- what does not happen in Dante’s circle of lust: the Commedia does not include the genital tortures that are a staple of vision literature and contemporary artwork (see for instance Giotto’s Last Judgment in the Scrovegni Chapel)
- by contrast Dante de-sexualizes lust
- that said, the second circle of Dante’s Hell is significantly more “infernal” or “hellish” than the first circle; thus, Minos, adjudicator of the damned, stands at the threshold of the second circle (see “Minos’s Tail: The Labor of Devising Hell [Aeneid 6.431–33 and Inferno 5.1–24]” in Coordinated Reading)
- Dante’s treatment of lust focuses not on illicit sexual actions per se (e.g. the illicit “fornication” that is such a staple of preachers’ sermons); instead, Dante emphasizes the incorrect belief that love controls us and deprives us of free will
- the contrapasso that Dante devises for the circle of lust is the infernal windstorm (“bufera infernal” [Inf. 5.31]) whose metaphoric connection to the sin in question works by analogy: the wind buffets and controls the lustful in the afterlife in the same way that their passions buffetted and controlled them while in this life
- a new source text for Dante’s contrapasso in this circle: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 3.1, on compulsion and the will, features an example of a man being carried by the wind against his will
- the encounter with Francesca da Rimini features reading and courtly literature: she maintains the courtly doctrine that love is a compulsive force that cannot be resisted, a doctrine that effectively deprives us of free will
- Dante himself had written poetry in which he denied that free will can exert itself within the domain of love, most explicitly in the sonnet Io sono stato con Amore insieme
- Inferno 5 offers a developmental run-through of Dante’s lyric poetry, beginning with his early tenzoni with Dante da Maiano (where too Dante had maintained that love is a compulsive force) and moving through his Sicilian, Cavalcantian, and Guinizzellian phases
- working from ideas already present in his moral canzone Doglia mi reca, in Inferno 5 Dante insists that reason and love not only can coexist but must coexist: a passion that is antithetical to reason, that is not the product of a free will, cannot be called love
- the word amore: in Inferno 2, “amore”, rightly construed, is aligned with reason, and leads to salvation: “amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare” (Inf. 2.72). In Inferno 5, “amore”, wrongly construed, leads to death: “Amor condusse noi ad una morte” (Inf. 5.106). The latter passion is not love, according to Dante’s understanding of love. But it is the same word “amore” in both instances, so it is up to us to learn to construe and understand correctly. In his moral canzone Doglia mi reca, Dante had already indicated the need to apply an alert hermeneusis, explaining that some call by the word ‘‘love’’ what is in reality mere bestial appetite: “chiamando amore appetito di fera” (143).
- and yet . . . a different vision of Francesca is accessible if we take the route of historicizing her and uncovering her gendered history as dynastic wife and political pawn who attempts to exert agency in a patriarchal world. From this historicized perspective, it is less important that Dante puts Francesca into his Hell than that he saves her to history, preserving her from oblivion and becoming Francesca’s historian of record. For this original reading of Dante’s Francesca, not presented here for reasons of space, see my essay “Dante and Francesca da Rimini: Realpolitik, Romance, Gender”, cited in Coordinated Reading.
 Our first consideration in treating Inferno 5 must be to put the treatment of lust as a sin into historical context. As I suggested in my 1998 essay “Dante and Cavalcanti (On Making Distinctions in Matters of Love): Inferno 5 in Its Lyric and Autobiographical Context” (see Coordinated Readings), we can do this by comparing Dante’s treatment of lust in Inferno 5 to that of various moralistic traditions, both written and visual: to vision literature, to didactic poetry and sermons, and to contemporary artwork. The distance between Dante and the various moralistic traditions is immense. The instructive contrast helps us to realize that Dante is not particularly interested, in Inferno 5, in what the moralists call fornication.
