| Quote #7
[Virgil]: … "Look at that mighty one who comes
Jason, the mythical leader of the Argonauts, shows that Virgil’s "persuasive word" can be turned to evil uses. Although the Italian phrase used to describe Virgil’s speech, "parole ornate," remains the same, Mandelbaum chooses to translate Jason’s speech as "polished words" instead of "persuasive." This highlights Jason’s flashy image and professed gallantry, which woo women to him, while allowing his vile nature to lurk underneath. Here, in the first ring of fraud, readers begin to doubt the goodness of the "persuasive word," or elaborate language, when they see that it can persuade people with false hopes and lead to tragic consequences.
| Quote #8
I stood as does the friar who confesses
When mistaken by Pope Nicholas III for his successor Pope Boniface VIII come to replace him in Hell, Dante is tempted to play along and to trick Nicholas into believing he will bring him some relief. This is evidenced by his hesitation to refute Nicholas’ words and it is not until Virgil scolds Dante into telling the truth that he reveals his true identity. Thus, Virgil’s claim that fraud is the worst and most human sin gains legitimacy here because even the moral Dante is swayed for a moment to succumb to deceit. The scene receives an even greater flavor of dishonesty when Dante describes himself (in a simile) as a friar with the authority to confess a sinner – something which he definitely is not. That Dante even dares to suggest such a dishonest image implies that he is feeling the effects of the fraud all around him.
| Quote #9
Below that point we found a painted people,
The hypocrites or Jovial Friars have all the hallmarks of a deceitful people. They are "painted" and their "cloaks were gilded" so that "they dazzled." On the surface, these sinners are brilliantly attractive, drawing the eye with their golden robes, but on the inside the mantles are lined with "lead," "so heavy" that their wearers must walk "tired and defeated." What initially promises to be beautiful suddenly turns out to be ugly and restrictive. This comments on the Friars’ actions in life: they promised to keep the peace in their provinces but instead founded their own orders, bringing strife and violence to the land.