Descend into the Depths: Dante's Inferno in Today's Vernacular!

Dive into one of the most riveting literary adventures ever penned - Dante's descent through the circles of Hell in 'The Inferno.' While the idea of a tour through the underworld is compelling, the old-world language can sometimes be a barrier. Fear not, for you're not the only one seeking clarity!

'The Inferno' offers a glimpse into a meticulously structured Hell, guided by none other than the legendary Roman poet, Virgil. This hellish underworld, divided into nine concentric circles, becomes increasingly punishing as one moves deeper. It's not just a tale of torment and despair; it’s an allegorical journey, representing the soul's quest towards the divine, acknowledging sins and seeking redemption.

Woven with themes of spirituality, human nature, and moral consequences, 'The Inferno' is more than just a trip through Hell—it's an exploration of the soul's path towards God.

For those who've grappled with Dante's antiquated prose, BookCaps comes to the rescue! Our modern translation retains the essence of this masterpiece while making it accessible to today's readers. Join us on this profound journey, presented side by side with the original, allowing for an enriched experience of this age-old epic!



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Excerpt From Dante’s Inferno In Plain and Simple English

Inferno: Canto I  

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


Half-way through the journey of my life

I found myself in a dark forest,

Having lost the main path.


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


“Oh me!” I said,

Upon seeing the savage, rough, and unforgiving forest.

My sense of fear was renewed.


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.


Death is bitter,

But can be good, which is what I found.

I will also tell of the other things I saw there.


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


I can’t say how I entered.

I was so tired,

When I strayed from the main road.


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


But after I reached the foot of the mountain,

Where the valley ends.

My heart was pierced with anxiety.


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


I looked up at its enormity.

It seemed to rise up to the moon,

Which leads others faithfully on every road.


Then was the fear a little quietedThat in my heart's lake had endured throughoutThe night, which I had passed so piteously.


The fear inside me subsided,

That had endured throughout

The night which passed so wretchedly.


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


Like the one whose breath

Brought forth the sea and shore,

Turns back to see his creation.


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


My soul fleeing forward

Turned back to behold the place

Where a living person could not leave.


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


After I had rested my weary body,

I resumed my way upwards,

Climbing steadily with one foot below the other.


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


Behold! Where I began to climb,

I saw a silent panther light and swift,

With spotted skin.


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


She never moved from in front of me.

Instead she seemed to guide me,

As I turned.


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


It was early in the morning

When the sun resides with the stars.

In such a lovely and divine time


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


That the first motion that began these beautiful things

Gave me hope.

So did the variegated skin of that wild beast,


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


The time of day and the delicious season,

But not so much that I was without fear.

Then a figure like a lion appeared to me


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


He seemed as if he were coming for me.

His head held high and hungry looking,

So even the air felt afraid.


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


Then I saw a she-wolf

Whose hunger caused by man

Overwhelmed her small body.


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


The sight of her made me so sad

When I saw her,

I gave up all hope.


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,


And like a man who willingly gets,

And the time that comes causing him to lose

I wept.


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


I was without peace,

Which came on me little by little,

Causing me to look back.


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


While I ran down,

I saw a man

Who seemed unable to talk.


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!"


When I saw him in the open,

I cried, “Have pity on me,

If you are real or just a vision.”


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


He answered, “I was once a man, although I am no more.

My parents were from Lombardy.

They were both Mantuans.


'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.


I was born in Rome during the latter part of Julius

And lived under the leader Augustus,

During the time of false and lying gods.


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


I was a poet and I sang about

Son of Anchises, who came from Troy,

After the city of Ilion 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?"


But why are you going back to such annoyance?

Why aren’t you climbing Mount Delectable,

The source and cause of every joy?”


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


“Aren’t you the famous Virgil,

The writer who is known so well for his speech?”

I responded shyly.


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


“Oh, I honor the other poets,

Who inspired my long study and great love

Of your work!


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


You are my master and I am your author.

Your art alone is the father of my style

That has done me so well.


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."


Look at the beast for which I have retreated.

Protect me from her, famous Sage

For she makes me tremble with fear.”


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


“Then it would be wise to take another road,”

He responded, when he saw me weeping.

“If you want to escape this savage place


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;


Because of this beast you are crying over

Does not kill anyone who passes her way,

But worries them to death.


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


She is so ruthless

That she is never satisfied,

And after she eats, she is hungrier than before.


