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Three Beasts In Dante's The Divine Comedy, Inferno

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Dante, The Pilgrim, midway through his life, finds himself lost in a dark wood near the bottom of a mountain with only a light to guide him toward the top. As Dante traverses upwards, he stumbles upon a light-bathed clearing where he finds three beasts blocking his way: a leopard, symbolizing fraudulence; a lion, symbolizing violence; and a she-wolf, symbolizing incontinence (Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Inferno. I. 1-50). Once faced with these three beasts, specifically the she-wolf, Dante is driven back into the sunless woods where he is confronted by the poet, Virgil. The poet asks Dante why he does not simply climb up the mountain, “the beginning of the source of all man’s joy” (Inferno. I. 77-78). Once Dante explains how the beasts forced him to retreat, Virgil begins to explain that Dante has two options: either wait for a greyhound to come purge the mountain of the beasts that forced his retreat, or find another route up the mountain, for the animals guarding the way will not let any man pass. Virgil continues to explain how it is him who must lead Dante through Hell and Purgatory in order for him to reach Paradise (Inferno. I. 63-123). With this information, Dante begins to beg Virgil to guide him “[to] the gate Saint Peter guards / and those whose anguish you have told me of” (Inferno. I. 133-134). When presented with the choice to either wait for the greyhound to purge the hill of the three beasts, or follow Virgil on his trip through The Inferno, Dante chooses the
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