Dante, Inferno Canto 23 (3rd part)

So these had clothes, unlike the rest of all the sinners – however, a poisoned charity
Their peacock show wasn’t joy, happiness, exuberance of soul,
A laquer, painted on, just a veneer,
Always an outer and inner,
The punishment was lead cloaks,
Which had made their ponderous stagger,
Calculated so they could stand, just about, but then having to march…

Legend or not, that, Frederick, Emperor Frederick, had his traitors
– A plentiful supply if he wasn’t having a good Thursday –
Dressed into lead roll, to be melted in the flames,
And say goodnight that way,
Agonising – but quick,
Or this – less pain perhaps, infinitely more time.

We got up, dusted ourselves down, scratches minor considering what could have been,
And turned again,
As always, to the left, to do their treadmill with them,
We couldn’t but overtake them, meeting more at every step,

At which I told my guide:

—If we could find someone whose name or deed I recognize…

No sooner said,
One who’d taken in my Tuscan speech
Called out from behind, in snatches between breaths:

—If you’d just slow down a bit,
Perhaps I can help…
But don’t race ahead… please…

My guide turned to me:

—Let him catch up, we ‘ll have to sychronise.

I stopped and I saw actually a pair of them showing signs of wanting to talk
As usual, they stared at us in incomprehension, a while,
Silent, until they began to confer, a little furtively,

—He breathes… the throat, look…
—And probably has a pulse…
—And seems alive…
—They haven’t got the cloaks we have, neither of them,

The first came out with it and asked me:

—Native of Tuscany, tell us who you are?

I trod water:

—I was born and raised where the Arno flows,
I’m with the body I have always had, not separated yet,
But who are you?

And one of them replied:

—We were both from Bologna, orginally,
Knights of Saint Mary, the Jovial Friars by nickname,
My name was Catalano, his was Loderingo, Loderingo degli Andalò,
Jointly appointed as mayors of your city, by Clement IV, the soldier Pope,
To keep the peace, keep the factions, one of each,
They did feel a Gueph and a Ghibelline working together was the right way.

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