The ninth circle, fourth ring, Judecca; Dis or Lucifer; Judas, Brutus,Cassius; the southern hemisphere; the stars

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1 "Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni," my master said, * "Toward us, so see if you can get a clear View of him by keeping your eyes ahead." inferno xxxiv 4 The way a distant, turning windmill might appear When a thick fog is blowing, or when night Spreads over our half of the world's sphere, 7 Just so a remote structure showed itself to my sight; For protection I had to shrink behind my guide, For there was no other shelter from the bite 10 Of the wind. It was at this frozen depth that I'd Come to where the shades—and I now put what I saw Into verse with fear—were completely buried inside inferno xxxiv 13 The ice, showing through like bits of straw In glass. Here some lie flat, others are on their feet Or on their heads, vertically; still others draw 16 Themselves into a bow so that face and foot meet. When we'd moved farther on my master thought He should now show me that creature of conceit 19 Who'd once been so handsome, and he brought * Me to a halt. "This is Dis!" he said, stepping aside, * "And here, beyond all other places, you ought inferno xxxiv 22 To arm yourself with courage." I nearly died Of fright, reader, so don't ask me how impotent And frozen I grew; no matter how hard I now tried, 25 I could not find words to describe that moment. I did not die, but neither was there any life in me; And what I became, with both life and death absent, 28 You can imagine if you've a grain of ingenuity. The emperor of that desperate kingdom stood Way out from the ice, showing the majority 31 Of his massive chest; my own size would Be closer to a giant's than a giant's stature Would be to this one's arms alone, which gives a good 34 Sense of the enormity of this frightening creature. If he was once as handsome as he now is horrible When he raised his brows in a gesture 37 Of defiance against his Maker, then it's plausible That he's the ultimate source of all grief. His head * Wore three separate faces, which I found incredible 40 To behold! The one in front was bright red, While two others joined it to the left and right, Just above each shoulder's midpoint; all three were wed 43 Together again at the crown; a blend of white And yellow was the color the right face displayed, And the left was like the skin of those who might 46 Live along the Nile. Six wings were arrayed * In pairs beneath the faces, of a size that Fit such a bird; no ship I ever saw was made inferno xxxiv 49 With sails so broad. Like the wings of a bat They had no feathers, and they flapped perpetually So that the three winds he sent out over the flat 52 Lake of Cocytus kept it frozen eternally. He wept from six eyes, and down each chin Tears and bloody saliva streamed continually. 55 In each of his mouths he rewarded the sin Of a traitorous soul with his ferocious bite, Giving pain to three sinners at once within inferno xxxiv 58 His grinder–like teeth. But the chewing was light Compared with the clawing, at least on the hide Of the one in front, for his back was stripped quite 61 Bare of skin at times. "That one," said my guide, "Who suffers the greatest punishment, Is Judas Iscariot, with his head stuck inside * 64 And his legs thrashing. Of those other two in torment With their heads out, Brutus hangs from the black face ; * See how he squirms but remains silent; inferno xxxiv 67 Large–limbed Cassius completes this trio of base Betrayers. But now night is falling, and it would Be best to leave, for we've seen all of this place." 70 I held him about the neck, as he said I should, And he, catching the moment when the angle Between the wings was widest, secured a good 73 Grip on the shaggy sides; through the tangle Of hair and frozen crusts he crawled little by Little down to where the hip bulges, a single inferno xxxiv 76 Tuft at a time; and at just this point, where the thigh * Pivots, with extreme effort and excruciating strain He reversed his body so his legs were now high 79 And his head below, (which would explain Why I believed—when he grabbed the hair as if about To start climbing—that we were heading into Hell again). 82 "Hold tight!" said my master, panting as if tired out, "These are our only stairs, don't slack, We can leave all this evil by no other route." inferno xxxiv 85 Then he slipped out through a rocky crack, Lifting me up to sit on its edge while with caution He climbed up to join me. I leaned my head back 88 And raised my eyes, expecting to see the portion Of Lucifer I'd just left, but instead I saw his legs pointing upward. My mystification 91 Will be shared by the simple–minded who have read Up to this point but failed to understand The point I'd just passed. "Get up," my master said inferno xxxiv 94 "On your feet: the way is long, the road rough, and * The sun has nearly returned to middle tierce." * The place in which we found ourselves was no grand, 97 Palatial gallery; barely enough light could pierce This cavern for me to make out its rugged floor; It was like a great dungeon, shaped by the fierce 100 Forces of nature. Standing up, I said: "Master, before We struggle out of this abyss, help me to see This clearly, so I'm not confused any more. inferno xxxiv 103 Where is the ice? And how can Lucifer be Turned upside down? And how did the sun slide So quickly from night to morning? Please tell me." 106 "You think that you're still on the other side Of the center, where I first grabbed the hair Of the evil worm which pierces the world," he replied. 109 "As long as I descended, you were there; But you passed the point, once I rotated, To which all weight is drawn from everywhere. inferno xxxiv 112 Now you're beneath the hemisphere situated * Opposite the dry portion of the earth, At whose center was crucified and humiliated 115 The Man whose life was sinless from birth. Your feet rest upon a little sphere Which forms the traitorous Judecca's girth. * 118 There it's evening, while it's morning here; And he whose hair was our ladder is still Fixed head down, as ever, like a stuck spear. inferno xxxiv 121 There was dry land on this side until * He fell from heaven, at which moment It made a veil of the sea and fled in fear to fill 124 Our hemisphere; perhaps the land still present On this side fled upward as well, piling up in a mound And scooping out this cavern with its sudden movement." 127 Somewhere below, at the farthest bound Of Beelzebub's tomb, there is a place * Recognized not by sight but by sound; inferno xxxiv 130 One hears a stream winding through a space * It has hollowed in rock and continues to erode In a gentle incline. Vigorous of pace, 133 My guide and I entered that hidden road To reach the bright world once more, And with no thought of rest we strode 136 Ahead, he first, I following, as so often before, Until, through a round hole, I looked up toward Mars, * Venus, and all the beautiful things in Heaven's store, inferno xxxiv 139 And we came out again to see the stars.

