Barry Allen in the woods

Inspired by this:

Barry’s lost in the forest

He can’t rest easily, costing

Him too much, such is pain.


Chased by his grandson

A human head on a cat’s body

Led by the mistaken curiosity.


Furious, he has to leave him

Behind, the tiger comes and

Barry’s becoming wary.


Leaving again, seeing Caitlin

Whose hunger’s immense

Whose predation’s intense.


She left behind corpses

Of horses in the meadow

Then Rover attacks her.


Barry escapes in time

Exiting the landscape

Surviving with slits.

Censure of Avarice

A take on this.

Have a care, if you’re intangled

From being intoxicated by greed.

Wasting a lot in getting wealth

Nothing’s equal to the jewels.

Whoever falls into avarice

Gives life to the blusters.

I surely possess riches

For which is not yours.

Why should you work

If it’s going to waste?

You don’t work like a horse,

You’re Caitlin Snow in pursuit

Of prey, so that it’ll be recalled.

The Foreign Quarterly Review, Volume 5 (Google Books)

* llossetti, vol. ii. p. 389.

* Verse 108.

t Landino, after saying that ihe she-wolf, in the first canto, is Avarice, adds, ” who the greyhound may be, that bhull destroy her, is amhiguous;” but he then refers, for farther elucidation of the subject, to ” Purgatory,” canto xxxiii., and there we find that in speaking of the leader who shall destroy the harlot, he declares that ” by the harlot, the Church and the Pope ire meaut.” If these two notes be compared together, the exposition will be found sufficiently explicit, and Landino’a hint in the first note abundantly significant, ” that the reader, if he can find a more suitable meaning, may enlighten those who walk in darkness.”

The Young Lady’s Book of Elegant Poetry: Comprising Selections from the … (Google Books)

Weirdly apt should Caitlin go wolf.


HARK’ ’tis the twanging horn o’er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;-
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter’d boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumb’ring at his back:
True to his charge, the close-pack’d load behind,
Yet careless what he brings; his one concern,

Is . o § . ..”.
And, having dropp’d the expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
Cold and yet cheerful, messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some ;
To him indifferent whether Fo or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks;
Births, deaths, and marriages; epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer’s cheeks,
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill;
Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains,

Or o: responsive; equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But oh! the important budget ! usher’d in
With such heart-shaking music; who can sa
What are its tidings? Have our troops oal
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg’d,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave 2
Is India free ? and does she wear her plumed
And jewell’d turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,

The É. and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh—I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprison’d wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such is evening, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed
And bored with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage :
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage;
Qr placemen, all tranquillity and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not e’en critics criticise; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read, –
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break:-
What is it but a map of busy i.
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?
Here runs the mountainous and craggy ridge
That tempts ambition. On the summit see
The seals of office glitter in his eyes;

He climbs, he pants, he grasps them! At his heels,
Close at his heels, a demagogue ascends,
And with a dextrous jerk soon twists him down,
And wins them but to lose them in his turn.
Here rills of oily eloquence in soft –
Meanders lubricate the course they take :
The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
To engross a moment’s notice, and yet begs,
Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts,
However trivial all that he conceives.
Sweet bashfulness! it claims, at least, this praise,
The dearth of information and good sense
That it foretells us, always comes to pass.
Cataracts of declamation thunder here;
There forests of no meaning spread the page,
In which all comprehension wanders lost;
While fields of pleasantry amuse us there
With merry descants on a nation’s woes.
The rest appears a wilderness of strange
But gay confusion ; roses for the cheeks,
And lilies for the brows of faded age ;
Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald ;
Heaven, earth, and ocean plunder’d of their sweets;
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons, and city feasts, and favourite airs:
Ethereal journeys, submarine exploits,
And Katterselto with his hair on end
At his own wonders—wond’ring for his bread.
‘Tis pleasant through the loopholes of retreat
To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
It turns, submitted to my view; turns round,
With all its generations: I behold

The tumult, and am still. The sound of war
Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me;
Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride
And avarice, that make man a wolf to man;
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats,
By which he speaks the language of his heart,
And sigh, but never tremble at the sound.
He travels and expatiates; as the bee
From flower to flower, so he from land to land;
The manners, customs, policy of all
Pay contribution to the store he gleans;
He sucks intelligence in every clime,
And spreads the honey of his deep research
At his return—a rich repast for me.
He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,
Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes
Discover countries, with a kindred heart
Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes;
While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.

Dante’s Inferno: The Indiana Critical Edition (Extrait/Excerpt)

If Barry Allen is Dante Alighieri, if Caitlin did go wolf she’d be the avaricious she-wolf.

The illustration for Inferno XVI shows how muddled the interpretation
could get in the hands of this illuminator. The poem describes the sodomites and the meeting with Geryon. At the end of the canto Virgil casts a
knotted cord into the abyss of rushing water from which he will draw up the
monster “like a diver returning from the deep”.36
Instead the artist shows
the two poets standing near a pool. Virgil holds the cord which is knotted
around the neck of a wolf, identified by inscription as “Tuzuria” (Fig. 6).
This image evidently derives from the commentary of Graziolo Bambaglioli. The commentary, written in Bologna between 1322 and 1324, would
have been especially well-known in Naples where Bambaglioli spent the last
decade of his life as an exile.37
The commentary in attributing the vice of
Luxuria to Dante himself seems to be the source for this confused image,
present perhaps in the original model or more likely in my view, introduced
here by a scribe or illuminator who consulted the Latin commentary rather
than the Italian text.38
Another example of misreading appears in the illustration for Purgatorio VIII (Fig. 7). Here the poets with Sordello (misidentified by the inscription as Corrado Malespina) observe a serpent slithering
toward them through the grass, an action that in a most bizarre way has
been transferred to the poets, who are seen scuttling off to the right to
escape the monster. Confusion in labelling the characters of the poem can
be found throughout the manuscript. Even the identities of Dante and Virgil are routinely scrambled in spite of the fact that each wears a distinctive
head covering.39

The emperor, of course, is only a special case of the process that Carlo
Martello described, by which the heavens provide talented specialists
adapted to the needs of society at a given time. For Dante, the most important of all these heaven-sent specialists was to be the Veltro, the Hound
whom he expected, would eventually appear and expelí from human society
the Old Wolf of Greed — or is it Fraud? (Inf. 1.101-111). By addressing his
expectations directly to the heavens, the narrator indicates that he considered the appearance of this mysterious reformer to be governed by the
stars: “O heaven, in whose revolution it seems conditions here below are
thought to be changed, when will he come through whom she shall depart?”
(Purg. 20.13). Similarly, Beatrice predicts that sometime in the next
seventy centuries or so, “before January be all unwintered,” a reforming
governor will appear when “these lofty circles shall so shine forth” (Par.
27.139-148). Whatever these prophecies meant — and I am not at all sure
that Dante himself could be precise about them — it is clear that they
depend on the action of the stars, and consequently they are most probably
derived from astrology

The sin of the wolf is, therefore, the cause of this confusion, of this darkness — which is the concluding thought of the Epistle VII to Henry King of
the Romans: cupidity is the obstacle to peace and the single most compelling aim of Dante’s opus.
One can hardly maintain, therefore and with all due respect, that
Dante’s political theories are now in the Divine Comedy the cause of his
tears. If he were to renounce what he had written on this subject, he would
have to renounce the whole Commedia. I find very poignant and acute
Mazzotta’s argument as he states that:
This dramatic strategy accounts for the double focus of the poem as it is
conventionally understood: as a story of conversion that the poet tells, the
poet knows more than the pilgrim does and the text is seen to enact an
extended series of palinodes, a systematic discharging of convictions and
beliefs the pilgrim once held while the text is an experience which is in
itself outside of error.40
This is true and I consider it also true that, as it regards the role, duty and
mission of the Church, Dant e is not changing his convictions, witness the
text. This is part of his “certezza,” as Sarolli says, that he will return to fulfill
his prophetic mission to reconcile and mediate the Church and the
Mazzotta’s typology of Eden in effect enhances this notion on
another level and confirms this interpretation. The “hope” that Dante had
to fulfill his providential and prophetic mission never leaves him, for it is, as
far as he is concerned, God’s will, and in His will “è nostra pace.”42

The Inferno of Dante (Google Books)

121. Gianni Soldanier I believe beyond.

A Ghibelline who treacherously went over to the side of the Guelfs.

