Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Canto 17 Analysis: Dante's Increasing Independence and Heroism College

While Dante is supported, both physically and mentally, by his guide Virgil throughout Canto 17, he demonstrates his increasing independence and understanding via his analysis of the events he faces. Dante is required to call on the spiritual and mental understanding he gains in this canto to overcome the challenges that hamper him in later cantos. In fact, even translations of the Inferno that differ in significant ways are in concordance on these aspects of Dante's evolution as a protagonist.

In preparation for the journey to the eighth circle, Dante and his reliable guide, Virgil, survey “the beast with the pointed tail, that passes through mountains and pierces walls and armor” that will bring them into the lower realms of Hell (Inf. 17.1-2). Dante takes a moment to examine the mythological monster whose “face was that of a just man… and the rest was that of a serpent” (Inf. 17.10-11). Later, Virgil reveals his name to be Geryon. Before Virgil commands the beast to act as their vessel, he instructs Dante to “carry away full experiences of this subcircle” by seeing the last of the sinners in the seventh circle. (Inf. 17.37-38). The shades whom Virgil refers to are usurers who are condemned to stare at the “bag of special...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 999 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7819 literature essays, 2192 sample college application essays, 333 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in