The canto is a principal form of division in a long poem, especially
the epic. The word comes from Italian, meaning "song" or singing.
Famous poems that employ the canto division are Luís de Camões' Os
Lusíadas (10 cantos), Lord Byron's Don Juan (17 cantos, the last of
which unfinished), Valmiki's Ramayana (500 cantos), Dante's The
Divine Comedy (100 cantos), and Ezra Pound's The Cantos (120
As mentioned earlier, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is an example of a
Canto. The Canto Inferno or "Hell" is the first part of
Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed
by Purgatorio and Paradiso. It is an allegory telling of the journey
of Dante through Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is
depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. Allegorically,
the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul toward God, with
the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.
circles of Hell
2.1 First Circle (Limbo)
2.2 Second Circle (Lust)
2.3 Third Circle (Gluttony)
2.4 Fourth Circle (Greed)
2.5 Fifth Circle (Anger)
2.6 Sixth Circle (Heresy)
2.7 Seventh Circle (Violence)
2.8 Eighth Circle (Fraud)
2.9 Ninth Circle (Treachery)
Before entering Hell completely, Dante and his guide see the
Uncommitted, souls of people who in life did nothing, neither for good nor
evil; among these Dante recognizes either Pope Celestine V or Pontius Pilate (the
text is ambiguous). Mixed with them are outcasts who took no side in the Rebellion
of Angels. These souls are neither in Hell nor out of it, but reside on the
shores of the Acheron, their punishment to eternally pursue a banner (i.e. self
interest) while pursued by wasps and hornets that continually sting them as maggots
and other such insects drink their blood and tears.
souls who possess the nine circles of hell are the ones who are tortured in the Hell.