Inferno

by: Dante Alighieri

Cantos XXI–XXIII

1

I beheld behind us a black devil
Running along upon the crag, approach.
Ah, how ferocious was he in his aspect!
And how he seemed to me in action ruthless,
With open wings and light upon his feet!

2

“My mother placed me servant to a lord…
Then I domestic was of good King Tybalt;
I set me there to practice barratry,
For which I pay the reckoning in this heat.”

3

Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
Made four of them fly to the other side
With all their gaffs, and very speedily
This side and that they to their posts descended;
They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
Who were already baked within the crust,
And in this manner busied did we leave them.

4

A painted people there below we found,
Who went about with footsteps very slow,
Weeping and in their semblance tired and vanquished.
They had on mantles with the hoods low down…
Without, they gilded are so that it dazzles;
But inwardly all leaden and so heavy
That Frederick used to put them on of straw.

5

“This transfixed one, who thou seest,
Counselled the Pharisees that it was meet
To put one man to torture for the people.
Crosswise and naked is he on the path,
As thou perceivest; and he needs must feel,
Whoever passes, first how much he weighs.”