Dante, Inferno Canto 20 (3rd part)

—Point me out the important ones
Let’s just do them, with time and history not on our side.

Then he to me:

—See Eurypylus, long-haired hippie type…
When Greece was so stripped of males by war,
People like him rose, they always do,
At Aulis, he and Calchas predicted the best time to cut the cables,

I wrote of him too.
Which, of course, you know already.


That other there, the famished neurotic,
See Michael Scot, augur at Frederick’s court.
A man who certainly knew how to play the game of fraud.
An abracadabra and a trick with dust.

See there, Guido Bonatti,
He is famous for having boasted of being responsible
For the Siennese victory at Montaperti in 1260.
Astrologer.

See Mastro Benvenuto, The Toothless,
A shoemaker, famous for his prophecies against Frederick II.
Who now may well wish he kept to the cobbling,
Except it’s a repentance too late.

And yes, it’s a gender thing,
When you can make a coupla scudi with the needle, or washing taken in,
See those sad women who deserted homely work,
Left shuttle and spindle to become diviners,
Cheap tawdry market sellers, hawkers of dollies,
They cast their spells with herbs and effigies.

But let us move on.
The Moon is passing across the hemispheres
To the Iberian west, and dips into the waves.
The lunar light was your help in the dark wood.

Somehow he has the stars in mind again,
His curious comments to me, as we went.

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