Today I’m in Dante’s Inferno, an invisible spectator following Dante and Virgil as they make their way down into Hell. Charon, the boatman ferries the dead across the river Acheron to the Hall of Death with the dread words “Lay down all hope, you that go in by me” has let us enter from a word of power from Virgil. And so we descend …
My teaser is from pages 30 & 31 of Dante The Descent Into Hell translated byDorothy L Sayers. This in the 2nd Circle of Hell where the souls of the sexually promiscuous are being punished tossed eternally in a howling wind:
The blast of Hell that never rests from whirling
Harries the spirits along the weep of its swath ,
And vexes them, for ever beating and hurling.
When they are borne to the rim of the ruinous path
With cry and wail and shriek they are caught by the gust,
Railing and cursing the power of the Lord’s wrath.
Dante is so overcome with pity that he swoons: “And, as a dead man falling, down I fell.”
William Blake’s painting captures the scene: