Ninth Canto of Dante’s Inferno

That shade which cowardice painted me without,
when I saw my guide turn back around, made him
check his own hue more quickly from within.

Careful, he closed it up like a man who listens
well; for the eyesight’s gaze could stay on him
a while, through the black air and the thick fog.

“Winning this fight for us simply has to happen,”
he started, “& if not… Such offer presents itself
with such. Oh, how delayed I find that one

arriving!” I saw how well he covered o’er his[10
beginning to start with what came next, which
was words different from th’ original, other phrase;

but all the same, his speaking gave a fright
for it, since I was drawing out the speech cut
short perhaps for the worser sense than it held.

“Does anyone from the first circle, where severed
hope is sole for punishment, ever come down
to this depth of the dreary valley?” I asked

this question; and Vergil said, “It happens in-
frequently that someone takes the pathway for
going from us — this walk I am going on.

Truth is I was down here another time before,
enchanted by Erichtho, that uncivilized witch,
who was recalling shades back to their form.

I was newly stripped of the flesh, for which
she made me enter within that wall, to draw
a spirit along, from the circle of Judas.

That place was the furthest depth and most obscure
spot, and farthest removed from heaven, which turns
about all: I know the way well, & it secures you.[30

This marsh, which wafts the great stench, encircles
th’ area around the city of regrets, where
we cannot ever enter without wrath.”

He said more, but I keep it not in mind; however,
the gaze drew me fully toward the tall
tower flickering at the top, where there were

at that moment three furies in a line, hellacious,
stained with blood  — they had the limbs of a woman
and her demeanor, and they were tied up all

with serpents of the deepest green; they had snakes
and adders for locks of hair, by which the
beasts did their temples bind. And he that knew

so well the miserable ladies of the queen
of eternal sobbing, did say to me: “Watch
out for the wild Erinyes. That one, she

is Megæra on the lefthand side; the one which
weeps on the right is Alecto; Tisiphone
is in between.” — and he got quiet for such.

Each fury rends its breast with claws; open-palm
did they fight, and were screaming so loud that,
in suspicion, I drew close to the poet.

“Medusa’s coming: oh, we’ll turn him into cement,”
they said, all looking downward: “our bad, not to’ve
taken vengeance on Theseus for the assault.”

“Get behind me, and keep your eyesight closed;
for if the Gorgon is revealed and you see it,
you’d remember nothing to get back on earth.”

So did the master speak; and that same poet
turned me about: and content not with my
hands, he covered mine with his very own.[60

Now y’ all whose intellects are of sound mind,
marvel wondering at the rationale which is
veiled under the cover of such strange lines.

And right then there arrives a tumultuous
sound on over th’ undulating waves, loaded
with fright, at which both the shores do quiver; just

like happens when a blustery breeze, riled up
by adverse currents, keeps on battering
the branches all over helter-skelter, so

as the forest to wound, and carries them,
shorn away, off — it keeps on mounting dust-stained,
in pride, and does make the beasts and the shepherds fly.

He let go my eyes and said, “Now direct
your eyes’ nerve through that age-old scum on
over where that fuming is thicker.” Just

like the frogs before the hostile adder do
make themselves scarce throughout the waters,
so that each one may retain its plot at land, so

I saw more than a thousand distraught souls
fleeing before one in such manner, before
the path which the river Styx by-passes, with

their meager cries. He at once dismissed that acrid air,
leading, like before, on the lefthand side; and
did he appear worn out just from that anxious care.

I noticed in good manner that the path
was taken by one from heaven, & I turned
to the master; so he gave the sign to quiet

down and bow to that soul. Oh, how full of contempt did
he seem to me! He arrived at the gate, and with his
scepter dispersed the darkness, so it retained no hold.[90

“You who were banished from heaven, oh race
despisèd,” began he upon his terrifying
threshold, “whence is this haughtiness drawn in among

you? Why do you refuse the will of th’ one
whose end cannot ever be cut short, and
that has too often increased your anguish?

