Inferno Canto XXII

Inferno 22

But the other was indeed a full-fledged hawk,
fierce with his talons, and the pair of them
went tumbling down into the scalding pond

vv. 139-141

Eighth Circle: fifth pit: Barrators. – Ciampolo of Navarre. – Brother Gomita. – Michael Zanche. – Fray of the Malebranche.

The canto opens with Dante’s meditation on the rareness of the bugle by which the devils marched. As they went along Dante noted that the sinners stayed out of the pitch as much as they dared (like dolphins showing their backs out of water or frogs by the side of a pond) but dived back in when they saw the demons coming. One was too slow, however, and Graffiacane pulled him up by his hair; the demons wanted to tear him to pieces. Dante asked Virgil to find out who he was, and accordingly Virgil asked him. He answered that he was from Navarre and had taken graft in the household of King Thibault. He said there was an Italian under the pitch close by, a Fra Gomito of Gallura who was a sovereign swindler, also another Sardinian, Don Michele Zanche. Then the demons could hardly be held off any longer. The Navarrese said that if they would stand back, he would whistle and by that signal other Italians would come close. The devils reluctantly agreed, and the Navarrese craftily dove back in the pitch. Calcabrina and Alichino, fighting over whose fault the escape was, fell into the pitch themselves, and Dante and Virgil left during the confusion.

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