Faces From Dantes Inferno: Who They Are, What They Say, and What It All Means

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What is the effect of these strange descriptions? How do they contribute to the overall atmosphere of the scene? Although Dante may be alluding to one of his political benefactors--Cangrande, whose name means "big dog"--he probably intends for the prophecy to remain as unspecific and therefore tantalizingly open to interpretation as the three beasts and the overall atmosphere of the opening scene. The apostle Paul claims in the Bible to have been transported to the "third heaven" 2 Corinthians , and Aeneas visits the underworld in book 6 of Virgil's Aeneid.

These two otherworldly travelers are linked through their association with Rome, seat of both the empire and the church. Dante, contrary to Augustine and others, believed the Roman empire in fact prepared the way for Christianity, with Rome as the divinely chosen home of the Papacy. This means something has happened prior to the opening action that provides a catalyst for the journey. In this case, Virgil explains in canto 2 that he was summoned to Dante's aid by Beatrice, who was herself summoned by Lucia at the request of a woman able to alter the judgment of heaven Inf. This last woman, who sets in motion the entire rescue operation, can only be Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus according to Dante's faith.

Pity and Indignation in Dante’s Inferno | Notes from the Wasteland

Beatrice, who will reappear as a major figure later in the poem, was the inspiration for Dante's early love poetry she died in at age 24 and now plays the role of his spiritual guide as well. Along with Virgil, these "three blessed women"--Mary, Lucia, Beatrice--thus make possible Dante's journey to the realms of the afterlife. How do you envision them? How do you think they might relate to one another and to the world s in which we live? What is the purpose of a guide? A guide will help you to cover territory safely the first time you go through the territory.

How- ever, many guides, including teachers, want to make themselves irrelevant. The Divine Comedy is one of the Great Books of Western Literature—a book that you can reread with interest and profit each year of your life. Dante was born in in Florence, Italy. He was successful in both poetry and politics.

Early, he fell in love with Beatrice, a woman who died young in Both Dante and Beatrice married other people. Dante was a member of the political group known as the Guelfs, but when the Guelfs split into rival factions, he became a White Guelf.


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The White Guelfs opposed the Pope and wanted Flor- ence to be free from papal power, while the Black Guelfs supported the Pope and were willing to do his bidding if he put them in power. Dante never returned to Florence. He died on Ravenna in at age Dante called his poem the Commedia or Comedy. In the 16th century, the word Divina or Divine was added to the title to show that it was a work rooted in religion. Dante the Pilgrim is different from Dante the Poet. Dante the Pilgrim is a character in The Divine Comedy. At the beginning, he is naive and sometimes believes the spin that the sinners in the In- ferno put on their own stories.

However, Dante the Poet is an older, wiser Dante. Dante the Poet has journeyed throughout the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise, and he sees through the stories that the sinners tell in the Inferno. Dante the Poet has more knowledge and experience than Dante the Pilgrim. For example, Dante the Poet knows that he has been exiled from Florence because he is in exile when he writes The Divine Comedy.

Because the poem is set in , and Dante is not officially exiled until , Dante the Pilgrim does not know at the beginning of the poem that he will be exiled. He will hear the prophecies of his upcoming exile that are made in the Inferno, but he will not fully understand that he will be exiled until his ancestor, Cacciaguida, clearly tells him that in the Paradise. Dante the Poet is also more intelligent than Dante the Pilgrim. Dante the Pilgrim will sometimes be taken in by the spin that sinners in the Inferno put on their stories, but Dante the Poet knows that God does not make mistakes.

If a sinner is in the Inferno, Dante the Poet knows that the sin- ner belongs there. It can be understood on a literal level, but also present is a symbolic level. Allegories have many symbols. You must meet three criteria: 1 You must be dead. After all, if you are a dead repentant sinner, you would be found in either Purgatory or Paradise.

To repent your sins means to regret them. Of course, this does not mean regretting being caught for doing them, but regretting the sins themselves. The sinners Dante will meet in the Inferno are unrepentant sinners. The repentant sinners he will meet in Purgatory treat Dante very much differently from the way the unrepentant sinners he meets in the Inferno treat him. In The Divine Comedy, where is Hell located?

