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

Just as Capocchio finishes telling Dante his story, two horrible
spirits come racing through the bowge and grab Capocchio.
One sinks his teeth into Capocchio's neck and they drag him
away. Griffilino explains that these shades are Myrrha and
Gianni Schicchi.

NOTE: Myrrha was a woman who disguised herself and
slipped into her father's bed. When he discovered the trick, he
threatened to kill her. Instead, she fled and turned herself into
a myrtle tree, from which Adonis was later born. Gianni
Schicchi pretended to be a recently dead man in order to
dictate a new will for that man, which would be favorable to a
friend and himself. These sinners are the Imposters, the
Falsifiers of Person.



When the pair of sinners departs, Dante sees another sinner
who lies distorted, bloated, and parched. The sinner asks
Dante why he walks free of punishment. This is Master Adam
who reportedly counterfeited so many gold coins that he
jeopardized the currency of Tuscany. For this he was burned;
here he continues to burn with an eternal thirst that prevents
him from thinking of anything else, except the revenge he
would impart on his fellow sinners.

Dante asks Master Adam about another pair of sinners who
appear to be rolled together and strangely immobile. Master
Adam tells Dante that they haven't moved since he arrived and
identifies one as Sinon of Troy, the Greek spy who persuaded
the Trojans to open the gates to the Trojan Horse. Just then,
Sinon rises and belts Master Adam so hard on the belly that it
sounds like a drum. Master Adam responds with an arm
square across the face of Sinon. The two argue back and forth
so furiously that Dante becomes grossly intent on the
argument. Virgil rebukes Dante, telling him that if he keeps
watching, he will risk an argument with Virgil. Dante is
terribly ashamed, speechless. Virgil gently accepts Dante's
unspoken apology, telling Dante that to enjoy such a sight is
vulgar.

Although Dante's quest is to order his experience and to
understand why each sin is punished the way it is and where it
is, enjoying the punishment is not part of the job. Dante has to
learn to be repulsed by sin and to understand that each sight he
sees is the image of a soul so frozen in sin that he has forgone
change, Heaven, and God. Virgil rebukes Dante for
concentrating on the grotesqueness of the individual and not
seeing him in terms of the essential rightness of God's Divine
Order.

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