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.
Whipped in the other direction are the
Here is Jason, who seduced and abandoned
both Hypsipyle and Medea
Dante addresses one simonist whose legs are
writhing in particular agony
This simonist thinks Dante is Pope Boniface VIII,
come to push him deeper into the fissure
The man identifies himself as Pope
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.
Nicholas tells Dante that after Boniface will
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.
The Etruscan seer who in
Lucan’s Pharsalia i 584-638
prophesied the Civil War in
Rome that ended in Julius
Caesar defeating Pompey
Though Virgil’s native
Mantua was named
for her, it was built
after her death,
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]
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.
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.
And finally, Asdente
A shoemaker of Parma.
Asdente, “the toothless,”
whose real name was
Benvenuto, practiced as a
soothsayer. He died c1284.