain the war,
  Both of the way and likewise of the woe,
  Which memory that errs not shall retrace.

O Muses, O high genius, now assist me!
  O memory, that didst write down what I saw,
  Here thy nobility shall be manifest!

And I began: "Poet, who guidest me,
  Regard my manhood, if it be sufficient,
  Ere to the arduous pass thou dost confide me.

Thou sayest, that of Silvius the parent,
  While yet corruptible, unto the world
  Immortal went, and was there bodily.

But if the adversary of all evil
  Was courteous, thinking of the high effect
  That issue would from him, and who, and what,

To men of intellect unmeet it seems not;
  For he was of great Rome, and of her empire
  In the empyreal heaven as father chosen;

The which and what, wishing to speak the truth,
  Were stablished as the holy place, wherein
  Sits the successor of the greatest Peter.

Upon this journey, whence thou givest him vaunt,
  Things did he hear, which the occasion were
  Both of his victory and the papal mantle.

Thither went afterwards the Chosen Vessel,
  To bring back comfort thence unto that Faith,
  Which of salvation's way is the beginning.

But I, why thither come, or who concedes it?
  I not Aeneas am, I am not Paul,
  Nor I, nor others, think me worthy of it.

Therefore, if I resign myself to come,
  I fear the coming may be ill-advised;
  Thou'rt wise, and knowest better than I speak."

And as he is, who unwills what he willed,
  And by new thoughts doth his intention change,
  So that from his design he quite withdraws,

Such I became, upon that dark hillside,
  Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
  Which was so very prompt in the beginning.

"If I have well thy language understood,"
  Replied that shade of the Magnanimous,
  "Thy soul attainted is with cowardice,

Which many times a man encumbers so,
  It turns him back from honoured enterprise,
  As false sight doth a beast, when he is shy.

That thou mayst free thee from this apprehension,
  I'll tell thee why I came, and what I heard
  At the first moment when I grieved for thee.

Among those was I who are in suspense,
  And a fair, saintly Lady called to me
  In such wise, I besought her to command me.

Her eyes where shining brighter than the Star;
  And she began to say, gentle and low,
  With voice angelical, in her own language:

'O spirit courteous of Mantua,
  Of whom the fame still in the world endures,
  And shall endure, long-lasting as the world;

A friend of mine, and not the friend of fortune,
  Upon the desert slope is so impeded
  Upon his way, that he has turned through terror,

And may, I fear, already be so lost,
  That I too late have risen to his succour,
  From that which I have heard of him in Heaven.

Bestir thee now, and with thy speech ornate,
  And with what needful is for his release,
  Assist him so, that I may be consoled.

Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go;
  I come from there, where I would fain return;
  Love moved me, which compelleth me to speak.

When I shall be in presence of my Lord,
  Full often will I praise thee unto him.'
  Then paused she, and thereafter I began:

'O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whom
  The human race exceedeth all contained
  Within the heaven that has the lesser circles,

So grateful unto me is thy commandment,
  To obey, if 'twere already done, were late;
  No farther need'st thou ope to me thy wish.

But the cause tell me why thou dost not shun
  The here descending down into this centre,
  From the vast place thou burnest to return to.'

'Since thou wouldst fain so inwardly discern,
  Briefly will I relate,' she answered me,
  'Why I am not afraid to enter here.

Of those things only should one be afraid
  Which have the power of doing others harm;
  Of the rest, no; because they are not fearful.

God in his mercy such created me
  That misery of yours attains me not,
  Nor any flame assails me of this burning.

A gentle Lady is in Heaven, who grieves
  At this impediment, to which I send thee,
  So that stern judgment there above is broken.

In her entreaty she besought Lucia,
  And said, "Thy faithful one now stands in need
  Of thee, and unto thee I recommend him."

Lucia, foe of all that cruel is,
  Hastened away, and came unto the place
  Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel.

"Beatrice" said she, "the true praise of God,
  Why succourest thou not him, who loved thee so,
  For thee he issued from the vulgar herd?

Dost thou not hear the pity of his plaint?
  Dost thou not see the death that combats him
  Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt?"

