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  • Writer's pictureRobert Brinkerhoff

Inferno X: A Florentine Exchange

Inferno X: Farinata degli Uberti

Ink on paper, 2016

22 x 15”

In one of the most theatrical and haunting moments of L'Inferno, Dante is recognized by Farinata degli Uberti, a Florentine military leader and politician. In passing an expanse of flaming sarcophagi, Dante is stopped by the voice of a fellow Florentine, who recognizes his Tuscan accent. The two have a little chat about Florence, their families and honor.

* * *

In the sixth circle of Hell, we meet two of the heretics damned to remain there, including Farinata, whose family feuded with Dante's in Florence. Farinata recognizes Dante's Tuscan accent and, rising eerily from his sarcophagus, he engages him in debate about the honor of their respective families.

Early on, in the Gates of Hell illustration, I first integrated an iconic reference to Florence in the fleur-de-lis, and I've attempted to revive it here in the silhouette created by Farinata's figure and the flames bursting from all sides of his body as he rises from the grave.

Additionally, much has been made of the imagery Dante evokes in Farinata's pose. Seen from the waist up he has reminded many a scholar of the Man of Sorrows, a trope of the newly resurrected Christ, displaying the wounds of crucifixion with profound grief. In this image, Christ is represented as both dead (as man) and alive (as God).

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