Inferno Canto VII

Inferno canto 7

Then he turned to that bloated face
and said: ‘Silence, accursèd wolf!
Let your fury feed itself inside you.

vv. 7-9

The Fourth Circle: the Avaricious and the Prodigal. – Pluto. – Fortune. – The Styx. – The Fifth Circle: the Wrathful and the Sullen.

The demon Plutus frightened Dante with his grating cry: “Pape Satan, pape Satan aleppe!” However Virgil told the demon to be silent since Dante’s journey was willed from on high, and they were able to descend into the fourth circle. The spirits there danced an infernal round while endlessly pushing around great weights. Divided into two groups, one shouted “Why do you hoard?” and the other, “Who do you squander?” Dante pitied them, and noticed that many of them appeared to be tonsured clerics. Virgil told him that these were people who had “spent without measure.” Half of them had been miserly and the others had squandered their wealth. Many of the misers were indeed “clergymen, and popes and cardinals, within whom avarice works its excess.” Dante thought he might be able to recognize some, but Virgil said that they were unrecognizable, and that this sight should teach him not to put too much importance in money, since Fortune controlled it. Fortune, he said, was a servant of God, whose occupation was to shift worldly wealth from one people to another. Although she was much maligned by men, she was a blessed being. Dante and Virgil came to another infernal river, the Styx; this one was muddy and swamp-like. It marked the boundary of the fifth circle. In it, furious naked spirits fought against one another. These were the wrathful. Other spirits, underwater, were stuck in the slime: these were the slothful and the sullen, who had not appreciated the sweet air of the sunlit world. They gurgled their lament, which came to the surface as bubbles. Finally Dante and Virgil came to the base of a tower.

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