The Ditch of Thieves: The Serpent Attacking Buoso Donati

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Dante, Virgil, and a thief stand to the left of Donati who has just been bitten by a snake
He ey'd the serpent and the serpent him.
(Hell; Canto XXV, line 82.)
(Plate 5.)

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McGill University Library, the Internet Archive

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Description

Copper-plate engraving showing another scene from the seventh bolgia, in the eighth circle of Hell: smoke and flames form like a roof over the four male figures, two of which stand naked on each side of a bellicose snake. On the left stands Dante, his body almost hiding the figure of Virgil. Donati has just been bitten at the navel by the serpent, and as Dante describes:

One from the wound, the other from the mouth
Breathed a thick smoke, whose vapoury columns join’d.

In addition, Donati’s hair seems to be standing on end as he bends to the left with a somewhat stunned expression. The other thief’s posture, stylized and tormented, suggests he’d rather be in some quieter place.

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