Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 432
Farinata degli Uberti: Leader of the Ghibellines, the party responsible for killing Dante’s grandfather; favored imperial authority
Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti: A shade who was once of the Guelph party
Virgil and Dante pass near the city walls. Virgil reminds Dante that in the days of Jehoshaphat those buried shall come anew. They are greeted by Farinata degli Uberti. Dante and Farinata exchange words about the fighting between the Ghibellines and the Guelph parties through the years. Farinata foretells the length of Dante’s exile and explains that the dead have knowledge of the future. Farinata refers to the queen which rules the lower regions when he talks with Dante. He makes reference to the queen of the Nether Hell.
Another spirit—that of Cavalcante of the Guelph party—appears and asks about his son Guido dei Cavalcanti, who was Dante’s best friend and a fellow poet. Dante becomes aware that the spirits can see and prophesy the future but that they have difficulty seeing things as they are now. Dante accidentally reveals to Cavalcante that his son is dead.
After Dante finds out the identity of some of those who lie in the graveyard, the shade tells Dante that when he sees one whose eyes are able to see all things (Beatrice), he will learn the meaning of life.
Discussion and Analysis
Farinata was an enemy of Dante in life. The two had been enemies through the years because of differing political beliefs. They compare stories of victories and defeats in the past wars. They discuss a rout of Guelphs in 1248, a return in 1251, a rout in 1260, and a return in 1266, which made it impossible for the Ghibellines to return to power.
Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti is the shade who is devastated to find that his son (Guido) is dead. Since Cavalcante is an Epicurean who does not believe in life after death, he is devastated.
Thousand of heretics who trusted their own knowledge over that of the Church lie in the graveyard. The shade Farinata tells that these sinners include Emperor Frederick II and the Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini (1210-73), a violent Ghibelline.
Several references in Canto X need explanation. The shade Farinata tells Dante that he will know the full meaning of life when he stands before one whose eyes see all that is complete; this is a reference to Beatrice. Two references in Canto X are to Jehoshaphat, a valley which will be the scene of the last judgment. The queen who reigns below is Proserpine, the Earth-Mother whom Pluto stole and carried to Dis.
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