What are some important quotes from canto 20 of Dante's Inferno?

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Some important quotes from canto 20 of Dante's Inferno are listed below. This canto explores the eternal punishment of the Diviners, or prophets and fortune-tellers:

Who now were willing, he had tended stillThe thread and cordwain; and too late repents.

See next the wretches, who the needle left, The...

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Some important quotes from canto 20 of Dante's Inferno are listed below. This canto explores the eternal punishment of the Diviners, or prophets and fortune-tellers:

Who now were willing, he had tended still
The thread and cordwain; and too late repents.

See next the wretches, who the needle left,
The shuttle and the spindle, and became
Diviners: baneful witcheries they wrought
With images and herbs ...

These mortals all attempted to see the future, which was thought in Dante's day to be known by God alone. Any attempts to see into the future were thus believed to be a sin.

The punishment of these souls is highly ironic:

Earnest I look'd
Into the depth, that open'd to my view,
Moisten'd with tears of anguish, and beheld
A tribe, that came along the hollow vale,
In silence weeping: such their step as walk. Quires chanting solemn litanies on earth.

... Lo! how he makes
The breast his shoulders, and who once too far
Before him wish'd to see, now backward looks,
And treads reverse his path ...

The souls in this part of hell must walk with their heads on backwards, not knowing where they are stepping. The phrase "who once too far / Before him wish'd to see, / now backwards looks" highlights the irony in this punishment of Diviners: they once wished to see the future, but now, they can see only the past, in quite a literal way: they can only see the ground they have already trod. They can never again see what lies before them, not even in a literal sense.

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