 Rather, Dante is interested in the self’s negotiation of desire. He is promoting an alignment of the faculties of the soul in which reason is not enthralled by desire but dominates it, thus maintaining freedom of the will. This issue is so fundamental that we find Dante advocating the same alignment in the late Latin political treatise Monarchia: “Now if judgment controls desire completely and is in no way pre-empted by it, it is free; but if judgment is in any way at all pre-empted and thus controlled by desire, it cannot be free, because it does not act under its own power, but is dragged along in the power of something else” (1.12.4). In the image of judgment being “dragged along” (in the Latin original “trahitur”) we encounter a late echo of the infernal windstorm that drags the souls in the contrapasso of Inferno 5.
 The visionaries follow a tradition in which punishment is inflicted on the sinful body part and are insistent that the tortures inflicted on fornicators are genital tortures. Visions create a context that helps us to see that Dante, by contrast, de-sexualizes lust.
 In the earliest Christian vision, St. Peter’s Apocalypse (2nd c. CE), we find women hung by their hair, hair that they plaited “not for the sake of beauty but to turn men to fornication”, and men “hung by their loins in that place of fire” (Eileen Gardiner, ed. Visions of Heaven and Hell before Dante [New York: Italica Press, 1989], p. 6). At the end of the vision tradition is Thurkill’s Vision (dated 1206, of English provenance), whose adulterers must fornicate publicly in an infernal amphitheater, and then tear each other to pieces:
An adulterer was now brought into the sight of the furious demons together with an adulteress, united together in foul contact. In the presence of all they repeated their disgraceful love-making and immodest gestures to their own confusion and amid the cursing of the demons. Then, as if smitten with frenzy, they began to tear one another, changing the outward love that they seemed to entertain toward one another before into cruelty and hatred. (Gardiner, ed. Visions of Heaven and Hell before Dante, pp. 230-231)
 Visual depictions of Hell are similarly focused. The treatment of the lustful in the Last Judgment of Dante’s contemporary Giotto (1267-1337 c.), in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova, offers graphic images of what art historians Anna Derbes and Mark Sandona call “torments directed at genitalia”. They describe Giotto’s figures thus:
For instance, just below Satan’s left arm, on the bristly back of a serpentine monster, is a soul doomed to spend eternity with a reptilian green demon gnawing on his penis. Above and to the right of Satan, a black demon grips another man’s penis in pincers. Hanging to the right are four more damned souls, two of whom — one male, one female — are suspended by their genitals, another by his tongue, and the fourth by her long hair, a common sign of luxuria. The fact that her hair is braided may also signify her concupiscence. (Anna Derbes and Mark Sandona, The Usurer’s Heart: Giotto, Enrico Scrovegni, and the Arena Chapel in Padua, p. 66)
 In a 1998 article published in The Art Bulletin that preceded the book cited above, Derbes and Sandona characterize the genital tortures thus: “These particular forms of torture — surely visual versions of Dantean contrappasso — are especially apt here” (p. 284). If there is one thing that the genital tortures of the Scrovegni Chapel are not, they are not “visual versions of Dantean contrappasso”. I cite the 1998 comment, duly corrected in the later book, because it is so instructive regarding the inaccurate ways in which the perception of the Commedia has sedimented. It is thus assumed that the Commedia is the poetic version of a vision like Thurkill’s Vision, the poetic version of Giotto’s Last Judgment. And yet, how very different from his contemporaries Dante is in his treatment of sexuality.
 A word on the contrapasso that Dante devises in Inferno 5. Dante’s treatment of lust emphasizes the psychology of desire: his adulterers are tossed about by a hellish wind — the “bufera infernal” of verse 31 — as in life they were tossed about by their passions. The fourteenth-century commentator Guido da Pisa offers the gloss: ‘‘the lustful are moved in this world by every wind of temptation, so that their souls are always in continual motion and continual tempest’’. He cites Isaiah: ‘‘Cor impii quasi mare fervens quod quiescere non potest’’ (The heart of the wicked man is like a troubled sea that cannot rest). Moving forward from the Bible, Dante’s contrapasso draws on the Augustinian analysis of desire, based on a counterpoint between human motion and divine repose, between the human cor inquietum with its restless and unfulfilled longings (“inquietum est cor nostrum” [Confessions ch. 1]) and the eternally fulfilled quies of God.
