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Canto 16 Summary and Analysis

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Three Florentines: Ask Dante about Florence; now in Hell

Summary
Near the waterfall Dante encounters three Florentines; they recognize Dante’s dress as being Florentine. The three men were once nobles and one introduces them: Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci. Jacopo inquires of Florence; he explains that the shades have had concerns since Guillim Borsier’ told them many tales. After Dante tells them of self-made men and excesses in Florence, they ask that he tell the living of them. As suddenly as they had come, the three run away.

The two travelers find that they are very close to the waterfalls. Dante compares the water to the Acquacheta and Forli (rivers) in the Apennines (mountains) of Italy. Oddly Virgil removes Dante’s rope girdle and throws it into the water. A shape in the water rises and engulfs the belt or sash.

Discussion and Analysis
The three men who hail Dante recognize by his clothing that he is from Florence. Virgil informs Dante that the three who have just hailed him had been nobles in life. If they were not now in Hell, Virgil continues, Dante would have run to them, rather than vice versa, since he would admire them for their political virtues.

The three men are Guido Guerra, a Guelph who was noted for his sword and his counsel; Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, spokesperson for the Guelphs: and Jacopo Rusticucci,...

(The entire section is 489 words.)