Quotes or quotations are phrases, sentences, lines, and paragraphs taken from literary work. These quotes express universal truths or themes. Inferno’s famous quotes are often cited and referenced in various situations. Here are some of its famous quotes with contextual explanations. The quotes given below have been taken from the translation by Allen Mandelbaum.
Quotes in Inferno
When I had journeyed half our life’s way
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.
Here, Dante states that he has passed half of his life and he doesn’t know when he had entered into the shadowed forest. Here, he compared the forest with evils ways. He added that he was tricked into getting there. He cannot figure out the difference between good and evil. These lines are significant as they set the main theme of Inferno.
Justice urged on my high artificer;
my maker was divine authority,
the highest wisdom, and the primal love.
Dante states that after meeting Virgil, they have reached the gates of Hell where they see the word justice inscribed on its gate. It was written that God is perfect justice, divine authority, the highest wisdom, and prime love. Therefore, the sinners will suffer punishment justly awarded to them in Hell. These lines are significant as they reveal that he referred to Hell as Inferno.
and he, the connoisseur of sin, can tell
the depth in Hell appropriate to it;
as many times as Minos wraps his tail
around himself, that marks the sinner’s level.
This is the place in the Second Circle. The sinners meet Minos, a creature which decides where they are to be sent. This creature wraps its tail to the state where the most dreadful sinners are sent. The Minos had been the connoisseur of sin. These lines are significant as they show the various degrees of crimes which are elaborated later.
I learned that those who undergo this torment
are damned because they sinned within the flesh,
subjecting reason to the rule of lust.
This is the Second Circle of Hell where lustful persons are kept. Dante shows that sensual people are those who had sinned through their thoughts or body. It is because they have not given preference to reason and kept reason secondary to their lust. Hence, due to lust, promiscuous behavior, they are damned in this circle.
When you shall stand before the gentle splendor
of one whose gracious eyes see everything,
then you shall learn — from her — your lifetime’s journey.
Throughout the journey, Virgil is Dante’s guide. He reminds Dante that Heaven had sent the woman as a guide. The word “her” means Beatrice, his beloved, who will be his teacher and guide through the later parts of the Hell. These lines are significant as they show that Virgil, being non-Christian, is not allowed to go ahead from that point.
Have you forgotten, then, the words with which
your Ethics treats of those three dispositions
that strike at Heaven’s will: incontinence
and malice and mad bestiality?
Virgil is speaking to Dante to tell him that there are three categories of sins, as stated by Aristotle. They are incontinence, mad bestiality and malice or fraud. However, Dante has shown these categories from a Catholic point of view to show that his Inferno has Christian ethics.
Your art would follow nature,
just as a pupil imitates his master;
… your art is almost God’s grandchild.
Virgil is explaining God’s creation to Dante. He says that God has created everything. So, when a person creates something, he is engaged in imitating God. Therefore, he believes that whatever Dante has created, it is just imitation of the Master or God, and it is a grandchild of God.
Ask of him
whatever you believe I should request;
I cannot, so much pity takes my heart.
Virgil speaks to Dante and explains that he is pitying after seeing the situation of the soul in question who has committed suicide and is now undergoing torment in Hell. Virgil tells him that he cannot describe this as he is full of sorrow over this punishment, but Dante should ask the soul and know the reason for making a terrible choice.
We came along from one bridge to another,
talking of things my Comedy is not
concerned to sing.
Here “we” means Dante and Virgil. He states that he and his guide came to a bridge talking about different things that they had seen. He explains that his comedy or this work is not meant for singing but knowing things how they occur or take place in different parts of Hell.
I made the son and father enemies:
… Because I severed those so joined, I carry—
alas — my brain dissevered from its source,
which is within my trunk. And thus, in me
one sees the law of counter-penalty.
Dante meets one of the sinners named Bertran de Born. He sinned by dividing the people. Hence, he was being split into pieces as a punishment when Virgil and Dante arrive this part of the Hell. This is the principal of counter-penalty or contrapasso. It means to be punished by a process either resembling or contrasting with the sin itself. As he confessed his sin, he was receiving punishment for the same.