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  • Writer's pictureRobert Brinkerhoff

Inferno XXIV: A Horrific Cycle

Inferno XXIV: Vanni Fucci

Ink on Paper, 2018 22 x 15" We remain in the eighth circle of Hell, and here we meet the thief, Vanni Fucci di Pistoia, who is—in the tradition of Sisyphus and Prometheus—destined for an endless cycle of terror and pain. * * *

Vanni Fucci is one of the more vulgar characters in Dante's Hell, and he suffers one of the most diabolical and exhaustively terrible fates in the story. Before boldly directing crude gestures to God, he explains to Dante that he once stole from his church, only to blame it on someone else, who was put to death in his stead. Without fail Vanni Fucci is now ensnared in a cycle of strangling entanglement with snakes, who bite him ferociously. Immediately, he bursts into flame and disintegrates, turning to ash—only to be immediately reborn in order to endure the same terrible fate all over again. This happens forever.

The mythic correlation to both Sisyphus and Prometheus is striking, with the latter in particular bearing a significant similarity—both symbolically and literally— to Vanni Fucci's predicament. In both stories the victim is a thief who, having stolen from the divine, must not only endure torture for all time, but must repeat his own history of terror and pain. There may be no more harrowing fate than to be subject to death, with the guarantee that it will happen over again. PTSD to the max.

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