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Canto 25

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Canto 25 of Dante Alighieri's epic poem Inferno.

Inferno | Canto 25 | Summary

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Summary

As Fucci finishes speaking, he shakes his fists at God. Dante says that now he is glad for the serpents who bind Fucci's arms and seem to want him to stop talking. Then, the poets see a Centaur run by, covered in serpents and with a fierce dragon riding on his back. Virgil tells Dante the Centaur's name is Cacus, and he is being punished because he stole cattle from Hercules. Next, three more souls approach and ask "who are you?" As Dante watches them, a six-legged serpent pounces on one, wraps itself around him, and then man and serpent seem to merge together into a new kind of being. A smaller serpent then attacks another one of the three, piercing him in the navel. Serpent and man both begin to smoke, and then slowly each one begins to transform into the other—the man into a serpent, and the serpent into a man. All of this is so strange, Dante says he cannot see or write clearly. Dante recognizes the remaining of the three companions as the thief Puccio Sciancato.

Analysis

In this canto, the poets are still in the seventh pouch, where thieves are punished. The transformations of Canto 24—sinners who burst into flame, burn to ash, then are remade into human forms—now take on a more terrible nature, as humans are transformed into serpents or transformed into human-serpent hybrids. The contrapasso is that thieves, who took others' belongings, now have their only remaining belonging—their human form—taken from them.

Dante's growing agreement with God's justice is clearly demonstrated when Fucci shakes his fist at God, and Dante remarks, "From that time on, those serpents were my friends." Throughout Inferno, Dante's pity for the various sinners is seen as a fault in him, as it is akin to questioning God's perfect justice. Virgil often reprimands Dante's compassion for the shades in Hell. As Dante progresses, one of the lessons he learns is that God's justice is right, and he shows a greater acceptance of the punishments he sees as a result.

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