| Quote #1
…when I faced that restless beast,
One of Dante’s more famous literary devices is "synaesthesia," in which he describes something by confusing two of our five senses together for a unique effect. Here, Dante confuses sight and sound, when he describes the sun as "speechless." Because the sun cannot speak to begin with, readers may interpret this as "dark," so that the beast makes Dante retreat into a dark area, both physically and metaphorically. Or one could read this as Dante being rendered "speechless" with fear.
| Quote #2
When I saw him [Virgil] in that vast wilderness,
Dante’s response on spying Virgil’s ghost in the wilderness is one of instinctive fear. His actual plea, "have pity on me," in the original text forms the words "miserere di me." "Miserere" is actually Latin, not Italian, and comes from a famous psalm often sung on Ash Wednesday. In speaking Latin, Dante the pilgrim identifies himself as a steadfast Christian and, appropriately, sets himself up for recognition by Virgil, a Roman poet who was, of course, fluent in Latin. It is interesting that Dante the writer would use a liturgical Latin phrase to address a speaker of pagan Latin.
| Quote #3
[Dante]: "And are you then that Virgil, you the fountain
Dante recognizes Virgil as his artistic idol, "the only one from whom my writing drew [a] noble style." Thus, Dante acknowledges that all the epic similes, epithets, and larger-than-life characters stem from the epic tradition -- one that Virgil solidified in his epic poem, the Aeneid. Note that Dante calls Virgil "my author," as though Virgil’s poetry, or his writing style, directly informed Dante’s. Indeed, Dante acknowledges this creative debt by making constant allusions to the Aeneid.