Circle 5: Wrath & Sullenness

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:
Circle 5: Wrath & Sullenness

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This chapter presents a brief plot summary for the fifth circle 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. Dante sees wrathful souls battering and biting one another in the swampy waters of the Styx, the fifth circle of Hell, and he learns that the bubbles on the surface are caused by sullen spirits stuck in the muddy bottom of the marsh. The travelers cross the Styx in a swift vessel piloted by Phlegyas. When Filippo Argenti, an arrogant Florentine whom Dante knows and detests, rises up and threatens to grab the boat, Virgil shoves him back into the water where he is soon slaughtered by his wrathful cohorts, much to Dante's delight. The resentful boatman deposits Dante and Virgil at the entrance to Dis, the fortressed city of Lower Hell. Over a thousand fallen angels who guard the entrance refuse entry to the travelers, slamming the gate in Virgil's face. Bloodcurdling Furies then appear above the walls and call on Medusa to come and turn Dante to stone. However, a messenger from Heaven arrives to squelch the resistance and open the gate, thus allowing Dante and Virgil to visit the circles of Lower Hell.

Keywords: Dante Alighieri; souls; Styx; Phlegyas; Filippo Argenti; Dis; Furies; Lower Hell

Chapter.  2452 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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