Dantes Inferno Study Guide


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A complete outline and listing of characters and events in every canto of Dante's Inferno. Plus, some character summaries.

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Dantes Inferno Study Guide

  1. 1. Circle One<br />Limbo<br />For those who are not saved even though they did not sin.<br />Punishment<br />They have no hope.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Classical Poets <br />Canto IV<br />Homer<br />Ovid<br />Lucan<br />Horace<br />Circle Two<br />The Carnal <br />The lustful<br />Punishment<br />They are swept forever in the tempest of Hell, and they are forever denied the light of reason and of God.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto V<br />Minos<br />Francesca<br />Paolo<br />Circle Three<br />The Gluttons<br />Punishment<br />They lie in smelly, icy paste, swollen and obscene, and Cerberus stands guard over them, ripping and tearing them with his claws and teeth.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto VI<br />Cerberus<br />Ciacco<br />Florentine Politics<br />Last Judgment<br />Circle Four<br />The Hoarders and Wasters<br />They thought of nothing but money.<br />Punishment<br />Each person of the two groups are attached to a great boulder-like weight. The two groups clash their weights against one another after traveling half of the circle, then push the great weights apart, and begin over again.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto VII<br />Plutus<br />Fortuna<br />Circle Five<br />The Wrathful and Sullen<br />The Sullen refused to welcome the sweet light of the Sun (definition: a sulky or depressed mood).<br />Punishment<br />The Wrathful attack one another in Styx.<br />The Sullen are forever buried below the stinking waters of the Styx, gargling the words of an endless chant in a malformed parody of singing in hymn.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto VII<br />Styx<br />Canto VIII<br />Phlegyas<br />Filippo Argenti<br />Fallen Angels<br />Furies and Medusa<br />Styx<br />Dis<br />Harrowing of Hell<br />Canto IX<br />Furies and Medusa<br />Heaven’s Messenger<br />Dis<br />Theseus and Hercules<br />Erichtho<br />Allegory<br />Circle Six<br />The Heretics<br />They did violence to God by denying immortality.<br />Punishment<br />They live eternally in a grave wrapped in flames.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto X<br />Farinata<br />Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti<br />Guido Cavalcanti<br />Epicurus<br />Frederick II<br />Guelphs and Ghbellines<br />Hyperophia<br />Circle Seven<br />The Violent and Bestial (sins of the lion)<br />Round 1<br />The Violent Against Neighbors<br />They are great war-makers, cruel tyrants, highwaymen – all who shed the blood of their fellow men.<br />Punishment<br />The are immersed in boiling blood forever, each according to the degree of his guilt, while fierce Centaurs patrol the banks, ready to shoot with their arrows any sinner who raises himself out of the boiling blood beyond the limits permitted him.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XII<br />Minotaur<br />Centaurs<br />Phlegethon<br />Round 2<br />The Violent Against Self<br />They destroyed their won lives or they destroyed their substance.<br />Punishment<br />They are encased in thorny trees whose leaves are eaten by the Harpies.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XIII<br />Harpies<br />Pier della Vigna<br />Polydorus<br />Round 3<br />The Violent Against God, Art, and Nature<br />The Blasphemers are violent against God.<br />The Sodomites are violent against nature.<br />The Usurers are violent against Art (the Grandchild of God)<br />Punishment<br />The Blasphemers are stretched supine upon the sand.<br />The Sodomites run in endless circles.<br />The Usurers huddle on the sands.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XIV<br />Capaneus<br />Phlegethon<br />Old Man of Crete<br />Canto XV<br />Brunetto Latini<br />Canto XVI<br />Geryon<br />Canto XVII<br />Geryon<br />Phaethon and Icarus<br />The Fraudulent and Malicious (sins of the leopard)<br />Circle Eight<br />Simple Fraud<br />Bolgia I<br />The Seducers and Panderers – passion<br />They stimulated others on to serve their own foul purposes.<br />Punishment<br />They are driven at an endless fast walk by horned demons who hurry them along with great lashes.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XVIII<br />Jason<br />Venedico Caccianemico<br />Bolgia II<br />The Flatterers – language<br />Punishment<br />They are sunk in excrement.