Dante, Inferno—LEC 4
• Contrary to common belief Depths of Hell portrayed in the Inferno is Ice
• Evocatively staged is God’s sovereignty in His active eternal punishment
• Captivity: sinner’s stories, Francesca, Ulysses, *Count Ugolino
• All these memorable sinners have sinned against divine justice, yet Dante
presents them not just as sinners but in their singular humanity – display aspects
about their lives which individualize them and attribute sympathy towards them;
following this is then a movement from pity to divine justice
o Why is sympathy depicted (or why does he show sympathy)?
Dante is equally humane – the sinners he encounters are depicted as a
warning to his fellow kin
• Sins are not explicitly discussed by sinners—not shown by how others judge
them, but how they judge themselves; this then infers how they are judged by
• They have a lacking about meaning of their stories, as they are in realm of
deprived moral reasoning; Dante must understand their stories in different moral
• Ugolino – wrongdoings consist of conspiracy, treason, sold out city, and the
people he dealt with were also sinners—yet, none of this is described in the
Inferno – U shifts the blame on another which serves to condemn them more and
demonstrates their resistance towards their own moral guilt/responsibility
Dante comes across 2 sinners—one devouring the head of another (Ugolino)
Shares a secret, describing his perilous end to life (a secret) to draw Dante’s pity and
lift blame off his shoulders and onto his personal enemy
- story focuses on story of Ugolino’s children—their tragic deaths
Ugolino (Canto 33):
“ You ask me to to revive
The desperate grief that racks my heart
Even in thought, before I tell it.
But if my words shall be the seeds that bear
infamous fruit to the traitor I am gnawing,
Then you will see me speak and weep together.”
Francesca (Canto 5):
“There is no great sorrow
than to recall our time of joy
in wretchedness—and this your teacher knows.
But if you feel such longing
To know the root of our love,
I shall tell as one who weeps in telling.”
Dante is capable of scorn of these sinners—remember Balka, who wishes his name
remain unknown because his wickedness was so great, and has his hair pulled out by
Dante, which Virgil apathetically condones.
Another person Dante passes who asks him to clear the ice from his eyes, he denies.
This man’s evil was so great that he was brought to Hell even before his death.
Dante is coming to understand sin as a deep corruption of the soul which
disrupts divine order.
“But why should I go there/ Who allows it?
Page 1 of 3 Dante, Inferno—LEC 4
I am not Aeneas, nor am I Paul.” – asks us to c