Meaning of Symbolism and Allegories in Dante’s Inferno of his Divine Comedy

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I am intensively using Italian websites to help students interested in the subject.

or La Divina Commedia

To understand the movement and what happens, we have to define some symbolic parameters, which are typical of the style used by Dante.

See before the Geography of Dante

and the structure


1rst. symbolic parameter: rhetorical language configuration, narrative and style

The style is what the Italians call comic, because of the use of vulgar language. What is written in Latin is to indicate relevance or importance of the passage in the narrative. Virgilio is called Doctor because he knows the information and because Master is superior to Dante, who is Agens, protagonist

2nd. symbolic parameter: Location and physical format

Structure of the Afterlife in the vision of Dante Alighieri.
Oltretomba” in Italian means the world of the dead according to various mythological or religious conceptions. There is no correct translation to English.




Increase the size of the figure until you can read and see that the first three things that Boticelli has put were: Acheron, Dark Forest and the Gates of Hell.

Hell is an inverted conical abyss open under Jerusalem, brought about by the fall of the rebellious angels of heaven (Lucifer). Lucifer was the brightest angel of the sky, but he did not want to submit himself to God, more resplendent than he, fell from the sky and became a demon. (Proud); Jerusalem was opened in two and then closed again not to be contaminated by the rebellious angels. The columns of Hercules mark the border to the west, and the River Ganges to the east. On the opposite side of hell, the mountain of purgatory was formed where the Garden of Eden is located on the last “floor”.

Take a look at the three maps above and inset one on the other and you will see the path that Dante walks along the poem, observing that he “goes down” when he enters in hell and “goes up” to the Mount of Purgatorio which is up to the sky, located on the opposite side of Earth, after crossing the Styx River in the water hemisphere, remember that the Earth is round.

 3rd. Symbolic parameter

Location, allegorical figures, symbols and meaning, for each Canto

Entrance Gate

Canto  1 (See the animation on Youtube)

Location: Dark Forest
Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Dark Forest = Sin
  • Dante = “Agens” Character and “Auctor” Author
  • Virgilio = Guide, Master and Author
  • Panther = Lust
  • Lion = Pride
  • She wolf = Cupidity, greed


Dante wakes up in a forest, symbolizing that he has lost his mind. Forests were the symbol of risk, because thieves and bandits hid there. “In the middle of the journey of our life” – indicates the period of about 35 years in the middle of life. Dante begins to make an inventory of what he had done. Dante must therefore go through all the evils of the world to find his salvation: this is the meaning of his journey. The poet does not know how he got into that forest and finds himself drowsy, being the nocturnal moment, which is in the middle of the night, which also means being without knowing where to go.

Dante is Agens (he is the protagonist), and Auctor or the one that counts and demonstrates the increase of the consciousness of  man. When Dante sees the sunlit hill, he sees it as a glow of salvation to get out of his sinful life.
Virgilio, his literary idol. appears to save Dante from beasts. The three animals are the representation of the Vices (Lust, Pride and Cupidity). Virgilio takes Dante under his protection and accompanies him to the Mount of Purgatory. His soul is lost in sin and he wants to return to light (Exit thr forest). Virgilio represents human reason; will accompany him to heaven, but once there not any more because upon arriving will be accompanied by Beatriz. Virigilio was considered in the Middle Ages a greater pagan poet, but Christianized. The Middle Ages interpret Virgil as a figure of divine message. He never spoke of “falsehood and liars” and it is a symbol of human perfection.
Dante hopes that he can now find support to get out of this condition.
He is Auctor and Agens and therefore he is the master, as the greatest poet, who has elaborated the qualities of the human soul (he expresses the potentialities of human reason). He is a moral guide and Auctor (conductor guide of how he acts), but he can not help him in heaven, because he is a pagan not baptized and can not enter there. Beatriz will accompany Dante, full of charity, faith and hope.

The morning light is the beginning of hope and the stars that arise (the astronomical concomitances) were the same visible situation when God began to create the world and was favorable to life. Thus, Dante recovered himself by raising his head, when the Lion (Superb) appeared. The most dangerous is the shewolf, represented lean and reduced to the skin and bones (Cupidity, or immense greed that is not satisfied), but Virgilio announces defeat of her by a veil full of virtues, coming from the Felt, that can be understood as born among humble cloths, or a poor man or a man who professes by some monastic order in poverty (Franciscan order) or born in Feltro, in the Veneto.
Dante has to leave another place, because the she wolf does not let anyone pass, and he kills her. (must change course) because his nature is insatiable and evil and is increasingly hungry (allegory of greed, possession).