What use is it to clash with fated ends?
Your own Cerberus, if you remember well
enough, still keeps the bald chin and paunch there.”

Then he turned over the dirty path, uttering
not a word to us: rather, he made like a man
who is pressed and consumed by some care,

other than his concern that is before one’s own;
we directed our feet over the ground,
reassured after the holy-spoken sayings.

We entered within, without a single conflict; and
I, a man possessed by desire for reviewing
the state which such massive strength does confine,

turned my sight about, as soon as I was
inside; to the left and right I saw great-big
countryside full of grief, and the stream of torment.

Just as at Arles, where the Rhone bottoms out,
just like in Pola, close by Carnaro gulf,
which limits Italy and bathes its own

borders — where graves make all the place quite varied, —
so do the sepulchers in every direction
there, only now the means were much more harsh;

for the flames were scattered about the tombs,
by which they were so fired up in every
case, that no craftsman demands hotter iron.[120

All their lids were suspended ajar, & so dire were
the cries of pain from there, that they did seem
to come from wretched ones and downcast parties.

And said I, “Master, what people are these
that communicate sighs through agonizing
groans, buried inside of such tombs?” And to me

he states: “Here lie the heretics with their
followers, from every faction, & the graves
are much more crowded than you believe.

Like is interred with like minds down here, as[130
some of the memorials are hotter, some less.”
And as he turned about toward the right,

we passed on, between the torments and ramparts.

Il Rap de Enea, Assalti Frontali

the ruling class, future of our immature children

I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
the children’s future jives not with Gelmini.
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
better to tell Mariestella no than try on mini-finery;
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night —
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night.

Hey, they call me Aeneas — I went up to Iqbal Masih
and got a little green t-shirt, really classy tee, which
states: “I love my school and protect it.” Not one
bit the only master, Gelmini is just one solely;
I understand how great they are — I’m at elementary
level and already working two weeks at my school.
You say that they’re young people and I have a lot to  prepare,
but we’re all under assault and I’m giving myself a project:
not only am I certain, I’m with my mommy, along with my
master teachers, & we built a country shed with all the
pillows made from bags of hair, and the grand doormats
that won’t take one bit — all the same, the ones on
time are ever, I mean forever, at the reunion;
so that they’ll have something to say, I’m playing a bit of
football. They’re all in distress every hour, every moment
looks like a great big disgrace overcame my own world.

I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
the children’s future jives not with Gelmini.
I’ve an idea…

I have a pair of teachers, master Mari and Simona, &
come to think of it, I don’t know how to tell you
which is the better, with twenty l’il friends, what a marvel;
we’re every one together, from morning to afternoon
this is public school, everybody’s education,
the schooling that these scoundrels want to be cheeky —
I’m shedding flakes, slinging balloons:
now I’ve taken what backs Gelmini up,
districts 137 and 133.
But if they take Berlusconi’s way, I comprehend the reason
this school room will be empty, will be missing a piece,
which I’m sending them home to resume, from noon to
middle of the night. We’re the kids of a real sick Italy,
that demands them to be assets in the privatized schools,
so let’s shut the world down and chug like a choo-choo:
long live the public schooling system, at full time.

I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
the children’s future jives not with Gelmini.
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
better to tell Mariestella no than try on mini-finery;
I’ve an idea, I got idea, Aeneas was saying, have one idea,
& he took his saying to the meeting: I have got idea,
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night —
let’s deny Gelmini 24/7, tell her no by day and night.

I am not afraid, have no fear; and this is Aeneas’s
rhyme against tyranny. I’m not afraid, no, not
a fear — I want to be together with my own people
close to culture, & if this is the crisis that will
settle the problem? Let’s all be united together
at the university crib, since we have to win and
make it happen — this is a kinky wave of crowds
full time. If these are witches, dwarves, the returns
and little people, then I’m making rap of Aeneas
and do defend my interest in tomorrow, so too
the special boys and girls which complete the story,
but always recall: the cho-mo’s paying the bill.

