The third round of the seventh circle; the sodomites; Brunetto Latini

canto summary and diagram

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1 One of the hard margins is now our transporter; Fumes from the river hover overhead like giant Shadows, blocking the flames from the banks and the water. inferno xv 4 Just as the Flemings between Bruges and Wissant * Build dikes to repel the menacing sea, And the Paduans on the Brenta make flood–resistant 7 Barriers—should their towns and castles be In danger when summer makes the snow disappear In Chiarentana—in like manner was the bank beneath me * 10 Constructed, although whoever was the engineer Made it lower and not so wide. At a point when we were no longer near inferno xv 13 The wood, so that I would never have spied It in the distance if I'd turned around to look, We saw a troop of souls hurrying beside 16 The bank in our direction; and each one took A good look at us, the way men do in the evening Under a new moon, like someone inspecting a book, 19 Or like an aged tailor squinting At the eye of his needle. As that band Scrutinized us one of them began shouting: inferno xv 22 "How marvelous!" And he reached out and Grabbed the hem of my skirt in recognition. And I, once he'd extended his hand, 25 Focused his burnt features in my vision Precisely, so that his scorched face Wouldn't hinder his identification. 28 Shocked at who I found in such disgrace I bent down and asked: "Ser Brunetto, is it Really you in this horrible place? " * inferno xv 31 "My son, let Brunetto Latini walk with you for a bit While his troop goes on ahead, if you please." "With all my heart I beg you to," I said, "and I'll sit 34 With you if you wish, if my companion agrees." "Oh my son," he said, "whoever stops for a moment In this group will forfeit the slightest breeze 37 Or other shield from the flames' torment For a hundred years. So move on instead; I'll follow down here at the hem of your garment, inferno xv 40 Then rejoin my crew who shuffle ahead Lamenting their eternal sentence." I was obliged to walk with lowered head, 43 Like one who moves with great reverence, For I dared not descend from the margin's height To his level, even out of deference. * 46 "What chance or destiny," he began, "might Conceivably bring you here before you're due? And who's that who leads you through this blight? " inferno xv 49 "In the clear life above," I said, "I lost my true Way forward, in the midst of a vale, Before my natural life was through. 52 Just yesterday morning my courage began to fail; I turned aside from the path, but then he arrived To guide me home by this harrowing trail." * 55 "If you follow your star you can't be deprived Of a glorious haven," he said, "if my judgment "Above was correct; had I not been so short–lived inferno xv 58 I would have given your work encouragement, Seeing how kind heaven was to you. But those ungrateful, malevolent 61 People who came down from Fiesole a few * Centuries ago and still smell of mountain And rock will hate the good deeds you do 64 And be your enemy; and there's a certain Logic to this, for the sweet fig can find No place to flourish where bitter berries are sovereign. inferno xv 67 For ages the world has called these people blind, * Envious, proud and avaricious; Cleanse their foul habits from your body and mind. 70 Your fortune holds honors so precious That both parties will salivate With hunger over you; but keep the delicious 73 Grass far from the goat; let the beasts ruminate On the forage of each other; let them forget That sweet plant (so rarely does it germinate inferno xv 76 Amidst their dung), in which there yet Survives the holy seed of those Romans who remained In Florence when it was first beset 79 With such malice." "If my desires," I explained, "Were all fulfilled, you would still be part Of the living world. Within my memory is contained 82 A picture—now also present in my heart – A dear, kind, paternal image Of you, instructing me hour by hour in the art inferno xv 85 Of becoming eternal. While I live, my language Will always strive to show appreciation For this and express my grateful homage. 88 I'll write down and save your prediction, Keeping it with another text for review By a wise lady, if I ever reach her station. * 91 Let one thing, however, be plain to you: As long as my conscience is clear I'll live whatever life fortune wants me to. inferno xv 94 Your prophecy is not new to my ear; Therefore, just as the peasant turns his spade, * Let fortune turn her wheel year by year 97 As she pleases." At this my master made A point of turning around to me to declare: "He listens well who has truly paid * 100 Attention." With no less eagerness I take up where Ser Brunetto and I left off; I ask Who of his companions are most noted and rare. inferno xv 103 "To reveal a few is good, but to unmask All of them," he advised, "would be foolish, For there wouldn't be time for so great a task. 106 In brief, know that my company contains bookish Men, capable clerks, and scholars of great fame, All tainted on earth by the same sinful blemish. 109 Among that wretched crowd Priscian is a name * You'd recognize, as well as Francisco d'Accorso; * If you had any relish for a dolt without shame inferno xv 112 You could have seen a bishop also, * The one who from the Arno was transferred To the Bacchiglione by the servant of servants so * 115 That his sinfully stretched flesh was interred * Finally at Vicenza. I would gladly expand Our walk and conversation, but I'm deterred 118 By the fresh smoke arising from the sand; People with whom I can't mix will soon arrive. I ask only that you value and understand inferno xv 121 My Trésor, in which I still remain alive." Turning, he raced off like one of those who run fast * Across the fields at Verona; and of those who strive 124 For the green cloth he resembled the first, not the last.

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4. Bruges and Wissant were Flemish trading centers. ^
6–9.   When the snows melted on the Carnic Alps ("Chiarentana"), 
the Brenta overflowed and the Paduans protected themselves with 
dikes. ^
30.   Brunetto Latini, the Florentine Guelph leader who wrote 
Li Livres dou tresor, a prose encyclopedia in French, 
and the Tesoretto, an allegorical poem in Italian, was not 
literally Dante's teacher, although he greatly influenced his 
thought.  His sin may not have been sexual, but rather the misleading of 
Florence politically, by advocating city–states and not universal 
monarchy. ^
42–45. Since he cannot come down, Dante walks this way to show respect. ^
54.   "Home" means to God. ^
61–79.   After Caesar conquered Fiesole, a hill town north of 
the present Florence, remnants of the Roman army and the surviving 
Fiesolans founded Florence.  The nobles (Blacks) were held to be 
descended from the former, the commoners (Whites) from the latter.  
Brunetto predicts that both factions will be Dante's enemies, although 
it's not clear whether lines 71–72 mean that both will want to win 
a man of his quality to their side, or both will wish to destroy him. ^
67. The Florentines were proverbially "blind," although the origin of this is unknown. ^
90.   Dante says he will save this prophecy of Brunetto's for 
Beatrice to review, along with those of Ciacco (VI, 64–75) and 
Farinata (X, 79–81).  In fact, it is Cacciaguida who will do it. ^
95–97.   Dante will be as little affected by fortune's changes as by 
a peasant's turns of the spade. ^
99–100. This is not an admonition, but a congratulation for having remembered well. ^
109.   Priscian of Cesarea was a Latin grammarian of the sixth 
century. ^
110.   Francesco d'Accorso (1225–1293) was a well–known lawyer 
who lectured at Bologna and Oxford. ^
112–116.   Andrea de' Mozzi, Bishop of Florence (on the Arno) 
from 1287 to 1295, was transferred by Pope Boniface VIII to 
Vicenza (on the Bacchiglione). ^
114. One of the Pope's customary titles is the "Servant of His servants." Applied to Boniface VIII, this is probably ironic. ^
115.  "Sinfully strained flesh" refers to the bishop's habit of 
sodomy. ^
122–124.   The race referred to was run in Verona on the first 
Sunday of Lent, the first prize being a green banner.  According 
to Boccaccio, the runners were naked.  Brunetto's worldly 
ambitiousness is shown, which must have conflicted with Dante's 
value for spiritual achievement. ^

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