The ―Ninth‖ Circle is reserved solely for the
―Traitors‖ or those who have practiced
Treachery came from:
› Middle English: trecherie (deceit, cheating)
› Vulgar Latin: triccare (to trick)
› Germanic Language Origin: trichier (to cheat)
› Middle Dutch: trek (a trick) or trekken (to draw or
play a trick on).
The Circle of Treachery is defined in the 11th
Canto of the Inferno as, ―fraudulent acts
between individuals who share special bonds
of love and trust.‖
The King of Traitors is Lucifer.
Caïna – betrayal against the kin (relative
› Named after the a biblical origin, Cain, who
killed his brother, Abel.
Antenora – betrayal against the
homeland, or the party.
› Named after the Trojan Prince, Antenor.
Ptolomea – betrayal against guests
› Named after Ptolemy (Ptolemeus), the
captain of Jericho.
› Named after Ptolemy XII.
Judecca – betrayal against benefactors.
› Named after Judas Iscariot, the apostle who
Physically connect circles 8 and 9: standing on the
floor of circle 9--or perhaps on a ledge above the
bottom of hell--the upper halves of their huge bodies
tower over the inner edge of circle 8.
Giants are drawn from both biblical and classical
They are the manifestation of defiant rebels in the
form of archetypes.
Nimrod, is characterized in the Genesis chapter of
the Bible as ―stout hunter before the lord‖ (Genesis
10:9). His defiance emerges as he was the main
proponent for the creation of the Tower of Babel.
Since the story of the ―Tower of Babel‖ is associated
with the propagation of different languages, the
blame for linguistic confusion (throughout the world)
is blamed at Nimrod (by Dante).
Dante associates these Giants with ―pride,‖ in the
› comparing the size of Nimrod's face to the pine cone at
St. Peter's in Rome. (Inf. 31.58-60)
› the word Dante uses--perizoma--to convey how the inner
bank of circle 8 covers the lower half of the Giants' bodies
like an "apron.―(Inf. 31.61-62)
› Ephialtes - one of the Giants who fought against Jove and
the other Olympian gods. Together with his twin brother,
they attempted to scale Mount Olympus and dethrone
the gods by stacking Mount Pelion on top of Mount Ossa
Dante calls the ninth circle, ―Cocytus,‖ a
frozen lake; from a Greek word, meaning
It is described by Virgil as, ―as a dark, deep
pool of water that encircles a forest and
into which pours sand spewed from a torrid
The Vulgate (or the Latin Bible) describes
Cocytus as, ―Cocytus designates the valley
(or torrent) of death that receives the
wicked, even--and especially--those who
have prospered in the world .‖ (Job 21:33)
By Gustave Dore
This is the zone of those who betray their kin.
As Dante and Virgil travels down, they hear a voice saying
that they should wary on where they walk, for they might
step on the heads of their fellow brothers.
In this zone, Dante sees Cocytus, not as a form of water
but rather totally frozen, in the form of a glass.
Dante sees the sinners in the ice chattering in the cold,
and adheres the metaphorical image of a ―frog‖ to them.
Dante sees two figures, in which at first, he was reluctant
to ask for its names. The two persons, as stated by another
sinner, is the Alberti brothers.
As the Alberti brothers face Dante, raising their heads,
tears roll down their faces and freeze in their eye sockets,
causing the two shades to butt one another like
The two brothers are named Napoleone
and Alessandro; the former is a Ghibelline,
the latter is a Guelph.
Ghibellines and Guelphs are both factions
They are the sons of a Florentine Noble,
Count Alberto degli Alberti of Mangona,
who owned castles near Florence in the
Bisenzio River Valley.
Both killed each other because of a dispute
for inheritance, which is of a political
Dante is told that no one is more
deserving than these two of punishments
› Not Mordred, staging a coup d’ etat towards
his own uncle, King Arthur.
› Not Vanni de Cancellieri (Focaccia) a white
Guelph from Pistoia who killed his father’s
cousin (a Pistoian Black Guelph).
› Not Sassol Mascheroni, of the Florenteina
Toschi Family, murdered a cousin to take
The speaker, who lost both of his ears
due to the violent cold, named Alberto
Camiscion (or sometimes, Umberto).
He is a member of the Pazzi Family of
He is reported to have murdered his own
Camiscion awaits the arrival of another
kinsman named Carlino, who already
have a reserved slot in the Ninth Circle
for betraying his own party.
