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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 17; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against Art. Geryon

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 17; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against Art. Geryon

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 17 summary:

The monstrous shape lands on the brink and Virgil salutes it ironically. It is GERYON, the MONSTER OF FRAUD. Virgil announces that they must fly down from the cliff on the back of this monster. While Virgil negotiates for their passage, Dante is sent to examine the USURERS (The Violent against Art). These sinners sit in a crouch along the edge of the burning plain that approaches the cliff. Each of them has a leather purse around his neck, and each purse is blazoned with a coat of arms. Their eyes, gushing with tears, are forever fixed on these purses. Dante recognizes none of these sinners, but their coats of arms are unmistakably those of well-known Florentine families. Having understood who they are and the reason for their present condition, Dante cuts short his excursion and returns to find Virgil mounted on the back of Geryon. Dante joins his Master and they fly down from the great cliff. Their flight carries them from the Hell of the VIOLENT AND THE BESTIAL (The Sins of the Lion) into the Hell of the FRAUDULENT AND MALICIOUS (The Sins of the Leopard).


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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 16; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against Nature and Art

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 16; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against Nature and Art

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 16 summary:

The Poets arrive within hearing of the waterfall that plunges over the GREAT CLIFF into the EIGHTH CIRCLE. The sound is still a distant throbbing when three wraiths, recognizing Dante’s Florentine dress, detach themselves from their band and come running toward him. They are JACOPO RUSTICUCCl, GUIDO GUERRA, and TEGGHIAIO ALDOBRANDI, all of them Florentines whose policies and personalities Dante admired. Rusticucci and Tegghiaio have already been mentioned in a highly complimentary way in Dante’s talk with Ciacco (Canto VI). The sinners ask for news of Florence, and Dante replies with a passionate lament for her present degradation. The three wraiths return to their band and the Poets continue to the top of the falls. Here, at Virgil’s command, Dante removes a CORD from about his waist and Virgil drops it over the edge of the abyss. As if in answer to a signal, a great distorted shape comes swimming up through the dirty air of the pit.


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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 15; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against Nature

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 15; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against Nature

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 15 summary:

Protected by the marvelous powers of the boiling rill, the Poets walk along its banks across the burning plain. The WOOD OF THE SUICIDES is behind them; the GREAT CLIFF at whose foot lies the EIGHTH CIRCLE is before them. They pass one of the roving bands of SODOMITES. One of the sinners stops Dante, and with great difficulty the Poet recognizes him under his baked features as SER BRUNETTO LATINO. This is a reunion with a dearly-loved man and writer, one who had considerably influenced Dante’s own development, and Dante addresses him with great and sorrowful affection, paying him the highest tribute offered to any sinner in the Inferno. BRUNETTO prophesies Dante’s sufferings at the hands of the Florentines, gives an account of the souls that move with him through the fire, and finally, under Divine Compulsion, races off across the plain.


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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 14; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against God, Nature, and Art

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 14; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Three The Violent Against God, Nature, and Art

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 14 summary:

Dante, in pity, restores the torn leaves to the soul of his countryman and the Poets move on to the next round, a great PLAIN OF BURNING SAND upon which there descends an eternal slow RAIN OF FIRE. Here, scorched by fire from above and below, are three classes of sinners suffering differing degrees of exposure to the fire. The BLASPHEMERS (The Violent against God) are stretched supine upon the sand, the SODOMITES (The Violent against Nature) run in endless circles, and the USURERS (The Violent against Art, which is the Grandchild of God) huddle on the sands. The Poets find CAPANEUS stretched out on the sands, the chief sinner of that place. He is still blaspheming God. They continue along the edge of the Wood of the Suicides and come to a blood-red rill which flows boiling from the Wood and crosses the burning plain. Virgil explains the miraculous power of its waters and discourses on the OLD MAN OF CRETE and the origin of all the rivers of Hell. The symbolism of the burning plain is obviously centered in sterility (the desert image) and wrath (the fire image). Blasphemy, sodomy, and usury are all unnatural and sterile actions: thus the unbearing desert is the eternity of these sinners; and thus the rain, which in nature should be fertile and cool, descends as fire. Capaneus, moreover, is subjected not only to the wrath of nature (the sands below) and the wrath of God (the fire from above), but is tortured most by his own inner violence, which is the root of blasphemy.


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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 13; CIRCLE SEVEN: Round Two The Violent Against Themselves

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.


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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 12; CIRCLE SEVEN; Round One The Violent Against Neighbors

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 12; CIRCLE SEVEN; Round One The Violent Against Neighbors

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 12 summary:

The Poets begin the descent of the fallen rock wall, having first to evade the MINOTAUR, who menaces them. Virgil tricks him and the Poets hurry by. Below them they see the RIVER OF BLOOD, which marks the First Round of the Seventh Circle as detailed in the previous Canto. Here are punished the VIOLENT AGAINST THEIR NEIGHBORS, great war-makers, cruel tyrants, highwaymen—all who shed the blood of their fellowmen. As they wallowed in blood during their lives, so they are immersed in the boiling blood forever, each according to the degree of his guilt, while fierce Centaurs patrol the banks, ready to shoot with their arrows any sinner who raises himself out of the boiling blood beyond the limits permitted him. ALEXANDER THE GREAT is here, up to his lashes in the blood, and with him ATTILA, THE SCOURGE OF GOD. They are immersed in the deepest part of the river, which grows shallower as it circles to the other side of the ledge, then deepens again. The Poets are challenged by the Centaurs, but Virgil wins a safe conduct from CHIRON, their chief, who assigns NESSUS to guide them and to bear them across the shallows of the boiling blood. Nessus carries them across at the point where it is only ankle deep and immediately leaves them and returns to his patrol.


