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Dante

  • Date Submitted: 02/23/2012 06:45 AM
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The Inferno Canto V
      (From the Divine Comedy)

Circle two
The poets leave Limbo and enter the Second Circle. Here begin the torments of Hell proper, and here, blocking the way, sits Minos, the dreaded and semibestial judge of the damned who assigns to each soul its eternal torment. He orders the Poets back; but Virgil silences him as he earlier silenced Charon, and the Poets move on.
They find themselves on a dark ledge swept by a great whirlwind, which spins within it the souls of the Carnal, those who betrayed reason to their appetites. Their sin was to abandon themselves to the tempest of their passions; so they were swept forever in the tempest of Hell, forever denied the light of reason and of God. Virgil identifies many among them. Semiramis is there, and Dido, Cleopatra, Helen, Achilles, Paris, and Tristan. Dante sees Paolo and Francesca swept together, and in the name of love he calls to them to tell their sad story. They pause from their eternal flight to come to him, and Francesca tells their history while Paolo weeps at her side. Dante is stricken by compassion at their tragic tale that he swoons once again.

So we went down to the second ledge alone; a smaller circle of so much greater pain; the voice of the damned rose in a bestial moan.

There Minos sits, grinning grotesque and hale. He examines each lost soul as it arrives and delivers his verdict with his coiling tale.

That is to say, when the ill-fated soul appears before him, it confesses all, and that grim sorter of the dark and foul

Decides which place in Hell shall be its end, then wrap his twitching tail about himself, one coil for each degree it must descend.

The soul descends and others take its place: each crowds in its turn to judgment, each confesses, each hears its doom and falls away through space.

“O you who come into this camp of woe,” cried Minos when he saw me turn away awaiting his judgment, “watch where you go.”

once you have entered here, and whom...

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