Inferno Canto I

Dante nella selva oscura

Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.

vv. 1-3

Dante, astray in a wood, reaches the foot of a hill which he begins to ascend; he is hindered by three beasts; he turns back and is met by Virgil, who proposes to guide him into the eternal world.

Halfway through his life – 35 years old, Dante finds himself lost in a dark and tangled wood, and he cannot find the straight path. He says that the mere thought of this place makes him afraid. After a long walk, the Poet reaches the foot of a hill. The sun shining on the hilltop cheers him up.  Being tired, he rests for a moment then he starts climbing the hill. As he goes up he encounters three beasts that stop him from going further: a leopard, a lion and a she-wolf.

Dante thinks of going back into the wood, but the sweet hour of dawn stops him. The animals, though, make him hopeless in his plight, so he backs off to the dark wood. At that very moment, a shadowy figure appears. Terrified, Dante shouts to him – whether it be man or spirit – to have mercy on him and not to hurt him. The figure tells him he is a soul.

He says he was born under Julius Caesar and he lived under the reign of Augustus. He also adds he used to be a poet. It’s Virgil. Dante asks him for help to get away from the beasts blocking his path. Virgil suggests that he take another way and he says he’ll be his guide through Hell and its horrible sights. If, after being to Hell and Purgatory, Dante wants to go to Paradise, someone else must accompany him because he is not allowed to enter. Virgil sets forth and Dante follows him.

Zona dantesca

The path “Walking Ravenna with the Divine Comedy” starts from the Dante Zone, an area of silence, meditation and respect for the sacredness of the Poet’s last shelter. This area, which has been preserving the Poet’s memory for centuries – Dante Museum is located here too – is the best starting point for a journey of discovery of the city that hosted him during his last years and which is still devoted to his Person, his thoughts and the ethical sublimation of his work. Enjoy your journey.

Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna

Museo Dante

Canto adopted by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna

For further information on Museo Dante

View Dante’s itinerary on the map

Available Resources

Reading of the Canto