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


Many animals that pass her way,

And there will be more, until the Greyhound

Comes who will kill her.


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;


He will not feed on her,

But upon wisdom, love and virtue,

He will build his nation between the Feltros.


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


He will be the savior of Italy,

The reason maid Camilla,

Euryalus, Turnus, and Nisus died.


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.


He will hunt her down,

Until he drives her back to Hell,

Where she was released by envy.


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


Therefore, I think it will be best,

If you follow me and let me be your guide

To lead you 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;


Where you will hear the desperate cries

And see ancient miserable spirits,

Who cry out for a second death.


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


You will also see those who are contented

Within the fire because they hope to come

To the blessed people at some time.


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;


Then, if you wish to come up,

A soul more worthy will accompany you.

At that time, I will leave you.


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


Because the Emperor, who reigns above,

And because I was rebellious to his law

Won’t let anyone come to his city through me.


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


He rules everywhere and he reigns

In his city upon a lofty throne.

Oh, the ones he allows there are so happy.”


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,


I said to him, “Poet, I beg you,

In the name of the God you never knew,

So I may escape this horror and more


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


You would take me there,

So I may see the gate of Saint Peter

And avoid the unhappy ones.”


Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.


Then he moved on, and I followed him.

Inferno: Canto II Day was departing, and the embrowned airReleased the animals that are on earthFrom their fatigues; and I the only one


As the day was ending and the time

When nocturnal animals

Awake from their slumber, and I being 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.


Made myself ready for war

In the way and the sorrow,

Which my memory will retain.


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


Oh Muses, Oh great geniuses, assist me now!

Oh memory, that wrote down what I saw,

Your nobility will be recorded here.


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


So I began: “Poet, who guided me,

Think of my manhood and if it is sufficient,

Tell me the way.


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


You say Silvio’s parent,

Although corruptible in the world,

Went to the immortal realm and remained in body.


But if the adversary of all evilWas courteous, thinking of the high effectThat issue would from him, and who, and what,


But if the adversary of all evil

Was kind, thinking the effect,

That would come from him,


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


Offered to all men, it seems impossible,

For he was for Rome and her empire,

Chosen by the heavenly father;


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


The whole truth,

Established in the holy place,

Sits, the successor of the greatest Peter.


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


Upon this journey, when you boasted about him,

He heard things

About 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.


Afterwards the Chosen Vessel went,

To bring comfort to anyone of the faith,

Which marks the beginning of salvation.


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.


As for me, why am I coming or who allows it?

I am not Aeneas or Paul,

I do not think I am worthy.


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


Therefore, if I agree to come,

I fear it may be for the wrong reasons;

You are wise and know more than I am able to say.”


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,


And like one who changes his mind,

And rethinks his intentions,

So that he stops his journey,


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


Upon that dark hillside, I was rethinking this journey,

Because when I thought about it,

I was ready in the beginning.


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


“If I understand you,”

Replied the magnanimous poet,

“You are a cowardly soul,


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


Which often compels a man many times,

So, it turns him back from honorable activities,

Like a shy beast.


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


So, you are not inhibited from this journey,

I’ll tell you why I came and what I heard

At the first moment I felt sorry for you.


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


I was among the souls held in Purgatory,

And a fair, saintly Lady called to me

In such a wise way, I told her I was hers to command.


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


Her eyes were brighter than the Star;

And she began to say with a gentle, low

And angelic voice, 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;


‘Oh spirit of Mantua,

Whose fame still endures in the world,

And shall outlast the world;


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


A friend of mine, and not a friend of fortune,

Is impeded on the desert slope

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.


And I fear, may be so lost,

That I am too late to save him,

From what I have heard 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.


Go to him now, and with your ornate words,

Give him what he needs to be free,

And assist him, so I may be at ease.


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.


I am Beatrice, who asks this of you;

I come from there, where I would return;

Love moved me and compelled 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:


When I am in the presence of my Lord,

I will praise you to him.’

Then she paused and I began:


'O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whomThe human race exceedeth all containedWithin the heaven that has the lesser circles,


‘Oh, Lady of virtue, through whom

The human race holds higher

Than the heaven with less 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.


I would be glad to obey your command,

Even if it is too late;

Just tell me what you wish.


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


But tell me why you are not afraid

To descend down into this place,

From where you long to return.’


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


‘Since you want to know,

I will tell you briefly,’ she answered,

‘Why I am not afraid to enter here.


