Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 7; CIRCLE FOUR The Hoarders and the Wasters ; CIRCLE FIVE The Wrathful and the Sullen
Artwork: Salvador Dali
Canto 7 summary:
PLUTUS menaces the Poets, but once more Virgil shows himself more powerful than the rages of Hell’s monsters. The Poets enter the FOURTH CIRCLE and find what seems to be a war in progress. The sinners are divided into two raging mobs, each soul among them straining madly at a great boulder-like weight. The two mobs meet, clashing their weights against one another, after which they separate, pushing the great weights apart, and begin over again. One mob is made up of the HOARDERS, the other of the WASTERS. In life, they lacked all moderation in regulating their expenses; they destroyed the light of God Within themselves by thinking of nothing but money. Thus in death, their souls are encumbered by dead weights (mundanity) and one excess serves to punish the other. Their souls, moreover, have become so dimmed and awry in their fruitless rages that there is no hope of recognizing any among them. The Poets pass on while Virgil explains the function of DAME FORTUNE in the Divine Scheme. As he finishes (it is past midnight now of Good Friday) they reach the inner edge of the ledge and come to a Black Spring which bubbles murkily over the rocks to form the MARSH OF STYX, which is the FIFTH CIRCLE, the last station of the UPPER HELL. Across the marsh they see countless souls attacking one another in the foul slime. These are the WRATHFUL and the symbolism of their punishment is obvious. Virgil also points out to Dante certain bubbles rising from the slime and informs him that below that mud lie entombed the souls of the SULLEN. In life they refused to welcome the sweet light of the Sun (Divine illumination) and in death they are buried forever below the stinking waters of the Styx, gargling the words of an endless chant in a grotesque parody.