O Simon Magus! O wretches of his kind,
greedy for gold and silver,
who prostitute the things of God
that should be brides of goodness,
Eighth Circle: third pit: Simonists.—Pope Nicholas III.
Once at the top of the bridge of the Third Pouch (1) of Circle VIII Dante is confronted with the vice of Simony. The two poets catch sight of slits and holes of similar dimensions. The feet and legs of spirits protrude from each of these holes in the rock, which are similar to the fonts in San Giovanni’s Baptistery in Florence, one of which was broken by Dante in the attempt to save someone from drowning. The soles of their feet are on fire. Dante sees one soul who is burning more fiercely. Virgil guides him and, supporting him, he takes him to Pope Nicholas III’s tomb, a Simoniac Pope. Pope Nicholas III mistakes Dante for Boniface, since he knowns the latter will join them, and starts reprimanding him for simony.
Puzzled, Dante explains the misunderstanding. Pope Nicholas III then reveals his identity, his guilt and the type of punishment that has been tormenting him. He also reminds him that they will be joined by Pope Clement V too, guilty of compromising himself with Philip the Fair and transferring the Papal See to Avignon. Dante starts ranting about the bad behaviour of Pope Nicholas III and of the Popes that have prostituted the Church, thus making the prophecy of the Apocalypse come true. The cause of this corruption is the bad use the Popes have been making of their temporal power, which was created thanks to the donation of Constantine to Pope Sylvester. Dante’s words arouse Virgil’s approval, who picks him up in his arms and carries him across the bridge. Only then, does Virgil let him go. The Fourth Pouch, the one of the Soothsayers, appears.
(1) The circle is divided into various pockets separated by great folds of earth, hereafter called “pouches”.
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna
Canto adopted by Maestra Paola Dotti