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Canto 21 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Barrators: Sinners who made money in public office

Demons: Include Hacklespur, Hellkin, Harrowhound, Libbicock, Dragonel, Barbinger, Grabbersnitch, Rubicant, Farfarel, Belzecue

The Fifth Bowge is dark and filled with the bubbles of boiling pitch; to prevent the sinners from drawing themselves from the pitch, demons keep pushing them down, much as a cook stirs a cooking pot of stew to make sure all bits and pieces in the pot are submerged.

Virgil suddenly pulls Dante aside and cries, “Look out!” A winged demon, carrying an alderman, is moving quickly behind Dante. This alderman is a barrator, who made money from hidden deals and from grabbing money in secret.

Virgil instructs Dante to hide and wait; Virgil confronts the demons directly and explains that he and Dante must pass. The demons summon another of their numbers; this demon, named Belzecue, protects them and allows them to pass.

Belzecue tells them that five hours from this time (minus one day) will mark the time that an earthquake occurred 1266 years ago. This quake destroyed a bridge without which passage will be difficult. Belzecue tells the two travelers that he will send some...

(The entire section is 395 words.)