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Contributed by Marella Feltrin-Morris on 08/27/2014
Julia Cozzarelli, Associate Professor of Italian, published an article titled "'Poscia, più che 'l dolor, poté 'l digiuno': Translation and Interpretation in Inferno XXXIII" in the summer issue of Romance Notes.
Dante Alighieri's Inferno XXXIII, in the Divina Commedia, contains a notoriously ambiguous verse that has inspired a passionate, centuries-long debate on the canto's interpretation that continues even today. Canto XXXIII features Count Ugolino and Archbishop Ruggieri locked together in the ice of Hell for all eternity, with Ugolino gnawing voraciously and incessantly on the back of his fellow sinner's head. These men were real historical figures, in addition to featured characters in Dante's masterpiece. Dante's Ugolino narrates the tragic tale of how he perished at the hands of Ruggieri, who locked him in a tower with his sons and grandsons and left them to die of starvation. The phrase, "Poscia, più che 'l dolor, poté 'l digiuno," concludes his tale. This line has led some critics to argue that Dante's Ugolino cannibalized his offspring. The verse is as difficult to translate as it is ambiguous in the original Italian. Dr. Cozzarelli's article explores the range of English translations of the canto, and how the translator or editor's attitude towards the cannibalism question colors the way in which this famous line is rendered into English.