Journey through the Dante Urbinate: Canto VIII, the Styx

Our journey through the Dante Urbinate picks up at the fifth circle of Hell, where souls are punished for the sins of wrath and sullenness.

In this splendid miniature, we see Dante and Virgil while they are crossing the Styx marsh guided by the boatman Phlegyas, who is seen from behind while rowing. Along the way, the two poets run into the Florentine Filippo de’ Cavicciuli, who lived in Florence in the thirteenth century. He gained the nickname “Argenti” for having put silver shoes on his horse.

Argenti is in the putrid waters with the other souls condemned for the sin of wrath, who are forced close together and constantly clawing and striking one another. Argenti leans into the boat and tries to overturn it, but Virgil pushes him back and embraces Dante, with admiration for his gesture of disdain for that particular damned soul.

We can also see our poets in the distance as they leave Phlegyas’ boat on the riverbank and prepare to enter the city of Dis, on whose red-hot walls the devils who want to prevent the entry of the two poets stand threateningly.

The marsh is depicted as a great river. On the left bank stands a tower with two burning torches, and on the right bank, the city of Dis. The horizon and the sky are darkened by the smoke from great fires in the distance.

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. 20r, 1478-1482, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

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