Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Visual and Textual Analysis of INFERNO CANTO XIII: Gustave Doré’s Wood of the Suicides College

One of the few illustrations depicting both the spendthrifts and the self-murders of The Divine Comedy: Inferno’s “Canto XIII” is Gustave Doré’s print entitled Spendthrifts Running Through the Wood of the Suicides. This work includes not only the pained plant-like forms of those who committed acts of violence against themselves by taking their own lives but also the naked bodies of those who squandered their means of life, wasting their resources and thereby destroying themselves through a different course of careless behavior. The trunks of the trees of the suicides still resemble their human bodies with their heads sprouting between the leafless and knotty branches that replace their arms, pieces of hair and beards growing into individual twigs. Covering each of these limbs is a grouping of sharp thorns and where legs would have originally extended roots have split. Running through the Wood of the Suicides being chased by beady-eyed black beasts in the form of dogs are the spendthrifts. As they flee, they tear through the branches of the trees, essentially ripping apart the bodies of the suicides while simultaneously tearing their own flesh against the razor-edged thorns. Throughout The Divine Comedy Dante often makes...

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