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Dante and Virgil reach the fifth pit of the eighth circle of Hell, where the souls of barraters, corrupt politicians, are punished. Barraters are punished in a lake of boiling pitch, guarded by demons.

 

Canto XXI, 1-18

From bridge to bridge thus, speaking other things

Of which my Comedy cares not to sing,

We came along, and held the summit, when

We halted to behold another fissure

Of Malebolge and other vain laments;

And I beheld it marvellously dark.

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians

Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch

To smear their unsound vessels o’er again,

For sail they cannot; and instead thereof

One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks

The ribs of that which many a voyage has made;

One hammers at the prow, one at the stern,

This one makes oars, and that one cordage twists,

Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen;

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,

Was boiling down below there a dense pitch

Which upon every side the bank belimed.

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