Dante did not think that the world was flat. Educated people of his time did not think the world was flat. To get to the Inferno, you go down. The story is that Lucifer rebelled against God, was thrown from Paradise to the Earth, and landed on the point of the earth that is opposite to Jerusa- lem. His landing made the Southern Hemisphere composed of water as the land rushed under the water to hide from him.

In addition, when he fell to the center of the Earth the land he displaced formed the Mountain of Purgatory. Dante and Virgil will climb down to the center of the Earth, where Lucifer is punished, then they will keep climbing up to the other side of the world, where they will climb Mount Purgatory. Incontinence Incontinence is not being able to control yourself. For example, you may not be able to control your sexual desire lust or your desire for food and drink gluttony. Fraud Fraud involves the willful use of misrepresentation to deprive another person of his or her rights. Sinners who commit complex fraud are traitors of various kinds: e.

Simple fraud is fraud, but it is not committed against those to whom one has a special obligation of trust. Of course, sin is the opposite of virtue, and we can look at these kinds of sins as being the oppo- site of kinds of virtues. Incontinence is the opposite of moderation. Violence is the opposite of courage.

Inferno Study Guide

Fraud is the opposite of wisdom. Another classical virtue is Justice, and we will see an unjust city in the Inferno. We will see both real characters and fictional characters. Mythological creatures will often be the guards in the Inferno. Some of the characters will be important historically and globally, while others will be important only locally and would in fact be forgotten if they had not been mentioned in the Inferno. They have in common the fact that they are unrepentant.

They do not take responsibility for the sins they have committed. Because of that, they will spin their stories and try to put the blame on someone or something else. When we read the Inferno, we must be careful to try to see the whole story. The sinners will not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Be aware that many people in the Inferno are going to be able to tell a good story, and you may end up thinking—like Dante the Pilgrim sometimes—that a certain sinner does not belong in Hell. Anyone who is in Hell deserves to be in Hell. Two main reasons, perhaps: 1 A lack of will. Everyone who needs to lose 10 pounds knows exactly what to do to lose it: Ex- ercise more and eat less. A student who exercises less and eats more without a good rea- son such as illness is guilty of the sin of gluttony.

Sometimes, sinning can appear to be attractive and to be fun, and thus people are tempted to sin. Staying up late, getting drunk, and partying can be fun, but if these things prevent a student from attending class, that student is guilty of the sin of sloth. Do these sinners belong in the Inferno? We must be careful when reading the Inferno. Dante the Pilgrim will sympathize with some sin- ners early in the Inferno, and we may be tempted to do exactly the same thing, but God is omnis- cient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.

God does not make mistakes. If a sinner is in the In- ferno, the sinner belongs there. By the way, the difference between Inferno and Inferno is that Inferno is the title of a book and Inferno is the name of a place.

Character Analysis

Similarly, Hamlet is the title of a play, and Hamlet is the name of a character in that play. The time is just before Good Friday, April 8, What does Dante say in these lines? We learn these things: 1 Dante the Pilgrim is 35 years old. The Biblical three score and ten years of an average human lifespan is 70 years, so the half- way point is 35 years. By the way, Inferno 1. The long quotations those in block format will mainly be from the transla- tion by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, unless otherwise noted.

Dante the Pilgrim in Canto 1 of the Inferno is a sinner in trouble. Fortunately, he will get the help he needs. Why am I this kind of person? Sex workers sometimes wonder how they ended up in that profession. Very few, if any, people make being a sex worker their career of choice.

Everything Wrong With Cinema Sins In 3 Minutes Or Less

Allegorically, what does this mean? Dante the Pilgrim wants to get out of the dark wood, of course, and he attempts to climb to the sun. Because The Divine Comedy is an allegory, Dante makes the sun a symbol. Here it can be a symbol of God and of truth and of salvation. In general, we can say that the three beasts represent sins. They may represent the sins of youth, of middle age, and of old age. On the other hand, they may represent the sins that make up the three major classifications of the Inferno: incontinence, violence, and fraud. Or they can represent lust, pride, and cupidity.

What seems certain is that these three animals sym- bolize sin. The three animals are taken from Jeremiah This is the King James version: 6: Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are in- creased.

