Divine Comedy: Novel Summary: Inferno section 6- Inferno section 10
Inferno section 6: Dante awakens to find himself in the Third Circle where rain, snow, and hail fall endlessly to the stinking ground. Here, the Gluttons run around the pit eternally trying to avoid the sharp claws of the three-headed guardian of this Circle, Cerberus. As Virgil throws dirt into the monster's mouth to silence him, Dante notices a shade that, unlike the other spirits, does not lie on the ground. This spirit belongs to Ciacco, a citizen of Florence who Dante knew in life. Ciacco, well known for his gluttony, prophesies that war will occur and one party will be expelled from the city. The two Florentines commiserate over the plight of their city and discuss the fates of other citizens who, Ciacco says, were banished to lower parts of Hell for their heinous crimes. As Virgil and Dante move away, Virgil explains to Dante that Ciacco will stay as he is in this Circle until Last Judgement. Although these souls will never reach Heaven, they will be nearer to it and feel more pleasure and more pain after Last Judgement.
Inferno section 7: Plutus, who has swelled to an enormous size, blocks the poets' path as they try to descend into the Fourth Circle. But when Virgil explains that their journey is willed in Heaven, Plutus falls weakly to the ground and the Virgil and Dante pass unharmed. In the Fourth Circle, two groups of shades roll giant weights in opposite directions. At the end of their semi-circular paths the two groups crash into each other and continue their torment again in the opposite direction. Every time the two groups crash, one yells, "Why do you hoard?" While the other group yells, "Why do you squander?" These two groups, the avaricious and the prodigal, continue this sorry task for all eternity. Virgil explains that most of the spirits in this realm belong to popes, priests, and cardinals who mismanaged worldly goods whether with avarice or with prodigality. Virgil also warns Dante against being greedy for the goods of Fortune. Dante asks him to explain Fortune and Virgil responds, "She is the one so frequently maligned even by those who should give praise to her-they blame her wrongfully with words of scorn. But she is blessed and does not hear these things; for with the other primal beings, happy, she turns her sphere and glories in her bliss."
With that, Virgil beckons Dante to follow him into the next Circle. As they descend, they approach the river Styx and find the souls of the Wrathful and Sullen bobbing in the slimy murk. The Fifth Circle of Hell belongs to the Wrathful shades who lash out at each other, tearing "each other piecemeal with their teeth." Alongside the Wrathful live the Sullen shades who, because they "had been sullen in the sweet air that's gladdened by the sun," must spend eternity stuck below the dark, festering mud of Styx. Virgil and Dante continue their trek around the river until they come to the base of a tower.
Inferno section 8: Dante and Virgil spy two flames in the distance as they near the tower. These flames signal the approach of Phlegyas, the oarsman who takes the poets across the river. As the three cross Styx, a shade rises from the mud and tries to attack Dante. At first Dante does not recognize the shade but when he finally realizes that the spirit is that of Filippo Argenti, Dante curses the shade and sends him flailing back into the water. Virgil praises Dante for his actions and explains that the city of Dis lies ahead of them. Dis stands as the entrance to the lower part of Hell, reserved for the worst violent and fraudulent sinners. Fallen angels angrily block the path into Dis. They refuse to speak with Dante so Virgil proceeds alone to convince the fallen angels to let them pass.
Inferno section 9: The fallen angels refuse to let Virgil and Dante pass through the gates so Virgil returns to Dante and explains that help has been promised to them so they must wait for that help to arrive. Frightened by their situation, Dante tries to gather courage by asking Virgil about other mortals who had taken the journey through Hell. Virgil reveals that he himself was sent to summon a spirit in a Circle far below the one in which they now stand. Dante has little time to comfort himself as three bloody and terrifying Furies appear before the poets. Their heads covered in snakes, the Furies, Erinyes, Megaera, and Allecto summon Medusa to turn Dante into stone. Dante and Virgil cover Dante's eyes but do not cower long because a great noise announces the arrival of a spirit who crosses Styx without touching the water. The heavenly messenger arrives at the gates of Dis and admonishes the fallen angels for not allowing the poets passage. The messenger opens the gates and abruptly turns to leave. Dante and Virgil enter Dis and see a field covered with flaming sepulchers. Dante hears mournful cries emanating from the coffins and Virgil explains that the cries belong to the arch-heretics whose tombs lie here.
Inferno section 10: Dante asks to speak to one of the spirits lying in its tomb. Virgil allows him to speak to Farinata, a former Ghibelline who fought against Dante's ancestors. A spirit in a nearby tomb interrupts Dante's conversation with Farinata to inquire about his son, Guido. Dante uses the past tense to describe Guido so, thinking his son is dead, the shade crashes back into his tomb before Dante can finish his sentence. Farinata resumes his discussion with Dante, telling him that he will have difficulty returning to Florence from his exile and asking him why their two political parties hate each other so much. In turn, Dante asks Farinata to explain why spirits can see into the past and into the future but they cannot see the present. Farinata explains, "We see, even as men who are farsighted, those things.that are remote from us; the Highest Lord allots us that much light. But when events draw near or are, our minds are useless; were we not informed by others, we should know nothing of our human state." As Dante moves away, he asks Farinata to tell Guido's father that his son is not dead. Hearing Virgil call, Dante returns to his master and the two poets move into a new, accursed valley.
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