Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 651
Gianni Schicchi: Falsifier who dressed as Buoso and dictated a new will
Myrrha: According to Ovid disguised self and was impregnated by own father (King of Cyprus); turned into a myrtle tree and bore Adonis—a son—through the bark
Master Adam: Counterfeited Romena coins bearing John the Baptist
Guido, Alexander, and their Brother: Blamed for Adam’s counterfeiting; part of the Conti Guidi family
Sinon of Troy: Greek spy who persuaded the Trojans to bring the wooden horse into the gates of Troy
The False Wife: Reference to the wife of Potiphar (Book of Genesis); tries to lie with Joseph and, when he refuses, falsely accuses him
Dante begins Canto XXX with examples of fury from mythology. First, he identifies Jupiter and his obsession for Semele, which brought about Juno’s vengeance upon the Thebans. Juno caused Athamas, the brother-in-law of Semele, to undergo a fierce madness which resulted in Athamas’s killing his baby. Athamas’s wife drowned herself and her other child.
Dante recalls how Hecuba, the wife of the King of Troy, saw her daughter slain, found her son dead by the sea, and, while a captive herself, became insane. Dante remarks that none of this fury compares with what he sees from two shades in the Eighth Circle.
One shade falls on Capocchio—Dante’s former friend and fellow student. The Aretine tells Dante that the shade is Gianni Schicchi, who had at one time dressed as Buoso and dictated a new will. The Aretine also recognizes another shade, which he introduces to Dante as Myrrha. Myrrha had disguised herself and had gone to her own father to do a shameful act.
Dante sees a diseased shade with dropsy and a puffed body. This body identifies himself as Master Adam, who in Romena had counterfeited coins bearing the image of John the Baptist. Adam states that Guido, Alexander, and their brother—all counts at Romena—had caused him to commit the false act.
Dante asks who the shades are that he can see close by; Adam explains that one is Sinon of Troy and one is the false wife who accused Joseph unjustly.
Before Dante’s eyes, Sinon and Adam begin to quarrel and fight. Dante watches agog until Virgil threatens to quarrel with Dante if he continues to gape. Dante is shamed, but Virgil tells him to think no more of it; Virgil concludes by gently reminding Dante that to watch such a display is a vulgar thing to do.
Discussion and Analysis
Canto XXX is filled with conflict. Dante sets the stage for the conflict that is to come by recalling rage and fury depicted in mythology and saying that none of it compares with what he sees in Hell—particularly in the Eighth Circle.
After Capocchio is dragged by one of the two shades, the Aretine (Griffolino) is left trembling. He explains that the shades are Gianni Schicchi and Myrrha, who had seduced her father the King of Cyprus. When the King of Cyprus recognized his daughter Myrrha and tried to kill her, she fled and turned into a myrtle tree; her child was Adonis who came from her trunk.
Guido, Alexander, and their brother are references to the Conti Guidi family. Adam implies that one of the Conti family is currently in Hell.
Sinon of Troy is the Greek spy who persuaded the Trojans to bring the wooden horse into the gates of Troy. The false wife is an allusion to the wife of Potiphar in the Book of Genesis. When she tries to lie with Joseph and he refuses her, she falsely accuses him anyway.
Virgil chides Dante for watching a display of anger between Adam and Sinon. When Dante takes the admonition very seriously, Virgil tells him not to overreact. Virgil does remind Dante that watching such a display is a low, base, vulgar thing to do.
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