 In my 1998 essay “Dante and Cavalcanti: Inferno 5 in Its Lyric and Autobiographical Context” (cited in Coordinated Reading), I added a passage from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 3.1 to the interpretive matrix on Inferno 5, suggesting that it provides a specific intertext for Dante’s infernal windstorm, in effect a new source for the contrapasso. The importance of this Aristotelian passage for Inferno 5 has, to the best of my knowledge, gone unnoticed by the previous commentary tradition.
 Aristotle’s discussion of compulsion and the will in Nicomachean Ethics 3.1 includes the following passage:
Those things, then, are thought involuntary, which take place by force or owing to ignorance; and that is compulsory of which the moving principle is outside, being a principle in which nothing is contributed by the person who acts — or, rather, is acted upon, e.g., if he were to be carried somewhere by a wind, or by men who had him in their power. (Nicomachean Ethics 3.1; trans. David Ross, 1925; rev. ed. [Oxford: Oxford UP, 1980], p. 48)
 Here Aristotle illustrates the idea of compulsion by offering the example of a person being carried involuntarily by a wind. If we adopt the language of the above passage from Nicomachean Ethics 3.1, we see that Francesca is the embodiment of Aristotle’s example of compulsion: she speaks of her past actions as involuntary, she casts herself as having been acted upon rather than acting, and she is now carried by a wind.
 In other words, Francesca is Aristotle’s example of compulsion transplanted by Dante to the Christian afterlife.
 Indeed, both of Aristotle’s examples of compulsion from Nicomachean Ethics 3.1 — “if he were to be carried somewhere by a wind, or by men who had him in their power” — find their way into the Commedia. As we have seen, Francesca is subject to an infernal wind that makes her analogous to Aristotle’s example of being “carried somewhere by a wind”. And Piccarda Donati, whom we encounter in Paradiso 3 and whose life is part of a meditation on the will and compulsion that extends over the next two canti, tells a story that brings to life Aristotle’s example of being carried off “by men who had [her] in their power”. Dante thus utilizes both the example of a person being “acted upon as if he were to be carried somewhere by a wind”, and the example of a person carried off “by men who had [her] in their power”. He re-purposes the philosopher’s examples of a coerced will for Francesca in Inferno 5 and for Piccarda in Paradiso 3.
 What is at stake for Dante in his use of this passage on compulsion and the will from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics? In Inferno 5 Dante exposes the ideology of compulsion that is foundational to the tenets of courtly love. As Francesca tells us, she views desire as coercive, not controllable by reason and free will. She and the other lustful are consequently blown about by an infernal tempest that literalizes and externalizes their submission to a desire that they viewed as coercive.
 In Inferno 5 Dante sets out to reject the idea, prominent in the courtly tradition, that “love” conquers reason and free will. For Dante, if reason and free will are not functional and in control, the soul is gripped by lust, not by love.
 Dante’s treatment of lust is thus deeply sutured to the anti-deterministic theology of free will that sustains the Commedia. Love and reason are aligned, love and free will are aligned.
* * *
 Dante offers a clear philosophical definition of lust in Inferno 5: lust is the subjugation of reason by desire. Lust is the misalignment of our faculties, resulting in the control not of reason, but of passion. The lustful are defined as “carnal sinners, who subjugate reason to desire”: “peccator carnali, / che la ragion sommettono al talento” (Inf. 5.38-9). This ethical definition is put forward early in the canto. Subsequently Dante-poet stages an encounter with a charismatic sinner, Francesca da Rimini, who uses thrillingly seductive language — language that draws on both courtly love lyrics and Arthurian romance — to subvert the information contained by the prior ethical definition.
