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Inferno | Section Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Maundy Thursday, 1300 AD

    Dante finds himself in the dark wood.

    Canto 1
  • Dawn of Good Friday

    Dante meets Virgil.

    Canto 1
  • Evening of Good Friday

    Dante hesitates to embark on the journey.

    Canto 2
  • Past midnight

    Dante is in the fifth circle and asks about Fortune.

    Canto 7
  • Near dawn, Holy Saturday

    Dante prepares to descend into the seventh circle.

    Canto 11
  • Seven AM on Holy Saturday

    Dante is in the eighth circle.

    Canto 17
  • Noon on Holy Saturday

    Dante is in the last ditch of the eighth circle.

    Canto 29
  • Holy Saturday Evening

    Dante and Virgil climb down Lucifer's body and leave Hell.

    Canto 34
  • Easter Sunday morning

    Dante and Virgil reach the foot of Purgatory.

    Canto 34

Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Canto 1 Thirty-five-year-old Dante finds himself in a dense, dark forest, unsure of how he arrived there except that he had "aba... Read More
Canto 2 It is now evening. Dante calls upon the Muses to help him remember and express what he has seen. Concerned about the jou... Read More
Canto 3 Dante sees the inscription above the gates of Hell that reads "Through me the way into the suffering city." Virgil tells... Read More
Canto 4 Dante awakens suddenly to the sound of loud thunder. He sees that he is at the edge of a deep, dark valley, or abyss, fr... Read More
Canto 5 This canto begins by describing Dante's entry to the second circle, noting that each circle is smaller than the one befo... Read More
Canto 6 Dante wakes again, this time in the third circle of Hell. He is surrounded by suffering spirits who are punished by an u... Read More
Canto 7 As Virgil and Dante continue to climb downward toward the fourth circle of Hell, they are challenged by the demon Plutus... Read More
Canto 8 Virgil and Dante are still in the fifth circle. They look up at the top of the tower and see flickering flames signaling... Read More
Canto 9 Dante becomes afraid, seeing that Virgil was not able to command the fallen angels the way he had commanded the other cr... Read More
Canto 10 Virgil leads Dante past the tombs of Epicurus, a Greek philosopher who did not believe in immortality, and his followers... Read More
Canto 11 Dante is still in the sixth circle, walking along the edge of another deep, stinking abyss. Virgil advises that they sto... Read More
Canto 12 The poets continue on into the ravine and come to a great pile of shattered rock. The Minotaur of Crete—part bull, part ... Read More
Canto 13 Nessus leaves them on the other side of the river and they enter a dark forest where twisted trees have black leaves. Po... Read More
Canto 14 Dante is overcome with love for his city, Florence, so he does as the spirit asks before leaving this ring. As Dante and... Read More
Canto 15 Dante and Virgil are still in the seventh circle. They come to a group of spirits moving around who peer intently at the... Read More
Canto 16 Nearing the border of the seventh circle, Dante hears the sound of water falling into the next circle of Hell. Three sha... Read More
Canto 17 A beast with the face of what appears to be a trustworthy man but with the body of a serpent and a tail tipped like a sc... Read More
Canto 18 Dante and Virgil arrive in the eighth circle, called Malebolge, or "evil pouches." There, in ten ditches with a deep cen... Read More
Canto 19 Unlike other cantos, this one opens with Dante's energetic admonition of Simon Magus (a man living in the 1st century A.... Read More
Canto 20 Dante looks down into the fourth pouch, and sees souls walking as if in a church procession. They are weeping silently. ... Read More
Canto 21 Crossing the bridge into the next pouch and looking down into it, Dante sees that it contains sticky, boiling pitch (a h... Read More
Canto 22 Dante is surprised by the odd "signal." However, he goes with the ten demons chosen to lead Virgil and Dante on their wa... Read More
Canto 23 Virgil and Dante walk single file, and Dante thinks about how the "present fracas" is similar to one of Aesop's fables. ... Read More
Canto 24 This canto begins with an extended simile that describes Virgil's changing expression and both Virgil and Dante's emotio... Read More
Canto 25 As Fucci finishes speaking, he shakes his fists at God. Dante says that now he is glad for the serpents who bind Fucci's... Read More
Canto 26 Dante is still in the seventh pouch of the eighth circle in this canto. Like Canto 19, it opens with an apostrophe. In t... Read More
Canto 27 Granted permission from Virgil to leave, the double flame moves away. Another flame approaches—one that is making a stra... Read More
Canto 28 As Dante looks into the ninth pouch, he is stunned by the amount of blood and wounds he sees. It is as if a terrible, bl... Read More
Canto 29 Dante is still in the ninth pouch, shaken and hesitant to move on. Virgil reminds him that they have further to go, and ... Read More
Canto 30 Dante describes examples of people who went mad because of the terrible violence they suffered. But, he says, these exam... Read More
Canto 31 This canto, which is the transition between the eighth and ninth circles of Hell, begins with images of darkness. Dante ... Read More
Canto 32 Dante doubts his ability to express, through his poetry, a description of the ninth circle, through which he now travels... Read More
Canto 33 The sinner who is chewing on his neighbor raises his head and, wiping his mouth on the other's hair, tells Dante that he... Read More
Canto 34 Virgil tells Dante they are getting very close to the king of Hell, and so he should watch carefully. It is evening and ... Read More
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