The eighth circle, fifth bolgia; the grafters, Barbariccia, the Navarrese, Alichino, Calcabrina

canto summary and diagram

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1 I've seen thousands of horsemen break camp in my day; I've seen men launch an attack, execute a drill, Turn tail on occasion and scamper away inferno xxii 4 In retreat; I've seen scouts wander your land at will, O Aretines, and witnessed foragers raid, * Champions clash, jousters charge and spill – 7 And all of this while bells were rung, bugles played, * Drums rolled, ramparts flared, bright clothes worn Which were both native and foreign–made; 10 Yet never has any cavalry, infantry, or ship borne Along by a guiding star or a mark on land Been launched within my sight by such a strange horn. * inferno xxii 13 We traveled on with that ferocious band Of ten demons; ("In church with saints," it's said, "With guzzlers in the tavern.") To understand 16 All the details of this chasm, and of the dead Who lay burning within it, my full interest Was focused upon the ditch's tarry bed. 19 Just as dolphins warn sailors of an approaching tempest By arching their backs so their boats will not * Be destroyed, so now and then, rising from this cruelest inferno xxii 22 Of liquids, some sinner would seek to relieve his hot Torment by baring his back and then, with a speed which Rivaled lightning, hiding it again. And as frogs squat 25 In the water at the edge of a ditch With only their muzzles visible, their feet And plump bodies concealed, so in the pitch 28 The sinners crouched on all sides, quick to retreat Into the boiling tar as Barbariccia drew Close to them. I saw—and I still feel my heartbeat inferno xxii 31 Tremble when I recall it—a solitary sinner who Lingered behind, as a frog might remain there After the others have dived safely out of view. 34 And Graffiacane, the nearest, hooked his pitchy hair, Hoisting him and twirling him high overhead So he looked like an otter dangling in the air. 37 I recognized all the demons' names as they were said, For when they were chosen I'd been alert. "O Rubicante, make sure you really embed inferno xxii 40 Your claws deep into his back! Make him hurt!" They shouted in chorus. "Peel off his skin!" "Master," I said, "if you can, please exert 43 Your influence to find out the name and the sin Of that poor wretch who's fallen into the hand Of his enemy." My guide went right up to within 46 A meter of the sinner to demand * Where he was from; whereupon he replied: "The kingdom of Navarre was my native land. inferno xxii 49 My mother sent me to serve a lord, for I'd Been born to a wastrel who destroyed everything He owned, and at last committed suicide. 52 Then I served in the household of the good king Thibault where I began my grafting career, * For which I now, in this heat, pay reckoning." 55 And Ciriatto, from whose mouth, beneath each ear, A tusk stuck out as if from a wild boar, Let him feel how much one tooth could gore and shear. inferno xxii 58 Evil cats had trapped the mouse, but: "To learn more About him," said Barbariccia, turning his face Toward my master, "you'd better speak fast before 61 The others tear him to pieces." And in case This occurred, he fixed the sinner in an armlock And shouted: "Stand back while I hold him in place!" 64 At this my guide continued: "Is there Italian stock Among the sinners under the pitch?" "I just now bid Goodbye to one from near there," he said, clearly in shock, inferno xxii 67 "And I wish I were down there where he's hid, For then I wouldn't be afraid of any hook or claw." "That's enough!" cried Libicocco as he slid 70 His fork into the sinner's arm. "Let's not draw This out any more! We've been too patient!" And he ripped off a hunk of flesh, bloody and raw. 73 Draghignazzo then lunged for the legs, and the next moment The captain whirled around and glared with indignation At all of them. Once things were a bit less turbulent inferno xxii 76 My guide resumed his interrogation Of that pitiful shade, who still eyed His wound. "Who was that sinner from my nation, 79 Or from nearby?—the one whom, you just cried, You regret having left safe and secure." "Fra Gomita from Gallura," he replied, * 82 "A vessel for every kind of fraud, who could lure His master's enemies into his greasy hands and handle Their offenses with enough smoothness to ensure inferno xxii 85 Gold for himself and, for them, avoidance of scandal. He was never petty but always supreme, A grafter to whom no one could hold a candle. 