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


One should only be afraid of those things

That have the power of doing others harm;

And nothing else.


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


In his divine mercy, God made me in such a way

You cannot quite understand,

That even the flames do not burn me.


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


A gentle Lady in Heaven, grieves

At this journey on which I send you,

So that she broke her own best judgment.


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


She summoned Lucia,

And said, “Your faithful one stands in need

Of you and I command you to help him.”


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


Lucia, enemy to all that is cruel,

Hastened away and came to 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?


“Beatrice” she said, “By the true praise of God,

Why have you not saved him, who loved you so,

When he called out to you?


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


Didn’t you hear the pity in his cry?

Did you not see the death surrounding him?

On that river like an ocean?”


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


No one in the world moved as quickly as I,

To work and escape their woe,

After these words were uttered,


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


I came down from my blessed seat,

Telling you of my plan,

To bring you honor and anyone who listens.’


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


After she said this to me,

She turned away crying,

Which made me come faster;


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


So, here I am, as she desired;

I have saved you from the 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,


What is it, then? Why are you delaying?

Why is fear embedded in your heart?

You should be overcome with bravery,


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


Hearing three such Ladies,

Care for you from Heaven,

I encourage you to go on.


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


Like the flowers in winter

Bow down and close, when the sun takes away their color,

Uplift themselves 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:


I flew with all my strength,

With courage coursing through my heart,

And began to speak:


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


“Oh compassionate lady who moved me,

I obey and hear

The words of truth you speak to me!


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


You have filled my heart with new desire

For the adventure, with your words,

So, I have decided to return to my previous endeavor.


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,


Now let us go as one soul and one will,

You are my leader, Lord and Master”

When I said this and he moved,


I entered on the deep and savage way.


I entered 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.


“I will show you the way to the city of suffering;

I will show you the way to eternal sadness;

I will show you the way of lost people.


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


My Creator was inspired by justice;

He created me with divine Omnipotence,

The highest Wisdom and the most primal Love.


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


Before me, nothing was created,

Only eternity and I am eternal.

Abandon all hope, you who enter!”


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


I beheld these somber words

Written upon the top of a gate;

I said: “I don’t understand, Master!”


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


And he said, as one with experience:

“You must abandon all suspicion and,

All cowardice must be extinguished.


We to the place have come, where I have told theeThou shalt behold the people dolorousWho have foregone the good of intellect."


We have come to the place I told you about

You will see suffering people

Who have not used good judgment.”


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


Afterwards he laid his hand on mine

Once I was comforted,

He led me into the land of secret things.


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


There I heard sighs, complaints, and loud wailings

Resounding through the air,

Where I began to weep.


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


Diverse languages and horrible dialects,

Accents of anger and words of agony,

High hoarse voices with the sound of hands


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


Made a whirling tumultuous noise

In that black air,

Like the does in a whirlwind.


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?"


In my horror, I

Said: “Master, what is that I hear?

What people are vanquished by such pain?”


And he to me: "This miserable modeMaintain the melancholy souls of thoseWho lived withouten infamy or praise.


He replied: “This miserable place

Maintains the melancholy souls of those

Who lived without doing good or bad.


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


They live with a despicable choir

Of Angels, who were neither rebellious

Nor faithful to God, only to themselves.


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


The heavens expelled them, but not unfairly;

They do not receive the fates of the abyss,

For the damned would not have them.”


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


I said: “Oh Master, what is so grievous

To these that make them lament so sorely?”

He answered: “I will tell you 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.


These souls have no hope of death;

Their life is so vile,

They are envious 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."


The world does not permit them any memory;

Misery and Justice overlook them.

Let’s not talk about 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;


I looked again and saw a banner,

Which was whirling around, moving so rapidly,

Nothing seemed able to stop it.


And after it there came so long a trainOf people, that I ne'er would have believedThat ever Death so many had undone.


Running after it was a long train

Of people, I never would have believed

Death would have cheated so many.


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


I recognized some,

I looked and saw the shadow of one

Who through cowardly actions a great refusal was born.


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


Then I understood and was sure,

That this group of damned souls

Hateful to God and his enemies


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


Were miscreants, who never truly lived.

They were naked and being stung

By flies and hornets.


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


Their faces gushed with blood,

Combining with their tears, streaming to their feet

Where disgusting worms gathered.


