Divine Comedy - Hell (Inferno)

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CANTO XIX. Eighth Circle: third pit: Simonists.--Pope Nicholas III

CANTO XX. Eighth Circle: fourth pit: Diviners, Soothsayers, and Magicians.--Amphiaraus.--Tiresias.--Aruns.--Manto.--Eurypylus.-- Michael Scott.--Asolente.

CANTO XXI. Eighth Circle: fifth pit: Barrators.--A magistrate of Lucca.--The Malebranche.--Parley with them.

CANTO XXII. Eighth Circle: fifth pit: Barrators.--Ciampolo of Navarre.--Brother Gomita.--Michael Zanche.--Fray of the Malebranche.

CANTO XXIII. Eighth Circle. Escape from the fifth pit.--The sixth pit: Hypocrites.--The Jovial Friars.--Caiaphas.--Annas.--Frate Catalano.

CANTO XXIV. Eighth Circle. The poets climb from the sixth pit.-- Seventh pit: Fraudulent Thieves.--Vanni Fucci.--Prophecy of calamity to Dante.

CANTO XXV. Eighth Circle: seventh pit: Fraudulent Thieves.-- Cacus.--Agnello Brunellesehi and others.

CANTO XXVI. Eighth Circle: eighth pit: Fraudulent Counsellors.-- Ulysses and Diomed.

CANTO XXVII. Eighth Circle: eighth pit: Fraudulent Counsellors.-- Guido da Montefeltro.

CANTO XXVIII. Eighth Circle: ninth pit: Sowers of discord and schism.--Mahomet and Ali.--Fra Dolcino.--Pier da Medicina.-- Curio.--Mosca.--Bertran de Born.

CANTO XXIX. Eighth Circle: ninth pit.--Geri del Bello.--Tenth pit: Falsifiers of all sorts.--Griffolino of Mezzo.--Capocchio.

CANTO XXX. Eighth Circle: tenth pit: Falsifiers of all sorts.-- Myrrha.--Gianni Schiechi.--Master Adam.--Sinon of Troy.

CANTO XXXI. The Giants around the Eighth Circle.--Nimrod.-- Ephialtes.--Antiens sets the Poets down in the Ninth Circle.

CANTO XXXII. Ninth Circle: Traitors. First ring: Caina.--Counts of Mangona.--Camicion de' Pazzi.--Second ring: Antenora.--Bocca degli Abati.--Buoso da Duera.--Count Ugolino.

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

CANTO XXXIV. Ninth Circle: Traitors. Fourth ring: Judecca.-- Lucifer.--Judas, Brutus and Cassius.--Centre of the universe.-- Passage from Hell.--Ascent to the surface of the Southern hemisphere.


So many versions of the Divine Comedy exist in English that a new one might well seem needless. But most of these translations are in verse, and the intellectual temper of our time is impatient of a transmutation in which substance is sacrificed for form's sake, and the new form is itself different from the original. The conditions of verse in different languages vary so widely as to make any versified translation of a poem but an imperfect reproduction of the archetype. It is like an imperfect mirror that renders but a partial likeness, in which essential features are blurred or distorted. Dante himself, the first modern critic, declared that "nothing harmonized by a musical bond can be transmuted from its own speech without losing all its sweetness and harmony," and every fresh attempt at translation affords a new proof of the truth of his assertion. Each language exhibits its own special genius in its poetic forms. Even when they are closely similar in rhythmical method their poetic effect is essentially different, their individuality is distinct. The hexameter of the Iliad is not the hexameter of the Aeneid. And if this be the case in respect to related forms, it is even more obvious in respect to forms peculiar to one language, like the terza rima of the Italian, for which it is impossible to find a satisfactory equivalent in another tongue.

If, then, the attempt be vain to reproduce the form or to represent its effect in a translation, yet the substance of a poem may have such worth that it deserves to be known by readers who must read it in their own tongue or not at all. In this case the aim of the translator should he to render the substance fully, exactly, and with as close a correspondence to the tone and style of the original as is possible between prose and poetry. Of the charm, of the power of the poem such a translation can give but an inadequate suggestion; the musical bond was of its essence, and the loss of the musical bond is the loss of the beauty to which form and substance mutually contributed, and in which they were both alike harmonized and sublimated. The rhythmic life of the original is its vital spirit, and the translation losing this vital spirit is at best as the dull plaster cast to the living marble or the breathing bronze. The intellectual substance is there; and if the work be good, something of the emotional quality may be conveyed; the imagination may mould the prose as it moulded the verse,--but, after all, "translations are but as turn-coated things at best," as Howell said in one of his Familiar Letters.

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