 Here Dante follows a narrative method that he uses consistently, of first giving us information and then challenging our ability to integrate that information into our understanding of the possible world depicted by the poem. For instance, although “we are duly informed that ‘Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore’ (Justice moved my high maker [Inf. 3.4]), this is information that we will internalize — if at all — only after completing much of the voyage through hell, not here at the outset” (The Undivine Comedy, p. 31).
 Francesca, who committed adultery with her brother-in-law Paolo, tells Dante that Love forced her to reciprocate Paolo’s passion. She portrays herself as compelled by love, effectively deprived of free will.
 Love as an overwhelming force that cannot be withstood is a staple of the vernacular love lyric tradition. The Sicilian poet Giacomo da Lentini offers the language of passive surrender to a love that grips and holds him against his will. For example, in the canzone Madonna, dir vo voglio Giacomo writes that ‘‘l’amor m’ha priso’’ (love has taken me) and ‘‘Amor m’ha vinto’’ (love has conquered me). Guido delle Colonne too presents love as a force that seizes and overcomes him: in the canzone Ancor che l’aigua he writes ‘‘sì m’ave preso e tolto’’ (so love has taken and seized me) and in the canzone Amor, che lungiamente m’hai menato we find ‘‘Amor che vince tutto’’ (Love that conquers all).
 Guido delle Colonne’s canzone Amor, che lungiamente m’hai menato begins with a metaphor in which the lover is a horse and Love is the rider of that horse. Thus, the lover is dominated and subdued by Love. This canzone, which deploys the same verb menare that is so frequent in Inferno 5, “is in effect a lyric version of Inferno 5 without the eschatological context”:
The Augustinian dialectic between menare and posare (terms that will govern Inferno 5 as well) shapes the canzone from the outset, where the compulsive force of love is compared not to the roiling force of a gale on the sea but to the severe control of a rider on his mount; the lover begs love to loosen the reins by which he is so tightly bound: “Amor, che lungiamente m’hai menato / a freno stretto senza riposanza, / alarga le toi retene in pietanza” (1-3). (“Dante and Cavalcanti”, p. 75)
 Dante began his poetic life as a lyric poet working within the conventions of courtly love and in the context of an eros that is viewed as an imperious force that cannot be withstood. In his very early sonnet to Dante da Maiano, Savere e cortesia, Dante Alighieri declares that there is no power that can impede love: “ché nulla cosa gli è incontro possente (for nothing has the power to take him [Love] on” [Savere e cortesia, 13]). (Further discussion of Savere e cortesia within the context of Dante’s long meditation on compulsion and the will may be found in Dante’s Lyric Poetry, cited in Coordinated Reading.)
 I will take this opportunity to add another echo to the repertory of Dante’s self-citations in Inferno 5. When Francesca says that “There is no greater sorrow / than thinking back upon a happy time / in misery” — “Nessun maggior dolore / che ricordarsi del tempo felice / ne la miseria” (Inf. 5.121-23) — she is echoing not only Boethius, as the commentaries note, but also Dante’s own early tenzone del duol d’amore (tenzone on the suffering of love). In the sonnet Non canoscendo, part of the tenzone del duol d’amore, Dante Alighieri had used the same locution “maggior dolore” (greater suffering) now used by Francesca: “sacci bene, chi ama, / se non è amato, lo maggior dol porta” (know this full well: whoever loves / but is not loved will bear the greatest pain [Non canoscendo, 10–11]). To Francesca’s oft-cited echo of Dante’s early sonnet Amore e ’l cor gentil sono una cosa, we can thus add an echo of an even earlier Dantean sonnet, Non canoscendo.
