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.
[Guido da Montefeltro]: "If I thought my reply were meant for one
who ever could return into the world,
this flame would stir no more; and yet, since none –
if what I hear is true – ever returned
alive from this abyss, then without fear
of facing infamy, I answer you." (Inf. XXVII, 61-66)
Guido da Montefeltro values his good name; indeed, as a military-man-turned-monk, he seems to have a solid reputation, but he hides a dark secret that only Dante is privy to. Trusting that Dante is a fellow sinning soul condemned eternally to the Inferno, Guido does not hesitate in revealing his damning sin. In actuality, Dante has the power to force Guido to "fac[e] infamy," if he so desires.
[Dante to alchemists]: "So that your memory may never fade
within the first world from the minds of men,
but still live on – and under many suns –
do tell me who you are and from what city,
and do not let your vile and filthy torment
make you afraid to let me know your names." (Inf. XXIX, 103-108)
Deep within the circles of fraud, Dante learns to manipulate the sinners’ desire for fame to his advantage. Here, he lures men into telling their stories by promising to bring word of them back to the living world. Whether or not he is sincere in his promises is another matter.
[Dante to Bocca degli Abati]: "I am alive, and can be precious to you
if you want fame," was my reply, "for I
can set your name among my other notes."
And he to me: "I want the contrary;
so go away and do not harass me –
your flattery is useless in this valley."
At that I grabbed him by the scruff and said:
"You’ll have to name yourself to me
or else you won’t have even one hair left up here."
And he to me: "Though you should strip me bald,
I shall not tell you who I am or show it,
not if you pound my head a thousand times."
His hairs were wound around my hand already,
and I had plucked from him more than one tuft
while he was barking and his eyes stared down,
when someone else cried out: "What is it, Bocca?
Isn’t the music of your jaws enough
for you without your bark? What devil’s at you?"
"And now," I said, "you traitor bent on evil,
I do not need your talk, for I shall carry
true news of you, and that will bring you shame."
"Be off," he answered; "tell them what you like…" (Inf. XXXII, 91-112)
Bocca is the only sinner unimpressed by Dante’s offer to keep his memory alive in the mortal world. Here is a sinner so corrupt that he cares little what happens to his good name simply because he has none; it has already been irreparably besmirched by his well-known betrayal to his country. However, his indifference brings out a different and frightening side of Dante, proving – to some extent – that our poet has never had any intention of bringing glory to the sinners. Indeed, when provoked by Bocca, Dante threatens to do quite the opposite: to "carry / true news of you, and…bring you shame."