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The Inferno of Dante

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Breezy Gordon

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of The Inferno of Dante

A New Verse Translation
By Robert Pinsky
The Inferno of Dante
General Outline of Hell

those who sided with neither God nor Satan in the war in Heaven
River of Acheron
1st Circle- Limbo
born before Christianity and unbaptized
2nd Circle - The Lustful
3rd Circle - The Gluttonous
4th Circle- Spenders & Hoarders
5th Circle - The Wrathful & Sullen
River of Styx
The Wall of Dis
6th Circle - Heretics
River of Phlegethon
7th Circle - The Violent
7.1. Against their neighbors: Tyrants & Murderers
7.2. Against themselves & their Possessions: Suicides
7.3. Against God: Blasphemers, Sodomites & Usurers
8th Circle - Fraud
8.1. Panders & Seducers
8.2. Flatterers
8.3. Simonists
8.4. Diviners, Astrologers & Magicians
8.5. Barrators
8.6. Hyopcrites
8.7. Thieves
8.8. Fraudulent Counselors
8.9. Sowers of Scandal & Schism
8.10. Falsifiers of Metals, Persons, Coins & Words
9th Circle - Treachery
9.1. Traitors to Kin
9.2. Traitors to homeland or party
9.3. Traitors to Guests
9.4. Traitors to benefactors
River of Cocytus
Dante is in the dark woods
See's sunlight over the hill, tries to climb hill
Leopard, lion & She-wolf blocking mountain
Virgil comes to Dante
Tells him he cannot climb mountain, must go through Hell first
Dante evokes the Muses (the goddesses of art and poerty)
Poet saying help me remember what I saw so I can write
Mother of Muses is memory
Virgin Mary told St. Lucia about Dante → St. Lucia told Beatrice → Beatrice told Virgil → Virgil gets Dante to go through Hell
Dante has a “community” watching out for him - says everyone does
Dante Blossoms into a flower
On good Friday - Spiritual dawn
Canto III
Fore Hell, Neutrals
When Virgil and Dante reach the gates of Hell, they are speaking to them
“Abandon all hope, you who enter here” (Line 7)
most famous line in Italian literature
When Virgil and Dante reach the gates of Hell, they are speaking to them
“Abandon all hope, you who enter here” (Line 7)
most famous line in Italian literature
Virgil takes Dante to River called Acheron, marks border of Hell
a crowd of newly dead souls await there
First sinner Dante see’s in Hell is the man who made the Great Proposal
Pope Celestine the 5th
Canto IV
First Circle of Hell, Limbo
The people in this circle are people who were born before Christianity and couldn’t properly honor God or those who were unbaptized
This circle is where Virgil lives (but is granted a short leave to guide Dante)
They meet Homer, Horace, Ovid and Lucan (the greatest poets of antiquity)
Canto V
2nd circle - the Lustful
punished by being blown around in the winds of Hell
Dante calls out to the sinners and a woman answers him- Francesca
She tells him she was married to an old and deformed man and eventually fell in love with Paolo (her husbands younger brother)
Francesca and Paolo were reading an Arthurian legend about the love of Lancelot and Guinevere
reading makes you commit adultery
They couldn’t control themselves while reading this, they knew there was a secret love there and they began kissing
Her husband found out and had both of the lovers killed, now they both have to spend eternity in the 2nd circle of hell
Canto VI
3rd Circle - The Gluttonous
Punishment of the Gluttons is they must lie on the ground while sewage rains down onto them
Dante asks Ciacco to tell him the predictions about the future in Florence
Ciacco tells Dante about Florences political future, says it will be filled with strife
Canto VII
4th Circle - Spenders & Hoarders
The fourth circle is all about not being able to control your money
Either how much money you throw away or how much money you keep to yourself
There has been a “ditch” formed around this circle, the sinners are punished by having to push weights in this ditch
each group of sinners pushes their weights in a semi circle until crashing into the other group of sinners and having to turn around and walk the other way
Canto VIII
5th Circle - Wrathful and Sullen
The "angry"
Dante recognizes a sinner Flippo Argenti
very angry he see’s him and wants him to die
has no pity for Flippo and watches in pleasure as the other sinners tear him to pieces
They approach the City of Dis which is the lower level of hell
Virgil tries to talk his way in but for the first time he is not enough
Canto IX
6th Circle - Heretics
Virgil alludes to Dante’s potential demise
after Virgil attempted to reason with demons
hides him from demons, furies, and Medusa
an angel appears and opens gate with a wand
asks demons why they oppose the Will (God’s)
they enter the City of Dis
Everything in Flames
speaks to reader
“O you whose mind is clear: Understand well the lesson that underlies The veil of these strange verses I have written”
Canto X
6th Circle - Heretics
Farinata addressed Dante because he recognizes Tuscan accent
asks him to stop and talk from his grave
Virgil implores Dante to go
Cavalcanti Sr asks Dante if Guido is alive
Dante does later tell him he is alive
Farinata predicts Dante’s political future in Florence
Virgil comforts him with reminder that Beatrice will explain everything
Virgil explains that Frederick II and “The Cardinal” are here
Canto XI
6th Circle - Heretics
Virgil provides a verbal map of the three lesser circles
next is 7th circle (violence)
first ring (outermost)
violence toward others
second ring
violence toward self
third ring
violence toward God/art/nature
the fraudulent: most punishable because only humans have gift of reason, so only they may use it to defraud
Virgil explains that, like in Aristotle’s Ethics, there are three dispositions counter to God’s will:
incontinence, malice & insane brutality
Canto XII
7th Circle, Ring 1 - Violent toward others
Virgil and Dante escape minotaur
Dante refers to the last time He came to hell (Harrowing of Hell)
reach River Phlegethon
boiling river of blood
filled with drowning murderers
Centaurs shoot those who try to emerge
encounter Centaurs who draw their bows from afar