The events are all pagan and legendary episodes, so there is a continuity between pagan and Christian history.

Second Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

Location: Hill slope
Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Virgil = Reason
  • Beatrice = Operant or sanctifying grace
  • Virgin Mary = Charity
  • Saint Lucia = Enlightening Grace
  • Rachel = Contemplative Life
  • Forest = Darkness, unknown, mystery, fear, formation of Man
  • Hill = Way to God, hope, fear


“I am not like victorious Aeneas or like St. Paul” (Dante’s humility) says Dante. Paul spoke of a mystical ecstasy that led him to God (Excessus Mentis), while Aeneas is the Pious man, virtuous as human perfection.
For Dante, life is a linear process, and the birth of Christ (the Incarnation) is a fundamental step of life, determining a stage, a starting point and considered an important historical moment and a guarantee of peace and unity. After the fall of Adam, this is the reunion with the Divine after great falls in history (Original sin is the first fall that interrupts the perfection between God and man) and the incarnation reestablishes the harmony of grace between man and God with a new fall (Donatio Constantini) that initiates the temporal power of the Church.

At this point Dante hesitates: he wonders why he was chosen if Aeneas is a more just man than Virgilio described in the Aeneid or as Sao Paulo: Dante is not perfect and asks Virgilio why he. Then Virgilio, as a father, reassures him that Beatrice turned to God, who sent Saint Lucia to ask Virgil to accompany him on the journey through hell and to help free himself from his life on the wrong road.

Third Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

Location: Hell’s gate, Vestibule
Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Virgíl = Reason
  • Dante = “Agens” Character and “Auctor” Author
  • Charon = It’s the devil who takes souls to hell


 The guilt punished here is indolence, neglect, laziness (or pusillanimity). It is for those who did not know how to take a stand in life, for good or for evil, acting in a vile way.

The schema that Dante created is called Contrapasso, which is a penalty similar to the sin committed, by a process either resembling or contrasting with the sin itself. Here it is presented for the first time, mirroring the sin, as if it was a reflex.

The Contrapasso law (Suffer the opposite)

canto-3-inferno 3

By analogy: The lascivious, who are overcome by the passion of the senses, in hell are punished by a storm.
By contrast: The insolent, who lived a life without stimuli, are continually tormented by bites of flies and insects.

For negligent souls, though not yet condemned, Dante auctor inflicts severe pain: that of running incessantly, naked, behind a senseless sign, tormented by bites of wasps and mosquitoes until they bleed; the blood is finally collected by creepy worms that move under their feet.

It is only the first of a long series of condemnations that will be inflicted upon the souls in hell – and, as we shall see, also those of Purgatory, albeit milder. The description of the punishment is always very realistic, full of hard, crude and often disgusting details. The condemnations chosen by Dante, as auctor, for the sinful souls of the underworld follow a very precise rule, which the poet draws from the Bible and from medieval jurisprudence: it is the so-called contrapasso law (suffer the opposite), according to which the penalties are distributed according to the sins practiced in life..

There are two types of contrapasso:

Contrapasso by analogy: penalty is similar to the sin (for example, as in life its existence was repulsive, for lack the choice that gives meaning to the action of being human, so blood and tears are collected by repulsive worms);

Contrapasso by contrast: the penalty consists of the inverse of the characteristics of sin (for example: as in life they have failed to follow any ideal, then the negligent are now forced to run endlessly naked behind a meaningless sign).