122. With Ganellon and Tebaldello.

“According to the romantic history of Charlemagne, Gano, or Ganellon, betrayed the Christian army at the battle of Roncesvalles, where Orlando and the peers of France were slain.”— Walter Scott, Note to Dryden’s Trans, of Chaucer, vol. xi. p. 343.

Tebaldello de’ Manfredi. He betrayed the city of Faenza, during the night, to the French.

130. Not otherwise jierce Tydeus in disdain.

Tydeus, being mortally wounded at the siege of Thebes by Menalippus, had his enemy slain and his head brought to him, upon which he exercised his revenge.—See Statins, Theb. 1. viii. CANTO XXXIII.

“In this last circle of hell, Dante beholds those who have betrayed their native land entombed in everlasting ice. One of them is Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, who by a series of treasons had made himself master of Pisa. The other head is that of Ruggieri degliUbaldini, Archbishop of that state, who by means no less criminal had effected the ruin of the count; and having seized him with four of his children or grandchildren, had left them to perish by famine in prison. Dante does not at first recognize them; and shudders when he sees Ugolino gnawing the skull of his murderer. He inquires into the motives of this savage enmity, and with the count’s reply this canto commences.”—Sismondi Ital. Lit. c. ix.

But to appreciate fully the beauties of this celebrated Canto, a fuller knowledge of the circumstances alluded to is required.

In the year 1284, the Guelfs of Tuscany conspired to take advantage of the great loss sustained by the Pisans, after their defeat by the Genoese, and destroy Pisa, the chief hold of the Ghibelline party. To dissolve this confederacy, the Pisans appointed as their Captain General for ten years, Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, a man of no principle, but possessing great talent and address, as well as great influence and connection with both parties.

The temptation offered by the situation he held was irresistible, and the intrigues he entered into to dissolve the league, were directed—not to preserve the independence of his country, but to secure to his own family the dominion of Pisa, by making friends with the neighbouring states. For this purpose several castles, it is said, were betrayed to Lucca and to Florence; and several Ghibelline families banished, who appeared most ready to oppose his ambitious views.

With the persecuted Ghibellines, his former friends, sided any Guelfs who viewed his proceedings with disgust; and at the head of the opposition was Nino, Judge of Gallura, a grandson of Ugolino himself. To overcome this opposition, Ugolino entered into alliance with Ruggieri, the Archbishop of the city. The combination succeeded, and the Judge of Gallura fled before their united forces. But Ugolino would not brook an associate; and the claim made by the Archbishop to a share in the government of the city, was haughtily refused. Ruggieri, however, was equally ambitious and crafty with the Count. He dissembled his resentment, and waited for an opportunity of revenge. This dissimulation he maintained on a subsequent occasion, when Ugolino, having established himself in power, stabbed one of Ruggieri’s nephews, who came with others to represent to the Count the scarcity of provisions, and reproached him as the cause. The Archbishop waited till he had conciliated Nino, and fully secured the assistance of the Ghibellines. Then having assembled the families of the Gualandi, Sismondi and Lanfranchi, with their adherents, (line 32,) he suddenly called the people to arms against the tyrant, accused him of betraying his country in surrendering its castles, attacked his palace, and after a long combat, took prisoners the Count Ugolino himself, two of his sons, and two grandsons, threw them into a dungeon, nailed the door, and starved them to death.

In the same year that the melancholy catastrophe of Francesca di Rimini took place, observes Ugo Foscolo, Dante heard of Count Ugolino and his children being starved to death in the tower of Pisa. “From that time,” says he, ” it is certain he meditated upon the stories, probably made sketches, and re-” touched them afterwards a thousand times; and after many years brought to perfection these two scenes so dissimilar; where neither the eye of the critic can discern the consummate art, nor the fancy of the poet reach it, nor any soul, how cold soever, not feel it; and where all appears simple nature, all ideal grandeur.”—Discorso, p. 317.

4. He then began: Thou bid’st me to renew
Unutterable grief.

“Infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem.”—Am. ii. 3.

29. The he wolf and his young ones.

Count Ugolino is called a wolf, as being at the time a Guelf; the Ghibellines, his pursuers, are described as hounds.

30. Which shuts out Lucca from the Pisan’s view.

Mount Giuliano—situated between the two cities of Pisa and Lucca.

47. The entrance underneath with nails made fast.

“Ed io sentii chiavar l’uscio di sotto.”

