Dante s Inferno

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Canto XIII-Overview. Setting: Circle 7, 2nd Ring-"The Violent Against Themselves"; a strange, dark, dank forest w/black leaves and gnarled trunks where no flowers grew.Virgil instructs Dante to look around at what he sees; sees nothing, but hears sighing all around and picks off a branch of a tree at Virgil's instruction, and the tree bleeds.Virgil has the soul (the one that's bleeding) tell Dante his story so that it would honor his memory in the living world.Tree alluded to being Frederick 1145

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Dante s Inferno

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1. Dante’s Inferno Cantos XIII-XVII

3. Canto XIII Overview-Continued Soul explained how suicides came to be sad trees in this circle; Minos sent them here as seeds, to sprout wherever they fell, and after the last judgment, they would bring their own bodies down to this circle, but would not be able to inhabit them, since their sin would not allow them to take back their bodies. Instead, they would hang their bodies on trees. Then we come upon 2 souls who were being hunted in the forest, Lano (see note) and Jacomo da Sant’ Andrea (see note); both were being chased by black dogs, of which they tore Sant’ Andrea to pieces. Lano said he wasn’t responsible for what happened to Sant’ Andrea.

4. Canto XIII-Analysis Although Dante places these sinners in this circle (7th) and ring (2nd), he still pities them. Dante believed that Pier del Vigne was innocent of the charges levied against him, even though his sin damns him. (See note on del Vigne’s speech.) The “whore” (64) who inflamed people against him (and Frederick II, or Caesar, see note) is supposed to be personification of Envy. Possible difference between the squanderers in this circle (Lano and Sant’ Andrea) was that they acted consciously and self-destructively. Lano a part of what was called the “Spendthrift Club”, a group of young nobles who squandered time and money on frivolous entertainment, and when he ran out of money, he killed himself. Sant’ Andrea was a notorious squanderer of money. See notes on “The Violent Against Their Substance” and “An Anonymous Florentine Suicide” and “the city that tore down Mars…"

5. Canto XIV Overview Setting: Circle 7, Round 3-The Violent Against God, Nature, and Art; woods give way to sand w/ many naked souls miserable here that are exposed to flakes of fire that rained from above. Capaneus, a blasphemer, and one of the seven kings against Thebes (note-43) claims he doesn’t fear God any more in death than in life (also doesn’t seem to care about the fire flakes.) Come to a red stream, the “rill” (note-73) at edge of forest to avoid burning sand. Virgil explains that within mountain of Ida in Crete there was a gigantic statue of a man, whose head was of gold, arms and chest of silver, brass down to his legs, legs of iron, and his right foot made of clay. (note-97)

6. Canto XIV Overview-Continued Each part of statue, except his golden head, is cracked, and the tears that drip down the cracks make up the rivers: Acheron, Styx, Phlegethon, and Coctyus. Dante wants to know where Lethe was (another mythological river of fire associated w/ forgetfulness), and Virgil answered that he would see it, but in the place where spirits cleansed themselves of repented guilt. They leave the circle through a path that didn’t burn.

7. Canto XIV Analysis Jove associated w/ Jehova in early literature, possibly due to similarity of their names and their high positions as the head of the gods (Jove) and the only god (Jehova). Gigantic old man statue is Dante’s creation, although imagery of it drawn from Ovid and Daniel 2:31-35. Ovidian legend has golden age followed by silver, then brass and iron, as humans fell from early innocence to wickedness. Statue possibly resembles Jewish and Christian myth where humans fell from innocence in the Garden of Eden to a general depravity around the time of Great Flood. In Dante’s image, the clay leg=the Church, the iron leg=the Empire; old man rests on clay leg more than iron because of superior power Church held over Empire during Dante’s time; being made of clay symbolizes its corruption and unreliability.

8. Canto XV-Overview Setting: Circle 7, Round 3-”The Violent Against Nature”; at start both are walking along a kind of dyke between the river and the fiery sands, which Dante compares to those of the Flemings (modern-day Belgians). Dante meets Ser Brunetto Latino (note), who predicts happy ending for Dante; says he would have helped Dante had he not died and warns him of ingratitude of people who came down from Fiesole (note), who were presumptuous, avaricious, and envious. Dante replies to Brunetto that he wished he were still alive and said he would always remember his kind paternal image and the teaching he had received from him.

9. Canto XV Overview-Continued Dante goes on to say he wasn’t afraid of Dame Fortune (90-93). Dante wanted to know who Brunetto’s companions were, but he told him they weren’t worth knowing; they were all soiled by the same sin; included Priscian and Francesco among others (notes).

10. Canto XV-Analysis Sinners here tortured for sodomy, not explicitly mentioned. Brunetto was a Guelph Florentine and famous political leader and writer; wrote an encyclopedia in French, called “Li Livres dou Tresor”, and an Italian poem, “The Tesoretto” Allusion to people of Fiesole, who supposedly caused many of Florence’s troubles. (61-67) Final image of Brunetto running to catch his companions is example of Dante turning this scene into a mini-triumph; Brunetto is forced to eternally walk along the burning sands, and isn’t allowed to fall too far behind his companions, however, his running to catch up is seen as a sort of victory, not a punishment.

11. Canto XVI-Overview Circle 7, Round 3-”The Violent Against Nature and Art”. 3 souls accost Dante and call for him to stop, knowing he was a Florentine; Virgil admits that these were honorable men and worth talking to. Guido Guerra, grandson of the good Gualdrada, Tegghiaio Aldrobandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci are the souls (notes). Dante wished to hug them all, but couldn’t, as he would have to descend to the burning sands, so then explains reason for his journey instead. When asked if the virtues still flourished in Florence, Jacopo heard from recent denizen Guigleimo Borsiere that the city wasn’t doing well. Dante follows Virgil to cascade; Dante gave Virgil the cord (note) he wore around his waist, and Virgil threw one end of it down the chasm; a horrific creature appears, swimming up the cord.

12. Canto XVI-Analysis All 3 were honorable political leaders respected by Dante despite their sins. Dante doesn’t appear to condemn, nor is the sin even mentioned, possibly because sodomy defined as violence against God, and not harmful to anyone else.

13. Canto XVII-Overview Circle 7, Round 3-”The Violent Against Art”. Geryon is the monster who approaches them (note) symbolizing fraud; Virgil tells Dante to go away for a while so he could parley w/ Geryon. Dante approaches group of sad souls who sat flicking off flakes of fire that perpetually fell on them. Purses decorated w/ emblems hung from their necks: one had a yellow purse w/ blue lion, one a bloodred purse bearing a white goose, and one was white with a blue pregnant sow. (see notes on all 3) Dante goes back to Virgil where Virgil tells him he made an arrangement w/ Geryon where he would let them ride on his shoulders and take them to Circle 8.

14. Canto XVII-Analysis Geryon has different symbolic reference here as opposed to Greek mythology, as not associated w/ fraud, but in Hell, he is. Someone practicing fraud appears to be just, just as Geryon’s head is noble in appearance, but the fraudulents’ hidden motives are evil, just as Geryon’s body is bestial and his tail is venomous. Sinners are usurers, and the purses represent the family emblems. The one who speaks (sow on his purse) was Reginaldo Scrovegni; his son tried to atone for his father’s ill-gotten wealth by commissioning the great painter Giotto to paint a chapel named after him. Dante makes risky predictions here: Vitaliano (note) and the one with three goats (note) were alive when Inferno was written (offended?) However, usurers probably used to people making critical remarks about their doings. By calling one with three goats the “sovereign cavalier”, Dante mocks willingness of Florentines to grant a noble title to a banker and usurer.

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