Roberta Writes – Divine Comedy, Inferno: Canto 7

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Plutus, referred to as the “God of Wealth”, formerly worshipped y the Greeks and Romans, tries to stop the poets from entering the fourth circle, but Dante chastises him and Plutus collapses, falling to the ground.

Circle 4 is the circle for Wasters and Hoarders who spend the afterlife rolling enormous weights at one other, using only their chests. The two sectors of souls shout at each other: :”Why do you hoard?” shout the Wasters and “Why do you waste?” shout the Hoarders. After each clash, the souls hurry their weights back again, and then repeat their same actions while continuing to scream at each other.

Virgil hustles Dante on and they cross to another bank and discover a fountain which flows down though a crack in the rock. At the bottom of the stream the pair discover a marsh called Styx where souls are immersed in the mud, striking out at each other with their hands, feet and head and also biting each other. These are souls who have been destroyed by anger and sullenness. They now spend their lives in the mud, choking on it as they did on their own malevolent hatred during their lives, as a punishment for wasting the sunlight and wallowing in ‘mud’ when they were alive.

Canto VII, pl. 21 from L'Inferno di Dante (Dante's Inferno) - Bartolomeo  Pinelli | FAMSF Search the Collections
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An extract from Canto 7:

“Said the good Teacher: “Son, thou seest now

the souls of those whom anger overcame;

nay, more, I ’d have thee certainly believe

that ’neath the water there are folk who sigh,

and make this water bubble at its surface,

as, wheresoe’er it turn, thine eye reveals.

Stuck in the slime, they say: “Sullen we were

in the sweet air that ’s gladdened by the sun,

bearing within us fumes of surliness;

we now are sullen in the swamp’s black mire.””

28 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Divine Comedy, Inferno: Canto 7

  1. Uh, okay, so I’ve got politics on my mind lately, but it really struck me how Dante could have been describing many politicians. We even call Washington DC “the swamp.” It probably started because the city was literally built on a swamp, but the meaning has become more metaphorical over time.

    I’m afraid I never quite had the drive to stick with Dante for more than a few stanzas–I always lost patience and looked up a summary of the content instead. I’m extremely impressed that you’re doing a thorough study of him. You go! : )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Cathleen, thank you for visiting. I am not very political although I am aware of what is going on both locally and abroad. I was surprised at how political Divine Comedy is. I picked it up while I was reading and then I researched it and Florentine politics was a big theme of this book. I am enjoying it very much, especially with this slow and unpressured reading approach.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I grew up around people who fixed and re-used things. I didn’t even know any folks who wasted or hoarded. I know lots of wasters and hoarders now. Interesting that long ago Dante foresaw the future of this era better than I did.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Priscilla, I think it all depends on how much money people and families have. My mother was a war time baby so her whole family are frugal menders and repairers. I also grew up with this attitude to life and have passed some of it on to my boys. They have grown up in an affluent home so they aren’t marvelous about not wasting, but they aren’t spoiled and are much better than most of their peer group.

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  3. I’m loving the comments regarding this section. (Well, this whole series, but particularly this passage.) The DC/swamp reference and Dante’s foretelling of wasters and hoarders really stands out. (Cathleen’s and Priscilla’s comments, respectively.)

    Great series, Robbie. And thought-provoking discussion. I wish we were all on a Zoom call!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Staci, wouldn’t a Zoom call discussion be great. I agree that the comments are very stimulating and thought provoking for this book. I am pleased people are interested in this series, I wasn’t sure if they would be. Divine Comedy is a very old book.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. These posts and your thoughts have all been so interesting, Robbie, and like others have said, the images are frightening, but Dante was brilliant. Not to mention, it’s clear that letting go of anger would be the best option. 🙂


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