by Dante Alighieri
Inferno Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[Three sodomites]: "Stop, you who by your clothing seem to be
someone who comes from our indecent country!" (Inf. XVI, 8-9)
Florence leaves its stamp so indelibly on its natives that Dante is recognized by his garb alone. One finds that Dante is not alone in his denunciation of Florence. Even sinners call it that "indecent country!"
[Virgil]: Therefore, I charge you, if you ever hear
a different tale of my town’s origin,
do not let any falsehood gull the truth."
And I: "Oh master, that which you have spoken
convinces me and so compels my trust
that others’ words would only be spent coals." (Inf. XX, 97-102)
In relating the story of Mantua’s true origins, Virgil attempts to cast off his reputation as a deceitful magician and stake his reputation on the truth of his words.
[Virgil]: "Now you must cast aside your laziness,"
my master said, "for he who rests on down
or under covers cannot come to fame;
and he who spends his life without renown
leaves such a vestige of himself on earth
as smoke bequeaths to air or foam to water." (Inf. XXIV, 46-51)
Virgil implies that fame must be won through hard labor. Only through honest work can one leave his mark on the world. Those afflicted with laziness may never gain fame and thus take the risk of being forgotten by the mortal world, just as "smoke on air" or "foam [on] water" remain visible for but a few moments before fading away.