Never were persons in the world so swift
  To work their weal and to escape their woe,
  As I, after such words as these were uttered,

Came hither downward from my blessed seat,
  Confiding in thy dignified discourse,
  Which honours thee, and those who've listened to it.'

After she thus had spoken unto me,
  Weeping, her shining eyes she turned away;
  Whereby she made me swifter in my coming;

And unto thee I came, as she desired;
  I have delivered thee from that wild beast,
  Which barred the beautiful mountain's short ascent.

What is it, then?  Why, why dost thou delay?
  Why is such baseness bedded in thy heart?
  Daring and hardihood why hast thou not,

Seeing that three such Ladies benedight
  Are caring for thee in the court of Heaven,
  And so much good my speech doth promise thee?"

Even as the flowerets, by nocturnal chill,
  Bowed down and closed, when the sun whitens them,
  Uplift themselves all open on their stems;

Such I became with my exhausted strength,
  And such good courage to my heart there coursed,
  That I began, like an intrepid person:

"O she compassionate, who succoured me,
  And courteous thou, who hast obeyed so soon
  The words of truth which she addressed to thee!

Thou hast my heart so with desire disposed
  To the adventure, with these words of thine,
  That to my first intent I have returned.

Now go, for one sole will is in us both,
  Thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Master thou."
  Thus said I to him; and when he had moved,

I entered on the deep and savage way.

Inferno: Canto III

"Through me the way is to the city dolent;
  Through me the way is to eternal dole;
  Through me the way among the people lost.

Justice incited my sublime Creator;
  Created me divine Omnipotence,
  The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

Before me there were no created things,
  Only eterne, and I eternal last.
  All hope abandon, ye who enter in!"

These words in sombre colour I beheld
  Written upon the summit of a gate;
  Whence I: "Their sense is, Master, hard to me!"

And he to me, as one experienced:
  "Here all suspicion needs must be abandoned,
  All cowardice must needs be here extinct.

We to the place have come, where I have told thee
  Thou shalt behold the people dolorous
  Who have foregone the good of intellect."

And after he had laid his hand on mine
  With joyful mien, whence I was comforted,
  He led me in among the secret things.

There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
  Resounded through the air without a star,
  Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.

Languages diverse, horrible dialects,
  Accents of anger, words of agony,
  And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands,

Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
  For ever in that air for ever black,
  Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes.

And I, who had my head with horror bound,
  Said: "Master, what is this which now I hear?
  What folk is this, which seems by pain so vanquished?"

And he to me: "This miserable mode
  Maintain the melancholy souls of those
  Who lived withouten infamy or praise.

Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
  Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
  Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.

The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair;
  Nor them the nethermore abyss receives,
  For glory none the damned would have from them."

And I: "O Master, what so grievous is
  To these, that maketh them lament so sore?"
  He answered: "I will tell thee very briefly.

These have no longer any hope of death;
  And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
  They envious are of every other fate.

No fame of them the world permits to be;
  Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
  Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass."

And I, who looked again, beheld a banner,
  Which, whirling round, ran on so rapidly,
  That of all pause it seemed to me indignant;

And after it there came so long a train
  Of people, that I ne'er would have believed
  That ever Death so many had undone.

When some among them I had recognised,
  I looked, and I beheld the shade of him
  Who made through cowardice the great refusal.

Forthwith I comprehended, and was certain,
  That this the sect was of the caitiff wretches
  Hateful to God and to his enemies.

These miscreants, who never were alive,
  Were naked, and were stung exceedingly
  By gadflies and by hornets that were there.

These did their faces irrigate with blood,
  Which, with their tears commingled, at their feet
  By the disgusting worms was gathered up.

And when to gazing farther I betook me.
  People I saw on a great river's bank;
  Whence said I: "Master, now vouchsafe to me,

That I may know who these are, and what law
  Makes them appear so ready to pass over,
  As I discern athwart the dusky light."

And he to me: "These things shall all be known
  To thee, as soon as we our footsteps stay
  Upon the dismal shore of Acheron."

