Canto 7 Summary
Last Updated on February 28, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 267
Dante and Virgil’s encounter with Plutus at the precipice of the Fourth Circle continues, and the monstrous figure begins to recite a chant to Satan, entreating him to cause harm to the pilgrims. Dante is frightened, but Virgil reassures him that they are immune to Satan's influence and control.
In the Fourth Circle, Dante likens the motion of the souls to the tumultuous waves caused by Charybdis, a sea monster who appears in many ancient Greek epics. The souls housed here either hoarded or wasted their wealth in life; as punishment, they are compelled to lift heavy weights with their chests. Those who squandered are pushing the weights away from them, while those who hoarded are pushing them towards themselves, resulting in collisions and injuries between the two groups. Virgil explains that divine providence and luck control the distribution of wealth to ensure that riches do not remain in one nation or family for too long and that these souls disrupted this divine order.
Dante and Virgil come across a bubbling spring that has carved a crevice in the rock, which allows them to descend a staircase into a marshy river known as the Styx, a well-known feature of the classical underworld. In the muddy swamp below, Dante observes people fighting and biting each other at the surface level; the souls here are those who expressed unapologetic wrath during their lives. Meanwhile, those who passively harbored their anger and remained sullen and brooding in life lie below the swamp, sighing in despair. At the end of the path, Dante and Virgil spot a very tall tower.