An erroneous opinion prevails, that the gate of the tower was locked, and the keys thrown into the Arno; but the sound of locking the door had been heard every day, and was no novelty. The word “chiavare” means, to nail, and in the Paradiso (Canto xix. 105,) is used to express the nailing our Saviour to the cross.

4y. I wept not, for my heart was turned to stone.

“Even at this sight My heart is turned to stone.”

Second part, Henry VI. Act v. sc. 2.

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80. Where ” Si” is spoken. Italy, where the affirmative ” Si” (yes) is used.

M. Let Capraia and Gorgona raise a mound.

Islands not far from the mouth of the Arno, on which the city of Pisa is situated.

91. We then arrived.

The circle of Ptolomea, so called, from Ptolemy, King of Egypt, who betrayed his friend Pompey.

105. Met hough t at such a depth all vapour failed.

As winds are caused by the influence of the sun, Dante expresses his surprise that in this low abyss, where the sun could not penetrate, any winds should prevail.

110. Exclaim’d: O souls, so cruel though ye be.

Virgil and Dante are taken for spirits proceeding to punishment in the nethermost abyss.

118. Friar Alberigo, be it known, he said.

One of the family of the Manfredi of Faenza, who feigning a wish to be reconciled to some of his brotherhood, (the Frati Gaudenti,) after a quarrel, invited them to a magnificent banquet. At the conclusion he called for the fruit, which was the signal for assassins to rush in and murder his guests. Hence one who had been stabbed was said to have tasted Friar Alberigo’s fruit. His fig being repaid with a date (line 120) is a proverbial expression—Thus we speak of repaying a man in his own coin.

The Dante Encyclopedia (Extrait/Excerpt)

This is what’ll happen if Barry Allen were to become a Dante Alighieri proxy with a newly lupine Caitlin Snow.

