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But fraud, because of man peculiar evil,
To God is more displeasing; and beneath,
The fraudulent are therefore doom'd to endure
Severer pang. The violent occupy
All the first circle; and because, to force,
Three persons are obnoxious, in three rounds,
Each within other separate, is it framed.
To God, his neighbour, and himself, by man
Force may be offer'd ; to himself I say,
And his possessions, as thou soon shalt hear
At full. Death, violent death, and painful wounds
Upon his neighbour he inflicts; and wastes,
By devastation, pillage, and the flames,
His substance. Slayers, and each one that smites
In malice, plunderers, and all robbers, hence
The torment undergo of the first round,
In different herds. Man can do violence
To himself and his own blessings : and for this,
He, in the second round must aye deplore
With unavailing penitence his crime,
Whoe'er deprives himself of life and light,
In reckless lavishment his talent wastes,
And sorrows there where he should dwell in joy.
To God may force be offer'd, in the heart
Denying and blaspheming his high power,
And Nature with her kindly law contemning.
And thence the inmost round marks with its seal
Sodom, and Cahors, and all such as speak
Contemptuously of the Godhead in their hearts.

“Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting
May be by man employ'd on one, whose trust
He wins, or on another who withholds
Strict confidence. Seems as the latter way

Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes.
Whence in the second circle have their nest,
Dissimulation, witchcraft, flatteries,
Theft, falsehood, simony, all who seduce
To lust, or set their honesty at pawn,
With such vile scum as these. The other way
Forgets both Nature's general love, and that
Which thereto added afterward gives birth
To special faith. Whence in the lesser circle,
Point of the universe, dread seat of Dis,
The traitor is eternally consumed."

But there is another feature of Dante's philosophy to be noticed, before we shall be in a position to form an estimate of the relative grandeur of imagination, and depth of thought, of Dante and Milton.

According to Dante's philosophy, or rather his scholastic theology, a person's free-will may act in any one of three directions. It may act in harmony with wrong-doing, which is the mental and spiritual state of Inferno; the deed itself producing the subjective environment of punishment. Or, it may act in uniform opposition to wrong-doing, which is the mental and spiritual state of Paradiso; the deed itself producing a subjective environment of happiness. Or, it may recoil from wrong-doing, when it sees the injurious effects upon Self and Society, which is the mental and spiritual state of Purgatorio; when the free-will which has previously given a wrong bent to the character, strives, once again, to restore it to a normal state of rectitude.

In this way each created intelligence, by virtue of the possession of the gift of free-will, creates its own environment, through, and by means of, its social relations. Apart from the existence of free-will, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise would be a Divine Comedy in a far different sense from that in which Dante uses the term.

Milton, as we have before pointed out, describes the punishment of Hell, only at the era of the fall of the great Archangel and of the Fall of Man; and before ever one of the human race had descended to his doom along the causey of Sin and Death. All that Milton professes to describe is the ultimate fate of Satan, and of the one rebellious third of the angelic host who joined him in his arch-treason.

The first strain in which Milton introduces, what he terms, “the deep tract of Hell,” occurs in the opening of Paradise Lost, where the poet describes the expulsion of Satan from the Empyrean:

Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire.

Hell at last,
Yawning, received them whole, and on them closed-
Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.

With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire.

At once, as far as Angel's ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild.
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
As one great furnace flamed ; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all, but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.
Such place Eternal Justice had prepared
For those rebellious; here their prison ordained
In utter darkness, and their portion set,
As far removed from God and light of Heaven
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
Oh, how unlike the place from whence they fell !


At the conclusion of the first Council in Pande. monium, when Satan announces his determination to attempt the great adventure, the heralds

* Vide Note J.

bid cry

With trumpet's regal sound the great result :


the hollow Abyss Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim. Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised By false presumptuous hope, the rangèd Powers Disband; and, wandering, each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain The irksome hours, till his great Chief return. Part on the plain, or in the air sublime, Upon the wing or in swist race contend, As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields; Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form : As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battle in the clouds; before each van Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears, Till thickest legions close ; with feats of arms From either end of heaven the welkin burns. Others, with vast Typhæan rage, more fell, Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air In whirlwind ; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar :

Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall

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