Fourth Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

Location: 1st. Hell’s Circle – Limbo Historic and / or mythological places and episodes mentioned

– Descend of Christ to hell
– Liberation of the Patriarchs and Jews of the Old Testament
– Lucio Giunio Bruto inspires the fight against Lucius Tarquinius, Superbus

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Dante “Agens” Character and “Auctor” Author
  • Virgil: Becomes embarrassed by his origin equal to the condemned ones
  • Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan
  • Characters mentioned:
  • Electra, Hector, Enéias, César, Camilla, Penthesilea, Latino, Lavinia, Brute, Lucrezia, Julia, Marzia, Cornelia, Saladin, Aristóteles, Sócrates, Platão, Demócrito, Diógenes, Anaxágoras, Thales, Empédocles, Heráclito, Zeno, Dioscorides, Orfeu, Cicero, Linus, Seneca, Euclides, Ptolomeu, Hipócrates, Avicena, Galen, Averroes
    Cristo, Abraão, Moisés, Davi, Jacó, Raquel, Adão, Abel, Noé

canto-4-inferno 1



Dante awakens from his sleep and is on the other side of Acheron, in Limbo, the first circle of Hell. Virgilio is disturbed because he is in this circle, but reassures Dante and they follow on, finding souls with spiritual and non-corporal punishments, because their sin was not to know Christianity. Among these souls, Dante meets Homer, Ovid, Horace and Lucanus, his greatest poetic models, who guide the two pilgrims to a noble castle, home to great philosophers and important figures.

Introduction to the  real Hell; homage to the culture and to the Roman origins (poets); tribute to philosophy and classical activity; tribute to pagan culture.

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Four poets: poetic excellence
  • Darkness =  Sin
  • Seven walls: moral virtues (justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance) and intellectual virtues (intelligence, knowledge, wisdom) / liberal arts of trivium and quadrivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) seven parts which constitutes philosophy (physical, metaphysical, ethics, politics, economics, mathematics, dialectics)
  • Castle: philosophy / human nobility
  • Light: human rationality


Good Friday, probably on April 8th, 1300, at night

– Theme of disturbance
– Religion theme
– Theme of philosophy
– Theme of poetry
– Theme of culture in general
– Theme of the classic era
– Reflection theme
– Theme of Darkness
– Light Theme
Locus amoenus theme

Literary and cultural references
– Iliad
– Bible
– Various Myths, Saga, Legends

Fith Canto (See animation on Youtube)

Location 2nd. Circle of Hell – The Lewd – Loss of Reason for Desire

  • Emotional involvement
  • Sensual love between Paolo and Francesca
  • The central role of literature in the history of the two lovers
  • Ideal of courtesy on one side, religious dimension on the other

Symbols and Allegories Meaning

At Entrance Minosse = bestial demon, guardian of the underworld

Followed by:

  • Dante “Agens” Character and “Auctor” Author
  • Semiramis = Queen of the Assyrians
  • Dido = Queen of Carthago (Aeneid)
  • Cleopatra = Queen of Egypt, lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony
  • Elena, Paride and Achilles = characters from Greek mythology
  • Tristan = Famous Round Table Rider
  • Paolo and Francesca


The night of April 8, 1300 (Good Friday)



Dante arrived at the II circle of hell with Virgil, where is the group destined to the sin of  lust. Paolo and Francesca were the first sinners Dante questioned.
Francesca was an aristocratic woman, the daughter of Guido da Lopenta. Love blossoms between the two while reading Lancelot. Her lover  who later killed by her betrayed husband. Dante, disturbed by his own feelings, faints and loses his senses. Dante has an attitude of understanding towards Francesca, but also of criticism, insofar as she has acted against religious ideals and moral norms.

Sixth Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

Location: 3rd. Círcle of Hell – greediness, gluttony

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Cerberus = Three-headed dog



Here the gluttonous souls are laid to the ground, their faces buried in the mud and tortured by incessant rain and oppression of the guardian of the group, the ferocious Cerberus. He is a demonic character, endowed with three canine heads, which tears apart  and destroys the souls of the gluttonous in pieces with their claws. Virgil manages to keep Cerbero aside by throwing mud on his three heads, and so Dante and his master can pass freely through the suffering souls. A soul rises from the muddy mass and addresses Dante; It is Ciacco, a fellow citizen of the poet, probably condemned to this because of his greed. Dante questions him about the fate of his city, continually divided in the struggle between Guelfos and Ghibellinos, and Ciacco prophesies the clash between the two factions of Guelfos, the whites and the blacks, and at the end prevailing the blacks. The theme is then political, as it happens throughout  for every sixth song of each song in the poem: the condemned describes with dark and prophetic tones the manner in which the Florentines “come to bleed” (v. 65), alluding to the clashes between factions of 1300-1301 . Ciacco adds that in the city there is almost no presence of deserving people or whoever which could change the sad destiny of the internal struggle because of the “three sparks” (v.75) of arrogance, envy and avarice. Dante asks him where some illustrious Florentine characters are found, and Ciacco responds that these (including Farinata and Iacopo Rusticucci), guilty of the most horrible sins, are in the deepest circles of hell. Ciacco returns with his face in the mud, after asking Dante to remember him once he returned to the living. Virgil explains to the poet that Ciacco will not lift his face from the mud and that he will lie until the Day of Judgment, after which his cares and pain will grow even more. The two protagonists walk on souls – as a sign of contempt for them – and continue their journey in the underworld, reaching the doors of the fourth circle, found in Pluto, “the great enemy,” the demon of wealth.

