WHAT time resentment burn'd in Juno's breast
For Semele against the Theban blood,
As more than once in dire mischance was rued,
Such fatal frenzy seiz'd on Athamas,
That he his spouse beholding with a babe
Laden on either arm, "Spread out," he cried,
"The meshes, that I take the lioness
And the young lions at the pass:" then forth
Stretch'd he his merciless talons, grasping one,
One helpless innocent, Learchus nam'd,
Whom swinging down he dash'd upon a rock,
And with her other burden self-destroy'd
The hapless mother plung'd: and when the pride
Of all-presuming Troy fell from its height,
By fortune overwhelm'd, and the old king
With his realm perish'd, then did Hecuba,
A wretch forlorn and captive, when she saw
Polyxena first slaughter'd, and her son,
Her Polydorus, on the wild sea-beach
Next met the mourner's view, then reft of sense
Did she run barking even as a dog;
Such mighty power had grief to wrench her soul.
Bet ne'er the Furies or of Thebes or Troy
With such fell cruelty were seen, their goads
Infixing in the limbs of man or beast,
As now two pale and naked ghost I saw
That gnarling wildly scamper'd, like the swine
Excluded from his stye. One reach'd Capocchio,
And in the neck-joint sticking deep his fangs,
Dragg'd him, that o'er the solid pavement rubb'd
His belly stretch'd out prone. The other shape,
He of Arezzo, there left trembling, spake;
"That sprite of air is Schicchi; in like mood
Of random mischief vent he still his spite."
To whom I answ'ring: "Oh! as thou dost hope,
The other may not flesh its jaws on thee,
Be patient to inform us, who it is,
Ere it speed hence."—"That is the ancient soul
Of wretched Myrrha," he replied, "who burn'd
With most unholy flame for her own sire,
"And a false shape assuming, so perform'd
The deed of sin; e'en as the other there,
That onward passes, dar'd to counterfeit
Donati's features, to feign'd testament
The seal affixing, that himself might gain,
For his own share, the lady of the herd."
When vanish'd the two furious shades, on whom
Mine eye was held, I turn'd it back to view
The other cursed spirits. One I saw
In fashion like a lute, had but the groin
Been sever'd, where it meets the forked part.
Swoln dropsy, disproportioning the limbs
With ill-converted moisture, that the paunch
Suits not the visage, open'd wide his lips
Gasping as in the hectic man for drought,
One towards the chin, the other upward curl'd.
"O ye, who in this world of misery,
Wherefore I know not, are exempt from pain,"
Thus he began, "attentively regard
Adamo's woe. When living, full supply
Ne'er lack'd me of what most I coveted;
One drop of water now, alas! I crave.
The rills, that glitter down the grassy slopes
Of Casentino, making fresh and soft
The banks whereby they glide to Arno's stream,
Stand ever in my view; and not in vain;
For more the pictur'd semblance dries me up,
Much more than the disease, which makes the flesh
Desert these shrivel'd cheeks. So from the place,
Where I transgress'd, stern justice urging me,
Takes means to quicken more my lab'ring sighs.
There is Romena, where I falsified
The metal with the Baptist's form imprest,
For which on earth I left my body burnt.
But if I here might see the sorrowing soul
Of Guido, Alessandro, or their brother,
For Branda's limpid spring I would not change
The welcome sight. One is e'en now within,
If truly the mad spirits tell, that round
Are wand'ring. But wherein besteads me that?
My limbs are fetter'd. Were I but so light,
That I each hundred years might move one inch,
I had set forth already on this path,
Seeking him out amidst the shapeless crew,
Although eleven miles it wind, not more
Than half of one across. They brought me down
Among this tribe; induc'd by them I stamp'd
The florens with three carats of alloy."
"Who are that abject pair," I next inquir'd,
"That closely bounding thee upon thy right
Lie smoking, like a band in winter steep'd
In the chill stream?"—"When to this gulf I dropt,"
He answer'd, "here I found them; since that hour
They have not turn'd, nor ever shall, I ween,
Till time hath run his course. One is that dame
The false accuser of the Hebrew youth;
Sinon the other, that false Greek from Troy.
Sharp fever drains the reeky moistness out,
In such a cloud upsteam'd." When that he heard,
One, gall'd perchance to be so darkly nam'd,
With clench'd hand smote him on the braced paunch,
That like a drum resounded: but forthwith
Adamo smote him on the face, the blow
Returning with his arm, that seem'd as hard.
"Though my o'erweighty limbs have ta'en from me
The power to move," said he, "I have an arm
At liberty for such employ." To whom
Was answer'd: "When thou wentest to the fire,
Thou hadst it not so ready at command,
Then readier when it coin'd th' impostor gold."
And thus the dropsied: "Ay, now speak'st thou true.
But there thou gav'st not such true testimony,
When thou wast question'd of the truth, at Troy."
"If I spake false, thou falsely stamp'dst the coin,"
Said Sinon; "I am here but for one fault,
And thou for more than any imp beside."
