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 Canto XI
      Dante arrives at the verge of a rocky precipice which encloses the
 seventh circle, where he sees the sepulchre of Anastasius the Heretic; behind
 the lid of which pausing a little, to make himself capable by degrees of
 enduring the fetid smell that steamed upward from the abyss, he is instructed
 by Virgil concerning the manner in which the three following circles are
 disposed, and what description of sinners is punished in each. He then
 inquires the reason why the carnal, the gluttonous, the avaricious and
 prodigal, the wrathful and gloomy, suffer not their punishments within the
 city of Dis. He next asks how the crime of usury is an offence against God;
 and at length the two Poets go toward the place from whence a passage leads
 down to the seventh circle.
 Upon the utmost verge of a high bank,
 By craggy rocks environ'd round, we came.
 Where woes beneath, more cruel yet, were stow'd:
 And here, to shun the horrible excess
 Of fetid exhalation upward cast
 From the profound abyss, behind the lid
 Of a great monument we stood retired,
 Whereon this scroll I mark'd: "I have in charge
 Pope Anastasius,[1] whom Photinus drew
 From the right path." "Ere our descent, behoves
 We make delay, that somewhat first the sense,
 To the dire breath accustom'd, afterward
 Regard it not." My master thus; to whom
 Answering I spake: "Some compensation find,
 That the time pass not wholly lost." He then:
 "Lo! how my thoughts e'en to thy wishes tend.
 My son! within these rocks," he thus began,
 "Are three close circles in gradation placed,
 As these which now thou leavest. Each one is full
 Of spirits accurst; but that the sight alone
 Hereafter may suffice thee, listen how
 And for what cause in durance they abide.
 [1: By some supposed to have been Anastasius II.; by others, the
 fourth of that name; while a third set, jealous of the integrity of the papal
 faith, contend that our poet has confounded him with Anastasius I., Emperor of
 the East.]
 "Of all malicious act abhorr'd in Heaven,
 The end is injury; and all such end
 Either by force or fraud works other's woe.
 But fraud, because of man's peculiar evil,
 To God is more displeasing; and beneath,
 The fraudulent are therefore doom'd to endure
 Severer pang. The violent occupy
 All the first circle; and because, to force,
 Three persons are obnoxious, in three rounds,
 Each within other separate, is it framed.
 To God, his neighbor, and himself, by man
 Force may be offer'd; to himself I say,
 And his possessions, as thou soon shalt hear
 At full. Death, violent death, and painful wounds
 Upon his neighbor he inflicts; and wastes,
 By devastation, pillage, and the flames,
 His substance. Slayers, and each one that smites
 In malice, plunderers, and all robbers, hence
 The torment undergo of the first round,
 In different herds. Man can do violence
 To himself and his own blessings: and for this,
 He, in the second round must aye deplore
 With unavailing penitence his crime,
 Whoe'er deprives himself of life and light,
 In reckless lavishment his talent wastes,
 And sorrows there where he should dwell in joy.
 To God may force be offer'd, in the heart
 Denying and blaspheming His high power,
 And Nature with her kindly law contemning.
 And thence the inmost round marks with its seal
 Sodom, and Cahors, and all such as speak
 Contemptuously of the Godhead in their hearts.
 "Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting,
 May be by man employ'd on one, whose trust
 He wins, or on another, who withholds
 Strict confidence. Seems as the latter way
 Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes.
 Whence in the second circle have their nest,
 Dissimulation, witchcraft, flatteries,
 Theft, falsehood, simony, all who seduce
 To lust, or set their honesty at pawn,
 With such vile scum as these. The other way
 Forgets both Nature's general love, and that
 Which thereto added afterward gives birth
 To special faith. Whence in the lesser circle,
 Point of the universe, dread seat of Dis,
 The traitor is eternally consumed."
 I thus: "Instructor, clearly thy discourse
 Proceeds, distinguishing the hideous chasm
 And its inhabitants with skill exact.
 But tell me this: they of the dull, fat pool,
 Whom the rain beats, or whom the tempest drives,
 Or who with tongues so fierce conflicting meet,
 Wherefore within the city fire - illumed
 Are not these punish'd, if God's wrath be on them?
 And if it be not, wherefore in such guise
 Are they condemn'd?" He answer thus return'd:
 "Wherefore in dotage wanders thus thy mind,
 Not so accustom'd? or what other thoughts
 Possess it? Dwell not in thy memory
 The words, wherein thy ethic page[2] describes
 Three dispositions adverse to Heaven's will,
 Incontinence, malice, and mad brutishness,
 And how incontinence the least offends
 God, and least guilt incurs? If well thou note
 This judgment, and remember who they are,
 Without these walls to vain repentance doom'd,
 Thou shalt discern why they apart are placed
 From these fell spirits, and less wreakful pours
 Justice divine on them its vengeance down."
 [2: "Thy ethic page." He refers to Aristotle's Ethics, lib. vii. c.
 1: "_____ let it be defined that respecting morals there are three sorts of
 things to be avoided, malice, incontinence, and brutishness."]
 "O sun! who healest all imperfect sight,
 Thou so content'st me, when thou solvest my doubt,
 That ignorance not less than knowledge charms.
 Yet somewhat turn thee back," I in these words
 Continued," where thou said'st, that usury
 Offends celestial Goodness; and this knot
 Perplex'd unravel." He thus made reply:
 "Philosophy, to an attentive ear,
 Clearly points out, not in one part alone,
 How imitative Nature takes her course
 From the celestial mind, and from its art:
 And where her laws[3] the Stagirite unfolds,
 [3: "Her laws." Aristotle's Physics, lib. ii. c. 2: "Art imitates
 Not many leaves scann'd o'er, observing well
 Thou shalt discover, that your art on her
 Obsequious follows, as the learner treads
 In his instructor's step; so that your art
 Deserves the name of second in descent
 From God. These two, if thou recall to mind
 Creation's holy book,[4] from the beginning
 Were the right source of life and excellence
 To human - kind. But in another path
 The usurer walks; and Nature in herself
 And in her follower thus he sets at nought,
 Placing elsewhere his hope.[5] But follow now
 My steps on forward journey bent; for now
 The Pisces play with undulating glance
 Along the horizon, and the Wain[6] lies all
 O'er the northwest; and onward there a space
 Is our steep passage down the rocky height."
 [4: "Creation's holy book." Genesis, c. ii. v. 15: "And the Lord God
 took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep
 it." And, Genesis, c. iii. v. 19: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
 [5: "Placing elsewhere his hope." The usurer, trusting in the produce
 of his wealth lent out on usury, despises nature directly, because he does not
 avail himself of her means for maintaining or enriching himself; and
 indirectly, because he does not avail himself of the means which art, the
 follower and imitator of nature, would afford him for the same purposes.]
 [6: "The Wain." The constellation Bootes, or Charles' Wain.]