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ENGL220 Inferno Canto XVIII-XXV
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ENGL220 Inferno Canto XVIII-XXV


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  • 1. Dante’s Inferno Canto XVIII-XXV
  • 2. Canto XVIII 8th circle Malebolge
  • 3. The eighth circle is divided into ten moats
  • 4. In the first chasm, they see demons whipping running spirits
  • 5. These are the panderers (pimps) and seducers
  • 6. The spirit of Venedico de’ Caccianimico speaks to Dante He pimped his own sister, Ghisola. His father Alberto was head of the Bolognese Guelphs. He himself was a leading Guelph, exiled in 1289, and a follower of Marquis Obizzo Il d’Este of Ferrara. He is in the eighth circle, first chasm, of pimps, go- betweens, and panders.
  • 7. Whipped in the other direction are the seducers
  • 8. Here is Jason, who seduced and abandoned both Hypsipyle and Medea
  • 9. Hypsipyle had saved the Argonauts
  • 10. And Medea had made it possible for Jason to capture the golden fleece.
  • 11. In the second ditch, they see spirits sunk in excrement
  • 12. These are the flatterers
  • 13. Alessio Interminei hails Dante
  • 14. He points out Thais, who flattered her lover
  • 15. Canto XIX Circle 8, Chasm 3
  • 16. Here are the simonists Simon Magus disputed with St. Peter.
  • 17. The simonists are inverted into rocky cracks; their feet are in flames
  • 18. The cracks remind Dante of baptismal fonts
  • 19. Dante addresses one simonist whose legs are writhing in particular agony
  • 20. This simonist thinks Dante is Pope Boniface VIII, come to push him deeper into the fissure
  • 21. The man identifies himself as Pope Nicholas III
  • 22. Nicholas III Nicholas III (1277-1280) 3 years He fixed his seat in the Vatican and lived there most of the time. For that purpose he had a palace built which was the early nucleus of the Vatican buildings. He built also the gardens and the famous "Passetto do Borgo.” He was considered nepotistic and miserly.
  • 23. Nicholas tells Dante that after Boniface will come Clement
  • 24. Dante speaks hotly against simony
  • 25. Neither St. Peter nor St. Matthew, nor any of the apostles, asked money for their services
  • 26. But Simon Magus fell straight to Hell
  • 27. Dante speaks of the Revelations of St. John the Divine
  • 28. He compares corrupt popes to the whore of Babylon.
  • 29. Dante traces the evil back to the donation of Constantine and Pope Sylvester I
  • 30. Pleased, Virgil carries Dante to the 4th chasm
  • 31. Canto XX: Circle 8, Chasm 4
  • 32. Dante describes the seers and sorcerers
  • 33. Their heads are on backwards, and their tears flow to their butt cracks
  • 34. When Dante weeps in pity, Virgil scolds him for feeling for those who scorned God’s judgment
  • 35. Virgil points out Amphiaraus
  • 36. And Tiresias The Theban seer. He spent seven years in the form of a woman after striking a pair of coupling snakes. On striking them again he was changed back. He was therefore called upon, by Jupiter, to judge an argument, between himself and Juno, as to whether men or women get the most pleasure from lovemaking. Deciding in favour of women, and so Jupiter, Juno struck him blind, Jupiter giving him the power of prophecy to compensate for his blindness.
  • 37. Aruns The Etruscan seer who in Lucan’s Pharsalia i 584-638 prophesied the Civil War in Rome that ended in Julius Caesar defeating Pompey the Great.
  • 38. And Manto, daughter of Tiresias
  • 39. Though Virgil’s native Mantua was named for her, it was built after her death, without sorcery.
