Dante is an ambitious poet who has reached the mid-point in his life. He struggles for inspiration and is looking for some meaning in his existence. The shade of Vergil (a roman poet who Dante idolizes) takes Dante on a journey through Hell. Dante both relishes and fears this prospect. He is often confused by the outward injustices of the inferno.
Vergil is the shade of the Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro who died in 19 BC Despite his virtuous nature, he has been condemned to hell because he died before Christ. He is deeply saddened by the apparent unjustness of his sentence. He has been sent to guide Dante on a journey through the Hell so that he can recount what he has learned.
Canto XIII is the 13th song of the epic poem Date’s Inferno. In this segment Vergil and Dante encounter the Bleeding Wood, a horrific forest in which the trees scream and bleed. They are the souls of people who have died by their own hand.
Vergil leads Date into the bleeding wood, Date is asked to trust Vergil even though this place may cause him to doubt his guide. Vergil explains that this is the place in which the Harpies nest and is therefore extremely dangerous.
Dante is confused by the disembodied wailing that he hears. Vergil asks him to snap a branch from a nearby tree to discover the source. When Date does this the tree screams loudly and begs for pity. Date leans that the foliage of the forest are sprits who have committed acts of violence against themselves.
Dante and Vergil are startled by the sound of rushing footsteps and beating wings. A sprit emerges who is being pursued by a Harpy. The spirit is torn apart by the creature which then turns toward Dante. Date is shielded by Vergil as they make an escape and continue on their journey.