Inferno Canto 5




Jane Kim is an Associate Professor of Classics in the Torrey Honors College at Biola University. She is an expert on the influence of Dante’s poetic theology on British Romantic conceptions of the poet and poetry.

Questions for Reflection

  • How does the theme of confession structure this canto?
  • What is the contrapasso of the lustful? What does this punishment reveal about the character of lust as a sin?
  • Why are so many of the examples of the Lustful sinners political rulers? What relationship between physical and political lust might Dante be developing here (Hint: check out St. Augustine’s City of God book 14, chapter 28)?
  • Why would Dante present Francesca so sympathetically? How might he be trying to implicate us as readers?
  • What does Francesca’s story of her sin show us about the relationship between reading and (im)moral action and damnation? How might the Comedy itself serve as a counterargument that we can indeed read for the sake of our salvation (Hint: check out St. Augustine’s conversion story in book 8 of Confessions)?
  • Is the pilgrim’s pitying response of Francesca and Paolo a proper response to their story? Why might pity for the damned be a theological problem in relation to divine justice?


  • Dr. Jane Kim
  • Torrey Honors College
  • Run Time 7:52