Course Hero. "Inferno Study Guide." Course Hero. 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 16 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Inferno/>.
Course Hero. (2016, August 17). Inferno Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 16, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Inferno/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Inferno Study Guide." August 17, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Inferno/.
Course Hero, "Inferno Study Guide," August 17, 2016, accessed May 16, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Inferno/.
Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Canto 29 of Dante Alighieri's epic poem Inferno.
Dante is still in the ninth pouch, shaken and hesitant to move on. Virgil reminds him that they have further to go, and more to see. Dante says he was delaying because he thought he saw one of his ancestors. Virgil tells him that he saw the man too, and heard someone call him Geri del Bello. Dante realizes the man is one of his ancestors who started a feud between the Alighieri family and the Sacchetti family, and was killed as a result. Dante remembers that his death has not been avenged, and pities him, although this is problematic because avenging his death would require violence, which Dante knows is a sin.
This canto gives measurements for this part of Hell. The ninth pouch is 22 miles around, and the tenth is only 11 miles around. So, each lower level is narrower, with a smaller diameter than the one above, like a large funnel.
As they continue to the next pouch, Dante hears laments and smells a terrible stench like infected wounds. Climbing down into the ditch, he sees shades lying on the ground and crawling about. He sees two who are sitting up, propped against each other, and covered in scabs. They scratch constantly, as if their skin itches. Virgil asks them if there are any Italians here, and they answer that they are Italians. Virgil explains that he is showing Dante through Hell. The men explain that they are being punished for practicing alchemy.
This pouch is where falsifiers of all types are punished. The first ones Dante runs into are falsifiers of metals—alchemists. Alchemists were supposed to be able to turn common metals into precious ones, especially gold, but of course they could not do this. They were able to trick many people into believing they had this ability, however, and made a living at conning people. They have so many scabs on their bodies that parts of their skin look as if covered in fish scales. Perhaps this is the source of the contrapasso, for fish often look as if they are covered in metal.