In Roman Catholic theology, one of the seven
capital Sins. In its simplest definition “avarice”
is an unchecked desire to have more than one
needs. It is a sin because it goes beyond due
measure in seeking or possessing material wealth,
beyond what is necessary to a person’s station
in life. Taken specifically, and according to St.
Thomas Aquinas, there are two ways in which
this lack of measure or moderation may manifest
First, avarice may mean lack of moderation
regarding one’s disposition toward worldly goods,
such as an immoderate love, desire, or pleasure of
having them. In this sense avarice is a sin against
self and is the opposite of the sin of prodigality,
which means going too far in giving. Both avarice
and prodigality are opposed to the virtue of liberality, a golden mean that keeps the two extremes
in check. In short the intrinsic meaning of avarice
here is that of hoarding; and of prodigality, that of
76 A V A R I C E
squandering. (Incidentally, it should be noted that
souls guilty of prodigality must not to be confused
with the so-called squanderers punished in the
second ring of the seventh circle [Inf. 13]. The latter are really violent destroyers of their own possessions.)
Second, avarice may relate directly to the
actual acquiring or retaining material possessions.
This means going too far in getting or keeping
them. In this sense avarice is a sin directed against
one’s neighbor. The wealth of this world cannot be
possessed by many at one time. Therefore, it is sinful for a person to enjoy affluence beyond measure,
while someone else suffers extreme want. But
taken more broadly it is also sinful for anyone,
including religious and political leaders of communities and states, to acquire or seize great riches
or through violence to conquer lands and territories. The measure here is set by justice. Therefore,
in this second case avarice is in direct opposition
to justice and is a mortal sin.
In medieval times avarice was considered one
of the gravest sins, indeed the gravest, against the
Christian spirit of love. The concept took its impetus from St. Augustine’s statement that “Greed is
poison to charity” (Quest. 36.83), and it became a
commonplace from the fifth century onward. The
basis for this was the fact that during this time the
meaning of avarice was broadened to include
every sort of unchecked desire to possess any sort
of things—including avaritia . . . altitudinis (“insatiable greed for high office,” Gregory the Great,
Hom. in Ev. 1.16.2). Thus the Pauline dicta that
“avarice is the root of all evils” (1 Tim. 6:10) and
that it is as “serving idols” (Ephes. 5:5) become
fully justified within the long and rich tradition of
avarice. In the thirteenth century the main authors
and the basic ideas relating to avarice were discussed and formalized by St. Thomas Aquinas, as
summarized above (see ST 2.2.118). Further, it is
worth noting that St. Thomas, in discussing avarice
in its role as opposing justice, invokes an animal
image from Ezekiel in which the avaricious are
compared to ravening wolves (Ezek. 22:27). This
is interesting in the sense that it guarantees for us
the symbolism that lupa/lupo (“wolf ”) acquires in
the Commedia.
Dante inherited this tradition and made it his
own. He is concerned with avarice taken in its first
meaning, namely, as a sin against self, and with
prodigality as its opposite. We find it punished in
the fourth circle of Inferno (Inf. 7). But Dante’s
treatment of avarice here is only formal, and prodigality remains totally secondary. This, too, is
strictly within tradition. Since early times avarice
was considered as a more reprehensible moral
fault than prodigality, for the latter was thought to
be closer to, or to have greater affinity with, liberality. This is the reason for which in Inf. 7 Dante
gives only marginal attention to prodigality, and in
Purg. 19–22 he does not even mention it, only
indicating indirectly that it was Statius’ sin.
In reality Dante is much more concerned with
the larger and more significant aspect of avarice.
For him the gravity of the sin of avarice lies in its
public dimension, namely, in the sense that it goes
against the social order and hence against justice.
This idea is expressed many times in his minor
works as well as in the Commedia. In the Convivio
Dante speaks of the psychological aspects of
avarice: how it is born and what are its effects on
the psyche of the avaricious. To support his argument he cites the Bible and classical authors:
Cicero, Seneca, Horace, Juvenal, and Boethius as
well (Conv. 4.12.4–8). But a reading of certain passages from the Monarchia and from the Epistles
offers perspectives that help us understand the profound ethical and political reasons which motivate
Dante in his approach to avarice. First and foremost in these two works greed is seen as the main
obstacle to the realization of justice (Mon.
1.11.11–15), and hence to the realization of peace
(Mon. 3.16.11) and of the empire as well (Epist.
6.22). According to Dante, avarice made Jewish
priests abominable (Epist. 11.1), and now it blinds
the clergy in general (Mon. 3.3.8) and cardinals in
particular (Epist. 11.14ff.). From the Commedia
we know that the infernal guardian of the avaricious and prodigal is Plutus, who is called “cursed
wolf ” (Inf. 7.8) and that in Purg. 20.10–12 the
expression antica lupa (“ancient she-wolf ”) is a
metaphor for avarice. According to the prophecy
in Inf. 1, the lupa will be killed by a veltro (“greyhound”), and thus justice will be restored to
humanity (Inf. 1.100–111). At the basis of contemporary corruption is the insatiable greed of the
pope, who has assumed the power of the emperor,
and now “the sword is joined to the shepherd’s
staff ” (Purg. 16.109–110). Since Constantine’s
donation, popes have become idolaters of gold and
silver (Inf. 19.112–115), and their avarice afflicts
the world (Inf. 19.104). They deceive their flock by
appearing as shepherds while operating as “rapacious wolves” (Par. 27.55), because the accursed
A V A R I C I O U S A N D P R O D I G A L , T H E 77
florin (the most widely sought gold coin of the
time, struck in Florence and, for Dante, the symbol of greed) has turned “the shepherd into a wolf ”
(Par. 9.131–132). In this connection, it must be
remembered that in Inferno there is a particular
place for a special kind of avarice—that practiced
by some popes in Dante’s time. It goes by the name
of simony and is the subject of canto 19—a fundamental canto for the full understanding of the
political aspect of avarice and of its consequences,
as portrayed by Dante.
In addition to men of the church, Dante also
accuses men of the state such as Rudolph of Habsburg (Purg. 6.103), King Frederick II of Sicily
(Par. 19.130–132), and in particular the entire
Capetian dynasty (Purg. 20.47ff.) of avarice. In
this sense, entire collectivities are rebuked as avaricious, e.g., the Bolognese (Inf. 18.63), the Catalans (Par. 8.77), and especially the Florentines (Inf.
6.74, 15.68) who are themselves called “wolves”
(Purg. 14.50) for their greed.
Dante’s moral integrity on one side leads him
to reproach vehemently avarice in all its forms and
aspects, and on the other causes him to regret
deeply the good old times when people were honest and despised material goods. And remember
that this was a century in which commercial and
financial systems had already been developed and
operative for some time; when Florentine merchants and bankers had already been enjoying
supremacy—and huge returns on their money—
throughout northern Europe and elsewhere for
many years, as the inscription placed in 1255 by
the city fathers on the facade of the city hall
(Bargello) bears witness, the same inscription that
Dante will make his own in a bitter sarcastic rendering at the very beginning of Inf. 26: Godi,
Fiorenza, poi che se’sì grande / che per mare e per
terra batti l’ali, / e per lo ’nferno tuo nome si
spande! (“Rejoice, Florence, since you are so great
that on sea and land you beat your wings, and your
name spreads through Hell!”).

