The ghost of the generous poet replied: ‘If I have understood your words correctly, your spirit is attacked by cowardly fear, that often weighs men down, so that it deflects them from honourable action, like a creature seeing phantoms in the dusk.
Dante cuts short his excursion and returns to find Virgil mounted on the back of Geryon. Dante joins his Master and they fly down from the great cliff. Their flight carries them from the Hell of the VIOLENT AND THE BESTIAL (The Sins of the Lion) into the Hell of the FRAUDULENT AND MALICIOUS (The Sins of the Leopard).
This the Master said; and he turned me around Himself, and not trusting my own hands, He covered my eyes with his own. For those of you who are educated, understand the hidden meaning Of the strange words that follow!
From one point of view it is an appeal to future ages from Florentine injustice and ingratitude; from another, it is a long and passionate plea with his native town to shake her in her stubborn cruelty.
As flowerlets drooped and puckered in the night turn up to the returning sun and spread their petals wide on his new warmth and light-just so my wilted spirits rose again and such a heat of zeal surged through my veins that I was born anew.
Those things that have the power to hurt are to be feared: not those other things that are not fearful. I am made such, by God's grace, that your suffering does not touch me, nor does the fire of this burning scorch me.
I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightfoward pathway had been lost. Ah me! How hard a thing is to say, what was this forest savage, rough, and stern, which in the very thought renews the fear. So bitter is it, death is little more...
Hence we may overthrow the error of those who think to form the moral character of others by speaking well and doing ill; forgetting that the hands of Jacob were more persuasive with his father than his words, though his hands deceived and his voice spake truth.