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A Modern Reader's Guide to Dante's «Inferno»

Second Printing


Rodney J. Payton

This book is a thorough introduction to the Inferno for today's reader. It is based on Professor Payton's many years of reading Dante's masterpiece with university undergraduates and upon the work of the very best modern critics. The Guide can be used alone as a critical aid or as a reference work for further research.


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Chapter 13: Canto XV. Brunetto Latini: Sins Against Nature 117


CHAPTER 13 Canto XV Brunetto Latini: Sins Against Nature There is certainly as much hellish commotion among Dante scholars over whatever the sin of Brunetto Latini is as about any other issue in the Divine Comedy. It ranks as a subject of controversy with the identity of the Veltro, the case of Ulysses, Ugolino's feast, and the DXV. The first issue that confronts the reader in this canto is a question of fact, the problem of Brunetto's homosexuality. We are here in the third round where are punished those guilty of violence against God, nature and her goodness. In Canto XI, Virgil described it thus (46-51 ): "Violence may be done against the Deity, by denying and blaspheming Him in the heart, and despising Nature and her good- ness; and therefore the smallest ring seals with its mark both Sodom and Cahors, and all who speak contemning God in their heart." Already we have seen Capaneus prone on the burning sand still emptily blaspheming. He is the representative of the violent against God. Now we have come to those violent against Nature. Nature is, of course, a "thing" of God since He created it (or her in Dante's characterization). The important intimacy between God and Nature is explained by Virgil in XI, 97-1 05 where he said that Nature in its working imitates God and is in turn imitated by man in his work. In the wood of suicides we saw that those who did violence to themselves were punished along...

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