Dante: The Wrathful

“A marsh there is called Styx, which the sad stream
Forms when it finds the end of its descent
Under the grey, malignant rock-foot grim;And I, staring about with eyes intent,
Saw mud-stained figures in the mire beneath,
Naked, with looks of savage discontent,At fisticuffs–not with fists alone, but with
Their heads and heels, and with their bodies too,
And tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.”Son,” the kind master said, “here may’st though view
The souls of those who yielded them to wrath;
Further, I’d have thee know and hold for true 

That others lie plunged deep in this vile broth,
Whose sighs–see there, wherever one may look-
Come bubbling up to the top and make it froth.

Bogged there they say: ‘Sullen were we–we took
No joy of the pleasant air, no joy of the good
Sun; our hearts smouldered with a sulky smoke;

Sullen we lie here now in the black mud.’
This hymn they gurgle in their throats, for whole
Words they can nowise frame.” Thus we pursued

Our path round a wide arc of that ghast pool,
Between the soggy marsh and arid shore,
Still eyeing those who gulp the marish foul,

And reached at length the foot of a tall tower.”

(Dante, Inferno, Canto VII, Sayers trans)

From the lustful mutual self-indulgence to a radical self-isolation, unable now even to communicate. Acedia is also wrath directed inwards on the self.

The Marsh. Both kinds of Wrath are figured as a muddy slough; on its surface, the active hatreds rend and snarl at one another; at the bottom, the sullen hatreds lie gurgling, unable even to express themselves for the rage that chokes them. This is the last of the Circles of Incontinence. This savage self-frustration is the end of that which had its tender and romantic beginnings in the dalliance of indulged passion” (Dante, Inferno, Canto VII, Sayers notes p 114).

Advertisements
This entry was posted in accidie, acedia, Dante, Dorothy Sayers, sloth, The Inklings, The Self, wrath. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s