In Dante's Inferno, by making Florence, the city, the true protagonist of canto 6, Dante also creates for himself an opportunity to think about sin in a metaphorical way. In what way is Florence connected to gluttony? How does Dante move from literal sin to metaphorical sin?

In Dante's Inferno, the city of Florence is connected to gluttony because its different political factions all want too much power and wealth. Like gluttons, they are focused only on themselves and want more than their fair share. Dante moves from literal sin to metaphoric sin in verse 50. Here, he has Ciacco compare literal gluttony to the political factions in Florence who are "heaped with envy ... [that] overflows it bounds."

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In canto 6, Dante and Virgil move to the Third Circle of Hell. Here, the gluttons, those who could not control their desires for food and drink, dwell in stinking mud and mire. As a punishment for putting fine food and drink ahead of God, the gluttons now have to...

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In canto 6, Dante and Virgil move to the Third Circle of Hell. Here, the gluttons, those who could not control their desires for food and drink, dwell in stinking mud and mire. As a punishment for putting fine food and drink ahead of God, the gluttons now have to eat foul mud and slime for all eternity.

Gluttony is worse than sexual lust because it is solely focused on the self. The gluttonous person puts his own cravings ahead of everything else—including the social good—in a destructive way.

Dante moves from literal gluttony to the metaphoric gluttony that plagues Florence. The metaphoric gluttony is the desire for power and wealth that is destroying the city.

Verse 50 marks the turn from literal gluttony—overeating (likened to being a pig)—to the metaphoric gluttony of the city's citizens, who are, in the words of Ciacco: "heaped with envy to the brim ... the measure overflows its bounds." Another translation that more closely captures the imagery of overeating compares the envy polluting the city to a "sack" that is so overfull it "spills."

Dante compares the political factions in Florence, who are not satisfied with what they have but want what everyone else has too, to gluttons. Gluttony is excess—it, like lust, represents desires that are out of control and not properly subjected to reason. Dante condemns this kind of desire to grab everything. It is overreach and does not understand restraint. He suggests it is what destroys a beloved city-state like Florence, and he shows this as a sin punishable by eternity in Hell.

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