| Quote #19
[Capocchio to Dante]: "…see that I’m the shade of that Capocchio
Capocchio’s attempt to equate his false art, alchemy, with Dante’ s art, writing, brings into question the relationship that both occupations have with nature. If Capocchio is correct, that writing is only an attempt to make an unnatural transformation out of natural materials, then writing has no more moral worth than alchemy. Worse, there is an implication that if Dante continues writing – and sinning – he could end up just like Capocchio, in Hell.
| Quote #20
"Raphel mai amecche zabi almi,"
For his crime of attempting to reach the Heavens with his Tower of Babel (which parallel’s Lucifer’s arrogance in challenging God), Nimrod is punished by a confusion of tongues, just as he was in life. Where the Tower of Babel ended with God striking down the Tower and transforming man’s single language into thousands of different, mutually unintelligible ones, Nimrod suffers a personal Babel. He babbles incoherently, his speech (as in this first line) incomprehensible to everyone. To emphasize his linguistic loss, Virgil calls him "stupid" (meaning "dumb" or "deaf") and "bewildered," emphasizing that intellect and reason are measured by one’s use of language.
| Quote #21
Had I the crude and scrannel rhymes to suit
In the final circle of Hell, Dante finds words inadequate to express the terror located there. By describing language as a "tongue that cries out ‘mama’ [and] ‘papa,’ Dante suggests that language in general is too infantile to accurately describe the happenings in Hell. To describe language as infantile is to portray humanity in the same way because – in Dante’s eyes – language is what makes a creature human.