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Canto XVIII Notes from The Inferno

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The Inferno Canto XVIII

The eighth circle, lies at the bottom of the poets' descent. It is made of iron-like stone and divided into ten rounds, each constructed like a fortified trench of a fortress. Footpaths and bridges cross the tops of these ramparts like the spokes of a wheel. They lead to another deeper well at the center of the Circle. Virgil, turning to the left, leads Dante down one of these paths. Horned demons lash the naked souls marching in the first ring. Dante compares the pattern of their marching to the ritual march performed at the Catholic Church's Jubilee celebration. Dante recognizes one soul, Venedico Caccianimico, who confesses to aiding a marquis in seducing his sister, Ghisola. This sin classes him as a panderer or "pimp." He says there are many greedy men from Bologna, his city, who suffer with him for like sins. As they cross one of the bridges that connect the ring ramparts, Virgil points out one soul of regal aspect. He is the mythological adventurer Jason and is punished here for seducing Hypsipyle, the daughter of the King of Lemnos, and leaving her pregnant. They continue over to the next chasm, which is encrusted with filth and filled with vile vapors. The souls within this ring gasp and beat themselves. They are covered in something like human excrement. Dante recognizes one soul, Alessio Interminei of Lucca, who suffers here for the sin of flattery and Virgil points out another soul, a former harlot, Thais, who exaggerated her compliments to her lovers.

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