Circle VII: The Violent Against Neighbors

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Summary:

Virgil and Dante descend the fallen rock wall and escape the Minotaur. Virgil tricks the Minotaur to get past it. They proceed to a river of boiling blood where the violent against their neighbors reside. Dante defines those who were violent against their neighbors as those who shed the blood of their fellow men. Hence, as they wallowed in the blood of others while they lived, they must flounder in boiling blood for eternity in Hell. Centaurs walk along the banks and shoot arrows at sinners who try to avoid their punishment by removing themselves from the blood. At first, the Poets are confronted by the Centaurs, but Virgil convinces Chiron[1] to allow them to pass through safely with the guidance of Nessus. Along their route the Poets recognize such sinners as Alexander the Great in the deepest part of the river. When the group reaches the shallowest part of the river, Nessus leads them across and then returns to his patrol.

Residents:

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Alexander the III of Macedonia (Alexander the Great)- king of Macedonia who led armies that killed lots of people.

Attila the Hun- Leader of the Huns, raped and plundered Gaul (and other areas of Western Europe and the Baltics).

Dionysius- Dante may intend this to be either one. They were both blood thirsty tyrants of Sicily.

Azzolino (or Ezzelino) - Ezzelino da Romano, Count of Onora (1194-1259). The cruelest of the Ghibelline tyrants. Frederick II appointed him his vicar in Padua in 1236. His slaughtering of many of the Paduans earned him his infamous reputation.

Opizzo da Esti - Marquis of Ferrara (1264-1293). Scholars are unsure of his life. Dante is quoted saying "These were the kings of bloodshed and despoilment./ Here they pay for their ferocity...the blonde,/ is Opizzo da Esti, who had his mortal light/ blown out by his own stepson" (Canto XII, Circle 7, Round 1).

Sextus- the younger son of Pompey the Great mentioned in Lucan.

Pyrrhus- Son of Achilles who was a bloodthirsty killer in the sacking of Troy.

Rinier da Corneto - highway man that lived during the time of Dante.

Rinier Pazzo- A highway man that lived during the time of Dante. He was excommunicated by Pope Clement IV in 1268.

The Centaurs - The Centaurs were half-men, half-horse creatures from mythology. They were particularly good hunters and commonly known for their devotion and violent nature. They symbolize the bestial-human, making them a good fit for torturers in this circle.

Signifcant Stuff:


The Broken Rocks of Hell - according the book of Mathew, an earthquake shook the earth at the moment of Christ's death. The rocks to which Dante alludes are broken because of this earthquake.

The river witnessed in this circle is Phlegethon, which continues through the next two rounds of Circle VII. It eventually flows over the Great Cliff and further down into Hell where it reaches Cocytus and Satan.

Souls in the River - The souls in the river must remain in the river of blood because of their thirst for blood in life.

Minotaur - The Minotaur is the bestial son of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, King of Crete. Pasiphae conceived the minotaur in a wooden cow after being fascinated with the concept of bestiality for some time. So Minos decided to keep him in a labyrinth. When Minos' son was killed by the Athenians, Minos mandated that the Athenians annually provide seven youths and seven maidens to be released into the labyrinth for the Minotaur's consumption. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus. Dante's choice of including the Minotaur is particularly effective, for it reflects a tradition of Virgil, who frequently alluded to the beast, and because the beast devoured human flesh, naturally making him a good protector for souls in this circle.

Dante's arrangement of punishments in Circle VII reflects the culuture of the author's era. The sins of those punished are considered worse as one progresses through Inferno, indicating that Dante believed those who were violent against themselves, God, nature, and art committed worse acts than those who murdered other humans.

For more information, please visit this link[2]

[3] References
  1. ^ If you Google Chiron, this link comes up as the 8th search suggestion. There is no reference to Chiron in the entire site. I guess Google finally screwed up.
  2. ^ Did you really think you can get information better than that which is on this page?
  3. ^ The textual refrences as well as general information are derived from John Ciardi's translation of The Inferno:
    Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno. Trans. John Ciardi. New York: New American Library, 2001.