Dante's Inferno - (1866) PDF - Translated by Henry Francis Cary

Dante's Inferno - Henry Francis Cary Translation

Illustrations from the book by Illustrated by Gustave Doré
Illustration from the book  Illustrated by Gustave Doré

From the preface: the life of Dante:
Dante name abbreviated, as was the custom in those days, from Durante or Durando, was of a very ancient Florentine family. The first of his ancestors,' concerning whom anything certain is known, was Cacciaguida,' a Florentine knight, who died fighting in the holy war, under Emperor Conrad III. Cacciaguida had two brothers, Moronto and Eliseo, the former of whom is not recorded to have left any posterity; the latter is the head of the family of the Elisei, or perhaps (for it is doubtful which is the case) only transmitted to his descendants a name which he had himself inherited. 

From Cacciaguida himself were sprung the Alighieri, so called from one of his sons, who bore the appellation from his mother's family,* as is affirmed by the poet himself, under the person of Cacciaguida, in the fifteenth canto of the " Paradise." This name, Alighieri, is derived from the cont-of-arms,° a wing or, on a field azure, still borne by the descendants of our poet at Verona, in the days of Leonardo Aretiiio. Dante was born at Florence in May 1265. 

His mother's name was Bella, but of what family is no longer known. His father he had the misfortune to lose in his childhood; but by the advice of his surviving relations, and with the assistance of an able preceptor, Brunetto Latini, he applied himself closely to polite literature and other liberal studies, at the same time that he omitted no pursuit necessary for the accomplishment of a manly character, and mixed with the youth of his age in all honourable and noble exercises. In the twenty-fourth year of his age, he was present at the memorable battle of Campaldino,' where he served in the foremost troop of cavalry and was exposed to imminent danger. Leonardo Aretino refers to a letter of Dante, in which he described the order of that battle, and mentioned his having been engaged in it. The cavalry of the Aretini at the first onset gained so great an advantage over the Florentine horse, as to compel them to retreat to their body of infantry. 

This circumstance in the event proved highly fortunate to the Florentines; for their own cavalry being thus joined to their foot, while that of their enemies was led by the pursuit to a considerable distance from theirs, they were by these means enabled to defeat with ease their separate forces. In this battle the Uberti, Lamberti, and Abati, with all the other ex-citizens of Florence who adhered to the Ghibelline interest, were with the Aretini; while those inhabitants of Arezzo who, owing to their attachment to the Guelph party, had been banished from their own city, were ranged on the side of the Florentines. In the following year,

Dante took part in another engagement between his countrymen and the citizens of Pisa, from whom they took the castle of Caprona," situated not far from that city. From what the poet has told us in his treatise entitled the " Vita Nuova," we learn that he was a lover long before he was a soldier and that his passion for the Beatrice whom he has immortalised commenced' when she was at the beginning and he near the end of his ninth year. Their first meeting was at a banquet

in the house of Folco Portinari,' her father; and the impression then made on the susceptible and constant heart of Dante was not obliterated by her death, which happened after an interval of sixteen years. But neither war nor love prevented Dante from gratifying the earnest desire which he had of knowledge and mental improvement. 

By Benvenuto da Imola, one of the earliest of his commentators, it is stated that he studied in his youth at the universities of Bologna and Padua, as well as in that of his native city, and devoted himself to the pursuit of natural and moral philosophy. There is reason to believe that his eagerness for the acquisition of learning, at some time of his life, led him as far as Paris, and even Oxford;* in the former of which universities he is said to have taken the degree of a Bachelor, and distinguished himself in the theological disputations; but to have been hindered from commencing Master by a failure in his pecuniary resources. Francesco da Buti, another of his commentators in the fourteenth century, asserts that he entered tlie order of the Frati Minori, but laid aside tlie habit before he was professed.

Some contents of the book:

the writer, having lost his way in a gloomy forest, and being hindered by certain wild beasts from ascending a mountain, is met by Virgil, who premises to show him the punishments of Hell, and afterwards of Purgatory; and that he shall then be conducted by Beatrice into Paradise. He follows the Roman poet 
After the invocation, which poets are used to prefixing to their works, he shows that, on a consideration of his own strength, he doubted whether it sufficed for tlie journey proposed to him, but that, being comforted by Virgil, he, at last, took courage and followed him as his guide and master .7
Dante, following Virgil, comes to the gate of Hell; where, after having read the dreadful words that are written thereon, they both enter. Here, as he understands from Virgil, those were punished who had passed their time (for living it could not be called) in a state of apathy and indifference both to good and eviL Then pursuing their way, they arrive at the river Acheron; and there find the old ferryman Charon, who takes the spirits over to the opposite shore; which as soon as Dante
Teaches, he is seized with terror, and falls into a trance .... .13

The poet, being roused by a clap of thunder, and following his guide onwards, descends into I.imbo, which is the first circle of
Hell, where he finds the souls of those who, although they have lived virtuously, and have not to suffer for great sins,
nevertheless, through lack of baptism, merit not the bliss of Paradise. Hence he is led on by Virgil to descend into the second circle, Coming into the second circle of Hell, Dante at the entrance beholds Minos the Infernal Judge, by whom he is admonished to beware how he enters those regions. Here he witnesses the punishment of carnal sinners, who are tost about ceaselessly in the dark air by the most furious winds. Amongst these, he meets with Francesca of Rimini, through pity at whose sad tale
be falls fainting to the ground 23
On his recovery, the i>oet finds himself in the third circle, where the gluttonous are punished. Their torment is, to lie in the mire,
under a continual and heavy storm of hail, snow, and discoloured water; Cerberus meanwhile barking over them with his threefold throat and rending them piecemeal. One of these, who on earth was named Ciacco, foretells the divisions with which Florence is about to be distracted. Dante proposes a question to his guide, who solves it; and they proceed towards
the fourth circle ........39

In the present canto, Dante describes his descent into the fourth circle, at the beginning of which he sees Plutus stationed. Here one like doom awaits the prodigal and the avaricious; which is, to meet in direful conflict, rolling great weights against each other with mutu.!! upbraidings. From hence Virgil takes occasion to show how vain the goo<ls that are committed into tlif
charge of Fortune; and this moves our author to inquire what being that Fortune is, of whom he spe.iks : which question being resolved, they go down into the fifth circle, where they find the wrathful and gloomy tormented in the Stygian hike.
Having made » compass round great part of this lake, they come at last to the base of a lofty tower 34

the book details :
  • Author: Dante
  • Translator: Henry Francis Cary
  • Illustrated by Gustave Doré
  • Publication date:  (1866) 
  • Company: New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co

  • Download 25.8 MB 
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