Canto 16 Inferno: The rope

Dante is still in the circle of those who enact violence against God and nature. Dante meets a couple Florentines who talk of the destruction and demise of Florence. In Paradise in Canto 16, Dante’s relative speaks of the demise of Florence.

What I’d like to focus on is the end of this Canto. Virgil asks Dante to give him the belt around his waist. Virgil takes the belt and casts it into the abyss below. Then the creature of fraud Geryon emerges.

As Esolen reminds us, Dante had some kind of confidence in his belt. It being a symbol of conquering sin by oneself. Sin is never conquered by one self. Only the grace of God gives us strength. Virgil asks for the belt from Dante. Virgil takes Dante’s self-sufficiency from him. Dante will not don a belt until he reaches the foot of mount Purgatory. He will be girded with humility.

Maybe the belt is also a symbol of Dante’s pride in conquering his sin by himself. Pride cast into the abyss. Yet, as Dante continues, the next circle is the fraudulent–the liars. In another sense, the belt was Dante holding onto lies. Lies that he could conquer his sin on his own. The belt is lost amongst the liars below, how appropriate.

Dante continues on without his “security belt”. He continues with Virgil’s guidance and the grace of God.


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