Seventh CantoCanto (See the animation on Youtube)

Location: 4th. Círcle of Hell – The Hoarders and Spendthrifts.

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Wolf = Avarice and Cupidity
Pluto = son of Iasione and Demetra, was to the Greeks the symbol of wealth


At the entrance of the Fourth Circle, the two poets find Pluto, guardian of this infernal area. The monster, which looks like a wolf, runs against them, uttering incomprehensible words, but Virgil assures Dante that Pluto will not be able to stop them, rebuking the demon and silencing him, remembering the defeat suffered by Lucifer by Archangel Michael. At this point, Pluto falls to the ground prostrated and the two poets can continue. The two poets approach the ranks of the greedy and the prodigal.
A great multitude of condemned men gather in a tumultuous circle, divided into two ranks, the greedy and the prodigal: they push the stones along the circle conflicting to each other and complaining. Dante observes many men from the Church, privileged victims of this vice. Virgil exposes the nature of sin and concludes by affirming the vanity of the riches which fortune gives men.
The contrapasso is not clear, but the metaphor applies by characterizing the connection of sinners with wealth similar to pushing stones
Virgil explains that Fortune is created by God, being given randomly to different people, in an unpredictable way and according to God’s hidden judgment. Its law regulate the life of men and preside over the ups and downs of history, for the angelic powers preside over and order the movement of the heavens. His changes are very rapid and follow the divine will, and human curses against it are useless.
Dante and Virgil follow the waters of a thermal spring, which opens in the wide marble of Stigia: it is the fifth infernal circle, where the irascible ones are immersed, beating each other. Virgilio concludes by saying that earthly goods, entrusted to fortune, are ephemeral, and all the gold in the world would be insufficient to appease these afflicted souls.

 Eighth Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

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Location: 5th. Círcle of Hell – wrathful and sullen

The walls of the City of Dite

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Sentence: They are immersed in the waters of the River Styx and beat each other
Contrapasso: They continue to unburden their anger, exposed or hidden, gurgling in the filthy and foul waters of the Styx
Dante meets Flegiàs (guardian of the circle); Filippo Argenti; the demons

Canto 8


Still on the 5th. Circulo do Infeno, it appears Flegiàs, who transports Dante and Virgilio to the swamp of the River Styx . Encounter with Filippo Argenti. Arrival to the city of Dite. The demons deny the passage to the two poets.
It is the evening of Saturday, April 9 (or March 26) of 1300.
Along the banks of the Styx River, the second of the infernal rivers encountered so far, after the Acheron, Dante and Virgil arrive at the foot of a tower from the top of which  luminous signs come out.
These are revealed as warnings of Flegiàs, the infernal boatman who, suppressing his anger, accepts the two in his boat. During the navigation, one of the angry condemned punished in the swamp approaches with arrogance to Dante: it was Florentine Filippo Argenti that had relations of enmity with Dante, after a brief exchange of abusive jokes, he tries to attack the boat, but is taken back by Virgilio in the mud where it is shattered by the other condemned.
Finally, the boat arrives in front of the walls of the city of Dite, reddish by the fire, protected by a band of demons which prevent Dante and Virgilio from entering the inferior Hell. Not even Virgil’s words can persuade the demons to bow before the divine will: in the face of their hostility and the discomfort of their guide, Dante is terrified even if Virgil reassures him and announces the arrival of someone who can help him.

Ninth Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

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Location: 5th. Círcle of Hell – wrathful and sullen

Entrance Gate of the City of Dite

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Erichtho: sorceress written about by Lucan.
Judaica: the final pit of Hell; also, Judecca.

