Inferno

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Inferno Canto 30 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dante describes two more shades he saw, whose suffering surpassed even that of Hecuba and Athamas, two figures of Greek mythology. (Hecuba was the queen of Troy who saw her children murdered as the city fell; Athamas went mad, killed his own son, and drove his wife and another son to escape him by suicide.) These two souls run about madly (Dante compares them to wild boars) and one of them bites Capocchio's neck.
Dante's comparisons to tales of Greek mythology suggest that his story is even more marvelous than the classical stories of myth that his Christian epic supplants.
Themes
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Griffolino says that the one who bit is Gianni Schicchi, who is now rabid and "bites whatever he sees," (30.33). Dante asks him who the other mad spirit is and he identifies it as the spirit of Myrrha, an incestuous woman from Greek mythology.
In Dante's underworld, local Italians from Dante's world suffer alongside famous mythological characters. The story of Myrrha is told by Ovid, so Dante's inclusion of her in his hell is also an inclusion of Ovid's narrative within his cosmic epic.
Themes
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Dante sees another soul who is bloated and swollen grotesquely. This soul tells Dante to look on his punishment and identifies himself as Adam, a counterfeiter from Brescia in Italy. His punishment is eternal thirst and he constantly dreams of the river Arno near his hometown, but he can never find any water here.
For counterfeiting and thus distorting true money, Adam's own body is now grotesquely distorted. As always in Dante's hell, the punishment fits the crime.
Themes
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
Even more than water, though, Adam says that he desires to find and seek revenge on someone named Guido, who convinced him to practice counterfeiting and is now somewhere in hell. Dante asks Adam to identify a pair of sinners "rolled in a heap," (30.92) and giving off smoke. According to Adam, one of them is Sinon, who tricked the Trojans into letting the Trojan horse into their city. The other is the wife of Potiphar, who falsely accused Joseph in the bible.
Sinon and the wife of Potiphar provide a good image for the combination of biblical, Christian characters and classical figures in Dante's poem. As sinners from both traditions appear in Dante's hell, these two major areas of influence converge in The Inferno, just as these two characters are literally rolled together into one heap.
Themes
Paganism vs. Christianity Theme Icon
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Hearing his name, Sinon hits Adam on his bloated belly and Adam responds by hitting him on his head. Sinon and Adam trade jibes, arguing over whose deception was worse. Adam says that Sinon's deception was worse, but Sinon says that he only told one lie, whereas Adam forged many coins.
Adam and Sinon foolishly argue over whose deception was worse. But in the end only God can judge this, as he dictates where in hell different kinds of sinners are punished for their particular wrongs.
Themes
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Dante is enjoying watching these sinners feud, but Virgil rebukes him, telling him that he will "quarrel with thee," (30.122) if he delays their journey any longer to watch this dispute. Dante is instantly ashamed (and says that, looking back, he still feels shame). Virgil notices how ashamed Dante is and tells him it is okay: "Less shame would wash away a greater crime / Than thine has been," (30.142-143) he tells Dante. Still, he says that enjoying such feuding is vulgar, and the two prepare to resume their journey.
While Virgil has taught Dante not to pity the sinners in hell, he is also upset by Dante taking delight in their suffering. Finding entertainment in the suffering of hell would make him not unlike its evil demons. As he gradually learns, Dante ought to regard sinners with some degree of pious indignation, but not with pleasure.
Themes
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