HELL XXXII

CANTO XXXII

The ninth circle, first ring, Caïna; the traitors to kin in the ice; Camiscion de' Pazzi; the second ring, Antenora; the traitors to homeland or party; Bocca; one sinner gnawing another

canto summary and diagram

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1 If I had crude and grating rhymes to fit That dismal hole upon whose foundation * All the other rocky circles converge and sit, inferno xxxii 4 I would press out the juice of my conception More fully; but since this is not the case, I begin speaking now with some trepidation; 7 For to describe the absolutely lowest place In the universe is not at all a game, And needs a tongue which can embrace 10 More than mama and papa. But may those same Ladies who helped Amphion put the wall * Around Thebes now aid my verse to take aim inferno xxxii 13 Precisely at the facts. O rabble, beyond all Other rabble misbegotten! Dwellers in the deep (A place hard to describe), unable to fall 16 Any further—better you'd lived as goats or sheep! To continue: Down in the dark pit, far below The giant's feet, my eyes still fixed on the steep 19 Embankment, I heard a voice I didn't know: "Don't scrape your miserable brothers on the head With your soles! Be careful! Watch where you go!" inferno xxxii 22 At this I turned and saw a frozen lake spread Before me and beneath my feet, looking more Like glass than water. Even in the dead 25 Of winter the Danube in Austria never wore A veil of ice as thick as this, nor did the Don Under its frigid sky support what this lake bore; 28 For if Mount Tambernic had fallen down upon * Its surface, or Pietrapana crashed with all its weight, Not even the thinnest edges would have gone inferno xxxii 31 Weak or cracked. And just as croaking frogs wait (When peasant girls often dream of harvest) * With their muzzles above water, so in a like state 34 Were the sad, livid souls buried in this iciest Of places up to where shame is expressed, * Their teeth chattering away like the harshest 37 Clicks of storks' beaks. Their faces addressed The ice below, their mouths testifying to their Extreme cold, their eyes revealing their distressed, 40 Sorrowful hearts. When I'd looked here and there For a while I turned toward my feet and could see Two shades so close that they mingled their hair. 43 "You two, pressing your chests as tight as they can be," I said, " Tell me who you are." And they bent Their necks back, and when they'd raised their faces to me 46 Their eyes, previously just moist, now sent Drops down onto the lids so the tears congealed And locked the eyes shut like cement. inferno xxxii 49 Never was wood to wood clamped and sealed So firmly, whereupon they butted each other Angrily like rams. "Why do you keep your eyes peeled 52 Toward us? " another asked. "If you're here to gather Information, know that the valley through Which Bisenzio descends belonged to their father, * 55 Alberto, and then to them." This third shade, who Had lost both of his ears to the cold, Kept his face down as he described the two: inferno xxxii 58 "They came out of one body; and Caïna can hold * No shade worthier—no matter how far you go To seek one—to be fixed in this frozen mold; 61 Not him whose breast and shadow at one blow * Were pierced by Arthur's hand; nor the treacherous Focaccia; nor this one in front of me whose head so * 64 Blocks my view that I can't see past him, who's famous In Tuscany, so you're familiar with him if you came From there—Sassol Mascheroni. And to halt my garrulous * inferno xxxii 67 Response to your demands, know that my name Was Camiscion de' Pazzi, and I wait here For Carlino to come and absolve me of blame." * 70 After this I saw a thousand faces made to appear Doglike by the cold, which is why I automatically Shudder, and always will, when I'm anywhere near 73 A frozen pond. And passing through this eternally Freezing shadow, I shivered with our advance Toward that center which draws all weight universally. inferno xxxii 76 I don't know if it was will or destiny or chance, But my foot kicked someone I failed to see, * Right in the face, as I walked through that expanse 79 Of freezing heads. "Why are you trampling me?" He cried out, weeping. If you don't plan To pile on more revenge for Montaperti, leave me be!" 82 "Master," I said, "I have a question about this man Which I'd like to clear up, so wait for me, if you will— After that I'll hurry as fast as I can, inferno xxxii 85 As quickly as you wish." My guide now stood still, And I said to that shade who wasn't yet through With his bitter cursing: "Who are you to speak ill 88 Of others and insult them?" "And who are you," He countered, "to kick others in the head As you go through Antenora? Even one who * 91 Was alive wouldn't kick so hard." And I said: "I am alive, and I can write down your name Among my other notes, if you want me to spread inferno xxxii 94 News of you up there, and enhance your fame." And he: "We want just the opposite around here, So stop bothering me! Go play the flattery game 97 Somewhere else!" At this I grabbed him behind the ear And gripped his scruff: "I'll tear out all your hair If you don't tell me who you are! Now is that clear?" 100 "Go ahead," he said, "strip my whole head bare, I won't say my name or show my face! Pound My head a thousand times! I don't care!" inferno xxxii 103 I'd already twisted some of his hair around My fingers, and had pulled out a tuft or two As he barked and kept his eyes to the ground, 106 When someone yelled: "What the devil's eating you, Bocca? Isn't it enough to chatter away With your jaws? Do you have to bark too?" 109 "So!" I exclaimed. "Now there's no need for you to say Anything, you wicked traitor! Now I can expose The shameful truth about you to the light of day!" inferno xxxii 112 "Get out of here!" he replied. "I don't care who knows! Say what you want, but if you do get out of here, Be sure you tell them how this loudmouth froze 115 Down here with the rest of us, lamenting how dear * The Frenchman's silver was, for which he pays the price. 'I saw the one from Duera,' you can say, 'where the sphere 118 Grows cold and all the sinners keep fresh in the ice.' And if you're asked who else you saw, right there Is the Beccheria whose head Florence felled with one slice. * inferno xxxii 121 And I believe you'll find Gianni de' Soldanier where * Ganelon lies, further on with Tribaldello, who * Unlocked Faenza while it slept unaware." * 124 Not long after leaving this shade I observed two Others frozen into a single hole, so the head Of one wore the head of the other in lieu 127 Of a cap; as fiercely as a hungry man gnaws bread, The upper soul sank his teeth into the lower, Where the brain joins the nape, and fed inferno xxxii 130 On the skull. Even Tydeus, driven by the power * Of anger, gnawed Menalippus with rage barely equal To the fury shown by this traitorous chewer. 133 "Oh you!" I said, "whose every bite is a bestial Sign of hate for the one on whom you feed, Tell me why you do it; you have my verbal 136 Promise that if you're justified in your brutal deed, I will—knowing who you are and that one's sin— Repay you in the world above, if what I need inferno xxxii 139 For speech doesn't dry up before I begin.

