Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dante in Hell

Dante in Hell, the Seventh Circle, the Third Ring, where the Sodomites suffer:

"As champions, naked, oiled, will always do,
each studying the grip that serves him best
before the blows and wounds begin to fall,
while wheeling so, each one made sure his face
was turned to me, so that their necks opposed
their feet in one uninterrupted flow."

(Canto XVI, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum)

I'm teaching Dante right now in my World Literature I class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Where Dante places his sinners in Hell, what they're doing there, and how Dante responds to them reveal a lot about Dante's scruples.

Interestingly, Dante imagines the Sodomites resembling wrestlers, he-men champions, not effeminate girly-boys.  And though they are condemned to a lower circle of Hell (below murderers and tyrants, even ... but no worse off than credit and loan officers, i.e. usurers), Dante happily reunites with his old friends there, notably his old beloved mentor Brunetto Latino.

Here's William-Adolphe Bouguereau's 1850 painting of Dante and Virgil in Hell, visiting the Seventh Circle

And here are some cogent variations on the image by boofhead and renatodomas

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