Inferno, Canto 29
Dante lingers expecting to see a kinsman of his in the Ninth Bowge; but Virgil says he has already passed by unnoticed. They cross the next bridge and descend into Bowge X, where the Falsifiers lie stricken with hideous diseases. Dante talks with an old friend, Capocchio.
The Prepatory Lecture
Questions for Reflection
Canto 29 © Jan Hearn
The Falsifiers. The Tenth Bowge shows us the image of those who falsified things, words, money, and persons. This canto deals with the falsifiers of things, typified by the Alchemists (transmuters of metals). They may be taken to figure every kind of deceiver who tampers with the basic commodities by which society lives - the adulterators of food and drugs, jerry-builders, manufacturers of shoddy, and so forth - as well, of course, as the baseness of the individual self consenting to such dishonesty.
The Valley of Disease. For the allegory this is at one level the image of the corrupt heart which acknowledges no obligation to keep faith with its fellow-men; at another, it is the image of a diseased society in the last stages of its mortal sickness and already necrosing. Every value it has is false; it alternates between a deadly lethargy and a raving insanity. Malbowges began with the sale of the sexual relationship, and went on to the sale of Church and State; now the very money is itself corrupted, every affirmation has become perjury, and every identity a lie; no medium of exchange remains, and the “general bond of love and nature's tie (Canto XI. 56) is utterly dissolved.
Mark Vernon's Lecture