Tiresias In Canto XX, The Pilgrim And Virgil

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Book XVII to the end of Dante’s Inferno saw the journey of Dante of his guide, Virgil, through Malebolge, the eight circle of Hell. This section was assigned to those who commit the sins of fraud. The circle consisted of eight rings, with each represented a distinct type of fraud. For instance, in Canto XX, the Pilgrim and Virgil explored the sin of divination, committed by those who foresaw or debased the truth. This very canto will be the subject of in-depth analysis of the true nature of the sin and the idea of truth. In this fourth ring inhabited those who could saw the future. The punishment that struck on them was having their heads twisted backwards, “…their faces looked down on their backs; / they had to move ahead by moving backward,…show more content…
In those works, Tiresias was either a neutral or a respected seer. For instance, in Odyssey, Odysseus carried on a trip to the Underworld to see Tiresias, who would then give him insight in his homecoming journey (Homer 10.512-515). In Oedipus the King, Tiresias was consulted to find the person who polluted Thebes; he pointed out the reigning king himself (Sophocles 300-461). In Bacchae, this seer warned Pentheus against desecrating acts (Euripides 170-369). However, Virgil provided Dante with a different side of Tiresias’s background. The seer detached the two serpents with his wand and “turned himself into a woman” (Alighieri XX.41). It was only when he brought them back together did he become a men again. This switch between genders must have contributed to Tiresias’ punishment here in Hell; it was an unnatural phenomenon. This could have been associated to magic and sorcery. Further speculations could be made from his story, especially in Bacchae. He could have submitted to the ecstatic worship of Dionysus to avoid a similar fate of Pentheus. Aruns was a prophet from Roman age. He foretold the outbreak and result of the Roman civil war; he saw Caesar as the victor (Musa 256). He was also an astrologist, “…observ[ing] the sea and stars with ease” (Alighieri XX.51). The art of astrology was also a sin, as the practitioners manipulated the celestial positions…show more content…
Michael Scot was a philosopher and mathematician who adhered to the court of Frederick II in Palermo. He was associated with magic, astrology, and sorcery in his life (Musa 258). These were all the kinds of fraud that were worthy of punishment. Guido Bonatti was a well-known astrologist; he served quite a few emperors (Musa 258). In the text, the background of this character was not mentioned. Asdente, or Benvenuto, was a shoemaker and a so-called prophet. He held faulty prophecies against Frederick II (Musa 258). On these figures, Virgil seemed to be introducing them with a negative remark. He used stronger language when describing these people, such as “who most assuredly/ knew every trick of magic fraudulence” or “who wishes now he had been more devoted/ to making shoes – too late now for repentance” (Alighieri XX.116-117; Alighieri XX.119-120). Virgil was more critical of these false sorcerers partly due to their fraudulence. They seemed to have practiced these sinful arts in a more fallacious manner. Furthermore, the story of Mantua had also set Virgil’s tone in this

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