And I to him: "Master, among this kind
I certainly might hope to recognize
some who have been bespattered by these crimes."
And he to me: "That thought of yours is empty:
the undiscerning life that made them filthy
now renders them unrecognizable." (Inf. VII. 49-54)
[Dante to Virgil]: "Master," I asked of him, "now tell me too:
this Fortune whom you’ve touched upon just now –
what’s she, who clutches so all the world’s goods?"
And he to me: "O unenlightened creatures,
how deep – the ignorance that hampers you!
I want you to digest my word on this.
Who made the heavens and who gave them guides
was He whose wisdom transcends everything;
that every part may shine unto the other,
He had the light apportioned equally;
similarly, for worldly splendors, He
ordained a general minister and guide
to shift, from time to time, those empty goods
from nation unto nation, clan to clan,
in ways that human reason can’t prevent;
just so, one people rules, one languishes,
obeying the decision she has given,
which, like a serpent in the grass, is hidden.
Your knowledge cannot stand against her force;
for she foresees and judges and maintains
her kingdom as the other gods do theirs.
The changes that she brings are without respite:
it is necessity that makes her swift;
and for this reason, men change state so often." (Inf. VII, 67-90)
[Dante]: "Within my memory is fixed – and now
moves me – your dear, your kind paternal image
when, in the world above, from time to time
you taught me how man makes himself eternal;
and while I live, my gratitude for that
must always be apparent in my words.
What you have told me of my course, I write;
I keep it with another text, for comment
by one who’ll understand, if I may reach her." (Inf. XV, 82-90)