Inferno Canto 20




Fred Putnam is a Professor of Bible and Liberal Studies in the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. He teaches courses in biblical languages, is an ordained minister, and is the author of a number of books on Hebrew.

Questions for Reflection

  • What contrapasso must the fortune tellers undergo and how does this help us understand the difference between fraudulent fortune telling and genuine prophecy?
  • Why might Dante use liturgical language (“litany” in 20.9) to describe the procession of fortune tellers? How is a person dedicated to fortune telling an inversion or diabolical parody of a person dedicated to prayer and contemplation?
  • What “fruit” do you think Dante wants readers to glean from his meeting with the fortune tellers (20.19)?
  • Why should Dante not pity the damned (20.19-31)? Is pity in tension with justice in Dante’s Inferno? Is there any space for lament or compassion for the damned?


  • Dr. Fred Putnam
  • Templeton Honors College
  • Run Time 7:20