Filippo Fabbricatore, Un silenzio che turba più delle parole: Geri Del Bello e la contraffazione della giustizia divina (Inf. 29.1-36)

Abstract: Geri del Bello, a cousin of Dante’s father, was the victim of murder. And yet none of his relatives avenged his death. The pilgrim neither meets or sees him in Inferno; the scene is described by Virgil instead. These figures of silence express not only Geri’s disapproval towards Dante, guilty like other relatives of disregarding an established custom, but also the author’s rejection of the culture of violence. This perspective seems weakened by an ambiguous pity that involves the pilgrim. My reading doesn’t interpret this feeling as a sign of compassion but as an intimate pain, due to the rancorous reception; the model is the otherworldly meeting of Aeneas with Dido, where the rhetoric of silence interplays with that of compassion, and a high sense of duty overcomes a sense of guilt. The presence of Geri among the sowers of discord, whose plagues are a parody of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, confirms that his claim of violence has to be overturned. Moreover, when the author mentions Geri at the beginning of the counterfeits’ canto, he condemns the relative twice: the urgency of revenge is a false moral paradigm; only God has the right to judge and punish.
Key Words: Geri del Bello, justice, retaliation, contrapasso, Aeneas.