"Canto of Ulysees"

Canto 26 of Dante's Inferno tells the story of his encounter with Ulysses – the Latin name of Odysseus, a legendary king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. In the eighth ring of the eighth circle of hell, reserved for counsellors of fraud and sins of malice, Ulysses walks wrapped in flame as punishment for the schemes and conspiracies that won the Trojan War. Ulysses tells the poet about his final voyage and death. He recounts his passage beyond the pillars of Hercules into oceans unknown and towards lands unexplored. Ulysses recounts his final speech to his men, in which he exhorted man's purpose as the pursuit of virtue and knowledge.

 

118

Considerate la vostra semenza:

119

fatti non foste a viver come bruti,

120

ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.

 

This is translated by Stuart Woolf (Levi's English translator) as:

 

Think of your breed: for brutish ignorance

Your mettle was not made; you were made men,

To follow after knowledge and excellence.

 

 The Odyssey on Book Drum