The image of Lucifer which accompanies the beginning of his description in the text illustrates a problem that has lasted from the Book of Revelation to Harry Potter. A truly vivid verbal description of something which has emanated from the deepest and most incomprehensible depths of the mind cannot satisfactorily be converted into a simple visual image. Lucifer, as shown here, is a compilation from the components described in the text, but he is more quaint than terrifying. The text is another matter.
Lucifer is huge; more gigantic than can be imagined. He sits up to his chest in ice, large batlike wings fanning bitter icy winds around his three faces, freezing his tears and spittle and the blood which runs down his chins as he catatonically chews and claws for eternity at the bodies of the three great traitors hanging out of his mouths. He is bound, but emanates menace. Then, in order to leave this lowest pit of hell, Dante and Virgil have to climb up his enormous, icy, furry leg and he chomps and fans, and fans and chomps, and chomps and fans. AAUUGH! YUCK! The picture just doesn't catch it.
Dante's Inferno, 14th century (British Library, add. ms. 19587, f.58a). All images by permission of the British Library.

| overview | image | text | alphabet | abbreviations | exercises | transcript | translation |

Click on each of the above to walk your way through a section of the text. The transcript will appear in a separate window so that you can use it for reference at any time. These exercises are designed to guide you through the text, not test you, so you can cheat as much as you like.
Medieval Writing
Script sample for this example
Index of Exercises
Index of Scripts

If you are looking at this page without frames, there is more information about medieval writing to be found by going to the home page (framed) or the site map (no frames).
This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 8/5/2005.