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 Canto XXIII
      The enraged Demons pursue Dante, but he is preserved from them by Virgil.
 On reaching the sixth gulf, he beholds the punishment of the hypocrites; which
 is, to pace continually round the gulf under the pressure of caps and hoods,
 that are gilt on the outside, but leaden within. He is addressed by two of
 these, Catalano and Loderingo, Knights of St. Mary, otherwise called Joyous
 Friars of Bologna. Caiaphas is seen fixed to a cross on the ground, and lies
 so stretched along the way, that all tread on him in passing.
 In silence and in solitude we went,
 One first, the other following his steps,
 As minor friars journeying on their road.
 The present fray had turn'd my thoughts to muse
 Upon old Aesop's fable,[1] where he told
 What fate unto the mouse and frog befell;
 For language hath not sounds more like in sense,
 Than are these chances, if the origin
 And end of each be heedfully compared.
 And as one thought bursts from another forth,
 So afterward from that another sprang,
 Which added doubly to my former fear.
 For thus I reason'd: "These through us have been
 So foil'd, with loss and mockery so complete,
 As needs must sting them sore. If anger then
 Be to their evil will conjoin'd, more fell
 They shall pursue us, than the savage hound
 Snatches the leveret panting 'twixt his jaws."
 [1: "Aesop's fable." The fable of the frog, who offered to carry the
 mouse across a ditch, with the intention of drowning him, when both were
 carried off by a kite. It is not among those Greek fables which go under the
 name of Aesop.]
 Already I perceived my hair stand all
 On end with terror, and look'd eager back.
 "Teacher," I thus began, "if speedily
 Thyself and me thou hide not, much I dread
 Those evil talons. Even now behind
 They urge us: quick imagination works
 So forcibly, that I already feel them."
 He answer'd: "Were I form'd of leaded glass,
 I should not sooner draw unto myself
 Thy outward image, than I now imprint
 That from within. This moment came thy thoughts
 Presented before mine, with similar act
 And countenance similar, so that from both
 I one design have framed. If the right coast
 Incline so much, that we may thence descend
 Into the other chasm, we shall escape
 Secure from this imagined pursuit."
 He had not spoke his purpose to the end,
 When I from far beheld them with spread wings
 Approach to take us. Suddenly my guide
 Caught me, even as a mother that from sleep
 Is by the noise aroused, and near her sees
 The climbing fires, who snatches up her babe
 And flies ne'er pausing, careful more of him
 Than of herself, that but a single vest
 Clings round her limbs. Down from the jutting beach
 Supine he cast him to that pendent rock,
 Which closes on one part the other chasm.
 Never ran water with such hurrying pace
 Adown the tube to turn a land - mill's wheel,
 When nearest it approaches to the spokes,
 As then along that edge my master ran,
 Carrying me in his bosom, as a child,
 Not a companion. Scarcely had his feet
 Reach'd to the lowest of the bed beneath,
 When over us the steep they reach'd: but fear
 In him was none; for that high Providence,
 Which placed them ministers of the fifth foss,
 Power of departing thence took from them all.
 There in the depth we saw a painted tribe,
 Who paced with tardy steps around, and wept,
 Faint in appearance and o'ercome with toil.
 Caps had they on, with hoods, that fell low down
 Before their eyes, in fashion like to those
 Worn by the monks in Cologne.[2] Their outside
 Was overlaid with gold, dazzling to view,
 But leaden all within, and of such weight,
 That Frederick's[3] compared to these were straw.
 Oh, everlasting wearisome attire!
 [2: They wore unusually large cowls.]
 [3: The Emperor Frederick II is said to have punished those who were
 guilty of high treason by wrapping them up in lead and casting them into a
 We yet once more with them together turn'd
 To leftward, on their dismal moan intent.
 But by the weight opprest, so slowly came
 The fainting people, that our company
 Was changed, at every movement of the step.
 Whence I my guide address'd: "See that thou find
 Some spirit, whose name may by his deeds be known;
 And to that end look round thee as thou go'st."
 Then one, who understood the Tuscan voice,
 Cried after us aloud: "Hold in your feet,
 Ye who so swiftly speed through the dusk air.
 Perchance from me thou shalt obtain thy wish."
 Whereat my leader, turning, me bespake:
 "Pause, and then onward at their pace proceed."
 I staid, and saw two spirits in whose look
 Impatient eagerness of mind was mark'd
 To overtake me; but the load they bare
 And narrow path retarded their approach.