 One of the greatest examples of Dante as poet of a compulsive and dominant Love that cannot be withstood is the sonnet Io sono stato con Amore insieme. Dateable to between 1303 and 1306 (thus about a decade after the theologizing of love that takes place in the Vita Nuova), love is characterized in Io sono stato as an ineluctable force that overpowers reason and free will: “Però nel cerchio della sua palestra / libero albitrio già mai non fu franco” (So in the sphere of its authority / free will has never been completely free [9–10]). Still more surprising, the poet claims to have experienced this passion for the first time in his ninth year, that is, toward Beatrice:
Io sono stato con Amore insieme dalla circulazion del sol mia nona, e so com’egli afrena e come sprona e come sotto lui si ride e geme. Chi ragione o virtù contra gli sprieme fa come que’ che [’n] la tempesta suona ... (Io sono stato, 1–6)
I’ve dwelled together with the god of Love from when the sun had circled back nine times, and I know how he checks and how he prods and how one laughs and cries beneath his rule. Opposing him with force or reason is like sounding the alarm within a storm ... (Richard Lansing trans.)
 Dante’s lyric poetry is a laboratory in which we can see him take on and consider differing and antithetical views of love: in some poems he supports the idea that Love is a compulsive force and in others he challenges that idea. The idea of love as compulsive is the ideological foundation of the rime petrose (circa 1296), as it is of the later sonnet Io sono stato and of Amor, da che convien pur ch’io mi doglia, the so-called canzone montanina (circa 1306). As I have discussed in numerous venues, including the Introduction to my commentary Dante’s Lyric Poetry, Dante works through these various positions in non-linear fashion, not developing along a straight and overdetermined trajectory. Thus, he takes aim at the idea of love as compulsion in his moral canzone Doglia mi reca, likely written before the canzone montanina.
 Dante brings an Aristotelian ethical dimension to his lyric poetry; the canzone Le dolci rime includes a translation of Aristotle’s definition of virtue from the Ethics (see the Commento on Inferno 1, par. 24). His interest in the regulation of desire by reason leads to a foregrounding of the value of misura, the moderating force in the Aristotelian ethical scheme. Over time, and following a non-linear path, Dante becomes passionately invested in the belief that desire can be withstood, that reason can and must triumph. It is this profoundly psychological and ethical drama, with deep roots in the antithetical courtly and Aristotelian traditions, which is ultimately played out in Dante’s treatment of lust in Inferno 5.
 Moreover, by insisting that reason can triumph over desire, and that the issue is for us to keep our faculties in proper alignment, Dante hews to an Aristotelian template that enables him to withstand the siren call of dualism. Counter to the critical tradition of Dante studies that for centuries has insisted on the binary of secular versus divine love, Dante’s template for conceptualizing desire is not dualistic.
 Dante does not believe that desire per se is bad. He could not believe that desire is bad and write, as he does in Purgatorio 18, that desire is spiritual motion: “disire, / ch’è moto spiritale” (Purg. 18.31-32). Desire is the motor that moves us along the path of life. We are propelled by desire, whether toward good or toward evil. Thus, Dante is not saying that desire is bad, but that it must be controlled, as per the Aristotelian doctrine of misura. For a fuller discussion of Dante’s idiosyncratic imbrication of Aristotle and courtliness, see my essay “Aristotle’s Mezzo, Courtly Misura, and Dante’s Canzone Le dolci rime”:
The philosophical implications of defining desire in terms of incontinence are frequently overlooked in a critical tradition that has insisted for centuries on the binary of secular versus divine love. Defining desire in terms of incontinence means that it is not defined dualistically, for the Aristotelian system of virtue as a mean between two sinful extremes is a unitary system, based on a spectrum of behaviors, not a dualistic one. (“Aristotle’s Mezzo, Courtly Misura, and Dante’s Canzone Le dolci rime,” p. 167)
* * *
 We now come to the issue of the deployment of the word “love”: “amore”. Dante-poet creates a virtual reality in which we must be active participants, learning, for instance, to decode who is using the word “amore” correctly and who is not. Dante makes such decoding particularly complex in Inferno 5 by having his protagonist, Francesca, draw on the literary language of love (including, as we have seen above, on Dante’s own earlier literary language of love), using poets and writers as her authorities.
