Dante as Orpheus: Georgics 4 and Inferno 5
Classical Literature and Philology
Italian Language and Literature
Critics have long struggled to explain the apparent contradiction between Inferno 5.31, where the violent winds of the second circle of hell are said never to rest, and Inferno 5.96, where the wind is calm while Dante speaks with Francesca da Rimini. I argue that the winds calm specifically because they also calm when Orpheus visits the underworld in search of Eurydice in Georgics 4. With this briefest of allusions Dante fashions himself as another Orpheus, a poet whose art can soothe hell itself, into which he has dared (as a character) to descend.