The Inferno: Novel Summary: Canto 30

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Canto 30

Summary
Still in the Tenth Bolgia, Dante sees two shades running among the others and biting them cruelly. One in Dante's own day impersonated a dead man and made a will favorable to the man's son, and himself. The other, according to the story in Ovid, was overwhelmed by a passion for her own father, and impersonated another woman in order to sleep with him. The only person Dante speaks to here is Master Adam, who lies helpless and swollen with dropsy, yearning for just one drop of water-but yearning even more to torment those who persuaded him to take up counterfeiting the currency of Florence. Master Adam tells Dante the names of those who lie silently burning in fever near him, and one of them strikes him. Master Adam strikes back, and each one taunts the other with his crimes, while Dante listens, fascinated. Then Virgil reproaches him, and he is filled with such shame that Virgil instantly forgives him, urging him to remember that Virgil is with him if he should ever again be tempted to listen, fascinated, to such quarreling.
Analysis
One canto is not enough to portray this sickness, which completes the picture of the moral destruction of an individual or a society guilty of the kind of fraud that violates the bond of love that naturally unites all human beings. With this canto, the Eighth Circle ends. Here Dante the narrator portrays those who have betrayed the trust of others by falsifying and finding their only satisfaction in attacking each other. Here again Dante lingers, but this time Virgil is angry. To take delight in hearing people attack each other is very close to joining in the attack oneself. One can see from this canto why some commentators speak of Virgil as symbolizing Dante's conscience.