The Divine Comedy, Paradiso "How Hard The Passage To Descend And Climb By Other's Stairs"
by Dante Alighieri

Start Your Free Trial

Download The Divine Comedy, Paradiso Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"How Hard The Passage To Descend And Climb By Other's Stairs"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: After Dante and his celestial guide Beatrice are translated into the fifth Heaven, that of Mars, the poet learns of the souls who died defending the true faith and are arranged in the sign of the cross. After singing hymns, the spirit of Cacciaguida, Dante's ancestor, glides to the foot of the cross and tells of the old Florentine days, of the present troubles, and finally predicts the poet's woes, especially his exile. "This they wish, and this/ Contrive, and will ere long effectuate there,/ Where gainful merchandize is made of Christ/ Throughout the live-long day. The common cry,/ Will, as 'tis ever wont, affix the blame/ Unto the party injured: but the truth/ Shall, in the vengeance it dispenseth, find/ A faithful witness. Thou shalt leave each thing/ Beloved most dearly; this is the first shaft/Shot from the bow of exile." He then continues his prophecy:

"Thou shalt prove
How salt the savour is of other's bread;
How hard the passage, to descend and climb
By other's stairs. But that shall gall thee most,
Will be the worthless and vile company,
With whom thou must be thrown into these straits."