Canto XIII
7th Circle, Ring 2 - Violent Against Self
Virgil tells Dante he won’t believe what he will see, he hears the wailing
suicides’ souls trapped in trees
when broken (by man or nesting/feeding Harpies), they spurt blood and yell
Virgil asks the tree Dante broke to speak about himself
he entices the tree by promising Dante will bring his name fame on Earth
turns-out to be Pier Della Vigna
encounter another bush who was destroyed when sinners ran through chased by black dogs
Canto XIV
7th Circle, Ring 3 - Violent toward God
naked blasphemers lie/sit/pace on the fiery sand
supine - blasphemers
sitting - userers
pacing - sodomites
encounter Capaneus
not phases by his punishment, he is too proud, so he is punished even further
Virgil tells the story of The Old Man of Crete
Canto XV
they encounter a group of people
one recognizes Dante, its Brunetto Latini
his sympathy for Brunetto might reflect his tolerance of sodomy (Dante feels wrong that he must “look-down” upon Brunetto)
Canto XVI
7th Circle, Ring 3
encounter three people to whom Virgil says Dante “owes courtesy” and recognize that Dante is Florentine
Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, Jacopo Rusticucci
Dante & Virgil feels great sympathy and respect for each of them
Virgil beckons Geryon with Dante’s rope
Canto XVII
7th Circle, Ring 3
reveal of Geryon
a “just man’s face” but with a scorpion tail that will sting you if you aren’t careful
Virgil talks to Geryon while Dante observes the userous families
Punishment: stuck sitting in the fiery rain with purses hanging from their necks
Geryon vanishes abruptly after delivering them to the 8th Circle
8th Circle - Panders & Seducers: Flatterers
First ditch contains naked sinners running back and forth being jabbed by demons
for pimps
they approach the next ditch
punishment: flatterers drowning in shit

Dante and his “Epic Poem”
100 Canto’s
34 in Inferno
33 in Purgatory
34 in Paradise
34/33/33 = 102= 32+ 1 (Dantes obsession with #9)

