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Gary Dale Burns CRDJ #2 Dante’s Inferno Prof.

Tony Wolk Canto 9’s Furies and the “Strange Verses” Apostrophe At the end of Canto 8, after the crossing of the river Styx, the gate at the walls of Dis is barred to both Dante and his guide Virgil. Though Virgil tells Dante that already there is one “without a guide” (sanza scorta) coming to aid their way, the pilgrim’s sight of the three Furies atop the tower at Dis prompts Virgil. He warns Dante to cover both his eyes while he turns the pilgrim and covers his eyes with his hands as well. The multiple veilings of his vision, predicated on the Gorgon’s concretizing gaze, prompts this aside at lines 61-63: “O you who have sound intellects, gaze on the teaching hidden beneath the veil of strange verses”/O voi ch’avete li ‘ntelleti sani, mirate la dottrina che s’asconde sotto ‘l velame de li versi strani.” Durling and Martinez’s note cites John Freccero’s interpretation of the fear of the Medusa as representative of “as that of a kind of erotic fixation on the literal surface of texts,” rather than a more metaphorical or allegorical reading, which Dante’s apostrophe features. Dante has deliberately spoken as the poet of his own poem with these lines and that the lines must investigated, or for D&M, the entire Canto. This is Canto 9 after all, and in his Vita Nuova, 9 is associated with Beatrice very early on and has significance in this moment particualrly to the angel which clears the way, having no doubt been sent by her in advance. While reading the Furies’ appearance though, one finds that the Medusa is not present, but merely the threat of the Medusa. The interpretation of Virgil covering up Dante’s eyes for mere defense seems not to go far enough. The ancient poet had just been thanked by the pilgrim in the last canto for saving him seven + times. Perhaps it is so that because of Virgil having not

not until the next Canto at least. so perhaps it is self-interest and duty. the gazing at a text (in this case Dante the poet himself) to merely make it more solid. Sight and sound are inextricably linked. It is only by the sound of the arrival of the angel that Virgil “looses” Dante’s eyes. Nevertheless the double veiling is both Dante covering his own vision and Virgil covering Dante’s vision. Guiding a statue of stone would certainly be a failure of Virgil. a reading of a one substance. without spirit and therefore quite static and dead. . While Virgil and Dante walk through Dis. and when one is without (focused on that which is evil or absent). Perhaps the Furies do indeed represent some metaphorical fixation themselves. the other is needed to bring it back into semblance or working order. Only their cries and writhing are noticed. Dante cannot see the heretics which are being burned in their red-hot tombs. what is most striking is the human level with which one feels both Dante and Virgil share when the heavenly messenger comes to aid their journey. To this reader.been a Christian he still believes in a power which would not have any hold over a believer like Dante.