[Virgil]: "Of every malice that earns hate in Heaven,
injustice is the end; and each such end
by force or fraud brings harm to other men.
However, fraud is man’s peculiar vice;
God finds it more displeasing – and therefore,
the fraudulent are lower, suffering more." (Inf. XI, 22-27)
Faced with that truth which seems a lie, a man
should always close his lips as long as he can –
to tell it shames him, even though he’s blameless;
But here I can’t be still; and by the lines
of this my Comedy, reader, I swear –
and may my verse find favor for long years –
that through the dense and darkened air I saw
a figure swimming, rising up, enough
to bring amazement to the firmest heart,
like one returning from the waves where he
went down to loose an anchor snagged upon
a reef or something else hid in the sea,
who stretches upward and draws in his feet. (Inf. XVI, 124-136)
And he came on, that filthy effigy
of fraud, and landed with his head and torso
but did not draw his tail onto the bank.
The face he wore was that of a just man,
so gracious was his features’ outer semblance;
and all his trunk, the body of a serpent;
He had two paws, with hair up to the armpits;
his back and chest as well as both his flanks
had been adorned with twining knots and circlets.
No Turks or Tartars ever fashioned fabrics
more colorful in the background and relief,
nor had Arachne ever loomed such webs.
As boats will sometimes lie along the shore,
with part of them on land and part in water,
and just as there, among the guzzling Germans,
the beaver sets himself when he means war,
so did that squalid beast lie on the margin
of stone that serves as border for the sand.
And all his tail was quivering in the void
while twisting upward its envenomed fork,
which had a tip just like a scorpion’s. (Inf. XVII, 7-24)