Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

In the bolgia of the Diviners:
Canto XX

ARGUMENT.—The Poet relates the punishment of such as presumed, while living, to predict future events. It is to have their faces reversed and set the contrary way on their limbs, so that, being deprived of the power to see before them, they are constrained ever to walk backward. Among these Virgil points out to him Amphiaraüs, Tiresias, Aruns, and Manto (from the mention of whom he takes occasion to speak of the origin of Mantua), together with several others, who had practised the arts of divination and astrology.
AND now the verse proceeds to torments new,
Fit argument of this the twentieth strain
Of the first song, whose awful theme records
The spirits whelm’d in woe. Earnest I look’d
Into the depth, that open’d to my view,        
Moisten’d with tears of anguish, and beheld
A tribe, that came along the hollow vale,
In silence weeping: such their step as walk
Quires, chanting solemn litanies, on earth.
  As on them more direct mine eye descends,         
Each wonderously seem’d to be reversed
At the neck-bone, so that the countenance
Was from the reins averted; and because
None might before him look, they were compell’d
To advance with backward gait...

No comments: