Canto 29 Summary and Analysis
Falsifiers: Punished in the Ninth Trench; victims of disease and illness
Capocchio: Student with Dante; an alchemist who called self an “ape of nature” because of his power to mimic or to produce a draught
Aretine: Griffolino d’Arezza; a physicist; took money for promising miracles; burned at stake for falsifying
Dante spends some time watching the people in the Ninth Bowge because he expects to see one of his kinsman, Geri del Bello; Virgil urges Dante to continue the trip immediately and think of other things. Virgil indicates that he saw Geri del Bello while Dante was watching one who lived in Altaforte. Dante explains that Geri had been killed and his death was still unavenged.
Virgil and Dante note that disease is rampant in the trench. Dante compares it with Valdichiana, Maremma, and Sardinia. The pit contains the falsifiers. Dante says that no sadder sight was seen even in Aegina.
One of the shades in the Bowge X identifies himself as Aretine, who was burned at the stake because of Albero of Siena. Aretine had said he could fly; such falsification, along with his work as an alchemist, brought his execution since Albero told of being cheated by Aretine.
Capocchio, who could produce a drought and had been a fellow student with Dante, identified himself after mentioning four others: Stricca, Niccolo, Caccia d’Ascian, and Abbagliato.
Discussion and Analysis
Virgil says that while Dante was observing the person from Altaforte (Bertrand de Born), the kinsman passed by without speaking. Dante believes that his kinsman ignored him because his murder is still unavenged.
Dante and Virgil see physically ill people lying in the trench. Dante compares the trench to Valdichiana and Maremma (areas of swamp in Tuscany) and to Sardinia (another unhealthy area known for malaria).
Aegina was an area where the god Juno sent a pestilence to remove all the people. To repopulate the aea, Jupiter turned ants into people.