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 Canto XXIX
      Dante, at the desire of Virgil, proceeds onward to the bridge that
 crosses the tenth gulf, from whence he hears the cries of the alchemists and
 forgers, who are tormented therein; but not being able to discern anything on
 account of the darkness, they descend the rock, that bounds this, the last of
 the compartments in which the eighth circle is divided, and then behold the
 spirits who are afflicted by divers plagues and diseases. Two of them, namely,
 Grifolino of Arezzo, and Capocchio of Siena, are introduced speaking.
 So were mine eyes inebriate with the view
 Of the vast multitude, whom various wounds
 Disfigured, that they long'd to stay and weep.
 But Virgil roused me: "What yet gazest on?
 Wherefore doth fasten yet thy sight below
 Among the maim'd and miserable shades?
 Thou hast not shown in any chasm beside
 This weakness. Know, if thou wouldst number them,
 That two and twenty miles the valley winds
 Its circuit, and already is the moon
 Beneath our feet: the time permitted now
 Is short; and more, not seen, remains to see."
 "If thou," I straight replied, "hadst weigh'd the cause,
 For which I look'd, thou hadst perchance excused
 The tarrying still." My leader part pursued
 His way, the while I follow'd, answering him,
 And adding thus: "Within that cave I deem,
 Whereon so fixedly I held my ken,
 There is a spirit dwells, one of my blood,
 Wailing the crime that costs him now so dear."
 Then spake my master: "Let thy soul no more
 Afflict itself for him. Direct elsewhere
 Its thought, and leave him. At the bridge's foot
 I mark'd how he did point with menacing look
 At thee, and heard him by the others named
 Geri of Bello.[1] Thou so wholly then
 Wert busied with his spirit, who once ruled
 The towers of Hautefort, that thou lookedst not
 That way, ere he was gone." "O guide beloved!
 [1: "Geri of Bello." A kinsman of the Poet's, who was murdered by one
 of the Sacchetti family. His being placed here, may be considered as a proof
 that Dante was more impartial in the allotment of his punishments than has
 generally been supposed.]
 His violent death yet unavenged," said I,
 "By any, who are partners in his shame,
 Made him contemptuous; therefore, as I think,
 He pass'd me speechless by; and, doing so,
 Hath made me more compassionate his fate."
 So we discoursed to where the rock first show'd
 The other valley, had more light been there,
 E'en to the lowest depth. Soon as we came
 O'er the last cloister in the dismal rounds
 Of Malebolge, and the brotherhood
 Were to our view exposed, then many a dart
 Of sore lament assail'd me, headed all
 With points of thrilling pity, that I closed
 Both ears against the volley with mine hands.
 As were the torment, if each lazar - house
 Of Valdichiana,[2] in the sultry time
 'Twixt July and September, with the isle
 Sardinia and Maremma's pestilent fen,[3]
 Had heap'd their maladies all in one foss
 Together; such was here the torment: dire
 The stench, as issuing streams from fester'd limbs.
 [2: The valley through which passes the river Chiana, bounded by
 Arezzo, Cortona, Montepulciano, and Chiusi. In the autumn it was formerly
 rendered unwholesome by the stagnation of the water, but has since been
 drained by the Emperor Leopold II. The Chiana is mentioned as a remarkably
 sluggish stream, in the Paradise, Canto xiii. 21.]
 [3: See note to Canto xxv, v. 18.]
 We on the utmost shore of the long rock
 Descended still to leftward. Then my sight
 Was livelier to explore the depth, wherein
 The minister of the most mighty Lord,
 All - searching Justice, dooms to punishment
 The forgers noted on her dread record.
 More rueful was it not methinks to see
 The nation in Aegina[4] droop, what time
 Each living thing, e'en to the little worm,
 All fell, so full of malice was the air
 (And afterward, as bards of yore have told,
 The ancient people were restored anew
 From seed of emmets), than was here to see
 [4: "In Aegina." He alludes to the fable of the ants changed into
 Myrmidons. - Ovid, Met. lib. vii.]
