Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mahomet, the Sower of Discord

The Divine Comedy
Inferno XXVIII, 13-42.

The Eighth Circle. Fraud
The Ninth Trench. Sowers of Discord

Cerchio Ottavo. Frode
Bolgia Nona. Seminatori di Discordie

( Gustave Doré's rendition of Dante's vision)

No cask, indeed, by loss of middle-board
or stave, is opened as was one I saw,
split from the chin to where one breaketh wind;
while down between his legs his entrails hung,
his pluck appeared, and that disgusting sack,
which maketh excrement of what is swallowed.

While I on seeing him was all intent,
he looked at me, and opening with his hands
his breast, he said: "See now how I am cloven!

Behold how torn apart Mahomet is!
Ali in tears moves on ahead of me,
cloven in his face from forelock down to chin;
and all the others whom thou seest here
disseminators were, when still alive,
of strife and schism, and hence are cloven thus.

There is a devil here behind, who thus
fiercely adorns, and to the sword's edge puts
each member of this company anew,
when we have gone around the woeful road;
because, ere one return in front of him,
the wounds thus made have all been closed again.
But who art thou, that musest on the crag,
perhaps to put off going to the torture
adjudged thine accusation of thyself?"

"Death hath not reached him yet," replied my Teacher,
"nor to a torment is he led by guilt,
but that complete experience may be giv'n him,
I, who am dead, must needs conduct him here
from circle unto circle down through Hell;
and this is true, as that I speak to thee."

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