Beasts, The Three
The immediate cause of Dante’s journey through
the three realms of the afterlife is his inability to
counter the threat of three beasts (tre fiere)—a
leopard (lonza), a lion (leone), and a she-wolf
(lupa)—who block his advance up the side of a
mountain in Inf. 1. While each of these animals
was known to inhabit Italy in the Middle Ages,
commentators are in full agreement that their significance is entirely symbolic in nature. Although
there is a broad diversity of opinion about what
they signify, interpretations of the three beasts can
be divided into four general categories.
The first group of interpreters, based on
1 John 2:16–17, held that the three beasts stood for
the major lusts, desires, or temptations of man:
“concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence
of the eyes and the pride of life.” Boccaccio’s formulation in the Esposizioni (p. 73) is often cited to
encapsulate the tradition: Le quali [le tre bestie],
quantunque a molti e diversi vizi adattare si potessono, nondimeno qui, secondo la sentenzia di tutti,
par che si debbano intendere per questi, cioè per
la lonza il vizio della lussuria e per lo leone il vizio
della superbia e per la lupa il vizio dell’avarizia
(“Although one could identify these [three beasts]
with many different vices, nonetheless, according
to the judgment of all, it here appears that they
must be understood for the following: to wit, for
the leopard the vice of lust, for the lion the vice of
pride, and for the she-wolf the vice of avarice.”)
Thus, for most of the early commentators the
beasts embodied, in order of appearance, the vices
of lust, pride, and avarice; but this early consensus, despite its impressiveness, does not derive
from a number of independent views but from the
typical medieval and Renaissance tradition of plagiarizing encyclopedism.
The second group of interpreters asserted that
the three creatures have an external political significance allied or not to the spiritual meanings
within the pilgrim. Typical of the Risorgimento
86 B E A S T S , T H E T H R E E
was the view that the beasts represented corrupt
contemporary political entities: the lonza was Florence (the spots, its factions); the lion, the king of
France; the wolf, the pontifical curia.
The third category of interpreters urged, in the
wake of Castelvetro’s commentary (c. 1570), that
Inf. 1 is to be viewed as symbolic of Dante’s own
experiences in Florence that led to his exile. They
argue that the lonza, in particular, is envy. In corroboration they cite Ciacco in Inf. 6.49–50, 74 and
Brunetto Latini in Inf. 15.68 for envy as Florence’s
besetting sin. In particular, Nardi (1963, 1966)
emphasized a narrow, political, “exterior” interpretation, denying any relationship to the pilgrim’s
inner personal vices: the lonza signified fraud and
the lusts of the world; the lion, the violent pride
of Florentine factions; the avaricious wolf, Boniface VIII. Clearly, however, the distinction of
“external” and “internal” in the realm of justice—
between the right ordering of the state and the right
ordering of the soul—did not exist for Dante, as
Plato’s Timaeus and St. Thomas’s Commentary on
Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics (5.11.2, 1138b
[lecture 17.1106]) make clear: they are one. Of the
microcosm’s reflection of the macrocosm Dante
knew from the writings of the Parisian theological School of St. Victor, with which he was intimately familiar. That devices such as governments
were remedies for the infirmity of sin became a
principle of his Monarchia (cf. 3.4). Ineluctably,
the beasts symbolize both exterior and interior
The fourth group of interpreters squared the
meaning of the beasts with the Inferno’s penal system, identifying them with the three dispositions
“not wanted in heaven” (Inf. 11.81): malice, force
(or “mad brutishness”), and incontinence. Giacinto
Casella’s thesis that the lonza was fraud, the leone
violence, and the lupa incontinence has had the
largest number of followers in Great Britain and
America: the beasts adumbrate chiastically the
three major divisions of Hell. In Italy, Flamini and
Lajolo claimed perspicaciously that the beasts signified not the punishment (pena), which is unfathomably of God, but the guilt (colpa) of sin—that
is, man’s descent into evil, not of a specific kind,
but of degree: incontinence, violence, and fraud.
As species of sin, we find avarice, lust, and pride
in all three divisions of Hell: for example, avarice
is punished not only among the incontinent in Inf.
6 but also among the tyrants and their ilk in Inf. 12
and among the fraudulent simonists, barrators,
thieves, and false counselors of Lower Hell. Pride
stains not only Filippo Argenti (6.46) but also the
violent Capaneus (14.64), the giants (31.91), and
the fraudulent traitor, Lucifer. Lust damns not only
Francesca, Cleopatra, Dido, and Semiramis but
also the violent sodomites and Myrrha, who fraudulently lay with her father (30.38–39).
Logically the beasts embody external temptations that can affect the internal dealings of the
state just as they affect the interior behavior of
man; that is, they are symbolic of external lures