 The lexicon of love and desire features quite prominently in the first canti of Inferno. The word amor[e] appears in Inferno nineteen times, and fourteen occurrences are in the first five canti: three in Inferno 1, one in Inferno 2, one in Inferno 3, and nine in Inferno 5. (We can increase the tally in Inferno 5 to twelve if we add the adjective amorosa in Inferno 5.61 and the two forms of the verb amare that follow the noun Amor in Inferno 5.103: “Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona”.)
 Here are all the occurrences of the noun amor/amore in Inferno:
ch’eran con lui quando l’amor divino Inf. 1. 39 vagliami ’l lungo studio e ’l grande amore Inf. 1.83 ma sapïenza, amore e virtute Inf. 1.104 amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare Inf. 2.72 la somma sapïenza e ’l primo amore Inf. 3.6 L’altra è colei che s’ancise amorosa Inf. 5.61 che con amore al fine combatteo Inf. 5.66 ch’amor di nostra vita dipartille Inf. 5.69 per quello amor che i mena, ed ei verranno Inf. 5.78 Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto Inf. 5.100 Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona Inf. 5.103 Amor condusse noi ad una morte Inf. 5.106 a che e come concedette amore Inf. 5.119 del nostro amor tu hai cotanto affetto Inf. 5.125 di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse Inf. 5.128 pur lo vinco d’amor che fa natura Inf. 11.56 Per l’altro modo quell’amor s’oblia Inf. 11.61 sentisse amor, per lo qual è chi creda Inf. 12.42 del vecchio padre, né ’l debito amore Inf. 26.95 al padre, fuor del dritto amore, amica Inf. 30.39
 In Inferno 1, the word “amore” enters the Commedia for the first time as the divine love that moves the stars. Love is the life force, the force that binds and moves the universe; it is coexistent with intellect and with truth. Therefore, for Dante, that which we can properly call love can never be antithetical to intellect, reason, and truth.
 In the moral canzone Doglia mi reca nello core ardire, written post-exile in the first decade of the fourteenth century, Dante had already explained that some call by the name of ‘‘love’’ that which is really mere bestial appetite: “chiamando amore appetito di fera” (calling love [what is] bestial appetite [Doglia mi reca, 143]). Such people disjoin love and reason, because they believe that love resides ‘‘outside of the garden of reason’’: “e crede amor fuor d’orto di ragione” (147).
 Dante’s point in Doglia mi reca, to which he gives dramatic shape through Francesca’s discourse in Inferno 5, is that we often misuse the word “amore”. Love, properly understood, cannot exist “outside of reason’s garden”. For Dante a passion that is antithetical to reason cannot be love.
 The souls whom we meet in this canto have all, by virtue of Dante’s definition of lust in verse 39 (“che la ragion sommettono al talento”), subordinated reason to desire, thus inverting the proper functioning of our human faculties. For Dante, these “carnal sinners” did not experience what he would call “love”. They experienced lust, lussuria. And yet these sinners, in particular the sinner who speaks to Dante at length, Francesca da Rimini, characterize their experience as that of “love”.
 By granting Francesca the lexicon of love, a vocabulary dominated by amor/amare, Dante scripts a performance and challenges his readers to interpret it. This is dramatic art, in which individual sinners use words that suit them, and not necessarily in a way that agrees with the narrator’s definitions.
 Francesca’s performance is heightened by its literary register and by its intertextual resonances. A romantic aura envelops Dante’s encounter as Francesca tells the story of how she fell in love with her brother-in-law Paolo Malatesta (the two lovers are the “due cognati” — two in-laws — of Inferno 6.2) and was killed by her husband Gianciotto Malatesta. In the elliptical and stylized language of this canto, neither brother is named. (For a historical reconstruction of the events and the characters, see my essay “Dante and Francesca da Rimini: Realpolitik, Romance, Gender”, cited in Coordinated Reading.) Gianciotto is invoked by Francesca as the one whom “Caina” awaits: Caina is Dante’s term for the section of the ninth circle of Hell that he reserves for traitors of family.
