Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer Reading: Inferno (canto 28)

Here's a surprise: Mohammad languishes in the ninth Malebolge among the schismatics, not with the blasphemers in the seventh Ring. Evidently, Dante sees Islam as a (particularly perverse) offshoot of Christianity rather than a religion unto itself. The Prophet and his fellows in this ditch are, fittingly, hacked and severed like men on a battlefield, a concrete symbol of the dissension they fomented among the faithful. Dante begins the canto with a striking description of a battlefield. Here and elsewhere, he alludes to his service in the Battle of Campaldino, a decisive event in Florence's civil wars—another schism, of course!

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