He needs a guide. Who is Virgil? Virgil, of course, is the author of the Aeneid. He is a writing hero for Dante, who praises him highly and says that he learned about poetic style from him: Thou art my master, and my author thou, Thou art alone the one from whom I took The beautiful style that has done honor to me.

Longfellow 1. Virgil has been sent to guide Dante out of the dark wood and to another guide who can take him further than Virgil can. Virgil is a symbol of human reason, which is powerful, but which Dante regarded as less power- ful than faith. Al- though hesitant out of fear, he eventually agrees to go wherever Virgil will lead him. What are those three parts? The three parts of the journey are these: 1 The Inferno, where many souls shriek. The Divine Comedy is comprised of cantos or songs. The first canto is an introduction to the entire Divine Comedy, so we can say that the Inferno has 33 cantos, as do the Purgatory and the Paradise.

Numbers are important to Dante. We know of course that three is an important number because it is the number of the Trinity: God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We see the number three throughout The Divine Comedy; for example, Dante writes tercets: stanzas of three lines. The number ten is another important number. Ten consists of three Trinities plus one Unity. Why does Dante have cantos in his Divine Comedy? The number consists of ten times ten.

Why does he make that compari- son? Of course, the journey through the Inferno is difficult, so it can be likened to a battle. In addition, Dante must be on his guard against pitying the sinners, many of whom will attempt to gain his pity by telling him only part of their stories and leaving out whatever makes the sinner look bad. What is an invocation, and who are the Muses? The Muses are ancient goddesses of the arts. In an invocation, a poet asks the Muses for help in singing a song such as an epic poem.

Both Virgil and Homer invoked the Muses in telling their epic poems. O memory, that didst write down what I saw, Here thy nobility shall be manifest! Longfellow 2. One thing to notice is that Dante has second thoughts here, although eventually, of course, he decides to allow Virgil to be his guide. We can be sympathetic here. The Inferno is a place where many souls shriek with despair.

This is not going to be a pleasant visit to a tourist destination. In fact, at one point later in the Inferno Canto 11 , Dante and Virgil have to rest to allow themselves to become accustomed to the stench that is rising from the lower Circles of the Inferno. Another thing to notice is that Dante gets help from the outside. God is concerned about Dante, and God allows Virgil and others to guide Dante to salvation. In Canto 2, Dante the Pilgrim mentions a couple of people who have visited the afterlife—people who are much more worthy than he of the visit.


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  • In Book 6 of the Aeneid, Aeneas visits the underworld in order to learn more about his destiny—his deceased father, Anchises, shows him his future descendants, who are Roman heroes. Virgil is a good guide through the Inferno; after all, he has been there before, imaginatively, while writing his Aeneid. Paul The other major visitor to the afterlife is Saint Paul, who supposedly visited the realms of the dead, a journey described in a medieval work titled Visio Sancti Pauli. Other Heroes Many ancient heroes visited the underworld, as described in Greek and Roman mythology.

    See below Canto 3. The three heavenly women are these: 1 Mary, the mother of Christ. People of the Middle Ages regarded Mary as their spiritual mother. Saint Lucia was the patroness of good eyesight. Af- ter Beatrice died, Dante strained his eyes with too much crying according to the Vita Nuova. Lucia was an early Christian who was persecuted for being a Christian. She was tortured, including being blinded, and eventually killed by being stabbed with a dagger.

    Note: Her name is pronounced with three syllables, with the stress on the second syllable. Dante was in love with Beatrice, although they married other people. She died young, and Dante mourned her greatly. Dante has three heavenly women looking after him. Virgil is very willing to do Beatrice a favor. Virgil makes the persuasive point that with three such heavenly women looking after him, Dante should not be afraid to go down into the Inferno.

    Doing that is a necessary part of his journey. Therefore, Virgil is familiar with the Inferno. The sorceress Erichtho sent him to the bottom of the Inferno to find and bring a soul to her. Once again, Virgil is familiar with the territory. Historians believe that Virgil was actually writing about the birth of a Roman. In Canto 3, Dante and Virgil go through the gate that leads into the Inferno.

