Canto XXIII Notes from The Inferno

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The Inferno Canto XXIII

Dante is reminded of the fable of the frog and the mouse as he follows Virgil along the edge of the chasm. In this fable, a frog offers a mouse passage across a river and the mouse accepts. The frog ties the mouse to one of his legs and begins swimming across the river, but maliciously dives under mid route. Dante fears the fable relates too well to his own situation and suggests to Virgil that the enraged demons may follow them in order to take out their anger upon them. At that moment the demons appear in pursuit. Virgil clasps Dante to his breast, as if Dante were his endangered son, and slides down the cliff into the sixth chasm, which holds the hypocrites. They are surrounded by souls trudging along in hooded leaden cloaks that glitter on the exterior. Two of them approach the poets. They are Bolognese Friars, Catalano and Loderingo, belonging to the Guelf and Ghibbelline families respectively and chosen to take religious positions in Florence with idea that outsiders could soothe political tension in the city. Upon recognizing them, Dante begins to condemn them, but is stopped by the sight of another soul, pinned crucifix-style to the ground and being trampled by the others. Friar Catalano identifies him as the high priest Caiaphas who told the Jewish Pharisees that it was necessary to torture one man for the sake of the rest of the people. Virgil asks the friar if there is any way out of the chasm. He tells them they can ascend the ruins of a broken bridge nearby. Virgil realizes that the demons had misdirected them and becomes angry.

Topic Tracking: Human Reason 9

Topic Tracking: Politics 6

Topic Tracking: Literature/Mythology/Bible

Topic Tracking: Human Reason 10

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