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Diction in Dante's Inferno

Diction Examples in Dante's Inferno:

Canto 18

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"too woe-begone to drop a tear..."   (Canto 18)

The original Italian implies not that this spirit is too troubled to cry but that he is too proud to cry.

"Behov'd him then a forehead terror-proof..."   (Canto 21)

It is important for Virgil to show that he is not terrified by what he sees. Cary translates this moment as Virgil displaying a "forehead terror-proof." In Dante's Italian, Virgil has a "sicura fronte," more accurately translated as a "face of security" or a "front of security," in the sense of a fa├žade. Thus, "fronte" has two meanings: on a literal level, Virgil's face; on a figurative level, his demeanor.

"Raphel bai ameth sabi almi..."   (Canto 31)

dThese words, spoken by a Giant, are essentially a string of Hebrew gibberish. Scholars suggest that this reflects Dante's refusal to allow the Giants to say anything intelligible. They are symbols of brute power, not intellectual capacity.

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