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.
[Virgil quoting Beatrice]: "‘O spirit of the courteous Mantuan,
whose fame is still a presence in the world
and shall endure as long as the world lasts,
my friend who has not been the friend of fortune,
is hindered in his path along that lonely
hillside; he has been turned aside by terror.
From all that I have heard of him in Heaven,
he is, I fear, already so astray
that I have come to help him much too late.
Go now; with your persuasive word, with all
that is required to see that he escapes,
bring help to him, that I may be consoled.’" (Inf. II, 58-69)
Virgil’s renown as the consummate poet gifted with the "persuasive word" makes him the prime candidate to appeal to for Dante’s sake. It is to Virgil’s "courteous spirit," which has endured countless ages with an unblemished name, that Beatrice entrusts her beloved Dante, not to any real knowledge or experience with the poet.
[Virgil]: "Those who are here can place no hope in death,
and their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate.
The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass." (Inf. III, 46-51)
Because cowardice has kept the neutrals from making any indelible mark on the world, they have no claim to fame. Thus, "the world will let no fame of theirs endure," and even Virgil has no patience to spend time identifying any of these sinners. They simply have no reputation to speak of.
[Ciacco]: "But when you have returned to the sweet world,
I pray, recall me to men’s memory:
I say no more to you, answer no more." (Inf. VI, 88-90)
Ciacco is the first of many sinners who crave fame and a good name in the world above. Relegated to an existence which can hardly be called a life (suffering eternally in Hell), the only life these sinners can pretend to have is in men’s memory. Should they be forgotten, they would truly die, having been lost in body, soul, and memory to the living. Since these sinners have lost everything in their damnation, their only chance at being remembered in any good light is in the mortal world, where the living have no knowledge of Hell’s inhabitants.