Though there are countless disturbing moments throughout Dante’s Inferno, one can dare to say that Canto 34 is the most unsettling and borderline irreverent Canto in Inferno. In Canto 34, Dante and Virgil meet the sinners who are deemed to be the most evil; those who have betrayed their benefactors (the individuals who extended their kindness towards them.) It is also the canto where Dante meets Satan, the king of hell. Dante opens Canto 34 with a sentence in Latin that reads: “Vexilla, regis prodeunt inferni.” In translator Mandelbaum’s notes, the words are said to mean: “The banners of the king of Hell draw closer.” At first glance, the reader might dismiss the fact that this is the only line in canto 34 that is written in Latin. Though its relevance is not immediately noticeable, said line supports the claim that Canto 34 is irreverent at its core. While the Cantica as a whole can be said to contain disturbing imagery in its accounts of hell, it becomes apparent when the text is examined carefully that from the compilation of cantos that make up Inferno, canto 34 surpasses all the gruesome accounts that one would encounter within Dante’s writing, and enters a much bigger realm of heightened depravity.
Within the canto, Dante uses many references that are often strictly used to describe concepts of divinity such as Fortunatus’ Hymn and the Divine Trinity, to then describe the opposite concept in the binomial: malevolence. It is of critical importance to note the usage of multiple terms that refer to the king of hell, and the language that Dante uses to depict a creature whose appearance is rather conceptual and speculative. Furthermore, it is equally important that the reader pays attention to the imag...
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...as seen as the most eminent political figure. Because Brutus and Cassius assassinated Caesar, Dante found them to be the perfect companions for Judas Iscariot.
As shown, Canto 34 is was drafted with a backbone that remarkably supports the use of subliminal language; though irreverence might not have been Dante’s main objective, the altered text and terminology he uses serve as a tool to convey irreverence. Canto 34 compacts many peculiarities into one short passage; some of the peculiarities inferred to exist within the text are: Dante’s depiction of the king of hell, the terminology he uses to refer to him, and his inclusion and alteration of elements such as the Divine Trinity, Fortunatus’ Hymn, and three historically important traitors that are directly tortured by Satan, make of Canto 34 the most irreverent Canto in Inferno and a strong transition to Purgatorio.
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