The Sinners:

Sowers of Discord and Scandal , Creators of Schism within the Papacy

The Contrapasso:

"And all the other souls that bleed and mourn/ along this ditch were sowers of scandal and schism: / as they tore others apart, so are they torn. / Behind us, warden of our mangled horde,/ the devil who butchers us and sends us marching/ waits to renew our wounds with his long sword/ when we have made the circuit of the pit" (Inferno XXVIII: 34-40).

The concept of Ben Commune is definitely violated within this canto. The souls described here are people who tore others apart, obviously not living a life of unity and harmony. If these people were responsible of a schism of any sort, they obviously did not live up to the principles of Ben Commune.

Devil with sword tearing apart sinners
Key Characters & Allusions:
  • Mahomet: Arab prophet; founder of Islam, explains that the sinners were responsible for scandal, and therefore, they are torn apart as they tore others apart / mentioned : (Inferno XXVIII: 61-90)
  • Ali: fourth caliph of Islam, considered the first caliph by the Shiites; son-in-law of Mahomet, described as "...cleft from topknot to chin.." (notes) / mentioned: (Inferno XXVIII: 31-33)
  • Neptune: allusion to Roman Mythology, the god of the sea, same as the Greek Poseidon, / mentioned: (Inferno XXVIII: 82-90)
  • The Trojan War: allusion to the war when the Romans (Trojan descendants) fought the native Samnites in a long series of raids/ mentioned (Inferno XXVIII: 7-10)
  • The Punic Wars: a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 BC to 146 BC/ mentioned: (Inferno XXVIII: 10-15)

Alighieri implements allusions in order to create intertextuality and establish a more specific contrapasso for the sinners within Canto XXVIII. Ultimately, the allusions that are used to describe that the sins and punishments of Circle 8 complement each other. Considering the sinners tore apart what God created during their lifetimes, their afterlife will tear them apart in return.

Anomalities/ Abnormalities/ Shifts

At the beginning of this Canto, Alighieri actually warns that the following punishments will be gory, bloody, and grotesque. In previous cantos, Alighieri has not prefaced any of the punishments that the reader will come across. He states "Who could describe, even in words set free/ of metric and rhyme and a thousand times retold,/ the blood and wounds that now were shown to me!" (Inferno XXVIII: 1-3)

Literary Devices
  • Imagery: "I saw it there; I seem to see it still-/ a body without a head, that moved along/ like all the others in that spew and spill" (Inferno XXVIII: 118-120)
  • Synesthesia: "At grief so deep the tongue must wag in vain;/ the language of our sense and memory/ lacks the vocabulary of such pain" (Inferno XXVIII: 4-7)
  • Simile: "It held the severed head by its own hair,/ swinging it like a lantern in its hand" (Inferno XXVIII. 121-122)
Modern Day Application

Sins within this canto may pertain to modern day issues as well. Considering this canto discusses how people tear apart what has been created by God, this is still a prevalent issue within the modern world. In terms of destruction, people destroy the environment with pollution and deforestation. While this is not necessarily killing people, it is killing living organisms, which is still a destruction of what God created.

People also are incredibly violent. The pressing issue of gun rights and violence tears people apart over an issue that really should not be as much of a problem. When discussing violence, there are wars. While God believes all should live in harmony, people go against that when creating opposing groups in all spectrums. We are not united politically or as a people, often believing race or religion should separate us.

Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante, and Charles S. Singleton. Inferno. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1970. Print.

"The Divine Comedy: Inferno - CANTO 28." The Divine Comedy: Inferno - CANTO 28. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

"Inferno Illustrations by Gustave Dore." Inferno Illustrations by Gustave Dore. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

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