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Irony in Dante's Inferno

Irony Examples in Dante's Inferno:

Canto 19

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"Diff'ring wherein from the idolater, But he that worships one, a hundred ye..."   (Canto 19)

Dante sardonically quips that the only difference between idolators and the church is that idolators worship one thing, while the church worships a hundred things (that is, large sums of money).

"such their step as walk Quires chanting solemn litanies on earth..."   (Canto 20)

The prisoners walk as slowly as those walking in religious processions. This is ironic, given the sacrilegious nature of their offenses.

"All men are there, Except Bonturo, barterers: of 'no' For lucre there an 'aye' is quickly made..."   (Canto 21)

This line is heavy with sarcasm, given that Bonturo was allegedly the most corrupt official in Lucca. 

"FLORENCE exult..."   (Canto 26)

Virgil and Dante are still in the Seventh Pouch of the Eighth Circle, among the thieves. These opening lines are Dante's ironic congratulations to Florence for having sinners from Florence represented in every circle of the Inferno.

"Seems as men yet believ'd, that through thine arm The sons of earth had conquer'd..."   (Canto 31)

Virgil flatters Antaeus because he needs the giant's help. Virgil says that men believe the Titans would have beaten if the Olympic gods if Antaeus had participated in the attack. This is an example of dramatic irony, for readers know that Virgil's story may well be a lie.

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