Canto 5, 33, and 34 - Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences

Canto 5, 33, and 34
from the Inferno
Canto 5: The Carnal
• Remember this: everything is created by
the Christian God in the Inferno.
• In medieval Christian theology, Limbo is
located at the outer edge of Hell for souls
that are neither condemned or saved. This
includes anyone (including children) who
have not been baptized, as well as the
righteous who have lived and died before
the birth of Christ.
Canto 5: The Carnal
• Dante employs the law of
symbolic retribution in Canto
5; just as their judgment was
swept away by their
tempestuous passions, the
carnal sinners are whirled
around in a hellish storm.
Canto 5: The Carnal
• The Minos’s warning of “Do not be misled
by that wide and easy passage!” parallels a
famous passage in the New Testatment:
“Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that
leadeth to destruction, and many there be
that go in thereat: Because straight is the
gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth
unto life, and few there be that find it”
(Matthew 7:13-14)
Canto 5: The Carnal
• Dante creates the tempestuous mood for
Canto 5 by using verbs such as “roaring,”
“wracked,” “sweeps,” “whirling,”
“battering,” and “drives” when describing
the whirlwind of the circle.
• Dante compares the condemned souls to
cranes crying harshly as they fly overhead
(simile) which also contributes to the
Canto 5: The Carnal
• The characters presented in Canto 5 are
figures from legend and literature and are
known for their sins of sexual passion:
• Semiramis, legendary queen of Assyria
• Dido, legendary queen of Carthage who vows
to be true to her husband, Sichaeus, but
breaks this vow when she falls in love with
Aeneas. When he leaves, she commits suicide
by throwing herself on a funeral pyre.
Canto 5: The Carnal
• Achilles, a legendary Greek Warrior who
deserts his army in order to marry Polyxena.
• Tristan, who feel in love with Iseult, a young
princess betrothed to his uncle, King Mark of
Cromwell, according to medieval legend.
• Paolo and Francesca, who were murdered by
her husband, Giovanni (who was Paolo's
brother) when he found the two lovers
Canto 5: The Carnal
• Dante feels pity and confusion for the "great
knights and ladies," but chooses to speak to
Paolo and Francesca; he compares them to
mating doves that are called to their nest
• Murderer Giovanni Malatesta, the husband of
Francesca and brother of Paolo, was still
living at the time of Dante's work; his place in
Circle 9 is far worse than that of the latter.
Canto 5: The Carnal
• The story that Paolo and Francesca read is
that of Lancelot and Guinevere. According
to the medieval legend of King Arthur,
Lancelot falls in love with Guinevere,
Arthur's queen, which leads to the
downfall of the Knights of the Round
Table. The book acts as a "pander," or go
between for the lovers.
Canto 33: Fraud and Treachery
• The geography of Dante's Hell is
precisely worked out. Dante
conceived the whole realm as a
endless and tapering pit, with its
bottom at the center of the earth.
Dante and Virgil descend through
nine circles, each with increasing
Canto 33: Fraud and Treachery
The nine circles are groups into
threes, corresponding to the three
kinds of vice that Dante learned
from Aristotle: incontinence (the
Wolf), violence (the Lion), and
fraud and malice (the Leopard).
Canto 33: Fraud and Treachery
• The ninth circle, Cocytus (a river in
the Greek underworld which means
"river of wailing") is reserved for sins
of fraud and treachery. The rounds
are dedicated to a specific type of sin
(Antenora, treachery towards
country, and Ptolomea, treachery
towards guests and hosts).
• Named for Antenor who betrayed Troy to
the Greeks (in some versions).
• Count Ugolino and Archbishop Ruggieri
are in the Round for treason: they once
plotted together, and Ruggieri betrayed his
fellow-plotter and caused his death by
starvation along with his four “sons.” His
sons offer their father themselves as food.
• In Dante’s world of symbolic retribution,
Ruggieri becomes food for Ugolino, who
gnaws on his head.
• However, when Ugolino refers to Ruggieri
with “reverend grace,” it is in an ironic
tone, being that he is a brutal man who
deserves none.
• Ugolino’s sons are actually grown men and
the younger grandson is fifteen; for effect,
Dante makes them much younger.
• The Canto brings forth the concept of
fairness: is Ugolino’s revenge justified?
• Ugolino has betrayed Pisa by giving up
castles during a war, and for this, he is
punished. Dante also blames Pisa for
allowing his children to die.
• At this point, Dante is numb from witnessing
the horrors of Hell.
• He is also confused as to the source of the
• Hell is not warm and full of light from fire: it
is a “frozen mine” (metaphor).
• The round is named for Ptolomeus, who
invited Simon Maccabaeus, king of Judea,
