“Master,” said I, “this woe —
Will it grow less, or still more fiercely burning
With the Great Sentence, or remain just so?”
“Go to,” said he, “hast thou forgot they learning,
Which hath it: The more perfect, the more keen,
Whether for pleasure’s or for pain’s discerning?
Though true perfection never can be seen
In these damned souls, they’ll be more near complete
After the Judgement than they yet have been.”
[Per ch’io dissi: “Maestro, esti tormenti
crescerann’ei dopo la gran sentenza,
o fier minori, o saran sì cocenti?”.
Ed elli a me: “Ritorna a tua scïenza,
che vuol, quanto la cosa è più perfetta,
più senta il bene, e così la doglienza.
Tutto che questa gente maladetta
in vera perfezion già mai non vada,
di là più che di qua essere aspetta”.]
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 6, l. 103ff (6.103-111) (1309) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
Virgil informs Dante that, according to the "science" of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, the souls of the dead, reunited with their bodies at the Last Judgment, will be more "perfect," and thus will more perfectly feel the joy of Heaven, or the torments of Hell.
(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:
Master, I said; When the grand Sentence 's pass'd,
Will an increase of punishment ensue,
Or will't continue thus, or less become.
Return to your Philosophy, he said,
By which you're taught, that the more perfect are
More sensible of good, as well as ill.
And this unhappy Crew expect not e'er
That they at true perfection shall arrive;
But that their Suff'rings will be more severe
After the dreadful Sentence than before.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 98ff]
Then I, "Shall equal plagues the damn'd await;
Shall Hell increase her torments, or abate,
When the last change their final sentence brings?"
"Let Science solve the doubt," the Bard rejoin'd,
"The body married to th' immortal mind,
Or higher transport feels, or fiercer woe:
Then th' ignoble brethren of the sty,
When the last clarion shakes the faulted sky,
Shall feel their pains sublim'd, their tortures grow."
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 9-10]
For thus I question’d: “Shall these tortures, Sir!
When the great sentence passes, be increas’d,
Or mitigated, or as now severe?”
He then: “Consult thy knowledge; that decides
That as each thing to more perfection grows,
It feels more sensibly both good and pain.
Though ne’er to true perfection may arrive
This race accurs’d, yet nearer then than now
They shall approach it.”
[tr. Cary (1814)]
For thus I asked him: "Shall these torments rage,
The judgment past, with fury more intense,
Or such as now, or of their heat assuage?"
Who answered: "Get thee to thy wisdom, whence
'Tis taught, the creature to perfection nigher
Of good and eke of ill hath keener sense.
Albeit this cursed race may ne'er aspire
The true perfection of their kind to feel,
Yet lower scale expect they not, but higher."
[tr. Dayman (1843)]
Wherefore I said: "Master, shall these torments increase after the great Sentence, or grow less, or remain as burning?"
And he to me: "Return to they science, which has it, that the more a thing is perfect, the more it feels pleasure and likewise pain.
Though these accursed people never attain to true perfection, yet they [look to] be nearer it after than before." [tr. Carlyle (1849)]
It was the reason why I said, "Master!
When the grand sentence is past, is the pain
Increased or lessened, or do these remain?"
And he said to me, "What doth thy science teach?
Whatever thing is perfect's more endued
To feel the evil, to perceive the good:
To perfect misery will not they attain,
The accursed race who suffer in this sphere,
But nearer then than now they will appear."
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]
And then I said -- "These torments, master, say,
Will they increase after the awful doom,
Or become less? Will they be sharp as now?"
Then he to me -- "Unto thy science turn,
Which teaches, the more perfect be the thing,
It knows the good, it feels the suffering more.
Although this multitude accurs'd may not
Unto the true perfection ever come,
After, rather than now, they look for it."
[tr. Johnston (1867)]
Wherefore I said: "Master, these torments here,
Will they increase after the mighty sentence,
Or lesser be, or will they be as burning?"
And he to me: "Return unto thy science,
Which wills, that as the thing more perfect is,
The more it feels of pleasure and of pain.
Albeit that this people maledict
To true perfection never can attain,
Hereafter more than now they look to be."
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]
Wherefore I said: "Master, these torments, will they increase after the great sentence, or become less, or be as scorching?" And he to me: "Return to thy science, which holds, in proportion as the thing is more perfect, it is more conscious of the good, and so of suffering. Albeit this accursed folk may never go on to true perfection, it expects to be more on the further than on the hither side."
[tr. Butler (1885)]
Wherefore I said; "O master, I would know
Whether these torments after the great day
Will lessen, keep as now, or fiercer grow?"
And he to me: "Thy science here essay,
Which wills that more a thing is perfect nursed,
The more it feels both good and evil sway.
And though in truth this people, all accursed,
With true perfection never can be dight,
Then, more than now, it looks to feel the worst."
[tr. Minchin (1885)]
Wherefore I said, “Master, these torments will they increase after the great sentence, or will they become less, or will they be just as burning?” And he to me, “Return to thy science, which declares that the more perfect a thing is the more it feels the good, and so the pain. Though this accursed people never can attain to true perfection, it expects thereafter to be more than now.”
[tr. Norton (1892)]
Wherefore I said: "Master, these tortures, will they increase when the great doom is spoken, or will they lessen, or continue as galling as before?" And he made answer to me: "Go back upon the science thou hast read, which would have us believe that the more a thing is perfect, the more it feeleth pleasure, and likewise pain. Though these cursed souls may never come to true perfection, yet do they hope thereafter to attain it more than now."
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]
And thereupon I said: "Master, these torments,
Will they increase after the last great sentence,
Or lesser grow, or will they be as poignant?"