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,


Gazing further I saw

People on a great river’s bank;

I said: “Master, now tell me truly,


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


So, I may know who they are, and what law

Makes them appear so ready to pass over,

As I see them standing side-by-side in the dim light.”


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


Virgil said: “You will know all of these things

As soon as we step 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.


Then in shame, with downward cast eyes,

Fearing my words might be bothersome,

I refrained from speaking until we reached the river.


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


To my surprise a boat came towards us

Driven by an old man with gray hair,

Crying: “Pity upon you depraved souls!


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


Do not ever again hope to look upon the heavens;

I come to lead you to the other shore,

To an eternal 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,


And you standing there, living soul,

Get away from these dead people!”

But, when he saw I did not move,


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


He said: “There are other ways and ports

You may come to the shore, but you cannot use this passage;

A lighter vessel must carry you.”


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


The Guide said to him: “Don’t worry Charon;

It is willed by a higher power

So don’t question.”


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


This quieted the hairy cheeks

Of the ferryman of the gray marsh,

Who had fire burning in his eyes.


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


But all those souls who were weary and naked

Gnashed their teeth as their color changed,

As soon as they heard these cruel words.


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


They blasphemed God and their ancestors,

The human race, the place, the time, the moment

Of their conception and of their birth!


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


Afterwards, they drew back together,

Weeping bitterly to the accursed shore,

Which wits for every man who doesn’t fear God.


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


Charon the demon with red eyes,

Beckoning to them, collected them together

And beat anyone who lagged behind with his oar.


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


As in the Fall when the leaves drop,

First one and then another, until the branch

Surrenders all to the earth;


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


Like the evil children of Adam

Throwing themselves from the edge one by one,

As a bird flying into a trap.


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


They departed across the dark wave,

And once upon the other side,

A new group assembled.


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


“My son,” the polite Master said to me,

“All who perish by God’s wrath

Meet together here from around the world;


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


To pass over the river,

Because celestial Justice spurs them on,

So their fear is transformed 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 way, a good soul never passes;

And so, if Charon complains about you,

Well you must know why.”


This being finished, all the dusk champaignTrembled so violently, that of that terrorThe recollection bathes me still with sweat.


With this, the earth

Trembled so violently, that remembering the terror

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,


The land of tears gave a blast of wind,

And cast green light,

Which overwhelmed my every sense,


And as a man whom sleep hath seized I fell.


And like a man taken by sleep, I fainted.


Inferno: Canto IV Broke the deep lethargy within my headA heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,Like to a person who by force is wakened;


The deep sleep was broken

By a loud clap of thunder and

Like a person who is awakened by force I jumped;


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


And looking around with rested eyes,

I stood and tried,

To recognize the place where I was.


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


I found myself

In the abysmal valley of the suffering

That holds the infinite wails of the damned.


Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,So that by fixing on its depths my sightNothing whatever I discerned therein.


It was obscure and cloudy,

So I fixed my eyes on its depths

And could not make out anything within.


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


“Let’s descend now into the blind world,”

The Poet began,

“I will go first, and you second.”


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?"


I, unaware of my color,

Said: “How can I come, if you are afraid,

The person who is supposed to be a comfort to me?”


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


He replied: “The anguish of the people

Who are below here I do not fear.

What you mistake for fear is pity.


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


Let’s go on, for we have a long way.”

Thus, he went in and I followed

Into the first 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.


From what I heard,

There were no lamentations, only sighs,

That trembled the eternal 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.


This sound was born from sorrow without torment,

From the crowds of great,

Of infants, women and men.


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


The Master said: “You do not ask

What spirits these are, which you see?

I will tell you before you go farther,


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


They were not sinners; and if they had merit

It was not enough, because they were not baptized

Which is the way to salvation according to your Faith;


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


And if they lived before Christianity,

And they did not adore God;

Including 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."


Because of this and nothing else,

We are lost but not punished,

So we live without hope in constant desire.”


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


I was overcome with grief when I heard this,

Because some worthy people

I knew, were in that place of Limbo.


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


“Tell me, my Master, tell me, my Lord,”

I said, wanting to be sure

Of the Faith which overcomes 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,


“Has anyone been released by his own merit,

Or by another’s?”

And understanding my question,


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


He replied: “I was a novice in this state,

When I saw a Mighty One,

With a sign of victory.


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


He withdrew the First Parent,

And his son, Abel, and Noah,

He took 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,


Patriarchal Abraham, and King David,

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 theseNever were any human spirits saved."