    Name a few, and briefly describe some of their visits to the Underworld. Theseus was held captive in a chair of forgetfulness in Hades. Hercules rescued him. Hercules entered the Underworld as part of his labors. He stole Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and took him up into the living world. Odysseus entered the Underworld to get information about his journey home from Troy from the prophet Tiresias.

    Aeneas visited his father in the Underworld in Book 6 of the Aeneid. Justice urged on my high artificer; My maker was divine authority, The highest wisdom, and the primal love. Before me nothing but eternal things were made, And I endure eternally. Abandon every hope, ye who enter here. God is known for being omnipotent the Father , for the highest wisdom the Son and for primal love the Holy Spirit.

    We learn that although the Inferno is a place of eternal damnation, it is also a place of justice. The people who enter the Inferno with the exception of the still-living Dante and a few other heroes from long ago are doomed to re- main there always. Other exceptions are the people rescued by Christ during the Harrowing of Hell. The basic meaning of the sign is that unrepentant sinners will forever be punished. Is his reaction appropriate? Dante is understandably afraid to enter the Inferno; however, his reaction to the sign is inappro- priate. We know that God is just, and we know that the Inferno is a place of just punishment.

    However, at this point Dante the Pilgrim does not know that, although Dante the Poet knows that very well. For Dante, punishment in Hell is eternal. What does that mean? According to mythology, human beings have eaten the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we can tell the difference between good and evil. This is something that animals cannot do. A dog does not feel guilty if it eats the food of another dog. Human beings ought to use their intellect to determine the right thing to do and then to do it. The unrepentant sinners be- ing punished in the Inferno did not use their intellect to do these things.

    What is a Vestibule, and why is the punishment of the souls found there appropriate? A Vestibule is a passage between the door and the interior of a building. Even before we reach the first Circle of Hell, we see souls being punished. The punishments of the Inferno begin even before the doorway of the Inferno is passed. Outside the doorway are the souls of those who never took a stand in life. While living, they were neither for good nor for evil, and now that they are dead, neither Heaven nor Hell wants them. In life, they did not follow a banner; in death, they follow a banner endlessly, running after it as it trav- els here and here, never remaining in one place.

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    Similarly, in life, these noncommitted souls never staked out a firm position. In life, these souls never felt deeply, either for good or for evil. Now, these souls do feel deeply, as wasps and hornets bite them. They bleed from the bites, and maggots eat the pus that flows to the ground. This punishment is fitting. What these souls avoided doing in life, they now do in death. In addition, these souls did no lasting good or harm on Earth, and they will be not be remembered on Earth.

    In the Inferno, Dante mentions none of them by name. The uncommitted who are punished here include angels who fought neither for God nor for Lucifer when Lucifer rebelled against God. That is not true. Not even Hell wanted them, so they are not even in a Circle of Hell. One thing to learn here is that Dante is letting us know that choosing not to make a choice is in itself a choice. These people chose not to choose to be committed to good. John Ciardi sees the human beings being here as Opportunists. They did not act either for good or for evil; they acted only for themselves Ciardi, The Divine Comedy, In addition, some commentators believe that these souls are the Slothful.

    Because the sin of Sloth is purged on the Mountain of Purgatory, the sin of Sloth ought to be punished in or near Hell. The Slothful may be punished here in the Vestibule of Hell, or the Slothful may be punished in Circle 5. Many commentators believe that the Sullen are punished in Circle 5, but Mark Musa believes that the sinners punished there are the Slothful. The Angry or Wrathful are also pun- ished in Circle 5, and since Sullenness is a form of bottled-up anger, perhaps the Sullen are pun- ished in Circle 5. Sloth means not loving the right things enough, and the souls in the Vestibule of Hell did not love what is good and right enough to pursue those things, so perhaps these are the Slothful.

    The uncommitted never took a stand, either for good or for evil, but the damned at least took a stand, even though it was for evil. Who keeps the uncommitted souls out of Hell Proper? Although Hell does not want these un- committed souls, the proper answer is not Lucifer because we will see that Lucifer has no power in the Inferno.

