Divine Comedy: Novel Summary: Inferno section 31- Purgatorio section 1
Inferno section 31: As Virgil and Dante climb to the crest of the next chasm, the Ninth Circle, they hear a thunderous horn. Dante looks in the direction of the sound and sees huge towers in the distance. Taking Dante by the hand, Virgil explains that the towers that he sees are actually the silhouettes of giants mired in mud. As the poets approach, Dante gets a better view of the entrance into the final pit. The giants, anomalies of Nature, encircle the pit like a turret. As Dante describes these monstrosities, one of them begins to yell gibberish. Virgil tells the giant that he is stupid because he must use the horn that hangs around his neck to vent his frustration. This giant, Virgil explains, is Nimrod, the builder of the Tower of Babel. Dante and Virgil approach the next giant, Ephialtes, who is wrapped with a chain. Dante wishes to see the giant Briareus but Virgil explains that he too is tied with chains, so the poets will only see Antaeus who can set them on the bottom of the pit because he is not tied in chains. Virgil greets Antaeus by recalling all of the giant's deeds on Earth. He tells Antaeus that Dante will bring him great fame if he helps the poet descend. The giant gingerly stoops to lift Dante then sets him down in the pit where Judas and Satan live.
Inferno section 32: Dante and Virgil emerge in the Ninth (and final) Circle of Hell. Before them lies a frozen wasteland that defies description. Dante invokes the Muses to help him find the language to speak the truth about this abyss. The poets begin to move through the first ring, Caina, where Traitors to their Kin are immersed in ice. A voice warns Dante not to step on the spirits who are sunk to their chin in the crystal clear ice. Dante looks down at his feet and sees two brothers immersed together. As the brothers weep, their tears freeze, binding them closer together. Dante continues on his journey and accidentally kicks the face of a frozen spirit. This spirit wails in pain and sorrow and demands to know how Dante can walk through Antenora, the second circle, kicking shades. Antenora holds the Traitors to their Homeland or their Party so Dante wants to know the name of the shade with which he now speaks. The shade refuses to give its name so Dante begins to pull at the spirit's hair. The two tussle until another spirit reveals that the feisty shade belongs to Bocca. Angrily, Bocca starts to name other traitors confined to Antenora as Dante moves away. On his way past these traitors, Dante notices a spirit feeding on the head and neck of another sinner lying nearby.
Inferno section 33: Dante tells the carnivorous shade that he will bring it fame on Earth if it reveals its story to him. Weeping, the shade replies that it will gladly tell its story because in doing so it will reveal the name of the shade upon which it feeds. The first spirit belongs to Count Ugolino while the second one belongs to Archbishop Ruggieri. Ruggieri captured Ugolino and put him to death. Dante already knew that Ruggieri had killed Ugolino but he was not aware of the cruel details of Ugolino's death. Ugolino recounts that he when he awoke in prison he heard his sons asking for food. Rather than bringing the men food, Ruggieri's henchmen nailed the doors of the prison shut and let all five die of starvation. One by one, Ugolino heard his sons die then he himself died from hunger. The story saddens Dante because although Ugolino betrayed the locations of strongholds in Pisa, his sons had done nothing wrong and did not deserve to die in such a tormented manner.
Dante and Virgil move to the third ring (Ptolomaea) where Traitors against Their Guests jut out of the ice, their eyes frozen shut by their tears. One of the shades calls to Dante to take the ice from its eyelids. Dante agrees to do so if the shade reveals its name. The spirit agrees and states that it belongs to Friar Alberigo, a man who murdered his younger brother. Dante did not know that this man was already dead. He believes that his spirit must have descended into Hell while a demon occupies Alberigo's body on Earth. Dante finds his hypothesis to be true when he notices the spirit belonging to Branca d'Oria resting nearby. Alberigo implores Dante to remove the ice from his eyes as he had promised. Dante refuses, believing rudeness to be a grace in Hell. Instead, Dante curses the Genoese because the body of one of their countrymen currently walks the Earth inhabited by a demon.
Inferno section 34: Virgil and Dante finally arrive at the fourth ring of the Ninth Circle (Judecca) where the Traitors against their Benefactors lie fully covered in ice. Carefully stepping across the encased spirits, Dante emerges from the wind and mist in full view of Satan (Dis). Frozen up to his breast in the ice of Cocytus, Satan stands larger and more ominous than any creature Dante could imagine. His arms are greater than the height of one of the giants that they had just passed and three gigantic pairs of wings fanning the wind that freezes the pit. Satan has three heads-red, black, and yellow-and from his six eyes streams continuous tears. In each of its mouths, Satan gnaws on the worst of the traitors: Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. Virgil abruptly tells Dante that they must leave. Virgil pulls his pupil onto his back and begins to climb down Satan's hairy body. Virgil continues to climb until they come to a point where Satan's legs stand upright in a dark cave. Virgil explains that when they climbed down Satan's side, they passed the center of the center of the earth so that they now stand just below the Southern Hemisphere. Satan stands where he was planted when he originally fell from Heaven. Dante quickly scrambles to climb back to Earth and as he does he sees stars above him for the first time since his journey began.
Purgatorio section 1: "To course across more kindly waters now my talent's little vessel lifts her sails, leaving behind herself a sea so cruel; and what I sing will be that second kingdom, in which the human soul is cleansed of sin becoming worthy of ascent to Heaven." Thus, Dante opens his journey into Purgatory where he will use kinder words to describe the ascent. To prepare himself, Dante calls upon the Muses including Calliope, the Muse of poetry. Dante and Virgil arrive at the island where the Mountain of Purgatory stands on Easter morning. Dante notices a constellation of four stars that have not been seen by humans since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. The guardian of the region, Cato, emerges and demands to know how Dante escaped Hell. Virgil explains that a lady in Heaven asked him to save Dante's soul before it is lost by guiding Dante through Hell. Virgil was also directed to show Dante how the souls under Cato's charge are purged and prepared for Heaven. Cato consents to the journey and allows the poets to pass. Before they can pass, however, Dante must wash the dirt from Hell off of his face and he must pluck a rush from the shore to gird himself. After Dante performs these rituals, the poets set off to find the path up the Mountain.
Divine Comedy Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Divine Comedy
- Inferno section 1- Inferno section 5
- Inferno section 6- Inferno section 10
- Inferno section 11- Inferno section 15
- Inferno section 16- Inferno section 20
- Inferno section 21- Inferno section 25
- Inferno section 26- Inferno section 30
- Inferno section 31- Purgatorio section 1
- Purgatorio section 2- Purgatorio section 6
- Purgatorio section 7- Purgatorio section 11
- Purgatorio section 12- Purgatorio section 16
- Purgatorio section 17- Purgatorio section 21
- Purgatorio section 22- Purgatorio section 26
- Purgatorio section 27- Purgatorio section 31
- Paradiso section 4- Paradiso section 8
- Purgatorio section 32- Paradiso section 3
- Paradiso section 9- Paradiso section 13
- Paradiso section 14- Paradiso section 18
- Paradiso section 19- Paradiso section 23
- Paradiso section 24- Paradiso section 28
- Paradiso section 29- Paradiso section 33
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Theme Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Dante Alighieri