 Francesca’s story draws on the language and the style of two quintessentially amorous literary genres: the love lyric, and the prose romance. The first part of her account is stylized and abstract and draws on the lyric, while the latter part is more life-like and detailed and draws on the prose romance, in particular on the French Lancelot romance. Most importantly, drawing on these important genres, Dante scripts for his charismatic sinner Francesca a seductive rhetorical power that makes his reader “forget” the definition of lust that he as narrator has so recently provided.
 Francesca uses the tenets of the courtly love lyric to ascribe all agency to Love, conjured by her as an imperious and coercive force that she and Paolo could not possibly have resisted or withstood. In her three famous terzine beginning with “Amor” (and in which “Amor” is always the grammatical subject of the verb), she explains that 1) Love compelled Paolo to fall in love with Francesca (100-2), 2) that Love compelled Francesca to reciprocate the love of Paolo (103-5), and 3) that Love led both of them to their deaths (106-8):
 Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto s’apprende / prese costui (Love, that can quickly kindle the gentle heart, / took hold of him) ⇒ LOVE COMPELLED PAOLO
Lyric intertexts of note: Francesca conflates two verses from Guido Guinizzelli’s canzone Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore. Onto Guinizzelli’s incipit, which formulates a causal relationship between love and inborn nobility, she grafts the first verse of the second stanza, ‘‘Foco d’amore in gentil cor s’aprende’’, which introduces the element of love as a kindling fire. Dante’s early sonnet Amore e ’l cor gentil sono una cosa (VN 20) is his first imitation of Al cor gentil.
 Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona / mi prese (Love, that releases no beloved from loving, / took hold of me) ⇒ LOVE COMPELLED FRANCESCA
Lyric intertexts of note: Giacomo da Lentini’s “como l’amor m’ha priso” and “di tal guisa Amor m’ha vinto” from the canzone Madonna, dir vo voglio, verses 2 and 72; Guido delle Colonne, “si m’ave preso e tolto” from the canzone Ancor che l’aigua, verse 33 and “Amor che vince tutto” from the canzone Amor, che lungiamente, verse 24
 Amor condusse noi ad una morte (Love led us to one death) ⇒ LOVE COMPELLED BOTH PAOLO & FRANCESCA
Lyric intertexts of note: Guido Cavalcanti, “Di sua potenza segue spesso morte” from the canzone Donna me prega, verse 35 (for the intertextual connections between Donna me prega and Inferno 5, see my essay “Dante and Cavalcanti,” cited in Coordinated Reading)
 In the same way that Francesca exploits the love lyric tradition as outlined above, to show that she and Paolo were compelled to do as they did, she later explains that a book, the Lancelot romance, caused Paolo first to kiss her. Indeed, in her account, the book served as the facilitator of their adulterous romantic encounter, which occurred while they were reading it. In the verse “Galeotto fu ’l libro e chi lo scrisse” (a Gallehault indeed, that book and he who wrote it [Inf. 5.137]), Francesca literally blames the book that she and Paolo were reading for their liaison: the book made us do it! The book is said, through complex literary resonance, to have behaved like Gallehault, the character in the Lancelot romance who facilitated the first kiss between Lancelot and Guinevere. The book “and he who wrote it” — the book’s author — are thus responsible for her first adulterous kiss.
 In all this, we see how Dante continues to draw our attention to the profoundly mistaken idea that love comports lack of free will, an idea promoted by the courtly tradition.
* * *
 Onto a discourse dealing with the ethics of desire, crafted of both vernacular and classical antecedents and focused on the question of whether we can be compelled by passion, Dante has layered a discourse about reading and interpretation: Francesca implicates her reading in her moral life.
 We — as readers of Inferno 5 — also have to confront reading as a moral act, for we have the task of reading and interpreting her.