  • 40. He points out Eurypylus, a seer in the Trojan war "Now indeed I see how worthless the seers' doings are, and how full of falsehood ... Why do we consult prophets? We ought to sacrifice to the gods and ask a blessing, but leave divination alone; for this was invented otherwise, as a bait for a livelihood, and no man grows rich by sacrifices if he is idle. But sound judgment and discernment are the best of seers." [Messenger. Euripides, Helen 745-755]
  • 41. Michael Scott Michael Scott of Balwearie (c1190-1250) studied at Oxford, Paris and Toledo. He followed the Emperor Frederick II to his court, though he died in Scotland. He was a translator of Aristotle, and a famous astrologer.
  • 42. Astrologer Guido Bonatti The private astrologer to Guido da Montefeltro. He came from Forlì and was a tiler by trade. He wrote Liber Introductorius ad Judicia Stellorum (c1170) and was credited with aiding Guido’s victory over the French Papal forces at Forlì in 1282.
  • 43. And finally, Asdente A shoemaker of Parma. Asdente, “the toothless,” whose real name was Benvenuto, practiced as a soothsayer. He died c1284.
  • 44. Virgil says they must hurry on
  • 45. Canto XXI: Circle 8, Chasm 5
  • 46. The next bolgia is full of boiling tar
  • 47. Nothing can be seen but bubbles
  • 48. Suddenly, a demon carrying a sinner runs up
  • 49. The sinner is thrown into the pitch, while other demons jab at him.
  • 50. These are the grafters, who used positions of public trust to make money
  • 51. Dante hides in fear
  • 52. Virgil scolds the demons and demands an escort
  • 53. Malacoda provides the escort
  • 54. One demon makes a trumpet of his butt
  • 55. Canto XXII: Circle 8, Chasm 5
  • 56. Escorted by ten demons, Dante observes sinners arching above the boiling pitch, then quickly sinking.
  • 57. Dante asks Virgil to speak to one of the sinners who was hanging on a demon’s pitchfork
  • 58. The sinner is Ciampolo He sold favors while in the employ of Theobaldo II, who was Count of Champagne and King of Navarre.
  • 59. As demons tear at him, Ciampolo names other Italians who are in the tar • Friar Gomita • Don Michel Zanche
  • 60. Ciampolo breaks free of the demons
  • 61. The demons quarreled, and the poets moved on
  • 62. Canto XXIII: Circle 8, Chasm 6
  • 63. Fearing their escort, the poets run and slide to the next bank themselves
  • 64. Below them, they see hooded figures circling slowly
  • 65. Their monkish robes are golden on the outside, but lined with heavy lead
  • 66. These are the hypocrites
  • 67. Two spirits approach Dante They are Catalano and Lederingo, members of the “Jovial Friars,” who were supposed to protect the weak, but misused their positions.
  • 68. Dante notices a spirit pinned to the ground
  • 69. It is Caiphas
  • 70. Caiphas convinced the Romans to crucify Christ
  • 71. Caiphas was supported by his father-in-law Annas
  • 72. The friars tell Virgil that there is a way out without summoning the demons Virgil is angry, but the hypocrites remind him that Satan is the father of lies.
  • 73. Canto XXIV: Circle 8, Chasm 7
  • 74. After an exhausting climb, the poets reach chasm seven
  • 75. Dante sees masses of snakes
  • 76. The snakes encircled thieves
  • 77. A serpent bites a sinner, who bursts into flame, burns to ashes, and is then painfully reconstituted
  • 78. Virgil asks the man his name, it is Vanni Fucci
  • 79. When Dante, who knew Vanni, asks about his crime, Vanni turns to him, saying he robbed a church
  • 80. Fucci then prophesizes the future of Florence
  • 81. Canto XXV: Circle 8, Chasm 7
  • 82. At the end of his speech, Fucci aims an obscene fig gesture at God
  • 83. Dante sees Cacus, part dragon and part man
  • 84. Cacus, a centaur, stole Hercules’ cattle
  • 85. Cacus runs off
  • 86. Three spirits appear. One a serpent, attacks another
  • 87. Dante describes the double transformations of Cianfa Donati and Brunelleschi Agnello
  • 88. And in detail, the exchange between Francesco de Cavalcanti and Buoso