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XVIII<br />Alessio Interminelli<br />Thais<br />Bolgia III<br />The Simoniacs<br />They are sellers of ecclesiastic favors and offices.<br />Punishment<br />They are half-buried upside down with the soles of their feet on fire; the heat of the fire is proportional to their guilt.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XIX<br />Pope Nicholas III<br />Pope Boniface VIII<br />Pope Clement V<br />Donation of Constantine<br />Bolgia IV<br />The Fortune Tellers and Diviners – knowledge<br />The attempted to look into the future by forbidden arts.<br />Punishment<br />They must have their heads turned backwards on their bodies and to be compelled to walk backwards through all eternity, their eyes blinded with tears.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XX<br />Mantua<br />Bolgia V<br />The Grafters<br />Definition: bribery used to secure illicit gains in politics or business.<br />Punishment<br />They are sunk in boiling pitch and guarded by demons, who tear them to pieces with claws and grappling hooks if the catch them above the surface of the pitch.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXI<br />Malebranche<br />Harrowing of Hell<br />Canto XXII<br />Malebranche<br />Ciampolo<br />Bolgia VI<br />The Hypocrites<br />Punishment<br />They are weighted down by great leaden robes 9the robes are brilliantly gilded on the outside and are shaped like a monk’s habit), and they walk eternally round and round a narrow track<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXIII<br />Caiaphas<br />Bolgia VII<br />The Thieves<br />Punishment<br />Monstrous reptiles bind their hands behind their backs, and knotting themselves through the loins. The reptiles also set them on fire and let them burn to ash, and then the sinner re-forms painfully.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXIV<br />Vanni Fucci<br />Canto XXV<br />Vanni Fucci<br />Cacus<br />Incarnational Parody<br />Lucan and Ovid<br />Bolgia VIII<br />The Evil Counselors<br />They abused the gifts of God, to steal his virtues for low purposes.<br />Punishment<br />They are hidden from view inside great flames.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXVI<br />Ulysses <br />Diomedes<br />Elijah’s Chariot<br />Eteocles and Polynices<br />Canto XXVII<br />Guido da Montefeltro<br />Bolgia IX<br />The Sowers of Discord<br />They tore apart what God had meant to united.<br />Punishment<br />They are hacked and torn through all eternity by a great demon with a bloody sword.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXVIII<br />Mohomet and Ali<br />Bertran de Born<br />Was a poet that Dante enjoyed.<br />Bolgia X<br />The Falsifiers: Class 1, Alchemists, Evil Impersonators, Counterfeiters, and False Witnesses<br />They corrupted society by their falsifications.<br />Punishment<br />They are punished by afflictions of every sense: by darkness, stench, thirst, filth, loathsome, diseases, and a shrieking din.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXIX<br />Griffolino D’Arezzo<br />Capocchio<br />Canto XXX<br />Master Adam<br />Potiphar’s Wife and Sinon the Greek<br />Circle Nine<br />Compound Fraud (traitors)<br />Round One: Caina<br />Treachery to their kin<br />Punishment<br />From their necks below, they are buried within the ice, but they can bend their necks.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXXII<br />Camicion<br />Cocytus<br />Round Two: Antenora<br />Treachery to their country<br />Punishment<br />From their necks below, they are buried within the ice, but they cannot bend their necks.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXXII<br />Bocca Degli Abbati<br />Cocytus<br />Canot XXXIII<br />Count Ugolino<br />Archbishop Ruggieri<br />Cocytus<br />Round Three: Ptolomea<br />Treachery to their guests and hosts<br />Punishment<br />Only half of their faces are above the ice and their tears freeze in the eye sockets, sealing them with little crystal visors.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXXIII<br />Count Ugolino<br />Archbishop Ruggieri<br />Fra Alberigo<br />Cocytus<br />Round Four: Judecca<br />Treachery to their lords and benefactors<br />Punishment<br />The lie completely sealed in the ice, twisted and distorted into every conceivable posture, and it’s impossible for them to speak.