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“Nuggets” of Dantean Hell

febbraio 12, 2015











Hell, Cantos XXIV-XXVII


Dante with effort reached the seventh circle where he  met  the burglars, plagued by poisonous  serpents. Dante and Virgil see the spirit of Vanni Fucci, who had despoiled a sacristy in Pistoia. Vanni Fucci was disliked of seeing in such a miserable condition and predicted the Blacks (the old feudal aristocracy of Florence) would be sentenced to exile. Then the blasphemous Vanni Fucci vented  both his rage and frustration in obscenities, but he was snatched both by serpents and  Cacus,  the terrible centaur who was the guardian of this “Bolgia.” Then Dante and Virgil met some  souls who suffered a profound metamorphosis.




The two poets descended to the eighth Bolgia, in which false counselors were punished, who were engulfed in flames. Dante and Virgil, as soon as they show them, recognized Diomede and Ulysses.  Ulysses told them the story of his death near Mt. Purgatory. For Dante, Ulysses is the symbol of the ultimate goal of human life. Therefore he expressed his admiration for Odysseus by some words that will remain for eternity. Then  Odysseus said, “We reached the pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar and Ceuta],and I had spoken these words to my men, ‘Consider what you came from.  You were not born to live like brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge’.”




Dante suddenly turned and saw the soul of another man engulfed in flames, who asked him for information about the political conditions of Romagna. Dante, in his turn, asked his name. The famous count Guido da Montefeltro,  believing that he spook to souls  that could not return to the world, manifested his name to them. He also  told them he had dressed in the habit of a Franciscan tertiary to make amends for his sins. But, seduced by Pope Boniface VIII, who was struggling with the noble family Colonnese,  he advised him to make great promises and then to break them. Once again, Dante, through the discourse with the count of Montefeltro, showed a complete disregard for Boniface VIII, to whom (with a touch of malice) he had already prepared a “warm place” in the third Bolgia, among the Simoniacs,  who were stuck  for evermore in a dark airless alley  of the earth.




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