Then with mine eyes ashamed and downward cast,
  Fearing my words might irksome be to him,
  From speech refrained I till we reached the river.

And lo! towards us coming in a boat
  An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,
  Crying: "Woe unto you, ye souls depraved!

Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;
  I come to lead you to the other shore,
  To the eternal shades in heat and frost.

And thou, that yonder standest, living soul,
  Withdraw thee from these people, who are dead!"
  But when he saw that I did not withdraw,

He said: "By other ways, by other ports
  Thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for passage;
  A lighter vessel needs must carry thee."

And unto him the Guide: "Vex thee not, Charon;
  It is so willed there where is power to do
  That which is willed; and farther question not."

Thereat were quieted the fleecy cheeks
  Of him the ferryman of the livid fen,
  Who round about his eyes had wheels of flame.

But all those souls who weary were and naked
  Their colour changed and gnashed their teeth together,
  As soon as they had heard those cruel words.

God they blasphemed and their progenitors,
  The human race, the place, the time, the seed
  Of their engendering and of their birth!

Thereafter all together they drew back,
  Bitterly weeping, to the accursed shore,
  Which waiteth every man who fears not God.

Charon the demon, with the eyes of glede,
  Beckoning to them, collects them all together,
  Beats with his oar whoever lags behind.

As in the autumn-time the leaves fall off,
  First one and then another, till the branch
  Unto the earth surrenders all its spoils;

In similar wise the evil seed of Adam
  Throw themselves from that margin one by one,
  At signals, as a bird unto its lure.

So they depart across the dusky wave,
  And ere upon the other side they land,
  Again on this side a new troop assembles.

"My son," the courteous Master said to me,
  "All those who perish in the wrath of God
  Here meet together out of every land;

And ready are they to pass o'er the river,
  Because celestial Justice spurs them on,
  So that their fear is turned into desire.

This way there never passes a good soul;
  And hence if Charon doth complain of thee,
  Well mayst thou know now what his speech imports."

This being finished, all the dusk champaign
  Trembled so violently, that of that terror
  The recollection bathes me still with sweat.

The land of tears gave forth a blast of wind,
  And fulminated a vermilion light,
  Which overmastered in me every sense,

And as a man whom sleep hath seized I fell.

Inferno: Canto IV

Broke the deep lethargy within my head
  A heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,
  Like to a person who by force is wakened;

And round about I moved my rested eyes,
  Uprisen erect, and steadfastly I gazed,
  To recognise the place wherein I was.

True is it, that upon the verge I found me
  Of the abysmal valley dolorous,
  That gathers thunder of infinite ululations.

Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,
  So that by fixing on its depths my sight
  Nothing whatever I discerned therein.

"Let us descend now into the blind world,"
  Began the Poet, pallid utterly;
  "I will be first, and thou shalt second be."

And I, who of his colour was aware,
  Said: "How shall I come, if thou art afraid,
  Who'rt wont to be a comfort to my fears?"

And he to me: "The anguish of the people
  Who are below here in my face depicts
  That pity which for terror thou hast taken.

Let us go on, for the long way impels us."
  Thus he went in, and thus he made me enter
  The foremost circle that surrounds the abyss.

There, as it seemed to me from listening,
  Were lamentations none, but only sighs,
  That tremble made the everlasting air.

And this arose from sorrow without torment,
  Which the crowds had, that many were and great,
  Of infants and of women and of men.

To me the Master good: "Thou dost not ask
  What spirits these, which thou beholdest, are?
  Now will I have thee know, ere thou go farther,

That they sinned not; and if they merit had,
  'Tis not enough, because they had not baptism
  Which is the portal of the Faith thou holdest;

And if they were before Christianity,
  In the right manner they adored not God;
  And among such as these am I myself.

For such defects, and not for other guilt,
  Lost are we and are only so far punished,
  That without hope we live on in desire."

Great grief seized on my heart when this I heard,
  Because some people of much worthiness
  I knew, who in that Limbo were suspended.

