Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dante’s Inferno – Canto XIX – XXVI Summaries

You can read the previous summaries here: Canto I – X ; Canto XIX – XXVIII  

(Lawrence Edward – 1992)
Canto XIX: The third pouch of eighth circle contained the sinners of Simony, people who buy or sell sacraments or positions in church. They were punished in a narrow round pit in an upside down position: head inside and feet protruded in the air, while the soles were endlessly on fire. Dante saw that one soul was burnt in redder flame than the others; who turned out to be Pope Nicholas III. Dante thought the punishment befitted him, but the pope foresaw that there would be many of corrupt popes would suffer the same or even more.

Canto XX: In the fourth pouch Dante saw a train of people walked endlessly in procession with their head twisted backward. They were punished from using unholy power to foretell the future. Magicians such as Michael Scott were included here, as well as Diviners.

Canto XXI: It was extremely dark in the fifth pouch, a pit with boiling substance usually used for repairing ships in Venetia. Then suddenly a black devil appeared, it grabbed a soul and plunged it to the pit. It was a punishment for barrators. Every time the souls rose to the surface to breath, the Malebranche (the devil) would seize them downward again. Virgil negotiated with the devils to be let pass and to guide them because one of the bridges had been broken, although Dante was terrified of their escort.

Canto XXII: Although the souls only appeared in short moment, Virgil was able to ask one of them, a domestic servant of King Thibault who received bribe. Then there’s a small chaos, and when the devils left them, Dante and Virgil could continue their journey.

Canto XXIII: Dante began to fear of what the devils would do as they had made them angry. Suddenly they heard the devils came, Virgil grabbed Dante and carried him in his breast while ran to the sixth pouch where the devils could not go without leaving their post. Then they saw group of people wore mantles with hoods, lined with lead, which created heavy burdens for them. They were punished for hypocrisy. One of them was crucified—he was Caiphus (Caiaphas), a Jewish high priest who had provoked the Pharisees to kill Jesus. His father in law—Annas—and the others of the council were also punished in the same way. One of the sinners then showed the way to proceed to next pouch.

Canto XXIV: The journey to the seventh pouch was very challenging. Dante was once so weary, but Virgil kept encouraging him to move on. They came on the bank full of monstrous serpents biting naked souls who were running ceaselessly full of fright. A man named Vanni Fucci got bitten on the neck, then caught fire and burnt to ashes; he was reborn from the ashes (like phoenix), only to be chased again by the serpents. He was being punished for thieving; he robbed a sacristy. In anger that Dante witnessed him, the sinner foretold a political fall in Florence.

Canto XXV: Fucci accursed God, and being entangled by the serpents. Then three spirits appeared, and suddenly a six feet long serpent attacked and bit one of the souls until the soul and the serpent merged into one creature. While the two other souls were watching this, a serpent came and bit one of them. The soul and the serpent were transfixed at one another, then they interchanged each other’s form; the soul became serpent and the serpent transformed into the soul.

Canto XXVI: Dante and Virgil reached the eight pouch, an area where there were only flames, and with each flame the fire carried a soul. Ulysses and Diomed from Trojan War were among the souls in the fire. Ulysses finally confided to Virgil how he had overcome his desire to sail to the western countries and how the ship had finally sank by a great storm.


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