[The Prideful]: “Try not our strength, so easily subdued,
against the ancient foe, but set it free
from him who goads it to perversity.
This last request we now address to You,
dear Lord, not for ourselves – who have no need –
but for the ones whom we have left behind.” (Purg. XI, 19-24)
[Statius]: “I had sufficient fame beyond,” that spirit
replied; “I bore the name that lasts the longest
and honors most – but faith was not yet mine.
So gentle was the spirit of my verse
that Rome drew me, son of Toulouse, to her
and there my brow deserved a crown of myrtle.
On earth my name is still remembered – Statius:
I sang of Thebes and then of great Achilles;
I fell along the way of that last labor.
The sparks that warmed me, the seeds of my ardor,
were from the holy fire – the same that gave
more than a thousand poets light and flame.
I speak of the Aeneid; when I wrote
verse, it was mother to me, it was nurse;
my work, without it, would not weight an ounce.
And to have lived on earth when Virgil lived –
for that I would extend by one more year
the time I owe before my exile’s end.” (Purg. XXI, 85-102)
“Now, when you sang the savage wars of those
twin sorrows of Jocasta,” said the singer
of the bucolic poems [Virgil], “it does not seem –
from those notes struck by you and Clio there –
that you had yet turned faithful to the faith
without which righteous works do not suffice.
If that is so, then what sun or what candles
drew you from darkness so that, in their wake,
you set your sails behind the fisherman?”
And he [Statius] to him: “You were the first to send me
to drink within Parnassus’ caves and you,
the first who, after God, enlightened me.
You did as he who goes by night and carries
the lamp behind him – he is of no help
to his own self but teaches those who follow –
when you declared: ‘The ages are renewed;
justice and man’s first time on earth return;
from Heaven a new progeny descends.’
Through you I was a poet and, through you,
a Christian…” (Purg. XXII, 55-72)