Inferno Canto X

Inferno 10

When I stood at the foot of his tomb
he looked at me a moment. Then he asked,
almost in disdain: ‘Who were your ancestors?’

vv. 40-42

The Sixth Circle: Heresiarchs. – Farinata degli Uberti. – Cavalcante Cavalcanti. – Frederick II.

Dante asked Virgil if the people in the sepulchers could be seen, since the lids were opened. Virgil answered that the lids would be closed eternally afterJudgement, and that these were the followers of Epicurus, and all those who did not believe in the immortality of the soul. Dante was frightened to here a voice from one of the sepulchers, asking to speak to him since he was a Florentine. Virgil told Dante not to be afraid, and that he would see the speaker, Farinata, sit up from his grave, which he did. Farinata asked Dante about his ancestry, and, when told, remarked that they had been enemies of his party and that he had scattered them twice. Dante replied that, though scattered, they had managed to return to Florence – as Farinata’s people did not.

Just then they were interrupted by another shade who drew himself up and wept to see that his son was not with Dante ­ he thought that “high intellect” permitted the voyage. Dante told him that his son Guido was not with him because divine will rather than intellect was the cause of his presence, and that Guido did disdain the one he was being led to. At these words the shade was struck by horror, saying: “What’s that: He did disdain’? He is not still alive? The sweet light does not strike against his eyes?” Dante hesitated to answer and the shade fell back and disappeared.

Farinata continued to speak, and warned Dante that before the face of the Lady who ruled Hell was kindled fifty times, Dante too would learn how hard it was to return. He asked Dante why Florentines were being so cruel to his people, and Dante replied that a certain carnage made Florence hate them. Farinata admitted his participation in the carnage, but reminded Dante that once he had interceded to save Florence when others were ready to destroy the city.

Dante asked Farinata how much the inhabitants of Hell knew about events in the world. Farinata said that they were far-sighted: they could see the future but not the present. When time ended they would no longer see anything. Dante asked Farinata to tell the other shade that his son was still alive, and that he had only hesitated because he was wondering about how much he knew.

Virgil called Dante, who quickly asked Farinata who else was there; he answered more than a thousand, including the second Frederick and the Cardinal.

Continuing on their way, Virgil comforted Dante, who was worrying about Farinata’s warning, reminding him that Beatrice was waiting for him. They came to a stinking valley.

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Canto adopted by Nerio Gambi

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