"Remember," he replied, "O perjur'd one,
The horse remember, that did teem with death,
And all the world be witness to thy guilt."
"To thine," return'd the Greek, "witness the thirst
Whence thy tongue cracks, witness the fluid mound,
Rear'd by thy belly up before thine eyes,
A mass corrupt." To whom the coiner thus:
"Thy mouth gapes wide as ever to let pass
Its evil saying. Me if thirst assails,
Yet I am stuff'd with moisture. Thou art parch'd,
Pains rack thy head, no urging would'st thou need
To make thee lap Narcissus' mirror up."
I was all fix'd to listen, when my guide
Admonish'd: "Now beware: a little more.
And I do quarrel with thee." I perceiv'd
How angrily he spake, and towards him turn'd
With shame so poignant, as remember'd yet
Confounds me. As a man that dreams of harm
Befall'n him, dreaming wishes it a dream,
And that which is, desires as if it were not,
Such then was I, who wanting power to speak
Wish'd to excuse myself, and all the while
Excus'd me, though unweeting that I did.
"More grievous fault than thine has been, less shame,"
My master cried, "might expiate. Therefore cast
All sorrow from thy soul; and if again
Chance bring thee, where like conference is held,
Think I am ever at thy side. To hear
Such wrangling is a joy for vulgar minds."
Dante's Inferno eText - Canto 30
WHAT time resentment burn'd in Juno's breast
This story is told in Book IV of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
One of Zeus's many loves was Semele, whom Zeus impregnated. She was the daughter of the founder of the city of Thebes, Cadmus. Zeus accidentally killed her when he appeared to her in his godly form and she was struck dead by lightning. Their unborn child somehow survived and was placed in Zeus in his right thigh, where he was eventually born. The baby was given to Semele's sister, Ino. Hera, Zeus's wife, discovered the bastard child and was livid. In revenge for her husband's treachery, Hera angered Ino's husband to the point that he killed his and Ino's son, Learchus. In her grief, Ino jumped into the sea with their other son, Melicertes.
Hecuba was the widow of the Priam, the king of Troy. Hecuba and her daughter, Polxxena, were enslaved by the Greeks, who had conquered them. Polyxena was sacrificed on Achilles' tomb. Her murder, as well as discovering her son's body which had washed up on the shore, drove Hecuba insane.
Buoso Donati (according to early scholars) died intestate. His nephew impersonated his dead uncle and created a will in order to bequeath himself Donati's property. This elaborate scam became an important component in Puccini's one-act opera, Trittico.
This story is told in Book X of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Because of her refusal to honor the goddess Aphrodite, Myrrha was beset with an incestuous passion for her own father, King Cinyras of Cypress. Myrrha seduced Cinyras by impersonating her mother. When Cinyras discovered the ruse, he threatened to kill her. Myrrha ran away and was turned into a myrtle (or "myrrh" tree). Adonis was born from her trunk.
In 1277, a document identified a "Master Adam," an Englishman, who was a member of the Conti Guii household in Romena. In 1281, someone who worked for the Guilis was burned alive for coining underweight gold, passing off twenty-one carat florins for twenty-four carat florins.
The "dame" is the wife of Potiphar, one of the Pharaoh's officers. She repeatedly tried to seduce Joseph, but he spurned her advances. Joseph was Potiphar's overseer. In revenge for his rejection, she claimed that he tried to rape her. Joseph was imprisoned due to the charges.
The story is told in Genesis 39:6-20:
6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
Sinon allowed himself to be captured by the Trojans. He falsely said that he had escaped from becoming a sacrifice by the Greeks. He also claimed that the Trojan horse was supposed to be an offering of atonement to Athena for stealing the Palladium (See Canto 26). Because of his lies, the Trojans took the horse into their city and were subsequently conquered.
In the myth of Narcissus, the handsome lad sees his reflection in the water and becomes so enamored of his own image that he dies in despair because he cannot possess it.
Dante and Virgil are in the Tenth Pouch of the Eighth Circle, still in the midst of falsifiers.
This refers to King Athamas. Tisiphone, one of the three Furies, at Juno's command, altered Athamas' mind so that he believed his wife, Ino, and their two sons were actually a lioness and her cubs, causing Athamas to attack them. He killed his infant son, Learchus, and Ino, in a frenzy, jumped into the sea with her remaining child. Both were drowned.
A region to the east of Florence
This is most likely a reference to leprosy, a disease that eats away the flesh, very common in Europe in the Middle Ages.
That is, John the Baptist
Adam (Adamo) was in the service of the Guidi Counts--Guido, Alessandro, and Aghinolfo--whose base of operation was their castle in Rowena.
In other words, your small error doesn't call for such great shame.
That is, those who want to hear so much arguing are scum.
This refers to what we know as edema, swelling of the body and limbs. The food and water one takes in simply causes more swelling.
A spring near the castles at Rowena
Master Adam is admitting to debasing the coinage by indicating that they contained more precious metals than they really had. This was a serious threat to the entire monetary system because, as soon as people lose confidence that the coins contain the proper amount of precious metal--silver and gold--the economic system collapses.