| Quote #10
…his tongue, which had before been whole and fit
This passage illustrates, in a very visceral way, Dante’s idea that language is a purely human phenomenon. The thief that mutates into a snake has his tongue split in two so that it is no longer "fit / for speech" and can only hiss as he slithers away. The sinner who has exchanged his serpent form for a human one, however, now possesses a whole tongue and commences to speak articulately.
| Quote #11
When Juno was incensed with Semele
In the first two mythological anecdotes, Dante suggests that certain uncontrollable emotions – while rendering one bestial – are appropriate in context and may even be worthy of pity from an onlooker. Athamas, driven to madness by the gods, and Hecuba, howling like a dog for her murdered children, inspire compassion in readers, and rightly so. However, Gianni Schicchi – attacking others in the midst of his maniacal rage – does little to move readers to see him in a favorable light. Indeed, his animalistic attributes (his tusks), unlike Hecuba’s pathetic howl of grief, are menacing and even make his fellow shades "tremble" in fear.
| Quote #12
No clamp has ever fastened plank to plank
These two brothers, whose fury against each other rages so intensely that they "butted each other like two rams," have lost themselves so much in their anger that someone else must speak for them, in order to identify them. Both have given in so much to their animal natures that they have forsaken the human gift of language.