Inferno

by: Dante Alighieri

Deceit

Quotes Deceit
“Many of the Devil’s vices
Once I heard at Bologna, and among them,
That he’s a liar and the father of lies.”

After Virgil complains that the information given to him about the path through Hell is inaccurate, a friar being punished for hypocrisy informs Virgil that the false information was given to him by one of the demons who torture the damned in a previous Bolgia. The friar insinuates that Virgil should have known the demon would lie. Upon hearing this logical perspective, Virgil is a bit annoyed, although we are unsure if his annoyance is with the friar for pointing out the truth or with himself for having been naïve.

“Take him not, do me no wrong;
He must come down among my servitors,
Because he gave the fraudulent advice.”

Guido da Montefeltro is describing the moment he died. Guido was a member of the Franciscan order of friars, so when he died, Saint Francis came to take him to Heaven. However, “one of the black Cherubim” appeared and successfully argued that Guido needed to go to Hell because he helped Pope Boniface VIII use trickery to wage war against a local enemy. As the Pope had promised Guido absolution for his sins, an act Dante asserts Popes cannot do, Guido never bothered to properly seek absolution before his death. As a result, he died damned.

“[H]e who going yonder undertook
That he might gain the lady of the herd,
To counterfeit him Buoso Donati…”

Here, the alchemist Griffolino provides information about some inhabitants of the eighth circle. Among these souls are counterfeiters of coins and of identities, the latter also known as impersonators. One of these sinners is Gianni Schicchi, who helped a friend inherit his father’s property by impersonating his friend’s father. Schicchi secretly arranged to acquire one of the father’s prized horses in the process. According to Dante, the punishment for impersonation is to become raving like a rabid dog. As a result, Schicchi and other impersonators run around attacking and biting each other.

“If I spake false, thou falsifiedest the coin,”
Said Sinon; “And for one fault I am here,
And thou for more than any other demon.”

Here two deceivers, Master Adam and Sinon, argue about whose crime was greater. Sinon helped trick the Trojans into taking the Trojan Horse into the city, resulting in the city’s destruction. Master Adam counterfeited coins, which Sinon asserts counts as one sin per coin, making Adam the most sinful person there. It should be noted, however, that both men inhabit the eighth circle, implying that divine Justice deemed both men equally sinful.

“I think,” said I to him, “thou dost deceive me;
For Branca d’Oria is not dead as yet,
And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes.”

While Dante is in the eighth circle, Friar Alberigo points out the soul of a man named Branca d’Oria. Dante explains to Friar Alberigo that he must be mistaken, for Branca d’Oria is still alive. He learns that Oria’s sin of inviting his father-in-law to dinner and murdering him was so evil that Oria’s soul was immediately sent to Hell, even though his body remained on earth. Once again, Dante uses the text to express an opinion about a real-life person: The real Branca d’Oria was never punished by authorities for the alleged murder and lived into his nineties.