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Inferno, V Canto, 4-6:

” Stavvi Minòs orribilmente, e ringhia: / essamina le colpe ne l’intrata; / giudica e manda secondo ch’avvinghia.”

Ink & Watercolor,  49×71,  04/2021


Minos, Canto V Inferno, Dante Alighieri

Second circle, of the lustful. We are at the real entrance of hell; here is Minos, in a horrible way. He has the features of the devil as painted by  medieval artists,  and he listens to the sins that every damned confesses; then he indicates the number of the circle to which the soul is destined, wrapping his  body so many times with his own snake-shaped  tail. The image is repulsive, and, for our eyes in  the 21st century, even a little grotesque. Dante does not give us many details of the scene: Minos judges and “sends” the damned and resigned soul. The poet does not interact with the devil, whom Virgil “hisses” with a few word,  as he did with Charon. However, the scene lends itself to illustration like few of those encountered so far, even if it is not the heart of the Canto, which remained famous for being the Canto  of Paolo and Francesca. I immediately imagined Minos in an elevated position, on the ruins of a Doric column, an element perhaps familiar to him, in an environment where the little light comes from burning wells, the first signs of hellish pains. In the foreground, two souls “sent” to their destiny; others approach the judge, some are surrounded by tentacles in the service of Minos. In the background, ”quietly” waiting souls. Virgil and Dante appear “passing through”. The goal was above all to render the atmosphere of darkness and resignation; in the end the result tends a little too much to the “fantasy”. A sort of advanced compensation for the limits that I will certainly encounter with the theme of Paolo and Francesca.