“He in like manner to the mundane splendors
Ordained a general ministress and guide,
That she might change at times the empty treasures
From race to race, from one blood to another,
Beyond resistance of all human wisdom.
Therefore one people triumphs, and another
Languishes, in pursuance of her judgment,
Which hidden is, as in the grass a serpent.
Your knowledge has no counterstand against her…”
And I, who stood intent upon beholding,
Saw people mud-besprent in that lagoon,
All of them naked and with angry look.
They smote each other not alone with hands,
But with the head and with the breast and feet,
Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.
Said the good Master: “Son, thou now beholdest
The souls of those whom anger overcame…”
More than a thousand at the gates I saw
Out of the Heavens rained down, who angrily
Were saying, “Who is this that without death
Goes through the kingdom of the people dead?...
Let him return alone by his mad road…”
“Well I know the way, therefore be reassured.
This fen, which a prodigious stench exhales,
Encompasseth about the city dolent,
Where now we cannot enter without anger.”
More than a thousand ruined souls I saw,
Thus fleeing from before one who on foot
Was passing o’er the Styx with soles unwet….
Well I perceived one sent from Heaven was he,
And to the Master turned; and he made sign
That I should quiet stand, and bow before him.