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The 6th Canto, Cerberus and the “gluttons”.

Dante, Inferno. Cerbero e i golosi.
Cerbero e i golosi nel terzo cerchio dell’Inferno.

Canto VI, Inferno. Third circle, of gluttons. Dante and Virgil descend among the souls, which Cerberus, a demon in the form of a three-headed dog, overwhelms, “scratches…, skinned and tears apart. The scene is heavy, under a continuous rain of snow, dirty water and hail. One of the prostrate souls recognizes Dante from Florence, and appeals to him. It is Ciacco, whom Dante does not immediately recognize and who then questions about the political events of Florence, about what it was and what it will be.

The scene has been illustrated over time by various designers and painters. Dorè performed two illustrations, one on Cerberus, the other with Dante walking on the bodies of the damned, meeting Ciacco. Blake concentrated on Cerberus, others have “condensed” verses from 1 to 39 into a single work. The main difficulty is to reproduce the heavy atmosphere, the rain, the snow, the hail. If it is all in all simple to render snow graphically, the same cannot be said for rain and hail. Dorè, for example, limited himself to sketching rain and hail as a background to the representation of Cerberus. In particular, the rain, to be realistic, creates a curtain, a sort of fog that inevitably covers the drawing; unless you sketch the “gusts” (in the manner of cartoonists) with a few simple “scratches”.  Since I have opted for a scene that condensed the first 39 verses, I preferred not to “penalize” the fatigue of a very (for me) demanding basic drawing and I limited myself to representing the snow. Perhaps the result is an image that is a little too “Christmas”, therefore completely opposite to the intentions. Perhaps…

Ink and Watercolor, 33×48.

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