And he blessed many others;

You must know that anyone as old as these

Were never saved spirits.”


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


We stopped while he spoke,

But still passed through the forest

Of crowded ghosts.


Not very far as yet our way had goneThis side the summit, when I saw a fireThat overcame a hemisphere of darkness.


When we had not gone very far

I saw a fire on this side of the summit,

That overcame the darkness.


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


We were a good distance from it,

But I still discerned

That honorable people were in 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?"


“Oh, those who are known in every art and science,

Hasn’t there honor

Set them apart from the rest?


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


He said: “The honorable name

That they were known by in life,

Wins grace in Heaven, so advancing 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."


In the meantime, I heard a voice nearby:

“All honor be to the pre-eminent Poet;

His soul returns.”


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


After the voice ceased,

Four mighty shadows approached us;

Showing no signs of sorrow or happiness.


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.


My gracious Master said to me:

“Look at him with that sword in his hand,

Who walks before the other three 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.


That is the sovereign Poet, Homer.

Next is the satirist, Horace;

And the third is Ovid, followed by Lucan.


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


Because each of these honor me with their presence

And call me by that name,

They honor me well.


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


I saw the group of fair souls

Of that lord of the first song,

Who soared over the others like an eagle.


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


When they came closer,

They turned to me with greetings,

And seeing 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.


They honored me,

In that they accepted me into their group,

Making me the sixth among the intelligent souls.


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.


Together we went on as far as to the light,

Saying it is more becoming to keep quiet,

As was their motto there.


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


We came to the bottom of a noble castle,

Surrounded by seven high walls,

And encircled by a defending river;


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


We passed over the river as if it were firm ground;

I entered one of seven doors with these sages;

We came into a fresh green meadow.


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


People were there with solemn, slow eyes,

They looked to have great authority;

They spoke very little with gentle voices.


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


We went to one side

Into a luminous, lofty opening,

So that they were all visible.


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


Opposite the green enamel,

The mighty spirits were pointed out to me,

And I was honored to behold.


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


I saw Electra with many companions,

Amongst whom I knew Hector and Aeneas;

Caesar with his greedy eyes was in armor.


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


I saw Camilla and Penthesilea

On the other side, and King Latinus,

Who sat with his daughter Lavinia.


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


I saw Brutus who drove forth Tarquin,

Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia,

And sitting alone apart from the rest, Saladin.


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


When I had lifted my brow a little,

I saw the Master of those souls,

Sitting 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;


Everyone gazed upon him, honoring him.

There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,

Who stood near him before the others.


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


Democritus, who put the world on chance,

Dogenes, 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,


I also saw the good collector,

High Dioscorides and Orpheus,

Tully, Livy and the moral Seneca,


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


Euclid, the mathematician, and Ptolemy,

Galen, Hippocrates, and Avicenna,

Averroes, who made the great Comment.


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.


I cannot portray them fully,

Because the list of attributes is so long,

That I am short of words.


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


The company of six divided in tow,

My Guide conducted me

Forth from the quiet to the trembling air;


And to a place I come where nothing shines.


And to a place where nothing shined.


Inferno: Canto V Thus I descended out of the first circleDown to the second, that less space begirds,And so much greater dole, that goads to wailing.


I then descended out of the first circle

Going down to the second which was smaller

And with much greater torment, giving way to wailing.


There standeth Minos horribly, and snarls;Examines the transgressions at the entrance;Judges, and sends according as he girds him.


There stood horrible Minos snarling;

And examining the transgressions of the damned at the entrance;

He stood as judge and condemned the souls accordingly.


I say, that when the spirit evil-bornCometh before him, wholly it confesses;And this discriminator of transgressions


When the evil spirit

Came before him and confessed;

This discriminator of transgressions


Seeth what place in Hell is meet for it;Girds himself with his tail as many timesAs grades he wishes it should be thrust down.


Saw what place in Hell was appropriate;

He encircled himself with his tail that many times

To indicate what circle of Hell the soul was sent.


Always before him many of them stand;They go by turns each one unto the judgment;They speak, and hear, and then are downward hurled.


Many of them stood before him;

Taking turns to be judged;

They spoke, listened, and were then hurled downward.