or threats preying upon internal human weakness.
Dante taps the vast biblical precedence for the
theme of “temptation with beasts in a desert.” In
Hos. 13:4–7, 14, for example, God threatens not
only to punish the apostate Jews (“I knew thee in
the desert, in the land of the wilderness . . . I will
be to them as a lioness, as a leopard”) but also to
spare the repentant. Scholars have long noted that
Dante and the three beasts. Opere del divino poeta Danthe,
ed. Pietro da Figino, Venice, 1520. Giamatti Collection: Courtesy of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.
B E A S T S , T H E T H R E E 87
Dante had chosen Jer. 5:6 as his major calque:
“Therefore a lion from the forest hath slain them,
a wolf in the evening shall despoil them. A leopard watcheth for their cities.” But perhaps most
important is the triple temptation of Christ as
related in Mark 1:13: “And he was in the desert
forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by
Satan. And he was with beasts and the angels ministered to him.” Clearly the pilgrim’s experience in
the prologue of the Commedia is in imitatione
The Beasts
1. Lonza (“pard”): from the earliest commentators,
past the era of positivism, taxonomy has been the
central crux in explicating the first of the beasts.
The Florentine term can be found in no bestiary.
Benvenuto da Imola (1373–1380) identified it in
his Comentum (ed. Lacaita, p. 35) with the pard
and noted, on the testimony of Boccaccio, that a
“lonza” actually existed in Florence. Brunetto
Latini translating Isidore’s “pardus” from the Etymologies (, also chose the word “lonce”
(or “longe”) in his Tresor 1.190.3. Contemporary
Florentine city records note that a caged “leuncia”
was kept at public expense as a mascot in a cage
along with lions near the present Loggia del
Bigallo. Among other church writers, Richard of
St. Victor (particularly well known to Dante) identifies the speckled pard of the Bible with fraudulence in his De eruditione interioris hominis 3.11
(PL 196.1358). Dante’s trenchant irony satirizes
Florence’s civic pride in using the animal and its
very Florentine vernacular term for the temptation
of the sin of fraud.
2. Leone (“lion”): besides being a Florentine mascot and heraldic device (viz. the Marzocco; marzocchesco, “Florentine”), the lion is typified in the
bestiaries by its raging hunger (cf. Albertus Magnus, De animalibus, 22.107; Pseudo–Hugh of St.
Victor, De bestiis, PL 177.150). In the poem, its
upraised head signifies pride, a sin that also pertains to the irascible part of the soul (St. Thomas,
ST 2.2.162.a3; cf. the unbent neck of Farinata in
Inf. 10.75 and the bent necks of the proud in Purg.
3. Lupa (“she-wolf ”): Isidore derives the name
“lupus” (Greek lykos, Etymologiae 12.2.23) from
its “raging rapacity.” Dante learned from medieval
bestiaries and “scientific” treatises on beasts not
only that the wolf eats dirt but that it is forever
lean; it can never satisfy its hunger since it gulps
its food without chewing (cf. Inf. 1.50, 98–99). He
also exploits the fact that the papal curia had
recently adopted the Capitoline statue of the
Roman she-wolf as its own emblem, despite the
negative association of the animal with whoredom
(lupa was a Latin term for “harlot”; lupanar[“wolf
den”], a brothel). Lactantius and St. Augustine had
identified the nurse of Romulus and Remus as a
prostitute (Divine Institutes 1.20; City of God
18.21). Since the animal was the mascot of Mars,
the former patron of the city, the wolf is also
another satirical symbol of Florence.
Dante associates the wolf in myriad negative
ways with the Church and its Guelf followers (German Welf = “wolf ”): the Guelf Count Ugolino and
his “children” are wolves hunted by Archbishop
Ruggieri (Inf. 33.29); Guido del Duca describes
the Arno as a hellish river descending to the wolves
of Florence (Purg. 14.49–51); the fiendish Florentine podestà, Fulcieri da Calboli, becomes one
with the “ancient wolf ” of avarice (Purg. 20.10),
an antica belva (an “ancient wild beast,” Purg.
14.62). Love of the florin has transformed the pope
from shepherd into wolf (Par. 9.127–132,
27.55–57). Notably, Dante never uses the wolf
emblem as a positive image of the empire anywhere in his works, ignoring Roman myth and history as well as Virgil’s veneration (cf. especially
Aen. 1.274–277).
Generally critics have recognized the striking
oneiric, hallucinatory, even nightmarish quality of
the vision conjured by the beasts—their liveliness
contrasting with their unreality—despite the fact
that the prologue scene is the only episode of
the Commedia set in this world. The poet leads the
reader repeatedly away from the literal actions of
the animals to their possible spiritual “sovrasensi,”
forcing the reader to interpret the enigmas: How
can the obstructing lonza be a cause for “good
hope” (Inf. 1.41–42)? How can a she-wolf not only
“cause many to live in wretchedness” (1.51) but
also even push the pilgrim back “to where the sun
is silent”? Such puzzles keep the images of the
beasts hovering between reality and allegory in a
poetic mode that differs from the concreteness typical of so much of the rest of the Inferno.

