Dante uses a colloquial style in the Inferno, also relying on dirty humor to mock Hell and vivid description to render its terrors clearly. The Inferno is written in Italian, the language of the people, and maintains an easy-to-understand style. For instance, when the demon Bugle Tail realizes he cannot torment Virgil, Dante writes, “he lets the hook fall clanking to his feet / And said, ‘There won’t be any stabbing now.’” This is a simple sentence with only one subject and two verbs. Words such as “clanking” and “stabbing” are widely known and the image of a demon grieving a missed opportunity to stab is darkly funny.
In fact, the Inferno is shot through with dark, dirty humor. Bugle Tail is so named because he “ma[kes] a bugle of his arse”; the demon is essentially named “Fart.” Dirty humor draws in a wider readership and importantly, mocks Hell as lacking ultimate power. Yet Dante’s vividly descriptive writing style also conveys the terrors of Hell. Dante, entering Hell, describes hearing a “shuddering din of strange and various tongues, sorrowful words and accents pitched with rage, shrill and harsh voices.” Words such as “shrill,” “harsh,” and “din” appeal to the senses and convey the real physical discomfort and terror of inhabiting infernal spaces, while the longer sentence adds emphasis and grandeur.