    The proper answer is that God keeps these souls out of Hell Proper. After all, we know that God created the Inferno, and therefore God created the Vestibule of the Inferno. What is a symbol, and what does the banner symbolize? According to the 6th edition of A Handbook to Literature, by C. The banner symbolizes a cause. The souls in the Vestibule of Hell had no causes that they were passionate about.

    Who is he? See Ciardi, The Divine Comedy, However, Mark Musa makes a good case that the coward is Pontius Pilate, who did not want to condemn Jesus to death, but who allowed Jesus to be executed, blaming the Jews for the execu- tion of Jesus Musa We can say that people who refused to speak out against the evils of racism, sexism, sexual har- assment, religious persecution, and torture belong there. Those who refused to speak out against the Nazis during the Holocaust belong there. Of course, to be in the Vestibule of Hell they would not have repented. If you want to stay out of the Inferno, you need to make a stand for good.

    Sometimes men make a stand for good. This anecdote appears in my book The Kindest People Who Do Good Deeds, Volume 4: When Ohio University student Haley Butler visited London, she saw and enjoyed the musical Wicked, although she attended the musical alone despite having promised her parents that she would not go out alone at night. On her way back to her hotel, she no- ticed that a strange man was following her.

    She tried to get away from him, but he kept on following her. How are you? I could tell by the look on your face! You seemed so frightened. Some men can be very helpful in situa- tions like this. Note: Italicize foreign words such as the Italian word con- trapasso. It is a punishment that is appropriate for the sin.

    It is not against the law to be a Glutton. We will see contrapasso over and over in the Inferno. One main point to learn in the Inferno is that these sinners abandoned God, and therefore God has abandoned them. We can, in fact, say that these sinners chose to reside in the Inferno in their afterlife. This crowd of souls is waiting to be ferried across the river by the mythological figure Charon, who in Greek mythology ferried the souls of the dead across the River Acheron. As you would expect, these souls are those of unrepentant sinners. How do they react?

    Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens; I come to lead you to the other shore, To the eternal shades in heat and frost. By the way, we learn that these souls are naked: But all those souls who weary were and naked Longfellow 3. Longfellow 3. Charon notices that Dante is living and orders him away. Living visitors to the Underworld, such as Hercules, have caused problems such as stealing Cerberus. We will be hearing about the sizes of some Circles as we begin the journey through the Inferno. The Circles will grow smaller the further down we go. Apparently, more sinners are punished in the bigger Circles than are punished in the smaller Circles.

    So more people are punished for the sin of lust than are punished for the sin of complex fraud fraud committed against those with whom the sinner ought to have a special tie of trust. Jesus is referred to only elliptically. How does Dante the Poet depict Limbo? Dante falls asleep, then wakes up in Limbo. Limbo is the first Circle of Hell.

    It is not a place of shrieks; rather, it is a place of sighs. The souls here are separated from God, but they are not be- ing tortured. However, many of the souls here are great thinkers, and part of their punishment for not worshipping God correctly is to be denied knowledge: knowledge of God. Limbo is where Virgil resides in the afterlife. Other virtuous pagans live here, too. Limbo is interesting because some people who used to be here are here no longer. During the Harrowing of Hell, Jesus released these people and took them to Paradise.

    These are the three classes of people who are or were in Limbo: 1 The virtuous pagans. These pagans were good morally, but they were not Christian or Jewish in the days before Christ. They did not believe in the one true God. Later, we will see that some pagans are in Paradise. Because they are unbaptized, they are here. These are not morally bad people. Later, we will see that some unbaptized children are in Para- dise. Jesus released these people from Limbo during the Harrowing of Hell. However, salvation is a mystery, and we humans are not fully capable of understanding the will of God.

    According to mythology, after Jesus died and before He was resurrected, He entered Hell to save the souls of great religious figures such as King David and Adam and Eve. He took them out of Limbo and put them in Paradise. Jesus saved the souls of the faithful Jews. By the way, Virgil died in 19 B. We may think of Dante as using his Divine Comedy to do some of what Jesus did. Dante lets us know what we need to avoid doing and what we need to do to avoid going to Hell.