"O thou, that to this dolorous hostelryComest," said Minos to me, when he saw me,Leaving the practice of so great an office,


“Hey, come here, you who enter the place of suffering,”

Said Minos to me, when he saw me,

Not partaking in the practice,


"Look how thou enterest, and in whom thou trustest;Let not the portal's amplitude deceive thee."And unto him my Guide: "Why criest thou too?


“Look how you enter and who you trust;

Don’t let the vastness of this place fool you.”

To him, my Guide responded: “Why are you crying, too?


Do not impede his journey fate-ordained;It is so willed there where is power to doThat which is willed; and ask no further question."


Do not impede his journey that fate ordained;

The power has willed it,

So ask no other questions.”


And now begin the dolesome notes to growAudible unto me; now am I comeThere where much lamentation strikes upon me.


The sad sounds began to grow

Audible to me, as I came

To the place of overwhelming sadness.


I came into a place mute of all light,Which bellows as the sea does in a tempest,If by opposing winds 't is combated.


I came to a place without any light,

As scary as a raging sea,

Combating opposing winds.


The infernal hurricane that never restsHurtles the spirits onward in its rapine;Whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them.


The burning hurricane that never rests

Hurtled the spirits onward by force;

Whirling them around and smiting them.


When they arrive before the precipice,There are the shrieks, the plaints, and the laments,There they blaspheme the puissance divine.


When they arrived before the precipice,

The place of shrieks, plaints, and laments,

They blasphemed the divine power.


I understood that unto such a tormentThe carnal malefactors were condemned,Who reason subjugate to appetite.


I understood the torment and

Condemned the carnal malefactors,

Who are controlled by appetite.


And as the wings of starlings bear them onIn the cold season in large band and full,So doth that blast the spirits maledict;


And as the wings of starlings carried them onward

In the cold season in full flocks,

The spirits were cursed;


It hither, thither, downward, upward, drives them;No hope doth comfort them for evermore,Not of repose, but even of lesser pain.


It drove them up and down, side-to-side;

No hope comforted them,

In their repose or pain.


And as the cranes go chanting forth their lays,Making in air a long line of themselves,So saw I coming, uttering lamentations,


And like cranes going forward chanting,

And flying in long lines,

I saw them coming, uttering lamentations,


Shadows borne onward by the aforesaid stress.Whereupon said I: "Master, who are thosePeople, whom the black air so castigates?"


Shadows urged onward by great stress.

I asked the Master: “Who are those

People, punished by the black air?”


"The first of those, of whom intelligenceThou fain wouldst have," then said he unto me,"The empress was of many languages.


“The first of those, whose intelligence

You would gladly have,” he said to me,

“The empress knew many languages.


To sensual vices she was so abandoned,That lustful she made licit in her law,To remove the blame to which she had been led.


She abandoned sensual vices,

And made lust lawful,

To remove her own blame.


She is Semiramis, of whom we readThat she succeeded Ninus, and was his spouse;She held the land which now the Sultan rules.


She is Semiramis, of whom we have read

That succeeded Ninus, and was his wife;

She held the land now ruled by Sultan.


The next is she who killed herself for love,And broke faith with the ashes of Sichaeus;Then Cleopatra the voluptuous."


The next is she who killed herself for love,

And broke faith with the ashes of Sichaeus;

Then there is Cleopatra the voluptuous.”


Helen I saw, for whom so many ruthlessSeasons revolved; and saw the great Achilles,Who at the last hour combated with Love.


I saw Helen, for whom so many ruthless

Seasons revolved; and the great Achilles,

Who at the last hour combated with Love.


Paris I saw, Tristan; and more than a thousandShades did he name and point out with his finger,Whom Love had separated from our life.


I saw Paris, Tristan, and a thousand more

He named and pointed out,

Whom Love had separated from life.


After that I had listened to my Teacher,Naming the dames of eld and cavaliers,Pity prevailed, and I was nigh bewildered.


After I had listened to my Teacher,

Naming the dames and cavaliers of long ago,

I was overcome with pity and bewilderment.


And I began: "O Poet, willinglySpeak would I to those two, who go together,And seem upon the wind to be so light."


I began: “Oh Poet, Tell me,

Who are the two going together,

Seeming so light upon the wind.”


And, he to me: "Thou'lt mark, when they shall beNearer to us; and then do thou implore themBy love which leadeth them, and they will come."


He told me: “You will know, when they are

Nearer to us; Implore them

With love which leads them, and they will come.”


