Aeneas straightway by the leftward cliff
Beheld a spreading rampart, high begirt
With triple wall, and circling round it ran
A raging river of swift floods of flame,
Infernal Phlegethon, which whirls along
Loud-thundering rocks. A mighty gate is there
Columned in adamant; no human power,
Nor even the gods, against this gate prevail.
Tall tower of steel it has; and seated there
Tisiphone, in blood-flecked pall arrayed,
Sleepless forever, guards the entering way.
Hence groans are heard, fierce cracks of lash and scourge,
Loud-clanking iron links and trailing chains.
Aeneas motionless with horror stood
o'erwhelmed at such uproar. “0 virgin, say
What shapes of guilt are these? What penal woe
Harries them thus? What wailing smites the air?”
To whom the Sibyl, “Far-famed prince of Troy,
The feet of innocence may never pass
Into this house of sin. But Hecate,
When o'er th' Avernian groves she gave me power,
Taught me what penalties the gods decree,
And showed me all. There Cretan Rhadamanth
His kingdom keeps, and from unpitying throne
Chastises and lays bare the secret sins
Of mortals who, exulting in vain guile,
Elude till death, their expiation due.
There, armed forever with her vengeful scourge,
Tisiphone, with menace and affront,
The guilty swarm pursues; in her left hand
She lifts her angered serpents, while she calls
A troop of sister-furies fierce as she.
Then, grating loud on hinge of sickening sound,
Hell's portals open wide. 0, dost thou see
What sentinel upon that threshold sits,
What shapes of fear keep guard upon that gloom?
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