This is Aeneas’s flow, oh yeah Aeneas über-rap,
This is Aeneas’s rap on the education system,
This is Aeneas’s flow, oh yeah Aeneas über-rap,
This is Aeneas’s rap, let’s cut the soldiers off.

1st Canto of Dante’s Inferno

In the middle of our life’s way I found I
was in a shady forest because the
right road was confusedly lost. Oh my,

so difficult a thing it is to speak
what it was, that savage and harsh and hard
wood, that thinking of it renews fearful streak!

So bitter is it that death is yet far
less sweet; but to go over the good I dis-
covered there, I’ll tell of th’ other things I saw.

I don’t know how to recount the way which
I came in there, I was so full of sleep at
that point I left the truthful way amiss.

But when I was at the foot of a great
hill, where that valley which had overwhelmed
my heart with fear did make its end, on that

height I looked and saw its shoulders attired
already in rays of the planet which guides
other people along all highways, road.

The fear was calmed a little bit at this,
so that I lasted in the heart’s lake through
it, the night I spent in such pitiful pains.

And as one with life’s breath under stress, who
gets out of the depths and ashore, turns to the
dangerous water and looks intently into

it, so did my mind, while still breaking free,
turn back to marvel once more at the pass-
age way no person has yet left living.

Then with body rested a bit, my path
I did resume through the deserted climb, so
that the firm foot always was the lowest stand.

And see, as though about to start down the slope,
a sleek and very swift leopard, which was
covered by spot-stained skin; & it didn’t go

to get out of my face: actually, because
it so obstructed my walking way, I
was turned by returning more times faced. As

the time was at outset of morning, and high
the sun climbed on up with those stars which were
with it when divine love first set these fine

things into motion, so I had reason for
right goodly hope about that beast in the
motley skin at which point in time, & the hour

of the sweet spring; but it was not by means
such that fear failed to give me the glimpse
that appeared to me, a lion’s sight. It seemed

to be this that was coming after me, its
head held high, and with ravenous hunger,
so that it seemed th’ air was trembling for it.

And a wolf that seemed loaded down with all
cravings in her leanness, and which still yet has
made many people live wretched lives, for

this she-wolf offered me so much heaviness
in terror I got right out of its sight,
as I lost the hope of the peak on high’s

tip. And like he who gets that which he buys
willingly, and the time comes which makes him lose
face — that in all thoughts weeps and mourns, just like

so did that creature make me feel no peace, whose
coming toward me little by little put
me back there, where the sun’s quiet shade ensues.

While I was fleeing to a low-down spot,
one who seemed hardly perceptible, from long-stand-
ing silence, was offered up to my eyesight.

When I saw this fellow in the waste land,
“Pity me,” I shouted at him, “whoever
you may be, whether ghost or some certain man!”

He responded to me: “Not man, before
I was once a man — and my family, from
Lombardy, both parents were Mantuan for

homeland. I was born in Julius Caesar’s time,
though later, and lived under great Augustus
at Rome, in th’ age of fake and lying gods. I

was a poet, and sang of Anchises’s just
son who came from Ilium, when arrogant Troy
burned to cinders. But why do you return thus

to such tedious anxiety? So why
aren’t you scaling the delightful mountain
which is origin and reason for all joy?”

“So are you that same Virgil and that fountain-
head which extend in speaking so vast a stream?”
I replied to him, my brow lined shy as shame.

“Oh you other poets’ pride and light, let the
eager study and great love, which made me pore
over your volume, test the value of me.

You are my master-teacher and my source,
you are th’ only one from whom I’ve taken
the lovely style which has brought me honor.

Look at the beast by which I am turned back; &
help me with it, you famous genius, since
she makes me, veins and heartbeat, feel shaken.”

“It’s agreed for you to take a different trip,”
he replied then as he saw me shed tears, “if
you want to make it from savage place like this;

now this beast which you cry out about, it lets
not others pass over its path, but impedes
as much as it kills; and its nature gets

so vile and wicked, that the desire’s
trembling will is ever unfulfilled — after
a meal’s greater hunger than before. Beings

that take it as spouse are many, and far
more will be still, till the greyhound arrives:
he’ll make the beast die with pain. Never

will this hound feed on earth, nor mixed alloys,
but on wisdom, love and goodness, & his
heritage will be between banner and country.

From this nation, will humble Italy — for which
the virgin Camilla, Euryalus and
Turnus, Nisus died of injuries — be saved. This

one will hunt the beast throughout every town,
until he will have sent her back to hell,
where envy first departed from. So I

think my interest is in yours and can tell
that you follow me, and your guide shall I be,
and take you from here through an eternal

place, where you will hear the despairing shouts, see
the age-old spirits in pain, how each screams
over the second death; and you’ll view the

ones who are contented in the fire, because
they hope to come, whenever it may be, to
the blessed people. Then, if your wish is

to ascend to these, there should be a soul who is
more worthy than I… I’ll leave you with her as
I depart; for that emperor who rules

above, because I was a rebel to his
law, wills not entrance into his city for
me. In all places does he rule and holds

up beyond that: there is his city or
throne on high: how fulfilled are those of true
happiness whom he elects to choose there.”

And I told him, “Poet, by that God whom
you did not know to recognize, so that
I may flee from this evil and worse, do

I ask you to lead me where you said,
in order that I might see St. Peter’s gate
and those whom you say are hopelessly sad.”

Then he got moving, & behind him I went.

Quelli che benpensano (Those Normative Conformists), Frankie HI-NRG

They’re here around me, all about me; lots of times we be making promise without keepin’ it, but unless it’s in self-interest, the end is just the point of it: center of all that’s possible, the greatest stake’s a joke, the conquering imperative, & not to involve any else in the logic of the game, th’ only rule — being shrewd: not a scruple, no respect for one’s own kind, since the latest are the last ones if the first just can’t be touched. There’re so many, cocky with the less strong, doormats for the powerful, in charge of responses — they’re all the same identity, watch ’em: they’re behind in dress up masks, & no way to tell them apart. Coming up like lizards, even if they buy a line of ‘pardon’ then. They make who they want known in their circle they form: they spend, get big and are that one they hold…

They’re ’round about me, but do not converse with me — they are like I am, but feel it to be better… (repeat)

And like suppositories inhabit blisters “full optional,” with dogs louder than 120 decibels and dwarfs not even found at Disneyland, they live in fear of maybe looking poor: they show off what they have, envy all the rest, then buy it up — in mounting escalation they build with the neighbor: they get off the green and as high as the sky, with a bigger halo on their head than St. Mark from the bible. They’re the ones who on Sunday wash their cars, ones that go flashing by over the pavement with their kids in the dark, middle-men like the class they come from, ground-based like the missiles they resemble. Tight like wads, they’re powdered in flour, turn into drunks, & then get mixed up under a tree — boom! Noses white like Fruit of the Loom, they get redder than the next level in Doom. . . .

They’re ’round about me, but do not converse with me — they are like I am, but feel it to be better… (repeat)

All in themselves, lord by God, hands that are pressed between the church’s banking houses on Sunday — hands of hypocrites — hands that do things which are not otherwise told of, the other hands taking care of who knows what — & they’re shocked upset. — hands that sign petitions then to divest, slick hands like castor-oil, hands that brandish their baton, that get filled up with bling, hands up behind brothers’ back. These people, as the night cannot go on, these do come to hoes while their babies watch the TV: they put them in charge, people who buy “classy,” who are upper class in calling ’em “the Academies,” nightmares in plastic who want to torch every weed but only light the one up that gives them their charity nightly, when they hide from me within the veiled face of the black moon that’s theirs.

