Canto 11 Summary

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Last Updated March 1, 2023.

Before entering the Seventh Circle, Virgil and Dante pause and take note of the inscription on a nearby vault. The writing reveals that Pope Anastasius, who was led astray by Photinus, rests within the vault. While they wait, Dante urges Virgil to explain more about the structure of Hell.

Virgil heeds this request and embarks on an explanation. The three lower circles, he explains, are reserved for sins related to violence, including those perpetrated against God, oneself, and others. Sins against others are most detestable to God, so the circle devoted to this sin is located farthest from God and nearest to the bottom of the pit. Virgil also tells Dante that there are two forms of fraud: one that violates the trust of humanity as a whole and another that violates the trust of an individual, which is even more insidious. Additionally, the poet discloses to Dante the reason for the levels of hell and the corresponding punishment for each.

Virgil continues, explaining in great detail why money-lending is a sin and why showing disrespect towards art or nature is equivalent to showing contempt towards God. After some time, he tires of these explanations and decides that it is time for them to continue along their journey.

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