Circle Six: The Heretics
- At the Gate of Dis, Virgil and Dante are apprehensive about the future. To add to this fear, “all at once three hellish and inhuman Furies sprang to view, bloodstained and wild. Their limbs and gestures hinted they were women. Belts of greenest hydras wound and wound about their waists, and snakes and horned serpents grew from their heads like matted hair and bound their horrid brows” (IX. 32-40).
- The imagery describes the Furies as unkempt and chaotic, and represents the current feelings of uncertainty and fear expressed by the two poets at this time.
Circle 6 (continued)
- The Three Furies try to summon Medusa
- At the mention of this threat, Virgil told Dante to cover his eyes but also helped “ [hold his] eyes shut” with his own hands to completely ensure Dante's safety above his own (IX. 57).
- Virgil and Dante's relationship is transformed by Virgil's protectiveness of Dante like a father figure
The Heavenly Messenger saves Dante and Virgil and opens the Gate of Dis
- The Heavenly Messenger scorns Furies, asking why they “set [themselves] against that Throne whose Will none can deny,” referring to God (IX.91-92).
- This is how Dante (the author) proves that man always needs divine help
Dante and Virgil find a land full of burning tombs in which all of the Heretics are held
- Since heresy results in death of the soul, heretics suffer a “second death”, stuck in a tomb for eternity
- The poets encounter Farinata Degli Uberti, a great war chief in one of the tombs
- Farinata calls out to Dante and asked him to pause because he recognized Dante’s Tuscan accent from Florence, of which Farinata “vexed too much in [his] time on earth,” alluding to the fact that he was a Ghibelline while living (X.27).
- Shows opposing party as sinners
- Makes the Ghibellines' actions seem futile and wasted
- In the same tomb they find Cavalcante Dei Cavalcanti, father of another poet at the time
- Dante and Virgil find a great jumble of rocks under which lies the 7th circle
Circle 7 (Round 1): Violent Against Neighbors
- The poets descend to the fallen rock wall
- Encounter the Minotaur
- Virgil tricks the Minotaur to get past by enraging him
Virgil notices confusion in Dante towards the events that took place in Hell's past, specifically Jesus's decent into Hell.
- Virgil explained how “[he] thought the universe felt love and all its elements moved toward harmony, whereby the world of matter, as some believe, has often plunged into chaos” (XII. 40-43).
- An interesting quality is revealed in Dante's vision of Christianity, how Heavenly beings could always bring feelings of love and hope no matter the circumstances
They find a river of boiling blood to punish blood thirsty tyrants
- Centaurs, lead by the chief Chiron, keep the sinners in the boiling river
- As Dante and Virgil travel through Circle Seven, reserved for those who were violent against others, they witness "a group of spirits steeped as far as the throat in the race of boiling blood" (XII.116-117)
- The punishment for being bloodthirsty is to literally be submerged in a current of boiling blood.
- Dante and Virgil see Alexander the Great in the deepest end as Nessus carries them across...
...And their journey continues...