Canto 5 The Second Circle: The Lustful

Minos, angry, vengeful and the censor of human desires, judges the fate of carnal sinners. The number of times his tail encircles his body indicates the circle to which they are to go:-


Minos is there, most horribly, and grinding
His teeth. He judges guilt as people enter,
And places them according to his winding.

Dante and Virgil are in the circle of The Incontinent, who subjugated reason to appetite, particularly of the shared indulgence of lust. Carried away by their passions they now experience a black wind. Francesca tells of her passionate encounter with Paolo that leads to her death and eternal punishment. Dante weeps when he hears her tale:-


"We were reading one day for delectation
Of Lancelot and how love held him close.
We were alone and quite without suspicion.
When we read how the smile of the beloved
Was kissed by such a celebrated lover,
This one, from whom I will never will be severed,

Kissed me upon the mouth, trembling all over.
That book's a pander, and the man who write it:
And on that day we read it no further."