This is the zone for those who betray their homeland
Dante accidentally (or through destiny) kicked a
sinner’s head, smacking the face. The sinner,
retaliates by asking for Dante’s reason on why he
kicked him so hard—perhaps, the reason is for the
revenge of Montaperti.
Dante snaps and loses his control. He then grabs the
sinner (by the nape of his neck) and screams at the
sinner to identify himself, else, all of his hair will be
The scream of pain inflicted made another sinner to
say the name of this specific sinner, as Bocca. Since
this sinner was uncooperative, Dante threatened him
that he will slander his reputation in the living world;
but Bocca still didn’t care.
Belonged to a Ghibelline family that remained
in Florence after other Ghibellines were
banished in 1258 for their role in a foiled plot.
Pretending to fight on the side of the Guelphs
(as part of the cavalry), Bocca betrayed his
Guelph countrymen at a decisive moment in
the battle--as German mercenary troops
attacked in support of the Tuscan Ghibellines--
by cutting off the hand of the Guelph
Bocca names the four additional traitors in the
ice, having the same gravity of sin as his:
Buoso da Duera
› Ghibelline leader from the northern Italian city of Cremona.
› he failed to engage the troups of Charles of Anjou as they
marched south through Lombardy on their way to claim the
Kingdom of Naples.
Tesauro de’ Beccheria
› Abbot of Vallombrosa and papal legate to Alexander IV in
› Accused by the Florentine Guelphs of conspiring with the exiled
Gianni de’ Soldanieri
› Descendant of a noble Florentine Ghibelline family, and
switched to the side of the Guelphs after the defeat of Manfred
› He helped lead an uprising against the Florentine Ghibelline
rulers. He was about to have a position appointment from the
pope; however, he was deemed suspicious and no position was
› He is famous for his treason against Roland, his
stepson and Charlemagne’s nephew. As Roland was
ambushed by the Saracens, Roland desperately
sounded the horn. However, Ganelon told
Charlemagne that it was just a fluke. As an end
result, the entire rear guard was slain.
› He was tried and found guilty. As a result, he was
pulled apart by four horses.
› A Ghibelline from the Zambrasi family of Faenza,
avenged a private grudge by betraying the
Ghibelline Lambertazzi family, who have taken
refuge at Faenza after their expulsion of Bologna.
After leaving Bocca, Dante saw a
gruesome sight: two sinners submerged
close together, so close that one’s head
rears over the other’s, actually chewing
Dante promised that if they would tell
their tale, he would bring a word back to
the living world as long as his tongue
doesn’t dry up.
He earned his place in Antenora for the betrayal of
Pisa and the political leadership of the city.
He desired to appease the hostility and power of the
Guelph forces in Tuscany.
As a result of his desire, Ugolino ceded Pisan castles
(or fortresses) to Florence and Lucca, two
neighboring hostile cities.
Ugolino switched to the side of the Guelphs. He tried
to initiate a Guelph government in Pisa.
Years after, he led Pisan forces in a naval battle
against Genoa. Despite his loss, he was appointed as
a podesta (or a political head) of Pisa, together with
his grandson, Nino Visconti and both were
proclaimed ―captain of the people.‖
Nephew of the heretical, Cardinal
Ottaviano Degli Ubaldini, residing in Circle
He is the leader of the Pisan Ghibellines.
After the return of Ugolino to Pisa, Ruggieri
turned the public against him by exploiting
all Ugolino’s previous sins. And so, Ugolino
was arrested and imprisoned in a Pisan
tower called ―Eagle Tower.‖ Ugolino
together with his companions was starved
to death, and later on was nicknamed as
Because of extreme hunger, the sons
suggested that Ugolino should eat them, for he
His son, Gaddo, begging for help dies at his
feat due to hunger.
After the next two days, the three other sons
Ugolino is angered that his sons were even
tormented through starvation, even his sons
were innocent beings.
In this way, he justifies the correctness of he,
eating the Archbishop because of malevolent
treachery against him.
This is the zone where those who betray their guests.
Dante felt a wind against his skin; and one cannot expect
a wind in this area, and so he asked Virgil.
One of the sinners cried out to Dante and Virgil, thinking
they were fellow sinners. The sinner asked the veil of frozen
tears be removed from his face, in order to have a
relieving moment before his tears go freezing again.
Dante will only grant the wish in exchange of the sinner’s
name and his story. And so, Dante made a deal.
