Friday, May 31, 2013

Dante’s Inferno – Canto XI – XVIII Summaries

Following Canto I to X, these are the summaries of eight more cantos of Dante’s Inferno.

Canto XVIII - The Eight Circle
Canto XI: The seventh circle of Hell was divided to three parts, each was smaller than the previous one, and they were dedicated for violence sin: violence against neighbors, against oneself, and against God. The next circle would be for fraudulent (hypocrisy, flattery) sin, while the ninth circle punished people with betrayal sin. When Dante asked why people within Dis were punished more severe than them outside, Virgil explained that incontinence offended God least than malice and bestiality. He explained too how usury was also a sin because it’s when people made money unnaturally. With that, Dante and Virgil descend the crag deeper.

Canto XII: They arrived at the first ring of seventh circle which contained a river of boiling blood. The sinners of violence against neighbors were boiled there and every time a soul wanted to rise from the river more than it was allowed—according to his sin—a group of Centaurs on guard will shoot them with arrows. A Centaur called Nessus guided Dante around, and he showed some great souls like Alexander (the Great?), Dionysius, and Attila (the Hun?) who lived in the deepest part of the river because of they were tyrant.

Canto XIII: Dante arrived at the second ring, in a dusky wood with gnarled trees; he heard cries but did not see a single soul. When Dante plugged a twig from a trunk he heard cry of pain and blood trickled from it. The trunks were actually souls who had committed violence against themselves (suicide). The soul was a loyal advisor to Frederick, who committed suicide because his envious colleagues slandered him. The soul told Dante that when a soul left its body, it was thrown into the forest and germinated as a sapling. When it’s time for them to reunite with their bodies, they could never reunite completely because they had discarded it willingly. A bush near there which was ‘attacked’ by a man and a dog cried in pain. It appeared to be another soul who had been a Florentine and witnessed the making of St, John the Baptist to be Florence’s patron replacing Mars (Roman god).

Canto XIV: Dante gently gathered the scattered leaves back to the bush; then with Virgil he proceeded to the third ring, the place for souls with violence against God sin. Rain of fire flakes poured ceaselessly onto the sands burning it, while the souls lied or sat or went about continually. The soul of Capaneus was there because he had besieged Thebes and held God in disdain. Then they reached a red river and Virgil told Dante how all the boiling red river and water on Hell was once formed.

Canto XV: Now they were at the second zone of the third ring, which was for sodomites (violence against nature). A soul, Brunetto Latini, recognized Dante and conversed with him. He cursed the avaricious people of Fiesole and foretold that Dante would receive Fortune, but Dante said let the Fortune do as she pleased.

Canto XVI:  Three souls recognized Dante as their countrymen, their whole bodies were burnt by flames. Florence they had lived once was now become arrogant. Dante departed with the three souls, and came near the dark water. Virgil Dante to take off his cord belt and he lowered one end down to the dark water; then a monster appeared and climbed the cord up to them.

Canto XVII: The monster had human head but serpent trunk. While Virgil was persuading the monster to take them down, Dante proceeded to see people sit under rain of fire with emblazoned purse hung on their neck who refused to talk. The monster flied them down and disembarked them at the bottom of the abyss.

Canto XVIII: Dante and Virgil eventually arrived at the eight circle of Hell called Malebolge. The circle had outside wall that shaped a round pit at the center, with ten ridges between the wall and the pit, forming ten pouches where naked soul were punished for their fraudulent sin. They ran to one side to another of the pouches while the demons beat them with scourges every time they nearly reached any side. This first pouch was for Panders and Seducers. Among the sinners was Jason who abandoned Medea in Greek mythology. Dante and Virgil then crossed to second pouch where they found people plunged in human excrement. It appeared that the pouch was for punishing flatterers.


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