88 He and Don Michele Zanche of Lagodoro seem * As inseparable as if they were kin; Their tongues never cease to discuss their lost dream 91 Of Sardinia. But look! Look at that demon's grin! I'd continue to talk if I weren't so scared! That devil's ready to scratch the scabs on my skin! inferno xxii 94 And turning to Farfarello, who indeed was so prepared To strike that his eyes rolled every which way, Their great marshal shouted at him as he glared: 97 "Get away from him, you filthy bird of prey!" The frightened sinner began again: "If you wish To see or hear Tuscans or Lombards, just say 100 The word and I'll make them come; but to accomplish This I need the Malebranche to back off a bit, So the shades won't fear their vengeance; I'll fish inferno xxii 103 Seven of them up without stirring from where I sit; I'll just whistle, which is our signal when we're out And there are no demons lurking around the pit." 106 At these words Cagnazzo raised his snout, Shook his head and said: "That's just a ruse So he can dive under again, no doubt." 109 At which the sinner, skilled by trade in the use Of ploys, retorted: "I'm too tricky by far, If I can subject my friends to such abuse." inferno xxii 112 But this now made Alichino eager to spar, And in spite of the others he gave a cry: "I'll do more than gallop if you bolt into the tar – 115 I'll beat my wings overhead and we'll all fly Off and wait for you behind that rise; If you think you can fight us alone, just try!" 118 Reader, listen to this new sport! All turned their eyes Toward the other shore, that demon in advance Of the rest whose participation was the biggest surprise. inferno xxii 121 With perfect timing the Navarrese took a firm stance * On the ground, then the next moment broke the bond Of the marshal's clutches in a leaping, nimble dance 124 Of escape. Each was stung with guilt at being conned, But none more than he who'd caused the blunder. * "You're caught!" he yelled, flying toward the tarry pond. 127 But wings were no match for fear; the sinner went under, And the furious demon had to pull up his chest, Exactly as a falcon, forced to thunder inferno xxii 130 In anger and defeat, slows and lifts his breast When the duck he's chasing suddenly dips low. Calcabrina, enraged at the trick, did his best 133 To scare the sinner off by making a show Of pursuing him, (for he actually Hoped the grafter would make his escape so 136 He could start a brawl). And when the sinner finally Did reach the tar, the devil turned around His claws and attacked his own comrade brutally, inferno xxii 139 Just above the ditch. But in Alechino he found A hawk of vicious claw and strong heart, And into the boiling pitch they tumbled, bound 142 Together in combat. The heat soon eased them apart, But even so they couldn't fly away, For their tarred, clogged wings could impart 145 No lift to their bodies. Then, with as much dismay As the others, Barbariccia groaned and sent four Demons flying out with their forks to try to save the day. inferno xxii 148 Promptly they took up their posts on the far shore, Reaching with their hooks toward the trapped pair, Encrusted in tar and by now baked through to the core. 151 And it was in this mess that we left them there.

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5. The Aretines are the people of Arezzo. Dante was present at Campaldino in 1289 when the Florentine and Luccan Guelphs defeated the Ghibellines of Arezzo. ^
7.   Each Italian city had a carroccio, a car with a bell used to 
rally its citizens in battle. ^
12.   The "strange horn" refers to the final line of the previous 
canto. ^
19–20.   This was a popular medieval belief about dolphins. ^
46. Little is known of this sinner except that his name was probably Ciampolo. ^
53.   Thibault II, son–in–law of Louis IX of France, was Count 
of Chamagne and then King of Navarre. ^
81.   Gomita was a Sardinian friar in the sevice of Nino Visconti 
of Pisa (who appears in Purgatorio, Canto VIII).  Nino hanged him 
when he learned that Gomita had accepted bribes to let some 
prisoners escape. ^
88. Michele Zanche is believed to have been Vicar of Lagodoro, one of the four districts of thirteenth century Sardinia; he was murdered by his son–in–law Banca Doria, who will appear further down in Hell. See Canto XXXIII, 138. ^
121.   The "Navarrese" is Cagnazzo. ^
125.   Alichino had "caused the blunder," starting in line 112. ^

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