Journey through the Dante Urbinate: Canto I, Minos

Our journey alongside Dante continues at the gate to the second circle of the Inferno.

Having passed through Limbo, Dante and Virgil reach the actual entry to Hell, where the naked devils that greet them are covered with red and gray pelts, and have mustaches, horns and pointed ears. Among them is Minos, Judge of the Damned, a character of classical mythology who is shown having some animal characteristics.

Minos judges and pronounces the sentences of the damned, indicating with the coils of his tail which circle of hell is their destiny. The terrified damned souls await their fate.

Off to the right, the two poets observe the scene. Dante is shown in full profile figure while we only see Virgil’s head, covered by his red hood. In the background, we see a rocky landscape, hills that explode in fire, and a dark sky where the souls of the lustful, driven by the wind, complain aloud as they crash into each other.

Source: Federica Toniolo, Descrizione delle miniature, Inferno, La Divina Commedia di Federico da Montefeltro. Il Dante Urbinate. Commentario. 

Illumination from Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia, Ms. Urb. lat. 365, f. 12r, 1478-1482, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

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