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Not Just Another Canto

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Not Just Another Canto

Canto 12 is filled with multiple examples of historical facts, while also incorporating Dante's unique and wild imagination, making this canto, in my opinion, one of the most interesting cantos throughout the entire book. Dante incorporates names of many historical and mythological figures that he believed deserved to be placed in hell. Also in this canto, Dante includes a significant religious symbol, referring to the death of Christ.

During this Canto, Dante and Virgil clime down a rock wall, and sneak past the Minotaur, who guards the souls of the damned. After making it past the Minotaur, the two men come across the Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood. Here the two see many sinners such as Alexander the Great, and Attila the Hun submerged in the river, with only their heads showing. Along the banks of the river, Centaurs make sure no one tries to leave the river, shooting the rising bodies with their bow and arrows. Amongst the Centaurs is Chiron who guides Virgil and Dante to another Centaur named Nessus who ultimately leads Dante and Virgil to the next round. The physical landscape of this canto is quite interesting. Dante describes the land as "Rotta Lacca," in Italian meaning cracked Abyss. As Dante and Virgil make their way down the broken rocks from Jesus' death, they see the Phlegethon under them, a river of boiling blood with high banks. The river is not one depth, like most ordinary rivers. The middle is deeper while the blood near the banks is shallower. Throughout the level there is a stench that draws in from the sixth level to the entrance of the seventh level.

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