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NOTES

2. The "dismal hole" is the ninth circle, the bottom of Hell. ^
11. The ladies are the Muses, who helped Amphion to play his lyre with such charm that stones came from Mount Cithaeron and arranged themselves into walls about Thebes. ^
28–29. Tambernic may be in the Balkans, and Pietrapana in Tuscany. ^
32. Summer. ^
35. Shame is expressed in the face. ^
54–55. Alessandro, a Guelph, and Napoleone, a Ghibelline, sons of Count Alberto degli Alberti, killed each other over politics and their inheritance. The family owned castles in the Bisenzio valley near Florence. ^
58. Caïna is the first of four divisions of Cocytus, the ninth circle. Named after Cain, it contains those who betrayed relatives. ^
61–62. Mordred, nephew of King Arthur, tried to kill his uncle and take the kingdom. When Arthur's lance pierced Mordred the hole was so large that a ray of sunlight passed clear through and was visible in the shadow. ^
63. Focaccia was the nickname of Vanni de' Cancellieri, a White Guelph of Pistoia. A continuing family feud was probably intitiated when he murdered his cousin, leading to Florentine intervention and the introduction of White and Black factions into Pistoia. ^
66. Sasol Mascheroni, of the Florentine family of Toschi, killed his nephew (or possibly his brother) to obtain an inheritance. ^
68–69. Camiscion de' Pazzi, a Ghibelline, murdered a relative, Ubertino. Another relative, Carlino de' Pazzi, was still alive in 1300, but Camiscion foresaw that he would accept a bribe in 1302 to betray the Castle of Piantravigne to the Blacks. Because Carlino, a traitor to his party, will be punished more severely than himself, Camiscion says that the former will "absolve" him. ^
77. The "someone" is called "Bocca" in line 107. This is Bocca degli Abati, a Florentine Ghibelline who, fighting on the Guelph side at Montaperti in 1260, cut off the hand of the Guelph standard bearer and thus led to the panic which lost the battle to the Ghibellines. ^
90. Antenora is the second division of Cocytus. Named after the Trojan warrior who betrayed Troy to the Greeks, it contains sinners who were treacherous against country, city or party. ^
115–117. Buoso da Duera was a leader of the Ghibellines in Cremona. When Charles of Anjou marched against Manfred, King of Naples, in 1265, Buoso, commanding Manfred's troops, accepted a bribe from Charles and let the French troops into Parma. ^
120. Tesauro dei Beccheria of Pavia was Abbot of Vallombrosa and papal legate in Florence. He was tortured and beheaded by the Guelphs in 1258, accused of plotting with the exiled Ghibellines. ^
121. Gianni de' Soldanier, a Florentine Ghibelline, betrayed his party by becoming a Guelph leader after Manfred's death in 1266 initiated a popular rebellion against the Ghibellines. ^
122. Ganelon is the knight who betrayed Roland to the Saracens. ^
122–123. Tebaldello, of the Zambrasi family of Faenza, was a Ghibelline. He avenged himself on the Ghibelline Lambertazzi family, who had been expelled from Bologna in 1274 and taken refuge in Faenza, by opening the city to their Guelph enemies from Bologna. ^
130–131. Tydeus, one of the Seven against Thebes, was mortally wounded by Menalippus, but still managed to kill him. When Menalippus' head was brought to him he gnawed it in a frenzy. See Statius, Thebaid, VIII. ^

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