They’re ’round about me, but do not converse with me — they are like I am, but feel it to be better… (4x…)

Antonio Gramsci, The Tenth Canto of Dante’s Inferno

4.78. Debate on “structure and poetics” in the Divine Comedy according to Benedetto Croce and Luigi Rosso. Reading of Vincent Morello as a “vile corpus”. Writing of Fidele Romani on Farinata. On the Saints. Question of the “indirect representation” and of the captions in the picture-show: the subtitles have an artistic value? — do they contribute to the representation of its character traits? Yes, surely — so far as they fix judgment of the actor and more pragmaticly characterize a given personality. The case of Shaw’s Don Giovanni, with the treatise of John Tanner appended: this appendix is a caption, from which a talented actor is able and obliged to extract fundamentals through interpreting them. The Pompeii-esque image of Medea, who slays the children she had with Jason: Medea is depicted as blindfolded: the painter did not know how, or wanted not, to represent this look. (Yet this is the case with Niobe, also in works of sculpture: covering her face would have signified removing the meaning from the work). Farinata and Cavalcante: Guido’s father and father in law. Cavalcante is punished by the squad. No one noticed that whether he was displeased with Cavalcante’s drama, the condemned man’s torment was not actually seen among that group: the formal structure should have led to an aesthetic judgment, most precise one of the canto, since every form of punishment gets represented in act. The work On the Saints made note of the severity comprised in the canto by the fact that Farinata’s character changes with a line: after being made, poetry becomes structure; it explains; it goes from Cicero to Dante. Farinata’s poetic representation is brought back to life in marvelous manner by Romani: Farinata is a series of sculptures. Then Farinata recites his tagline. Isidore del Lungo’s book on the Chronicle of Dino Compagni: in which is fixed the date of Guido’s death. It’s odd that the scholars did not think first of using Canto Ten to determine this date within approximation (who did it?). All the same, the check up performed by Del Lungo is useful in interpreting Cavalcante’s outward appearance and for explaining the execution of duty done, from Dante to Farinata.

What’s Cavalcante’s position, what is his form of torture? Cavalcante sees the past and sees what is to come, but does not see in the present, in a fixed space of the past and of the future into which the present moment is included. Guido was alive in the past, will be dead in the future, but as for the present? — is he dead or living? This is what tortures Cavalcante, the worry his own, one’s only over-riding thought. When he speaks, he asks about his son; when he hears “was”, the copula in past tense, he insists on response and on deferring one, doubts it not any longer: his son has died; he vanishes, into the red-hot sepulcre.

How does Dante represent this dramatic scene? He insinuates it to the reader, does not make it a representation; he gives the reader the basics so that the drama may be reconstructed, and these elements are given in the structure. Yet still there is one dramatic passage and it comes before the tagline. Three remarks: Cavalcante appears not dexterous and manly like Farinata, but humble, broken down, perhaps on his knees and he demands in uncertain way to know of his son. Dante responds, indifferent, or nearly so, and uses the word which refers to Guido in the imperfect. Cavalcante suddenly picks up on this fact and shouts hopelessly. He has a doubt, not real certainty; he demands further explanations in three questions, in which is an ensemble of states of mind. “Why did you say: he ‘was’?” — “Isn’t he still alive?” — “Does the sweet light not still strike his eyes?” In the third question, there is all the fatherly affection of Cavalcante; the typical human “life” is seen in a pragmatic state, in the enjoyment of the light, which the condemned and the dead have lost. Dante takes a while to reply and then the doubt in Cavalcante ceases. Farinata however is not shaken. Guido being his daughter’s husband, this sentiment has no real power in it at that moment. Dante emphasizes this force of his in mind. Cavalcante’s slouching down but Farinata keeps up appearances, keeps head still, moves not a muscle. Cavalcante falls on his back — Farinata does not make any despondent move; Dante has a negative analysis of Farinata in suggesting the (three) movements from Cavalcante: the twisting up of appearance, the head falling back, his back bending. Nevertheless there is something of the changed man even in Farinata. His reply is no longer such other as it had first appeared.

Dante does not make Farinata ask just “to be informed”, he questions such because he is amazed at being struck by Cavalcante’s passing. He wants the knot that prevents them from replying to Cavalcante to be loosened; he perceives that he is at fault in front of Cavalcante. The structural part is not only structure, then: it is also poetics — it is a necessary element in the drama which has taken place.

