- The thief raised his hands & made figs with them, placing the thumb between the index & middle fingers while making a fist, & cursed God. The snakes sneaked up on him, wrapping around his throat & arms as if to shut him up. He was even more defiant than the Theban king. Fucci ran off into the distance.
- A centaur approached asking where the blasphemer had gone. On his shoulders was a dragon with its wings spread breathing fire on anything close to it.
- Virgil told Dante the Centaur was Cacus, who didn’t live on the same level of Hell as the other centaurs because he’d stolen Hercules’s cattle. Hercules beat him to death over that. Cacus sped off.
- Then 3 spirits came out to ask them questions – who they were, why Cianfa wasn’t there & where he was.
- Then a 6-legged monster jumped on one of the 3 on the front grabbing him tightly & melting into him like hot wax, causing them to fuse together. The other 2 looked on horrified by what they saw. Another monster sneaked up on one of the remaining 2 & bit him in the belly. They also merged into one another. The monster began to look like the sinner & the sinner started to look like the monster.
- No poet had ever written about anything like that before – a mutual give & take between a monster & a person, fusing together. Both liked like horrible mutations of their former selves through the constant shape-shifting.
Notes According to Dorothy Sayers
- In this Canto, we see how the thieves, who made no distinction between “mine” & “yours” cannot even call their own forms or personalities their own. In Hell’s horrible parody of exchange, the “I” & the “you” fluctuate & are lost.
- Dante saw 5 Florentines in the thieves’ section of Hell making all other Florentines look bad despite Cardinal Prato’s best efforts. They left that place to move on to the next bowge, with more climbing & hard work ahead to get there.
- Dante was saddened by what he’d seen. But he had to pull himself together because he still had to control his own thoughts & behavior in order to have a better outcome for himself.
- He saw twinkling fires on the distant moat in the 8th bowge reminding him of fireflies that come out in the evening. It turned out that each fire was a spirit shrouding itself from its crime.
- Virgil said that here tormented was Ulysses & Diomed who were still paying the price for the trickery of the Trojan Horse that led to the fall of Troy. There Deidamia mourned Achilles, & the theft of the Palladium was avenged.
- Dante asked if it would be possible to speak to the sparks if they were able to talk. Virgil told him he’d do the talking because most of them were Greek & wouldn’t respond well to an Italian.
- Virgil called out to the great voyager, Ulysses. He answered saying he’d always had an urge to rove & see what he could of the world. He & his mates saw all of the Mediterranean, even past the Pillars of Hercules. After 5 months, they’d come to a mountain, & a storm came & sank the ship.
Notes According to Dorothy Sayers
- The Counsellors of Fraud – The sinners in bowge 8 aren’t men who deceived those whom they counseled but men who counseled others to practice fraud. The thieves in the bowge above stole material goods. These are spiritual thieves, who rob other men of their integrity. This explains the name Dante gives their punishment.
- The Thievish Fire – The fire which torments also conceals the counselors of Fraud, for theirs was a furtive sin. & as they sinned with their tongues, so now speech has to pass through the tongue of the tormenting & thievish flame.
- Ulysses moved on & the poets caught a glimpse of another flame, this one quite new, & not used to the pain & agony of being in Hell. From afar, they heard the flame speak.
- The flame asked for news from Lombardy & Romagna, whether there was war or not. Dante answered that Romagna had never really been at peace as far as tyrants & feuds were concerned. But there was no open fighting.
- Dante asked what his name was. The flame stated he was a Ghibelline, Guido da Montefeltro of Romagna. He’d been a soldier & became a Franciscan monk in order to make up for the fighting he’d done in the past. But Pope Boniface (whom he refers to as the Prince of the Modern Pharisees) brought him in as a military advisor. Guido didn’t want to help the Pope because he was going to declare war on fellow Christians – wanting to destroy the city of Palestrina. Guido was reluctant to do this but the Pop promised him absolution in advance & Guido relented.
- He died & St. Francis came for him but the Devil told Francis that Guido had to go to Hell for counseling fraud. The promise of absolution was wrong. The devil, being a high-end logician, proved that no man could will contrition & sin at the same time. It was a clear contradiction & the devil took him to Minos who sent him down to the 8th bowge.
- Dante & Virgil went over the bridge to the next bowge.