Canto V -- Re-written

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Canto V: A Revision While passing the evil Minos, Dante overhears the confessions made by incoming souls. Most intriguing is the punishments and placements given to the doomed souls. Curious of the demon that seems to evaluate each soul's sin, Dante turns and watches the connoisseur. Dante observes Minos wrap his tail around his body, and the number of times the tail is wrapped around his body is the assigned circle which the soul must spend its eternity. Minos then challenges Dante and Virgil to a judgment but withdraws as Virgil claims his divine order. As Dante and Virgil descend into the second circle of hell, they begin to see some recognizable faces amongst the souls whiling over their heads.

The further we descend into hell and out feet touch the second circle. Sorrow and disappointment abundantly flood the atmosphere and we acknowledge the presence of a few souls. Amidst the darkness, Virgil recognizes the "sense-drugged Cleopatra".

Moreover, he addresses Helen of Troy by stating she is a woman "whom such ill arose". Even further down the circle, we also see the "great Achilles who fought at last with love in the house of prayer".

Virgil then continued by acknowledging the fact that those who are here, are also "those torn from the mortal life by love. Dido surfaced and I understood the circle as being a home for those "who betrayed reason for their appetite". My teacher pointed out that Dido's reason laid in the fact she had committed suicide due to her overwhelming desire to be loved. Understandably, we also encounter the Queen of Assyria, Semiramis. Virgil noted that he did not give herself as the others had, but promoted many types sexual immorality. As Queen, she also legalized such acts.

Past offenders appeared to be horribly accustomed to the torture of the torture and despair. The veterans of the second circle were already empty of all hope. Yet, the newcomers seemed to be unaware of their sins or any reason for their doomed fate. After speaking to the only two bonded souls, Francesca and Paolo, I am disheartened as I watch the souls cry. "I cannot understand why some would be condemned for love?" Virgil turned but continued on out journey. I could not help calling to another soul. I, as Virgil directed me to do before, "call to them in the name of love that drives and damns them here". It was a soul of a young man, which appeared to me. I ask, "What is it that causes you to suffer here?" In reply, the young man stated: "I am a product of love. The love, which caused my heart to hurt when my wife died as a result of her poisonous hands. She lay so lifeless and I could not bear to live without her warm touch. Thus, I drink from my own poisoned hands with hopes to meet my love in the heavens. Now, I am alone while my bride in resting amongst the many angels. " I almost faint from the pity I feel for this young man and as soon as the crane releases its scornful cry, the man is swept away by the treacherous winds. I address my teacher who has been listening to my conversation with the soul, "Might you have any idea who that was?" Virgil then answered, "Romeo Montague, lover and murderer in Verona". I quickly ask, "Murderer? Why is he not being punished even more severely?" Virgil simply nods and I am left in my curiosity. Yet, my curiosity is settled as a woman circles above and Virgil says "that is the withered soul of Juliet Capulet. She had taken her life with a dagger in response to her love's own suicide". Immediately as he finished speaking, Juliet's weary voice can be heard whispering, "Romeo, Romeo"¦" The rest of her words just disappeared with the wind.

"I do not think I can resume on my journey with such sorrowful souls mulling about". Virgil ignored my complaint and acknowledged Desdemona. "My teacher, what could this beauty have done?" In response, Virgil commented: "She is very much similar to Helen of Troy, whom we have passed earlier. She too caused much havoc as result of her boundless beauty. Many men yearned for her affection and one man had received it"¦the sin lies in the cost of her beauty. Men have fought in response to her beauty and her love placed his heart upon a dagger to ease his pain caused by such a desirable woman. But, her punishment is not as severe as the rest of the circle, since she was also used as a pawn in an deceiver's plans"¦how they are not as severe is unknown to me".

Virgil then further explains the man I now see trailing behind Desdemona, seemingly attempting to touch her. "You see that is Roderigo, whose life has been torn by thoughts of Desdemona's loveliness. Now he is condemned to a life chasing her, while his voice remains unrecognized by her ears and her eyes blind to his sight. Moreover, he is also forced to always be a few steps behind his goal".

The final soul we encountered is said to be the most hated amongst the rest. "As your guide, I will take you to the most tortured soul amongst all the pain of the second circle. In his mortal life, he was a man of great stature, but torn by softness of a woman's flesh". "Teacher, who might this person be?" We came around a bend, and amongst the cranes I spotted a silver haired man, who was chained against a dying tree. As we approached the man, the stench began to grow, for he served as the birds' outhouse. "Master, how do I speak to him? This seems to be a different case." Virgil instructed me to simply tap his shoulder, yet only allow his to speak and ask no questions, for he often lies and does not respond well to interrogation. I did as Virgil said and the man's began to spoke. Surprisingly, the man had an exceptionally strong voice.

"I am here because of lust. It was only one woman who caused the world to fully recognize my desires. But, I have had many who have succumbed to my advances. I admit, I am both a seducer and I have been seduced. I was human. Humanity is filled with mistakes that have been prone since each individual birth. I treat woman no different from one another. I give gifts and temporary satisfaction in their lives. As a result, I am condemned to a life of sorrow, when my mortal life was one of privilege. By the way, do you have a cigar?" Then his eyes closed and his head dropped. "Master, I do not understand, who is this man?" Before we proceeded to the next circle, Circle Three, Virgil whispered "he is adulterous president, Clinton".