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 Canto XVII
      The monster Geryon is described; to whom while Virgil is speaking in
 order that he may carry them both down to the next circle, Dante, by
 permission, goes further along the edge of the void, to descry the third
 species of sinners contained in this compartment, namely, those who have done
 violence to Art; and then returning to his master, they both descend, seated
 on the back of Geryon.
 "Lo! the fell monster[1] with the deadly sting,
 Who passes mountains, breaks through fenced walls
 And firm embattled spears, and with his filth
 Taints all the world." Thus me my guide address'd,
 And beckon'd him, that he should come to shore,
 Near to the stony causeway's utmost edge.
 [1: "The fell monster." Fraud.]
 Forthwith that image vile of Fraud appear'd,
 His head and upper part exposed on land,
 But laid not on the shore his bestial train.
 His face the semblance of a just man's wore,
 So kind and gracious was its outward cheer;
 The rest was serpent all: two shaggy claws
 Reach'd to the arm - pits; and the back and breast,
 And either side, were painted o'er with nodes
 And orbits. Colours variegated more
 Nor Turks nor Tartars e'er on cloth of state
 With interchangeable embroidery wove,
 Nor spread Arachne o'er her curious loom.
 As oft - times a light skiff, moor'd to the shore,
 Stands part in water, part upon the land;
 Or, as where dwells the greedy German boor,
 The beaver settles, watching for his prey;
 So on the rim, that fenced the sand with rock,
 Sat perch'd the fiend of evil. In the void
 Glancing, his tail upturn'd its venomous fork,
 With sting like scorpion's arm'd. Then thus my guide,
 "Now need our way must turn few steps apart,
 Far as to that ill beast, who couches there."
 Thereat, toward the right our downward course
 We shaped, and, better to escape the flame
 And burning marle, ten paces on the verge
 Proceeded. Soon as we to him arrive,
 A little farther on mine eye beholds
 A tribe of spirits, seated on the sand
 Near to the void. Forthwith my master spake:
 "That to the full thy knowledge may extend
 Of all this round contains, go now, and mark
 The mien these wear: but hold not long discourse.
 Till thou returnest, I with him meantime
 Will parley, that to us he may vouchsafe
 The aid of his strong shoulders." Thus alone,
 Yet forward on the extremity I paced
 Of that seventh circle, where the mournful tribe
 Were seated. At the eyes forth gush'd their pangs,
 Against the vapors and the torrid soil
 Alternately their shifting hands they plied.
 Thus use the dogs in summer still to ply
 Their jaws and feet by turns, when bitten sore
 By gnats, or flies, or gadflies swarming round.
 Noting the visages of some, who lay
 Beneath the pelting of that dolorous fire,
 One of them all I knew not; but perceived,
 That pendent from his neck each bore a pouch[2]
 With colours and with emblems various mark'd,
 On which it seem'd as if their eye did feed.
 [2: A purse, whereon the armorial bearings of each were emblazoned.
 According to Landino, our Poet implies that the usurer can pretend to no other
 honor than such as he derives from his purse and his family. The description
 of persons by their heraldic insignia is remarkable.]
 And when, amongst them, looking round I came,
 A yellow purse[3] I saw with azure wrought,
 That wore a lion's countenance and port.
 Then, still my sight pursuing its career,
 Another[4] I beheld, than blood more red,
 A goose display of whiter wing than curd.
 And one, who bore a fat and azure swine[5]
 Pictured on his white scrip, address'd me thus:
 "What dost thou in this deep? Go now and know,
 Since yet thou livest, that my neighbor here
 Vitaliano[6] on my left shall sit.
 A Paduan with these Florentines am I.
 Oft - times they thunder in mine ears, exclaiming,
 'Oh! haste that noble knight[7], he who the pouch
 With the three goats will bring.'" This said, he writhed
 The mouth, and loll'd the tongue out, like an ox
 That licks his nostrils. I, lest longer stay
 He ill might brook, who bade me stay not long,
 Backward my steps from those sad spirits turn'd.
 [3: "A yellow purse." The arms of the Gianfigliazzi of Florence.]
 [4: The arms of the Ubbriachi, another Florentine family of high
 [5: The arms of the Scrovigni, a noble family of Padua.]
 [6: Vitaliano del Dente, a Paduan.]
 [7: Giovanni Bujamonti, the most infamous usurer of his time.]
 My guide already seated on the haunch
 Of the fierce animal I found; and thus
 He me encouraged. "Be thou stout: be bold.
 Down such a steep flight must we now descend.
 Mount thou before: for, that no power the tail
 May have to harm thee, I will be i' th' midst."
 As one, who hath an ague fit so near,
 His nails already are turn'd blue, and he
 Quivers all o'er, if he but eye the shade;
 Such was my cheer at hearing of his words.
 But shame soon interposed her threat, who makes
 The servant bold in presence of his lord.
 I settled me upon those shoulders huge,
 And would have said, but that the words to aid
 My purpose came not, "Look thou clasp me firm."
 But he whose succour then not first I proved,
 Soon as I mounted, in his arms aloft,
 Embracing, held me up; and thus he spake:
 "Geryon! now move thee: be thy wheeling gyres
 Of ample circuit, easy thy descent.
 Think on the unusual burden thou sustain'st."
 As a small vessel, backening out from land,
 Her station quits; so thence the monster loosed,
 And, when he felt himself at large, turn'd round
 There, where the breast had been, his forked tail.
 Thus, like an eel, outstretch'd at length he steer'd,
 Gathering the air up with retractile claws.
 Not greater was the dread, when Phaeton
 The reins let drop at random, whence high heaven,
 Whereof signs yet appear, was wrapt in flames;
 Nor when ill - fated Icarus perceived,
 By liquefaction of the scalded wax,
 The trusted pennons loosen'd from his loins,
 His sire exclaiming loud, "Ill way thou keep'st,"
 Than was my dread, when round me on each part
 The air I view'd, and other object none
 Save the fell beast. He, slowly sailing, wheels
 His downward motion, unobserved of me,
 But that the wind, arising to my face,
 Breathes on me from below. Now on our right
 I heard the cataract beneath us leap
 With hideous crash; whence bending down to explore,
 New terror I conceived at the steep plunge;
 For flames I saw, and wailings smote mine ear:
 So that, all trembling, close I crouch'd my limbs,
 And then distinguish'd, unperceived before,
 By the dread torments that on every side
 Drew nearer, how our downward course we wound.
 As falcon, that hath long been on the wing,
 But lure nor bid hath seen, while in despair
 The falconer cries, "Ah me! thou stoop'st to earth,"
 Wearied descends, whence nimbly he arose
 In many an airy wheel, and lighting sits
 At distance from his lord in angry mood;
 So Geryon lighting places us on foot
 Low down at base of the deep - furrow'd rock,
 And, of his burden there discharged, forthwith
 Sprang forward, like an arrow from the string.