Some quotations on oaths and treachery. Possibly appropriate to our current state.
“I am Brother Alberigo,
One of the fruits of the corrupted garden
Who here gets dates for figs I handed out.”
“Oh,” I exclaimed, “are you already dead?”
And he said to me, “How my body does
There in the world above, I do not know.
For Ptolomea has this privilege:
Often the soul falls down into this place
Before Atropos sends it out of life.
And that you may be all the more willing
To scrape the frost-glazed tears from off my face
Know this: as soon as the soul proves a traitor,
As I did, its body then is snatched away
By a demon who takes possession of it
Until its time on earth has all run out.”Dante, Inferno, Canto XXXIII, v.118-132, Translated by
James Finn Cotter
Notes: from Sinclair’s translation, my faulty memory, or somewhere else.
- Albergio murdered his younger brother and nephew over a slight, at a dinner he had invited them to.
- “bad garden” – the very lax “Jovial Friars.”
- “date for fig” – idiom, to get more than bargained for.
- “Ptolomea” – the third and penultimate zone of the bottom circle of Hell, where traitors to guests are punished. After Ptolemy, a captain of Jericho who murdered Simon Maccabeus and his sons at a banquet, as recounted in Maccabees..
- “Atropos” – the Fate who determines time of death.
After having promised his cousin that he would wake him when he left to speak to Parliament, Lord Ivywood, in order to avoid having discussion on an amendment he was to propose, leaves him sleeping:
Phillip Ivywood raised himself on his crutch and stood for a moment looking at the sleeping man. Then he and his crutch trailed out of the long room, leaving the sleeping man behind. Nor was that the only thing that he left behind. He also left behind an unlighted cigarette and his honour and all the England of his father’s; everything that could really distinguish that high house beside the river from any tavern for the hocussing of sailors. He went upstairs and did his business in twenty minutes in the only speech he had ever delivered without any trace of eloquence. And from that hour forth he was the naked fanatic; and could feed on nothing but the future.G. K. Chesterton, the Flying Inn
When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands like water, and if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again. Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathe to think your father one of them.Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons