A surprising one, this, as sin is often presented, nowadays, as socially acceptable, even desirable ‘vice’ – something naughty-but-nice, essentially pleasurable and barely tainted by guilt (or is guilt the only sin left?)

Dante suggests instead that it wears the nerves to the point of collapse.

‘And if you l ike scum you might see the man

Sent to Vicenza by the Pope, before

Florence should see his sin-worn nerves collapse…’

For another angle on frayed nerves, see Steinbeck, and see also our illustrated quote-rich celebration of Dante’s Divine Comedy in Clive James’ superb translation. 

Source: Dante, The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto 15), trans. Clive James (New York: Liveright Publishing, 2013), p. 76


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