Friday, June 7, 2013

Dante’s Inferno – Canto XXVII - XXXIV Summaries

Here is the last eight cantos of Dante’s Inferno, you can read the previous ones here: CantoI – X, Canto XI – XVIII, Canto XIX – XXVI.

Lucifer, Dante & Virgil
Canto XXVII: From another flame came another voice, this time a soul from Romagna. Dante told him that Romagna wasn’t at war, but has been under tyranny’s power. As he’s sure that Dante will never leave the Hell to share his secret, the soul confided about himself to Dante. He was Guido da Montefeltro, formerly lived a tricky life, before he repented and became a Franciscan priest. But Pope Boniface intrigued him to fight Christians by promising him an advanced absolution before he committed sin, which Guido accepted. When he died, the devils took him of thievery, as absolution could not be received before committing a sin.

Canto XXVIII: Dante described terrible wounds suffered by souls in the ninth pouch which surpassed any other wounds from great wars. Their bodies were split open by the devil’s sword from chin to lower abdomen that their entrails hung between their legs; and when their bodies were closed again, they would be ripped open again and again. One of the souls was Mahomet who had been sowers of scandal and schism; and because of the division they had caused, their bodies were thus split as a punishment. Mahomet and other souls also sent their warning to them who still lived on earth.

Canto XXIX: Virgil reprimanded Dante as he was so absorbed to what he was watching that he didn’t notice a soul (his cousin) who had died unavenged, called on him. And so Virgil and Dante have reached the bottom of the eight circle: the tenth pouch, where Dante heard piercing groans, a place to punish forgers. The souls here were very sick; and they were languishing in scattered heaps, lying or crawling. Two of them had their bodies full of itchy scabs which they scratched incessantly without end. One of them had deceived someone by gaining money for teaching the other to fly, and thus he was condemned by practicing alchemy. This was the first of four zones in the tenth pouch: the punishment for falsifiers of metals.

Canto XXX: Entering the second zone of ten pouch, Dante recalled Greek myth stories of how men could treat each others like animals. One soul, Myrrah, disguised as another person to be able to commit incest with her father. These people had sinned of falsifier of other’s person. Some from third zone also mingled here; the sinners of falsifier of coin, represented by Master Adam—a Florentine money counterfeiter who produced coins with St. John Baptist’s stamp—whose punishment was being eternally thirsty. A woman, who falsely accused a man of seducing her, was placed in the fourth zone for falsifier of words (liars). The souls here were punished with burning fever. Dante was spellbound by the scenes and was eager to listen to them, which Virgil reprimanded as a vulgar desire.

Canto XXXI: Dante and Virgil were on the bank of the eighth circle. Dante saw high towers through the thick mist, which turned out to be Giants who stood on the pit. Their navels were on the same level as the eight circle, while their lower bodies were on the ninth circle, at the bottom of the Hell. One of them, Nimrod, had helped building the Tower of Babel and spread confusion of different language throughout the world. Then they met Antaeus, whom Virgil persuaded to carry them in the Giant’s hands to be lowered to the ninth circle, where traitors were punished.

Canto XXXII: Dante tried to describe the horror of the lowest part of the pit in the ninth circle. It was a frozen lake—Cocytus—whose surface was like thick glass because of the terrible coldness. The sinners sat in the ice, frozen, with their teeth chattering. On the first ring, Caina (from Cain), Dante met two souls compressed together head to head in the frozen ice, butting their heads in rage; they were traitors to their kin. In the second ring (Antenora), Dante accidentally kicked the head of a soul which turned out to be Bocca’s, who was punished as traitors to their homeland or party. Then Dante saw two souls, savagely gnawing each other’s head in hatred, and Dante interrogated them.

Canto XXXIII: The two souls were Count Ugolino who was imprisoned without food by Archbishop Ruggieri. Ugolino was imprisoned with his sons, so when the sons died, he ate their fleshes out of hunger. Dante and Virgil forwarded to the third ring (Ptolomaea) where Dante felt a cold breeze, and Virgil said they were about to find the source. Here souls were lying in the ice, only their heads protruded from it; the punishment for traitors to their guests. They still lived on earth, but so great their sins were, that their soul must suffer in Hell before they died, while their bodies on earth were taken over by demons.

Canto XXXIV: Now Dante and Virgil arrived at the lowest bottom of the Hell, the fourth ring of the ninth circle (Juddeca). Through the thick mist Dante saw a tall figure such as a mill which breathed cold wind which he could not figured out the source. Under his feet, souls were completely buried in the ice in various positions. Then Dante saw Lucifer the Satan, a three headed enormous giant with three mouths and three enormous wings, from which came the icy cold winds that freeze Cocytus. Each mouth held a sinner; they were the traitors to their Benefactor, the greatest sin of all. The teeth chewed their bodies ceaselessly without ever killing them. In the first one was Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ; he was chewed head first while his legs protruded from the mouth. In the second and third ones were Brutus and Cassius, both murdered Julius Caesar; their heads hanging downwards. After these scenes, Virgil told Dante that he had seen all in Hell, and must leave soon.

With efforts Virgil climbed through Lucifer’s giant body to bring Dante and himself climbing from the center of the earth. Dante was amazed to see Lucifer’s body now turned upside down, and Virgil explained that they have passed the center of the earth, and now they were on the ground again, where life was. When Lucifer fell from Heaven, he thrust down into earth head first and stuck in the center; that has made some changes even on the hemisphere too. But now, through hidden path Virgil guided Dante to emerge to clear world where they saw stars glittering in the sky again.


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