Canto 31 Summary

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Last Updated March 1, 2023.

Dante reflects on Virgil’s words, explaining that while they initially hurt him, they have now become a source of comfort.

As they journey onward, they hear a commotion from the depths below them. Dante spots a collection of towers in the distance and inquires about them. Virgil explains that the mist has distorted Dante's vision; what he thinks are towers are actually a group of giants standing in a circle, their lower halves concealed in the dim light.

Frightened by these monstrous men, Dante remarks that nature made the right choice in discontinuing the creation of these giants; their combination of intelligence, strength, and malice would be overpowering against regular-sized people. The length of the giant's mantle, from where it is fastened to the ground, measures thirty hands.

Dante listens carefully as one of the giants starts to scream incomprehensibly. Virgil orders the giant to use his horn instead of his voice and reveals to Dante that the giant is Nimrod, who was responsible for the emergence of multiple languages in the world.

As he stares at the giants, Dante realizes that the giant next to Nimrod is Ephialtes, who once faced Jove in combat; he observes the immense chains binding the giant, and Virgil explains that they are a precaution taken to deter further violence. 

Virgil explains that another giant, Antaeus, will help transport them to the depths of sin, adding that Antaeus gained his fame in the same valley that the Roman general Scipio forced Hannibal, the Carthaginian hero, to flee. Addressing Antaeus, Virgil begs him to spare them a grotesque fate and aid them in their journey; Antaeus agrees, lifting them effortlessly up. Dante comments that the giant is as immense as the Carisenda, a medieval tower located in Bologna, Italy.

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Canto 30 Summary

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Canto 32 Summary