Free Dante’s Inferno Discussion Essay Sample
The group of sinners in Circle Nine according to Dante consists of traitors to their kin in the first ring Caina; traitors to their Homeland or Party in the second ring Antenora; traitors to guests in Ptolomea; and traitors to lords in the fourth ring Judecca. Sinners in the circles in Circle Nine committed the sin of treason by killing others for superficial reasons such as political power. Upon entering this circle, Dante comes across two spirits living in the icy atmosphere. One of these ghastly figures named Ugolino is seen gnawing on the head of another, named Archbishop Ruggieri (Dante 32.124-32). Dante asks Ugolino why he has been damned for eternity to cannibalize Ruggieri. Ugolino ceases eating Ruggieri’s head and tells his takes after wiping his lips on Ruggieri’s hair. A Pisan nobleman, Count Ugolino, along with his sons, plotted a treacherous contrivance that landed them in jail in a dark tower as a result of the betrayal of Ruggieri. Ugolino resigned himself to the reality that he and his sons would be incarcerated for eternity after he hears the sound of the tower being locked from the outside. Upon hearing the sound of door being locked, he does not cry out in agony and disbelief. His children, however, look at their father and become worried. The next day, Ugolino bites his hand because of his immense hunger and agony. His sons then offer their father to cannibalize them. After fifth and sixth days respectively, Ugolino’s children die of starvation. Ugolino survives for three more days, blind and hungry. The speaker narrates that “Thus having spoke, Once more upon the wretched skull his teeth He fastened like a mastiff against the bone, firm and unyielding.” Ugolino’s story indeed limns a gruesome, grim, and horrific picture of how hunger vanquished his grief, which resulted in his eating his own dead sons.
Ugolini’s anguished soliloquy insinuates that Dante perhaps wanted to elicit compassion for Ugolino in spite of the palpable sins that Ugolino had committed. Ugolino unequivocally sought to deflect the treachery and horrifying nature of his actions by defaming his foe as a way to elicit compassion from the readers. He articulated in meticulous detail the cruel and inhumane manner in which his innocent children and he were murdered. However, the reader and Dante remember the fact that Ugolino engaged in cannibalism, an act that directly connotes moral decay. Indeed, cannibalism represented a heinous sin against his own children as well as God. Ugolini gnawing on the head of Ruggieri is arguably one of the most striking and gruesome images in Dante’s Inferno. When Ugolino utters that “fasting did more than grief,” Dante seemingly portrays human behavior as acting with higher self-regard in life or death situations despite the fact that he himself did not articulate his compassion and sympathy for Ugolino or Ruggieri.