Dante, Inferno Canto 25 (1st part)

Vanni Fucci’s Punishment. Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Guercio Cavalcanti.

Flicked a V into his victory, the blustering thief and yesterday’s futurologist,

—Damn you to hell, God!

A mortal sin in the place of correction,
And when lifers go against the rules, what sanction, what?
Freedom is when there’s nothing left to lose.

Except, God can use a serpent – nothing in the rules to say He can’t,
And one slithering snake in the grass, viper as asphixiant
Came to our assistance, coiling itself around his neck,
By the garotta, you shall speak no more.

Another clamped his arms and held him fast,
Knotting itself so tight across his chest
He could not even twitch his arms.
The constrictors cracked his bones a little.

Pistoia, Pistoia, why don’t you decide to turn yourself to ashes and end it all,
Since you possess even more wickedness and pride
Was it really the founding plan to adopt these evils?

In all the circles of Hell,
I saw no other soul so prideful against God,
Not even Capaneus, back at the burning sands. Vanni Fucci staggered off.

And then I saw a centaur spitting, come shouting the odds:

—Where is that untamed soul? Hercules, I want him,

Think of the viper pits of Kalkhota
This green and brown of no natural earth
Of cobras, reptiles, scaly and coldblooded,
Garter snakes, copulated into squirming balls.
On this centaur’s back,
A dragon, eastern reptile, with wings displayed,
Spurts fire everywhere around,
The centaur going breakneck pace, running away from the dragon on his back.

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