The central character of this canto goes unnamed but his actions are supplied in such detail that he must be a Dante's near-contemporary. Like Ulysses, the soul gave shifty advice with a silver tongue. And he counseled a pope who waged war upon his fellow Christians. From what I've read, I'd say Dante's not too enamored of popes, but maybe that's just because I've only read Inferno so far? There's an Italian proto-nationalism that looks back to Rome & Troy and lingers (Virgil-like) over the geography of the peninsula. But Dante's political philosophy is hard to make out.