Loosened Tongues Employed
When the pilgrim Dante and his guide Virgil are about to leave the circle of fraud, they come to a wide, cold plain, whose center drops precipitously to the very bottom of Hell, the icy sinkhole of all evil. In this plain they encounter giants, chained to stone wells, whence they tower from the waist up. Of the five who are named, four are Titans from Greek mythology: Ephialtes, Typhoeus, Briareus, and Antaeus. That last is the one who will, without a word, and rather grudgingly, serve as the elevator to take Dante and Virgil and set them down on the ice far below. The fifth, and the one who defines this strange place, is that mighty hunter before the Lord, Nimrod.
We are at the brink of unmeaning, approaching the Word-denier Satan himself, speechless at the center of Hell, frozen to his waist. That Titan is the moral and the efficient cause of his own imprisonment. He flaps his six bat-wings incessantly, like an automaton, raising the gale winds that freeze the River Cocytus and lock him and the rest of the traitors in the ice. Heave a rugged mountain to crash upon that ice, says Dante, and even the surface would hardly make a creak. Some of the cold-hearted souls can never speak even if they so desired, because they are submerged in the ice, kept fresh like flies in amber.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Purchase Print &
Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!
Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!
GIVE Print &
Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives