The Ditch of the Corrupt Officials: The Baffled Devils Fighting

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Two flying devils are about to crash into each other above a pit of boiling tar
And, for the barterer had 'scaped, so turn'd
His talons on his comrade...
(Hell; Canto XXII, line 135.)
(Plate 3.)

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McGill University Library, the Internet Archive

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Description

Copper-plate engraving showing another scene from the fifth bolgia, in the eighth circle of Hell: after Ciampolo‘s escape from the grip of the devils, two of them have fallen to quarreling and are about to crash into each other above the pit of boiling pitch. The other devils watch the fight from the shore, cheering, as Dante and Virgil, while still looking on, have begun to retreat.

Although third in the narrative order, this illustration is chronologically the last of the engravings undertaken by Blake for this series, and it is also the most obviously unfinished: the figures in the background are little more than outlined, and even parts of the two central devils feel like they were due richer detail.

The caption was taken from Rev. Henry Francis Cary’s translation of Dante’s Inferno. New York, London, and Paris: Cassel, Petter, Galpin & Co., n.d.

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