Greek and Roman Mythology:
Furies: The three terrible female spirits with snaky hair (Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera) who punish the doers of unavenged crimes.
Hydras: water serpents.
Erinyes: Furies.
Hecate: A goddess of the moon, earth, and underground realm of the dead, later regarded as the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft.
Megaera:  One of the three Furies.
Alecto: One of the three Furies.
Tisiphone: One of the three Furies.
Medusa: One of the three Gorgons, slain by Perseus, who turns mortal humans to stone if they look at her.
Theseus: The principal hero of Attica, son of Aegeus, and king of Athens; famed especially for his killing of the Minotaur; tried to kidnap Hecate.
Gorgon: Any of three sisters with snakes for hair, so horrible that the beholder is turned to stone.

Sentence: They are immersed in the waters of the River Styx and beat each other

Canto 9

canto 9.3


Dante’s doubts and Virgil’s explanations. Appearance of the three Furies, which invoke the Medusa. Arrival of the heavenly messenger, who overcomes the resistances of the demons and allows the passage of the two poets. Entrance to the city of Dite (VI Circulo). Penalty of heretics. It is the evening of Saturday, April 9 (or March 26) of 1300

In Canto IX, it is the divine messenger which  reaches the city of Dite to overcome the opposition of the demons and thus to allow the passage of Dante and Virgil, which the demons tried, in vain, to obstruct. His arrival is announced by Virgil at the end of Canto VIII, tal che per lui ne fia la ter ra aperta, “so that the open land may be mine” (Arrogance will not prevail, because the angel is sent from God and the door will open).
After having warned the readers to understand the meaning of the allegory, Dante describes the arrival of the messenger as a hurried wind, which overlaps trees and branches. The messenger crosses the swamp of the Styx River over the dried plants, causing the condemned to flee and taking away the thick swamp vapors on their face. When he arrives at the door of Dite, he opens it with the help of a small stick and sharply rebukes the opposing demons who tried against Dante. Then the messenger goes away and the two poets can enter the city without any impediment.
The character has been interpreted in several ways, the description given to Dante being very vague: it was naturally thought as an angel and perhaps it should be the archangel Michael or Gabriel, although some of his attitudes seem appropriate for a celestial being, especially when he crosses the swamp. Others have proposed mythological characters (Perseus who killed Medusa, Mercury …), may also be the poet’s contemporaries, but this seems an unlikely hypothesis. It should not be excluded that the messenger is simply an angel sent by God to overcome the resistance of the demons without precise identification.

Tenth Canto (See the animation on Youtube)

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Location: 6th. Circle of Hell – The heretics

Within the city of Dite

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Jehosaphat Valley: Outside Jerusalem where it is believed that the Last Judgement will take place.
Epicurus: Greek philosopher. 341-270 b.c. founder of the Epicurean school, which held that the goal of man should be a life characterized by serenity of mind and the enjoyment of moderate pleasure.
Farinata Farinata degli Uberti: famous leader of the Ghibelline party of Florence.
Guido Guido Cavalcanti: poet and friend of Dante; also Farinata’s son-in-law.
The Second Frederick: The Emperor Frederick II.
Cardinal of the Ubaldini: A cardinal in Dante’s time, said to be involved in money and politics.


Still in the city of Dite, the sentence of the heretics. Meeting with Farinata Degli Uberti, political speech on Florence. Appearance of Cavalcanti of Cavalcanti. Farinata’s prophecy about Dante’s exile. Virgilio comforts Dante by promising him the explanations of Beatrice. The two poets arrive near the VII Circle. It is the evening of Saturday, April 9 (or March 26) of 1300.

canto 10.3

Virgil leads Dante between the tombs of the city of Dite, walking around the inner side of the walls. Dante is intrigued and asks Virgil if it is possible to see the souls which are in the tombs, since the folding lids are raised and there are no demons to maintain the arks. Virgil replies that the tombs will be closed forever on the Last Judgment Day, when the resurrected souls will be reappropriated from the body in the valley of Iosafat. He also explains that in this type of cemetery are all the followers of Epicurus who proclaimed the mortality of the soul, promising Dante that soon he will have satisfied his desire that he expressed without revealing, which is to know if there was the soul of Farinata Degli Uberti. Dante justifies himself by saying that if some have hidden some desire to Virgil, it is only to avoid speaking out of time, something that Virgil himself has accustomed him to do.