    Socrates said after being condemned to death that death must be one of two things: 1 a sleep that goes on forever, or 2 a place where he can talk with the other deceased souls. Limbo sounds very much like this second alternative. By the way, Limbo apparently has a library, as Virgil shows later that he is familiar with the work of poets who followed him. They did not worship God correctly. Of course, the righteous Jews showed that it was possible to worship God correctly even before the coming of Jesus.

    Also, they expected the Messiah to ap- pear. By the way, later in Paradise we will read of two pagans who are in fact in Paradise. There we see that salvation is a mystery and we humans are not fully capable of understanding the will of God. They treat him as an equal. He is one of the great poets. He is comparing himself to ancient poets such as Homer and saying that he is in their league. Few if any modern poets would do that today—I hope. Longfellow 4. Virgil, of course, wrote the Aeneid, which tells the story of the fall of Troy and recounts the ad- ventures of Aeneas after the fall of Troy and his successful attempt to become an important an- cestor of the Romans.

    The Iliad tells the story of the argument be- tween Agamemnon and Achilles in the final year of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey recounts the adventures of Odysseus after the Trojan War. Horace is the author of the collection of poems known as the Epistles. Ovid is the author of the Metamorphoses, a collection of myths involving metamorphoses or transformations.

    Lucan is the author of the Pharsalia, an epic poem about the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. The Inferno is an allegory, and the stream is a symbol of something, although what that something is open to interpretation. Mark Musa believes that one possible interpretation is that the stream symbolizes eloquence, something that Dante and Virgil and the other ancient poets most definitely have Musa Inferno, In the Aeneid, Aeneas survives the fall of Troy, takes his father and son out of the city but his wife perishes in the chaos , and leads the Trojan survivors to Carthage and then to Italy, where he becomes the founder of the Roman people.

    Lavinia Lavinia is the Italian princess whom Aeneas marries in Italy. She and Aeneas become important ancestors of the Romans. Hector Hector is the great leader of the Trojans during the Trojan War. His death at the hands of the great Greek warrior Achilles means that Troy will fall. Electra Electra is the daughter of Atlas, the god who holds up the sky, and the ancestor of all the Trojans, including Aeneas and Hector. The Aeneid tells of her death.

    Penthesilea Penthesilea is an Amazonian queen. She fought for Troy against the Greeks during the Trojan War. Democritus This Greek philosopher believed in the theory of atoms: the idea that matter is composed of im- perishable and indivisible units.

    Quick Facts

    Both Zenos were ancient Greek philosophers. Euclid Euclid is famous for his writing about geometry. Ptolemy Ptolemy gave his name to a system of astronomy that placed the Earth at the center of the uni- verse. A major point to notice is that three Muslims are found in Limbo. Many Christians in the Middle Ages were hostile to Islam, but Dante does put three eminent Muslims in a place of honor: 1 the philosopher Avicenna He was a Persian physician, philosopher, and scientist.

    He memorized the Koran.

    Dante’s Divine Comedy in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance art

    He was an Arab who wanted to reconcile Aristotelianism with Islam. He was a great Muslim general and leader. We may want to say that Hell Proper begins with Minos and the second Circle. Previously, we saw the Vestibule of Hell, where souls desired by neither Heaven nor Hell were punished.

    We also saw the first Circle of Hell—Limbo—where there is no torture. Limbo in some ways seems like a pleasant place. Minos is the first judge we see in the Inferno. Supposedly, the good King Minos of Crete became a judge in the Underworld. In the Inferno, Minos is the judge of the dead souls, but he is a monster with a long tail. When a sinner is before him, Minos wraps his tail around his body. The number of times the tail is wrapped his body shows to which Circle the sinner will be sent.

    If the tail is wrapped three times around his body, then the sinner will be punished in the third Circle of Hell. Sometimes, Minos uses his tail to fling the sinner to that Circle. Dante makes Minos, who was a human being in life, a monster in the Inferno. Sin is bestial and monstrous, and so the guards and judges in the Inmforno are also bestial and monstrous. Virgil is a very good guide for Dante here, as he will be throughout the Inferno and while climb- ing the Mountain of Purgatory. Occasionally, Virgil will need divine help, but almost always he is able to be an excellent guide for Dante.

    Virgil is always on the lookout for Dante.


