Inferno is the first part of The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. The poem, which is composed of three canticas (or "cantiche") — Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise) — is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature and one of the greatest literary works of human kind.
Canto I: Dante Astray in a Wood
- "Midway upon the journey of our life,
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straight foreward pathway had been lost."
- ...so full was I of slumber at that point where I abandoned the true way.
- ...so did my soul, which still was flying, turn back to look again upon the pass which never had a living person left.
- ...and she has a nature so malign and evil that she never sates her greedy will, and after food is hungrier than before.
Canto II: Beatrice
- And as is he who unwills what he willed, and because of new thoughts changes his design, so that he quite withdraws from beginning, such I became on that dark hillside: wherefore in my thought I abandoned the enterprise which had been so hasty in the beginning.
- Thy soul is hurt by cowardice, which oftentimes encumbereth a man so that it turns him back from honorable enterprise.
- I come from a place whither I desire to return.
- One ought to fear those things only that have power of doing harm, the others not, for they are not dreadful.
- I am made by God, thanks be to Him, such that your misery toucheth me not, nor doth the flame of this burning assail me.
- ...and when he had moved on, I entered along the deep and savage road.
Canto III: The Gate of Hell
- Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina potestate,
la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate
- Through me you go to the grief wracked city; Through me you go to everlasting pain; Through me you go a pass among lost souls. Justice inspired my exalted Creator: I am a creature of the Holiest Power, of Wisdom in the Highest and of Primal Love. Nothing till I was made was made, only eternal beings. And I endure eternally. Abandon all hope — Ye Who Enter Here
- Variant translation: 'Through me the way to the suffering city; Through me the everlasting pain; Through me the way that runs among the Lost. Justice urged on my exalted Creator: Divine Power made me, The Supreme Wisdom and the Primal Love. Nothing was made before me but eternal things And I endure eternally. Abandon all hope - You Who Enter Here.'
- Variant Translation: 'I am the way into the city of woe. I am the way to a forsaken people. I am the way into eternal sorrow. Sacred justice moved my architect. I was raised here by divine omnipotence, primordial love and ultimate intellect. Only those elements time cannot wear are beyond me, and beyond time I stand. Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.'
- Note: Full inscription on the top of the gate.
- This miserable measure the wretched souls maintain of those who lived without infamy and without praise. Mingled are they with that caitiff choir of the angels, who were not rebels, nor were faithful to God, but were for themselves. The heavens chased them out in order to be not less beautiful, nor doth the depth of Hell receive them, because the damned would have some glory from them.
- These have no hope of death... mercy and justice disdain them. Let us not speak of them, but do thou look and pass on.
- ...behind it came so long a train of folk, that I could never have believed death had undone so many.
- This way a good soul never passes...
- Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...
Canto IV: First Circle
- Dark, profound it was, and cloudy, so that though I fixed my sight on the bottom I did not discern anything there.
- ...I come into a region where is nothing that can give light.
- ...Let us die into the big blind world.
Canto V: Second Circle, Paolo and Francesca
- ...no hope ever comforts them, not of repose, but even of less pain.
- Amor, ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende
- Translation: Love, that on gentle heart doth swiftly seize.
- Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona
- translation: Love that exempts no one loved from loving in return
- There is no greater woe than in misery to remember the happy time, and that thy Teacher knows.
Canto VI: Third Circle
- ...new torments and new tormented souls I see around me wherever I move, and howsoever I turn, and wherever I gaze.
Canto VII: Fourth Circle
- ...not without cause is this going to the abyss; it is willed on high...
- Justice of God! Who heapeth up so many new travails and penalties as I saw? And why doth our sin so waste us?
- Vain thought thou harborest; the undiscerning life that made them foul, to all recognition now makes them dim.
- ...for all the gold that is beneath the moon, or that ever was, of these weary souls could not make a single one repose.
- O creatures foolish, how great is that ignorance that harms you!
- But now let us descend to greater woe. Already every star sinks that was rising when I set out, and too long stay is forbidden.
- Fixed in the slime, they say, 'Sullen were we in the sweet air that by the Sun is gladdened, bearing within ourselves the sluggish fume; now we are sullen in the black mire.' This hymn they gurgle in their throats, for they cannot speak with entire words.
- With weeping and with wailing, accursed spirit, do thou remain, for I know thee although thou art all filthy.
- Fear not, for no one can take from us our onward way, by Such an one it is given to us. But here await me, and comfort thy dejected spirit and feed on good hope, for I will not leave thee in the nether world.
- Without fame, he who spends his time on earth leaves only such a mark upon the world as smoke does on air or foam on water.
- Get up! breathe with the soul, for it is brave in every battle, and will always win, unless the heavy body be its grave.
Canto XXVI: Ulysses
- ...né dolcezza di figlio, né la pieta
del vecchio padre, né 'l debito amore
lo qual dovea Penelopé far lieta,
vincer potero dentro a me l'ardore
ch'i' ebbi a divenir del mondo esperto,
e de li vizi umani e del valore...
- Nor fondness for my son, nor reverence for my old father, nor the due affection which joyous should have made Penelope, could overcome within me the desire I had to be experienced of the world, and of the vice and virtue of mankind...
- Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.
- Consider well the seed that gave you birth: you were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.