Inferno Canto III

Caronte il traghettatore

And now, coming toward us in a boat,
an old man, his hair white with age, cried out:
‘Woe unto you, you wicked souls!

vv. 82-84

The gate of Hell. Virgil leads Dante in.- The punishment of the neither good nor bad. – Acheron, and the sinners on its bank. – Charon. – Earthquake. – Dante swoons.

Hell is accessible through a big gate bearing a terrifying inscription: “All hope abandon, ye who enter in”. The inscription also says this eternal place was created by Divine Justice to punish the sinners. Virgil bids Dante to be brave and not to hesitate. A loud noise of moans, screams, swearing and desperation strikes Dante, who asks Virgil who these people are. They are the uncommitted who, together with the angels who remained neutral, are rejected by both Paradise and Hell. Therefore, they reside in the Ante-Inferno, envying the other damned souls.

Naked and forever running behind a banner, they are eternally stung by hornets and wasps. Their blood and tears feed disgusting worms. Among the horde, not entirely new to him, Dante recognises the one “who made, through cowardice, the great refusal” – he is probably referring to Pope Celestine V. Looking past it, Dante spots another crowd of damned souls: they are the sinners waiting to be ferried across the Acheron and get to the place they will be sentenced to undergo eternal punishment at. When Charon, a loathsome old man, sees Dante is still alive, he shouts to him to get away. Virgil succeeds in talking him round. The boat leaves and a new group of condemned souls gather on the shore. A big earthquake and a blinding lightning scare Dante, who passes out and falls.

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

Canto adopted by Maurizio Brasini

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