 Soon as arrived, they with an eye askance
 Perused me, but spake not: then turning, each
 To other thus conferring said: "This one
 Seems, by the action of his throat, alive;
 And, be they dead, what privilege allows
 They walk unmantled by the cumbrous stole?"
 Then thus to me: "Tuscan, who visitest
 The college of the mourning hypocrites,
 Disdain not to instruct us who thou art."
 "By Arno's pleasant stream," I thus replied,
 "In the great city I was bred and grew,
 And wear the body I have ever worn.
 But who are ye, from whom such mighty grief,
 As now I witness, courseth down your cheeks?
 What torment breaks forth in this bitter woe?"
 "Our bonnets gleaming bright with orange hue,"
 One of them answer'd, "are so leaden gross,
 That with their weight they make the balances
 To crack beneath them. Joyous friars[4] we were,
 Bologna's natives; Catalano I,
 He Loderingo named; and by thy land
 Together taken, as men used to take
 A single and indifferent arbiter,
 To reconcile their strifes. How there we sped,
 Gardingo's vicinage[5] can best declare."
 [4: "Joyous friars." "Those who ruled the city of Florence on the
 part of the Ghibellines perceiving this discontent and murmuring, which they
 were fearful might produce a rebellion against themselves, in order to satisfy
 the people, made choice of two knights, Frati Gaudenti (joyous friars) of
 Bologna, on whom they conferred the chief power in Florence; one named M.
 Catalano de' Malavolti, the other M. Loderingo di Liandolo; one an adherent of
 the Guelf, the other of the Ghibelline party. It is to be remarked, that the
 Joyous Friars were called Knights of St. Mary, and became knights on taking
 that habit: their robes were white, the mantle sable, and the arms a white
 field and red cross with two stars: their office was to defend widows and
 orphans, they were to act as mediators; they had internal regulations, like
 other religious bodies. The above - mentioned M. Loderingo was the founder of
 that order. But it was not long before they too well deserved the appellation
 given them, and were found to be more bent on enjoying themselves than on any
 other object. These two friars were called in by the Florentines, and had a
 residence assigned them in the palace belonging to the people, over against
 the Abbey. Such was the dependence placed on the character of their order, it
 was expected they would be impartial, and would save the commonwealth any
 unnecessary expense; instead of which, though inclined to opposite parties,
 they secretly and hypocritically concurred in promoting their own advantage
 rather than the public good." - G. Villani, b. vii. c. xiii. This happened in
 [5: The name of that part of the city which was inhabited by the
 powerful Ghibelline family of the Uberti, and destroyed under the partial and
 iniquitous administration of Catalano and Loderingo.]
 "O friars!" I began, "your miseries -"
 But there brake off, for one had caught mine eye,
 Fix'd to a cross with three stakes on the ground:
 He, when he saw me, writhed himself, throughout
 Distorted, ruffling with deep sighs his beard.
 And Catalano, who thereof was 'ware,
 Thus spake: "That pierced spirit,[6] whom intent
 Thou view'st, was he who gave the Pharisees
 Counsel, that it were fitting for one man
 [6: "That pierced spirit." Caiaphas.]
 To suffer for the people. He doth lie
 Transverse; nor any passes, but him first
 Behoves make feeling trial how each weighs.
 In straits like this along the foss are placed
 The father of his consort,[7] and the rest
 Partakers in that council, seed of ill
 And sorrow to the Jews." I noted then,
 How Virgil gazed with wonder upon him,
 Thus abjectly extended on the cross
 In banishment eternal. To the friar
 He next his words address'd: "We pray ye tell,
 If so be lawful, whether on our right
 Lies any opening in the rock, whereby
 We both may issue hence, without constraint
 On the dark angels, that compell'd they come
 To lead us from this depth." He thus replied:
 "Nearer than thou dost hope, there is a rock
 From the great circle moving, which o'ersteps
 Each vale of horror, save that here his cope
 Is shatter'd. By the ruin ye may mount:
 For on the side it slants, and most the height
 Rises below." With head bent down awhile
 My leader stood; then spake: "He warn'd us ill,
 Who yonder hangs the sinners on his hook."
 [7: Annas, father - in - law to Caiaphas.]
 To whom the friar: "At Bologna erst
 I many vices of the Devil heard;
 Among the rest was said, 'He is a liar,
 And the father of lies!'" When he had spoke,
 My leader with large strides proceeded on,
 Somewhat disturb'd with anger in his look.
 I therefore left the spirits heavy laden,
 And, following, his beloved footsteps mark'd.