Circle 8, pouches 7–10: Fraud

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 8, pouches 7–10: Fraud

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This chapter presents a brief plot summary for pouches seven to ten of the eighth 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. After climbing out of the pit of the hypocrites, Dante and Virgil observe the punishment of fraudulent souls in the remaining four ditches of circle eight. In the seventh ditch Dante sees Vanni Fucci, who is reduced to ashes by a snakebite and then just as quickly regains his human appearance, and other thieves, who undergo transformations between human and reptilian forms. In the next ditch, enveloped in tonguelike flames, are authors of devious stratagems, particularly those involving persuasive speech. Here the Greek hero Ulysses, paired with his sidekick Diomedes, recounts his fatal final voyage, and Guido da Montefeltro, an Italian warlord, tells how he was damned for providing Pope Boniface VIII with fraudulent counsel. In the ninth ditch Dante encounters sowers of discord whose shade-bodies are divided by a sword-wielding devil. The arresting figure of Betran de Born, a poet whose severed head continues to speak, exemplifies the law of contrapasso, the correspondence between sin and punishment. Falsifiers—alchemists, counterfeiters, impersonators, and liars—are afflicted with various diseases in the tenth and final ditch of circle eight. Virgil scolds Dante for observing a quarrel between Master Adam (a counterfeiter) and Sinon, the Greek whose lie led to the destruction of Troy.

Keywords: Dante Alighieri; Virgil; Vanni Fucci; Ulysses; Diomedes; Guido da Montefeltro; Betran de Born

Chapter.  7637 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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