Why are the hoarders and wasters punished together in Canto 7 of Inferno?

The hoarders and wasters are punished together in Canto 7 of the Inferno because these two compulsions are simply the opposite extremes of greed: one group has too great a regard for money itself, the other, too great a regard for the things that money can buy.

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Canto VII of the Inferno focuses on the punishment meted out to the Hoarders and the Wasters. As Dante and his guide Virgil continue their descent through the Fourth Great Circle of Hell, they come upon the souls of those who were excessively miserly or profligate in the course of...

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Canto VII of the Inferno focuses on the punishment meted out to the Hoarders and the Wasters. As Dante and his guide Virgil continue their descent through the Fourth Great Circle of Hell, they come upon the souls of those who were excessively miserly or profligate in the course of their lives. Here, they form two competing teams according to their opposed natures, straining as they push huge weights ceaselessly back and forth. According to their vice in life, they either yell, "Why do you hoard?" or "Why do you waste?" as they heave the weights.

Dante is surprised to find that several of the souls among these two groups display a tonsure, appearing to be clergy, and asks Virgil if this is so. The poet responds that, "These tonsured wraiths of greed were priests indeed," not to mention popes and cardinals; even at the highest levels of ecclesiastical power, "avarice sows its rankest seed."

Dante wonders why he is unable to recognize any of these notable figures. His guide explains that, since in their lives they were blind to virtue, by the same token, their souls have now dimmed and are no longer able to be seen as the individuals they were.

The driving compulsion of the greedy can never be satisfied; even if they possessed all the gold that has ever existed, their souls would never have been at peace on earth and never will be so in the afterlife.

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