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Inferno

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Inferno
Author Dante Alighieri
Country Italy
Language Italian Language
Genre(s) Epic Poem
Publisher
Released
Followed by Purgatorio

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by Dante Alighieri

The first division of Dante's Divina Commedia

Canto Summaries

Canto I

Dante finds himself lost in a dark wood, the path he was following lost. He does not remember how he lost his way. Above, he sees a great hill that seems to offer protection from the shadowed glen. The sun shines down from this hilltop, and Dante attempts to climb toward the light, but is blocked in his ascent by a leopard, a lion and a she-wolf, who force him to turn back in fear for his life. As he returns to the glen, defeated, the poet Virgil appears. Thrilled to meet the poet he admires most, Dante tells Virgil about the beasts that blocked his path. Virgil replies that the she-wolf kills all who approach her but that a magnificent hound will one day come to chase the her back to Hell, where she came from. He adds that the she-wolf’s presence means that a different path must be taken; he offers to serve as Dante’s guide, and tells him that the only way he can get back to the right path is to travel through Hell and Purgatory and finally reach Heaven. Dante accepts Virgil as his guide.

Canto II

Dante invokes the Muses and asks them to help him tell of his experiences. As Dante and Virgil approach the mouth of Hell, his mind turns to the journey ahead and again he feels a great sense of dread. He can recall only two men who have ever ventured into the afterlife and returned: the Apostle Paul, who visited the Third Circle of Heaven, and Aeneas, who travels through Hell in Virgil’s Aeneid. Dante considers himself less worthy than these two and fears that he may not survive his journey. Virgil rebukes Dante for his cowardice and then reassures him with the story of how he knew to find Dante and act as his guide. According to Virgil, a woman in Heaven took pity upon Dante when he was lost and came down to Hell (where Virgil lives) to ask Virgil to help him. This woman was Beatrice, Dante’s departed love, who is now counted among the blessed. She had learned of Dante’s plight from St. Lucia, also in Heaven, who in turn heard about the poor poet from an unnamed lady, most likely the Virgin Mary. Thus, a trio of holy women watches over Dante from above. Virgil says that Beatrice wept as she told him of Dante’s misery and that he found her pleas deeply moving. Dante feels comforted to hear that his beloved Beatrice has gone to Heaven and cares so much for him. He praises both her and Virgil for their help and then continues to follow Virgil toward Hell.

Canto III

Canto IV

Canto V

Canto VI

Canto VII

Canto VIII

Canto IX

Canto X

Canto XI

Canto XII

Canto XIII

Canto XIV

Canto XV

Canto XVI

Canto XVII

Canto XVIII

Canto XIX

Canto XX

Canto XXI

Canto XXII

Canto XXIII

Canto XXIV

Canto XXV

Canto XXVI

Canto XXVII

Canto XXVIII

Canto XXIX

Canto XXX

Canto XXXI

Canto XXXII

Canto XXXIII

Canto XXXIV