Soon as the wind in our direction sways them,My voice uplift I: "O ye weary souls!Come speak to us, if no one interdicts it."


As soon as the wind blew them in our direction,

I uplifted my voice and said: “Oh you weary souls!

Come speak to us if no one opposes it.”


As turtle-doves, called onward by desire,With open and steady wings to the sweet nestFly through the air by their volition borne,


Like turtle doves, called onward by desire,

With open and steady wings

Flying through the air instinctively to their home,


So came they from the band where Dido is,Approaching us athwart the air malign,So strong was the affectionate appeal.


They came from the group of Dido

Approaching us through the malignant air,

Looking quite appealing.


"O living creature gracious and benignant,Who visiting goest through the purple airUs, who have stained the world incarnadine,


“Oh living creature, gracious and benign,

Who goes through the purple air to visit,

Us, who have stained the world blood red,


If were the King of the Universe our friend,We would pray unto him to give thee peace,Since thou hast pity on our woe perverse.


If the King of the Universe was our friend,

We would pray to him to grant you peace,

Since you have pity on our perverse circumstances.


Of what it pleases thee to hear and speak,That will we hear, and we will speak to you,While silent is the wind, as it is now.


Whatever you wish to hear or say,

We will listen or speak

While the wind is silent as it is now.


Sitteth the city, wherein I was born,Upon the sea-shore where the Po descendsTo rest in peace with all his retinue.


The city where I was born sits,

Upon the seashore where the Po descends

To rest in peace with all of its attendees.


Love, that on gentle heart doth swiftly seize,Seized this man for the person beautifulThat was ta'en from me, and still the mode offends me.


Love, that swiftly seizes the gentle heart,

Seized this man for the beautiful person

That was taken from me and still offends me.


Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving,Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly,That, as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me;


Love, that hides from no one,

Seized me with desire for this man, so strongly,

You may still see it;


Love has conducted us unto one death;Caina waiteth him who quenched our life!"These words were borne along from them to us.


Love, that has brought us to one death;

Caina waits for him who took our lives!”

These words were said to us.


As soon as I had heard those souls tormented,I bowed my face, and so long held it downUntil the Poet said to me: "What thinkest?"


As soon as I heard these poor tormented souls,

I bowed my face, and held it down

Until the Poet said: “What are you thinking?”


When I made answer, I began: "Alas!How many pleasant thoughts, how much desire,Conducted these unto the dolorous pass!"


When I could speak, I said: “Alas!

How many pleasant thoughts, how much desire,

Brought them to this suffering!”


Then unto them I turned me, and I spake,And I began: "Thine agonies, Francesca,Sad and compassionate to weeping make me.


Then to them I said,

“Your agonies, Francesca

Make me weep with compassion.


But tell me, at the time of those sweet sighs,By what and in what manner Love conceded,That you should know your dubious desires?"


But tell me, at the time of those sweet moments,

Conceded in Love, what and how

Did you know your dubious desires?”


And she to me: "There is no greater sorrowThan to be mindful of the happy timeIn misery, and that thy Teacher knows.


She responded: “There is no greater sorrow

Than to remember the happy times

In misery, and that your Teacher knows.


But, if to recognise the earliest rootOf love in us thou hast so great desire,I will do even as he who weeps and speaks.


But, if I recognize the beginning

Of our love affair,

I will weep, also.


One day we reading were for our delightOf Launcelot, how Love did him enthral.Alone we were and without any fear.


One day we were reading for some fun

Of Lancelot and how love enthralled him.

We were alone and without any fear.


Full many a time our eyes together drewThat reading, and drove the colour from our faces;But one point only was it that o'ercame us.


Many times our eyes drew together

Reading and drained the color from our faces;

So at one point love overcame us.


When as we read of the much-longed-for smileBeing by such a noble lover kissed,This one, who ne'er from me shall be divided,


When we read of the much-longed-for smile

I was by such a noble lover, I kissed

Him, who never will be apart from me,


Kissed me upon the mouth all palpitating.Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.That day no farther did we read therein."


He kissed me upon my palpitating mouth.

The book and its author were so gallant.

We did not read it anymore.”


And all the while one spirit uttered this,The other one did weep so, that, for pity,I swooned away as if I had been dying,


While the one spirit uttered this,

The other wept so pitifully,

I swooned away as if I was dying,


And fell, even as a dead body falls.


And fell like a dead body.
Translation missing: en.general.search.loading