Inferno Canto 34




Brian Williams is the Dean of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. He is the author of The Potter’s Rib: Mentoring for Pastoral Formation, and his research focuses on Dante, Karl Barth, and classical education.

Questions for Reflection

  • Virgil calls Satan the king of hell, but is this really true? Does Satan have any real power in this canto?
  • What does Satan look like and why would Dante choose to depict him in a way that has so many references or parodies of divine things?
  • How is the punishment of Judas an echo of the punishment of the simonists in canto 19? Why would Dante visually link these sins?
  • How does Satan being cast down from heaven create the mountain of Purgatory?
  • Why did Dante choose to depict Satan as pathetic, silent, and impotent, functioning more as a hairy ladder for Dante and Virgil than anything else? Is this a disappointing or a satisfying final depiction of hell’s evil?
  • How do we see Dante and Virgil undergo both literal and spiritual conversions in this canto? Why end Inferno with a reference to the stars?


  • Dr. Brian Williams
  • Templeton Honors College
  • Run Time 11:59