Dante e Machiavelli

You have to free Dante’s political discourse from the entire system previous, reducing the formulation to its exact historical meaning in context. That is, in terms of the significance Dante possesses as a fundamental basis of Italian culture, his thought and its philosophy come to have a practical capacity for subtle persuasiveness through prompting a political ideology on nationality as a question: But the need to exclude such precepts would have held its own specific value categorically, in native sense of order. Past solutions of the underlying situation in question help in finding the resolution of presently analogous problems by which the method of cultural critique is born in the discipline of intellectual activity, but is itself never able to state that the actual answer derives naturally from an origin of the prior solution: Creation of itself is from within its contextual reality and in that, solely. This condition is not absolute because its stipulation must not be carried out to absurdity—in which case it slips into empiricism: the highest materialism, extreme of sensed experience. It’s a need of knowing how to establish historical eras that in their totality take the place of specified problems, and up to now in their starting to come up have given no indication of what’s fundamental to an answer. So I would say that Dante closes the Medieval Era (a period of the middle ages), while Machiavelli designates an age of the Modern world successively takes place by pin-pointing its own questions and the contextual solutions in a manner already quite broadly clear in depth. Believing that Machiavelli derivatively depends on or may be, is linked to Dante—that’s a blatant historical mistep. So, it is purely a romantic fiction of the mind that the factual edifice of relations between State and Church (cf. F. Coppola); based on Dante’s model “in Croce and Aquila”. According to Machiavelli’s The Prince and Dante’s conclusion of De Monarchia there is no naturalistic connection, and even the less so as relates to the nation-state and medieval kingdom. The contingency locating an essential relation amongst the intellectual phenomena of Italian categories selected in various epochs comprises fixedly national “rhetoric”: The true story gets mixed up with the grubby shade of history. (At that, one would not say the fact fails to be meaningful; it does not have a scientific value, that’s it. It is a political precept; and still less, a secondary fundamental of weaker importance, than a structuring principle of politics—ideological for small groups that struggle with the overarching nature of culture and government).

Seems to me the political doctrine of Dante ought to be reduced to the basic element of Dante’s biography (that would in no way be able to express and act itself through Machiavelli), not in the general sense as though cognitive activity of the protagonist is the essence of all biography and what matters is not only what its subject does, but even that which it imagines and conceives of reality. But in the sense that such a doctrine lacks all power to produce the desired effects historically of cultural (i.e. Pragmatism), as it was unable to possess it also matters only as a basic part of the personal denouement of Dante after his faction’s defeat and exile from Florence. Dante submits to undergo an extreme process of transformation in his political convictions, in his opinions, his desires; in his modality of thinking in general. This proceeding holds as consequence his detachment from all. It is true that his re-alignment’s ability to be called “Ghibelline” awareness only by way of saying in every case there should be a “new Ghibelline” consciousness superior to the former factionalism, but also better than Guelph doctrine: The reality, its discourse is not that of a political theory, but one of a utopia colored politically by reflection on the past, and is above all a synthesis of contingency in heirarchizing as doctrine that which was only poetical subject in the process of formation, of changing state, nascent—a poetic appearance of spirit that had its crowning achievement in the Divine Commedy would be within its “structure” as a continuation of the contingent (put now in verse) organizing its feelings into a mathesis in “poetry” like a savage denunciation without passion and drama enacted. In addition to the common struggles internally, which were a turnabout from destruction to massacre, Dante dreams about a civilization better than “il Comune,” that would be superior to the Church that suppored the Black Guelphs, as well over the old Empire that maintained the Ghibellines; dreams of a pattern that imposes one law over all on every part, and more. It’s a victory in the war of class struggle that dreams its abolition of this war under the banner of an arbitrary power. But the victory, along with all the hostility, empassioned sufferings of winning it is also a “learned” precept that recognizes theoretical doctrines and the story of the past. What’s passed presents them with an Augustan blueprint of Rome and its own medieval reflection, the Holy empire of the Germanic country. It wants for them to supercede the present, but with their eyes turned anew to the past. Machiavelli too held his eyes to the passed, but in far an other way from Dante and the rest.