Thursday, August 06, 2015

Dante 36

Down in the Dark Pit
Dante's Inferno XXXII:
" XXXII. 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"
Inferno: Canto XXXII
When we were down within the darksome well,
  Beneath the giant's feet, but lower far,
  And I was scanning still the lofty wall,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating,
  Tell me the wherefore," said I, "with this compact,

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

If that wherewith I speak be not dried up."

The Circle of Traitors; the Alberti Brothers
William Blake's Illustrations of Dante
From Page 152 of Blake's Dante (Milton Klonski):
Napoleoneone and Alessandro were the sons of Count Alberto Alberti.
They are said to have killed each other squabblling over their inheritance;
Speaking of sibling rivalry! They belonged to (what might be called demo and
repub) Guelph and Ghibelline parties.
Two figures are found 'frozen in an ice-mountain.

Klonski refers us to the Four Zoes:

"The Eternal Mind bounded began to roll eddies of wrath ceaseless
Round & round & the sulphureous foam surgeing thick
Settled a Lake bright & shining clear. White as the snow
Forgetfulness dumbness necessity in chains of the mind lockd up
In fetters of ice shrinking. disorganizd rent from Eternity"
(Erdman 336)

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