What are two literary devices and their lines used in Dante's Inferno Canto 20?

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When Dante feels pity for the souls he meets in Canto 20 (their heads have been twisted backwards so that they are forever looking at where they have been, and never at where they are going), Virgil rebukes him with:

"Here pity most doth show herself alive, / When she...

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When Dante feels pity for the souls he meets in Canto 20 (their heads have been twisted backwards so that they are forever looking at where they have been, and never at where they are going), Virgil rebukes him with:

"Here pity most doth show herself alive, / When she is dead." (lines 26-27)

There are two techniques within this quotation. The first is the personification ("herself ... she") of pity, and the second is the seeming oxymoron of "most ... alive, / When she is dead." It doesn't at first appear to make much sense that pity can be most alive when dead. In the original Italian version of the text, however, the word was not "pity" but "pieta," which has a double meaning, meaning both pity and piety. So, with this in mind, we can deduce that perhaps Virgil is saying that the pity that lives in Dante has no place with these damned souls because they have proven themselves impious. With this interpretation, we can then infer that the personification of "pity," or "pieta," is significant because, being personified, its absence becomes more conspicuous, and the plight of the damned souls more lonely.

A second quotation which includes a good example of a literary device (a simile) can be found in lines 100 to 101:

"all else shall be to me / As embers lacking life."

After hearing Virgil's stories about the souls, Dante says here that he no longer feels pity for them. He asks Virgil to tell him no more stories about any of the other souls because he is now so sure that they don't deserve his pity. He compares them to "embers lacking life." This simile implies that, to Dante, these souls are no longer alive. They are only the remains of people that once were alive, just like the embers are the remains of a fire that was once burning but is no longer.

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In Dante's Inferno Canto XX, Dante uses many analogies, direct comparisons between two things. Because he is traveling in hell, Dante must make realistic, earthly connections so the reader can relate to the supernatural action of the poem.  Here is an example:

Even as the dolphins, when they make a sign
To mariners by arching of the back,
That they should counsel take to save their vessel,

Thus sometimes, to alleviate his pain,
One of the sinners would display his back,
And in less time conceal it than it lightens.

Here, Dante is comparing the way dolphins arch their backs to the way the sinners "display(s) his back" to ease the pain of suffering.

Dante also relies on much visual imagery to convey the supernatural sights he sees.  Remember, he is our tour guide into the abyss, and his visual imagery reminds us constantly of the suffering of others (in bold):

and both of them
Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.

A sudden intercessor was the heat;
But ne'ertheless of rising there was naught,
To such degree they had their wings belimed.

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