Canto III Summary
In the beginning of Canto III in Dante’s Inferno, Virgil takes Dante to the entrance to Hell. On the gate there was a sign that read “All hope abandon, ye who enter in!” Virgil told Dante to forget all his suspicions and not to be a coward. As Virgil led Dante on, Dante heard screams and cries of sadness and despair. Dante asked Virgil what he was hearing and Virgil told him he was hearing the people in purgatory. They were people that were not faithful to God but were to themselves. Virgil also said that these people had been rejected from Heaven, as well as Hell and their spirits were condemned to live a life in limbo. Virgil told Dante not to pay too much attention to them and just walk past. As they continued their journey, Dante was able to spot a riverbank. Virgil explained to him that he was at the bank of the river Acheron, “River of Woe”. An old man in a boat rode up to the riverbank. The man’s name was Charon and in Greek mythology, he was the boat driver that took people to Hades across the River Styx. He screamed out for all living people to withdraw from the crowd and saw that Dante did not. Virgil explained to Charon that they were sent by a higher power to go through all the levels of Hell and not to ask any questions about it. Charon questioned Virgil no longer and continued to take the damned souls to Hell. Virgil clarified with Dante that Charon did not want any living souls to cross the river because Hell was only meant for the damned. As Virgil finished explaining, the ground began to tremble and a violent wind swept through the air. Dante then fainted and fell to the ground out of sheer terror.
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