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    • He also needs to take care not to be fooled. Of those two others, with their heads beneath, the one who hangs from that black snout is Brutus— see how he writhes and does not say a word! That other, who seems so robust, is Cassius. But night is come again, and it is time for us to leave; we have seen everything. Just as he asked, I clasped him round the neck; and he watched for the chance of time and place, and when the wings were open wide enough,. When we had reached the point at which the thigh revolves, just at the swelling of the hip, my guide, with heavy strain and rugged work,.

      Then he slipped through a crevice in a rock and placed me on the edge of it, to sit; that done, he climbed toward me with steady steps. I raised my eyes, believing I should see the half of Lucifer that I had left; instead I saw him with his legs turned up;. It was no palace hall, the place in which we found ourselves, but with its rough—hewn floor and scanty light, a dungeon built by nature.

      Where is the ice? And how is he so placed head downward? Tell me, too, how has the sun in so few hours gone from night to morning? And now you stand beneath the hemisphere opposing that which cloaks the great dry lands and underneath whose zenith died the Man. Your feet are placed upon a little sphere that forms the other face of the Judecca. This was the side on which he fell from Heaven; for fear of him, the land that once loomed here made of the sea a veil and rose into. There is a place below, the limit of that cave, its farthest point from Beelzebub, a place one cannot see: it is discovered.

      My guide and I came on that hidden road to make our way back into the bright world; and with no care for any rest, we climbed—. It was from there. As, when there breathes a heavy fog, or when Our hemisphere is darkening into night, Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,. Methought that such a building then I saw; And, for the wind, I drew myself behind My Guide, because there was no other shelter. Now was I, and with fear in verse I put it, There where the shades were wholly covered up, And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.

      Some prone are Iying, others stand erect, This with the head, and that one with the soles; Another, bow—like, face to feet inverts. When in advance so far we had proceeded, That it my Master pleased to show to me The creature who once had the beauteous semblance,. How frozen I became and powerless then, Ask it not, Reader, for I write it not, Because all language would be insufficient. I did not die, and I alive remained not; Think for thyself now, hast thou aught of wit, What I became, being of both deprived. The Emperor of the kingdom dolorous From his mid—breast forth issued from the ice, And better with a giant I compare.

      Than do the giants with those arms of his; Consider now how great must be that whole, Which unto such a part conforms itself. Were he as fair once, as he now is foul, And lifted up his brow against his Maker, Well may proceed from him all tribulation. O, what a marvel it appeared to me, When I beheld three faces on his head! The one in front, and that vermilion was;. Two were the others, that were joined with this Above the middle part of either shoulder, And they were joined together at the crest;.

      Underneath each came forth two mighty wings, Such as befitting were so great a bird; Sails of the sea I never saw so large. No feathers had they, but as of a bat Their fashion was; and he was waving them, So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom. Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed. With six eyes did he weep, and down three chins Trickled the tear—drops and the bloody drivel.

      At every mouth he with his teeth was crunching A sinner, in the manner of a brake, So that he three of them tormented thus. To him in front the biting was as naught Unto the clawing, for sometimes the spine Utterly stripped of all the skin remained. Of the two others, who head downward are, The one who hangs from the black jowl is Brutus; See how he writhes himself, and speaks no word. And the other, who so stalwart seems, is Cassius.

      As seemed him good, I clasped him round the neck, And he the vantage seized of time and place, And when the wings were opened wide apart,. He laid fast hold upon the shaggy sides; From fell to fell descended downward then Between the thick hair and the frozen crust.

      When we were come to where the thigh revolves Exactly on the thickness of the haunch, The Guide. Turned round his head where he had had his legs, And grappled to the hair, as one who mounts, So that to Hell I thought we were returning. I lifted up mine eyes and thought to see Lucifer in the same way I had left him; And I beheld him upward hold his legs. And if I then became disquieted, Let stolid people think who do not see What the point is beyond which I had passed. It was not any palace corridor There where we were, but dungeon natural, With floor uneven and unease of light.

      That side thou wast, so long as I descended; When round I turned me, thou didst pass the point To which things heavy draw from every side,. The Man who without sin was born and lived.