Inferno Canto 28




Patrick Burke is a Professor of Philosophy at Gonzaga University’s Florence Campus. He is an expert in French philosophy and is the author of The Barbarian Principle: Merleau-Ponty, Schelling, and the Question of Nature.

Questions for Reflection

  • In this grisly canto, we encounter the schismatics and the sowers of discord. What is their contrapasso and how is it a fitting revelation of the nature of this sin?
  • What is Dante saying about the social and political power of poetry by devoting so much of this canto to a poet, Bertran de Born?
  • What connection does Dante seem to be making between language and violence? By focusing on Bertran, is Dante setting himself up by way of contrast as a poet of peace?
  • Bertran is the only soul in Inferno to use the term contrapasso (28.142). Does this mean that his punishment is unique from the other punishments in hell, or somehow exemplary of hell’s justice? Or might Dante use this term here ironically to interrogate the very structure of justice and vengeance he has created in his Inferno?


  • Dr. Patrick Burke
  • Gonzaga in Florence
  • Run Time 9:52