– Inferno Canto XXVI-
“When I left Circe who more than a year
retained me over there close to Gaeta
long before Aeneas came there
giving the place that name,
not fondness for my son, nor pity
on my old father, nor Penelope`s claim
to the joys of conjugal love,
could overcome in my mind the lust
to get experienced of the whole world
and all human faults and virtues,
and I turned into the large and open sea
with just one ship and only those few comrades
who did not desert me.
I saw both shores as far as Morocco
and as far as Spain and I saw Sardinia
and the other islands washed by that sea.
I and my comrades were old and worn
when we sailed into the narrow pass
where Hercules rose his columns
warning all men not to go further,
already I had left Ceuta on the left,
Seville now sank behind me on the right.
“Comrades,” I said, “who through a hundred thousand
perils have reached the West, in the short time
we have still left of our lives
let us not deny ourselves to experience
the uninhabited world following the course
of the sun where it set.
Consider your origin! You were not born
to live your lives like brutes,
but to follow the path of virtue and knowledge!”
With this brief exhortation I made my men
so eager for the voyage I could hardly
have held them back if I changed my mind,
and turning our stern toward morning,
we bore southwest out of the known world ,
making wings of our oars for our fool`s flight.
The night showed already all the constellations
of the other hemisphere and our pole
had so declined that it did not rise out of its ocean bed.
Five times the moon’s face
had brightened and as many time waned
since we had started our voyage
when a mountain appeared to us
so far that it looked dark, a peak so tall
I doubted any man had seen the like.
We cheered and soon we cried
because a whirl broke hard
upon our ship from the new land:
three times it turned over and over the ship
in the wave , at fourth the poop rose
and the bow went down, as Somebody wished
till the sea closed over us.”
English Translation by Angelo Ruggeri