Dante, Inferno Canto 27 (3rd part)

The fire still roared, the point then quivered a little,
He doesn’t name himself immediately, he doesn’t actually do it at all…

—If I thought there was any point, I would,
But since, up from these depths, no one has yet returned alive,
If what they say round here is to be trusted…
It really doesn’t matter, I can say what I like,
You won’t be going up to the world to tell them.

I started at soldier, and went to priest,
reckoned to atone for it in some way,
Repentant and shriven, I became a friar.
I know found god is a difficulty –
I’d seen some of those and knew to be a bit suspicious
I could have carried it off, I could have ended my days like that,
which would have been fine except for the High Priest…
… Pope Boniface…
Who got me back into soldiering, my old ways.

While I still kept my form in flesh and bones
The one my mother gave me..
My deeds were not of a lion but a fox.
Cunning stratagems and covert schemes,
I knew them all, and was so skilled in them
That my fame rang out to the ends of the earth.
Known in Gaul and known all over, as cunning as Ulysses,
So there you go…

When old, and should have learnt some sense,
I became restless for one last go,
Boniface, he didn’t come to the papacy and start on the usual crusade,
Let’s go and get the Saracens, or the Jews,
Off to Acre, try emulate the great doings of Godfrey de Bouillon,
No, he thought to settle old scores with the Colonna family at Palestrina,
So it was Christian on Christian.
Popes used to pay some respect to the position,
Or even the vows taken – they don’t now…

He wanted me as his military strategist,
I had commanded at the seige of Forlì, when we defeated the French
He wanted me as advisor, offering good counsel,
He wanted me as priest, good to ally yourself with sanctity
He wanted me for his doctor, but a doctor to create, at the same time, illness and cure.

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