 The spirits, that languish'd through the murky vale,
 Up - piled on many a stack. Confused they lay,
 One o'er the belly, o'er the shoulders one
 Roll'd of another; sideling crawl'd a third
 Along the dismal pathway. Step by step
 We journey'd on, in silence looking round,
 And listening those diseased, who strove in vain
 To lift their forms. Then two I mark'd, that sat
 Propt 'gainst each other, as two brazen pans
 Set to retain the heat. From head to foot,
 A tetter bark'd them round. Nor saw I e'er
 Groom currying so fast, for whom his lord
 Impatient waited, or himself perchance
 Tired with long watching, as of these each one
 Plied quickly his keen nails, through furiousness
 Of ne'er abated pruriency. The crust
 Came down from underneath, in flakes, like scales
 Scraped from the bream, or fish of broader mail.
 "O thou! who with thy fingers rendest off
 Thy coat of proof," thus spake my guide to one,
 "And sometimes makest tearing pincers of them,
 Tell me if any born of Latian land
 Be among these within: so may thy nails
 Serve thee for everlasting to this toil."
 "Both are of Latium," weeping he replied,
 "Whom tortured thus thou seest: but who art thou
 That hast inquired of us?" To whom my guide:
 "One that descend with this man, who yet lives,
 From rock to rock, and show him Hell's abyss."
 Then started they asunder, and each turn'd
 Trembling toward us, with the rest, whose ear
 Those words redounding struck. To me my liege
 Address'd him: "Speak to them whate'er thou list."
 And I therewith began: "So may no time
 Filch your remembrance from the thoughts of men
 In the upper world, but after many suns
 Survive it, as ye tell me, who ye are,
 And of what race ye come. Your punishment,
 Unseemly and disgustful in its kind,
 Deter you not from opening thus much to me."
 "Arezzo was my dwelling,"[5] answer'd one,
 "And me Albero of Siena brought
 To die by fire: but that, for which I died,
 Leads me not here. True is, in sport I told him,
 That I had learn'd to wing my flight in air;
 And he, admiring much, as he was void
 Of wisdom, will'd me to declare to him
 The secret of mine art: and only hence,
 Because I made him not a Daedalus,
 Prevail'd on one supposed his sire to burn me.
 But Minos to this chasm, last of the ten,
 For that I practised alchemy on earth,
 Has doom'd me. Him no subterfuge eludes."
 [5: Grifolino of Arezzo, who promised Albero, son of the Bishop of
 Siena, that he would teach him the art of flying; and, because he did not keep
 his promise, Albero prevailed on his father to have him burnt for a
 Then to the bard I spake: "Was ever race
 Light as Siena's?[6] Sure not France herself
 Can show a tribe so frivolous and vain."
 [6: The same imputation is again cast on the Sienese, Purgatory,
 Canto xiii, 141.]
 The other leprous spirit heard my words,
 And thus return'd: "Be Stricca[7] from this charge
 Exempted, he who knew so temperately
 To lay out fortune's gifts; and Niccolo,
 Who first the spice's costly luxury
 Discover'd in that garden,[8] where such seed
 Roots deepest in the soil; and be that troop
 Exempted, with whom Caccia of Asciano
 Lavish'd his vineyards and wide - spreading woods,
 And his rare wisdom Abbagliato show'd
 A spectacle for all. That thou mayst know
 Who seconds thee against the Sienese
 Thus gladly, bend this way thy sharpen'd sight,
 That well my face may answer to thy ken;
 So shalt thou see I am Capocchio's ghost,[9]
 Who forged transmuted metals by the power
 [7: This is said ironically, Stricca, Niccolo Salimbeni, Caccia of
 Asciano, and Abbagliato, or Meo de' Folcacchieri, belonged to a company of
 prodigal and luxurious youth in Siena, called the "brigata godereccia."
 Niccolo was the inventor of a new manner of using cloves in cookery, and which
 was termed the "costuma ricca."]
 [8: "In that garden." Siena.]
 [9: Capocchio of Siena who is said to have been a fellow - student of
 Dante's, in natural philosophy.]
 Of alchemy; and if I scan thee right,
 Thou needs must well remember how I aped
 Creative nature by my subtle art."