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 Canto XIV
      They arrive at the beginning of the third of those compartments into
 which this seventh circle is divided. It is a plain of dry and hot sand, where
 three kinds of violence are punished; namely, against God, against Nature, and
 against Art; and those who have thus sinned, are tormented by flakes of fire,
 which are eternally showering down upon them. Among the violent against God is
 found Capaneus, whose blasphemies they hear. Next, turning to the left along
 the forest of self - slayers, and having journeyed a little onward, they meet
 with a streamlet of blood that issues from the forest and traverses the sandy
 plain. Here Virgil speaks to our Poet of a huge ancient statue that stands
 within Mount Ida in Crete, from a fissure in which statue there is a dripping
 of tears, from which the said streamlet, together with the three other
 infernal rivers, are formed.
 Soon as the charity of native land
 Wrought in my bosom, I the scatter'd leaves
 Collected, and to him restored, who now
 Was hoarse with utterance. To the limit thence
 We came, which from the third the second round
 Divides, and where of justice is display'd
 Contrivance horrible. Things then first seen
 Clearlier to manifest, I tell how next
 A plain we reach'd, that from its sterile bed
 Each plant repell'd. The mournful wood waves round
 Its garland on all sides, as round the wood
 Spreads the sad foss. There, on the very edge,
 Our steps we stay'd. It was an area wide
 Of arid sand and thick, resembling most
 The soil that erst by Cato's foot was trod.
 Vengeance of heaven! Oh! how shouldst thou be fear'd
 By all, who read what here mine eyes beheld.
 Of naked spirits many a flock I saw,
 All weeping piteously, to different laws
 Subjected; for on the earth some lay supine,
 Some crouching close were seated, others paced
 Incessantly around; the latter tribe
 More numerous, those fewer who beneath
 The torment lay, but louder in their grief.
 O'er all the sand fell slowly wafting down
 Dilated flakes of fire, as flakes of snow
 On Alpine summit, when the wind is hush'd.
 As, in the torrid Indian clime, the son
 Of Ammon saw, upon his warrior band
 Descending, solid flames, that to the ground
 Came down; whence he bethought him with his troop
 To trample on the soil; for easier thus
 The vapor was extinguish'd, while alone:
 So fell the eternal fiery flood, wherewith
 The marle glow'd underneath, as under stove
 The viands, doubly to augment the pain.
 Unceasing was the play of wretched hands,
 Now this, now that way glancing, to shake off
 The heat, still falling fresh. I thus began:
 "Instructor! thou who all things overcomest,
 Except the hardy demons that rush'd forth
 To stop our entrance at the gate, say who
 Is yon huge spirit, that, as seems, heeds not
 The burning, but lies writhen in proud scorn,
 As by the sultry tempest immatured?"
 Straight he himself, who was aware I ask'd
 My guide of him, exclaim'd: "Such as I was
 When living, dead such now I am. If Jove
 Weary his workman out, from whom in ire
 He snatch'd the lightnings, that at my last day
 Transfix'd me; if the rest he weary out,
 At their black smithy laboring by turns,
 In Mongibello, while he cries aloud,
 'Help, help, good Mulciber!' as erst he cried
 In the Phlegraean warfare; and the bolts
 Launch he, full aim'd at me, with all his might;
 He never should enjoy a sweet revenge."
 Then thus my guide, in accent higher raised
 Than I before had heard him: "Capaneus!
 Thou art more punish'd, in that this thy pride
 Lives yet unquench'd: no torment, save thy rage,
 Were to thy fury pain proportion'd full."
 Next turning round to me, with milder lip
 He spake: "This of the seven kings was one,
 Who girt the Theban walls with siege, and held,
 As still he seems to hold, God in disdain,
 And sets His high omnipotence at naught.
 But, as I told him, his despiteful mood
 Is ornament well suits the breast that wears it.
 Follow me now; and look thou set not yet
 Thy foot in the hot sand, but to the wood
 Keep ever close." Silently on we pass'd
 To where there gushes from the forest's bound
 A little brook, whose crimson'd wave yet lifts
 My hair with horror. As the rill, that runs
 From Bulicame,[1] to be portion'd out
 Among the sinful women, so ran this
 Down through the sand; its bottom and each bank
 Stone - built, and either margin at its side,
 Whereon I straight perceived our passage lay.
 [1: A warm medicinal spring near Viterbo; the waters of which, as
 Landino and Vellutelli affirm, passed by a place of ill - fame. Venturi
 conjectures that Dante would imply that it was the scene of licentious
 merriment among those who frequented its baths.]
 "Of all that I have shown thee, since that gate
 We enter'd first, whose threshold is to none
 Denied, naught else so worthy of regard,
 As is this river, has thine eye discern'd,
 O'er which the flaming volley all is quench'd."
 So spake my guide; and I him thence besought,
 That having given me appetite to know,
 The food he too would give, that hunger craved.
 "In midst of ocean," forthwith he began,
 "A desolate country lies, which Crete is named;
 Under whose monarch, in old times, the world
 Lived pure and chaste. A mountain rises there,
 Call'd Ida, joyous once with leaves and streams,
 Deserted now like a forbidden thing.
 It was the spot which Rhea, Saturn's spouse,
 Chose for the secret cradle of her son;
 And better to conceal him, drown'd in shouts
 His infant cries. Within the mount, upright
 An ancient form there stands, and huge, that turns
 His shoulders toward Damiata; and at Rome,
 As in his mirror, looks. Of finest gold
 His head is shaped, pure silver are the breast
 And arms, thence to the middle is of brass,
 And downward all beneath well - temper'd steel,
 Save the right foot of potter's clay, on which
 Than on the other more erect he stands.
 Each part, except the gold, is rent throughout;
 And from the fissure tears distil, which join'd
 Penetrate to that cave. They in their course,
 Thus far precipitated down the rock,
 Form Acheron, and Styx, and Phlegethon;
 Then by this straiten'd channel passing hence
 Beneath e'en to the lowest depth of all,
 Form there Cocytus, of whose lake (thyself
 Shalt see it) I here give thee no account."
 Then I to him: "If from our world this sluice
 Be thus derived; wherefore to us but now
 Appears it at this edge?" He straight replied:
 "The place, thou know'st, is round: and though great part
 Thou have already past, still to the left
 Descending to the nethermost, not yet
 Hast thou the circuit made of the whole orb.
 Wherefore, if aught of new to us appear,
 It needs not bring up wonder in thy looks."
 Then I again inquired: "Where flow the streams
 Of Phlegethon and Lethe? for of one
 Thou tell'st not; and the other, of that shower,
 Thou say'st, is form'd." He answer thus return'd:
 "Doubtless thy questions all well pleased I hear.
 Yet the red seething wave[2] might have resolved
 One thou proposest. Lethe thou shalt see,
 But not within this hollow, in the place
 Whither,[3] to lave themselves, the spirits go,
 Whose blame hath been by penitence removed."
 He added: "Time is now we quit the wood.
 Look thou my steps pursue: the margins give
 Safe passage, unimpeded by the flames;
 For over them all vapor is extinct."
 [2: Phlegethon.]
 [3: The other side of Purgatory]