The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Dante

Dante (DAHN-tay), the exile Florentine poet, who is halted in his path of error through the grace of the Virgin, Saint Lucy, and Beatrice, and is redeemed by his journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. He learns to submerge his instinctive pity for some sinners in his recognition of the justice of God, and he frees himself of the faults of wrath and misdirected love by participating in the penance for these sins in Purgatory. He is then ready to grow in understanding and love as he moves with Beatrice nearer to the presence of God.

Beatrice

Beatrice (beh-ah-TREE-cheh), his beloved, who is transformed into an angel, one of Mary’s handmaids. Through her intercession, her compassion, and her teaching, Dante’s passion is transmuted into divine love, which brings him to a state of indescribable blessedness.

Virgil

Virgil, Dante’s master, the great Roman poet who guides him through Hell and Purgatory. The most favored of the noble pagans who dwell in Limbo without hope of heavenly bliss, he represents the highest achievements of human reason and classical learning.

Saint Lucy

Saint Lucy, Dante’s patron saint. She sends him aid and conveys him through a part of Purgatory.

Charon

Charon (KAY-ron), traditionally the ferryman of damned souls.

Minos

Minos (mee-nohs), the monstrous judge who dooms sinners to their allotted torments.

Paolo

Paolo (pah-OH-loh) and

Francesca

Francesca (frahn-CHEH-skah), devoted lovers, murdered by Paolo’s brother, who was Francesca’s husband. Together even in hell, they arouse Dante’s pity with their tale of growing affection.

Ciacco

Ciacco (CHEE-ahk-koh), a Florentine damned for gluttony, who prophesies the civil disputes that engulfed his native city after his death.

Plutus

Plutus, the bloated, clucking creature who guards the entrance of the fourth circle of Hell.

Phlegyas

Phlegyas (FLEHJ-ee-as), the boatman of the wrathful.

Filippo Argenti

Filippo Argenti (fee-LEEP-poh ahr-JEHN-tee), another Florentine noble, damned to welter in mud for his uncontrollable temper.

Megaera

Megaera (MEHG-ah-rah),

Alecto

Alecto (ah-LEHK-toh), and

Tisiphone

Tisiphone (tih-SIF-oh-nee), the Furies, tower warders of the City of Dis.

Farinata Degli Uberti

Farinata Degli Uberti (fah-ree-NAH-tah deh-ylee ew-BEHR-tee), the leader of the Ghibelline party of Florence, condemned to rest in an indestructible sepulchre for his heresy. He remains concerned primarily for the fate of his city.

Cavalcante

Cavalcante (kah-vahl-KAHN-tay), a Guelph leader, the father of Dante’s friend Guido. He rises from his tomb to ask about his son.

Nessus

Nessus (NEHS-uhs),

Chiron

Chiron (KI-ron), and

Pholus

Pholus (FOH-luhs), the courteous archer centaurs who guard the river of boiling blood that holds the violent against men.

Piero Delle Vigne

Piero Delle Vigne (pee-EH-roh dehl-leh VEEN-nay), the loyal adviser to Emperor Frederick, imprisoned, with others who committed suicide, in a thornbush.

Capaneus

Capaneus (kah-PAH-neh-ews), a proud, blasphemous tyrant, one of the Seven against Thebes.

Brunetto Latini

Brunetto Latini (brew-NEHT-toh lah-TEE-nee), Dante’s old teacher, whom the poet treats with great respect; he laments the sin of sodomy that placed him deep in Hell.

Guido Guerra

Guido Guerra (GWEE-doh gew-EHR-rah),

Tegghiaio Aldobrandi

Tegghiaio Aldobrandi (teeg-GEE-ah-ee-oh ahl-doh-BRAHN-dee),

Jacopo Rusticucci

Jacopo Rusticucci (YAHK-oh-poh rews-tee-KEW-chee), and

Guglielmo Borsiere

Guglielmo Borsiere (gew-glee-EHL-moh bohr-SEE-ehr-ay), Florentine citizens who gave in to unnatural lust.

Geryon

Geryon (JEE-ree-on), a beast with a human face and a scorpion’s tail, symbolic of fraud.

Venedico Caccianemico

Venedico Caccianemico (veh-neh-DEE-koh kah-CHEE-ah-neh-MEE-koh), a Bolognese pander.

Jason

Jason, a classical hero, damned as a seducer.

Alessio Interminei

Alessio Interminei (ah-LEHS-syoh een-tehr-mee-neh-ee), a flatterer.

Nicholas III

Nicholas III, one of the popes, damned to burn in a rocky cave for using the resources of the church for worldly advancement.

Amphiaraus

Amphiaraus...

(The entire section is 2,497 words.)