Inferno -- Canto VIII

Wrathful, Filippo Argenti



1 The tower belongs to the walls of the city of Dis, the sixth circle, ruled by the fallen angels.











19 Phlegyas, son of Mars, guards the wrathful and transports souls to Dis. In anger at Apollo for seducing his daughter, he set fire to the temple at Delphi.







32 The angry soul is Filippo Argenti of the wealthy Adimari clan.








45 Virgil echoes the words said of Jesus: "Blessed is the womb that bore thee" (Luke 11:27).
























82 These devils were once angels in heaven. They fell as they were defeated in their rebellion against God.



























125 Virgil is referring to the devils' rebellion against Christ at the gates of hell. This happened when Christ descended into hell to free the souls of the patriarchs following his death.

130 The angel who appears in the next canto.

          Moving on, I say that long before
          We came to the base of that high tower
          Our eyes were drawn up to its pinnacle
          By two flares which we saw positioned there
5        While still a third responded to the signal
          From so far off the eye could scarcely see it.
          And I turned to that sea of all perception;
          I asked, "What does this mean? What answer
          Does the other make? And who is doing this?"
10       And he told me, "Above the filthy waves
          Already you can sight what waits for us,
          Unless the swamp’s thick vapors hide it from you."
          Bowspring never fired off an arrow
          That streamed through the air with such speed
15       As did the tiny dinghy that I spotted
          Riding that moment toward us on the water,
          A single boatman holding it on course.
          He screamed, "Now you are caught, wicked soul!"
          "Phlegyas, Phlegyas, you shout futilely,"
20       My lord replied; "this time your hold on us
          Will last no longer than crossing on the mire."
          And just as one who learns some huge deception
          Has been played on him, grows to resent it,
          So Phlegyas reacted, restraining his anger.
25       My guide then stepped down into the boat,
          And next he made me enter after him:
          Only when I was in did it seem weighted.
          As soon as my guide and I embarked,
          The ancient prow pushed off, ploughing down
30       Water more deeply than it does with others.
          While we rode over the dead channel
          Before me rose a figure smeared with mud
          Who asked, "Who are you come before your time?"
          And I told him, "I come, but do not stay.
35       But who are you who are made so ugly?"
          He answered, "You see that I am one who weeps."
          And I told him, "In weeping and in mourning,
          Accursed spirit, there may you remain,
          For, filthy as you are, I recognize you."
40       Then he stretched both his hands out to the boat.
          At that my ready master shoved him off,
          Saying, "Get away, with the other dogs!"
          My guide then put his arms around my neck,
          Kissed me, and said, "Soul of indignation,
45       Blessed is the woman who gave you birth!
          "In the world he was a man of arrogance;
          Nothing good bedecks his memory:
          For that, his shade down here is furious.
          "How many up there now think themselves kings
50       Who here shall wallow in the mud like pigs,
          Bequeathing only loathsome disrepute."
          And I said, "Master, eagerly would I like
          To see that spirit soused within this soup
          Before we take our leave of this morass."
55       And he told me, "Before the future shore
          Comes into view, you shall be satisfied,
          For it is right that your wish be fulfilled."
          Shortly afterward I saw such a tearing
          Of that shade by the slimy people there
60       That still I praise and thank God for it.
          All shouted, "Get Filippo Argenti!"
          And then the frenzied Florentine spirit
          Turned on himself his own biting teeth.
          We left him there; I tell no more about him.
65       But wailing, then, so pounded on my ear
          That I intently strained my eyes ahead.
          The kindly master said, "Now, my dear son,
          The city known as Dis approaches near
          With its grave citizens and mighty hosts."
70       And I: "Master, already I see clearly
          There in the valley its mosques glowing
          Bright red as if just lifted from the fire."
          And he said to me, "The eternal flame,
          Burning within, shows them rosy-red,
75       As you discern, here in this lower hell."
          We arrived at last inside the deep ditch
          Which moated round that melancholy city,
          The walls appearing to me like cast iron.
          After we had first made a great circuit,
80       We came to a spot where the boatman loudly
          Cried, "Get out — this is the entry way!"
          I saw above the gates more than a thousand
          Of those poured out from heaven; they wrathfully
          Called, "Who is this one who without dying
85       "Passes through the kingdom of the dead?"
          Then my thoughtful master gave a signal
          Of his wish to speak to them in confidence.
          At that they barely checked their high disdain
          And said, "You come along — let that one go
90       Who so boldly enters through this realm.
          "Let him return alone on his fool’s path —
          Try, if he can! For you are staying here
          Who guided him into so dark a country."
          Reflect, reader, how I lost my courage
95       When I heard them speak the awful curse,
          For I did not think I ever would go back.
          "O my dear guide who more than seven times
          Brought me back to safety and who drew me
          From the deep peril that stood in my way,
100     "Don’t let me be forsaken so!" I cried,
          "And if we are denied to pass on further,
          Quickly let us retrace our steps together."
          And that lord who had led me to this spot
          Said to me, "Have no fear; our passage here
105     No one can take from us: such is the Donor.
          "But wait for me there, your weary spirit
          Comforted and nourished with strong hope,
          Since I won’t leave you in the lower world."
          So he goes off and here abandons me,
110     My tender father; and I am kept in doubt
          While yes and no battle in my brain.
          I couldn’t hear what he proposed to them,
          But he did not remain with them for long
          When they all scrimmaged to get back inside.
115     These enemies of ours slammed the gate
          In my lord’s face; he stood there left outside
          And then turned back to me with slow slack steps.
          Eyes fastened on the ground and brows shorn bare
          Of any boldness, he murmured between sighs,
120     "Who has forbidden me the house of pain?"
          But he informed me, "You — because I’m vexed —
          Should not lose heart — I will win this contest
          No matter what defense they try within.
          "This arrogance of theirs is nothing new,
125      For once they showed it at a less secret gate
          Which still is standing, in full view, unlocked.
          "Above that gate you read the deadly writing,
          And already, from this side and down the slope,
          Passing through the circles without escort,
130     "Comes one by whom the city will be opened."
arrowleft_anie.gif (690 bytes)return to Inferno VII


go to Inferno IX arrowright_anie.gif (691 bytes)