<br />Characters, Places, and Terms<br />Canto XXXIV<br />Satan with Brutus, Judas, and Cassius<br />Cocytus<br />Beatrice – One of the blessed in Heaven, Beatrice aids Dante’s journey by asking an angel to find Virgil and bid him guide Dante through Hell. Like Dante and Virgil, Beatrice corresponds to a historical personage. Although the details of her life remain uncertain, we know that Dante fell passionately in love with her as a young man and never fell out of it. She has a limited role in Inferno but becomes more prominent in Purgatorio and Paradiso. In fact, Dante’s entire imaginary journey throughout the afterlife aims, in part, to find Beatrice, whom he has lost on Earth because of her early death. Critics generally view Beatrice as an allegorical representation of spiritual love.<br />Charon – A figure that Dante appropriates from Greek mythology, Charon is an old man who ferries souls across the river Acheron to Hell.<br />Paolo and Francesca da Rimini – A pair of lovers condemned to the Second Circle of Hell for an adulterous love affair that they began after reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere.<br />Lucifer – The prince of Hell, also referred to as Dis. Lucifer resides at the bottom of the Ninth (and final) Circle of Hell, beneath the Earth’s surface, with his body jutting through the planet’s center. An enormous giant, he has three faces but does not speak; his three mouths are busy chewing three of history’s greatest traitors: Judas, the betrayer of Christ, and Cassius and Brutus, the betrayers of Julius Caesar.<br />Minos – The king of Crete in Greek mythology, Minos is portrayed by Dante as a giant beast who stands at the Second Circle of Hell, deciding where the souls of sinners shall be sent for torment. Upon hearing a given sinner’s confession, Minos curls his tail around himself a specific number of times to represent the circle of Hell to which the soul should be consigned.<br />Pope Boniface VIII – A notoriously corrupt pope who reigned from 1294 to 1303, Boniface made a concerted attempt to increase the political might of the Catholic Church and was thus a political enemy of Dante, who advocated a separation of church and state.<br />Farinata – A Ghibelline political leader from Dante’s era who resides among the Heretics in the Sixth Circle of Hell. Farinata is doomed to continue his intense obsession with Florentine politics, which he is now helpless to affect.<br /> <br />Phlegyas – The boatman who rows Dante and Virgil across the river Styx.<br />Filippo Argenti – A Black Guelph, a political enemy of Dante who is now in the Fifth Circle of Hell. Argenti resides among the Wrathful in the river Styx.<br /> <br />Nessus – The Centaur (half man and half horse) who carries Dante through the First Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell.<br />Pier della Vigna – A former advisor to Emperor Frederick II, della Vigna committed suicide when he fell into disfavor at the court. He now must spend eternity in the form of a tree.<br />Geryon – The massive serpentine monster that transports Dante and Virgil from the Seventh to the Eighth Circle of Hell.<br />Malacoda – The leader of the Malabranche, the demons who guard the Fifth Pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell. Malacoda (his name means “evil tail”) intentionally furnishes Virgil and Dante with erroneous directions.<br />Vanni Fucci – A thief punished in the Seventh Pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell who prophesies the defeat of the White Guelphs. A defiant soul, Fucci curses God and aims an obscene gesture at Him before Dante journeys on.<br />Ulysses – The great hero of the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey. Ulysses was a bold and cunning man who is now imprisoned in the Eighth Pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell among those guilty of Spiritual Theft.<br />Guido da Montefeltro – An advisor to Pope Boniface VIII, da Montefeltro was promised anticipatory absolution—forgiveness for a sin given prior to the perpetration of the sin itself. Da Montefeltro now suffers in Hell, since absolution cannot be gained without repentance and it is impossible to repent a sin before committing it.<br />Antaeus – The giant who transports Dante and Virgil from the Eighth to the Ninth Circle of Hell.<br />Count Ugolino – A traitor condemned to the Second Ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell. Ugolino gnaws on the head of another damned traitor, Archbishop Ruggieri. When Ruggieri imprisoned Ugolino and his sons, denying them food, Ugolino was driven to eat the corpses of his starved sons.<br />Fra Alberigo and Branca d’Oria – Sinners condemned to the Third Ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell. Fra Alberigo and Branca d’Oria are unlike the other sinners Dante encounters: their crimes were deemed to be so great that devils snatched their souls from their living bodies; thus, their souls reside in Hell while their bodies live on, now guided and possessed by demons.<br />