Gustave Dore – Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 6 “Cerberus” (1857)
Gustave Dore – Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 6 “Cerberus” (1857)

Cerberus, cruel and uncouth monster, there
Stretches his three throats out and hound-like bays
Over the people embogged about his lair.
His beard is slobbered black, his red eyes blaze,
His belly is big, his hands clawed; and with growl
The spirits he clutches, rends piecemeal and flays.

[Cerbero, fiera crudele e diversa,
con tre gole caninamente latra
sovra la gente che quivi è sommersa.
Li occhi ha vermigli, la barba unta e atra,
e ’l ventre largo, e unghiate le mani;
graffia li spirti ed iscoia ed isquatra.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 6, l. 13ff (6.13-18) (1309) [tr. Binyon (1943)]

Inspired by Virgil's description of Cerberus in Aeneid, Book 6, l. 417ff, colored by the beast's role over the Gluttonous in this circle of Hell. (

Source (Italian)
). Alternate translations:

Cerb'rus, a beast implacable and fierce,
Incessant's barking with his triple throat
At the poor wretches who are here confin'd.
His eyes are fiery read, his greasy Beard
Is black and nasty, and his Belly's swoln.
He the Sprites scratches with his hooked claws,
Flays off their skins, and into quarters tears.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 12ff]

Hell's bloodhound there his triple form extends.
And ever and anon the savage rends
Some wand'ring wretch, and dyes his fangs in gore;
His flaming eyes the troubled deep survey.
Loud gnash his teeth and hold the damn'd at bay,
Whose captive bands in vain his rage deplore.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 3]

Cerberus, cruel monster, fierce and strange,
Through his wide threefold throat barks as a dog
Over the multitude immers’d beneath.
His eyes glare crimson, black his unctuous beard,
His belly large, and claw’d the hands, with which
He tears the spirits, flays them, and their limbs
Piecemeal disparts.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Cerberus, a ruthless beast of uncouth mould,
Barks hell-hound like, with triple gorge and grim,
O'er those whom yonder slough engulphed doth hold.
Red are his eyes, black and of greasy trim
His beard, and huge his paunch ; his clawed hands quell
The mangled sprites; he flays, and limb from limb
Rends them.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Cerberus, a monster fierce and strange, with three throats, barks dog-like over those that are immersed in it.
His eyes are red, his beard [greasy] and black, his belly wide, and clawed his hands; he clutches the spirits, flalys, and piecemeal rends them.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Cerberus -- wild beast, cruel, monstrous --
While as three throats the dog of famine urge,
To bark o'er those the waters thus submerge:
His eyes vermilion, unctuous beard and black;
His belly large, and claws upon each hand --
Cuts, flays, and quarters spirits at command.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