And he to me : "Return unto thy science,
Which hath it that, the more a thing is perfect,
More hath it sense of good, and so of dolour.
So, notwithstanding that this folk accursed
Never advances unto true perfection,
Yet more on that side than on this it looks for."
[tr. Griffith (1908)]
I said therefore: "Master, will these torments increase after the great judgment, or become less, or continue as fierce as now?" And he answered me, "Go back to thy science, which requires that in the measure of a creature's perfection it feels more both of pleasure and of pain. Although these people who are accursed never come to true perfection, they look to be completer then than now."
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]
Wherefore I said: "Master, these pangs of woe --
Shall they be increased after the great Assize
Or stay scorching as now, or lesser grow?"
And he: "Turn to thy science and be wise.
The more a thing perfected is, the more
it feels bliss, and in pain the sharper sighs.
Although the state of these accurst at core
Never indeed in true perfection ends,
They look then to be nearer than before."
[tr. Binyon (1943)]
"Master," I said, "when the great clarion fades
into the voice of thundering Omniscience,
what of these agonies? Will they be the same,
or more, or less, after the final sentence?"
And he to me: "Look to your science again
where it is written: the more a thing is perfect
the more it feels of pleasure and of pain.
As for these souls, though they can never soar
to true perfection, still in the new time
they will be nearer than they were before.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 99ff]
Wherefore I said, "Master, these torments, will they increase after the great Judgment, or will they grow less, or will they be just as burning as now?"
And he to me, "Return to your science, which has it that the more a thing is perfect, the more it feels the good, and so the pain. Although this accursed folk can never come to true perfection, yet they look to be nearer it then than now."
[tr. Singleton (1970)]
I said, "Master, will these torments be increased,
or lessened, on the final Judgment Day,
or will the pain be just the same as now?"
And he: "Remember your philosophy:
the closer a thing comes to its perfection
more keen will be its pleasure or its pain.
Although this cursèd race of punished souls
shall never know the joy of true perfection,
more perfect will their pain be then than now."
[tr. Musa (1971)]
At which I said: "And after the great sentence --
o master -- will these torments grow, or else
be less, or will they be just as intense?"
And he to me: "Remember now your science,
which said that when a thing has more perfection,
so much the great is its pain or pleasure.
Though these accursed sinners never shall
attain the true perfection, yet they can
expect to be more perfect then than now."
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]
So I said to him: "Master, will these torments
Grow greater still after the great sentence,
Will they be less, or burn as they burn now?"
His answer to me was: "Go back to your science,
Which teaches that the more perfect a thing is,
The more it feels pleasure, and pain as well.
Although these people, because they are accursed,
Will never reach the point of true perfection,
They expect to approach it more nearly afterwards."
[tr. Sisson (1981)]
"Master, these torments -- tell me, will they increase
After the Judgment, or lessen, or merely endure,
Burning as much as now?" He said, "In this,
Go back to your science, which teaches that the more
A creature is perfect, the more it perceives the good --
and likewise, pain. The accursed people here
Can never come to true perfection; instead
They can expect to come closer then than now."
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 94ff]
So I said: "Master, these torments, will they grow after the great Judgment, or will they be less, or equally hot?"
And he to me: "Return to your philosophy, which teaches that the more perfect a thing is, the more it feels what is good, and the same for pain.
Even though these cursed people will never enter into true perfection, on that side they can expect to have more being than on this."
[tr. Durling (1996)]
Of this I asked: "Master, will these torments increase, after the great judgement, or lessen, or stay as fierce?" And he to me: "Remember your science, that says, that the more perfect a thing is, the more it feels pleasure and pain. Though these accursed ones will never achieve true perfection, they will be nearer to it after, than before."
[tr. Kline (2002)]
Concerning which, "These torments, sir," I said,
"when judgement has been finally proclaimed --
will these increase or simmer just the same?"
"Return," he said, "to your first principles:
when anything (these state) becomes more perfect,
then all the more it feels both good and pain.
Albeit these accursed men will not
achieve perfection full and true, they still,
beyond that Day, will come to sharper life."
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]
"Master," I asked, "after the great Judgment
will these torments be greater, less,
or will they stay as harsh as they are now?"
And he replied: "Return to your science,
which has it that, in measure of a thing's perfection,
it feels both more of pleasure and of pain.
Although these accursèd people
will never come to true perfection,
they will be nearer it than they are now."
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]
And I asked: "Master these punishments,
Will they grow, after the great and Final Judgment,
Or lesson, or burn exactly as we've seen them?"
He answered: Go back to the rules of science, which you know
Declare perfection will grow more perfect with time,
And as it is in Heaven, so too below.
Although these wicked souls will never climb
To Heaven, I think they may come closer, perhaps,
Than they are now, in the state and place we find them."
[tr. Raffel (2010)]
Regarding that subject, I asked, "After the Final Judgment,
Will the torture increase, become somewhat less,
Or remain at the same level of intensity?"
He said, "Go back to your science. Remember
Aristotle and Aquinas. The closer a creature is to perfection,
The more it feels, both pleasure and pain.
This ruined crowd can't achieve authentic perfection
But they can expect to get closer to it than they are.
Which means more pain for the truly damned.
[tr. Bang (2012)]
"After the end,
What starts?" I asked. "Will all those who have earned
Their place down here feel less pain from the Day
Of Judgement on, or just the same, or more?"
And he to me: "What does your science say?
The more a thing's more perfect than before
The more it takes delight or feel despair?
Although these damned will never know a true
Perfection, they;ll be closer to it there,
Beyond that Day. So: much more than they do
Must be the answer to your question."
[tr. James (2013)]
Added on 20-Jan-23 | Last updated 3-Oct-23
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