Canto 32 Summary
Last Updated on March 1, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 275
Dante bemoans his failure to accurately convey the sights he witnessed in Hell, decrying his limited ability to harness language. However, he vows to do his best and continues narrating, describing a frozen river called Cocytus located in the first region of the Ninth Circle, which is so solidly frozen that not even the Danube in Austria could compare. Dante speculates that even if the weight of tall mountains fell upon it, the ice would not shatter.
Within the river live a group of shades who lay frozen within its depths. Some are covered entirely in ice while still others are partially exposed; Dante notes that even their tears have frozen. One such exposed shade speaks to him, discussing the souls who call this isolating river home and adding that the traitorous Sassol Mascheroni lies close by him in the river. After introducing many of the figures entombed in the ice, the shade reveals his identity; he is Camicion de' Pazzi, and he is imprisoned in the river for the murder of a kinsmen.
As Dante stares into the faces partially obscured by the frozen water, one of them begins to swear at him. When he asks why, the shade retaliates by asking why Dante is standing on their faces and disrespecting them. Dante becomes infuriated and demands to know the name of the shade, even pulling his hair. Shortly after, another shade calls the victim "Bocca," and Dante recognizes Duera. The shades reveal to Dante that other traitors to their country are present, including Beccaria, Gianni de' Soldanier, Ganelon, and Tibbald. For their sins, they must linger in the ice, kept forever in stasis.