Desperate people, condemned to eternal infernal cruelties, are likened to dogs failing to fight off the tiny tormenting assaults of insects.

‘On either side their hands beat in defence

Now from the flames, now from the burning sand,

As dogs in summer fight the insolence

Of fleas and gnats and gadflies with a grand

And useless dart of snout or sweep of paw.’

See also our illustrated quote-rich celebration of Dante’s Divine Comedy in Clive James’ superb translation. 

Source: Dante,The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto 17), trans. Clive James (New York: Liveright Publishing, 2013), p. 82

Photo credit: Hans at


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