"Tell me, my Master, tell me, thou my Lord,"
  Began I, with desire of being certain
  Of that Faith which o'ercometh every error,

"Came any one by his own merit hence,
  Or by another's, who was blessed thereafter?"
  And he, who understood my covert speech,

Replied: "I was a novice in this state,
  When I saw hither come a Mighty One,
  With sign of victory incoronate.

Hence he drew forth the shade of the First Parent,
  And that of his son Abel, and of Noah,
  Of Moses the lawgiver, and the obedient

Abraham, patriarch, and David, king,
  Israel with his father and his children,
  And Rachel, for whose sake he did so much,

And others many, and he made them blessed;
  And thou must know, that earlier than these
  Never were any human spirits saved."

We ceased not to advance because he spake,
  But still were passing onward through the forest,
  The forest, say I, of thick-crowded ghosts.

Not very far as yet our way had gone
  This side the summit, when I saw a fire
  That overcame a hemisphere of darkness.

We were a little distant from it still,
  But not so far that I in part discerned not
  That honourable people held that place.

"O thou who honourest every art and science,
  Who may these be, which such great honour have,
  That from the fashion of the rest it parts them?"

And he to me: "The honourable name,
  That sounds of them above there in thy life,
  Wins grace in Heaven, that so advances them."

In the mean time a voice was heard by me:
  "All honour be to the pre-eminent Poet;
  His shade returns again, that was departed."

After the voice had ceased and quiet was,
  Four mighty shades I saw approaching us;
  Semblance had they nor sorrowful nor glad.

To say to me began my gracious Master:
  "Him with that falchion in his hand behold,
  Who comes before the three, even as their lord.

That one is Homer, Poet sovereign;
  He who comes next is Horace, the satirist;
  The third is Ovid, and the last is Lucan.

Because to each of these with me applies
  The name that solitary voice proclaimed,
  They do me honour, and in that do well."

Thus I beheld assemble the fair school
  Of that lord of the song pre-eminent,
  Who o'er the others like an eagle soars.

When they together had discoursed somewhat,
  They turned to me with signs of salutation,
  And on beholding this, my Master smiled;

And more of honour still, much more, they did me,
  In that they made me one of their own band;
  So that the sixth was I, 'mid so much wit.

Thus we went on as far as to the light,
  Things saying 'tis becoming to keep silent,
  As was the saying of them where I was.

We came unto a noble castle's foot,
  Seven times encompassed with lofty walls,
  Defended round by a fair rivulet;

This we passed over even as firm ground;
  Through portals seven I entered with these Sages;
  We came into a meadow of fresh verdure.

People were there with solemn eyes and slow,
  Of great authority in their countenance;
  They spake but seldom, and with gentle voices.

Thus we withdrew ourselves upon one side
  Into an opening luminous and lofty,
  So that they all of them were visible.

There opposite, upon the green enamel,
  Were pointed out to me the mighty spirits,
  Whom to have seen I feel myself exalted.

I saw Electra with companions many,
  'Mongst whom I knew both Hector and Aeneas,
  Caesar in armour with gerfalcon eyes;

I saw Camilla and Penthesilea
  On the other side, and saw the King Latinus,
  Who with Lavinia his daughter sat;

I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin forth,
  Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia,
  And saw alone, apart, the Saladin.

When I had lifted up my brows a little,
  The Master I beheld of those who know,
  Sit with his philosophic family.

All gaze upon him, and all do him honour.
  There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,
  Who nearer him before the others stand;

Democritus, who puts the world on chance,
  Diogenes, Anaxagoras, and Thales,
  Zeno, Empedocles, and Heraclitus;

Of qualities I saw the good collector,
  Hight Dioscorides; and Orpheus saw I,
  Tully and Livy, and moral Seneca,

Euclid, geometrician, and Ptolemy,
  Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna,
  Averroes, who the great Comment made.

I cannot all of them pourtray in full,
  Because so drives me onward the long theme,
  That many times the word comes short of fact.

The sixfold company in two divides;
  Another way my sapient Guide conducts me
  Forth from the quiet to the air that trembles;

And to a place I come where nothing shines.

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