 Dante-author, who as a young poet had written the very kind of love poetry that Francesca is here quoting, creates a dramatic scene at the end of the canto in which Dante-protagonist is unable to keep a critical distance from Francesca and her story. Dante-protagonist “falls for her”, literally, falling down in a dead faint in the canto’s last verse: “E caddi come corpo morto cade” (And then I fell as a dead body falls [Inf. 5.142]). The pilgrim swoons on the floor of Hell, in a vivid enactment of the “love” that leads to death: “Amor condusse noi ad una morte” (Love led us to one death [Inf. 5.106]).
 The idea of a love that leads to death is pervasive in the medieval lyric and romance, but its most sophisticated exponent is Dante’s “first friend” Guido Cavalcanti. Dante is here evoking the Cavalcantian love that held sway over him in an earlier phase of his lyric development (see, for instance, my discussion of the canzone Lo doloroso amor in Dante’s Lyric Poetry). As discussed above, a complex developmental trajectory is invoked in Inferno 5, one that goes all the way back to the tenzoni with Dante da Maiano and that passes through the Sicilian, Guinizzellian, and Cavalcantian phases of his poetics. These phases were mapped in the Vita Nuova long before being mapped in Inferno 5 (see Dante’s Poets and Dante’s Lyric Poetry).
 While in the Vita Nuova the turn to Guinizzelli frees the young Dante from Cavalcanti, Inferno 5 offers an autobiographically truer assessment: of his contemporaries, Cavalcanti exerts the greatest hold on Dante’s imagination.
 In this developmental trajectory, Dante arrived at his mature moral formulation of the issue of passion and reason in the moral canzone Dogia mi reca, where love must belong “to reason’s garden” in order to be called “love”. The final stanza of Doglia mi reca is a crucial way-station for our topic, for it adumbrates one of the fundamental issues of Inferno 5, namely whether the use of the name “love” is sufficient guarantee that we are in fact talking of love. Dante is concerned with human desire, but also with how we use language when we deal with desire. Francesca talks repeatedly of “love”, but the narrator instructs us otherwise, telling us that we will encounter in this circle not lovers but “carnal sinners, / who subjugate reason to desire” (Inf. 5.38-39).
 Similarly, Doglia mi reca raises the possibility that someone who desires — a woman who desires, no less — can define love in a self-serving way, can justify her actions by calling her appetite by the name of love. As with Francesca, although the lady of the canzone may use the word amore, she misapplies the signifier, for the impulse that grips her is a “bestial appetite” that she dignifies with the name “love”: “chiamando amore appetito di fera” (calling love [what is] bestial appetite [Doglia mi reca, 143]).
 In Inferno 5, as in the great medieval romances and in much lyric poetry, particularly that of Dante’s best friend Guido Cavalcanti, love is that which leads to death. For Cavalcanti, love leads to death precisely because it is disjoined from reason and intellect, a disjunction that Cavalcanti theorizes in his philosophical (likely Averroistic) canzone Donna me prega. The love of which Cavalcanti wrote in Danna me prega is death-inducing: ‘‘Di sua potenza segue spesso morte’’ (From love’s power death often follows ). Guido’s love leads to death. For Dante, what Guido calls love is not truly love.
 Dante broke with Cavalcanti and other vernacular precursors when he theologized the beloved in the canzone Donne ch’avete intelletto d’amore. He broke with Cavalcanti even more thoroughly when he theorized a love that belongs “in reason’s garden” in the canzone Doglia mi reca. The positing of a love that is aligned with reason in Doglia mi reca, grafted onto the theologized courtliness of Donne ch’avete and onto the idea of consolation in the canzone Li occhi dolenti, leads to the salvific love that moved Beatrice to come to Dante’s aid in Inferno 2: “amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare” (love moved me, and makes me speak [Inf. 2.72]).
 For the mature Dante, what Francesca and Cavalcanti call love is not love at all. As the canzone Doglia mi reca affirms, love grows in reason’s garden. In the absence of reason and absent the excercise of free will, there can be no love.
 Contrary to all Francesca’s romantic and seductive language, love has nothing to do with it.