Those souls – it seemed – were cloaked in coarse haircloth;
another’s shoulder served each shade as prop,
and all of them were bolstered by the rocks:
so do the blind who have to beg appear
on pardon days to plead for what they need,
each bending his head back and toward the other,
that all who watch feel – quickly – pity’s touch
not only through the words that would entreat
but through the sight, which can – no less – beseech.
And just as, to the blind, no sun appears,
so to the shades – of whom I now speak – here,
the light of heaven would not give itself;
for iron wire pierces and sews up
the lids of all those shades, as untamed hawks
are handled, lest, too restless, they fly off. (Purg. XIII, 58-70)
For allowing their eyes to wander to others’ possessions in life, the Envious are forced into blindness in the afterlife. Their eyes are sewn shut by “iron wires” so that they need to lean on each other for support. As a result of their blindness, the Envious cannot see the greatest gift of all – the light of Heaven – until they purge themselves of their vice.