Something so familiar, too familiar

I think if Caitlin does go wolf on the Flash, it would be weirdly intuitive and homely (familiar) in that it’s Red RIding Hood updated for this generation. Maybe way too familiar as RRH predated the Flash and is popular with the masses. Likewise if Barry were to substitute for Dante, with Caitlin as a werewolf she’d inevitably be a modernised version of Dante’s she-wolf.

Had wolves been associated with avarice, it shouldn’t be a stretch to say Caitlin wolfs on heat. Just as it’s not much of a stretch for her to be a predatory animal. Especially a wolf but one with the most frightening and uncanny implications. Not just because RRH got superimposed on the Flash.

But because in the age of wolf fanaticism, Caitlin being an evil werewolf sort of haunts people with all those old attitudes to wolves. Especially now that it’s being popularised by the Flash again should it again.

Rebirth of the Big Bad Wolf

If Caitlin does go wolf on the Flash, it’s going to be Red Riding Hood all over again. It’s going to be that obvious really. Keep in mind the wolf’s already something of a classic fairy tale villain, especially as it antagonises human children, goats and pigs. If Caitlin goes wolf, she’d antagonise the Flash, who’s really another Red Riding Hood.

But that would mean a big name return to the odd, if mostly negative attitudes to wolves that even Navajos also held at some point or another. Instead of the heroic wolf, we have the ravenous she-wolf Killer Frost preying on unsuspecting humans and vilifying them for harming wolf-kind. (It’s a portrayal some wolf fans might not be comfortable with.)

Even though it naturally happens anyways.

Lycophobic Speedsters

Actually keep in mind any degree of distrust towards wolves isn’t unique to Europeans. Some Navajo and Iroquois communities and individuals link wolves (and sometimes dogs) to witchcraft. Likewise some Europeans (especially Estonians and retroactively speaking, Turks) liked wolves a lot. Heck even Nazi Germans liked wolves so keep in mind the distrust or admiration of wolves isn’t exclusive to either demographic.

I suspect in the age of wolf fanaticism, Caitlin Snow becoming a werewolf pretty much revisits the bad old days. Especially when wolves were either antagonists or simply negative characters if it weren’t for their reputation for being greedy. Caitlin herself wolfs on heat so that’s not much of a stretch really. But that would necessitate a proper retelling and revisistation of such attitudes that it’d be jarring today.

Especially if wolf fanatics are now a big enough community to feel horrified by this.