Treachery and Inferno’s Cantos 32 – 33
In the Ninth Circle, Virgil and Dante were transported by the giant Antaeus and had a massive drop to Cocytus, a frozen lake as clear as glass. Dante accounts the Ninth Circle as the circle of treachery, a sin defined in Inferno 11 as fraudulent acts between individuals who share special bonds of love and trust (61-6). The circle is divided into four regions. Caina is named after the bible character Cain, the first child of Adam and Eve that slew his brother out of envy.
In the first region, Dante focused on the two brothers Napoleone and Alessandro who murdered one another because of a dispute over their inheritance (Inferno 32. 55-60). Antenora is the second region named for the Trojan prince Antenor, a “treacherous Judas” who plots with the Greeks to destroy the city of Troy. Antenora is the realm of the sinners who betrayed their political party or their homeland. It is where Count Ugolino della Gherardesca earned his place for a series of betrayals against Pisa and her political leadership.
The third region is Ptolomea, a place in hell where souls who betrayed friends or guests descend immediately while their living bodies remain on earth possessed by demons while committing the acts (Inferno 33. 121-6). The last and innermost region is Judecca, named after the apostle who betrayed Jesus, Judas Iscarriot. In this region, sinners who betrayed their masters or benefactors including those who committed crimes with great historical and societal consequences suffered.
The names of the four regions in the Ninth Circle suggests various meanings which reflects Dante’s large-scale commentary on the political situation of fourteenth-century Florence, from which he had recently been exiled. Here, Dante placed certain icons representing widespread treachery or factionalism among the people of his former home. Dante certainly feels no remorse for kicking a shade hard in the Bocca degli Abati, a political traitor (Inferno 32. 73-8). Bocca is one of the remaining members of the Ghibeline family that remained in Florence after other Ghibelines were banished in 1258 for their role in a foiled plot.
Pretending to fight on the side of the Guelphs, he betrayed his countrymen at a decisive moment in the battle. There can no more horrifying scene in the entire Inferno than Count Ugolino gnawing the head of Archbishop Ruggieri from behind (Inferno 32. 124-32; 33. 76-8). Ugolino’s character depicts eternal cannibalism in hell. Ruggieri, a traitor himself had imprisoned Ugolino and his sons. He denied them food, and when the sons died, Ugolino was driven to eat the flesh of their corpses.
Instead of attempting to exonerate himself from his sins, Ugolino wishes to defame his enemy and elicit compassion from Dante by recounting the brutal manner in which he and his children were killed. Ugolino’s acts reflected not only his selfish motives but also defying self-righteousness. Dante recounted reputed acts of Ugolino that eventually leaded to his downfall but aside from those pretenses there are more shifting allegiances and betrayals in the long political life of Count Ugolino which involved him and Ruggieri.
Ptolomea is the region where those who betrayed their guests are punished of lying on their backs in the frozen lake for eternity, their tears producing blocks of ice over their eyes. The depiction of Fra Alberigo and Branca d’Oria in Hell despite being still alive represents eternal damnation of those who commits corruption. In Cantos XXXII – XXXIII, Dante exploited treachery as one of the unjustifiable sins. He further asserts that while some of those who commit fraudulent acts are members of the church, this does not make them indispensable for God’s punishment.
Dante’s use of Cocytus (32-4) as the destination for those who committed treachery is symbolical. He classified treachery as second of the gravest sins, being the sin committed by Judas Iscarriot against Jesus Christ and to the humanity. Cocytus comes from the Greek word “to lament. ” In the Latin Bible, Cocytus designates the valley of death that receives the wicked, this is probably Dante’s reason of placing the treacherous sinners in the Ninth Circle – a place of endless suffering and retribution.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com