Canto 6 Summary and Analysis
Cerberus: Three-headed dog who watches over the Third Circle of Hell
The Inhabitants of Circle Three: The gluttonous
Ciacco: Gluttonous male inhabitant of Florence; nickname means “pig”
In Circle Three Dante finds constant rain, sleet, snow, and hail. Cerberus, the three-headed dog, meets Dante and Virgil; Virgil manages to quiet the dog’s attacks by throwing mud from the ground into the three mouths. All around Virgil and Dante are gluttons lying in the mud.
One of the gluttons named Ciacco is from Florence. He speaks to Dante and Virgil. Ciacco predicts that the political strife between the Black and White factions in Florence will continue and bloodshed will come. The Wood party will drive out the other faction but within three suns, he tells them, the confidence of the Woods will suffer a fall. The other faction will rise after this time.
Ciacco answers Dante’s questions about the location of the worthy men Tegghiaio and Farinata; the zealous Rusticucci; Mosca and Arrigo; “and the rest as well.” Ciacco tells Dante that they are all deeper in Hell.
As a last request, Ciacco asks Dante to recall his name once Dante reaches the world again.
Virgil tells Dante that more woe is to come. They continue their descent and find the great enemy Pluto ahead.
Discussion and Analysis
The constant rain, sleet, snow, and hail create mud; this mud is the steady diet of the gluttons who had overindulged in their earthly life. The three-headed dog is a fitting guard for Circle Three because the monster is uncouth and difficult to satisfy, like the gluttons.
Ciacco tells Dante that each of the five men from Florence is further down in Hell. Tegghiaio (Tegghiaio Aldobrandi; a resident of Florence, a spokesperson of the Guelph nobles, and an advisor against the Siena attack that resulted in the defeat of the Florentines), Arrigo (a Florentine Ghibelline), Mosca (Mosca dei Lamberti; a noble in Florence), Rusticucci (Jacopo Rusticucci; a wealthy statesman of humble origin; whose evil-tempered wife drives him into vice), and Farinata (Farinata Degli Uberti; resident of Florence and a Ghibelline leader) are the five men from Florence. Ciacco tells Dante that the five are further down in Hell. This means that the five are guilty of more serious sins.
The further into Hell that Virgil and Dante travel, the more anguish they experience.