| Quote #1
When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
From this opening passage, one can see that the nature of sin (or "abandon[ing God’s] true path") is inherently treacherous because its path is "shadowed," "savage," "dense and difficult." As a road overcast with darkness, it limits Dante’s sight, both literally and metaphorically, making it difficult for him to ‘see’ the boundary between good and evil. Dante has already been tricked into his present predicament because he "cannot clearly say how [he] entered / the wood." Sin – deceptively innocuous at this point – has only made Dante "full of sleep," so that he cannot remember when he strayed off the straight road to God.
| Quote #2
[Cavalcanti]: … "If it is your high intellect
For the first time, we see Dante infected by the deceit that runs rampant in Hell. He lies to Cavalcanti about his son. Whether this is a deliberate attempt to spite the sinner or a mere slip of the tongue is ambiguous. However, he does mislead Cavalcanti by "hesitat[ing] a moment" in revealing the truth. And it is significant that Dante’s lie comes in the circle of the heretics, those who deceive themselves about God’s existence and supremacy. By denying the existence of God, they deny man’s immortal soul; if a loved one dies, the heretic does not expect her to have the privilege of an afterlife. Thus, if Guido is dead and Cavalcanti does not know about it, he is either utterly gone (as the Epicureans believed) or, possibly worse, in Heaven – as far from his sinning father as possible.
| Quote #3
Then, as if penitent for my omission,
Dante, unlike the sinners, repents of his lie and contritely reveals the truth. His sense of shame, readers feel, is well-deserved because he has fallen to the spiteful level of the sinners. And it takes a conversation with a so-called "noble sinner, Farinata, to bring Dante to his senses.