As explained by Fra Alberigo, the soul of those who
betrays their guests are immediately sent to Ptolemea,
even their body is still living in the living world.
He is from a Guelph ruling family of Faenza.
He is a Jovial Friar.
Manfred desired for the political power of Alberigo, that Alberigo
showcases his cruel response, earning him a place in hell.
Alberigo invited Manfred and his son to a banquet. Later on, the
host gave a signal ―to bring the fruit,‖ (which is actually the
signal for assassination) and then armed servants emerged from
behind the curtains and slaughtered the guests.
The confused Dante asked him a question: if he is already dead.
Much of a surprise, Alberigo himself do not know, for the soul of
those who betray their guests immediately descend to
Ptolemea, and the body is possessed by the devil.
He then illustrates his point by pointing out to another sinner.
Born to a prominent Ghibelline family of Genoa.
Branca’s body is still eating, drinking, sleeping and
continues to wear different clothes on the living earth.
The soul of Branca arrived in Ptolemea, even before the
soul of his father-in-law, Michele Zanche (Circle 8, Ring 5).
Branca invited Michele, a judge and governor in Sardinia
to a banquet where he is accompanied by a nephew or
cousin. Branca initiates the plan of Michele’s murder.
As emphasized by Alberigo, ―once a traitor commits a
crime against his guest, a demon from Ptolomea possesses
the sinner’s live body on earth and hurls the sinner’s soul
down to Hell. So a demon-possessed Branca is still living on
Dante refused to relieve the eyes of Fra
Alberigo, and even Dante is proud of his
decision for he adheres this as a
―courtesy‖ to Alberigo.
He proceeds then and cursed the
Genoese as a people so corrupt that
their souls can be in Hell while they’re still
This is the zone where those who betray their
benefactors are placed.
―Vexilla Regis prodeunt inferni‖ opens the final canto
The wind earlier that was gushing Dante goes
stronger, that he uses Virgil already as his
In this region of hell, all sinners are wholly submerged
in ice, in different unexpected positions.
In this part, Dante is frozen in fear. But begs Virgil that
he should be brave.
Dante now witnesses Lucifer: a very big one. Dante
wonders on the transformation of Lucifer, from a light-
bearer, becoming the king of all traitors.
Once hailed as the ―most beautiful angel.‖
As ugly as he once was beautiful, Lucifer is the
wretched emperor of hell, whose tremendous size (he
dwarfs even the Giants) stands in contrast with his
› his flapping wings generate the wind that keeps the lake
› his three mouths chew on the shade-bodies of three arch-
traitors, the gore mixing with tears gushing from Lucifer's
three sets of eyes
Lucifer possesses three faces.
Out of his six eyes, Lucifer is crying. His tears fall into his
three mouths which are chewing a bloody pulp.
Their feet stuffed first in the jaws of Lucifer's black and
whitish-yellow faces respectively.
They are punished for their betrayal and assassination to
The two sided with Pompey. However, as Pompey was
defeated in the Battle of Pharsalia, Caesar even
pardoned them and gave them high offices.
Cassius continued to harbor resentment against Caesar's
dictatorship and enlisted the aid of Brutus in a conspiracy
to kill Caesar and re-establish the republic.
However, the ending of these two treacherous ingratas
weren’t good: their political-military ambitions were
thwarted by Octavian and Antony at Philippi.
One of the twelve apostles, strikes a deal to
betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
He fulfills his treacherous role--foreseen by
Jesus at the Last Supper--when he later
identifies Jesus to the authorities with a kiss.
Regretting this betrayal that will lead to
Jesus' death, Judas returns the silver and
Suffering even more than Brutus and
Cassius, Dante's Judas is placed head-first
inside Lucifer's central mouth, with his back
skinned by the devil's claws.
Dante jumped on Virgil’s back and climbed
the legs of Lucifer.
After they passed the privates of Lucifer,
everything turned upside-down, stating that
they are no longer in the Northern
Eventually, the poets reach the Lethe, the
river of forgetfulness, and travel from there
out of Hell and back onto Earth. They
emerge from Hell on Easter morning, just
Aligheri, Dante. "The Divine Comedy, Volume 1,
Hell [The Inferno]." Project Gutenberg - free
ebooks. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.
―Dante's Inferno - Circle 9 - Cantos 31-34 ."
Danteworlds. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.
Raffa, Guy P.. The complete Danteworlds: a
reader's guide to the "Divine Comedy".
Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press, 2009.