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1. The first three words are those of a hymn written by Venantius Fortunatus, Biship of Poitiers in the sixth century. Sung at Easter, the hymn precedes the unveiling of the cross, while here Virgil's words prepare Dante for the sight of Lucifer.Vexilla, the banners, refer here to Lucifer's wings. ^
19. Before his rebellion Lucifer was the most handsome of all the angels. ^
20 In the Aeneid, Pluto is called Dis, but Dante assigns this name to Lucifer. ^
38–46. The three faces are another of Hell's grotesque parodies of the Trinity. The colors may represent Europe, Asia and Africa, but more likely the red symbolizes hatred (as against the Primal Love of the Trinity), the yellow impotence (as against Divine Omnipotence), and the black ignorance (as against Highest Wisdom). ^
46–50. Originally of the order of the Cherubim, Lucifer still has his wings in Hell, although they are now devoid of feathers and resemble a bat's. ^
63. Judas Iscariot was the betrayer of Christ. ^
65–67. Marcus Brutus and Caius Cassius Longinus conspired to assassinate Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. The description of Cassius as "large–limbed" may indicate that Dante has confused him with another Cassius mentioned by Cicero. ^
76–93. Virgil and Dante climb halfway down Lucifer's body and then, because they have reached the earth's exact center, turn upside down to continue the climb. They are moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere at this point. In line 78 "his legs" are translated as meaning Virgil's, although another interpretation could render them as Lucifer's. ^
94. "The way is long" because it will take nearly as long to climb through the southern half of the earth to reach the shore of the Mountain of Purgatory, as it did to travel through Hell (twenty–four hours.) ^
95. It is about 7:30 A.M. A few moments ago, in line 68, night was falling, but because the travellers are now in the southern hemisphere, day is now breaking. ^
112–115. They are opposite Jerusalem, believed to be precisely beneath the zenith, in the center of the northern hemisphere; the northern was believed to be covered with land, the southern with water. ^
117. Judecca is the last division of the Ninth Circle, where traitors are punished, named after Judas Iscariot. ^
121–126. When Lucifer fell from Heaven he fell through the southern hemisphere. Most of its land pulled away in fear to the north. But the precise land into which he fell pulled back in the other direction to form the Mountain of Purgatory, solitary in the water of the southern hemisphere, atop which sits the Earthly Paradise. ^
128. Beelzebub is the name by which the chief of all the devils is called in Matthew 10:25, 12:24 and 27, Mark 3:22 and Luke 11:15–18. ^
130. The stream is probably Lethe, carrying the sins which have been washed away in Purgatory. See Purgatory XXVIII. ^
137–138. Not in the original Italian, Venus and Mars here represent what is recognizable in the sky, and constitute two of the Heavens which Dante will meet later on. ^

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