Dante's Inferno Cantos XV and XVI Jayla Pinkston
We are Here We are Here
Canto XV In this Canto, Virgil and Dante visit the second zone of the seventh circle, third ring of the Inferno. This zone features those who were violent against nature. While there, The pair encounter a band of sodomites, one of which stops Dante. Dante recognizes the man as Brunetto Latino, who was like a father to him. Brunetto then foretells Dante’s betrayal and downfall from power. Brunetto also notes(Page 122 Lines 106-114) that Priscian, Francesco d’Accorso, Arno, and Bacchiglione are well known people who dwell in this circle.
Dante and Virgil encountering Brunetto Latino, who was a father figure for Dante.
Those Violent Against Nature The third ring is for those who were violent against either God, nature, or art. This includes blasphemers, sodomites, and usurers(those who charged interest when loaning money). Their punishment is to run endlessly through fiery sands beneath rain of fire. The sodomites must run around in the burning sand and the usurers huddle on the sand. Brunetto Latino mentions that those who stop running for even a moment have to lay in the sand for a hundred years(Page 119 Lines 36-39). This is their punishment because those who were violent against nature deserve to be attacked by nature in return.
Sodom and Gomorrah In this canto, Dante refers to the sinners as "sodomites", in this case meaning homosexual. This use of the word stems from the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The story features two cities(Sodom and Gomorrah) who were especially sinful, the cities were later destroyed by God. The use of the word sodomite refers to someone who is extremely sinful and has no chance of receiving mercy from God.
Well known sinners Francesco d’Accorso Servant of Servants Priscian A famous Latin grammarian and poet who lived in the first half of the sixth century. A Florentne scholar who was a professor at Bologna and Oxford. Boniface VIII transferred a bishop from Flornce to Vicenza. The bishop was transferred because of his “unnatural vices” (homosexuality).
Simile “They stared at us as men at evening by the new moon’s light stare at one another when they pass by on a dark road, pointing their eyebrows toward us as an old tailor squints at his needle’s eye” Canto XV, Page 119, lines 17-21 In this excerpt, Dante compares the way that the souls stare at them to how men stare at each other in borderline darkness. Meaning that the souls think that Dante looks familiar but they cannot tell if they know him.
Alliteration “I did not dare descend to his own level but kept my head inclined… meditating good and evil. ” Canto XV, Page 120, Lines 43-45 The repetition of the letter “d” helps annunciate the absence of pity that Dante now has towards the sinners. In previous cantos, Dante has fainted at the sight of the punishments that sinners face. Now, his heart has been hardened and he no longer feels sorry for them.
Canto XVI At this point, Dante and Virgil are still in the third ring of the seventh circle. Three souls, later identified as Jacopo Rusticucci, Guido Guerra, and Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, rush towards Dante after seeing his Florentine clothing. They ask of Florentine and Dante tells them of its recent downfall, after their conversation, the three souls return to their band. With the use of Dante’s belt, Virgil summons a monster from the river Phlegethon.
Well known sinners Guido Guerra Tegghiaio Aldobrandi Jacopo Rusticucci A Florentine knight who was wealthy and well respected. Dante’s account of his sin is the only other detail of his life that his known. A leader of the Guelphs and is labeled as a sodomite by only Dante. A knight for the Guelph nobles. Worked with Guerra to advise the Florentines in wars.
Onomatopoeia “ We could already hear the rumbling drive of the waterfall in its plunge to the next circle, a murmur like the throbbing of a hive” Canto XVI, Page 126, Lines 1-3 “We felt the quiver and roar of the cascade, so close that speech would have been drowned in thunder” Canto XVI, Page 129, Lines 91-93 The words “rumbling”, “plunge”, and “murmur” help to illustrate the waterfall. The sounds of these words helps the reader imagine the waterfall as if they were there.
Imagery “a shape to astonish the most doughty soul, a shape like one returning from the sea from working loose an anchor run afoul of something on the bottom” Canto XVI, Page 131, Lines 130-134 The word doughty means someone who is brave and persistent. A person who loosens a stuck anchor from the bottom of the sea also creates an image of brave persistency. This excerpt describes something that is swimming up the waterfall. So, this excerpt shows just how brave and persistent this monster is.
Works Cited Alighieri, Dante, and John Ciardi. "Canto XVI." The inferno. New York: Signet Classics, 2009. 126-33. Alighieri, Dante. "Canto XV." Trans. John Ciardi. The Inferno. New York: Signet Classics, 1954. 118-25. Burger, John. A family escaping a city facing devastation. Digital image. Aleteia. 23 Feb. 2019. 23 Sept. 2019 https://aleteia.org/2019/02/23/if-sodom-really-existed-where-is-it/. Dore, Gustave. The Inferno, Canto 15. Digital image. Trivium Art History. 2019. 23 Sept. 2019 https://arthistoryproject.com/artists/gustave-dore/the-inferno-canto-15/. Phillips, Tom. Canto XVI. Digital image. Tate. 2019. 23 Sept. 2019 https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/phillips-canto-xvi-no-title-p07788. Preda, Roxana. Two men overlooking suffering souls. Digital image. The Cantos Project. 11 June 2017. 23 Sept. 2019 http://thecantosproject.ed.ac.uk/index.php/a-draft-of-xvi-cantos-overview/the-hell-cantos/companion-to-xiv-xv. Stradano, Giovanni. Anpicture of three men surrounding Virgil and Dante. Digital image. The Paris Review. 2016. 23 Sept. 2019 https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/02/03/recapping-dante-canto-16-or-the-pilgrims-progress/.