by Dante Alighieri
Inferno Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[Francesca]: "Love, that can quickly seize the gentle heart,
took hold of him because of the fair body
taken from me – how that was done still wounds me.
Love, that releases no beloved from loving,
took hold of me so strongly through his beauty
that, as you see, it has not left me yet.
Love led the two of us unto one death.
Caina waits for him who took our life." (Inf. V, 100-107)
Francesca, in speaking the language of courtly love, not only personifies love but also exonerates herself and her lover of all guilt. She represents herself as a passive body upon which Love acts, like a god. Here, Love "[takes] hold" of both lovers and "[leads] the two of us unto one death." Francesca repeatedly renders Love as the guilty, sinning force and represents herself as innocent.
[Francesca]: "One day, to pass the time away, we read
of Lancelot – how love had overcome him.
We were alone, and we suspected nothing.
And time and time again that reading led
our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale,
and yet one point alone defeated us.
When we had read how the desired smile
was kissed by one who was so true a lover,
this one, who never shall be parted from me,
while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth.
A Gallehault indeed, that book and he
who wrote it, too; that day we read no more." (Inf. V, 127-138)
In attempting to describe their love, Francesca reveals that her and Paolo’s feelings are nothing more than carnal lust. Their shared activity of reading, which should be a purely intellectual pursuit, becomes an increasingly physical one. First the words lead their gazes to one another, then they imitate the characters’ actions, and finally – in the most blatantly physical representation – Francesca describes the book as a flesh-and-blood person, Gallehault, the man who urged Lancelot to carry on an illicit affair with the queen. All of this results in Francesca and Paolo forgetting their reading in favor of giving in to their lust.
[Virgil]: "Now fraud, that eats away at every conscience,
is practice by a man against another
who trust in him, or one who has no trust.
This latter way seems only to cut off
the bond of love that nature forges; thus,
nestled within the second circle are:
hypocrisy and flattery, sorcerers,
and falsifiers, simony, and theft,
and barrators and panders and like trash.
But in the former way of fraud, not only
the love that nature forges is forgotten,
but added love that builds a special trust;
thus, in the tightest circle, where there is
the universe’s center, seat of Dis,
all traitors are consumed eternally." (Inf. XI, 52-66)
Because God with his infinite love created the universe, his love permeates everything, creating bonds of love between men and the world around them. Fraud, the most heinous type of sin, "cut[s] off / the bond of love that nature forges" because it falsifies man’s (supposedly loving) relationship to the material world around him. Whereas sinners of ordinary fraud like hypocrites, flatterers, and sorcerers generally betray the world around them, sinners of treacherous fraud first establish a particular bond of love with another person and then betray them, making the "special trust" between them "forgotten." Thus, fraud in a very real way is a negation of natural love.