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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 11; CIRCLE SIX; The Heretics

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 11; CIRCLE SIX; The Heretics

Artwork: Salvador Dali; On the Edge of the Seventh Circle

Canto 10 summary:
The Poets reach the inner edge of the SIXTH CIRCLE and find a great jumble of rocks that had once been a cliff, but which has fallen into rubble as the result of the great earthquake that shook Hell when Christ died. Below them lies the SEVENTH CIRCLE, and so fetid is the air that arises from it that the Poets cower for shelter behind a great tomb until their breaths can grow accustomed to the stench. Dante finds an inscription on the lid of the tomb labeling it as the place in Hell of POPE ANASTASIUS. Virgil takes advantage of the delay to outline in detail THE DIVISION OF THE LOWER HELL, a theological discourse based on The Ethics and The Physics of Aristotle with subsequent medieval interpretations. Virgil explains also why it is that the Incontinent are not punished within the walls of Dis, and rather ingeniously sets forth the reasons why Usury is an act of Violence against Art, which is the child of Nature and hence the Grandchild of God. (By “Art,”Dante means the arts and crafts by which man draws from nature, i.e., Industry.) As he concludes he rises and urges Dante on. By means known only to Virgil, he is aware of the motion of the stars and from them he sees that it is about two hours before Sunrise of Holy Saturday.

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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 10; CIRCLE SIX; The Heretics

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 10; CIRCLE SIX; The Heretics

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 10 summary:
As the Poets pass on, one of the damned hears Dante speaking, recognizes him as a Tuscan, and calls to him from one of the fiery tombs. A moment later he appears. He is FARINATA DEGLI UBERTI, a great war-chief of the Tuscan Ghibellines. The majesty and power of his bearing seem to diminish Hell itself. He asks Dante’s lineage and recognizes him as an enemy. They begin to talk politics, but are interrupted by another shade, who rises from the same tomb. This one is CAVALCANTE DEI CAVALCANTI, father of Guido Cavalcanti, a contemporary poet. If it is genius that leads Dante on his great journey, the shade asks, why is Guido not with him? Can Dante presume to a greater genius than Guido’s? Dante replies that he comes this way only with the aid of powers Guido has not sought. His reply is a classic example of many-leveled symbolism as well as an overt criticism of a rival Poet. The senior Cavalcanti mistakenly infers from Dante’s reply that Guido is dead, and swoons back into the flames. Farinata, who has not deigned to notice his fellow-sinner, continues from the exact point at which he had been interrupted. It is as if he refuses to recognize the flames in which he is shrouded. He proceeds to prophesy Dante’s banishment from Florence, he defends his part in Florentine politics, and then, in answer to Dante’s question, he explains how it is that the damned can foresee the future but have no knowledge of the present. He then names others who share his tomb, and Dante takes his leave with considerable respect for his great enemy, pausing only long enough to leave word for Cavalcanti that Guido is still alive.

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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 9; CIRCLE SIX; The Heretics

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 9; CIRCLE SIX; The Heretics

Artwork: Salvador Dali

Canto 9 summary:
At the Gate of Dis the Poets wait in dread. Virgil tries to hide his anxiety from Dante, but both realize that without Divine Aid they will surely be lost. To add to their terrors THREE INFERNAL FURIES, symbols of Eternal Remorse, appear on a near-by tower, from which they threaten the Poets and call for MEDUSA to come and change them to stone. Virgil at once commands Dante to turn and shut his eyes. To make doubly sure, Virgil himself places his hands over Dante’s eyes, for there is an Evil upon which man must not look if he is to be saved. But at the moment of greatest anxiety a storm shakes the dirty air of Hell and the sinners in the marsh begin to scatter like frightened Frogs. THE HEAVENLY MESSENGER is approaching. He appears walking majestically through Hell, looking neither to right nor to left. With a touch he throws open the Gate of Dis while his words scatter the Rebellious Angels. Then he returns as he came. The Poets now enter the gate unopposed and find themselves in the Sixth Circle. Here they find a countryside like a vast cemetery. Tombs of every size stretch out before them, each with its lid lying beside it, and each wrapped in flames. Cries of anguish sound endlessly from the entombed dead. This is the torment of the HERETICS of every cult. By Heretic, Dante means specifically those who did violence to God by denying immortality. Since they taught that the soul dies with the body, so their punishment is an eternal grave in the fiery morgue of God’s wrath.

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Dante

Dante’s Inferno: Canto 7; CIRCLE FOUR The Hoarders and the Wasters ; CIRCLE FIVE The Wrathful and the Sullen

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.