Periphery of Hell: Cowardice

Guy P. Raffa

in Danteworlds

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226702674
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226702780 | DOI:
Periphery of Hell: Cowardice

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This chapter presents a brief plot summary for the periphery of hell, followed by explanations of “encounters” and “allusions”, significant verses (in Italian and English), and study questions to aid in comprehension and facilitate discussion of the poem. After passing through the gate of Hell, marked with the ominous words “Leave behind all hope, you who enter,” Dante and Virgil observe the many shades of those who lived such undistinguished lives they are refused entry to either Heaven or Hell. Racing after a banner that never comes to a stop, these cowardly souls are repeatedly stung by flies and wasps, their blood and tears becoming food for the worms at their feet. The travelers approach the shores of Acheron, where wretched souls of the damned gather to cross the river aboard a boat piloted by Charon. The quick-tempered ferryman denies passage to Dante, who, shaken by an earthquake, loses consciousness and collapses.

Keywords: Dante Alighieri; Divine Comedy; hell; Virgil; Charon; Acheron

Chapter.  1251 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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