You will find it near the place where the rivers Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus
(which is a branch of the river Styx) flow into Acheron, and you will see a rock near it, just where the two roaring rivers run into one another.
Another part in Squadrons and gross Bands, On bold adventure to discover wide That dismal world, if any Clime perhaps Might yeild them easier habitation, bend Four ways thir flying March, along the Banks Of four infernal Rivers that disgorge Into the burning Lake thir baleful streams; Abhorred STYX the flood of deadly hate, Sad ACHERON of sorrow, black and deep; COCYTUS
, nam'd of lamentation loud Heard on the ruful stream; fierce PHLEGETON Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Sayers trans., Penguin Classics 1983) (1320) ("The Ninth Circle is the frozen Lake of Cocytus
, which fills the bottom of the Pit [which lies at the bottom of Hell], and holds the souls of the Traitors.").
Qual luogo oltremondano sia per essi nella Commedia di Dante (Mondolfi 1904: an essay of 12 pages) that Dante placed the Jews in the Limbo--but it probably was wishful thinking on Mondolfi's part: the lowest place in the Cocytus
, itself the lowest place in Dante's Hell is the Giudecca, in context so named after Judas Iscariot, and yet, Giudecca was a medieval name for a Jewish neighbourhood.
The pilgrim and his guide, Virgil, have descended through one circle of Hell after another, always going down, and are traversing the final stretch, "the frozen Lake of Cocytus
, which fills the bottom of the Pit, and holds the souls of the Traitors" (Comedy 271) when they come upon a fearful giant with monstrous bat-like wings, whose head and shoulders are sticking out of the ice-Lucifer, the Devil:
[dagger] O Birth and Death and Fire, burning beautiful, Come Isis of the earth, and of the sky, who rules over 35 Our dreams--and Sirius, who ..." This is the sort of thing I said as I stood over the ditch-- Because I remembered quite well what Circe had advised me to do, That witch who knows every medicament the wide world has to offer-- But then a huge wave swelled up from the lion-taming Acheron, 40 Cocytus
and Lethe and the great Polyphlegethon, And a host of dead came round to stand with me over the ditch.
This is the traditional image of the fettered arch-demon, which traversed medieval popular mythology, from the demon tied in the "vale tenebrarum" of the medieval legends about Alexander and the "marvels of the East" (51) to Dante's Lucifer imprisoned in the ice of Cocytus
Tarabotti writes "per descriverli quai sono, bramerei esser proveduta di stil fuor d'ogni eloquenza," recalling Dante's invocation to the Muses who built the walls of Thebes at the opening of the Cantos describing Cocytus
, in which Count Ugolino is first seen with the treacherous to kindred and country:
At this moment the maiden of Cocytus
released a sudden madness on his dogs and touched their noses with a familiar scent so that they pursued the stag with a burning craving.
Let us not fail to recall that the Ugolino episode's location in the Inferno XXXIII provides a powerfully fitting example of the failure of sympathy most for its being Cocytus
, the frozen lake where the cold-hearted, who have turned their back on compassion and all natural affection, lie.
The Main Attraction, the Center of Circle Nine, the "melancholy hole" formed on the banks of this American Cocytus
, is a small depression in the sand, marked by a stone obelisk.
See, giants are shown to groan in great affliction beneath the waters, to be scorched by fire and in torment, and stifled by the swelling whirlpools of Cocytus
, covered with rocks, they are destroyed by billows and sharp stones.