Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 747
Napoleone and Alexandro degli Alberto: Two shades in Region i, Circle IX; brothers; slew one another in fight over family land
Sassol Mascheroni: In Region i, Circle IX; murdered uncle’s only son (Sassol’s cousin) and took the inheritance.
Camicion de’ Pazzi: Introduced shades to Dante in Region i, Circle IX; quick to identify other wrong-doers; less-likely to identify own wrongs; murdered Ubertino, his own kinsman
Dante has doubts about his ability to describe with words what he has seen in Hell. A new sight reaches his eyes in Region i of Circle IX. He sees a river, the river Cocytus, frozen solid and remarks that even the Danube in Austria could not freeze as solidly. Dante predicts that even if high mountains crashed upon it, the ice would not break under their weight.
Dante sees shades in the cold and notes that their tears are frozen. One shade explains to him that the two which seem inseparable are Napoleone and Alexandro degli Alberto, whose father once controlled the valley. The chatty shade tells Dante that one of those near him is Sassol Mascheroni.
Only after identifying others does the shade tell Dante about himself.
The shade is Camicion de’ Pazzi. He is waiting for Carlin to “make excuses” for Camicion.
Dante sees the faces of the shades in the frozen water. One of the shades begins to curse. Dante asks why he is cursing and the shade asks why Dante is going about kicking the faces of the shades in Region ii, Antenora. Dante becomes angry and demands to know the name of the shade; Dante even begins pulling the shade’s hair. About this time another shade addresses Dante’s victim as “Bocca.” Dante also recognizes Duera; the shades tell him that other traitors to their country are here; these traitors include Beccaria, Gianni de’ Soldanier, Ganelon, and Tibbald.
Dante sees a man gnawing the head of one shade near him and chewing the part where brain meets the bone. Dante compares the shade’s zeal in eating another with that of Tydeus as he gnawed Melanippus. Dante asks the shade for the reason for his condition.
Discussion and Analysis
The cold region of Caina (named from Cain who kills his brother Abel in Genesis) causes much suffering to those in the pit. Dante observes personally the suffering of those sentenced to remain there. It contains those who have acted violently towards their own family.
One shade identifies Napoleone and Alexandro degli Alberto, two brothers who had slain one another in a fight over family land and are, therefore, traitors to their kindred. Sassol Mascheroni is another inhabitant identified by the chatty shade; Sassol murdered his uncle’s only son (Sassol’s cousin) and took the inheritance.
Camicion de’ Pazzi is quick to identify other wrong-doers. He is less-likely to identify his own wrongs. Camicion murdered Ubertino, his own kinsman. Camicion alludes to the fact that his errors will not seem so bad when Carlin arrives. Carlino dei Pazzi—one of Camicion’s kin—was bribed by the Blacks to surrender the castle he was holding for the Whites; he later sold it to the Whites again.
The shade who is giving Dante all this information refuses to reveal his own name, but another sinner addresses him as “Bocca.” Bocca is Bocca degli Abati, a Ghibelline. In the Battle of Montaperti, he had fought on the Guelph side; during this battle he cut off the hand of the man who carried the standard. The Florentine soldiers went into a panic when they saw the flag fall, and they lost the battle.
Dante also recognizes Duera; Duera is Buoso da Duera, a commander of the Ghibellines. Duera had sold a passage to the opposing French army and was, therefore, a traitor to his country.
Gianni de’ Soldanier had supposedly been a Ghibelline, but when the Guelphs rebelled, he led the Guelphs. Ganelon was the father-in-law of Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne; Ganelon had betrayed the army of Charlemagne to the enemy, who killed Roland. Tibbald had opened the gates of Faenza to the enemy, the Guelphs. Tesauro dei Beccaria had lost his head for accusations that he plotted with the Ghibellines against the Guelphs.
Tydeus was the king of Calydon; he was one of the Seven against Thebes. Melanippus mortally wounded Tydeus; however, Tydeus still managed to kill Melanippus, to gnaw the scalp and to tear out the brains of his enemy.
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