Canto 28 Summary and Analysis
Sowers of Discord: Created discord on earth; their bodies are torn apart in Hell
Mahomet: Founder of Islam (Mohammed)
Pier da Medicina: Incited civil strife; disseminated scandal and misrepresentation; incited feuds between two Romagna families
Curio: Brought about civil strife; tongue removed for punishment
Mosca: Brought Florentine division by creating Guelphs and Ghibellines
Bertrand de Born: Headless shade who helped increase feud between Henry II of England and his young son Prince Henry
Dante is appalled at the suffering he sees from the bridge over the Ninth Bowge. He tries, in vain, to verbalize the extent of the pain by comparing it to battles, deaths, and wounds which the readers may recognize.
The two travelers see the Sowers of Discord in the Ninth Trench. The punishment of these shades is that a fiend rends their bodies in two with a sharp sword; the sinners can even rend their own bodies in two pieces.
The two poets are addressed by Mahomet, the founder of Islam, who states that Ali walks in the pit before him. He refers to places (like the plains between Vercelli and Marcabo, the passage near La Cattolica) and people (like Guido and Angiolello of Fano; the men of Argo; and Mosca). Mahomet shows the poets Curio, now with a missing tongue.
Dante sees an amazing sight: a body without a head and a hand carrying the head by the hair. When the figure approaches the two poets, it places the head on its shoulders so that it can speak. The two learn that the shade is Bertrand de Born.
Discussion and Analysis
To emphasize the bloodshed and injury in Hell Dante uses a particular literary device: he says that tongues are unable to describe the sights; this same device is used in Canto XXV.
Dante makes reference to Apulia’s ground, which is a place in southeast Italy where many wars and battles occurred. According to Livy (a Roman historian of the years 57 B.C. to A.D. 17), the seacoast town of Troy in Asia Minor was taken by the Greeks to recover Helen. Dante mentions the battles against Robert Guiscard, who himself had fought against the Greeks. and the place of Ceperano, where the barons of Apulia had deserted and Charles of Anjou had entered and defeated Manfred in 1266 at Benevento. Dante also alludes to the field of Tagliacozzo, where Charles of Anjou defeated Manfred’s nephew by allowing Alard de Valery to advise his army to retreat. When the “winning” army came searching for plunder, the retreating army returned and won the battle.
Mahomet (an Italian spelling for Mohammed, the founder of Islam) had brought division to the Christians by setting up his own sect. Ali is a reference to the nephew of Mahomet who brought division to the followers of Mahomet by setting up his own sect within.
This canto mentions several places. Two such...
(The entire section is 729 words.)