Fraud. -Dante's Inferno- Picture

Fraud, the eight circle and the ten stages or Bolgias within it. The last two circles of Hell punish sins that involve conscious fraud or treachery. These circles can be reached only by descending a vast cliff. Geryon is an image of fraud, with his face appearing to be that of an honest man, the body of a beautifully-colored wyvern, the furry paws of a lion, and a poisonous sting in the pointy snake-like tail.

The fraudulent, those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil are located in a circle named Malebolge divided into ten Bolgie, or ditches of stone, with bridges spanning the ditches:

Bolgia 1: Panderers and seducers march in separate lines in opposite directions, whipped by demons. Just as the panderers and seducers used the passions of others to drive them to do their bidding, they are themselves driven by demons to march for all eternity. In the group of panderers, there is Venedico Caccianemico, who sold his own sister to the Marchese d'Este. Jason who gained the help of Medea by seducing and marrying her only to later desert her for Creusa. Jason also seduced Hypsipyle, but abandoned her, alone and pregnant.

Bolgia 2: Flatterers also exploited other people, this time using language. They are steeped in human excrement, which represents the words they produced. Alessio Interminei of Lucca and Thaïs are seen here.

Bolgia 3: Those who committed simony are placed head-first in holes in the rock resembling baptismal fonts, with flames burning on the soles of their feet. One of the simoniacs, Pope Nicholas III, denounces two of his successors, Pope Boniface VIII and Pope Clement V, for the same offence. Simon Magus, who offered gold in exchange for holy power to Saint Peter, is also seen here.

Bolgia 4: Sorcerers, astrologers, and false prophets here have their heads twisted around on their bodies backward, so that they found it necessary to walk backward because they could not see ahead of them. While referring primarily to attempts to see into the future by forbidden means, this also symbolises the twisted nature of magic in general. You will see Amphiaraus, Tiresias, Tiresias' daughter Manto, Aruns, Michael Scot, Alberto de Casalodi, and Guido Bonatti, among others.

Bolgia 5: Corrupt politicians, barrators, are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals. The barrators are the political analogue of the simoniacs. They are guarded by devils called the Malebranche, who provide some savage and satirical black comedy. The leader of the Malebranche is Malacoda.

Bolgia 6: In the sixth Bolgia, the hypocrites listlessly walk along wearing gilded lead cloaks, which represent the falsity behind the surface appearance of their actions, falsity that weighs them down and makes spiritual progress impossible for them. Catalano and Loderingo, two members of the Jovial Friars, an order which had acquired a reputation for not living up to its vows, and which was eventually suppressed by Pope Sixtus V. Caiaphas, the high priest responsible for ordering Jesus crucified, is also seen here, crucified to the ground and trampled.

Bolgia 7: Two cantos are devoted to the thieves, who are guarded by the centaur Cacus who has a fire-breathing dragon on his shoulders and snakes covering his equine. Back in Roman mythology, Cacus was not a centaur but a monstrous fire-breathing giant slain by Heracles. The thieves are pursued and bitten by snakes and lizards. The full horror of the thieves' punishment is revealed gradually just as they stole other people's substance in life, their very identity becomes subject to theft here, and the snake bites make them undergo various transformations. Vanni Fucci is turned to ashes and resurrected. Agnello is blended with the six-legged reptile that is Cianfa. Buoso exchanges shapes with the four-legged Francesco.

Bolgia 8: Two further cantos are devoted to the fraudulent advisers or evil counsellors, who are concealed within individual flames. These are not people who gave false advice, but people who used their position to advise others to engage in fraud. Ulysses and Diomedes are condemned here for the deception of the Trojan Horse. Ulysses also tells the tale of his fatal final voyage where he left his home and family to sail to the end of the Earth only to have his ship founder near Mount Purgatory. Ulysses also mentions of his encounter with Circe stating that she beguiled him. Guido da Montefeltro recounts how he advised Pope Boniface VIII to capture the fortress of Palestrina, by offering the Colonna family inside it a false amnesty, and then razing it to the ground after they surrendered. Guido became a Franciscan in 1296, and died two years later. Guido describes St. Francis as coming to take his soul to Heaven, only to have a demon assert prior claim.

Bolgia 9: In the ninth Bolgia, a sword-wielding demon hacks at the Sowers of Discord, dividing parts of their bodies as in life they divided others. As they make their rounds the wounds heal, only to have the demon tear apart their bodies again. Bertran de Born, who carries around his severed head like a lantern, a literal representation allowing himself to detach his intelligence from himself, as a punishment for fomenting the rebellion of Henry the Young King against his father Henry II.

Bolgia 10: In the final Bolgia, various sorts of falsifiers; alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and impersonators, who are a disease on society, are themselves afflicted with different types of diseases. Potiphar's wife is briefly mentioned here for her false accusation of Joseph, as is Sinon, the Greek spy who tricked the Trojans into taking the Trojan Horse into their city. Sinon is here, rather than in Bolgia 8, because his advice was false as well as evil. The Spendthrift Club and Myrrha were here as well. In the notes on her translation, Sayers remarks that the descent through Malebolge began with the sale of the sexual relationship, and went on to the sale of Church and State; now, the very money is itself corrupted, every affirmation has become perjury, and every identity a lie; so that every aspect of social interaction has been progressively destroyed.
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