Canto 27 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 447

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Guido da Montefeltro: Ghibelline leader who persuaded Pope Boniface VIII to use treachery to gain the fortress of Palestrina

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The flame moves on when Virgil dismisses it.

Another flame speaks. Dante compares the speaking voice of this flame to the voice coming from a metal bull which was used to roast victims alive. The voice asks for news from earth.

Virgil gives Dante the right to answer. Dante says that there is no strife in Romagna; that Ravenna and Cervia have the same ruler; that another city is governed by the Green Claw; and that Cesena is suffering from misrule by its leaders.

Dante asks that the flame now tell him who he is. The flame says that he will tell the truth since he does not believe that Dante will be able to return to the earth. The shade says that he was a soldier and then a friar; the High Priest, however, forced him to go back into the mesh of battle. The Priest asked the shade to tell him how to defeat Palestrina and promised that the shade would be absolved. The shade died before he had been contrite; uncontrite is unabsolved. The shade found himself in Hell for counseling fraud.

The two travelers see that those who cause division in life receive their own merchandise in death.

Discussion and Analysis
Another flame asks Dante for information of the world. In the day of Phalaris, the ruler of Sicily, Perillus had made a brass bull to roast people alive. The ruler made Perillus the first victim. Dante compares the voice of this flame to the voice from the bull.

Virgil allows Dante to speak and tell the shade of news from earth. Dante uses symbolism to indicate that Sinibaldo degli Ordelaffi rules Forli; that a father and son (Malatesta and Malatestino), who were Black Guelphs of Romini, rule Montagna; that Mainardo Pagano rules both Lamone and Santerno and tries to behave like a Ghibelline and a Guelph; and that the leaders of Cesean misrule the town.

The shade gives information about himself to Dante only because he does not believe that Dante will leave the pit. The shade is a great Ghibelline leader by the name of Guido da Montefeltro. Using Guido to transmit deceptive advice, Pope Boniface VIII conspired against the Colonna family in warfare in 1297. The Colonna family had robbed the Papal treasury and retired to Palestrina. The Pope declared that the Colonnas would have full amnesty upon surrender, but they broke this promise. Upon rebelling again, the Colonnas were excommunicated. In 1303 Boniface himself became a prisoner.

Dante and Virgil see the sinners receive their “merchandise” as they travel.

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