Dantes Language
originally was writing in Latin
decided to write in Italian to communicate with people (especially women)
Virgil’s poem is meaningful to Dante because it is all about I/we (Aeneid)

Dantes rhyme scheme
Invents his own rhyme scheme to protect the integrity of his poem
EX: vita, ascura, smarrita, dura, forta, paura
A B A | B C B | etc
Longest Canto 151 Lines
Shortest Canto 111 lines
ONLY ONE word that rhymes with itself - Cresto (God)
3 times God rhymes with itself in the Inferno
again with Dantes obsession with 3’s and 9’s

Dante lives in a world where the creator (God) takes care of what he created
God takes care of you
Dante worried about what he created, thinks he needs to take care of his readers
Dante has power through his poems to remember people in Hell
People in Hell can tell Dante about the future

3 things you should pay attention to:
1) I/we - between individual & community, political community, state & citizen and religious community
Dante is constantly at odds with political and religious community
2) Pilgrim vs Poet:
Pilgrim: Dante the man, the character in the book lives, dies, goes through Hell, writes poem
Poet: Dante the writer, the man who wrote the book
Young politician, takes trip through Hell, comes out gets exhiled and writes poem
"reader I know you dont believe it, but reader it really happened” - Dante the Poet says 21 times within Inferno
Fiction of the Divine Comedy is that it really happened
“the fiction of the fiction is that its not really a fiction”
3) Journeys:
1) Pilgrim: on a journey thats why we call him a pilgrim
2) Poet: Dante spends 20 years trying to write this… a journey to write this poem (about journey of the poet)
3) Reader: journey of the reader, some readers can keep coming, Dante makes it clear that the reader is on a journey throughout the poem
4) Journey of life… in the first line

