"When Cerberus perceived us, the great worm!
His mouths he opened, and displayed his tusks; Not a limb had he that was motionless. And my Conductor, with his spans extended, Took of the earth, and with his fists well filled, He threw it into those rapacious gullets. Such as that dog is, who by barking craves, And quiet grows soon as his food he gnaws, For to devour it he but thinks and struggles, The like became those muzzles filth-begrimed Of Cerberus the demon, who so thunders Over the souls that they would fain be deaf."
|Cerberus; Blake's Plate 12 of his Ilustrations of Dante|
In this circle, Dante converses with a Florentine contemporary identified as Ciacco, which means "hog." A character with the same nickname later appears in The Decameron ofGiovanni Boccaccio. Ciacco speaks to Dante regarding strife in Florence between the "White" and "Black" Guelphs. In one of a number of prophecies in the poem, Ciacco "predicts" the expulsion of the White party, to which Dante belonged, and which led to Dante's own exile. This event occurred in 1302, after the date in which the poem is set, but before the poem was written(Canto VI).