Dante – Inferno/Hell from The Divine Comedy, 28-30

Canto 28

  • Dante was searching for the words to describe what he saw in the 9th bowge. It was filled with those who’d suffered wounds worse than anything ever seen on any battlefield. He’d never seen such a bloody & horrific sight in his life.
    • Dante focused in on Mahomet. His bowels had been opened up & were dragging on the ground. His son-in-law, Ali’s face had been split in 2. Mahomet told Dante that the inhabitants of this part of Hell were the sowers of schism & scandal. He asked him why he was there. Virgil stepped in & answered for him. He wasn’t dead yet, nor was he there to be torture by his guilt. He was there to gain experience of “the Way”.
      • The souls stopped moving to look at Dante. Mahomet told him to let Fra Dolcino (a monk accused of heresy) know that unless he wanted to be there with him in Hell soon, he should stock up on supplies for the winter – in case the Novarese could starve him out of his stronghold. Mahomet then took off & insinuated that Virgil & Dante do the same.
    • Another man approached. He had a slashed throat, hacked off nose & only one ear. He recognized Dante & told him to speak to Guido & Angielello. They were going to be thrown overboard & drowned in the sea near Cattolica by a one-eyed tyrant, Malatestino of Rimini. He would lure them into a parley & betray them.
      • Dante asked who he was so he could relay the message. The soul then put his hand on the soul next to him. This 2nd soul, Curio had his tongue cut out for advising Caesar to start the Roman Civil War.
      • A 3rd soul came up, with bloody stumps where his hands used to be. He told Dante he was Mosca dei Lamberti, & reminded him about the Guelph-Ghibelline feud in Florence. Then he ran off like a lunatic.
    • Dante was taken aback by all the atrocities he’d seen there. Then came up a headless man holding his head by the hair like a lantern. He told Dante he was Bertrand of Born, who’d counseled the young Henry to fight his own father, Henry II of England. He had been decapitated because counseled a son to part with his father – which was like severing a head from the body.

Notes According to Dorothy Sayers

  • The Sowers of Discord – 3 types are shown: fomenters of 1- religion schism (Mahomet & Ali), 2- civil strife (da Medicino, Curio), 3- family disunion (Mosca, Bertrand). They appear in the Circle of Fraud because their sin is primarily of the intellect. They are the fanatics of party, seeing the world in a false perspective & ready to rip up the whole fabric of society to gratify a sectional egotism.
  • The Sundering Sword – The image here is sufficiently obvious. Note how it is adapted to suit the various types of crime.

Canto 29

  • Dante was visibly bummed out by all the gore & stories of discord. But Virgil attempted to snap him out of it. He asked why he hadn’t done the same in previous sections. It was getting late & there was still a long way to go.
    • Dante told Virgil that he was looking for someone in particular. Virgil said he had better things to do. He had seen someone earlier pointing at Dante & threatening him with a shaking fist, named Geri del Bello. Since Dante didn’t seen him, he just left.
    • Dante said since Geri’s violent death had not been avenged, he must have been resentful & that was probably why he wouldn’t speak to thim. Dante pitied him.
    • The pair climbed up the cliff until the next bowge was in sight – at least it would’ve been if there’d been any light. There were souls completely ravaged by disease, covered in sores & scabs. These were the falsifiers screaming in agony, rolling on the ground.
      • Virgil spoke to one, who’d been picking another’s scabs & asked if there were any Italians in this bowge. The soul answered that he & his fellow soul were both Italian but he wanted to know who they were. Virgil explained he was the guide for Dante, a living person, to show him Hell.
      • The souls moved towards Dante, as did others once they’d heard Virgil’s words. Virgil urged Dante to ask them questions. Dante wanted their names. One was an Aretine who’d been burned at the stake by Albero of Siena (his name was Griffalino d’Arezzo). He’d promisd Albero he’d teach him & various impossible things. So Albero had him burned. But he was condemned to Hell for practicing Alchemy.
      • Another leper spoke up & told Dante he was Capocchio, Dante’s childhood friend. He was also in Hell for Alchemy.

Notes According to Dorothy Sayers

  • The Falsifiers – The 10th Bowge shows up the images of those who falsified things, words, money & persons. This canto deals with the falsifiers of things typified by the Alchemists (transmuters of metals). They may be taken to figure every kind of deceiver who tampers with the basic commodities by which society lives – the adulterers of food & drugs, jerry-builders, manufacturers of shoddy, & so forth – as well, of course, as the baseness of individual self-consenting to such dishonesty.
  • The Valley of Disease – For the allegory, this is at one level the image of the corrupt heart which acknowledges no obligation to keep faith with its fellow man. At another, it is the image of diseased society in the last stages of its mortal sickness & already necrosing. Every value it has is false. It alternates between a deadly lethargy & a raving insanity. Malbowges began with the Sale of Church & State. Now, the very money is itself corrupted, every affirmation has become perjury & every identity a lie. No medium of exchange remains & the “general bond of love & nature is utterly dissolved.

Canto 30

  • Dante described the incensed rage between 2 parties in Greek mythological stories as a starting point of comparison as the rage of 2 souls came bursting out of the darkness. One of them jumped on Capocchio, biting him the next, knocking him over & dragging him off.
    • The Aretine explained the savage was Gianni Schicchi who bites whatever he sees. He was a con artist who imitated a dead man to change his will to favor “his” son, Simone. Dante asked who the other was. She was Myrrha who disguised herself to mate with her father. She turned into a tree & gave birth to Adonis.
    • When those 2 were out of view, he looked at other spirits. He saw an oddly shaped figure, completely swollen with dry & stiff skin.
      • The soul spoke to Dante asking him to behold the torments hurled on him, Master Adam of Brescia. He had all that money could buy. Now all he wanted was one drop of water, something he’d never get again, a fitting punishment. He was condemned & burned for falsifying Florentine coins that had the likeness of St. John the Baptist on them. He would have liked to see his co-conspirators where there with him. He was caught debasing the coins that only 21 carats of gold, not 24.
      • Dante asked who else he might see there. Adam replied 2 of them were Sinon of Troy (who persuaded the Greeks to build the Trojan Horse & consequently destroy Troy), & Potiphar (who’d falsely accused Joseph).
    • Sinon was annoyed at being called smelly by & Adam & started arguing with him over whose behavior was more sinful. Sinon said he was only guilty of betraying Troy once & Adam had committed a sin for every gold coin he forged.
      • Dante watched the pair bicker but Virgil laid into him for treating it as entertainment. Dante felt upset that he’d disappointed his master & fell speechless. Virgil told him he was showing a little too much shame, but it was vulgar to enjoy such a thing.

Notes According to Dorothy Sayers

  • The Falsifiers – In this Canto, we have the images of impersonators (falsifiers of person), perjurers (falsifiers of words) & coiners (falsifiers of money).


Author: knowit68

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