The monster Cerberus, cruel, fierce and strange,
Barks like a dog from out his triple throat
over the multitude sumergèd there.
With eyes vermilion, black and filthy beard,
With belly large, with sharp and piercing claws
He tears those spirits, flays, dismembers them.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Cerberus, monster cruel and uncouth,
With his three gullets like a dog is barking
⁠Over the people that are there submerged. ⁠
Red eyes he has, and unctuous beard and black,
⁠And belly large, and armed with claws his hands;
⁠He rends the spirits, flays, and quarters them.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Cerberus, beast cruel and uncouth, with three throats barks in dog-wise over the folk that there is submerged. Scarlet eyes has he, and his beard greasy and black, and his belly large, and his paws armed with nails. He claws the spirits, mouths them and tears them up.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Wild Cerberus, of twofold nature rare.
With three throats hurleth out the doglike bark
Upon the people that are cowering there.
His eyes are red, his greasy beard is dark.
His belly large and fingers armed with nails;
He tears, and flays, and rends the spirits stark.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Cerberus, a beast cruel and monstrous, with three throats barks doglike above the people that are here submerged. He has vermilion eyes, and a greasy and black beard, and a big belly, and hands armed with claws: he tears the spirits, flays them, and rends them.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Cerberus, the pitiless and outlandish beast, barks in dog-like fashion through triple throat above the souls that lie immersed there. Red are the eyes he hath, his beard foul and black, his belly gross, and his paws armed with talons. He claws the shades, he flayeth and he teareth them.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Cerberus, cruel and misshapen monster,
Barketh with triple throat in doglike fashion
Over the folk which in that place is sunken.
Vermilion eyes he hath, beard black and greasy.
And belly wide, and hands arrayed with talons.
The spirits he doth scratch, and flay and quarter.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Cerberus, a beast fierce and hideous, with three throats barks like a dog over the people that are immersed there; he has red eyes, a beard greasy and black, a great belly, and clawed hands, and he scars and flays and rends the spirits.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Cerberus, the cruel, misshapen monster, there
Bays in his triple gullet and doglike growls
Over the wallowing shades; his eyeballs glare
A bloodshot crimson, and his bearded jowls
Are greasy and black; pot-bellied, talon-heeled,
He clutches and flays and rips and rends the souls.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Here monstrous Cerberus, the ravening beast,
howls through his triple throats like a mad dog
over the spirits sunk in that foul paste.
His eyes are red, his beard is greased with phlegm,
His belly is swollen, and his hands are claws
to rip the wretches and flay and mangle them.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Cerberus, monstrous beast and cruel, with three throats barks doglike over the people who are here submerged. His eyes are red, his beard greasy and black, his belly wide and his hands taloned; he claws the spirits, flays and quarters them.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Cerberus, a ruthless and fantastic beast,
with all three throats howls out his dog-like sounds
above the drowning sinners of this place.
His eyes are red, his beard is slobbered black,
his belly swollen, and he has claws for hands;
he rips the spirits, flays and mangles them.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Over the souls of those submerged beneath
that mess, is an outlandish, vicious beast,
his three throats barking, doglike: Cerberus.
His eyes are blood red; greasy, black, his beard;
his belly bulges, and his hands are claws;
his talons tear and flay and rend the shades.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Cerberus, a cruel and outlandish beast,
Barks like a dog, from his three throats, at those
Who, under that downpour, are there submerged.
His eyes are red, his beard greasy and black,
His belly huge, and his fingers are clawed.
He scratches the spirits, skins them, pulls them to bits.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Three-headed Cerberus, monstrous and cruel,
Barks doglike at the souls immersed here, louder
For his triple throat. His eyes are red, his beard
Grease-black, he has the belly of a meat-feeder
And talons on his hands: he claws the horde
Of spirits, he flays and quarters them in the rain.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

Cerberus, cruel, monstrous beast, with three throats barks doglike over the people submerged there.
His eyes are red, his beard greasy and black, his belly large, and his hands have talons; he claws the spirits, flays and quarters them.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

Cerberus, the fierce and strange monster, triple-throated, barks dog-like over the people submerged in it. His eyes are crimson, his beard is foul and black, his belly vast, and his limbs are clawed: he snatches the spirits, flays, and quarters them.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Here Cerberus conducts his strange assize:
with all three throats he barks and slabbers
at the muck-bound prisoners he triple-tries.
His eyes are red, his jowls black, his belly fat;
he takes each soul and skins it with his claws
then rips it into little bits thereat.
[tr. Carson (2002)]

Cerberus, weird and monstrously cruel,
barks from his triple throats in cur-like yowls
over the heads of those who lie here, drowned.
His eyes vermilion, beard a greasy black,
his belly broad, his fingers all sharp-nailed,
he mauls and skins, then hacks in four, these souls.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Cerberus, fierce and monstrous beast,
barks from three gullets like a dog
over the people underneath that muck.
His eyes are red, his beard a greasy black,
his belly swollen. With his taloned hands
he claws the spirits, flays and quarters them.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Three-headed Cerberus, monstrous beast, roams here;
A cruel creature who barks, dog-like, out
Of each of his mouths, at people half-drowned, submerged.
His eyes are red, his beard is black and foul,
His belly broad, there are talons on his hands;
He claws the spirits, rips at their skin, bites holes.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Savage and bestial Cerberus, three-headed freak,
Barks like a Doberman -- through each of his three throats --
Over those who are forced to wallow in the slop.
Red eyes, filthy bilious whiskers, swollen belly;
With his claws hge excoriates the ghosts --
Then rips their skin off and quarters them.
[tr. Bang (2012)]

The people stuck in it have Cerberus
To guard them. Overhead, that creature shrieks
In anger with three mouths, each hideous
As a mad dog's. Beards greasy black, eyes red,
Big belly, fingers well supplied with nails,
Hed scores and scrapes and tears them to a shred.
[tr. James (2013), l. 14ff]

Added on 6-Jan-23 | Last updated 1-Oct-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Thoughts? Comments? Corrections? Feedback?