Inferno Canto XXX

Inferno 30

And the Aretine, who stood there, trembling,
said to me: ‘That demon’s Gianni Schicchi,
and in his rabid rage he mauls the others.’

vv. 31-33

Eighth Circle: tenth pit: Falsifiers of all sorts.— Myrrha.—Gianni Schicchi.—Master Adam.—Sinon of Troy.

The madness that Dante saw next surpassed the great examples of antiquity: Athamas was driven insane by Juno so that he slaughtered his wife and children thinking they were lions, and Hecuba, the queen of Troy, went mad with grief after the city fell and she found the bodies of her children Polyxena and Polydorus. Two mad shades came running up; one bit Capocchio in the neck. The alchemist from Arezzo was afraid, and said that that was Gianni Schicchi, and that the other mad shade was Myrrha, who had changed shape to trick her father into having sex with her. Gianni Schicci had faked a death and pretended to be someone else for selfish reasons.

Dante looked around and saw some deformed shades: one had a dropsy which made him look like a lute. He said he was Master Adam and that he was tormented by thirst for his crime of counterfeiting. Adam wanted to revenge himself on Guido, Alessandro, and their brother, because they had incited him to make false coin.

Two sinners who lay prone on the ground and gave off steam were being punished for lying; they were Sinon the Greek and the woman who blamed Joseph. Sinon struck Adam, he retaliated, and a quarrel began over whose sin had been worse. Virgil told Dante to stop listening to their curses, and Dante was very much ashamed of his vulgar curiosity. Virgil forgave him, but said that it was base to listen to such things.

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