Meeting  Farinata and Cavalcante

Suddenly, avoice coming from one of the graves is addressed to Dante, identifying him as a Tuscan and begging him to persist, for his accent indicates him as coming from his own city. Dante is frightened and joins Virgil, who invites him to turn around and look at Farinata, who has risen from one of the tombs and is visible from the waist up. Dante obeys and sees the condemned man who stands with his head and chest raised, as if he despised Hell, so Virgil pushes him and advises him to speak with dignity.

As soon as Dante arrives at Farinata’s grave footing, he asks who his ancestors are. The poet reveals his descendants and Farinata notes that Dante’s ancestors were bitter enemies of him, being his ancestors and his political party (the Gibelins), being taken away twice from Florence. Dante responds readily that if they were hunted, they were able to return to the city on both occasions, while the same can not be said for Farinata’s ancestors.

Cavalcante shows up (52-72)

Suddenly, beside Farinata emerges another convict, condemned which leans over his chin as if kneeling. The spirit looks anxious anxiously, looking for someone beside Dante, but he does not see it. Finally, crying, he asks Dante where his son is and why he does not accompany the poet on this journey and if Dante is there for the greatness of his talent. Dante immediately understands that it is Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti, the father of his friend Guido, and he replies that, in reality, he is there not only on his merits and indicates Virgil as someone destined to guide him, who, perhaps, would be disdained by the son of Cavalcante. Cavalcante rises disturbed and asks Dante if his son Guido is really dead: since the poet is slow to respond, the condemned souls fall back to the tomb and does not to come back outside..

 The sixth circle contains the heretics, those who believed that the body does not have a soul. Many of these are Epicureans, followers of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher whose philosophy was the attainment of happiness by the absence of pain.
Farinata, along with Cavalcante, is in the circle of heretics, partly because he and Cavalcante were Epicureans. According to the judgment of the papacy, and to Dante’s society, Cavalcante and Farinata followed the Epicurean philosophy. The Epicureans believed that there is no soul and that everything dies with the body. They saw the pleasures of life on Earth as the greatest goal for man. As Dante knew Farinata and Cavalcante as Epicureans, he fully expected to find them in this circle of hell.

According to the Contrapasso idea of Dante, the punishment of the heretic is to spend eternity in flaming tombs, until the Last Judgment, when the tombs are closed and the souls within will be sealed forever within their terrestrial bodies.
Dante consistently uses the act of prophesying as a literary device in hell. Farinata’s prophecy for Dante, “The face of him that reigneth in Hell shall not be revived fifty times in his course,” or before learning that offenses imply in this art, “signifies that Dante will also experience the pain of exile.”

The other shadow which is interrupted by  Farinata is Cavalcante, another Epicurean, former citizen of Florence and father of Guido, contemporary poet and friend of Dante. When Dante says, “Your Guido felt disdain,” it could mean several things. It could mean that Guido, a modern poet, kept Virgilio and all the classical poets in contempt. Notice that Farinata and Cavalcante do not are aware of themselves or recognize each other. The shadow spirits in hell are not there for fellowship or compassion for one another. In the case of Ugolino and Ruggieri in Corner XXXIII, they provoke pain rather than comfort
Historically speaking, Farinata was a powerful personality of the previous generation. Dante’s family belonged to the Guelphos. As Dante alludes to in this particular canto, Farinata twice led the Ghibellines against the Guelphos and defeated them twice. So he and Dante must be bitter enemies. However, he is not someone Dante hates; Farinata was a person Dante admired tremendously. (A person can respect an enemy, even if he he is opposed to him or her).
Farinata’s concerns are those of a warrior; any other feeling has no meaning to him. He is a citizen, and he asks his name for his homeland. Farinata is also a partisan: he first asks Dante about his ancestors. Likewise, he is an invincible warrior: he reports having beaten his opponents twice. Farinata’s glory was his beloved city. The theme of Cavalcante’s paternal love, intertwined with Farinata’s heroic love, is effective.
Dante has created as an image for Farinata of power, character and strength. He describes him in an upright position, so that it could only be seen from the waist up. This posture suggests that, spiritually, it rises above Hell and creates an image of infinite strength and grandeur.

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