Inferno Canto XXXIV

Inferno 34

we climbed up, he first and I behind him,
far enough to see, through a round opening,
a few of those fair things the heavens bear.
Then we came forth, to see again the stars.

vv. 136-139

Ninth Circle: Traitors. Fourth ring: Judecca.— Lucifer.— Judas, Brutus and Cassius.— Centre of the universe.— Passage from Hell.—Ascent to the surface of the Southern hemisphere.—

In the Cocytus, Dante and Virgil enter Judecca, the fourth Ring of the Ninth Circle, where they see the traitors to their benefactors. None of the sinners speaks, none is identified. Encased in ice, they can hardly be seen stuck in different positions: supine, erect, upside down, bent. An enormous profile takes shape in the mist, similar to a mill with sails spinning in the wind. It’s the giant figure of Lucifer, trapped chest-deep in the icy lake.

Lucifer has three faces, the front one is red, the left one is black and the right one is yellow. The three mouths chew ceaselessly three sinners – Judas, Brutus and Cassius – who betrayed the two supreme authorities, the spiritual and the temporal one. To increase his pain, Judas is continuously flayed by the monster’s claws. Flapping his bat-like wings, Lucifer creates the wind that freezes the Cocytus. However, by now the two poets have seen the whole of Hell and it’s time to go. Dante clings to Virgil who rappels down, gripping Lucifer’s tufts of hair, through the space between Satan’s body and the ice imprisoning him.

After reaching the centre of the body, which corresponds to the centre of the Earth, Virgil turns upside down and they go through a narrow tunnel. Dante asks him why Lucifer now looks upside down and why it’s already morning. Virgil says that they have passed the mid-point of the Earth and they’re in the Southern Hemisphere – morning here corresponds to evening there. Virgil explains that when Lucifer fell from Heaven, the lands of the Southern Hemisphere recoiled in horror to the North, thus forming both the void of the infernal chasm here and the Mountain of Purgatory in the South. They finally emerge to see the starts again.

Planetario di Ravenna

The dome of the Planetarium of Ravenna is 8 meters in diameter. Over 3.000 stars of the two hemispheres can be observed through it. This is the greatest and most scientific possibility in the city to “see the Stars”.  It is therefore appropriate to relate the last lines of Dante’s Inferno to this important installation.

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

Canto adopted by CNA Ravenna

For further information on Planetarium of Ravenna

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