The Poet’s Wrath

 

Illustrazioni sulla Divina commedia di Dante [in 4 portfolios]
https://library.artstor.org/#/asset/SS33624_33624_33393782;prevRouteTS=1549948920011

In Canto 8 we experience a new Dante that we have not seen in the previous canto. In the fifth circle of Hell Dante and Virgil are crossing the Styx on a boat when they meet someone that Dante recognizes, this person is Filippo Argenti who is Dante’s nemesis in real life. Here we can see Dante the poet heavily intrudes into the story basically supplanting himself as Dante the character. The once sympathetic character who fainted out of pity from listening to a bitter love story is now replaced by a person who wishes to see someone suffer further punishment “Master, much would i desire to see him ducked in this broth before we leave the lake” (52-54). It goes even further to the point where Filippo Argenti is being torn to shreds but Dante is not shocked or disgusted by it, instead he revels in it and praises God for this event. Everything in the canto is against him Dante, Virgil, even the other sinners, here we can see the ruthlessness of Dante the poet providing a sharp juxtaposition between the two Dantes. On one hand we have a Dante that weeps with excessive pity to the poor souls that are damned, on the other we have a Dante that put these souls in hell and condemned them believing that they deserved to be placed there for their sins that they have committed. Dante the poet seeming to give into his wrath and write about the condemnation of his real life enemy to suffer in Hell for the sin of wrath gives this canto a bit of morbid irony. 

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