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Dante Alighieri - Inferno (Ninth Circle)


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This is a report about the Ninth Circle of Dante Alighieri's "Inferno."
This is a major requirement for my Continental Literature (LIT 104) class under Dr. Irene J. Lising, Ph.D.

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Dante Alighieri - Inferno (Ninth Circle)

  1. 1.
  2. 2.  The ―Ninth‖ Circle is reserved solely for the ―Traitors‖ or those who have practiced ―Treachery.‖  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.
  3. 3.  Caïna – betrayal against the kin (relative or family) › 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.
  4. 4.  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 betrayed Jesus.
  5. 5.  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 stories.  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.
  6. 6.  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 following instances: › 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 in Macedonia.
  7. 7.  Dante calls the ninth circle, ―Cocytus,‖ a frozen lake; from a Greek word, meaning ―to lament.‖  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 whirlpool.‖  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)
  8. 8. By Gustave Dore
  9. 9.  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 rampaging rams.
  10. 10.  The two brothers are named Napoleone and Alessandro; the former is a Ghibelline, the latter is a Guelph.  Ghibellines and Guelphs are both factions in Italy.  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 essence.
  11. 11.  Dante is told that no one is more deserving than these two of punishments in Caina: › 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 inheritance.
  12. 12.  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 Valdarno.  He is reported to have murdered his own kinsman.  Camiscion awaits the arrival of another kinsman named Carlino, who already have a reserved slot in the Ninth Circle for betraying his own party.
  13. 13.
  14. 14.  This is the zone for those who betray their homeland or party.  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 pulled.  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.
  15. 15.  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 standard-bearer.  Bocca names the four additional traitors in the ice, having the same gravity of sin as his:
  16. 16.  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 Florence. › Accused by the Florentine Guelphs of conspiring with the exiled Ghibellines.  Gianni de’ Soldanieri › Descendant of a noble Florentine Ghibelline family, and switched to the side of the Guelphs after the defeat of Manfred at Benevento. › 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 duly given.
  17. 17.  Ganelon › 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.  Telbadello › 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.
  18. 18.  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 it.  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.
  19. 19.  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.‖
  20. 20.  Nephew of the heretical, Cardinal Ottaviano Degli Ubaldini, residing in Circle 6.  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 ―Hunger Tower.‖
  21. 21.  Because of extreme hunger, the sons suggested that Ugolino should eat them, for he clothed them.  His son, Gaddo, begging for help dies at his feat due to hunger.  After the next two days, the three other sons died.  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.
  22. 22.  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.
  23. 23.  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.
  24. 24.  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 earth.‖
  25. 25.  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 living.
  26. 26.  This is the zone where those who betray their benefactors are placed.  ―Vexilla Regis prodeunt inferni‖ opens the final canto of Inferno.  The wind earlier that was gushing Dante goes stronger, that he uses Virgil already as his windbreaker.  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.
  27. 27.  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 limited powers › his flapping wings generate the wind that keeps the lake frozen › 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.
  28. 28.  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 Julius Caesar.  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.
  29. 29.  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 hangs himself.  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.
  30. 30.  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 Hemisphere.  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 before sunrise.
  31. 31.  Aligheri, Dante. "The Divine Comedy, Volume 1, Hell [The Inferno]." Project Gutenberg - free ebooks. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. < /pg1995.html>.  ―Dante's Inferno - Circle 9 - Cantos 31-34 ." Danteworlds. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. < ml>.  Raffa, Guy P.. The complete Danteworlds: a reader's guide to the "Divine Comedy". Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Print.