Dante and Virgil arrive at the next circle of Hell and look down into the valley at a site of carnage. Dante describes these souls who are dismembered and disfigured, comparing them to those of all the battles that have occurred over time. These are the sinners who sewed schism and discord. Their bodies are sliced open by a devil with a sword, causing their their entrails to spill out, as they walk eternally through Hell. However, just as their wounds finish healing, they return the the devil to be dismembered and mutilated again, forever repeating the process.
These sinners include those who sewed schism in religion, and political figures who sewed discord in Italian politics. One of the most incredible characters is Bertrand De Born, who sewed discord between family members, separating father from son (causing a quarrel between King Henry II and his son Prince Henry). Bertrand is decapitated by a devil and must travel carrying his head in his upraised hand like a lantern.
As gruesome and bloody as this scene is, Dante and Virgil will encounter even more in the next valley.
Next – Meeting with the Alchemists