Canto 34 Summary

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Last Updated March 2, 2023.

The canto begins with the line: “the banners of the King of Hell go forth,” as Virgil questions whether Dante will be able to identify Dis, also known as Satan, should they encounter him. As they discuss the nature of Satan, the pair cross into Judecca, heading toward the innermost circle of Hell. 

In the fourth region of the Ninth Circle, the startled Dante lays wide eyes upon Satan, who is distractedly consuming the body of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. In this lowest realm reside the worst sinners in human history; accompanying Judas are Cassius and Brutus, the Roman senators who arranged the assassination of Julius Caesar. 

As Dante stares, struck dumb with fear and horror, Virgil forces him into action, telling him that they have now seen all of Hell and must therefore leave. Before Dante can question how, Virgil grabs him tightly and begins to climb up Satan’s body, using his frozen limbs as a means of escaping the depths of Hell. The canto ends as Dante catches a glimpse of the stars glimmering in the sky above, having survived his ordeal and escaped Hell unscathed.

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Canto 33 Summary