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

When the Greek spirit finishes his recitation, Virgil dismisses
the shades. Another tall flame approaches making a strange
sound. As the sounds are transmitted up the flame, they
become intelligible to the poets. This flame contains the soul
of Guido da Montefeltro of Romagna. Dante gives him a
summary of recent happenings, none of which is good news to
the shade. It is again noticeable here that, although all the
shades seem to be able to foresee the future and are aware of
things in the distant past, the present and the recent past are
denied them. This might be one of the ways that Dante creates
an "eternal present" as his concept of eternity. After the shade
has heard the news, he tells Dante his own story.



NOTE: Guido was an influential and intelligent Ghibelline
soldier who had resigned to become a Franciscan monk and
save his soul. At the Pope's insistence, he got involved in a
dispute between the reigning Pope, Boniface VIII, and another
powerful family who had retreated to a large castle. Guido
negotiated and persuaded the family to leave the castle to
accept a fair treaty being offered by the Pope. They did. The
Pope promptly destroyed the castle.

It seems unfair that Guido should suffer, and he does tell
Dante that St. Francis came to rescue his soul when he died,
but St. Francis was stopped by one of the Black Angels.
Though the Pope had absolved Guido beforehand, Guido
never repented after his deed. The Black Angel tells St.
Francis that absolution is not valid when the sinner is
intending to commit the sin. And so Minos gave Guido eight
coils of his tail and here he is.

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