Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 13; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Two The Violent Against Themselves
Artwork: Salvador Dali
Canto 13 summary:
Nessus carries the Poets across the river of boiling blood and leaves them in the Second Round of the Seventh Circle, THE WOOD OF THE SUICIDES. Here are punished those who destroyed their own lives and those who destroyed their substance. The souls of the Suicides are encased in thorny trees whose leaves are eaten by the odious HARPIES, the overseers of these damned. When the Harpies feed upon them, damaging their leaves and limbs, the wound bleeds. Only as long as the blood flows are the souls of the trees able to speak. Thus, they who destroyed their own bodies are denied a human form; and just as the supreme expression of their lives was self-destruction, so they are permitted to speak only through that which tears and destroys them. Only through their own blood do they find voice. And to add one more dimension to the symbolism, it is the Harpies—defilers of all they touch—who give them their eternally recurring wounds. The Poets pause before one tree and speak with the soul of PIER DELLE VIGNE. In the same wood they see JACOMO DA SANT’ANDREA, and LANO DA SIENA, two famous SQUANDERERS and DESTROYERS OF GOODS pursued by a pack of savage hounds. The hounds overtake SANT ANDREA, tear him to pieces and go off carrying his limbs in their teeth, a self-evident symbolic retribution for the violence with which these sinners destroyed their substance in the world. After this scene of horror, Dante speaks to an UNKNOWN FLORENTINE SUICIDE whose soul is inside the bush which was torn by the hound pack when it leaped upon Sant’Andrea.