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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes
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CANTO XXIII

The poets do well to fear that they will be chased by the
demons so bent on anger. Dante barely has mentioned this
apprehension when they see two demons coming after them.
Virgil scoops Dante up like a baby to his breast, and they flee
down the upper bank of bowge vi. When Virgil sets Dante
down on the bottom of this circle, Dante can see the pursuing
demons on the cliffs overhead.

When Dante finally feels safe enough to turn his attention to
this new bowge, he sees sinners decked with paint and
walking in slow, slow steps. Each of these sinners, the
Hypocrites, wears a long hooded cloak that hides his identity.
The cloaks hide the sinners just as they sought to hide their
true intentions or feelings beneath a bright facade on earth.
Dante begs Virgil to look for a recognizable sinner so he can
question him about the robes. Hearing the voice, a shade far in
back of the crowd tells Dante to slow down so he can catch up
and speak to him. Dante waits and is approached by two jovial
Friars, Catalano and Loderingo, who explain that the cloaks
are lined with lead so heavy that they are very difficult to
carry and balance.



The conversation is cut short when Dante sees one shade
crucified on the ground with three stakes forced through him.
The Friars explain that this is Caiaphas, the high priest of the
Jews, who counseled the Pharisees that Jesus should be
sacrificed as a public expediency. For this, he is crucified
where all the Hypocrites with their leaden cloaks must walk
over him, thus forcing him, as chief hypocrite, to bear the
weight of the hypocrisy of the world.

Dante and Virgil find they have been given bad directions by
the demons. The Friars tell them that the bridge is down but
that they could scale the rocks to the spur ahead, and from
there continue with the journey. Virgil leaves in a huff; Dante
follows.

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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes
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