and his two sons to a banquet and then
murdered them.
• Those condemned to this round lie with only
half their faces above the ice and their tears
freeze in their eye sockets, sealing them with
little crystal visors. Thus, the comfort of tears
is taken away from them.
• So great is the sin of Friar Alberigo and
Branca d’Oria that their souls fall to its
torments even before they die, leaving their
body still on earth, inhabited by demons.
• To avenge an insult, Friar Alberigo invited
his brother Manfred and his son to dinner.
At the signal “bring the fruit,” murderers
killed Manfred and son.
• Dante promises the Friar that he will
relieve his punishment if he will tell his
story; however, he breaks it, because then
he will not suffer to the full extent.
• Branca d’Oria invited his father-in-law to a
feast, Michel Zanche, and then murdered
• In this Round, Dante introduces the idea
the demons (and Satan) can live on earth
through living souls.
Canto 34: Cocytus, Judecca,
and The Center
• Cocytus, Compound Fraud
• Judecca, Treachery towards
their Master (named for
Judas Iscariot)
• The Center, Satan
Canto 34
• The icy wind comes from the beating of
Satan’s wings. This is allegorical: Satan is
the source of all evil, as well as the
sufferings of Hell.
• Hell is a macabre distortion of Heaven,
much like evil is a distortion of good.
Those that are evil, at best, can only
mimic, or imitate, those who are good.
Canto 34
• Dante at this point is in a state of paradox:
he is alive, being that he is observing Hell
as a living soul, but also dead, being that
he is having trouble breathing due to
• Being frozen in ice, Dante illustrates that
Satan’s power is limited: he is an enemy of
God, but not his equal. He is God’s
Canto 34
• Dante compares Satan’s wings to “a sail”
and wings of “a gross bird.” Gross means
large, but also disgusting.
• Satan’s weeping suggests that though he is
king over all sinners, he is also the most
unhappy. The beating of his wings implies
a desire to escape his own realm. Though
he tortures damned souls, he himself is
Canto 34
• Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot are
gnawed on by Satan in a disgusting distortion
of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
• Judas is in the center of Satan’s mouth, being
that he betrayed Christ, and is looked upon as
the worst sinner of all.
• Brutus and Cassius killed Julius Caesar at the
height of the Roman Empire: with this, Dante
makes it clear church and state are of the
same level of importance.
Brutus and Cassius
• Placed feet first into Satan’s mouth to be
eaten eternally.
• Have black and whitish-yellow faces,
• Punished for the assassination of Julius
Caesar: Dante found that his death
hindered God’s plan for human happiness
through the empire of Rome.
Brutus and Cassius
• Both Brutus and Cassius fought
on the side of Pompey in the civil
• Following Pompey's defeat at
Pharsalia in 48 B.C.E., Caesar
pardoned them and invested them
with high civic offices.
Brutus and Cassius
• Still, 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.
• Though they succeeded at assassinating
Caesar, their political ambitions were
destroyed by Octavian and Antony at
Philippi .
Brutus and Cassius
• Cassius, defeated by Antony and falsely
thinking that Brutus had been defeated by
Octavian, had himself killed by a servant;
Brutus indeed lost a subsequent battle and
took his life as well.
• Dante felt that their betrayal of their
benefactor and supreme ruler of the
secular world was one of the worst sins of
all: disloyalty to the state.
Judas Iscariot
• One of the twelve disciples of Christ
• Judas strikes a deal to betray Jesus for
thirty-pieces of silver.
• His treachery is foreseen by Jesus at the
Last Supper, which makes Judas’s sin even
more treacherous.
• He identifies Jesus to the authorities with
a kiss.
Judas Iscariot
• Judas later regrets his transgression, turns
over the thirty-pieces of silver, and hangs
• Suffering even more than Brutus and
Cassius, Dante's Judas is placed head-first
inside Lucifer's central mouth, with his
back skinned by Satan’s claws.
• Judas is seen as the second worst traitor of
all, next to Satan himself.
• Lucifer means “light bearer.” God
intended for Lucifer (Satan) to be his
utmost angel.
• His corruption begins in the Garden of
• All the rivers of Hell flow back and from
Satan: he is the source of all evil.
• As Virgil and Dante descend from Hell,
they see the light of God, not God, which
brings them hope.
Writing Prompt 12/3/10
200 word minimum
Based on the notion of symbolic
retribution, does Dante create a
Hell that is just? Or, are there
punishments that do not fit the
crime? Be specific.
Related flashcards

Christian theology

22 cards


17 cards

Christian soteriology

21 cards

Jewish theology

31 cards

Protestant theologians

13 cards

Create Flashcards