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within he was condemned, the more hated was his sin. Walking through all the direful realm he found, in the black interior part where was the devil himself, those who had been disloyal. This very centre of hell was the realm of traitors. This region of Cocytus at hell's centre was not a fiery furnace but a lake of ice, frozen by the flapping of the six bat-like wings of Lucifer who is embedded at the centre. "Never," says Dante, “did Don or Danube cover itself with so thick a veil; if mountains had fallen upon it, even at the edge 'twould not have given a creak.” The symbolism of this ice must needs be pointed out. The river Phlegethon, which flows down through the circles of Violence and Fraud, consists of hot blood; evil as these sins are they have the excuse of being committed in some heat of passion. But for disloyalty no such excuse exists, it is a sin of cold blood, possible only when all warm and generous feeling has frozen out of the heart. This frigid hell is divided into four circles. The outermost is named Caina after Cain who slew his brother, and here traitors to kindred receive their deserts. Dante here compares the souls to frogs with their muzzles out of water. Their teeth chatter with cold, their heads hang downwards, their tears reveal the misery of their heart within.
Antenora, the name of the second ring, is taken from Antenor, the Trojan who was believed to have betrayed his native city to the Greeks, in the Middle Ages. The souls here are traitors to their country,
and their punishment is immersion in the ice up to the neck. The third ring, Tolomea, receives its name from Tolemeaus, Captain of the city of Jericho, who, we are told, invited Simon the Maccabee, and his two sons Maccabeus and Matthias, to a friendly feast and had them treacherously slain. It is therefore the prison-house of traitors to friends and guests. They are in the ice up to their necks, their tears, lying in the hollows of their upturned eyes, freeze into a mask of ice and thus close all outlet for their grief.
The fourth circle, the central ring, the very heart of hell, takes its name, Giudecca, from Judas the betrayer of Christ. It is the place of traitors to their lords and benefactors, who are completely bedded in ice like straws in glass. In the exact centre of the circle and of the earth rises Lucifer, traitor to his Lord and Benefactor, God. In his central mouth, for he had three, he devours eternally Judas Iscariot, traitor to his Lord and Benefactor, Christ. In the two side-mouths writhe Brutus and Cassius, traitors to their lord and benefactor, Cæsar.
2. These gradations are suggestive that all loyalties are not of equal power and value. The great Civil War demonstrated this as true. On the banks of the Potomac in Virginia stands the old colonial mansion of Arlington. Here the founders of the republic had often been entertained. Here sixty years ago was the happy home of Robert Edward Lee, son of the famous “Light Horse Harry” of
Revolutionary days, Colonel in the Regular Army of the United States. Fame early encircled his brow. Having graduated at the head of his class at West Point, he served at Vera Cruz, Chapultepec, and Mexico with a distinction well worthy of his famous ancestors. From his years of life in the North, Lee realized how the sections underestimated each other; he loved the Union, he looked with saddened heart upon the approaching conflict, But disruption came. Robert Lee stands with the Union that he loves on the one hand and with the state he cherishes on the other. The Union summons him. President Lincoln offers to make him commanderin-chief of the United States forces. If he accept, glory and honour are his. Virginia calls to him. If he accept, mighty difficulties await him. If he accept and fail-ah, what then? Looking out across the Potomac from his broad veranda, he might see Washington and its public buildings. The fair scene is significant of the glory that would be his, if he chooses the Union. He might also see the cannon of the arsenal there pointing as if trained on his very home. This foreshadows the fate that will be his, if he chooses Virginia. He beholds the glory of the world; he turns away to the cross of duty. To the messenger who brought to him President Lincoln's offer, he said: “Mr. Blair, if I owned the four million slaves in the South today, I would sacrifice them to the Union, but how can I draw my sword against Virginia ?” The commonwealth that gave him birth needed him, and,
though now past manhood's prime, he draws his sword in defence of family, of home, and of native state. Some have said that he followed a lesser loyalty at the expense of the greater. Not so, not so, he followed the pure white banner of duty. We pause not to consider the political arguments of the situation, nor evident compromise of the fathers as to whether or not supreme loyalty was due to state or to union of states. There is no question today that the ultimate allegiance is to the nation. But for those of fifty years ago the question of greater loyalty was eternally decided by a man's being true to his conscientious conviction of duty.
The mighty decision which men of a half century ago had to make is not the one that our generation has to face, but every day we have to settle questions of lesser and greater loyalty which shall tell just as emphatically on the destiny of our characters and of the society of which we are a part. Self-preservation is the first law of nature, but which is more precious, life or honour? If one is drowning, he is unworthy the name of man who does not rush to his assistance. To which does one owe the greater loyalty, to comfort or to development, to mere camaraderie at school and college, or to the development of educative habits? To which does one owe the greater loyalty, to self-indulgence or to strong, self-reliant manhood? Stevenson wrote when reflecting on Robert Burns dead at thirty-seven: “He died of being Robert Burns,
he grasped at temporary pleasures, and sure happiness and solid worth passed him by.” To which does a man owe the greater loyalty, to truth or to tradition? to success or to principle? to money or to morals? “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Does a man owe a greater loyalty to himself, or to his work, or to his family? Does he owe a greater loyalty to his family, to his country, or to his religion?
Man was made for the full development of splendid physical life, to enjoy broad acres and mighty winds of heaven, but he was made with a capacity greater than this. He was made to eat bread, but not bread alone. Religion was given to cure the body as well as the soul, but not to cure the body alone.
In the settlement of the question of greater and lesser loyalties Dante gives a suggestive idea in the succeeding circles of increased guilt which belonged to those who inhabited that frozen realm of traitors. We may be somewhat surprised to find disloyalty to one's own kin, like the fratricide of Cain, classed as a less heinous treachery than that of disloyalty to country.
Is not the bond of flesh and blood closer and more sacred than that of even native land? Yet the universal instinct proves that Dante is right. Whenever a country is in danger it calls its citizens to sacrifice, if need be, every tie of home and kindred for her defence, saying in effect: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not