This comedic canto is straight out of a medieval play. The damned in this ditch arch their backs to ease their cramping and so, dolphin-like, break the surface of the molten pitch. Dante's demonic escort hooks one with a harpoon and starts tearing his flesh. But like his fellows in this area, the poor bastard is a barrator (a lawyer who repeatedly files suits simply to harrass) and he manages to start an argument among the demons! As they fight, they let go of him and then, when they give chase, they tumble into the burning tar. Slapstick!