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Dante and Virgil descend through the eighth circle of Hell into the third pit. Here the two poets find the damned souls of Simoniacs, corrupt churchmen who traded ecclesiastical privileges. Simoniacs are upside-down in holes carved in the rocks with their feet and legs protruding. Flames lap endlessly at their feet, causing them to writhe and flail in great pain.

 

Canto XIX, 22-30

Out of the mouth of each one there protruded
The feet of a transgressor, and the legs
Up to the calf, the rest within remained.

In all of them the soles were both on fire;
the joints so violently quivered,
They would have snapped asunder withes and bands.

Even as the flame of unctuous things is wont
To move upon the outer surface only,
So likewise was it there from heel to point.

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