Canto XIX
8th Circle, Pouch 3
Dante notices a sinner, Pope Nicholas III, who seems to be burning in the reddest flames
He admits to his sins but says that people remaining on earth are guilty of worse and will receive worse contrapasso in hell
Dante is pitiless toward these sinners: he takes sins against the Church very seriously
The body is a good thing created by God, so Dante thinks it’s sad to see the human body performing sins
Canto XX
8th Circle, Pouch 4
At first, Dante feels pity for these sinners because their tears must fall onto their backside
Dante the Poet asks reader to try to feel it themselves
Dante points out various sinners, all of whom have done some type of magic
In life, they tried to see too far into the future
8th Circle, Pouch 5
As they enter this pouch, Virgil saves Dante from a demon who carries a sinner by the ankles
Virgil instructs Dante to hide
The Malebranche want to hook Virgil, but he cries out against them
Malacoda gives an alternate route for them to follow
Dante does not want an escort for fear of being harmed
Malacoda farts at them to call the other devils back to his side
Dante wants to speak to a sinner, but they are all driven under the tar too quickly
Virgil finds one to talk to, a Navarrese
This sinner admits to his sins of barratry
8th Circle, Pouch 6
Dante and Virgil hear the Malebranche chasing after them
Virgil protects Dante not as a companion, but rather as a mother would protect a child
They encounter the sinners walking in a circle clothed in hats and capes of lead
They meet the Jovial Friars, whom Dante begins to denounce as evil
Dante is interrupted when he notices Caiphus crucified on the ground
Caiphus was the high priest who condemned Jesus to death
The friars inform Dante and Virgil of how to pass to the next pouch
Canto XXIV-V
8th Circle, Pouch 7
They descend upon a pit of serpents tying sinners’ hands behind their backs, chasing them
One serpent bites the head off a man
He immediately burns into ashes and then spontaneously reforms into his original form, Dante compares this to a life of a Phoenix
They meat Vanni Fucci
He calls himself a beast and says that he stole from the sacristy
Cacus the Centaur passes by, he was also a thief
Serpents with six feet comes forward
One fastens himself onto a sinner, they merge into one creature
8th Circle, Pouch 7
Dante makes fun of Florence
Rejoice, O Florence, since you are so great in Hell too your name is spread about!
While describing the 8th pouch, Dante attempts to make his genius ‘more restrained’
Dante balances uneasily to view the false counselors consumed with flames
Dante asks about the largest flame, which contains Ulysses and Diomedes
Dante and Ulysses are both pilgrims on a journey
talks about how Dante and Ulysses are both in shipwrecks
Another flame-engulfed sinner stops them to talk
Guido da Montefeltro
Gave false counsel by absolving people of their sins before they’ve been committed
Dante believes that this is the root of all sins, and that he suffers from it too
Fraudulent counselors do what they can to get others to follow them, even if it’s bad
8th Circle, Pouch 9
Dante expresses how he cannot find words for the horror he sees in the ninth circle
Men walking in a circle are split open from their chin to their ‘farting place’ with spilled entrails
The sinners wounds heal – just in time for them to pass the devil and be cut open by his sword again
The sinners overhear Virgil’s explanation and stop and ask Dante to tell their friends on earth what to do to avoid the same punishment as them and to spread their good name outside of hell
Dante then sees Bertran de Born, carrying his own head in his hands
8th Circle, Pouch 10
Virgil yells at Dante for staring too long at the wounded souls.
Virgil and Dante continue on to where they can see the tenth pouch – the falsifiers (divided into four zones)
Zone 1: the people are in all huddled in heaps in the ditch
Griffolino, the alchemist burned at the steak for heresy. However, it was his practice of alchemy (falsifier of metals) that put him in the tenth ditch of Hell
Capocchio, a Florentine, was also a alchemist and a mimic (falsifier of metals and gestures) and was burned at the stake for it.
Zone 2: Dante recalls stories from the middle ages that due to great suffering, humans turned on each other like animals.
Zone 3: Dante meets two falsifiers of words, or liars
Canto XXXI
Dante and Virgil approach the pit in the center of the Eighth circle of Hell, Dante hears loud horn signals and lofty “towers” which Virgil reveals to be a ring of Giants
Virgil takes Dante to Antaeus, who is unchained, and asks him to take them down to the Ninth Circle of Hell
Antaeus takes Dante and Virgil in his hand, and gently lowers them into the pit next to a frozen lake, Cocytus
Antaeus takes Dante and Virgil in his hand, and gently lowers them into the pit next to a frozen lake, Cocytus
Caina is the outermost part of Cocytus, or the first ring of the ninth circle of Hell.
where traitors to their kin receive their punishment
Find a soul that is Bocca degli Abati, an Italian traitor of the Florentine Guelfs
Now they walk into the second ring, Antenora, which contains those who betrayed their homeland or party
Dante comes upon two men packed into one hole, the latter gnawing at his head and chewing him “The way the starving devour their bread”
The sinner reveals that he is Count Ugolino, and his neighbor whose head he is gnawing is the Archbishop Ruggieri (from Pisa)
Dante is now very harsh on Pisa – compares it to Thebes, where there was also much bloodshed and scandal
Dante and Virgil then pass to the third ring, Ptolomea
for the sinners who betrayed their guests
these sinners were in the ice with only their faces out (forcing their tears back in or to freeze)
Dante and Virgil now approach the fourth ring of the ninth circle of Hell, the betrayers of benefactors and the very bottom of the pit
Judecca, the fourth ring has the traitors to their benefactors
the sinners here are completely covered in ice
Dante can see the ‘windmill’
The devil has three names: Lucifer, Dis, and Beelzebub
He has three heads: one looking straight ahead and the other two looking back over his shoulders
He has two bat-like wings which produced the winds to freeze the entire lake, Cocytus
He had Judas, Brutus and Cassuis in his mouths
Virgil says after seeing this final part of Hell they must leave immediately
Must climb up the earth, takes about 24 hours (same amount of time it took to get through Hell) and will be at Mount Purgatory
Dante and Virgil go up a through a hidden tunnel, and climbed until they once more saw the stars
Full transcript